Hermione had given Harry and Ron as little information as possible. She didn’t know why she felt the need to keep secrets from them, but on the other hand, she couldn’t exactly tell them what had happened. She could hardly believe what had happened. She had kissed Malfoy—and not just any kiss—a very real and meaningful kiss. She tried to chase those thoughts away as she stood in the Gryffindor common room.
"I’m really exhausted. Thank you for getting me out of there," she paused as she wondered how thankful she really was, "but I’ll see you two in the morning." Hermione feigned happiness and walked off towards her dormitory.
Ron looked at Harry and shrugged. Harry got the distinct feeling that Hermione was hiding something, but maybe she was just tired. He was sure it had been a long day. After all, being trapped for an entire day with Malfoy could cause anyone serious strain.
Hermione sat on the edge of her bed and sighed. She was the only seventh year girl who had stayed over the Christmas holidays. Her room was quiet, dark and empty. She dropped back onto her bed and sighed again. She stared up at her canopy and tried not to think of Draco, unsuccessfully. Every time she closed her eyes, she saw his face before her. And not the face she’d known for years; she saw his face as she’d seen it tonight—smiling and relaxed. She unconsciously licked her lips and tasted him. She shivered in her bed as she could almost feel his breath against the sensitive skin of her neck. She slapped herself in the forehead. She was losing her mind. Lying in bed, fantasizing about Draco Malfoy—that was enough for anyone to call her crazy!
Soon, the exhaustion of the day caught up with her and she drifted off to a dreamless sleep.
* * * *
Draco walked into his dormitory and heard the snoring sounds of Crabbe and Goyle. He sighed in frustration and fell onto his bed, face down. He wanted to punch himself in the face or bang his head against something hard—he wasn’t sure which he’d like better at the moment. Anything that would make him forget Granger and the way she had looked at him, the way her skin had felt, the way her lips felt… Damn it! he swore. He banged a fist onto his bed in irritation.
He couldn’t believe his lack of self-control. He had actually kissed a Mudblood! He was losing his mind. He blamed it on the alcohol. He blamed it on the lack of nourishment. He blamed it on anything except the burning desire that was still coursing through him. He could not and would not admit that he was attracted to Granger. He was drunk, that was it. He was out of his wits because of the alcohol. He nodded his head as he agreed with the thoughts running through his mind. But hadn’t he performed a sobering charm on himself? Damn it! he swore again. If he was sober then why did he still feel the heat burning inside? Why did he feel the need to press her against a wall and kiss her senseless? Sleep—he needed to sleep. He picked up his wand and tapped it to his temple before whispering a charm to bring about sleep. Draco’s head dropped back onto his bed and he was sleeping soundly in a matter of seconds.
* * * *
Hermione awoke the next morning as the sun beamed in brightly through her window. She yawned and stretched slowly. She had hoped that sleep would have cleared her mind, but as soon as she awoke the first thought in her head had been Draco. She tried to forget him as she heard sounds of laughter coming from the common room. Hermione pulled on her clothes and pulled her hair back from her face before going down the stairs.
She entered the common room and found Harry and Ron giggling over Christmas presents.
"Happy Christmas, Hermione!" Harry said, looking up and smiling. "You’ve got gifts, too."
"Happy Christmas to both of you," Hermione said, forgetting all about Draco for the moment.
She walked over to the boys and sat down on the floor in front of the tree. They opened more presents and Hermione smiled down at the box of books that Harry had given her.
"Thank you, Harry," she said, grinning up at him. Harry blushed and told her it was nothing. Ron had given Hermione a small box of quills that never ran out of ink.
The three Gryffindors sat around and laughed and talked of nothing but nonsense and presents. The boys began to play chess on the new chessboard Hermione had given to Ron. She glanced under the tree and saw one last package.
"That’s odd," she whispered, "I don’t remember seeing that before." Hermione leaned over and picked up the package. It was a small box wrapped in metallic green paper and surrounded by a silver ribbon. Neatly printed on the top was her name. Hermione creased her brow and pulled one end of the ribbon until it untied itself. She tore the green paper off of the box and opened it slowly.
Hermione opened the box and gasped quietly. With eyes wide, she reached in the box and pulled out a quickly scribbled note that said ‘Happy Christmas Hermione’ along with a small picture. The picture was of her and Draco standing in front of the Christmas tree they had decorated the night before. She stared at the picture and her heart leapt around in her chest madly. She and Draco looked so happy in the picture. She pressed the picture to her chest and hurried off to her dormitory.
"I wonder what she’s doing?" Ron asked absentmindedly as he moved a pawn across the board.
