In the Arms of Her Dragon

"Why're you crying?" Draco whispered, sitting down beside Hermione in a deserted Great Hall. Looking up at him with puffy eyes, she admitted what happened earlier at the Gryffindor Tower. Without a moment's hesitation, he wrapped an arm around her shoulders and said: "Come on, you're spending the night in the Slytherin dungeon. With me."

.xx.

Tuesdays were considered the 'easy' days for the eighth-year students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and that was only because they had double Transfigurations and McGonagall was rather easy going. Minerva McGonagall's theory was that if 95% of the students participated in the Great War, then her job only entailed to ensure that the students were clear in the theory of Transfiguration, since most of them were apt practitioners. The only thing McGonagall would focus on would be human transfiguration, and even then the class was showing great prowess in the art.

Class ended smoothly and the four houses dispersed to get on with their day; most of the students decided that they were going to focus on their Potion's project. It was a rather smart idea, in all honesty; the project seemed to be quite the doozy. Additionally, all of the students were paired with somebody that wasn't in their house, so meeting up for collaboration would prove too difficult.

"I'm ready to drown myself in alcohol and forget all of my misery." Seamus's thick Irish accent drawled. The Gryffindors decided that they were going to occupy a quiet corner of the Restricted Section of the library (thanks to Hermione's VIP access to and from that area) and focus on their potions. They had no more classes for the rest of the day and decided that they would all be productive; besides, they didn't know when Hermione would change her mind about helping them.

"That's not what your potion is supposed to heal, Seamus." Dean shoved his good friend. Harry was quick to respond to both Seamus and Dean.

"Alcohol is the potion that cures misery. Albeit temporarily, of course."

Seamus winked at Harry and Hermione bit her lower lip to prevent her laughter. Sometimes it felt good to just kick back with her friends. The bout of awkwardness between her and Ron was slowly fading away and things were going back to normal. There was still a little bit of pain in her heart but, as Hermione knew very well, time healed all wounds. She would eventually get over it. She was still unsure exactly why Ron had his outburst; maybe in the future she'll know the methodology behind his thinking, but for the time being she was going to take it for what it was worth.

And that was a friendship.

Without warning Fay groaned and leaned back in her seat. All eyes turned to face her, watching her expectantly; the Gryffindors were silently asking her 'what is the matter?'.

"I'm reading this passage and it keeps talking about monkshood… what's monkshood?!"

Hermione's jaw dropped and Harry choked on air. Neville paused with his quill in midair, "You're… kidding, right?"

"Snape taught us that in first year!" Seamus burst into laughter. "And even if you don't remember that, how could you possibly forget after third year?! Lupin… wolfsbane… werewolf?!"

Fay raised an eyebrow quizzically. Hermione was speechless, simply gawking at her friend. How could Fay possibly not remember what monkshood was? "What does wolfsbane have to do with monkshood?"

"An alias to wolfsbane is monkshood." Dean grumbled, exasperated. "And before you ask, so is aconite."

Hermione shook her head. "Honestly… sometimes I question how any of us will pass our NEWTs. Now, all of you focus on your potions. If you need me, I'll be here doing my own little thing."

Kellah leaned towards Seamus to murmur: "Her partner is Malfoy… I wouldn't be worried about the outcome of my potion either if I was paired with him."

Hermione heard the comment but made no movement to show that she heard. Kellah was right; she wasn't worried. Malfoy was an intelligent man and she knew that he wouldn't let her down academically. Granted, the butterflies in her stomach at the mere mention of his name had her almost believing that he wouldn't let her down romantically as well.

But who was she kidding. They were 'friends' and nothing more. And, according to his hierarchy of relationship statuses, they wouldn't be dating until they slept together and, as much as she loved kissing him and spending time with him and resting in his arms, Hermione Granger doubted if she would have sex with him. She wasn't the type of girl that would so easily give up that...

That which he didn't know she was; a virgin.

Hermione decided to put Draco in the furthest corner of her mind and focus on the task at hand: writing back to her best friend, Gabriella Mitt. Her last letter indicated that she wanted Hermione and Draco to drop by for her Halloween shindig… the idea was tempting, and costume choices would be so easy; Hermione could go as a witch. It was tradition to have a witch at every costume party known to man, and Hermione wouldn't have to invest in a costume.

