It was quarter to midnight and Hermione was pacing nervously by the lake. The boat was bobbing away in the water, looking very nice. She kept running through what she was going to say in her head but it was impossible to predict how Draco might react to anything she said.
"A boat! Where the hell did you get a boat?" Draco's voice came from close behind her and she jumped out of her skin.
"Oh my god, Draco! You scared me to death!" she said totally forgetting her planned opening speech.
"No, that wasn't scary. Not compared to this." Draco had a wicked grin on his face and without warning he grabbed her round the waist, stepped closer to the water's edge and went to push her in. He had a tight hold of her but was dangling her right over the edge. Hermione squealed but didn't dare struggle in case he really did drop her.
"Draco! Don't you dare! I'll kill you!" Hermione shouted at him but he just chuckled and dangled her a bit further over.
"How much do you want me to stop?" Draco teased her with a grin.
"Just stop now! I mean it!" Hermione said this half amused, half annoyed.
"Well if you mean it..." Draco made as if he was going to pull her back in but at the last minute just moved so she was dangling even further over. And that's when the giggles hit her. She'd had so much of what she was going to say planned, it was all romantic and serious but she'd not accounted for Draco. He was being his usual unpredictable self and completely ruining her well thought out plan. But somehow it didn't matter because this was fun. Silly and immature but fun.
Draco stared at her giggling a grin on his face. She was giggling uncontrollably now and he was genuinely a bit concerned he might drop her so he pulled her back onto the shore safely. She stepped backwards and bent over holding her sides as she laughed. Eventually she stopped but was still chuckling as she looked at him.
"You're gonna be the death of me, Draco Malfoy."
"I sincerely hope not." Draco said. "I'm loving the boat by the way! The plan is for us to go out on it isn't it? You do know that doing that will break about a hundred school rules?"
Hermione nodded. "Very funny. To be honest you almost throwing me in the lake has somewhat spoilt the atmosphere I was going for." She was smiling as she said this, just really glad that everything was so easy and normal between them. She had expected it to be really awkward.
"Oh, what atmosphere was that then?" Draco asked, knowing full well what her answer would be but enjoying making her actually say it. He was smiling too, as happy as she was that they seemed to be able to carry on where they had left off.
Hermione put her head to one side. "You just want me to say it."
He grinned and nodded. "Yep. Of course I do."
"I was hoping it would be romantic." She said the last word slowly. "There you go I said it. You're not exactly making it easy though."
Draco came closer to her and bent his head a little. He took a piece of paper out of his pocket and waved it at her.
"If you will allow me to quote..." he started to say but she interrupted him as she recognized it immediately.
"I knew you'd have to keep bringing everything I wrote in my note up! I knew it!"
"As I was saying, let me find your exact words..." he scanned the paper. "Ah, yes. Here it is - I wish I could say to your face how I love the way you tease me. I love your little flirty comments. I love our silly little disagreements. So I'm just doing all the things you love! Not once do you say you love me being romantic, so there you go, you're getting what you asked for." He grinned wickedly at her and waved her note at her again.
"I could seriously hate you sometimes." Hermione said but she couldn't help laughing a little. He was such a smug, know it all!
"No you couldn't. Come on then let's go be romantic." He walked to the water's edge and stepped into the little boat with one leg. He then offered Hermione his hand in a very gentlemanly fashion while she climbed in and sat down. Draco grabbed the oars and started rowing and for the first time in ages, Hermione felt herself relax. It felt easy and normal. The silence between them was comfortable and she had been so worried about how it was all going to be.
As Draco rowed slowly to the middle of the lake Hermione had to remind herself that she was supposed to be telling him how she felt. Having slipped right back into their usual relationship with each other, they were in danger of just carrying on as before. Which was great of course, but not the point of this evening? She wasn't sure if their friendship was going to prove to be a help or a hindrance, maybe if they were being all serious and awkward it would have been easier to confess. As it was how was she going to even get onto the subject? She realised Draco had stopped rowing and was looking at her.
"So, this is romantic. I'm rowing like a mad man and you're off day dreaming," he said sarcastically.
"You don't need to row any further, its lovely here." Hermione said looking round. They were almost in the middle of the lake now, near to the little island. "And how do you know I wasn't day dreaming about you?"
Draco rewarded her with a grin as she said this. Then put the oars in their holder and fished her note from his back pocket again. He shook it open.
"Right let's see..." he started to say.
"Draco!" she tried to grab the note but he snatched it away from her making the boat wobble a little. Holding it away from her he started reading from it again.