"I don’t know," Harry said, watching Ron’s piece move.
Hermione sat on her bed and took a deep breath before looking at the picture again. She stared down at the smiling faces and felt a fever rush to her cheeks. Why was she acting like this? She shoved the picture under her pillow and cursed under her breath. She was acting like a lovesick puppy. She didn’t have feelings for Draco. The only reason she had kissed him was because she’d had too much to drink. That was the reason. Nothing would have happened between them otherwise. And that kiss—it meant nothing to her. She forced her mind to stay quiet as she convinced herself that she didn’t care one way or another about Draco.
"One more look won’t hurt," she mumbled as she reached over and pulled the picture back out and stared at it, her heart fluttering about.
* * * *
Hermione sat on the couch in the common room and listened to the boys talking about their most recent chess game. Hermione had been reading one of the new books Harry had given her. She looked over at them and smiled. She glanced out the window. It was the middle of the afternoon and she felt like some fresh air. She closed her book and placed it on the couch cushion beside her.
"I’m going for a walk," she said, walking over towards the boys.
"Would you like for us to come with you?" Harry asked, not looking up from the board.
"That’s okay. You two enjoy your game. I won’t be gone long," she said as she smiled down at them and then walked out through the portrait hole.
Hermione walked outside and towards the lake. She always liked standing down by the dark waters and thinking. It was always so quiet and peaceful there. No one ever bothered her when she was down there. She sat down on the soft grass and sighed lazily. The afternoon was warm—warmer than usual for a December day. She briefly wondered if Dumbledore had charmed the air around the castle to give the impression of a warm and sunny afternoon. She didn’t care—either way it was a beautiful Christmas day.
She leaned sleepily back against the grass and put her hands behind her head. A light breeze blew across her cheeks and she smiled. She pulled off her robes and bunched them up and placed them behind her head as a pillow. Before long, the calmness of the afternoon and the enveloping silence soothed her to sleep.
* * * *
Draco had gotten the broomstick he wanted for Christmas. But then, he always got what he wanted. It was the newest model of racing broom available and he was glad to have it. The common room felt too small with Crabbe and Goyle following his every move and his inability to forget about Granger; he felt suffocated and the only way to relieve it would be to fly.
He grabbed his broom and ordered Crabbe and Goyle not to follow him. They nodded, not knowing what else to do. Draco headed for the Quidditch Pitch. Once he stepped through the doors, the warm air hit his face. He thought it was oddly warm for a December afternoon, but what did he know about the weather? He wasn’t arguing. It was a perfect day for flying and forgetting.
Draco tugged his robes off and left them on the stands before mounting his broom and taking flight. He flew higher and higher until the Quidditch stadium looked like a tiny bowl. He flew all afternoon until the sun began to set. Just as he landed and was pulling off his sweaty shirt, rain began to fall. The wind began to pick up and a cool rain fell from the sky quickly. He cooled off immediately. He picked up his shirt and robes and hurried towards the castle, unable to keep from getting soaked by the rain.
* * * *
Hermione awoke abruptly. Something hit her face. She reached up her hand instinctively and felt the wetness on her cheek. A drop of water hit her face and then another and another. She sat up quickly and realized it was beginning to rain. The sun was setting in the distance and she wondered how long she’d been sleeping. Surely, Harry and Ron would be getting worried. She grabbed her robes and began to sprint towards the castle. The rain quickly soaked through her clothes and she laughed at the feeling of youth that overcame her. Playing in the rain had always been a childhood love of hers.
As she neared the castle, she saw a figure approaching her rapidly from the Quidditch pitch. She stopped in her tracks as she recognized him.
"Draco?" she asked suddenly as he neared her. The rain beat down around them and she shielded her eyes from the water.
* * * *
Draco hurried towards the castle and only slowed when he saw someone standing before him. He recognized the familiar Gryffindor immediately. Something inside him began to twist and knot.
"Draco?" she asked, standing before him, soaked to the bone.
"Don’t call me that," he said cruelly, hoping that his voice would make her leave. Standing before her, he felt uneasy and his emotions bubbled to the surface quickly. He felt a familiar yearning building inside.
His tone caught her off guard and she stared at him open-mouthed for only a few seconds before saying,
"That is your name, isn’t it? What would you rather I call you?" Her voice was just as hateful as his. Maybe this would be easier than he had thought. Maybe he could chase her away so he could blame the happenings between them on the alcohol. If something happened again, there would be no one and nothing to blame but himself.
"I would rather you not talk to me at all," he said, glaring at her. She shook her head disbelievingly at him, turned on her heel and left him standing in the rain.
