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.


10. Taste

It was nothing.

Barely an anything.

But it was a beautiful nothing.

Just a small clash of breaths and closed eyes as Draco's upper lip fell between both of Hermione's, and his tongue ghosted across her lower lip. Just a little connection of flesh and taste that lasted all of two clicks of the clock's quickest hand, before reality and cruelty shattered it.

Wild, grey eyes snapped open, and Draco lunged away, ripping his face out of her hands like he'd been scolded; scrambling away from her with frantic movements. His chest was heaving with confusion and shock that burned his bones and pounded in his skull. He could hear her panting too, and his eyes went to the exposed skin of her stomach as that fucking lusty twitch by his groin hit him again.

Everything was slowly coming back to him; sights, sounds, just everything beyond her. He glanced down and scowled at the empty allergy shot in his grip, and he hadn't even realised he's tugged it out of her as he'd pulled back. He chucked it away with disgust, blaming it for dragging him into this situation. This vile and revolting situation.

How could he have allowed this to happen?

How could Grangerhave allowed this to happen?

And why the HELL wasn't she moving or talking?

All that sliced the silence between them was their volatile and bewildered breathing. He could still taste her in his mouth; his top lip damp by her barely-there suck. He hastily dragged the back of his arm against his mouth, repeating it several times until the friction started to burn.

With a final horrified look at Granger, who was still frozen on the floor, he pulled himself up and stumbled into his room, only leaving the shrill slam of his door for her to remember him by.

He would have happily sacrificed the entirety of the Malfoy fortune to put more than one wall between them, but it would have to do. At least he couldn't see her now, but his tongue and nose still buzzed with her essence and scent, and he didn't know if he wanted to melt in the bliss of it or block his nostrils and tear out his own tongue to be rid of her.

He was vibrating with anger and mortification; his face covered by his palms as stubborn flashes of her yielding lips and bare skin pulsed at the backs of his lids. A growl rumbled at the front of his throat and teased his tonsils as he tried to shove the images to the back of his brain, but they wouldn't shift; wouldn't leave him be. Merlin, he hated her. Hated himself. Hated every sodding detail of the events that had led to this humiliating and degrading incident.

Draco knew then that he'd gone mad. Funny though; he'd never felt more real.

And she'd tasted dangerously delicious.






Hermione flinched by the bang of the door and dragged in a shaky breath. She wanted to fade away into the floorboards, or beg McGonagall for a spin of the Time Turner to erase the incident from existence. The worst thing was she had no idea who had initiated their...thing; their demi-kiss.

Oh God...

She couldn't help but lick her lips and savour the leftovers of his taste; something close to citrus and masculinity, with a dash of peppermint. She could feel the warm remains of his palm-print against her abdomen, and she was certain she could still sense his weight leaning over her. Malfoy had returned to his healthier shape since she'd started cooking him meals, and he'd felt safe and sinful that close.

Since the night of Bill and Fleur's wedding, when her and Ron had lost their virtues to each other in a clumsy tumble, she hadn't enjoyed any male company that could be considered remotely suggestive. All that she could really remember of that night was sweat-clumsy gropes and an awkward goodbye as he and Harry had disappeared to start the Horcrux hunt, and she'd been left behind with one-third of her heart and too many questions.

And before Ron?

Some interesting kisses with Viktor, and some unfortunate lip-locks with Cormac. Great...

She knew she wasn't the most feminine girl in Hogwarts, and she would have to undergo a complete lobotomy before she was anything close to a confident and promiscuous tart, but she still had needs and desires. She adored that pleasing sensation of intimate proximity and, Godric curse her for it, Draco had felt like a dreamy quilt of blissful sedatives that had numbed her brain in a wonderful way. It had been instinctive and impulsive; a reminder that she still felt something other than despair.

But now...

Well, now she just felt like she'd betrayed everyone she held dear, including herself. For the supposed brightest witch of the age, she had just done the stupidest thing possible. She needed to get some air; needed to gather her thoughts, and it was probably best she head down to the infirmary to ensure her allergic reaction was completely medicated.

There was a gloss of sweat across her forehead and above her mouth as she carefully pulled herself up into a sitting position, moaning as her weak limbs protested. She was trembling, although it could have been from either her allergy attack or Draco's lips; she had no idea. Her fingers flew to her shirt and frantically refastened the buttons, finding them still warm from his touch.

Battling a shiver, she grabbed her wand and struggled to her door, thanking forgotten deities that her room wasn't too far from the Hospital Wing. Stumbling with difficulty along the lonely corridors, she weaved around the necessary corners and had the second shock of her afternoon when she found the infirmary bustling with activity. She froze in the doorway and her eyes danced across the busy room, her confused gaze immediately falling to her blonde friend, perched on one of the beds.

