The characters and canon situations in the following story belong solely to JK Rowling, Scholastic, and WB. I am not making any money from the publishing or writing of this story.
Beta credit: bunnyhops was the first beta for this story. CK now cracks the whip.
Hermione floated on a cloud all afternoon, hardly hearing a thing in the rest of her classes. Every time she thought about the study date after dinner, she smiled to herself, and everyone around her noticed her happy mood. In between classes, she stopped in the loo and adjusted the sleeves of her robe with a Glamour charm. No one had noticed the mark on her hand yet, and she wanted to keep it that way. At least for now.
“What’s got into you, ‘Mione?” Asked Ron when they met in passing in the courtyard. She was on her way to Advanced Charms, and he to a newly added level of Care of Magical Creatures. Honestly, he’s never been much of a student, but couldn’t he try just a bit harder? She felt guilty for having thought it immediately then wrapped both hands even more tightly in the long sleeves of her robes. She looked about for Harry, who had been walking a few steps in front of her.
“What do you mean, Weasley?” She had been skirting the formal address thing with Ron since the rules had been enacted. She usually tried for a sarcastic or jovial tone of voice, in the hopes that he’d think she was clowning about. It didn’t seem like he’d even noticed, fortunately. Idiot.
“You’ve got a ridiculous smile plastered on your face – what, did you score extra homework in one of your advanced classes?” He laughed at his own joke.
“Something like that. Got to go.” She hurried on her way, left hand buried in her schoolbag.
“You should really wear robes that’re actually your size,” he hollered at her retreating form, “you look ridiculous in those!”
His words hit her, making her slow her gait, but after a moment she brushed it off and kept walking. He was just being stupid . . .
The afternoon flew by, and dinner was blessedly unremarkable. She avoided Draco’s gaze for the most part, not wanting to share her happiness with Ron. Ron was sitting across from her with his back to the Slytherin table in his usual spot, and he was stuffing his face happily. Hermione kept her eyes on her plate until the students were dismissed, at which point, she grabbed Harry’s hand and dragged him from the Great Hall. She heard Ron grumbling something about how close she and Harry had become, and ignored it. No time. No time! I need to brush my teeth – oh, and my hair! Can’t forget to bring along that parchment of Arithmancy notes I have on my desk, too . . .
True to his word, Harry escorted Hermione to the library not long after. Ginny and Luna had promised him that that they would catch up soon. The two friends found a table in a quiet nook and set out their paper and books. Hermione found herself glancing repeatedly towards the opening to their area until Harry called her out on it.
“He’ll be here, ‘Mione. He’s either brushing his teeth or rubbing one out in the shower-”
“Harry James Potter, stop now. Keep your big mouth shut, or I will shut it for you.” She glared at him fiercely, and he tried unsuccessfully to smother his grin.
At that moment, Draco found them. She couldn’t help but notice his pale blond hair hung damp around his face, and Harry’s words replayed in her head. She blushed. He could have taken a shower because that’s what he usually does after dinner. Not everyone’s as randy as the ‘war hero’.
Draco looked relaxed. He had a pleasant smile on his face as he dropped into the chair beside Hermione, and he plucked her sleeve playfully after setting his school bag on the table. Hermione watched out of the corner of her eye as he and Harry exchanged pleasantries. Harry quickly added a raised eyebrow and crude gesture at the end, and Draco flushed to the roots of his hair. She slid her eyes back to the paper in front of her. Or, Harry could be right. Does Draco think about me like that? Of course he must – he wants to marry me.
Hermione used all the willpower she possessed to switch her thoughts to a different track. Soon she was happily immersed in a complex arithmancy equation and unaware of everything around her. It wasn’t until a long time later that her surroundings slowly re-entered her consciousness. Draco was working at her side, and Harry and his girls were actually each in a separate chair studying. She pushed her chair back and stood, and Draco looked up questioningly.
“I just need to find another source to cite for this essay, I’ll be right back,” she whispered to him.
