STORY DETAILS: A Draco Malfoy x Hermione Granger multi-part story. Story is novel compliant up until the end of novel #5. From that day onward, it's an Alternate Universe entirely (Draco took the Dark Mark, but turned traitor to work for the Order of the Phoenix as a spy, and the Final Battle with Voldemort was in 1997 - the spring of Hermione & Draco's sixth year; the Order won the war and the students returned to Hogwarts to finish out their sixth and seventh years). Characters are a little OCC [out of character] as a result of the plot. THIS IS A DARK DRAMA-ANGST-ROMANCE STORY (with brief moments of comedy).

TIMELINE: 1997-1998

SUMMARY: Theodore Nott has his heart fixed firmly on Hermione Granger, but so does his best friend, Draco Malfoy. Hermione likes both bad boy Slytherins. When she makes a deal with one of them to help teach her all about sex and rid her of her virginity, how will the other handle the rejection? And how will a Time-Turner, a fatal disease, a cheating ex-girlfriend, a break out of Azkaban prison, and the introduction of a group of really nasty, archaic spells change the course of the future for all three of them? What happens to 'us after this?'

RATING: NC-17 (M – including explicit consensual sex, profanity, alcohol consumption, physical violence, pregnancy).

PICTURES TO GO WITH THE STORY (get rid of all spaces in this URL to load it properly): http:/ / s905 . photobucket . com / albums / ac260 / RZZMG / Us%20After%20This/



CHAPTER ONE: Troubled By Love

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Scotland

Wednesday, October 22, 1997

She'd saved his life, literally, and he'd fallen in love with her because of it.

He'd been trying to kill himself when she'd stumbled across him in the now-empty Room of Erised on the fourth floor. Somehow, despite the room's relative seclusion, and the day of the week (a Saturday), and the lateness of the hour (sometime after 11 p.m.), still she'd found him during her Head Girl rounds. You'd think she'd have skipped out on work and been out partying the start of the weekend with her pals, like any normal eighteen year old did nowadays (especially with Voldemort rotting away in a pine box, serving as worm food for the better part of half a year, thanks to Potter, and the return to "normal" life as a result). But no, that girl always took her duties seriously, and he'd been found out… just in the nick of time, of course.

He'd taken a potion he'd brewed himself in secret in the Lab. It contained the seeds of the Strychnos nux vomica tree, the most common source of strychnine - guaranteed death in minutes.

Not more than five seconds after he'd downed the contents of the vial, sitting as he'd been on the cold, stone floor and looking up at the high-arched cathedral stain-glass windows waiting for the effects to begin, she'd appeared. As if she'd known all along what he'd been up to, she ran immediately to his side, whipped the tiny glass container out of his hand, sniffed it, and then using a levitation spell, ran with him up to the hospital ward, screaming at the top of her lungs for Madam Pomfrey. Strapped down to a bed by cuffs, he was then pumped full of activated charcoal infusion and tannic acid (in the form of strong, lukewarm tea), and anaesthetized until the effects of the poison wore off.

When he awoke two days later, she'd been sleeping in the bed directly next to his, a woolen green blanket tucked up to her chin. Unable to free his wrists, he'd been forced to stay in place, so he'd watched her silently breathing in and out instead. The early morning sunlight had streamed through the high windows of the ward directly onto her, highlighting her beautiful cheekbones, her long, thick lashes, her tiny, pink mouth, the auburn and sienna streaks in her dark brown curly hair that didn't appear in normal lighting, and he'd become smitten with her in that moment.

Now, here he was, four weeks later, watching her – as he did at every opportunity presented to him - as she talked and laughed with her friends during breakfast, and Theodore Nott knew that he was no longer infatuated with Hermione Granger. He was down and out in love with her.

He sighed, shoving his fork into the scrambled eggs on his plate and bringing up a mouthful to chew on. Even if he could convince Granger to date him by some miracle, it would never work out between them. First, there was the problem of his illness. Second, she was Gryffindor's Princess, and he was, well, a nobody. Third, he belonged to the Golden Lion's eternal nemesis – Slytherin House. And finally, there was the problem of his best friend, Draco Malfoy, who would make Teddy's life hell if the guy found out that he was entertaining any sort of thought in his heart for Hermione.

He looked up to see her throw her head back in mirth at something her red-headed female friend, Ginny Weasley, had said. Gales of tinkling laughter escaped her perfectly parted lips, and Teddy had to shut his eyes against the longing that roared up inside. He wanted her to talk and laugh with him like that. Instead, every time they met in the library "accidentally" (he'd intentionally appear during the times he knew she was studying there, coolly making it seem coincidental) and they had a few minutes to spare to whispered casual conversation, they were cordial and respectful of their inquiries of each other's health and well-being, never so open as to talk about anything more personal. The morning she'd awoken to find him still alive and awake in the medical unit - the gentle smile she'd given him and the small kiss she'd pressed to his cheek in relief, as if they were good friends – had apparently faded for her. But not for him; Teddy fiercely clung to those moments, frequently reliving them in his mind.

