Through the open window, the summer breeze brought the sounds of sirens and the blues and reds of police cars. The searching lights painted the bedroom walls and lit the face of a young woman as she tried to sleep through the nightly noise. Distressed, she turned on her side, her head coming to rest on a tousled textbook that would surely leave a mark on her face come morning. Though, having had that incidence happen many times before, and gotten over the teasing long ago, she was unlikely to care.
Outside, as the wailing died down, the air filled with the sound of heavy breathing and a shadow teetered on the edge of a roof, lingered for a faint second before it leapt over to the roof with the beaconing window. The hooded figure of a boy carefully maneuvered along the shingles, a light scratching of shoes against clay possibly giving him away to whoever lay on the other side of the wall he leaned against.
Again, the shadow paused, listening to the steady breathing of the bedroom's occupant and, confident the person was well into a dream, he made his daring approach to the window.
But the girl's cheek pressed too heavily against the hard edge of her textbook and the dull pain of the contact made her restless again. And, in a dreamlike state, she slowly sat up from the discomforting position and made to move the book off her bed. A shadow in the moon's light, however, froze her.
Having heard the shift of sheets and a disgruntled moan from inside, the teenage escapist knew he'd been caught. But that wasn't going to stop him from getting away from the street and police lights.
"Knock, knock," he breathed, a smirk in his voice as he hooked his leg over the window's edge and stepped into what appeared to be the room of a neat freak. He was so used to stumbling on shoes or books or animals when he snuck into houses but, with the help of his keen night vision, the boy could tell this room was secure of any hazards- except the body that lay in the bed before him.
A body that had, since his unwelcomed entrance, adopted that fateful textbook as a shield between she and the hooded figure. "Who's there?" She demanded, no quieter than the shrill sound of sirens outside.
He shut the window, grimacing at the prospect of her voice alerting the police. A lighted car was pulling up to the driveway next door, and he could already see his mother going outside to say he'd never come home. It was a script they both knew very well.
"Just the neighborhood hoodlum, out for a walk," was his snide reply as he locked the window nice and shut so the girl couldn't somehow shove him out and down onto the police car below.
In the ongoing blue and red lights, he could see clearly just how angry the girl was. And she could see who exactly she was dealing with. When she recognized his face, her hair seemed to puff up along with the rest of her features.
The book found its way through the air and against the boy's forehead. She had good aim, he'd give her that. But very, very poor judgment.
He caught the book as it fell from his head, still flinching from the hit and easily more agitated than he had been when he'd snuck his way into the room.
Her loudness and the fact that she had yet to scream for her parents told him all he needed to know: she was home alone. Very, very poor judgement.
"Do you know how stupid it is to hit a criminal over the head?" He hissed, waving her weapon in the air. The girl narrowed her eyes, inching back against her headboard.
"Not as stupid as hiding in your next door neighbor's house when all I have to do is scream for the police. I'm sure my voice can carry," she threatened. She had him there and he scowled, wondered why he hadn't just jumped to the house on the opposite side.
"Besides, I know you and you don't have the nerve to hit me." She sounded far too confident for his liking and the book in his hand was becoming tempting. Really, it had always been tempting. He never did like the feel of a textbook in his hands. And, if he was seeing the title right, it was a physics book. How fitting.
"Just because you live next door to me, doesn't mean you know me," he shot back but he sensed he was already losing the argument. The girl was getting comfortable against the headboard, even going so far as to cross her arms over her lifted knees. He was biting back a comment about the way her disturbingly large hair puffed behind her like some cartoonish cloud, knowing well that she had his fate in the palm of her hands as long as the police were next door.
The red and blue lights infinitely swooped over the room, and lit her features. Though they conveniently kept him in the shadows, the way the light illuminated her soft face toyed with his mind.
She cocked her head to the side, and he found that she would have looked even better without that long-sleeved shirt on. It looked as if she'd forgotten to change out of her school attire before falling asleep. It made his mind stray again, and he wondered what she would've worn to sleep if she slept in anything at all.
By the looks of her room, she probably went to bed in a chastity belt.
