Chapter 4 : Sloth and Diligence
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Hermione sat and glared at one of the tapestries in the Gryffindor common room. How dare he? How dare he act like that, in public no less? What right had he to think that she would fall at his feet like one of those stupid girls who stared at him from under lowered eyelashes, giggling behind their hands? She was not like that! She was clever, and she knew what was right for her, and it was not him! He was scum; Malfoy the amazing bouncing ferret. She was Hermione Granger: smartest witch of her generation.
Breathing in deeply, Hermione tried to calm down. She was playing his game if she got angry. This would be some convoluted plan on his part to irritate her. She had done what Slughorn had asked her to do, and she wouldn’t have to spend any more time with him. After a while she would stop thinking about the feel of his tongue on her palm, of his lips on hers, of the hot flush that ran through her veins, and about the sensations that had made her want to close her eyes and bury her fingers in his hair. It would be a distant memory, and she could go back to her normal life.
Harry and Ron marched into the Common Room, their Quidditch robes muddy. Hermione looked at them and rolled her eyes. ‘’It’s a game played in the air. How did you get muddy?’
‘’It was raining.’’
‘’Does it rain mud Harry?’’ Hermione stood up to better look at the pair of them. ‘’Honestly, you look like you were rolling in the stuff.’’
‘’We may have had a small fight in it when we got off our brooms.’’ Harry looked at Hermione sheepishly.
Hermione shook her head. ‘’Well, get changed. You asked me to help you with your Transfiguration homework, and we need to do that now.’’
‘’Oh, come on Hermione!’’ Ron smiled at her, and she bit her lip to resist smiling back. He looked so sweet with a smear of mud across his cheek. But unbidden, a glimpse of Draco’s grey eyes staring impassively up at her as he kissed her palm sprang into her mind.
But even as she snapped back to reality, Ron was advancing on her in his dirty robes. ‘’Give us a hug Hermione!’’
‘’No! Ronald, you’re filthy!’’
‘’And that matters? Come on Hermione, don’t you love me any more?’’
Hermione stopped dead in her tracks. ‘’What?’’
‘’I…’’ Ron tailed off, looking shocked at what had just come out of his mouth. ‘’I didn’t mean…’’
‘’What didn’t you mean?’’
‘’I don’t know.’’
Hermione looked at his face, and hated him for not being more assertive. A white hot rage flashed through her: all he had to say was a simple sentence, he just had to tell her that he wanted her, that he wanted to hold her. It wasn’t difficult, for Merlin’s sake!
Turning on her heel, she made her way to the portrait hole, mumbling some excuse, saying she would be back soon, just knowing that she had to get out before she shrieked something that would cause an argument that would in turn leave her crying in bed every night.
Out in the corridor, she took a deep breath in and leaned against the wall. Why had it irritated her so much that Ron couldn’t say what she needed him to say? Picking herself up and walking blindly away from Gryffindor Tower, she mulled the problem over.
It was only when she was standing outside, the sky clear now after the earlier shower of rain, that the entirely unwelcome answer came to her. It was all Draco Malfoy’s fault. He was too…experienced. Too sure of himself. And it made her look at Ron and think that he was nothing but a little boy. Would a little boy like him ever be able to make her feel as Draco had made her feel with one simple movement? Of course not.
But that wasn’t something she needed to hold against him, she reasoned. Ron was just being Ron. He had always been slightly shy, and more so when it came to girls. She couldn’t expect him to act like Draco Malfoy, the man-slut of Slytherin.
But this was her, a rebellious little voice in her head piped up. This was her, Hermione, who had known Ron since they were eleven. He didn’t need to be nervous around her.
Well, maybe he didn’t want to ruin their friendship.
He hadn’t worried about that when he was threatening to kill Crookshanks.
But he…Hermione struggled to come up with an answer for that. He was just being Ron, she told herself.
Is that good enough, the little voice asked. Surely you deserve better than that? You know what you’re doing, why waste time on someone who seems incapable of making a decision?
I don’t know why I’m listening to you, Hermione retorted. Clapping a palm to her forehead, she turned back to the castle. She couldn’t stay out here and talk to herself. She had promised to help the others, and they certainly wouldn’t be working if she wasn’t there telling them to do it.
