Chapter 1 : Story Text
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The Hog’s Head pub was never known to be bustling and lively. Indeed, the darkness and dankness of the pub’s décor, as well as its unsavory reputation, scared enough customers away that its minimal profits defied all the laws of Muggle economics. The owner had considered closing the joint down, but even that cost more money than it was worth. And so, the Hog’s Head remained in business, a lasting testimonial to the darker side of human nature from which most people tried to avert their eyes.
On this cold Friday evening, the business was just as usual. Several hooded figures were scattered throughout the pub, huddled in singles and pairs around age-battered tables and over chipped glasses that had seen better days. The only customer at the bar was a bushy-haired witch who had stormed into the Hog’s Head moments earlier, sending cobwebs flying and causing the bartender to jump from his seat in alarm. The witch had finally calmed down enough to order a glass of straight Firewhiskey and was currently staring into her untouched cup, as if to divine some answer from its red depths.
Hermione Granger did not particularly like the Hog’s Head. She had only visited the pub once before, in her fifth year, when the first Dumbledore’s Army meeting had needed someplace secret and quiet. As the motto went, whatever happened at the Hog’s Head, stayed at the Hog’s Head. Under normal circumstances, she would have preferred the cheerfulness and warmth of the Three Broomsticks in the company of her Hogwarts colleagues, with whom she had spent every Friday night drowning the cares of teaching with flagons of butterbeer.
Tonight, however, was not a normal night. Hermione was mentally scarred for life by what she had just witnessed, she was sure of it. She would never see her best friends in the same light again…
She had been running late to the “Friday Staff Meeting” after an especially long session of grading Transfiguration essays—how McGonagall had managed to retain her sanity after so many years, she would never know—and had slipped into the Three Broomsticks to find Ron Weasley, Hogwarts flying instructor and fellow teacher, leaning invitingly across the bar to the young and pretty replacement for Madam Rosmerta.
“—no harm in sayin’ ‘yes’, is there?” Ron had been saying as Hermione opened the door. His face was flushed, his words were beginning to slur, and a large mug was resting by his right hand; Hermione suspected that he was already drunk on more than just butterbeer.
The barmaid blushed a furious pink and continued her task of wiping glasses, averting her eyes from the ever-closer Ron. “I’m nobody’s whore, Professor Weasley,” she murmured angrily. “And my fiancé would hex you if you tried anything—”
“Please, call me Ron,” he slurred, oblivious to the barmaid’s reply in his drunken state. “I jus’ was sayin’ that you’re quite a broomschtick ta ride, Rosa, thas’ all. Nothin’ bad at all—”
“Please, Professor, no,” the girl insisted. She began to back away from the bar. “I think you’ve had too much to drink, sir—”
“Drink? Never,” Ron said, taking another swig from his mug. “Butterbeer’s never done no harm to anyone—I say, come back here!” Rosa was attempting to move away now, but Ron suddenly grabbed her by the wrist and dragged her closer. “I’m not through with ya yet…” he growled deep in his throat.
Rosa yelped and struggled to break free, but Ron’s drunken hold was too much for her. Hermione decided that this was the time to make her presence known, before her best friend made an utter arse of himself. “Ron!” she called, loud enough to be heard over the noise of the pub. “Leave the girl alone—EEP!”
Her sentence ended in a squeak as Ron turned on her and abruptly forced himself onto her unwilling frame. She could smell the strong alcohol on his breath, and it made her nauseous. “Sweet ‘Mione,” he breathed. “I’ve been waitin’ for ya…” And then he kissed her roughly, his fingers fumbling at the neckline of her robes in a very suspicious fashion.