He followed after her, quickening his pace to catch up with her and not really understanding why. When she was almost to the castle doors, she turned around quickly and he almost stumbled into her. She scowled up at him.
"I was just going to thank you for the picture," she said, hiding the disappointment in her voice. She looked at Draco and realized for the first time that he was shirtless. Thousands of droplets of rain rolled down his bare chest. His hair was wet and he ran his fingers through it distractedly. This filled Hermione with the vision of Draco just stepping out of the showers—his hair wet and partially clothed. Her cheeks flushed and she knew she was staring at his well-toned chest, thanks to Quidditch, but she couldn’t stop herself. She was fascinated with the way his broad shoulders narrowed down to a clearly defined waist. His pants hung low around his waist and Hermione could see the beginnings of his hip bones and she tried to stop her curiosities there. She licked her lips unknowingly and fought off the urge to lick the water off of his neck.
Draco knew Hermione was staring at him, and he couldn’t deny the fact that he was enjoying it. The pink flush to her cheeks only peaked his steadily growing arousal. Her clothes were soaked and clung to her body and only tempted him. Her hair was long and tinted darker with the fading light and falling rain. Water rolled down her cheeks and over her lips. He was going crazy. He knew that could be the only reason for the fire inside him. There was no comprehendible reason for his feelings towards her. He took a step closer to her—crossed that line again.
Hermione looked up at him and waited. She knew in her mind that she should turn and run, but she couldn’t will her legs to move. Draco looked down at her and shook his head. He needed to leave, but the way her clothes clung to her body and the way her lips parted slightly, he couldn’t. He was undeniably turned on by her and he needed to satisfy the need.
"I don’t know why I sent that picture to you," he said, staring down at her, "must have been the alcohol."
"Is that what you’re telling yourself?" Hermione asked, wanting to reach out and rub her hands across his slick chest.
"Yeah," he said, reaching out and pushing the wet hair out of her face.
"Is it working?" she asked, closing her eyes and shivering beneath his touch.
"Sometimes," he whispered low and huskily as he leaned over and licked his tongue up the side of her neck. He knew he should stop. He knew he should yell at her and leave her standing alone, but she moaned softly and he forgot all of the reasons why he should leave.
"Good," she moaned. When Draco’s tongue touched the skin of her neck, her legs turned to jelly. She leaned into him for support and placed her hands on his chest. Despite the cool rain, his chest was burning hot. She rubbed her hands lightly up and down on his chest. The rain made his skin slick beneath her touch.
Draco pushed Hermione into the outside wall of the castle and she gasped. He pressed his mouth to hers forcefully and her eyes flew open in surprise. He kissed her with such a heightened passion that it almost frightened her. His tongue toyed with hers and she felt as if her stomach was levitating in her body. She reached up and ran her hands through his wet hair and pulled his face closer to hers.
The rain continued to soak them although they no longer took notice. Hermione pulled her mouth away from his and flicked her tongue up his chest and neck. She tugged at his earlobe gently and when a quiet moan escaped from Draco’s lips, her heart began to race. He tugged her down to her knees and leaned her back against the wet earth. Hermione dropped onto the ground and pulled Draco’s body against hers. His body was lean and hard against hers and their wet clothing left little to the imagination.
Draco kissed her collarbone and up the side of her neck. Hermione closed her eyes and whispered,
He looked down at her face seriously. The sound of her voice whispering his name like that made him want to lose control. He was so close to the edge of insanity that it scared him.
"Don’t say that," he said quietly and yet with force.
Hermione opened her eyes and looked up at him.
"Because I said not to," he said, his gray eyes filling with coolness.
Hermione pushed Draco’s body off of hers. She was slowly coming back to her senses, her passion ebbing.
"Get off of me," she said, embarrassed and angered.
"Why?" he asked, not moving his body.
"Because I said so," she said, trying to move his body but being unsuccessful.
Draco rocked back on his heels and stared down at Hermione. She was soaking wet and her cheeks were flushed but her eyes were fiery. Hermione sat up to a sitting position and glared at Draco. She didn’t understand how she’d let him pull her in again. She was angry with herself. She’d never been this hormonally charged before and it pissed her off that Draco was the cause of it. She pushed Draco backwards as she stood to her feet.
"Don’t take your anger out on me. I can’t help it that you find me devilishly attractive," Draco said, mocking Hermione and trying to irritate her more. Secretly, he didn’t want her to leave.
"I’m not attracted to you. I was just bored," she said, mimicking Draco’s reasons for paying attention to her the day before.
Draco stood up quickly and grabbed Hermione’s arm as she tried to storm away. He turned her around so quickly that she lost her footing and tumbled into him, her hands landing on his chest.