She was just about to walk in through the large doors when she was pushed to one side as some one stormed out. She turned in outrage. ‘’What do you think you’re…oh. It’s you.’’
Draco turned and stared at her. ‘’And what do you mean by that?’’
‘’Just that I wouldn’t expect anything more than incredibly bad manners from you.’’ Hermione turned to walk back into the castle.
‘’Now, isn’t it incredibly bad manners to make personal comments?’’ Hermione turned around and saw the most hideously smug expression she had ever seen.
‘’You think you have the right to make comments like that?’’
‘’And here we go on. Come on Granger, let’s cut things short, shall we? You’re going to get all huffy, call me a ferret and run off back to Potter and Weasley. So now that we both now how things will end, why don’t you trot off back to the Gryffindor tower?’’
Hermione wished she could curse him. She needed to go back to the tower but if she went now, he would think she was doing what he had told her to do, and every fibre of her being baulked at that thought. Breathing deeply, she willed herself to leave her wand exactly where it was.
‘’Anyway, what are you doing out here?’’ Draco stared at her.
‘’None of your business Malfoy.’’
‘’You know it’s those charming little comments that you drop that make me want to spend more and more time with you.’’ Draco’s voice was saccharine sweet, and Hermione thought about how satisfying it would be to use a Tongue-Tying curse on him. ‘’I can barely wait for our next tutoring session.’’
Hermione’s head jerked up and she stared at him in undisguised horror. ‘’What are you talking about? We’re not having any more tutoring sessions!’’
‘’Oh yes we are.’’ Hermione thought absentmindedly that it was that kind of tone that distanced him from Ron: he didn’t even seem anxious that she might refuse because he knew that he would get his own way in the end. ‘’As I told Weasley when he interrupted us in the library, I think I’m going to need lots of tutoring.’’
‘’Well you aren’t getting it off me.’’ Hermione raised her chin, knowing that this was her perfect opportunity to walk away. But his voice turned her around.
‘’I get everything I want Granger. And I want you to tutor me.’’
‘’Malfoy, you know and I know that you do not need tutoring! Stop being so bloody… frustrating!’’ She choked the words out, knowing that they were barely sufficient for what she wanted to say.
‘’I would have hoped I would warrant slightly higher than ‘frustrating’ given how much I seem to be getting to you.’’
‘’You are not getting to me! You just want an argument and I’m not giving you that!’’ Hermione calmed her voice, resisting the urge to scream at him. The sun peered out from behind a white fluffy cloud, and Draco was suddenly bathed in light. Hermione watched a thousand different tones of blonde appear in his hair and had never wanted to pull out every strand as much as she had at that precise moment.
‘’So I’m not getting tutoring off you, and I’m not getting an argument off you? Is there anything you do want to give me Granger?’’
Hermione breathed in deeply, trying to retain a sense of equilibrium as she stared at the wicked smirk on Draco’s lips and at the glint in his eyes. Yet another difference between Ron and Malfoy. Ron would have told her she looked pretty, Draco had pretty much just invited her to have sex with him. She opened her mouth to respond, but to her utter horror, no reply was forthcoming. All she could think of was the assurance with which his tongue had licked a smear of chocolate off her hand, how she had been able to taste the sweetness of the confectionary as his tongue had slowly moved around her mouth, almost unbearably luxuriously. Every circuit of her brain had been diverted to thinking about that one instant in agonizing clarity. ‘’I…I….I need to go,’’ she blurted. ‘’I promised to help Harry and Ron with their homework.’’
‘’What a martyr you are,’’ Draco drawled. ‘’I can’t think of anything worse. Why bother?’’
‘’I promised. Plus, if I don’t do this, I don’t have anything to do.’’ Hermione clamped her lips shut tightly. What the hell had prompted her to say that? Forget tying up Draco’s tongue, she clearly need to rip out her own tongue!
Draco’s lips quirked, as he held himself back from laughing out loud with immense effort. ‘’Are you serious Granger? You honestly have nothing else to do?’’
