He can't leave the room. Her room. And it's all the Order's fault. Confined to a small space with only the Mudblood for company, something's going to give. Maybe his sanity. Maybe not. "There," she spat. "Now your Blood's filthy too!" DM/HG. PostHBP.


18. Gifts

Hermione felt the mattress shift beneath her, and she stifled the groan that tickled her tonsils as Draco closed the door behind him.

The cold always seemed to replace him in her bed when he left her alone, feigning sleep and feeling disappointed, but this was how it had been for the last few days, and she knew better than to mention it to him. He had made it clear that he wasn't willing to broach the subject of their bizarre relationship, and they had fallen into an pseudo-routine since Monday.

The mornings would always begin like this one; Draco abandoning her between their tell-tale sheets and silently sneaking back into his own room. She would then prepare him some food for the day, before heading to the library or to McGonagall's office to continue the time-consuming mission to get everyone home safe. Evenings provided them with burning expectations and awkward glances, that she personally hated. She knew it was simply a side-effect as they adjusted to their situation, but they were both fiery characters, and she missed their witty arguments and heated debates.

She had a feeling they would be at each other's throats sooner or later; probably once her insecurities and nerves had faded a little, and Draco had accepted that he was attracted to a Muggle-born.

When the evening turned into night, she would slip away into her bedroom and leave her door unlocked so that he could join her. There had been a couple of nights when his pride had apparently smothered his interest in her, and he had returned to his own room. That was okay, for she felt her muscles needed some time to recover, but she found herself wanting him just to sleep with her and chase away the lonely nights.

But he never did.

He would come into her room; kiss her like a fate-fearing man, strip them bare and satisfy them both, always insistent to make sure she was sated, even though it had seemed to take hours sometimes. She knew from Lavender's and Padma's chats about sex that it was difficult for women to consistently find that blissful release, but Draco determinedly worked on her receptive points until she trembled and moaned, and left them both exhausted.

But he never held her in the aftermath.

He never offered any whisper of affection once they were finished.

He never stayed for more than a few hours.

She would hear him leave and her heart would ache for a moment, before she reasoned with herself that it was he was still battling his prejudices.

And then the routine would start again.



It was the last Saturday before Christmas, and she had agreed to meet Ginny for a trip to Hogsmeade to get any last-minute gifts. Ginny would be going back to the Burrow on Sunday, and while Hermione acknowledged that her friendship with the Weasley sister had been a little strained this term, she would still miss her.

"I have a surprise for you," Ginny grinned as they headed into the village. "And I reckon it might actually put a smile on your face."

Hermione arched an eyebrow. "I'm intrigued."

The pretty redhead reached into her bag and removed two presents; one fist-sized in clumsy, red wrapping, and the other a slightly larger box with gold wrapping. Hermione's confused eyes flickered between the two gifts before giving Ginny an expectant look.

"Are these for me?"

"Certainly are," the younger witch nodded. "They're from Harry and Ron."

Hermione felt her mouth fall open. "What? How-

"They sent them to Mum back in October," Ginny explained, pushing the presents into her friend's hands. "She wanted to surprise you because she knows how much you're missing them."

"I can't believe they thought about it so early," she mumbled to herself, stroking her fingertips over the precious packages. "Thank you."

"It's no worry," Ginny said. "The red one's-

"From Ron," Hermione finished with a knowing twitch of her lips. "He never could wrap to save his life. He used to make Harry and I wrap the presents he'd bought for you and your family."

"Lazy bugger," she rolled her eyes. "I'm dying to know what he got you though; send me an Owl after you open it. Mum said that my present from him was obvious."

"You got presents from them too?"

"They're waiting for me at home," she said. "I can safely guess that Ron got me another scarf, but I'm hoping Harry was a bit more inventive."

A thoughtful expression crossed Hermione's features. "Is there no way we can send them anything?"

"No," Ginny frowned, helping Hermione tuck the gifts into her bag. "Mum asked Remus, but we don't even know where they are, and Hedwig never waits around to give her anything."

