"That was a good one, Pansy," Crabbe guffawed loudly as Pansy cracked yet another one of her astonishingly stupid "Mudblood jokes". It was getting on his nerves, especially as she was doing it more and more often – perhaps to try to attract his attention. There she went again – "Honestly, mudbloods should not even be allowed into any magical school, especially not Hogwarts." Parkinson stole a quick glance at him, and then hurriedly looked away, afraid to be caught. But Draco had been looking towards the lake, where the brunt of her malicious jokes was sitting with her friends – Weasel and Potter. He frowned. Why did she always have to spend her time with them? Never once did he see Granger leave their side, unless of course, she was going to the library. Potter and Weasel would never dream of going there, the imbeciles. So that was where he planned to meet her.

"I doubt that Granger girl would ever get a date for the Yule Ball. I mean just look at her!" Pansy remarked snidely. Once upon a time, Draco Malfoy would have chuckled right along with her. But currently, he hardly found her jokes amusing. He glowered at Goyle when he nudged him, urging him to participate in the conversation.

"You two of all people should not be laughing, Crabbe and Goyle. Do you reckon you two will get dates?" Malfoy asked, suitably peeved. Crabbe and Goyle immediately ceased to laugh. They inched away from Draco, incensed by his words, but they had no guts to deny it, partly because they knew his statement was the truth.

"Speaking of the Yule Ball… Malfoy, I mean Draco! Wouldyougototheballwithme?" Pansy gushed out, staring longingly at Draco. But he had been looking away – at that Mudblood Granger. His eyes rested on her – or in her direction at least – before flitting away, back to his Slytherin friends. "Err, Draco?" Pansy repeated, sounding a tad bit more desperate. She probably assumed that Draco would definitely accept her perhaps that was because he had been flirting with her for the past two years. But that was before he realised that his Slytherin friends were not as good as he thought. Crabbe and Goyle were just dumb lackeys that had fewer brain cells than a bird, even if he combined the two. Pansy… he had realised that she was rather annoying. Maybe if she had not pestered him so much, or shown too much affection, he would have given her a shot. But someone else had caught his eye. A certain Gryffindor, to be exact.

"Sorry Parkinson. I'm going with someone else," he replied smoothly. Bad life choice. If she rejected him, he would not have a date at all, and Pansy would most definitely shoot him smug looks on more than one occasion. He could have slapped himself right then. Pansy's eyes widened considerably, making her look more like a pug than ever before. Perhaps rejecting her was not so bad after all. Even if Granger did reject him, he could always hide in the library during the ball... Pansy continued gaping at him like a goldfish.

"Dra…Draco," she muttered, downcast. He tried his best to appear upset, regretful even, but after he had called her by her last name, there was no way she would be convinced. He bid her farewell – none too cheerfully of course – and proceeded to seek out Hermione Granger.

Lurking outside the Gryffindor common room for hours was not something Slytherins did if they cared for their reputation. But that was precisely what Draco had been doing for the past two hours, waiting and waiting, hoping desperately that Granger would come out of the portrait – and it would be best that she was alone, without Potter and Weasel. He would only wait for another hour, and then go back to the Slytherin common room. It was five days before the ball, things could wait, he supposed – unless somebody else had asked her to the ball with him. At that notion, Draco sank down onto the floor. He hoped to Salazar that that had not happened…

A quarter of an hour had passed by with no movement in or out of the Fat Lady portrait. That was good and bad. Good, because he had not yet been publically humiliated; bad, because that also meant that Hermione had yet to show up – not that he knew if she was going to come out. A couple more unfruitful minutes passed before the portrait door opened. He scrambled to get up, eyes searching for the familiar witch that he had been waiting for. Instead, it landed on Ginny Weasley. He narrowed his eyes; another one of those Weasels. He shuffled away, trying to keep his head down. To the Gryffindors, his shock of pale blonde hair was an unmistakable feature. They would definitely recognise him and he would promptly become the brunt of Potter and Weasel's undeniably lame jokes for an extended period of time. He could almost imagine it happening.

He lurked about the corridor, hoping that no one else – save Hermione – would appear. His wish was granted. He could already hear her breathy pants from a distance, heading towards the portrait. So she had not actually been inside the Gryffindor common room… Perhaps he should have gone to check the library just now. He peered around the bend, and saw her, flushing with nervous excitement, almost reaching the Fat Lady. He dashed forward mindlessly, catching her just when the Fat Lady asked her for the password.

"Hermione!" he exclaimed. She whirled around, aghast.