He finished his breakfast alone, as usual, sitting down the very end of Slytherin's table nearest the doors, his thoughts morose. When Draco came and sat at his side, Teddy was somewhat shocked; Malfoy usually sat with Zabini and Parkinson, now that Crabbe and Goyle were both in Azkaban with their fathers. "Hey," Draco stated, pulling a piece of toast from the middle of the table's spread and munching on it.

"Hey," Teddy warily replied. Even with someone as close to him as Draco – well, as close as two blokes could be, given one refused to kowtow to the other's overblown superiority complex – the Slytherin within Teddy couldn't help but be cautious. He looked at his friend over his morning cup of tea and could tell by the mischievous look in his friend's grey eyes that Malfoy wanted something. "What's up?"

Draco chewed his food completely, waiting to reply until he swallowed. "Got a favor to ask," he slyly grinned.

"You always do when you come over to this side of the table," Teddy growled, not in the mood today for another of Malfoy's games. Knowing the guy, it probably had something to do with Potter and Weasley, two of Draco's resumed favorite targets now that the whole Wizarding War-slash-Death Eater thing was said and done.

"You're friends with Granger, right?"

Teddy cautiously glanced at Draco. The guy's cheeks were stained with a blush and he was openly staring at Hermione with that look – the one he reserved for hunting bints around school. Oh, this was so not going to be good. Teddy considered his reply, carefully phrasing it just so. "We're not friends. I've only talked to her a few times."

Draco's head whipped back around to spear him with that penetrating, knowing gaze. "She saved your life. That practically makes you best buddies - if you play it right."


Teddy shook his head. "Forget it, Drake. Whatever it is, forget it."

Draco watched him, chewed on more toast. He was focused in a way he only ever was when out on the Quidditch pitch looking for the Snitch. "I think you're going to like this assignment," he finally stated in a low-pitched voice.

Teddy took another sip of his tea, tamping down on the growing ire in the pit of his stomach. Normally, he was a carefully controlled, reserved person, but Teddy knew that when he lost his temper, it was a really bad thing. He was like his crazy, old man in that way. Malfoy was pushing his buttons now. "I'm not one of your lackeys, Drake. Don't make the mistake of thinking you can push me around like the others."

His best friend gave him that stunning smirk that had the ladies – and some blokes – melting at his feet. Teddy merely stared back, entirely unfazed. "Stop trying to be so charming and spit it out."

Malfoy's attention returned to Hermione. "I want you to talk to her for me," he indicated with a nod of his chin in Granger's direction. "Suss her out. See if she'd be receptive."

Nausea rose into his throat as the eels slipped around in his guts, and he fought to ignore the hot knife of jealousy that mercilessly stabbed at him. "Receptive to what exactly?" he asked, his voice gone as cold as his morning tea.

Slytherin's Prince gave him his patented, enchanting smile. "To going out with me, of course."

Teddy shook his head. Of all the stupidest plans he'd ever heard come out of Draco's mouth, this one took the cake. "Absolutely not. I will not 'suss her out' for you," he grated. "And this scheme of yours, Drake – however far you plan to take it – it goes too far at just the asking. Granger's a good kid. Leave her alone."

Draco raised an eyebrow at him. "She's hardly a kid, Ted. As I'm sure you've noticed."

The offhanded way he'd said that had Teddy thinking that maybe he'd been a tad too obvious in his constant regard for Hermione in public. Apparently, Draco knew that he'd been checking Granger out, too. He shrugged, trying to make it seem like no big deal. "So, she's grown up. She's still just as naïve and nice a girl as she's ever been." He looked directly and seriously at Draco. "Too much so for anything you'd have planned for her, I'm sure."

Draco watched him again with those impassive, winter grey eyes, and Teddy "flinched" first, dipping his head to finish off his tea.

"And who says I have any bad intentions here?"

Teddy scoffed. "Since when don't you, Drake, especially when it comes to girls - and most especially that girl."

Draco put his toast down and leaned in, as if to share a secret. "Ever since I ran into her this summer at Villefranche sur Mer, and saw her in that bikini, I haven't been able to get her out of my head," he admitted. "She was abso-fucking-lutely hot." He ran his hands through his long, white-blond bangs and looked back over at Granger, who was completely oblivious as to the scrutiny, engaged as she was in conversation with Potter. "Mudblood or not, I want her."

Teddy tried hard to shove the green-eyed monster down into his chest where it belonged, but he knew he wasn't as successful as he needed to be this time. "For Slytherin's sake, Malfoy, even for you, this is low!" He shoved his plate into the center of the table in disgust and wiped his mouth with his napkin. "Sorry, but I will not help you try to get into Granger's pants just for the sake of adding another notch of conquest to your bedpost." He heaved his school bag's cuff onto his shoulder angrily in preparation to leave and stood. "Just once in your life, Drake, consider someone else's feelings before your own."

He stormed out of the dining hall, knowing his friend's measuring eyes were upon him with every step.

