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Hermione sat by the lake, her back pressed firmly into the rough bark of the tree behind her. Watching out across the glittering water, she idly levitated an apple in front of her, gently waving her wand and watching the fruit bob around in front of her. It was green, rather than the glossy red of the apple that haunted her dreams now, and the taste of which lingered in every kiss that she and Draco shared, but the association was more than enough to make her put off eating the apple for as long as she could.

 



A shadow fell across her body and she looked up, just as Draco’s pale hand cut through the air and snatched the apple from air. “I’d have thought you’d be sick of the sight of apples.”


 

“You still eat them, don’t you?” Hermione focussed on the taut skin of the fruit, rather than the long fingers holding it. “Why can’t I eat them?”


 

“I still eat them because I’m dealing with the whole situation better than you.” Draco grinned at her and raised the apple to his mouth.



Before he could take a bite, Hermione hit his hand from beneath, sending the apple flying into the air. Snatching it back quickly, she bit into it before he could take it back. Feeling the juice burst across her tongue as the fruit yielded, she watched Draco, the corners of his mouth turning up as he watched her chew slowly. Swallowing deliberately and raising an eyebrow, Hermione answered him. “I would say that I’m dealing with this just as well as you are.”


 

Draco nodded once. “That could be possible.”


 

“Most things are. I tell you one thing that is both possible and necessary: an explanation as to why you’re talking to me in public?”


 

“Well, it’s not really public is it? You are the only person out here.”


 

“It’s just a bit of a departure from you hanging around in dark corridors and making my bag split so that you’ve got an excuse to talk to me.”


 

“I’ve moved onto stealing your things so that you’ll have to talk to me.” Draco made a grab for the apple but Hermione immediately held it back away from him, stretching her arm out behind her.


 

“I was always taught not to negotiate with criminals,” she laughed, leaning further back as Draco moved forward.


 

Draco watched her for a minute, the line of her body clear against the cut grass and the darkness of the tree trunk. Then, lunging forward unexpectedly, he knocked out the elbow that she was leaning on, sending her falling back to the grass.


 

Her breath escaping from her in one quick gasp, Hermione’s head swirled as she took in the kaleidoscope of blue sky, green leaves and Draco’s face filling her vision as he pressed forward, his body covering hers briefly as he kissed her. A soft breeze rustled the tree above them, and she could feel small twigs pressing into her back, as soft blades of grass tickled the back of her neck. Lost in the moment, Hermione linked her hands behind Draco’s neck, tugging him closer, and feeling the weight of his lean body pushing her into the grass.


 

They drew apart, their pupils dilated as their eyes widened in shock at the boundary that they had just crossed. Draco sat up quickly and fought with himself not to lean forward again and carry on kissing Hermione. A ripple of tension ran through his body as he watched her pull herself to a sitting position and move away from him slightly, and by watching her face, he could see the exact same battle taking place. Now that they had lost the ability to hate each other, the longing between them to remain as close as they possibly could seemed all the more intense.


 

As Hermione brushed her hair nervously back from her face, and cast a sideways glance at the foot of empty space between her and Draco, she wondered what could have happened to make bridging that gap such an attractive option. She knew about the enchantment, obviously, but she had needed the distance that hatred had given her to maintain her dignity and her independence. She felt so vulnerable now, more desperate than ever for the charm to break, so that she could at least know whether this all-consuming longing was actually due to her own emotions or simply because of student stupidity.


 

“It’s weird, isn’t it?” Draco said, looking straight ahead.


 

“Not just me then?”


 

“Not just you,” he conceded. “All I know is that I want to be with you all the time. And I don’t know why.”


 

“Well, it’s the charm,” Hermione began, but Draco cut across her angrily.


 

“You can stop with the party line Hermione. I think we’re both perfectly aware that this is more than a charm.”


 

“How do you know that? Are you really so superior that you think you’re able to define the limits of a spell that’s never been cast before?”


 

“Why do you do that? You go from nought to angry in about three seconds, as soon as you think that I might know something that you don’t.” Draco looked at her sideways, and pushed his hair back from his silver eyes. “And you must have noticed this. Aren’t you finding it easier to get to sleep now? Our bodies aren’t aching all the time, and we can touch each other without sticking together.”


