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Chapter 18:

Draco revelled in being right and he had no qualms about rubbing it in, but this time his victory was bitter. From the moment they had met, Draco knew that there was more to Jasper than just the façade he put up. He had tried to tell Hermione but being the stubborn mind that she was, she paid Draco no mind. With his striking good looks, dark hair, Quidditch and Healing talents and ability to convince people he’s just a sweet, charming guy, Draco knew immediately that Hermione would fall for him. 

With great detail, Jasper was telling his friends of how he would finally relish in the benefits of his great ‘scheme’ that night. After weeks of gushing affection, Jasper would finally be indulging in the fruits of his labour, and the only fruit on the menu was none other than Hermione Granger. 

Apparently, Jasper’s friends had seen the competition between Jasper and Draco for Hermione and the boys had placed a wager on who would be the first to get off with Hermione. It appeared that Hermione would be a famous notch on the bedpost for many young French wizards. She was intelligent and known to be the bookworm type, and snagging that type of girl always presented a certain level of challenge that men found almost, in a perverted way, exhilarating. And now, Jasper was under the impression that he and Hermione would be making a quick farewell to everyone at the Bon Voyage ball so he could give Hermione a private and ‘proper’ send off before returning to England. Jasper basked in the glory that in a couple of hours, he would be able to claim Hermione as his and mercilessly hold that over Draco. 
The initial shock wore off. Draco thought he was going to throw up. His Slytherin’s pulse started to race and his hands curled themselves into tight fists, his knuckles turning stark white. Propelled by his rage, Draco hurled himself around the corner and lunged at Jasper, attaching him with all his valour. Several of Jasper’s friends tried to pull the incensed blonde off their friend, but it was no use. Draco no longer cared if physical fighting was crude and beastly; he just knew no spell or hex in the world despicable enough to use on the Frenchman. Between his punches, Draco’s deep growling voice could be heard, “How dare you talk about Hermione that way, you filthy, sodding prick!” 

The suave, charming smile wiped clean off Jasper’s face, he taunted with a snarl, “You’re just jealous you couldn’t pull it off yourself. Face it, Malfoy; I won this round in our little game of ‘who’s better than who?’ Hermione. Likes. Me. Better.” He emphasized that word to a point that drove Draco over the edge. His fists punched furiously with much more vigour repeatedly colliding with Jasper’s side and face, until he picked him clean off his feet and threw him into the cold water. Immediately, one of Jasper’s friends dived in after him to pull him back onto the surface. Everyone was positive that he would not have the energy to pull himself back up after the beating Draco had given him. 

His friend pulled him out of the water, both of them dripping wet and Jasper choking for breath. Still propelled by his rage, Draco rushed forward to strike a fist into Jasper’s stomach. 

Murmurs spread around the hall that a fight had broken out on the harbour. Something told Hermione she needed to be there. A large crowd had already gathered around the brawling young men and Hermione quickly fought her way to the front. She gasped at the sigh in front of her: her charming French date, sprawled on the floor, soaking wet, being pummelled by her old enemy, who, less than a week ago, had denounced her for using physical violence when provoked. What in Merlin’s name was he doing? 

“Malfoy get off him! Have you gone completely inane?” she all but yelled, jumping forth to pull the sweaty blonde with bloody knuckles off her badly beaten date. At the sound of her voice, Draco stopped in mid-punch and looked at her. Finally she would see for herself what a crooked character Lesair was. He was breathing heavily and couldn’t catch his breath, but he needed to tell her. 

When Draco looked at her, she was staggered by the pure wrath peering back at her from his icy crystalline eyes. Never in all her years of facing off against his Slytherin friends, witnessed Draco Malfoy lose control with such furore. He’d never even glared at Harry and Ron with this amount of venom in his eyes. 

Jasper lay in a wet, bloodied heap on the floor and Hermione directly went to tend to his bruises. She leaned over and whispered soft, soothing words to him, taking his wand from the inside of his jacket and healing his injuries with a soft murmur of a spell. She and her friends had had too many run ins with Draco Malfoy to know that any fights were usually a direct result of something he’d either said or done. Hermione felt sure that this was no different, only this time Crabbe and Goyle weren’t here to do his dirty work for him. She felt physically ill that she’d enjoyed any of the time she spent with a person who could attack someone as nice as Jasper. 