"Luna," she called, dodging two third years as she neared the Ravenclaw. "What's going on?"

"One of the Herbology hives collapsed," she replied in her usual bored tone. "A lot of people have been stung, although I think Dennis Creevey actually has a case of tychfil poisoning."

Hermione didn't even blink at the odd comment. "Is everyone okay?"

"I think so," Luna nodded, gesturing to the small rash on her forearm. "Madam Pomfrey's just finishing up with Laura Madley and I think I'm next."

"And how many are after you?"

"Those people over there," she mumbled, pointing to a crowd of no less than fifteen students. "I'm guessing the bees came into the castle because of the cold. Why are you here?"

"I was bitten."

And then I kissed...

"Aren't you allergic to bee stings, Hermione?" the other witch interrupted her thought.

"Yes, I was just-

"Your lips look a little different," the blonde commented calmly, and Gryffindor's princess felt her blood burn her cheeks. "And your eyes are a bit glazed."

She swallowed hard. "It's just-

"Oh, Miss Granger!" a new voice interrupted, and Hermione glanced up to find a rather flustered McGonagall approaching her. "There you are. Mr Longbottom said you would be in the library, the silly boy. Have you been bitten? Are you okay?"

"I-I think so," the brunette stuttered. "I mean...yes, I was stung, but I-

"Right," the headmistress interrupted, motioning for Hermione to follow her. "Come on, I'll double-check you now. Can't be too careful with your allergy."

"I'll come and find you after, Luna," she whispered to her friend as she trailed behind the older witch. "Professor, I need-

"Sit on the bed, Miss Granger," McGonagall bade, pulling the curtain to seclude them. "Now, where were you bitten?"

"Here," she replied, showing the other witch the swollen skin between her knuckles and wrist. "But I-

"And you managed to give yourself the allergy shot in time?"

"No, I-

"I'll have to get Poppy to-

"Professor," Hermione whispered sternly, keeping her voice as low as possible. "Draco gave me the shot."

The Headmistress' eyebrows rose high on her wrinkle-laced forehead, and Hermione heard her murmur a quick silencing charm before she turned back to her. "Mr Malfoy?" she clarified sceptically. "You are certain?

"Yes," she sighed, shifting her weight with discomfort. "He...he helped me."

The eyebrows went a little higher. "Well," McGonagall breathed. "I must say I'm rather surprised-

"Maybe this is a good sign," Hermione said with rushed but uncertain optimism. "Maybe I'm getting through to him-

"Miss Granger," she interrupted with a small frown. "I warned you not to get your hopes up concerning this...little project of yours-

"But I-

"It's possible that Mr Malfoy didn't want to be blamed for anything that happened to you," she continued with thick reason, and the younger witch's face scrunched up with doubt. "Nevertheless, at least you are well. Let me just check your hand."

Hermione absently did as requested; her thoughts stealing her away as McGonagall inspected the bite. She could remember little about her anaphylactic shock between the fluttering levels of consciousness and the panic that had throbbed in her head, so she had no idea how exactly Malfoy had found her or the specifics of him injecting her. All that battered her brain was him and what had happened afteerwards...

Godric. Godric. Godric...Have I really been that starved of company?

She would admit that her desire to alter and erase his prejudices had become somewhat of an obsession, but Dumbledore had seen something in Draco that was redeemable, and she saw it too now. Her loneliness didn't exactly help their predicament, and she had a feeling that it had contributed to her fascination with the small changes she'd noticed in him recently. Those changes were only minuscule but she was fixated on them; fixated on him.

She couldn't help it. She couldn't help that she'd started to kiss him back...

She'd allowed herself to get steered by a breathtaking situation, and it would never happen again. Ever. She was still determined to break his brainwashed mindset, but she needed to keep her brain in check and remember herself. Malfoy was still Malfoy, and she had to maintain a sensible distance with him, even if his lips had felt like... water-damp feathers...

She would have never guessed he would feel so soft.

Hermione blinked when she realised McGonagall's mouth was moving. "W-what?" she stuttered, giving her professor an apologetic look. "I'm sorry, I didn't quite hear you."

"I said that despite Mr Malfoy's questionable reasons for helping you," the Headmistress spoke, concentrating on the younger witch's wounded hand. "I hope you thanked him appropriately."

Hermione could barely manage a slow nod as she averted her eyes, silently deciding that her gratitude towards the spiteful Slytherin had been far from appropriate. "Yes, Professor."