She could wear her school uniform. The only thing she would need to invest in would be green face paint and a fake elongated nose.

And maybe a mole, to add to the Wicked Witch of the West look.

Dear Gabriella,

Don't call me Jeany Weeny. Cody McIntyre called me that all through primary school, remember? Granted, I do think he had a crush on me back then. But what would I know; I couldn't have been more than seven years old at the time.

But, regarding what you said about going with the flow… that is what I'm doing. Do you have any idea what he says to me? Yesterday, in the midst of our flying lesson, he told me that I was his and only his. We aren't an official couple by any means. He has this hierarchy system and according to it we aren't dating until we've slept together. I've only gone as far as kissing him and allowing a roaming hand (or two).

Going the whole nine yards? The idea is so… I mean… I don't know what I mean. I'm speechless. He is so different from who I perceived him to be all these years. I think it also has to do with the fact that we've been through so much and have done so many things as teenagers that most adults don't in their lifetime. We've pretty much destroyed the Hitler of the Wizarding World.

With our bare hands (wands? Bare wands? Oh no, that could be interpreted so sexually. Never mind.)

If I do come to your shindig for Halloween, I'm dressing up as a witch. Yes, you may shake your head at my lack of creativity.

Anyway, Gab, I must return to studying. You study hard too! You've gotten into Oxford for chemical biology! You don't have time to waste. Go go! Stop reading this letter.

Love you loads,

Hermione

Content with the letter she penned (quilled?), Hermione rolled it up and tucked it into the inner-pocket of her robes. She was pleased to see that her fellow classmates were engrossed in the world of education, looking up their ingredients and cross referencing them to the material they had learned throughout the last eight years.

About time this lot learned how to concentrate on the task at hand. Hermione mused playfully. They were only the surviving witches and wizards from the Great War; focusing on the task at hand should be a lesson learnt from their experiences.

.xx.

Draco, Blaise, and Theodore decided to take a stroll through the library. Their decision, however, was primarily for Blaise; Theodore was happily dating Tracey and Draco was involved with Hermione. Blaise kept whining about how left out he felt and deduced that since Hermione – a mighty fine witch with "legs that never ended" (quote Blaise)—spent so much time in the library, than other mighty fine witches with legs that never ended should as well.

His logic made no sense, but Draco and Theodore decided to humour the chap. He hadn't had some since the summer; they allowed his petty delusions.

"I want a woman with fine blond hair, fine blond long hair!" Blaise amended. "And legs…"

Draco frowned. "Blaise, don't be rude towards the physically disabled."

Blaise scowled and replied with: "I meant long legs. Like Granger."

"Granger's legs are mediocre." Theodore murmured whilst cracking his neck. "Now remember Fleur Delacour? She had legs for kilometers."

"Fleur also married a Weasley."

"Perhaps they have a certain je ne sais quoi?" Theodore smirked and Draco chuckled, he saw what Theo did there; Fleur, French, je ne sais quoi… French phrase.

"Clever." Draco offered and Theodore's grin widened.

"Can we stop discussing the Weasley's charm and Fleur's certain je ne sais quoi and start scouting?" Blaise gave both of his friends a nudge. "It's either this or study for our Potions and I'd rather not be working on the latter. Lovegood is a nice girl but I can only listen to her babble about invisible monkeys for so long."

Draco snickered and wrapped an arm around Blaise's shoulders. "Not monkeys, mate, nibble wibbles."

"Or gobble bobble." Theodore piped.

"Or polka doodle."

"Or pumpernickel."

Blaise raised an eyebrow and glanced at Theodore. "Isn't that a type of bread?"

"Yes, but I couldn't find another word that rhymed with doodle."

"Pumpernickel doesn't rhyme with—" Blaise was interrupted when they heard a familiar shriek. The three boys raced towards the origin of the sound and were amused to see Seamus Finnigan holding a snake up to a pale white and ghastly afraid Hermione Granger.

Draco raised both eyebrows and Theodore and Blaise were too dumbfounded to react. They watched the Gryffindor boys explode in laughter while the girls were frowning at Seamus.