"It's just so difficult imagining us together when so many other girls want exactly that as well! (That's your fault for looking like you do!) That would explain the day dreaming about me then, I guess I'll forgive you for making me row all the way."
"The jokes wearing a little thin now, Draco." Hermione said folding her arms in front of her. He folded the note away again before leaning forward.
"I know, sorry." His face was serious now. "I know I'm teasing you but I loved your note. Especially the part where you said you missed me."
Hermione felt the tingles start and sat up a little straighter. "We loved yours too."
"We?" Draco picked up on her words immediately.
Hermione blushed and cursed herself for slipping up. "Err... it was just that..." she stuttered over her words, panicking that he'd be upset.
"Miss Ginny Weasley by any chance?"
"Yes. I'm sorry Draco. I'm just useless at this sort of thing and she helped me."
Draco folded his arms in front of himself and tried to look annoyed at her. He actually wasn't annoyed at all having already guessed that Ginny would have had a hand in the whole thing but Hermione didn't need to know that. He made to go for the oars as if he was going to row them back.
"It's hardly romantic when half the school have read my note, Hermione," he said.
"Draco..." Hermione went to stand so she could stop him grabbing the oars and Draco purposely slammed the oars in their brackets so the boat wobbled precariously and Hermione fell forward, right on top of him. He dropped both the oars to catch her before she landed too hard and the oars slid off the side of the boat into the water with a splash. She looked at him suddenly realising he was grinning at her.
"You did that on purpose and now we've lost the oars!" she accused him.
"Ooops!" Draco raised his eyebrows suggestively. "Oh and look where you landed!"
"You didn't care that Ginny knew all about it did you?"
Draco shook his head. "I don't give a damn."
She thumped him hard in the chest. "I really do hate you! And I really mean it now." She tried to stand up but he had hold of her too tight. He pulled her against him and put his lips near her ear in a now familiar gesture.
"No you don't."
Hermione pulled her head back a little and looked at him before lowering her voice and taking a deep breath. She said the words slowly as if she needed to concentrate on each one.
"No I don't. I love you."
She saw Draco's eyes open in astonishment and just for a split second he loosened his grip on her. She was already perched precariously on his lap and as soon as he moved his hand she started to slide backwards off the seat towards the bottom of the boat.
Draco came back to his senses and realising what was happening he leant forward to try and grab Hermione before she hit floor. He moved too quickly and the boat rocked alarmingly. Hermione landed with a bump on the floor between the seats but Draco, who had risen to standing was waving his arms crazily trying to regain his balance. Hermione looking up at him from the floor was unable to help and she tried to kneel up to grab his legs but all this did was rock the boat more and almost in slow motion she saw Draco lose his fight to stay balanced. He toppled backwards, then to the left and she saw the look on his face change as he realised he was going in.
Water sprayed over Hermione who was scrambling to her knees and leaning over the side.
"Draco? Draco!" she shouted over the side of the boat unable to see a thing in the black water of the lake. Suddenly his head bobbed up right by the boat, his hands grabbing the side.
"Are you OK?" Hermione leaned further over to him but had to stop for fear the boat would turn completely over. Draco spluttered and coughed before answering.
"Yes but it's bloody freezing."
Hermione stretched her arms out to him. "Grab my arm, I'll help you back in."
"No, we need the oars. I'll swim over and get them first."
Hermione watched as he swam the short distance to each oar and then back to the boat again. He then passed them up to her before climbing into the boat himself with Hermione's help. He was dithering with the cold and he took off his coat, dropping it in the bottom of the boat.
"You should take everything off." Hermione said.
"Now isn't really the time, Hermione." He managed to joke between chattering teeth.
"Oh my god! Do you ever stop? I meant the wet clothes will just make you colder." Hermione was fixing the oars back in the brackets.
"I can't strip off in the middle of the lake!" Draco protested.
"Why not? There's only me here and I've seen half of it before." Hermione replied wittily. "Just keep your underwear on!"
After a few moment's hesitation in which he began to feel every part of him starting to shake with the cold he pulled his top of over his head and unzipped his jeans and pulled them down. Hermione kept her eyes firmly fixed on the oar fixing brackets discreetly until he sat down again. She grabbed the oars and started rowing.
After a few minutes Draco took the oars of her. "Here let me do it, it will help me keep warm." They reached the shore quickly and Hermione scrambled out of the boat and began searching in the various storage boxes kept on the small pier. Eventually she pulled out a small, rough blanket which was less than ideal but better than nothing. She wrapped Draco in it, got his clothes from the bottom of the boat and wrung them out.
