Hermione sat in front of Harry and Ron, trying to radiate a sense of extreme displeasure and irritation. She had seen Draco doing it from across the Dining Hall and was sure that if she could just get the posture right, she would be able to exude the same icy awareness of distance that he did. She pressed her back firmly into the soft armchair, hoping to fortify her spine with some semblance of strength.
She was sure that she didn’t want to give up what she had with Draco. She was more than sure. That was a constant in the confusing situation she had found herself in, but it was so hard to try and reconcile that with the love that she had for her best friends. Despite their various failures at friends at occasional points in the time that they had known each other, it didn’t change the fact that she had experienced more with them than she could with anyone else. Standing over an unconscious mountain troll in first year robes that were slightly too big for her, and looking sheepishly at Harry and Ron, she had been very aware of the fact that she would be unable to ever experience that kind of thing with anyone else.
Which meant that she was torn. As they were her friends, she needed their approval. She even wanted to talk about it with them, although having never had a serious boyfriend she had no idea how either of them would stand up in that gossipy department. But she had spent time laughing with them about Malfoy the amazing bouncing ferret. She had even punched Draco before, she had threatened him, and she, Harry and Ron had believed Draco to be at the root of most of the troubles in their school lives. All in all, it was not the most conducive background to introducing a new romantic interest to them.
Breathing deeply, she decided that icy distance was out of the question and instead tried a slightly tentative smile. “So are either of you planning to say anything or are you just going to stare at me?”
Ron and Harry shared a sideways glance, clearly worried about her. And probably quite angry, she added mentally. She had just disappeared into a cupboard with the most antagonistic student in school and hadn’t bothered responding to their frantic shouts for quite some time. She blushed at the memory of Draco’s tongue tracing across the cupid’s bow of her upper lip, drawing her sighs into his mouth.
Fortunately, Harry and Ron seemed oblivious to the tell-tale stain spreading across her cheeks. “Hermione, what is wrong with you?” As she searched for an appropriate answer, she thought that Harry couldn’t quite decide where to place the emphasis in that sentence. Rather than sounding angry or questioning, he sounded flat, almost resigned to the idea that there would be something wrong that he could do nothing to solve the problem. She felt a sudden rush of pity for him.
“It’s difficult,” she answered, rather than prevaricating with lies about not knowing what he was talking about. “You can’t understand what I’m going through. You don’t know what it’s like to fight against your body. Draco knows what I’m going through, and that means that I’m going to be spending more time with him than I normally would have.”
She was so caught up in thinking that she wasn’t really having to fight against her body anymore, more in that she was having to analyse every romantic and intellectual impulse, that she didn’t even notice that she had referred to Malfoy by his forename. Her first sign was when out of her peripheral vision she saw Ron’s knuckles thrust against his pale skin as he clenched his fists.
“How much time would you normally be spending with Draco then?” he asked, his voice low but the emphasis firmly in place. Hermione felt her heart leap forward in her chest as she realised what she had just given away. Ron seemed to have realised what the problem was but, unlike Harry, was determined to remove said problem.
“You know Hermione, you haven’t been jittering around as much as you have been,” Harry noted as he picked up on Ron’s intonation.
“I told you, it’s complicated.”
Hermione dragged a deep breath through her lips, feeling the cool air buffet the tender skin, bringing back memories of Draco gently nipping the skin as he slid gentle hands through her hair and anchored her to him. “The charm. We think it’s changing.”
“You mean you and Draco think the charm is changing.”
“Ron, you aren’t helping matters with that attitude.” Hermione felt her chest give another leap and lodge itself in her throat. If Draco were there, she was sure that he would know it was there and would drop his blonde head to her neck, letting gentle kisses soothe the anxious lump in her throat. “Yes, Dra…Malfoy and I think that the charm might be changing.” She told herself that this wasn’t strictly a lie. It was a niggling thought in the back of both of their minds, but they had reached an unspoken agreement that the bliss that they felt with each other was a fair trade for being under the influence of the charm, if it was changing.