"I do have some news which might cheer you up," she offered with a rare grin, and they were getting even rarer these days. "I received a letter from Nymphadora-

"Tonks?" she asked, her head snapping up with interest. "Is she okay?"

"She's fine as far as I know," the professor assured. "She's coming to visit for a couple of days to discus some safety measures for Hogwarts-

"Will I see her? Please let me see her, Prof-

"Calm down," McGonagall sighed. "She wants to keep her head down, so she's staying in The Three Broomsticks, and I'm happy to give you permission to stay with her for a couple of nights-

"Oh, thank you," Hermione smiled, relieved for this distraction in her otherwise troublesome day. "Thank you so much, Professor. When is she coming?"

"Next Thursday and she'll be leaving on Saturday," she explained, finishing up with Hermione's hand. "I expect you to attend all your classes, but I doubt you would have missed them anyway."

"Of course not, Professor."

"Then I have no issue with it," the Headmistress said. "And I think it you some good to see her. You're looking a lot more troubled recently-

"Wait," the younger witch frowned as Draco slipped back into her head. Lips. "What about Malfoy?"

"What about him?" she replied calmly. "You said yourself he spends most of the time in his room. If anything, I'm sure he will be pleased to have some time on his own, and I would recommend you make the most of this little break from him. I know that you must find living with him difficult."

You have no idea, of today, it just got that much more difficult...

"I guess," the brunette whispered, realising she had yet another secret, and this one was possibly the worst. "Are we still going to Hogsmeade this weekend?"

"Of course," McGonagall nodded. "I imagine many of your friends have asked you to bring things back."

I only asked Malfoy...

"No," she murmured, sealing her eyes to hide her guilt. "Just the one."





"Don't you think it's sad?"

Hermione arched an eyebrow at her bright-haired companion. "Do I think what's sad?"

"That all those bees are going to die," Luna said quietly, adjusting herself in the library chair. "Twenty-two people were bitten, so that's at least twenty-two bees."

She offered her friend a weak but affectionate smile and privately thanked the pretty blonde for providing her with some level of a distraction. The library was cold and empty save two fifth years stashed away in the other corner, and the winter evening was starting to cast a navy darkness into the musky space. Surrounded by enchanting books and in Luna's innocent presence, Hermione found her tempestuous thoughts about Malfoy had calmed a little, although she knew it was only temporary.

"Don't worry, Luna, it's just a myth," Hermione told her warmly. "Only female Honeybees die after they sting, and Hogwarts only keeps Bumblebees."

"Oh, that's good news," she mumbled, raising her head and trailing her lazy eyes over the other girl's features. "Your lips still look different, Hermione."

"No they don't," the hazel-eyed witch defended. "They are fine-

"But your hand is all healed," she continued absently. "Perhaps you've reacted to something else a little stronger."

That was the thing with Ravenclaw's angelic sweetheart; while her tone remained consistently bland, she would often mutter a seemingly innocent comment that would leave you feeling either enlightened or paranoid. It was definitely the latter in this case.

"I can't think of anything," Hermione replied stiffly. "Does it matter?"

"Only if it's bothering you," she shrugged, turning the page of her book. "Would you like to stay in the Ravenclaw Tower tonight? I know you don't like to be alone when it's windy."

It was a tempting offer. She'd been purposefully putting off returning to her dorm; to him, and here was the perfect opportunity to prolong that separation. This was where her Gryffindor courage became an impediment; stubbornly telling her that avoiding her own home was a cowardly option. Her commonsense also jumped in and reminded her that she would have to confront the situation eventually, and the longer she avoided it, the more she would lose face.

"No, it's okay," she sighed reluctantly. "I find it difficult to sleep in a different bed."

"Okay," Luna agreed blankly, slowly packing up her belongings. "Well, if you change your mind, I'm sure you'd be able to crack the riddle."

"Thanks. Do you want me to walk you back?"

"I prefer the walk alone," she replied, rising from her seat and giving the Gryffindor a long look. "I don't know what has made your lips look different, but it suites you, Hermione."

The older witch couldn't stifle the flinch. "You're imagining it," she replied with forced nonchalance, unable to feel a sliver impatience towards the girl as she turned to leave. That paranoia was back though. "Goodnight, Luna."

"Goodnight," she replied over her shoulder as she disappeared amongst the aisles.

Hermione pursed her lips and would swear she tongued a whisper of Malfoy's fruity taste as she did. Dear Merlin, this was hard. That barely-nothing-incident had turned her into a fumbling fool with dangerous thoughts that were too quick and wild to really grasp. The worst thing was, she had no idea if she would choose to eradicate it from her memory, or if all the confusion was worth the pleasant tingle inside her mouth. Had it even counted as a kiss?

