Author's Note: This was written for the hp_spring_fling 2010 exchange on LiveJournal. The prompts were Hogwarts, a book, and stubborn romance. The first two were easy, but I had a hard time with the stubborn romance; I think this kind of fits, though? AU seventh year, no DH. Beta read by the self-proclaimed 'canon nerd', Chloe on PI.

The Charms Assignment

Hermione was out the door before the last echoes of the bell had sounded that signalled the end of classes for the day. Her destination? The library, of course. Professor Flitwick had said there was only one copy of a certain book they needed to consult for their term paper on the innate charms of magical creatures, and she was determined to be the first one to snag it. It was her last year at Hogwarts, and she was determined to get all Os on her leaving exams. That single E on her OWLs was something she would never get over.

She skidded to a halt just outside the library and tried to calm her breathing before entering. She didn't want to attract Madam Pince's attention, as any time taken for explanations would only give someone else the opportunity to slip past and get to the book first. Not that it looked like anyone else was heading this way at the moment, she ascertained as she looked around with some relief. She opened her robes and fanned some air into her blouse, trying to keep herself from breaking out into a sweat after her slap-dash run.

Finally, exhaling deeply, she swung the door open and marched in, heading straight for the Magical Creatures section. It was in a side wing of the large room, an area Hermione was quite familiar with, after all of her research regarding house-elves over the past few years. The central reading room space was completely empty, she noted with satisfaction. She didn't even see the librarian anywhere, but then she didn't need her assistance. She thought she knew which shelf the book she needed now would be on; her long hours of research had made her well-versed in how the library was organized.

As she turned into the stacks, she got a little flutter of nerves and went mentally through the precautions Professor Flitwick had spelled out which one needed to take before opening the book; there was no Dark magic in it, he had said, but a naive and unprepared reader might find themselves in a sticky situation. Rather cryptic, but ... Hermione paused a moment, thinking she had heard footsteps. Yes, there they were again! She hoped it was only Madam Pince, prowling her territory. She hurried the last few meters, stopped in front of the section she wanted, and quickly skimmed the spines.

A flood of relief overtook her when she saw the title she was looking for, right where she had expected it: An Encyclopaedia of Creature Charms. It was a handsome tome, thick and heavy, and looked like it was bound in some sort of exotic skin. She grasped it and was about to lift it off the shelf, when she felt it pull back and resist, almost as if...

She gasped and bent down to look through to the other side of the bookcase. Someone else's hand was reaching through from the opposite side, someone with the green-trimmed robes of Slytherin House.

"I had it first!" she insisted in a cross whisper to her unknown adversary. She yanked at the book and succeeded in pulling it halfway to her.

"I don't think so," the other student hissed, and pulled it back.

The tug of war went on for several seconds, with Hermione resorting to wrapping both arms around the book and heaving it towards herself with all her might. The strategy succeeded, and found her flying suddenly backwards, the book in her arms, and then landing unceremoniously on her backside. The book fell to the floor. As it landed, it plopped open, and a high-pitched, keening music began to play. It sounded like singing... no, like a flute... no, like someone whistling and humming at the same time... It was almost painful to her ears, but beautiful at the same time, and Hermione was torn between covering her ears and wanting to listen more. There was no discernible melody; it was like a birdsong, with the thrilling thrum of a low, earthy vibration beneath it, and Hermione felt the start of an answering vibration in her own body.

"'Now look what you've done, Granger!" Hermione looked up, legs splayed, robes wide open, and skirt flipped way up past her knees, into the superior sneer of Draco Malfoy. He had come around from the other side of the stacks, and now reached down to pick up the book. However, hearing the music, he hesitated.

"What I've done?" Hermione retorted. "You were the one who tried to grab it away from me! I had it first." It was becoming increasingly difficult to carry on this conversation with that insidious music playing. She was aware it was coming from the book, but she had absolutely no desire to try and make it stop. In fact, she was quickly becoming greedy for more.

"If you'd had it, I wouldn't have been able to lay my hands on it. I had no idea you were ..." Draco's voice faltered as he ran his eyes over Hermione, lying at his feet. He swallowed, visibly. "... that you were on the other side." He seemed to be struggling to maintain his pique.

Hermione felt the pulsing of the music in her chest, creating a longing sort of ache. Draco had become rather tall and... mature... she realized with irritation. How dare he stand there, being so self-righteous and... and manly. She frowned and tried to concentrate on what she was there for... the book, right, the book. She dragged her eyes away from Draco and reached out to the encyclopaedia, but Draco was down on his knees in an instant, putting his body between her and the book.

"I don't think so, Granger," he said softly, menacingly. He was so close she could see the light blonde stubble on his chin. His mouth hung slightly open, and his pale grey eyes had a hungry sort of look in them.

"It's..." Hermione leaned forward to try and reach around Draco, which brought her so close that her hair brushed over his shoulder. "...mine," she breathed out.

"I don't know what it is," Draco growled, "but it's driving me crazy!" And he dove in and began attacking her lips with his.

