The (rumored) Chosen One, Gryffindor's honorable quidditch captain, and Dumbledore's most trusted student confidant that he was, Harry James Potter would never be caught dead surreptitiously on discreet a mission as eavesdropping on the third floor broom closet, Friday night.
Not when his best friend, and joker extraordinaire, Ronald Weasley, was wandering the grounds with him. In his invisibility cloak.
Not when he 'happened,' to pass by after a mere 'goodnight,' of sending Cho to the Ravenclaw common room without a kiss as he usually did.
And definitely not when hearing his other best friend's excited whispers and breathes inside said closet.
Running the facts over in his clouded head, Harry cocked an eye at Ron, who had similarly stopped short at the sounds eliciting from the wooden doors.
"Is that," he said, addressing Ron's confused face, "What I think it is?"
Resisting the temptation of a nervous chuckle, Ron answered defensively, hands brushing the sides of his dress robes. "Naw, our Hermione would never, ever be kissing some—"
The sound was unmistakably the Gryffindor bookworm's, the exact tone, except perhaps in this case filled with longing and—and yearning, the type the duo had least expected to hear of Hermione. Harry and Ron stared at each other, shock rendering their abilities to form words.
They didn't manage as much a gasp to the obvious Draco Malfoy's breathy, seductive voice, instead of its usual snarl.
"And…" Ron uttered, bewilderment clouding his features, "Is that—"
Cutting Ron's sentence off, Harry grimaced at the thought of his Slytherin archenemy. "I only know his voice too well, Ron."
"Th—then," his best mate stuttered in response, "What the bloody hell in Merlin's beard is going on?" Ron's voice, inquisitive on the surface, featured hatred and unexplained restlessness at its core.
"Want to find out?" Harry's hand was already gripped on one door, as he gestured for Ron to follow suit, "If you'll please."
Wordlessly they mouthed, counting down in unison.
The broom closet's door flew open, and the sight greeting Harry and Ron, if not worth the aggravation and suspicion, was indeed surprising enough for a week's nightmare.
Never in his sixteen years of life had Harry imagined this moment: him and Ron mirroring each other's actions, brilliantly impersonating the infamous Fred and George.
Harry's and Ron's mouths promptly fell open. Gaping. Equally flabbergasted.
(Fortunately while they were invisible.)
There, was their worst suspicion and hypothesis confirmed. There, was Hermione Granger, every Hogwarts' teacher's pet, the Muggle who aced every subject, the save-the-elves do-gooder, engrossed in a fight against Draco Malfoy, the spawn of the Death Eaters and the Slytherin Prince of ferrets.
Only this time, the couple—for Harry briefly registered that he could call them that—was arguing in a broom closet. After minutes of, presumably, kissing sessions.
They were too preoccupied, still staring at each other, still in the broom closet.
"You've never," Hermione hissed, "Of all the things you've promised me. You've never!"
Draco groaned in annoyance. "Oh for Merlin's sake, will you give me a rest, woman?" he asked, hastily dropping a hand from her waist to caress his apparently sore, reddening face.
Impossible, thought Harry, Malfoy being slapped? By a Gryffindor? Specifically by Hermione herself?
"I was sliding my tongue in your month a second ago and now you go around slapping me?" Hermione raised an eyebrow at his retort. "Not a very nice thank-you, isn't it?"
"I suppose not," she loosen her grip on him, turning to leave, "But it is the proper response when you still haven't tol—"
Realization abruptly cut her furious sentence directed at Draco short, as Hermione became aware of her two audiences' presence.
"Bloody hell, mate," Ron's voice whispered in wonderment, not at his best female friend, but more at the bizarre circumstances of having discovered her.
Harry rewarded his loud whisper with a punch under the cloak, subsequently revealing themselves.
She stood, face flushed, trying to regain her composure in the mess. Harry noticed with a cold jolt that, in addition to her hair, doubly bushier than normal, her blouse was unbuttoned down quite low he'd wished the vision erased from his eyes. And her skirt (When had Hermione ever worn a skirt? With them, he only ever had seen her legs clad jeans).
Draco, who had brusquely tore himself from Hermione the second they were interrupted, occupied himself in smoothing out his crumbled shirt, readjusting the completely out-of-place Slytherin necktie, and, (the view Harry swore continued to haunt him in his sleep) untangling his pale, now-messy (positively the degree of Harry's, at certain points), short blond hair.
"Potty," he snarled, smirking at the duo, before hastily storming out.
"Ferret," Harry called after him, balling up his fists. Wait till I catch that sleazy snake! yelled his mind.
"Arrogant Git!" Ron joined in.
When they had turned around, Hermione was gone.
The Gryffindors heaved a sigh. "I'd never wished I see, or witness, that in my life again," Harry said, dragging Ron to the dormitory. "Ever again. You hear, Ron?"
Yet Ron wiggled free of the grip, rushing ahead. "Like I can stop something like that from happening," he muttered.
