A/N: *Giggle* Yay! My muses are visiting me! All right, another new chapter. The chapter name alludes to the oft-repeated phrase of endearment… well, I think you'll figure it out. I allude to a wonderful D/Hr fic by soul of fyre158 in here--the line about marionettes is totally to you, soul. You rock. A fair amount of Lucius-bashing in here, but that's a usual for me. Get used to it. Possibly the best characterization of Hermione I've ever done, in this chapter. I have the fastest beta in the world. Heh. Perhaps another snog? Read and see. Aww, they're so cute…

PS: This chapter is dedicated to mine wonderful beta, Fluffy. Told you I'd do it! See, I can write fluff…

It really means "I care"

Harry Potter

For some reason, this whole situation really bothered me.

He knew exactly how to embarrass me. It was disturbing. He'd just open that mouth of his and... er, can we not talk about Malfoy's mouth, please? Anyway, he'd just start talking and with every word I felt stupider and more insignificant.

Not to mention, speechless. The git had me in a stranglehold of guilt, anger and... that something else that I didn't know.

Currently this topic bothered me so much that I was avoiding Hermione and Ron altogether and studying in the library. Mind you, I was reading Quidditch books, but I guess it could be considered training. Call me a hero if you will, but a scholar I am not.

I was currently buried in Worst Injuries in the History of Quidditch by Cassandra Manswell when someone grabbed it from my hands. I glared up only to see Malfoy's blank, apathetic face.

"A good book," he said. He flipped through a few pages. "Very nice indeed." He turned another page and winced. "That must have hurt."

"Do you mind?" I said.

"Mind? Of course not," he said. He snapped the book shut and placed it on the table. I pulled it towards me, and he put his hand on top of mine to stop me. I felt my face flush. "Page 167," he said, pulled his hand away, and swept out of the library.

I flipped to page 167 to see a piece of paper lying within the crease. I opened it and saw written in a flowing script in green ink, these words:

If you will, meet me in the dungeons. You know where.

I stared at these words for a moment. Amazingly they began to fade, and I realized that it was disappearing ink. He thinks he's so bloody clever.

I was going to do the heroic thing, and that was to resolve my problem. I was also going to do the stupid thing, but that was besides the point.

"Stupid git," I said to myself, cast the book away, and headed down to the dungeons.

Draco Malfoy

I knew that he would show up, because the poor kid was just afflicted with honor and loyalty. He'd be ready and waiting to resolve this thing, even more so to prove that he was a gallant manly man, and that what had happened, didn't.

He was an idiot.

He showed up, panting. Clearly he had made a haphazard decision, as I had expected. How Gryffindor of him.

I admired him, slightly irritated and disheveled. "Glad you took enough effort to bang your two brain cells together and figure this out, Potter."

He looked up, half-smirked. "How could I forget," he said.

"How sweet," I said. "You remembered." I pretended to swoon.

"Fuck you, Malfoy."

I fluttered my eyelashes. "Only after dinner."

Potter flushed darker. "Bastard."

"I hope so. Hmm, maybe I shouldn't have said that in mixed company. Oh well." I shrugged. The one good thing about Potter was that he brought out the best wit in me.

"What do you want, Malfoy?" Potter glared at me.

I shrugged. "The same thing you do. To figure this out. If this has thrown you off as much as it's thrown me off, you need it."

Potter shrugged. I noticed how thin his shoulders were; he really was built to be a Seeker. I shook that off--the last thing I needed to do now was examine Potter's body. "All right. I think it was... I don't know, you tell me. You're the one who snogged me."

I blinked a few times, and was certain I heard wrong. The Gryffindor bastard was saying that I had made the move..? "No. You snogged me."

He was now dark red, either in fury or embarrassment, I was too far into both myself to tell. "Liar."

I shoved him against the wall. "Moron."

He took a step forward. "Prick!"

I got in his face. "Wanker!"

It was in that moment of silence that we both realized we were face to face in the same hallway that we had snogged in the night before.

"Go to hell," he said, and I realized I had never noticed his lips before. Huh, go figure. He had lips.

"I'll leave a handsome corpse."

"Arrogant prat."

"But where would this world be without arrogant prats like me?"

"It'd be extremely boring."

"Oh, wouldn't it?" I felt the smirk crawl over my lips again. "But then again..."

I left the thought unfinished and pushed him against the wall, pulled his glasses off with two fingers and pressed my lips to his. For modesty's sake, I will say we stayed there for quite a while, until his hands reached my shoulders and broke us apart.

"Well?" he said.

"Without people like you, we'd all be dead."

"Oh, you would, would you?" He let his hands slide down my shoulders, down my arms until they hung at his sides. I stepped back. He laughed, low and not amused. "I guess this means I'm gay."

I smirked. "Ever fancied that Weasel of yours?"

His eyes narrowed. "No!"

"How about that Seamus Finnigan? Or Oliver Wood? They seem your types."

"No! They're my friends!"

"Have you ever been attracted to any other male? Except me, of course."

Potter actually seemed to consider this. "No."

"Then you're not gay." I pretended to preen myself. "You just want me."

Potter rolled his eyes. "Shut up, Malfoy."

"Please, call me Draco. It's what I allow all of my admirers to call me."

"I said shut it, Lockhart."

