Hermione and Draco were in Flitwick’s class once again. However, instead of sitting at opposite ends of the classroom, they were sitting at one of the desks, blissfully aware of how close the other was. Charms class was one of the few times in public that they felt they could be seen with each other. As all of their classmates had seen first hand the effects of the spell, there was no need for Hermione to swear that she was only doing it so that she could concentrate on the class and for Draco to sneer that the last thing he truly wanted was to be anywhere near Granger. They had the grudging sympathy of their peers, and could spend the few hours letting their bodies relax.
Of course, they still imposed strict boundaries on themselves. Hermione kept a close eye on her arm, watching to make sure that it didn’t edge closer and closer to Draco’s. The first time that she had taken her gaze off it, she had ended up with her forearm sandwiched to his, causing dirty looks and a lot of hissed swearing. Draco in turn kept his leg tensed at all times, anxious to stop it pressing up against Hermione’s thigh. Aware of what his body would conspire to do if left to its own devices, he hadn’t slipped yet, but had had some dangerously close jerks to contend with.
As they both wrote, their hands moving frantically across parchment, Draco’s elbow jogged Hermione’s, sending a splash of ink across the page. Her head snapped around and she glared at him. “What’s your problem?”
“Don’t get your boring little knickers in a twist,” he hissed. “It was an accident.”
“Boring little…? Oh for Merlin’s sake.” She turned back to her page and carried on writing. It frustrated her so much that she would spend the day bitching about him and arguing with him and then would have to go and spend time with him this evening, just to make sure that she could sleep. To rely on Malfoy for anything was more than she could stand. It was scant comfort that he was in exactly the same position.
Draco stopped writing and looked blankly at Flitwick. The teacher had assured him that the spell would wear off eventually and that they could go back to their previous animosity, but that didn’t really help Draco in the present moment. And he was very much about the instant gratification. The thought that he might spend the next twenty years yearning to spend time with Hermione Granger was enough to make him feel vaguely nauseated. More so because of how his mind now seemed to be conspiring with his body against him.
Logically, he knew that he wanted absolutely nothing to do with Hermione. And yet, when they were sitting quietly in the Room of Requirements, the pulling of their bodies reduced to a gentle tug, it was hard not to feel some begrudging form of affection towards her. It was nothing, he told himself repeatedly. It was simply that he was associating her with the most relaxing part of his day. But she looked so peaceful when she was quiet, so…pretty. He shuddered to think that he was applying that word to Hermione.
It was nothing. Absolutely nothing. He had decided that he was going to deny that peculiar feeling, and deny it he would.
Especially as he had no idea about whether or not Hermione was getting the same peculiar urges.
If she was…well…
No! He glared at her again, and wondered when the curse would finally break. He was going to lose his mind if this carried on much longer.
Hermione saw Draco glaring at her yet again out of the corner of her eye, and heaved out a sigh. What was his problem this time? He seemed determined to complicate every single new obstacle as much as he possibly could. Why couldn’t he just face this with some form of stoicism and wait for the spell to break? Yes, she got more and more impatient every day. Yes, she hated having to spend her evenings with him, to the extent that she was just closing her eyes to tune him out. Yes, she hated having to put up with the pitying looks from other Gryffindors. Yes, she hated the evil stares from the Slytherins, as though she had done this on purpose. But she was putting up with it.
It was the glares from the Slytherin girls that irritated her the most. It was as though they thought that she was trying to entrap Draco. As though she thought that by forcing him to spend time with her he would fall madly in love with her. It was an insult to her integrity and to her taste in men. She simply couldn’t understand the fuss over Malfoy. He was tall and blond. That was it. Anyone that she liked had to have much more going for them than being tall and blond.
Her ideal man had to be smart. Malfoy clearly wasn’t, he was the reason that they were in this predicament.
He had to be brave. Malfoy obviously wasn’t, he was whinging like a toddler about the whole situation.
