Prefects duties went just as normally as any night. Hermione strolled through the castle, peeking around corners and meandering near the school House entrances to see if anyone was out of bed. She passed Ernie Macmillan, who was also a prefect, on the way towards the library and walked with him for awhile, before splitting up when they heard a crash and a bang on the floor above. It had turned out to be none other than Peeves, who had knocked over a display case filled with trophies on the fourth floor corridor. Other than that, everything ran smoothly, and when 9:30 rolled around, Hermione called it a night and cautiously made her way up to the Astronomy Tower.
When she entered the old Astronomy classroom, it was pitch black and cold. She muttered “Lumos,” and made her way to the hearth in the corner, where a roaring fire sprang to life with a flick of her wand. Malfoy wasn’t there. Was he even going to show? Was this some dirty joke he was playing on her? She was getting nervous and fidgety. For a whole hour before her Prefects duties, she had been in front of the mirror, making sure everything was just so – the most time she had ever spent in front of a mirror in her life! She went about the room, lighting torches and pacing back and forth on the creaky floorboards.
“Lovely evening,” said a familiar voice. She turned abruptly to see Malfoy framed handsomely in the doorway.
She grinned in spite of herself and nervously fixed her hair a bit. “Yes, sure is,” she said. Malfoy handsomely sauntered over to the window, where he handsomely peered out into the darkness for a few seconds, and then handsomely took a seat on the puffy, plush loveseat that he had conjured out of thin air.
Hermione stood there awkwardly for a second, not knowing what to do. ‘God, I’m such an idiot,’ she thought. ‘I never should have come!’ Malfoy was watching her in amusement all this time and almost laughed.
“Aren’t you going to sit down?” he asked, beckoning her to the loveseat.
“Didn’t know if I had the permission to or not,” said Hermione sardonically. Malfoy decided to ignore the comment, and watched her as she timidly placed herself on the opposite side of the loveseat, adjusting her skirt and sitting as if her knees were glued together. She really wasn’t the best at feigning comfort.
“I don’t bite, Granger,” he said, and patted the spot next to him, and then leant forward and added in a seductive whisper, “Unless you want me to.”
“I’ll pass on that, thanks,” she said, as she slowly and cautiously scooted over to Malfoy, where he lazily placed an arm around her shoulders. She started to give him a look of protest, but stopped herself when she remembered what she had come here for.
She had never felt so uncomfortable in her life. Here they sat in silence, the only sound coming from the occasional cracks and pops from the fireplace. Malfoy, however seemed as calm as anything. Almost too calm for Hermione to stand. She finally looked at him and said, “Well?”
“Well what?” he responded, looking down at her.
“What are we just sitting here for?” she asked, a bit annoyed. After all, she didn’t come here to just sit on a couch and waste her time. She had arithmancy homework to do.
“Ah, Granger, my dear Granger,” Malfoy cooed softly. “I am leaving the first move up to you.”
Hermione’s stomach flip flopped. The first move...up to her? She objected.
“But I’ve never – I can’t just –”
“You came here for this Granger,” Malfoy said firmly.
“Well, yeah I know that, but I wasn’t expecting it to be like this. It’s all too weird!” She hesitated.
“Well, how were you expecting it to be?” he snapped. She thought about it. Actually, she hadn’t expected at all. She was too busy thinking about Ron to imagine what exactly would go on with Malfoy.
“I don’t know,” she said softly, looking down at her hands. “I…I just want…” her voice trailed off.
Malfoy was utterly astonished. She looked so small and weak all of a sudden. He had never seen this side of her before. He always expected her to be the prissy miss goody two shoes wherever she went. Where was the confident, affirmative Hermione he knew? Where was the fiery Gryffindor that punched him in the face in 3rd year? Maybe she had masked this side of her all this time. She had done a good job.
“Come here,” he said suddenly. Hermione looked up, surprised. “We won’t get anywhere by just talking about it.”
Without any hesitation, Malfoy leaned in slowly, but didn’t reach Hermione’s lips. Instead, he hung dangerously close and whispered, “It’s all up to you.”
Hermione’s heart was beating a mile a minute. This was it – her first real kiss. There was no backing out now, or she’d be embarrassed all over again. It was now or never. She hesitated a second and then slowly closed the distance between them.
The room seemed to melt and swirl languidly around Hermione as Malfoy kissed her. He was gentle and cupped her face with one hand. She thought it was sweet. After a few seconds, she had relaxed and kissed him back, her heart - what was it doing – fluttering? Their lips seemed to fit perfectly together and moved in harmony.
After what seemed like a pleasant eternity for Hermione (but was really only a few seconds), Malfoy’s lips embraced her bottom lip a last time, and they broke apart. She kept her eyes closed for a bit longer, as if wanting to keep the moment burned in her mind forever. When she slowly opened them, she saw Malfoy grinning back at her.
“I know, good aren’t I?” he queried.
Hermione’s slight smile immediately turned into an annoyed glare and said, “Perfect time to be a cocky big-head.” She rolled her eyes, but allowed a small grin and a soft laugh. Malfoy permitted himself a satisfied smirk.
“I don’t see why you were so afraid of a little thing such as this,” he pondered. “You’re not that bad of a kisser.”
“I guess that was what I was afraid of,” she sighed, gazing out the window. “Not meeting someone’s standards.”
Malfoy gave a light laugh. “You can make your own standards,” he said before he kissed her again, and this time slipped his tongue into her mouth and tenderly massaged hers. Her hands rested behind his neck, as his remained behind her head, guiding it where he wanted it to go. And in the glow of the moon and the heat of the crackling fire, Hermione decided that she could get used to this.
* * * * * *
Back in Gryffindor tower, three people lay awake in their beds. One was reminiscing over a very eventful night with the “enemy”. That’s what he remained - he had said it himself.
‘This doesn’t mean we’re friends, Granger. I help you and you help me so we both get what we want – no strings attached.’
But they were partners in a way. They had to be civil, but couldn’t be friends. It just couldn’t happen – and emotions could not get in the way.
Another was tossing and turning in their sheets, wondering what she was thinking about, and asking themselves if they were good enough for her. What exactly had they done wrong?
A third was staring blankly at the ceiling, lost in thought about their special someone. Would they ever have enough guts to just make their move?
Hogwarts was finally silent with slumber as the troubled thoughts of its students drifted away into sleep.