And as Harry followed his best mate back to the Fat Lady's Portrait hole, he did not attempt to block Ron's incessant shouting, out of nosy interest, out of desperate exasperation, and, most of all, out of the unanswered confusion.
"After all, what the bloody hell in Merlin's name was that?" Ron repeated the question he had asked Harry earlier, before the vision, for emphasis, "Our best friend and a Slytherin? Honestly, Malfoy? 'Mione with Malfoy? Our enemy?"
"Why? I don't know, Ron," he answered, shrugging.
"I don't rightly know."
Damn that Malfoy. Damn him to the depths of Death Eaters' hell!
Hermione cursed mentally, attempting to steer her mind clear of last night's frustrations, as she conscientiously pretended to read her Ancient Runes textbook.
She was sitting at her usual spot in the Gryffindor common room, on a couch opposite the fireplace, yet thoughts concerning a certain Slytherin managed to sneak into her subconscious.
The trace of his lips on hers.
Her finger absentmindedly touched her lips, a small smile appearing faintly on her face.
The blissful, bubbly feeling erupting like little firecrackers inside her during his kisses.
The way he whispered her name in her ear. Not frizzy, not buck-teeth, not Mudblood, not Granger (at times he could shape her surname into a worst sounding insult than her blood status). Just. Hermione. Just as she was.
The way his arms fitted around her.
The sense of thrill, of forbidden, albeit exhilarating pleasure just to be with him.
Escape. Let loose. Freed.
Like she's never felt before.
The secretive, just-us-two way he caught her eye after dinner, taking her hand.
"Where are we going, Draco?" she had asked, nearly stifling a stupid, senselessly un-Hermione-like giggle, but already giving him control.
He grinned, "As if you don't know." And muttering something about how he should have done this more often, he led her up the stairs, to the deserted third floor.
"A broom closet?" she said incredulously, at Draco's proudly panned hand.
He took her hand once more. "That's because you don't know what it can do," whispering into her ear, the other free hand fumbling to open the wooden doors.
Before she could make further counter attacks, he had her pinned against the wall of the tiny, confined space, his arms on either side of her.
His face leaning in so close, she had to remind herself to catch her breath.
The split second her befuddled mind worked ways of what to do with her erratic heartbeats, what to make of the meaning behind his cryptic gray eyes and charming smile, he, as if they had not done this ever so alarmingly recently, kissed her.
The kiss was gentle. Sweet. Everything it should be and could be.
And she almost lost herself, as the doors closed behind them.
"Oi!" a voice called, followed predictably by the clicking of fingers. "Hermione! You there? Or are you not?"
She dropped her books momentarily, and opened her eyes—Had she been caught daydreaming again?—to see her two best friends towering above her, surrounding the couch.
Harry and Ron had stepped into the common room after breakfast. On account of the dark, cloudy weather, their customary Saturday Quidditch game was suspended, allowing more 'Hermione interrogation time,' in Ron's words.
"She's kinda spaced out these days," Ron murmured, "If y'know what I mean."
Harry, whose voice Hermione recognized as the one calling her name, settled down beside her.
Ron followed, rather reluctantly.
"'Mione," he began, "Can you tell me what it was last night that you've been avoiding us since?"
Her lips twitched. She had kept this a secret far too long the Golden duo could not possibly uncover from her now.
Harry stared at the fire. "We didn't mean to pry," he said, his eyes back on hers. "But it was Malfoy! And you kissed him! And—"
"—slapped him!" added Ron anxiously. "Is there something going on between you two?"
Oh yes, thought Hermione, there is definitely something going on between us.
"He didn't—" Harry's question lingered in the air, unfinished. "—drug you, did he?"
Hermione shook her head. "Merlin, no!" she exclaimed, "It was, you know, on a, er, dare."
The looks of disbelief in their faces remained fazed by her possibly plausible but evidently pathetic excuse.
"I don't suppose any powerful love potion would have lasted this long, would you?" Ron asked the air, talking more to Harry.
"But you clothes!" Hermione blushed a shade of beetroot red at Harry's particularly observant sentence, the tips of her ears turning pink at the word "clothes."
She sighed, her hands thrown up in the air in a defeated gesture. "All right, you caught me. I was in the closet last night. With Malfoy. Kissing and slapping him. Out of my own free and nocturnally conscious will."
"We've been together for sometime now." Guilt tuned her confession to a squirrel's squeaky tone.
A sight not unlike last night, Harry and Ron's jaws dropped. At the same time.
"What d'you—can you, possibly mean?" spluttered Ron, unable to process the newfound information.
And they chroused. "WE?"
Hermione nodded sheepishly.
"We. Draco and I."
Ron couldn't help rolling his eyes. "Great. Now you're calling the ferret as if it actually has a human name."
Harry fidgeted, trying to remember Hermione's behaviors in the last few months.
He turned to her, attention on full focus, Ron's mouth widening at every 'that's why.'