‘’Well…I’ve done everything I have to do.’’ Hermione looked defiantly at him, and Draco watched with detached interest as her cheeks became flushed.
‘’Well, that doesn’t mean you have to stand over Weasley and Potter while they do their homework. You aren’t their teacher.’’
He’s right, Hermione thought. But there was no way she was going to tell him that. ‘’I don’t like to be lazing around, and if I can help other people, I might as well.’’
‘’Dear Merlin, Granger take off the halo. You’re how old? Take some time off, it isn’t going to kill you.’’
‘’I don’t even know why I’m telling you this.’’ Hermione turned her back on him and walked out away from him.
Draco paused and called after her. ‘’Help the Wonder Twins, or come and spend the rest of the evening with me, just lazing around and doing nothing. I guarantee you’ll have a better time.’’ His voice hinted at tantalising secrets that would be revealed to her if she came.
‘’Dream on Malfoy.’’ Draco watched her slim back walk proudly away from him, and smirked. He would just pull rank on her. Changing direction, he marched off into the dungeons, pushed open a door.
‘’Professor Slughorn, Hermione Granger seems reluctant to fulfil her tutoring duties. Any chance you could remind her?’’
Hermione was sitting at one of the tables in the Common Room, listening to Harry and Ron’s quills scratching. But her mind wasn’t on helping them. Weak sunlight, the last rays of the day, could be seen flickering off the lake in the distance. She could be sitting by that lake doing nothing. But in her dreams she knew that she wasn’t sitting alone, but with a certain blonde Slytherin, revelling in his experience…Furrowing her brow, she resolutely pushed the dream away, only to have it battering at her mind again seconds later, desperately trying to get back in.
So it was almost a relief when she was spared from the relentless tedium by a first year arriving bearing a note addressed to her. Unfurling the parchment, her eyes ran over the slanted script. Watching her, Ron and Harry saw her face fall (although they couldn’t see the tentative jump of her heart). ‘’What’s wrong?’’
‘’Slughorn says I need to tutor Malfoy.’’
‘’Now. Apparently this is the only time he’s free.’’
‘’This is ridiculous.’’ Harry stood up. ‘’You shouldn’t have to waste your time tutoring Malfoy.’’
Hermione thought indulgently that it probably hadn’t occurred to him that he expected her to spend her evening tutoring him. She tuned back in to hear Harry declare that he was going to go and see Slughorn at that precise moment. She protested, knowing that Malfoy would never give up that easily, but her friends were already storming to the Potions’ classroom.
They barged in and began trying to explain themselves, Hermione tugging at their sleeves, trying to stop them, knowing it wouldn’t make a difference, but the only thing that shut them up was Draco’s languid drawl, as he emerged from a shadowy corner of the classroom. ‘’I think even Granger’s trying to shut you up. For Merlin’s sake, you’re embarrassing yourselves.’’
Slughorn stood up. ‘’The fact remains gentlemen, no matter your feelings on the issue, Miss Granger is to help Malfoy with his work. Please, they are to begin work now, so it would be helpful if you would give them some peace.’’
With resentful glares, Harry and Ron left the room. Hermione stared coldly at Draco. ‘’Well, what part are you having problems with now?’’
‘’Why stay in here? It’s so gloomy. We’ll go out by the lake.’’
Hermione stared at him in silent fury. ‘’The sun’s about to go down.’’
‘’Well, we’d better get a move on then.’’
Hermione gritted her teeth, unable to bear the fact that he had gotten his own way after all. ‘’I really don’t think that’s a good idea.’’
But Draco’s arm was already slipping around her elbow and guiding her out of the classroom. She shook him off angrily, but Slughorn had seen her. ‘’Miss Granger, any more problems with this arrangement and I will be taking points from Gryffindor. You have a duty to help those students who need it.’’
Draco smirked at her and she flounced out of the classroom. Following her, Draco was pushed back as she spun on her heel and jabbed a finger in his chest. ‘’You need help and not the sort that I can give you!’’ She hissed and then marched off towards the exit.
Draco followed her in silence until she threw herself onto the ground by the lake. ‘’Right, come on, what do you want help with? The sun’s about to go down, so you need to get a move on.’’
