Harry Potter and all of its settings and characters are the property of JK Rowling.
Author's Note: Ok so this is a bit of fluff that I wrote for Valentine's Day =) Totally AU and you'll just have to go with some stuff without getting a detailed explanation. Blaise and Draco struck me as the kind of boys who would make a bet about Valentine's Day and this is what came of it. It's after the war and the only person who died is Lucius. I don't know how that worked out, so don't ask. It's one of those things you have to just go with =)
"I don't have a valentine by choice, Zabini," Draco Malfoy drawled as he leaned against the doorway to the dungeons, "I could have any girl in this school begging to be mine if I wanted."
"Oh really?" Blaise Zabini raised an eyebrow, "Any girl in school?"
"Any girl." Draco stated confidently.
"Care to make a wager on that?" The devious light in Zabini's eyes didn't phase Draco a bit.
"Why not? You pick the girl and I'll have her eating out of my hand by Valentine's Day. Loser has to do the winner's Muggle Studies homework for a week."
"Any girl at all?" Blaise asked with a grin as he eyed Professor McGonagall in a way that made Draco slightly uneasy.
"Any girl within a suitable age range Zabini," Draco decided it would be wise to clarify, "No teachers and no first years. In fact, let's make it fourth years and up shall we?"
The grin dimmed a bit as they shook on it and Draco was thankful he'd thought of that nasty little trick. But then Zabini's eyes lit on something over his shoulder it came back around brighter than before.
"All right. I've made my selection."
"What, already?" Draco turned to see who Zabini had been looking at but couldn't find the cause for his sudden glee.
"I pick her." Zabini pointed.
Draco's jaw dropped.
"Absolutely not. That's a foul, Zabini."
"No it isn't. She fits perfectly. She's a girl, attending this school, between the ages of fourteen and eighteen. Those were your only specifications, Drake. No foul. Either accept or forfeit." The smile clearly indicated his expectation of an easy win.
"Hermione Granger is not a girl." Draco stated emphatically, "She's a vengeful harpy who is also a formidable opponent on the dueling field and highly competent in every form of hexing known and unknown to man. You do remember what she did to McLaggen for trying to grope her at Slughorn's party don't you? The stupid blighter still winces whenever she walks by." Draco swallowed at the unpleasant thought of being hit with that particular curse. He hadn't even known that was possible until she'd done it. "So again, I call foul."
Zabini's grin stayed firmly in place. "And again, I say no. You didn't say 'any girl between fourth and seventh year except for ones that I'm afraid of '."
Draco's eyes narrowed. "I'm not afraid of her. I just don't think of her as a girl."
Blaise eyed him, "Oh come off it, Draco. Granger is scorchingly female and I know you've noticed. She's top of this week's poll by a wide margin."
Draco was trying to think of a convincing way to lie about just how much he had noticed Granger's maddening attractiveness when that last bit registered.
The wall in the boy's lavatory on the fourth floor had been charmed, he suspected by the Weasley twins, to magically display a different poll question every week. It sucked the answer to the question out of your mind as soon as you walked through the door and posted the results until the next week, when it cleared for a new question.
Since that was the only bathroom not either designated for prefects or in a common room, it was fairly accurate as most of the male population used it at least once over the course of the week. It was also clever enough to only record your vote once. It recognized the identity of the person somehow and never counted the same person again if they returned. He grudgingly admitted that it was a rather brilliant bit of magic. Especially since it continued to work even though the twins had long left school.
"What's this week's poll?"
"Which girl at Hogwarts do you most often fantasize about?"
That did not settle well with Draco and he had to work at keeping his expression neutral. He didn't need Zabini knowing his darkest secret. He also made a note to only use the prefect's bathroom this week. He didn't want another tally next to her name. Damn her.
"You're just stalling now, Drake. Admit you forfeit and accept my homework graciously." Zabini smiled smugly and Draco let that smirk goad him into what was probably a very bad decision.
"Malfoys don't forfeit, Zabini. I accept." He took a bit of pleasure at the way his friend's eyes widened in shock before he cursed his pride for getting him into a mess he might not walk away from intact.
He followed Granger with his eyes as she passed and got caught up in the way her hips swayed and her hair cascaded down her back in soft curls that made him want to wrap his hands in it.
On the other hand, this might just work out to my advantage. She looked over her shoulder at him, as if she'd felt him staring, and the look in her eye dared him to say something rude. It was almost anticipatory, like she was just waiting for an excuse to bring him low. That is, if I live through it.
What is he staring at? Hermione glared at him before turning back forward and continuing on to the library. He'd acted strangely toward her all year and it was making her antsy. She had half a dozen brilliantly excruciating hexes just waiting for him to step out of line but he hadn't. Not once. He hadn't been deliberately antagonizing or called her anything foul all year.