"You really don't recognize me, do you?" She asked, almost amused. It unsettled him.
"I'm not exactly on a first name basis with my neighbors, now am I?" He scoffed.
She laughed bitterly. "Well, I shouldn't be surprised. Bullies usually don't like to remember who they've taunted," she shot back. "It would imply remorse."
"Excuse me?" Was the girl for real? Other than the snarky comment he'd been dying to say about the prude she was, he didn't exactly feel like the bullying type. Unless bullying entailed him beating the crap out of a few cars and convenience stores.
"Really, and here I thought I was your favorite." She was still getting blank stares. With a sigh, she recalled her childhood. "From elementary up until freshman year of high school, when you so conveniently lost your mind and dropped out, you loved to play hide and seek. You would hide pencils and gum in my hair, and I would have to seek them out. I know nowadays, you like to steal cars, Malfoy but, back in the good old days, you liked to steal my homework."
For a moment, Malfoy stared at the girl in front of him as if she'd lost her mind along with the control over her brown locks. And then, it clicked into place: know-it-all, tidy to compensate for a mess of a head, and extremely teasable. It all sounded too familiar, but he'd been too busy saving his own hide to remember clearly.
It didn't help that the only thing he recognized about her was that hair. She sure didn't look like the frumpy girl of his childhood. Malfoy had this sleeping right next to him? He almost scolded himself for not climbing through her window sooner.
"Granger? Hermione Granger?"
"None other," she sighed. "To think you hadn't smashed my car window as a reminder of the fun we used to have."
He was having a hard time figuring out which of these offenses had driven her to throw the book. Maybe it was an accumulation of them all.
He was also having a hard time figuring out why she hadn't screamed yet, if only for payback.
"If I remember correctly, you didn't have a hard time replacing it so who cares." He would never figure out how to keep his mouth shut.
Hermione almost lurched at him, but stopped herself short of the edge of her bed. "My god, you are selfish! That came out of my college fund," she hissed.
Malfoy snorted. "Oh please, if you managed to poke your nose out the ass of your textbook, you'd realize every school has a hard-on for you. They'll be throwing money and you'll be riding whichever one coughs up the most."
"You know it's true," he chimed, comfortable enough that this lion wouldn't bite that he dared to sit at her desk. He rolled around in the seat, still keeping away from the light as much as possible.
But with the little light he did manage to roll into, Hermione caught the sight of blood.
"Whose car window did you bust open this time?"
Malfoy rolled his eyes, holding the bleeding hand in his other to keep anything from dropping onto her precious floor. He was sure she'd have a hissy fit.
"Okay, who did you punch?" She corrected snidely.
"Even outside of school, you never stop asking questions, do you?"
"I could just call the police and they'd tell me."
He bit his tongue, fighting against the wave of insults he wanted to throw at her. But, he also had to hold himself back from just, well, throwing her. And he wasn't sure if he was going to throw her out the window or back on the bed. It would be an easier decision if she just stopped talking.
"This guy who ratted me out to the cops, no big deal."
"Is that why you also have a lump on your eyebrow?"
He snapped. "God fucking damn it, are you kidding me right now? If I wanted to get interrogated, I'd just leap out the window right now and turn myself in! And I'm pretty sure that the lump is from your stupid book," he steamed, his foot jutting out to kick said book off the windowsill and onto the ground with a loud "thunk".
Hermione gulped, unsettled by the aggression but more so by the fact that the jerk had probably scuffed her book. "Stop taking your misplaced anger out on me."
"Excuse me?" He bit out, glowering.
"I said, stop misplacing your anger. Actually, you know what, you should just stop trying so hard. It's almost as petty as your crimes," she muttered, turning her head to look out the window as the sound of a car engine switched on. The police were going to look elsewhere, it seemed.
"And what exactly am I trying so hard to do?" He ventured to ask, his nerves evaporating in the combined heat from the two of them and the rising summer temperatures.
She looked back at him, an unwavering determination in her eyes. "To follow your father's footsteps. Do you really want to be bunker buddies with him when they haul you off in handcuffs? Do you know what they do to egotistical guys like you in there?"
