A/N: Thanks to dracosgem for beta reading this chapter. :)
Warning: There are some s e x u a l i n n u e n d o e s in this chapter. (But if you've read this far, you've probably learned to expect that. :D)
In Chapter Twelve:
He took her face between his hands, looked deep into her eyes and asked, ”Will you be mine?”
”Yes,” she whispered, smiling despite the tears in her eyes. ”I'll always be yours.”
”Thank Merlin,” he smiled widely, ”because I've waited for weeks to do this...”
He lowered his face to her level and nuzzled her nose with his affectionately. Her eyes closed in anticipation, and he slowly touched his soft lips to hers.
She melted into his kiss, and nothing else mattered.
“This doesn’t make any sense,” Hermione sighed happily. Resting her head against Draco's chest, she smiled so hard her cheeks ached.
“I know,” Draco replied, grinning. “It must be killing you.”
They both shook with laugher and looking at each other only made them smile more. The tears that had previously stained Hermione's face were now dry and she didn't think she'd have any reason to cry again anytime soon.
”Do you want to sit down, or should we just stand here for the rest of the evening?” Draco asked merrily.
”Let's sit down,” Hermione replied.
They settled onto the bed, facing each other. For a moment they were disoriented – they both realised they were sitting on a bed and tried not to think about it. Feeling very self-conscious, Hermione folded her legs underneath her body, while Draco tried to come up with something to say in order to distract them both.
“So... You and me, huh?” he finally noted lamely. It seemed to work, however.
“Yeah,” she smiled. “You and me.”
Looking at him, she thought about how lucky she was. Suddenly, something occurred to her. Kissing him had been nice – really nice – and she wouldn't mind doing some more of it. They were a couple, after all, and she was entitled to it. But how could she express what she wanted when simply thinking about kissing him made her heart beat wildly in response? She glanced coyly at Draco or his lips, to be specific. She nibbled on her lower lip, unaware of what she was doing or the signs she was sending.
One side of the blond's lips curved into a knowing smile.
“Would you like me to kiss you, Granger?” he asked.
She blushed, realizing she'd been caught, but refused to let the opportunity pass.
“Yes, that would be nice,” she replied with a polite nod, trying to remain dignified despite the silly grin on her face.
Draco chuckled and leaned closer to her. A breath away from her face, he stopped short and looked into her eyes. It was hard to believe that she was looking at him with so much faith and care. She was giving him all of herself, and he would be sure to give her everything he could, too... Starting with a nice, long snog.
After several nice, long snogs (he wanted to give a good first impression), they finally stopped for longer than the necessary breathing breaks. They heard a voice calling from downstairs and recalled that there was an actual world outside their little bubble.
”Do you think we should go down for dinner?” Hermione murmured, following Draco's jawline with her nose.
”I don't know... I kind of like what where doing in here.”
”Me too, but when was the last time you ate something?”
“As long as I can feast on your lips, I'm happy.” Draco grinned and proceeded to prove his words with a hungry kiss.
She went along for a while, but then broke the kiss with half-hearted determination. The only thing separating their lips was her finger – at the moment, it was her best attempt to put some space between them.
“Seriously, I think we should go,” she repeated breathlessly. “This is getting out of hand.”
“Yeah, I think you're right,” he agreed and then let out a sigh against her finger. “If only you weren't so tempting...”
Hermione smiled, resisting the urge to tell him that she thought he was tempting, too. There was no need to boost his already over-large ego. She made to get up, but Draco grabbed her hand.
“Wait... Just give me a minute to calm down.”
She threw him a questioning glance. He quirked his brow and one side of his mouth curved upwards in amusement. As she grasped the meaning of the look on his face, her mouth formed an 'o' of understanding and she blushed. He needed to let his...thing calm down. It was a bit surprising to learn that she had that kind of effect on him, even though she remembered the the time she'd woken up next to him very clearly. And now he was, once again, having a hard time because of her. She couldn't help but grin.
“Go ahead, Granger, laugh at the poor man. But don't forget that you made this happen,” he reminded her pointedly.
“Sorry,” Hermione replied, giggling. “I didn't realise I was doing something so exciting.”
Draco rolled his eyes at her cheeky antics. If he didn't learn to control his body, he'd probably be hearing a lot of the same jokes in the near future. He needed to find a way to keep her quiet or steer her attention elsewhere, for he knew it wouldn't be easy to remain restrained with a girl like her.
She really was special – at the moment, the sight of her had captivated his attention so fully he wasn't sure he'd be able to tear his eyes away from her. She was smiling at him, and it looked like she was glowing with happiness. He had never seen anything so beautiful.
