Any mistakes are due to the fact that this was written at 12AM under the influence of way too much chocolate.

Summary: An argument, a potions slip-up, and now Hermione and Draco are stuck in the infirmary together over Christmas. There doesn't seem all that much to be thankful for right now. Post DH, DM/HG.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything, except my pestering plot bunnies.

"You hate someone whom you really wish to love, but whom you cannot love. Perhaps he himself prevents you. This is a disguised form of love." ~ Sri Chinmoy

1: Differences

It had never been Draco's intention to piss off Hermione Granger.


Oh, sure, so it was fun to rile her up. And maybe it was slightly satisfying to push her buttons and get her furious - but it wasn't his intent to get her that angry.

...not really, anyway.

So, after the war, things had changed. The house rivalry seemed almost petty as opposed to what had transpired. The Slytherins were more subdued; the Gryffindors didn't go around sucking up to the teachers; the Hufflepuffs lacked their usual glow, and a Ravenclaw failed the NEWTS.

Things were different now. Quieter. Sallower. War did that to people. Made them cold.

But Granger – she was mostly her usual self, pouring over books and yattering on about SPEW. Draco had to admit she lacked her previous fire. He'd make a snarky comment, and she'd merely look on - as opposed to, I don't know, cursing his eyebrows off.

However, all things considered, he'd never intended to piss her off to the point where he had had to pay a visit to the hospital wing.

He was bored out of his mind, and tired. The effort that had gone into the war made him weary, and losing his father had had a horrifying impact on him.

Things were just so...strange.

The other day, he'd seen a Slytherin and a Hufflepuff snogging.


He thought he might need to Obliviate himself ater that horrifying scene.

When it came down to it, he needed a distraction. Something. Anything.

And Granger just happened to be there, willing. Well, not entirely willing, but she wasn't about to hex him, so he considered that willing.

They'd just sat down in Potions, and Slughorn was bumbling on about some ridiculous thing Draco had already learned years ago. What was even the point anymore?

Draco's father was dead, and his mother was in grieving – for once in his life, he didn't have anyone to impress.

What was he going to do after school, anyway? Become an Auror?

Pfft, the Aurors wouldn't touch him with a ten foot pole. He was too dark and scary.

"Hey, Granger," he called, smirking when she turned to look at him. She had a sheet in front of her that she was scribbling on – definitely not Potions work. "Doing SPEW work?"

Her hair appeared to have calmed with the fighting, and it lacked its previous resemblance to a dead cat. Draco had to admit that it looked...almost...good on her.

It didn't look attractive, or anything. I mean, this was Granger we were talking about. She was...Muggleborn...and Gryffindor...and all sorts of other horrendous things.

She sniffed regally. "It's not spew," she corrected, looking down her nose at him. "It's S.P.E.W. Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare."

Draco shrugged. "Whatever. Are you staying for Christmas?"

She was staring at him rather strangely now. "What does it matter to you?" she demanded.

"I'm merely curious as to whether I'll have to put up with your boring babbling about muggle rights and those pathetic parents of yours like last year," he told her haughtily.

Blaise was looking at him, frowning, almost as if to say What are you doing, Draco? Shut up.

Draco looked back at him with raised eyebrows as if to say, Blaise, your Hufflepuff is showing.

Granger had an unusually bright glint to her eye. Potter placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, and the Weasel glared at him furiously. Oh gods. He'd hit a sore spot. He almost jumped up and down with glee.

He didn't, of course. That would be unseemly.

"Yes, I am staying here," she said finally, not looking at him.


Why wasn't she retaliating?

She was almost...ignoring him.

He decided to go with the Plan B.

"Oh gods," he muttered, "I'll make sure to avoid the library. I don't want to be around your dirty blood." He raised his eyes heavenwards and shuddered. "It might be contagious or something."

It wasn't a good insult, to be honest. It was cheap and had been heard a thousand times before, and he half expected everybody to burst out laughing with the pure absurdity of how ridiculously mundane his insults had become.