"It would have been nice to give them something-

"Don't," Ginny warned in a low tone. "These were supposed to cheer you up, not make you all mopey-

"Sorry," Hermione winced. "Thank you for the surprise, Gin."

"Nice to see you smile," she commented as they wandered into the village. "Right, you're going to have to help me pick something for Fred and George."

The pair of witches had spent an hour browsing for their final bits and bobs when Hermione left Ginny to barter over a Charmed wristwatch for her Dad. The brunette aimlessly strolled along the snow-sprinkled path and admired the striking window-displays; wonderfully decorated with Christmas trimmings and magical trinkets that roused an inkling of festive excitement in her heart.

She hesitated at one particular window, humming in thought as a wonderful idea invaded her head and encouraged to slip inside the shop. She headed directly over to the item that had caught her eye and thought of Draco; her mind already made up that she would need to have a word with McGonagall once she returned to Hogwarts, and that the item was perfect.

"Can I help you?" the clerk interrupted her musings.

"Yes," Hermione nodded. "Can I have this, please?"



The Headmistress eyed her companion sceptically. "Miss Granger-

"I know this is a lot to ask," Hermione hushed the older witch. "But it's Christmas, and I think he needs it."

"I'm not sure I can-

"Just for an hour," she pushed tenaciously. "Please, Professor. There's nobody here anyway, and I promise that he won't try anything. I think he knows now that we are trying to help him."

"You can't be certain of that, Hermione," McGonagall replied in that wise tone of hers. "What if he-

"He has no wand," she argued. "He has no where to go, and he is…better now-


"Look," she blurted, the desperation loud in her voice. "I will make sure that nothing goes wrong; I promise. You know I am capable."

McGonagall tilted her head and regarded her student with warming eyes. "Why are you doing him this favour?"

Hermione schooled her features to appear indifferent. "I just think he needs a break," she offered evenly. "And as I said; it's Christmas. You know, time of forgiveness."

The Headmistress seemed to toss that statement around in her head a couple of times before she released a long and yielding breath. "Very well."

"Really?" Hermione blinked with surprise. "It's okay?"

"I will probably regret this," McGonagall sighed, massaging her temple. "But yes, I will make arrangements so it's possible-

"Oh, thank you so much, Professor-

"But you will take sole responsibility should anything happen," she warned strictly. "You must ensure that Mr Malfoy doesn't try anything foolhardy-

"Of course-

"And this is a one-off," she continued, rising from her seat. "Make sure he knows that-

"I will," Hermione nodded eagerly, jumping up and nearing her mentor to embrace her in a grateful hug. "Thank you, Professor."

Minerva shifted awkwardly, but placed a comforting hand on her student's back and surrendered to a small smile. "Merry Christmas, Hermione."



Draco swore under his breath; tossing his third attempt in the sink and watching in swirl down the drain.

He'd had a craving for a coffee, but trying to imitate Granger's perfect cups of caffeinated goodness had proved unsuccessful and very frustrating. He had witnessed the witch make them countless times and had reasoned that it seemed simple enough, but evidently there was something missing, as he couldn't even get the colour correct. He was about to try again when she finally walked through the door two hours later than she normally did; her cheeks rosy with a winter blush, and her hair tousled by the wind.

She dropped her apparently heavy bags near the couch, and his stare lingered on her face, as it often seemed to do when she was oblivious to his presence. It was one of his many new and irritating habits that had decided to kick in since their lusty nights in her room had begun, but there was little point in resisting when he had already succumbed to his inappropriate desire to touch her. She must have heard the kettle starting its fourth boil because her eyes shifted over to him, and he scowled at her when she gave one of her bags a non-too-sly nudge behind the sofa.

"There's something wrong with this fucking kettle," he told her, pointing at the offending object.

"What do you mean?"

"I have tried, and it just doesn't taste like coffee," he explained, and the connotation that it actually didn't taste like the coffee she made hovered between them. "I flicked the switch and did all the stuff that you do-

"Did you add milk?" she asked, moving towards him.

"Of course."