Later in the afternoon, just before dinner, Teddy was studying in the library. He had retreated to this quiet sanctuary with no plans of "accidentally" bumping into Hermione Granger; she wasn't due there until later that evening, if she stuck to schedule. This was time for him alone. He needed to cool down, and studying always focused him as nothing else could.

He was already far ahead in his Advanced Charms textbook than the class curriculum dictated, but Teddy was atypical for a pureblood, in that he actually liked learning about magic. He didn't take his power for granted, because there had been a time when he was a child that he'd been denied the use of magic entirely and it was only afterwards, when the vicious hex his father had laid upon him (a punishment for being caught reading a Muggle book) was released, that he realized how lucky he was to have been born a wizard. Cut off completely from the source of magic deep within his soul, he'd been like a person who'd suddenly lost all of their five physical senses, and the feeling of being an empty vessel and utterly helpless to the whims of others had made him appreciate his innate talents in a way that so many of his peers did not.

Ironic, really, since it was that same magic causing his illness, and which was slowly killing him.

"You're already at chapter sixteen?" he heard her voice behind him ask in admiration. "I'm only up to chapter fourteen, myself."

Teddy closed the book quickly and spun around in his chair.

She was here, talking to him, smiling at him openly!

Hermione grabbed the empty chair next to him and placed her book bag down on the wooden desk in front of her, taking her books out and placing them on the desk as if she intended on staying for a while. "Hi," he stammered in surprise, then caught himself and forced a smooth, controlled mask over his features. "Yeah, I like to read ahead during the first term so I can have more free time later in the year."

"Do you practice the charms, too, or only read about them?" she asked, opening her own Advanced Charms book to the chapter she was currently on. She turned expectant eyes upon him, waiting for his reply.

He shrugged. "Some of them I practice in advance," he admitted.

She turned to chapter fifteen in the book, then chapter sixteen, skimming the contents quickly. "Oh, well, I can see why you couldn't practice these outside of the classroom… and even then…" She blushed. The section he'd been reading had been on advanced daydream charms (a new addition to this revision of the book after the Weasley twins had invented and patented this particular type of magic two years previously). He grinned, finding her reaction adorable. "Why would they even teach us such things at this age?" she asked, flipping the page and intently skimming through the information. "Don't they realize what a bunch of hormonal teenagers will daydream about?"

He couldn't help the chuckle that escaped his lips or the response that popped into his head and out of his mouth without editing. "I don't know, Granger, what do a bunch of chemically-wacked teens fantasize about?"

She looked over at him, blushing brilliant crimson to match the red stripes on her tie. She seemed as if she wanted to say something, and then shut her mouth and looked back down at her book, clearly thinking up a tactful way to reply. "I mean-" she whispered, as if mortified to be having this conversation with anyone, much less him, a Slytherin she hardly knew. "You know - kissing and stuff."

"What's so wrong with kissing?" he asked, not knowing where all his courage was coming from. He rode it out, however, happy to just be talking to her about something other than the weather.

She cleared her throat, licked her lips and clearly tried for clinical detachment from the subject matter. "I suppose it would be a rather… pleasant endeavor… if done with someone you liked."

"You suppose?" he questioned the wording, feeling his heart speed up in his chest. "Haven't you ever romantically kissed?"

She bit her lip, and her fingertip began rubbing back and forth over the charm book's leather bound edge. "Yes, I've kissed," she admitted, her eyes downcast, her long lashes lowered coyly. "Have you?" The last was rushed out, as if she was afraid to ask such a daring thing of a relative stranger.

Teddy put his book on the desk in front of him and leaned on it, carefully watching her. She seemed awfully nervous, almost as if… His pulse jumped into his throat. "Yeah, two girls."

His honesty seemed to set her a bit at ease, for she smiled tentatively. "It was only once for me. Honestly, it wasn't very good."

Teddy nodded, guessing who it would have been. "Viktor Krum, I take it?"

She looked over at him, licked her lips again and shyly nodded. Her left hand moved to her throat to fiddle with the necklace she wore, as if it were too tight around for comfort. She also loosened her tie a bit. "How about you?"

This conversation was just too weird. Here he'd been pining away for Granger for the better part of a month, and they'd said maybe a total of thirty words to each other – all proscribed small talk – and now, here she was delving into sexual secrets with him. "Usually it's considered bad manners for a gentleman to kiss and tell," he teased, warming up to this conversation. He saw her face fall and she looked truly disappointed. "But, if you really want to know, I'll tell you - so long as I have your complete confidence, that is."

She nodded. "You do," she vowed. "I swear not to tell a soul."

He looked at her again, knowing she meant it. Granger was nothing if not honest. "Okay then, Daphne Greengrass and Mandy Brocklehurst."

"Oh," she said, somewhat awed. "They're both so beautiful. You're lucky."

Teddy sniffed in amusement. "There's beauty outside, and then there's beauty inside, Granger. The two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive."

Sure, he'd scored with Greengrass and Brocklehurst as both girls were considered to be among the most attractive in the school, but what most people didn't know was that they were both devious she-devils underneath. He'd lost his cherry to Daphne during fifth year and almost his heart before he'd come to his senses and realized he was just one of her many beaus, and Mandy had taken him to heights he'd never imagined in his sixth year, only to dump him for Cormac McLaggen before first term had ended. Draco would call them slags for what they'd done, but Teddy preferred to just chalk both experiences up to incompatibility of personalities.