At first she thought he was up to something, and had been constantly waiting for an attack, but as the months went by and none came she became a little annoyed. What is his deal? She was comfortable with their previous relationship. She thought she would always be able to tell you where she and Malfoy stood with each other but he was mucking it all up.
He was supposed to insult her and act like a cockroach and she was supposed to hex him. That was it. Since he'd been almost pleasant in Malfoy terms she really didn't know what to do with herself. It was maddening.
The annoyingly handsome prat was unsettling her sense of order.
Oh yes, Hermione admitted he was handsome. It wasn't something that could be ignored. The vapid females that inhabited this school were constantly buzzing about it and they had only gotten worse since he'd switched sides in the war. Now he had that whole dark hero thing going for him and the twits were beside themselves.
"Oh, he's so dreamy! Did you know he single handedly saved Professor Snape's life?"
"His body is to die for! I saw him without his shirt on the quidditch pitch yesterday and I almost fainted!"
"Did you hear Dumbledore is going to give him a medal at graduation this year? For 'honorable decisions made in hard situations'. I'd like to put him in a 'hard situation' if you know what I mean."
"His eyes are mesmerizing. I wish he would look at me with desire swirling in those molten silver orbs."
Okay so that last one had been her. But she hadn't said it out loud for heaven's sake! And she never would. It was ridiculous and something that she would succeed in squashing. Someday.
She sighed as she slid into her favorite chair and levitated the book she was looking for off the shelf and into her hands.
She just didn't know how.
I wasn't as if making a few right choices just erased a lifetime of horrible behavior. Although, admittedly, it came out that he was under the constant threat of a very horrible death from his father if he didn't fall in line. Thank god his mother had finally gathered the courage to act and had poisoned the foul elder Malfoy. It turned out quite a few people were acting out of fear of Lucius. The Zabini's, the Parkinson's, and the Nott's had all defected when Lucius was killed.
But that didn't excuse his awful behavior to her specifically. He'd done everything in his power to make her miserable during their whole acquaintance. That is, up until this summer when he'd shown up at the burrow with a very battered and bloody Severus Snape. Apparently, Snape's cover had been blown somehow and Lucius, along with a few other Death Eaters, had been torturing him at Malfoy Manor when Draco blasted in and, not being effected by the anti-apparation spell since he was a member of the household, apparated them out. So, yes, that had been slightly heroic. And that had ultimately been the action that lead to Narcissa's choice to murder Lucius and thus start to crumble the enemy's forces.
But we're getting off topic now.
The point isn't whether or not Draco Malfoy is a war hero. The point is that he has been the most horrible excuse for a human being to her for the better part of six years.
She'd tried every argument she could think of to try and reason with her stubborn hormones but they weren't listening. Her body didn't care that she was supposed to hate him. It decided that it was a good idea to tremble when he got too close and make her pulse pound in her ears. That it was acceptable to force thoughts of him kissing her into her dreams.
Stupid hormones. The day Draco Malfoy leaned in to kiss her was the day she'd willingly fly around on Harry's broomstick.
Not that I actually want him to. She reminded herself harshly. It was just a temporary biological reaction she was having to him. It would pass and she would be able to reclaim her sanity.
Draco ignored his own mental note and went into the fourth floor bathroom.
He had to know exactly how wide a margin Zabini had been talking about. He walked over to the wall by the sink and tapped his wand three times on the charmed brick to make the poll appear.
It was worse than he thought. Granger was winning with sixty two percent of the votes. The she weasel was the only other notable entry with twenty seven. An irrational jealous anger swept through him causing him to do something he knew was stupid.
He tried to hex the poll off the wall.
It disappeared for a moment and he thought maybe he'd succeeded... until the writing began to appear.
Now now, Malfoy. No tampering with the wall. Do you honestly think we enjoy having our baby sister up there? Not likely, but there's no messing with the sacred tradition that is the poll. Deal with your anger some other way. Maybe by doing something productive... like winning over our favorite Gryffindor. That's right Malfoy, we said 'our'. We know she's yours too. Now run along and get to it.
Draco growled as he read the message and had to keep himself from hexing the wall again. Damned nosey gingers. He cursed them for their almost Dumbledore like omniscience. How could they possibly know that?
He walked out of the bathroom in a decidedly bad mood.
Fred and George Weasley eyed each other over the charmed parchment they'd been writing on and a matching grin adorned both their faces.
Once or twice a year someone tried to erase the poll on the wall for some reason or other so they'd created a way to be notified and be able to chastise the perpetrator accordingly. Namely, by extracting the reason for said perpetrator's outburst and projecting it to them so they could think of a suitable threat to keep them in line. What had projected itself into their minds a few minutes ago had been staggering. Draco Malfoy had feelings for Hermione. How delightfully chaotic that would be when it started to play out. George almost wished they were still there to see it.
"Do you think he'll do it?" Fred asked his twin.
