Author's Note: This is still one of my very favorite chapters, even after writing several stories. Would love to hear what you think about this particular one...!
Hermione sat in a secluded alcove and finally allowed the tears to fall. That was it? After her two long and detailed, heartfelt letters, all Ron could reply with was a brief, 3 line note? Didn’t he care? She was heartbroken. Her life as she knew it was slipping towards a desolate, unrecognizable destination, surrounded by mostly strangers. She buried her face in the sleeve of her robe and wept.
“Finally got a letter from the Weaselby? Apparently his writing skills haven’t improved,” she heard a voice drawl from above. Her head whipped up angrily and dark brown eyes glared at silvery blue ones. “Mind your own business, Malfoy,” she choked out.
Malfoy ran a hand through his hair. He seemed a bit uncomfortable, as if he knew that even he had gone too far.
“Look,” he began, “I don’t get letters from anyone but my Mum. I wrote Pansy for a while, hadn’t really seen her since her and her family left that last night…” She knew he was referring to the evening of the final battle, when Pansy had stood up in the Great Hall and suggested turning Harry over to Voldemort to save their skins. That had gotten her permanently escorted out of Hogwarts.
“Anyway, I never heard a thing back from her and that’s just how it goes sometimes. People change. It’s no big deal.” But Hermione could tell that it was a big deal for him. Enough of a big deal to tell her his very personal business. She felt oddly touched at Malfoy’s stilted revelation.
A small smile played upon Hermione’s lips. Malfoy had a slight flush across his cheeks and looked even more uncomfortable. Hermione decided that it would be best to make light of the situation. “Well,” she ventured, “you know I never liked Pansy. I always thought she had a face like a pug.”
Malfoy’s head was down, but she could see that he had a slight smirk on his face. He had cheered her up and she wanted to return the favor. She continued, “I think you could do much better than her, anyway.”
Malfoy looked up, surprised. He stared at her for a moment and almost smiled. The open expression on his face made him look quite breathtaking, Hermione realized. The combination of his silver eyes, white-blond hair and translucent skin was like watching the sun rise. Hermione felt herself catch her breath.
“I think you’re right, Granger. Maybe I could do better.” He was moving closer to her; the smile had finally broken through, and it was a devilish one. Nervously, Hermione stood up. “What?” she asked. He was staring at her intently which was making her extremely self-conscious.
“I could do a lot better,” he continued. He moved even closer to her until he had her backed into a corner.
Hermione started nervously babbling. “Well, that’s good…get over it and move on, I always say…I’m sure there’s lots of girls who would be happy to…what are you doing?” Malfoy had placed his hands on the wall, one on each corner, effectively trapping her between them.
His face was very close to hers. “I’m doing better,” he said, and leaned in and kissed her.
For the first time in her life, Hermione’s brain stopped working. She was overwhelmed with sensation—Malfoy’s lips moved over hers and she felt her knees start to give way. Then one of his hands wound in her curls and the other started to slide slowly up her back and she clung to him in order to keep from sinking to the floor in a heap. Her mind swam and she kissed him back fervently, just savoring the taste of him. Merlin, it felt wonderful. She didn’t know that a kiss could feel like this. She didn’t care what happened to her as long as Malfoy didn’t stop what he was doing, and it didn’t feel like he was intending to stop anytime soon. He clutched her more tightly in response to her enthusiasm and slowly opened his mouth…
Then she heard a gasp which effectively broke the spell Malfoy had put her under. She jumped away from him as if she were burned, and noticed a small First Year student staring at them in wide-eyed fascination.
Hermione’s mind was reeling over what had just happened and was frozen on the spot. Malfoy looked back and forth between the stunned First Year boy and Hermione-the-Zombie and apparently decided that it was up to him to rectify the situation. He went on to handle it in typical Malfoy fashion.
Turning to the small boy he growled, “Consider yourself blessed that there’s no more House Points to get deducted, shrimp—otherwise you’d have just lost so many that they’d probably have you run out of school!” Obviously Malfoy chose not to acknowledge the fact that Prefects couldn’t deduct House Points, and the younger student seemed to take him at his word.
The First Year’s eyes grew even larger (Hermione wouldn’t have thought that that was humanly possible) and he whirled around and hurried away as if he was being chased by a Hungarian Horntail.
That was what it took to snap Hermione out of her mind-freeze. “What was that?!” she exploded.
“What? First Years are afraid of everything—besides, I didn’t even do anything to the little git,” Malfoy protested.
“Not that! Before that!” she was sputtering, completely off-balance. “Why did you…why did you…”
“Hey Granger, I wasn’t exactly kissing a stone wall, you know. You were there.”
That was his argument for everything! ‘I didn’t hold a wand to your head’, ‘Nobody forced you to sit next to me’, and now it was ‘I wasn’t exactly kissing a stone wall’! She had had enough. “Malfoy,” she spat, “you have been the bane of my existence since school began!” It wasn’t at all true, but Hermione was overwrought and words were spilling out of her before she even knew what she was saying.
Malfoy’s silver eyes narrowed. “Careful, Granger, don’t lie to me!” he shot back.
“I’m not lying! You have been nothing to me but a royal pain in the arse—” She was cut off because Malfoy grabbed her and kissed her again, hard and deep. And again, she was furiously kissing him back.
And all of a sudden, Malfoy abruptly broke the kiss and stepped away from her. “Like I said,” he enunciated, panting slightly, “don’t you ever lie to me.”
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