Draco felt like he could jump out of his skin. From somewhere, Gabriella emerged from behind and approached him tentatively, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder, causing him to jump at her touch. His eyes were filled with fire, smouldering heavily, but when he turned and saw her there, they softened immediately. She gave his arm a supportive, understanding squeeze and he turned back to Hermione, who was still tending to Jasper. “Hermione, you didn’t hear what this jerk…” 

She silenced him with a deathly glare. “Don’t you talk to me, Malfoy.” She spat acidly, “I can’t believe I actually thought you’d changed. A mistake I won’t be making again.” She helped Jasper to his feet and gripped him tightly, her arm around his waist, whilst he grimaced with pain. 

Draco was shocked. “Hermione, listen to me-”

“No, Draco Malfoy, I won’t listen. Just get away from me.” 
This was unbelievable. After everything Jasper had planned, he still came out smelling like a rose -possibly quite literally- whilst Draco became, once again, Ultimate Evil Wizard. He was fed up. She should’ve known better than to just assume he would just attack someone else without a good reason. How many times had she seen him sidestep fights with Potter and Weasley? She thought she had gotten to know him better in the past six weeks. But I guess not, he mused. To hell with her then. And with a quick turn, he had apparated back to the Manor. 

People were fussing over Jasper, making sure he was okay and some security came to check out what was happening. Hermione recognized Pegasus Maximilian amongst the crowd and was surprised when he came towards her. 

“Miss Granger, what happened here?” he asked curiously. 

Hermione took a deep breath, “Draco and Jasper were fighting but I don’t know why,” she choked on her words, still unable to believe what she saw. A saddened Gabriella stepped out of the crowd, still glowing beautifully but the unhappiness on her expression stole away some of her radiance. “It’s not how it seems, Hermione.” She said quietly and turned to Maximilian. “Hello, uncle.” She added almost inaudibly. 

Hermione stood still, rooted to the spot by the impact of Gabriella’s words. Gabriella took this as a sign to continue. 

“I saw what happened and Hermione, you’ve got it all wrong. Jasper is not the ‘innocent bystander’ you assume he is.” She breathed. 

Hermione and Maximilian gaped. “How do you know this, Gabby?” Maximilian asked breathlessly.  

“Draco had promised me a dance and so when he stepped out, I followed him, making sure he wasn’t trying to back out on me. I called out to him but he didn’t seem to hear me. I got there in time to hear the end of Jasper’s conversation with his friends and know what made Draco so angry.” She took a deep breath, obviously unsettles by what she was about to say, “Draco punched Jasper because he was defending you, Hermione.” 

“That’s ridiculous! Why would Draco have to defend me from Jasper?” 

Gabriella shot her uncle a look that clearly said ‘this is private’ and with an understanding look, he nodded and walked away. She pulled Hermione to the side, so they wouldn’t be overheard and said, “Jasper’s friends dared him to win you over. He likes you Hermione, but he desperately wanted to win the dare because there was a prize…. and you were it. Jasper had his own private party planned for you tonight when you went for a walk with him.” 

Hermione shook her head vigorously, “No, I don’t believe it. Why are you lying to me? I thought we were friends.” 

“We are, Hermione. That’s why I can’t let Draco get blamed for something that Jasper did.” 

 “I just can’t believe…Jasper’s so nice and…I just can’t believe he intended for me and him to…to well-” she was rambling and she knew it so she cut herself off. 

“Hermione, Jasper used to be my boyfriend and I know him better than anyone. He intended for everything to happen. Please don’t get the wrong impression of him, though. He’s a really nice, really sweet guy. I just think that his desire for you got the better of him, not that I can really blame him. You do look stunning tonight.” 

Her eyes glistening with tears, Hermione took hold of Gabriella’s hand and squeezed it tightly. “You’ve been such a good friend to me these past few days and I don’t know how to make it up to you. But I guess I have an apology to make now. I’ll see you tomorrow.” 