"I can't imagine him being the kind of bloke to want something and not try to acquire it, so yes, I think he will." George replied.
"Interesting." Fred tapped his chin in thought, "Care to make a wager on it? Twenty galleons says he'll take that bit of information to his grave."
George held out his hand with a grin. "Agreed." The two shook on it. "Now I'm going to enjoy his fall even more."
"You bet him what?" Pansy Parkinson almost screeched from her spot on the couch in the Slytherin common room.
"Merlin, Pansy, keep your voice down!" Blaise responded with a quick look around to see if they'd acquired any unwanted attention.
"He didn't actually take that bet did he?" Pansy's voice had returned to the hushed volume they had started their conversation in, "I mean, I know he's developed a thing for her, but honestly, he has to have more sense than that. She'll make his dangly bits disappear like she did to McLaggen."
Blaise winced at the thought, just as every other male who knew of the infamous incident did whenever it was mentioned, but Pansy continued on, "And I don't think she'll put them back after a bit the way she did with McLaggen either."
Blaise shook his head. "You're wrong, Pans. I've been watching her and I think it might actually be mutual. Now don't look at me like that. I have complete control of my mental faculties. I'm telling you, she looks at him sometimes the same way we've caught him looking at her." He spread his hands. "I just needed an excuse to push him a bit and this gave it to me." His face took on a slightly worried expression. "He needs to come to grips with it soon or he's going to go mad. He's already started to lose his edge. I actually managed to manipulate him today into thinking I was going to pull an age trick to distract him while he was setting the terms of the bet. He should have seen that straight off. When was the last time you were able to pull the wool over his eyes about anything?"
Pansy shook her head, "I honestly can't remember. At least four or five years."
"Exactly. And that's not even all of it. He then let me goad him into accepting and actually bought my act when I pretended to be surprised that he didn't fold. The Draco we know and love would have figured out what I was doing almost from the start." He gestured to highlight his point before continuing, "And you can't tell me it's natural that he hasn't dated all bloody year. Especially with the rather larger than normal group of twittering girls throwing themselves at him." He paused a bit for emphasis. "I'm telling you, he's not just messing around with this one. He actually has feelings for her."
Pansy scoffed. "I admit he's been off lately and I know he lusts after the annoying lion but I still think you're mad. Draco Malfoy doesn't do feelings. And never in five hundred years will you convince me that Granger isn't going to hex his balls off if he's stupid enough to actually go through with this. If they end up together I'll walk through your room stark naked."
Blaise smiled mischievously.
"Care to make that an official wager?"
Draco knew he was going to have to go about this very carefully. He couldn't use a direct approach for fear of being unmanned, so he would have to be sneaky. He pondered the situation all through the afternoon's lessons and by dinner time he was pleased with his plan. He was going to come at her from more than one angle, hopefully disorienting her enough to give him an edge.
His smile would have set alarm bells ringing in Hermione's head if she'd been able to see it.
Hermione sat in the great hall, getting a head start on her homework while she ate her dinner, and was so engrossed in her thoughts she completely missed the arrival of the first gift.
Ginny's delighted squeal was what caught her attention first, and she looked up to find a magnificent arrangement of rare and magical roses sitting in front of her. They glittered with an enchantment that made them look as though tiny specs of fire were dancing across the petals and came in every color imaginable. All the girls at the table eyed them with hopeful anticipation until a card with her name on it detached itself from the vase and flitted over to place itself directly on top of her book.
Jealous rumbles mixed with questioning whispers spread along the table and Hermione sat in a state of shock. Who would send me flowers? Especially two dozen of the most sought after flowers in the wizarding world?
Ginny nudged her in an impatient sort of way. "Well, open the card already! I want to know who they're from!"
Hermione mirrored that desire and reached out to pull the card from envelope. She read it to herself three times before Ginny grabbed it from her and read it aloud.
I hope these flowers bring to you as much pleasure as seeing your smile brings to me.
The hearts of every girl within hearing distance clutched in feminine wistfulness.
"Who's T.S.P.?" Ginny raised her eyebrow in Hermione's direction, "Are you keeping a little something from us Hermione?"
"I honestly don't know." Hermione was just a bewildered as the rest of them.
"Oooh a secret admirer!" Ginny exclaimed happily, "How utterly romantic."
Draco watched behind hooded lids as Hermione's eyes lit up when she read his card and kept his smile on the inside. Score one for me.
The next morning found Hermione awake well before breakfast and in a slightly bad mood.
She had been consumed with thoughts of who her admirer could be all night and she spent most of it discussing the possibilities with Ginny. They hadn't found one single person with the initials T.S.P. on the registry list Ginny had 'borrowed' from Filtch's office. They brought up and dismissed a handful of other meanings to the letters and she was at a complete loss. As she'd drifted off to sleep a ridiculous fantasy entered her brain and she was unable to rid herself of it. That fantasy turned into the cause of her bad mood.