"And two sugars?"


"Well, did you actually put the coffee in?" she questioned, smothering a grin when he simply tweaked an eyebrow at her. "It's in the blue tin in the top cupboard-

"This is ridiculous," he growled. "I shouldn't have to be degraded to doing such simple tasks the Muggle way."

He was in the mood to rile her up today; since they had begun killing nights together in forbidden bliss, she had become somewhat reserved and uncertain around him, and he hated it. If he had to select one reason he respected Granger, it would be her volatile temper, not unlike his own. When minutes passed like hours in this prison, her passionate opinions and skill to beat him down with witty words made the days…bearable, and something about the flicker of flames in her eyes when she was mid-rant made his groin jerk.

Combine that with his genuine agitation at being stuck in this dorm all day, and that she had apparently bought him something after he had specifically told her not to, and the scolding words simply tumbled out of his mouth.

"It's not degrading," she countered quickly, giving him a stern look that perked his interest. "This is how people do things without magic-

"Well it's a pain in my fucking neck!" he spat. "And just what the hell were you hiding behind the couch?"


"I told you I didn't want anything! I swear, Granger, you just insist on making this more difficult-

"I'm making this difficult?" she repeated angrily. "Godric, you are such a selfish prick-

"I said I didn't want anything from you-

"Well tough luck!" Hermione shouted, squaring her shoulders and shooting him a defiant glare. "It's Christmas! Things are crap enough without you being a miserable-

"I don't-

"I am not finished!" she scolded. "Bloody hell, Draco! Why have you got to question everything-

"Because I am not exactly in a position where I can give you anything back!" he yelled, raking his tense fingers through his icy hair. "I don't want to have a list of debts to you-

"I don't want anything back," she said slowly. "I never expected-

"Then why bother?"

"Because it's Christmas," she sighed, her eyes forlorn. "Just trust me on this-

"I have no reason to trust you," Draco interjected, noting the disappointment flash in her hazels. "You have no reason to give me anything-

"It's just…it's something nice to do-

"Fucking nice," he grumbled coldly, curling his lip as though the word scorched his tongue. "You Gryffindors are so pathetic-

"I am not pathetic," she ground out between her teeth. "Don't you dare-

"Well, don't talk such bollocks-

"You know, it's okay to trust people and be nice!" she argued with rising impatience. "It's okay to care about other people-


"It's okay to NOT turn into your father!" Hermione ranted, regretting her words a little when a dangerous expression stole his features.

"I warned you," he hissed lowly. "Never to mention my father-


"You think spreading your legs for me gives you the fucking right to bring up my family?" he sneered, bringing his face close to hers. "I'm telling you right now-

"I just want you to realise that trusting people does not make you pathetic!" she protested, moving close enough that his hot breath tingled her forehead. "It doesn't make you weak or…or inferior-

"What do you want from me, Granger?" he asked with an exasperated look. "You want me to trust you?"

"It would be a start-

"For fuck's sake," he muttered under his breath. "This argument is completely irrelevant. You don't trust me."

Hermione released a weary breath and raised her fingertips to brush against his jaw. "I'd like to," she told him quietly, relieved when the muscles in his face relaxed under her touch, but she was completely baffled when his lips twitched into a demi-smirk.

"I've been wondering when you would get all bitchy again," he remarked, pulling his chin away from her soothing ministrations, as his features quickly turned sour again. "Look, Granger, I was under the impression that we had…agreed to just ignore Christmas-

"Well, I changed my mind," she said defiantly. "I want Christmas to feel like…like Christmas, and I refuse to let you bugger this up! We will-

"I don't see the point to all this!" he fired back, feeling his insides clench as he watched her temper flare. "It's just a day-

"That's enough!" she shouted, slicing her hand through the air for finality. "We are done here-

Draco leaned in and captured her mouth with a swift and heated kiss; grabbing her face roughly and manoeuvring them towards the couch with stumbling urgency. When the backs of her thighs smacked against the armrest, they separated their lips, and he watched the embers dance in her half-lidded eyes for a moment as her surprised, little breaths licked at his skin. Privately scolding himself for getting too carried away, he put distance between them and fixed her with an indifferent mask.