“I need to stretch my legs, I’ll help if you like,” he countered. Harry caught her attention, smirking and wiggling his eyebrows.
‘Knock it off,’ she mouthed at him. Still, her stomach fluttered. Without needing to communicate, the two walked off in the direction of the books needed. Hermione thought how nice it was that Draco knew the library as well as she, and that she would be spending her life with someone so well paired to her. Bespoke. The term suddenly had a bit of context.
They found the arithmancy section and set to work, only speaking to point out a possible text or author. Finally, Hermione found exactly what she had been looking for. She turned to leave, but Draco took her hand in his and held her back. She turned, questioningly.
“What’s the rush, Miss Granger?” He asked her with a serious face.
“Ummm . . .” Oh. He wants to spend time with me without the others. Alone. “Is . . . is this okay? I don’t want to break a rule . . .”
“Actually,” he was pulling her into the corner of the alchemy section, “we have a chaperone, and he is technically in the same room as us. As long as I follow the rules set for me, we’ll be fine.”
He hadn’t dropped her hand, and Hermione gave his a gentle squeeze. Then her curiosity flared up. “Will you tell me your rules? You said you have more than I do — why is that?”
Draco swallowed with difficulty and blushed, then said, “That’s because they’re quite specific. I’d rather not . . . please don’t . . .”
Hermione felt terrible immediately. “Oh, I’m so sorry if I’ve made you uncomfortable! I understand too well how that feels. Let’s talk about something else. The silver comb you gave me today is beautiful. I’ll wear it tomorrow.”
That was enough to ease the awkwardness. They must have talked for half an hour, all the while standing close and leaning into each other’s space. Draco’s thumb was rubbing circles into the back of her hand, and Hermione was having a hard time concentrating on anything else at the moment. They were still drifting together slowly, and now Draco’s forehead was touching hers. Their heights were different enough that as he had leaned in, she had arched her back to accommodate him. Her free hand took hold of his shoulder for support, and he wrapped an arm around her. The result was that Hermione’s torso was nearly flush with Draco’s, and the hands they still held were crushed to Hermione’s chest.
His eyes were closed, and he seemed to be breathing her in. He whispered, “Do you like to dance?”
“Yes, but I’m not very good at it.”
“Will you dance with me at our wedding?”
The way he said our wedding sent a tiny, pleasant chill through her body, and she shivered slightly as she whispered again, “Yes.”
“I remember how you danced at the Yule Ball. And at the Slytherin party. It will be nice to finally be the one dancing with you.” His lips brushed against the edge of her mouth as he whispered to her.
I think I want you to kiss me. Please kiss me. She whispered back, and it gave the illusion that they were kissing each other. “I’d like that, too.”
He drew his forehead from hers and looked into her eyes. “I’d like to kiss you.”
She tipped her chin a little higher in the air, encouraging him. “Yes, please,” she echoed his words from earlier that day.
Just as their lips met, though, Harry interrupted. They stepped apart quickly and looked anywhere but at their intruding chaperone. “Sorry, you two, but Madame Pince is kicking me and the girls out. I explained about you, and she’s giving us half an hour for your sake. We might have gone a bit too far . . .”
Hermione snorted indelicately. “A bit too far? May have? Oh, Haaarrry . . .” Her frustration leaked into her tone.
Draco tried to help the situation. “It’s probably best; you still haven’t finished your arithmancy essay.”
There had been very few times in her life when Hermione had considered saying to hell with it when in came to schoolwork. Up until now, they had all been related to divination and Sybil Trelawney. Right now she was sure that given a choice between finishing her paper and kissing Draco Malfoy, she would say to hell with the paper. And it was for arithmancy, her favorite subject! That’s only because he’s such a good kisser. And says such romantic things. And- She shook herself out of the reverie.
“All right. We’d better get back to our seats.”
The rest of the half-hour, she remained focused on her essay. She was, however, aware of each and every time Draco’s arm brushed hers on the tabletop.
That night she dreamed that she sat on Lucius’ knee while Draco kissed her.