"That isn't funny!" Fay scolded.

"Come on, Dunbar," Seamus made the snake disappear and in its stead was his wand. "Hermione faced the basilisk in second year; a fake snake isn't that frightening."

Hermione scowled at Seamus. "That's precisely why I'm afraid of the blasted thing. You try facing an overgrown snake and tell me if you don't have an irrational fear of it afterwards."

"Harry thrust a sword in its mouth." Seamus's eyes widened when he realized the innuendo behind what he said. Within seconds the Gryffindors exploded into peals of laughter and even the three Slytherins couldn't help themselves.

Harry tucked his quill behind his ear and leaned back into his seat. "Quite a bore, isn't it? Without Voldemort around…"

The Gryffindors recovered from their laughter and nodded silently. Draco ushered for his friends to leave; their presence was not required. With one last lingering look towards Hermione, who was oblivious to the fact that Draco was in the vicinity, Draco, Theodore, and Blaise left.

Besides, Draco was already formulating the intricate sentence structure he would use to write to Hermione as soon as he got back to the dungeons. He was secretly planning on a way to get her on a broom with him, once again.

He was tired of just kissing her and admiring her from afar—he wanted more.

And more was what he was going to get.

.xx.

Am I right to presume that you have chosen to refuse to write to me until I have written to you first? I have no other plausible explanation as to why I haven't heard from you all day… unless you grow bored of my company?

The words hadn't even finished bleeding onto the pages of Draco's diary when Hermione's perfect writing appeared with her response.

Quite a long winded sentence you have there, Malfoy. Is this your way of saying that you missed me?

A Malfoy never misses anybody.

I thought you were going to stop referring to yourself in the third-person.

Shite, I forgot about that. Rephrase: I don't miss anybody.

Is that so? You are quite a terrible liar for a Slytherin. What was it that Sorting Hat said? Conniving? A trait of Slytherins? I fail to see anything relatively conniving right now.

I oughta shut you up, Granger.

Shutting me up is quite impossible as I am in the Gryffindor Tower and you are not.

No, but I could be outside your dormitory whenever you say the word. I feel like we shouldn't be tardy with your lessons; you're just getting good.

Quite forward, aren't you Malfoy?

Only when it concerns my main lady.

And since when did I become your main lady?

Hopefully tonight, during flying lessons but that remains to be a surprise so shhh, don't tell Granger.

Hermione's heart jumped into her throat. She was sitting cross-legged on an armchair in front of the fireplace, quite comfortable. Her bladder was about to explode but she could care less—there was probably a spell to clean up the mess anyway if it did explode. What could he possibly mean that he was intending on making her his main lady?!

Technically they were only talking solidly for a week and a half, never mind the stint during the summer—what could Malfoy mean?! If only Hermione could whip out her cellular device and ring up Gabriella. Alas, to her misfortune, muggle satellite signals didn't work in the Hogwarts vicinity (a muggle-born in Hufflepuff tried in first year and the cell phone exploded in his hand). So she couldn't call her best friend.

And she sure as hell couldn't talk to her friends in Gryffindor.

Have I left you speechless again?

Hermione snapped to reality when she felt the journal heat up. She cocked an eyebrow when she saw what he wrote and quickly responded.

I don't recall being left speechless by you.

Pardon me, breathless then?

That was Hufflepuff Malfoy.

I'm sure it was.

Is that sarcasm I detect?

Granger, you're brighter than I presumed you to be.

Smartest witch of the century, remember?

Modesty suits you.

As sarcasm suits you?

Let's end this mindless chitter chatter and tell me when I should meet you outside of your dormitory.

Hermione glanced at the grandfather clock against the far wall of the common room. It was a quarter past five; the girls weren't planning on doing anything. Perhaps she could somehow persuade them to leave the common room momentarily so that she could climb out her window and meet up with Malfoy.

Besides, creating a lifeless doppelganger was an easy spell; she could stick one under her covers and pretend to be asleep.

Foolproof.

Fine. Twenty minutes. If you aren't outside of my window by then, consider yourself stood up.

I'll give you twenty one minutes.