He cupped her face in his hands and pulled her towards him. He placed his mouth against hers and once again tasted the sweetness of her mouth. She was warm and inviting and he could feel the curves of her feminine body pressing against him. He ran his fingers through her wet hair and molded her body into his. Before he was totally aroused again, he pulled away from her. She stared at him uncertainly before wiping her hand across her lips, trying to erase the way it felt to have his mouth pressed so firmly against hers. His taste was so familiar. She muttered curses under her breath and rushed off into the castle.
Draco stood in the pouring rain, now surrounded by the darkness, and dropped his hands by his sides while leaning his head back. He had done it again and he wasn’t even alcohol induced. What was she doing to him? Damn it! he swore as he followed her into the castle.
Hermione stormed into the common room soaking wet and fuming. Harry and Ron were seated around the fire having a heated debate on the most recent professional Quidditch match. They both looked up at her in surprise.
Hermione’s wet feet sloshed against the floor loudly and her eyes were narrowed as she hurried past them and up the stairs to her dormitory.
"What’s up with her?" Ron asked.
"Don’t know," Harry shrugged.
"Should we check on her?" Ron wondered, looking at Harry.
"I think we should let her cool down a bit. She’s liable to hex us if we talk to her now. She looked pretty hot about something," Harry said, running his hands through his hair.
Ron agreed with Harry and they began discussing Quidditch again.
* * * *
Hermione dropped onto her bed, not caring that she was soaking the sheets. She screamed into her pillow and was glad to be alone in her room. How had she let Draco manipulate her again? Why had she kissed him like that? Damn it, she thought. He made her so mad. She wanted to beat him senseless and yet she was afraid that if he was close to her again she’d try to kiss him senseless. She jumped off of her bed and almost ran to the showers. She needed to wash the scent of him off of her body; she needed to wash the taste of him away.
* * * *
Draco sulked his way into the Slytherin common room. He was shirtless, soaking wet and wildly turned on. He knew just what he needed—a cold shower. He desperately needed to cool down and relax. He needed to get Granger off of his mind. He needed to forget how her body felt pressed against his, the way her wet hair clung to her back, the way her breath was warm against his cheek.
Damn it! He swore again—for his uncontrollable feelings and for the icy cold water that hit him square in the chest and made him shiver.
* * * *
The Christmas holidays passed by without any more incidences occurring between Hermione and Draco. Both of them avoided each other purposefully. Hermione refused to make eye contact with Draco during the meals, and Draco pretended nothing had ever happened…at least outwardly. Inside, he was still boiling whenever he thought of Hermione. He couldn’t quell the urge to drag her off into a deserted classroom and yet she still angered him immensely. The way she walked with her shoulders high and proud rubbed him the wrong way. And the way she stuck so closely with Potter and Weasley made him almost jealous.
The New Year rang in unceremoniously. Students returned to Hogwarts and classes resumed just as they always did. Hermione, Ron and Harry walked slowly towards the dungeons.
"I wish we didn’t have to take this stupid class," Ron whined.
"It isn’t stupid, Ron. Potions can be a very educational class," Hermione said, shifting her bag on her shoulder.
Ron and Harry both rolled their eyes behind her back as they walked into the Potions classroom.
The three Gryffindors took their seats near the rear of the class. Hermione made sure not to make eye contact with Draco as she passed his desk, but she had the distinct feeling that he was watching her closely.
Snape entered the classroom in a whirlwind and began shouting out potion ingredients so quickly, Hermione could hardly write them all down. Once Ron had started the fire beneath the cauldron, Harry and Hermione began laying out the ingredients.
Adding the ingredients at the appropriate times and at the preferred heat was going to be difficult. Hermione carefully handled a jar filled with bubotuber pus. She had no desire to get any on her hands; she knew first hand what undiluted bubotuber pus could do to your skin. She shuddered briefly at the memory.
The time slipped away in Potions and then Harry, Ron and Hermione sat back nervously, hoping their potion was complete and accurately mixed.
Snape circled the room and made no effort to hide his disgust and loathing towards the students whose potions were incorrectly done. Hermione chewed on her bottom lip nervously as Snape neared their table. He’d been taking points off of almost everyone in the room. Not a single potion had been done correctly. He eyed Draco, Pansy and Millicent’s potion and scowled.
"I expected more out of you Slytherins. The monkshood has clearly been boiled too long," Snape said in disappointment.
"He didn’t even take off house points," Harry whispered angrily under his breath.
Snape stood over their table in an instant and eyed their potion with skepticism. His eyebrows arched in surprise and Hermione held her breath.
"Correctly done," he managed to say through gritted teeth.
