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Contingent | D.M. + H.G. by december_noon

Format: Novel
Chapters: 18
Word Count: 75,156
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Contains profanity, Mild violence, Scenes of a sexual nature

Genres: Drama, Romance, Action/Adventure, Angst, Young Adult
Characters: Hermione, Draco
Pairings:

First Published: 10/29/2020
Last Chapter: 04/13/2021
Last Updated: 04/13/2021

Summary:

Draco Malfoy hates Hermione Granger. Everything he gives two fucks
about is entirely contingent on the decisions that she makes and she
doesn't even know it. If he's not careful, she's going to fuck it up
for the both of them and then they'll all wind up dead.

He never thought his life would depend on having to get between her legs and into her head.

 

con•tin•gent: subject to chance; dependent on

 

**THIS IS A MATURE STORY AND NOT APPROPRIATE FOR AUDIENCES UNDER THE AGE OF 18**



Chapter 1: Prologue: In Which He is Tasked
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“I'm supposed to do what?” 

 

A mixture of disbelief and disgust colored the pale blonde’s features as his eyebrows shot up and his mouth fell open. “That’s hardly even possible, if you look at our history alone it will never allow for it-”

 

“I am not concerned with what is or is not ‘allowed’ Mr. Malfoy, and I would suggest you do not dwell on it either. This task is vital if you wish for the Dark Lord to be successful and you are the only option he has. I can assure you he would have pursued alternative courses of action if they had shown any sign of promise,” Snape drawled in his usual monotone. He paused, then spoke. "I would strongly advise that you do not take this lightly. However, I'm sure you're already well aware of that."

 

"The odds are slim to none, it's never going to happen," Malfoy sneered, desperately searching for the magic words that would talk his elder into seeing some kind of reason. "You know just as well as I do that she's going to see right through me," he said, already exasperated with the idea.

 

Snape turned slowly to look at the young boy he'd made the Vow to protect. "Then you had better learn how to give a convincing performance." There was a sense of finality in Snape's tone that made something in Draco's stomach twist uncomfortably.

 

"This is not up for negotiation. Your part in the matter has already been decided. By now you should know better than to question the Dark Lord," Snape stated firmly, narrowing his eyes.

 

The young Malfoy heir found himself at a loss for words. This was a rare occasion and he didn’t know how to handle it. His eyebrows had all but melted into his hairline, and his mouth was frozen open, willing any words to come to him that could sway Snape. He knew it was futile, but he’d sooner die than go through with this.

 

"Close your mouth Mr. Malfoy,” Snape said, eyeing him with evident disdain and turning away with a swish of his robes. “I believe you have work to do ," Snape paused mid step and turned his head over his shoulder to meet Draco's bewildered eyes once more before he disappeared into his office, "and I trust you will hear me when I say if you value anything in this life, it would do you well to succeed.”



Chapter 2: Chapter 1: In Which He Plots
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Draco Malfoy was nervous.

 

The unfamiliar sensation hit him like a ton of bricks once he pinpointed what exactly it was. Of course, this was entirely due to the fact that he very rarely felt this way. This uncharted territory made him uncomfortable - he realized he wasn't sure how to navigate it. He could taste the insecurity leaking into the blood that came from the constant gnawing of his inner cheek. He couldn't figure out what had gone so terribly wrong that his life had come to this.

 

He knew he needed to focus, to center himself. He closed his eyes, breathing, letting himself slowly sink into his meditation. It seemed somewhat trivial, but this helped him immensely with his Occlumency. This was something Severus had insisted it was imperative that he mastered, what with the Dark Lord living in his house and all.

 

The tone of his thoughts were bitter to match the taste that lightly coated his tongue as he continued to accost his cheek. More than anything Draco ached to have control back, but the constant spiral he was stuck in just never seemed to give.

 

He let up on his right side and switched to start in on his left. He sighed internally as he felt the beginnings of a new bad habit forming. Right, he thought snarkily, like he needed another one of those.

 

Everyone had their own sort of ritual when it came to Occlumency. For Draco, he envisioned himself laying on his back in an empty field, as he stared up at a perfectly cloudless night sky. He would lay there as he named as many constellations as he could and buried his memories away in the connections between the stars that formed above him. He found that there was something symbolic about how his mind processed it - he was named after a constellation after all. Full circle and all that.

 

The occasional downside, if one could even call it that, was that it was all too easy a task to get immersed in - which was why he jumped when he felt a hand lightly brush his hair from his face. Draco's eyes shot open to see his mother staring down at him, wide eyed and concerned. She hadn't stopped worrying about him since his fourth year, and it showed in the new lines on her face.

 

"I apologize for scaring you, but we really must be off. I tried knocking," Narcissa said, looking at her son. He looked tired, and he knew it. Draco hated that she worried so much, but he knew there was nothing he could do about it. He was trying to get better at masking his emotions from his mother. He knew her worry was unconditional, and it had only gotten worse with their latest unwelcome houseguests. She did a good job of hiding it - she was a good actress.

 

He nodded, pursing his lips. "How is he?" he said. She knew at once what he meant.

 

"He's...as usual," she said. Her eyes gave her away as they dropped away from his.

 

"Will you be okay once I'm gone?" he quietly asked her. Her eyes flit up to meet his once again. If her baby blues were reminiscent of an undisturbed snowfall, his swirling greys were a torrential downpour. He always hated this part - his mother had always predictably been his soft spot. She gave a wry smile and raised a hand to cup his face gently, her thumb stroking his cheek affectionately in the way only a mother can. "Aren't I always?"

 

She hated to see him like this. She wished more than anything, she could take this from him, to lighten the load on his shoulders. This was never supposed to happen - she should have seen this coming. He was just so young. Her heart ached for what she knew would soon inevitably unfold. As much as she loved her son, she knew this wouldn't end the way he expected. He simply didn't know himself as well as he thought he did.

 

Narcissa was a good actress alright. In Draco's absence - not to mention the more pressing reason of the Death Eaters' ever-intrusive presence - she'd had no choice but to master the art. She'd grown a fond appreciation for the skill as time went on. There was a sharp twinge echoing through her chest where her heart rested as she realized that her own son couldn't see through her anymore.

 

Though, she supposed, that was the point.

 

He always tried so hard to protect her. Now, it was her turn to protect him.

 

-

 

Draco found himself back on the Hogwarts Express all too soon. He'd had weeks to plot and scheme and plan but yet here he was, empty handed. He shook the thought away. Control, he needed control. His mind reeled desperately.

 

He saw the constellations dance on his eyelids and he grasped at them for just a moment before a tall wizard came up from behind and clapped him on the shoulder.

 

"Alright Malfoy?" Blaise said, raising an eyebrow as the pale blonde jumped slightly in his seat. It wasn't like Malfoy to be caught off guard, much less in public.

 

Draco narrowed his eyes at Zabini and gave a curt nod. No need to give him more reason to question his sanity, or rather what was left of it. The fact that he'd skipped the usual accompaniment with a scathing insult was reason enough for Blaise to be more curious than he should be.

 

He let himself settle into his seat and pretend to be invested in making noncommittal small talk with the other sixth year Slytherins he sat with. He stilled for a second as he came to the realization, with a nasty pang in his gut, that he couldn't relate with most of the things they said anymore. It's not like anyone else had the fucking Dark Lord shacking up in their spare wing.

 

Draco thought, with a cruel twist of fate, that he finally got his wish - albeit a few years late. He finally had something that no one else did. Unironically, he also realized that this was the most alone he'd ever felt. He eventually gave up his pretense, staring out his window at the countryside as it whizzed by, a blur of color. He let his eyes unfocus and he permitted himself to try to enjoy the ride for once.

 

The whole time he gnawed at his cheek, trying his best to keep the empty, crushing loneliness at bay.

 

-

 

Malfoy's eyes slowly raked over her from across the Great Hall. The wide, lengthy tables that had always separated them suddenly seemed too short a distance. Draco watched as she laughed at something the Weasel said, her eyes glittering as her head tilted back to let the pretty sound evaporate into the space above her head. Weasley looked positively smug.

 

He, for one, simply couldn't imagine that the Ginger had said something that was even mildly worthy of coaxing that sound from her, or anyone for that matter. Most things that could prompt people to laugh like that were at the expense of Weasley himself, not to mention how hilarious his reactions could be. He rolled his eyes, dropping the intense gaze that was accidentally lingering on her.

 

He felt a hand stroke up and down his left arm once as he brought his eyes back to the plate in front of him. He bit back a growl before tearing it away from her curious fingers - it was still more sensitive than he wanted to admit. Daphne just didn't know when to stop. He really thought she'd have taken the hint by now, but apparently the thing they say about blondes must be true if she's being this daft.

 

Blaise cleared his throat, blessedly interrupting her unwelcome at flirting before it went any further, his green eyes inexplicably hard when they met his grey ones. "Hey Malfoy, wanna give Dumbledore the slip? I bet we could get into Hogsmeade no problem and have ourselves a night." Blaise waggled his eyebrows as he made the offer, his eyes warming at the prospect of getting into some trouble.

 

Malfoy snorted, "I wish. It would save me from this annual loss of brain cells that we're subject to. I should really think about having a word with the old man, maybe threaten to pull our donations if he doesn't make it more worth my time."

 

Dumbledore, as if somehow hearing this, seemed to take it as his cue to finally commence the festivities. "Welcome back. Before we begin, let me say a few words." A hush fell over the crowd instantaneously, falling under his spell.

 

Malfoy muttered curse words under his breath as his companion nudged him, "Here we go."

 

The Headmaster continued on, only leaving them with "If you think you know who the most powerful player on the board is, think again. Now, let the feast commence!" His tone of voice seemed a bit too jovial to fit the odd message.

 

Malfoy shifted uncomfortably. He didn't know just how smart the old man was or how much he knew, but that hit just a little too close for him to be comfortable with. How would he have known? He felt a sense of immediate unease and quickly jumped to test the invisible lines between his stars just to be safe. He didn't feel like he'd been breached, but then again, Dumbledore was one of the brightest of the era and he'd always seemed to be at least one step ahead.

 

A low chuckle to his right broke him out of his trance, "Don't tell me you bought that Malfoy? I'd hate to have lost you too," Blaise mocked.

 

Malfoy winced at the implication that he'd been caught out of sorts - again. "Zabini, if I ever listen to a word that man says, send for St. Mungos' best healers immediately."

 

-

 

Draco Malfoy had been classmates with Hermione Granger for the last five years, yet he realized that he had never really looked at her before. He stared at her from his obscure vantage point in the library while she devoured the worn potions textbook, her big curls falling into her face. He couldn't see her eyes, he realized. He didn't even know what color they were, now that he actually thought about it.

 

He snapped back to reality as he realized with disdain why he was giving her the time of day, even though she didn't know it yet. How the hell was he supposed to do this? He's a Malfoy damn it, he wasn't supposed to be reduced all the way down to the first rung of the ladder. He'd very well proven himself many times over by now. He seethed in quiet anger. At least his irritation was a skin he was comfortable in. He was constantly pissed about something or another these days.

 

But this...this was a peasant's job. And that was something he absolutely refused to reconcile with.

 

What he couldn't - or wouldn't - wrap his head around was the fact that he had been assigned something of this caliber. He shook his head. Draco knew that it was far too late to wallow in self pity, his Godfather had made that abundantly clear.

 

He needed a game plan. Draco was acutely aware he'd stalled more than he should have - he knew this was going to take awhile, especially if his target was Hermione bloody Granger.

 

He needed to make what he was doing from here on out seem as natural as possible. How would he work this if she were anyone else? Not, of course, that he'd ever needed to work at seducing anyone before - he admitted that was a new one. Girls usually fell at his feet just because of who he was - one of the very many perks to carrying the Malfoy name. Women either wanted what was behind his zipper or in his pockets, and he'd had no complaints thus far. There was a smug undertone to his thoughts as he considered all of this. The size of his ego never surprised him anymore, he knew it far too well.

 

Granger though, was different, he mused. He could tell as much simply by the way she carried herself and just in who she was. What Draco was unsure about was if she would want to think this whole thing was her idea, or if she would surprise him and actually be into the sopping romantic shit. He knew she liked to work for what she had, and she always felt like she had to prove herself. He recalled the smug little smile she'd get on her face whenever she had something done long before anyone else had. It never failed to put him in a sour mood.

 

His lips lifted in a tight smirk as he stared at her and plotted. He did love a good challenge, and she was as good as they came - all he needed to do was plant the seed. Should be easy enough.

 

-

 

The excited roar of the crowd rang in Hermione's ears as the wind buffeted around her. It was slightly chilly for the first match of the year, but that wasn't very surprising considering Scotland's typical climate. Hermione thought the low temperature was due to the ferocity of the wind. She was sitting in the front row all the way to the right of the Gryffindor section as Madam Hooch went through the rules, already hoping for this to be a quick game.

 

The reading of the rules was a rather trivial formality at this point. Everyone knew by now that when it came to the Gryffindor and Slytherin Quidditch match, it was anyone's guess as to how many fouls there would be. They all knew the rules well enough by now. It was just a matter of which ones they would break.

 

Hermione herself was betting on at least eight by the time the Snitch was caught. She knew that her number would only go up the longer the game went. Judging by the way Malfoy and Harry were eyeing each other while Madam Hooch briefed them, it would be a quick game. She hoped so, it was colder than she would have liked. She cast a warming charm as well as a weather-repelling charm on herself as the whistle blew.

 

They had kicked up in the air with amazing speed. Hermione knew that she was never going to be agile on a broomstick. She was almost jealous of how graceful they all looked, how at ease they were as they flew.

 

Flying was the one thing she couldn't learn from a book. To say that she hadn't been able to master flying on a broomstick was giving her too much leniency - she was awful. Hermione had come to accept that over the years - from many, many futile attempts when no one was looking - that she was rather okay with that reality. No one needed to know. It was her secret.

 

It was at that moment when she realized the arena had suddenly gone deathly quiet. She snapped herself out of her daze only to realize that the bludger was coming right for her. She fumbled for her wand, but it slipped through her fingers, clattering at her feet.

 

Hermione completely stilled, frozen in shock. This wasn't like her. She was always the first one to have a defensive spell at the ready. For her age, she was unusually good at wandless magic, but her mind was its own hurricane and so she couldn't think twice to channel what she needed. She wouldn't have had the time.

 

An impossibly fast green and blonde blur streaking out in front of her broke her focus. He somehow had a wand in hand, and he'd sent a simple Reducto flying at the bludger that was only mere feet from her face.

 

Draco briefly met Hermione's eyes, and then turned and flew away without so much as a breath in her direction. She vaguely registered the arena erupting before she sank back down into her seat, still quaking.

 

She'd had enough of bloody Quidditch to last the rest of the term, thank you very much.



Chapter 3: Chapter 2: In the Nick of Time
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The next day came far too quickly for Hermione’s liking. She groaned as she sat up in her bed, cursing the wisps of daylight that streaked in, sneaking their way through the curtains. Rubbing at her tired eyes, she stepped out of bed and into her slippers as she started to get ready to go down to breakfast.

 

Even though it was still early September, there was still a bite to the crisp autumn air that Hermione couldn’t quite place. She had always been one to get cold easily, but this felt different, more bone-chilling for some reason. She reasoned with herself that she was just tired, and it was the product of her overactive imagination. Whatever it was, she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was missing something.

 

Try as she might, she couldn’t stop her mind from going back to the Quidditch game from the day prior. As soon as the shock from almost being obliterated by a cursed bludger faded from her fingertips, she was honing in on Malfoy - though she hated to admit it. Even with all of their history coming up in quick flashes - the amount of times he’d called her Mudblood meant that the insult meant next to nothing coming from him anymore - she couldn’t wrap her head around why he would do something like that. 

 

Granted, Hermione knew he wasn’t evil - very misguided and a product of his circumstance, perhaps. Whatever the case, she just couldn’t conceptualize the idea of him being anything other than a downright git to her. While what he did is what almost anyone else would have done given the situation, what she couldn’t get past was the fact that it was him of all people who had stepped in.

 

Draco. Malfoy.

 

The boy who literally could not have cared less before if she lived or died - if memory served, he wished her dead in second year - was suddenly coming to her rescue? What was she, a bloody damsel in distress? Hermione had really always hated those characters. She much preferred the strong, independent female types. She knew by now that she could hold her own in just about every aspect, and she’d fought over and over again in every way she could think of to prove that to herself - and everyone else. Hermione had always felt that she, more than anyone, had to earn her place in this world, and even though it never sat quite right with her, she couldn’t help it.

 

She hated to admit to herself that something so trivial had caught her off guard. Even worse, she came to the sickening realization that she now owed him one.

 

Hermione held back a shudder as she mulled over what he might choose to cash in. She couldn’t imagine that she had anything to offer him - maybe he’d ask her to do his homework for a month? Honestly, it was damn lucky that he had no idea about the Map or the cloak.

 

She pinched the bridge of her nose as she shut her eyes and forced herself to exhale slowly. Why was she thinking about this so much? She knew that he sure as hell wasn’t. She made herself snap out of it as she gathered her textbooks, shoving them haphazardly into her bag. At the last second, she grabbed her time turner from under her pillow, putting it in an inside pocket. She liked to keep it close to her when she slept, since that was when she was most vulnerable. 

 

Hermione knew she was lucky that Dumbledore was letting her use a time turner again - she wanted to take so many extracurriculars, and she had a constant nagging feeling that she wouldn’t be very worried about Ancient Runes next year. By now, the professors at Hogwarts knew how headstrong Hermione Granger was when it came to her studies. She was granted this request without much trouble or objection. At least, if there was any, she didn’t know about it. It was probably better she didn’t - she would have tried to figure out why. 

 

She headed into the Great Hall, sliding in smoothly next to Ron and across from Harry. They were still going on about the Quidditch game from the day before. She tucked into her toast and eggs, effectively tuning out their conversation. Hermione could never quite understand their fascination with the sport, but then again, they couldn’t grasp why she was so intrigued with academics. To each their own, she supposed.

 

Her attention was redirected suddenly when she realized Ron was talking to her. “Sorry, what? I zoned out for a second,” Hermione said as she gave him her attention. 

 

“We were just talking about what happened yesterday with the Bludger. Harry and I were trying to figure out what caused it. Hooch was the angriest we’ve ever seen her,” he repeated, shaking his head slowly in leftover disbelief. 

 

Harry chimed in, “Dumbledore and McGonagall called all of the Quidditch captains into a meeting to ask if we knew anything. I thought I’d seen McGonagall mad, but this was a new level,” he stated, shuddering a bit at the memory. She knew full well how terrifying her professor could be when she got protective.

 

Hermione shook her head, widening her eyes as she took in the new information. “I told them all not to worry about it. I wasn’t hurt, and it’s not something we should be focused on when Voldemort is systematically working his way through taking over the Ministry and the Prophet. There are clearly bigger priorities than what happened yesterday,” she said nonchalantly, stirring honey into her tea.

 

Ron’s expression changed and he stared at her like she was batshit crazy. “Are you kidding? Everyone knows that you’re in danger - a Muggle-born and one of Harry’s best friends. You are walking around with a giant target painted on your back and it’s a bigger risk than you realize. You need to be careful Hermione,” he said, his voice growing quiet with his admission, “You know we couldn’t do any of this without you.” Ron’s eyes were suddenly blazing with a quiet fire behind them.

 

Hermione’s mouth quirked up on one side and her eyes softened as she absorbed the intensity of his words. “I know you both care about me, and I know how protective you can be. But I'm asking you not to worry about this. You two know better than anyone that I am fully capable of holding my own just fine. I’ve made it this far with you lot, haven’t I?” she implored. “Besides, I’m hoping that Harry will drop his Malfoy obsession now that he quite literally saved my life,” she hinted, looking pointedly at the dark haired boy.

 

Harry returned her stare, shoveling a forkful of eggs into his mouth. “Not likely,” he said after he swallowed his food. “I know he’s up to something, I can feel it. I don’t know what it is though, but I’m telling you, something is different about this year.” Harry turned around, faking a stretch as he snuck a glance at Malfoy.

 

She had never quite understood her best friend’s infatuation with Draco Malfoy. It was getting ridiculous really, at this point. They were already in their sixth year, and every time they’d suspected him so far it had always turned out to be someone else. It was time to give up on the Slytherin - clearly it had been established time and time again he was nothing more than your average bully.

 

However, now there was a hint of understanding tickling the back of her mind - even though it was something she hated to admit. She knew it was nowhere near as obsessive as Harry’s of course, but she was starting to catch herself over-analyzing the things Malfoy was doing as she snuck occasional looks at him from across the Great Hall.

 

She shifted her gaze back to Harry as he rambled on about his suspicions, which still sounded to her like they were completely unfounded beyond speculation at this point. She side eyed Ron, who seemed to be following along with Harry quite nicely. She rolled her eyes, before cutting in and interrupting him.

 

“Honestly Harry, don’t you have anything better to do than prattle on about Malfoy? I’ve already forgotten that Draco Malfoy of all people saved my life, and I’ll be expecting you to do the same.” She tried her best to ignore the fact that she just told her best friend a bold-faced lie, and noticed that Harry was rising from his seat. 

 

“Where are you going?” she asked, arching an eyebrow, “We don’t need to leave for Transfiguration for another twenty minutes.” She may have interrupted his stream of consciousness about Malfoy, but the feeling that was resting in her gut said he was going to go stick his nose exactly where he shouldn’t. She had learned over the past five years with the boys that the feeling was almost always correct.

 

“To go find Ginny. I want to talk to her about how we should strategize for the game against Ravenclaw,” the lie rolled off his tongue a bit too easily. She scoffed quietly as she turned away from him, looking back at her book. She’d think that Harry would be a better liar by now, but clearly something was working for him if he’d made it this far without that particular skill. Hermione knew that his tell lied in that he maintained eye contact just a bit too well. He was normally too absorbed in his thoughts to think twice about something like that - but the exception, she’d learned, was when he was lying and wanted to come across as convincing.  She was so distracted by her inner analysis mixed with her reading that she didn’t realize that Malfoy was also rising from his seat.

 

As much as he drove her crazy, she had to continue to indulge him until it got too out of hand. Sometimes, as she very well knew by now, his wild theories paid off. Maybe this time would be one of them.

 

Hermione was still abnormally lost in thought as she headed off early to her first class of the day. As she turned the corner while she left the Great Hall, she almost ran straight into Malfoy. Thankfully, he was alone, so there was no need to worry about any kind of overwhelming confrontation. She was quite fond of the fact that she was able to hold her own against him by now. Hermione bristled slightly as she eyed him, waiting for whatever crude insult he would think up today.

 

“I would have thought you’d be looking for more attention from me by now, Mudblood. Doesn’t the whole 'saving your life’ thing usually have that kind of effect?” he asked, smirking as he did so. 

 

Hermione rolled her eyes at him. “I really thought you’d have a better insult than that on hand, Malfoy, especially since you’ve had so much time to think about it. Besides, aren’t you supposed to be good at those by now?” Draco’s eyes narrowed and his lips curled downward into his nasty trademark sneer. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, unlike you, I have somewhere to be,” Hermione said coldly as she started to push past him. As routine would have it, she should have realized he wouldn’t have that - her getting the last word. He grabbed tight onto the strap of her bag, yanking it off her shoulder and spilling its contents onto the stone floor as gave her a sarcastic, “Oops.”

 

She whirled and met his eyes, knowing exactly what kind of triumphant expression would be showing on his face. Hermione considered, then gave him nothing but her silence - the exact opposite of what she knew he’d expect - as she knelt to pick up her books, shoving them into her bag and storming off to class. 

 

To no one’s surprise, she cursed his name under her breath the whole way there. Nobody was perfect, and as much as she hated to admit it, that statement definitely included her.

 

-

 

Keeping his eyes steadily on her back, he waited until she turned the corner before he pulled the shiny object out from where he’d trapped it under his foot. He examined it, having to admit to himself that he wasn’t fully familiar with it, although it did tug at something in the corner of his memory. He hummed in satisfaction - this was clearly going to set her off once she noticed it was missing. He just needed to keep doing things that would get her attention, whether it be good or bad.

 

As he very well knew, there was a very fine line between love and hate.

 

It didn’t take very long for Draco to figure out what it was he now had in his possession, and oh was he nearly radiating with glee. It was a time turner, and he knew it wouldn’t be long until she realized it was missing. The only thing Hermione would use it for was classes - how completely boring, and oh so her. 

 

He chucked as the snide thought passed through his mind was that she really could have used this yesterday. Draco froze. Yesterday.

 

His excitement tripled, nearly exploding out of him. The unsettling grin that was growing on his face was enough to scare the second year Hufflepuff a few tables over from him into leaving the library entirely. The plan that was forming in his mind was quite possibly the most ingenious plot he had ever concocted. It was a shame no one would ever be able to know about it. If he was actually going to go through with this - which he already knew he was based on yesterday’s events - he knew he didn’t have much time.

 

Malfoy all but sprinted to the first empty classroom he came across, his heart slamming recklessly in his chest. In all of his years as a troublemaker, he had never messed with the space-time continuum before. Needless to say, he was a tad bit nervous.

 

Putting the chain around his neck and taking a deep breath to steady his racing heart, he gave the time turner seven quick twists backward.

 

-

 

Draco exited the classroom stealthily, knowing that the majority of the school would be down on the Quidditch pitch. This worked to his advantage, since he understood more than anything he could not be seen. He honestly was not trying to rip a hole in the timeline today, contrary to what one may believe. 

 

He looked at the clock, realizing that the game was just about to start. He broke into a run, thinking on his feet enough to cast a Disillusionment charm on himself. It wouldn’t be enough should he be caught, but it would have to do for now.

 

He heard the sound of humming coming from behind him, and Draco gave a low oath under his breath as he ducked behind a statue. He held his breath as none other than Loony fucking Lovegood took her sweet time strolling past his hiding spot before stopping and taking a slow look around. She took her time, and he swore that her eyes passed over his hiding spot more than once. He was losing time.

 

Padma Patil came up from behind Luna and grabbed her arm as she walked toward the pitch. “Come on Luna!” the dark haired Ravenclaw said, “We’re going to be late!” 

 

Luna allowed the girl to pull her towards the action. “I was looking for Nargles. The castle always gets infested with them around this time,” she said lightly. And off they went. He let his breathing return to normal as he took off, taking a different path than they did.

 

Draco made it down to the pitch just in time to catch the start of the game. He watched himself and Potter give each other the stink eye as they both ignored Hooch’s pre-game speech. His eyes went straight up to the Gryffindor section to find her. She was sitting alone in the corner, looking annoyed. 

 

He grinned maniacally as he flicked through potential curses to use in his head. He really couldn’t fucking stand her, and although he already knew he was going to fail (or succeed, if you looked at it from a different angle), he was still nearly tingling with the prospect of finally getting to send a curse her way.

 

Maybe if she didn’t have to constantly and effortlessly one up him, he would like her more. He knew she felt out of place here, like she didn’t deserve her magic. It was the only explanation for why she worked so hard. He wished he would have gone to Durmstrang like his father had suggested - they didn’t allow their type into their school. At least then if he had to be second in class rank to someone, it wouldn’t be a sodding Mudblood. 

 

Draco couldn’t fucking wait for her to fall in love with him. He knew she would, it was inevitable, and he was more eager for the prospect of breaking her heart than he had been for anything in his life. He took a calming breath as he selected his curse of choice. It would come in time, he knew, just like everything else.

 

Malfoy focused his attention on the bludger in question and made the motion with his wand as he muttered “nocere scopum” under his breath with conviction. He watched as it took effect and he saw his past self realize what was happening and seize the opportunity. The arena erupted into chaos, and he knew he should take his leave before he was caught. Before he did, he cast a few spells so if anyone were to cast Priori Incantatem on his wand for whatever reason, his tracks would be covered. He wasn’t quite daft enough to realize that Potter would suspect him automatically, even though he had no reason to.

 

He remembered, as he watched himself fly away so nonchalantly, that he had answered his own question from the day prior - Hermione’s eyes were brown. He snorted to himself in irony, leaning against a tree and reaching for the time turner to go back to where he was supposed to be. 

 

Really fitting for her to put the mud in Mudblood without her even realizing, didn’t it? 



Chapter 4: Chapter 3: Intoxicated
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Draco quickly headed back up to the castle from the Quidditch pitch. He walked in to where he had left from just in time to watch himself disappear. He grabbed his bag from where he’d left it on the desk and headed off to his first class of the day.

 

Defense Against the Dark Arts was nearly pointless for him now. There was, in essence, no real reason he needed to be taking this - other than to keep up with appearances, he supposed. It wasn’t necessary to give people more reason to speculate than they needed. There was a war brewing, everyone could smell it. The difference was, it had already arrived for him. It was living in his house, right under his nose. The next stop was under his skin, in his head.

 

Then again, who’s to say it wasn’t already there? Draco wasn’t really sure he would know if it was. 

 

They were learning about the Unforgivables today. He shifted in his seat, trying to hide the discomfort he felt as he avoided his professor’s eyes. As much as he tried to disregard the fact that there was a second part to his task, it haunted him. He’d rather not think about that until he had no choice but to do so.

 

“Finnigan, that will be ten points from Gryffindor if you don’t sit down,” Snape threatened as he eyed the Gryffindor, “Now.”

 

“Today we will be discussing the Imperius Curse. I’m assuming you all know what it is by now, so we shall skip the formalities. We are going to be discussing how to resist it,” he said, capturing the attention of the students quicker than usual, and that was saying something.

 

“The Imperius Curse is nearly impossible to resist, but to do so requires a nearly insurmountable amount of will and character. When you are under it, you are only vaguely aware of what is happening around you. It is comparable to being under hypnosis, and it is a very hard hold to break,” Snape continued.

 

“As we all know,” he started, growing slightly more ominous than normal, “dark times are upon us, and we need not be concerning ourselves with the likes of Boggarts or Hinkypunks during times like these. I am well aware that your education last year was...far less than adequate, so we will be attempting to make up for lost time. Bear in mind, this is the only Unforgivable that you have the ability to resist. If you are ever found to be under its effects, you at least have a sliver of hope,” he drawled on, gazing at his enraptured students.

 

Snape’s eyes landed on Malfoy. “Unless, that is, you have no character or will to live.” 

 

-

 

He felt the weight of the Time Turner resting heavily in his pocket as he headed to his next class, stopping at the kitchens for a quick snack. He wondered if he should find Granger now or wait until later, when she inevitably was tearing apart the entire bloody castle looking for it. That is, if she wasn’t already, which he doubted. The funny thing was, no one would know what it was she was looking for since she couldn’t very well tell them.

 

After a pause to consider, Draco decided firmly upon the latter. He always loved to see her frazzled, that perfect exterior cracked just enough for everyone to see how fucked up she really was underneath. He hated her god complex more than just about anyone. 

 

In the hours following a few more pointless, dragging classes, Draco headed to the Prefect’s office to check the schedule. They changed so often, he typically had no idea until the day of who he was doing rounds with.

 

He froze, staring at the parchment spelled to the wall that was taunting him. He just could not fucking escape her, could he? He hung his head into his hands, groaning softly in irritation.

 

The sound of a clearing throat came from behind him and he whirled to face who he already knew he would be. Fate loved to taunt him. Draco reasoned that he should be thanking it for continually throwing her in his path, but he still hated her no matter how much he tried to trick his brain into the opposite. He narrowed his eyes to glare at her. “What do you want?”

 

She looked at him a bit uncertainly, naturally pulling her lip in between her teeth to worry it. His eyes inadvertently followed the movement for an instant before snapping up to meet hers once more.

 

“Nothing, I’m just….I need to see the pairings for tonight,” she muttered, “I’m waiting for you to move.” Her tone hardened gradually as she continued speaking to him, catching onto his attitude, yet clearly not wanting any trouble.

 

“Well, consider your mystery solved. Unfortunately for me, you’re with me tonight,” he said, regarding her with nothing but his typical distaste for her.

 

He heard her curse lowly, and he had to admit his surprise. Granger didn’t come across as the type who swore casually. 

 

“I’m not looking forward to it either, Granger. I would rather pair up with the Weasel than you,” he said harshly.

 

Hermione ran her hands through her hair as she sighed and allowed his snide comment to pass without retaliating. He could see the stress that was plaguing her features, and registered an underlying sense of glee because he was privy to the exact reason why. 

 

-

 

Draco Malfoy knew that he was not usually one to be at a loss for ideas when it came to how to get people to fall for him. Admittedly, Granger was so vastly different from the majority - they had long since established mutual hatred for each other. Regardless, it was supposed to be something he was always competent at - he was a Malfoy for Godric’s sake. That name carried an inexplicable amount of weight in his world. However, in this instance, he found himself coming up empty - again. The bludger was a pure stroke of both genius and luck. His mind was running in pointless circles with no out in sight.

 

He heaved a sigh in frustration and ran his fingers through his white-blonde hair, sinking deeper into his chair in the blessedly empty Slytherin common room. He took a long pull from his near-empty bottle of Firewhisky and tried to think, even though he probably shouldn’t be - his drunk ideas weren’t always the best ones. The overall idea was downright insane. 

 

The Dark Lord was bloody mental. 

 

He supposed that much was obvious, he mused, if he wanted Draco to seduce a Mudblood of all things. He just couldn’t get over it. Shutting his eyes, he rubbed the space above his cheekbones with his thumb and index finger anxiously, feeling the slightly hollowed skin, and his mouth naturally turned down at the thought of it. He understood the ulterior motive, but did the end really justify the means?

 

He didn’t know, and he guessed he probably wouldn’t find out. He had to admit that he had little to no chance of this succeeding in any way, shape, or form - but he supposed the Dark Lord had already anticipated that.

 

He was expected to fail.

 

Scowling at the thought, he knocked back the remainder of the amber liquid in one go, feeling the familiar burn against his throat, and rose to his feet, biting back a cough. Draco Malfoy would not, under any circumstances, stand by and simply accept failure. It was entirely against his nature.

 

He half-stormed and half-stumbled through the hallway, heading straight for the shower. Showers relaxed him. There was something about the scalding water running over his body until he was numb. It brought his pain from something internal to external. It turned it into something he could control. 

 

That was one of the worst things about the ever present threat of war, having no control. Malfoy prided himself on always having things in check, even if it only appeared that way. Appearances were everything, that much he knew from his upbringing.

 

Leaning all his weight into his arms against the dark tiles of the shower, he let the hot water cascade over him. He lost track of how long he stood there, just accepting the burn. He hoped it would sober him enough to do rounds well enough, but at this point, being drunk was necessary to put up with Granger.

 

He twisted the knob harshly to the left, effectively ending the stream. Stepping out of the shower, he shrugged into his Slytherin green robe, a gift from Lucius, and cast a drying charm on his hair. He braced himself against the sink as he examined the now constant turmoil in his reflection’s stormy grey eyes and wondered how the fuck he wound up like this.

 

-

 

He met Granger in front of the statue of Boris the Bewildered on the fifth floor at half nine as usual. He was still drunk, but he had enough practice disguising it by now. He prayed that there was no trace of it on his breath. He’d brushed his teeth more than enough times, but he knew she would put the pieces together if he gave her the clues.

 

So he wouldn’t.

 

“You’re late,” she scowled at him. He rolled his eyes at her in response, checking his watch dramatically. “It’s 9:32, Granger. Sod off, why don’t you,” he scoffed. He was very much not in the mood for this. Draco was, more often than not, an angry drunk. He was responsible for magically repairing too many walls and doors in his day.

 

“Honestly Granger, you’re just lucky I decided not to use this,” he teased, holding up the time turner so it was dangling from his fingers.

 

Hermione’s mouth dropped open. “How did you-”

 

“I took it,” Draco said bluntly, “When I yanked your bag off your shoulder.” Her eyes were fiery as she snatched it from him, the chain stinging his fingertips slightly at the abrasion.

 

“You prat, do you have any idea what this is?” she yelled in his face, an even mixture of appalled and pissed off.

 

“Of course I do,” he said smoothly, rolling his eyes at her, “I’m not as daft as you like to think I am. If anything, I believe you should be thanking me for making sure it doesn't fall into….deceitful hands.”

 

“Thank you,” she whispered, the expression on her face morphing into one that plainly said she couldn’t believe she was thanking him instead of cursing him. “And...thank you for yesterday too,” she said. Her emotions were giving him fucking whiplash - and the alcohol certainly wasn’t helping either. “I never would have pegged you as the heroic type, but I admit, you surprised me there,” she half smiled at him. 

 

He snorted in surprise, dropping his arms back to his sides. “What I did wasn’t heroic, Granger. I only did it because no one wants to see your dirty fucking blood staining the seats, least of all me,” he sneered cruelly, narrowing his eyes at her as he watched his words sink in and the small smile that was ghosting across her features immediately fell from her lips. Draco knew it, he knew he should be nice to her, but he felt nauseous at the prospect of having a half decent conversation with her.

 

Her mouth opened and closed almost comically as she searched for an insult good enough to counter with. Coming up blank, she whirled and walked in the opposite direction they were supposed to be going, clearly just wanting to escape him. He tilted his head, examining her. He had never tried to find her attractive, but hell, maybe if he just shut off his brain and really tired…

 

She had a confident sway in her hips when she walked, he’d give her that. Draco could hardly distinguish a figure beneath the too-long skirt and boxy sweater, but there was something feminine about the way her body swayed with each graceful step. His eyes trailed up to her ponytail, innocent yet alluring, swinging back and forth like a pendulum. He knew Granger was conservative. Somehow, it made her that much more intriguing.

 

He knew it was nothing but the amount of alcohol he’d consumed prior, but he couldn’t help but wonder fleetingly if she’d ever been touched. And if she’d liked it.

 

Blinking away the thought, he shook it from his head. He was just drunk, he thought, trying to convince himself beyond giving a flimsy excuse. The sudden image of Granger on her knees for him flashed on his eyelids anyway, betraying him. He just barely contained the soft groan that bubbled up in the back of his throat. What the fuck? He was clearly going senile.

 

She noticed his absence just then, turning around to see what was keeping him there. He considered what he looked like just standing there like an idiot. He set his face into a practiced, cool mask, ignoring the barely-there twitch in his groin, and started walking towards her slowly.

 

Hermione eyed him with well-masked unease as he headed her way, and he knew then that she was scared of him even though she would never admit it.

 

On a whim, he decided to have a bit of fun. She was already pissed off enough from his comment earlier - even though, in his defense, it was true - why not push her until she snaps? He hadn’t seen that since third year. It would be fun, and something to pass the time - and distract him from his earlier train of thought.
 

Draco was honestly still quite pissed that she’d landed a solid punch on him, but he wasn’t ready back then. He’d never expected Mudblood Granger to have the nerve to actually throw a solid right hook his way. This time, if she tried, he would make sure she’d be fucking sorry she had.

 

He took his time catching up to her, watching her cross her arms over her chest and tapped her foot to exaggerate her impatience. “Calm down, will you Granger?” he called to her easily. “Not like you have anywhere else to be.” 

 

Hermione turned around to walk the opposite direction, ignoring him. He could tell he’d annoyed her though, and he was just warming up. This would be fun.

 

“Or do you?” he prompted, taunting now. “I bet Weasley can’t wait for you to get back - is he waiting up for you? It’ll be late enough everyone will be in bed...let me ask you this, Granger,” he continued, “I’m curious - have you ever fucked in the common room?” He watched her freeze mid-step.

 

“Oh, I forgot who I was talking to. Of course you haven’t,” he shook his head, chuckling. “You’re too bloody prude.” She whirled around to face him, angry now. “I bet no one has ever touched you. It’s hardly your fault though. I can’t imagine why they would want to.”

 

She stormed back toward him then, and her eyes were burning hot with a menacing glare he’d seen directed his way all too often. “Strike a chord there, did I?” he chuckled, “I knew I was right.”

 

Draco started to push past her, adding, “For the record, I have - fucked in the common room, I mean. It’s quite fun, really. I would recommend you try it...if you can ever find a willing participant, that is,” he said. “I know that might be a challenge for you though,” he pushed further, twisting his features into mock sympathy for good measure, biting back a laugh as he watched her face grow darker and darker shades of red.

 

“But I digress. You’re right, we should go on with rounds. Don’t want to upset the old Weasel with you being tardy now do we?” he waggled his eyebrows at her before starting to walk, just waiting for her explosion. She was too predictable, of course he knew it was coming.

 

She was so beyond mad at this point her tone was eerily quiet as she said “You, as usual, have no idea what you’re talking about Malfoy.”

 

“Don’t I?” he laughed at her, “You seem pretty bloody angry, which usually means I’m right,” he pointed out. He watched her seethe, the explosion building. It was only a matter of time now.

 

She stalked toward him forcefully then, stabbing a pointed finger into his chest. “You are wrong! You know nothing about me,” her eyes were hard as she looked up at his amused expression. Draco knew she hated that he got a rise out of her, and yet she never failed to give him one anyway.

 

“Are you sure about that, Granger?” he teased, dying to see her finally topple over the edge he’d constructed precisely for her.

 

“Yes! You don’t - you never have! You make assumptions about me that are always wrong and you always goad me into telling you the truth, but guess what Malfoy, I’m not playing your moronic little game tonight. I’m tired and I just want to get this over with and go to bed.” She tried to walk away to start the rounds they were already so far behind on. Malfoy kept pushing, not conceding. 

 

“So, if I’m wrong, what’s got your knickers in such a twist? Is it not Weasley then, is it Potter? I admit, I never saw that one coming, but I suppose I can’t really be surprised,” he mused, pretending to roll the idea around in his head. 