 

“Well, we ought to be able to spend more time apart then.” Hermione shrugged, faking a nonchalance that she wasn’t even close to feeling.


 

“Is it that simple for you?” Draco asked. “I’m worried that the spell is spreading from our bodies to our minds. What happens if we end up spending the rest of our lives together, only for the spell to break and us to find that we’ve wasted years upon years?”


 

“You utter moron,” Hermione said coldly. “I can assure you that spending the rest of your life with me would be anything but a waste of time.”


 

“I didn’t mean it like that,” Draco sighed, closing his eyes briefly as he realised exactly what he had said.


 

“What the hell did you mean then?” Hermione stood up, taking advantage of the fact that she was briefly taller than him. “That I’m such an awful person to be with, that you can’t bear the thought of spending any significant amount of time with me?”


 

“No, I just meant that we can’t trust what we think we’re feeling! How are we meant to even think about anything for our futures, when we might not even be able to trust our most basic impulses?”


 

“And I’m the one who goes from one extreme to the other every few minutes? You’ve just gone from saying you can’t bear the thought of wasting the rest of your life with me, to saying that you’re considering a joint future!”


 

Draco jumped to his feet and shouted down at her. “You are so arrogant! You think that all of this is revolving around you, and how you want the world to fall into place around you!”


 

“Says the Slytherin who spends his entire life calculating an image, and manipulating people into acting the way he wants them to!”


 

“At least I can be honest about what I want, even when I’m not quite sure what that is!” Draco’s eyes were narrow now, glinting in the early afternoon sun.


 

“Well, how about you let me know, when you’ve figured it out Draco. And as I’m so arrogant, I’ll let you know whether I have time for your manipulation in my plans for how I want the world to act around me.” Hermione turned on her heel and marched away.


 

Draco looked after her, and then let his eyes fall to the ground. She had stamped on the apple as she left, its pale, creamy flesh shattered across the green grass. He flashed back to the image of the enchanted apple on the Charms classroom floor, its red skin slowly knitting back together into a glossy finish that had permeated every single area of his life.


 

He honestly didn’t know what he wanted with Hermione. He had thought that the spell might have been wearing off for a few days now, when he had noticed that he hadn’t spent every minute fighting his own body. His body had stopped jumping in her general direction as soon as he relaxed his muscles. But there hadn’t been any decrease in the amount of time he wanted to spend with her. Instead, there had simply been a move towards an intellectual longing to spend time with her. He couldn’t help feeling that a lot of that feeling was based around the expression in her eyes whenever they broke apart from whatever passionate clinch they may have been in. But even her infinite capacity to think she knew every single answer didn’t irritate him the way it used to. He even found it quite endearing at this point.


 

It was such a radical change in opinion that Draco felt he had no choice but to doubt the veracity of his feelings. He hadn’t considered making such a change, and he hadn’t made any conscious decisions to change his opinion, and therefore, he couldn’t see how such a change had come about. The one reasonable conclusion, as far as he could see, was that the spell was increasing its hold over him.


 

He didn’t see this being a huge problem, at least not in the short term. He was perfectly happy with the way things were, and could even see himself being…well, public, with Hermione. Not hiding in dark corners with her, but sitting out in the sun with her. That was why he’d had to kiss her. Sitting out in the sun, it was the first time that he had ever properly seen the sun curl its light through her hair. He knew now that he wanted to see it again.


 

But long term, he couldn’t help but wonder what they would do if these feelings were simply the result of a charm, and they became more and more invested in each other emotionally, only to find that all that chemistry between them simply dissolved as an unnatural piece of fruit lost whatever magical powers it had.


 

This was where he admired, and envied, Hermione the most. She didn’t seem to be facing any of these conflicting emotions. Or if she was, she was holding them in check much better than he was able to. She had just assumed that whatever feelings they had were their own, and as such, that meant that any problems could be easily resolved. Sighing, and sitting back against the tree, keeping his eyes on the destroyed apple in front of him, Draco reflected on his options.


 

He already knew that keeping away from Hermione wasn’t an option. Although after his badly thought out speech from earlier, it was entirely possible that she would be more than happy to keep away from him.


