Disclaimer: Not mine. It would make the perfect Christmas gift to own it though...
A/N: I finished my last exam yesterday! Which means I had some time to fix this up. I've kind of been working on bits and pieces for a while, but something was wrong. I ended up rewriting the ending... twice. I hope you guys like what I came up with!
Also, on a side note, I used to eat candy canes like Hermione does when I was little. I stopped when I got old enough to realize how it must look.
Draco hated candy canes. While most would assume that he hated them on principle for their whimsical, festive nature, this was not the true reason. No, the true reason was walking beside him, absently running the candy over her lips before licking the sticky sweetness off of them.
What was wrong with her? No normal human being ate candy canes like that. He'd suspect that she was trying to seduce him if she wasn't so naive about the whole thing. Miss prim and proper Gryffindor would never attempt something so scandalous. Although Draco would have liked to see her try – purely for entertainment value, of course.
He'd told her to stop or at least eat them normally on many occasions, but to no avail. For some strange reason, she usually assumed that he was trying to insult her Muggle heritage whenever he tried to get her to stop eating the bloody things. Possibly because he habitually slipped slurs against her Muggleborn status in with his requests for her to stop eating the candies.
What could he say? It was the way he was raised. For some reason, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't seem to stop those little slips of the tongue to ruin any interactions with the girl. He didn't believe in that nonsense anymore, but he was finding it difficult to cleanse his vocabulary of the more offensive terms.
Ever since McGonagall had decided it would be a good idea for prefects to patrol in pairs, he had been forced to work with Granger - something about her being the only one who could stand to wander dark corridors with the former Death Eater. The younger students were terrified of him and the older ones wanted nothing to do with him. If Malfoys were capable of feeling embarrassment, it would be a sore spot for him. Luckily, he was a Malfoy and so didn't feel the need for such plebeian things as embarrassment.
In all honesty, he probably should have thanked her for her continued willingness to work with him despite how horrible he was to her. Unfortunately, his pride got in the way time and time again.
Glancing at her out of the corner of his eye, he saw her tracing her lips again, the dye from the candy staining them a darker red than their usual rose colour. Her mouth was shiny and oddly magnetic when she did that – more so than usual. He hated that he spent so much time thinking about her lips. Even more than that, he hated that he could never live out any of the things he thought about doing to those lips.
Draco tried glaring at her, but she just pretended not to see it. He growled in frustration. There was a flash of a smirk on her face that was so fleeting that he barely noticed, but it was enough to push him over the edge. She knew she was irritating him and was enjoying it immensely. He couldn't stand for that.
"Stop with the bloody candy already, or I'll do something we'll both regret!" he snapped, giving her one last warning before he made her stop.
Challengingly, she raised an eyebrow at him, clearly not taking his warning as the serious threat that it was.
"Like what?" she asked, continuing her consumption of the sugary treat as if he hadn't said anything.
Draco clenched his fists and stopped walking, taking a deep breath. Usually, he was good at keeping his fierce temper in check, but something about the bushy-headed Gryffindor always managed to breach the control he usually had over it.
When she noticed that he was no longer beside her, Granger stopped and looked back at him. "Is this what we're both going to regret? You're going to stand there while I finish the patrols?" she mocked.
He did not appreciate being mocked. Ever. The last person to try it was still in the hospital. Fortunately, he had other plans for Hermione Granger. Plans that he was going to enjoy much more than transfiguring her body into gelatine and conjuring a small herd of rabbits to follow her around and nibble on her newly-gelatinous limbs – not that he'd done that to the last person to mock him. They couldn't prove anything.
Taking two quick strides towards her, he knocked the candy from her hand and kissed her. The shock of his sudden attack left her frozen, standing limp in his arms. She was pleasant when she was pliant in his arms.
It didn't take her very long to recover from the shock of having someone she thought an enemy suddenly kissing her.
Draco was braced for the attack he was sure was coming, so it was his turn to be shocked when she actually responded, moving her lips against the gentle pressure of his own.
She tasted of mint and sweetness, with the addition of something that was just Granger, making her better than any candy he had ever consumed. There was a flash of something resembling worry as he realized that it would be very easy to become addicted to this special flavour, but he pushed it aside. He had more important matters to tend to at the moment.
It lasted for a blissful minute before she realized exactly who it was that she was kissing. Draco was disappointed that it was over, but was thankful that she hadn't hexed him immediately and left him in the corridor for some early-riser to discover upon emerging from their common room in search of breakfast. He allowed neither emotion to show on his face.
"Don't ever do that again!" she screeched, turning an interesting shade of red.
Draco smirked slightly, victorious because he had finally managed to rattle her.
That victory lasted until she'd gathered herself enough to stop her enraged shouting and start on the physical attack. She landed an impressively strong slap on his cheek before he grabbed her wrist to stop a second hit. Her technique had improved since third year; he was pretty sure he had lost feeling in half his face.
Seeming to forget about her wand, she screamed in frustration and kicked him in the shin. When he released her wrists to clutch his poor shin and hop slightly, she stormed away.
