"Are you coming, 'Mione?"
Eighteen-year-old Hermione Granger cringed at Ronald Weasley's continued use of her much-hated nickname. This time, though, she did not bother to correct him.
"Go ahead, I'll see you in the common room, I've got…"
"To go to the library," Ron supplied with a roll of his eyes. "Really, 'Mione, you spend too much time there as it is. Don't stay too long, all right?"
Hermione maintained a neutral face as he bent to brush his lips across hers before setting off up the many staircases that would take him to Gryffindor tower. He had called her 'Mione again, and he had assumed she was going to the library; he had been mistaken, though she did not bother to correct him.
Peering around her, feigning a nonchalance that belied the apprehension coiled tightly in her belly, Hermione made certain that there were no wayward students lingering about; it wouldn't do for her to be seen.
With every step Hermione took toward the third-floor corridor, the apprehension morphed further into anticipation. As she reached her destination, a large statue of Achilles, Hermione looked about wildly, once again assuring that she was alone and had not been followed; while normally careful, Hermione had never felt this nervous—almost like she suspected something to leap out at her; though she saw no one in the deserted corridor, she could not help feeling as though she was being watched.
"Patrocles," Hermione whispered to the statue, which lifted his sword, granting Hermione access to the ancient door behind him.
"I thought you had lost your nerve, Granger," came the imperious drawl of the wizard she had involved herself with.
Turning slowly, gathering her wits about her, Hermione faced Draco Malfoy with an expression of utter indifference on her face; her dealings with him had nearly made her a master at schooling her emotions.
"Of course I haven't lost my nerve," she told the smirking wizard coolly even as he advanced on her. The old Hermione Granger would have gulped nervously and taken a step backward; the new Hermione Granger boldly met his gaze, not moving a muscle and standing with an air of utter defiance. Defiant—it was the way he preferred her; it caused her eyes to flash and the very air around her to crackle with her magical energy.
The first time Hermione had found herself alone with Malfoy had been completely by accident; she had been marking second year Charms assignments and he had been given detention. It had taken Malfoy mere seconds to begin his intimidation tactics on Hermione, and at the time, they had worked. By the time she left the Charms classroom, she had been shaking—a combination of anger and nerves; being close to him had never been good for her.
After the initial incident, Malfoy completely ignored her for a week. Hermione was relieved. She had left the Great Hall early so that she could spend her free period in the library revising for her N.E.W.T.'s…Malfoy had had different plans; he had taken her by the arm and pulled her into concealed passageway—she doubted even Harry knew of its existence. The moment they were safely in the passage, Malfoy snapped out a silencing charm and Hermione began quaking in fear. While she was a very capable witch, she wasn't particularly physically strong, and she knew she wouldn't be able to fight him off if he tried to attack her.
Rather than throw her to the floor and assault her, as she'd expected, he'd crushed her to the wall and kissed her fiercely; Hermione remembered the taste of blood in her mouth from that bruising kiss…she doubted that she would ever forget it. Hermione also remembered the way she'd tried to scramble away from him, though it was done purely in vain; he'd pulled back from her and given her an appraising glance before gripping her upper arms and pulling her against him before kissing her again. Though the second kiss was still rather frantic, it lacked the brutality of the first and before either of them realised it was occurring, Hermione had begun responding to the kiss of her enemy.
When he had ended their kiss, he exited the passage without a backward glance at the dishevelled witch. As for Hermione, she hated—not Malfoy—as one would expect, but herself; she had responded to him, she hadn't so much as slapped him for daring to take such liberties with her, and she hadn't given Ronald Weasley a second thought the entire time it had taken place.
Two days later, Draco snatched her from the Transfiguration corridor after lessons. The blonde hastily shoved her into a cranny behind the tapestry depicting some famous goblin war; neither held any misconceptions about what was to occur. Their lips crashed together even as his hands began to roam over her body, and she made no effort to stop him when he pushed her onto the rough stone floor. When he had hastily divested her of her knickers and freed himself from his trousers, Hermione had vague stirrings of conscience but did not tell him to stop. Moments later, when he had pushed into her, she was unable to contain a yelp of pain as he breeched her maidenhead; he had looked at her with an odd flicker of uncertainty for a long moment until he began thrusting into her.