 

He watched in satisfaction as the tips of her ears turned bright pink and she stomped back toward him once again, backing him into the wall. He let her, since he wanted to see the finale of the show.

 

“It’s. None. Of. Your. Bloody. Business.” She punctuated every word with a sharp stab to the chest as she all but spat the words at him. 

 

“You know what Malfoy? I think you like to pry into my sex life because yours is so pathetic,” she stated calmly as he raised a pointed eyebrow, reigning in his irritation. So she was adopting his angle. Interesting.

 

“I can tell you’re such a boring lay. I bet every girl fakes it just to make you feel better because if they didn’t, they know you’d go crying to your daddy. Girls talk, you know,” she continued, reveling in the sight of his own drunken anger growing steadily, “And the things they say....it’s honestly a pity really.” She shook her head slowly as she spoke once more, the triumphant light coming back to her eyes as she continued her verbal assault on what she knew had to be his weak spot. “I would tell you, but you know, girl code and all,” she shrugged nonchalantly, stepping away from him casually in her perceived victory. 

 

“Oh Granger,” he said, catching her and spinning her quickly so her back was digging into the wall and his arms were on either side of her, “You have no idea how wrong you are.” He barely ghosted his lips across her jawline and down her neck, partly giving into the alcohol-fuelled daze and partly wanting to see how far he could really push her until she snapped. 

 

He looked down at her, smirking, still feeling the effects of his Firewhisky far more than he should be at this point in the night, but being too far gone to resist anyway. The argument was turning him on as much as it shouldn't be. He always did get off on a good row, and no one fought him like she did. As much as he hated to admit it, she was good at verbal sparring. She was so good at finding people’s weak spots and exploiting them, she probably could have made a good Slytherin - even though he’d never be caught dead saying that out loud, and if it weren’t for the red and gold stick that was constantly up her ass.

 

Granger was such a cocktease, and she didn’t even know it. He took in her flushed neck, her dilated pupils, and she was...panting? It could be construed as leftover tensions from their argument, or…hell, was Granger turned on?

 

As such, his decision was made. He taunted on a whim, “Would you like to find out for yourself just how wrong?”

 

After all, he knew by this point that the best way to a woman’s heart was through her legs. Seemed as good a strategy as any at this point - he may as well go in for the kill.



Chapter 5: Chapter 4: In For the Kill
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Draco observed as Hermione looked up at him and blanched as she processed his offer. He felt her fingertips burn into the skin on his wrist briefly as she grabbed it, using it as leverage to push herself away from his tight hold and unusually intrusive eyes. He knew his eyes were always his giveaway. He'd essentially perfected his mask by now, especially with Bella and Snape's help, but they say the eyes were the windows to the soul for a reason. It was why he practiced occlumency so fervently and obsessively, it was his only chance at hiding it.

 

She scoffed, "Hell no. You'd be so lucky if I ever were to soil myself with the likes of you," she turned away from him for what felt like the millionth time tonight. He could hear in her voice that she wasn't as disgusted as her words construed - in fact, she seemed intrigued. They had been dancing back and forth and around each other for far longer than he wanted to admit.

 

He could tell that she was a bit dazed. He had never intentionally turned the full force of his charm her way before, and it was throwing her for a loop Draco knew she hadn't expected. "You're right," he teased, lust very plainly coating his voice, "I probably would be. That's why they call it getting lucky, Granger, didn't you know?"

 

She froze, her step stuttering, and then she continued walking. Away from him. He decided then and there that he did not like that.

"Oh hell no you don't Granger," he growled, grabbing her wrist harshly as she stormed away and twisting her harshly back to face him. "You're not getting away quite that easily you fucking tease," he smashed his lips into hers, giving her no room to hesitate or question this as he yanked her blindly inside the nearest classroom. He could give two shits which one it was, it didn't matter.

 

This was not a delicate kiss. It wasn't slow, it wasn't tender, or soft.

 

It was hard, hot, fast, burning, intense. It was built of a fire that was burning from the embers of pure need and hate and primal instinct alone. Their bodies both knew what was coming next - but they were both choosing to ignore who exactly was on the other side of the kiss.

 

He dug his fingers tightly into her hips, making her gasp. He took advantage of her momentary lapse to slip his tongue into her mouth, biting her lip roughly on his way in. It took her a moment before she was returning his advances just as greedily. He moved them both backwards until he was pressing her hard into the wall. "Do you want this?" he muttered against her lips, a prayer. "Tell me you want this."

 

In answer, Hermione's fingers abruptly started pulling at the knot on his tie, tearing at the top button of his shirt in a desperate attempt to get it off him. He returned the favor, except he was more concerned with pulling her skirt up to hitch it around her waist. He ran his fingertips over the shallow half-moons he had left earlier as they ventured downwards, humming in satisfaction as he felt the marks he'd left on her.

 

Finding what he craved underneath it, he chuckled darkly. "I should have known," he said, "It's always the good girls who like it rough. Do you like it rough, Granger? Be honest," he purred into her ear, his left hand rising to wrap itself around her throat as he continued to press his right hand up against her, "I really don't like liars."

 

She whimpered, her hand coming up to tighten around his wrist as he stroked her lazily over her panties. "I don't know," she stuttered, swallowing thickly and averting her gaze from his. "Maybe but...I-I've only...once." She gathered what was left of her bravery and met his eyes again, heat rising to her cheeks.

 

"Oh?" he queried, his lips spreading deliberately into a slow smirk. "I have to say I'm quite honored, Granger. Although I have to say, I'm rather annoyed that I'm subjected to Weasley's sloppy seconds." Hermione furrowed her eyebrows defiantly.

 

"I am not -" he cut her off abruptly with another harsh kiss, not looking for an explanation. He honestly couldn't give less of a fuck - as long as she wanted him then, he was willing. She bit down on his lip roughy in retaliation, drawing blood. Malfoy pulled away sharply, his eyes narrowing. "Why you little -"

 

Hermione shut him up by pressing her lips to his once more. "Yes," she murmured against them. He pulled back, gripping her chin roughly to survey her face once more. "Yes what, Granger?"

 

"Yes I like it rough."

 

"Fuck," he groaned as her kisses stuttered inconsistently down his neck, not wanting to meet his eyes "I fucking knew it, you're going to be so good for me, aren't you Granger?"

 

She continued her assault, landing on the spot behind his ear and chose to avoid his question. He heard her breathing hitch only slightly, but it's something he would have missed if it weren't for her very opportune position. Malfoy wouldn't have that. He spun her around, twisting her arm against her back as he did so and pinned her into the hard wall of the castle.

 

"You will answer me when I speak to you. Is that understood?" She nodded, loving the scraping of her cheek against the brick more than she thought she had any right to.

 

"That's yes sir to you. If you want me to give you any pleasure instead of just taking it all for myself - which I am more than capable of doing - then I suggest you do as I say."

 

"Yes sir," she whispered, barely audible.

 

"Good girl, Granger. I always knew you had it in you," he said, praising her as she ground against him, hearing as she accidentally let a little whine slip through her clenched teeth. "A little impatient are we?" he taunted, wanting to hear her admit it.

 

"Yes sir," she lowered her eyes, her blush flooding down to her neck at the admission that she was practically soaked through her knickers for Draco fucking Malfoy. "And what is it you want?" he initiated. He wanted to hear her ask for what she wanted. He may be a Death Eater, but he never took without asking. Malfoys did have some standards. Clearly that only extended to consent, since he was literally about to fuck her just because the Dark Lord told him to.

 

"Your fingers," she wriggled her hips against them to emphasize her point, still relishing the rough texture against her cheek.

"Where? Here?" he moved them away from where she needed them, teasing them along the edge of her panties. "Or maybe here?" he slipped them just underneath the damp fabric, purposely avoiding her center. Hermione let out a frustrated moan. "You know where," she huffed. "Ah, but this is the fun part," he argued, "I love watching you writhe for me. I can't fucking wait for you to be under me," his eyes were hungry and burning as they took in her panting figure.

 

Without warning, he pushed one long finger inside of her. She cried out as she felt it breach her and he lowered his head to ghost kisses over different spots on her back until he found the ones that made her shiver. If he wanted this to work, he had to be convincing. Luckily, all this time fucking Pansy meant he was good at being convincing in the bedroom.

 

Draco added in a second finger, stretching her. "Fuck Granger," he moaned, "You're so tight." His words did something to her, especially hearing her name fall from his lips like that, and she let out another moan. He pressed her into the brick harder, "Shut the fuck up, you're going to get us caught," he hissed. He ripped his fingers out of her and spun her around, putting his fingers in her mouth to watch her taste herself on them. He replaced his fingers with his tie, shoving it quickly in her mouth, and took hers to bind her wrists.

 

If he couldn't hear her, maybe he could pretend she was someone else.

 

"You don't move these until I say so, do you understand?" She nodded, eyes wide, drinking him in. She understood what she was giving him with that nod, and his eyes brightened as she consented to play his game. "You like it when I talk dirty, huh?" he tilted his head to look at her in slight disbelief. She gave him a slow nod of admission, not able to tear her eyes away from his. She was far too lost to her lust to feel any embarrassment now.

 

He spun Hermione around quickly, her sight blurring for a second as he bent her over a desk, flipping her skirt up. She heard him unzip his trousers and her breath quickened and her muscles clenched in anticipation. He ran the tip of himself over her heat again and again, teasing her mercilessly.

 

Just when she was about to cry from how much she needed it, he finally pushed into her in one smooth motion. The moan that tore from the both of them at the feeling was guttural. She pulsed around him, already closer than she cared to admit.

 

He fucked her slowly, to the point of it being almost painful, wanting to keep her teetering on the edge for as long as he could keep her there. He loved the sweet torture that was orgasm denial, and he especially adored how it looked on Granger, refusing to give her something she wanted. Draco was reveling in how the mini power trip felt.

 

She was trying her best to fuck him back, but he stilled her hips. "That's not how it works Granger, and I know you know it. I will use you how I want to, and I promise you that you will only come if I think you deserve it. Don't think I wouldn't walk away from you and leave you right on the edge," he taunted cruelly as he stilled inside of her.

 

That was a flat out lie, he was absolutely bluffing. There was no chance of Draco walking away without feeling her tight heat pulse around him and watching Hermione fucking Granger's face as he pushed her to her breaking point. He would be the one to do that. Draco Malfoy, the Golden Trio's sworn enemy from day one. So there was no way he was going to lose out on that opportunity.

 

But he needed to make her submissive, and he knew her fear of not getting her orgasm was enough to do exactly that.

 

She moaned in plain frustration at his words, and he suddenly pulled out of her. Her pussy automatically clenched at the emptiness as she whimpered audibly, not caring in the slightest how pathetic she sounded.

 

Draco flipped her over so she was on her back, and slammed back into her. He was fucking her fast now, and they were both chasing the ecstacy they so desperately craved. Her hips were going to be so sore tomorrow, but she couldn't have cared less.

Hermione's back was arched, her hands that were resting bound on her stomach drifted down to rub at her clit, chasing it more relentlessly than she should have known he'd allow for. He knocked them away. Her moans were being torn from her now, and it sounded like a muffled version of his name.

 

Well this he sure as hell couldn't miss. He reached up to rip the tie out of her mouth, and lo and behold - it was his surname repeated and mashed together. She met his eyes, and she paused her prayer that was 'Malfoy' only to ask "Say it."

 

He ignored her.

 

"Say it," she nearly begged this time, "Please." Her pussy fluttered and tensed around him, and he knew she was close.

 

He reached down to rub circles into her clit. "You wanna come?" she nodded so quickly he thought her head just might fall off. He panted over her, close to his own high. "Say please, Granger." He watched in amazement as she babbled versions of please over and over - it sounded like a different language entirely. Knowing her, maybe it was.

 

"Come on my cock," he said to her, his eyes never leaving hers.

 

And that was all it took for her. Her body shook as she tightened like a vice and detonated with all the force of a bomb, bucking her hips into him. He tried his best to fuck her through her orgasm, but she was squeezing him too damn tight. He thrusted a few more times as she came down from her high and exploded into her, moaning into her sweat-slick neck.

 

His breathing slowed as he pulled out of her gingerly. "Damn Granger," he said breathlessly, "I never would have had you pegged as a dirty little slut." She blushed, somehow embarrassed by that despite what had just taken place.

 

"There's a lot you don't know about me, Malfoy."

 

He could hear the ever present taunt in her voice and said "Well Ganger," he turned to face her while he buttoned his shirt, "What else should I know about you?"


Later in the Slytherin common room, he was back to drinking. Draco knew he was going to fucking hate himself for this - not to mention his prior activities - in the morning, but he honestly couldn't bring himself to give two shits. After he had returned from...whatever that was, he had showered twice, trying to rid himself of her. He shuddered as he brought the bottle up to his lips and watched as Theo and Blaise walked in.

 

He glanced quickly at the clock on the wall. It was nearly three in the morning.

 

"What the hell are you tossers doing up so late?" he asked his friends, hoping they would ignore the slight slur of his words.

"Couldn't sleep," Theo shrugged and sank into the couch across from Draco. "But I could say the same for you. Ooh, we're drinking?" he said as he made to snatch the bottle from his hands. Draco twisted reflexively, successfully keeping the vintage bottle out of his reach.

 

"I'm drinking," he stated, raising a pointed eyebrow, "Alone, ideally. But, if you feel so inclined, no one is stopping you from going to get your own."

 

Blaise rolled his eyes at him, sitting down next to Theo on the worn green couch. "Watch out Theo, Draco's being over-dramatic again," he snorted, "What's got your knickers in such a bloody twist?" His eyes skimmed over his surly blonde friend and suddenly brightened.

 

"Oh, Malfoy's gotten lucky," he said as his keen eyes spotted a shadow of a hickey on the top of his collarbone , bringing his hands up to support the back of his head and kicking his feet up. "Who do you wager it was this time, Nott? I'll give you ten galleons if you can get it out of him."

 

"Done," Theo said, turning to look at his friend with a wolfish grin on his face, ready to pry. "So who was it Drake? Not Parkinson again?"

 

Draco scoffed, drinking again and blatantly refusing to answer him.

 

"Hmm, not Pansy then. Maybe...Greengrass?" Theo tried again.

 

"Which one?" he snorted. He knew Blaise had a fling with Daphne from time to time but he'd never specifically confirmed it, choosing to keep it under wraps for whatever reason. Nott rolled his eyes, knowing he was being purposely difficult. "Either."

 

Another noncommittal shake of his head as he stood up to go to bed - and get out of the conversation. "Give it up you tossers. It's a lost cause. I'm not telling," he said as he flipped Theo ten galleons, "For your trouble."

 

Draco quickly polished off the rest of the bottle before turning away, but not before hearing Theo call to him, "Two bottles in one night, Malfoy? She must be a different kind of hell."

 

Mumbling low under his breath as he left, "If only you fucking knew."

 

He didn't fall asleep until well past four, after Blaise and Theo were already asleep. The sight of her coming apart for him just wouldn't leave the backs of his goddamn eyelids. He groaned and turned over.

 

As he finally drifted, Draco swore to obliviate himself tomorrow if the memory of how she felt around him didn't fade, along with the taste of hot cinnamon on his tongue and regret in his chest.



Chapter 6: Chapter 5: Internal Spiral
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A/N:  Hey! Thank you so much for sticking with me so far! I hope you love reading this as much as I love writing it. First, thanks to my two incredible Betas - they took this chapter from here to HERE and I am forever grateful (and maybe slightly obsessed) - firstlovelatespring [AO3] and LeilahMoon [ff.net] - thank you!

 

Second: finals (aka hell week) is coming up for me. Therefore, chapter 6 might be a little bit behind schedule due to everything I have going on. College is really rough y'all. Senioritis + Covid is not a fun combination.

 

In case you haven't seen it, there's a playlist for Contingent [https://music.apple.com/us/playlist/contingent/pl.u-76oNlEpuW1z0MPP]. It's still a work in progress, but I know I always appreciate a little glimpse into the author's head while they write, so I wanted to give you one too - I hope you enjoy it! [It's on Apple Music - sorry Spotify users!]

 

Anyway, with all of that being said, I'll leave you to it - happy reading!

 

xoxo, carmen

 

-

 

It was ridiculous. At this point, she should have the sentence completely memorized.

 

Hermione had read and re-read the same thing in her Arithmancy text over and over but hadn't processed a single word of it. She realized she needed to let herself spiral a bit before the boys met her down in the Great Hall for breakfast - get it out of her system and her emotions off her face. Heaving a frustrated sigh, she buried her face in her hands and gave in, finally conceding and allowing her thoughts to push open the floodgates she'd been trying so hard to keep barred shut for the last nine hours.

 

What. The. Fuck.

 

A near-constant loop of these three words was the only thing going through her head, and that was saying something. Hermione typically prided herself on being able to focus on more than one thing at a time.

 

She had no idea what had consumed her so entirely that she found it somehow appropriate to have sex with Draco Malfoy. She wracked her brain over and over again in order to try to decipher whatever demon had possessed her so thoroughly that it had seemed like a good decision.

 

At the same time, she couldn't deny that even with her limited sexual experience, it was, at the very least, mind-blowing. She had been missing out on so much and had never even realized. It was a pity, really. Now that she knew what sex could be like, she wondered if it was their long-standing mutual dislike for each other that made it so fiery. Godric knew they had plenty of that between the two of them.

 

Forgetting where she was for a moment, Hermione pressed her thighs together as she remembered some of her favorite parts of the illicit late-night encounter. It shouldn't have been so easy, they shouldn't have fallen into each other so well. He seemed to know just the words to say to her to make her eyes roll back in her head, things she never thought she would do - especially in Malfoy's presence.

 

Do you like it rough, Granger? Be honest. I really don't like liars.

 

You're going to be so good for me, aren't you, Granger?

 

You like it when I talk dirty, huh?

 

Come on my cock.

 

Hermione shuddered as she remembered how he felt against her, how his words sank right into her brain through her hazy lust that rendered her nearly incoherent and made her whimper and scratch at him and fall apart. She'd never thought words alone could be such a turn on, but of course Malfoy would have somehow guessed that would be a weakness for her. And of course everything she'd said to him in the hallway before they kissed had been a lie. Everyone who had ever bedded him ranted and raved and left a glowing five star review.

 

The only conclusion she could rationalize was that maybe something in her subconscious had wanted to see for itself, to test the theory. Or maybe she had noticed how his pupils were blown wide as they argued and her intuition flickered and told her that the tensions of hate and lust went hand in hand more often than anyone ever wanted to acknowledge.

 

Part of her had wanted to see whether there was any truth to the rumors, though that hadn't been Hermione's intent in the hallway. Honestly, she'd just wanted to get under his skin more than anything else, and it had simply escalated. The other part was wanting to feel his desire for her, to know that she of all people had made him feel good. Whatever the case, last night had done a delightful job of temporarily relieving the knot of tension that had been pooled in her lower back for the better part of her Hogwarts career. But now she was more tense than ever.

 

Hermione was starting to wonder if it was true, what her parents used to say: boys tugging on your pigtails in the schoolyard meant they fancied you. Deep down, Hermione knew that her and Malfoy's completely antagonistic relationship ran much darker than schoolyard teasing, but still, she couldn't help but wonder...

 

No. There was nothing there - Hermione shook the ridiculous notion away before it could really register in her head. That was a laughable thought, but it was simply a one and done experiment. He was a Pureblood elitist, probably next in line to do Voldemort's evil bidding. It didn't matter if he tugged at her pigtails - this was war, and people were dying, getting tortured, losing themselves for the sake of it. She would bury the memory under cleaner, more important, less tainted, less...indecent ones and keep it there. She would forget it had ever happened.

 

All at once, Hermione came to the realization that that must have been the 'favor' Malfoy had chosen to cash in on from when he saved her from the cursed bludger. A twinge of unexpected bitterness struck her out of the blue as it sank in and lined up. There was essentially no other logical reason for why he would have had sex with her - it was a fuck of convenience. Although, as she considered further, he definitely would have rubbed it in her face and made certain that she wasn't mistaking his desire for an easy lay as anything other than a simple favor to be returned.

 

Whatever the case, could she really say she was all that mad about it? Her honest answer was one that scared her, so she chose to avoid it instead.

 

Hermione also knew if Harry and Ron ever found out, they would never forgive her. It was for this reason - among many others - that she hadn't slept; her brain wouldn't shut off.

 

But this was enough consideration: her decision was made. Hermione would go to breakfast with her friends the next morning and take a Pepper-Up potion and be normal. Because this was normal.

 

At least, it was now. It wasn't like she really had a choice in the matter. She had been compliant and willing and now she had to face the consequences of her choices.

 

Hermione had dressed quickly that morning with the intent of heading down to the Great Hall early. She flushed as she glamoured the love bites on her neck, adding a little Muggle concealer for good measure and extra security.

 

Malfoy wasn't at breakfast. That bothered her, since she knew that he was just about as meticulous as she was when it came to adhering to a schedule. Was he hiding from her? If it were someone else, Hermione might have entertained the idea - but considering who it was, the idea didn't seem likely.

 

Malfoy wasn't in his first class either - they shared most of the same schedule. Today, Hermione was doubly meticulous in taking notes and answering questions, giving her brain little room to think about anything else. She remained so focused that she doubted anyone would have noticed a deviance from her normal behavior.

 

After all, Hermione couldn't very well break the rules if she didn't know what game he was playing.

 

-

 

The pounding in Draco's head made him think it was splitting open when he woke the next morning. Digging his face further into his pillow to avoid the morning sun, he already knew he was going to be skipping his first class. The ugly way his stomach felt guaranteed that much. Then his eyes snapped open abruptly, sun searing his brain, and his breath caught in his throat as he recalled the blurry events of the night prior. That had actually happened? For a second, he'd thought it had been a dream.

 

What. The. Fuck.

 

His stomach lurched at the sickening realization that he had fucked a Mudblood. And not just any Mudblood - Hermione fucking Granger. What's more, he had somehow actually gotten off doing it. Draco knew that it had been necessary, but that didn't mean he had to enjoy it. Because he hadn't - enjoyed it, that is.

 

Fuck, fuck, fuck.

 

There had to be something inherently wrong with him on a cellular level if he had actually somehow managed to...orgasm while fucking her. It should have been anything but possible, especially since he despised her. Especially since he was seeing right through her the entire time, his mind willingly drifting back to other witches he'd bedded in the past.

 

Draco was definitely skipping Transfiguration. The way he felt right now, he wasn't in any condition to be processing any additional information. He was barely managing to work through the events of last night. Also, Granger would be in Transfiguration, and he didn't want to see her yet. She seemed the type to assume that he would be 'interested' in her now, given what had happened between them. Granted, if that was what she wanted, he would play it up - that was why he had done this in the first place. Honestly, he needed to mentally prepare himself for that reality - a reality where, by some fucking miracle, he was 'interested' in Granger.

 

Part of him really hoped she was smart enough to see through him.

 

When Draco finally did make it down to his second class of the day, it was one of the classes they didn't share. Thankfully, this gave him some time to mentally prepare himself.

 

He was, in his opinion, doing a half-decent job of hiding how much of an internal mess he was by the time he made it to the class they had together. Draco had no idea what to expect when he walked through the door and took his seat, and that made him nervous.

 

Hermione was completely unfazed. She seemed perfectly normal, answering questions and taking notes with her usual enthusiasm, and that caught him off guard. Somehow, that was an outcome he hadn't prepared for - her being, well, herself, while he worked himself into a mental frenzy. She was laughing with her friends at lunch and dinner, and hadn't even spared him a glance.

 

What the actual fuck?

 

In Draco's experience with women - and for the record, contrary to Granger's prodding, he had a lot of it - they tended to assume that sex meant something. That he wanted more from them than that. But Granger was just acting as though he didn't exist. Like nothing had changed.

 

Like they hadn't had the most explosive sex of his life.

 

It had to be because it was hate sex. He'd originally thought that angry sex could be somewhat comparable - he often liked to rile Pansy up and then get her into bed and experience the outcome. Evidently, true hate sex was something entirely different, and there was no way he could have predicted it. This was the only conclusion that he'd come to so far that made any sense.

 

Still, an uncomfortable feeling that he couldn't quite categorize tugged at his chest. Granger seemed to have all of the control in this situation, and that didn't sit right with him. He was over here quietly enduring an internal spiral, yet there she was, just breezing through her bloody day like nothing of consequence had happened.

 

Draco shook his head, snapping himself out of it. Why on earth was he losing his mind over her? Not only was she obviously fine, she wasn't even worth the mental headspace she was somehow managing to take up.

 

Plus, he reasoned, wasn't this what he wanted? For her to not make a big deal out of it?

 

He concluded that he was losing his fucking mind. And, to top it all off, he was still spectacularly hungover.

 

Draco had skipped lunch to occlude in a hidden corner of the library, yet hadn't found it at all helpful. It was incredibly frustrating, and the inside of his cheek hurt as he angrily chewed at it, tearing open the barely healed spots. The bad habit had only gotten worse with Granger taking up more space in his life than he was used to, and he needed an outlet. Maybe he should start keeping a fucking diary.

 

To add the cherry on top of this mess, he was having too many fucking flashbacks. He couldn't help it - he was a teenage male after all, and as much he hated to admit it to himself, she was a good fuck. Really good. Every time a memory crossed his mind, he had to shift in his seat in order to distract himself.

 

Draco wasn't thinking at all about how she moaned his name, or how unexpectedly kinky she'd turned out to be, or how her tight heat felt around him as she came apart just for him. No, that wasn't on his mind at all.

 

He was disappointed with her reaction. He had been hoping that she would be frazzled, a mess, and he would get to see her perfect exterior crack once more as she tried desperately to make sense of it all. And he would have been the only person to know why. He hadn't expected that their roles would be reversed.

 

Karma was such a bitch. In an annoying turn of events, everything he had expected to see in her was instead manifesting in himself, and it pissed him off. Not only were all of the odds seeming to work against him, but he was even more annoyed that he had no idea what was going through Granger's head.

 

After all, Draco couldn't cheat successfully if he didn't know what game she was playing.

 

-

 

"Malfoy seems off today, don't you think?"

 

"Hm?" Hermione said absentmindedly as she buttered a roll. Harry's words caught up to her and she froze. "How do you mean?"

 

"You really haven't noticed? He wasn't at breakfast, he barely answered a single question in classes - and he likes to tail right behind you Hermione, try to one up you, you know that - and he's been scowling in our direction since we sat down for dinner. Don't you think that's odd?" Harry said, sounding a bit too hopeful, his voice speeding up the way he did when he thought he was onto something.

 

Hermione bristled. "Well, maybe he overslept or something. And when is he not scowling in the general direction of the Gryffindor table? He probably practices in the mirror every day, trying to see if he can make it scarier. Maybe the Slytherins all compare them with each other." As much as she tried to hide her anxiety, her tone had a biting edge to it that she normally reserved for Harry and Ron's worse, more life-threatening shenanigans.

 

Ron gave her a strange look, and she knew then that her composure had slipped more than she would have liked. She should have taken a Calming Draught this morning. "Are you okay, Hermione? You seem a little...off."

 

Biting back the nerves that were coursing through her and trying to ease her pounding heart, she channelled every ounce of her inner calm to respond. "Just stressed about the Defence essay due later this week. We all know how Snape loves to pick my work apart." She rolled her eyes.

 

Harry cut back into the conversation, catching her off guard, his voice low. "How were rounds with him last night? You were paired with Malfoy, right? I know you didn't get back till late, did he give you any trouble?" He looked genuinely concerned, his eyebrows furrowed as he stared at Hermione. That made her feel worse, knowing the secret she was hiding from them.

 

Her fork slipped out of her fingers and clattered to the plate. Clearing her throat, she said, "He was a prat, as always. We got caught up in an argument about...about nothing in particular and that's why it took a bit longer than expected. I can hold my own with him, don't worry about me." She gave him a tight-lipped smile. Hermione prayed she had sold him on it.

 

"Anyway, have you two figured out anything else about the Half-Blood Prince?" she asked in a desperate bid to change the subject. Thankfully, Harry and Ron started prattling on about their theories, and the tension melted away from her shoulders.

 

Later that evening, the three of them were walking back from the library right before curfew. It had been an exhausting session of what Hermione thought of as 'pretending to help Harry and Ron with their essays for about thirty seconds until they promptly gave up.' They were just around the corner from the Defence classroom on their way up to Gryffindor tower when they overheard Snape and froze where they stood.

 

"And how is your progress?" Snape asked.

 

"I think you'll be pleased to hear that it's going quite nicely." Hermione's breathing stuttered as she recognized Malfoy's smug tone.

 

Snape let out a noncommittal hum as he spoke again.  "Why don't we step into my office so we can discuss further." While it was phrased as a suggestion, it was very clearly not.

 

There was the distinct sound of two pairs of footsteps coupled with hushed, conspiring voices quietly retreating. Harry, Ron, and Hermione poked their heads out just in time to catch a flash of what was unmistakably platinum hair and the swish of robes as two figures disappeared behind a closing door.

 

Harry looked giddy, knowing that it was nearly confirmed that Malfoy was up to something if he was working with Snape. Ron could be a mirror image of his best friend - his distaste for the Malfoy family ran generations deep, and Draco was no exception. And Hermione, to her dismay, realized there was an unanswered question staring her dead in the face.

 

She knew then that she would stop at nothing to answer it.

 



Chapter 7: Chapter 6: Infiltration
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A/N: I know I said this chapter would most likely be late, but clearly I lied - whoops. I chose to procrastinate all of my homework by writing this instead, but unfortunately I don't have that option for the upcoming chapter - so that one might actually be late. Hope you enjoy!

 

Betawork done by firstlovelatespring and LeilahMoon!

xoxoxo, carmen

 

-

 

The sound of Snape’s heavy door as it swung shut was ominous and foreboding and set Draco immediately on edge as it echoed through the room. As Snape cast a Silencio and Muffliato over the room, he settled uncomfortably into a seat in front of his godfather, who stood behind his desk, silent.

 

Clearing his throat nervously, Draco spoke. “I’m making progress. I was able to....seduce her.” He looked away, taking a sudden interest in reading the titles of books on the shelf next to him. Talking about shagging a girl with Snape was not something he was exactly comfortable with, regardless of the circumstances.

 

Snape wore a slightly incredulous look. “And?” He said, prompting Draco to elaborate.

 

“We haven’t spoken since. I need more time. It’s only been a few days. At least now I have an excuse to speak with her again, maybe try to...woo her, get on her good side.” His face slipped into a grimace at the prospect looming ahead. “It would be more beneficial if I knew exactly what I was getting close to her for,” he muttered.

 

“Well, I expect that the Dark Lord will be happy with your progress.” Snape’s face changed, showing a twinge of uncertainty paired with concern. “I am hesitant to inform you that should you fail in your endeavors, he has other plans. Involving your mother, none of which are pleasant.”

 

Draco froze, his eyes snapping to meet Snape, blood draining from his face. “What?” he rasped out. “What do you mean?” He stood abruptly, hands clutching the desk so hard his knuckles went white. “I’m…I’m making progress already, there’s no need for that,” he rushed out, his eyes wide and pleading. “You’ll tell him, right? That it’s going well so far?” His mother meant more to him than anything else, and the threat of harm to her shook him to his core.

 

Snape nodded once solemnly. “I will. He requested that I give you some... extrinsic motivation, so to speak. I also called you here to further inform you of what the Dark Lord needs from you so you can more adequately prepare.”

 

Draco bristled, knowing he would dread whatever words came from Snape’s mouth next. He wanted this to be a painless task, quick and easy, and somehow he had a feeling it would be exactly the opposite - especially since it involved Granger.

 

Snape started to pace slowly behind his desk. Draco never took his eyes off him. “The Dark Lord would like the Granger girl to serve him, whether it be willing or not. You are to have her smitten with you by Easter at the very latest, and bring her to the Manor over the break. It does not matter how you achieve it, as long as you do.”

 

Draco waited with bated breath. This was not at all what he’d expected.

 

“He will then forcibly administer the Mark to the girl. The Dark Lord is aware that she is the main reason for Potter’s success thus far. He wants her out of the picture. If you can successfully get her to the Manor, he will take care of the rest.”

 

“That’s it? Just get her to the Manor? That’s what I’m supposed to be doing? I could simply do that by force, Professor. It’s not like that would be difficult.” Draco relaxed, sinking into his chair. His curiosity got the better of him. “What does he want her for?”

 

“The Dark Lord is counting on the fact that Potter will be unable to leave her knowing that she is in danger. It is obvious that Potter has a savior complex and will do whatever is necessary to save his friends. The Granger girl is just an additional bonus. Ideally, she’ll be so smitten with you by then that she’ll take the Mark willingly to avoid you getting hurt or killed. The Dark Lord will phrase it as a failure on your part if she does not go willingly. It will be better for the both of you if she goes to him of her own accord.”

 

Snape looked remarkably unperturbed by what he was telling him. “Clearly, the Dark Lord enjoys the long game.” He paused, seeming hesitant to divulge this information. “If you are able to succeed in this, the sins of your father will be forgiven and you will rise quickly within his ranks. This is a very coveted position he is offering you, Draco - if you can succeed in getting her to trust you.”

 

Draco’s mind was whirling. As much as he hated Potter and his merry band of insufferable twats he called friends, it didn’t necessarily mean that he wanted them dead. He knew that if he were to succeed at this, it would escalate into something much bigger and darker than the schoolyard rivalry they’d successfully maintained for the past five years, and that was a leap he wasn’t really sure he was ready for. His Occlumency walls went up quickly, before he could overthink too much. He had a feeling he was going to be doing that a lot this term in order to keep himself sane as well as halt his internal back-and-forth before it started.

 

As if sensing his uneasiness with the weight he was carrying, Snape added, “You’ve done well Draco. Don’t worry about Granger. She is only a means to an end.” It was clearly meant to be a comforting sentiment, but it didn’t do much.

 

And as much as he wanted to believe it, something didn’t sit right with him.

 

-

 

Although Hermione had said she’d had enough of Quidditch, she knew she would be back sooner or later. Her two best friends were on the team after all; of course she would go and watch them.

 

She found herself in the common room after the match, celebrating with Butterbeer and Firewhisky for their win. As much as she didn’t care for Quidditch, she was always happy to revel in her friends’ excitement simply because they cared about it so deeply.

 

Hermione was sitting deep into an armchair by the fire, dressed in her comfiest pajamas, quietly nursing her drink while observing the scene around her. She liked to stay out of the way during Quidditch parties. Harry and Ron were the center of attention, as usual. They had performed some type of impressive maneuver that she simply didn’t understand, but it had saved the match and secured their pseudo-victory over Ravenclaw.

 

It was so typical of Gryffindor to celebrate a mere scrimmage win in such an all-out fashion. Their game against Slytherin had only been a week ago, and they were still celebrating like they had just won the Quidditch cup. She supposed, during times like these, you took happiness wherever you could get it. There was nothing wrong with that. Hermione smiled, raising the glass to her lips. She felt warm and fuzzy all over, and her vision was blurry around the edges as her eyes darted around the room.

 

Dean and Seamus were deep in animated conversation by the window, as were Parvati and Neville. Harry and Ron were, naturally, reliving their crowning moments again for a small circle of avid Quidditch lovers.

 

Taking another sip, Hermione caught a flash of movement towards the center of the room. And then she was watching Lavender Brown snog Ron with everything she had.

 

Suddenly, Hermione thought she might be sick - she had clearly surpassed her limit of how much alcohol she could handle in one night.

 

Setting her near-empty glass down on the mantle, she rose, quietly slipping through the portrait hole. She knew it was after curfew and she had no business wandering the corridors this late, but there was no chance she was going to subject herself to watching that. She wanted to avoid her bed for the time being - she wasn’t tired enough, and she knew a walk would wear her out enough to shut her brain up.

 

Sure, she and Ron had never expressed mutual affection for each other beyond the realm of their friendship, but Hermione hadn’t realized it needed expressing. She had stupidly assumed that her blooming interest was at least understood and implied, but a fat lot of good that had done her if he had gone and made such a public display in front of her. Clearly he was more oblivious than she had anticipated.

 

Hermione choked back tears, doing her best to ignore the prominent sting in her eyes and the fact that her vision was significantly more blurry than it had been five minutes ago. Before she knew it, she found herself at the top of the staircase that led down to the dungeons.

 

She paused. What? How had she wound up here?

 

Huffing out a frustrated breath, Hermione turned around and went back the way she had come, heading for the kitchens. She had only been once with the Weasley twins, but she remembered well enough where it was and how to access it.

 

She tickled the pear on the portrait, and it swung open and let her through. There were a few house-elves at work, and she greeted them and asked for a pumpkin pasty. She stared at it, picking it apart, and she heard footsteps walk in and come to an abrupt stop. Groaning, Hermione said, “Harry, please, I’m really not in the mood to-”

 

Glancing up, she cut herself off as she realized that it was very much not Harry. “Malfoy? What are you doing here?” Hermione couldn’t keep the incredulity from her voice

 

He took a swig from the flask in his left hand as he leaned against the doorway, and drawled, “Same as you, Granger. I’m hungry and looking for a midnight snack.” His eyes were slightly glassy as he took her in, drinking again. She watched his Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed.

 

Fighting a blush, Hermione realized very suddenly that she looked very much less than decent. She was in an oversized, worn jumper that hit her at mid-thigh, pajama shorts, and slippers. Her hair was piled into a bun on the top of her head, and she knew she looked a mess - especially following her crying jag.

 

“What’s with you, Granger? Why do you look,” he waved over her, gesturing broadly, “like...that?”

 

Hermione scoffed. “Shove off, Malfoy. I’m seriously not in the mood to deal with you right now.” She bit off a piece of pasty roughly, avoiding his eyes. She was going to do her damndest to skirt around the very obvious, very enormous Hippogriff in the room.

 

“Well, it seems you are dealing with me, whether you like it or not. I have as much a right to be in the kitchens as you do.” He was being snarky on purpose, and even through her drunken stupor, it still irked her.

 

She rolled her eyes, conceding with a sigh that he wouldn't be playing nice tonight. “Why can’t you just bloody listen to me for once, Malfoy? You’re seriously pissing me off. ” There was no way to hide the resentment from her voice, nor did she want to.

 

“Good.” He walked over and sat next to her on the bench, so close she could smell him. Cinnamon, peppermint...and was that a hint of pine?

 

Shaking it off, she rose from her seat and went across the kitchen to grab another pasty the elves had left out for her. She heard Malfoy’s shoes hitting the floor, following her.

 

Turning, Hermione yelled, “Gods, Malfoy, why can’t you just leave me alone?” Much to her chagrin, her voice broke on the last word.

 

“Because, Granger, getting you going is one of my favorite hobbies.” Despite his word choice, his voice was alluding to something she wasn't sure she was quite ready to acknowledge.

 

She watched Malfoy’s eyes grow dark as he continued walking over to her slowly, very clearly relishing her irritation. Emotionally exhausted and still very much intoxicated, she shrunk into herself, curling away from him. He got so close she could feel his breath tickle her ear as he moved the fallen strands of her hair just so. Her heart was pounding.

 

“Can’t you tell?”

 

Malfoy turned and walked towards the door, but not before Hermione said coolly, “If the other night was any indication of just how much you like to 'get me going' then I’d have to say it’s pretty obvious.”

 

He turned slowly back to face her and met her eyes, her façade wilting slightly under his hard gaze.

 

“Ah, there’s your ever-irritating Gryffindor courage. I was wondering how long it would take you to acknowledge our little romp between the sheets. Embarrassed to have lowered yourself enough to shag me, Granger?” His tone was mocking. “Imagine, what would the Gryffindors say?”

 

Hermione felt blood rush to her face at his blatant indecency. “Come off it Malfoy. That was a one-time thing, a mistake. It was just because I was…” She sighed. “Stressed. Needed a distraction. It can’t happen again.” Her tone was biting and sarcastic as she regarded him. “And the Gryffindors wouldn’t say anything because they won’t. Ever. Find. Out,” she punctuated each word as a hard stop to further emphasize her point. “But you...you seemed to enjoy it just fine.” Hermione’s voice lost its hard, bitter edge as quickly as it had come.

 

“If I were none the wiser, I would say you sound almost disappointed, Granger.” He drew closer to her, cocking his head to the side, her breath just barely hitching. She watched as something minuscule that she couldn't quite place shifted in his expression. “The other night hardly scratched the surface of all of the things I would do to you were I given the chance.” His eyes were molten silver as they drank in her disheveled figure, her breath coming slightly quicker now. “There are so many positions and places I would take you in, should you let me.” His fingertips just barely ghosted over her thigh, leaving goosebumps in their wake. She felt like she was on fire.

 

He glanced up at the ceiling, and a smirk grew on his face as he nonchalantly took another sip from his flask, withdrawing his hand. “The Great Hall is right above here, yeah? What would you say if I told you that shagging you over the Gryffindor table is a fantasy of mine? Make sure you’d be reminded of all the dirty things you know I’d say to you every single time you sat down to eat.” Malfoy’s hot breath fanned her face, and if she just leaned in, she knew she would be able to taste the Firewhisky on it. “You’ll find that I’m very well versed in the art of stress relief.”

 

Her eyes were wide, and she forced herself not to press her thighs together, a hard battle that was just barely won. Hermione knew Malfoy would notice, and she was unwilling to give him the satisfaction.

 

But he wasn’t done having his fun with her yet. “One word from you, Granger, and I’ll make you scream so loud, I think I’d have to make good use of the silencing charm to ensure some privacy. Now wouldn’t that be...fun?” His voice was dangerously soft, a caress. She shivered, lost to his words, so tempted to just lean in...