Fortunately, Hermione was stronger than Rosa and was successful in forcing Ron off of her in mid-kiss. “Ron! Restrain yourself!” she snapped as she tried to wipe the taste of alcohol from her lips with the back of her hand. “Your actions are not befitting of a Hogwarts professor—”
“Fiddleschticks,” Ron tried to pull her by the arm to kiss her again. “Come on, ‘Mione, we’ve never made love, les’ do it tonight, on the bar, show ever’one how mush we love—”
“RONALD WEASLEY!! YOU, YOU—WHAT IN MERLIN’S NAME ARE YOU THINKING?” A horrified and sputtering Hermione broke completely free from his grasp and drew her wand. “I’m sorry, Ron, but I have to do this—STUPEFY!”
Ron collapsed in a heap on the floor in the middle of his protestations of love for a certain Transfiguration Professor. Hermione strode over to the bar, ignoring the shaking Rosa across from her, and took a cautious sniff from Ron’s mug. She almost choked on the strength of the alcohol content in the drink. “Are you sure this is butterbeer?” she asked the girl.
“Yes’m,” Rosa replied swiftly. “But I’ve never seen a full-grown man get so drunk on butterbeer before!”
Hermione narrowed her eyes as she cast a glance at the Hogwarts’ Teachers’ Table. Professor Hagrid, Professor Flitwick, and Madam Pomfrey were conversing quietly without the faintest knowledge of what had just transpired; Herbology Professor and Mrs. Longbottom were engrossed in what looked like a fairly romantic conversation; and Mrs. Potter and Mrs. Lupin were in deep discussion over the latest Witch Weekly magazine. However, Defense Professor Potter and Headmaster Lupin were both trying to avoid looking at the bar and were exchanging sheepish glances with each other…
Hermione stalked over to the said guilty-looking men and stood over them menacingly with arms akimbo. Molly Weasley would have been proud. “What did you two do to Ron.” It was more of a statement than a question.
The others stopped in the middle of their conversation at Hermione’s tone and stared at her. Harry looked very, very embarrassed; he kept running his hand through his already-messy hair. “Um, really sorry, Hermione, we didn’t expect that to happen…” he quailed into silence under her fierce glare.
Remus cleared his throat. “Let’s just say we learned that love potions, extra-strong vodka, and butterbeer should never be mixed.”
“You did WHAT?!” If looks could kill, Hermione would have sent both men into their sixth consecutive reincarnation. As it was, they both winced. “Of all the demons in hell, WHY would you ever do something like that??”
Neville, Luna, Ginny, and Tonks all leaned in closer to hear more; whereas Hagrid, Flitwick, and Madam Pomfrey tried to ignore the growing storm. Harry imitated Remus and cleared his throat. “Well, since neither you nor Ron have any love life to speak of—”
“—it was Harry’s idea for the vodka—“
“—it was Remus’ idea for the love potion—“
“—I thought the love potion would get him to fall madly in love with you—“
“—I thought the vodka would get him to sleep with you that much quicker—“
“YOU IDIOTIC PAIR OF PERVERTED BASTARDS!!” The entire group gasped. They had never heard Hermione use vulgar language in her entire school career. Nor had they heard her shrieking with such intensity before. A Howler couldn’t have been louder. “DO YOU REALISE THAT RON ALMOST RAPED TWO WOMEN TONIGHT, INCLUDING ME?? I NEED NO HELP WITH MY LOVE LIFE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH! ESPECIALLY WITH THE HELP OF ILLEGAL POTIONS AND ALCOHOL!”
She stopped shouting and leaned in closer to the two cringing men. Her next words were barely above a whisper, but they still had venom. “If you two don’t go and straighten Ron out immediately, I swear to you—Harry, I’ll bring a cage full of doxies into your next class, and you, Remus, can expect sugar in your next Wolfsbane Potion. Do I make myself clear?”
Both men paled visibly and gulped. Harry, no doubt, was reliving their first DADA class of second year, the infamous match of Lockhart vs. doxies; and Remus knew full well that Wolfsbane + sugar = worthless amount of liquid.
“Crystal,” Harry whispered, and Remus nodded vigorously.
And with that, Hermione turned and swept out of the now-quiet pub, ignoring the calls of Ginny and Tonks for her to stay and slamming the front door with a loud bang.