“They're going to know, you know,” he remarked softly. “About us.”
“What makes you think that?”
“You... The way you look,” he told her. “You're like an open book. A really pretty open book.”
”That's probably the weirdest compliment I've ever gotten, but thanks,” Hermione grinned. Then, more seriously, she continued. ”Do you mind if we keep it quiet, though, just for today? It's Harry's birthday, after all. It wouldn't be nice to grab everyone's attention.”
”I won't say a word,” Draco promised, ”but I'm telling you, they'll know.”
She shrugged. If it was so obvious, there was nothing she could do about it, but she didn't want to worry too much in case there was nothing to worry about. With that thought, she stood up and Draco followed suit. Apparently he was calm enough already. He took a deep breath and looked at her.
“I guess this is it, then.”
Hermione gave him a small, encouraging smile. As they left the room, she couldn't resist reaching out to him. He shook his head a bit, unable to comprehend how the girl could be so sweet. Hand in hand they made their way down the stairs and into the dining room, trying their best to remain inconspicuous.
She hadn't wanted to steal the show, but even with their discreet entrance, just one look at her told everyone that she was falling in love.
She looked absolutely radiant. Her eyes sparkled when she risked a glance at Draco, who was sporting a rather adoring expression, too. Only a blind man wouldn't have seen what was going on.
“Hermione!” Ginny squealed with enthusiasm, running from the other end of the room to hug her friend. "Took you guys long enough!”
“I told you they'd know,” Draco remarked and then grinned at Ginny. “Don't strangle my girlfriend, Weasley.”
“Oh right, sorry,” the redhead let go of Hermione. “I'm just so happy for you guys... I knew this would happen!”
“I suppose you did,” the brunette smiled and rolled her eyes slightly.
“Come and sit down,” Ginny led them to empty seats beside her.
Hermione and Draco sat down obediently and filled their plates with delicious food. It didn't really matter what they were eating, though – they only had eyes for each other. All throughout dinner they were smiling like idiots, unable to stop looking at one another. They didn't spare a thought to what kind of food they put into their mouths.
As the dinner drew to an end, the new couple started to receive wishes of luck. Mrs. Weasley gave Hermione a big hug and smiled warmly at Draco, congratulating them both. Harry nodded and smiled at Hermione after catching her eye, as did Professor Dumbledore, eyes twinkling merrily. The Weasley twins informed the two that they had to leave, but promised to put Draco to a test when they came back.
The couple was so immersed in the company of their congratulators and each other that neither of them noticed Ron leaving the room, looking like he was about to be sick.
Finally, due to the late hour, people started exiting the dining room to get ready for bed. Hermione got up reluctantly. Separating from Draco was inevitable, and approaching fast, but she wasn't quite ready for it. As they ascended the stairs together, she felt an uncharacteristic pout begin to pull her face.
“Are you alright?” Draco asked her, worried as he noticed her expression.
“I don't want to go to sleep yet,” she huffed, feeling very childish, but she just couldn't help it.
“Then don't,” he offered simply with an amused smile. When she didn't respond, the look on his face turned to one of nervousness and pleading. “Stay with me, will you?”
“What?” Hermione's head whipped up in surprise.
“Stay with me,” he repeated. “In my room. For the night.”
She looked up at him, not fully understanding what he meant at first. As the request registered in her head, a wide smile spread on her face. If there was any chance of staying with him, she would take it.
“Yes, of course I'll stay,” she rejoiced. “Let me just get my things and brush my teeth!”
She gave him a small peck on the cheek and skipped to her room. She changed into her pyjamas – the ones that covered the most – and grabbed her bag of toiletries as fast as she could. In the bathroom she tried to be fast but thorough, but kept dropping things in her excited rush. There was no hurry, really, because she knew he'd be waiting for her. Still, she just couldn't get back to him fast enough.
Flinging the bathroom door open once she was finished, Hermione ran straight into Ginny on her way to return her things to her room.
”Whoa! What's the rush?” the redhead exclaimed, rubbing her now sore arm with a frown on her face.
“Oh gosh, I'm sorry! I didn't see you there,” the brunette apologised breathlessly. ”I'm just...kind of...in a hurry.”
A knowing smile spread on Ginny's face. ”Oh, I see. You’ve got a nightly rendezvous with someone special?”
The sly tone of her voice made Hermione blush guiltily. “Uh... I'm actually staying with Draco for the night.”
“Already?!” the redhead's eyebrows shot up in surprise. ‘That was fast! I hope you're being safe?”
“Ginny!” she hissed, her blush deepening. “We're not going to do anything!”
“Of course not,” the girl rolled her eyes, clearly disbelieving. “In any case, good luck and tell me all about it in the morning!”