"Oh, sod it," she whispered to herself, gathering her things and a couple of extra texts on Dark Magic and Horcruxes before she left the library.

The November winds would almost certainly discard her to sleep on the sofa again, and she highly doubted that Malfoy would be joining her this time. She wasn't sure how she felt about that. While she was quite content to have as much distance from him as possible, the two nights that she'd slept near Draco had been her longest and most relaxing rests since Harry and Ron had left. She told herself it was simply because his company provided some level of security, but there was something hypnotic about his breaths in the night...

She paused as she came to her room, realising she was shaking slightly and her heart was rattling loudly inside her ribcage. She inhaled until it started to burn and released the air as slowly as possible, nervously flicking her fingernails and practically eating her bottom lip.

"Godric, give me strength," she mumbled, offering the curious lions her password. "Ad Lucem."

With vibrating fingers and a lost heartbeat, she pushed open her door and found the room painted in darkness. Scanning the jumble of shadows warily and finding only familiar shapes and outlines, she made her way to her small kitchenette and concluded a hot chocolate would ease some of her nerves. Assuming Malfoy was in his room and would be for the remainder of the night, she rolled her shoulders and allowed herself to relax. Silently igniting some of the candles, just to create a nice pre-slumber glow as she fixed herself the steaming drink, the witch was completely oblivious to the pair of serpentine eyes watching her every movement.

Draco observed her from the couch, missing the darkness that had shielded him before Granger had brought a little light into the room. Typical. She hadn't noticed him, which was odd because he would swear she'd looked straight at him when she'd shuffled past the door, but then maybe it had been darker than he'd thought.

Ensuring his breaths were quiet and steady, he openly stared at her back; starting at her jumbled mass of curls, and sliding down her spine to end at the feminine flare of her hips just visible under her robes. He'd intended to disturb her now; perhaps scare her and threaten her for his own amusement and to prove that his earlier slip meant nothing. That had been the plan, but yet again it simmered as a distant mist glossed his gaze as he studied the frustrating witch.

She tilted her head and gave the nape of her neck a slow rub before she slipped off her robes and tossed them onto the counter. He couldn't help but focus on the barely-visible bra straps beneath her white shirt, and he was just able to make out they were light blue. Simple and serene; typical Granger, but that spasm between his hips twitched again anyway. He left his seat carefully; slinking around the furniture and shadows with inaudible footfalls as he edged a little closer to her.

Perhaps if he could get near to her, he could inhale enough of her scent to imitate her taste...

Catching himself and the dangerous thought, he reminded himself how repulsive she was with her inferior blood. An image of that Muggle book she'd insisted he read flashed across his lids, but he shoved it away and planted a scornful sneer on his face, just to reflect how much he really despised her.

And he did. Honestly; he did. Really.

And she needed to know that.

Slipping into the kitchenette, he was now close enough that he could touch her, and the innocent little witch was oblivious until he scuffed his foot against the floor.

Hermione spun around so fast she knocked her mug across the side, and sent it smashing and pouring to the floor with a loud crunch. Her hair was whipped across her face; caught between parted and damp lips as her eyes blazed with stormy surprise. She was panting frantically as she stumbled back, and his hand darted out to grab her wrist.

"Draco," she gasped, trying to pull away and shield her face. "What are you-

But she was cut off as he grabbed her other hand and placed them sternly at her sides; backing her up until she was trapped between him and the counter. She felt panic bubble in her chest; not because she thought he would hurt her, but because he was too close. Her alarmed breathing was sucking in his drugging and masculine smell, and she found her body swarming with heat as their proximity ached beneath her skin.

She watched with wide eyes as he seemed to falter and pull away a little, swaying on his feet with small but seductive movements. The air was wedged in her throat as he towered over her with his features set in a tense scowl and a growl humming in his windpipe.

"I want to get some things straight," he snapped bluntly, and she jumped at his voice. "I didn't help you because I give a shit about your life-


"Shut up," he hissed cruelly, gripping her wrists a little tighter. "I am deadly serious, Granger. I know how your pathetic little head works, and I am telling you now that it didn't mean a bloody thing!"

"Then why did you help me?" she asked as effortlessly as she could, schooling her expression into a controlled mask. "Why bother-

"Because I bloody had to!" he shouted. "If you had died then I-

"Would have been blamed," she finished in disappointed tone. "Except you wouldn't. You have no magic, Malfoy. Do you honestly believe they would have pinned a bee sting on you-

"I think you and your precious Order would do anything to get rid of me-

"Well, you're wrong," she bit back quickly. "They wouldn't-

"I don't care!" he spat, dipping his head a little closer. "I'm telling you here and now that I don't give a flying fuck if you live or die."