When he had finished, neither dared speak, though he did help her to her feet and didn't make any cruel comments while she straightened her appearance. Draco brushed a kiss across her lips before he left the small room, and Hermione followed a minute later; she made her way to the Great Hall where she sat at the Gryffindor table next to her best friend and her boyfriend as if she hadn't just lost her virginity to Malfoy.
After that day's classes had concluded, Hermione had gone to Madam Pomfrey for a contraceptive potion; she was grateful for the mediwitch's discretion and lack of questions or chastisement. As Hermione expected, the "meetings" with Malfoy became a regular occurrence. For the first two months, she had no idea when he desired to see her—he would simply find a way to lead her off alone, usually into some hidden passage, before he took her urgently. They had never spoken of it until the day he'd given her a charmed galleon. He'd spelled it with the Protean charm—exactly as she'd done with the coins for the DA. He told her that it was inconvenient to whisk her away and that it would be easier for them to meet in secret. Hermione agreed. She never once thought of Ron.
That had been four months ago. The weather was turning warm and the end of the school term was rapidly approaching; most people assumed Hermione's distraction was due to N.E.W.T.'s, and while it was true that she'd done a fair bit of revision and studying, the real reason for her inattentiveness was the blonde wizard standing before her.
"I thought you weren't going to turn up," Draco said with a smirk. Honestly, Hermione had thought the same thing herself. Each time she felt the galleon's heat in her pocket, she told herself that her continued association with Malfoy was wrong; that she should end the madness at once. She always gave in, in the end. She fixed him with a haughty look but remained silent.
When he kissed her moments later, it wasn't fierce or forceful. His lips were pliant against hers, their tongues sliding together, and when he broke from her, Hermione expected him to push her forward against the wall and take her from behind, as he was so fond of. He surprised her by conjuring a reasonably sized camp bed, which he reclined upon once he had shed his clothes. Hermione couldn't help but stare—she'd never once seen him naked, only glimpses of pale flesh displayed in their haste.
He commanded her to strip; she did. When she moved to join him on the bed, he pulled her on top of him, allowing them to lay flush against the other. He kissed her again, and Hermione wanted desperately to analyse the situation—it was so odd compared to their other encounters, though she didn't question him; she never did. She felt his arousal pressing insistently into her thigh and she shifted so that it rested between her parted thighs. Draco hissed, apparently in pleasure, and began rocking his hips against her.
"Straddle me," he told her huskily. She moved to comply, though uncertainty was etched on her face. "Come on, Granger."
"I don't know what to do," she said miserably, hoping that he wouldn't laugh at her.
"Yes you do," he murmured as he put a hand on her hip, using the other to rub the tip of his erection against her folds. Within moments, Hermione had gained a good deal of insight regarding his intentions; she lifted herself and slowly sank down onto his shaft, taking him to the hilt before beginning to rise gently. He was staring at her and she realised it was the first time he'd seen her fully unclothed; she supposed he liked what he saw. She continued her slow rise and fall motions as he watched her, and, feeling emboldened, she stared back, taking in the sight of his pale chest and toned arms. As he reached up to fondle her breast, she noted that his left forearm was unblemished; it had been unexpected—she had assumed he'd taken the Mark sometime before sixth year.
The room was almost silent, save for the laboured pants from Hermione and the sporadic grunt from Draco. When Draco dragged his hand down her torso, coming to rest where they were joined, Hermione's eyes fluttered closed and she let out a soft moan as his fingers caressed her insistently. He told her to open her eyes; she did.
Hermione forcefully ignored any and all thoughts in her mind—quite a task, for they were rushing like mad. She concentrated on what she felt, on what he was doing to her, on how he felt beneath her—all while she met his gaze. Draco continued toying with her and knew she was close when Hermione's movements became halting. He told her to let it go; she did.