"Fine, Granger," he mumbled. "Do what you want-

"I just want a normal Christmas," she whispered sadly, resting her hands against his chest and rubbing absent patters across his collarbone. "And I…I would like you to take part in it."

Draco frowned and closed his eyes. "Why?"

"Because I think you need it as much as I do."



In the week leading up to Christmas, the days and nights all seemed to seep into each other, and the dawns and dusks became interchangeable figments of the winter skies. Hogwarts drowned in the silent solitude of it all, playing host to the dozen inhabitants that had remained in the ancient castle. The snow had fallen harder, and Hermione had wandered the glittering grounds by herself in the empty hours, trying to find Luna, who had apparently stayed at the school, but was nowhere to be found.

Hermione was roused awake by Draco's usual attempts to leave the room before the sunrays warmed her face, and it was only an hour later, when she glimpsed her scribbled and crooked calendar, that she realised it was Christmas day.

She allowed herself a personal smile before she left her bed and shrugged on her dressing gown, heading straight to the sitting area. She gave Draco's door a contemplative glance but decided against disturbing him just yet; she had no specific plans for him until much later. Things had been reasonably easy between them in the recent days; their argumentative natures had come back into play and some of the awkwardness had melted away as a result, although Draco was still adamantly refusing to acknowledge anything close to a festive spirit.

They bickered and rowed, as they had before, but he had refrained from using the word 'Mudblood,' and the passion of their squabbles usually led to an interesting hip-lock in her bed of dangerous secrets. She had tried to rationalise her growing feelings for Draco, but reason seemed to abandon her whenever he was concerned.

She moved to the Christmas tree and eyed the small selection of gifts; the ones from Harry and Ron, three from Ginny, McGonagall and Neville, and a bulky envelope - no doubt filled with money - from her parents. From the Headmistress she received an advanced book on Transfiguration (which she couldn't wait to dive into), a selection of wonderful and exotic fragrances from Ginny, and a box of delicious chocolates from Neville.

Harry had sent her a photograph of the three of them; a stunning picture that had been taken last Christmas, with them surrounded by snow and looking completely immune to the cold spin of the world. Set in a charmed frame, with ivy and holly that sparkled and moved, she adored it, and reminded herself to place it right next to her bed.

She moved on to Ron's, peeling away the hastily-wrapped paper and eyeing the jewellery box with trepidation snaking up her spine. The locket was beautiful; heart-shaped silver and flecked with yellow gem-stones that winked by the light. It was striking and feminine and…just not her. She studied it with guilt rising in her throat, when the familiar voice made her start.

"It's from Weasley, isn't it?" Draco questioned bitterly. "I had assumed that you two were just friends-

"We are just friends," she cut in quickly, rising to her feet.

His jealous eyes shifted to the offending object. "That necklace says otherwise-

"People give gifts at Christmas-

"So do lovers-


"Look, Granger," he growled, taking a step towards her. "I don't share-

"This is ridiculous," she scoffed, shouldering him out of the way and moving towards the other side of the room. "I'm not listening to this-

"Where are you going?"

"For a shower!" she snapped over her shoulder, slamming the door behind her with a shrill smack.

Draco snarled into the empty room and clenched his fists until his palms burned and bled. What did she expect from him? He was hardly accustomed to their complex and unorthodox circumstances, and he was struggling to absorb it all; he had been so certain that his interest in her would simmer after a couple of rounds on the mattress, but almost every night, he returned to her bed.

Her lack of experience was so oddly charming, and now she had finally reverted back to feisty ways, he just couldn't help himself. She was his first sexual partner with whom he just seemed to…click. Something about their biology or…Merlin knew what, just worked, and it wasn't just the sex. Her kisses, her touch…her very presence made him react and shiver inside, and he had no clue what that meant.