It shouldn't have hurt her, but it did. She felt something in her chest shrink and shrivel like burning parchment, but she did everything she could not to let it show.

"You helped me, and I helped you," Draco continued crisply. "We're even, so let's just leave it at that and return to hating each other."

"Then we're back where we started," she sighed, hating the edge of sadness to her whisper.

Draco blinked at her odd comment as a heavy and humid silence settled between them. Her little puffs of air were brushing across the skin of his face, and it was taking every stitch of his self-control not to glance down at her mouth. She felt so charmingly vulnerable and petite against him, and he blamed it yet again on this claustrophobic hell and the remains of her blood still waltzing in his veins. He needed to sever this discussion with her; he could feel that incessant and unwelcome hunger for a lick of her beginning to cloud his sanity again. He needed to get away from her...

"We are done here," he snarled, releasing her wrists and striding towards his room. "And as I said, Granger; don't let that overworked brain of yours read too much into this."

Hermione felt the cold wrap around her quickly as he headed away, and something niggled in her head as she watched the fine muscles across his shoulders flex. She wasn't satisfied with the way he had ended their discussion, and that Gryffindor bravery combined with her own curiosity was a dangerous mixture at times like these. The question jumped past her teeth before she could help it.

"And what about what happened after you helped me?"

She knew her voice had wavered, but she didn't care as he stalled abruptly before he could reach his door. The air in the room instantly grew thicker and uneasy, and her fawny eyes were glued to him as he slowly turned to shoot her a fierce glare that took her breath away. Looking somewhere between incensed and disturbed, she found herself yet again noting his aristocratic and infuriatingly striking features. He really was so...

"Nothing happened," Draco growled slowly, taking steps back towards her and pointing a rage-trembling finger at her. "Do you hear me, Granger? Nothing fucking happened-

"Then I must remember things differently," she fired back, lifting her chin defiantly. "Because I recall-

"Shut the hell-

"That you and I-

"Don't," he barked, close enough now that his senses were once again overpowered by her. "Nothing happened! And nothing ever will happen! So, you just shut your filthy Mud-

"Mudblood mouth?" she finished evenly, tilting her head boldly to the side and folding her arms over her chest. "I know I've struck a nerve with your prejudices against Muggles, Malfoy, so you can use that silly little word all you like, because I know you are starting doubt yourself-

"You are so bloody stupid!" he countered, but there was a hint of hesitation there that he hoped she couldn't hear. "I loathe you and your kind, and you and your Mudblood mouth have only proved to me how vile you all are-

"Well, you kissed this Mudblood's mouth!"


The flushed and agitated pair froze when their noses brushed softly; gold and silver eyes going round and confused. Hermione didn't dare move as his delectable little breaths fell into her mouth again, and that warm throb in her chest returned. Draco looked horrified and perhaps a little...fearful as the silence stretched around them, as he did everything he could to smother that almost instinctive urge to steal another taste.

He closed his eyes.

Yes; he had definitely gone mad.

Praise Salazar for the little spark in his brain that jolted him back to reality, and reminded him who and what she was.

Mudblood. Mudblood. Mudblood.

He ripped himself too quickly and stumbled on clumsy feet, shooting her a look a pure contempt and bewilderment as his head spun. Granger looked a little too...inviting then; mouth slightly parted and a rosy blush staining her cheeks and the skin across her collarbone. Too human. Too normal. Fuck, he needed to get to his room.

"Nothing happened," he repeated between the panicked heaves of his chest. "You understand, Granger? And if you ever need help again, I swear to you on my name as a Malfoy that I will watch you suffer and enjoy every second of it."

His dark and steady words stabbed her like ice-cold darts. "Draco, I-

"Just stay away from me," he threatened in a low whisper, retreating back towards his room. "Stay the fuck away from me!"

And Hermione was left alone, guiltily wondering if she'd have let him kiss her again.

On the other side of the door, Draco sank to his knees and cradled his aching head in his palms, cursing her to Merlin's grave and back for reducing him to this pathetic excuse for a wizard. With no magic and his sanity in a fragile state, he determined that this was lowest point of his life, and the worst thing was, only she seemed to ease the tempest in his brain.

With that disconcerting notion misting his mind and another migraine coming along, he would have surrendered the flimsy crumbs of his pride for another taste of her; if only to chase away the demons that would make sleep impossible.

What the fuck is she doing to me?

And why did he have a feeling that things would only get worse from here?

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