v. po·lar·ized, po·lar·iz·ing, po·lar·iz·es .
1. To induce polarization in; impart polarity to.
2. To cause to concentrate about two conflicting or contrasting positions.
Hermione Granger was not a romantic. She did not believe in silly notions such as "the One" and she certainly did not appreciate grand displays of affection. So it was natural for her to hate festivals such as Valentine's Day with every fibre of her being, and it was natural for her to hate traditions such as New Year's where somehow everyone always managed to find somebody to kiss apart from her.
That explained why she had happily volunteered to do Ron's rounds for him, on New Year's Eve so that he could participate in the festivities unfurling in the Gryffindor Common room. That, and Hermione didn't want to be anywhere near Ronald when he was sucking face with Lavendar Brown.
Draco Malfoy, however, had entirely different reasons for signing his name on the Prefect rota that evening – he didn't give a damn if nobody else was willing to sign up; it merely suited him, that was all. He needed time to think, to clear his head, and he suspected that no Gryffindor prefect would turn up, so he would have the castle corridors to himself, and his intrinsical musings.
Of course, he should have adhered more thought to who was actually inGryffindor house, and who was least likely to be affiliated with any type of fun. If his thoughts had traipsed to stick-up-the-arse Granger, then perhaps he wouldn't have put his name down at all. Because she really irritated him; riled him – for he found himself walking away from every conversation he had with her, dissatisfied. And then of course, there was the punch incident from back in third year – an event from which his dignity was still in the process of recovering.
Put plain and simple, the last thing Hermione Jean Granger and Draco Abraxas Malfoy wanted to be doing on New Year's Eve was spend the evening in the company of one another. But whether it was fate, or merely circumstantial, that was exactly the predicament they found themselves in.
"Don't take too long, Hermione," Ron smiled at her kindly, already high on the evening's promised buzz. "Wouldn't want to miss the Countdown, now, would you?"
"Not at all, Ronald," She remarked inwardly, "I couldn't possibly think of anything I rather do than rush back from my only time to think to watch you and Lavendar get pissed on Firewhisky and snog each other senseless 'till the early hours of the morning. I wouldn't miss that for the world."
Instead, she managed a quiet, "I'll be as quick as I can," with no intention of doing that whatsoever. She made her way out of the Common room, her proper shoes clacking loudly on the flagstones as she briskly marched, the cold night air clawing at her legs and making her wish that she hadn't worn a skirt. Harry was so engaged talking to Ginny that he didn't even see her, much less acknowledge her leaving. She didn't mind – for her friends were happy; and so they deserved to be. It just stung a little; that was all.
The portraits tutted sympathetically as they watched Hermione make her way to the Great Hall; whispers passing from frame to frame, and Hermione was concentrating so hard on blocking out their voices that she was barely able to notice the intruder to her peace. Between trying to defeat Voldemort, mid-year exams and her distinct lack of love life, she was of the notion that she was fully entitled to be mopey – and the last person she needed to interrupt her wallowing was none other than ice-hearted pompous ferret-face Malfoy.
"Granger," He remarked snidely as he approached her. "I do believe you're out after hours – breaking curfew for a secret rendezvous, are we? I'm afraid I'll have to deduct fifty points if we are-"
He was cut off as she scoffed at the sheer notion that she, Hermione Granger, was meeting up with some boy after dark to do unthinkable things. As appealing as the thought sounded, the chances of it actually being true were as unlikely as Hagrid being a Veela. "Please Malfoy, spare me. I'm on duty tonight – as so it seems you are."
He turned his nose up at the idea of sharing his space with her, the bloody know-it-all invaded his lessons with her constant hand waving and shouting out; and now she had the audacity to invade his thinking time too. "What are you doing on rounds tonight, haven't you got a Scarhead to be snogging, or a Weaselby to fuck?"
She winced at his choice of words, yet he didn't notice due to the low level of lighting that filled the corridors. "They're taking part in the house party," she explained, "And I didn't want to join them, so I offered to do Ronald's rounds for him."
"So they didn't want you huh, harsh," he smirked, revelling in her discomfort.
"I volunteered to come," she remarked snidely. "I'm covering Ronald's rounds. What's your excuse?"
"Well I actually didn't want to be around anyone," he admitted, "I needed to clear my head. But as I've been stuck with a bloody bird's nest for the evening, I suppose those plans have been revoked."
She scoffed at the reference to her hair – she'd had far more imaginative insults over the years, and was by now, fully used to any metaphor people hurled her way. "Too many girls throwing themselves at you in the Slytherin Common room for you to handle?" She mocked him, and instead of rising to it, he simply smirked.
"Something like that."
They made their way about the castle without too much fighting – the occasional insult and witty retort here and there; but apart from that they respected one another's desire to reflect, and continued in amicable silence, checking on each of the houses in turn, and chiding any student they caught out of bed.