He heard the waterdrops pulse against the tiles and her flesh, and something possessive ignited in his gut. Weasley had barely been an issue in their isolated dorm; merely an outside entity that was easily forgotten in here, but now a part of the Ginger Tumour - that ugly sodding locket - was in the room, and subsequently in Granger's thoughts, and he despised that.

Call it that male instinct to claim what was his, or something more profound, but his feet carried him to the bathroom door. He discarded items of his clothing, tossing his bed-vest and pyjama bottoms to the side as he mused that another tryst with his witch under the shower was long overdue.

Just as he had before, he remained as quiet as possible, slipping in behind her and studying her with reluctant admiration. Opportunities to observe her unexpected beauty were rare and short-lived, as her insecurities always made her shield her body from his eyes. He inspected every inch of her; from her toffee-tinted curls, to the wave of her hips, and the tips of her toes, but he had yet to discover a single flaw. If it weren't for her blood, then…

"What are you doing, Draco?" she shattered his thoughts, turning her head to peek at him from under the water-gems tucked between her lashes.

"I also needed shower," he lied casually, pressing his chest against her back and rubbing the shadows of his fingers up her waist.

She made a half-hearted attempt to brush away his hands. "I am still angry at you-

"You are always angry at me-

"Have I ever given you the impression that I would just…you know…

"Fuck?" he provided with a slight shrug. "Shag-

"Have sex with," she corrected with a blush. "Do I honestly strike you as the kind of person who would have sex with just anyone? Or sleep with someone when I was in a relationship with someone else?"

He clicked his jaw. "No," he admitted tensely, attempting to dampen her chagrin with tactical strokes of his hands. "But you and the Weasel have a history-

"I have never quizzed you about your previous conquests-

"Pansy and Astoria," he supplied blankly. "But your…relationship with Weasley is different-

"That's enough," she sighed, slowly twisting to face him. "I am…I am sleeping with you, and that is it. I would never even consider having another lover, and I would hope that you would offer me the same level of respect, even if you weren't stuck in here."

He said nothing, but lifted his hand to move aside some of the sodden strands that clung to her forehead, and leaned down to place an almost chaste kiss on her lips. It was soft and firm; the kind he had never dared to give her before, and even though the first tastes of passion began to mingle between their mouths after a few moments, Hermione knew it was different, and she felt her insides warm.

Draco could still feel that possessive whisper at the back of his skull; that need to mark her in a way that Weasley hadn't. He slowly dragged his kisses down the column of her throat, and received a dulcet sigh as he dipped to her chest. When he dropped to his knees and concentrated his hard pecks against her stomach, he felt her tense, and his instincts that she had never had this done to her before were confirmed.

"Draco," she mumbled in a shaky voice. "I've never-

"It's alright," he soothed in the steadiest voice he could manage. "You will like this, Granger-

"But I-

"Trust me, Hermione," he said purposefully, locking their eyes for a lingering moment. "I will not hurt you."

She predictably chewed her lip for some uncertain seconds, before she gave him a nervous nod of assent, and leaned her back against the tiled wall in a futile effort to relax. He carefully trailed his fingertips up her legs with relaxing attentions, before he gently gave her knees a slight nudge apart. His breath teased her sensitive spot, and Hermione choked on a whimper as new and wonderful sensations shimmered behind her navel.

"Consider this my gift," Draco mumbled, before he pressed his tongue against her and relished her moan.

It'll be better than that tacky fucking locket.



"I guess it's time," Hermione murmured.

"What for?"

"To give you your present."

Draco scowled, but had to fight the amused grin that threatened to betray him when she almost fell off the couch.

After their two-hour shower, they had moved to the sofa, tangled in a batch of conjured sheets, and the day had been spent with lazy conversations, debates and a turkey-sandwich dinner in between amorous intermissions. Night had stolen the skies before he'd even realised it, and a quick glance at the clock in the kitchenette told him it was almost quarter-to-eleven.

It had been far from the conventional Christmases with his family, but it had been…bloody decent actually, considering the circumstances. How could any self-respecting male complain after a day dedicated to sex on the sofa?

