A/N: Since I've been taking so much longer than expected to get "Forgive and Forget" updated, I thought I would post a couple of one-shots that I wrote for exchanges over the summer/fall. Consider it my way of apologizing for the delay. The next chapter of F&F is in the works, but I'm having a harder time than I expected getting back into the flow of writing it after my hiatus. I promise that it's not abandoned and will be updated as soon as I'm able. In the meantime, please enjoy this little fic I wrote for the Luvlikerocketz Halloween 2009 exchange!

Warning and disclaimer: Just a little innuendo and mild sensuality. As always, the Harry Potter universe belongs to JKR and I'm making no money from this story!

Fourth Time's the Charm

The First Time

The first time Draco kissed Hermione Granger, he blamed it on Orphelius Ogden, the ancient wizard who invented a whiskey potent enough to make bushy hair and a bossy demeanor seem attractive. Because surely, if Draco had not been completely, utterly, arse over tea kettle drunk on a bottle of Ogden's finest, he would never have kissed her. Of course, it didn't help that it was the Ministry's annual Halloween party, and she was wearing a sexy little she-devil costume rather than the plain, rather unflattering work robes he typically saw her in. It also didn't help that she was just as drunk – if not more so – than him, and still reeling from her recent breakup with that dumb jock, Oliver Wood.

"Malfoy, you're a guy. Maybe you can explain it to me," Hermione slurred.

"Explain what?" Draco asked, grasping her elbow to steady her as she swayed drunkenly to one side.

"Explain why men are such complete and utter idiots. Why do they get so offended when a woman makes her career a priority?"

Hermione shrugged daintily, and Draco couldn't help noticing the way this shifted the neckline of her dress, giving him a tantalizing peek at her cleavage. His gaze shifted further south, resting on the fishnet stockings that peeked out between her short skirt and knee-high black boots.

Merlin, how he loved Halloween.

"Didn't you say that Wood broke up with you because you weren't there to watch him play in the Quidditch World Cup?" he asked vaguely.

"I couldn't help that the World Cup landed on the same day as my annual House-Elf Hat Knitting Marathon," she muttered.

Draco's eyes snapped back up to her face, and it took every ounce of his self-control not to burst out laughing.

"Granger, you actually missed the most important match of your boyfriend's career…to knit hats?"

"See, you're just as bad as the rest of them!" she exclaimed, with a dramatic flourish of her hand that only made her sway more precariously. Without thinking, Draco looped one arm around her waist to hold her upright as she continued ranting. "How dare a woman actually take her career seriously, and not spend her time catering to her boyfriend's every whim? How dare a woman be independent and devote her time to helping downtrodden magical creatures rather than being her boyfriend's personal cheerleader?"

The sound of Hermione's voice faded into the background as Draco became mesmerized by the movement of her lips. They were stained a faint red from the Witch's Brew she had been drinking all evening - a warm beverage made of red wine, spices, and a splash of brandy – and he found himself having the strange desire to lick the stain off of her lips. His head felt fuzzy from the potent combination of drinking too much fire whiskey and having Hermione's warm body in such close proximity to his.

"Malfoy? Malfoy are you even listening to me?" Hermione chirped angrily.


"God, you're unbelievable, you know that? Tuning me out just like Oliver, Ron and Harry always do. Well, if you think I'm just going to stand here talking to myself for the rest of the evening, then you're – umph."

Hermione made a sound of surprise in the back of her throat as Draco pressed his lips insistently against hers. Then her surprise transformed into a soft moan as he flicked the tip of his tongue along the seam of her lips, tasting the sweet, red wine that lingered there. As he ran his hands up and down her lacy red corset top, relishing the little breathy noises she was making, Draco was shocked to find that he actually enjoyed kissing Hermione Granger. Finally, their need to breathe forced them to come up for air, and Hermione stared at him inquisitively.

"Malfoy, what the hell are you doing?"

Draco blinked at her dazedly.

"Granger, I don't know if anyone's ever explained this to you before, but this is what we call 'snogging'."

"I know what it is!" she snapped, rolling her eyes. "What I want to know is why you did it."

"You can't tell me you didn't want it," Draco said, a bit defensively. "Most witches looking for a quick shag aren't usually that picky about whom they have it with. I mean, why else would you be wearing an outfit like that?"

Hermione's cheeks colored in embarrassment, and before he had a chance to react, she slapped him across the face.