So now, she was here, at the Hog’s Head, completely and utterly alone. She felt so—so dirtied by what Ron had said to her. She never would have imagined that he’d want to make love with anyone, much less herself—well, scratch that thought; what was he trying to do with Lavender in sixth year, anyway? Ron was like a brother to her; she could never feel right doing something like that with him—it was almost as bad as incest in her eyes. And that Harry and Remus could have conspired to drug Ron into a sexual frenzy…
She was so engrossed in staring into her drink that she didn’t notice one of the hooded figures in the farthest corner rise and approach the bar. It was only when the man had sat down on the barstool next to her that she realized the fact.
“Never would’ve imagined this being your kind of pub,” the man drawled smoothly before throwing back his hood.
Hermione already recognized the voice before the owner revealed himself. She didn’t need to see the ash-blonde hair or the stormy-grey eyes to know who the speaker was. The new Potions Master had a drawl that made half of the student population cringe when they heard it—a talent, some said, the man had inherited from his greasy predecessor.
“Sod off, Malfoy,” she replied wearily. “I really don’t need any bullshit right now.”
“Ah, look who’s in a good mood tonight.” He frowned and tossed back the hair from his eyes. “And since when have we been on a last-name basis, Granger?”
She snorted. “Since, I don’t know, first year, perhaps? We’ve been enemies ever since we first met, care to remember?”
“What happened in seventh year? Don’t you remember?” he asked her quietly.
She froze. How could she have forgotten? “That was just because we had to—” she began.
“—doesn’t mean it didn’t happen—”
“—and it was so long ago,” Hermione finished, ignoring his interruption.
Draco glared at her. “Five years isn’t that long ago,” he retorted. “And, no, it wasn’t just because we had to, as you so delicately put it…”
Hermione was striding through the Hogwarts Express at the beginning of seventh year. She would have loved to follow Ron and Harry on their hunt for the Horcruxes, but her position as Head Girl at Hogwarts was just too great of an opportunity to pass up. Now, if she only knew who the Head Boy was. . .
She reached the final compartment of the train, the one with the gilded lettering on the glass: “For Heads Only.” She slid open the door, but she didn’t enter as she should have. An ash-blonde young man, her arch nemesis if she ever had one, was already inside, reading a book and lounging on the plush train bench.
“You!” she gasped. “What are you doing in here? This is the Heads’ Compartment!”
Malfoy looked up from his book long enough to send Hermione a death glare before going back to reading. “Obviously, I’m literate, Granger,” he drawled. “I happen to have a right to this place. I’m Head Boy.”
His words hit Hermione like a strong left hook to her temple. And her reaction was similar: she crumpled onto the opposite bench with a moan and buried her face in her hands. “Oh, for the love of Merlin,” she groaned. “I’ve got to spend the whole bloody school year in the same room as you!”
“Believe me, I’m not overjoyed about this, either,” Malfoy set his book down. “But if we have no choice over living together for nine months, I propose a truce.”
Hermione gave Malfoy a glare full of daggers. “A what? A truce? With you?? You’ve got to be joking,” she spat. “I’ll hate your guts until the day I die, you arrogant, pureblooded loser!”
“Ditto, you know-it-all Mudblood,” Malfoy retorted. “I wasn’t offering because I want to. It’s just that I’d prefer to emerge from this year unscathed by any of your hexes, and I’m sure the feeling is mutual. And I won’t be able to promise you what my Slytherin friends will do to you unless we forgive and forget. Again, truce, or no?”
Hermione considered. She hated the idea of even looking in Malfoy’s direction for more than two seconds. However, while Crabbe and Goyle were not known for their wandwork, they could crush a small pig with their individual headlocks. And she would prefer to not have to constantly watch her back for any Slytherin retribution, from Malfoy and his goons or otherwise.