He studied her as she clutched one of the sheets close to her chest, awkwardly moving towards the lone gift under the tree, which was wrapped in green paper and tried with a gold bow. He reluctantly pulled himself into a sitting position as she placed the package in his lap and sat next to him with an expectant look on her face.

"I'd like to point out, again, that this is unnecessary," he grumbled, pulling away the ribbon.

"Just open it," she frowned, anxiously tapping her fingers against her ankle and checking the clock. "We don't have much time."

He tore away the wrapping and slowly removed the item inside, his brow creasing as he felt the soft fabric beneath his curious touch. It was a black coat, not unlike one he'd had a couple of years ago; simple and yet evidently expensive with its quality and design. He cocked a sceptical eyebrow and lifted his eyes with the intention of asking why she had chosen this, but she cut him off before he could even inhale.

"It's really only half of your present," she mumbled apprehensively. "I…I managed to convince McGonagall to let you out of this room."

His eyes widened. "I don't understand," he said quietly. "I can…I can go?"

"It's just for tonight," she told him quickly. "McGonagall has agreed to let you leave here so long as I am with you, but we can't leave the grounds and we only have between eleven and midnight, so it's like the whole Cinderella thing."

"The what?"

"Never mind," she shook her head. "Look, Draco, I need you to understand that this is a one-off hour for Christmas, and if you try to run away, I will have to stop you."

The silver-haired Slytherin could do little but nod absently as he considered the witch before him with complete bafflement. He remembered all his previous Christmases and Birthdays, and they were all stocked with materialistic objects and empty promises that had been so predictable and anti-climatic. Nobody had ever taken the time or effort to consider something this…thoughtful; not even his parents.

He could honestly say that the thought of attempting a runner never crossed his mind; he knew he had no place to go, and it wouldn't only take a flick of her wand to impede any escape attempt.

"I am…uncertain what to say," he confessed warily, fingering his new coat and quite surprised that she had managed to guess his tastes accurately.

"I expected as much," she nodded with a slight smile. "We should get ready," she suggested, gesturing to his coat. "Wrap up warm. It's freezing outside."



Hermione had led them down the quieter sections of the castle with a dim Lumos, but the halls were dead and abandoned, as McGonagall had assured her they would be. When they finally reached the door to the outside, Draco soaked up the view of the snow-silky landscape that glowed by the hue of the almost-full moon. Light and delicate snowflakes kissed his cheeks from scattered clouds that were dissected by moonbeams and a steady breeze.

The crispy crunch beneath his feet roused reminiscent notions that he would have never normally appreciated, as he absently followed Granger further away from the ancient school, realising she was leading them towards the lake as they meandered between leafless trees. The cold air whipped around them and harassed the exposed skin of their faces as they trudged through the snow-snared grass, oblivious to the pair of friendly eyes watching them. They walked side-by-side in silence as Draco sucked in the cold and virgin air greedily, and enjoyed it tickling the back of his throat.

"It's colder than I though it would be," Hermione commented next to him. "I'll cast a Warming Shield-

"Don't," he hushed her in a blank tone. "I had forgotten what the wind feels like."

She frowned at his comment and bobbed her head in understanding, keeping her Lumos low enough to guide their way and hopefully just be mistaken for a glimmer of snow, should anyone glance out of one of the castle's windows. They reached a small frozen inlet of water, and they paused underneath the fragile skeleton of a weeping willow to eye the reflections of stars freckled across the lake's icy surface.

"It's funny," Hermione muttered into the navy night. "I planned getting you here meticulously, but I never thought about what we could do once we were outside."

"Must you plan everything?" he questioned.

"Not everything. There are a couple of things that I've intended to do, but never gotten round to."

"Like what?"

She tilted her head and contemplated his question, her eyes landing on the frozen lake. "I always wanted to go ice skating."

"You've never been ice skating?" he repeated, giving her a look of slight surprise. "You seem like the type would enjoy that kind of thing."

"I think I would," she nodded. "Can you ice skate?"

"Of course."