She'd woken hours ago and the disturbing subject of her dreams had made her afraid to go back to bed, making her annoyed and sleep deprived. Stupid, bloody gorgeous-eyed git.
The desire for Draco to be her secret admirer was beating at her brain and would not be silenced. It, much like her hormones, wouldn't listen to reason. No amount of assuring herself that Draco Malfoy hated her as much as she was supposed to hate him could persuade the obnoxious feeling to cease its assault on her senses. Just the thought of it created a maelstrom of flutters to take residence in her stomach. Great. Now part of my brain is turning traitor along with my body. They're joining forces to attack what's left of my good sense.
It was enough to make a girl want to hide under the covers all day.
She cursed herself and him both equally as she walked down the hallway toward the great hall. She knew she was much too early for breakfast but she figured she could sit and read until it was time, and hoped she would have more luck concentrating on her book in a different setting. She'd tried to read in bed but as that particular piece of furniture had been prominent in her outrageous dreams it had been a lost cause.
She had almost made it to the doors when she found herself suddenly walking into an invisible barrier. She bounced a bit painfully off of the magical field and fell backwards into a pair of strong, solid arms.
"What on earth-?" The arms that had caught her easily tipped her back up onto her feet. Still a bit flustered, she turned to thank whoever had broken her fall, only to freeze in astonished shock with her mouth hanging open mid word.
"Usually, it is considered good manners to thank someone in a situation like this." Malfoy drawled lazily.
She was so taken back by the fact that he had caught her instead of stepping aside and letting her tumble to the ground and that the normal sneering distaste was missing from his words, that she just barely managed to stammer her thanks before turning to flee. She completely forgot about the barrier in her haste and once again bounced off and ended up in his arms.
"Honestly, Granger, you're supposed to be bright."
She blushed to the roots of her hair and pulled out of his hold. She ignored his words in favor of finding a way to escape. "Damn it, stop smirking at me and see if you can get through."
He raised an eyebrow at her order but walked forward to comply. He reached a hand out and came up against the same barrier that had blocked her.
"Okay, so it isn't specific to me. Good to know." She turned around and tried to go back the way she'd come and at the last moment thought to put her hand up as he'd done, which was the only thing that kept her from bouncing back into him a third time. She kept her hand on the invisible wall and walked to the side, seeing if she could find the end. It didn't have one. It made a complete circle, about four feet in diameter around the two of them. She was trapped with him.
"All right, Malfoy," She turned on him angrily, "What did you do?"
"What did I do?" he asked incredulously, and then looked down at something on the floor and cursed, "I think you should ask your annoying red headed friends."
She followed his gaze and saw a small red heart with the words 'Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes' written in gold letters across the middle. Oh, not good. So very not good.
She groaned and by the look on Malfoy's face she could tell he knew what it was as well.
A Cupid's Circle.
It was designed to catch members of the opposite sex and trap them within the circle, only releasing them after they shared a kiss. The twins got the idea from the enchanted mistletoe that prowled through the school around Christmas time and had just launched them a few weeks ago in preparation for Valentine's Day. They'd been popping up all over the castle, some with deliberate intentions and some just spread randomly to see who they might catch. It appeared she was just that lucky. Unlucky. Damn it.
"No. Absolutely not. This is not happening to me." Hermione ranted and paced the few steps the circle would allow her. How can I possibly let him kiss me and stay unaffected?
"As it appears denial is not going to do the trick, I suggest you stop whirling around and come over here."
She stopped pacing but didn't move to close the distance between them.
"Look Granger, there's nothing you can do about the fact that I'm going to kiss you. I don't fancy being stuck here all day and that is the only way to set us free. But right now you have two options. The first is that you come over here now and ensure that this will be able to remain between us. The second is that you continue to stall until the hallway starts to fill up with people on their way to breakfast. Your choice."
The thought of other people being witness to what was about to happen prompted her to move closer to him. She might be able to fool him for a moment, but if there was a crowd she knew at least one of them would pick up on the effect she knew his kiss would have on her. Not for the first time, she cursed Fred and George. This wouldn't be a simple peck on the lips. They had ensured that the spell would only break if the couple engaged in a serious snogging.
She took a deep breath as she came to stand in front of him and shut her eyes. She knew they would give far too much away at this close proximity. She heard him chuckle as he no doubt took her action as a sign of fear. Which was partly true, only it wasn't him she was afraid of, it was her own reactions.
"Stop laughing at me and just get it over with, Malfoy."
Draco was glad she'd shut her eyes as it freed him to concentrate more on her reactions than hiding his own. This first contact was crucial. If it went well, he might have a slim chance of winning her over. If it went badly, he would most likely end up like McLaggen. He shuddered at that thought and forced his mind back to the matter at hand.
He very carefully placed his hands on her hips and she jumped at the contact.
"Relax, Granger, I'm just holding you still so you don't injure yourself trying to run away again."