Half-heartedly, she extended her hand. “Truce,” was all she said, and the two shook on it, gripping each other’s hand tightly (after sending the owner a look of pure venom) before releasing as quickly as possible.
Life between the two remained at a stalemate for the next two months. Thankfully, the Heads had separate bedrooms and only had to share a common room for studying. Hermione, however, opted to study in the library on most nights, leaving Malfoy with the common room to himself. The two never really saw each other, unless it was a passing nod between classes, or an inescapable shared hall duty, or a swift good-night before bedtime.
But that changed shortly after Halloween. Malfoy was informed by a stern Professor McGonagall that if he did not work on his abominable Transfiguration skills, she would have the pleasure of flunking him out of the class. After that threat, Malfoy wasted no time in asking—no, begging Hermione, the top of her class in everything, for tutoring on her favorite subject, to which she reluctantly agreed. They studied in the Heads’ common room, often spending two or three hours every night practicing with their wands or discussing theories from the textbook. In return for Hermione’s favor, Malfoy agreed to pass on some tips of the trade from his favorite subject, Potions.
Hermione blamed it all on the sofa in the common room, the only seat in the place where the two of them could study. It was old, probably from before the time when Harry’s parents had called the dorm “home,” and it sagged heavily in the middle where the springs were nearly dead. No matter how hard she and Malfoy tried to sit on opposite ends of the sofa, they would invariably end up squished together in the middle. And at that point, as they were uncomfortably smashed against the other’s warm body, Hermione found herself thinking thoughts for which she would mentally slap herself later.
Small wonder that the Potters fell in love during seventh year, she would later think…
“Oi! Hermione!” Malfoy, waving his hand in front of her face, brought her back to the real world. “I’ve been asking you a question for the past two minutes!”
Hermione sighed deeply and picked up her drink, swirling the cup’s contents aimlessly. “I’m sorry, Draco,” she said, reverting back to how they had addressed each other in seventh year. “I’m a bit preoccupied right now, in case you haven’t noticed.”
“Oh, but I have,” he replied, leaning closer to inspect her face. “Which brings me back to my question: What are you doing at the Hog’s Head during a time when I know the rest of your—erm, friends are enjoying themselves at the Three Broomsticks?”
“Oh, I’m getting depressed by teaching,” she lied quickly. “It’s all very overwhelming, you know. All the discipline issues in my class…”
Draco studied her for a full minute before breaking out into raucous laughter. “You never were very good at lying, Hermione,” he said when he calmed down. “Although I have to admit that students can be aggravating little buggers, I know you’re not the type to be easily flustered by that sort of thing. Really, what’s wrong?”
She gave up. “It’s Ron, Harry, and Remus,” she sighed before telling him everything that had occurred earlier that evening.
Draco whistled as she finished her tale, then motioned for the bartender to bring him a drink. “How stupid can Potter get?” he asked as the bartender slid him a glass of Firewhiskey along the counter. He picked it up, took a sip, and shook his head in disbelief. “Vodka, honestly…one would think that the Savior of the Wizarding World would have a bit more sense than that. Any imbecile knows that alcohol releases all inhibitions, which is exactly what shouldn’t be combined with a love potion.”
Hermione didn’t answer. She began to finger the chain around her neck in a very absent-minded fashion as Draco continued.
“As for Weasel King,” he drank another mouthful from his glass, “the man is an idiot, with or without the aid of vodka. For goodness’ sake, he can’t even notice a beautiful woman standing in front of his nose, not even if she stood there for twelve years.” He stopped to stare strangely at the front of her robes. Hermione looked down to see what the matter was.
Her fingers had pulled at her necklace without her brain really registering until two pendants had popped out from the neckline of her robes. Two teardrop gems, one a fiery ruby set in gold, the other a glimmering emerald set in silver. It had been a mystery Christmas present, she remembered, from seventh year. It had shown up on her bed on Christmas morning in a simple black box, sans card, sans any identification whatsoever. She had never been able to get Harry or Ron to admit they had gotten her the necklace, nor anyone else for that matter.