“Don’t worry about it,” Gabriella waved her hand dismissively and let Hermione disapparate. With a sigh, she went to find Jasper, where she would give him the longest reproach of his life.


Hermione searched the Manor cautiously. She was fairly certain she was the last person Draco wanted to see right now, except maybe Jasper and she knew how difficult Draco could be when he was in his defensive mode. He wasn’t in the courtyard, the drawing room, the dining room, the Quidditch pitch, the kitchen (although she did find a half finished glass of Firewhiskey on the counter) or the library. Dejectedly, she went upstairs to her room, but as she was walking past his bedroom, something caught her eye. She heard a muffled shout and then the sound of something breaking. She peered through the open door and saw him on his terrace. She’d found him. 
After Hermione had berated him, Draco knew he just wanted to get away from her, from Jasper, from everyone. He knew they could never be friends. He knew he had been terrible to her in the past. But somehow, in spite of all that, he thought she had grown to trust him in some respects since they’d been in France. Or that she would at least trust him more than some idiot she met only a few weeks ago. He was angry with Hermione, but he was even angrier with himself. 

He knew there was something a little off about Jasper yet he had done nothing to find out what and catch on to his motives earlier on. He could have warned Hermione about him from the beginning. Not like she would’ve listened to you back then. She hated your guts…and probably does again, he thought resentfully. But the thing that had angered him the most was how he had reacted so vehemently to the thought of Hermione with another boy. He couldn’t possibly be jealous. Or could he? Seeing Jasper fawn all over Hermione always did give him an odd sensation. He’d never imagine Hermione to go so far as to have sex with a boy she’d only known a few short weeks, but he didn’t know Hermione that well either. Not really anyway. Was it possible that Hermione had in fact planned to have sex with Jasper as a special going away gift? How could she? With him? 

His blood burned white hot at the thought, and his anger was renewed with even more vigour. “She’s just a girl!” he shouted angrily. “Just a filthy, stinking Mudblood. She means nothing to me!” he picked up a small potted plant on one of the ledges and threw it angrily at the terrace wall, shattering it into a hundred pieces. 

Hermione moved into the room and made her way to the terrace, opening the door hesitantly. She wasn’t sure how to proceed. Draco was usually composed in front of others so she approached him as she would a real fire-breathing dragon and not just a boy named after one. 

“Draco?” she spoke softly, her voice breaking with nerves. The mild air around her sent a shiver down her spine. He spun round abruptly at the sound of his name, obviously surprised to have an audience for his outburst and just as obviously disconcerted his audience was Hermione. He had discarded his jacket and his bow tie hung undone around his neck, the top buttons of his shirt undone.
“Get out Granger.” He ordered icily. “You made your thoughts about me perfectly clear. I don’t think a recap will be necessary.” He had not expected to see her again and especially not now when his feeling were raw and hurt. 

“Draco, please, I wanted to apologize for,” 

Draco cut her off mid-sentence. “I don’t care about you or anything you have to say. Why don’t you just run back to your little boyfriend.” He sneered vindictively. “I hope I didn’t ruin any big plans you two might have had for the night.” He laughed derisively but Hermione detected a bit of dejection and maybe even a trace of sadness. This still didn’t excuse him. 

“How dare you! What made you think that anything Jasper said was even remotely possible? For all we know, he could’ve been lying to make himself sound more important than he was. I would never do anything like that with him and you should’ve known better. But then again, I don’t expect you to tell the difference between a lie and a truth since you walk such a fine line between the two every day.”

“Me?” He was within touching distance of her now. “Wasn’t I the one who told you from the beginning that he was too good to be true? Didn’t I tell you there was something wrong with your pathetic excuse of a Potter replacement? Boy, you sure know how to pick ‘em, Hermione.  One won’t look twice at you while the other just wants to get into your prim little knickers.” 

SMACK! Hermione had swung her hand back and bought it contacting with his cheek with all the force she could muster. He had gone too far. She had hit him so hard, he had stumbled and almost fell to his side. Her hand stung like hell, but it hurt far less than his words. His words had a grain of truth in them. Hadn’t she let Jasper shower her with affection because he reminded her of Harry? With Harry, she always felt safe and she assumed the same would be with Jasper. She felt silly and stupid and Draco stating the obvious was just salt in her wound. 