She frowned at him but remained silent and he smiled at the small victory. Now for the true test.
He leaned down so that his lips were a whisper from her own and he could feel the heat radiating off of her face. He heard her sharp intake of breath as she felt his presence but took heart at the fact that she hadn't flinched away. Here goes nothing. He brushed his lips against hers ever so softly and the way she just slightly leaned forward as he pulled away made him pause. Interesting.
He brought his lips back to meet hers with a bit more pressure and the tiny shiver he felt pass through her body was deliciously enlightening. Very interesting.
Emboldened by her small response he angled his head and coaxed her lips to move against his, to open and allow him entrance. The small sound that escaped her throat as his tongue slid past her lips almost made him lose his mind. His grip on her hips tightened and all thoughts of a slow and gentle kiss were ripped away as she leaned into his body and slid her hands up his arms to clutch at his biceps.
One of his arms banded around her back and the other slid up so he could bury his hand in her hair, pressing her more fully against him. She moaned into his mouth and he was so caught up in the passion she enflamed in him he completely forgot that this was supposed to be an experiment. He was consumed with the desire to press her up against the wall and take her right there and had actually started to move in that direction when a loud gasp caused Hermione to jump in his arms and push away. He reluctantly let her go, but before he fixed his expression into its usual mask of indifference, he let the heated intensity of his desire show for just a moment. Her eyes, already wide with shock at what had just happened, flared a bit in response before she quickly turned and fled.
He looked over and glared at the unfortunate first year who had happened upon them and damned the boy for his awful timing. The young Hufflepuff found the ability to move again very quickly and darted into the great hall to escape his wrath.
He turned back to study the retreating form of Hermione and a very satisfied smile curled his lips. It seemed she didn't hate him as much as he'd thought. He bent down to pick up the small heart and his smile grew as he slipped it into his pocket. Best two galleons I ever spent.
Hermione could not believe what had just happened. She groaned at the memory of how spectacularly she had failed at keeping her reactions to him in check. Damn it, where had her rather notable strength flown off to? Little moans and breathy sighs had escaped her throat and she had wantonly pressed herself against him and clutched at his arms for support. Her behavior, added to that flare of lust she'd sworn was in his eyes had been too much for her to bear and she had to escape.
She walked briskly until she made it to the room of requirement. I need a calming place to regroup. When the door appeared she rushed inside and breathed a sigh of relief as she leaned back against the solid panel. Her brain frantically started sorting through all the possible reasons for the look that she'd seen on his face and the way he'd held her much tighter than necessary, searching for the trick.
She knew there had to be one. There was no way he actually wanted her.
The next hour disappeared and she was no closer to an answer when she realized that she had completely missed breakfast and now only had a few moments to get to her first lesson.
The rest of the day passed in a sort of blur. She spoke only when spoken to, answered at least two questions wrong during lessons and refused to explain to her friends what was causing her unusual behavior. All the while very deliberately avoiding Draco Malfoy.
By the time dinner came around she was exhausted from the way her head had been spinning all day.
What awful thing is he up to? What if he isn't up to anything? What if he actually wants you and that's what this entire year of unusual behavior has been leading up to? What if I've finally cracked from post traumatic stress and have gone insane?
Back and forth and round and round all the possibilities swirled until her head hurt. She had completely forgotten about her secret admirer until a small box appeared in front of her plate. It was wrapped in red wrapping paper with a gold bow and another card identical to the first one was attached at the top. The girls at the table leaned in as she pulled open the card to try and get a look at what it said.
The sparkle contained in this box is nothing compared to the sparkle in your eyes.
Her chest swelled as she handed the note over to Ginny and reached for the box. Inside was a diamond pendant that took her breath away. A collective gasp was heard across the table as the light hit the princess cut stone and cascaded out in an impressive display of brilliance. As she reached to pull the necklace from the box she noticed another note stuck the underside of the lid.
This pendant is more than it seems, as are you. It is charmed to scan any book you are reading and store the pages for later review. Simply tell it what you are looking for and it will project the corresponding page onto any flat surface.
Hermione was awestruck. She had heard of scanning pendants of course, but never had she heard of one being made from a diamond. They were usually horribly bulky and distasteful looking things, not to mention far out of her price range. Oh how she had yearned for one, even going so far as to start saving for a used one she had seen in a shop in Hogsmeade. And now this priceless diamond in her hand was also one of her most fervent desires.
She found she couldn't speak so she just handed the second note over to Ginny in response to the questions. She heard a gasp and then a rustle of paper as the note was handed down again.
"Blimey, it's a scanning pendant!" Ron's exclamation sent a titter of excitement running through the hall.
Draco felt a pleasant pressure in his chest as he watched the smile that lit up her face when she finally broke from her frozen state. It was magnificent. He felt as though everything was better in that moment because he had made her smile. That pendant had been hell to get ahold of but he knew it was worth it. He'd decided something today after she'd completely blown his mind with that kiss.