“Did you ever figure out who gave you that necklace?” Draco asked now.
Hermione shook her head. Draco had been there when she was trying to solve the mystery of the unknown giver. And, as she recalled, he was quite amused by her attempts to play the detective.
Draco smiled at her—not a whole-hearted smile, nor a nasty sneer, but a gentle curling of the lips that gave her the impression he was thinking, “I know something you don’t know.”
Hermione was sent back onto Memory Lane by that smile—a smile she had seen on him only once before…
Hermione was running as hard as she could across the blood-soaked plain in front of Hogwarts, the site of what was later known as the Final Battle of the Second War. Her mind was still in a state of shock from all the carnage she had witnessed. Not only were the Death Eaters even more vicious than ever before, but Voldemort had chosen to fight on the night of the brightest full moon anyone had ever seen. This meant that Greyback and his werewolf army, as well as the other Death Eaters, were pitted against the rest of the Order of the Phoenix and their lone werewolf fighter, Remus Lupin.
But despite Remus’ valiant efforts to slay as many of the enemy as possible, Hermione knew it was a losing battle. So many people she knew, she had already found dead on the field. Molly and Arthur Weasley had died together, hand-in-hand, as they tried to fight off a much-larger group of Death Eaters. McGonagall had fallen while defending the school she loved so much from the werewolf onslaught. And even Snape was dead. Snape, the man whom they had once believed was a traitor, had stood in the way of a Killing Curse aimed at the one student he hated most—Harry—and had died with a strange smile frozen on his lips.
The wizarding world’s only hope for salvation was resting on Harry’s shoulders.
Hermione was now intent on getting to Harry, who was somewhere on the field, dueling with Voldemort for the final judgment between good and evil. She so badly wanted to help him fight, prophecy or no prophecy. But she couldn’t see him anywhere, and she wouldn’t be able to stay on her feet for much longer—
“Impedimenta!” She heard a man shout from behind; and immediately she found herself unable to move, not even to protect her face as she stumbled onto the hard ground. She heard a devilish laugh come from above her as the Death Eater lifted the hex. She rolled over, ready to fight back, and froze as the cold blue eyes of Lucius Malfoy bored into her head.
“How wonderful,” he said in that infuriatingly silky tone he had. “How absolutely charming that Potter’s little Mudblood friend decided to come for tonight’s rendezvous… so, tell me, Mudblood, are you ready to die tonight?”
Hermione couldn’t move, she couldn’t do anything as she watched Lucius raise his wand and take aim for her chest. Oh, good Lord in Heaven, she thought and closed her eyes. Goodbye Harry, goodbye Ron, goodbye everyone…
Hermione could have sworn she was dead—she had to be, surely she just heard the Killing Curse being cast on her—but then why was she still breathing? She opened her eyes to find Lucius swaying over her, eyes wide open and unseeing, just before he crumpled to the ground in a heap. Dead.
Behind the now-lifeless Lucius Malfoy stood a hooded Death Eater, his wand out and tremblingly pointed at the man’s corpse. With his free hand, he pulled back the hood of his robes—and revealed a familiar mane of ash-blonde hair.
Draco and Hermione stared at each other for many moments, grey fighting against brown, as if the gory battle around them never existed.
Then, Draco flashed her that small smile of his before Disapparating from the battlefield. Hermione just remained where she was, too frightened and shocked to move and utterly thankful that she was still alive…
“Earth to Hermione, again!” She was jolted back to the Hog’s Head at Draco’s annoyed tone. “Have you been listening to me at all?!”
“Why?” she whispered. She suddenly felt the need to know, urgently.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Why did you rescue me?” Her voice dropped lower and lower, until she could barely hear herself speak. “In the Final Battle…why did you kill your father to save me?”
Draco drank down the rest of his glass and set it down, empty, with a loud clink. “Which do you want to hear?” he asked suddenly. “The lie, or the truth?”