Draco pulled her to the bed and rolled her onto her back, turning on his side to face her. She had expected him to leap upon her immediately and pound into her furiously until he achieved release, when she felt his lips on her neck, she had wanted to ask what he was doing—Hermione was reluctant to break the silence surrounding them. She watched as Draco moved his lips from her neck to her breasts, then down her belly toward the place that only he had been; when he leaned forward to taste her, Hermione had to fight to keep her eyes open. She had never doubted his sexual abilities, but even she was surprised at how quickly he could bring her off.
Draco settled back onto the bed, his erection jutting up invitingly; calling upon all of the Gryffindor bravery she possessed, she sat up and wrapped her hand around him, giving an experimental stroke. He groaned and told her to take him into her mouth; she did, though not for long. Draco's breathing was erratic, his eyes were glazed over with lust, and Hermione was not surprised when he stopped her and pushed her onto her back before covering her body with his own and sliding into her once more.
She was astonished when Draco groaned out her name—her last name, of course, never her first. Hermione gasped as he set a maddeningly slow pace; her hands flew to his shoulders before she could stop herself, though the witch half-expected him to rebuke her for doing so. When seconds turned into minutes and Draco had said nothing, Hermione allowed herself to relax completely…she still couldn't believe how different this situation was from any other they'd shared.
She had lost track of the time, though she was fairly certain that they had been there a great deal longer than fifteen-minutes—the average length for their torrid encounters. Hermione was desperate for him to speed things along, she was nearly incoherent with want and she gave an involuntary moan when he finally began to move more quickly. She had thought Draco's silvery gaze upon her would make her uncomfortable, but found it to have the opposite effect—it was positively maddening.
The once leisurely pace had turned frantic as the pair sought their own release; Hermione felt Draco's arms begin to tremble slightly as his thrusts grew unpredictable. When Hermione's orgasm crashed over her seconds later, Draco's name tumbled from her lips—his first name, though, rather than his last. She hoped he hadn't noticed the slip, though as he tensed shortly thereafter, his release evident, Hermione felt confident that he hadn't.
She expected him to get up, dress immediately, and leave without another word; he didn't. Draco rolled to his side, leaving his left arm sprawled over Hermione's naked torso. He was lightly caressing the smooth skin of her stomach, and Hermione had so many questions about what had just happened—about what was happening in that moment.
"You may as well spit it out, Granger," he spoke, his voice rough.
Hermione found that, now that she'd been given the opportunity, she was unable to ask him anything at all. Draco wrapped his arm about her and pulled her to face him; Hermione decided it was very odd to be in this position with him—a position where they were stark naked, face-to-face, and perfectly civil to one another.
"I may not be back at Hogwarts after tonight," the blonde said after several long minutes of silence in which they were content to look at the other. He was gently moving his fingers across her back.
"Where are you going?" Hermione had her doubts that he would answer; she knew that she would be able to smell Draco on her all day.
"To the Dark Lord," he said simply.
Hermione quickly propped herself on one elbow, "You can't!"
Draco chuckled as he wrapped one of her curls about his finger, "You didn't know I wasn't a Death Eater until this afternoon, Granger."
"You can't," she repeated firmly, even as she settled back onto the bed.
"I have to; I don't have a choice now."
"Of course you do—"
"Don't tell me I can go to Dumbledore," he said irritably. "Had I acted sooner, maybe that would be an option. No one backs out on his initiation day, Granger. No one."
She remained silent, rubbing her fingertips along the still unblemished expanse of forearm.
"You don't have anything to say to me? You're not going to ask me what we've been involved in all year?"
"I have a fair idea," she said quietly.
His eyes flashed; she had angered him, "And what would that be?"
"That I was an easy outlet for your frustrations, or that I was a diversion—possibly both, but it's obvious I never put up much of a fight."
"You've helped me more this year than you can possibly imagine, Granger." Draco placed his hand on her cheek and Hermione fought not to lean into his embrace and to keep her eyes locked on his.
"Why was this time different?"
The blonde regarded her for a moment before answering, "I needed something pleasant to remember. I don't suspect tonight will be pleasant—and that's if that madman finds me worthy. If he doesn't…"
"You won't be coming back," Hermione supplied; Draco nodded grimly.