She looked at him in disbelief. "Does that really matter to a guy?" she asked, then put her hand over her mouth, as if shocked she'd even said such a thing. "I'm sorry, that came out all wrong."

Teddy snickered and shook his head. "That's probably a well deserved observation most of the time," he agreed. "But not all men are Neanderthals. There are exceptions to the rule."

"And you're one of them?" she curiously asked.

Their eyes connected, and Teddy knew then that there was something going on between them. This line of questioning, the expressiveness in her dark sienna-colored eyes… She was interested in knowing more about him. Teddy felt his heart leap, and there was a strange, light ringing in his ears. He leaned towards her. "What do you think?"

She visibly swallowed hard, mimicking his movement, her face inching closer to his. "I think you are."

Just as he was going to continue this line of questioning to see where it led, they were interrupted by Madam Pince, who'd moved into the section to put a stack of books back on the shelves. Hermione guiltily jumped away and turned back to the desk, cleared her throat and started rearranging her books back into her satchel.

"I think… I'm tired," she stuttered. "I'm just going to go back to my dorm and study later."

Teddy felt terribly disappointed with Pince's timing, but realized that the old lady had probably moved intentionally into their section after spying two students in such close proximity and alone.

Gryffindor's reigning princess quickly stood and took a hold of her bag, slinging it over her shoulder. "I'll see you later, right?" she asked and he nodded. She scurried out as quickly as her legs could carry her, and Teddy sighed for the lost chance. For a second there, he'd been sure she wanted him to kiss her.

Wishful thinking, buddy, he berated himself. Granger was too far out of his league.

Back in the Head's private dorm room, Hermione threw her bag down beside her bed, jumped up onto her luxurious queen-sized mattress and with a wave of her wand, closed the curtains to the solitary window that looked out over the lake.

What had she been thinking? Teddy Nott was absolutely off-limits. He was Slytherin. He was Draco Malfoy's best friend. He was…

Sweet, mysterious, good looking, smart…

She sighed, pulling the necklace out of her shirt, dangling the mini hourglass pendant in the air, letting it swing in a slow circle. Blast the damned Time-Turner! If only Professor Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall hadn't agreed to let her use it (the last of its kind, as all the others had been destroyed in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries at the end of fifth year). She'd requested its use so that this, her seventh and final year would be memorable; she wanted to score the highest N.E.W.T.s in the history of the school - a lofty endeavor Dumbledore had agreed. If not for that ambition, she might not be in the emotional bind she was in right now, though.

On the flip side, if she hadn't had the Time-Turner, she argued internally, she could never have covertly alerted her "past self" about Teddy's attempted suicide, which in her current self's memory had actually succeeded. By going backwards through time and saving him, she'd closed that temporal loop and changed the future.

But now she was left with the repercussions of that action.

She'd been pretending for weeks that she hadn't noticed Theodore Nott watching her, telling herself that he was merely curious by her motivations that fateful night when she'd located him in the Room of Erised, and that he was probably also worried that she'd tell everyone about him trying to kill himself and was keeping tabs on her to make sure she didn't start any rumors. But, the more she'd noticed him, the more it became obvious that Teddy was interested in her in more than a purely platonic sense. And, oddly enough, she'd begun to feel the same way about him.

She'd slyly watched him in classes they shared, noticed the ease with which he wove the magic around him and was bewitched by his skill. When she'd begun seeing him in the library more often, she felt the rightness of sitting close to him, reading and studying nearby in quiet. She'd never shared that kind of platonic intimacy with anyone else – not even Harry and Ron - and it comforted her in a manner she hadn't expected.

Of course, she physically noticed him, as well. Teddy was, overall, rather attractive - once you got past the standoffish attitude. He had perfectly chiseled lips, adorably mismatched eyes (one dark blue, the other dark green), was very tall (at least 1.83 meters), and was on the thin side, but cut with lean muscle. The defining features that captured her attention, however, were Teddy's large, but delicate and neatly manicured hands. Whenever he held a book and turned the page, she imagined what those fingers would feel like touching her skin…

And like clockwork, just as she started thinking about anything remotely sexual, the problem of Malfoy would undoubtedly creep up into her brain and set off a chain reaction throughout her body that left her uncomfortably wanting.

When she'd seen the git in France over the summer holiday dressed in only a pair of low-slung swim trunks at the beach, she'd nearly lost her marbles. His body, which she had never paid any attention to before, was absolutely delectable to gaze upon – well-muscled from his years of Quidditch practice, pale, with no visible hair on his torso anywhere except under his arms. The Dark Mark on the inside of his left forearm had faded after Voldemort's death, and was all but a pink line of scar tissue that was slowly healing, almost like a mild burn. He didn't seem the least bit bothered with it being so openly advertized, though, almost flaunting it as a badge of courage rather than a war wound. He'd let his white-blond, silky hair grow out again, and the bangs were once more flopping rakishly across his magnetic, winter grey eyes. He had the longest, most golden lashes she'd ever seen on a man, and his lips were sensual – made for kissing. His hands were rough from years of sports, but they were strong, and he moved with the grace of a cat, and had amazingly fast reflexes, as all Seekers did.