He looked up at her from underneath his silver wisps of hair and saw the internal battle waging on behind her eyes. He’d said cruel, harsh things to her before so he knew how to evoke this type of response.  In a perverse way, it was almost second nature to him. Except this time, the cut hurt him just as much. Deep down he knew that Jasper was just talking big to his friends and in truth, Hermione was innocent in this mess. Her only crime was trusting someone who didn’t deserve her. She didn’t need Draco standing in front of her screaming, “I told you so!” because she already knew. 

Neither of them spoke for a long moment, simply stood there in the cold air, staring at the other. 

“Did that make you feel good? To kick me when I’m down?” she asked through gritted teeth. “And to think, I came here to apologize.” 
“This was supposed to be an apology?” Draco asked incredulously, rubbing his aching jaw. “Do me a favour. Next time, send flowers.” His joke fell flat as neither of them was in a laughing mood. “I don’t want an apology. You know what I want, it’s you who can’t figure out what you want.” 

“Is that so?”

“Yes, that’s so.” He looked up at the stars, as if asking for some guidance. “Every time we kissed, you took to ignoring me, like I didn’t even exist. Like I’m invisible and sometimes I think that’s worse than we were always at each other’s throats. For a few weeks here, we became…almost friends.” He couldn’t believe he was confessing all this to her, but a part of him couldn’t bear it anymore. “It was only a short time, I know. Hardly any time when you think about it, but I don’t think I can forget it at all. I’ve tried but it just won’t go away.” 

Hermione’s shoulders relaxed and she spoke this time. “I know how you feel. I’ve seen sides of you I never thought could exist. Kindness and intelligence you’ve always covered up with your arrogance. We actually had some fun together while we were here. I want what you want…to make sure that this won’t disappear like a failed spell once we get back to England. I want to make sure that the Draco Malfoy who helped me with my French and went to a muggle theme park with me wasn’t just a figment of my imagination.” 
He had not reacted during her speech, not even a flinch and his lack of reaction was unsettling. “Well…um, don’t you have anything to say?” she broke the silence after a while. 

“Not really.” 

“Fine.” She replied tersely and turned to exist, determined that he would not see her shed a single tear. But before she could make it to the door, a frustrated voice called to her. 

“It doesn’t matter what we want.” She stopped instantly and turned slowly to him. He moved deliberately to stand right in front of her. She could feel his warm breath cutting through the chilly air. “Isn’t that what you’ve been trying to tell me all along? All that matters is what has to be. I thought you understood that. We all have parts to play and we can’t rewrite the script in the middle of the show. What we want is irrelevant.” His eyes and tone softened as he looked into her glistening eyes. “Things have to get back to the way they were, Hermione. Being here has mixed that up for us. But once we get back to St Mungo’s, back to our real lives, this will all fade away like a dream.” 

The tear fell before she could stop it. Draco reached a gentle hand to her face to caress it away. With a shaky voice, she asked, “So then if none of this is real, if it really is just a dream, it won’t matter what we do here tonight, our last night away from the real world?” 

In a low, husky voice, he murmured. “That’s right.” Then he smiled wryly. “Five points to Gryffindor.” 

She started to laugh and he saw as her eyes changed from melancholy to tear-free before a sound even escaped her mouth. It aroused something in him, a deep-seeded desire that he could no longer deny, not when she was looking up at him with such a sweet look on her face. Not when he knew tonight would be the last time he could ever be this close to her. 

She could see his eyes lingering on her lips, his mind warring with his heart to give in to what she wanted him to do as well. She knew Draco was right. This was it for Draco and Hermione and tomorrow, they would return to being Malfoy and Granger. His head descended slowly to meet hers, and she wondered if she could stand to wait much longer. Finally their lips met and with it came a surge of emotions neither of them knew they had been bottling up inside for so long. 