And then, much to his bemusement, Hermione Granger, saviour of the elves, the brightest witch of her age, burst into tears.

Theo groaned, punching him in the shoulder. "You're an idiot, mate." He sighed.

"What did I do?" Draco demanded. He honestly couldn't work out what he'd done wrong.

So, he'd insulted the girl. She'd never cared before. Why should she start now?

"What did you do? What did you do?" Potter was scrambling to his feet. He looked furious, Draco noted, with some satisfaction. It was much better than the dead look he'd be wearing these last few months. "You're a pathetic excuse for a human being, you git!"

Weasley was comforting Granger, stroking her back as she cried into his shoulder.

Draco felt a twinge of guilt.

Honestly! Guilt! What was going on? Malfoys didn't feel guilt.

"I didn't do anything wrong," Draco hissed defiantly. "It's not my fault the Muggleborn are more sensitive than the rest of us."

Potter began to draw his wand, but was pushed into his seat by Granger. She pushed away from the desk, bringing out her wand and staring down at him with eyes so cold he was almost impressed.


She said, "It's time somebody taught you a lesson, Malfoy."

She said it so sadistically that Draco honestly thought that she could pass for a Slytherin, save the red and gold scarf. He felt sort of in awe.

In awe! Of a Mudblood!

Merlin save us all.

Draco didn't even draw his wand. She wouldn't do anything, not in front of Slughorn.

"So, is it true about your parents, Granger?" he asked inquisitively. "That even they don't want you?"

And then, as if he hadn't had enough surprises today, Granger grinned at him.

That grin held not an ounce of humour.

"At least I have parents," she said coldly.

Not many things could have prodded a reaction out of Draco right then, and Granger managed to hit his weak spot.

"You fucking bitch," he hissed at her, bringing out his wand. She was still smiling at him, as if this was amusing to her somehow.

"Hey, Draco, how does it feel?" She sneered at him contemptuously. "To be a bastard?" She stepped forward. "How does it feel to have everybody hate you because of what you are?" She licked her lips. "You and I are no different, you see. Except for one thing. You chose to be a slave to Dark Magic. I didn't choose to be Muggleborn."

He spat at her, "We're nothing like one another."

Something resembling fear was beginning to edge up his spine. Fear and anger.

"Impeta," Granger shot suddenly, pointing at the many – dangerous-looking – utensils that lay on the side bench, used for dissecting. They rose into the air.

Draco remembered hazily the Latin lessons that his father had forced him to take. 'Impeta' came from the phrase impetum facere, he assumed, which meant 'to attack'.

He peered up at the utensils pointing at him and his eyes widened. He scrambled to think of a counter curse, but they were already flying right at him, looking

"Miss Granger!" Slughorn's voice broke through the haze. "What on Earth are you doing?"

The pointy metal objects stopped a few metres from his face, hovering there dangerously. Draco didn't dare breathe.

"Oh, Professor," Granger said sweetly. "Me and Draco were discussing curses. We were just," She waved her wand, and the utensils inched further forward, "experimenting."

Draco promised to whatever god who might be listening that, should he get out of this, he'd never doubt the Muggleborns' magical abilities again.

Slughorn frowned. "This is potions class, Miss Granger. Kindly release the spell."

Granger, with a sigh that suggested that she was doing everybody some huge gratitude, released the spell. The utensils clattered to the ground loudly, looking a lot less frightening than they had when they were a few inches away from Draco's face.

"I warned you," Theo told him matter-of-factly.

Draco didn't even threaten to hex his eyebrows off, that was how relieved he was.

He was safe. He was still in one wondrously good-looking piece. Thank heavens.

And then, as karma often comes around and slaps you in the face harder than Hermione Granger, Seamus Finnigan decided that it would be a good time for his cauldron to blow up.

Draco's last thought was that it was a shame he'd never gotten to go skydiving.

Such was life.