On a drizzly morning in late April, a buzzing sound coaxed Hermione out of her dead sleep. She pried her eyes open and shuffled over to the side of the bed, squinting at the clock face across the room. "Shit," she cursed. "I'm going to be late!" She scrambled out of the bed, accidentally kicking her partner in the process. He grunted and chuckled at her. "Shut it, you don't have classes this early, you prat." He mumbled something about doing that on purpose. "Did you turn off my first alarms?" she demanded. He rolled over and pulled the sheet over his head.
She rushed into her uniform, grumbling the entire time about how she wouldn't even have time for breakfast and would have to run all the way to her seventh-year Potions class with the Ravenclaws. She wound a scarf around her neck in anticipation of the frigid dungeon air, ignored his half-hearted protest, grabbed her book bag, and slammed the door behind her.
She sprinted down several flights of stairs and two corridors, down one final set of stairs, made a left, dodged a pair of Hufflepuffs heading toward the infirmary, and walked into the Potions classroom nearly ten minutes late.
Professor Slughorn raised an eyebrow at her. "You're late, Miss Granger," he admonished.
"I'm sorry, Professor, I haven't been feeling well and my first alarm didn't wake me on time," she lied. "It won't happen again."
Slughorn considered her, glancing at her haphazard attire. A smirk grew on his face and he nodded. "Yes, well, see that it doesn't. It's a terrible example for the Head Girl to be setting."
"Of course, Professor," she replied, nodding again and taking her seat beside Harry.
Harry stared at her as she sat down. She glanced at him as she pulled out her quill and parchment in anticipation of the notes they would be taking. "What?" she hissed.
Harry snorted and shook his head. "Nothing."
Hermione endured several questioning glances throughout the class. By the end of the period, every single classmate had turned in their seat to gawk at her for a moment before giggling amongst themselves. At first, she ignored it, sure that her hair was just extra frazzled that morning. She smoothed one hand over it and found nothing out of the ordinary. If anything, it was less bushy than usual, which didn't make sense at all. She glanced down at her attire and found nothing out of the ordinary. Her robes were straight, she hadn't missed any buttons on her blouse, her tie was properly knotted, her scarf was wound snug. She frowned and put it out of her thoughts, focusing on the class.
After double potions, she ascended the stairs towards the hall for lunch. Hermione did her best to ignore the stares she was getting in the hall, but she heard whispers and instinctively knew they were about her. Harry nudged her shoulder once when she was looking discouraged and said, "Don't mind them, Hermione."
Ron was waiting at the table already, one arm around Lavender's shoulders and grinning at them. He stopped and gawked at Hermione. Lavender covered her mouth with one hand and giggled openly.
Hermione had had it. She put her hands on her hips. "Just what is so interesting about me this morning?" she demanded. She was hungry and hadn't gotten enough sleep the night before, and she was through with being ridiculed.
Harry took his seat at the table, stifling a laugh. Ginny lifted herself a bit out of her seat and reached across Harry, pulling on the end of Hermione's scarf. "This is a great color on you, Hermione," she pointed out with an indulgent grin.
Hermione looked down. The scarf was green and silver. Her eyes widened and her cheeks flushed scarlet. The scarf was green and silver. Harry, Ron, Ginny, Lavender, and everyone else at the Gryffindor table within earshot burst into unrestrained laughter. She whirled around to glare at the Slytherin table on the other end of the hall, her eyes immediately seeking out the Head Boy.
Draco Malfoy sat with one hand over his mouth, but she could tell he was biting his lip in efforts to hold in his mirth. He winked at her.
She stalked over to the table. Draco, resigned, took a huge bite out of one of the sandwiches that had appeared on the tray in front of him, and allowed her to grab his arm and drag him out of the hall. Uproarious laughter followed them out. Hermione's face felt hot and her eyes were burning, but she held in her tears until she led Draco down the corridor aways. She could still hear the laughter behind her and it hurt.
"How could you let me walk out with this on?" she demanded, jerking the scarf away from her neck. Humiliated tears had begun to roll down her cheeks.
Draco rolled his eyes at the ceiling, swallowed the bite of his sandwich, and put his hands on her shoulders. "Granger, everyone already knew," he began.
"That doesn't make it any better!" she shrilled, throwing the scarf at him. He caught it and carelessly threw it around his shoulders, one end reaching his knee and the other his hip. "I lied to Slughorn and he knew I was lying but humored me because he likes you!" she accused.