He had to be funny. The only time Malfoy thought that he was being funny was when he was mocking a less fortunate student. That wasn’t funny, that was cruel.
Sighing again, she pulled out a new sheet of parchment. A surprising thought appeared in her head as she scribbled down what was written on the board. Maybe it was just a matter of interpretation. Could all those Slytherin girls be wrong? Maybe Draco was smart, brave and funny, and he just seemed completely different to her because she was always experiencing him from the side he showed to any non-Slytherins. It was true that when they were sitting together in the Room of Requirements, she didn’t feel like she had to be angry. It was almost like there was some sort of unspoken camaraderie between them.
Shaking her head slightly, angry with herself, she pressed her quill harder into the parchment. There was no camaraderie. It was an unspoken agreement that they would try not to irritate each other because they both had this unwelcome reliance on the other. And she was not helping matters by over-romanticising the situation. A camaraderie indeed!
The class ended, and in the bustle of students rushing for the door, Draco turned to Hermione. “Tonight in the usual place?”
“I’ve been there for the past week,” she hissed. “What makes you think I’m not going to turn up tonight?”
Turning away from him, she rushed out of the door, wincing slightly at the pull of her body. Draco watched her go, and felt the bizarre urge to smile. Not to smirk, but to actually smile. She was so…dependable. And it wasn’t in a boring way because there was no way that she wanted to be in a position where he was relying on her, and she was fighting it all the way. But the way that she was still sticking to her obligations was almost endearing. Almost.
Later that night, Draco walked into the Room of Requirements to see Hermione already sitting on the sofa in front of the fire. Her eyes had been closed but she turned around sharply as soon as she heard his footsteps. “Hi.”
He didn’t bother returning the greeting, choosing instead to just slump into the seat next to her, feeling his muscles release their tension with her proximity. Casting a sly glance at her, he saw her ridiculous eyelashes and experienced the swift burst of the peculiar cross between anger and yearning that he felt whenever he looked at her properly. Anger, he told himself, anger is all that it is.
“Any particular reason that you’re looking at me?” she asked coolly.
“You saw that?” he asked, the words slipping out of his mouth before he could censor them.
“I suppose spending time around a Slytherin means that your capacity for noticing when anyone is looking at you is wearing off on me.”
“What do you mean when anyone is looking at me?”
“Malfoy, I’m 100 per cent sure that you are aware precisely how many people are watching you at any given time.”
“What makes you think that?” He asked carefully, not wanting to give away more than he already had. Especially as she seemed remarkably insightful.
Hermione turned to him and looked appraisingly at him. Pausing for a minute, she opened her mouth to speak, hesitated, and then spoke. “Because you’re constantly projecting an image. And you need to make sure that people are picking up on that image and admiring it.”
Immediately turning back to stare at the fire, she pretended that what had just happened had nothing to do with her. What on earth had possessed her to tell Draco precisely what she thought of him? Of course she had spent some time thinking about him: it was hard not to when her body spent every waking minute aching for him. But to say what she had just said made her sound like some sort of crazy stalker attempting amateur psychoanalysis.
Draco looked at her, her face calm and smooth. “And what makes you think that?”
“I don’t think it, I know it,” she answered, her voice still cool as she willed herself not to let a single tremble pass into her speech. It was so easy to think these things in the privacy of her own mind, but once she was actually saying them it was a completely different matter. The way that she could see him looking at her; with a burning intensity that had absolutely no place in a school was unnerving her more than anything ever had in her life. Despite the lack of tension in her body, she could feel a kind of electricity rippling through her veins, making her every sense more acute. If anyone had touched her at that point, she would have screamed.
“You know it? Really Granger, how have you come to such insightful conclusions?” She could hear the familiar sneer in his voice now, and it was almost reassuring to hear something that she loathed so very much. But still that electricity was undulating through her, and she knew that the force in his gaze hadn’t died down at all. And that gave her the confidence that she needed: she might be feeling like this but she had definitely said something that had cut to his core, and that told her that she had been right.