Draco snaked one hand behind Hermione’s neck and pulled her face to his whilst his other arm wrapped around her waist protectively, pulling her to his body.  He could feel her soft moans in her chest which sent shivers of excitement to every part of his body, making him warm with longing despite the chilly air. He felt her velvety lips glide slowly against his and he surrendered himself to the way she made him feel and the knowledge that no other night would ever compare to this one…because he would never spend another night like this with this girl. 

Hermione’s head was spinning but her mouth and hands knew perfectly well what to do. Her arms wrapped around him as she deepened their kiss, pressing her body so close to his, she could feel his heart beating against his chest. Whilst his hands played with the hairs on the back of her neck, sending a wave of thrilling chills down her spine, her hands stole underneath his shirt and felt his delightfully warm skin, her fingers tracing the contours of his well defined chest. She never dreamed she would melt at the touch of someone she always thought was so cold. 
He was beginning to feel dizzy from the suffocating sweet taste of Hermione’s mouth, her roaming hands driving him crazy. When breathing became an absolute necessity, he pulled back from their feverish kissing and breathed deeply to get some much need air into his lungs. Hermione stood before him, breathless from their passionate embrace, hair tousled by his wandering hands, lips swollen from his fervent kisses and her warm eyes asking for his touch. She had never looked so radiant. He moved forward so that she had to step back. He leaned her back against the door and placed his hand on either side of her head and stared into her hazel eyes before his lips returned to her mouth hungrily and her hands went back under his shirt, drawn to his warmth. His lips left hers to trail zealous kisses across her jaw and neck, down what cleavage was exposed before returning back to her lips. A moan frequently escaped her lips, loving what he did to her. She could die of pleasure. 

How long they stayed like that, Hermione did not know. She had lost track of time; they stood there kissing on the terrace for what seemed like an eternity. Just when she thought their bodies could not be any closer, he would wrap his arms around her and prove her wrong. When she would pull back to breathe in some much needed air, Draco would use the opportunity to explore the intricacies and delicate spots of her neck and shoulders, all the while whispering her name softly. It was driving her insane. The soft touch of his wispy hair combined with his warm breaths and his fervent kisses made her heart pound faster than she ever thought possible. She started to feel faint again. As he moved down to attack her neck once more, particularly a sensitive spot just below her right ear where he found if he kissed ever so lightly, she would mutter his name in the most seductive voice he had ever heard, his hair tickled her ear and she chuckled lightly. 

Draco pulled away worry and apprehension flitting across his bright silver eyes. “What?” he asked anxiously, his breath coming in short, ragged gasps. 

Hermione calmed his fears at once. “Nothing. It’s just your hair, it tickled my ear.” She smiled as she trailed a finger across his strong jaw. 

“Oh,” he answered, leaning in to kiss her ear properly. “For a minute, I thought…” 

“You thought I was going to say we should think logically about this before we do something we regret?” 

He attacked the delicate skin below her ear, his tongue darting out to tease her before his lips moved down her neck, his fingers pulling at the strap of her dress. He managed a soft, distracted, “Mm-hmm.” 

“But you’re forgetting something very important, Draco. Tonight’s just a dream and there’s nothing to regret to in dreams.” 
His lips trailed back up her neck and he pulled back just far enough to give her a slight wink, making her smile before he captured her lips in a heated, magical kiss. 
“Draco,” she whispered after a while when her jaw began to ache. He groaned and ignored her. “Draco, stop.” 

Unwillingly, he pulled back and stared at her curiously. “What?” 

“I want you,” she breathed into his ear and turned to nod at his bed, visible through the glass doors. 
Draco’s eyes widened and he asked quietly. “Are you sure?” 
“It’s just a dream, remember? No regrets.” She grinned and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him in for an intense, greedy kiss. He smirked against her lips, wrapping his arms around her waist and picking her up in his arms. The door opened with a gentle nudge and he carried her in, a content smirk residing on his lips. 

A/N: You can all guess what happens next, so I won’t go into any detail...just think of this line from the song ‘Mr Brightside’ by The Killers: Now, he takes off her dress. Coincidentally, I happen to be listening to that song right now =)Reviews are much loved. 
-Sera :D

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