"Please, I insist, Draco--" I paused. "Oh, I see. Very clever, Potter."

"Harry," he said. "I insist." He took his glasses from me and put them back on. "You know, if you weren't such an overbearing asshole, I wouldn't mind this at all."

"If you weren't such a goody-two-shoes, I wouldn't mind this either."

Potter laughed. It would take some work to get him to raise himself up to first name status. "Ron will kill me if he finds out."

"He won't kill you," I pointed out. "He'll kill me. He's begging for a reason." I shrugged. "My father would have a bloody coronary if he found out I was snogging with the enemy. Of course, then he'd come back to life and kill me, too." I rolled my eyes. "An eternity with Lucius Malfoy. God help me."

Potter raised his eyes. "I know your father's a Death Eater. I saw him at Voldemort's rebirth."

"You act as though you expect this to be a surprise. In two years, Father wants me to enlist as a Death Eater myself." I shrugged. "I won't, of course."

"I expect you wouldn't want to help destroy your snogging partner, now would you?" I laughed--it was good to see he had accepted the inevitable.

"That, and I won't do a bloody thing Father makes me do." I lounged against the nearest wall. "I haven't since I was four. If his goal and mine are the same, well, yes--like beating you at Quidditch, for example--I'll do it. But if he tries using me as his dancing marionette, I'll cut my bloody strings off."

"Congratulations, Malfoy, you have successfully worked through an extended metaphor."

"Leave the sarcasm to me, I'm better at it." There was a pause. I adjusted my robes. "Well. I'll see you tomorrow, then?"

Potter looked puzzled. "What?"

"Transfiguration, you git. However, if you want to meet afterwards..." I raised my eyebrows. He gave me a look of disapproval reminiscent of the Mudblood and McGonagall.

Someone cleared their throat, and both of us glanced over. There was Pansy Parkinson, my biggest fan, looking more like a pug than I could've ever imagined. "Draco," she said. "Whatever are you doing?"

I glanced at Potter. "Not a thing." I smirked back at Pansy. "He was just apologizing, that's all." I glanced back at him and glared, "Play along, moron."

Potter gave me a barely noticeable nod, then glared. "I can't believe I thought you could be a civilized man, Malfoy," he shot back. "Fuck you." He stormed off. He was a pretty good actor.

"Fuck you, too," I snapped, and turned back to Pansy. "He was apologizing for hitting me before the Quidditch match. What a sap." I rolled my eyes.

She glared at me, then shrugged sharply. "All right, whatever you say." She glanced at me. "Did you fight him again? Did you win?"

I decided to lie. "Yes, why?"

"You're all flushed. Are you all right?"

"I'm fantastic. Can we go to dinner?" I sighed. "I'm starving."

Harry Potter

"Who is she?" Hermione said when I arrived at the Gryffindor table.

It took me a while to register the question. "Who?"

She took a bite of baked potato, chewed, swallowed and said, "The girl you've been snogging."

Ron choked on a mouthful of sausage. I jerked as though poked with a stick. "What?" Ron said in a strangled voice.

Hermione put down her fork, and began to tick off points. "You've been acting strangely. You've been disappearing--library, my foot. You can't pay attention in class. I beat you at wizard's chess last night. You're coming back all flushed and tipsy. Unless you're an alcoholic all of the sudden, I extremely doubt that this strange behavior is attributed to anything but a paramour." She grinned. "So, who is she?"

My throat stopped. The answer "Actually, it's a he and it's Malfoy" really did register in my head, but obviously got no further. Instead, I said, "Hermione, you're insane," and pulled up my plate.

Ron swallowed his food. "No," he said thickly, "her theory actually makes sense. For once." Hermione rolled her eyes. "Now, who is she?"

I started carving at my baked potato. "There is no 'she.' I do not have a 'paramour.' Now leave me alone."

"Denial. Withdrawal. The classic symptoms," she said promptly.

I looked down. "Well, er, I guess…" I sighed. "I didn't want to tell you this, but… you know Snape hates me."

"Despises," Ron said.

"Loathes," Hermione corrected, then shrugged. "What does that have to do with it?"

All that time with Malfoy must have rubbed off on me. The perfect lie slid right off my tongue. "Well, Dumbledore finally took notice to Snape's bias and forced him to give me extra credit so I could pull my Potions mark up. Unfortunately, Snape was allowed to give his own stipulation."

"Malfoy!" Hermione's face fell. "So that's why he didn't let Pansy and I fight; I bet Snape made him promise to be civil." She nodded. "I see. Sorry about the misunderstanding."

"If you need any help with Malfoy…" Ron grinned.

I grinned back, then sighed. "Sadly, Dumbledore found out about the fight we had, and is keeping an eye on us. Any injury Malfoy gets will shift the blame right to me."

"Not that that's unusual." We all laughed and I reached down to get piece of parchment, a quill and ink to write a short note to Hagrid. The roll of parchment I pulled out was very short, and already had something written on it, in the familiar green script.

Meet me in the Restricted Section, if you've the courage. Saturday. 7PM. Have you accepted it yet?

I crammed the piece of parchment back in my bag. Arrogant prick.

I was going, of course. Someone had to show Malfoy that he wasn't nearly as good as he thought he was.

I'd show him.

"Fuck you too, Malfoy," I said under my breath.