Gathering all of her poise, she turned back to him, and gave him her best sarcastic smile. “You seem to be forgetting that I am extremely intelligent. Sorry if I intimidated you, I sometimes forget that the little people have difficulty making intuitive leaps.”
Draco looked at her, mildly nonplussed. Had Hermione Granger actually just made fun of him? And not in a way that took the moral high ground, but that was actually just a plain old jibe. He stared at her, unable to quite remove his eyes from the chocolate brown irises that were meeting his gaze evenly. But then, as the curtain of black fringing swept down over her eyes, leaving her looking demurely down, the balance of power shifted back in his favour. She was definitely nervous, just masking it well. He could smell anxiety, it was how he preyed on the younger students!
“Granger, you are absolutely terrified.” He said calmly.
“What?” The speed with which her look sped back up to meet his and the pitch of her voice left him in absolutely no doubt that he had been completely right.
“You’re really worried what analysis I’m going to throw back at you. Well, I can tell you Granger, that you are so obsessed with being right all the time that you aren’t even taking a second to admit that you might have done something wrong. And because you can’t admit that, you are focusing all your attention on trying to deal with this situation better than I am.”
“I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about,” she answered, praying that he would stop there, because if he continued any further he was going to stumble on her precise feelings.
“You, Hermione Granger, are hating this just as much as I am, and you are longing to be just as much of a brat as I am being. But you let yourself get stuck in the role of the dependable stoic years ago, and now you don’t feel that you can get out of it. I’m intrigued Granger, just how much would you actually put up with just to live up to other people’s expectations? Because you can tell me that I’m projecting an image, but you’re guilty of precisely the same crime.”
She looked at him, but her scathing tongue was gone now. All she could think was that maybe Draco Malfoy was more intelligent than she had ever given him credit for. And she knew that she was staring at him too much, that she wasn’t looking like an bright young witch any more but like a gormless idiot, and yet she couldn’t quite avert her gaze.
Draco carried on looking at her, and raised his eyebrows triumphantly. “What, no witty comeback? I’m disappointed Granger.”
“Why?” She managed to say, forcing her tongue to speak clearly.
“Because you led me to believe that you were actually intelligent and I was actually looking forward to some sort of repartee to make this interminable hour slightly more enjoyable. I can see that I’m clearly far too intimidating for you to play at my level.”
“You don’t intimidate me,” she squeaked incredulously. “You just come out with such stupid things that I can’t think of anything to say back to them.”
“Really? Come on Granger, I’ve seen you lending out your essays to your pathetic friends. Do you really want to be doing that? I’m sure you don’t, and yet there you are, acting like an encyclopaedia. Simply because you let yourself get hedged into that role when you were a first year, and now you’re too keen to keep everyone liking you so you won’t tell them to piss off and do their own work. Whereas I, no matter how despicable you think I am, have kept everyone guessing so much that they never know where they stand with me. I’m never going to be forced into doing anything.”
“I’m not forced…” she began to argue, but Draco just held up a hand imperiously and carried on talking.
“And as for you not being intimidated by me…Granger, you’re all but trembling like a terrified virgin in a novel.”
Instantly, a blush spread to her cheeks. How was he able to say things like that so steadily, as though to toss out comparisons like that cost him nothing? “I’m not intimidated by you,” she said, her nails digging hard into the palms of her hands.
Draco’s mouth spread into a smile. “Bollocks you aren’t.”
“I’m not,” she insisted. She was so intent on keeping her equilibrium that she didn’t even notice when Draco’s hand shot out with unerring accuracy and seized her own clenched fist. She jerked at the touch of his warm skin on hers.
As he gently pried her fingers away from her palm, her head was spinning. What was he doing? And why was his skin warm? In her head, she had associated him with a snake for seven years; his skin should be as cold as a reptile’s. But the warm fingers that were gently smoothing her fingers back had nothing in common with the aloof slither of a serpent. And that touch : it was too gentle for Draco!