 

Hermione opened her mouth to answer, but she didn’t get the chance.

 

“Malfoy, get away from her.” Harry stood in the doorway, wand raised in Malfoy’s direction, Marauder’s Map in hand. She snapped out of her trance as quickly as he had brought her under it. The alcohol certainly hadn’t helped.

 

Hermione watched Malfoy’s expression close off abruptly as he turned to face Harry. “Potter. How extraordinarily unpleasant it is to see you here. I wish I could say it was somehow unexpected.” His tone was cold, hard, taunting, a sneer plastered on his face. "Saint Potter, here to save the day."

 

“Don’t play games with me, Malfoy. I heard what you said to Hermione. Get away from her before I make you.” Harry’s wand stayed pointed in his direction.

 

Malfoy chuckled, raising his hands in surrender. “You caught me, Potter. She took the last Pumpkin Pasty, and I was about to coerce her into giving it to me. Alas, my evil schemes have been thwarted.” He rolled his eyes, turning back to face her, the ghost of a secret smile playing on his lips. “Granger refused to give it up, but I have a feeling she will next time.”

 

He turned and left the room and Harry rushed over to her, examining her for any damage, hands awkwardly fluttering. “Hermione, are you okay? I’m sorry it took so long to find you - you just left and I didn’t realize till late and I couldn’t find you on the map and- he didn’t hurt you did he? What did he say?” He sounded slightly frantic. He really did assume the worst when it came to Malfoy.

 

Coming back to her senses, Hermione shook herself out of her daze, “I’m fine Harry. He didn’t lay a finger on me.” Although a dark part of her she kept hidden wished he would have. “He was just drunk and irritating, that’s all. The only thing he damaged was my appetite.”

 

“Alright. That’s good.”

 

Harry seemed to breathe easier now that he knew she was okay. Hermione’s eyes subtly flickered towards the door, and she willed him not to notice her slip. Harry opened his mouth to speak again, and she could tell by the look in his eyes that it would be about Ron. Holding her hand up in the air to stop him, she said, “Harry, please don’t. I’m really not in the mood to talk about it.”

 

Conceding quickly, with evident relief that he wouldn’t have to be in the middle of his two best friends, he relaxed. “Okay. If you ever want to talk about it…” He trailed off, letting her come to an obvious conclusion. She nodded gratefully.

 

Hermione was quickly realizing that she couldn’t afford to have Harry walk in on something like that again. Steeling herself to lie to her best friend for the second time tonight, she said, “Harry...there’s something I need to tell you. About the other night.” The plan had formed in her mind and it was perfect - she didn't know how she hadn't thought of it before.

 

He looked at her expectantly, and Hermione hesitated before speaking. “Malfoy... made a pass at me. During rounds. It wasn’t a big deal, so please don’t go storming after him, but it gave me an idea.”

 

Hermione could see his anger rising quickly. “I know how convinced you are that he’s up to something, and while I have no idea what that might be, I think I can use his... interest in me to get close to him. I think we can use this to our advantage if we play our cards right.”

 

She could see Harry’s inner turmoil - his common sense warring with his anger. She kept going. “I don’t want Ron to know, because he’ll take it too far. We can give it a trial run, see if it even works. It’s just an idea - but, if you’re right, and Malfoy is up to something, this is the perfect way in. We’re paired for rounds often anyway, and it would be easy to assimilate myself.”

 

Hermione continued, hammering the final nail into her own coffin against her better judgement. “Come on, Harry, it’s the perfect in,” she pleaded. “I’m more than capable of gaining his trust. Just...tell me you’re okay with this. The last thing I want is to go behind your back.” Her voice quieted as she continued.

 

Her stomach sank as he met her eyes and nodded once, effectively locking her in.



Chapter 8: Chapter 7: In Frustration
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

A/N: Thank you SO much for being patient with me! I know this update is later than I'd planned, but last week was finals - and my brain and my fingers hurt from working so much. 

 

My 22nd birthday is this weekend, and I fully plan to be ~inebriated~ in order to be able to process that I'm getting old. Send me good vibes this weekend, I'll more than likely be wallowing a little bit.

 

I love you all, thank you for your support! 

 

Betawork done by Leilahmoon and firstlovelatespring! Seriously, I owe them my life.

 

xoxox, carmen

 

-

 

The smell of sweat filled the air as they communicated in the only way they knew how. Though they had known each other for years, they had never shared more than vicious words and scathing glances. Truly, the kindest words they had ever spoken to each other in the last five years were each other’s last names.


This was why it made little to no sense that they constantly wound up in this predicament - although, let the record show he wasn’t complaining, and it didn’t seem like she was either. Her head tipped back to rest upon his shoulder, breathy little moans entering through his ear and weaving themselves into his brain. It was this sound in particular that she kept making which spurred him to continue pushing himself slowly into her from behind, wanting nothing more than to draw that perfect little noise from her again and again and again.

 

It had been on repeat, a background track to the mess that was his life, ever since that first night. Echoing through him as he chased sleep, in the shower, at dinner, when she raised her hand in class, the little swotty know-it-all she had always been and would undoubtedly continue to be.

 

His groan punctuated the air sharply as he thought about how much he had craved and wanted so badly to hear it once more. And how good it felt to be the one to get it from her.

 

She fluttered around him at the sound, rewarding him once more as she moaned again. He smirked, knowing how much she liked it when he was vocal with her. Leaning down to kiss her throat, he said, “You like that? You like knowing that you feel good around me, huh?”

 

She was so willing, it still shocked him, and they had been playing this game for a while now. Longer than they should have been, but neither of them were willing to throw in the towel.

 

His breath was ragged against her throat as his fingers trailed down her sweaty, damp stomach to rub at her clit, pushing her further. She nodded, her hair scratching against his skin, and squirmed in his arms as his grip tightened around her. He knew that the closer she got to the precipice, the more restless she became in chasing after it. He thrived on being the one to give her what she wanted, or deny her until she was nearly sobbing with want.

 

He got off on the power he had over her, the control she ceded to him when she was too embarrassed to admit what she needed. He knew. He always knew what she needed. He could give it to her - he probably always would have if she had ever only asked.

 

He relished the feeling that washed through him as he finally let her give in and pushed her over the edge. He loved fucking her through her orgasm, loved the feeling of her perfect cunt as she took what she needed from him before he followed, diving headfirst over the edge he loved to create for the both of them.

 

What he still hadn’t figured out though, was why he never felt sated every time she walked away.

 

-

 

He woke in the early morning with a gasp. Sweat trickled down the side of his face as he raked a shaky hand through the hair stuck to his forehead and tried his best to process the wisps of the dream that was now floating away from him.

 

So now she had fully and thoroughly infiltrated his dreams. Fan-fucking-tastic.

 

While the girl in the dream had been pulled up flush against him as he ravaged her from behind, unfortunately, there was no question about who it had been.

 

And holy fuck had it been so incredibly vivid. Draco swore that he could feel her clenching around him as she gasped and moaned and gave him all of those hot, pretty sounds that he loved to hear from any witch. Somehow it felt better when it came from her, because it was her.

 

The part of the dream that concerned him the most - besides the fact that it had been her - was that they had seemed to know each other on a level he’d never known anyone. All of his motions had clearly been practiced, and he had reached for the spots that made her shiver with an ease that rivaled breathing.

 

And the fact that she was comfortable with him? That their mutual desire had clearly been long since established - and not only that, but acted upon?

 

That, to him, was truly the most terrifying aspect. The idea that they would feel at home with each other.

 

As he slipped further into the land of the living, he realized there was a sticky feeling in his boxers that he hadn’t noticed before as he shoved his duvet off. Even better. Draco groaned and flushed with embarrassment, regardless of the fact that he was in the privacy of his own bed. It had been years since he had come in his sleep. He was an adult now, he very well knew how to control himself.

 

And the fact that it had happened to the thought of Hermione fucking Granger was just pathetic.

 

He grabbed his wand and vanished the mess away, not wanting to deal with taking a shower at this hour. Conjuring a glass, he muttered a quick Augamenti at it, gulping the water down in a weak attempt to cleanse his body, mind, and soul of her - to flush her from his system.

 

Draco rested his head back into the pillow, contemplating tossing back a Dreamless Sleep potion to ensure that it wouldn’t happen again tonight. As much as he knew he should, he couldn’t deny that he wasn’t opposed to seeing her in his dreams again.

 

-

 

He was conducting his routine musing in the Great Hall over breakfast, although he was much earlier than usual. Draco could chalk that up to the restless sleep that followed after the dream about Granger.

 

Breaking his concentration, as was his specialty, Theo slid in next to him. “There he is! We missed your usual preening in the mirror this morning. We were worried that you missed that very integral part of your routine. I almost felt good about myself without you there to take me down a notch.” If he hadn’t been in such a mood, Draco would have laughed.

 

Never far behind, Blaise sat down across from them. “We know, Theo. You wouldn’t shut up about your supremely heightened confidence levels on the way down here in Draco’s absence.” Blaise chuckled as he scooped eggs onto his plate. “Why don’t you go try to ask out Pansy now that you’re on cloud fucking nine?”

 

Theo rolled his eyes. “Sod off, Blaise. You wish you were nearly as good at insulting me as Draco is. I have to say, you’re a pretty shite substitute. I would have expected you to get better with practice, but alas…” Theo sighed dramatically.

 

Massaging his fingers into his temples, Draco groaned. “Can the two of you please shut up? Like really, do you never stop talking?” There was not one part of him that wanted to have this conversation so early in the morning. He was still in a state from his lack of sufficient sleep.

 

Through a mouthful of food, Theo spoke again. “Ooh, I see. Drake is clearly having trouble in paradise. Still not going to tell us about the witch you fucked recently? Or is it witches plural? I bet it’s because she hasn’t let you see her again.”

 

Blaise looked at his friend in slight disgust at table manners his father would absolutely detest. “Theo, you know he isn’t going to tell us anything. He’s going to suffer in silence until he explodes and takes it out on everyone else. And for Merlin’s sake, chew with your mouth closed.”

 

Swallowing and waggling his eyebrows, Theo said, “Oh, he exploded this morning alright.”

 

Draco balked at the statement. In hindsight, he supposed it was too much to ask that his momentary, subconscious lapse couldn’t have been limited to himself and whatever demons possessed him.

 

Blaise groaned at his friend’s clear implication, but pushed anyway. “...Do I even want to know what you mean by that?”

 

Draco’s input was short, sweet, and cold. “I know I don’t.” He forced himself to stare at the wall.

 

“Shut it, Draco. Just some advice… you should probably invest in a Silencing Charm next time you plan to have a wet dream.” Theo’s accompanying smirk was victorious. “Clearly a good one judging by the sound of it.”

 

Blaise didn’t bother to hide his laughter. In between breaths, he said, “What? Theo, why didn’t you mention this earlier?”

 

Scrunching his eyebrows in thought, he said, “I don’t know….You know I sleep on my other side and I just kind of forgot about it until now.” Theo shrugged. “You can’t blame me. Honestly Draco, must have been some dream if you were moaning like that.”

 

Blaise let out a low whistle and scanned the slowly filling Great Hall. “Damn, now I really want to know who she is. Malfoy, are you sure you don’t want to share with the class?”

 

Normally, Draco loved his friends and was more patient with their antics, but he wasn’t in the mood. “I just can’t catch a break can I? No, there is no girl, and even if there were, I wouldn’t tell either of you just so you can turn around and mock me for it.”

 

Backing down and holding his hands up in surrender, Blaise said, “Fine, fine, we’ll find out soon enough anyway. You’re too damn territorial to let it go unknown for long, and we all know it.” He chewed thoughtfully. “Just look at you and Pansy during fourth year.”

 

Theo cackled. “Anyone who went near her during that year was just begging to get eviscerated, us included. You know, I never did get an apology for the knee reversal hex you sent my way for partnering with her in class that one time.” He shot a mock glare in Draco’s direction. “I was in the hospital wing for two days. I still don’t know how you got off scot-free.”

 

Draco laughed at the memory. He had actually had to serve detention with Snape for an evening, cleaning out the potion classroom shelves, but it had been well worth it. Although he’d never admit to it - the story was more amusing that way. “It pays to have friends in high places. And you won’t ever get one, Theo, so stop whining about it. It’s been two years, get over it already.”

 

Blaise looked at him curiously again. “Anyway, where did you wander off to last night? I was looking to see if you would want to have a drink with me and Theo but you were nowhere to be found.”

 

Draco sighed. Could no secrets be his own? “I was wandering around, and then went to the kitchens. I skipped dinner, so I was hungry.” He shrugged nonchalantly. “Not really all that interesting.” He’d left out the more significant bits, and he technically wasn’t lying.

 

A lie by omission is still a lie. He kicked his father’s voice out of his head before he could think too much about it.

 

Blaise chuckled. “You seem awfully intent on making us think so, don’t you?” Blaise was a true Slytherin - always making people feel like he knew their secrets. Typically that worked in Draco’s favor, but not when it was being pointed towards him. He looked pointedly at Draco, as if he knew something Draco didn’t want him to. That set him on edge for what felt like the millionth time in this conversation alone.

 

Theo chimed in, changing the subject. Unfortunately for Draco, it was to another topic he would have been all too happy to avoid altogether. He sounded legitimately thoughtful, which couldn’t be good. “I was wondering about something, Draco.”

 

Unlucky for him, Draco’s patience was wearing thin. “Here we go. What is it, Theo,” he drawled.

 

To Theo’s credit, he looked a bit uneasy as he asked, “So...what was with you helping out Granger at the Quidditch game? With that Bludger?” He bit into a piece of toast, unable to meet Draco’s eyes.

 

He should have seen this coming. People were still talking about it, even though it had happened well over two weeks ago now. Evidently Draco saving her from imminent danger was something of a riot. He twisted his face into a nasty sneer, pouring extra disgust into his tone that would convince his friends beyond a shadow of a doubt. “I don’t know, no one else was doing anything. Just like I told her, no one wanted her dirty blood all over the seats. I’m sure not even a Scourgify could have gotten it out,” he spat in revulsion. “And it gives me something to hold over her and Saint Potter.”

 

Cutting off whatever Theo or Blaise would have said in reply, Pansy sat down next to Blaise. “Good morning, boys. Talking about that Quidditch game, I see?” She turned her attention to Draco, clearly not reading the room. “So, what’s up with you and Granger? People are saying the craziest things. Like, literally, I’ve heard everything from the fact that you’re secret lovers to her being your future betrothed. You should have just let the Bludger hit her, save yourself all the trouble.” Her tone was matter-of-fact. “At least then people wouldn’t speculate.”

 

Draco slammed his hands on the table in frustration, rattling the cutlery around him and drawing the attention of a few third years close to them. He kept his voice down. “For the last fucking time, I’m not seeing anybody,” a pointed glare at the two boys, “and I only helped Granger because no one else was, not to mention getting to lord it over Potter and Company. I hate to break it to you, Pans, but whatever rumors you’ve heard are just that - rumors.”

 

Nodding thoughtfully, Theo looked like he was having an epiphany. He said, “Oh, I see. You’re using your new hero status to get in good with the witches. How wonderfully conniving. Blaise, why didn't we think of that?” His grin was too wide and slightly eerie.

 

“Because we couldn't pull it off,” Blaise deadpanned to his friend, cocking a brow in an isn’t-it-obvious kind of way.

 

Huffing a sigh and slumping in his seat, Theo agreed. “Damn it, you’re right. We’ll have to scheme something up later. I don’t know about you, but I want whatever Draco’s having.”

 

Draco had finally had enough, and threw down his napkin in frustration as he stormed off, leaving behind a nearly full plate.

They all looked after him, and Blaise chimed in, “I’m surprised it took him that long.”

 

Just as Draco left earshot, he saw Pansy in his peripheral shake her head and roll her eyes at the three idiots she called dear friends before sighing, “Boys.”

 

-

 

Hermione was late to breakfast that morning, having foregone her Hangover potion by choice. She felt that she deserved to suffer for lying to her best friend not once, but twice. She sat down next to Harry. “Morning,” she said.

 

Harry piped up, perkier than usual for the early hour. “Morning, Hermione.” She supposed he was planning on making up for all of the abnormal tension he knew would be brewing. Harry was good at diffusing situations like that.

 

Ron and Lavender made their arrival just after Hermione. She couldn’t ignore Lavender's ruffled hair and crooked shirt. Her stomach roiled and she nibbled hesitantly on a piece of toast.

 

Lavender sat down next to Ron with a lovestruck smile on her face as she reached for some bacon. “Oh, isn’t it a lovely morning? I think it’s just a lovely morning.”

 

Ron’s matching grin was just as wide. “Yes, I agree, Lav, it is quite a nice morning.”
 

They shared a loving glance. Hermione desperately fought the urge to gag as she fought down some tea and toast.

Sensing her uneasiness, Harry engaged her in low conversation. “So...Hermione, have you given any thought to our discussion last night?”

 

Welcoming the conversation, she nodded and turned to face him. “Yes, I have. I think it’ll be easiest if I use the platform we have now as enemies and manipulate the… tension to my motives.” Her mouth twisted uneasily. As much as she knew she needed to do this, she wasn’t fully comfortable with using people to get what she wanted. That was much more Malfoy's forte.

 

What killed her was that now, she was using both Harry and Malfoy, albeit in different ways.


“That sounds as good a plan as any,” Harry said. It was clear that he was going to let her take the reins on this one, and for that she was thankful. She knew he was very much used to acting on a whim and not playing the long game, but he’d evidently decided that this one was entirely her discretion. Rightfully so, she thought. Hermione was putting herself on the line for the sake of something she wasn’t sure was really there, just because her best friend was convinced of Malfoy’s guilt. Harry owed her for that.

 

Hermione continued on. “I mean, worse comes to worst, I can always just get physical. Everyone knows the best way to a man’s heart is through sex,” she added, knowing Harry wouldn’t like it.

 

Harry looked abashed. “What? Hermione, no way. You don’t have to sell yourself for this. In fact, I’d much rather you didn’t.” He was talking quickly, his eyes wide. She shushed him, reminding him to keep his voice low.

 

Hermione waved him off. “It’s not a big deal. It’s not like I would care if it happened anyway since it wouldn’t mean anything.” Another lie. Hermione knew she had the dangerous potential of getting too attached too easily if she let herself feel. If she wasn’t careful, she was going to dig herself into a grave of lies too deep to dig herself out of.

 

She shook it off. “Plus, if he really is up to something, this would be the easiest, most logical way in, wouldn’t it?” Hermione was always far too good at rationalizing her decisions. It was both a strength and a weakness.

 

The strength was that she could make just about anyone see reason. The weakness was that she could also delude herself just as easily as she could convince her friends. She knew better than most that you could logic yourself anywhere if you started with the right assumptions.

 

Harry looked hesitant, running his fingers through his hair and making it stick up. “Well, I suppose, but Hermione—”

 

She cut him off. “Harry, it’s fine. It’s my decision, and I don’t plan on doing it until it’s necessary.”

 

“Hermione, no. Come on, you know he’s not worth it. We can figure something else out.” Harry was pleading with her, guilt plain as day on his face, clearly regretting the decision of letting her go through with this.

 

Her face softened. “I know Harry, but it’ll be a last resort. I’ll just… flirt, tease, whatever. It’ll be fine.”

 

Harry stressed, “You know you don’t have to do this, right? There are plenty of other ways to figure out what he’s up to.”

 

He was giving her an out, and he was making it obvious. Hermione knew that she had gotten herself into this situation, but this was a bit out of her comfort zone. She was trying to convince Harry of her commitment to this as well as herself.

 

This was for the greater good, wasn’t it? Imagine if Harry was right, and Malfoy really was a Death Eater. He was bound to be up to something awful, and what if she was their only hope for figuring him out or preventing it?

 

The more Hermione thought about it, the more determined she became.

 

She smiled at him. “I know. But this is the easiest way in, isn’t it?” She laughed for good measure. “Think of it as my own experiment on human nature, if you will.”

 

Harry looked at her, scrutinizing her expression for anything that looked minutely out of place or any kind of fracture in her resolve. Finding none, he sighed in concession. “Okay, Hermione. If you’re sure you can handle this, I trust you. I’m just worried about you, that’s all.”

 

Placing her hand over his and smiling at him, she said, “I’ve got this, Harry. I know you don’t trust him, but trust me.” He returned her smile and nodded.

 

Finally noticing their conversation, Ron chimed in. “What are you two going on about over there?”

 

Harry and Hermione spoke simultaneously. “Nothing.”

 

Ron eyed them warily, but didn’t push the subject. He was probably too wrapped up in Lavender to care.

 

Hermione groaned internally as she pushed her food around on the plate. Great, not suspicious at all.

 

-

 

By the time Draco met up with Granger for rounds that night, he was very much on edge. Spotting her approaching, he found it appropriate to gloat a bit. “Oh, Granger, how the tables have turned. Looks like you’re the one who’s late this time.”

 

Hermione rolled her eyes at him as she walked up to the statue, their established meeting place. “Will you shut up, Malfoy? There was an incident in the tower that needed to be dealt with. Besides, I’m only,” she glanced at the clock on the wall, “three minutes behind schedule.” She looked smug, but her eyes were guarded.

 

“Hey, I’m only repaying you for your harsh criticism of me the last time I was only two minutes late. Although if I really wanted to repay you…” Draco’s eyes drifted suggestively in the direction of the door of the classroom where their years of built up tension had recently come to a head.

 

She blushed at the clear implication. “That was a one off, and it was nothing more than you cashing in on the favor I owed you.”

He cocked his head and looked at her. “What are you going on about, Granger?” He had no idea what she was talking about, and that much was clear on his face.

 

She waved her hand ambiguously, before bringing it up to tuck a stray curl behind her ear. “You know, from the whole Bludger thing. It was obvious you did it so you could get something out of me in return, so I figured you were just… cashing it in.” She crossed her arms in front of her as she shrugged, as if it were the obvious conclusion. Which, he supposed, to her, that’s exactly what it was.

 

He chuckled at her deduction. “While I’m touched you think I’m that conniving, that clearly wasn't the case. Don’t you know I would have made it abundantly clear if it were?”

 

Now she looked sufficiently rattled. “I…. suppose,” she said, agreeing to that much, at least. She met his eyes hesitantly. “Then why did you do it?”

 

Fuck, what was with everyone hitting him with all of the pressing questions today? He racked his brain, and decided to go with the honest answer. “I don’t know. I was drunk, and—”

 

Hermione gasped. “You were drunk during rounds? Malfoy, what is wrong with you?” Her mouth was open in shock. “How can you be a Prefect and have such blatant disregard for school rules?”

 

The set of his mouth was wry as he regarded her. “You drastically underestimate how much it takes for me to put up with you even on a good day, Granger.” Her eyes narrowed, and she opened her mouth to speak again, but he started before she could butt in. “Anyway, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted,” she rolled her eyes, but he chose to ignore it and continued, “it just happened. You were there, I was there, we were yelling, the Firewhisky got to me, and then it wasn’t like you were against it, so...” He let the sentence trail off as she blushed.

 

Her tone was curt. “I see.”

 

They walked in a tense, uncomfortable silence for a while. Somewhere along the way, they made the mutual decision to ignore each other.

 

Her voice pierced through the thick air, breaking his thoughts in half. “To say I wasn’t opposed would be a vast understatement, Malfoy.” It was a hesitant admission he could tell she hadn’t wanted to give. She was clearly still very much unsure of herself, at least where he was involved.

 

Or was it all just a part of her and Potter’s little plan? Whatever the case, he would take it and run.

 

He couldn't deviate too far from his natural demeanor with her, so his answer was sarcastic and snide, his specialty. “Did I hear you right? You, Hermione Granger, weren’t opposed to fucking me, longtime enemy, Pureblood elitist scum Draco Malfoy? Someone owl St. Mungo’s immediately - Granger is officially off her rocker.”

 

She swatted at him and hissed, “Will you stop it? Someone could hear you.” Her eyes darted around them, peering into the dark hallways as they patrolled. “Besides, it was abundantly clear that you weren’t opposed either or it wouldn't have happened in the first place. Gods know I wouldn’t have initiated it.” She picked at her cuticles, clearly uneasy with the turn the conversation had taken.

 

He agreed easily, unabashedly admitting to himself that he wanted to push her into snapping again. “You’re right, you wouldn't have. You’re too much of a prude.”

 

She hummed lowly. “I’m too much of a prude? Do you already need a reminder of what happened the other night?” Her voice was soft and almost sultry as she turned and took a step closer to him. Hermione tilted her head and looked up into his eyes, an unfamiliar smile toying with the ends of her lips.

 

Draco’s voice was sure and heavy as he answered her, “I sure as hell don’t need reminding, Granger. It’s been replaying in my head since it happened. Can you honestly tell me that it hasn’t for you?” His mind flashed back to the dream from that morning, and his cock twitched at the thought. Blasted teenage hormones. Any attention from a girl, even Granger, and all of his blood rushed south.

 

She looked away, which was a dead giveaway in itself. Her avoidance was her answer - he knew it was a yes.

 

He took gratification in her innocent demeanor. “That’s what I thought. It’s always the good girls who like it fast, hard, and dirty. And you’re nothing if not a good girl, Granger. I take immense pleasure in wondering how that translates into the bedroom. My imagination is very vivid. I’m highly gifted in that sense.”

 

“You’re highly gifted in being an insufferable prat, Malfoy. Don’t let your head get any bigger than it already is. It might pop. Although, I can’t say I would be opposed to that.” Her tone was sarcastic and mocking, but he could tell she was deflecting.

 

“Watch your mouth, Granger. You wouldn’t want me to have to discipline you, now would you?” he taunted, his voice low and harsh, catching her off guard. She froze mid-step.

 

He stepped toward her again, changing his tone, transitioning into more of a verbal caress. “I find myself constantly wondering what else this good girl is into. There are things I could show you that you never knew existed. And do you know what the best part is?” She looked up at him, enraptured. He smirked, knowing he had won this round. “You would love it. And it kills you because you know it.”

 

His breath was hot as he tucked the very same rogue curl behind her ear and his thumb brushed feather soft against her cheek. Her eyes were wide and her face flushed as she looked up at him, dazed.

 

Coming back to herself, she cleared her throat and stepped away, breaking eye contact to look him up and down before meeting his eyes again and cocking a brow. “Maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll find out.” She started walking down the hallway again.

 

He followed her, and his voice was rough and final when he said, “Oh Granger, I’m not lucky. I just know how to get what I want. And rest assured, I never fail.”

 

Whoever had said all’s fair in love and war clearly hadn’t met Draco Malfoy.

 

-

 

Narcissa Malfoy never simply walked - she glided. She'd had years of practice from none other than the best teachers, and it showed in every aspect of her life. You would never know her feet ever touched the ground if it weren’t for the soft click of her heels on the cold Manor floors.

 

That day she glided quickly, in a hurry to get to her destination without being seen. Regardless of the fact that the Dark Lord himself had made her family home into his headquarters, she still felt that spark of anger that she, Narcissa Malfoy, was scared of walking through her own home. As quickly as it came, she snuffed it out.

 

She couldn’t afford to feel something as callous and irresponsible as anger right now, not when there was something so much more important at stake. Narcissa forced it out of her mind and cleared her mind in order to obscure her thoughts, cutting herself off mid-thought. There would be time to better process her emotions later.

 

She kept her head down, robes pulled tightly into her chest - her coat of armor. Narcissa heaved a quiet sigh of relief as she reached her destination successfully.

 

She knocked quietly, and the large wooden door before her slowly creaked open, permitting her entry. As she took in the tall figure standing at the window overlooking the gardens, swirling a glass exactly two fingers full of an amber liquid - the way he always took it - she spoke.

 

“I was hoping you would be here tonight. I need to ask you for a favor.”

 



Chapter 9: Chapter 8: Insolence
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A/N: This took a bit longer than I'd planned - the holidays got away from me. I had to pencil time in to wallow over the fact that I graduate college this year. It's fine. I'm fine. Thank you for bearing with me. If you celebrated anything recently, Happy Holidays!

 

Also, I wrote a Dramione hockey oneshot AU called 'Chills.' It's on my profile if you happen to be interested in taking a look!

 

Betawork done by firstlovelatespring and LeilahMoon!

 

I appreciate you all for sticking into the new year with me. May 2021 bring everyone good vibes and good things.

 

xoxo, carmen

 

-

 

By the time her next Defence class rolled around, Hermione was completely, totally, and mentally exhausted.

 

She loved her coursework, she really did, but thinking about starting to prepare for end of term exams drained her. It was only two weeks until Halloween, and she had started making study plans and guides and preparing to buckle down and surrender all of her weekends, succumbing fully to her books.

 

Hermione was certain the stress was manifesting on her face. It showed in the slight red tinge to her eyes and the shadows underneath them, alluding to late nights and early mornings. She sighed.

 

Snape strode briskly into the classroom, dramatic as usual. His robes flared out behind him as he flicked his wand to spell the chalk to begin writing a list of rules. He spoke, sounding as if he’d rather be doing ballet with a herd of Acromantulas than delivering the rowdy group of sixth years their coursework. 

 

”Settle down. We will be practicing duelling today.” Titters broke out across the now-excited classroom. “Now, I understand that not everyone is going to be well versed in the art, save for evidently Mr. Potter and company.” Harry got the full force of Snape’s evil eye at that. Hermione saw him straighten his shoulders and caught the flash of defiance that streaked across his face. “But that is why we are here. We will be studying technique in a controlled classroom setting to analyze the problems and complications that arise.” His beady eyes flitted across the room, searching for his first victims. “Finnigan and Zabini, you’re up. I should think the rules are obvious. But since, for some of you, they are not,” he gestured behind him to the board, “here they are. Read them.”

 

Snape took great pleasure in pairing off the Slytherins and Gryffindors. Hermione had rarely seen him look anything besides stoic, but the very slight uptick of the corner of his mouth at the grumbles of his students gave him away, even if it lasted only for a moment.

 

Seamus and Blaise duelled, and it was over quickly. After that, Harry and Crabbe went up against each other. Harry bested Crabbe within three spells, to no one’s surprise. Harry looked pleased with himself, even though everyone knew that besting Vincent Crabbe was nothing to write home about.

 

Snape called up the next pair. “Mr. Malfoy and…” his eyes moved through the room, searching for his next victim. “Miss Granger.”

 

This made her uneasy, although it did make sense when you considered their class standings: her in first and Malfoy in second. It stood to reason that they both had considerable experience with duelling - whether you bought into the rumours about him or just looked at his upbringing - but it didn’t mean that she was looking forward to this. Dread, twinged with the telltale signs of the early rush of adrenaline, sunk into her blood.

 

The both rose from their seats rather reluctantly and stood in the middle of the classroom where the desks had been pushed to the side of the room to create space.

 

“Don’t worry, Malfoy. I’ll take it easy on you.” She twirled her wand casually between her fingers as she took her stance.

 

His lips twisted into his typical, cocky smirk. “By all means, Granger, let your guard down. It’ll be fun to beat you.”

 

She rolled her eyes at his weak attempt at a double entendre. They bowed, and so it commenced.

 

Hermione threw up her shield before they had even bowed. It was the first rule of Defence - if you were really in a duel, your opponent wouldn’t wait for a bloody timer to start to try to land one on you. And she was right - Malfoy had wordlessly sent a jinx her way before she’d straightened up. 

 

Deflecting it, she shot one back, starting off with stating her intention before moving on to ease into her wordless magic. “Colloshoo!” She watched as he batted that away easily and shot one right back at her. 

 

Hermione had an idea. She quietly said, “Incarcerous,” while wordlessly shooting the deterioration hex his way instead. It was challenging, but she had been practicing for awhile, following the battle at the Department of Mysteries. His shield had slipped just enough for it to slip through, and she watched as it took effect. Malfoy’s pupils shrunk significantly, looking wildy around for a second before realizing what was happening. 

 

He cancelled the hex in time and sent a retaliating Densauego her way. She felt it as she pushed it away, fury and annoyance bubbling up. “Really? That’s the best you’ve got? Feeling nostalgic for fourth year, are we?” Sweat was beginning to bead up on her forehead with her exertion but she didn’t have time to wipe it away. She didn’t want to give him an opening.

 

Her teasing had its intended effect. Malfoy scowled at her, spitting darkly, “Granger, if you saw the best I had, you’d be wishing for death.” His threat was dark and promising and it made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. 

 

She felt the fringes of a dark charm brush her shield and she widened her eyes in disbelief, glancing at Snape to see if he’d caught it. But that was the opening he needed. “Flipendo,” he muttered, knocking her onto the floor. She caught Ron in her peripheral, red faced as he glared at Malfoy.

 

Hermione recast her shield and rose back to her feet. Casting a silencing charm into a bubble around them, Hermione spoke freely. “Dark magic, Malfoy? Probably not a smart move on your end when half the castle already suspects you of being a Death Eater.” Her tone was malicious and hard.

 

Her words had the opposite effect of what she’d expected - they drew a short bark of laughter from him. They continued to cast relentlessly, hoping to land a spell on the other - both knowing that neither would concede.

 

“They can believe what they want,” he said just a bit too flippantly for her liking, sending a Bat-Bogey hex her way. Ginny would be proud of the way she deflected it to bounce off the chalkboard. Seamus ducked. “They would rather believe the far-fetched lie than the obvious truth, and that’s not my problem.” Hermione didn’t find solace in his incredibly elusive non-answer. She decided to probe further anyway.

 

“What, that doesn’t bother you at all?” She knew it would bother her if she had been in his position.

 

“Oh no, not at all, Granger. I’m simply biding my time, keeping a list of names in the little black book up here.” He tapped two fingers to his temple. ”Do you know what the list is, Granger?” She wasn’t sure she wanted to. “They’re the people who piss me off that I’ll get to deal with if the Dark Lord ever wins.” The nasty twist to his answer sent chills down her spine, not at all like the good kind she’d experienced from that night a few weeks ago. He lightened his tone significantly, a stark contrast to his previous one. “All purely hypothetical of course. It’s just a way to bide my time and hold my grudges.”

 

Hermione was vaguely aware of Harry trying to get her attention, along with some of her classmates around them. She kept her silencing charm firmly in place while she battled Malfoy. The stakes felt much higher now following his disturbing insight. Even if it was a bluff, which she suspected it might very well not be, she continued to challenge him, to push him to his limits and past them. 

 

They were both working to their fullest extent. She suspected that Snape had paired them due to the fact that they were the top two in the class, and both had a decent amount of training. It was evident in the way they battled - they both excelled, and it showed in the fact that they were both still standing.

 

Hermione caught Snape staring intently at them, watching their performance. She couldn’t tell if he was planning on interfering or not, but so far, it seemed they were okay to continue. So she decided to give him the pushback he was expecting.

 

“Tell me, Malfoy. Have I been so lucky to make that list?” She sounded strong and confident, but her heart was pounding.

 

“Granger, Granger, Granger.” His eyes glittered with a potential for darkness that Hermione had little to no desire to wrap her head around. “You're too curious for your own good. One day, I suspect it’ll be the death of you.” He shook his head slowly at her, as if he knew something she didn’t. It was unsettling.

 

She retaliated with the fury that had been long buried since the first time she’d heard the word Mudblood fall from his lips all those years ago. “Malfoy, Malfoy, Malfoy.” Hermione made the words come out sugar coated, pushing all the sweetness into them that she could conjure up.

 

Hermione could feel Snape watching them, trying to figure out how best to intervene. From the outside, she knew that it didn’t look like an argument in the midst of a duel, and silencing their conversation hadn’t been against the rules. To the class it simply looked like the top two students who had held mutual grudges for years finally getting their chance to spar. For now, she decided to ignore it and press on.

 

“If my curiosity will be the death of me, then your ego will be the death of you. You assume that everyone is below you, you underestimate everyone, including me - especially me - just because of my status. And you know what?” She sent a rather nasty hex his way, which singed the side of his face as he dodged it. She was panting now, both with exertion and blooming anticipation over their argument.

 

“The people you care about will get hurt, will die, because of it. Because you couldn’t step off your imaginary damn pedestal for one fucking second to try to protect them. And I won’t feel sorry for you at all.” Hermione spat the words at him, all the sticky sweetness gone from her now. She was sporting a small cut over her eyebrow and the blood trickled down her face. She saw the split second her words hit home when she spewed them at him.

 

She watched as a rage she’d never seen before manifested into a dark emotion on his face. “You,” he started, his words quiet and dangerous, “are going to regret that.”

 

Her shield slipped for only a second, and he hit her with a hex that she had never heard of. Her silencing bubble fell as she collapsed to the floor, gasping, sweating, and bleeding.

 

As her consciousness quietly slipped away into nothing, Hermione vaguely caught the sounds of her classmates and Draco’s horrified expression.

 

-

 

Another setback. 

 

Another one. He turned and hurled his waste of a magazine into the castle wall, watching as it fluttered down to the ground, open and cover facing up toward the ceiling. It was a stupid, mindless Witch Weekly piece called ‘How to Woo Your Witch.’ He’d snuck it away from Pansy and had been reading it to see if there was anything really useful to help with his Granger situation. He’d never tried to woo someone before - his name was usually enough for that, but as it stood, this was clearly a different circumstance. The title stared at him, mocking him.

 

He had fucked up big time. Big enough that he should probably just Avada himself right now. Somehow, he’d hexed Granger so badly he made her bleed. In class. In front of everyone, Snape included. If he didn’t turn this around quickly, it would be his downfall.

 

Draco was slowly becoming accustomed to setbacks and he hated it. They had come in various shapes and sizes over the years, many manifesting in the forms of Hermione Granger and company. He really had never done well with failure.

 

Things had been progressing slowly but steadily with Granger, until the duel. He had even been cautiously optimistic that she was starting to warm up to him, at least a little bit. He was certain that she thought he was still a top shelf arsehole, but he was doing his best to change her perception, even though it was an illusion. He knew he needed to make her see him in a different light than she did in the present if he was going to make any of this work.

 

After all, perception was everything, wasn’t it? He knew that better than most. 

 

Draco wasn’t sure that he would be able to recover from this. And it made it worse that Snape had to bear witness to all of it so he couldn’t even fabricate a story. 

 

The regret had come first. Instantly.

 

It was the first thing he’d felt after the fury and bitterness that had clouded his judgement dissipated as quickly as they’d come and he realized that he had rendered Granger unconscious. 

 

The anger had come second. At her, for pushing him too far. At himself, for divulging so much until he snapped and lashed out at her. 

 

Third was the glee. The satisfaction. No matter the fact that he had started to convince himself that she wasn’t that bad — Stockholm Syndrome, he thought it was called, a coping mechanism — but there was still a deep part of him that relished seeing her like that, under his wand. He had done that. The sight of her sinking to the ground, eyes rolling back because of him would be burned on the back of his eyelids for weeks.

 

And then regret again. Deep down he knew she was good, and that she didn’t deserve to have someone like him anywhere near her. She didn’t deserve any of what he knew was coming for her. It made him a little queasy, the uncertainty.

 

He hadn't actually wanted to hurt her. He had just wanted her to shut the fuck up. And she wouldn’t. So he made her, in the best way he knew how.

 

Just not in quite the way he would have preferred. He would have much rather shut her up with his hand around her throat and threatening to withhold oblivion from her if she didn’t keep her fucking mouth shut.

 

Draco shook the thought away before it could take root and bloom. 

 

He begrudgingly made his way to the hospital wing. Draco knew he had to make nice with Granger, make at least some semblance of an attempt to try to rectify his mistake. She already assumed the worst of him, right? There was no way he could make it worse, only better. 

 

His feet moved slowly, trudging toward his destination. Flirting with Granger, even fucking Granger he could handle. But actually being nice to Granger? It went against everything he stood for, every move he had made and every thing he had said for the past six years.

 

And yet, here he was. On his way to be nice to Granger. The universe hated him. 

 

Draco pushed the door open.

 

As luck would have it, the hospital wing was fairly quiet. Only three people currently occupied its beds: a third year Hufflepuff, a first year Slytherin—looked to Draco like a broom accident—and of course, Granger.

 

Completely unsurprisingly, she was surrounded by the dumbass duo and joined by the Weaselette. He froze, not sure why he hadn’t fully anticipated this sometime during his musing, and strongly considered turning and leaving right then.

 

Apparently, the universe had decided that today was simply not his day. The sorry excuse for an inflamed pimple spotted him and puffed out his chest, calling, “Oi! Malfoy!” He looked ridiculous. “You’ve got some nerve, coming here.” 

 

Draco would never admit this out loud, not even under threat of the Cruciatus Curse, but the idiot was right—he did have some nerve. But he had no choice but to make nice with Granger, and if that included somewhat tolerating her annoying friends, then he would manage. Of course, that only meant that he would dole out his normal amount of insults, no more. It would look odd if he didn’t respond in the same fashion they were all used to by now.

 

It was decided then. He would take whatever shots he was given, and keep it at that.

 

“Just here making sure she’s not dead. Can’t imagine that would do any good for the rumors I’ve been hearing.” He kept his voice light, but he was telling a partial truth. Draco wasn’t fully sure what spell he’d hit her with, just that it had come from something he’d once read deep within the Malfoy library. That alone was enough to make him uneasy.

 

As it stood, Weaselbee was fuming. Potter was equally pissed, but better at hiding it, and the Weaselette was just sitting back and observing it all. 

 

“You have absolutely no right to come waltzing on in here and making your threats—” Weasley started.


Draco cut him off. “I don’t think you’d have any idea what proper waltzing looked like if it hit you in the face, Weasley. Don’t go blaming me for one of your endless shortcomings, I don’t deserve that.” He tried his best to keep from breaking into a grin. 