"How dare you?" she hissed vehemently. "And I thought Ron had the emotional range of a teaspoon. You're ten times worse than him!"

Draco scowled.

"Comparing me to Weasley? I think that's aiming a bit below the belt."

"Really?" Hermione said sarcastically. "I can't believe I managed to hit such a tiny target!"

With that, she stormed off before Draco could point out that she had no personal experience upon which to judge the size of his…target. He was left alone, rubbing the stinging handprint on his cheek, and promising himself that he would never, ever kiss Hermione Granger again.

The Second Time

The second time Draco kissed Hermione, he blamed it entirely on her. It was, after all, she who had sought him out in his office down the hall from hers in the Department of Magical Creatures. It was she who had elected to wear a skirt that day - a skirt that managed to be tasteful and sexy at the same time, revealing just the right amount of toned calf underneath.

"Malfoy, we need to talk."

"What?" he asked, as he dragged his gaze back up to her face. This didn't help his situation much, because he realized that besides having shapely legs, her face was rather pretty too.

"I need you to sign off on the newest House-Elf Rights Bill we're trying to pass next week. You're the only member of the committee who hasn't signed it yet."

"Oh?" Draco said casually, leaning back in his chair and folding his arms across his chest. "And why should I?"

"What?" she snapped.

"Perhaps that bushy hair interferes with your hearing. I said, why should I sign your stupid House-Elf bill?"

Hermione's lips pressed together in a thin line, and her fingers curled into fists.

"Malfoy, we are not going to play this game. You know this bill isn't stupid. This bill will allow House-Elves to get paid holidays off of work, increase punishments for those owners who abuse their House-Elves…."

"You know, I might be willing to sign your bill if I were properly motivated," Draco cut in.

"What do you mean 'properly motivated'?" she asked, eying him warily.

Draco grinned and rose to his feet, stepping around his desk and approaching her with the stealth of a panther stalking its prey.

"Oh, I don't know…Maybe if you showed up in that little she-devil outfit you were wearing last weekend, I could be convinced to sign it."

Hermione's mouth opened and closed soundlessly in a very convincing imitation of a goldfish.

"That's ridiculous," she said, as she backed away from him until she was trapped against his office wall. He leaned over and pressed his hands against the wall on either side of her head, caging her in between his arms.

"Let me go, Malfoy!" she demanded as she pressed her palms against his chest, ineffectively trying to push him away.

"Why so nervous, Granger?" he asked huskily, "afraid I'm going to kiss you again?"

Hermione frowned.

"That kiss shouldn't have happened," she said. "I was drunk. And I didn't even enjoy it."

"Oh, I think you enjoyed it," Draco replied, tracing her trembling lips with the tip of his finger. "And I don't think you'd have the willpower to keep yourself from enjoying it again."

"I think you m-misunderestimate me," she whispered, shivering from his touch. Draco chuckled.

"Oh, I 'misunderestimate' you, do I?"

He took her inability to speak coherent English as a good sign that she was as much affected by him as he was by her. Not that he was really that much affected by her. Just enough to want to snog her senseless…which is exactly what he proceeded to do next.

As he did so, Draco decided that there were pros and cons to kissing Hermione Granger while sober. On the plus side, his technique was less sloppy, the details were less hazy, and he wouldn't have to deal with a hangover the following morning. On the downside, he had to admit that his finding her attractive on the night of the Halloween party had not been due to his intoxicated state. It would appear that he was actually and legitimately attracted to Hermione Jean Granger: Muggle-born, friend of Harry Potter, and champion for House-Elf Rights.

He had completely lost his mind.

"Malfoy, have you completely lost your mind?" Hermione asked when she finally managed to pry her slightly swollen lips away from his.

"Y- No," he said quickly. "Why do you ask?"

"Because that's the second time in the past week that you've kissed me, and I want to know if I need to get you checked for signs of the Imperius Curse, or have you committed to St. Mungo's for temporary insanity."

Draco raised his eyebrows.

"You kissed me back, you know. On those grounds, you're just as crazy as I am."

"That's different!" Hermione sputtered. "You initiated the kiss. I was the kissee here, not the kisser."

With surprising strength, she finally managed to push Draco off of her, allowing her to move away from where he had pressed her up against the wall. Then, suddenly, she went on the offensive, her eyes flashing malevolently as she jabbed her finger at his chest.