Hermione smiled up at Snape and then over and Harry and Ron.
"Fifteen house points awarded to…" he swallowed hard, clearly not wanting to say the word, "Gryffindor." Then, he stalked back to the front of the classroom amid gasps of utter astonishment.
"Did he just give us points?" Ron asked incredulously.
"Shhh…don’t ruin it. It may never happen again," Harry whispered.
Hermione grinned at Harry and then turned her attention back to the front of the room, but not before her eyes landed on the one person she’d been trying to avoid—Draco. They locked their gaze for a few seconds before she looked away. It had only been a brief moment but her stomach had already started flipping around inside. She cursed herself quietly and took a deep breath, trying desperately to stop the heat that was flushing her cheeks.
Snape dismissed the class and Hermione gathered her things and hurried out of the classroom after Harry and Ron. Draco watched her closely, not understanding the resurgence of passion rising within him. He thought his feelings for Granger had been purely physical and brought about solely by their strange circumstances around Christmas, but now he wasn’t so sure. Just catching her eye in class had made him anxious and uncomfortable and not at all in a bad way.
* * * *
The trio hurried into Transfiguration, afraid of being late for McGonagall’s class. They scurried into the last empty seats available and Hermione breathed a sigh of relief. She hated being late for class and hated it even more when it wasn’t her fault. If Ron hadn’t insisted on eating four helpings of Shepherd’s pie and making them wait till he was finished, they would have had plenty of time to make it to class without arriving out of breath.
Hermione pulled out her quill and book just as McGonagall began speaking.
"We will be attempting a different kind of transfiguration this afternoon. The transfiguration for today is called," she turned and wrote the words on the blackboard in big white letters, "Depingere. This transfiguration involves simply drawing an object on a sheet of parchment and reciting the words ‘Depingo Amino’ while imagining the object in a life-like manner."
McGonagall walked away from the board and towards the students while continuing,
"Take out a sheet of parchment. We will be drawing a picture of a costume or an article of clothing that you’ve always wanted. For example, if Longbottom always wanted robes of bright red, then he should draw exactly that. When you recite the words ‘Depingo Amino’ the clothing will appear on your body in the place of your own. But this transformation will only be temporary—lasting roughly ten minutes. Get to work on your designs, and do not despair if you are a below average artist. The picture you have in your mind will be the most powerful tool of all."
Harry, Ron and Hermione began scribbling lines and colors down onto their parchments. Hermione’s eyes were sparkling with eagerness. She’d always wanted a dress and crown just like Cinderella. Sure it was juvenile of her, but what girl didn’t secretly always want to be a princess? She smiled at her own childishness.
Harry was covering up his parchment, trying to keep Ron and Hermione from seeing his poor drawing skills. The students began reciting the words one by one and tiny pops could be heard periodically throughout the room. Each pop was followed by the scattered sounds of giggles.
"Depingo Amino," Hermione whispered, closing her eyes and holding her breath. She felt a slight wind ruffle her hair followed by a light pop. When she opened her eyes, she gasped. She was wearing the most stunning dress she’d ever seen. She reached her hands up quickly and felt the crown on top of her head.
"Wow," Harry muttered, letting his mouth fall open unconsciously.
"Hermione…you look…like a girl," Ron stuttered.
"Thanks Ron. You really know how to flatter me," she said sarcastically. Ron blushed immediately and recited his words. At once, he was dressed in the bright orange Quidditch robes of the Chudley Cannons, his favorite team.
Ron ran his hands down his robes and smiled proudly.
"Look at me…Harry…" Ron said, his voice trailing off as Harry’s clothes changed in a pop. Ron’s forehead creased immediately and he tilted his head a bit, staring at Harry’s outfit. "What the bloody hell are you wearing?"
Hermione burst into a fit of giggles. Harry stood before them dressed in a Spiderman costume. Of course, Ron wouldn’t recognize such a Muggle icon. Harry definitely looked the part and Hermione couldn’t help scanning his whole body from head to toe. The form-fitting costume left little to be imagined.
Harry bashfully pulled off the mask and glanced down at his body. When he looked up, his face was tinted deep red.
"I didn’t realize it would be so…tight," he whispered timidly.
"Well it bloody hell is. I mean I can practically see your—" Ron’s voice was abruptly cut off by Harry’s hand covering his mouth.
Hermione threw her head back and laughed again. Life with her two best friends was never boring—it was anything but.
* * * *
Hermione was casually attempting to eat a croissant the next morning at breakfast, listening to Ron tease Harry about his ‘superhero’ costume, when a flutter of owls flew through the Great Hall and began dropping mail and packages all around. Hermione reached up just in time to stop the Daily Prophet from landing in her glass of orange juice.