 

He knew he shouldn’t be prodding him to this extent, but it would look suspicious if he just turned around and suddenly started being nice to Weasley. And there was no way he was going to miss the open shots that he was being given. It would just look wrong if he didn’t take every opportunity that came his way. 

 

“You little—” Weasley was cut short again. 

 

“Ah ah, like I said, don’t go projecting your shortcomings onto me. I am most certainly not little. Ask anyone.” He smirked evilly. “Including Granger.” Ah, fuck. That shouldn’t have slipped out.

 

That stopped them. Every one of them froze where they stood, looking at him like he had just announced he was Merlin himself.

 

He looked at her, unconscious in the hospital bed, and decided not to dig himself a grave deeper than the one he already was lying in. “She’s heard the rumors too. Said it herself.” He tried for a different tone. “Speaking of, how is she?”

 

They relaxed. Weaselbee tried again, obviously choosing to ignore the part about Granger entirely. “Get. Out. You have no right to ask about her.”

 

Draco took immense pleasure in making him so angry that he couldn’t form another half-baked insult. Weasley had too many weak spots that were so much fun to exploit, but his pathetic insults were the most fun to pick on. It was even more exhilarating because Draco knew he was really trying. 

 

Pulling up a chair, he straddled it backwards and propped his arms up on its back. “No, thank you,” he said, the vision of pure comfort. “I think I’ll stay here and wait for Granger to wake up.”


Throwing his hands up in exasperation, the freckled fuckhead finally stormed out. Potter shared a look with the Weaslette before getting up and hesitating to follow Weasley out, looking at Draco apprehensively.

 

Whatever had come over him, he felt it necessary to reassure Potter that he wouldn’t try smothering her with a pillow or something of the sort. “I wouldn’t dare try anything with Pomfrey around,” he said, rolling his eyes and inclining his head towards the door. “You can follow your pet out. Nothing will happen to Granger.”

 

Potter shot one last uneasy look at Draco before leaving the hospital wing. It struck him as a bit odd that he didn’t have any colorful words to throw his way. 

 

That didn’t quite sit right. He’d have to worry about that one later.

 

Weaselette didn’t say much of anything, although he could tell there was something brewing that she was contemplating. Instead, she held it back, shaking her head, and followed Potter out.

 

He was alone with Granger. The other students were far enough away for their conversation to be kept private. That in and of itself set him on edge, but anticipating her reaction when she woke up? It was enough to send him back to gnawing his cheek.

 

Damn it. He thought he’d kicked the habit. He sighed.

 

Granger stirred, and Draco stilled. Of course, of fucking course she would wake up right as he was alone with her. 

 

Her eyes fluttered open, and she looked severely disoriented. “Malfoy?” she asked, slurring her speech just slightly. “What are you doing here?”

 

Draco repeated his answer from earlier, finding it best to keep his story consistent. “Just making sure you’re alive.”

 

She hummed, a small noise in the back of her throat. Her eyes shut again and she dug deeper into her bed. “Yep, I’m still here to hex you to the Veil and back once I’m on two feet again. It’s too bad for you that I’m still alive, Malfoy.”

 

That drew a quiet laugh from him. She was probably right - he didn’t want to be on the receiving end of her wand when she was angry. She was a fierce, foreboding witch when she wanted to be, not that he would tell her this, but she was - even when she wasn't trying.

 

An acidic taste rose in the back of his throat. He forced the words out before he could keep second guessing himself. “I’m sorry, Granger.” Draco couldn’t remember the last time he apologized. Her eyes snapped open in disbelief. “I shouldn’t have hit you so hard. I let my emotions get the better of me.”

 

Fuck, that was not fun. The words tasted so bad coming out of his mouth - they didn’t fit, didn’t feel right. They rolled around on his tongue like a disgusting potion that had been brewed wrong, or had gone stale.

 

“I appreciate that,” she said, her voice low and tired. “That wasn't easy for you, was it?” She seemed genuinely curious, or like she knew his answer before he spoke it and was waiting to see if he would tell the truth. 

 

Draco scoffed. “No.”

 

Granger nodded. “I could tell.” Her eyes drifted closed again. “You should work on that.” Merlin, even in her deteriorated state she was such a bloody menace.

 

He rolled his eyes. “I won’t. Malfoys don’t apologize.”

 

“Then why did you?” She sounded quiet, like she was on the fringes of her consciousness.

 

Her question threw him, and he was blurting out the truth before he could think twice, or stop to filter himself. “Because you deserved it.”

 

The thing was, Draco wasn’t even sure if she was awake to hear his confession.

 

-

 

Draco was skulking alone in the bathroom on the sixth floor after leaving Granger in the hospital wing. Surprising himself, he had stayed long enough, doing his best to make nice with her until she had fallen back asleep.

 

He had always been exceptionally good at wallowing in self pity, and he had never shied away from doing so when he felt it was necessary. Draco still needed to figure out what kind of damage control he was going to have to do. Due to her disorientation, Hermione wasn’t quite herself. He would need to tread carefully until he pinpointed how mad she was at him.

 

Draco knew he couldn’t blow his mission, not so early into the year, not when he had so much left to do. He still had to somehow convince her that he loved her, and this was going to do him absolutely no favors.

 

As he was focusing on Occluding and pulling up his mental shields, Harry fucking Potter entered. 

 

Boy Wonder just waltzed into his bathroom, intruding on his fine bubble of misery and brooding. Draco knew he was a sight to behold - hands braced against the edge bathroom sink, hell-bent on focusing. The water was running in front of him, since the sound of it calmed Draco and helped him center.

 

It was loud enough, roaring in his ears, that he didn’t notice he had company until he heard Potter’s voice.

 

“I know you’re up to something, Malfoy.” Potter’s wand was trained on his back, but Draco’s head snapped up and met his eyes in the mirror. 

 

So this was why he’d been so quiet in the hospital wing earlier. He’d been saving all of his pent up energy for later.

 

Draco exaggerated the sarcasm in his voice. “Oh really? Just because Defence got out of hand, I’m obviously out for Granger’s blood, huh? Yeah, that adds up just fine, Potter.” He didn’t miss the private joke he’d slipped in there. Despite the fact that he could feel the charged atmosphere, he chuckled under his breath at his humor. “That’s why I visited her in the hospital wing, yeah? To make sure that she was going to keel over if the duel in class hadn’t done the job?” 

 

Clearly, Potter hadn't thought it was funny. His face was set in a stoic mask as he observed Draco. “It was obvious that you were just making sure you hadn’t killed her. I’ve known for a long time. Voldemort’s been back, and I know you’ve been waiting for your chance to make your father proud.”

 

Draco whipped around to face him and snarled. “Don’t you dare speak of my father.” His expression was thunderous and he wanted nothing more in that moment than to eviscerate Potter.

 

Potter hurled it right back to him. “You lay another hand on Hermione and anything’s fair game, including your scumbag father.” 

 

“Shut your mouth before I make you regret ever opening it.” It wasn’t a threat, it was a promise. 

 

“I’d love to see you try.” Potter’s voice was a heated challenge, and Draco definitely wasn’t about to back down.

 

Draco couldn’t hold himself back anymore. He shot off a Weakening hex. 

 

The Boy-Who-Would-Regret-Not-Dying retaliated with his go-to. “Expelliarmus!”

 

He’d seen it coming from a mile away—Potter was nothing if not predictable—and threw up a shield.

 

The colors and the sounds of spellfire echoed throughout the empty bathroom. It lit up the walls and drenched them both in color as they fought. This, Draco thought, had been a long time coming. 

 

Potter shot back, “Incarcerous!”
 

“Protego!” And then, in the heat of the moment, before he knew what he was doing, he pointed his wand and started to cast, “Cruc—”

 

But Potter was quicker. “Sectumsempra!”

 

Draco stumbled, his wand falling from his hand and clattering to the floor. A spiderweb of red split across his chest, melting through his shirt. Draco took pride in having a level head in times of crisis. But he’d never feared for his life as much as he did at this moment. “Wha— did you do—” He choked on the desperate cry that was emerging from his throat.

 

Potter looked like he’d just seen a ghost. His eyes were blown wide as they looked at him bleeding out on the bathroom floor, and he didn’t know what to do. He gaped like a fish out of water and looked as though he might pass out. Unfortunately for him, Draco’s matter was slightly more pressing than Potter’s imminent panic attack.

 

He faded in and out momentarily, his vision blurring around the edges, giving way to imminent darkness as his consciousness faltered. He could hear the sounds of running water, a broken testament to their impulsive foolishness. Draco fought to stay awake, knowing what succumbing to the quiet would mean. 

 

He considered what would happen if he did. It would mean that Granger would be safe from him. It would mean that he wouldn’t have to pretend anymore, to put up a front that he was constantly scared someone would see through. It would mean that finally, he could rest. The weight of the world wouldn't be resting on his tired shoulders, and she would be safe - at least for now, from him. Because as much as he hated her, seeing her dead or enslaved due to his own actions would be something that was completely out of the question. Draco didn’t particularly like her, but he didn’t want that. She didn’t deserve that. 

 

It would also mean death for his mother, or a fate worse than death. He would deal with, could put up with, anything that was thrown his way. Any amount of torture, enslavement, or imprisonment, if it meant his mother was safe. 

 

He would fight. He would fight like hell to see another day. He’d fight to save his mother.

 

And he would fight to see that stupid fucking flash of anger in Granger’s eyes when he pissed her off. He would fight to make his dream of her from the other night a reality. He’d be fucking damned if he didn't feel her around him one more time.

 

All at once, the bathroom door blew open, and Snape entered, heading straight for Draco with an urgency he’d never seen. He’d never been more grateful to see his godfather in his life. “Mr. Potter, you are dismissed. Immediately. Detention with me for the rest of term.” He knelt down next to Draco, who felt his consciousness slipping away. His eyelids grew heavy, and he was so tired. The countercurse Snape was casting sounded almost like a lullaby.

 

“Vulnera Sanentur...Vulnera Sanentur...Vulnera Sanentur…”

 

And then, finally, darkness.

 

-

 

Two days later, Hermione stormed up to Harry, eyes blazing, who was standing near the entrance to the hospital wing. “Harry James Potter, how dare you.” She had made a full recovery and had just found out about the stunt her idiotic best friend had pulled - and subsequently, hid from her because she was too ‘fragile.’ Needless to say, she was absolutely livid.

 

He couldn’t meet her eyes. That was good, at least he understood why she was so pissed off at him. She didn’t want to have to explain again—she didn’t think she could manage. Ron hadn’t understood, and she nearly took his head off while trying to explain the concept of basic human decency—something he was apparently incapable of when it came to Malfoy.

 

He winced before trying to placate her. “Hermione, I’m sorry, I just—”

 

She wouldn’t be tolerating any of that today. “You what? You were so desperate to play hero because you thought, for whatever reason, that I couldn’t defend myself?” Her tone was viciously sarcastic. Hermione hated the bloody damsel-in-distress trope and she made sure everyone knew it. She could handle herself just fine, thank you. 

 

Harry blushed. “No, I—”

 

She cut him off sharply with a glare that could vaporize steel. “No, Harry! You will let me finish without interrupting! How could you use a spell—no, not just a spell, but a curse—without knowing the impact it would have? The damage it could cause? I get it, I know you can’t stand Malfoy, and I know what you think of him, but that was just cruel.” She sighed in resignation. “I understand that what you think he did was wrong - and it was. But Harry, look in the mirror,” Hermione begged him to see reason. “You did the exact same thing that he did.”

 

The realization of that truth set in on his face, and Hermione watched it sink in.

 

Her brows furrowed in a mix of sadness and disappointment. “I never would have expected something like that from you, and I am so disappointed in you right now.”

 

Harry, at least, had the decency to look remorseful. “Hermione, I’m so sorry. It wasn’t intentional, it’s just, I was so mad at him for pushing you too far, and—”

 

Hermione threw her hands up in exasperation. “That’s exactly the problem! I can handle myself when it comes to Malfoy—in case you haven’t noticed, I have for years!” She sighed and rubbed at her face in surrender. “I can’t believe you would do something like this and I just—I need a break from you.”

 

He paled. “What? No, Hermione, please—” His tone was pleading, begging, but she cut him off once more.

 

“No, Harry. I need space from you right now before I say something I’ll really regret.” Her eyes looked to the hospital wing door before moving back to him. “And for the record? It’s not me you should be apologizing to.” 

 

She refused to look back at him as she turned on her heel and headed into the hospital wing to check on Malfoy.

 

It didn’t mean anything - she was just returning a favor.


 



Chapter 10: Chapter 9: Indifference
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A/N: I wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone who's read and commented so far! It's so insane that I get to share this with you and you all LIKE IT?! I love looking at all of your comments - keep them up!! They tell me what y'all like and are surprised by - extremely valuable feedback for me :)

 

Betawork done by firstlovelatespring and LeilahMoon. I adore them.

 

Also, if you haven't heard, I plan on adding one more chapter to my short story 'Chills' and expanding it to a two-shot. If you haven't read it, it's a Dramione Hockey AU.... with spice, of course;) I'm hoping it will be up by the end of the month, but classes start on Tuesday (my last semester of college - no thanks!!!) so at the latest, I'm aiming for early February!

 

I'll stop babbling now. Love y'all!

 

xoxo, carmen

 

-

 

Slughorn was truly a great professor and she loved the way he taught, but Hermione was positively dreading this class.

 

It had been almost two weeks since the day Harry and Draco had duelled, and she still wasn’t speaking to him. As much as it pained her, she had avoided sitting next to Harry in classes, bouncing around between different partners. But he needed to realize that she was serious about what she’d said in the corridor that day.

 

Today was different. Today, Malfoy was back in class, finally having recovered enough. Hermione paused in the doorway of the potions classroom, eyes landing on a pale blonde head that was bent over a piece of parchment in the back row. Without stopping to reconsider, she headed back to sit next to him.

 

Malfoy looked up at her, first registering surprise, then flitting quickly to annoyance. “What are you doing Granger?”

 

Hermione, on the other hand, didn’t even bother to look at him as she organized her things across her side of the table. She had decided to act like there was nothing at all out of the ordinary about the fact that she was willingly sitting next to her longtime enemy and one time fuck buddy. “What does it look like? Sitting next to you, obviously,” she said.

 

Honestly, a part of her had foolishly thought something would have changed between them since that day in the hospital wing.


 

Hermione turned on her heel and stormed into the hospital wing to go check on Malfoy. She was still fuming from her fight with Harry, but she did her best to clear her head, planning to give Malfoy her full attention. After all, she still had to yell at him for the little stunt he pulled on her in Defence.

 

Walking quietly towards his bed, she took him in. He looked pale, more so than usual. He was quiet in his unconsciousness - it was to be expected, but for some reason it still took her aback to see him in this way. Seeing him incapacitated and empty and cold made her nervous.

 

For now, the yelling could wait. It wouldn’t be right to yell at anyone when they looked like this.

 

She had never seen Draco Malfoy with his guard this low. He’d never been this relaxed in her presence, and while she knew it wasn’t intentional on his part, it was refreshing to see him at such peace.

 

Hermione knew it was something she wasn’t likely to see again. He was so calm - his eyes were shut, his thick lashes casting a light shadow onto the dark circles beneath his eyes. She wondered what the reason for his sleepless nights was. His breathing was even, and the crease in his brows that constantly plagued his features was gone. He looked so young and at ease. It was a nice change from the surly, angry, firestarter Draco Malfoy she found herself familiar with.

 

She sat and watched his chest stutter up and down, counting his breaths while she thought.

 

Hermione tried not to think about anything too serious, but failed miserably upon reaching breath number thirty-eight. She remembered his behavior during the Defence duel. The things he’d said about her and his list - Hermione couldn’t help but wonder if he’d meant any of it. On the other hand, some of the things he said made her think that he knew something she didn’t, or had the upper hand in some way. She didn’t like the idea that he had information over her, and it made her uneasy. Her teeth worried at her lip, pulling a piece of the delicate skin off unintentionally. It stung.

 

On breath number forty-five, she caught herself trying to rationalize it. She had lured him into that response, practically thrown him into it. Hermione knew that she often had trouble holding herself back and goaded people into things… but it had been all too easy to convince herself that he’d asked for it. Even so, it wasn’t like it was okay. Imagine what she would have done had their roles been reversed. Her fingers found each other, trying to crack her knuckles in a bid to loosen the tension in her hands.

 

On breath number fifty-nine, she realized that in order to really process it, she needed to talk to him. She had made the mistake of assuming things about Malfoy before, and she would continue to drive herself into the ground if she carried on like this. Nothing irked her more than not having answers. She steeled her resolve and vowed to have a valid conversation with him once he was coherent and lucid.

 

On breath number sixty-four, her mind drifted back to her argument with Harry. Seeing Malfoy like this, it was hard to imagine the argument Hary had described - the spellfire, the way Malfoy had been so ready to Crucio Harry in that bathroom, the blood, the sounds Harry had described to her. She reached up and felt the Time-Turner that now rested around her neck and under her shirt. As tempted as she was to go back and fix it all, it would be far too big of a risk to mess with time beyond a few hours. Even using it for classes made her anxious that she would screw things up somehow. 

 

On breath number seventy, her own heart stuttered in her chest as she caught sight of the tip of the new scar on his collarbone. The skin there was pink, puckered, and raised, and it looked like it had been incredibly painful to sustain. Her heart restarted and flipped and she swore to let Harry have it again once her fresh anger had subsided enough to form words she wouldn’t regret.

 

On breath number seventy-seven, she thought back to the battle at the Department of Mysteries the year prior. She’d been prepared mentally for a fight and injury and death, but she hadn’t done enough - though, could anyone ever adequately prepare for something like that? Hermione knew there would be plenty more bloodshed to come. Malfoy’s blood on the bathroom floor would be just another drop in an endless sea of unnecessary grief. 

 

Breath number eighty-nine came out stuttered and uneven. Hermione sucked in a sharp breath of her own, wondering if his eyes would open and he would discover that she was there. She wondered how he would react if he knew. Would he be angry? Would he blame her for him being there in the first place? After all, it wouldn’t have happened if there’d been no duel and Harry hadn’t snapped. A touch of guilt quickly streaked through her, but she pushed it away, not wanting to dwell on it right now.

 

On breath number one hundred and one, she hesitantly started to talk to him. The presence of another warm body at her side had somehow eased her, even though Hermione knew that he wouldn’t know she was there. She told him things about her parents, nearly falling off her broom when Ginny forced her onto one, Harry and Ron, that one time her hair had almost caught fire at the Burrow over the summer.

 

And on breath number one hundred and twenty-five, he whispered, eyes still closed, “A shame it didn’t actually catch on fire. Maybe it would have grown back less bushy the second time around.” His eyes fluttered open and his hand raised to brush aimlessly against the ends of her curls that were dangling next to his bedside. Her breath caught.

 

Hermione stared at him, rattled by his gentle gesture. “How long have you been awake?” she’d asked. 

 

“Long enough,” he’d responded, voice soft, lacking its typical condescending undertone. “Your stories almost put me back to sleep.”

 

She’d scoffed. “It’s a shame they didn’t.”

 

It had almost earned a laugh from him, but it came out as a rattled cough instead. It was a sobering sound and a harsh reminder as to why they were there in the first place.

 

“Good to know that you’re exactly the same whether it’s you or me in this damn bed,” he'd whispered. She was scared to ask what she’d said when she was in his position - her memories of her stay in the Hospital Wing were still fuzzy around the edges. “Not so assertive when we were in bed together, huh Granger?” His eyes remained closed. “Metaphorically speaking, of course.”

 

Her breath caught. That was unexpected, especially in the state he was in. All of his callbacks to that night always stole her breath and gave her heart pause. The fact that he was still bringing it up was proof of one of two things.

 

Number one, she was an idiot for sleeping with him. It had been a slight of judgement on both of their parts, especially hers, and he was going to find ways to subtly poke fun at her for it for as long as he could.

 

Number two—and this was such a far cry from number one that it was unbelievable—was that he wanted to do it again.

 

It scared her that she was amenable to that at all. She didn’t want to consider that option, so she strayed away from it entirely, not wanting to linger on what it meant.

 

“What did I say? The other day,” she’d asked in hopes of distracting him from the current subject, “when I was in your shoes?”

 

“I think that’s a conversation best saved for another time, Granger.” The way his voice faded in and out showed her that he was yet again on the edge of sleep.

 

“If you say so.” And she’d let him go.


 

They hadn’t spoken since then. Hermione hadn’t found it appropriate to approach him once he was past his delirious state, in which she could take advantage of his distant mind. So she had stayed away.

 

Until now.

 

She pulled out her notes and organized them the way she always did, ignoring his very pointed, very irritated stare.

 

“Why,” he started, “are you invading my space yet again, Granger?”

 

Hermione loved that she had the uncanny ability to piss him off so quickly with her very presence. It was fun to play with when it suited her. “I’m doing nothing of the sort. I’m simply sitting next to you in class - that’s hardly a crime.”

 

“It is when it’s you.” Gods, he was so scornful, and for what? “Why aren’t you irritating the Chosen One? Or the Weasel?”

 

“Not that it’s any of your business, but I’m not currently speaking with them.” Her heart was beating in time with the footsteps of the students slowly filling in the classroom. She had no idea why she’d let that one slip, but for whatever reason, it felt important that he knew.

 

That stilled him. 

 

Slughorn started class, effectively ending their conversation. But not before she heard him give a very confused “Why?” under his breath.

 

-

 

Later, Hermione very predictably found herself in the library at her very predictable table. She’d decided to skip dinner in favor of picking up food from the House Elves downstairs so she could procure a quick mental break without being disturbed.

 

Even though she was trying to focus on writing out her study guides and plans, she found her mind wandering. Bits and pieces of her stay in the hospital wing were coming back to her, including Malfoy’s visit.

 

Memories floated in and out of the forefront of her mind like fragments of a lost dream. Hermione vaguely remembered him...apologizing? And while she knew she had asked him why he’d done it - he had a reputation for being very self righteous, so she didn’t expect much of anything - she didn’t know if he had ever answered. 

 

She blamed her inability to focus on her temporary delirium.

 

Books thudded to the table in front of her. She startled and looked up with an insult on the tip of her tongue, ready to unleash it on whoever dared disturb her.

 

The sight of familiar white blonde hair greeted her. 

 

The insult melted away in pure shock. Instead, it was replaced with, “What are you doing here?”

 

He clicked his tongue at her, stretching his arms and bringing them to rest behind his head, kicking his feet up to lie on the beam under the table. He was exuding an air of nonchalance, and it only angered her further. But she suspected that he knew it would.

 

“Now, Granger, that’s no way to greet someone who is here to ask you nicely for your help, is it?” The impassivity of his tone baffled her. He said nothing else, simply quirked up an eyebrow and waited for her reply.

 

“What on Earth are you going on about?” she said. Malfoy was acting very out of character, even for him. Hermione regarded him through narrowed eyes.

 

“I,” he started, “am in need of your assistance, so to speak.” His words left his mouth with a slight twinge of uncertainty mixed with his usual superiority. If she hadn’t been analyzing him to such an extent, she wouldn’t have caught it. 

 

Hermione would have to take everything he said with a grain of salt. He had some kind of an ulterior motive, and until he proved otherwise, she would proceed as if there was one. 

 

“I’ll bite.” She reached for her quill, dipping it into the inkpot and continuing to write out her notes slowly and carefully. Her biggest pet peeve was smearing her ink. “What is it you think you need my help with?” 

 

Malfoy snorted. “As if you don’t already know. Here I thought you were the smartest witch at Hogwarts.” He slowly started to stack up his books from how they’d fallen when he dropped them on the table. “I would have thought it obvious, but evidently not.” 

 

Even though Hermione knew that he was purposely poking her and trying to make her angry, she couldn't help but rise to the challenge. Sometimes, her own predictability really pissed her off. “Let me get this straight,” she seethed through gritted teeth. Her fingers rose up to rub circles into her temples while her eyes shut. “You want my help… with schoolwork?”

 

“Ah, there she is!” he crowed. “Took you long enough. Glad to see she’s still in there.” 

 

“But why?” She was incredulous. Draco Malfoy approaching her for help was simply inconceivable, yet, here he was.

 

His eyes bored into hers, so intense that it startled her to be greeted by them when she reopened her own. “You tell me.” His voice was flat. “I was just laid up in the hospital wing for two weeks. Even though I’m second in our year, there’s no one as.... adequate to catch me up to speed,” he admitted begrudgingly.

 

Hermione pondered his ask. She knew that asking anyone for anything, much less her, was so completely against his nature that it couldn’t be easy. And if he really was doing this to get closer to her or use her for whatever reason, wouldn’t it be in her interest to entertain him until she could figure out what he was up to?

 

“Okay,” she said, her mind made up. Surprise flickered across his features at her easy acceptance, but he quickly regained his mask. “Okay, fine, I’ll help you. But on my terms.” She looked at him, determined. “I have rules, of course.”

 

He nodded along compliantly at what she was saying - at least he had been until she said the word ‘rules.’ “Alright, Granger,” he groaned, “hit me with it.”

 

“We’ll make a study schedule for you and you will follow it. If I’m taking the time to help you with this, I need to know you’re serious and committed.” He rolled his eyes at her but gestured for her to continue. Ignoring his behavior, she pushed on. “And of course we’ll meet five times a week and then if needed, once on the weekend,” she said, while he looked aghast. “But that will depend on how you perform during the week, so if you want your free time, you’ll consider this a priority.”

 

“Granger,” he interrupted, “do you even have a life?”

 

“No,” she answered briskly. “Of course not. I can have a life later, after I’m successful and have accomplished everything I want to.” Hermione waved her hand dismissively. 

 

“No wonder you’re so high-strung,” he muttered. “You really do need a good fuck, don’t you? It’s no wonder you were so responsive that night.” The last part was muttered under his breath, almost too quietly for her to hear. 

 

It was like he couldn’t stop himself from provoking her. For Godric’s sake, he needed to stop with these types of comments before she hexed him again. Her fingers twitched towards her wand, and of course he noticed. He only widened his smile, showing off pearly whites that would impress even her parents. 

 

“That will be the last of comments like that if you want any help from me. Rule number three,” she stated. There could be a hundred rules if she wanted, Hermione was still doing him a significant favor. 

 

He pouted. “But Granger,” he whined. He was acting like a toddler on the verge of a temper tantrum. “That’s half of the fun!” 

 

“Well then, I guess you’ll just have to find another study partner,” she said easily, pulling out a fresh piece of parchment. “Shouldn’t be too hard for you, I’m sure.” She could see out of the corner of her eye that he was warring with himself. His resolution grew on his face, and she knew then he wasn't going anywhere.

 

Hermione began to write out his study plan, comparing it to the class schedule that she had charmed to float in front of her face. He had a block on Wednesdays in between Charms and Ancient Runes, she could squeeze in a good hour for him there…

 

She heard him draw in a breath before asking the question she could sense brewing underneath. 

 

“I have to be honest, Granger, I didn’t think you’d accept so easily. I had a whole list of bribes spelled out, ready to go. I’m almost disappointed all that work went to waste.” He chuckled. “I was prepared to offer you access to my family library in exchange for your services.” His eyes danced as he looked at her.

 

“First of all,” she started, “as tempting as the thought of a generations-old library may be, the fact that it’s in the depths of your lair is a bit of a turn off. You’d have to work a lot harder to get me there than that. Maybe offer me a catalog? Order them by owl?” she suggested. “Also,” she said, switching gears and clearing her throat uncomfortably. “It’s a nice thing to do. Maybe one day you’ll repay me the favor.” The corner of her lip twinged up then fell down again. “Besides, I can’t lie and say it’s not at all due to the fact that I carry some guilt over you missing so much material.” Shame bloomed hot on her face, flushing her cheeks a dark red and forcing her to avert her eyes while her brows furrowed. 

 

Drawing her bottom lip into her mouth, she peeked up at him from the corner of her eye and noticed that his face registered shock. He said, “What? What reason could you possibly have to feel guilty for what Potter did? If I remember correctly - and I do, because I was there - you were fairly incapacitated at the time.” He looked abashed. 

 

“Neither of our injuries would have happened if it weren’t for that day in Defence. I pushed you, you just retaliated. We’re both at fault here.” Her tone was cool and matter of fact. She’d accepted what had happened, and gotten over it. “But it was the charged environment and there was a false sense of security because we were in class. It was almost to be expected that someone would get hurt, I’d say. Whatever the case, it definitely doesn't mean you deserved to be hit with a Sectumsempra by my overprotective best friend.”

 

Whatever Malfoy had hit her with that day had hurt. It was a hex she hadn’t seen or heard of before or since, and honestly, she didn’t care to. It was a nasty one.

 

The recovery had been worse. The hex had drained her energy to the point where doing much of anything exhausted her. It was like she’d run a marathon or lost several pints of blood. It had taken two full days in the Hospital Wing to fully come back to herself. Weeks later she found herself more easily winded than before. But compared to what Malfoy had gone through - it wasn’t so bad. 

 

Malfoy watched her, deadly serious. It was tense in their little corner of the library now, but this was a conversation they needed to have. Potions had given them their first interaction since the hospital wing. She didn’t remember much of that visit; it hardly counted. 

 

“Anyway, I felt it necessary to accept your request in order to even the score between us. It just wouldn’t sit right with me to leave this unresolved.” She bent back over the study schedule, intent on finishing it and pleased with the turn their conversation had taken. 

 

Apparently, she’d thought too soon. Malfoy wasn’t done just yet. 

 

“Granger,” he said. “I know you don’t have a reason to, but I need you to hear me right now.” The edge to his voice gave her pause. Looking up, she met his eyes and she swore they peered into her soul as he said, “You don’t have to listen to anything I say ever again for all I care. But understand this: are you a swotty, bossy, irritating to no end know-it-all? Yes. Without a doubt.” She opened her mouth to protest, but he held up a finger to indicate that he wasn’t yet done. 

 

“But, did you deserve the stunt I pulled in class? No.” His eyes were burning, yelling something at her, and it made her shift uneasily in her seat for reasons she couldn’t quite understand. 

 

It was very vague, and it felt to her like he was leaving a lot of things unsaid. Hermione found she was okay with that, though, since she could see on his face that he was out of his element. Hermione vaguely recalled him saying that ‘Malfoys don’t apologize’ and while he wasn’t directly saying the words, she could hear the implication. At least, she chose to.

 

Wanting to thank him for it, but knowing it would more than likely scare him off, she changed the topic. She had one more thing to get off her chest. “I also want to apologize for what Harry did. It was unacceptable and I’m still very angry with him. We’ve barely spoken since then.” She shook her head. “He tends to have… a bit of a habit of being too rash and too protective.” 

 

Hermione could tell that he was very much surprised by everything she’d said in the last twenty minutes. She sat quietly and waited for him to gather himself enough to respond. 

 

“I don’t understand - why have such a row with Potter over this?” His eyes narrowed in suspicion. “I agree with the fact that he was out of line, but this seems a little extreme, even for you.”

 

Her eyes widened, and they bored into his once more. Eyebrows furrowed and cheeks red, she said, “Malfoy, he almost killed you. Enemies or not, I can’t ignore that.”

 

“So, what, you don’t wish I were dead? How lovely, we’re finally making progress - only took us five and a half years.” She hated how snarky his voice had grown. Hermione had a feeling it was some sort of a defense mechanism - don’t get too close to the Mudblood, right?

 

He ran so hot and cold it was hard for her to keep up, though she suspected that was the point.

 

Suddenly the grain pattern in the wood of the table became very interesting. She traced the lines with her finger. “No, Malfoy. I don't hate you, but I certainly don’t wish you were dead, either. It's leaning more toward… indifference, I suppose.”

 

She realized then that she was being open with him accidentally on purpose. Though she hadn’t meant to, she realized now that if she bared her soul to him under the premise of trying to rectify the situation, then it was highly probable that he would grow to trust her. It felt wrong to expose herself like this for the sake of something she wasn’t so sure she believed in, but she couldn’t bring herself to regret her confession. It had been truthful, and there had been no strategy behind it.

 

Why was she trying so hard to rationalize being kind to him with no underlying motive? She decided she’d think about that one later.

 

Hermione didn’t look up from the table until she heard his chair scrape the floor and her ears followed the sound of his retreating footsteps.

 

A resigned sigh left her lips before she could stop it. Maybe he was a mystery she didn’t really want to solve.

 

Maybe she was scared of what she would find if she looked too closely.



Chapter 11: Chapter 10: Inadequate
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A/N: We've made it to double digits! I can't thank y'all enough for reading and interacting so far! I'm glad you all are enjoying reading as much as I have enjoyed writing :)

 

Please note that I have plans to be making slight edits to the story (nothing crazy, just punctuation and word choices that have bugged me, etc), so it will look like there are updates - technically there are, but not new chapters necessarily. Sorry about that! 

 

My last semester of college started last week, so the next update may be a bit slower as I try to get into the groove of my new schedule. I've already missed out on some things because I have no idea what's going on....whoopsies. I'm also in the process of starting my next fic, so I'm writing two stories at once while working and doing school and applying for big girl jobs....SOS.

 

Chills part two is out! It's my hockey AU two shot, so go check it out! It's a fluff and spice piece, and very light! Thank you to everyone who's loved it so far!

 

ALSO: I've made a Twitter so I can interact with y'all - follow me! It's december_noonx (also, follow me on TikTok if you haven't already! I don't know how to make cool videos, but I try - december_noon).

 

Betawork done by AlmondMilkTeaDoubleBoba and LeilahMoon.

 

I'm done rambling now, so without further ado... Slytherin party? Slytherin party.

 

xoxo, carm

 

-

 

A familiar shade of red that she'd only seen in passing over the last few weeks flashed in her peripheral. Feeling the other side of the sofa she was seated on dip under the weight of another person, she looked up from the book she was reading in front of the fire. "Hey, Ginny," she sighed, moving her gaze back to the words. At this point, they were all blurring together - it was near pointless to continue, but she tried anyway. "What are you doing up?"

 

It was late - most people were in bed, save for a small group of fourth years at the corner table trying to finish a paper. Hermione would never understand how people left such important things to the last minute. If the stress didn't kill her, she'd do herself in just from being so unorganized. When she'd been their age, everything had been finished at least two weeks in advance.

 

"Same as you I suppose," her friend said. Even though she sounded tired, Hermione could hear the implied joke - there was no book in her hands.

 

"Ha ha, very funny," she retorted, giving a wry smile and rolling her eyes. "Really though, what's up? Last time I saw you up this late was that party after the Quidditch scrimmage." Hermione slid a bookmark in, closing the book and setting it aside, choosing to forego the memory of what happened at - or more importantly, after - that party. Remembering the intensity of his eyes and the ghost of his fingers on her skin in combination with her proximity to the fire in the common room made her hot. Wrapping her hair into a messy topknot, she pushed the sleeves of her sweatshirt up.

 

Hermione felt bad - all of her time in the last few weeks had been dedicated to either collecting intel on a certain supposed Death Eater, or her schoolwork. It had almost been a relief to avoid Harry, not that she'd ever admit it. Having a break from his antics gave her more than ten seconds to herself, to breathe and do things her own way. She hadn't planned on avoiding him for this long - everything had just gotten away from her. Her anger had almost completely subsided by now but, if she was being truthful, it was a conversation she was avoiding. She did miss him though, and planned on talking with him - as soon as she found the time and energy.

 

Her friend suddenly looked uncomfortable. "I know you're not going to like this, but... I'm here because of Harry." She was twisting her fingers in her nap nervously, not meeting Hermione's eye.

 

"Yeah, I saw that one coming." This was just like him. "Don't worry Ginny, I'm going to talk to him." The signs of relief sunk into her friend's face, relaxing her features. "You do understand why I'm so angry with him, right? I understand why he felt he needed to pull something, but it was just so dangerous," she said, shaking her head.

 

"I do, Hermione," Ginny agreed. "But come on - it's Malfoy. We all know what he's capable of - he is second in your year after all - and no one trusts him. Harry really felt he was acting in self defense. He's not one to just lash out like that," she pleaded before hesitantly continuing. "I know about what you and Harry discussed a few weeks ago with trying to get into Malfoy's head, and–"

 

"He told you?" Hermione seethed. "We agreed to keep it between us." Her anger was bubbling again, but she needed to not direct it at Ginny.

 

"I know, and I'm not going to tell anyone. We both know how my brother's temper can be, but I swear on my magic that I'll keep it a secret. No one else needs to know."

 

Hermione looked around carefully to see if anyone had caught wind of their conversation. The three heads were still bent over their parchment, scribbling away furiously. Still, she kept her voice low.

 

"Alright, if you promise," she conceded. "I can't believe he would tell you." She stopped, looking at her friend. "You do know it's not you I'm mad at, right? This is just a sensitive thing, and so much could go wrong if it gets out, and–"

 

"Don't worry, I get it," Ginny said, holding up a placating hand to stop her babbling. "I told you this would stay between us, and it will. I think Harry was going crazy and needed someone to confide in. Ron clearly wasn't an option, you were... otherwise indisposed, and I just happened to be there." She shrugged.


"Okay," she sighed, reaching up to rub at her face tiredly. "Okay, I'll talk to him soon, I promise."

 

"Thank you, Hermione," Ginny said, reaching out to touch her friend's hand gently. "He's an idiot sometimes, but he was looking out for you in the best way he knows how. He just likes to try to save people, even though they usually don't need it. Merlin knows you can take care of yourself just fine. I think he forgets that if it weren't for you, he wouldn't have made it past his first year."

 

She smiled at the somewhat fond memories of earlier childhood, even though they weren't quite as carefree as she'd been expecting when she first saw the castle from the Black Lake. "I know, but sometimes it's hard to remember that," Hermione said. "Just... let me talk to him," she sat back against the couch, tucking her legs under her. "So, what do you know?"

 

"Just that you're supposed to be using Malfoy to try to appease Harry's theory that he's a Death Eater." By the way Ginny rolled her eyes, Hermione gathered that she wasn't the only one who thought Harry was reaching. And, given just how much the Weasley family resented the Malfoys, that was really saying something. "And that evidently he has some kind of an interest in you? What is that all about?" her left eyebrow raised in apprehension.

 

"Uh, nothing much," Hermione coughed uncomfortably, looking away. Forcing herself to bring her eyes back so she didn't look deceitful, she said, "Just that he made some snide implications the first night we did rounds together. And while I don't think he's about to go around proclaiming his undying love for me," they both snickered at the thought, "it seems like there could be some kind of underlying attraction? Maybe 'you want what you can't have' scenario? I'm not sure," she shrugged. "All I know is that it's evidently there, and I'm supposed to be using it to my advantage."

 

If she were being honest, she wasn't sure how she felt about that. Taking advantage of people was something she'd done as part of necessity when she'd needed to, but this felt different. Malfoy, albeit a spineless bully, showed no real signs of being roped into the inner circles of Voldemort's regime. When she'd done things like this in the past, it had been a rash decision - like the whole Rita Skeeter situation in fourth year. It had never been something so... dubious. This was scheming, plotting, taking, using.

 

But... what if Harry was right? His gut feelings had a tendency to be spot on - except for that one time in the Department of Mysteries - so she took the risk. Even still, she couldn't help but wonder.

 

Ginny spoke again, interrupting her thoughts. "That would be ironic," she cackled. "Draco Malfoy, pure-blood prince, having the hots for Hermione Granger, Muggle-born. Lucius would disown him. Narcissa would die of shame."

 

Coughing back a laugh, she said, "It's not funny," but she couldn't fight back her mirth entirely, and she knew Ginny had seen the shadows of a grin. "Okay, it's a little funny. But still, I don't know the first thing about any of this." Hermione's voice sounded exasperated, even to her.

 

"Maybe it's a good thing Harry told me. He's great in the heat of the moment, but strategy isn't his strong suit." Ginny leaned forward conspiratorially, her voice low. "I, however, grew up in a house full of six boys - I might be able to help on the scheming front," her eyes glittered excitedly with the possibilities. "What have you got so far?"

 

-

 

Harry didn't wait long to corner her after hearing about Ginny and Hermione's conversation.

 

She knew he wouldn't. Once he came to a sound conclusion, regardless of whether he had the evidence to back it up, he was going to chase it relentlessly.

 

He found her when she was on her way back to the common room, and dragged her into an alcove. She blamed the bloody map for that.

"We need to talk," he said, once they'd stopped stumbling over each other's feet.

 

"You're right. We do." Hermione crossed her arms across her chest, tapped her foot impatiently, and gave him her best glare that he usually withered under.

 

Much to her surprise, he held strong. "Go on," she prompted.

 

"I'm sorry. I know you say I need to apologize to him, but I can't promise that," he said. Throwing up his hands to brace himself upon seeing her look of indignation, he said, "Ah, ah - let me finish."

 

Huffing and tapping her foot faster, she eyed him as he continued speaking. "I know what I did was rash, but it was an accident. You know I'd never do something like that without someone's life being on the line. But you have to understand where I was coming from - he hit you with a spell in class that knocked you out for a whole day, Hermione. And that was in front of Snape. I worry about what he'd do if there was no supervision."

 

Hermione knew exactly what he'd do if the two of them were left unsupervised. Goosebumps erupted across her skin. She ignored them.

 

"I provoked him into it, Harry. I pushed him, I threw insults and said horrible things that no one could hear because I silenced us. Yes, he may have hit me with something, but there's a part of me that deserved it." Hermione sighed, continuing. "I forgive you. I know that what you did is because of who you are, and while I know that it was completely insane and uncalled for, it wasn't on purpose. You're not a dark wizard, Harry. Don't beat yourself up over this. I think I did that enough."