"That's it, Malfoy! I know this may be difficult for a slimy Slytherin like you, but I want you to be completely honest and tell me why you keep kissing me."

"I…well…" Draco stammered, trying to think of a nice, polite, un-Malfoyish answer. "Well, how else was I supposed to get you to stop talking?"

Damn it.

In mute fury, Hermione spun on her heel and stormed out of his office, slamming the door shut behind her with such force that one of his pictures fell off the wall and shattered as it hit the floor.

"Well, that went well," he muttered sarcastically. He couldn't understand why he always managed to be as stupid and verbally incontinent as a First Year Hufflepuff whenever he was in Hermione's presence. It was true that he had never been a very nice person. He couldn't help it. It was a part of his genetic makeup. He recalled one of his childhood tutors telling him that if he didn't have anything nice to say, then he should say nothing at all. Draco had quickly dismissed this theory, realizing that if he followed that rule, he would probably have to give up human speech altogether and seek out a career as a mime. But that was beside the point.

The fact of the matter was, Draco had kissed Hermione Granger twice, and apparently of his own volition. And this time, he thought that he wouldn't be too horribly put out if he were to end up kissing her again.

The Third Time

Draco blamed the third kiss on Ron Weasley. This was partly because he liked to think that most of the world's evils could be blamed on Weasley, including world hunger, global warming, and receding hairlines (not that he was at all concerned about receding hairlines – no, not at all). He also blamed Weasley for marrying Pansy Parkinson, thereby requiring both Draco and Hermione's presence at the same social function, where glasses of champagne and Ogden's finest social lubricant were being doled out in massive quantities. Not a good combination, in Draco's opinion.

When he found Hermione sitting alone and forlorn at a table in the back of the reception hall, he couldn't resist the urge to sit down next to her.

"I give it six months," he said conversationally, as they both watched the blissful newlyweds sway together on the dance floor. Hermione sighed and rested her chin on one hand, while swirling her half-empty champagne glass in the other.

"Oh, I don't know," she said in a serious tone. "I think Ron and Pansy are quite perfect for each other, actually. They balance each other out – like the 'yin' and the 'yang'."

"Sorry, I don't speak gibberish," Draco drawled. Hermione turned to scowl at him.

"Malfoy, do you ever stop being an insensitive prat?"

"Granger, that's like asking a Weasley not to have freckles," Draco replied. He paused to rake his eyes over her attire, which was very pink and very frilly. "Nice dress, by the way."

"I don't think Pansy intended for my dress to be flattering, Malfoy."

"Probably not. She never did like you very much. And you are Weasley's ex-girlfriend, after all."

"It's not just that," Hermione said impatiently. "Brides always make sure their bridesmaids' dresses are ugly, so that it makes them look better in comparison. When you think about it, weddings are just a drawn-out ritual with the hidden agenda of making single women feel bad about themselves. First they dress us in these hideous outfits, and then they make us stand off to the side of the aisle and watch the bride marry the man of her dreams. And then, they get us to stand in a row and fight over a stupid bouquet in the hopes of catching it and having a wedding of our own so that we can continue the cycle of humiliation. Isn't that the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard of?"

"Er….." Draco began.

"But you know what?" Hermione continued, oblivious to his deer-in-headlights expression. "I'm not letting it get to me. I have good friends, a successful career, and a wonderful life - a really, really wonderful life. So I'm not about to drown myself in the chocolate fondue fountain just because Prince Charming hasn't shown up yet. I happen to be a self-confident, happy, and emotionally stable woman."

Hermione concluded her speech by knocking back the rest of her champagne and plopping the empty glass down on the table with a clunk. Draco stared at her with a sense of morbid fascination. Never before had he seen Hermione Granger so…unglued. He knew this was the perfect opportunity to prove himself as the most nefarious of Malfoys, kick her while she was down, and shatter her currently fragile self-esteem. Instead, he found himself awkwardly patting her on the back.

To his supreme horror, she began to cry.

"I'm being so silly," she said with a small laugh, using a napkin to dab at her eyes. "I really am happy with my life. I have everything I could possibly want. It's just that sometimes, I feel so lonely."

"I know what you mean," Draco said unexpectedly. She turned and stared at him in surprise. "Well," he continued, "People aren't exactly clamoring to be best mates with a former Death Eater."

"Your abrasive personality doesn't help," Hermione added. Draco bit back a retort and nodded slowly instead.