 

He could try and remain unemotional about the whole affair. But even that seemed fairly unlikely at this point. The fact that he was concerned enough to spend a significant amount of time thinking about his relationship with Hermione certainly represented an emotional investment that was entirely unlike him.


 

And, thinking further on the matter, Draco realised that he didn’t really want to try and remain detached about Hermione. He had spent his entire life being careful not to show emotion, to always think in the long-term. That wasn’t what he wanted to be doing with Hermione. She made him feel different, for want of a better word. Happier than any other faux-relationship with a Slytherin girl, simply for the sake of social standing, had ever made him. Now that he had experienced such a relationship, it made a lot more sense for him to be continuing in such a relationship. Happiness was something beyond calculation.


 

Standing up suddenly, he looked back towards the castle. He could just see Hermione running up the steps to the main entrance, her shoulders rigid with anger. Without further thought, he began sprinting across the grounds, his long legs making a quick gain on the head start that she had had.

 

 

The first that Hermione knew of Draco’s change of heart, was when a strong grip encircled her waist as she tried to run up the main staircase. Turning around quickly, groping through her robes for her wand, she stopped short when she found herself nose to nose with Draco. Students walking past them on the stairs shot prying glances, but didn’t stop for fear of seeming overly curious. Hermione kept searching through her robes but was slowed down by the realisation that even though Draco was standing on the step beneath her, he was still taller than her. This irritated her in a way that she couldn’t quite describe but was more than enough to convince her that she wanted him to feel the same irritation.


 

“What do you think you’re doing?” she hissed.


 

“Will you stop looking for your wand to jinx the hell out of me, for just one minute and listen to me, please?” Draco snapped back, and she felt a flash of satisfaction that Draco seemed just as irritated as her.


 

“Hermione? What’s going on?” Harry’s voice came down from the stairs above them, and Draco’s gaze settled behind Hermione’s face to see Potter and Weasley running down the stairs in what they no-doubt imagined to be a heroic cavalcade.


 

Not stopping to give Hermione a chance to explain, he grabbed her hand and dragged her down the stairs, pulling her into a storage closet to one side of the reception hall. Pulling his wand out, he cast the strongest locking spell he could think of and muttered ‘muffliato’.


 

Hermione crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow. “I would advise you to make the explanation you’re about to give me the best one that has ever been concocted in the history of civilisation.”


 

“Don’t pretend you’re not a little bit thrilled by my spontaneity.” Draco tried a smirk, and felt a small thrill as she fought the twitch of her own mouth. “Hermione, I didn’t mean what I said about spending time with you being a waste of our lives. I wouldn’t ever mean something like that. What I meant was that…I don’t know why I feel the way we feel. You’re so collected, you’re used to feeling emotions, not just pretending to live out the emotions that your peers expect of you. I’m not. But now that I’m feeling the way I’m feeling, I don’t want to stop. I don’t know whether it’s because of this spell, but I don’t know that it is. I think that you and I might have something special.”


 

Draco trailed off, wondering if he’d said all he needed to say. Hermione lowered her eyebrow slowly. “Did you mean that, or are you just saying it because you think it will make your life easier?”


 

“Hermione, given how argumentative the pair of us are, I really don’t think having you around is the easier option. But this isn’t meant to be easy right?”


 

“I don’t see how anything with you is ever that easy,” Hermione answered wryly. “You’ve certainly complicated matters by dragging me into a locked room in front of Harry and Ron.”


 

“Cross that bridge when we come to it?” Draco suggested, slowly slipping his hands around Hermione’s waist and pulling her closer to him.



She jumped and looked at the door, as a particularly loud bang hammered on it and bounced off the walls of the storage cupboard. Draco gently raised a hand to her chin and turned her face back to him. “Hermione, I don’t just need you. I want you.”


 

Their lips were almost touching now, her attention completely gone from the noises her angry friends were making. “I thought it was bad to get everything you want,” she whispered.


 

“Nothing that feels this good can possibly be bad.” He answered, as their bodies moulded together into one sinuous embrace. Clinging to each other, their mouths melded, and the warmth of forbidden fruit washed over them. Everything was lost, blurred into nothingness, and all that they could see was each other.


 

 

AN: Hope you enjoyed, all reviews appreciated enormously! Petitesorciere xxx

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