 

The sigh that heaved out of her best friend was one of weeks of built up tension. "Thank Merlin. I've felt like shit for weeks. Do you know how badly my Charms grade suffered because of you?"

 

"Shut up," she smiled as she shoved the collection of notes she'd kept for him into his chest. Then, more seriously, she said, "I'm scared to ask, but... how are you doing in your other classes?"

 

"And that is why you're my best friend," he laughed.

 

Hermione's laugh leapt out of her chest, echoing in the small alcove. "Yes, yes, I know. Anyway, Ginny talked to me about the whole Malfoy situation - don't worry, I'm over that - and I don't know why we didn't think to include her in the first place. She's a conniving little genius and we fleshed out everything so far."

 

She silenced the alcove before filling him in. "Malfoy came to me recently for tutoring. He said he'd fallen behind over the last few weeks," she may have forgiven him, but she shot Harry a pointed look that he avoided, "and so I agreed to help him. I don't completely buy it since he's second to me in our year, but it's an in." She shrugged.

 

"Well, now that Ginny's privy to what's going on and is going to help us out, I think he's got another thing coming," Harry smirked at her, almost maniacally, hair falling into his eyes. "Honestly, I almost feel bad for him. She grew up under Fred and George."

 

"Damn straight Potter. Damn straight."

 

-

 

Draco could hear the noise Slytherin common room was emitting from all the way up in his dorm.

 

Contrary to stereotype and popular belief, they did have one or two Muggle-borns in their house. And the Muggle-borns had brought them radios. Even the stick-up-the-arse pure-bloods had found them slightly intriguing, even though they'd never openly admit it. Draco could only tell because they hadn't immediately smashed the thing to bits.

 

Slytherin house had decided to throw a pre-Halloween party, because obviously it was their favorite holiday - they all had brains.

 

Normally, he'd be down there in the middle of it all, tossing back some Ogden's and figuring out who he'd take to bed that night.

But as it stood, it had interrupted the middle of precious time he'd spent planning and plotting involving the Mudblood - what else would he be doing at this point? He'd concocted a plan to spend more time with her, get under her skin with those completely asinine study sessions that he so obviously didn't need. He'd been caught up just fine - Blaise and Theo had brought his work to the hospital wing. Draco was smart, second in his year, so he had no trouble breezing through everything like he wasn't incapacitated.

 

It had worked just as he expected - he'd pulled the guilt trip card, knowing that it would have a better impact on her than a threat would, and he'd guessed right. Sometimes, Hermione Granger was so predictable, it almost hurt. Although, he couldn't very well complain, since it worked in his favor so well from time to time. He was hoping it would pay off.

 

Sighing and rising to his feet while loosening the knot on his tie, he decided to cut the shit and officially make an appearance. He was, after all, Draco Malfoy. His presence was somewhat... required at things like this. Fuck tradition and all, but these things had potential to be fun.

 

Running his fingers through his hair until he was content with how it looked, he didn't bother changing and headed down to the party.

Within seconds, Blaise and Theo spotted and ambushed him. "Draco!" Theo slurred. "You made it, buddy!"

 

"Fucking Merlin, don't call me buddy," he groaned, shooting a look of disgust at Theo. Turning to Blaise, he asked, "How drunk is he?"

His friend laughed. "Very, but to be fair, I'm not far behind. You, however, need to catch up." He was pushing a full bottle into his hands before he could protest. Honestly, where had that even come from?

 

Draco accepted the bottle and took a swig from it. He knew he was going to need it in order to deal with his idiot friends, especially since they were well on their way to being hammered.

 

Theo ignored this. "Aw, come on, don't be like that. We're just trying to get you to lose the stick that's always up your ass," he teased, poking Draco in the arm playfully. He was only seconds away from hexing his own bloody best friend.

 

"For once, I agree with him," Blaise said, sounding only just more composed than his friend. "You've been missing in action lately and, not to mention, you sound like you're desperately in need of a good shag, yeah? What happened to that witch you had on standby?" Draco winced, taking another pull to avoid the question he didn't want to answer.

 

"Come on," Blaise teased, prodding. "Don't pretend like you didn't. Drinking in the common room past midnight? With a hickey, and the most relaxed we've seen you in weeks? We're not complete dolts, mate." He laughed, smirking at Draco, and all he wanted to do was smack the look off the insufferable git's face. Granger, even though inadvertently mentioned, was a sore spot for him, especially right now. He was over dealing with her, but it wasn't like he could do anything about it - he was under orders. Not to mention, it felt like he was making no progress with her whatsoever, and it was nearly November.

 

He was running out of time.

 

Pushing every thought about dark cloaks, silver masks, and green light away, he rolled his eyes at his friend, bringing the bottle back to his lips. The best way to do this, he thought resolutely, was to wash it all away with alcohol and a different witch. It wouldn't make it disappear, but he could at least pretend he wasn't doomed for a little while.

 

He followed his friends to the sofa, giving a pair of fourth years the long-perfected Malfoy glare so they scattered. Plopping down next to Theo and sinking back, he sighed. Blaise and Theo had concocted a game where they would pick out a witch, rate her, and then whoever had the same number had to drink. The two of them always picked the exact same number so they could take a drink every time.

 

To them, it was more so about getting drunk fast than it was ogling the women, but they were still fucking morons.

 

This time, however, Draco joined in more than willingly, simply wanting to numb everything - yeah, it was an easy out, but he needed it. Normally, he just brushed them off and observed. If they thought something of it, they didn't say anything. For this, he was thankful. Sometimes, and only sometimes, did his friends have a semblance of tact.

 

Their antics continued, watching the charmed lights flicker and people dance indecently under them. Draco felt like an irresponsible teenager, something he had never truly been able to soak in. Being a Malfoy was more responsibility than he'd ever truly asked for, and now with Dark Magic and Dark Responsibilities at play, he was completely fucking drowning.

 

He'd always had to put on some kind of a show.

 

The confident playboy wizard for the other Hogwarts students. The perfect, pure-blood Malfoy heir for his parents. The Slytherin prince for the rest of his house. Oh, and he couldn't forget the loyal Death Eater for the Dark Lord.

 

The twisted brand that took up precious space on his otherwise undiluted skin made that one abundantly clear. What was the oath he'd taken? Now and forevermore? Yeah, that wasn't at all foreboding and intimidating.

 

Commitment had never been his thing - at least that's what he'd told every witch that had ever tried to lock him down with a betrothal contract. How Draco had gotten talked into this was entirely beyond him. Somehow, though, he had the feeling this wasn't all it was cracked up to be. It was too late now though, he was in it for life at this point.

 

Highest honor? Yeah, right. This was one instance where he decided, albeit too late, that he didn't have any desire to follow in his father's footsteps.

 

Draco never found himself able to catch a break. Although, at this point, he couldn't exactly be surprised. His whole life had been spent learning arbitrary rules and playing a part for someone else - to the point where he barely knew who he was anymore. It was all too easy for whoever that was to get lost in the endless shuffle of personas he was trying to keep up with.

 

Honestly, it was only a matter of time until he fucked up beyond repair. He only hoped that it wouldn't be himself on the line whenever that happened.

 

Draco quickly snapped back to the present from the movement Blaise and Theo created as the two slumped back. They were still chatting languidly while Draco propped his face into his hand, leaning into the arm of the couch. Still sulking, he took another pull of the amber liquid.

 

Firewhisky always burned going down, and while it normally irked him, he found he didn't mind on this particular night. It served as a reminder that nothing worth having ever came without pain and suffering. It was what he fucking deserved.

 

Youngest Death Eater to ever take the Mark. Lucius must be so proud.

 

Yeah, fuck that. Fuck his father for watching, and fuck himself for going through with it.

 

Drink.

 

Nothing in his life, aside from his mother, had provided any light. Sure, he had Blaise and Theo, but that was temporary. Granger was fun to mess with, but she was only a means to an end.

 

He had no way out.

 

Drink.

 

Yeah. Sure. He deserved it. But what could he do? He had no options here, there, or anywhere, and unless he wanted his mother to wind up fucking dead–

 

No. Absolutely not an option.

 

Drink.

 

The world, like most things in his life, was dark and spinning. Everything was warm and fuzzy, and for once, for fucking once, he was numb.

 

Drink.

 

This, this, was what he'd been craving without truly realizing it. What'd he'd been chasing when he made the insane decision to fuck Granger that turned out to haunt him like nothing he'd ever experienced. When he woke up every day and made the conscious decision not to say fuck it all and fuck off into the void.

 

Drink.

 

Draco had heard time and time again that good things come to those who wait, but he was so bloody sick and tired of waiting. Everything he did these days seemed to depend completely and entirely on the decisions of others. And, if there was one thing he couldn't fucking stand, it was not being in control. He hated having to let others call the shots, having to divert his attention and pretend to care about what other people did, especially when his life hung so precariously in the balance. When would it be his turn to do things his own way?

 

Finishing off the bottle, and knowing he'd hate himself in the morning, he slammed it onto the side table and stood up on shaky legs. Blaise and Theo were nodding off in the midst of the chaos, Theo's head lolled on his friend's shoulder. Typical.

 

Mind made up, Draco was going to cleanse his palette. He stumbled slightly to the makeshift dance floor, vowing to find someone to fuck. Someone he picked. Someone he wanted in bed with him, at least for the night.

 

It wasn't hard. A girl he didn't recognize made her way in front of him, and they found themselves in a broken sort of rhythm. He felt her out for a few minutes, waiting until– "You wanna go upstairs?" Lucky him, he hadn't even had to ask.

 

A lopsided smirk grew on his face. "Follow me."

 

His room was dark, and it soothed his thought process. He didn't want to think about what he was doing - rather, he couldn't think about it. He was so drunk, so fucked up, he couldn't figure out how he was going to get things working and in order...fuck, he needed this. Granger had him so worked up lately, Blaise and Theo were right - this would be good for him. Merlin, she was just so fucking irritating, he fumed.

 

The bloody witch never knew when to stop, when to concede. She always had to push back, to fight him, to have the last word, and it fucking irritated him. But, fuck, he couldn't deny that their arguments sparked something dangerous in him.

 

He felt soft fingers on his shirt and lush lips on his neck. Draco's eyes fell shut, leaning into the sensation as his irritation ebbed. His fingers moved up to thread into her hair. Her head was a tad higher than he would have expected—was she tall, or was he short?

 

Draco didn't have time to ponder on the thought since his shirt was suddenly getting pushed from his shoulders. Light kisses were being dropped down his chest, moving down his stomach and pausing at the button of his trousers.

 

Fuck, she was bold. He assumed she would be shy and figured she'd need a little push. "Please," he said. He heard the tiny sound the button made as it unsnapped, and before he knew it her lips were wrapped around him as he lay on the bed.

 

Fuck, this was good, really good. He didn't know how he was hard since he'd had more than enough to drink, but he wasn't going to complain. He'd do anything if it meant getting Granger out of his head.

 

Granger. Fuck, there she was again. The only time he had ever been able to tolerate her was when she was under him, and he was sheathed in her. Fuck, she'd felt immaculate; it shouldn't have been legal.

 

No. Get her out.

 

He suddenly flipped the girl, inhaling her squeal of surprise as he kissed her hard and quickly before he moved down for a taste.

 

She didn't taste as good as– fucking fuck. Not again.

 

Maybe if he–

 

Thrust.

 

Pushing inside, they both groaned. Tight, hot - exactly what he needed. He surrendered to the feel of her.

 

Thrust.

 

It didn't feel quite like last time - something about her was different. He couldn't tell what it was - maybe because they were fucking in an actual bed this time? No, he didn't think that was it. He'd keep thinking and see if he couldn't put his finger on it.

 

Thrust.

 

Her moans were too loud - maybe that was it? He remembered that he'd quite liked the way she whimpered and pleaded with him before, why did she change it? It irked him.

 

Thrust.

 

No, that wasn't it. Well, it was, but it wasn't all. Her hair was all different too - he thought she may have used some kind of a potion or charm on it to make it smoother, sleeker - he didn't like it. The messy, thick curls made it so easy to thread his fingers through and grab, pull back. Now, they were slipping and sliding right through the silky threads. He couldn't keep his grip on it. He decided he didn't like that either.

 

Thrust.

 

"Oh, fuck, Draco–" see, that was another thing. In the last five and a half years, he couldn't once recall a time where she'd said his first name. It sounded strange when it fell from her lips, but the more he rolled it around in his head, the more he liked it. He decided he liked the way her voice wrapped around the sound, made it sound so pretty. Draco buried his face in her head and groaned.

 

Thrust.

 

Her smell was different too. He didn't know what she normally smelled like - well, he did, even if he couldn't quite pinpoint it - but it wasn't this. He shook his head a little, trying to rid himself of his bout of temporary insanity. Draco might be drunk, but he wasn't going to stop fucking a girl in the middle of sex just because she wore a different perfume.

 

Thrust.

 

He finally decided he didn't care. If she had presented herself to him on a silver platter, he wasn't the type to decline. Draco would accept whatever her reasoning was for coming back to him and do what he did best.

 

Thrust.

 

She was close, he could tell. Trailing his fingers down her spine, moving them around the curve of her hip and down to her clit, he

made gentle circles that were enough to send her flying. She cried out as she came and he followed close behind.

 

Flipping from her position on her hands and knees to her back, he collapsed next to her, trying to catch his breath. As their breathing mutually slowed and his mind cleared, she propped herself up onto one elbow to look at him. "That was great. We need to do that again sometime." Her lips curled up into a smirk, and Draco stared at her dumbstruck.

 

Coming back to himself, he finally realized he had no idea who he'd just fucked. In the dim light, he looked into blue eyes framed by thick lashes, and noticed a halo of black hair cascading down on the pillow. In no way did this girl resemble the one he'd been seeing in his mind's eye this whole time.

 

Gasping lowly and sharply moving away from her, he nearly tripped over his own feet as he tried to remember where his clothes had gone. The room - and his head - was still spinning, which didn't help his case, but he was desperate to get away from her.

 

"Draco?" she asked, propping herself up onto her elbows. "What's wrong?"

 

"Get out!" he said, pulling his boxers on as he stumbled across the room, grabbing for a sobering potion. Think, he needed to think. He briefly registered the sound of an indignant huff and a slamming door, but he didn't care. Draco knocked it back, wincing at the bitter taste of it, but he knew it was what he deserved.

 

What the fuck was wrong with him? What the hell was that?

 

Draco's hands ran through his hair, tugging at the ends. Too many things were happening inside his head at the same time he realized that not enough was happening.

 

Too many thoughts were flitting across his brain. It was like he was flipping through the pages of a book from cover to cover in two seconds - it was so much that he couldn't process a single word, even though he saw all of them.

 

Of fucking course that wasn't her, she wouldn't be caught dead at any party, much less a fucking Slytherin one. Why would it be her? It had been made abundantly clear that their one lapse was just that - a mistake, a one-time thing, never again to be repeated or spoken of.

 

So why the actual fuck was she invading his brain like this? And more importantly, how the fuck?

 

His head snapped up, eyes widening. Of course, he thought, Granger must have slipped him some kind of a lust potion. It wouldn't be a love potion, no, that would be too obvious. She wouldn't want him following her through the castle like a lovesick puppy. How would she explain that one to the dimwitted duo?

 

Although the use of a love potion did strike his fancy for if she refused to accompany him to the Manor later down the line. Maybe he could modify the dosage so it wouldn't be as noticeable or as drastic. He filed that away for later - when he could properly debate with himself about whether it would count as cheating.

 

Draco was trying to pinpoint when exactly she might have slipped him a potion when he realized that he couldn't really process any of this right now. Though the sobering potion had helped, he still felt like shit and he couldn't focus like he needed to through the exhaustion and lingering aftereffects of the Firewhisky.

 

Like a coward, he'd deal with this in the morning.

 

In a last ditch effort, he pulled up his constellations and did his best to bury her soundly within them before sleep swallowed him

whole.

 



Chapter 12: Chapter 11: Introspective
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A/N: Thank you all for your love and support so far! I appreciate it so much :)

 

Also, Chapter one of my new Dramione fic, 'Vices' is up now if you want to take a look! It's an eighth year post war fic :)

 

With that out of the way, I won't keep you. 

 

Betawork done by AlmondMilkTeaDoubleBoba and LeilahMoon - and a very very special shoutout to lost_poetx for all of her help!

 

xoxo, carmen

 

-

 

Draco was fucking drowning.

 

He was pretty sure that his self-preserving nature was the only thing keeping his mind from collapsing in on itself, but even that was on the brink of extinction. He felt like he was so close to just giving into the insanity that seemed to be a constant threat - not quite enough to cross the point of no return, but enough to make him second guess every last thought that danced across his mind.

 

That bloody party was supposed to help him clear his head, cleanse his palette, and give him one fucking break, but apparently he wasn't even deserving of that. Honestly, with all of the shit he'd pulled recently, he wasn't surprised. All it did was make him wish the earth would swallow him whole. It wasn't like anyone would miss him.

 

He was one step away from throwing some kind of fucking offering into an abyss to get whatever was in there to swallow him alive.

 

Draco wondered if they might like flowers of some kind. Hell, he'd resort to any Muggle ritual just to be able to escape into that abyss.

 

It would be ironic, wouldn't it, if it took on her shape. It would be an act of pure evil that if it did, and he still wanted to plunge into it, past the point of sanity and reason, he would have to leap into her. To toss aside all inhibitions, lower his guard, and just dive into it, her, to give up all breath and grip on reality in order to lose himself.

 

He wondered how long he could stare into it before it started to stare back. He was tempted to try, maybe he'd get lucky and he could just jump.

 

Trying to compile a mental list of people who would miss him if he actually were to shuffle off the mortal coil, he was ashamed to admit that it was very pathetic. It consisted of his mother, Blaise, and Theo. He wasn't even sure if he could put his father as a contender, and, if he were being honest, he couldn't nail down one emotion that described his feelings on the matter.

 

It was upsetting, not to know how you felt. How you were supposed to feel. There were certain labels you could put on things: happiness, sadness, anger - hell, even arousal, for fuck's sake. But what was the word you could use to adequately describe what it felt like to not know if your father, your own flesh and blood, would give more than one fuck about his son kicking the bucket? And, Draco thought, that one fuck would be given to the fact that the Malfoy name would die with his parents.

 

Disgusting, really.

 

Draco had kept his head down successfully for a few days now, keeping quiet and to himself. He needed the space to really try to clear his head and figure out what was going on up there. It was like his mind and body were at war, both rebelling against him. He constantly felt sick as a result of his inner mental turmoil, and it was like a fucking windstorm.

 

He hid away in his room whenever he wasn't in class or eating, and he could tell Theo and Blaise were getting worried. With good reason, too - he was this close to faking his death and fucking off for good.

 

He stared at himself in the mirror, not sure if he liked what stared back.

Nothing he did was helping to rectify the tangled mess inside his head. Everything he did made him question himself. It was fucking torture.

 

He didn't know what he was supposed to do about any of it.

 

Every lick of self-assuredness he'd ever had was completely gone. It had been siphoned out of every cell in his body and dissipated into nothingness. If anything, it had been twisted and warped into self-doubt. He looked in the mirror and had no idea who was looking back at him. It was like he was a shell of himself.

 

She had done that. She'd done that to him. And Draco had no idea how. She wasn't anything special either, and that made it so much worse.

 

Compared to Draco, she was nothing. A filthy fucking Mudblood and, if it were up to him, he would have killed her by now. He had no idea why the Dark Lord wanted her so fucking badly. He pictured wrapping his hands around her throat and squeezing tighter, tighter, tighter, until she was clawing at his hands for release. It made for a fantastic mental picture.

 

But, like everything else, it wasn't up to him.

 

He had no desire to look at his reflection, not when he was so completely decimated from the inside out. Shaking his head, he turned his head away, chest heaving.

 

Fuck that bitch. She was the worst thing that had ever happened to him, worming inside his brain like that. And that was saying something, considering he'd taken the Mark, for fuck's sake.

 

He hated the Dark Lord for making him do this - why couldn't he have been tasked with literally anything else? What's more, he loathed Hermione Granger. Draco seethed as he weighed the amount of disgust between the two, trying to figure out which of them he despised more.

 

It was a close call, but he landed on Granger because she stood for everything he abhorred.

 

She was a sad excuse for a witch - following Potter and Weasley around like a lost puppy that he so desperately wanted to kick. She offered herself up to him at the slightest sign of interest, and that meant she was even more pathetic than he'd originally thought.

 

And the fact that she was lodged inside his head as firmly as his brain was stuck in his skull just made it that much worse. She was showing up in everything he did - he couldn't fucking shake her.

 

Panting as he leaned over the dresser, knuckles gone white, he lifted his head and examined his broken reflection in the glass in front of him.

 

Hermione Granger was going to rue the day she was born when he was done with her. That was a promise.

 

-

 

Pansy was his partner for rounds that night for a change - he was typically stuck with Granger. It wasn't quite curfew yet, but it was nearing. He was hoping to be able to hand out detentions to some third years who were starting to get brazen with the fact that they were no longer on the lowest rung of the ladder and were comfortable enough to push the rules.

 

The good thing about patrolling with Pansy was that she liked to split up. As much as he despised the fact that splitting up was considered 'slacking off' in the eyes of the Heads, no one needed to know. Also, on this night in particular, it provided him with a copious amount of time to think about what had transpired inside his fucked up head. While he was at it, he should really make a timeline of every instance he'd questioned his sanity in the last few months.

 

The common factor to all of it was fucking Granger. He knew it, had always known it, and it was pissing him off.

 

He should never have agreed to this stupid fucking task. It was a pointless endeavor in the first place, and, while he never in his wildest dreams would have told the Dark Lord otherwise, he knew it to be true. Granger was not one to be manipulated, not even by a talented wizard such as himself.

 

It was like she was immune to being used, to being coerced or talked into something she didn't want to do. And, while she seemed the type to throw herself into the flames for someone she cared about, he very strongly doubted that he would make that list in such a short amount of time. Convincing her to fall for him, at least enough to get her to the Manor, was simply an impossible feat. He barely knew the girl, but he knew enough of her character to regard this as a simple fact. It was plain as day.

 

Draco had narrowed the moments of his downfall to two instances in time. The first being when he took the Mark and had accepted the task with all the grace of a Malfoy. The second being when he'd fucked Hermione Granger.

 

Not just fucked her, but liked it. She'd been stuck in his head ever since, and he would be an idiot if he believed otherwise.

 

Wondering if it were possible to snatch her Time-Turner - he just bloody knew she still had that, of course she had to - and go back and undo it, he knew that would rip some kind of irreparable hole in the timeline. He was liable for a lot of things, but he did not want to fuck up some kind of sequence of events because of this.

 

Also, if he were being honest, he couldn't picture himself not having the memory of seeing her like that.

Draco was a sick, selfish man. For now, he found that he was okay with it.

 

He was nearing the Magnis Turis when he heard what sounded to him like a muffled sort of whimper. Something about it sounded off. And something about it sounded... slightly familiar? He sped up, quickening his footsteps to make the turn quicker.

 

And then, he rounded the corner and saw the look on her face. She was backing up into the wall, cowering away from Montague as he walked slowly towards her. She clutched her books to her chest like they were a shield as her eyes darted everywhere but at her accoster. Her eyes met his, and he saw the evident wordless plea in them.

 

Anger swelled, hot in his chest, but he needed to mask it, contain it. Keep his composure in the way only a Malfoy could, had been trained to. Couldn't the bastard take a damn hint? It would be clear to a bloody rock that Granger was uncomfortable. Apparently,

Montague was more daft than an entire bag of them - or he just didn't care. He didn't know which was worse.

 

As he approached, he ran through a list of spells in his head. Unfortunately, none of them were legal, so he filtered everything again. He whispered the Jelly-Legs Jinx under his breath at Montague and watched with carefully masked glee as he collapsed.

 

"Montague, I wasn't planning on taking points from my own House, but you've forced my hand," Draco sighed, albeit a bit exaggerated. "Twenty points from Slytherin, and... detention for being out after curfew."

 

It was two minutes past. But Draco found that, on this particular day, he didn't have it in him to let him off easy.

 

"Next time, if you don't force your hand, I won't force mine," Draco snarled, shooting him his most foreboding Malfoy sneer - he found himself quite thankful for his father in that moment - and continued walking.

 

Granger looked at him, doe-eyed in that way only she did. Damn her.

 

Before he knew what he was doing, he shot her a sly wink that was for her eyes only.

 

-

 

Still shaking, Hermione quickly made her way back to the Gryffindor common room. It wasn't late, so she knew Ginny would still be awake. Her heart was pounding in her chest.

 

She prided herself on being a witch that wasn't easily unsettle, but that had really shaken her for some reason. Montague had materialized out of nowhere as she had been heading from the library up to the tower, and tried to corner her. For what, Hermione wasn't sure, since they'd barely interacted before.

 

Before she knew it, he was spitting scathing insults at her - okay, some of them had definitely been threats - and it had caught her so entirely off guard that she hadn't known how to react.

 

And then Malfoy appeared.

 

She didn't know when he'd gone from antagonizer to rescuer, but she was thankful he'd shown up when he did. He seemed to have a knack for having her back when she was thrown off. If she wasn't so thankful, she'd be suspicious.

 

But, as it was, Hermione was thankful. Until he gave her a reason to question him, she'd continue with that mindset.

 

Whispering the password - as if he were following her - and shutting the portrait firmly behind her, Hermione fought to catch her breath. Choosing not to linger in the common room, she headed up to Ginny's dorm.

 

Propping the door and sending in an enchanted paper airplane, she waited in the hallway. Sure enough, Ginny slid out moments later, shutting the door behind her. "Hermione?" she asked. "What's going on?"

 

"Montague just cornered me," she said, and Ginny's eyes widened. The girl's face already started to show the telltale signs of Weasley anger. Wanting to placate her so she could tell the story, she rushed out the rest. "But Malfoy stopped him. Shot off a jinx and gave him trouble for it." Her cheeks flushed. "I'm fine," she reassured her.

 

Ginny's mouth was wide open. She was clearly searching for words to properly display her level of shock and coming up empty.

"Malfoy... helped you?"

 

"Yes," Hermione said firmly. "There was no hesitation, either. And..." she trailed off, her cheeks deepening in color. "And he winked at me after he jinxed him, too."

 

If she'd thought Ginny was surprised before, she looked like the vision of pure shock now. "He... winked? At you? After helping you?

You're sure?" Her expression was slowly morphing into a dubious one.

 

Hermione fidgeted, tugging at a loose thread on her jumper sleeve. "Yes. Positive."

 

"Wow." It took a lot to render Ginny Weasley speechless. Apparently, this took the cake for her on this particular night. Either that or she was tired. Suddenly, a sinister grin grew on Ginny's face. Hermione didn't like that look at all.

 

"You know what this means, right Hermione?" Ginny hinted.

 

Hermione gulped. "...No?"

 

"Well, it sounds to me like you should thank him," Ginny said, her grin stretching wider. "But make sure you do it properly."

 

Color draining from her cheeks and blood rushing south, she had no words for her friend. Her fingers pushed through her knotted hair and then ran over her face in a tired up-and-down motion as she considered.

 

As much as she hated to admit it to herself... it was genius.

 

-

 

Finally deciding that he was sick and tired of hiding away like a spineless idiot, he trudged to the library and plopped down with his friends. This was a decision he was already beginning to regret.

 

"No, Theo, I don't want to know what you heard from Pansy earlier."

 

"But Blaise! I promise you, this is good - I know you're going to want to hear this."

 

"What is it with your incessant need to have to fill the air with words? You know that silence is valuable, right?"

 

"And that, my friend, is exactly why I plan on tainting it. It's much more fun to bother you two when you're in the middle of something."

 

"You get your kicks in the weirdest of ways, Nott."

 

"But you love it."

 

Draco finally lost it. He'd hit his limit and was more than tired of listening to their endless banter. He was just looking for some form of a distraction before he had to deal with Granger today, and this had evidently been the wrong move. "Do you two even know how to shut up?" His head snapped up to look at Theo, who was exuding an incredible amount of nonchalance for how positively annoying he was being.

 

"You already know I don't," Theo said, sounding completely unbothered by his friend's outburst. "I don't know why you're surprised. You've stuck around this long, you know what you're getting into." He twirled his quill in his fingers, feet propped up on an unused chair at their library table.

 

Burying his face in his hands and groaning, Draco said, "I can never catch a fucking break."

 

He heard Blaise's deep chuckle, "You knew what you signed up for when you plopped down at our table in such a huff. If you wanted silence, you could have gone..." he surveyed the room for dramatic effect and gestured vaguely, "literally anywhere else."

 

Draco groaned again. "Why can't I ever have friends who just know how to read the room? Is that really too much to ask for?"

 

Blaise laughed again. "We do know how to read the room, mate. Seems like you're the one who doesn't in this situation." His quill never left the parchment.

 

"Anyway," Theo continued, gesticulating wildly with his hands, as if he hadn't heard a word Blaise or Draco had said. "Doesn't anyone want to hear what Pansy told me?" he was bouncing in his seat like a child who was too hyped up on a sugar rush.

 

"No!" Blaise and Draco said at the same time. Their eyes met before dropping away while simultaneously shaking their heads.

 

Theo pouted, slumping back in his seat and crossing his arms. "But it's really good!" He half whined. "Never mind, I'm going to tell you anyway. You know that one fifth year Ravenclaw? The one with the–"

 

Blaise cut in, holding up a single finger. "On a scale of one to illegal, how does this rate?"

 

Theo's grin was mischievous, his eyes growing smaller with the intensity of it. "I'd say it lies somewhere between questionable and morally grey."

 

"Nuh uh, no way, no thank you. I want to keep my plausible deniability, thanks a ton." Draco shut his book with a loud thump and started to pack up.

 

"You heading out already, Malfoy?" Blaise asked, furrowing his brow. "I feel like you just got here."

 

"Well, I can't very well focus with this one," he gestured to Theo as he slowly gathered his belongings, "talking up the place, now can I?" He scoffed, raising a brow.

 

"Anything's possible if you try hard enough," Theo said with his hands folded together, fingers interlaced, and a solemn look plastered on his face that was oddly out of character for him.

 

"Save it, you prat. Lucky for me, I actually have somewhere to be," Draco said, standing up and stretching, arms shooting up in the air, shirt untucking slightly as his body elongated. He tucked it back in as his arms came back down.

 

"Ah, sounds enticing," Blaise said, his drawl lulling into complete monotone as he gave no indication that he cared about anything that Draco was saying.

 

"You have no idea," he said, muttering under his breath.

 

Continuing to throw things haphazardly into his bag, he turned and headed to the secluded corner of the library where he and Granger studied.

 

As he was waiting for her in the library, he was actively trying to ignore the pit in his stomach. It was like an uncomfortable knot - a stone sinking down to the bottom, weighing his entire spirit down.

 

Of course, she didn't have the slightest idea of what was happening inside his head, but he felt as though he was lost in the storm. This was the first time he'd be talking to her since his failed attempt to get his mind off her. He'd never been so disgusted with himself as he was when he realized that he'd had sex with a girl and thought it was Granger the whole time.

 

That had been like a slap in the face. Realizing that in the light of day had been an incredibly stark revelation that he had in no way mentally prepared himself for.

 

With a start, he realized that she had become his new bad habit.

 

Fuck.

 

Starting back in on his cheek as if he could reverse that discovery, he tried to wipe the thought from his mind entirely. If only it were that easy.

 

Breaking his concentration, she sat down at the library table, completely out of breath. Glancing over at her, her face was flushed, curls frizzing out. Draco couldn't stop himself. "You look more disheveled than usual, Granger. What's got your knickers in a twist?"

 

Still breathing heavy, she replied, "I'm just late. Harry held me up." She rolled her eyes. "Sorry about that, I did tell him I had somewhere to be, but he wouldn't stop rambling. I swear, that boy loves to hear himself talk," she smiled to herself as she pulled out her notes.

 

"And I'm assuming you purposely left out that you'd be with me, is that right?" Draco kicked back in his chair, twirling his quill in his hand.

 

Granger shrugged. "No, he knows I'm with you. He just doesn't care."

 

Draco stilled. He hadn't expected Potter to let her go quietly - something was amiss. "He.... doesn't care that you're with me." His voice was cautious, questioning, flat.

 

"No," Granger said. "He knows we're studying together," he wondered if she phrased it that way on purpose because she knew how much he hated feeling like he needed someone, especially her. "It's not like anything else is happening here." Her cheeks flushed a little bit at the statement, and he smirked, biting back a snarky comment.

 

"Hmm," Draco let out a noncommittal hum, trying his best to adhere to her rules. They worked in silence for a few moments, getting organized before they began.

 

Abruptly switching gears before he could think too much about it, he spoke lowly, "What did Montague want with you?"

 

He saw from his peripheral that she immediately stiffened at the mention of his name, fingers clenching tight around her quill. Draco almost feared it would snap under the pressure. "I don't know," she said, voice hard. Her eyes flashed. "He never really got to the point."

 

"Good," Draco said. And he simply left it at that. The last thing he wanted was to make it look like he actually gave a fuck about what happened her. Even though the irony lay in the fact that that was exactly what he should be doing. Be that as it may, it was a completely unimaginable prospect.

 

Time flowed easily as they moved through the motions of their study session. They argued about pointless aspects of their classes, he poked fun at her for the company she kept, and she retaliated in jest about how disheveled he looked, just because she could.

 

He loved it. It was natural, as easy as breathing, and it was so very predictable.

 

By the time they wrapped up, he had almost pushed everything from the other night out of his head entirely.

 

But now it begged the question: when had Granger become his palette cleanser?

 

-

 

Hermione's head had been a mess during their entire study session. She was still reeling from the idea that Montague wanted something to do with her - and she was sure it was nothing good. And then the fact that Malfoy had, for whatever reason, defended her? It was like she'd entered an alternate dimension and she'd just failed to realize.

 

It had gone as smoothly as could be expected for the two of them - they bickered as usual, but it had started out more pleasantly than it normally did. She had chosen not to push the matter, since she knew it would get her nowhere with him.

 

They packed up at the end, and left the library at the same time before turning to part ways for the evening.

 

Ginny's words echoed in her head. Make sure you thank him properly.

 

Damn it. Damn it all to hell.

 

Before she could overthink her decision, Hermione made the hasty decision to call after his retreating figure. "Malfoy!" Heart thrumming in her chest, she was hoping he wouldn't make this awkward for her.

 

As much as she was dreading this idea, she had to admit that Ginny really was a diabolical asset to this project. She'd given Hermione the idea when she had come back to the dorm and told her everything, voice and hands still shaking more than she'd have liked.

 

It still pissed her off.

 

He turned slowly, having the gall to look irritated with her. "What, Granger? I'm hungry and I'd like to try to eat before I disintegrate right in front of you." His foot was tapping on the cobblestone floor, and he had his arms crossed defiantly across his chest.

 

She walked up to him cautiously, like approaching a wild animal you didn't want to scare off. "I just..." she hesitated, eyes flitting away from his face. It was dark in the corridor given the late hour, and for some reason, it gave her courage.

 

Everything was easier in the dark. You could hide in the dark. The dark couldn't burn you.

 

"I just wanted to say thank you for earlier... you know, with Montague." As much as she wanted to repress it, she blushed. And while her thanks was entirely genuine, she knew he would perceive it as a threat.

 

Probably because he wasn't used to legitimate appreciation.

 

As she predicted, his eyes narrowed. "Why are you thanking me? Anyone would have done it," he said.

 

"Well," she scoffed, growing a bit defensive despite her efforts not to, "apparently not everyone would have. And I would hate to think about what would have happened had you not rounded that corner when you did."

 

He laughed once. "Granger, I did it because I'm a Prefect. I have a responsibility to care about shit like that." His eyes shuttered, face going flat as he continued speaking. "It had nothing to do with you."

 

As harsh as the words were, they lacked their typical bite. He sounded almost vulnerable to her, like he was putting up some sort of a front. It didn't sound at all like he meant what he was saying, and it produced a tiny spark of hope in her chest, right near her heart.

 

Hermione heaved a sigh, pinching the bridge of her nose. "Whatever you say, Malfoy. I just wanted to say thank you, regardless of your reasoning." Releasing it and looking back up at him, he was still staring at her. "And you know what?" she asked, braving a step forward. "I don't buy that it had nothing to do with me. I think it was because it was me that you did it." Her voice was quiet, breathy.

 

Malfoy seemed enraptured. He stared down at her, eyes molten silver, but his face was still flat. "No."

 

"No?" she echoed, pushing on and taking another small step towards him. "Then why don't I believe you? You're usually a better liar, Malfoy, but you've been slacking lately. I'd up your game if I were you," she teased lightly. "And do you know why I'm so sure I'm right?" she pressed.

 

"I'm sure your theory will hold no water, Granger, but fuck it, let's hear it," his voice was snarky, but it once again lacked the typical conviction that it always seemed to carry.

 

"Because as much as you hate to admit it, I'm yours to mess with," her heart was pounding, eyes wide as she stared up at him. "And I was since that night, wasn't I? Maybe I always have been, but that's something only you can answer." His eyes had never left hers, but they were the only expressive thing about him. She couldn't get a proper read on him, so she was praying that this would have the impact she was hoping for.

 

"You can admit it, Malfoy," she whispered softly, her gaze dropping to his lips. "I'm not afraid to. Why are you?"

 

"Because I can't." His voice was so low, she almost missed it. She caught a flash of what seemed like anguish before it disappeared.

 

Giving a shaky breath, she whispered, "You don't have to."

 

Mustering every ounce of courage she had, she took a deep breath, pushed up onto her toes, prayed to Merlin himself that this wouldn't backfire, and kissed him.

 

His lips parted in a gasp before snapping and willingly devouring her. It was like he had been waiting for this but was hesitant to chase her. Malfoy's hand reached up to cup her neck, pulling her closer into him. It was supposed to be a chaste peck, but he wasn't going to let that happen.

 

Malfoy's arms were a steel trap, but she found that she wasn't complaining. The possibility of being caught only added to the thrill, and the tense atmosphere thrummed through her veins.

 

Her fingers ran themselves through his hair of their own accord. His lips were soft against hers. Malfoy's body was molded to hers so she didn't have to reach as high for him. He kissed her more slowly than she'd expected, seeming to savor it. Afraid to linger on that thought, she shut her brain off for a moment and sank back into the kiss. She'd first thought this would be quick, painless.

 

Hermione wasn't often wrong, but this was one instance she was happy she had been.

 

Detangling herself from him before he could take things further and have a repeat of last time she'd pushed him, Hermione stared up at him wide eyed and panting, melted chocolate meeting molten silver. She brought her lip between her teeth, worrying it, searching for words that wouldn't come.

 

Before she found them, she instead turned on her heel and left the way she came, making sure to keep the confident sway in her hips and her slightly upturned chin for his eyes to linger on as she left him there, watching her.

 

-

 

A/N: Vices ch 1 is up!

 



Chapter 13: Chapter 12: Insidious
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

A/N: Happy early Valentines Day you dirty fucks. Here's an extra spicy chapter for you ;)

 

PLEASE NOTE I HAVE CHANGED MY USERNAME FROM CARMENXOX TO DECEMBER_NOON. I am graduating in May and since my actual name is Carmen, I don't want any of this to pop up if recruiters google me.

 

Betawork done by AlmondMilkTeaDoubleBoba and LeilahMoon - and a special thanks to lost_poetx!

 

Vices chapter 1 is up! 8th year, post war, head boy/head girl. Check her out.

 

Here we go...

 

xoxo, carmen

 

-

 

With eyes as round as saucers, Draco followed her movements as she left him in the hallway. He was still breathing heavily as he leaned back against the castle wall, trying to get his shit together. His heart was thundering in his chest, and he raised a hand absentmindedly to brush against his lips.

 

His lips. Which had just been on hers. She'd kissed him, and he still felt like his entire body was on fire. His blood was singing, bones aching as they implored him to go after her, finish what she started. Draco wanted to chase after her, grab her by her stupid hair, drag her into the nearest classroom, and bury himself inside of her. Hard and fast, a punishment for walking away from him like she could.

Like she did.

 

Having had plenty of 'what the fuck' moments in the past few months, he could safely say that this was one of them. After the confusion melted away from his brain, the anger set in.

 

Granger had walked away from him. She kissed him, gave him a taste of what he knew he could have had again, and then abandoned him. Everything in his body was burning as the anger seeped in. It set in his bones, his blood, his brain, his cock. Everything in him grew hard, running cold and hot at the same time as adrenaline rushed through his veins.

 

He was seeing red...No, not red - brown. The last thing he'd registered was the way her wide eyes met his before suddenly, they were gone. The color of dark chocolate, the same color as the antique furniture he'd had in his bedroom all his life. He now considered the color ruined. Tainted now, like so many other things in his life - all colored or touched by her in some way.

 

Draco found himself starting to see the world in a different light, through a different lens - a lens that somehow wrote her into everything - and it was a terrifying prospect. He didn't want to consider what it would mean to have her become integrated into everything like this.

 

Still leaning against the wall, he forced his breathing to slow before ducking into an empty hallway off the corridor he had been in, sinking to the ground and shutting his eyes. He tipped his head back against the brick, doing his best to steady himself. He couldn't hide her away unless he could focus. The first thing he did was picture himself in an empty field, eyes on the stars in the sky.

 

It calmed him. Until he opened his eyes and felt as if there had been a silhouette, an outline of someone there with him in his head, watching him while he stared at his sky. He didn't have to think twice to pinpoint who it had most likely been.

 

Gasping as if he'd been underwater the whole time, he came back to himself. Draco immediately sprung up and started sprinting for his dorm.