"Puts you in a spot though, eh? If you want me to come back at all, I'll have to come back as a Death Eater."
Hermione felt sick; her throat was tight and she needed to get away from the young man before her—before she said something she'd come to regret. "I don't want to talk about it."
A long stretch of silence followed her statement, though he eventually broke it. "You called me Draco," he chuckled lazily at her look of shock. "Of course I heard it; I'm fairly observant, you know." With that, they lapsed into silence, both reluctant to end the oddly peaceful moments they'd found.
Draco brushed back the tendrils that had fallen over her face, "I've got to go. I'll need time to prepare myself." Hermione nodded and watched as he hastily replaced his clothing. She had to force herself to stand and begin to dress herself, and had only managed to slip on her knickers and skirt before he was standing before her fully clothed. He looked dishevelled—something that was completely uncharacteristic for Draco Malfoy. He didn't say a word, merely tilted her chin upwards before covering her lips with his own. When he turned to go, Hermione saw something flicker in his eyes that she wasn't able to place; she imagined it was fear.
Draco slipped out of the room, leaving Hermione to dress in silence. She had just finished buttoning her blouse when the door creaked open; thinking it could only be Draco, she spun on the spot, only to be confronted by the sight of a forcefully calmed Harry Potter.
"Hermione," he returned tightly, taking in the state of the room—the bed against the wall, Hermione's discarded robes, and the tousled appearance of Hermione herself. "I don't suppose you'd care to explain why you've been shut up into a secret room with Malfoy for two hours?"
Hermione fought from revealing an expression of open shock—two hours? "Really, Harry," she scoffed. "What do you think I was doing?"
"I was hoping it wasn't…it doesn't matter. I was wrong."
Hermione felt a twinge of guilt—not for betraying Ron, but for betraying Harry. "What now?" she asked the wizard before her.
"What is he to you? Malfoy, I mean."
Hermione wished she could answer that question with a one-word answer—nothing; she couldn't. "I don't know, Harry."
"You've got to do better than that, Hermione," he cried out, running a hand through his hair. "D'you know what this would do to Ron? It would kill him and you know it. Malfoy, Hermione? Jesus…"
"What do you want me to say, Harry?" she spat back at him. "That I'm desperately in love with him? That we're madly in love and are going to run off together? It's not that simple; things never are! What is Draco Malfoy to me? He is unattainable, he is from a completely different world, and he is someone I don't want to need. He's an addiction; a curse—my curse."
Hermione felt sick; the words had spewed forth before she'd had a chance to stop and think about what she was saying. She hated the look of pity in Harry's eyes, and she hated that he had to see her when her nerves were so utterly and completely shot. "I'll wait in the corridor while you finish dressing." Hermione nodded dumbly as she snatched up her dusty robe. "We're going straight to the common room and you're going to break it off with Ron; he doesn't deserve this, and I'm not going to breathe one word of it to him. This will be between us. After you speak with Ron, you and I are going down to the lake for a very long chat."
Hermione nodded, not bothering to force a weak smile onto her face. Before Harry turned to go, he spoke again. "Are you going to continue seeing him?"
Hermione felt her stomach plummet to her feet, "I don't know, Harry. I don't think so."
"Has he hurt you?"
Hermione's mind recalled images of her healing abrasions and bruises after their meetings, "No, he hasn't. But he's left, and doesn't know if he'll be coming back."
Harry nodded his understanding while Hermione vanished the camp bed with a lazy flick of her wand. She caught sight of a green and silver striped tie lying in the floor. Slipping into her shoes, Hermione bent to retrieve the tie, rolling it up and putting it in the pocket of her robes, not caring that Harry had seen her.
Shouldering her bag and moving to the doorway, Hermione turned to look at Harry, who was trailing behind her.
"Are you coming? I know this will be unpleasant, but I'd best get it over with."
Harry shuffled to the door behind his friend, "Hermione, do you want him to come back?"
Hermione weighed her options carefully, "I don't know, Harry. I really don't." As she strode down the corridor confidently, Harry noticed an air of defiance about her; of course he had…defiant was how he liked her.