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.


9. Venom

Draco thumbed the book's spine and examined the cover critically, searching for any clues as to why Granger was so anxious for him to read it.

It seemed innocent enough; the main cover a still, Muggle photograph in black, white and all the shadows of grey in between. The main focus was a seemingly educated, dark-skinned man – evidently a Muggle by his attire – with an expression that seemed worn with wisdom and experience. He checked the back and noticed it wasn't technically an autobiography, more a collection of this King bloke's writings and letters, arranged by another man called Carson. There wasn't really an explanation of what the book contained, which irritated him, but he was ridiculously intrigued about Granger's interest in the text.

With a stubborn huff, he tossed it aside and buried his face in his palms, digging his fingernails into his scalp and wondering when all this would end. He heard Granger leave her room and head to the bathroom for her shower, just like she did every other morning. He yielded to his own disturbing routine, and left the bed to slump against the usual wall, cocking his head so his ear would tingle with the vibrations of her inevitable sounds.

A few moments later, with the musical hum of pulsing water to accompany her, Granger began to feed is unhealthy obsession. Just subtle gasps and morning-raspy purrs to begin with, a build-up to her crescendo of moans that always dragged him back to this place. He inhaled a calming breath as his headache eased to her noises, and allowed himself to be lulled into a dazed state.

As he always did.


But something within him stirred; a warm little twitch just below his naval that sent fast and eager blood between his thighs. He knew the feeling well, but it had been a while; being forced to plot a man's death tended to consume the mind and steal any thoughts of release, and six months in hiding had hardly helped.

Still a little lost in Granger's moans, his hand moved instinctively and absently to the growing bulge between his hips. His fingers barely managed a pleasing stroke before his eyes shot open and he snapped his hand at his side with horror carved into his features. He tore his body away from the wall with an undignified jerk and slammed his palms over his ears. He was shaking with self-loathing and shock as he desperately tried to shove her out of his senses, clenching his eyes shut and grinding his teeth.

In a trembling heap at the foot of his bed, he didn't move; didn't dare move, until the click of the main door slipped through his fingers and told him that she'd left for classes. He opened his thunderstorm eyes and his arms fell from his head as his chest heaved with revulsion and panic.

What the HELL was that?

His forehead was glossed with a mist of sweat, and his throat was scratchy and dry from his mortified panting. He felt dirty; sullied by the way his body had reacted to that fucking bitch. Merlin's grave, what was wrong with him? Had his psyche become that withered in this Granger-infested cell that he would actually respond in such a sickening manner?



No, it didn't mean anything. Not a sodding thing.

It had been long months since he'd gained any physical satisfaction, and that wasn't counting the fistful of times he'd tossed off in the Scottish shack when Snape had left to get provisions. It was only normal that his baser instincts should come into play when he was living so closely to a female.

Mudblood or not.

It was inevitable, but he could control it. He had to.

He raised his head and found King's autobiography near his feet. With a loud swallow to get rid of the sandy edge in his throat, he grabbed the book with still-quivering fingers and flicked to the first page. Distraction was essential.



"Reading?" McGonagall echoed with a thoughtful expression. "Yes, I suppose that would be an ideal way for Mr Malfoy to keep busy."

"I have given him some of my Muggle books," Hermione confessed. "I...I thought I could perhaps change his view on Muggles-

"I admire your tenacity, Miss Granger," she sighed, leaning back in her chair. "But I would advise you don't get too carried away with that idea. Mr Malfoy seems pretty fixed in his ways-

"I know that," the brunette cut in. "But I don't think he's as bad as he makes out. He's intelligent, and I think if I could just feed that seed of doubt, he might see some sense."

The Headmistress pursed her lips and tapped her finger pensively against her chin. "Your opinion on Mr Malfoy has changed," she said slowly; a statement, not a question.

"Well," Hermione started awkwardly. "I just think I understand him a little better, and I think he's adapting well to me too. I'm pretty sure his perception of me has changed in the last month, so maybe I could convince him that his prejudices have no basis."

McGonagall considered the younger witch carefully. "If you must," she breathed hesitantly. "Then I would recommend that you don't get your hopes up and just be careful. But I trust your judgement, Hermione."

"Thank you," she nodded with a small smile. "That means a lot, Professor."

"And how has he been doing otherwise?" the older witch asked. "Any odd behaviour, or outbursts of any kind?"