“Changing how?” Harry was slightly more suspicious than Ron. She thought that that made sense. Ron was fiery anger, Harry was always that little bit more analytical.
“It’s…um…moving from a…uh…physical compulsion to more of a mental one, I suppose.” She heard her own halting voice and wondered whether it was really coming from herself. Maybe she was having an out-of-body experience. She scouted around the room to see whether she was seeing it from an odd perspective, whether she had removed herself from this excoriating, embarrassing experience. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem as though she was.
There was a long pause.
“Hermione, are you trying to tell me that you’re falling in love with Malfoy?” Harry had obviously considered his words, because rather than a disjointed question, it was a steady stream of clear words that ran through her head and splashed off all her thoughts. Hermione was already aware that she was leaving an answer longer than she should have. She ought to have shouted denials straight away, vehemently drowning out their newfound intuition with anger. And now, she ought to be bursting into tears, making herself seem helpless, entirely at the whim of the charm. But she couldn’t make herself do it. She could pretend that she wasn’t happy with what was happening. She couldn’t tell herself that she didn’t want something that made her feel so alive, that made her feel complete. When she was entwined around him, she felt right. She belonged to someone, to Draco, and that was that mattered. Considering it with a clinical detachment that seemed to indicate that an out-of-body experience was on it’s way at least, she thought that probably meant that she was in love with Draco.
The thought of it was insane. She wanted to give in to whatever kind of hysteria was threatening to envelop her, just at the thought of it. She, Hermione Granger, was falling in love with Draco Malfoy! She didn’t know whether she was making this choice, or whether a spell was making it for her. But the fact remained; she was falling in love with Draco.
She was too swept up in this thought to even bother listening to Harry and Ron. It was such a weird thought that she wasn’t quite sure how to process it. She couldn’t tell him…not yet, at least. She would have to wait, until she was sure that it wasn’t just the spell. Still, the thought was there. That was enough for now. It was the crowning jewel in the entire bizarre saga.
She blinked and saw that Harry and Ron were staring at her, as though waiting for an answer. “Sorry, what did you say?”
“We didn’t say anything else. We were waiting to hear whether you’re falling in love with Malfoy or not?” Ron raised an eyebrow at her and clenched his fingers around the armrests of his chair.
Hermione flipped a coin mentally. Heads, she would tell the truth, no matter how horrible. Tails, she would lie, and buy herself some time. As soon as she had the thought, she saw the coin land firmly with the tail side pointing up. “No, don’t be silly,” she laughed, berating herself for her cowardice. “It’s just that, I can’t help feeling more friendly to him than usual because of the situation we’re in. Don’t worry, once this is all over, I’ll be back to normal.”
She told herself that that wasn’t strictly a lie. Once the whole thing was over, she probably would seem exactly the same as she had before. She just didn’t know when it would end. And she certainly didn’t need to tell them that she was hoping that it wouldn’t end. Smiling brightly at her friends, she felt her heart give a small little pulse of familial love and pity. They were so trusting, and they only wanted what was best for her. She just couldn’t give them that at the moment. She pushed herself up and made a move towards the door, already yearning to see Draco. She knew that he would be going into the Room of Requirements now, settling himself into the red velvet loveseat, ready for her to join herself to his side.
“Where are you going?” Ron sat bolt upright and made to reach out and grab her wrist.
Hermione skipped promptly out of his reach. “I am going to go and do some work. Probably in the library. See you later!” Without waiting for a further response, she moved for the door as quickly as she possibly could.
As soon as she was past the portrait of the Fat Lady, she smiled, touching her fingers to her lips in an unconscious recognition of what was coming. Dashing through the corridors, walking past couples who were able to kiss openly in the arches of the pane windows, she arrived at the blank stretch of wall that led to Draco.
She walked through the magic door, virtually quivering with anticipation and excitement simply at the thought of seeing Draco. “What the…?” she murmured as she walked into the room. The loveseat was still there, but now it was just an accessory to the four-poster bed that sat beneath luxurious crimson and cream draping. Draco spun around, looking more flustered than she had ever seen him.