Hermione didn’t answer, just willed him with her eyes to say more.
“Fine, then. I’ll let you decide which is the lie and which is the truth, how does that sound?” Draco sounded almost amused. “(A): I wanted to take Potter’s role and actually save someone for once. (B): I had a grudge against my father that I really needed to get off my back. (C): I wanted to be able to tell the Ministry that I had just killed the Dark Lord’s right-hand man, and perhaps use it to my own advantage. Or, (D)—”
He stopped, then leaned in closer to Hermione. His eyes never left her face. “My soul would have died then and there if I had just let him kill you.”
She was too shocked to respond coherently. “What—I—I—” she stuttered.
But Draco leaned back and held up his hand to silence her. “You know, Hermione,” he began thoughtfully. “You’re quite a bright witch. Brilliant, actually. But there are some problems you just can’t solve—for example, that mystery behind your necklace. And when it comes to love, you’re completely clueless. Bloody hell, you’re even worse than Weasel King sometimes.
“I’ve loved you for a very, very long time, Hermione. Ever since you knocked my lights out in third year, I’ve admired your strength, both inner and physical; and I guess I grew to love the rest of you during seventh year. But you never reciprocated; you were like a bloody glacier, always so taken with studying instead of with the opposite sex.” He chuckled, but the laugh died quickly on his lips.
“You were the one person I knew who treated me for who I was. Not for my money or my heritage, but for what I was inside. I appreciated it, much more than you know. After all the years of harassment I had put you through, I knew I couldn’t tell you my feelings without getting punched in the face again. But now…”
Draco leaned forward again, this time too fast for Hermione to pull away, and kissed her. It was an eager, a passionate kiss, one that nearly smothered her with the years of pent-up emotion behind it. When Draco pulled back, it took her a full minute to clear her addled brain for a coherent reply. He just watched her, smiling and waiting expectantly.
“Draco, I—I’m sorry.” Tears started in her eyes. “I can’t—I can’t…” She wanted to say, “…love you,” but deep inside she knew that was a lie. Her memory betrayed her; she knew for whom she had experienced such a turmoil of emotions in seventh year.
He seemed taken aback by her response. “What do you mean, Hermione?” he asked, a hint of sadness in his voice.
Hermione drew in a shuddering breath. “I don’t know,” she said truthfully. “For one thing, I don’t feel ready for—for love yet. I want to continue teaching here, at Hogwarts, not get married or have a family.” She tried to smile, but her attempt was a miserable failure. “You’re right, I suppose—love never really was my thing.”
Draco continued to stare at her. The tone in which he spoke next was unreadable. “Go on,” he said. “Any other reasons you may have?”
Hermione dropped her gaze to the floor. Suddenly, the stains of ancient food and drink on the floorboards were so much more attractive than the pain written in Draco’s eyes. “I guess—I guess you could say I feel guilty,” she answered finally. “After putting up with your torment for seven years, I don’t feel right in, well, betraying my friends like this. How do I know—”
“—that I’m not just toying with your heart?” Draco finished for her.
“Well, yes, if you put it that way.”
Draco fingered his empty glass, watching the glints of light reflected off of its smooth surface, before setting it down again. “There is nothing I can say that would make you believe me,” he said slowly and (what made Hermione’s heart twist on itself) with such obvious sadness. “What I can say is that love is nothing to be ashamed of, no matter who it’s from or what others think of it. But now I don’t know if you’ll listen to me… all I can do is let you decide—and hope that you make the right choice.”
He rose from his seat and began to rummage in his pockets. “Tell me when you decide, Hermione.” He pulled out a small black box from his pocket and, without looking at her, slid it across the counter in front of her. “It’s a Portkey…activated when you think of me…” Another pocket-rummage later, and he tossed a pile of coins onto the bar, where they clinked and danced merrily.
“Oh—and let me know if you figure out who gave you that necklace,” he added before turning away with a sweep of his cloak.