Draco snorted. "Slughorn does not like me, actually, but – "
"Now everyone knows that we're sleeping together and it's against so many school rules – "
" – no rule against it since we're of consenting age, I looked it up – "
" – and everyone was staring at me all morning – "
" – everyone always stares at us, Granger – "
" – and. And." Hermione sniffled, looking at him. Draco looked back at her, dark blond brows lifting over gray eyes. She stepped into him and put her arms around his waist, burying her face in his chest and letting out a sob.
Draco deflated and folded his arms around her shaking shoulders. "What's all this really about, Hermione?" he murmured against her bushy hair.
Hermione sniffled and seemed to collect herself, drawing one hand back up to wipe at her face. "I don't know," she said, miserable.
"Were you enjoying us being a secret?" he asked, a smirk playing on his lips no matter how hard he tried to keep it off.
Hermione shot him a reprimanding look and shrugged her shoulders. "A little, I guess. I liked having you all to myself," she admitted.
Draco nodded. "That's understandable, I am quite a valuable commodity." She swatted his chest. He used one hand to tilt her head up and kissed her forehead. "See, but now, you can hold my hand in the corridors on the rare occurrences that we have classes in the same general direction, and you can yell at me in public, and you can drag me out of conversations with my friends for a snog, and you don't have to feel guilty about hiding it from Scarhead and the Weasel, even though they knew before you knew – "
"Knew what?" she asked, pulling back to look at him in suspicion.
Draco studied her. "They never told you?"
"Told me what?" she demanded, stepping away.
Draco didn't let her get far, tightening his arms around her. It was half because he wanted her close and half because he knew she might hit him for this. "I talked to the dunce duo before I ever approached you, in September."
"September?" she echoed in a hiss, her eyebrows flying toward her hairline.
Draco laughed. "Yes. I knew if I hadn't spoken to them first, they'd insist that you were on some sort of love potion or that I was blackmailing you or something."
"Ron still thinks that," she admitted with a shrug. "They haven't gotten angry with me at all for it, though. I was a bit surprised, come to think of it, that they've taken it so well."
Draco nodded. "That would be because I had a nice, long heart-to-heart with them in September."
"Pull the other one."
He grinned. "Alright, we got into a fist-fight and when I didn't back down, they relented and listened and decided I was being genuine."
She snapped her fingers. "That's why Harry wouldn't tell me what that fight was about!"
"Probably," Draco replied, shrugging his shoulders.
Hermione seemed to absorb this information and she sank back into his embrace, her head in the dip of his shoulder as he gathered her closer. She took in a great breath and let it back out in a sigh. "I don't know why I made such a fuss over this," she muttered.
Draco's breath was on her ear as he said, "It probably had something to do with our not getting much sleep last night." Hermione shivered with a slew of tactile memories dancing down her frame. "And missing breakfast," he added, pulling back. Hermione shrugged and closed her eyes. "Your free period is after lunch, why don't you take a nap?" he suggested.
She shook her head and answered without closing her eyes. "No, I won't be able to sleep tonight if I do."
Draco gave a grin Salazar himself would've been proud of. "Who says we'll be sleeping tonight?"
She whacked his bum even as she grinned back. "You're incorrigible."
"I like to think it's because I'm seventeen and I have a beautiful girl warming my bed each night," he replied, shrugging one shoulder. She rolled her eyes behind her lids and chose not to respond. He squeezed her. "We should go and eat," he murmured.
Hermione nodded. "Probably."
Draco found her hand with his and intertwined their fingers. He led her back toward the hall. She pulled on his hand once, but he only tightened his grip and shot her a determined look. They rounded the corner and he paused in the doorway, turning to her. She knew what he was about to do by the look in his eyes but had no time to protest. He pushed one hand into her hair and brought her mouth to his in a soft kiss that was far from chaste. It pushed the thoughts of how many of their fellow students were watching them out of Hermione's head and lingered as he nudged her into a response. She wound one hand around his forearm and the other trailed up his chest. She closed her eyes and enjoyed herself.
He pulled away first. He shot her a smirk and a saucy wink and departed for his table. She stood straighter and purposely kept her gaze off of the tables, keeping her chin high as she headed for her seat at the Gryffindor table. Her cheeks were scarlet, but her expression was defiant. A pin drop would've sounded like an explosion in the hall. She sat down and avoided the gaze of her friends as she loaded her plate with a sandwich, a pickle, chips, and ketchup.
Ginny was the first to break the silence. Her voice was loud on purpose as she turned to Harry and said, "How come you never kiss me like that?"
Hermione stifled a giggle but the rest of the hall didn't bother. She turned over her shoulder and caught Draco's gaze. She smiled at him and he grinned at her, winked, and turned to Blaise as he was addressed.