Despite the consequences, Draco felt that the kiss had been worth it. His imaginings had fallen sort on what those lips of hers could do.
With a hand cupping his burning cheek while he limped towards his dorms, he decided that he was going to have to try that again. She'd briefly responded, so there had to be some sort of hope for a second occurrence.
Licking his lips, he found that some of the stickiness from her mouth had transferred to his. There was still a lingering minty sweetness clinging to his lips. Maybe candy canes weren't so bad after all.
Hermione knew that she'd been pushing Malfoy to the edge, but never would she have expected him to kiss her. Enjoying it had been even more unexpected. He was supposed to be repulsive, not someone she was contemplating kissing again.
She immediately stamped out any thoughts of a repeat of the incident. It was never going to happen again and she didn't want him to kiss her again. She was hoping that if she told herself this fiercely and frequently enough, then it would become true. Her strange attraction to him had to be some sort of fluke that, like a cold, would eventually disappear.
All week she'd felt his eyes burning into her, and it was immensely distracting. What did he want? It wasn't like he could actually be attracted to her, she was a Muggleborn. She could only assume that this was some new way for him to irritate her as revenge for constantly eating candy canes. There must be something about the minty smell that really bothered him.
Exactly seven days later, she was once again patrolling with Malfoy. This time, she had her candy canes in her pocket, unopened. She wasn't taking any chances with him kissing her – she might like it a second time, and then she wouldn't be able to pass it off as a onetime fluke. Consistent attraction to Malfoy would mean some kind of deeper problem, like insanity.
She did her best to avoid his gaze, but she could feel it boring into the side of her head, just like she'd felt all week. If he didn't stop that, she was going to poke those bloody eyes out with her wand just to be free of the weight of his stare. It took conscious effort to stop her eye from twitching with her murderous desire to injure him.
Her tolerance for the blond was at an all time low, and she feared if he so much as said one slur against her, she was going to snap. Really she shouldn't have to be responsible for her actions when he had practically assaulted her the last time they'd patrolled together.
She had to do something before she snapped. It wouldn't be long before the turmoil of her emotions started to affect her grades, and she couldn't have that.
An idea occurred to her when she noticed some mistletoe hanging from the ceiling further down the hall. Malfoy's smugness and ability to affect her was rooted mainly in the fact that he'd taken her by surprise and gained the upper hand. Logically, all she had to do was turn that around on him and then they'd be even. Everything would go back to normal. Yes, kissing him would even the score and allow everything to go back to normal.
Careful not to look up at the mistletoe and give herself away, Hermione stopped walking once she was below the plant. Malfoy, slightly behind her, nearly ran into her back.
"What are you doing?" he demanded, irritated that she'd made him have an ungraceful moment while trying not to run into her. He probably had some misguided belief that Malfoys weren't capable of gracelessness.
Hermione turned to face him and flashed a smile that she could see made him slightly nervous.
"What are you doing?" he asked again, a wary eye on her as she stepped forward, closing the little space between them. She was small but she packed quite a punch, and he wasn't going to underestimate her again when she had that determined glint in her eyes. It hadn't turned out too well for him when he'd ignored that same look in third year.
She didn't answer, just kept looking at him with that unnerving expression.
When she stood on her tiptoes and reached for him, he flinched slightly as if he'd been expecting a hit, but he didn't stop her. It was strange; for someone who despised her, he was certainly eager for her to touch him. His hands went to her hips to help steady her as she reached up and kissed him.
The plan hadn't really expanded beyond the initial contact of their lips. Hermione had kind of been hoping that he'd take over, they'd snog for a bit, and then it would be out of her system. She knew he wanted to deepen the kiss, his hands were kneading at her hips and he was tense with the effort to keep control, but he stood still and let her do as she wished.
Annoyed with his lack of a response, she pressed herself closer and deepened the kiss. That seemed to be the extent of his control; he wrapped his arms around her and walked her backwards until her shoulders hit a wall.
Hermione realized that her plan had swerved drastically out of control when his fingers slid underneath her shirt and he pressed his palm against her lower back. She had no desire to stop him, which was a huge problem. She had a sinking feeling that her passing preoccupation with the blond was something more than a fluke.
She untangled her hands from his hair and pushed against his shoulders until he stepped away from her, looking slightly dazed.
Hermione blushed fiercely and brushed her hands over her robes as her eyes darted down the corridor, checking to see if her second indiscretion with Malfoy had been noticed by an unwitting passerby. Luckily, the corridor was still entirely vacant.
Probably expecting her to hit him again even though she'd been the one to initiate the kiss this time, Malfoy took another step back, bringing himself out of her reach. After a moment to regain his breath, he smirked. "I knew you wouldn't be able to resist me for long."
Choosing not to dignify his stupid statement with a response, Hermione pushed off the wall, slid by Malfoy, and continued on down the corridor. "Let's just finish our patrol."
Still smirking, he followed her down the corridor once again, looking like the cat that got the cream.
"Hermione, are you okay?" Harry asked, looking at his friend with concern. The colour had drained from her face as she'd opened the last of her presents and he swore that he could see a tremble in her hands.
