by Jennifer-Oksana

There had to be a way to get it to stay down without wasting all of her pocket money on potions, Hermione reasoned as she glared at her unruly hair in the girl's toilet mirror.

"Don't bet on it, sweetheart," the mirror replied, sounding very much like Malfoy. Hermione glowered at the thing.

"Shut up," she snapped, tilting her head this way and that with a feigned smile on her face. Oh, if someone were to catch her doing this! She'd never hear the end of it from anyone. After all, she was Hermione Granger, the smartest witch at school. Harry and Ron would laugh at her for being vain, the girls would make snide comments about setting traps for the boys, and Malfoy would--Draco would--

The door banged open and Hermione's hands flew to the sink, heart fluttering like a trapped bird. She glanced over and it was Parvati Patil, giving Hermione a deeply cynical look.

"Hey, Hermione," she said. "Why are you in here? Don't you have special prefect bathroom privileges?"

"It was too far," Hermione lied. Parvati had disliked Hermione cordially since the Christmas Ball fiasco, but damn it all, Hermione was not going to apologize for being pretty, and she was not going to apologize for Viktor Krum. "What?"

"Nothing," Parvati said, crooking her eyebrow critically. "You were doing something to your hair, weren't you?"

"It got blown about outside," Hermione lied. "Not that it's your business, anyhow."

"Not that you've ever cared about your hair before," Parvati replied contemptuously. "I suppose Harry finally noticed you were a girl?"

"Harry notices girls besides Cho Chang?" Hermione said flippantly. "Well, that's news."

Parvati's eyes widened. "Hermione!" she said.

"I'm not in the mood, Parvati," Hermione replied. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go study something."

Hermione could practically hear Parvati gaping as she walked out of the toilet and turned the corner, of course colliding with Draco. It was one of those days, she realized, and sighed.

"Watch where you're going, Granger!" he snapped loudly, but from the half-hidden glance he gave her, she knew that he wasn't nearly as upset as he pretended. Maybe he'd even considered learning some manners.

"Take up less space, Malfoy!" she replied, picking up her books and flouncing away, suddenly feeling much, much better. Hermione was very aware that Draco was going to follow her to the library and they were going to have a row. For some reason, this knowledge brought a smile to her face.

Of course, Ron would have to catch her halfway to the library with a loud, "Oy, Hermione!" when she really didn't want him to.

"Oy, Ron!" she replied, still cheerful despite the distraction. After all, she hadn't seen enough of Ron or Harry lately.

"You didn't just say oy, did you?" Ron said, dropping into the spot next to her. "You missed Harry at Quidditch practice today. He did this amazing loop to loop thing--"

Ron tried to trace it in the air and Hermione snickered. "Very illuminating."

"You should have seen it, it was brilliant," Ron replied. "So, you, me, Harry. We're still on for Hogsmeade tomorrow, right?"

"Of course we are!" Hermione said, blushing slightly. Truth be told, she'd forgotten all about Hogsmeade in her recent mania regarding Malfoy. "I've just been distracted--crazed, really--about the OWLs lately. You know me."

"Too right I do!" Ron said, affectionately tapping her on the shoulder. "You need to get out of the castle or you'll waste away into a ghost. Hagrid's been asking when you'll come visit, too."

"Soon," Hermione promised, horrified that she'd been that involved with the Draco Issue. Someone would surely figure it out, as obvious as she'd been lately, and it would be the end of everything. "Well-- I have to meet someone in the library. I promised I'd help them with their Arithmancy homework."

"Workaholic," Ron said. "Seriously, Hermione, skiv off early. We've got loads of stuff in the Common Room and me and Harry are starting to forget what you look like."

Hermione nodded. "I'll do my best. Arithmancy's a pain, though," she said. "But I'll try."

"Good," Ron said, turning away. Draco waited a full minute before catching up to Hermione in the seemingly endless hallway to the library.

"Aw, have you and Weasley had a falling-out? Grown apart ever since you discovered you could do far, far better?" he asked condescendingly.

"Oh, you must be joking," Hermione replied without breaking stride. "Neville Longbottom's worth four of you, so Ron's probably worth about twenty of you at his worst."

"Maybe," Draco said lazily as they rounded a bend into a cobwebby sort of corridor. Hermione knew that meant she was about to get shoved up against a wall, so she didn't waste time and did it herself, pulling Malfoy along with her.

"Granger, you mad nymphomaniac!"

He sounded almost appreciative. Hermione smirked.

"Say it already so we can have at it," she growled, feeling rather impressed at her own audacity.

"Say what?"

"Maybe he is, but can Ron do this?" she said, aping a remarkably dead-on parody of Malfoy's voice, down to the leering sneer. Draco laughed.

"You said it, I didn't," he replied, swooping in for a brief and heated kiss. "But next time, I want to be the one throwing you against a wall. I still owe you for that little joke in the dungeons."

Hermione chuckled, an impish noise that sounded ten years older than she actually was. Draco joined in after a brief pout.

"You've improved since you grew that sense of humor," he said affably, pausing a moment to trace the curve of her cheek with his index finger. Hermione's neck prickled at the sensation.