Hermione huffed indignantly as her friend disappeared into the bathroom. How dare she insinuate that she would do that after only a couple of hours of dating! It was out of the question. She had to calm herself down in her room for a minute before facing Draco again, for she didn't want to think too much and ruin her good mood.
As she stepped back into Draco's room and saw him waiting for her, all negative thoughts left her. A smile spread over her face for the umpteenth time that evening – how could anything be wrong when she was with him?
As she appraised the young man who stood in front of her in his pyjama bottoms and a t-shirt, a devilish grin formed on said young man's face.
“Thank heavens for the Cooling Charm,” he waggled his eyebrows as he eyed her from head to toe. ”'Cause it just got smoking hot in here.”
Hermione rolled her eyes, but couldn't help laughing at his cheesy line. “Do you have a book with the worst pick-up lines or something? How do you come up with those?”
“I figure it doesn't matter what I say, since I've already picked you up.” Draco shrugged and grinned.
“Ah, yes. You do have a point,” she admitted with an exaggerated sigh and moved to snuggle against him. ”But don't push your luck too much.”
”I won't,” he murmured and wrapped his arms around her. He breathed in the scent of her hair and then resumed talking. “So why did you agree to stay with me so quickly?”
“I didn't want to be away from you,” she confessed. “But don't let that get to your head.”
It was too late, though. Draco was already looking very smug. Hermione looked up at him, shook her head and disentangled herself from his embrace. She stepped towards the bed, but stopped short a moment later. Hadn't it been...smaller? And where had the extra pillow and blanket come from?
The blond noticed her hesitation as she surveyed the bed.
“I wouldn't want my girlfriend to sleep uncomfortably,” he explained and coughed uneasily.
She turned her head and looked at him, standing there with his hands in his pockets and looking at his feet. She turned away quickly to hide her smile. He was so cute, trying to act the bad boy even though it was quite evident that he had a soft spot for his girlfriend. She felt a bit light-headed at the thought of her new ‘status’.
“Well, let's see how well I'm going to sleep in this,” Hermione commented lightly and dug under the covers.
A few moments later, she and Draco were both in the bed, cozily wrapped in their blankets. The brunette blew a lock of curly hair out of her face. She couldn't think of anything to say, and the silence was starting to drag on. It wasn't a comfortable kind of silence, either – it was one of those awkward ones that needed to be broken.
“I don't feel that sleepy yet,” she blurted out the first thing that came to mind and regretted it the moment she heard Draco's answer.
His voice was silky and low and it made her head spin. She should have thought twice about the whole sleepover thing before agreeing to it... How was she supposed sleep with him next to her? She’d just told him that she wasn't sleepy, and now she'd have to try and think up a good conversation. Listening to his alluring voice would not be an easy task, not to mention having to come up with a smart reply.
Draco turned to lie on his side, facing her. Hermione instinctively mimicked his actions and felt her brain turn to mush as she looked at him lying there, looking very relaxed.
“So... What would you like to do?” he asked in that same, silky tone. She wasn't sure if he was trying to sound seductive, but boy, he did.
Out of nowhere, a very strong urge to touch him overtook her. Her eyes were drawn to where a patch of his white skin was showing just above the waistline of his pyjama pants. Her hand was practically itching to slip under his shirt and trace the patterns of his muscles until she knew them by heart. Before she could stop herself, she followed her craving.
Draco's sharp intake of breath at the touch of her hand caused her to look up in wonder. His whole body had tensed and he had squeezed his eyes shut. At that moment Hermione understood that his cool demeanor was just an act, for he was every bit as nervous as she was. The feel of her hand on his lower stomach – dangeriously low, she now realised – had made his body react involuntarily. The shallow breathing told her he was anticipating something to happen.
Her eyes widened dramatically as she figured out what that something was. He thought her actions were an answer to his question about what she wanted to do! She quickly withdrew her greedy hand from under his shirt, wrapped her arms around Draco and hugged him. She wasn't ready for things to get ouf of control, and judging by the relief emanating from him as he relaxed and hugged her back, neither was he.
“For a moment I thought you were going to jump me,” he chuckled. He'd clearly gone back to cheeky in a matter of seconds.
“Sorry, I wasn't thinking,” Hermione confessed, blushing.
“That's alright, baby. I know I'm irresistible.”
“Draco!” she smacked him lightly on the shoulder. “That's hardly fair. I only lost control for one moment, don't tell me you've never done that.”
“Sure I have, but I've been on my best behavior with you, darling. Wouldn't want to scare you away... I don't know how much you like animals,” he grinned lecherously.
“A-animals?” Hermione stuttered nervously.