"I-I'm fine Harry." She gave him a weak smile that he didn't believe any more than he believed her words.
It was only moments later that she announced she'd forgotten to return a library book and rushed from the room after grabbing a set of robes to cover her reindeer pyjamas. Something had been up with her recently and Harry was starting to worry. Ever since she'd come back from her patrol with Malfoy, she'd been twitchy whenever someone mentioned the blond. Harry didn't know what it was, but he knew something was up with his friend.
Ron looked after Hermione and then to Harry. "She didn't have a book with her," he said, looking confused.
"I don't think she's going to the library," Harry told his friend. Curious, he pulled the present that had rattled Hermione closer and peeked in the box. It was just a single candy cane resting on a note that said 'I dare you'.
"Do you guys have any idea what this means?" he asked the two Weasleys. They both shook their heads, just as bewildered as their green-eyed friend.
Hermione's heart was pounding and her hands were shaking. She had no idea what in the world she thought she was doing, but as soon as she'd opened that present, she'd known that her little... incidents with Malfoy weren't going to go away anytime soon. With that one gift, he'd changed their relationship. He was daring her to let them explore the strange new thing that they could both feel blossoming between them, and Hermione was scared.
She'd been surprised at the level of disappointment she'd felt when Malfoy had refused to acknowledge her of late. They had finished their patrol in complete silence after she'd kissed him, and somehow, it wasn't awkward. She'd wanted to slap that silly smirk right off of his face, but it hadn't been awkward.
Kissing him in an attempt to prove to herself that she didn't want to kiss him hadn't been the smartest move in the world. In potions the day after she'd kissed him, they had been paired together, something that would have normally been considered a nuisance, but a manageable one. However, this time something had been different. The air between them had been positively crackling with tension.
When her hand had accidentally brushed his as she handed him an ingredient, it had felt like she'd been shocked. The lusty look he'd given her said that he'd felt it too. Pointedly, Hermione had avoided meeting his eyes or touching him for the rest of the lesson.
When she'd first rushed out of the Gryffindor common room, she'd been half hoping that Malfoy would be there, leaning against the wall and giving that smirk of his. But he hadn't been there, so she had to think of somewhere else.
Unsure where she should go, Hermione allowed her feet to lead her. She ended up in the kitchens, watching as the elves rushed about making the Christmas dinner. It was warm and smelled divine in the large room, just what she needed to calm her nerves.
As a child, she would always sit and watch her mum bake, sometimes helping chop things when she needed something to keep her mind busy. Baking something would be an even better distraction. While the elves refused to let her help them, they were more than happy to let her use a small corner of the kitchen for her own culinary project.
A few hours later, smudged with flour, streaks of cocoa, and various other ingredients, Hermione smiled at the array of goodies she'd produced. They looked delicious.
Just as she'd bitten into a gooey chocolate chip cookie, still warm from the oven, she heard a voice behind her drawl. "Is this your way of avoiding your attraction to me, killing yourself slowly with sweets?"
Quickly, she chewed the bite of cookie and swallowed the sticky mess. "I'm not avoiding an attraction to you."
Malfoy rolled his eyes and pulled up a stool to the counter so he could perch beside her. "So you're still denying your attraction to me? I thought we were past that."
There was actually disappointment in his voice. Apparently he was more invested than she had assumed in this... thing they had. That was comforting; it made her feel like less of a lunatic for somehow developing feelings for the prat.
"I'm not denying anything," she said, glancing at him out of the corner of her eyes.
"Does that mean you won't hit me if I kiss you?"
She turned away from him, fishing around in her pocket until she produced the candy cane she knew was there. As he watched, she peeled the wrapper off, sucked on it for a moment, and then traced the candy over her lips in that annoying, irresistible way of hers. Draco found himself once again mesmerized by the Gryffindor he wasn't supposed to notice.
"I believe you dared me to do this again. A Gryffindor would never let a Slytherin win in such an easy dare." Her eyes danced with laughter as she watched his pupils dilate slightly and follow the path of her candy.
When she produced a second candy cane, he accepted it, looking at her questioningly. He had momentarily forgotten about her lips as he wondered why she was offering him a candy cane of his own.
"I know the minty smell bothers you, but give them a chance. Candy canes are delicious," she said.
Draco was completely floored. She thought he didn't like candy canes because of the smell?
Lips quirked into an amused smile, he tossed the candy on the counter and kissed her, tugging her to stand between her legs so she was as close to him as possible. Her arms snaked around his shoulders and he swallowed her small hum of contentment.
All too soon, she pulled away, swaying out of his grasp with surprising grace. Draco tried to grab for her, but she danced just out of his reach. Slightly irritated that she was so far away, Draco frowned and opened his mouth to ask her what in the world she was doing.
Before the words could escape, she quickly shoved something in his mouth.
"There, see? Candy canes aren't so bad," Hermione said with a small laugh at the expression on his face.
He shook his head and crunched through the candy. "I suppose I could come to tolerate them."
"Good, because I've used them in these cookies that I need you to help me finish. I hope you don't get tired of candy canes..."
Draco had a feeling it would be a long while before he tired of that particular candy.