"Mm," she hummed. "I'll let that go because I just noticed there's a utility closet over there."

"How tawdry," he drawled, leaving his fingers on her neck just so. "Why not the library?"

"Because we'd be seen," she replied, poking him in the shoulder. "Neither of us wants that."

"But it's a utility closet," Draco complained as Hermione pulled away. "With mops. And cleaning supplies."

"If we're lucky, yes," Hermione replied, charming the door open. Sooner or later, they were going to have to update those locks. Alohomora was too simple a charm for the teachers to rely upon. "No one looks for students where there should be mops. And if they do--"

She flicked her wand and performed a tiny glamour on the door. It wouldn't look any different from the wall now, and they wouldn't be disturbed.

"You," and Draco leaned in, expecting and getting a kiss-- "Are a tremendously useful person to have about."

Hermione nodded solemnly and very seriously licked Draco's earlobe, which caused the blond boy to growl something obscene and capture her lips with his own violently. There was always something so violent about Malfoy's attentions--yes, there they went against the wall now--but the surprising part was how she kept responding.

For example, the whimpering noise she kept making because Draco was sucking on her neck was too noisy. It was almost a moan and that would not do. But if he would persist in exploring the little patch of skin where neck met shoulder with his mouth, there was nothing to do but moan, wail, and generally gibber while finding his hand with hers and guiding it to her hip.

"So I'm forgiven?" he asked with an impish look up. "No more being trapped in the dungeon on a very fluffy bed?"

"Forgiven," she agreed breathlessly. "Shut up and keep kissing me."

He didn't listen to her. Instead, Malfoy took her chin in his hand, sliding his thumb back and forth against the skin slowly, looking at her with darkly reflective thought in his eyes.

"I think that perhaps I shouldn't," he said, tracing her lips.

"Why not?" she asked, a sharp edge appearing in her voice.

"Because there are so many other things I can think of to do instead," he said, letting go of her chin and tracing the alphabet on her neck before ever-so-gently tugging her robe open. "All while I can remind you of a few things."

"Such as?" Hermione replied, finding herself entirely too sulky about this turn of events. She had not gone to all this trouble to get teased.

"Shh," he replied, undoing the robes slowly. "You talk too much."

"I--" and then Hermione did shut up because Malfoy--Draco--had his hands under her robes and he was doing things with his fingers that had her quite without words and she wished she knew what to do with her hands besides clench them into fists and pound them against the wall a couple of times in lieu of anything else.

"See?" he said, watching her with a leering expression of pride and amusement on his overbred, pretty face. "Much better if you let me take charge, isn't it?"

Before she could reply, he kissed her again, the right sort of kiss, the sort that melted away objections like wax exposed to flame. Her knees went rather wobbly, as they sometimes did, and so she steadied herself by throwing her arms around his neck.

"You've got it bad, don't you?" he asked suddenly, methodically pausing to work his way up her jawline. "You want to have that cake and eat it too."

"Oh, and you don't?" Hermione replied tartly, momentarily gazing down at her completely mussed robe and half-exposed torso.

"Maybe I do," he said. "But you're the one who gets to throw it in my face that I'm endangering my reputation. If I tease just a little- -"

He found a particularly sensitive spot and sucked hard. Hermione squealed.

"You act as though this is all my fault and all my concern," he finished. "But it's time you faced up to something."

Draco's cheek was pressed against hers now, and one hand was on her hip, rubbing a small patch of skin rhythmically. Hermione, dread and desire building in her stomach, tried to slap the hand away.

"What's that?" she hissed.

"You like it, too," he replied, scorching her neck with his breath. "You like that it's a secret, you like that it's me, you like that it's dangerous. Some days I think you want it even more than I do."

"Well, of--"

He cut her off. "Thing is, you can't act like I'm tricking you into being a naughty prefect," he said. "You want to keep playing, don't you?"

"Yes," she said in a low voice. "Very much yes."

"Then don't--" and he pulled back enough so that he could stare Hermione in the eye. "Don't pretend that you're in charge. This is our mistake and our problem if we get caught."

"I understand," Hermione said. "But--"

"But nothing," he said, helping her do up her robes. "In fact, Granger, you might be smarter than me, and better at hiding utility closets, but as long as I can make you want to be thrown against walls, I've got the advantage."

He smiled at her and Hermione was at a loss for words. He had a point--not perhaps the one he thought he was making, but still, he had one. Draco Malfoy's very presence made her turn into someone else, someone whose strange and incomprehensible desires turned on her good sense. As long as she was the girl finding excuses to play an infinitely deadly game with him, she was at a disadvantage.

"Thank you for the lesson. I'm going to be late to meet Ron and Harry," Hermione said coldly. Draco reached out and grabbed her arm carefully. "What?"

"Give us a kiss goodbye," he said softly, looking deceptively sweet. The stupid thing in Hermione went to pieces, leaned in and very slowly, very gently kissed him on the lips, a kiss that heated up by degrees until both of their robes were open and quite mussed.

Hermione realized that she was going to completely miss Ron and Harry that night and that until she could get this strange, stupid new Hermione under control, it wasn't a necessarily a bad idea.

But that was a thought for later.


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