“That's right, baby... Wild animals.”
She gulped audibly. She wasn't quite sure what she thought about the turn their conversation had taken. The tone of his voice was once again making her heart beat faster, and she suddenly felt like a prey being stalked by a predator. And what a dangerous predator it was... If he were to attack, she didn't know if she could resist him. If he wished to sink his teeth into her, maybe she’d just let him.
“A little scared, my little Gryffindor?” Draco laughed softly. “Don't worry, baby, I would never do anything you didn't want to do. You know that, right?”
He lifted Hermione's chin with his finger to look into her eyes, and she believed him. The only problem was that if he had any suggestions in the near future, however raunchy they may be, she might very well say yes.
But as much as she wanted to cave in and let her desires lead the way, she knew she shouldn't. Yes, she wanted to be with him, but she had never been easy and she wasn't about to give up on her values now. She would know when the time was right...and then he could do whatever he pleased with her.
* * *
The next days were the happiest in a long time for both of them. They were kissing and cuddling at every chance they got. Not in the presence of others, though – in order to be polite, they had to leave whatever company they were in several times a day to get a refill on each other. Breakfast was usually eaten rather quickly, for example. It didn't seem to matter that they'd just spent the entire night under the same covers.
In the daytime they sometimes played games with Harry and Ginny, but the two soon learned not to pick anything that lasted for more than 30 minutes. That was about how long it took the new couple to suddenly remember they had to attend to something immediately. That something was a pleasant session of snogging in the nearest cupboard or empty room, naturally.
In the evenings they talked about their lives and tested their self-control. They were both very careful not to cross any unspoken limits. The touches were light and gentle, and stayed away from forbidden areas. While they were definitely getting to know each other, they didn't want to be too thorough.
After following their routine for a few days, Hermione felt confident about their abilities to restrain themselves, and gave herself permission to slip a bit. She was nestled comfortably against Draco, who was lying on his back and had his arm draped around her. She made sure to give him a warning look before tentatively slipping her hand under his shirt. It wasn't something she'd thought about that much, but she was the kind of girl who liked to finish what she'd started. And she hadn't been able to get acquainted with her boyfriend's abs the first time she'd tried.
The blond watched her work her way up and down his stomach with a smile on his lips. Her meticulous inspection of his body could have been considered neurotic, but he thought it was endearing. It was fascinating to see how eager she was to learn new things – if it happened to be his body she wanted to study, who was he to stop her?
“You're freaking amazing, Granger, you know that?”
Hermione looked up in surprise at the sound of his voice. She had completely lost herself in memorizing the shapes she'd found, and it took her a moment to register his words.
“Oh yeah? Why didn't you tell me you like me earlier, then?”
“I guess I wasn't brave enough,” Draco admitted. “That day when I was gone for a while, I, uh – I was hiding in a cupboard under the stairs, thinking I should just stay away from you so you could forget that I exist.”
“Oh my,” Hermione giggled. ”You stayed in...a cupboard? Thinking about sacrificing your own happiness for me? I never realised you were such a Gryffindor!”
“What?” he flinched. “Gryffindor? Me? I don't think so!”
“I'm sure it's hard to believe,” she soothed him. “I just happen to know someone who's also spent some time in a cupboard, and put himself on the line to help others more times than I can count. And he's the epitome of Gryffindor.”
“Who, Potter?” Draco scoffed and rolled his eyes. The pointed look he got from Hermione changed his tone. “What? Really?”
“It wasn't his choice, but yes, he actually lived in a cupboard for ten years. And don't you dare tease him about that.”
“I wasn't going to,” he rolled his eyes again, “much...”
The brunette shook her head. “My point was that you're a lot more Gryffindor than you think.”
“It's probably contagious,” Draco shrugged. “I think I've been spending too much time with you and your gang of Gryffindorks.”
Hermione finally removed her hand from under his shirt to smack him lightly. “I could leave if you think I'm such a bad influence.”
“Nah, that's alright... I think I can put up with you for a while longer.” He grinned and grabbed her into a bear hug. “Now stop talking and let's see if you can give me some Gryffie bugs through the mouth...”
A/N: So that was Chapter Thirteen! How did you like it? Hope it wasn't too fluffy. Anyone care to take a wild guess about what might possibly happen in the next chapter? ;)
If anyone's been worrying about me not finishing this story, don't worry. It might take me some time, but I WILL finish this. Starting from September I'll probably be pretty busy for some years, because... I'm finally going to university!! :))) I'm really really happy about that so I hope that you'll support me even if it takes me longer to update.
Anyways, I'd love to hear what you thought of this chapter, so please leave a review if you have a few extra minutes! :)