She unrolled the newspaper and gasped,
"I can’t believe it!"
"What?" Ron asked through a mouthful of eggs.
Hermione continued reading the paper with wide eyes until Harry leaned over and read the headline for himself.
"There’s been a…I don’t believe it…there’s been a House-elf rebellion," Harry said shaking his head. Ron practically choked on his breakfast. He coughed loudly as he reached for his glass of orange juice.
"It’s amazing!" Hermione said loudly, her voice full of excitement.
"What do you think will happen to our meals at Hogwarts? Who will make our food then? This is terrible," Ron said, looking disappointed. Hermione pulled her paper down just long enough to glare at Ron over the top of it. He glanced away quickly and stuffed his mouth with more eggs before he was tempted to say anything else.
* * * *
Hermione entered the Entrance Hall after breakfast just in time to catch Pansy tormenting Neville. She’d scattered his books and papers all over the floor. He was puffing loudly, trying to grab all of his stuff and put it back into his bag. Pansy stood next to Millicent as they laughed loudly at Neville. Hermione gritted her teeth and pulled out her wand as she walked towards Neville.
Neville glanced up at Hermione with a look of desperation. Sometimes she really hated the Slytherins. Pansy pointed her wand and tried to curse Neville. He bent down to pick up one of his books and the curse zipped by his head and hit Hermione straight on.
Hermione’s legs were bound together immediately by the Leg-Locker curse. She struggled to keep her balance but failed. She was moving her arms like two spastic windmills to no avail. Suddenly she began to fall backwards towards the floor and she felt like the world was moving in slow motion. She could hear the shrill laughs of the Slytherin girls but they sounded miles away. She closed her eyes and prepared for the impact of the stone floor, but it never arrived.
Instead she felt two strong arms surround her and hold her for a few seconds. Hermione didn’t even realize she’d been holding her breath until she exhaled it all quickly.
"Get out of here," a familiar voice shouted as Hermione was placed back on her feet and held in place.
She’d recognized the voice immediately and her heart began to race. Before she could say anything, the counter-curse was said and she was able to move her legs voluntarily again. The hands that were holding her let her go but she could still feel the warmth radiating up her arms. Hermione turned slowly and looked up into Draco’s eyes. They were unreadable and distant.
She wanted to tell him thank you; she wanted to say something, anything, but her mouth wouldn’t form the words. She simply stared up at Draco and fought to control a surge of emotions bombarding her heart. She’d almost forgotten Draco completely but being this close to him again—so close she could smell his familiar scent—she remembered everything all at once. Draco nodded quickly at Hermione and then hurried away, leaving her standing in the Entrance Hall like a statue of confusion.
* * * *
Hermione neglected to tell Harry and Ron about the Leg-Locker incident and she knew Neville was too scared to say anything about it. Hermione didn’t think that they would believe that Malfoy had actually helped her anyway. And then she’d have a time explaining to them why he’d helped her, so she figured it best to keep the situation to herself.
The three of them were walking down the grand staircase, heading towards the library and were almost to the bottom when they stopped dead in their tracks. The Entrance Hall was lit up and it was obvious why they’d stopped walking.
Running across the Entrance Hall, stark naked, was none other than Gregory Goyle. His large body was covered in thick amounts of hair and the little bit of skin that wasn’t hairy was ivory white—blindingly white. The only article that resembled clothing on his body was a green dog leash attached to a black collar around his neck that had silver spikes embedded into it. As he ran, the dog leash flapped in the breeze behind him like a long green ribbon. Hermione’s eyes were wide and almost on the verge of bulging. The boys stood speechless with their mouths gaping. As quickly as Goyle had entered the Entrance Hall, he was gone—leaving only the memory of his naked body burned into the three Gryffindor’s memories.
"Was that—" Ron muttered.
"Goyle," Hermione whispered.
"Was…he…wearing—" Harry stuttered.
"A dog collar and leash? I do believe so," Hermione said in disgust, trying to shake the memory from her mind.
Ron grabbed Hermione’s arm forcefully and spoke in a high-pitched voice,
"Please perform a Memory Charm on me."
* * * *
Draco dropped into a green leather chair in the Slytherin common room. He didn’t know why he’d helped Granger earlier. He felt disgusted with himself. He didn’t know if he was more disgusted that he’d helped her or that he had felt good about it afterwards. He exhaled a heavy and irritated sigh.
When he looked up, Crabbe had situated himself in an oversized armchair and looked as if he was reading. Draco couldn’t believe his eyes. He sat up in his chair and leaned forward, attempting to read the title.