"Let's get you to Madam Pomfrey. She can check you out and get you warm," she said.
"No way!" Draco pulled away from her encouraging hand. "I'm perfectly fine, I don't need to see anyone. I just need a hot shower."
"But Draco, it's freezing and you were in it for a while. Look at you! You're so cold."
"So let's stop arguing and get inside."
Hermione stared after him as he walked off, looking ridiculous wrapped in the totally inadequate blanket. She went to protest again but then thought better of it and followed him back towards the castle.
They were sitting in the Gryffindor common room in front of the fire. Draco had showered and got dressed and Hermione had got him a warm drink. He had stopped shivering and seemed to be fully recovered from his impromptu swim in the lake.
He hadn't mentioned her confession yet as it had been so hectic since she said it but Hermione knew he would be saying something anytime soon and she felt nervous.
"I'm really sorry you fell in, Draco," she said.
"It wasn't your fault. Well, not directly." Draco glanced over at her then lifted his head to look around at his surroundings. "It's very cosy and fluffy in here isn't it? Typical Gryffindor."
Hermione raised her eyes to the ceiling. "Haven't we gone way past all that house rivalry? You're not complaining about the nice warm Gryffindor fire are you?"
Draco slid off his chair and crawled across to hers. He then knelt up in front of her, his hands on her knees.
"Hermione, right now I'm not complaining about anything Gryffindor." His eyes were a little teasing but they were glowing, locked to hers. "What I really need though is for you to say what you said to me in the boat but this time I'll try to do something more romantic than falling into the lake!"
Hermione laughed. "I think we should just forget the romantic bit of this evening, I think it was doomed from the start."
Draco leaned closer to her his eyes still piercing hers and he lifted his hand to her cheek, touching it gently with his fingers. "No, I'm pretty sure I can still rescue it."
Suddenly Hermione was sure he could rescue it to. She couldn't move as his fingers moved to her hair, pulling gently through her curls before sliding down her neck and onto her shoulder. All the time his eyes never left hers and she felt hypnotised. His other hand slipped onto her waist and he pulled her towards the edge of the chair, closer to him. Her blood was pounding round her veins as she breathed in the scent of him her skin tingling where his hands were. And yet this wasn't like the night in the library. He was hardly touching her but she felt totally mesmerized by the look on his face.
"Tell me again, Hermione." Draco whispered these words to her. "What you said on the boat, tell me again."
Hermione felt the butterflies in her stomach go crazy but she said it nevertheless because she'd said it once and now it didn't seem so hard to say it again.
"I love you, Draco. I don't have a clue why because you're a selfish, obnoxious, arrogant, self-absorbed, smart-ass who winds me up every day until I want to push you in the bloody lake!" she took a breath and noticed that Draco was grinning widely at her. "But I do honestly, truly love you."
Draco stood suddenly and offered her his hand. She looked at him puzzled for a moment.
"Listen, they're playing our song."
Hermione still didn't understand. "Our song?"
"The one we danced to at the party."
Realisation dawned on Hermione. Their song was the imaginary, silent music they had danced to that night in the courtyard when she'd complained about him not being romantic. And he was right, they were playing it again, she could hear it. She smiled at him and took his hand. He led her across the room to near the window and then pulled her close to him. She leant into him willingly wanting his closeness. He gently pulled her around dancing to silent music again, their bodies moulding to one another, their feet hardly moving.
Hermione had no idea how long they danced for but she could see the sky growing lighter through the window when Draco finally pulled away from her a little.
"You haven't asked me," he said.
Hermione knew what he meant. He hadn't told her that he loved her.
"You haven't told me," she answered him cleverly and he chuckled.
"It's not like you to be so polite and wait!" he said. "Normally you would have forcefully extracted a confession from me by now."
"Draco!" Hermione thumped his arm.
"I love you, Hermione Granger but you already know that." He nodded his head at her as he said this. "What you don't know is I loved you the first time we danced together like this."
Hermione stared at him in surprise and he winked at her.
"And if I remember correctly from our notes, I think you'll find you owe me some kisses." He licked his lips at her making her laugh before he pulled her back towards him and gently pressed his lips to hers.
Ah ha! There you go it's all over (boo!) but it was a happy ending (hurray!) and I did try to make it not too fluffy and romantic but it had to be at the end. Hope you really enjoyed it, as always let me know what you thought. x ps. I am definately going to write another story, I already have the idea for it in my head so keep a look out. x