He was keeping her.
This was no longer an amusing way to pass the time or an excuse to see if he could get away with stealing a few kisses. He was going to win her, and then he was going to do everything in his power to hold onto her. For the first time in his life there was nothing stopping him from reaching out for something truly good. Once that thought had hit him it hadn't been a hard decision. She made him feel things he didn't know were possible and there was no way he was going to give up this new found sense of happiness she brought him.
She was his.
She just didn't know it yet.
Another sleepless night found Hermione awake at an unseemly hour, only this time she had taken refuge in the library. She had vowed to think of only her secret admirer last night as she drifted off to sleep but that damned sexy snake had invaded her dreams again. Now that she knew what it was like to be held in his arms and kissed by him her traitorous brain was a lot more inventive.
She had sent Fred and George a howler when she woke up.
The silky voice of her insane fantasies startled her from behind and she spun around, dropping the book she had been pulling off the shelf. The cause of all of her turmoil stood, leaning casually against the bookshelf across from the one she had pressed herself into, with an unreadable expression in his beautiful eyes.
"What do you want, Malfoy?" Was that her voice? That breathy trembling sound? Get a grip you twit!
He raised one eyebrow and a slight smile drew her attention to his lips. Oh for the love of Merlin, stop looking at his mouth!
Her eyes shot back up to his in time to see a flare of triumph flash in the silver and she steeled her resolve. He was purposely trying to unhinge her. Damn him, I won't give him the satisfaction of letting him know what he's done to me.
She pulled her back away from the bookshelf and squared her shoulders. Her chin lifted defiantly and she managed a glare to go with her next words.
"If you aren't going to state your purpose for bothering me, kindly run along and let me get back to work." There, that was better.
But his smile didn't falter. In fact, it grew as he slowly closed the distance between them. She found her resolve only lasted until he got within about eight inches of her and then she ended up pressed up against the bookshelf again. Later she would curse herself for not reaching for her wand to ward him off, but it seemed her brain lost more function the closer he got to her.
She was trembling by the time he stopped his forward motion, scant inches from her body, and his smile was replaced with that heated look she was having trouble processing from him. Was that desire? Her breath caught as he leaned down... and kept leaning. What?
He stooped down and picked up the book she had dropped.
"Just saying good morning, Granger."
He leaned in again, only to place the book back in its place on the shelf, directly next to her head. Then, with that maddening grin back in place, he turned and waked away.
Hermione could do nothing but watch him go, her body and brain both trying to process the sensory overload.
What. The. Hell?
"I need a favor."
Severus Snape looked up from his desk to scan the expression on his godson's face. The boy was definitely up to something,
"Anything within reason. You know that."
"I want to be partnered with Granger for the potions assignment today."
Snape's eyebrow raised questioningly at that.
"If you are planning to poison or hex the girl I really can't oblige you, Draco."
"No hexing, no poisoning. I just want to talk to her in a setting where she can't run away."
The smile that crossed Draco's face had a very unusual suspicion forming in Snape's mind.
"All right. It will be arranged."
Draco's smile grew before he turned to leave and Snape shook his head. Of all the unlikely pairs.
A sudden thought of how he might use this information to his advantage struck him and a smile of his own curled his lips.
"Miss Granger, you will be paired with Mr. Malfoy."
She groaned at Professor Snape's words as Draco came over to take the seat next to her and tried to avoid his eyes. The library incident had proven how shaky her self control was when he got too close to her and now she would be stuck next to him for two hours. She had a very bad feeling this was going to alter her life irreparably.
"Don't look so happy, Granger," he leaned in to whisper, "I'll think you have a thing for me."
She turned to glare at him but his smile stopped her. A genuine smile from him with no smug tilt and no sarcasm muddling it was staggering.
The comeback she had prepared to hurl at him died in her throat and she settled for silence. Yes, that's it. I'll just work silently and try to ignore him.
"Ignoring me isn't going to make me go away. We have to communicate at least somewhat to get this potion done."
"Fine, we'll prep the ingredients together and then I'll do the first half of the steps and you can do the second. No need to talk about it."
"Granger, did you not read the potion we were assigned? There are half a dozen steps that require one person to stir while the other adds ingredients in a very specific time frame, that's why we have partners. You're just going to have to try and control yourself in my presence."
She huffed angrily, not sure wether she was more annoyed at him for saying it or at herself for it being true, and began reading the instructions. Damn it. He was right.
"Fine, just keep your distance, Malfoy, we wouldn't want you to startle me into doing anything... unpleasant."
She took a bit of pleasure at the way he shuddered just a bit as she knew he was thinking of the extremely clever and punishing hex she'd aimed at McLaggen. But then his grin was back and she turned away to try and concentrate on gathering the ingredients.