"You know you’re a Slytherin if…," Draco spoke the title in disbelief. "What the hell are you reading Crabbe?"
"Oh…a book," Crabbe said proudly.
"I know it’s a book. Why are you reading that book?" Draco asked in annoyance.
"I wanted to…to make sure I was doing a good job in Slytherin," he said stupidly.
"You’ve got to be kidding me," Draco mumbled. He pushed himself out of his chair just as his large family owl swooped into the common room. A large package was dropped onto the floor. Draco walked pompously over to the owl and patted its head with as much affection as he could muster.
"Thanks," he said, picking up the large package and shaking it around in his hands. Draco shrugged and began to open the note on top.
He read aloud,
"For your enjoyment, my son. Use it wisely." The note was written in his father’s script. He tore open the package and almost started in surprise.
Inside the large box was something Draco had never seen before. He’d only read about them in stories because this particular magical object had been banned for many years. It was a carefully woven magical flying carpet. Draco rolled it up quickly before the curious stares of the other Slytherins could see what he’d received. He didn’t want to share this new toy with anyone.
"What did you get Draco?" Pansy purred.
"A rug," he said rudely as he hurried out of the common room and towards the Hogwarts grounds. It should be dark enough so he could use it without being detected.
* * * *
Ron yawned at the library table and checked his watch. Harry had laid his head down on the table a while back and hadn’t moved since. Hermione smiled at the two of them. They were no match for her study skills.
"Time for bed boys," Hermione said, closing her book and stretching.
"Finally," Ron said, getting sleepily to his feet.
"Wake up Harry," she said.
Ron shook Harry’s shoulder and he picked his head up and only had one eye opened. Hermione giggled at him. He grinned sheepishly and gathered his books. The three of them pushed open the doors to the library and headed for the grand staircase. Hermione wasn’t the least bit tired and actually felt like having a walk instead of going straight to bed.
"I think I’m going to get a breath of fresh air before bed," Hermione said, stopping at the bottom of the staircase.
"You sure?" Ron asked, stretching his arms above his head.
"Yeah, I won’t be long."
"You want us to go with you?" Harry asked, stifling another yawn.
"No, you two go to bed. I’ll be up soon," she said sweetly. "Take my books, will you? Just drop them in the common room for me. I’ll see you two in the morning."
The boys continued up the stairs and Hermione quietly pushed open a side door that led to the grounds outside. The night air was crisp and cool. She took a deep breath slowly and smiled. The sky was filled with millions of twinkling stars and she felt her shoulders relax. She hadn’t realized they’d been studying so long, and she was thankful for the break. She began happily singing her favorite song quietly to herself.
Hermione had just stepped out from the walls of the castle when the wind began to blow and she shivered. She’d forgotten her cloak in her school bag. She crossed her arms across her chest and wondered if she should head back inside when she heard a voice yell,
Hermione turned her head towards the voice just as a big object hit her around the waist and knocked her over. She screamed in fright and clutched onto the only thing she could find in the dark. Hermione had the strange feeling like she wasn’t on the ground. She felt like she was hovering in the air, but that was silly. Wasn’t it?
When Hermione opened her eyes slowly, she could feel the cold wind whipping around her face and she realized she was clutching another human. She looked up and her eyes widened. She had her arms grasping tightly around Draco Malfoy. He smirked down at her. She blushed and let go of him but as soon as she looked down and saw she was hovering up in the air, she grabbed him tightly again.
"I told you to look out," he said sarcastically.
"What are we floating on?" she asked quietly.
"A flying carpet, Granger. Haven’t you ever seen one?" he asked condescendingly.
"Oh…well, no I haven’t," she said, feeling braver and letting go of Draco. She peered over the side of the carpet and looked down to see a much tinier version of Hogwarts down below. She gasped nervously.
"Calm down Granger. You’re safe as long as you don’t lean too far over the edge," Draco said, watching her closely and trying to push the memories of how it felt to have her arms around him away.
"I…I don’t like to fly very much," she whispered, shifting closer to Draco in the center of the carpet.
Draco laughed at her uneasiness and she looked up at him.
"Where did you get this? Aren’t they illegal?" Hermione asked.
"Yeah, well, we don’t all play by the rules like you Granger," Draco said, noticing her teeth begin to chatter. He pulled off his Slytherin cloak and wrapped it around her shoulders before thinking about what he was doing. Her eyes widened briefly and then she blushed.
Draco shrugged and pointed the carpet in a new direction. Soon they were flying over the lake and the reflection of the stars could be seen in the dark waters. It was almost hard to tell which end of the world was up and which was down. It was as if they were caught in between. The view of the mountains in the distance and the stars on the lake was breathtaking.