“Draco, wait…” But he was already gone.
Hermione groaned and buried her face in her hands. He had just poured out his heart to her, she realized now. And she had to burst his bubble of emotions, his love for her in such a harsh fashion. So, of course, he had left quickly before she could hurt him with her words anymore. It had all come out so wrong…
As much as she hated to admit it, she owed Draco Malfoy a serious apology.
Sighing, Hermione shook herself free of her guilt and prepared to pay for her drink. That was when she noticed the unusually large number of coins that Draco had left for the bartender. He had paid for her drink as well as his own.
Now she really owed Draco an apology.
For curiosity’s sake, Hermione picked up the box Draco had left behind. The container was unnervingly familiar: A simple black jewelry box, unmarked and unnamed. She cautiously opened it—and gasped at the sight of two very life-like eyes peering back at her from its inner darkness. The lid fell from her hand onto the floor with a small thump.
Inside the box was a silver statuette of a coiled serpent, its eyes made of shining emeralds that glittered dangerously in the dim light of the Hog’s Head. She supposed she shouldn’t have been surprised; it only made sense that the Head of Slytherin House would have chosen a snake statue made of the House colors as a personal Portkey.
Silver and green… Slytherin…
A sudden realization flashed into Hermione’s mind. She looked down at the two gems hanging from her neck, stunned. One of her pendants was made of very similar materials as the snake in front of her.
An emerald, set in silver.
Heaven help me, she thought. How could I have missed it…
It had to be from Draco. His parting words, his behavior when she had first received it, the same unmarked black box—everything just fell into place.
The gift was a symbol, a silently pleading message that she could not, would not understand until now. The colors of the two houses that held such animosity towards each other, the green and silver of Slytherin and the red and gold of Gryffindor, were harmoniously united on the silver chain around her neck.
Draco was trying to ask if they couldn’t be the same way. And Hermione knew the answer.
With an impetuousness that was foreign to her, Hermione lifted the snake from its velvet resting place in the box and clenched her hand around the statue tightly. She concentrated all her mental energy into one thought, one emotion, one name.
The Portkey activated, and she felt the familiar jerk behind her navel and a rush of air and color before landing in the Potions’ office of Hogwarts. She found herself standing behind what must have been Draco’s desk. It was scattered with random tubes and vials of potions, as well as buried under half a meter’s worth of ungraded essays and other scrolls of miscellaneous paperwork—quite unlike Hermione’s neat and organized desk four floors above.
A minute later, a key scraped in the lock, and the door swung open. Draco, staring at Hermione as if he had seen a ghost, stood in the doorway. “You were fast,” he managed to say after a few moments of stunned silence.
“Oh, no,” Hermione said, the tears starting in her eyes again. “I took such a long time to figure it out… How could I have been so blind?”
Draco crossed the room until he was standing before her, so close that their bodies just barely touched. A mix of musky scent and stale Firewhiskey surrounded Hermione; it was enough to drive any woman mad.
“Anything else?” he asked, his voice little more than a husky whisper.
She forced herself to avoid looking into his eyes, unwilling to search the grey depths for an answer to her yet unspoken question. “Five years, Draco,” she murmured. “It’s been five years since I first had feelings for you… have we waited too long for love?”
He tipped her chin upwards with one hand, gently caught the back of her head with the other. “I think we can make up for lost time,” he breathed in her ear before catching her lips in the most sensual kiss Hermione had ever experienced.
Hermione let one fleeting thought pass her mind before releasing herself—mentally, emotionally, and physically—into the arms of her love. She almost wanted to laugh at the irony of it, but her mouth was tied up with more important things.
Serves Harry and Remus right, she thought cheekily. I can’t wait until I break the news to them tomorrow…
Author's Note: Whew! That was all of 13 pages on Microsoft Word! My first experiment with a Dramione. . . All right, everyone, please let me know what you think. . . And many thanks to all who already have. . . Cheers, Regina