 

He fueled his anger into a run. At least the pain that came from the burning and straining of his muscles was something he could control, could dictate. It was all up to him - he had a say in it. And, right now, he so desperately needed to slow the hurricane that was his thoughts.

 

Spiting the password once he got to the common room, heading straight for his room and stumbling inside, he immediately grabbed his robe and made for the shower. He was still sporting a raging hard on, and he blamed himself for the fact that his thoughts hadn't left her in the hallway, like she had left him. That but that needed to be rectified immediately. The sooner he could rid himself of her, the better he'd feel, he was sure of it.

 

Saying the incantation that would turn on the shower, he stepped in as soon as the water started. The beauty of magic showers is that the water was always immediately warm, no matter what.

 

Hanging his head, he panted as the water cascaded over his head and down his body. The droplets got stuck on the goosebumps on his skin, blending into each other, and racing each other has they headed south. He shut his eyes, hand trailing slowly down his chest, his stomach, finally wrapping around his stiff cock.

 

A stray hiss escaped through his clenched teeth. He kept his eyes screwed tightly shut as he pumped slowly, body jerking as he brushed his thumb over the sensitive tip.

 

He remembered the feel of her lips on his. Soft, plump, warm, yielding. He pictured them wrapped around him. The vivid image of the way they had looked last week as she softly bit into a chocolate covered strawberry popped up in his head. Draco bit back a groan as he brought the mental image forth to serve as his fantasy.

 

His imagination was more than willing to provide additional prompts. He tightened his grip as he started to gradually speed up, imagining her nervous disposition as she looked at him. Of course she'd be biting into that soft, pliable bottom lip as she rolled the words around in her head, trying to figure out how to ask him if she could pretty please suck him.

 

The idea of the sound of her begging caressed his brain, scratching an itch, bringing him closer. The prospect that he had something she so desperately wanted was so appealing that he couldn't help but just wish for it.

 

Of course he would say yes, why wouldn't he? It would be so satisfying to see her in her place, on her knees in front of him - right where she belonged. Her fingers would tremble as they pulled him free of his boxers, and he would stroke her hair as she took him in nervously before leaning forward and–

 

Fuck.

 

The way her tongue would feel dancing around him, so eager yet so uncertain, set his hand pumping at a punishing pace. He was fighting to keep quiet.

 

Her moans would vibrate around him, shaking him so thoroughly down to his core. It reverberated in his ears before he realized it was his own, but he couldn't bring himself to care. Bringing his hand to a slower pace, he teased himself. This was the fun part.

 

As she got more comfortable, figured out how to please him properly, she would look up at him from under her lashes with flushed cheeks. Draco would pretend like he wouldn't notice her rubbing her thighs together, but he'd be cataloguing this for later.

 

Documenting what pleased her would bring him pleasure, he was sure. The way he would know how best to tease her, bring her to the edge, before finally letting her spiral just because he let her.

 

The pleasure that it would inevitably bring him was unholy. But he wished for it, craved it, needed it.

 

Draco would realize that she was getting tired, but she wouldn't want to stop. His eyes would be dark as he looked down at her, glinting with endless promises as he realized what she was asking for. Lacing his long fingers through her hair, he would grip it tight as he fucked hard into her mouth.

 

Of course she would like it rough - he had always known she would.

 

When he would felt her fingers dig into his thigh, begging for reprieve, he would relent, giving her control again. She would pull back to the tip, inhaling a deep breath, before taking all of him in again. He wouldn't miss the fact that the fingers of her right hand would dip to touch herself while she sucked him off.

 

She would look so pretty like this - lips around his cock, he'd be completely buried in her throat, her own fingers fucking up into her cunt. Fuck. His hand sped up as he neared the blinding oblivion that he was chasing.

 

She would beg him to come down her throat, of course she would. There wasn't a challenge that she would say no to. She would beg and beg and beg and beg...

 

And he would oblige her, of course, because she was asking so nicely, begging so prettily on her knees, just for him.

 

She would speed up the ministrations of her tongue and her hand on him, but it would be the sound of her finger fucking herself that would tip him over. She would come around her fingers while he spilled down her throat, both entirely overcome by pleasure. She'd drink him down like it was the fucking elixir that would make her his forever. Her eyes would water, but she wouldn't care.

 

Seeking her eyes, his own flew open as he fell over the edge, and he panted as he stared blankly ahead at the shower tiles.

 

-

 

Blaise and Theo were lacking in many things, but they never once missed an opportunity to make fun of people.

 

Draco, unfortunately, was no exception.

 

Upon his entry back into their dorm room, Theo was looking at him with the most deadly serious look he'd ever seen. It looked out of place on his face. He shifted uncomfortably as he dried his hair with his wand.

 

Theo kept staring at him.

 

Draco conceded. "What?" he bit out.

 

"Are you okay?" Theo asked, brow furrowed and lips pursed. There was a terrifying glint in his eye and he had a sinking feeling about where this was going.

 

"...Fine," Draco hesitated. "Why are you asking me that?"

 

Theo barely considered anyone's feelings but his own. It wasn't that he didn't have it in him to give a shit, it was more so the fact that genuine feelings were rarely discussed.

 

"Oh, no reason," Theo hummed nonchalantly, picking up a book from his lap and running his finger innocently up and down the spine. "I was just double checking." The biggest shit-eating grin Draco had ever seen grew slowly on his face, and he heard Blaise snicker from his position on the bed. "Blaise and I heard some questionable noises coming from the shower and we wanted to make sure you weren't... experiencing any major discomfort."

 

Blaise openly laughed. "Oh, I would say it was the opposite of discomfort mate. Wonder what he was thinking about? Must have been vivid if he sounded like that." He waggled his eyebrows.

 

"Unfortunately for you, you'll never find out," Draco scoffed, shooting the pair his best withering gaze.

 

"How is the company of your left hand treating you these days?" Theo pushed the envelope just that much more.

 

At that, the two exploded with the laughter that they'd barely been containing.

 

"How long have you been sitting on that one?" Draco prodded. They'd lived together for so long, he simply couldn't find it in him to be embarrassed. He shrugged into his clothes, keeping his back to the pair.

 

"Since we realized you forgot to silence the shower," Blaise started.

 

"So... a while," Theo finished.

 

Draco rolled his eyes. "You two are absolute prats, you know that? Sometimes I think you have nothing better to do than stalk me and wait for an opportunity to irritate me."

 

"But you just make it so easy," Theo whined. "I would never forgive myself if I were to pass up an opportunity that was nearly begging me to take it," he said breathily, dragging the back of his hand across his forehead dramatically, his book forgotten.

 

"I can't stand you," Draco said, collapsing into bed and staring at the canopy above him. "Either of you."

 

"We know, buddy, we know," Theo replied, turning over on his bed.

 

"Don't call me buddy," Draco whipped out. They knew how much he hated that stupid nickname, but he knew they did it just to prod him.

 

"Whatever you say... buddy," Theo said. Blaise snickered from across the room.

 

"Shut the fuck up," retorted Draco.

 

"Only because you asked so nicely. Goodnight, darling," Theo cooed, batting his eyelashes and waving his fingers at him.

 

Draco bit back a chuckle, silenced his bed and drew the curtains shut tight. He begged sleep to take him before he could think too much.

 

-

 

When he saw her next, it was in between classes, in the hallway by the library - naturally. It took everything in him not to go up to her and grab her by the arm, fling her into a classroom and start yelling. She avoided him in the worst way - by acting like he wasn't there.

If her eyes neared him, they skirted right over him like he didn't exist.

 

He kept his composure, no matter how taxing it was. Going through his day was the slowest form of torture. Draco was constantly on edge - tapping his foot, gnawing at the inside of his cheek, fidgeting, tugging his fingers through his hair. Blaise had asked multiple times what was up, but Draco had just pretended like he hadn't heard him. Trying to explain would be impossible.

 

The next time he saw her, it was when she was leaving the Great Hall alone after dinner.

 

He saw his chance.

 

Darting out into the hallway, he grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her into the classroom on her left. He locked the door, simply staring at her.

 

Granger, however, was acting like this was nothing out of the ordinary. "We really have to stop meeting like this," she said nonchalantly, as if nothing were amiss. She wrapped her hair into a messy topknot and wrestled her wand through it.

 

"Drop the attitude, Granger," he seethed. "I want to know what the fuck that little display was the other day."

 

"What display?" Typical - he had to admit that she would have been a great Slytherin. It was a known fact that you should never own up to anything until you know what the accusation against you is. She sounded so fucking innocent, and it made him even angrier - but he suspected she knew that.

 

He neared her, stalking up to her slowly, like a predator approaching his prey. Her expression remained completely unchanged, giving away nothing. "You know exactly what I'm talking about."

 

Granger shrugged. "I mean, there are a lot of things you could be referencing. I think it best to ensure that we're on the same page before we go and jump to conclusions, right? That way we can have a conversation that's not based on incorrect information in order to avoid any miscommunication."

 

What a fucking swot.

 

If she was going to play dumb, so was he. "Do you get off on testing my patience? Is that something that excites you? From your behavior, I'd have to assume that that was the case," he mused. "You can tell me, you know," he taunted. "I'll trade your answer for mine."

 

She chuckled. He fought against a snide roll of his eyes as she said, "Your insults are seriously lacking lately, Malfoy," she teased. "I can't help but wonder what the reason for that is," she brought her hand up to her chin to rest it against her face. "And I'd say yes," she purred. "Testing your patience does get me... what was it you said? Hot?" Her lips lifted in a smirk. "Your turn," she said with a poke to his chest.

 

"Fine," he said. His voice had taken on a deadly soft undertone - the calm before the storm. "I want to know why you fucking kissed me."

 

At that, she faltered slightly. "Oh. That." Either it really didn't register for her that that would be what he was referencing - which would really piss him off - or she hadn't expected him to bring it up.

 

"Yes," he said. "That."

 

That fucking kiss has been looping in his head since it happened. It felt more intimate to him than actually being inside her had. There was really no explanation for it - he thought it may have had something to do with how his body had responded to her the second time around. What a betrayal that had been.

 

Although, all things considered, he shouldn't really be surprised - especially when his brain and his cock were constantly reminded of her. Stupid fucking hormones. That combined with Granger was quickly becoming the bane of his existence.

 

And that was saying something, considering he had the Dark Lord on his arse.

 

"Well," she started. "I thought I was pretty clear when I explained it to you, wasn't I?" Somehow, she still managed to sound condescending.

 

"Not. Clear. Enough." He released the full force of his thundering gaze onto her. "Do better."

 

She had the audacity to sigh at him. She actually sighed at him. A tint of red clouded his vision as he stepped closer to her. Granger continued to look completely unabashed and entirely unaffected.

 

He hated it.

 

"I told you," she started, looking up at him, "in the hallway. I told you exactly what I was doing. I'm not a Slytherin, Malfoy, I practically wear my heart on my sleeve." Her eyes glinted.

 

She looked like she was hiding something. His eyes narrowed, but he decided not to press the issue.

 

"If that's the case, then tell me why I don't believe you," he seethed at her.

 

Granger shrugged again. "I don't know. That sounds like a you problem. I can't control what you choose to believe."

 

She was so nonchalant and it was staggering. How could she just act like that after everything? He was good at controlling his emotions, but Granger was existing as if nothing had happened.

 

"I think there's something you need to tell me, Granger. And I'd appreciate it if you were honest with me for once." He stepped closer to her, backing her into the desk. She stopped against it, seeming surprised as she looked up at him, breath catching.

 

"What do you want from me, Malfoy? I told you my answer, and that's all there is to it." She stepped up closer to him so they were chest to chest. Staring up into his eyes, ice met fire.

 

She pressed on, tilting her head inquisitively. "See, I think you're cornering me over a different kind of frustration. You've thrown more innuendos than insults my way lately. Your brushes against my skin, your lingering glances - I can almost see the fantasies in them. But you know what? Watching the effect I've had on you drive you completely mental has been more satisfying than I could have ever imagined." Her voice had grown so soft, it could have been a caress, a coo.

 

"To answer your question," she breathed, snapping herself out of it. "It was something I wanted to do." Tilting her head, her gaze bored into his. "Your behavior ever since that night tells me you know a little something about 'wanting'. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think I am."

 

Her cheeks were flushed in anger, and her hands were curled into fists. They were both breathing heavier than usual from the intensity. Tension was coating every inch of the room.

 

His thumb reached up to brush her cheek, cupping her face. "I know all about wanting, Granger," he murmured, suddenly going soft.

 

She closed her eyes, leaning into his touch for a split second before reaching up and curling her fingers around his wrist. Eyes flying open, she yanked it away from her and left the room without a word.

 

He was really starting to hate the sight of Granger walking away from him.

 

-

 

His thoughts were a whirling thunderstorm to match the chaos swirling in his eyes.

 

Draco's perpetual emotional state oscillated between angry, confused, and horny. It was fucking whiplash to experience, and even worse to have to work through mentally. This time, he wasn't going to wallow. This time, he was going to do something about it. He was going to take it out on someone else. Namely, Granger.

 

Having that conversation had cleared absolutely nothing up for him. She had been purposely evasive and antagonizing, as if that wasn't already his job.

 

It was decided that he needed to put her in her place and take back what was his - control. He was going to find Granger. He knew that she liked to do her work late at night, usually in the Prefects' office since it was typically quieter.

 

Turning an idea over in his mind, he debated its pros and cons. If he went through with it, it would definitely set her on edge and he would shatter whatever illusion of misplaced trust she'd had in him. He was going to win this round, and this would do it for him.

 

Creeping through the castle, it took a while before he caught sight of her on her way up to the office. He kept silent as he followed her inside, wanting to catch her by surprise. It was quiet, and he often found that the dark enveloped him in a way that was comfortable and gave him the peace he needed to think properly.

 

Granger was so engrossed in her thoughts that she didn't hear him following her until he slammed the door. She jumped, sucking in a surprised breath, and whirled around to meet his fiery gaze. Flicking his wand over his shoulder at the door behind him, he hissed out, "Colloportus."

 

She stuttered, "Malfoy? What–"

 

"Shut the fuck up," he spat at her, his face twisted into a sneer.

 

Backing her into the wall, he quickly silenced the room. His eyes never left hers. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest, a reminder that the last time this happened, it went farther than he'd ever anticipated.

 

This had no chance of going the same way. He didn't want that. He steeled his resolve now. No, he wanted this - wanted her to suffer.

 

He kissed her hard, cutting off her sharp gasp that he pushed out of her as her back collided with the stone of the castle. "Remember how this went last time I had you like this, Granger?" he teased. He kissed behind the shell of her ear, the spot that - if memory served - made her tremble in his arms.

 

And tremble she did.

 

"Because I do. Have you thought about this like I have?" She gasped again, a breathy little sound, as his fingers skirted around the edges of her panties.

 

He came to stark realization that if she could be called toxic in her compliance, then he had been equally so in his initiation. But it wasn't as if he'd had much of a choice in the matter.

 

And he wanted her like this, all his to do with as he pleased. He wasn't happy with her antics lately - running so hot and cold, he didn't know how to read her.

 

Not that he truly ever had, but this just made it that much harder.

 

Granger let out the smallest of moans as he moved his lips down to tease at her neck. It was a reluctant sound, one that he had drawn from her out of spite and she knew it. She didn't want to give him the satisfaction while taking her own, but here she was.

 

Under him once more.

 

He pulled down her skirt this time, not looking for any barriers between the two of them.

 

"I've dreamed about feeling you around me again, Granger," he purred. "Feeling you come on my cock like the good girl you are has fucking haunted me like you wouldn't believe." He smiled to himself as he felt her shiver at his words. "Do you know how often I've woken up in the middle of the night, feeling the ghost of you wrapped around me? So tight and hot even in my imagination."

 

He gave her what she wanted, reaching underneath the fabric and brushing against her slit. She was damp from his teasing, but it turned him on even more that their tense conversation had gotten her worked up in more ways than one.

 

"Fucking hell, I knew you enjoyed our little tête-à-tête more than you ever let on. Does it get you hot? Hm?" She nodded against his lips.

 

"Please," she begged, "please touch me."

 

If he wasn't seeing it with his own two eyes, he'd never believe that Hermione Granger was begging him to fuck her with his fingers. But here he was.

 

He kissed her left dimple, smirking as he pulled away to look at her flushed cheeks. Her eyes were burning, boring into his with so much intensity his knees almost buckled under it. "Only because you asked me so nicely."

 

Draco slipped one finger inside, entering her easily. He retracted his hand only to add another and slid them back in. She dropped her head forward into his shoulder, whining and babbling incoherent words as he steadily pushed his fingers in and out of her, teasing her.

 

"What do you want? Do you want me like this?" He slowed his fingers down, "Or maybe like this?" She shook her head and ground her hips against his hand, inhaling sharply. He groaned as they rolled against his hard cock. "Or what about this?" He sped up his hand, pounding her now.

 

He edged her twice, watching her until she was about to cry with need as she ground down onto his hand before stopping. He was panting, pupils dilated as he watched the sweat roll down her temples and her fingers gripped his arm so hard it would bruise.

 

As he started again, bringing her close to ecstacy once more, he felt her, so tight around his fingers, her entire body coiled like a spring. She was waiting for the moment he'd finally let her snap and sing for him.

 

"Draco, please, I'm gonna- fuck, please." Draco could feel her need - hot and tight, pulsing around him. He was sweaty, his arm sore and fingers soaked with the evidence of her desire, but he treasured this.

 

Especially because of what he was about to do.

 

He stilled, removing his fingers from her and brought them to his mouth, licking them clean slowly, letting her see his tongue twirling around them within his mouth. He kissed her, letting her taste herself off his tongue and she moaned into his mouth.

 

The sound sunk into his skin, bouncing around his body. The sound prompted the picture of her moaning around his cock, just like he'd thought about in the shower.

 

Pulling away, her eyes looked bright as she glanced down at his zipper. Draco knew she anticipated having him inside of her, since he hadn't let her come yet.

 

As much as he wanted that, to finally feel her around him once more, he had a very important message to convey.

 

He turned to leave. "I meant what I said last time about you being mine to use how I want to." He reached up, stroking his thumb across her bottom lip. She opened her mouth to try to suck on it, but he pulled away. "And I also meant the part about walking away and leaving you right on the edge. Think of it as... repayment for not being able to make up your mind - you don't get to kiss me like that and then fucking walk away from me." His voice was calm, but he was still seething inside. Realization dawned on her face like getting splashed by a bucket of cold water, and he savored it. Her breath picked up again as he continued. "You've been misbehaving, and I decided it was far past time you learned your lesson." He licked his fingers once more, looking at her again. "Oh, and Granger? It's Malfoy."

 

He cast the counterspell to unlock the door, opening it and leaving. Draco ignored how painfully hard he was, and how much every step away from her hurt him physically.

 

The door clicked shut behind him, and he could hear her frustrated scream reverberate from behind the thick wood.



Chapter 14: Chapter 13: Insufficient
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

A/N: Beta love to AlmondMilkTeaDoubleBoba and LeilahMoon - and a major thank you to lost_poetx!

 

Prepare for cringe.

 

xoxo, carmen

 

-

Red-faced and breathing heavily, Hermione's broken scream echoed throughout the room, bouncing off the walls. How dare he. The indeterminable amount of emotions that were coursing through her were making her head throb and blood sing.

 

Simply too angry to reach down and finish herself off, she cast freshening charms all over herself, trying to calm down. Where the fuck did he get off pulling that shit? She wanted to throttle him. Well, if she were being honest with herself, she wanted to do much more than simply throttle him.

 

Abandoning the work she'd originally planned on doing and grabbing her things, she headed back to Gryffindor tower – so mad that steam was practically leaving her ears. She doubted she'd be likely to get over this one for quite some time. Granted, they'd been playing cat and mouse for quite some time, but she'd never thought he would pull something like this. If she weren't so bloody pissed off, she'd probably be turned on. Well, more so than she already was.

 

After an endlessly long walk, Hermione stormed into the common room, hair wild and eyes blazing. Her face was flushed crimson with both anger and arousal, and she had nowhere to channel the sheer amount of frustration she was currently experiencing. Ginny was still downstairs, and she took one look at Hermione and shot to her feet.

 

"What happened?" her voice was hard, concerned. Ginny Weasley was always ready to go to war for her friends, and this could easily be one of those times.

 

Hermione, who was obviously livid, found it hard to find the proper words through her anger. "I cannot believe the nerve of that little–" she seethed, cutting herself off. Her hands were curling into fists at her sides, looking for somewhere to exert all of the things she wasn't used to feeling all at once - or on such a scale. Her breathing was rattling as it pulsed in and out of her chest, heart pounding with the fire coursing through her veins.

 

"What did he do?" Ginny pressed, seeming aghast at what Malfoy could have possibly done to put Hermione in such a state. Granted, he was awful and irritating at the best of times – but even after all these years, she'd never seen her friend so completely worked up over him.

 

Still bursting with endless amounts of agitated energy, Hermione started pacing. Luckily, the common room was empty due to the late hour, so there was no one to overhear their conversation.

 

"That sick fuck had the audacity to edge me for twenty minutes and not get me off," she practically spat through clenched teeth. "Twenty minutes, Ginny. I cannot believe him." She wanted so badly to go down to the dungeons and set him on fucking fire, he could burn with her and see how he liked it. With just how peeved she was, she'd probably laugh as she did it and then proceed to happily dance around his body as it burned.

 

After all, she was still burning everywhere because of him, so it was only fair.

 

Ginny had already known about their tryst between the metaphorical sheets from weeks back, and was all for it happening again – mostly, she'd claimed, for Hermione's benefit. But this was behavior she hadn't foreseen, even from him.

 

"And what's more," she continued, somehow getting visibly more angry as she relived the experience, "is that he said it was a punishment." She barked out a laugh. "As if that sod has any right to call out my behavior. He should really take a look in the mirror."

 

"Did he say what it was for?" Ginny asked as she sat back down, waiting for her to spill.

 

Hermione's anger morphed suddenly and into a wry, sarcastic smile. "The kiss."

 

Ginny gasped, eyes wide. "What?"

 

"He said it was retaliation for my 'misbehavior.'" Hermione finally plopped down onto the couch, arms still crossed indignantly.

 

"Do I even want to know what he means by misbehaving?" Ginny asked, conjuring a cup of tea and handing it to Hermione. Her eyes glittered as she rolled the thought around in her head. "Okay, yes, I definitely want to know what he meant by that."

 

Hermione chuckled in spite of herself. "He said it was for kissing him and then walking away."

 

If Ginny had been drinking anything, she would have spit it out at her words. "He said that? To you? To your face? Was he under duress?"

 

Rolling her eyes, Hermione took a long sip of her tea before saying, "Shut up, Ginny."

 

"I'm sorry, I can't help it. It's just so ridiculous. I can't imagine that Malfoy would be that angry about metaphorical blue balls," She paused, propping her hand up on her knee to rest her chin on it. "I mean, it is technically true," she acquiesced.

 

"Even so, what right does that give him to pull something like this?" And, like the flip of a switch, Hermione was back on her feet, angrily pacing the room. Ginny's eyes followed her, convinced she would wear a hole in the floor by the time they were done speaking.

 

"So... you still haven't..." she let the sentence trail off, leaving the question to be inferred by Hermione.

 

"No!" she half screamed.

 

"Okay, let's think about this logically," Ginny tried to placate her friend. "I'll do that part this time, since you're so... you know." She at least had the decency to look sympathetic.

 

"Oh, you're so kind," Hermione said sarcastically, rolling her eyes.

 

Ignoring her attitude completely, Ginny replied, "So clearly, Malfoy thinks he has some kind of control over you, some kind of power or something. I say you have two options here."

 

"I'm listening," Hermione said as she sat back down.

 

"Option one," Ginny held up a finger, ticking her first idea off her list. "You play into it. Lean into the fact that he needs to hold something over you, and just act like a lost puppy until he caves." She shot her a knowing look. "But you'd have to become a supremelygood actress in order for him to buy that. I can't picture you ever voluntarily listening to Malfoy."

 

"No, not happening," Hermione shook her head. "That's the nice option, so I'm assuming there's a meaner one? I want that," she said.

 

"Ah, you know me so well. Of course there's a meaner option," Ginny rolled her eyes. "Option two," she popped up a second finger, "is that you take what control he thinks he has away from him. You need to show him who's really in control here."

 

"I'm almost scared to ask what you have in mind," Hermione eyed her warily.

 

A sinister grin grew on her face. "Well it's obvious isn't it? You fuck someone else." Ginny shrugged nonchalantly, as if this idea wouldn't blow Hermione away.

 

Hermione's eyes blew wide, inhaling a sharp breath. "Well, that seems a bit counterproductive, don't you think?" she was too shocked to form a coherent argument.

 

"You'd think so, wouldn't you?" Ginny smiled. "But clearly, he thinks he has some kind of... ownership over you, so if you want to go down this path, you need to make him question that."

 

Hermione rolled the idea around in her head, a bit uneasy with the prospect. "That could work," she said slowly. "I don't really know how I feel about that – I'd want to think about it some more." She regarded her friend nervously. "Who did you have in mind?"

 

"Oh, I'm so glad you asked." A purely maniacal smile grew on Ginny's face. "There's a Gryffindor party coming up this weekend, so who can you think of in our House that would gladly let you use him and brag about it afterwards, so that Malfoy definitely finds out?

 

Oh, and the cherry on top is that I happen to know for a definite fact that Malfoy hates him."

 

Considering the men of her year, there was only one who fit the criteria Ginny was listing. The blood drained from Hermione's face. "No," she whispered, "no, you can't possibly mean–"

 

"Oh, but I do. You, my sweet Hermione, are going to hook up with Cormac McLaggen."

 

-

 

Draco had expected Snape to call him into his office much sooner than he had. It had been weeks since their last meeting, and it was slightly concerning, all things considered. He'd been tiptoeing around his superior since their last chat, as if he were expecting to get yelled at.

 

He made sure his Occlumency shields were up and strong before stepping through the door. There was no way he wanted Snape to see the absolute mess that was happening inside his head. As it turned out, it seemed that his suspicions weren't all that far off. He had an educated guess as to what he was in for by the look on Snape's face when he walked in.

 

"And how have you been progressing?" he asked as Draco walked in, chin lifted up just slightly.

 

Defiantly rolling his eyes and sitting in the chair with his back ramrod straight, he bit out, "Fine." He wanted to skip the formalities and cut straight to it so he could be out of there as soon as possible. After all, he had to meet Granger. And if he said he weren't positively itching to see her after his little stunt the other day, he'd be lying.

 

"Elaborate," Snape prodded, drawing the word out, clearly unwilling to relent.

 

Draco sighed. "We've started to... get closer," although he knew that wasn't the right word, "I suppose. I daresay it's going well." He thought. "I still have time, so I'm not all that worried about it," he said as he checked his shields again, schooling his face into that of a disinterested - and borderline bored - expression. Of course, he was worried - he had less than five months to make her fall head over heels for him.

 

And that was about as likely to happen as it was for him to fall for her.

 

Shifting in his seat and wrapping his fingers tightly around the armrests, he met his Godfather's probing stare. "You're not... concerned?" Snape steepled his fingers, pressing them together and peering at Draco from over his fingertips.

 

Very suddenly, Draco was well aware that he'd chosen the wrong words. "I've got it all under control," he said offhandedly. "Granger still doesn't seem to know what hit her." After last night, he figured that much was true at least.

 

Snape's eyes narrowed and he stood, hands pressing into the desk as he leaned onto them. Draco stared up at him, suddenly uneasy. "Need I remind you what lies at stake? I shouldn't think I have to, but clearly, you lack the common sense to take this seriously. Self-preservation is a Slytherin instinct, is it not? Have you been missorted? Shall we place you with the Hufflepuffs? Or perhaps the Lions' den would suit you better considering how overconfident you're acting."

 

He kept going, not letting up on his verbal lashing. Draco resisted the urge to curl into himself. "The Dark Lord himself assigned this to you. If you fail, not only will you be killed, the rest of your family will as well. He is eager to find a reason to punish you all, especially with your father's recent failure, so it would be in your best interests not to give him one."

 

Slightly recoiling away from Snape, he gnawed at his cheek as he feigned impassivity – even though he was sure he could see right through it. "Why do you care so much?" he pressed. Draco knew it wasn't his brightest moment, but he simply couldn't find it in himself to care.

 

Snape's voice lowered so it was deadly quiet. "Need I remind you that I took an Unbreakable Vow for you? There are no contingency plans if you fail this, Draco. Contrary to what you may think, I am not fond of dying just because of your disinterest in this project."

 

Fucking hell. It was so easy to get caught up in this, in his own little bubble with Granger – to get caught up in her – and forget about why he was doing this in the first place. Everything he could possibly give two fucks about is entirely dependent upon his victory over her stubbornness. In a way, he was almost jealous of her. If he had the option to turn his back on this, to walk away with no consequences, he would.

 

The realization surprised him. Hermione Granger had become much more important than a pawn in his game. And the kicker was that she probably always had been.

 

As Draco opened his mouth to answer, he heard a knock at the door and immediately pursed his lips. Snape shot him a warning look. He suppressed a snort - as if he needed to be told to shut up about this subject.

 

"Enter."

 

The door swung open, and behind it stood Graham Montague.

 

Something about the look on his face set Draco on edge, and he decided then and there he didn't trust him for a second. His eyes narrowed imperceptibly at the intruder.

 

"Sorry to interrupt, Professor," Graham said smoothly. "I had an important matter that I needed to discuss with you. I find that it's quite... pressing." His eyes flickered back to Draco, and they seemed... knowing. As if he had heard every word of their conversation.

 

And who's to say he hadn't? The Weasley brothers' products were doing quite well, and he knew for a fact that Extendable Ears were quite popular. He could only hope that Snape had put privacy wards up.

 

"That's fine," Snape said, sitting back down and giving Draco a nod of dismissal. "Mr. Malfoy and I were just finishing up here."

 

As he stood up to leave, Draco couldn't help but feel that somewhere during the conversation, it had shifted from a disappointed lecture to something that almost sounded akin to a desperate plea.

 

-

 

Granger was late. Again.

 

Draco twirled his wand in his left hand. His right hand was tapping a rhythm against the table incessantly as he waited for her.

 

Finally, she walked in leisurely, taking her sweet time. It only angered him further. "You're late," Draco deadpanned, pushing his tongue into his cheek to keep from biting it.

 

Granger adamantly avoided his piercing gaze. "You're early, not my fault," she shrugged. She slowly pulled out her notes, almost as if she were hoping that he would cancel the session or walk out on her before it started. So he simply refused to give her that satisfaction.

 

His brow raised at her flippant tone, lips curling into a sneer. "My time is very valuable Granger, I don't appreciate it being wasted."

 

"Well I think it would do you well to remember that I'm the one doing you a favor here, so keep that in mind when you're trying to chastise me for being 'late,'" she said, clearly hoping to dismiss the matter entirely.

 

He rolled his eyes and crossed his arms over his chest, not missing the way her eyes quickly flitted over to take in his biceps. Draco smirked, but kept the realization to himself and said, "Well, next time you're late I might have to take matters into my own hands."

 

"What, like punishing me again?" Her voice whipped out harshly, and it seemed like she hadn't considered her words before she said them. Her cheeks flushed and she looked away from him.

 

A smirk stretched across his face, and his entire body language changed. He started twirling his wand in his fingers again in order to draw attention to them. He wanted her to remember what they could do to her. "Why, did you like it? I wouldn't be surprised if you did." His voice was silky smooth and full of insinuations.

 

Her face flushed deeper and her fingers twitched, as if she were trying really hard to not slap him. "I refuse to dignify that awfully invasive question with a response."

 

Draco Malfoy knew full well what denial looked like on her by now. "So... that means it's a yes." He wanted to hear her admit it, but he knew that it was more likely that she'd admit she was in love with him right then and there.

 

Granger quickly opened a book to a random page, barely skimming through the words. "I never said that." She was clearly aiming for an aloof tone but failing miserably.

 

"Well you're denying it, so I can only assume that, since you're avoiding the question, it's a yes." He set the quill down, leaning forward to try to get her attention. "It's really not hard, Granger, I have you figured out pretty well by now if I do say so myself."

 

"Well excuse me if I don't take your word for it," she huffed, slamming her book closed and putting it down more loudly than she should have. She finally met his gaze as she looked up at him, irritated. "You don't know the first thing about me."

 

Oh, now this was just amusing. She was purposely baiting him and didn't even realize it. "You really think I don't?"

 

He wanted control. Craved it, thrived on it, needed it, got off on it. If it wouldn't come to him, he'd seek it out. And he was going to do that by pissing her off some more, taking matters back into his own hands just like he had last night. He was going to poke a sleeping Lion and he was going to milk every second of it.

 

Here's your chance to run, Granger. You should take it.

 

Granger looked him dead in the eye, jaw clenched and hands balled into fists. "No, I really don't."

 

Don't say I didn't warn you.

 

"As much as you say you feel comfortable here, you don't. That's why you overcompensate with... that," he gestured to the book in front of her. "You also definitely have major imposter syndrome–"

 

"How do you even know what that is Malfoy?"

 

Draco continued as if she hadn't spoken. "–so you insert yourself into every experience you possibly can in order to validate your feelings. And I do mean every experience." He shot her a knowing look.

 

"You have it all wrong–"

 

"And, not only that, but you also told me that you would never 'soil yourself with the likes of me,' but then immediately turned around and let me fuck you. Now how's that work, Granger?"

 

"I just–"

 

"See, I always knew you'd like it rough too. You always have to be in control of everything, so it would only make sense that you'd be submissive in the bedroom," he calculated.

"Malfoy–"

 

"Not to mention the fact that you practically beg people to tell you how well you did on assignments, how great you are at magic. I'd be willing to bet that you have a praise kink. I'm also speaking from experience, don't you forget."

 

"Stop it, or I'll–"

 

"And," he continued casually, "from the way you've always responded to my insults, I bet you have a bit of degradation kink too." He lowered his voice conspiratorially. "Tell me, would calling you Mudblood right as you start to come tip you over the edge? I bet it would," he whispered at her.

 

She gasped lowly. It wasn't a sound of disgust or anger, but more one of shock – and if he didn't know better – twinged with a hint of desire. Her arousal was just as easy to spot as her denial. The girl was as open a book as the one she was clutching in her hands like it was her salvation.

 

A grin slowly split across his face. "Oh, so you would like that, yeah?" He leaned back in satisfaction, taking in the way she was shifting in her seat and how flushed her skin was. "I'll keep that in mind for next time."

 

"There won't be a next time, Malfoy," she hissed out at him.

 

"Oh?" he asked, standing up and leaning over her. He bent down, lips brushing against her ear. Feeling her shudder, he whispered, "I just proved that I know more about you than you do, Granger. There will definitely be a next time." He grabbed his bag and made for the exit. "That is, if I let you have it," he called back to her, ignoring the looks he got for it.

 

Now he understood why she kept walking away from him. It really was incredibly satisfying to feel her eyes watch him as he left her there.

 

-

 

The Gryffindor common room was booming with vibrant energy. There had been no Quidditch match this time around. However, Gryffindor House were happy to use the slightest excuse to party and let loose – including the fact that they just wanted to get drunk and have fun.

 

Hermione though, considered herself to be anything but loose. She was tightly wound, considering the current state of her to-do list – pun fully intended.

 

She could see Ginny across the room, continuing to shoot her encouraging glances. Grimacing at the thought, she tipped the entirety of her drink into her mouth, and swallowed. She pulled a face - that had never gotten any easier.

 

Continuing to drink until she felt drunk enough to do what she needed to, she had the simply fantastic idea to start up a game of truth or dare. Hermione decided it would suffice as an in - Cormac was never one to pass up such an opportunity. He was annoying like that, always trying to show off his conquests.

 

Ginny, of course, knew to go along with it and helped Hermione corral a small group together. They were both giggling the entire time, tripping over their own feet.

 

Plopping down in a circle with Ginny, McLaggen, Dean, Lavender, Parvati, Seamus, Harry, and Ron, Hermione kicked things off, daring Harry to go and kiss the portrait of the Fat Lady.

 

The game continued, much of which Hermione wasn't paying attention to, until Ginny called her name. "Hermione," she smirked, eyes glinting, "I dare you to snog McLaggen."

 

Hermione knew she was a shit actress, especially when she was drunk, but right now she needed to get him in bed - of course, as long as he was willing. Worst case scenario, a really good snog should do it. Unfortunately, she had a feeling that he would be happy to participate in her little scheme.

 

She didn't have to try to fidget nervously or force the blush to color her cheeks. She was just hoping that he would take it as nervous anticipation instead of disdain of having to do this at all.

 

The look on his face was enough to make her chug the rest of her drink in preparation and fight off a roll of her eyes. He got up, walked over to her, and kissed her.

 

He was a sloppy kisser. His tongue was loose in her mouth, swooping around her own lazily without a sense of purpose. His hands rested lamely on her shoulders, and she knew that when he pulled away that he would have left far more saliva than could be considered normal.

 

Still, she leaned into it, acting like it was the best kiss she'd ever had. Whatever it took to plant the idea in his brain that she was into him.

 

A wolf whistle broke them apart, and she wanted to figure out who it was so she could send them a thank you gift for causing their separation. Ginny shot her a look, checking in on her, and she gave her the briefest of nods in response.

 

"I'm going to go get another drink. Anyone want one?" she asked as she stood up from the circle. Everyone shook their heads, and as she left, she made her hips sway more than would have been normal, shooting a sly glance over her shoulder at him. Hermione caught his eyes rake over her retreating figure as he made to follow her.

 

Gross.

 

She took a few sips of the drink she had just poured, steeling herself as she felt him come up behind her. His hands snaked around her waist, pulling her back against his chest. She took another sip of her drink as he bent down to kiss at her neck.

 

Tilting it to give him better access, she faked a small moan. Feeling his lips curve up against her skin, he turned her around to kiss him. It was just as bad as the first time.

 

After what felt like too long, he pulled away from her and asked, "Do you wanna get out of here?" She resisted the urge to wipe her mouth.

 

Hermione nodded, too worried that her voice would betray her if she tried. Part of her didn't really want to go through with this, but another part was curious to see if he was as bad as everyone said he was.

 

Plus, picturing Malfoy's reaction to this development would be enough to push her through this. She couldn't wait to see how rage would look on him.

 

She followed McLaggen to the top of the tower, contemplating her decision. She'd certainly had enough to drink, but not enough where he could be considered to be taking advantage of her. Rather, she could be accused of taking advantage of him in a way - knowing the reaction that Malfoy was likely to give when he found out.

 

But he was simply a means to an end.

 

Entering his room, he had her undressed and on his bed in no time at all. She would remember to thank the alcohol later for giving her the courage she so desperately needed to go through with this, or else it never would have happened.

 

The inexperienced idiot didn't even try to finger or go down on her before he lined up and pushed in, and he mistook her moan of discomfort for that of pleasure. "I knew you wanted this," he breathed in her ear. He started thrusting, slow at first, and then quickly speeding up.

 

She knew he would be the type to only care for his own pleasure, though she had almost hoped to be wrong. He was making the weirdest noises, saying things that made her skin crawl a bit. Things like, "Gods, Granger, thank you for letting me fuck you, you're unreal," and, "I knew you wanted this just like I did."

 

Not to mention the fact that he was staring down at her and all she wanted was for him to shut his eyes. In a desperate attempt not to snap at him, she closed her eyes and let her mind drift to more pleasant thoughts.

 

In her mind's eye, she wasn't with Cormac at all. She was spread open on a desk, the wood biting into her skin, skirt rucked up around her waist. He wasn't being gentle, but was using her for his pleasure, just like he'd said.

 

His fingers found her heat, and started stroking her clit. She gasped at the memory. Cormac said something to her, but she had no idea what it was. Hermione was somewhere else.

 

Memory Draco took notice of her writhing and replaced his fingers with his tongue. Her thighs tightened around his head, and he pulled away from her just as she was about to come.

 

Finally, after she begged, he slammed into her, bottoming out in one hard thrust. He refused to be gentle with her, pounding her into the desk so hard she would be shocked if there weren't splinters later.

 

She was thrumming with the way her body was coiling around him, wanting desperately for him to let her come. She was begging, the words falling past her lips faster than she could form them.

 

"Come for me," memory Draco whispered in her ear, and she did. She came flying back to the present as she orgasmed around an entirely different man than the one she'd been imagining – the one she'd been wishing it was. Feeling completely thrown off by the whole thing, she waited for him to finish before pulling her clothes back on and walking out.

 

Either this was the most devious idea she'd ever executed, or she'd just created an even bigger storm than the one she was already in. And it was one she feared she may not get out of alive.

 



Chapter 15: Chapter 14: Indignation
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

A/N:  The last chapter was awful, I know. I'm sorry. This one should make up for it...wink wink.

 

Betawork done by AlmondMilkTeaDoubleBoba and LeilahMoon + a huge thank you to lost_poetx!

 

Buckle up. This one's a roller coaster.

 

xoxo, carmen

 

-

 

Naricssa Malfoy looked at him, hoping against hope that he would understand what he was asking. "Please," she asked. "I know there is something that you can do for him. I hate to ask this of you Severus, but you must understand that I will do anything to save him from the dark future that awaits him." She tried hard to fight the swell of emotion that surged through her as she said, "He's just a boy."

 

Turning away from where he was looking out the window and surveying her pleading gaze, he responded, "You must know I am already doing all I can, Narcissa. I, too, do not wish for him to fail."