He rose from the chair before she could let out another wasted breath. He was there, looming over her and making the room even darker than it already was without the police lights. Finally, she felt the fear and strange excitement of having a criminal in her room.
"Like you even fucking know what they do. But I bet you, you'd learn real quick if you were in there for even a second," he breathed hot on her face. "Maybe I could give you a few lessons." He leaned forward, into her space with hands pressed on the mattress to either side of her.
She refused to back down.
"You're not that kind of a person. You're not like them, and you're not like your father no matter how hard you foolishly try," she replied as calmly as her pounding chest would allow her. Her eyes never wavered from his, and she could see his challenge backing down. It seemed to make her heart race only faster. But, among the memories of her watching Draco Malfoy crumble when his father left as one of the many Ponzi scheme arrests, she remembered how much of his attention towards her was of the negative variety. And she reminded herself of the four years that had passed since that arrest, since one of the only times she'd seen this boy vulnerable, and how it would be a miracle to get that boy back.
And why, God why, was she so determined to add more work to her mountainous pile.
"My father," he spat, though his resolve was crumbling, "made his mistakes but he is not a bad person."
"Then why are you turning into one? To get back at him? To get at the system? You were a jerk before, Draco, but you're not this."
He flinched at her words, and at the feel of her hand against his bloody one. When his eyes opened and readjusted to the dark, he saw that her gaze had turned to his wound.
"Let me get my first-aid kit," she mumbled before swiftly escaping from beneath him. He felt a cold breeze when she passed, a strange contrast to the boiling heat of their bodies in such close proximity. He absently thought about the sweet perfume the air carried in her wake but shook off the scent by the time Hermione returned.
She demanded him to sit down, mumbling something about not wanting to be "breathed on" and about him "blocking the light". His arrogance reassured him that those were just excuses and his cocky smile could only be deterred by the sting of whatever crap Hermione was putting on his hand.
She gripped his hand tighter when he tried to move away. "Stop being a baby," she muttered, her fingers a warm and soft prize after the cold bitterness of alcohol.
He didn't bother arguing. Instead, he sat quiet as she wrapped his hand in a bandage and even felt a little disappointed when she finally let go.
"There. Now, your mother will have less to worry about."
She was retreating back towards the pillows and Draco was lost, but only for a second.
"You should go back to her, you know. The police are gone for now," she explained, her eyes boring into the sheets she was trying to put over herself. He finally noticed she'd changed while she was fetching the bandages, didn't like the way she was about to cover her legs, didn't like the fact that he should really leave.
He caught hold of her sheets before she could cover herself completely and leave him out in the cold, figuratively since they both knew it was boiling hot both inside and out.
She eyed him warily.
"And if they come back, could I, you know?" He fumbled to ask, weirdly uncomfortable in a way he wasn't used to.
Hermione's head lowered, but through a break in her mane, he spotted the beginning of a smile.
When she looked back up, her smile almost lit up the entire room and, for a moment, he was afraid he'd been given away and the police would come swooping in after him before he could hear her reply.
"My window's always open."
He returned her smile, his cheeks tingling at such an old expression returning to his features. His joy turned quickly to cockiness.
"Even if it wasn't, I'd just bust it open."
Hermione laughed, and Draco decided that was his favorite use of her mouth. Though, there was another favorite of his that had yet to be put to use.
"Goodnight, Draco," Hermione said, an amused spring to her voice.
And then, though she'd known this was what petty criminals did, Hermione was taken by surprise when Draco decided to commit his biggest crime of the night. Without a word, his silhouette merged with hers in the darkness and, much like the thief he was, he stole her kiss.
"Goodnight," he whispered, using Hermione's stunned silence as his queue to leave before another book could come hurling towards his head. But there would be no book to be thrown because Hermione's hands were preoccupied with her lips, tracing that place where something had once been but was no more.
As Draco disappeared through the window, she decided stealing wasn't all that bad. And as Draco snuck back into his own home, he decided that Hermione was the only thing worth stealing.