How considerate.

See you soon, bookworm.

Back at you, blondie.

Shutting her journal, Hermione slipped it into her book bag and languidly pulled herself out of the armchair. She wasn't even going to let Draco comment on her new pet name for him. It was suitable, given the colour of the slick mop of hair on his head.

Hermione bounded up the stairs to the dormitory; she had to think of a way to sneak out without her friends seeing…

.xx.

"You're steering Lightyear today, bookworm." Draco instructed after Hermione was safely on the broomstick. He was dressed in jeans and a solid yellow t-shirt. Hermione thought the yellow was a bit odd but she made no comment; the man looked godly in just about anything.

"You have that much faith in me?" Hermione teased while getting comfortable in her position. Her back was against Draco's chest and her hands were gripping the broomstick tightly. She wasn't afraid of flying Lightyear; she was just anxious about how she'd react in the air while being so close to Draco physically. Well, not like she wasn't that close before… the feeling was just something she would never get used to.

Feeling his warmth seep into her pores was an exhilarating sensation and she could not get enough of it.

"More faith than you can ever imagine." His response was a husky rumble against her ear. Hermione chose not to react and focused everything in guiding Draco's broom. She knew she liked him—a lot. And she knew her friends weren't that fond of him (apart from the girls' attraction to Draco's looks); but none of the Gryffindors were okay with the idea of a Gryffindor being with a Slytherin. Sure they banded together post-war but that didn't eliminate centuries worth of animosity.

Which would be the reason why she sent a letter to Gabriella; she was Hermione's only friend that wasn't influenced by the rivalry in Hogwarts. Hermione knew she could count on Gabriella to tell her the honest truth, to give her an honest opinion.

Hermione was silent for longer than anticipated to Draco took it unto himself to change the topic. "Have you read anything from that book?"

Caught off guard, Hermione glanced over her left shoulder to peek at Draco. She wasn't expecting such a question… to be frank she didn't think he cared much. "Not recently. Why?"

Draco shrugged and wrapped his arms around Hermione's waist when he felt her pick up altitude. His arms were rugged and strong, pulling Hermione closer to his chest; his heart began pounding. Why was it that this bloody woman of all bloody women made him weak in the knees?! Sure, he couldn't bear to stand and watch as Bellatrix cursed Hermione to near-death, but he never fathomed that that one act of kindness would instigate a world of friendship and, probably, more.

"Curious."

"Curiosity killed the cat, Malfoy."

"Draco." His voice croaked in her ear. Lightyear was being guided towards the general vicinity of the Forbidden Woods; Hermione deemed it to still be too early to veer the broom anywhere near civilization and the castle. It was quarter-to-six in the afternoon and there was still enough hustle and bustle; they would be seen if they weren't too careful.

"Must I beg to hear you say my name?"

Hermione's back stiffened. "I've said it." Her response was weak; how was she possibly to keep her cool around Draco Malfoy?! He was just a ball of perfect wrapped into a neat little package with a quaint little bloody green ribbon!

Augh!

"Not quite enough, Hermione."

Oh the way he lulled her name. Hermione was ready to enter into a state of euphoria. Scratch that, she already was in a state of euphoria. Without word, Draco brought his right hand up to gently clasp the Healer Pendant. He couldn't recall a day since he gave it to her that she ever took it off—it felt good, to know that he was responsible for such a sentimental gift. He sure couldn't remember Ron or Harry giving Hermione anything that she never took off.

"Don't your friends ask about this?" Draco asked, pulling Hermione out of her euphoric state. Bringing Lightyear to a halt, Hermione looked down at the pendant Draco was holding onto. She couldn't recall any of her friends asking…

"Only on the train ride to Hogwarts. The boys commented on it, apart from that no, not really." Hermione turned her upper body to take a better look at the man sitting with her. "I'm sure Blaise was around when you purchased this. I'm surprised he hasn't commented on it."

Draco shook his head. "I snuck off, remember? Bought it, hid it, and made it back to our group before they noticed I was gone. I had to lie through my perfect pearly whites—hey!" Draco laughed when Hermione aimed a punch at him. He immediately let go of the pendant to wrap his arms around her waist once again.

