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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.

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