He'd literally bumped right into her that afternoon, and they'd both automatically grabbed at each other without thought to prevent the other from falling. When she finally stared up into Malfoy's face and realized it was him she was clinging to, Hermione had just stood there like an idiot staring, obliquely noting him doing the same. They'd quickly let go of each other once the initial shock wore off, both moving as if avoiding being burned, but then they'd also openly and obviously performed the "roving eye" up and down each other. In those few seconds, Hermione had felt something in her lower abdomen clench at his hot stare.

Once he'd opened his mouth the enchantment ended however, and Hermione yelled something smart and curt at him (although she couldn't remember the exact retort in retrospect), and stormed away back towards her parents. She spent the remainder of that afternoon entirely ignoring his end of the beach, trying to relax and get a nice tan instead. By the time she'd gotten back to school five weeks later, she'd convinced herself that she'd obviously been a temporary victim of heat stroke that day, and that she felt absolutely no attraction to the loathsome, foul bigot whatsoever.

But then she'd seen him on the Hogwarts Express, putting his bag up in an overhead compartment. He'd been dressed in his customary all-black ensemble – a look he'd adopted in sixth year – but this time, he'd removed his jacket. The form-fitting turtleneck emphasized his body's beautiful cut, and the way his snug pants fit his backside left her imagining running her hand over those curves. As he'd turned to take a seat, he caught her spying and they'd locked eyes and shared a moment - one that lasted for a long minute. It was the fortunate timing of some first years crowding onto the train behind her that coerced her into looking away and seeking the nearest compartment to hide in to avoid the eyes she knew were continuing to watch her. She'd had no choice but to admit then that she was physically attracted to Ferret Boy, and he apparently to her.

Despite that revelation, for the better part of the last seven and a half weeks since term began, Hermione had done her best to ignore Malfoy's obvious staring. Unfortunately, and as usual, he'd made things difficult for her, however. It was almost as if he could read her thoughts, intentionally putting himself into her view whenever possible, especially during the moments when she felt her resolve to completely discount him crumbling away. Once during Potions, while in the ingredients storeroom, they'd gone in at the same time and when they were alone, he'd proceeded to "accidentally" rub his hand against hers as they reached for the same jar of pickleweed. The next week, it had been lovage. Both times she'd cursed herself when her pulse unconsciously sped up, especially the last time when he'd shared a secret smile with her that made her guts melt and caressed her fingers teasingly before moving away.

Teddy and Draco - gah!

How was it possible to feel something for two different men, much less two Slytherins who were friends? How did she get herself into this mess?

With a groan, Hermione released the Time-Turner, slipping it back down her shirt, and flipped over onto her tummy, laying her head upon her pillow, defeated.

Thank Godric's stones that Ron wasn't an issue any longer. After the fiasco of attempting to date him (right after Voldemort had been defeated), they'd both realized that they were no good together. She couldn't even get herself to kiss him, because they'd spent most of their two week "relationship" fighting. In the end, they'd mutually agreed that it was better to remain friends. He'd recently managed to catch the attention of Lavender Brown again, which Hermione was extremely thankful for. Now both of her boys – Harry and Ron – were spoken for (Harry by Ginny, much to Ron's chagrin and Hermione's delight, since Ginny was her best girlfriend).

Mentally exhausted from trying to rationalize out her feelings (who knew crushing on a boy – boys, plural – could be so taxing?), she closed her eyes, attempting a quick nap. However, dream-like images of both Teddy and Malfoy tormented her sorely-starved libido behind her lids, continuing to confuse her. Frustrated, she finally gave the ghost up and with a deep sigh, forced herself into her private bathroom, rinsed her face off with cold water, and checked herself in the mirror. She looked like hell in a hand-basket - much too tired and pale. She hadn't slept well in weeks because of the additional school work, coupled with the personal drama she was putting herself through. Ugly looked back at her and she cringed. It was time to do something about that…

She tied her unmanageable hair back into a ponytail and braided it down into a neat plait, applied a little tinted lip gloss, some blusher and some mascara (gifts from Ginny for her eighteenth birthday a few weeks back) and spritzed herself lightly with the French perfume she'd picked up during her summer vacation. The gentle scent of honey flower, cinnamon and amber filled the air, and immediately she felt uplifted and sexy. This was the best purchase she'd ever made in the whole of her life, outside of her wand, she decided. Maybe she should wear it every day.

Feeling immensely better, she headed down to the Great Hall for dinner.

CHAPTER TWO: Deal With The Serpent

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Scotland

Saturday, October 25 – Monday, October 27, 1997

Granger had been wearing that sexy perfume for the last few days, and it had driven Draco absolutely spare with lust whenever he passed by her in the corridors or the Great Hall. Combined with her natural body's musk, the scent was delectable. Strangely, she hadn't even seemed to notice the attention she was garnering from him, much less any of the other males around her, because ironically, she was wearing the perfume not to entice, but simply for her own enjoyment.