Hermione found herself giggling at the sight of the Fat Lady's portrait dancing with Sir Cadogan, and Malfoy shot her a bemused look, not noticing as she stopped at started wistfully at the Gryffindor portrait hole. Singing and dancing and general rowdiness could be heard ricocheting from behind it, and she felt a steady sense of detachment from her peers as she distinguished Neville's voice from the ruckus, telling Ron and Lavendar to stop snogging and re-join the festivities. She sighed.
"Penny for your thoughts?" Malfoy asked, in a thoughtful tone that could only be described as out of character.
She stared at him, bewildered.
"What are you thinking?" He amended, assuming she wasn't familiar with the phrase.
"I know what you meant," she hurried, "Just why do you care?"
"Well there's something clearly bothering you," he admitted, shrugging, "And isn't talking about problems meant to help sort them out?"
She sighed again. "It's nothing really," she started, and Malfoy laughed. "What's so funny?"
"Well if it was nothing then I severely doubt you'd be considering telling a Slytherin what's nagging away at you," he pointed out, causing her to laugh. "It's Weaselby," he guessed, "Isn't it?"
She didn't say anything, merely continued walking as a tear rolled silently down her cheek.
"It must be bad," she thought to herself,"If everyone but Ron's noticed. I mean Malfoy? Draco freaking Malfoy has cottoned on and yet Ronald remains oblivious? Why are you doing this to yourself, Hermione… why do you care so much? You should just forget about him, be the best friend that he wants and nothing more. You're wasting your time."
"You know he's not worth it," Malfoy remarked, cutting through the silence which was as thick as ice between them. She turned to him, anger in her eyes.
"You don't even know him," she snarled, "You never do anything but tease him and Harry – and me, in fact."
Malfoy shrugged, not even bothering to deny the charges she put against him; for they were true. "I know he's not good enough for you," he shrugged again.
Hermione stop short, a peal of laughter ringing through the empty corridor.
"Ronald's not good enough for me? Oh I've heard it all now," she laughed, "He's way out of my league – or else he'd have noticed my affection for him," she added, resigned. Malfoy shook his head.
"That's just it you see," he explained, "The fact that he hasn't noticed – something which even Crabbe and Goyle have managed to cotton on to! – shows that he's an idiot, and you've got far more brains than that buffoon. As much as it pains me to admit it, Granger, but you're much too smart for him."
"My," she smiled, "Was that a compliment, Malfoy?"
He ran a hand through his hair, looking conflicted. "I wouldn't go as far as saying that," was the result she got, and she shrugged, as they resumed walking along the corridor.
"So if Ron's too stupid for me, who's on a par with me in terms of intelligence levels?" She asked, genuinely perplexed as to what Malfoy thought of her current relationship status.
The blonde haired Slytherin shrugged, "I've heard that Terry Boot from Ravenclaw's meant to be smart. There are always people in the years above, too," he stopped as Hermione made a face. "What? Don't tell me you've never thought about anyone not in your year, before?" he asked, bemused. Hermione's cheeks tinged pink.
"Well I used to have a thing for Cedric," she admitted, her cheeks flushing crimson – prompting an eye roll on the part of Malfoy; for it was as he feared, all girls (even the prude, sensible types like Granger) were reduced to a puddle at the sight of someone who looked like they belonged in a film about constipated vampires.
"Hufflepuff?" Malfoy scoffed, "No, I was thinking more along the lines of Ravenclaw – or Slytherin, even." He shuddered, "Not that many of them would overcome their heritage to date an – ahem –" he cleared his throat.
"A Mudblood?" An amused Hermione finished his sentence. The word no longer bothered her – no more than being called a "swot" or "teacher's pet" did.
Malfoy nodded, embarrassed. "But I'm sure there's plenty of Ravenclaws who would want to date you," he admonished.
"And yet here I am, single and wandering the corridors with notorious womanizer, Draco Malfoy," she muttered sarcastically, causing the blonde to raise an eyebrow.
"Is that what they all say about me in the Gryffindor tower, eh?" He smirked, "I knew it."
"Shut up, your head will get so big you won't be able to fit back through the Common Room door when we go to bed," Hermione teased. Malfoy's eyes lit up wickedly.
"When wego to bed?" He questioned, with a smirk. "I thought you resolved to go after the clever types, Granger, not the egotistical Slytherin bastards," he grinned. She thumped him, rolling her eyes as she did so.
"The last place I rather be right now is in bed with you, Draco Malfoy," she remarked coolly, tossing her unruly curls behind her shoulder as she did so, her affronted air drawing forth a laugh from the blonde.
"Jeez," he laughed, "Don't get your knickers in a twist, I was only messing."
A now rather riled Hermione whirled around, pressing her finger into his chest to emphasise each word, "Don't. For. One. Second. Assume. You. Have. Any. Effect. On. My. Knickers. What. So. Ever," she snarled her face a hairs breadth from his, her eyes alight with fury and range and every possible emotion in between. For some reason, her heart was now beating manically in her chest.