"No, I suppose not," he conceded. She studied him for a few moments, and then, amazingly, she smiled at him. The affect it had on her features was startling. Despite the ridiculous dress, and the fact that her mascara was slightly smudged from crying, Draco thought she looked positively breathtaking. Without another thought, he leaned forward and pressed his lips against hers for the third time.

This time, there was no hesitation on Hermione's part, either. She laced her fingers through his fine, platinum hair and slid her tongue against his with a slow sensuality that made Draco's head spin. When she finally pulled away, her eyes were glowing with lust.

"Come back to my room with me," she said breathlessly. Draco's eyes widened at her request, and he nodded. Before he knew it, they were walking hand-in-hand out of the reception hall, weaving in and out of the crowds of wedding guests as Hermione led him back to the room she had booked for the evening. He had no idea how she had gone from calling him an 'insensitive prat' to inviting him up to her room, but he wasn't about to argue with this sudden turn of events.

In the hallway outside her hotel room, Hermione reached into her clutch purse to withdraw her key card, and in her distraction, nearly tripped over the hem of her gown. Instinctively, Draco reached out to grasp her arm and keep her from toppling to the ground.

"This stupid dress!" she grumbled, leaning against the door of her room to steady herself as she adjusted the hem.

"It's not that bad," Draco said teasingly. "Other than the fact that it makes you look like a pink pygmy puff."

He froze, afraid that she would be insulted by his comment, but instead she laughed. The sound made his stomach flip-flop pleasantly, and he leaned forward to nuzzle her neck with his lips. He grinned as she gasped, and tiny goose bumps began to spread across her flesh.

"You know," he murmured, as he dragged his lips along the shell of her ear, "if you hate that dress so much, I'd be happy to help you out of it."

"Y-yes," Hermione stammered. She shoved the key card in the slot and opened the door to her hotel room, causing both of them to practically fall inside. Draco wasted no time in working on the complicated straps and hooks that secured the back of her dress, while she rapidly unbuttoned the white shirt he was wearing beneath his robes. Suddenly, she paused and gave him a piercing look.

"Malfoy what are we doing?" she asked anxiously. Draco frowned in confusion at her question.

"Um, shagging?"

"Yes, but….are you sure this isn't a mistake?" Hermione asked hesitantly. "Maybe we're moving too fast."

Draco groaned in frustration, and decided that banging his head repeatedly against a wall would be less painful and more rewarding than trying to seduce Hermione Granger.

"I don't know what you want me to tell you," he said. "I thought you wanted this. You said you were lonely, and I know it's been months since you and Wood broke up…."

Hermione's eyes narrowed dangerously.

"Is that why you agreed to sleep with me, Malfoy? Out of pity?"

"N-no!" he argued, holding his hands up in a placating gesture. "That's not it at all!"

Despite his protests, Hermione stomped over to the door and flung it open again.

"Just get out," she seethed. Draco glared at her and exited her room. Standing in the hallway just outside her door, he turned to face her once more.

"You know," he said, "I think I finally understand why you became such a workaholic. I can't help thinking that you throw yourself into your work in order to distract yourself from your nonexistent sex life."

"Is that so?" Hermione said icily, folding her arms across her chest. "Somehow I doubt yours is any better."

"I happen to have a very satisfying sex life," he growled.

"It doesn't count if you have to pay for it by the hour, Malfoy."

Then she slammed the door in his face, leaving him to decide that his third time kissing Hermione Granger was an even bigger disaster than the first two had been.

The Fourth Time

Try as he might, Draco couldn't find anyone to blame for the fourth kiss. He knew it was his fault, but for some reason, he couldn't bring himself to regret it. It was his fault because after his last attempt to seduce Hermione had blown up spectacularly in his face, he had decided that what was needed was a Grand Gesture on his part.

Of course, Draco had always thought that only namby pamby men, like Harry Potter or Ron Weasley, made Grand Gestures. Certainly a Malfoy had no need of making one. But for some reason, he was willing to make an exception when it came to Hermione. That was why he spent the better part of the weekend after Pansy and Weasley's wedding trying to think up the perfect gift to give her. One could imagine his surprise when she came storming into his office the morning after he sent her said gift, her brown eyes simmering with barely-contained rage.

"Malfoy, what is the meaning of this?!" she shouted, brandishing an official-looking piece of documentation. "Why is there a House-Elf in my home, and why does it seem to believe that it now belongs to me?"