Fuck, that was sexy.

He'd decided that tonight, when she made her weekly rounds about the castle, he was going to finally do something about all this sexual tension between them. He had the perfect location for his surprise pounce in mind – Greenhouse Number One, as it was currently empty of all plants, had been aired out so it smelled fresh, and was safe from prying eyes. Either Granger would respond to him tonight, or she'd hex him into oblivion. It was a chance he was willing to take at this point, as he'd go blind from all the wanking he'd been doing for the past few months if he didn't get some satisfaction soon. Even just a kiss from her would do at this point.

He waited until he knew she was on rounds, and then he snuck up to the greenhouse area, knowing she came by there last, around midnight. He leaned against the solid, opaque glass wall and watched for the telltale sign of her illuminated wand tip near the door. When it approached and the door knob turned, he held his breath. He could smell her perfume before she was a full half-meter into the room. Waving his wand at the door, he quietly locked it behind her as she moved further in, and then he snuck up on Granger from behind. Placing a hand around her waist, and the second over her mouth, he leaned into her ear and shushed her as she jumped and tried to scream. "It's me," he murmured against her neck quickly. "Calm down, Granger. I'm not going to hurt you."

He felt her swallow, and saw the light on her wand dim out; only the moonlight floating in from above highlighted them now. Her breathing picked up, her ribs moving faster against the arm that held her in place. He slowly removed his hand from her face, but maintained his grip around her body. "So trusting," he muttered softly with a chuckle. "Hardly what I expected."

"What d-do you want, Malfoy?" she nervously stammered.

"To talk to you," he admitted. Which was the truth, he did want to talk to her - and if he was lucky, maybe even do a little bit more…

"All right, what about?"

A more perfect opening he couldn't have hoped for. Pressing his nose down against her neck, he breathed hotly on her skin, inhaling that sexy perfume at the same time. "About us."

She squirmed, trying to get him to release his hold on her, but he noted that she didn't fight too hard. "There is no 'us,' Malfoy."

He chuckled. "I beg to differ, Granger. I think there's been a lot of 'us' since this summer."

He wished he could actually see the blush that heated her skin up against his cool cheek. His free arm came around and wrapped around her waist, too, as he moved his body closer into her frame. "Put the wand down and let me show you what I mean," he seductively breathed against her ear.

She clenched her wand even more tightly in her fist and began shaking. "Y-you shouldn't be out here after curfew," she rushed out. "You need to go back to your common room or you'll be in trouble!"

He couldn't help but laugh, and in characteristic fashion, she couldn't help but automatically shush him. "Only you would think about rules at a time like this." He began running his lips over her throat, placing small kisses against it. "Relax."

She began shaking in earnest when his tongue dipped out to lap against her pulse. "Let me go," she whispered, obviously terrified. "Please, Draco."

Maybe it was the way she'd made the request, or maybe it was her use of his given name for the first time ever, or maybe it was because she was so obviously scared… He slowly let his arms drop away from her, doing as she'd asked. He may have been a Malfoy, and his family may have well earned their reputation for being ruthless and getting what they wanted, but Draco never hurt girls. That was his number one rule - especially true after Katie Bell had accidentally picked up the cursed necklace last year (Dumbledore's plan - to help keep Draco's cover as a "loyal" Death Eater safe by faking attempts on the Headmaster's life - had somehow gone horribly wrong when Bell's curiosity had gotten the better of her and she'd opened the necklace's packaging). The bint had ended up in a coma for months afterwards, and he'd never forgotten how rotten he'd felt knowing he'd been responsible. And that promise never to hurt any female went double for girlfriends. He'd never taken anything from any woman that they weren't willing to give. He'd made sure of that.

Apparently, giving her freedom back to her without delay or complaint went a long way in earning Hermione's trust. She didn't step away once he'd let her go, seeming to immediately calm once she'd been released. He remained standing behind her, not touching her, but desperately wanting to.

"Thank you," she stated simply, straightening her school uniform.

"I won't force you," he affirmed, wanting her to understand.

She perceptively nodded, and turned to face him. "I believe you."

In the dark, he could barely make out her features, but with the movement of air, her scent rose to his nose again and he inhaled deeply. "Merlin's rod, you're driving me into the nuthouse, Granger," he admitted with a sigh, and ran a hand through his long bangs in frustration. "Do you know how much it bothers me to admit that?"

She tilted her head, as if considering his words. "I thought you hated me. That I was a know-it-all, goody-good bookworm."

He tsk'd in annoyance. "I do! You are! That's what's so frustrating!"

"But you want me anyway?" she incredulously asked.

He sighed again - heavily. "Yeah, I do."

She was silent for a moment. "In what way, Malfoy?"

Was she kidding? He was stumped by such naivety. "How blunt do you want it, Granger?"

There was a significant pause as she considered her reply. "Say what you mean," she finally bid.