Somewhere, a gong rang out, and the ten second countdown began.
The fingers that belonged to a dainty hand clad in Gryffindor robes threatened to retract themselves, as its owner made to withdraw from such close proximity to her Slytherin counterpart; except were stopped in their retreat as a firm, pale hand captured them in his own.
Wide grey orbs speckled with flecks of blue, framed with delicate blonde lashes blinked, as they drank in the sight of two hands interlaced, white milk bottle skin entwined with pink, leathered fingers obtained from years of turning pages.
Big, chocolate orbs looked into wide grey ones, as they took the time to wonder what on earth they were playing at. As if they had a mind entirely of their own, her fingers upon her other hand reached up and lightly brushed a lock of hair out of his eyes, combing through it as if she'd had years of practice, exploring the fine hairs at the base of his neck and the coarser ones which framed his face.
His hand snuck its way to behind her back, fisting the practical cotton of her robes, in a desperate attempt to draw her closer and drink in her intoxicating scent.
Her feet lifted gently off the ground so that she was pressed flush against his body, and could feel the rhythm of his heart, pounding in synchronisation with her own, the only sound to be heard other than their ragged breathing, and the heady pounding of anticipation in their skulls.
He licked his lips, nervous, as he would do so before a Quidditch match; or before an exam. His tongue traced a line against his own chapped pilgrims, praying that the cold they felt would soon be dispersed.
She bit her own lip, desire wrenching with her conscience, and flushing her cheeks with warmth as the pain jolted through her, ever so aware of the heated trails his fingers were leaving on the small of her back as they traced delicate patterns.
Questioning eyes met questioning eyes, and confusion flitted across both students' faces indicating their shared bewilderment to be in such a predicament. No words were needed – an unspoken agreement was made that whatever transpired in these few blissful seconds were on a parallel to real life. The real world where Hermione Granger hated Draco Malfoy with every fibre of her being; and Draco Malfoy sooner eat dirt than touch her Mudblood skin. They were two separate realities, and would not intersect. This moment was one unique moment, and neither sought to break its spell.
Breath hitched in throats. Hearts pounded manically, fighting against their restraints to soar free. And then it happened.
Suddenly his hand was warm on her neck, searing her skin and drawing her closer to him. Her eyelids fluttered shut, wholly trusting and wholly instinctively as she felt his mouth brush her lips tenderly, as if asking permission, before hungrily claiming her own. He kissed her slowly, deliberately, even, wanting to drag the moment out for as long as the two of them could bear.
Biting down gently on her lower lip, he elicited a moan from her that sent shivers right through him, and blood rushing to his groin as she pressed herself flush against him, winding her arms around his neck in a bid for closeness, to get rid of the space that remained between them. He answered her hungrily, pressing his figure against her until he was sure she'd felt his arousal. Slowly but surely the explorative nature turned into angst, into passion, into intensity.
Hermione became the aggressor as she found her feet, allowing her tongue to taste him, to explore him. Malfoy's hand ghosted her spinning, leaving a trail of Goosebumps in its wake as it came to rest of her hip. His other hand roamed blindly for the wall between him, as the force of the kiss sent him backwards. Tearing his lips away from hers, tracing intricate paths down her jaw, neck and collar bones, his hands fumbled with her blouse as he kissed the delicate flesh, as she fisted his shirt, moaning under his embrace.
It was her moan that snapped him out of the reverie, out of the blissful daydream he'd allowed himself to fall into – like he had many a time when it had been just him and his hand, in the Prefect's bathroom. Wide eyed, and breathing heavily he surveyed a dishevelled and thoroughly-kissed Hermione Granger with fascination. He'd drawn blood, he noted, and with two fingers he gently reached across and wiped it off.
Holding it up to the torchlight, his breath hitched as he brought it to his lips, tongue darting out to taste it.
It was crimson, and tasted of iron, much like his own did. In fact, Draco Malfoy thought it tasted sweet – like a liqueur, and he found himself having a very hard time trying to remember what was wrong with her blood in the first place. It was perfect.
She stood in front of him, as he leant with one leg on the wall, not fully trusting himself to stand alone just yet, eyes wide and chest rising and falling at an erratic pace. She hadn't blinked yet, and was surveying him with curiosity.
"How do I taste?" She asked, sounding a lot more confident than she actually felt.
"Glorious," he admitted, bringing his loops swooping back down to claim hers. "Just glorious," he smiled as he rested his forehead against hers.
Hermione Granger very nearly didn't believe in love, or destiny, or any of those pathetic wives tales…but as she looked into his eyes, she could've sworn she saw the ice that encased his heart shatter into a million tiny fragments and melt away. "Happy New Year, Draco."
He smiled at the foreign administration of his forename. It sounded weird, to hear it now, after all these years, spilling from her lips.
But it felt right at the same time.