Chapter 9: And the Countdown Starts

When Draco approached the library at 7 o'clock that evening, he got a clear view of Hermione in a small niche to the left side furiously writing on some parchment with several books surrounding her. She was clearly caught up in whatever she was working on, as she hadn't noticed him approaching her table until he was standing right in front of her. With a startled jump, Hermione quickly realized who was facing her and took a calming breath.

"I nearly jumped out of my skin, Draco!" Hermione scornfully whispered as he laughed lightly. "You should make more noise next time so you don't surprise me so much."

"Well, you said you would be in view of the entrance and it's not like I tried sneaking over here," Draco replied cheekily, earning himself a slight scowl. "You should be more aware of your surroundings, especially with the way things seem to be going this year," he added darkly, his smile faltering.

Hermione seemed a little shocked at the assumption Draco had made, but then her face turned to one of contemplation. What was his little Gryffindor planning that could have her in such serious thought? Certainly it didn't have to do with Umbridge, as he tried to imply, or maybe she just misconstrued his meaning.

Not really wanting to find out either way, and starting to feel slightly awkward by the growing silence, Draco cleared his throat. She instantly looked at him, smiling brilliantly and in a way that let him know she was definitely going back to those thoughts later. He politely smiled back and said, "Hermione, I think we should probably get going before people start to wonder why we are so near each other and the library is still quiet."

"Oh, of course," Hermione gasped, grabbing her things up quickly with Draco helping minimally. Of course he would have liked to clean up her things for her, but she kept snatching at everything just as his hand started moving towards it.

"You know, Granger," Draco slyly started saying, "It's kind of hard to be chivalrous when the woman you are attempting to woo does everything before you can even start to help." He laughed lightly as he handed her the last item left on the table: her quill.

Smiling and placing the quill in her bag, Hermione began blushing as she said, "I'm sorry, I'm just not used to this kind of attention." She started walking toward the hall with Draco beside her and thoughtfully added, "I only ever spend time with Harry or Ron, and neither of them knows what chivalrous means. Ron would probably think it's a type of food."

Draco pictured the Weasel King walking into a bakery and asking for 'chivalrous' and couldn't help the laugh that escaped his lips. He got a sidelong glance from Hermione, but chose to keep that particular thought to himself. When they finally exited the library, Draco turned to go up some stairs.

"Where exactly are we going, Draco?" Hermione asked him, confusion clearly on her face.

"Well, it would appear that we are going upstairs," Draco smarmily commented for the benefit of some third year students passing by. After they were gone, he stopped her and put his mouth close to her ear, whispering, "Look, as long as we're out in the open just act like this is prefect business. Nobody will ask questions if we both look unhappy about being together."

"But that's not true," Hermione began protesting. "At least, it's not anymore."

Draco smiled as he pulled away from her. "We can talk about it once we get there," Draco's smile was absolutely gorgeous. Her words affirming that she liked being around him were the best he had ever heard. "Come on, just one more flight of stairs," he said before quickly leading her to their destination.

Ron could not believe his eyes.

He had simply been on his way back to the common room after stuffing his face at dinner when he saw Hermione leaving the library with a smug looking Draco, and she looked happy! Ron could not think of a single reason that the two of them could be happy to be in each other's presence. Even while performing prefect duties, they shouldn't have looked so jolly to be around each other. Not having the mental capacity to do much of anything at that point, Ron quickly lost sight of them as they climbed the staircase in front of him.

Cursing his bad luck and finally closing his gaping mouth, Ron set off determinedly to find Harry in their common room and tell him the newest development in his ex's life.

"Close your eyes."

"I don't know if I'm comfortable with that, Draco," Hermione said, slightly shaking her head.

"I want it to be a surprise," Draco earnestly tried comforting Hermione. "It's only so I can take a second to make sure it's all clean." He gave her one of those amazing smiles again and she couldn't refuse.

"I should think if you were planning on bringing me here, you would have had time to at least clean it up a bit," Hermione joked, receiving a mock disappointed look from Draco. "Ok, but only for a second," she smiled slightly and shut her eyes. She heard the sound of the door open and close, and then of Draco casting some simple cleaning spells on the room beyond. After about half a minute she heard the door open again, and Draco gently guided her into the room by her shoulders.

"Open," he whispered in her ear, standing just behind her. What Hermione saw wasn't quite what she had expected to be one of Draco's favorite spots. Certainly there were no green and silver drapes hanging about and there were no leather couches, like she remembered Harry and Ron saying were in the Slytherin common room, and it was certainly not freezing like the dungeons.