“Hermione! I didn’t ask it do this, I promise.”
Hermione half-laughed at the expression on his face. “How did it get there then?”
“I don’t know! I’ve tried coming in and out of the room three times, but every time, it just puts the bed back here. I don’t know why it’s doing it.” Draco looked at Hermione, a smile quirking the corners of her mouth as she tried not to laugh at his panic. With the soft light of a flickering fire highlighting the planes and arcs of her face, he thought that he probably did know why the bed was there, but he hadn’t consciously asked for it. Now all he could think was that she would assume that he was trying to pressure her, which he wasn’t but if she wanted to that was an entirely different matter…Running a hand back through his hair, he sighed and tried to slow his thoughts down into one coherent stream rather than a frantic jumble. He smiled at Hermione and decided to wait for her to make the first move.
She stepped forward, took his hand and drew him gently to the sofa. Waiting until he had sat down, she settled next to him, fitting the curves of her body to his. Draco wrapped his arms around her waist and felt her rest her head against his shoulder, her nose pressed to his neck. “Hi,” she whispered, so quietly that he barely heard her.
“Hi yourself,” he answered, his voice rumbling through her head and all the way down her spine. “What took you so long?”
“I was just trying to give Harry and Ron a reasonable explanation as to why we vanished into a mop cupboard for half an hour earlier.”
“What did you settle on?” Draco asked, not bothering to think up a jibe. Instead, he settled for gently trailing his fingers up and down two inches of her waist, and feeling her breath catch slightly.
Hermione ignored the soft tickling as best she could, and lifted her head to look at him. “I used the feminine art of diversion and promised them everything without really saying anything.”
“That doesn’t sound like you,” Draco pressed his forehead to hers and let the words trickle into the tiny space between them.
“I don’t want them to know about this. Not yet.” Hermione’s entire world was becoming Draco in that precise moment: he filled her vision, her hearing, pressed into every thought she had and then expanded beyond that. But still, there was the bed, its promise unspoken but more inviting than anything she had ever considered. “Draco, that bed…is it there because you want to..um…you know?”
“Well that’s not the kind of perspicacity I expect from you Miss Granger,” he murmured. “But it is entirely possible.”
“Without you ever wanting to pressure me in any way, of course.”
“I feel like the room is pushing for this more than I am.”
There lips were practically touching now, the words just soft purrs into a space that was becoming easier and easier to bridge.
“And it’s probably a very bad idea because we don’t know whether we really want to do this, or whether it’s a dodgy charm.”
“But then either way, we win. No matter why, we want to do this.”
They couldn’t tell who was saying what now, their thoughts merging together into one persuasive urge.
“So, we could…” But before either of them could complete the sentence, their lips were together. They both knew that this time nothing would be stopping them, that they were in this together and there was no way they were going to be stopping.
Their mouths moved against hot lips, along smooth necks and felt beating pulses beneath the pale skin. Before they even realised it themselves, they were on the canopied bed, slowly and gently removing the trappings of every day life. They became more than a girl and a boy, more than students, more than a Gryffindor and a Slytherin and each watched as the other blossomed into something else.
Hands skimmed across warm skin and small gasps of surprise at the pleasure that this elicited were soon the only sound that filled the room. The fire obligingly faded to a small glow, casting a rosy light that did nothing to prevent them from seeing all too clearly what they were doing.
He met her eyes in the single crucial moment as they both watched a peak come closer and closer. With no warning they toppled over the edge and fell towards a smoky sea that gathered them into a balmy embrace and left them languorous and loving.
They didn’t need to say anything afterwards. Draco gathered Hermione to him and buried his face in the curve between her neck and shoulder, their hands lacing together in front of her stomach as she pressed her back into him. Complete, they slept as the fire burned out and their dreams filled the room around them.
AN: Well, I hope you liked that. Sorry it took a bit longer than usual, I wanted to get the end bit right! Please please review, I am always very grateful, and I love getting feedback. Lots of love…petitesorciere. P.S. I am on twitter, so if any of you lovely people are, you can follow me @Madi_Spence, if you feel like it.
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