 

"Then you need to teach me," she implored. "You must. I need you to tell me what to do," she was wringing her hands together as she stepped toward him. "I know you cannot compromise your status in his ranks, but if I lose Draco, I have nothing left. I need you to teach me how to brew it."

 

He raised an inquisitive eyebrow. "You wish to learn how to brew...?" Snape trailed off.

 

"Shh!" she stuttered out a whisper, glancing around the room. "You can't say it. He must not know of this... contingency plan, if you will." She sighed, closing her eyes. "I know this is a lot to ask, but you know I wouldn't even consider it if there were another way."

 

"I understand. I took the Vow, I knew it might come to this," he nodded, dragging his finger around the rim of the glass. "How is your Occlumency?"

 

"Impenetrable. I have been a skilled Occlumens for years, Severus. I learned from you." Narcissa almost looked insulted as she raised an eyebrow at him. "He will not know anything I do not wish him to."

 

Snape nodded once. "Good," he said. "Provided you can keep it that way, I will help you." He turned back to the window. "But no one can know about this, especially Draco. I'm indulging your theory, Narcissa, though I do believe you will be incorrect at the end." He took a sip of his Firewhisky thoughtfully. "However, I believe you're capable, and so I will assist."

 

"Thank you, Severus," Narcissa whispered, her words sounding like a hushed prayer. "If this goes as planned, this will change everything."

 

"If you are right," Snape muttered, "then yes, I suppose it will."

 

-

 

Meandering his way through the corridor on the way to the Great Hall to meet Theo and Blaise, Draco walked past a group of Gryffindor boys. Thoroughly planning on tuning them out – because truly, there was nothing a Gryffindor could say to hold his interest – but he thought he heard something out of one of their annoying little mouths.

 

"I can't believe you actually fucked her," one of them said. "The Gryffindor princess," he snickered, "I really never would have thought."

 

Draco nearly stopped in his tracks before realizing that would be too obvious, so he slowed his steps instead as he inconspicuously cocked his head to listen further.

 

"What was she like?" the boy asked. "I've been imaging what she'd be like in bed since the fucking Yule Ball two years ago," he said, punching the perpetrator's arm. Draco craned his neck a bit to see who it was.

 

His stomach dropped. Cormac McLaggen.

 

What the fuck? There was no way that could be true. No way would Granger have lowered herself to soil herself with... with that.

 

"Honestly mate, I was pretty drunk," he said sheepishly, scratching his neck. "But from what I remember," he lowered his voice conspiratorially, but not low enough to not be overheard by anyone keen on listening, "she was a right freak, if you know what I mean," he waggled his eyebrows.

 

Draco saw red.

 

His fingers positively itched, twitching towards his wand to hex McLaggen. Hell, he wanted to see the worthless sod fucking bleed for laying a finger on her. Granger was his, and what was his was never to be shared. However, the Slytherin in him rationalized that he couldn't show his hand all at once. He needed to find a more discreet way to exact revenge on the tosser who had...tainted her, without implicating himself in the matter. Fortunately, the Fates sent him an opportunity rather quickly.

 

Speeding up so as to not get caught, he rounded the corner and almost ran smack into Potter and Weasley. His head was spinning.

 

Catching himself, and twisting his face into the nastiest sneer he could manage, he spit out, "Evidently everyone's getting a turn with Granger." He nodded in the direction of the corner just as a loud burst of laughter surfaced from what could only be McLaggen's group.

 

He snorted. "First the Weasel. Then the Chosen One. Now her standards are lowering I hear. Where can I sign up?" he taunted as a particularly nasty smirk grew on his face. "I normally wouldn't deign to bed a Mudblood but...it's been a slow year. I'm willing to have a dalliance with the new school broom. McLaggen has given quite the glowing and detailed review."

 

One of his favorite things about riling up the dimwitted duo was getting to see their reactions. The way their faces twisted in anger as they slowly processed his words and the insults laced through them was the ultimate satisfaction.

 

Weasley's face always flushed so predictably, Potter's screwed up while he thought of a retort, and Granger usually rolled her eyes.

Finally, Potter found words. "What did you say, Malfoy?"

 

That drew a snort from him. "You heard me loud and clear." Draco stepped closer. "When's my turn? I'm sure that I could only be an improvement on the last tosser who had her." His voice was low and menacing. "Especially if he was the one who broke her in," he snickered, knowing full well that he wasn't. "That would be a shitty way to lose your virginity."

 

Potter was also slightly quicker on the uptake than his ginger oaf of a sidekick. He realized that Granger's liaisons were becoming fodder for the school gossip mill. The Weasel was more focused on the slurs and the innuendo coming out of Draco's mouth than the subtext it carried. Though Draco would deny it later, he was thankful for Potter's status the moment he dragged the other Gryffindor into battle for Hermione Granger's honor. He afforded Draco the opportunity to watch as Cormac McLaggen was properly punished for his transgressions - taking what wasn't his.

 

"MCLAGGEN!" Potter roared as he rounded the corner with all the force of the lion he represented. As with anything Saint Potter did, it drew an attentive audience. Potter had his wand clenched tightly at his side, though Draco wondered if he would opt for a classic fist to the face instead.

 

McLaggen, to no one's surprise, lacked the good sense to be intimidated. In fact, he seemed to grow even more smug as he realized who was calling his name. In this moment, his arrogance seemed to rival Draco's – which only angered him more. Draco took to the sidelines, leaning back against the wall as he waited for the show to unfold in front of him.

 

"Potter. Come to hear how our resident Golden Girl screamed for me? I never pegged you for the type to want to hear about my conquests, but I'm happy to repeat the tale. Though..." he tsked, "only if you asked nicely."

 

The Weasel had finally caught up and now had a new target for his anger. Without words, he thrust the tip of his wand into McLaggen's throat and pushed him roughly up against the castle wall. The sound his head made as it collided with the centuries old stone echoed throughout the corridor.

 

If walls could talk, this would be a story for the ages.

 

"You will keep her name out of your mouth or I will hex it closed," Weasley hissed at him. "Perhaps a few days with a broken jaw would be good for you. 'Mione is not some notch in your bedpost for you to parade around." Weasley's voice grew deeper as his threats grew more serious. "If I hear another whisper of this, you won't remember your own name, let alone the lies you've been spreading."

Draco, although he'd never admit it, found himself mentally applauding the show playing out in front of him. If he were Weasley, he wouldn't have been quite so overt in his threats, but the satisfaction still coursed through his veins at seeing the wariness behind McLaggen's eyes. Potter stood back, arms crossed menacingly, awaiting his turn.

 

McLaggen had the audacity to chuckle at the threat.

 

At the sound, Potter finally snapped, aiming his wand and throwing what were some long-repressed hexes. McLaggen was twisting to and fro, doing his best to avoid the impact of the impending Stinging Jinxes. Then, Potter met his target with a Jelly-Legs Curse that forced the Gryffindor to cling to the Weasel, who was still pinning him to the wall.

 

Never one for self-preservation, McLaggen smirked and made eye contact with Potter, who was panting from the exertion. "Looks like I'm not the only one who's talking. Granger could barely walk after I was done with her."

 

That tried Draco's patience, but, as he made to step forward, Weasley threw an unexpected right hook into McLaggen's face that sent his head reeling backward to smack, once again, into the rough stone. The rest of the punches blurred together as Draco's eyes met golden brown across the hallway. Granger had finally joined the crowd and he couldn't catalogue her emotions fast enough. He saw the exact moment she realized what had taken place and that explained the lingering look of fear etched across her features.

 

Oddly enough, his first instinct was to go and make sure she was okay. His feet almost angled to walk to her, but then he remembered himself as he righted his body language.

 

Montague materialized behind him and laughed at the display. "Fighting over the Mudblood, are they?" he nodded at the mess in front of them.

 

Draco's head snapped to look at the scrawny boy next to him. Before he could register the weird feeling at hearing the word used in a deadly serious manner, he spoke again. "I can't understand it. If Potter or the Weasel wanted her so badly, they could just take her," he shrugged. "It's not like she's in a position to refuse the likes of an actual wizard."

 

The nonchalant way he'd let the words roll off his tongue made Draco shift uneasily. He decided to store it away for a later time. For now, at least, he knew enough not to trust Montague for a second. Draco Malfoy may be a complete ass at the best of times, but he never did anything to or with a witch without getting an enthusiastic 'yes.'

 

He had a feeling that Granger would depart before things got too insane, so he snuck around the back of the crowd to find somewhere to lie in wait. Sure enough, he heard the unmistakable sound of her muttering to herself. "What," he snarled as he reached out and grabbed her roughly, yanking her into his alcove, "the fuck did you do." His eyes were dark and heavy as he stared down at her.

 

Finally, he could get the truth from her. For all he knew, he'd unleashed the dumbass duo on McLaggen over a lie. Which, if it were a lie, and the git was saying shit about Granger without her knowing about it, he wouldn't regret it for a second.

 

She looked at him, eyes blown wide and cheeks tinted red, panting as she took in his angry posture. Her back was to the wall, arms caging her in, and his hot breath fanned across her face.

 

Though entrapped by both his body and the circumstance, her stance changed to that of defiance. "What do you mean?" She met his eyes, looking up into the turbulent pools of steel.

 

"McLaggen," he snarled down at her. "Did you fuck him, yes or no?" He knew the answer, but he wanted to know if she would admit it to him, if she would bare her soul in honesty. There had to be a reason, a plausible explanation as to why she pulled that little stunt when she knew damn well that she was his. His to fuck, his to caress, to cherish, to own, to use.

 

His.

 

Her answer left her in the form of a nod.

 

Draco's fist drew back abruptly and slammed back into the brick next to her head. Granger flinched. "Why," he seethed, moving in closer to her as she tried to melt into the wall, "would you do that?"

 

Her eyes narrowed and her nerve appeared to come back in spades. "Because you wouldn't," she said defiantly. "So I went and found someone who would."

 

The sound that left him could only be described as animalistic. His eyes glowed with the force of his anger, and he tilted her head to roughly attach his lips to her neck. "'I wouldn't' you said?" he asked her. He relished the sound of her responding whimper.

 

She gasped as he sucked on a sweet spot. "N–no," she said, "and I begged, and you still wouldn't. So this – this is me punishing you." Granger gripped his forearms and with a burst of strength, flipped him so that his back was against the wall. "How does it feel, Draco? Hm? To know that someone else has had me?" she asked. "That someone else kissed me in all the same places as you did, made me moan, made me come?" Her voice was breathy as she ground her hips down against his leg. "And that it wasn't you?"

 

His breath left him suddenly as his anger rose with the force of a tidal wave and she surged up on her toes to kiss him roughly. His arms automatically encircled her, pulling her in closer, and her fingers reached up as she started to undo the buttons of his shirt.

 

Realizing what was happening, Draco flipped her back and slipped his hand under her shirt to roll her nipple between his fingers. "This is mine," he growled. Peppering kisses from her neck down to her collarbone. "This is mine."

 

Roughly palming both breasts so she groaned, "These," he hissed, "are mine."

 

He removed one hand, and gripped her chin hard, jerking it so she had no choice but to meet his eyes. "You are mine. What part of that do you not understand?"

 

She moaned, but he silenced her with a rough kiss. "I didn't silence or disillusion the alcove, Granger, so you're going to have to behave," he chuckled darkly against her skin. "Do you think you can do that?" he asked as his lips ghosted up her neck and nibbled her earlobe.

 

"Yes," she breathed. "Yes."

 

Smirking, he reached his hand down beneath her skirt to slip his fingers against her heat. Leaning down to run his tongue around the outer edge of her nipple, he let out another chuckle. "You're soaked already. Is that all for me?" he asked innocently, looking up at her from his place on her chest.

 

Granger nodded, biting her lip as she stared down at him, her lips parting as she sighed heavily at his touch.

 

"Good girl," he smirked. "We should keep it that way, yeah? All of this," he lightly stroked her from her clit and then moved to tease his fingers against her entrance, "just for me." He caught the bottom lip of her open mouth between his teeth. "All mine. Don't you agree?" Draco asked. "Because if you don't," he removed his fingers, "you know I'll have to punish you again," he tsked.

 

"No," she pleaded, "no it's yours. All yours. Please," she begged as she canted her hips up toward his fingers.

 

He wanted to oblige her – and in turn, himself.

 

Draco loved watching her reaction to him. Granger always gave in to her baser instincts when he had a part of him inside of her, teasing her, and being able to debase her like this was starting to become one of his favorite things to do. Truly, he knew he was the only one who had the power to.

 

Deep down, he knew he had successfully ruined her for anyone else – and he'd only had her once.

 

Slowly dipping one finger inside of her, she keened under him at the contact she'd been craving. "You've been dying for this, haven't you?" he hummed against her. "Do you want more?" She nodded eagerly.

 

Retracting his finger, he pushed in two instead. Pumping them slowly, he took his time with her. Every other time had been so rushed, so frenzied, he wanted to feel every inch of her, memorize her, savor her, appreciate her, worship her. Curling his fingers so they pressed against her front wall, he pressed the spot within her that made her legs tremble and her insides tighten.

 

"Please," she said, and it sounded like a prayer. "Please."

 

The sound of her pleas echoed through him and it made him want to want to give her the fucking world on a silver fucking platter. He'd do anything, be anything if he remained the only one who was able to see her like this, hear her like this.

 

Fuck her like this.

 

"Oh, I do love it when you beg," he cooed. "It sounds so pretty falling from your lips – especially when it's all for me," he purred. "Do you know how irresistible you sound, how much you look like a fucking goddess when you're spread open for me like this? When I'm winding you up so perfectly, just the way I know you like?" He dipped low to kiss the corner of her mouth. "You know no one can do this like I can."

 

"Answer me, Granger," he demanded, his tone hardening.

 

Apparently she seemed to like that, since he felt her tighten around him and gasp out a near-silent, "Yes."

 

"That's what I thought. Always so good for me," he whispered, glancing at the doorway to their alcove. "You're being so quiet, I'm so proud of you."

 

If Draco hadn't pinpointed by now that she reacted well when he praised her, he would have at this. Rolling her hips against the fingers inside of her, she keened under him. "Please," she implored him. "Please, I want you inside of me. I'll be good, I'll be so good, I promise."

 

His eyes almost rolled back in his head at her words. He'd never tell her, but gods did they do something to him. He adored the way she asked him for what she wanted, the way she trusted him to take care of her. She gave him control every single time, and he relished in the fact that she had placed enough trust in him – however misplaced it may have been – to give him what he needed.

 

It made him glow with pride. It was a dark kind of pride, tinted with sinister and possessive undertones, but it was pride nonetheless.

 

He knew that there was no way she could possibly react to anyone the same way she did to him. Even if he had once suspected her to be faking the sensations she felt, that inkling had been long dismissed. The way her body reacted was purely chemical, completely sensual.

 

It was primal.

 

They had been branded by each other. It felt like a white hot, searing realization that shattered his resolve. It wasn't a stretch to say that in no world did he prefer the brand on his arm to the one of her, the unmistakable imprint she'd left on his soul.

 

Whatever determination he'd had to deny her, whatever she wanted in that moment, immediately dissipated. No matter when they walked away from this – if they ever walked away from this – there would always be a piece of her ingrained in his soul. And he suspected it would be the same for her. They would never be able to ignore the pull they had, the undeniable orbit they were trapped in.

 

Abruptly removing his fingers so that she whimpered, he had his zipper down and cock out before she knew it. She reached down for him, whining, and her pupils were blown wide with a rim of melted chocolate around the edges.

 

He let her wrap her hand around him, and he groaned at the contact. Her hand was warm and firm as she stroked him. Draco brought his hands around her and lifted her up. Granger was breathing heavily, teeth digging into her bottom lip as she writhed. He lined himself up with her, teasing her as he pressed the tip of himself against her clit. She wriggled and whined, trying to get him inside of her.

 

Draco let out a low chuckle that bit off into a groan as he lined himself up and slowly sank inside her. She was already pulsing from his earlier ministrations, and her lips parted once more in a silent gasp as he filled her.

 

"Fuck, you're so tight," he hissed. "You're so good for me. Stay quiet, love," he said, completely dismissing the easy way the pet name rolled off his tongue as he started thrusting shallowly. "We don't want anyone to hear you moaning my name now, do we?" Somehow he managed to keep his snarky tone of voice even though he was overcome with the sheer feel of her.

 

Granger nodded as he fucked up into her. "You said you moaned for him, did you?" he panted. "Well you may have been moaning for him, but by the time I'm done with you, you'll have lost your voice because of how loud you were screaming for me," his voice was ragged agasint her ear before moving to capture her lips in a rough kiss.

 

She whined, meeting him thrust for thrust.

 

"God you're such a fucking whore. Letting him use you – bet he didn't fuck you like this, did he Granger? I'd bet it was soft, slow, missionary. Did he even get you wet? Did he tell you how divine you looked when he had you wrapped around his cock?" he hissed. "No one can fuck you like I can. No one can tease you like I can."

 

"I'd be willing to bet he didn't even make you come," a dry laugh left him. "Or did he?"

 

Granger tipped her head back to avoid his gaze.

 

"Tell me, or I won't let you come," he growled.

 

"Yes," she said, "but I–" she cut herself off, cheeks flushing a deeper crimson. Her lustful eyes dropped to where they were joined. "I was thinking of you."

 

An unidentifiable feeling swelled within him. He slowed his thrusts, angling them so they hit deeper and she mewled in response. "Thought of this, did you?" he replied. "Thought of my cock buried inside your sweet, tight cunt while he was fucking you, is that right?" His teeth nipped at her ear. "You really are my little slut," he whispered.

 

Her teeth dug into her bottom lip.

 

"What else did you think about?" he asked her. "Tell me," he demanded in a rough voice.

 

He slowed down so she could expand her mental capacity in order to find words. "On a desk," she said, "you– you teased me before fucking me." Hitting a spot inside her, she whined.

 

"I didn't say to stop," he snapped. Her eyes flew to his in surprise, but she continued.

 

"You fucked me like– like I was a whore," she licked her lips as she ground her hips against him. He fought back a groan of his own. "Hard and fast, and I could only come because you let me."

 

Draco hummed in satisfaction, speeding his hips again. "That's my good girl, thinking of me to get through that horrible ordeal," he cooed affectionately. "He didn't feel half as good as this, did he?" he pushed, seeking validation of what he'd always known. "He didn't know the spots that made you wet, didn't know where to tease you to make you so tight and ready that you almost came the second he slid inside you. But, do you know who does know all of that, Granger?"

 

"I do," he growled.

 

Head tipped back in pleasure, she half-breathed and half-moaned a brittle, "Yes."

 

He'd successfully turned Hermione Granger into a girl who only knew one word. Lucky for him, it was the only word he had any desire to hear from her right now.

 

On a particularly satisfying thrust he whispered, "No one can make you come like I can."

 

She nodded quickly. Granger always started to lock up, to still her muscles as she neared her climax, and he knew she was close. "Isn't that right?" His lips found her nipple, one hand reaching between them to rub her clit.

 

"That's right," she whimpered. "Gods – no one like you. Just you. Only you," she gasped through her quiet, desperate moans. He reveled in the fact that only he could reduce her to partial sentences, if not complete incoherence.

 

But she had the power to do the same to him.

 

Releasing her nipple with a pop, he cooed, "Then prove it. Come for me."

 

His words were a catalyst. She tipped over the edge he'd constructed just for her. Her orgasm jettisoned through her, and her whole body spasmed as she constricted around him. "That's it, that's a good girl," he groaned. "Just like I imagined. Fucking perfect."

 

Draco followed shortly after, burying his face into her sweat-slick neck with a satiated groan. Stars exploded and died behind his eyelids and he was entirely enraptured with her – it felt like his body was a supernova. She was all he could see, feel, smell, hear. She was all he wanted in that moment. There was nothing but her – the entire world could have been ripped to shreds and burned to hell around them and he wouldn't have blinked twice, as long as she was there.

 

She was everything that was good in the world. Knowing what he was setting her up for was starting to drain him, to deteriorate his soul like the acid of Dark Magic that was inked into his skin and had stained his blood for eternity. So, as he came down, he buried this moment in his skies. Then, as he pushed her in between the pulsing of the constellations and found out he was inches away from bridging the gap between here and Nirvana, he shut her out.

 

Removing himself from her, and cleaning them up with a quick wave of his wand, she stared at him with her arms crossed. "Yes, Granger?" he asked wryly, giving her a head to toe once over that made her blush.

 

"What was that?" she retorted with a furrowed brow. "That... that–" she spluttered.


"What, you mean the explosive sex we just had?" he asked breezily. "I'd say it probably made my top five, wouldn't you?" he cast cooling charms on both of them, drying the sweat from their clothes.

 

"But– you– can't just spring something like that on me!" she protested, waving her hands around, hair starting to frizz out.

"And what is with all of this?!" Her gesture and words were vague, but he knew what she meant.

 

He raised a defiant eyebrow. "First of all, because I like to take care of you – in more ways than one. And second of all, whyever not? I'd say it was pretty successful if the mutual orgasms are any proof." Completely ignoring her jabs at him, he instead reached out to straighten her skirt and adjust her blouse.

 

"That– is not the point," she said, clearly frazzled. "The point is that–"

 

"No, Granger. The point," he seethed, his demeanor making a complete one-eighty as he arranged his own attire to its pristine state, "is that you," he pointed at her, "are mine. I don't share you with anyone else. I know you were a bit out of sorts last time I asked the question, so I'll ask again." He stepped closer to her. "What part of that do you not understand?"

 

Granger was breathing heavily. Her mouth opened and closed as if she were searching for words, but couldn't find any. Draco could almost see the tornado going on inside her brain. He sighed. "I'll make this clear, just to be on the safe side," he taunted. "If you want this," he gestured between the two of them, "to ever happen again – which I assume you do – that means that nothing even remotely like that can ever happen again." He waved vaguely in the direction of the hallway, and he knew that she understood he meant McLaggen. "If you step out of line again, then there will be consequences," he said deviously. "And I don't mean like the ones from last time. They'll be much, much worse." He raised a bored eyebrow. "Do. You. Understand?"

 

She nodded slowly as she processed his thinly veiled threat, and the smirk that graced his face at her acceptance was a devious one. Granger always gave into him so easily, and he wouldn't have it any other way. "Good girl," he said and she barely repressed a shiver.

 

It pleased him. She really was a very quick learner.

 

He reached out to softly caress her cheek, and his gaze softened as she leaned into it. "I know you won't disappoint me like that again," he murmured. "You've always been mine, Granger."

 

Her eyes fluttered closed, shutting him off in hopes he wouldn't catch the emotion in them. "Yours," she agreed.

 



Chapter 16: Chapter 15: Interlude
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A/N: Love you all! Vices will start updating biweekly a week from today (so sometime next weekend). Contingent will shift to biweekly updates as well (so I'll be updating each story every other week, but I'll be providing weekly updates if that makes sense).

 

We're halfway there! Fifteen chapters down, fifteen to go. Well, fourteen and an epilogue if you want to get really technical. Thank y'all for sticking around!
 

Beta love to AlmondMilkTeaDoubleBoba and LeilahMoon – and a major thanks to lost_poetx.

Love always,

 

carm

 

-

 

Days blended into weeks, and, before she knew it, her calendar said December the first. Her days had been a whirlwind, and her time had been very abysmally split between spending time with Malfoy – purely to do reconnaissance, you see – studying for exams, and trying (and failing) to see her friends.

 

Needless to say, Hermione was very stressed out.

 

Between Malfoy and Harry, she'd been overloaded. Malfoy often stole her away in secret for a quick shag here and there – usually at the most inconvenient times, in the most inconvenient places – and Harry had been asking her questions she simply didn't have the answers to.

 

And, contrary to what she knew she should be doing, she couldn't help but pretend the foreign feelings taking root and growing inside her weren't what she knew them to be. The glow that lit her up when he told her she was his, when he asked her to come for him, when he shot her a look from across the Great Hall that was for her and only her, was a telltale sign.

 

It was bloody dangerous. And, not only that, but completely irresponsible – not to mention severely misplaced.

 

Whatever the case, he had become incredibly possessive in recent weeks. Ever since the McLaggen incident – which, she had to give it to Ginny for that horrible, terrible idea that had worked exactly how she'd thought it would – he'd barely let her out of his sight. Their study sessions had grown longer and longer, barely giving her time for her other friends.

 

She should have seen it coming. She'd always been good at anticipating the impact her actions would have – that was a large part of the reason her, Harry, and Ron had been so successful all this time.

 

Which was how she found herself sat at their normal table, doing their homework individually. Their tutoring sessions – which she'd always suspected were a way to get closer to her – had turned into quiet study sessions.

 

He glanced over at her as she worked. He liked to stare openly at her for reasons she couldn't comprehend. Hermione wasn't even sure he knew he was doing it, to be completely honest. Whatever the case, something about it made her feel... secure, even though she knew deep down that feeling safe in Draco Malfoy's presence was not at all wise on her part.

 

It reminded her of the way Viktor Krum would do the same thing during fourth year. Although, the parallel was different. Viktor, while he had no ill intentions or anything of the sort, still made her shift awkwardly in her seat. Malfoy made her feel like he was analyzing her, like he was keeping watch or something.

 

Like he was waiting for a greater evil than himself.

 

She had always been inept at controlling her feelings. It was a weakness of hers, even though she played it off like she didn't have any. Hermione had always been very acutely aware of every weakness she'd ever had.

 

How could she be perfect otherwise?

 

Malfoy was still staring at her. She shifted her eyes up to meet his. "What?" she asked.

 

He hummed, a low sound in the back of his throat. "Nothing," he replied. "Just thinking."

 

"About what?" she asked him.

 

A smile fought to steal the corners of his mouth, but he fought it back. If she weren't so damned attuned to him by now, she probably wouldn't have caught it.

 

"You. What else?" he said casually as if it were the most nonchalant thing in the world for him to admit that to her.

 

She laughed once, short and humorless. "You're insane, you know that?"

 

"I've been called much worse," he cocked a brow at her. "But if I'm insane for telling you what's on my mind, then so be it."

 

"I never said that," Hermione said, flushing. "It's just unnerving to hear you be so... candid," she admitted. "I can't say I'm used to it."

 

They fell back into comfortable silence.

 

"It's nice, you know," she told him without taking her eyes from the parchment she was writing on. "I wouldn't be opposed if it happened more often."

 

The next time she peeked at him, there was just a hint of a smile gracing his face.

 

-

 

Sitting in front of the fire in the Gryffindor common room reading, she felt the cushion next to her shift and dip under the weight of another person. Holding up a single finger, she let whoever it was next to her know that she'd be with them...

 

Just after she finished this section.

 

Looking up finally, her hesitant gaze met Harry's curious one.

 

Damn. She'd known this was coming, she had just been hoping that it... wouldn't happen. Luckily, Ginny had given her some things to tell him. Maybe they were true, maybe they weren't – but they were solid enough that Harry was more than likely to believe them.

 

She loved her best friend, but he could be incredibly bloody gullible sometimes, too quick to jump straight to judgement. So she was hoping against hope that this would be something he would buy if she sold it well enough, with enough fervor.

 

Hermione Granger could be damn well convincing if she wanted to. If she presented a strong enough argument, he wouldn't think twice.

 

Harry piped up. "You're coming with us for the Christmas break, yeah?"

 

She regarded him strangely. "Obviously," she said. "Where else would I go? I've spent the holidays with you lot for years." She pushed his shoulder, chuckling. "Yes, Harry, I'm coming with you."

 

He returned her laugh before suddenly growing quiet. "So..." he started awkwardly. "What's Malfoy getting up to?"

 

"I don't know," she said with forced nonchalance, turning the page of her book. "He's going back to Wiltshire, but he hasn't said much beyond that," she shrugged. "He mentioned offhandedly that he was excited to be with his mother for the holidays and that's all I know." Hermione felt that she was doing a lot of shrugging lately, but it just... fit. Also, it gave her the air of uncertainty that she was hoping to portray.

 

"Hm," Harry said thoughtfully. "Interesting."

 

"Not really," Hermione countered, raising a skeptical eyebrow at him. "What's interesting about him wanting to be with his mum for the holidays? Doesn't everyone?"

 

Immediately catching her mistake, she gaped at him, a flush stinging her face and coasting its way down her neck. "Harry, I–" she started.

 

"It's fine," he waved her off, but she could sense his slight mood change. "I'm used to it," he shot her a sad smile. "Have to be, don't I?"

 

They sat in a cool silence that slowly thawed.

 

After a moment, he opened his mouth – probably to pry for more information that she didn't have and would have to lie about so he wouldn't suspect anything – and was swiftly interrupted by Ron and Ginny entering the common room. She shot Ginny a glance which, bless her, she immediately understood.

 

"Hey you two," she chimed in, sitting down in the surrounding chair. "Discussing anything interesting?"

 

Hermione shared a look with Harry. Ron still didn't know, and she didn't want him to. After seeing how angry he'd gotten about the whole Cormac thing – Merlin, she still cringed with embarrassment – he was likely to respond even worse if he found out what she was doing with Malfoy. 'Fake' relationship or not.

 

She thought of it as more... mutually beneficial. She got to call what she was doing 'intel', and he got regular sex from her. It seemed to work well for the both of them – or maybe that was just her multiple orgasms talking.

 

And, at this point, it wasn't feeling very fake, which was very stupid of her. It was embarrassing, really. He threw the barest scrap of attention her way and she was on her fucking knees for him – both metaphorically and literally – in the blink of an eye. What did that say about her?

 

"Not really," Harry piped up.

 

Hermione cut in before Harry could talk them into a hole. "Just where I'll be for Christmas," she improvised, side-eyeing Harry and sighing when he shot her a similar glance. At least they were still keeping this secret. Her lips lifted in a quick smile, and she brightened as she realized his look mirrored her own.

 

Ron shot her a strange look. "Aren't you coming home with us?" he asked.

 

"Yeah," she said.

 

"I was just making sure she was." Harry caught on and added to her sentence, seamlessly morphing it into an everyday conversation – the way it usually was.

 

"Oh. Good," Ron said. "We'd miss you if you didn't, you know." He was earnest as he looked at her, and she could sense something behind his words that he wasn't saying.

 

Hermione shot him a wry smile. She doubted he'd think that if he knew what he wasn't being told. Of course, the anger would stay through all stages – he'd be angry that he'd been left out, and then angry at Harry for not saying anything, angry at her for not only having had the idea but actually executing it, and, finally, angry with Malfoy for doing whatever he was doing to her.

 

No, she thought, it would most definitely not be pretty.

 

Ginny shot her a look. "So," she said, "get any interesting Christmas gifts lately?"

 

Hermione froze. "No," she said cautiously. "Why do you ask?"

 

"Oh, no reason," she replied airily, "just curious." She sat back in her chair.

 

Ron spoke up as he watched the conversation in front of him unfold. "Why does it feel like I'm missing something?" he asked suspiciously.

 

"Ronald, you're always missing something," Ginny immediately replied with a roll of her eyes. "I'm just wondering if our dear Hermione's idea of an interesting Christmas gift has finally expanded beyond Hogwarts, A History," she quipped, smirking.

 

Hermione rolled her eyes at the lame cover story. But, if there was one thing Ron wouldn't question, it was her and books.

 

"Oh," Ron replied lamely, ripping off a hangnail absently before wincing and swearing at the pain. He brought his finger into his mouth to suck off the blood that pooled as a result.

 

"That hurt Ron?" Harry asked, teasing.

 

"Bloody hell, I don't know why I keep doing that," he replied.

 

She shared another quick look with Ginny while the boys laughed with each other. Hermione instinctually took that as 'we need to figure out a Christmas present for Malfoy,' and fuck, she was right. She had no idea what to get him, and it was mere days until they left. She obviously couldn't ask Malfoy himself, and Harry would be absolutely no use if she were to ask him for advice. No, he would be entirely clueless – not to mention his suspicion would grow, even though she was positive she could pass it off as part of their plan.

 

No, she mused, paling slightly as she thought. She'd need to consult someone she thought she'd never talk to.

 

-

 

Hermione nervously sat down next to Theodore Nott in the library.

 

He didn't react to her entrance or look up at her as he said nonchalantly, "I was wondering when I'd be seeing you around, Granger."

 

She stared at him, astounded. "Really?" she asked. "Why?"

 

Theo scoffed, eyeing her as he leaned back in his chair and putting down his quill. "Granger, sweetie, I'm no you, but it's the beginning of December, correct?"

 

"Yes..." Hermione replied slowly.

 

"And you and Draco are... whatever you are, yes?" he prodded, shooting her a look.

 

"I... suppose, yeah," she shrugged, ignoring the slight flush that rose to her cheeks.

 

Obviously it wasn't like that, but it wasn't like she was going to tell his best friend. She'd go along with whatever he suggested and let him lead the conversation.

 

"Okay," Hermione conceded, "I have no idea what I'm supposed to get Mal-Draco for Christmas. And I needed to figure it out yesterday."

 

Theo grinned maniacally, looking at her. "Oh, you really are smart. You've come to the right place, Granger."

 

She got comfortable in her chair, leaning back as she met his eyes. "We don't... talk much. I mean, we do, but," she chewed her lip. "I don't know, it's weird." Hermione thought out loud. "I don't know the first thing about him. I don't even know his favorite color, for Godric's sake." Her exasperation was starting to shine through.

 

"Relax, Granger," Theo said, rolling his eyes. "As it happens, I do have some ideas that I think he would very much appreciate."

 

"Why do I feel like I don't like where you're going with this?" Hermione said, eyeing him warily.

 

"Because I'm guessing you are smart and you know exactly where I'm going with this." Theodore Nott had the most evil-genius grin Hermione had ever seen. If he tried, she was entirely certain he could achieve total world domination without thinking twice.

 

"Draco is a simple man. He likes sex in any capacity. So if you offered him something you haven't done yet, I think it would be a very gratifying present for the both of you," he smirked.

 

"Nott!" she chastised, choosing to ignore his insinuation.

 

"Or lingerie. You can't go wrong with some new lingerie," he tacked on as an afterthought. "It would be a nice gift for the both of you, wouldn't you agree?"

 

She groaned, dropping her head into her hands. "I knew this was a bad idea," she muttered. Bracing her hands on the edge of the table, she started to push her chair back.

 

He reached out and grabbed her wrist. Hermione looked at him in shock, wide-eyed. "Sorry," he said, retracting his hand. "I just... wait," he sighed. "I mean, he loves Quidditch. You could get him anything Quidditch-related and he'd love it."

 

Thinking about it, she'd already considered the idea. She couldn't stand the bloody sport, but, if she could find something, it could work. Simple, yet thoughtful.

 

Theo visibly hesitated, looking around before leaning in and lowering his voice. She reacted in kind, curiosity piqued as she wondered what he had to tell her.

 

The words came out rushed. "Draco can sometimes have... a hard time working through what he's feeling. I mean, most blokes struggle with their emotions anyway, but I think it's always been a struggle for him. Maybe if you can think of something to help with that..." he leaned away, eyes looking around again.

 

She nodded, an idea slowly forming in her head, and Hermione liked the direction it was going.

 

"I can work with that." She smiled at him. "Thanks, Nott, you've been... surprisingly helpful."

 

At the last minute, he piped up at her retreating figure. "His favorite color is blue by the way."

 

-

 

The second Snape posed a question, her hand shot into the air.

 

She was so fucking predictable. Always the first to have her hand in the air, always the first to try to beat out everyone else.

 

Always needing to outdo everyone else, including him. Especially him.

 

Sometimes, he genuinely thought she did it to spite him. Because of course she would, especially now. He noticed how her eyes flitted over to him in between questions – there was no mistaking the smug tilt of her mouth when her teeth sunk into her bottom lip, the flush to her cheeks, the way her eyes danced.

 

Yes, she did it to spite him. To prove him wrong. To prove that she was better than him.

 

Well he could outdo her in his sleep. He often didn't care to. He already knew he was far superior. His future was set in stone.

 

The more she spoke, the angrier he got. The way her voice danced between the particles in the air, traveling through space and time to sink into his ear, ingraining itself into his brain. He was certain he'd never forget the sound of Granger's voice – he'd heard too much of it and it was infuriating. The only time he could stand it was when he had her underneath him, when she was a sweating, writhing mess who only knew one word, and that word was, 'Please.'

 

Draco shivered.

 

A fire rose inside him, a need to act on the swell that threatened to topple him, scorch him from the inside out.

 

The next time Snape asked a question, his hand beat hers into the air.

 

Obviously he got it right. Of course he did.

 

Class continued like that, their hands reaching higher at breakneck speeds, each desperate to outdo the other. The tension was building, rising, searching for a crescendo, a climax that it couldn't find. It kept growing.

 

He was going to give it one.

 

It was fucking palpable. Draco was sure he was covered in a light sheen of sweat, and he could feel the heat in the room swell with the exertion.

 

Unable to tell if it were in his head – seeing as she looked completely composed, yet undeniably irritated – he pressed on, spurred by the indignant flashes that flitted across her face. He started living for it, dying to see her get angry at him.

 

After all, their angry sex had been the best to date.

 

As soon as class ended, she was the first one out of the room. He caught up to her, latching onto her wrist and yanking her roughly into the nearest abandoned classroom.

 

It was lucky he had so much random knowledge of which classrooms would be empty at what times. He happened to know that this particular one would be empty for the foreseeable future.

 

Wasting no time, he flipped up her skirt, yanked her knickers to the side, and found her soaked.

 

"Fuck," he bit out on a breath. "I knew that shit got you worked up," he chucked against her skin. "Why can't you just admit that I'm always right?"

 

Granger gasped as he thrust into her harshly, and it tapered off into a soft moan that set his veins alight.

 

"Because you're not," she replied snarkily.

 

"Yes, I am," he stuttered his thrusts on purpose, trying to tease her. If he denied her what she wanted, she'd be more likely to acquiesce. Although it typically took awhile – she was one stubborn witch.

 

"No," she replied, "you're not."

 

He stopped his thrusts entirely, reaching one hand down in between them to tease her clit. "No?" he asked. "You're really gonna stand by that answer right now?"

 

Her hips canted, jumping at his touch. "Yes," she looked up at him definitely. "I am."

 

Then Granger took matters into her own hands. She braced herself on her elbows, using force from the way he had her laid out on the desk, and started fucking onto him, using him.

 

He couldn't help it. His eyes darkened at the sight of her using him for her pleasure. His head dropped back and the moan that left him was a sound that even he hadn't heard before. "Fuck," he said again.

 

Argument forgotten, he took back the control, starting to snap his hips again, leaning down so he was pressed against her. "You feel incredible," he murmured into her neck as he fucked her. "Always so wet for me, yeah?"

 

She nodded, whimpering for him, grabbing the sides of his face and drawing him in for a deep, languid kiss. He swallowed another of her gasps as his lips met hers, and he groaned against her lips at the feel of her encapsulating him.

 

Everywhere. She was everywhere. All he could feel was the way she felt wrapped around him, all he could smell was her shampoo – vanilla and jasmine – as it wedged its way in, all he could see was the brown of her eyes and the bronze of her curls.

 

Completely inescapable – not that he was trying to escape her. He had no desire to be anywhere but here; no desire to be apart from her. Her legs were wrapped around his waist, encasing him as he slowly pushed in and out of her at a punishing pace.

 

His shirt was halfway unbuttoned, green and silver tie forgotten on the floor. One day, he was going to tie her up with that, mark his territory with his colors. To see her writhing against the soft fabric of the Slytherin tie, the green offsetting the brown of her eyes... it would be exhilarating.

 

She brought him back as she fluttered and clenched around him, signaling to him that she was close. He'd be damned if he didn't know her body better than she did by this point.

 

"You wanna come for me?" he asked her, torturously slowing down his pace just to edge her more. It was fun to draw out her orgasm.

 

The higher she climbed, the harder she fell when she plummeted over the edge that he made so perfectly just for her.

 

"Yes," she begged, staring up at his eyes and tightening her legs around his hips. He kept his slow pace. "Please."

 

"Hmm, you do ask so nicely. What do you think? Do you think you deserve it?" He dipped low to kiss the corner of her open mouth. He removed her legs from around his waist and gripped the inside of her thighs and pushed down.

 

Fuck, he loved seeing her spread open for him. She looked positively delectable.

 

"Only if you think I do," she replied, her head dropping back in pleasure as he steadily pumped in and out of her.

 

He chuckled down at her. "A very Slytherin answer. You're learning," he said, purposely keeping his thrusts shallow.

 

Bringing her head back up to meet his eyes from under her thick lashes, "I always was at the top of our year," she teased.

 

Draco delivered a quick slap to her clit and she jolted, her hips canting up and taking him deeper. They both groaned. "You're such a swot."

 

"But here you are, fucking me anyway," she replied, lifting her hips up again. "What do you have to say about that, Malfoy?" Granger tilted her head, raising a defiant brow as she continued to rock against him.

 

"I say," he panted, nearing his own edge, "that if you want to come, you should shut the fuck up." His hand rose up to wrap around her throat, squeezing the carotid arteries on the sides of her neck.

 

Her eyes fluttered, and her lips parted on another gasp. He loved the sounds he was able to draw from her – him, only him, and no one else.

 

She nodded once, her eyes rolled back in pleasure as he felt her start to tighten around him again. "There," she gasped. "Please, right fucking there, please," she begged.

 

Gritting his teeth and fighting off his own impending pleasure, he kept doing exactly what he was doing, wanting her to come before he did – it was only fair, after all.

 

His grip tightened around her throat, and her hand reached up to latch on tightly to his wrist. She would yank at it if she needed him to let go; he knew that she was fine. She loved this, thrived off of the primal, raw sex they had. It ws fucking euphoric every damn time. He'd never had such a responsive partner, and he didn't want to think too closely about what it would mean.

