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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 [] - 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 []. 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"


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.


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