"Since when did we get down to the first name basis?" she questioned. Snarky as always… He had done it now, Draco thought. Judging by her shell-shocked expression, I truly doubt she would accept him to be her date. No way. He sighed; he would attempt though, no harm in trying.

"Well, I just wanted to ask you something, Granger." He drawled, assuming a confident façade – as always. She sighed in resignation, arms akimbo, "What is it, Malfoy?"

"Hermione," Draco started, and his heart pumped rapidly – faster than before. "Hermione, would you go to the ball with me?" he asked, and he felt his cheeks slowly heating up. He carefully tilted his head towards Hermione's, trying to observe her – and her reaction. Her face was undeniably flushed. And she was gaping, rather like Pansy, but she was far more adorable…

"Err," she mumbled something incoherently. "Err…" Feeling rather impatient, Draco involuntarily started tapping his feet against the stone floor. If she wanted to reject him, why couldn't she do it faster? The unnerving tapping and the awkward tension between them, probably made her snap back on track.

"Well, Draco…" she trailed off. Draco's eyes widened a fraction, really, since when had they reached the first name basis? "I would loveto go with you," she said, emphasising love, to make sure he realised it was sincere.

"Let me guess, you can't?" Draco finished bitterly. She nodded, downcast. "I'm so, so sorry," she whispered, and Draco's body tingled.

"It's fine." He replied, and turned away, walking away quickly in no particular direction, as long as he got away from her.

"Draco! Wait!" she called out. If she just stood there, there was no way she meant what she had said. He balled up his fists, unable to stop himself from envying Hermione's date… Pattering of footsteps followed, and Draco allowed himself to risk a glance over his shoulder. Hermione was close behind him, determination to catch up was written all over her perfectly even features. A firm hand clutched at his shoulder as he was about to spur himself on. "Wait."

She had caught him. Perhaps she really had been sincere.

"I really am sorry, okay? It's just that… I didn't know you would ask me, so I accepted Viktor."

"Really? Your date is Vikky?Guess anyone can rely on you to get close to "celebrities," Draco spat out spitefully. He had wasted his time. Having rejected Pansy, he had no one to take to the Yule Ball. It was not like he had interest in any other girl, Slytherin or otherwise. Her hazel-brown eyes widened in hurt, and she turned around, refusing to talk to him any longer. He sounded just like Ron did,she thought.

"Okay, I'm sorry! I didn't mean that…" Draco muttered, but it was loud enough for Hermione to catch it. "It's all right," she smiled, flashing her brilliant white teeth at him. He thought back to the conversation with Pansy, and smirked. Honestly, he would have preferred Hermione to be in Slytherin rather than Pansy any day.

"I'll go tell Viktor that it's off. I'm going with you." Hermione's sentence caught him off guard. He regarded her with disbelief, tempted to agree, but his heart knew otherwise. Shaking his head, he replied, "It's totally fine. Go and have fun with Viktor." But there was still venom in his words, especially when he enunciated "Viktor".

She concealed her smile, boys."No. I'm going with you, and that's final." Guess that showed how much she was fine with sacrificing. Her dignity, reputation, maybe even friendship. Weasel and Potter would flip if they found out they were going together. Especially Weasel – he did like Hermione after all. He smirked inwardly, too bad that she did not like Weasel in return.

"If you're sure about it… Viktor is a champion, he needs a date." He said rolled her eyes. "Honestly Malfoy, that's what you're going with? So do you want to go with me, or not? Make up your mind. If it's really about Viktor – though that's unlikely – I'll have you know that there are still plenty of available girls in Hogwarts and Beauxbatons. I'm sure they'd be glad to accompany him." Take it, or leave it. Bringing Hermione could potentially ruin his – and not to mention his father's – reputation as a Slytherin. But there were more important things in life. He accepted.

"See you at the ball," Draco said, in a breathy whisper, pinning Hermione against wall. She flushed uncontrollably, and Draco smirked, caressing her warm cheeks. She gazed longingly into his eyes. She wanted more, Draco thought. He leaned in, faces inches away from each other.

"Godric, what the hell is Malfoy doing to Hermione?" Ron shouted, hurtling towards the pair. Harry followed suit.

Imbeciles, he thought. He winked mischievously at Hermione, leading her to wonder if everything that had happened between them was some sort of scheme. Leave it to Malfoy to complicate things… With one last salute, he strolled confidently away, towards the Slytherin dungeons, for once satisfied that he had done something right.

A/N Hope you enjoyed that :) Please review :3