"They are perfect, but one mustn't compliment themselves. It's bad luck."

"I didn't read that in the Encyclopedia of Superstitions." Draco purred, teasing Hermione yet riling up her hormones at the same time. "Did you?"

Hermione exhaled sharply and managed to manoeuvre her body so that she was now facing Draco. He wanted to play dirty, did he? Well, she could play just as hard. Draco was watching in amusement, ready to of course catch her if she stumbled, with what Hermione was doing. When she was sure that she was secure, Hermione grabbed the collar of Draco's shirt and pulled him into an unexpected but breathtaking kiss.

Needless to say, Draco was caught off guard.

Her fingers released from his collar and her arms snaked their way around his neck. Recovering quickly, Draco shimmied closer to Hermione and took the kiss to a whole new level, igniting the fireworks and fueling the fire. Hermione's finger's played with the hairs on the nape of Draco's neck and he, sneakily, brushed a few fingers against the skin on the small of Hermione's back.

"You're a little prick, teasing me like that." Hermione managed to breathe when they pulled away from the kiss. Draco smirked, licking his lower lip oh so slowly.

"I quite enjoy watching you squirm."

"And I repeat, prick."

"Are you going to continue to insult me or are you going to kiss me again?"

Hermione, calculatingly, unwound her arms from around his neck and crossed them in front of her. Her action pushed her breasts up ever so slightly, much to Draco's glee. "Why must I instigate the kiss again?"

"Because I was the one to instigate these flying lessons. I mean look at you! You're flying on a broomstick backwards," Draco leaned forward and rubbed the tip of his nose against Hermione's. Remaining at the close proximity, Draco added, "I'm sure your friends potty and weasel can't do what you're doing right now."

"What?" Hermione was quick to run her tongue over Draco's lower lip. "Make out with the Slytherin Seeker while flying, on his broom, over the Forbidden Forest? No, I'm sure they can't do what I'm doing right now."

"Wouldn't you like to fly on my broo—ah! Stop hitting me, woman!"

Hermione glared icily. "Don't make such crude jokes."

"Who said I was jok—oww! Okay, okay, I surrender!"

Hermione grinned victoriously. "Good."

Draco chuckled and placed a gentle kiss on the tip of Hermione's nose. "Listen," he whispered. His arms never left their place from around her waist. "There was a reason behind why I wanted to see you today."

"Other than my charming personality?"

Draco rolled his eyes. "So charming."

Hermione laughed gently. "Your sarcasm amuses me. Is it about our potions project?"

The look that Draco gave Hermione made her throw her head back in laughter. His facial expressions were priceless, exemplified by his stormy grey eyes. "Do you think that I'd bring you hundreds of feet in the air to discuss the details of our potions project? I could do that while you're sitting with your friends in the Great Hall!"

Hermione recovered and pecked Draco's lips. "I know. I'm teasing… go on? Are you breaking up with me?"

"Quite the opposite…"

Hermione's heart stopped beating when those three words tumbled form his lips. Her eyes locked with his and all she could see were endless pools of seriousness and admiration…

Admiration for her.

What is he thinking…?

"Fuck the bloody hierarchy, Hermione." Draco whispered. He sounded sultry, rather hypnotic. Almost exotic.

"Fuck it all. We're more than friends, you know it as well as I do. I'm not one to play mind games, to have either one of us contemplate what kind of relationship we're in. Perhaps Hogwarts can't know yet, for obvious reasons… but for us… for you and me… I want this."

Hermione's throat was dry; her mouth felt like cotton. "Want… what?"

"You." Draco croaked. "I want you for me, just me. I don't want Gunnar thinking he has a chance—fuck, I don't want anybody to have the slim chance of taking you away from me."

"What… are you—"

"I want you to be my girlfriend."

.xx.

Don't you just love me? Gone for months and then come back with something like this?! Hehe, Happy New Year all! This chapter is a BIT shorter than my others. I know I've promised 15 pages per chapter but I couldn't give up a cliffhanger like this one :P This page is only 11 pages but I will over compensate the next few chapters to make up for the lack of 4 pages in this chapter.

Anyway, tell me what you think!