Hermione swallowed back the lump in her throat and lifted her chin. "Would you teach me?"

"You're joking, right?" he scoffed, but the taunt melted in his mouth when he noted her pleading look. His pebble-grey eyes studied her intently, and his lip twitched before he rolled his eyes in surrender. "Fine," he said, heading towards the edge of the lake. "I suppose it could be amusing to watch you fall. What about all the creatures in the lake though?"

"They get put into a hibernation state when it freezes like this," she explained, following him, and reciting a quick transfiguration spell to turn their shoes into skates. "Draco, are you…

She trailed off as he took to the ice with an effortless grace and skill that made her chest flutter for a reason she couldn't comprehend. Feeling completely inadequate, she hesitantly placed one skate onto the ice and cringed at the odd and unbalanced feeling that stole her nerve.

"Draco," she called, bringing her foot back to the land. "I've changed my mind-

"Come on, Granger," he goaded, easily coasting across the frozen surface. "What happened to all that Gryffindor courage bollocks?"

"I don't like it," she told him. "I don't like not being in control and-

"This was your idea," he reminded her.

"Well, then can you help me?" she requested, gesturing that she wanted him to come back to her side. "Just…give me a hand or something-

"If you would just get on the ice-

"Please, Draco," she tried, catching his eyes to let him know she was serious.

"For Merlin's sake," he sighed, making his way over to her and stretching out his hand. "Come on then, Granger."

"Don't be a prick and push me or anything," the witch warned, taking his offered hand and bracing herself as she settled her skate on the lake again. She wobbled, and Draco instinctively provided his other hand for her balance as she hastily placed her other skate on the ice, feeling her nails through his multiple layers as she clung to him desperately. "I don't like this."

"I can see that," he smirked mockingly as she wavered on her unstable legs. "Get a grip, Granger. It's a piece of piss once you get going-

"Cocky prat-

"Just move your skates in diagonal lines," he instructed, slowly gliding backwards and pulling her with him. "You'll get the hang of it-

"I swear, Draco," she whispered, in a tone that was apparently meant to be threatening. "If you let go of my hands-

"I won't let go," he assured her absently, catching her as she stumbled. "Bloody hell, you really do have no coordination. Now I think of it, you were crap on a broom too."

"Merlin forbid I have a handicap," she replied, allowing him to essentially drag her across the ice. "Everyone has a weakness."

Draco faltered at that comment but managed to keep them both steady as he mulled over her words. In the back of his brain, he had half-expected that her influence over him would wither once he had escaped her isolated dorm, but watching her now; specks of snow trapped between the strands of her hair, a blossom-blush warming her features, and trusting him like it was the easiest thing in the world, she was just as alluring out here as she was in their room.

He'd expected to revert back to his old ways

To be swarmed by his previous opinions

To hate her again, as he should.


She had somehow become his weakness.

"I think I've got it now," Hermione said, her voice rich with concentration. "Let go of one of my hands-

"Forgive me," Draco blurted suddenly, halting them where they were and grasping her upper arms. His breathing became laboured as he watched the shock swirl in her Autumn-shaded eyes, and he resisted that ever-present urge to kiss her slightly parted lips as he waited for her response. "Forgive me," he repeated, quieter this time.

For everything I have ever done, and everything I will inevitably do to hurt you in the future.

Blame it on that sentimental rush that Christmas apparently inflicted on the unsuspecting, or the acceptance that his attraction to her existed beyond the walls of her dorm, or even that he wanted to repay her for reminding him how the wind felt, but he needed this one moment of clarity before they returned to the castle. She was the only aspect in his dark existence that was close to pure and good, and he wanted to savour her before he, or the realities of War, destroyed this dose of peace.

"I think I forgave you weeks ago," she told him with a sad smile, leaning up to snatch his lips and seal her promise. She felt tears slip past her lashes as she broke their kiss and rested her forehead against his, clenching her eyes shut to conceal the true level of her affection. "Merry Christmas, Draco."

Just a Perfect Day.

You made me forget myself.

I thought I was someone else.

Someone good.

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