Draco watched as Hermione’s hand fell open, displaying the pink crescents that her nails had dug into her skin. He could feel a lump in his throat and had to swallow quickly, trying to maintain his dominance. He had no idea what he was doing. His initial thought had been solely to expose the tension that he knew she was trying to disguise. But now that the soft little hand was lying exposed in his, he could feel his control slipping away. Without thinking, he ran his index finger across each half-moon and saw her fingers twitch involuntarily.
Swallowing again, he looked up, and managed to choke out the words. “And you’re not intimidated?”
She was past the point of being able to speak but wasn’t ready to relinquish the fight. She shook her head quickly and watched as his pupils dilated, diminishing the silver grey that surrounded them. That peculiar rippling intensified, waving through her, and it was all she could do not to wriggle in her seat. Her breathing was shuddering now. She had absolutely no idea what was going on, but was already aware that she had no immediate plans to halt it. She just decided that she would attribute it to the charm of the fruit when the tension between them had evaporated.
Draco watched as his hand moved, completely independently of any thought of his, up through the air, towards Hermione’s face. He was still tracing her palm with one of his fingers, and he could feel her quivering slightly now. As his hand gently touched her cheek, they both jumped, shocked at the contact between them.
Her skin was soft beneath his fingers, almost like velvet. He ran his thumb across her cheekbone, caressing the blush that still lingered there, and watched as she blinked again, her eyelashes brushing her cheek. She had a few freckles on her nose, he could see, and he suddenly felt the urge to kiss each and every one of them.
Moving his hand back, he slid it into the mass of hair that was tucked neatly behind her ears. Entwining his fingers in it, his palm resting against the smooth skin of her neck, he watched as he drew her inexorably closer to him. Her hand was resting on his chest now, as though she was unsure about whether to push him away or drag him closer. He could see his own panic and desire mirrored in her eyes, and knew that there was no way that they could pull away now.
Just as that thought occurred to him, Hermione’s hand clenched around his shirt, balling the material as she pulled him closer towards her. The pulsating feeling in her had reached breaking point and she knew that she had to have his lips on hers or she would just explode, knew that she had to feel him dragging her as close to him as was humanely possible or she would never feel alive again.
The few seconds that it took for their lips to meet seemed agonisingly long. They were almost paralysed by the knowledge of what they were about to do. This wasn’t some desire born out of teenage boredom or even of a spell, they were sure, this was a step that once taken could not be retreated from. The enormity of the situation was terrifying, but exhilarating.
In the instant that Draco’s lips pressed up against hers, Hermione thought she was going to pass out. The strength behind it almost bruised her lips, and she knew that she was guilty of exerting the exact same amount of passion. Their mouths moved against each other in a dance that had never been practised and yet had never been more perfect. As her lips kissed his bottom lip, Draco could taste the sweetness of her breath washing through his mouth, the most intriguing taste that he had ever experienced and something that he knew he couldn’t go without again.
Pressed up against each other, legs and arms entwined, it was a feeling of bliss that neither of them had ever had before. There was no question of either of them pushing anymore boundaries, they were scared enough by what they had already managed to accomplish, and elated enough to revel in these moments. It wasn’t until the fire burnt out, plunging them into a plush darkness that they were able to pull themselves apart. Not saying a word, for what could they possibly say after something like that, they separated, their lips burning as they made their way back to their respective beds, to frustrated dreams of warm lips and impassioned caresses.
AN: Ok, so that took slightly longer than expected…sorry everyone. However, it is the longest chapter so far, and I am very proud of this chapter. I got into the flow so I am now actually going to have about six hours sleep before I get up for my longest day of the week…dedication or what? Please please please review, and I should probably say that a lot of this chapter has been inspired by the geniuses that are the Kings of Leon. Anyway…lots of love…petitesorciere xxx