When they got to the first joint task she looked over at him and nodded toward the porcupine quills. As he stood to drop them into the cauldron he leaned in close over her shoulder and brushed his chest against her back. She had to steel herself from leaning back into him and completely forgot to continue stirring the potion.
"Watch it, Granger," he whispered in her ear as his hand covered hers to guide the spoon in a slow circle, "or you'll blow us to Tartarus. Well, me anyway."
What he said next shocked Hermione more than anything he could have done save get down on one knee and propose. He quoted a book. "'From hence are heard the groans of ghosts, the pains of sounding lashes and of dragging chains.'"
"You've read The Aeneid?"
"Yes, I found it rather fascinating, although Virgil doesn't compare to Dumas. '...of the pleasure of this visit, of these few happy moments and of this celestial light breaking through into the hell which he had chosen to inhabit...'"
Her mouth fell open in shock.
"That's my favorite book."
"Then I applaud your good taste."
The rest of the lesson passed in a haze for Hermione as she struggled to do three things at once. One, not kill them by exploding their potion. Two, keep herself from leaning into him whenever he brushed against her. And three, try to catalogue all of the new and very surprising things she learned about him. He wasn't at all the way she expected him to be and she found it very unsettling. The last straw came at the end of the lesson and then she knew he had to be messing with her.
"Now that wasn't so bad was it? I think I might request that Snape pair us together again."
And with that he walked out of the dungeon, leaving her staring after him in shock.
Draco walked away and counted down in his head. Three... two... one...
He let his smile out while he still had his back to her and got it under control before he turned around. The anger in her eyes didn't phase him. He'd seen what was underneath so he stood calmly as she stalked out of the dungeon towards him.
"What is it that you're playing at?"
"What do you mean?"
"You know perfectly well what I mean. Since when do we exchange pleasantries or stand within spitting distance of each other without you throwing a barbed comment my way? Since when do you request having anything to do with me?"
Her raised an eyebrow at her.
"While I admit that used to be our normal operating mode, things change, Granger. Name one time I have insulted you this year."
She opened her mouth and then shut it.
"You can't can you? That's because it hasn't happened."
He could see her mind whirring and he waited for her to speak.
"Because the reason for the disgraceful way I treated you died with my father. I saw no reason to continue just out of habit."
Her jaw dropped in astonishment and he shook his head.
"I never believed any of the tripe that used to come out of my mouth but if I'd shown even an ounce of mercy towards you when he was alive he would have had me flayed. And when he was truly angry he took it out on my mother. Did you think Crabbe and Goyle were my friends? They were under orders from their fathers to report back everything I said and did so that I could never get away with 'disgracing my family name'."
He stood silently, letting her take that in for a moment before he continued.
"It was never how I felt about you."
This time when he walked away he knew she wouldn't follow.
"He said what?!" Ginny's eyes were as wide as she knew her own had been early that day.
Hermione sighed from her place in front of the fire in the common room. She'd finally confessed everything, from her insane feelings for Draco, to the kiss they'd shared, to the enlightening potions lesson, to the bombshell he'd dropped on her in the hallway.
"And then he just walked away as if he hadn't completely destroyed my sense of how the world worked. It's thoroughly unsettling."
"What's unsettling?" Harry said as he walked over to sit next to Ginny on the couch and wrap his arm around her shoulders.
"Malfoy just told Hermione he was only mean to her under threat from his father."
If they expected a reaction out of the boy who lived they were sorely disappointed.
"Yah, so? I knew that ages ago."
Both girls eyed him in disbelief and he held up his hands placatingly.
"Honestly, I thought you knew or I would have said something earlier. Crabbe and Goyle were spying on him to make sure he was suitably awful to everyone his father thought he should be, and that went double for you, 'Mione. Apparently, Lucius was especially livid at you specifically. Something about how you, a muggle born and a girl at that, were turning out to be as big a thorn in their side as I was."
Her mouth was still hanging open from the shock of the revelation that Harry had known the answer to the question that had been burning in her mind all year and if she'd just asked for help earlier her turmoil wouldn't have gone on for so long.
"Damn it! I've been sitting on pins an needles all year waiting for the other shoe to drop because I thought he couldn't possibly be pleasant to me for any other reason than that he was up to something. I spent a month preparing a particularly agonizing hex for when he finally made his move. And you knew all along he wasn't planning anything! Agh!"
She stood and stormed out of the room, leaving a bewildered Harry behind.
"Since when does she care so much about what Malfoy does?" Harry asked his girlfriend.
"Oh, I think she cares quite a bit more than she's let on." Ginny smiled at the horrified look on his face.
"No way! Hermione and Malfoy? That will never happen."
Ginny's smile turned a bit devious. "Care to make a wager on that?"