 

"Come on, Granger, come on my cock. You know I love to feel you," he spurred her on, drawing her closer to orgasm. His free arm came down to cage her in, so their noses were inches away. Staring down into her wide, chocolate eyes and feeling her hot breath as it left her mouth, he only had one word for her.

 

"Come." It was a command, and she heeded it immediately. There was an odd feeling that swelled inside of him, cresting along with his own orgasm. It faded along with his high, and it was replaced with an inescapable, irrevocable realization.

 

No one knew her like he did.

 

-

 

Draco pushed open the door and quietly walked into the Slytherin common room, hoping no one would be there at this late hour. He knew he looked completely and utterly disheveled – sex with Granger never failed to wear him out.

 

That woman was a fucking minx, and more demanding between the sheets than anyone he'd ever known, but he wouldn't be caught dead complaining about it.

 

It worked well for him – he got regular, unreal sex, and she was eating right out of the palm of his hand. He caught her extra glances, the way she met his eyes when she came and then shied away when she realized what she'd done.

 

It was always so obvious once you looked at the little things. He wondered what she saw when she gave him the same scrutiny.

 

"Late night, Malfoy?" a voice came from the darkness, startling him. He narrowed his eyes into the void, trying to make out who it was.

 

Once he had a guess as to who it might be, he asked, "Montague?"

 

"Mhm," he hummed back. "What were you doing out so late?" he asked again. Something about the lilt to his tone set Draco's teeth on edge.

 

Whatever the case, he resolved to give a very Slytherin, noncommittal answer. "No later than usual," he replied. "Exams, you know," he said, waving it off as studying, not wanting to give any more details than he needed to.

 

Montague emitted a low chuckle. "You expect me to believe that?" he asked.

 

Draco bristled immediately and tried to ignore the pit in his stomach. "I hope you know that I don't care what you choose to believe," he said with an eyebrow raised, even though he didn't know if it were visible.

 

"You will," he replied, far more darkly than fit the tone of conversation.

 

The hairs on the back of his neck stood up, and he excused himself from the room.

 

-

 

They sat at their normal table in the library, staring at each other awkwardly. He unceremoniously shoved a small, wrapped box in her direction before looking away.

 

She could see him watching her from the corner of his eye, waiting anxiously for her reaction. Biting away a secret smile, she realized that Theo was right – he was shit at dealing with his emotions.

 

Her gift for him was perfect. She had a feeling he'd hate it, but it would be incredibly beneficial if he tried to use it properly. If he decided to, it would probably work wonders for his deplorable emotional health.

 

Hermione rolled her eyes at the thought. She peeled back the wrapping and opened the box to reveal a gold necklace nestled into the black velvet inside. It had a snake running up the back of the chain and wrapped around the clasp – typical. She ran her fingers around the chain, admiring how dainty it was.

 

At the center of the necklace sat a small, glittering sapphire. Her breath caught as she lightly brushed her fingers over it, and they tingled at the contact. She looked up at him curiously.

 

"Protective magic," he said, answering the obvious unspoken question in her eyes. "Of a kind."

 

Hermione's voice was hushed as he looked at him earnestly. "It's stunning. Thank you," she said with a smile.

 

"Blue's my favorite color on you," he said under his breath. It was so quiet, she almost didn't catch it.

 

Theo's words rang in her mind before fading away as quickly as they'd come. There was no way that she was why. Completely and totally impossible. She shook her head to clear the thought.

 

He rose from his seat, coming behind her to clasp it behind her neck. Fingers brushing around the curve of her neck sensually, she shivered at the chill that shot through her. She hoped he didn't notice it – she reacted to him far too easily. His voice was hot against the shell of her ear as he said, "It's so you don't forget who you belong to while you're away from me."

 

An infuriated blush rose to her cheeks as he sat back down. "That's what this is? A bloody dog collar?" she asked harshly with narrowed eyes as she glared at him. She reached up behind her neck to remove it and give it back to him, but his voice stilled her.

 

It was calm, quiet, but she could hear the underlying warning in it. "Don't you dare."

 

Fingers slowly dropping away from the clasp, her hands came to rest in her lap.

 

A strange silence ensued before she found it fit to pull out her own gift for him. Pulling out the book, she laid it on the table, running her finger up and down the covered spine – uncertain, reconsidering.

 

"What is it?" he asked. Curious.

 

Before she could take it back, she pushed it hurriedly across the table over to him. "Here," she muttered.

 

Unwrapping it, he eyed it warily. "What is it?" he repeated.

 

"It's..." should she tell him? He'd probably be angry with her. "It's a journal," she started. "You write into it – there are prompts, you see – and you'll get a response. Someone will read what you're writing and give their opinion on what you should do, or how you should handle what you feel." She shrugged uncomfortably. "I don't really expect you to use it, I just– thought it might be nice to have some kind of an outlet when you need to vent or something."

 

He sat quietly, running his fingers over the dark green cover. She'd hoped that making it green would blend in better with his things, and that it wouldn't raise any questions.

 

"So– if you hate it, that's really fine, I had a hard time figuring out what to get you anyway, so you can just let me know and I'll figure something else out–" she said, cheeks heating furiously, as she reached for it.

 

His hand wrapped around her wrist, stilling it. "No," he said with a wry smile. "It's great."

 

The relief that thrummed in her veins had her sitting back in her chair with a rushed breath.

 

Why was she so desperate for approval she knew damn well she shouldn't be seeking?

 



Chapter 17: Chapter 16: Inside
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

A/N: As always, Beta love to AlmondMilkTeaDoubleBoba, LeilahMoon, and a massive thank you to lost_poetx.

 

TW: A conversation below references sexual violence, although it's not in any way graphic. If that's not something you can handle, please skip the second scene of this chapter.

 

Check out my newest fic, Vices, if you haven't yet!

 

xoxo, carm

 

-

 

Ginny plopped down ungracefully across from Hermione on one of the twin beds in their room at the Burrow. Every Christmas, Molly transfigured a throw pillow into another twin bed and put it with Ginny so the girls could spend more time together.

 

Tracing the rim of her mug of hot chocolate, Hermione inhaled the warm steam. She let out a contented hum as she closed her eyes and tipped her head back.

 

"Good?" Ginny chuckled, snuggling back against her pillows.

 

"Amazing," Hermione replied. "Molly always makes the best hot chocolate. I don't know how she does it."

 

"I do," Ginny said. "Weasley family secret though. I'll tell you when you marry Ronald."

 

Grimacing, Hermione replied, "I don't know, Gin, seems like Lavender's after that title pretty heavily." She sighed. "Plus... I don't know, I kind of lost interest," she shrugged, a flush coloring her cheeks.

 

Ginny's eyebrows shot up. "Really?" she said. "Hm. Interesting." Raising her own mug to her lips, she took a drink.

 

"Why do you say that?" Hermione asked.

 

"Well," she started, "you've clearly had a thing for him for awhile, and I saw how you disappeared at the Gryffindor party after his little display." Ginny rolled her eyes. "But you've distanced yourself from him and just let the pair of them be." Her eyes danced. "I wonder why that is?"

 

The flush on her face deepened. "It's not what you think." She shook her head, feeling the chain of her necklace rubbing against her skin. Absentmindedly, her fingers rose up to play with with the small stone.

 

Looking up, she caught Ginny's knowing eyes on her and she dropped her fingers. "It's just, I've been so busy, I got caught up. I haven't seen many people besides him. He– he's possessive. Doesn't like to see me with anyone else."

 

"I know," she said. "I've noticed."
 

At that, Hermione paled.

 

"Don't worry," Ginny added casually. "I've kept the boys busy enough so they wouldn't notice. Figured if you needed help you would ask for it."

 

Hermione let out a breath of relief, much to Ginny's amusement. "Yeah, I would. How did you–"

 

Ginny scoffed. "Please," she said, "you forget I know you better than almost anyone. Not to mention that I see all the things you don't want the boys to." She tapped a finger to her temple. "Female intuition, you know," she said with a wink.

 

Sighing, Hermione relaxed her posture, which she hadn't realized had gone rigid during their conversation. "I seriously don't know what I'd do without you, Gin."

 

"I know," came her reply.

 

They sat in companionable silence for a while before Ginny piped up, "So, how's the sex?"

 

Hermione spluttered, choking on the hot chocolate she'd just taken a sip of as it went down the wrong pipe. "What?"

 

"Don't bullshit me – I know. You're... different. Not to mention after the whole fight a few weeks back you've been... more relaxed, somehow. And I know that that kind of relaxation only comes after a proper shag," she said, wiggling her eyebrows.

 

Heaving another sigh, Hermione conceded. There was no point keeping it from Ginny, especially since the odds that she knew were already quite high.

 

"Good," she said, avoiding her eyes. "Really, really good."

 

Ginny let out a low whistle and leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees and propping her chin in her hands. "Damn, Hermione. I know that look. You'd better tell me everything or I'm sending you straight home."

 

Burying her face in her hands, she groaned, "Oh God, what did I get myself into?" Her words came out muffled. Knowing that Ginny would inevitably dig up any information she wanted, Hermione conceded. "Fine," she sighed, "what do you want to know?"

 

Giggling maniacally, Ginny clapped her hands together. "So, what does he do?"

 

Shaking her head, Hermione said, "Next question."

 

"Aw, come on!" she whined, crossing her arms over her chest with a pout. "You're no fun. I want to know."

 

"But... I will tell you how it feels," she countered, and Ginny gestured for her to go on.

 

"That was a cop out – I can't even describe it, Gin. Literally unreal, like nothing I've ever felt before. I don't know how he has me so figured out by now," she said.

 

At that, Ginny scoffed. "Well, that's obvious."

 

"What do you mean?" Hermione asked, confused.

 

"He watches you. Literally every time I look over at him at lunch or in the library, and I'm not even in classes with either of you," she replied.

 

Hermione's jaw popped open. "You're serious?"

 

"You really never knew?" she said. "It's obvious. With how observant you are, I really thought you'd have known."

 

The feeling that was searing in her chest was one she'd only felt twice. Once, when she looked up at him and sealed her fate with one word: 'yours'. The second time was just recently, when his fingers trailed indecently around the curve of her neck and he marked her as his with the closing of a clasp.

 

It meant she was in trouble.

 

Gnawing gently on her lower lip, she admitted quietly, "No, I've never noticed."

 

Ginny cocked a brow and crossed her arms over her chest. "Wow. Hermione Granger not noticing something." She tilted her head and looked at her curiously, regarding her. The silence stretched on long enough that Hermione grew a bit uncomfortable under her scrutiny, shifting in her seat. "You've really got it bad, don't you?"

 

"What?" Hermione said, far too quickly. "No. No, nothing like that. It's just– sex. It's just sex. Nothing else." She willed her words to sound more confident than she felt, realizing now that she was in far deeper than she'd ever bargained for or planned on.

 

Ginny nodded once at her, not convinced. "Okay, if you say so. But just know that I certainly don't buy it." She pursed her lips. "But I'll wait. Because I know you have to admit it to yourself before you can admit it to me. And you will."

 

They lapsed back into silence for a while, sipping on lukewarm hot chocolate.

 

"So," Ginny started up again, and Hermione bit back a groan. "How about that fight the other week? What did I tell you?" She winked. "You can admit my brilliance, you know."

 

Hermione tipped her head back, letting it thump against the wall. "I can't believe I did that – I hate you for it! It was quite literally the worst thing I have ever put myself through." She flushed with regret. "But, I have to admit, it did pan out exactly the way you expected," she said. Her brow furrowed. "Although somehow I didn't expect the boys to react the way they did."

 

"How did they find out in the first place?" Ginny asked.

 

"Well, at first, I'd thought they'd overheard something – you know how it is around here." She rolled her eyes again. "But then, when I talked to them, Ron told me that Malfoy was the one who'd told them. I'd hate for them to find out that it was actually true and they all got detention for nothing."

 

"Duly noted. I'm sworn to secrecy." Ginny mimed locking her lips and throwing away the key.

 

"Thanks, but it's not you I'm worried about," she sighed. "News like that gets around quicker than Fiendfyre."

 

"I'm sure that it'll have already blown over once term's started again. If it hasn't gotten out already, I doubt it will at all," Ginny reassured her.

 

"Let's just hope you're right."

 

The next time Hermione sipped her hot chocolate, it was cold. But her insides were buzzing with feelings she should absolutely not be experiencing.

 

-

 

Malfoy Manor was cold.

 

It always had been, but now, there was some kind of eerie feeling to accompany said cold, and it made everything that bit more unbearable. And Draco hated nothing more than the feeling of being cold and entirely unable to fix it.

 

He wished he had stayed at Hogwarts for Christmas, even though no one would have been there and he would have been questioned harshly about his absence.

 

Plus, he needed to check up on his mother. There was no chance of him leaving her to deal with this on her own, even though he knew she could handle it. It was also their first Christmas without his father present.

 

Lucius being in Azkaban was not something he liked to think about, as it was obviously a sore subject for everyone. Narcissa especially did not like to dwell on it, even though she knew that he likely wouldn't be staying there long. It was only a matter of time.

 

This was why it was imperative that he not fail. The Dark Lord had made it clear that should he succeed, he would get Lucius out.

 

Steeling himself, he entered the main dining room. He was dreading it, but it was necessary.

 

Passing the myriad of faces that were so unfortunately familiar on the way to his chair, there happened to be one that completely fucking threw him for a loop.

 

Fucking Montague.

 

Gritting his teeth and refusing to show emotion at the revelation, he let his eyes gloss over the fucker's face like it wasn't a shock at all to see him in his family home, wishing to bear the Dark Mark that stained Draco's forearm.

 

Fucking hell. He knew there was something off about that fucker.

 

Taking his seat and tuning out the conversations around him, he picked at his food unenthusiastically.

 

A voice broke through his reverie. "How's Hogwarts, kiddo?"

 

Dolohov. Of course. "Fine," he said, followed by a, "don't call me kiddo," muttered under his breath. Dolohov had done a great job of figuring out exactly what it was that made him want to Avada him and everyone around them, and the stupid nicknames were just about at the top of the list.

 

"Yeah? How's that old bat, Dumbledore?" he laughed. "Still up there in his little tower acting as though he's above everyone else?"

 

"Yep. Same old, same old," Draco muttered, wanting to keep his answers entirely boring and noncommittal in hope they'd lose interest and shut up.

 

Why was he here right now? Oh yeah, appearances. Fuck.

 

The last thing he needed was to be a part of Death Eater Family fucking Christmas. But alas, here he was.

 

"How's it going with the Mudblood, Malfoy?" Dolohov pressed on, completely overstepping his boundaries. "You fucked her yet?" He laughed. "Lucky bastard – what I wouldn't give to have your job. You get to take the filthy fucking Mudblood for yourself, have her whenever you want – you're living the dream," he sighed, reaching for his drink.

 

Draco seethed, focusing on his Occlumency just in case. Dolohov was by no means a skilled Legilimens, but he could never be too careful. "None of your business, Antonin. I'm to save any and all information pertaining to the Mudblood for the Dark Lord," he paused, slightly confused. "How do you even know about it? I thought it was supposed to be confidential."

 

Dolohov, Rowle, and Yaxley all laughed in response. "Come on now, boy," Yaxley said. "Of course we know."

 

Looking at him with a bone-chilling smile on his face, Dolohov said, "When he lets you keep her, do you think I could take her for a spin?" He laughed. "I'm sure whatever you're doing to her will still require that she... gets broken in."

 

Ignoring them, he turned back to his plate, beating the anger back as adamantly as he could. It was so completely imperative that none of them ever find out the truth.

 

Before he could send a scathing retort their way, a random Death Eater who he didn't recognize entered the room. He scanned it before his eyes landed on Draco. Walking up to him ominously, he said, "The Dark Lord wishes to speak with you."

 

Biting the inside of his cheek and rising, his plate vanished in front of him. Without a word, he headed straight for the Drawing Room, or as he liked to call it – the Throne Room. It was where He liked to hold court. Draco thought it was because of the decor and aura of the space – it commanded power, strength.

 

He breathed deeply, doing his best to strengthen his Occlumency walls as he walked. He pulled forth the memories that would make him look the best and hid the ones that had... deeper feelings – anything other than lust – attached. The only feelings he wanted were those of disgust – or lust, he supposed, would be acceptable as well.

 

Steadying himself and straightening his back, he entered. His eyes never left the floor, and he kneeled as soon as he was in front of the Dark Lord. "My Lord. You wished to speak with me?"

 

"Yes, young Malfoy." The Dark Lord rose from his chair and came to tower over him. "Look at me," came the dreaded hiss.

 

Draco did.

 

He felt it. He felt the ice seeping through and invading his mind, searching, seeking, finding, taking. Draco kept calm, pulling forward memories he thought the Dark Lord might appreciate.

 

"I would have thought you'd be looking for more attention from me by now, Mudblood. Doesn't the whole 'saving your life' thing usually have that kind of effect?" he asked, smirking as he did so.

 

 

Draco couldn't fucking wait for her to fall in love with him. He knew she would, it was inevitable, and he was more eager for the prospect of breaking her heart than he had been for anything in his life. He took a calming breath as he selected his curse of choice. It would come in time, he knew, just like everything else.

 

 

Finding what he craved underneath the fabric of her knickers, he chuckled darkly. "I should have known," he said, "It's always the good girls who like it rough. Do you like it rough, Granger? Be honest," he purred into her ear, his left hand rising to wrap itself around her throat as he continued to press his right hand up against her. "I really don't like liars."

 

He spun her around, twisting her arm against her back as he did so and pinned her into the hard wall of the castle.

 

"You will answer me when I speak to you. Is that understood?"

 

"That's 'yes sir' to you. If you want me to give you any pleasure instead of just taking it all for myself - which I am more than capable of doing - then I suggest you do as I say."

 

"Yes sir," she whispered, barely audible.

 

"Good girl, Granger. I always knew you had it in you," he said, praising her as she ground against him, hearing the little whine slip through her clenched teeth. "A little impatient are we?" he taunted, wanting to hear her admit it.

 

"Yes sir," she lowered her eyes, her blush flooding down to her neck at the admission that she was practically soaked through her knickers for Draco fucking Malfoy.

 

 

His shirt was halfway unbuttoned, green and silver tie forgotten on the floor. One day, he was going to tie her up with that.

 

 

"Granger, Granger, Granger." His eyes glittered with a potential for darkness that he could tell intimidated her. "You're too curious for your own good. One day, I suspect it'll be the death of you."

She would look so pretty like this - lips around his cock, he'd be completely buried in her throat, her own fingers fucking up into her cunt. Fuck. His hand sped up as he neared the blinding oblivion that he was chasing.

 

 

"You fucked me like– like I was a whore." She licked her lips as she ground her hips against him. He fought back a groan of his own. "Hard and fast, and I could only come because you let me."

 

 

He removed one hand, and gripped her chin hard, jerking it so she had no choice but to meet his eyes. "You are mine. What part of that do you not understand?"

 

 

He turned to leave. "I meant what I said last time about you being mine to use how I want." He reached up, stroking his thumb across her bottom lip. She opened her mouth to try to suck on it, but he pulled away. "And I also meant the part about walking away and leaving you right on the edge. Think of it as... repayment for not being able to make up your mind - you don't get to kiss me like that and then fucking walk away from me." His voice was calm, but he was still seething inside. Realization dawned on her face like getting splashed by a bucket of cold water, and he savored it. Her breath picked up again as he continued, "You've been misbehaving, and I decided it was far past time you learned your lesson." He licked his fingers once more, looking at her again. "Oh, and Granger? It's Malfoy."

 

 

"No, Granger. The point," he seethed, his demeanor making a complete one-eighty as he arranged his own attire to its pristine state, "is that you," he pointed at her, "are mine. I don't share you with anyone else. I know you were a bit out of sorts last time I asked the question, so I'll ask again." He stepped closer to her. "What part of that do you not understand?"

 

 

"It's so you don't forget who you belong to while you're away from me."

 

The Dark Lord withdrew abruptly and Draco gasped with surprise at the sensation. His chest heaved with exertion and he shut his eyes against the swirling behind his eyelids. Of all the Legilimens he'd ever worked with – not that there had been many – the Dark Lord was the roughest with his entry and exits.

 

"Well done, young Malfoy," he all but purred, beaming at him in a way that sent shivers down his spine. "I admit, I had low expectations of you after your father, but you've surprised me." There was something in his voice that scared Draco – not just surprise, but... irritation? He couldn't imagine why that would be present, didn't want to consider it.

 

"Thank you, My Lord," Draco simpered.

 

"If this is how you perform for me when it comes to a simple Mudblood," he hissed, "then I have great things planned for you."

 

Draco didn't like the sound of that one bit.

 

-

 

Staring at the dark green cover of the journal Granger had given him, he contemplated.

 

Did he really want a fucking stranger knowing the darker parts of him? Well, no, not really, but he wouldn't tell them the finer details – just the vague, overarching concept. There wasn't a part of him that was so starved for attention that he'd incriminate himself in the process.

 

Denial. He pushed it away with a scowl.

 

And then continued to stare at it. Pulled it back toward him again. Couldn't resist the pull of unbiased assistance. His fingers itched to reach for it.

 

Fuck it. Pulled it toward him again. Opened it, cracked the binding and ran his slightly trembling fingers over the paper.

 

It was minimalistic, simplistic. Perfect for him.

 

He hated it. Hated how much thought she'd put into it. Fuck.

 

Giving in, he grabbed a quill, wrote down the date and read the first prompt.

 

Start by identifying your feelings.

 

Well fuck. He'd never been good at that. He thought for a minute and started with anger. That one was obvious. He was comfortable with it, it was familiar. He knew the way it felt when it bubbled up inside of him uncontrollably, the way it tasted – metallic on his tongue, hot in his veins.

 

Next was guilt. Guilt was less familiar, but potent nonetheless. It felt heavy and it made his stomach churn in a different way to the anger. Guilt felt empty, lonely. It was an uncomfortable mixture of anger, sadness, and shame. It felt like a fucking abyss, one that once it opened, he couldn't close again without throwing himself into it. Guilt... guilt tasted like Granger – all spice and that fruit lip balm she sometimes wore.

 

And then there was regret. Regret was frigid, icy. Regret was black, inky, staining his conscience. A stark contrast to how it felt to get the brand that was on his forearm, the one he wished he could take back. Regret was insidiously cold, but it left a white–hot aftertaste

so guilt had plenty of room to come in and take over.

 

Fuck all of that. This was exhausting. It was easier to just not feel at all if this was what came of it.

 

He scratched regret, guilt, anger and watched as it sunk into the page, and he waited for a response.

 

And what is making you feel like this? Is there something out of your control? Or is it something you can fix by asking for help?

 

He chuckled darkly. If only this was something he could control, could get a grip on without hurting Granger, or his parents, he would have no question or hesitation. He could only hope and fucking pray that he would be able to regain control of this.

 

But no. That was incredibly unlikely, so he needed to do what he could to get himself through the situation unscathed.

 

Picking up his quill, he wrote, It's out of my control.

 

The words came quickly. So what can you do to feel in control again?

 

He thought for a moment, rolling his quill between his fingers. The one thing that would put him in control again was still out of his reach. Nothing right now, he wrote. But soon.

 



Chapter 18: Chapter 17: Inked
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A/N: I'm sorry this is so late – I was really sick last weekend, and then I got the vaccine, so my arm hurt and I couldn't type. In all honesty, I wasn't expecting to get this up until this coming weekend, but I caught myself by surprise. Thank y'all for bearing with me.

 

Betawork done by AlmondMilkTeaDoubleBoba, LeilahMoon, and lost_poetx.

 

xoxo, carm

 

-

 

Coming back to school felt like coming home, but better.

 

Hermione adamantly refused to acknowledge why it was that she was so bloody excited to be back. Instead, she crossed her ankles to keep from bouncing in her seat and tried her best to pay attention to her book and tune out Harry and Ron's chatter.

 

Besides, she wouldn't be seeing him until later anyway. They avoided each other in public as far as they could. Both wanted to avoid scrutiny.

 

It didn't do anything for the tension that coated the air for her, though. Its thick tendrils snaked their way around her, laced themselves into her actions, tainted her thoughts. It was inescapable.

 

Reaching up to roll her necklace between her fingers – a nervous habit she'd adopted recently – she did her best to push all thoughts away and focus solely on her book.

 

The ride to the castle dragged incessantly, and, by the time she'd put her robes on for the feast, she was nearly bouncing in her seat. Harry and Ron both eyed her strangely. "Alright, Hermione?" Ron asked.

 

"Fine," she insisted. "Just excited to be back. And I'm a bit hungry too, so I'm excited to eat."

 

Neither of those things were lies, but it definitely wasn't the whole truth, either.

 

By the time they were all seated in the Great Hall, she was scanning the room, searching. She caught a familiar flash of platinum hair from across the room, and she found his eyes.

 

He was already staring at her.

 

It was good to know that it wasn't just her. It was also interesting to recall what Ginny had said over break. She was definitely going to try to take more notice of the things he did – especially when it involved her – from now on.

 

Her heart stuttered in her chest and her lips quirked as she tore her eyes away from him and tried to throw herself into the surrounding conversations. She could still feel his eyes on her, and a part of her loved it.

 

As she left dinner to head to bed – later than usual: she'd gotten caught up in an interesting conversation with Parvati and Seamus – she hummed to herself.

 

A hand reached out to grab her as she headed for the stairs, yanking her into the nearest classroom. She would have been startled if she didn't know better – he liked to pull stunts like this.

 

Before she knew it, his lips were on hers. On instinct, her hands threaded into his hair and she sighed against his lips. They stuttered down her neck, and her head tilted back to grant him better access.

 

"How was your break?" she asked breathlessly.

 

"Useless," he muttered, hot against her skin. "Here is undeniably better."

 

Hermione gasped as his teeth grazed her pulse point. "I'm inclined to agree." Her fingers curled into his broad shoulders and she couldn't do anything but feel as he reduced her to a puddle with just a few kisses.

 

He hummed against her skin, bringing his lips back up to kiss her. "Are you going to sleep well?" he asked.

 

That threw her. "What?"

 

"You heard me," he said. "Answer my question."

 

"I– guess so? I don't know what you mean," she admitted her confusion.

 

Grabbing her hips and lifting her onto the desk, her legs came to wrap around his waist. "I'm more than happy to make you tired, Granger. All you have to do is ask," he murmured.

 

"Oh," she said. Now she understood. "I'm sure I'll sleep fine, but it doesn't hurt to get some sleep aid every now and again." Her lips curled up into a smile.

 

He gently pushed her back so she was lying flat on the desk and detangled her legs from around him. Dropping kisses up her right leg, he worked his way up until he was where he wanted to be.

 

Planting an open mouth kiss right on her heat, her back arched at the contact. "Missed this," he said against her. "Thought about how you taste for weeks, Granger. Couldn't get it out of my head."

 

She gasped as he kept teasing her. Her hips bucked up into him. He tsked at her. "Patience is a virtue," he teased.

 

"Well in case you forgot, I'm not feeling very virtuous these days," she snarked.

 

Chuckling against her, the vibration shot through her veins. "Fuck," he whispered, ghosting his lips over the fabric.

 

"Please," she keened, "please."

 

"Only because you asked so nicely," he said. His fingers hooked underneath the fabric, moved it to the side, and she watched with hooded eyes and anticipation as his mouth descended.

 

On contact, her head dropped back. She couldn't help it. The way his tongue felt as it danced around her clit, teasing, taunting, was simply sinful. Pushing her hips into him, her fingers laced through his hair, trying to keep him where she wanted him. He happily obliged, paying attention to what movements made her jolt and which made her moan.

 

Draco Malfoy was far too talented with his mouth. Within minutes he had her teetering on the edge and begging for release.

 

Of course, he gave it to her – once she'd asked nicely for his permission. She knew the rules by now.

 

She was a panting, quivering mess on the desk, and she stared up at him as he buttoned his shirt. This was different. She could see the bulge in his trousers, so why was he sending her away?

 

"I'm sure the tactless twosome will be wondering where you are," he said, kissing the corner of her mouth. "You should go."

 

"But–" she protested, reaching for him, wanting to make him feel good.

 

"But nothing. Go, Granger." His tone left no room for questioning, and so she sighed, admittedly too tired to argue, and left.

 

She did linger outside of the door for a moment, savoring the sound of his heated groan. Giggling to herself, she knew she'd get him back sometime soon.

 

-

 

Alone in the library, Hermione was lost in her own world. It was the way she liked it. No one could bother her here, not when she was buried inside her own head.

 

This time, she was reading for pleasure. It was later, closer to curfew than she was normally comfortable dancing towards, but she was simply so enraptured that she couldn't help it.

 

Suddenly, the hair on the back of her neck prickled.

 

Her head shot up, eyes darting around the candle-lit room, searching, yet finding nothing. The feeling stuck, so she refused to relax.

 

Eyes dropping back to her book, she let her gaze pass over the words without reading them, waiting for the prickle again, hoping to determine where it was coming from.

 

There.

 

Head snapping back up, she scanned the area surrounding her. Still seeing nothing. This time she chose to quickly gather her things and head back to her tower. As she rounded the corner of a bookshelf, she almost ran right into a tall figure.

 

As her eyes adjusted, the chill left the back of her neck and shot down her entire body. Now, she understood why. "Montague," she deadpanned, taking a precautionary step back – not only to appease herself but to prevent her necklace from activating.

 

Over the holiday, she'd learned that the magic Draco had imbued into the necklace turned out to be more irritating than anything else. It was only something she was supposed to notice, react to, and she seethed when she noticed it.

 

When she'd hugged Charlie Weasley after he'd gotten in from Romania, the chain around her neck had suddenly tightened – not enough to choke her, but enough to be uncomfortable and make her release her hold in order to try to slip her fingers underneath it. Her theory had been immediate, knowing him, and she'd tested it with Ron later to the same affect.

 

She'd been furious. Ginny had cackled, eyes bright with a revelation she refused to share.

 

"Granger," he replied, bringing her back to her unfortunate situation. "Didn't expect to see you here so late." His eyes were raking over her, drinking her in. They stopped when they came back up to rest upon the stone nestled between her collarbone. He looked at it further, and his eyes changed. It was like he knew.

 

Hermione hated it. Shifting her books to cover more of her chest and tucking her necklace into her shirt, she replied, "Studying. Not that it's any of your business."

 

She couldn't help the bite that was laced into her words. He had been acting oddly towards her for months, and she wasn't the least bit interested in finding out why. Her body's automatic negative reaction was reason enough to get away from him.

 

Over the years, she'd learned that trusting her gut was the best way to go. It hadn't steered her wrong yet, and it always had her best interests as the main goal.

 

"Feisty. The Sorting Hat did right by you when it placed you into Gryffindor," he said. It sounded like he was going for casual and friendly, but there was something menacing hiding underneath. She could smell it. It helped that he was awful at trying to hide his disdain.

 

His tone echoed in her head, bouncing around between her ears. She was trying to place what about it set her teeth on edge, but also why it felt... almost familiar in a way. Maybe that was the wrong sentiment. Nevertheless, her brain went into overdrive trying to figure it out.

 

Hermione's eyes flashed. "I suppose it did. Goodnight." Sidestepping him and moving towards the door, she made for a quick exit.

 

Montague, however, had other plans.

 

"Granger," he tried for smooth, but her surname sounded wrong coming from him like that. A shiver of disgust ran across her skin. Hermione froze, not turning. "You're going to need to learn to lie better than that." His voice lilted at the end as if he were trying to... flirt? Tease? None of those things seemed like something that he would ever try to do.

 

She didn't like that one bit. Not to mention – she knew that Malfoy would hate it should he ever find out. Ever since that night in the corridor, he'd reserved a special dislike for his fellow Slytherin. Hermione was convinced it was just territorial.

 

Her heart thudded erratically in her chest. As she fled towards the comfort and safety of her dormitory, she placed what about it had felt so eerily familiar to her, and she didn't like it one bit.

 

His tone was oddly reminiscent of the way Draco had spoken to her just a few short months ago.

 

-

 

It happened by accident.

 

She was never supposed to see it, never even supposed to know that it existed.

 

Not only because Potter speculated – and the less Potter knew, the better – but because he didn't want her to know. She would know what it meant, what it signified, what it had in store for him.

 

Usually when they shagged, it was with a majority of their clothes on – a skirt flipped up, a few buttons unbuttoned, his trousers unzipped. And he always threw a glamour on just in case his sleeve pushed up.

 

But this time, he was sloppy. There was no other excuse for it.

 

It was a few days after they'd returned from break, and he was more than happy to have her on her back again – it had been far too long. Too happy, it seemed, because he'd let himself slip, get distracted because of her. And that was something he could absolutely not afford.

 

This time, his shirt was hanging loosely off his shoulders as he thrust into her, slipping down his back with his erratic movements. He was staring down into her eyes as his hips snapped, her hands reaching up to claw at him.

 

He was overwhelmed with her. It was why he didn't catch it in time.

 

It slipped off his back, pooling at his two wrists.

 

It happened in slow motion. Draco realized his fatal error at the same time her eyes slid away from his to the ink staining his left arm. Her eyes widened, flitting back up to his in horror, her breath left her in a gasp, and she struggled to get away from him.

 

He let her, because how could he not? Unable to help the sinking feeling that was enveloping his conscience and twisted through his ribs and stabbed into his heart, he immediately backed away and pulled his shirt up.

 

The damage was already done.

 

By the time he looked at Granger again, her face had gone from shocked and upset to resolved. He knew her well enough by now that he knew exactly what was going to come out of her mouth, and he hated it.

 

"Why?" The break in her voice revealed the emotions she was so desperately trying to hide. Her face was still a frozen mask, trying – and failing – not let on what was going on inside her head.

 

Draco averted his eyes, biting the inside of his cheek so hard he tasted blood. He caught a flicker of his constellations as he tried to Occlude.

 

"It's none of your concern," his tone was scathing as he bit the words out. "Stop sticking your nose where it doesn't belong, Granger."

 

"So you're telling me Harry was right?" her voice shot up a few octaves. "I spent all this time defending you, saying 'no, Draco would never,' and here you were the whole time. I can't believe he was right." She ran a hand through her hair, ignoring the way it caught on her curls and ripping right through.

 

He winced. "I–," he started, sighing. "Yes. He was right." He lowered his guard for a split second before he realized his mistake. Immediately jumping back to the defense. "But Potter," he spat the name, "has no idea what it's like. He has no parents, no one to protect." He turned away, tightening the knot on his tie for something to do with his fingers.

 

"Hey," her voice grew soft and he felt her approach behind him, fingertips reaching up to brush his shoulder. "Is that why?"

 

Stepping away from her, he shrugged out from under her touch. Away from her, he had to get–

 

"Yes," he hissed. The word fell from his lips unbidden, without his consent. He had to fight the torrent of them that tried to dig their way out of his chest, wanting desperately for her to understand why.

 

"It's okay," she started, but he cut her off.

 

"It's not!" he shouted, whirling back to face her with wild eyes. "It's not. This," he snarled, yanking his sleeve back up, letting her see it in all its sick, twisted glory. "Is anything but okay, you stupid bitch." He watched as she flinched away from both the ink and the insult. Good.

 

"This is the easy way out," he said, starting to laugh, almost maniacally. "This is what cowards do. What people who want you dead do." Draco started to stalk towards her, towering over her slightly cowering figure.

 

This is what he wanted. He signed up for this, willingly asked for this while waiting for this very moment. He wanted to drive the nail into the coffin, make her see reason.

 

"How does it feel? Hm?" he asked, getting closer still. "To be fucking someone who wears this? Who wants you dead?"

 

He watched the emotions flicker across her face as she came to terms with what this meant. One he couldn't place – determination, maybe – took root in her eyes and leached into the rest of her.

 

"Draco Malfoy," she seethed, "how dare you."

 

There. There she was. He was wondering where she'd been hiding.

 

"First of all," she started, and he could tell that she was just winding up. "How dare you do this and then refuse to ask for help." Before he knew what she was doing, she reached for his arm, shoved his sleeve back up, and bared it to him.

 

"How dare you assume that you have to do everything by yourself," she said, still fiery. "And how dare you hide this from me."

 

All of a sudden, it felt like he was being scolded by his mother. Confusion seeped into him. Why wasn't she angry? He had to make her angry, had to make her see what it may mean for him.

 

"What is wrong with you?" he yelled, towering back over her. His hands curled into claws and they latched onto her shoulders so he could physically shake her. "Why are you acting like this is normal? I'm not fucking Potter, I'm sure as hell not Weasley, so I don't know why you're trying to act like this is some kind of–" realization dawned on him. "Ah, I see," he dropped his hands. "I'm your next charity case."

 

Her brow furrowed and she started to shake her head. "No, that's not–"

 

"You couldn't save the house-elves, so you're moving on to the next lost cause you could find." His lips twisted into a wry smile, but his eyes were cold. Dead. A stark contrast to the black mirth coloring his face.

 

"But do you know what, Granger?" he asked. "You can't fucking save me." The words were quiet, but he watched in morbid satisfaction as they hit their mark.

 

"I–" she started, but he didn't want her to get a word in edgewise.

 

"No." His hand flew to cover her mouth. "Stop it. Stop trying so bloody hard to see what isn't there!"

 

Her eyes met his, and she almost looked sad. He delivered the final blow. "There is nothing you can do for me. There is nothing anyone can do for me."

 

Granger batted his hand away, and the words exploded out of her. "Would you shut the fuck up?" she screeched. "And let me fucking speak? Gods, you're so fucking annoying."

 

Draco's eyebrows shot up in surprise.

 

"I'm fucking livid with you for doing this, obviously. But I'm almost more disappointed that you felt that you had no choice in it–" she cut him off as he opened his mouth to object, "–I'm not finished."

 

"I'm not going to say anything to anyone. I'm going to leave it up to you, even though I already know what decision you're going to make," she rolled her eyes. "I'm going to let you make it on your own. You're a big boy, Malfoy, this one's on you." She looked at him, shaking her head.

 

"I don't want to see you for a few days. I... need time to process this," her hand motioned down to the mark. "And you need time to realize how fucked up this is." She made to walk away.

 

Draco hesitated, and then called, "Granger." She turned, eyes cautious, yet curious. "I know you don't trust me, but... you shouldn't trust Montague either."

 

"I don't." Her response was instantaneous, and he knew he looked relieved. As much as Draco knew he wasn't a good person, he had a sinking feeling that Montague was worse.

 

Granger walked away from him, and he stared after her until his eyes glazed over.

 

-

 

As twisted as it was, he was... relieved.

 

There was something about her knowing that took a weight off his shoulders that shouldn't have been lifted, but he felt too light to care.

 

Draco knew he'd fucked up by letting her see it. He knew it was entirely possible that he was fucked and he'd just signed his death note. As it stood, he couldn't bring himself to regret it.

 

He stared down into the half-full glass of Firewhisky that he'd been nursing while he thought about his impending doom.

 

On one hand, she could turn around and spill everything to her precious Order. He could get arrested, his parents could get killed – something that would be his doing. But she could possibly get them help, if he asked. She had the pull to get him out, and he knew it.

 

On the other hand, she might not say anything. He would go about life as normal, continuing to seduce Granger, and then turn around and sign her death note.

 

Fuck. He was so, so fucked.

 

Summoning his journal from his room, he caught it and absently thumbed at the pages, flipping through it. Opening it up to a new page, he ran the tip of his quill over his lips.

 

What seems to be troubling you, Draco? the journal prompted.

 

So many things, none that he could write down in case it ever fell into the wrong hands. Specifically... I had a falling out with someone. But they needed to know what was going on.

 

Noncommittal, vague, but good enough.

 

I see. And how does that make you feel?

 

At least whoever this was read between the lines and knew not to ask about what the fight was about. Stressed. That was the best way to encapsulate it. Guilt was another one – for what he'd said to her, for how he'd acted, for the poor decisions he'd made – but he wasn't ready to admit that to a stranger.

 

And what form of stress relief works best for you?

 

That pulled an automatic snort from him. Fucking the stress out of him usually worked best, but that wasn't an option with he and Granger on the outs. Meditation he settled on, which wasn't a lie either.

 

Good, it responded. Why don't you try to meditate and channel some of your thoughts into positive actions? If not for others, at least for yourself.

 

It wasn't half bad advice, he supposed. And he needed to make sure to continue to practice Occlumency, so he would do that later.

 

I said some things I shouldn't have. The words were on the paper before he realized it.

 

Do you feel the need to apologize for them? appeared in front of him.

 

Technically, yes, but instead he wrote, Maybe, but they were necessary. I needed to get my point across.

 

Do you feel like you could have done it in a more constructive way? Without saying things you regret?

 

Fuck, they were good. No. It needed to be this way. It has to be this way.

 

Frustrated and unwilling to continue the conversation, he wanted to fester in his own pit of angst. Shutting it harshly and shoving it away from him, he turned his thoughts back to himself.

 

Checking that no one was around, he rolled up his sleeve and eyed the mark that was staining his left arm. He was supposed to be proud to bear it. He was a Malfoy, he was made for this. So why did he feel his stomach knot up and his breath catch a little every time he looked at it? When did his conscience finally start to question? He hadn't even noticed the change – it had been so gradual and slow that he didn't realize it was there until he'd thought to look for it.

 

But the bare horror that had been etched upon her face as she caught sight of it was enough to make his stomach turn.

 

He didn't know when things had changed for him – he was adamant that it had nothing to do with Granger – but he was starting to question things. And that was not a good sign.

 

Or was it?

 



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