Rather than answer her, Draco lay back and stretched himself out on the grass. Dew was beginning to gather and he felt its cold brush against his cheek as he turned to look at her in the dusk. She was rather beautiful when she was angry, he reflected. He must irritate her more often.
‘’Malfoy, what do you want help with?’’ She spat the words out at him.
‘’I’m not here for your help, I’m here to help you.’’ He raised himself onto one elbow and looked at her. ‘’I will admit that this is brilliant for me because it pisses Weasley and Potter off more than anything I’ve ever seen before, but you have such a sterile existence that you’ve actually stirred me to pity. You work and you help other people. You look exhausted. You don’t eat excessive amounts of chocolate, you don’t spend time just lazing around and proper flirting seems to terrify you. You don’t have any vices, and they’re what make life worth living.’’
‘’You don’t know what you’re talking about.’’
‘’Yes I do.’’ With the calm assurance in his voice that Hermione had come to loathe, Draco lay back down on the grass. ‘’You are going to sit here, and you are not going to think about doing work or helping someone else. You are going to look at the sun setting and you are going to daydream.’’
‘’I don’t want to hear it.’’
‘’But don’t you have things that you need to do?’’
‘’Many of them and varied in nature. But I’m not going to do them just yet.’’
‘’You don’t need a tutor, do you?’’
‘’Of course not. But there are far better things to do with life than spend it beavering away. Now watch the bloody sunset.’’
Hermione opened her mouth to protest but decided it wasn’t worth it. The thought of leaving didn’t even cross her mind. Instead, she watched the last clouds blow away and the sun paint the sky red and pink as it slowly sank beyond the horizon. She felt weight lift off her shoulders, her brain unwind, her brow relax. As the sun finally disappeared, and dark began to spread across the castle grounds, she breathed in deeply and realised how stressed she had been.
She turned her head and realised Draco had been watching her the entire time, his arms folded behind his head. ‘’Better?’’
‘’Surprisingly, yes.’’ She smiled a little and decided she wouldn’t think about how weird this was. At this precise moment she didn’t care that this was probably some malicious prank. She was too relaxed. And Draco knew it.
‘’Aren’t you going to say thank you?’’
‘’Thank you, who?’’
‘’Thank you Malfoy.’’
‘’Good enough.’’ He sat up and looked across the dark lake. ‘’Relax more often Granger. You’re too young to be permanently stressed out. And you’re no good at arguing when you’re stressed out.’’
‘’I am not.’’
‘’Oh come on, you froze earlier.’’
‘’I was being lecherous? Come on, you aren’t going to let something like that threaten you?’’
‘’Not used to it?’’ Draco asked and Hermione nodded. The darkness was protection. It meant this wasn’t really happening.
‘’I can help you with that as well.’’ Draco’s voice was softer and she could only see his dark form in the dim light.
And before she could stop herself, appalled at herself, her voice was spilling from her mouth, a soft whisper asking ‘’how?’’
The heel of his palm stroked gently across her cheekbones, as he knelt in front of her. His hand slid into her soft hair, nudging the silky ribbon that she had used to push her hair back. Then his hands were meeting around the back of her neck and pulling her, pliant and delicate, towards him. His lips met hers, more slowly than they ever had before. And in that moment, Hermione was lost. She couldn’t think to analyse any subtext in Draco’s embrace. She could only slide her hands around his back, sighing as his hands ran down her spine, met around her waist and pulled her closer to him, deepening the angle of the kiss and letting his tongue skitter slowly across the roof of her mouth, dancing with her own tongue.
Draco pulled away from her, and saw she still had her eyes closed, eyelashes resting on her cheek. Then the eyelids fluttered up and amber eyes met grey. ‘’Teach me more.’’
AN: Wasn’t that a lovely long chapter? In fact, it was double the length of the ones that I’ve written so far. So let me know what you thought of it! I love getting reviews, almost as much as I love it when people come and chatter to me on my Meet the Author page (hint hint lol). So let me know what you think, and I promise to respond, even if it’s just to say thank you! Lots of love…Petitesorciere xxx
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