Hermione was so startled she didn't know what to do at first, but her body quickly took over thinking for her. His taste, earthy and sweet, answered a desire she'd never known she had, a desire that didn't feel entirely like her own, but that she was happy to give in to nonetheless. His kisses were hard and demanding, and she tasted blood, whether hers or his she couldn't tell, where sharp teeth had torn into soft lips. His chin chafed against hers, but she didn't care, as long as he was there, as long as she could feel his skin, his breath, his desire.

She clutched at the back of his head, his arms, trying both to keep from toppling over backwards and to pull him closer. He landed on top of her, hard, knocking the air out of her lungs momentarily, but he didn't seem to care or even notice. Already, his hands were on her neck, her breasts, her hips, grasping, seeking purchase.

She knew she should be protesting, that this was somehow wrong, but she'd lost all sense of time and place; all she knew was the music, and Draco, the one igniting in her a primal urge, the other seemingly there for no other purpose than to fill it.

Draco had slid one hand under her skirt, right up over her buttock, and she answered the invitation by bringing her leg up over his back, locking him into place. He was kissing her neck now, his tongue hot and wet, driving zinging pulses of electricity down into her womb. She could feel his hard length against her thigh, even through the layers of his trousers and robes, and she was startled at first when she realised what it was, but then a dampness and throbbing in her own sex told her what she needed, and she tilted her hips up to try and grind against him. One hand found its way to his arse, and found it taut and firm, and she took a glorious handful, encouraging him to press in closer. He had pulled her school blouse up out of her skirt, but it was still too tight to get his hand underneath, so he settled for kneading her breast, squeezing and pulling as best he could through the material. Hermione moaned and arched up into him, not even able to articulate what it was she wanted, as she didn't know herself. All she knew was that the music was in her body, possessing her, moulding her to its peculiar tuneless rhythm, and that rhythm was desire, nothing more and nothing less.

Hermione felt Draco's hand leave her breast, and pull up his robes. Still engrossed in his impassioned attentions to her neck and lips, she hadn't even begun to piece together what his other actions might mean when all of a sudden, he was flying off her, and the music had ended, leaving a hollow, ugly stillness in the air. Hermione felt bereft, both of the physical attentions Draco had been lavishing on her, but also of the music. Her heart fluttered disconsolately, no longer certain of its rhythm, in the wake of that sublime sound. She looked instinctively to the book, but it was now closed, with not even a whisper audible.

It was only a moment before the silence was filled, however, by the shrill voice of a very displeased Madam Pince.

"Miss Granger! Mr Malfoy!" she shrieked. Hermione flinched. She hadn't even known the prim librarian could achieve such volume and pitch. Madam Pince was standing over them (Draco had landed in what looked like a very uncomfortable position at the base of the bookcase), her wand outstretched, her eyes wide and disapproving, and a great pair of fluffy pink earmuffs on her head, similar to the ones Professor Sprout always handed out for repotting mandrakes.

"Just what do you think you're doing?"

Hermione was coming to her senses rather quickly. The events of the last few minutes were extremely fresh in her mind, and she looked at Draco in horror, realizing what had almost happened. It seemed the same thoughts were occurring to him, as he was starting to look even paler than usual; downright green, in fact, as he scrambled to his feet and made an attempt to rearrange his hopelessly rumpled robes, which had somehow got caught in his belt. His hair looked like someone had cast an experimental transfiguration on it, and had gotten it stuck halfway between bird's nest and porcupine.

Hermione didn't laugh, though, as she became aware she was looking no better; in fact, most definitely worse, with her skirt bunched well up around her waist and displaying her knickers for all and sundry to examine. To say nothing of her blouse, which had somehow gotten twisted up, exposing her midriff. Hermione gasped and whipped her robes closed, now nothing short of mortified.

"This is a library, not a... a..." Madam Pince was at a loss for words, but at least she was speaking in a more normal tone of voice now, if no less reproachful and scandalized.

"Yes, well..." Draco seemed to have recovered his speech, if not his dignity. "If you're going to leave books like that--" He gesticulated accusingly in the direction of the encyclopaedia. "--just laying about, no locking spells on them at all--"

"It just flew open," Hermione affirmed, having got her clothing back into some semblance of order.

"I can't believe Flitwick assigned such a an unpredictable, subversive piece of literature... For our final project, no less. You can be certain my father will hear of this. When I think of what nearly happened!" Draco grimaced and avoided looking in Hermione's direction.

Madam Pince peeled the earmuffs off. "I can't hear a word you're saying," she sniffed. "Thank goodness I realised immediately what that sound was. I shouldn't like to think..." She pressed her lips together. "Heads of House, I should think. March." She pointed imperiously toward the exit.

Hermione clutched her robes closely about her body as she fell into step behind Draco. Out of the corner of her eye, she noted Madam Pince had Levitated the Encyclopaedia of Creature Charms and was floating it along before her, no doubt to use as evidence for whatever interrogation and dressing down she and Draco were headed for.

On their way back through the library, Hermione considered that, aside from the momentary embarrassment, the episode hadn't been an entire waste. For one thing, if the Encyclopaedia was being temporarily confiscated, no one else would be able to get to it before her. And for another, Draco Malfoy really did have a rather hot arse.