What she found instead was a wide room, stretching far to her left and right, but quite short in front of her. Actually, calling it a room seemed inappropriate, as the wall in front of her was just railing and trellis, allowing for a beautiful view of the surrounding grounds and forest east of the castle. The sun was already hanging low in the sky behind them, casting most of the grounds in shadow, but the little light remaining lit the forest up wondrously.

"It's beautiful up here!" Hermione gasped, raising her hands to her mouth. Draco chuckled slightly as she moved away from him and to the rail. Turning around to face him, she put her bum on the rail and crossed her arms. "Mr. Malfoy, I am simply astonished that you would find all this nature beautiful. I would have figured it wouldn't agree with your posh upbringing," Hermione smugly joked while keeping a false air of dignity about her.

"Well," Draco responded, as serious as her, "with all my 'posh upbringing,' I have had quite some time to explore the world and see the true beauty we forget about living in cities." He moved closer to her, a small smile playing on his lips. Staring right into her chocolate brown eyes, Draco almost whispered, "You, Hermione, are a true beauty beyond comparison."

A small gasp was the first of Hermione's quick responses. Her brain went into overdrive telling her to say something to acknowledge Draco's generous compliment, so she replied "You are too kind to say that." But Draco didn't seem to mind her feeble attempt at modesty, still slowly closing the gap between them, and staring into his silvery eyes, she could see a hint of desire, making her heart beat increase dramatically.

Finally reaching her, Draco put his hands on her shoulders, lightly caressing them through her jacket. "Hermione, you are a beautiful woman," he said quietly. Leaning his head towards her ear, giving her goose bumps, he added, "I would like to show you how beautiful I think you are."

Shuddering slightly under his touch, Hermione could perfectly understand how Draco was earning his title of 'Slytherin Sex God.' If he talked to every woman this way, it was no wonder they were lining up for his bed. But Hermione had a stronger will than all those before her. Slightly relaxing her crossed arms, she moved them to his lower back, leaning her head against his shoulder. "I don't think I'm ready for all of this, Draco. It's wonderful being with you, but I'm just not ready to do that."

"Hermione, we don't have to do anything you don't want," Draco grinned, pulling away from her enough so she could see his face. "There are plenty of ways for me to show you how I feel. For example," Draco leaned down once more to connect his lips with Hermione's. After pressing her lips to his a few times, she felt his tongue lick her bottom lip, asking for entrance. Hermione eagerly granted it and began twining her tongue around his. Draco's arms moved from her shoulders to cup her face, pulling her more into him and off the railing. Hermione unconsciously tried to pull his body closer to hers as well, simply drowning in the kisses he was giving her. Finally separating to breathe, the two put their foreheads together and Hermione let out a deep sigh.

"Draco, I truly believe I've had you wrong all along," Hermione admitted.

"It's about time you figured that out," Draco laughed, causing Hermione to smile. He gave her another small kiss before she lightly pushed him back.

"I think it's getting late enough, Draco. We should probably head back," Hermione said trying to get back before her friends became suspicious of her absence.

"I don't think you really want to leave," Draco dared, but kept his distance.

"No, actually, I would rather stay but the sun has already gone down and Harry and Ron are so dim witted they would probably send a search party to find me," Hermione tried to joke while pushing thoughts of the Marauders Map to the back of her mind.

"If you say so," Draco started looking at her with more lust than she had seen before, "but I don't think they would find us for some time." Hermione could tell Draco was attempting to seduce her into staying, but she also knew with that map her friends would be sure to catch them. That was just another great problem for Hermione to have to deal with later.

"I'm sorry, Draco," Hermione said, turning and backing towards the door to leave. "I'd rather not risk it. You know Harry has a bad superhero complex and I wouldn't be able to stand it if he hurt you by accident." Not liking the hurt she could see in his eyes, Hermione quickly ran back to him and kissed him one final time. Breaking it off before he could really respond, Hermione turned to leave again, saying "I'll keep in touch about seeing you again!"

And with that she was out the door.

AN: So, how about that for an exit? And I know it has been forever since I've updated and I'm terribly sorry about that. I think there may be some confusion about where this story is going so expect an update really soon with just an explanation of what I want this story to represent. Please leave reviews to spur me into writing more and soon! Also, if you have concerns about grammar or word choice, let me know so I can try fixing it! Thank you all for sticking with me! :D