Draco leaned back in his desk chair and sighed. He had hoped that she would respond to his gift with such elation that she would feel compelled to express her appreciation to him – preferably in a way that involved her wearing that she-devil costume she had sported a few weeks before. Instead she was royally and completely ticked off. Bugger.

"She does belong to you," he explained patiently. "Didn't you read the document? Tilly is officially your House-Elf now. Don't you want her?"

"Why I – of course I don't want her, Malfoy!" Hermione said through clenched teeth. "I've spent most of my career trying to free House-Elves, not start my own personal collection!"

"Then why don't you free her?"

"I tried! I tried giving her a hat and she burst into tears. I don't think she wants to be freed."

Draco couldn't help smirking at the idea of Hermione trying to force clothes upon the helpless House-Elf.

"Oh, I don't know, Granger. I've seen those silly little hats of yours. If you made me wear one, I'd probably cry, too."

Hermione's face flushed a very Weasley shade of red as she withdrew her wand, making Draco fear for his life for the first time in years. It was ironic that his demise would be at the hands of a woman he was so deeply attracted to….Wait, was he deeply attracted to Hermione Granger? Surely it was the threat of certain death that was making him think these insane thoughts….

"What is your motive, Malfoy? Were you thinking that by having a House-Elf in my possession, it would make my political aspirations less legitimate? Is this some sort of smear campaign to belittle me in front of the entire Ministry?"

"No!" Draco protested, rising to his feet. "Tilly was a gift!"

"A gift?" Hermione repeated. She gave a threatening flourish of her wand, and Draco flinched involuntarily. "What sort of gift?"

"You know…a gift. I felt bad for what I said at Pansy's wedding last weekend, and I thought I'd make it up to you."

Hermione's eyes widened in disbelief and she lowered her wand. Draco could hardly contain a sigh of relief. Apparently, he would not be faced with his death today after all.

"Malfoy, when you're trying to apologize to a woman, you send her chocolates or flowers…not enslaved magical creatures!"

Her voice was stern, but Draco could have sworn that she was trying very hard not to laugh. It made him feel like an idiot. It was not a good feeling. He shoved his hands in his pockets and grumbled irritably under his breath.

"What did you say?" Hermione asked.

"You said you were lonely."

Hermione's grin vanished, and she was now looking at him with an expression of frank curiosity.

"Yes, I did," she said slowly. "Malfoy, did you give me a House-Elf to…keep me company? Are you crazy?"

Draco felt ridiculous. And whenever he felt ridiculous, he immediately proceeded to be angry and sarcastic. He couldn't help it. It was his default setting.

"Apparently I am crazy," he growled. "I'm crazy because despite the fact that your hair looks like you stuck your finger in one of those Muggle light sockets, I find you inexplicably sexy. I'm crazy because despite the fact that you've slapped me, threatened me, and verbally abused me, I still want nothing more than to throw you down on my desk and shag you senseless. I'm crazy because - umph."

Draco's next words were cut off as Hermione threw herself into his arms and brought her mouth crashing against his. And she was attacking him again, but this time it was the pleasantest sort of attack – all tongue and teeth and fingers raking his scalp, tugging his head demandingly this way and that….And oh Merlin, she was even bossy when she kissed. Draco could barely restrain himself from crowing in triumph as he twined his arms around her waist, pulling her warm, slender body tightly against his. Before he knew it, she was pulling away from him. He opened his mouth to protest the abandonment, but before he could get the words out, she reached up and began to undo the fastenings of her work robes.

Draco realized that when a woman is willingly divesting herself of her clothing in your presence, it is a very bad time to start asking questions. Still, he couldn't help himself….

"Granger, why did you kiss me just now?"

"Well," she said slyly, "how else was I supposed to get you to stop talking? Now then, weren't you saying something about shagging me on this desk?"

Maybe Hermione Granger was the love of Draco's life. Maybe she was the 'yin' to his 'yang'. Whatever you wanted to call it, Draco couldn't be bothered with the particulars. His attention was now wholly focused on the fact that she was sitting wantonly on the edge of his desk, beckoning him to come closer. He wasted no time in withdrawing his wand and locking his office door. Then he smirked as he added another spell to the door.

"A Silencing Spell?" Hermione asked with raised eyebrows. "Do you really think that's necessary?"

Draco's smirk widened as he stood in the space between her legs and bent down to whisper in her ear.

"Granger, I think you 'misunderestimate' me."

~ The End ~