"It’s beautiful," Hermione whispered, shifting closer to Draco unconsciously. He noticed even if she didn’t. He could feel her arm pressing against his and his breath began to quicken.
Draco stopped the carpet directly over the lake and let it hover in place. Hermione’s eyes were dancing in wonder. She looked at the landscape surrounding them and sighed. He didn’t know why being with her made him feel so at ease inside—so peaceful.
The wind blew across the lake quickly again and Hermione shivered even though she was wrapped tightly in Draco’s cloak. He slipped his arm around her waist and pulled her closer to him. It was an involuntary move. He knew he shouldn’t do it, but it felt so right. Hermione nestled closer into his shoulder and rested her head against his chest and sighed again. Her heart was now racing but she couldn’t deny the warm feeling she felt being held in Draco’s arms. Neither of them spoke for some time; they just sat in the silence of the night.
Draco leaned his head down and rested his chin lightly on the top of Hermione’s head. He could smell her shampoo and the scent was so familiar to him and so intoxicating. Without thinking, he kissed the top of her head and then her forehead. As Hermione slowly looked up at Draco, startled to feel his kisses against her skin, she saw that Draco’s eyes were intense and full of passion as he leaned down and kissed her lips. Her whole body shuddered. His lips were warm and as she parted her lips slowly, she could feel his tongue enter her mouth. She turned her body more towards him and ran her hands through his hair.
Draco leaned her back gently onto the carpet and propped his body over hers. His breath was ragged and he knew he was very close to losing control. Hermione’s body was small and petite beneath his and her hands were caressing down his neck and onto his back in a tender rhythm. He kissed her neck and her collarbone and the sound of his name escaped in a whisper from her lips. This time he didn’t stop her; he wanted to hear her say his name, he needed to hear it.
Hermione pulled Draco closer to her and the whole situation seemed a bit surreal. It just didn’t seem real. She never would have thought it possible to feel such a rush of passion over her hated enemy, and yet now, he didn’t feel like the enemy at all.
Somewhere on the Hogwarts grounds, the sounds of a howling dog could be heard loudly. Hermione and Draco both jumped in surprise. Hermione opened her eyes and struggled to breathe normally.
"We should probably head back. It’s getting late," she said, not really wanting the night to end at all.
"Yeah," Draco said, sitting up on his heels and running a hand through his tousled hair. He pointed the carpet towards the castle and they were moving again. Draco lowered the carpet close to the ground near the side door of the castle and Hermione hopped off the carpet and onto the soft earth. She turned once more to look at him and Draco leaned over and cupped her face in his hands. He kissed her forcefully and fervently before pulling away and smirking at her.
"We’ve got to stop meeting like this," he said, cocking an eyebrow up at her.
"You’re right," she said coyly. "Goodnight Malfoy."
"Goodnight Granger," he said as he floated off quickly on the carpet.
Hermione sighed dreamily before hurrying into the castle and running as fast as she could up to the Gryffindor common room.
* * * *
Harry sat up quietly in the common room as he stared at the pile of books on the table that Hermione had never retrieved. He was starting to get worried about her. He picked up a stupid toy from the floor that Colin Creevey had designed. It was a tiny figurine of Dumbledore with an enlarged head that wobbled about and nodded stupidly. A bobblehead doll, Colin had said earlier.
The firelight was slowly dying when Harry heard the portrait hole open and Hermione rushed in. She stopped in surprise when she saw Harry sitting before her.
"Oh, Harry. I didn’t expect you to still be up. Is everything okay?" she asked, obviously out of breath.
"Yeah, couldn’t sleep and then I noticed you weren’t back yet. So, I thought I’d wait till you were back to make sure you were okay," Harry said, standing to his feet and eyeing Hermione carefully. She was clearly out of breath, but that wasn’t what bothered Harry. Her cheeks were rosy and flushed and her eyes were glassy and dancing about almost as if she had been drinking—or something more serious.
"Oh…yeah…I’m fine, Harry. Just stayed outside longer than I realized, but I’m exhausted now, so I’ll just head on up to bed. Sorry to make you worry," Hermione babbled hurriedly. Hermione hurried past Harry and headed straight for the stairs. "Goodnight Harry," she mumbled over her shoulder.
"Goodnight Hermione. We’ll talk tomorrow," Harry said quickly.
"Okay," she said from somewhere up the stairs.
"And maybe then you can explain to me why you’re wearing a Slytherin cloak," Harry whispered to himself and knowing that sleep would not come quickly for him.
Depingo – to paint
Amino – to bring to life
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