He sniffed in amusement, his grin stretching from ear to ear. "I want to fuck you until you scream my name from the rafters. Is that candid enough?"

She was quiet again.

"What if I… wanted something similar?"

It was barely a whisper, but Draco had heard her correctly in the stillness of the room. He almost face-vaulted right there. "Are you kidding?"

Granger shook her head, sighed in frustration and tsk'd. "Oh, frick-a-frack, I really hate to admit it, but you've gotten under my skin, too, Malfoy. But, well, I don't want to do that sort of thing here, not like this."

His mouth felt as dry as the Sahara Desert suddenly, and his heart was slamming under his ribcage. "Okay, when and where?" Did that sound a little too much like begging?

There was another pregnant pause, so he waited her out. "I'll make you a deal," she began, and that got his attention full force. "You teach me and I'll learn from you."

Wait, what?

"Look, Granger, you're going to need to clarify that statement for me," he drawled. "I'm afraid my brain isn't doing the thinking right now. What are we talking about here - kissing, heavy petting, sex?"

"All of it," she confirmed, and he just about came in his pants then and there. "But slowly, over time," she made the caveat. "I'm… I've never done more than kiss someone, and only once. I'm eighteen years old and I've got less experience than some of the third years around this school. Honestly, that's more than a little pathetic." She sighed again, and sounded so sincerely forlorn that Draco was hard pressed to bite back a laugh. Mocking her would definitely be a really bad idea; she'd probably hit him again and stomp out. Although he liked her fiery temper, he controlled his natural reactions.

Crossing his arms, he sat back on his heels and patiently waited to hear the rest of her proposition.

"I want to know how it is to… do it … right with someone I have obvious chemistry with." She cleared her throat with obvious embarrassment. "And, I think we've established that we're both rather interested. You're certainly experienced enough, according to the rumors. So, an… arrangement… between us makes perfect sense." She fidgeted and looked down at her feet. "If you're willing, that is."

The idea was the most wacked out thing he'd ever heard. It was barking mad. She was clearly up a tree, over the moon and around the u-bend – a couple of times, at least.

Still, it fit, didn't it? It was always the obsessive-compulsive, anally-retentive types who were the most sexually curious and daring, willing to try the craziest shite in bed with the baddest boys they could find. Draco knew that first hand. Still… "Why don't you ask one of your guy friends to break you in?" he asked, the little devil on his shoulder mentally slapping him for even mentioning other blokes at a time like this, while the little angel on the other side applauded his rationality. "Hell, Granger, half the male population in the school would die for a chance at you."

She was quiet for a bit before replying. "I don't want any of them."

His heart thump-a-thumped in this chest wildly. "And you want me?" he asked in a parody of what she'd earlier put to him.

Her head dipped slowly up and down once. "Outrageous though it seems, I do." She nervously laughed. "Ironic, don't you think - the two of us feeling like this about each other, after everything."

He shrugged. "Yeah, I guess. Makes sense, though, in a twisted sort of way."

She stepped closer to him and he dropped his arms, hoping she'd be swooping close for something good. "So, what do you think?" she asked, her voice low and soft and just a little breathy.

Woo boy, wacky as fuck!

"Okay, Granger, what the hell? Sounds like fun. How long are we talking? And when and where would we hold our tutoring sessions?" He wanted it all laid out so he could know what to expect. That would make the fantasizing about it later all the sweeter.

She seemed to consider the idea, obviously turning the logistics over in her head. "Starting tonight until Christmas break. We can use my room for privacy. Are you doing anything on Wednesday and Friday nights?"

She made it sound so casual and clinical, like it was a series of appointments she was setting up to get fitted for a new set of robes or something. He rolled his eyes and grinned, thanking all of the Makers above for this crazy moment. "Nothing I can't cancel. And celebrating the holidays with a bang, huh? Sounds brilliant."

She firmly nodded. "We'll meet in my room at nine o'clock on Wednesdays and Fridays. The Head Dorms are on the fifth floor, opposite side of the corridor from the Prefect's Bathroom. Mine is on the right, beneath the small tapestry with the Gryffindor crest. Just knock."

He nodded in agreement. "Okay, deal."

"Right, then."

She started to walk past him, as if the whole matter was now settled and they could just go about their merry, separate ways without another thought to it. Draco wasn't about to let this opportunity slide by, however. He reached out and stopped her with a light hand on her arm. She turned back towards him, and he could just barely make out her brows snapping down in confusion. "You said starting tonight, right?" he asked, licking his lips.

She looked down and he could feel her tense up under his hand. "Um, yes, I suppose."

He gently turned her and stepped into her personal space. "Don't worry," he stated. "You asked to take it slow, so we will." He reached down and carefully embraced her. "Wrap your arms around my neck." When she hesitantly complied, he nuzzled her throat, inhaling at the same moment and sighing in pleasure. They stood like that for dozens of heartbeats, and Draco relished the moment, realizing he'd never actually done this with a girl before – just hugged. She was so warm and soft and small, and her heartbeat at her pulse was fast and strong. It felt nice.