Hermione walked into the great hall the next morning a bit late, and as such had a present already waiting for her when she reached her seat. It was a book, one she'd actually never heard of and the note attached read:
I hope you find this book as interesting as I find you. I would love to discuss it with you tonight over dinner. Meet me near your favorite spot in the library at 8:00 if you are willing to be my Valentine.
Hermione clutched the note to her and sighed. She'd waited her whole life for someone to treat her the way this mystery man was treating her and now that it was happening she found it didn't mean as much to her as an offhand comment from a man she, until recently, had been content to despise for the rest of her life. She now had a very interesting decision to make. Smart or foolish? Sensible or whimsical? Safe or horribly dangerous? It wasn't something she was used to having to think about.
Draco walked into the library at 8:00 sharp and scanned the room for her curly hair. When he reached the armchair she always curled up in he found it empty. Sitting on the table next to the armrest was a small box and a note. He opened the box first and found the diamond pendant he'd given her. His heart sank as he pulled open the note. Only to end up laughing.
I am so sorry that I can't accept your offer, but I've recently discovered that my heart is not mine to give. It has a mind of its own and has chosen someone else, as ridiculous as it may be. I have returned the pendant so that when you find someone who returns your devotion you can bestow it upon her.
Of all the ironic situations. She'd turned him down because she was falling for him.
"Granger!" A muffled voice called through the portrait from the hallway and every ear in the common room tuned into the sound. Hermione's head swiveled towards the makeshift door and the pounding that was coming from it. "Granger get out here and explain yourself!" Draco!
She rushed to the door and pulled it open only to stare in shock at the note and pendant he held in his hand.
"What is the meaning of giving me back my gift? Do you have any idea the trouble I had getting this? And that load of tripe about giving it to someone else. As if I would ever again in this lifetime find a girl who would want a pendant scanner more than anything else in the wor-"
His words were cut off by her lips as she flung herself into his arms and he smiled into her kiss.
Finally, she's right where she belongs.
The rest of the room was forgotten as they molded their bodies together and neither heard the gasps and whispers flooding the crowd of Gryffindors.
"What on earth?"
"Well, I certainly didn't see that coming."
"Can you believe it was Malfoy all along?"
Ginny turned a smug grin to her boyfriend and he grudgingly reached into his pocket and handed her a galleon.
Many hours later, in Hermione's room...
"I can't believe it was you all along," Hermione rested her head against his chest and listened to the rapid beating of his heart begin to slow.
"I decided I needed two strategies just in case trapping you in that cupid's circle went badly." He smiled at the way she jerked in his arms to lift her head and look down at him.
She shook her head, "I guess I should have figured that out. I knew you were up to something, I just didn't think it was going to be something I would enjoy."
His grin turned smug, "So you enjoy being mine, Granger?"
"I think I could live with it."
"Little minx, you'd better. Because I'm not letting you go." To emphasize that point he pulled her closer and kissed her again. She sighed into his kiss and then a sudden thought struck her.
"Wait a minute. I forgot to ask you... what's T.S.P.?"
"The Slytherin Prince. I thought it only fitting as you are Gryffindor's Princess."
She felt a bit foolish for not thinking of that obvious moniker but then she didn't feel anything but the way her body responded to him as he pulled her down to claim her again.
The next morning Pansy Parkinson watched in shock as Draco and Hermione walked into breakfast hand in hand.
"Ha!" Blaise exclaimed from his seat next to her, "I knew it!" Her turned to give her a devious smile, "I am going to enjoy your payment immensely."
Pansy wasn't about it admit it, but she was willing to bet that she would too.
"Pay up, Minerva." Snape held out his hand with a smug tilt to his lips.
McGonagall reluctantly handed over the quidditch practice schedule and winced as he crossed off three Gryffindor slots and changed them to Slytherin. She was going to have to find some way of getting him back for this.
George Weasley finished reading the letter than had just been owled to them from Ginny and smiled at his twin. "I believe you owe me twenty galleons."
Blaise looked up at Draco as he neared the table to sit and sighed. "All right, Drake, hand over the homework."
Draco shook his head. "No, you don't owe me anything mate. In fact, as soon as my brain started functioning properly again, I realized what you had done and now it's me who owes you." He looked across the room at his Valentine, "If you hadn't pushed me I would still be miserably stealing glances at her in the halls and thinking she was out of reach. So, if you ever need anything you have an open ended favor waiting."
Blaise eyed Pansy as she was talking to her friends and thought he already had an idea about that.
Author's Note: The end! =) For those of you who are wondering, the second quote came from 'The Count of Monte Cristo' I know I used that book in Amnesia but, as it is one of my favorite books of all time and it fit perfectly into the storyline, I used it again. If you haven't read it, you really should because it's fabulous. The scanning pendant thing hit me when I was using the search feature to look for the quotes I wanted on my kindle. I thought Hermione would absolutely love a kindle and the idea of a diamond being a kindle is something that I would absolutely love. They really need to get working on that.