"So that's why you've been sneaking out late at night. That's why you stay behind a good one hour every Hogsmede weekend."
"And," he said this quite hesitantly, "That—is why you keep looking at the Slytherin table across the hall during meals?"
"Blimey, 'Mione," Ron guffawed, "Un. Believable," dissecting the one word into two.
"But—" Harry asked, "How?"
Both of their eyes bored into hers.
She bit her lip, clearly discomforted at the two's urgent questions.
"Last winter," Hermione confessed slowly, "McGonnagall paired me up with Draco for peer tutoring."
Ron's eyes looked close to popping out of their sockets.
"Peer-tutoring?" he repeated, as if his best friend was suggesting she had seen a Wackspurt. "For what? Looking like a bloody idiot?"
"For extra credit," she continued grudgingly.
Ron held up his hands, miming a weighing scale. "Easy choice. Extra Credit versus Malfoy? Drop it!"The phase came out similar to a bomb diffusing operation.
Harry patted Ron's shoulder. "Too late, mate."
"I reacted as you did, Ron," Hermione said, face unreadable, "I plead and plead. You'd have no idea what I said to McGonnagall. She actually told me Gryffindors and Slytherin needed to get along and refused."
"It was either Draco or no extra credit."
A light bulb went on in Harry's head. "Was it that night you came into the common room muttering something about Malfoy being so difficult?"
But she was already smiling in a (Ron's opinion, sickly) reminiscent kind of way.
"Yeah, he's such a jerk."
But the sentence sounded rather opposite to her supposedly degrading remark.
As she had expected, more or less out of a Slytherin—whom she knew there's no hope of expecting anything at all—Malfoy was late.
Ten minutes, and she was still drumming her fingers on her favorite library table, tapping her feet to go along.
Girlish giggles echoed in the hallway.
"Oh, but Dra," a voice she immediately recognized as Pansy Parkinson's, plead theatrically. "D'you really have to go?"
"Pfft," Hermione snorted. The venomous, sugary petnames could just about make her vomit.
'Dra' himself chuckled inwardly. "Girls, I'm so sorry. It's this useless tutoring McGonnagall's forcing me to do. I'll get back to you later?" in a manipulative voice so slick Hermione doubted the girls were smart enough to know he was lying to their faces.
And useless. Fancy him, Draco Malfoy, calling her, Hermione Granger's, tutoring sessions useless.
I'll teach him to know the differences between useless and senseless, she thought, gripping her wand menacingly.
Malfoy was going to pay.
"Hey, Mudblood," his deep voice startled her out of her scheming thoughts. "Planning to murder anyone lately?"
Hermione gave a start. How the heck did he came behind her so fast?
He casually plonked himself down on the chair opposite hers, hands spread out on the table. "So," glancing at her face, "Enlighten me."
Annoyance and infuriation seeped their way unknowningly in her. Here she was, ready to tutor him, and he was behaving as if—as if he's the one in control?
Left him too long and…
A short attention span? Is that a Slytherin quality?
She cleared her throat. "Malfoy," sharply calling the Slytherin, who was now browsing a random book he grabbed from the shelf, "Let's get one thing straight here."
The Slytherin did not, or presumably, refused to respond.
The blonde head jerked up a little, eyes lingering on the spells of the page.
Gray orbs finally met her brown ones at her last attempt.
"What'd you want?" he said, scrutinizing her, "I'm trying to study. Or is that not what I'm here for?"
Arrogant, filfthy snake!
"God, I'm trying to be nice and civil," she forced the words through gritted teeth, her wand hand half-way up, "To a Slytherin. As in common knowledge, it's not humanly possible, but will you just—"
He raised a nonchalent eyebrow. "Why do you even try, then?"
Her wand was pointing at his throat, Draco gasping, somewhat smugly surprised.
"Alright," she spat, "Shut it. And listen. That's all you'll need to do. If there's one thing you need to know—burn it in your pretty little blonde head, if you'd like, I'm in charge here. Not. You. Got it?"
Hermione, out of rage, had said her sentence, double her normal speed, in one quick breath.
But Draco merely shrugged. "Didn't know you like it rough, Granger."
A huff escaped Hermione's throat. "Icandealwithhim, Icandealwithhim," she muttered under her breath.
Draco tilted his head at her in feigned curiosity. "So you were saying?" he smirked, "What page?"
The Gryffindor plopped the Transfiguration textbook on the table, imperviously ordering, "Sixty five. Don't miss it, or I will so hex you."
"You don't mind my 'pretty little blonde head,' now?"
I want to slap HIM.
To be continued...(originally a one-shot. think it might be expanding...)
A/N: Like it? Hate it? What do you think?
My first attempt at my new shipping: Draco/Hermione. (fell for him after watching HBP!!! Asako, don't know if you approve, but they are cute.)
Chocolate Frogs to all my readers and reviewers,
Your ever humble fanfic writer :)
Thanks-a-billion for everything,