After a minute or two, he reluctantly let her go, looking down at her as she stared up at him in amazement. "Night, Granger," he whispered, enjoying this game already. "Sleep well."

She stepped away from him a little too quickly. "Good night, Malfoy." With that, she hurried from the room, checking both ways as she emerged from the greenhouse, and then darted off back towards the inner castle.

Draco stayed for a moment more, considering the strange conversation he'd just had with the Head Girl. Could things have worked out any more perfect or what? It was as if he'd just cashed in the winning Golden Ticket with the Big Bosses above - and it was one hellava jackpot. He punched his arm just to make sure this whole thing was real and he wasn't caught up in one of those damned Weasley daydream charms.

He made his way out of the greenhouse and sneakily through the corridors back to his common room in the dungeons, his mind working through the idea of 'tutoring' Hermione. Where to start?

Crud, the anticipation of their first lesson was already killing him. Hell, the anticipation of every single lesson was enough to give him a heart attack on the spot, but Draco kept his eye on the ultimate prize. The weeks of touching Hermione, breaking her in slowly would all be worth it as, in the end, he'd be teaching her everything she'd need to know to please him when they finally did get down to the deed. And he knew from experience that if he could hold out until she was fully ready, it was going to be fan-fucking-tastic, mind-blowing sex between them - just what he'd been fantasizing about for the last couple of months.

He made it back to his bed without incident, quietly stripped out of his clothes and slid between his sheets in nothing but his skivvies. Staring up at the dark green – black, in this light - canopy above his bed, he grinned, practically thrumming in anticipation. The untouchable, proper, gorgeous 'Princess of Gryffindor' was going to be all his! In a few weeks, he was going to take Hermione Granger's sweet cherry, and being her first lover, she'd never be able to forget him – not ever.

Holy shite, was he the luckiest bastard on the planet or what?

Monday morning couldn't come fast enough for Teddy. He'd spent the entire weekend sneakily looking for Granger, but was thwarted at each turn. First, he'd had a meeting with Snape to discuss his "weekly progress" in dealing with his emotional baggage from the illness, then Peeves had caused a flood in the boy's dorms on his specific level on Saturday, and he'd spent most of the day casting drying spells on all of his clothes, bedding, books, and important papers, and third, on Sunday, he'd spent all day rewriting several homework parchments that had been too damaged by Saturday's deluge to salvage. He cursed his bad luck.

At least today he'd share all of the same classes with Hermione – Advanced Potions Lab in the morning for two hours, Ancient Runes Lecture from one to two in the afternoon, Arithmancy Lecture from three to four, and Astronomy Lecture from four to five. In between, their schedules were compatible for meals, too. Hopefully, he'd have a chance to talk to her a little at some point today.

He'd gotten up later than usual and so skipped breakfast, hoping his stomach wouldn't protest too loudly, making his way through the dungeons to the Potions room. Granger was already there, as was some of the class, including Draco. He made his way over to his friend. "Hey," he greeted the tall blond, still consciously aware that they hadn't actually "made up" after that last argument in the dining hall Wednesday, so he approached with caution.

"Morning," Draco greeted him with a smile that the cat could have worn after swallowing the canary whole. Instantly, Teddy's instincts told him to be wary. "Partner with me?"

Teddy nodded, his face carefully neutral. "Sure."

They spent the whole two hours working, not really saying much, but Teddy constantly watched his friend out of the corner of his eye. On more than a few occasions, the guy's eyes strayed over to Granger, and a hungry look overtook them. Squashing down his jealousy, he continued to observe as Hermione's eyes occasionally connected with Draco's. When they did, she would blush and turn away and this only made Malfoy's self-satisfied smirk all the more persistent.

Despite the distractions, their combined proficiency at potions allowed Malfoy and he to finish their Porlock Pox elixir well ahead of anyone else in the class, including Granger and Potter, who were paired up. Slughorn was impressed and allowed them to leave early. The two made their way back to the Slytherin common room.

"What did you decide?" Teddy finally asked, unable to hold in his curiosity. "About Granger, I mean."

Draco was quiet for a bit, but that strange half-smile graced his features as they walked through the portal and into their House after providing the correct password for entrance. "We talked this weekend. She wants to see me," he finally said, his storm-colored eyes sparkling with excitement. "We're going to try it out. See what happens."

Teddy felt his heart sink into his shoes. He'd thought, after what happened in the library, that maybe… Yeah right. Wishful thinking, remember? "So you're dating then?"

Draco shrugged. "I'm not sure what she wants to call it or how open it'll be. I'll take what I can get though."

"You really dig on her, huh?" Teddy asked, just now realizing that for the first time since he'd known Drake, the guy seemed serious about a girl. His friend didn't answer the question before he reached his door, though. With a backwards, "see ya," Draco entered the room he shared with Zabini, Harper, and Vaisey and shut the portal between them.

Teddy headed down a level to his own room to swap out his books for the next class after lunch, feeling utterly miserable. He hadn't needed his best friend to reply to his question. The answer had been obvious: yes, Draco Malfoy really dug on Hermione Granger.