Hermione's brain was instantly harassed with flashing memories of Saturday, and coming home to find Malfoy passed out on the floor. She'd assured him that his escape attempt would remain between them; Merlin, she'd pretty much promised him. In hindsight, it had been a rash decision, and while her loyalties to McGonagall were resolute and infinite, she couldn't break a promise.

Malfoy or not.

"No," she shook her head, ignoring the guilt. "No, he just spends most of his time in his room."

"Okay," the Professor spoke with a slightly sceptical tone. "Well, keep me informed on his behaviour. And how are you doing, Miss Granger?"

"I'm fine," she responded automatically, tilting her head to give McGonagall a curious look. "Why do you ask?"

"I'm just checking you are feeling well," she offered in an even tone. "I understand that things are difficult at the moment and I just want to ensure that you are doing okay."

Hermione shrugged. "I know I have it easier than a lot of other people," she answered honestly, licking her lips. "I'm really okay, Professor."

"If you say so," McGonagall muttered with obvious concern. "But I'd like you to know that you are free to discus anything you wish with me whenever you like."

The young Gryffindor forced this smile. "Thank you."

"One more thing," the greying witch continued. "I need to make a trip to Hogsmeade this weekend and you and Mr MacMillan are welcome to join me to get some things. You might want to ask your friends if they need anything."

"Okay," she said, rising from her seat. "I'll see you Saturday, Professor."



It was late, and the wind was wild again; howling through the abandoned library like the prayers of dying men.

Hermione shuddered and surged a bit more magic into her Lumos charm, drawing her limbs in a little tighter to battle the chill. Her breath left her lips in ghostly mists as she tried to concentrate on the passage-laced pages, willing her heavy eyes to stay open. It was useless; the wind was too bold and her body too exhausted to remain here.

She hadn't returned to her dorm after classes like she normally did, as Neville had near-begged her for some help with a Transfiguration assignment, and she'd seen no point in leaving once he had finished. Her uniform had become scratchy and musky from her too-long day, and she'd barely managed a cheese and pickle sandwich after her meeting with McGonagall at lunch. She was starving, stiff and frustrated that the night had denied her any progress. Just like every other night.

Another shrill wail of the weather rattled her nerves and she slammed the book shut with a forlorn sigh. The sounds screamed around her and she hurriedly packed up her belongings, casting wary glances at the surrounding shadows. With quick and silent footfalls, she rushed down the hollow and menacing corridors with her heart pounding against her chest. Catching flimsy reflections of herself in the windows and convinced that she could feel a stranger's footsteps behind her, she moved into a full sprint.

"Ad Lucem!" she hissed at the yawning lions, ploughing into her room and sealing her stare as she sank to the floor and tried to regain her scattered composure.

"What the hell is wrong with you?"

Hermione flinched away from the voice, her eyes wide and a hand at her chest to calm her fright. "Bloody hell, Malfoy!" she scolded over her flustered wheezing. "What are you doing?"

He regarded her with viper, calculating eyes, and his previous plans to ignore her at all costs, decided after his...problem in the morning, dissipated. It was too tempting to rile her up when she looked all jittery and vulnerable, and he relished her unpredictability. A month in her presence and he still found her impossible to read, and despite that twitch under his stomach reminding him it was a potentially risky decision, he found himself desiring to see how this played out.

He took a little comfort in seeing Granger all ruffled in her uniform; skirt conservatively below the knee, unlike many of the other girls who flashed some leg, and her shirt buttons all neatly fastened. The girl wouldn't have known how to dress provocatively if her life depended on it, and it deluded him into believing that this morning was nothing more than an anatomical glitch.

Surely no harm would come from toying with the little Gryffin-dick, if only to douse some boredom?

"What are you doing on the floor?" he countered coldly from the kitchenette. "And what's got you so bloody jumpy?"

She gulped down some of her panic when another blast of wind sounded too human. "I...I'm not jumpy-

"Oh, of course," he smirked cruelly, analysing her features expertly and recognising all the telling signs. "I forgot about your pathetic issue with the wind-

"Shut up, Malfoy," she snapped, rising to her feet and straightening her posture to regain a little dignity. "Why do you always have to lurk around-

"I'm not lurking," Draco calmly argued, leaning against the counter and folding his arms. "I'm simply standing here-

"Well...why?" she questioned clumsily, ditching her bag by the sofas. "You're not normally awake when I get home-

"Wrong again, Granger," he interrupted. "I am always awake when you get home. I'm just usually in my room."

She looked puzzled and agitated, and his smug smirk widened slightly. "You're always awake?"

"Trying to sleep through your heavy-handed noise is impossible, Granger," he told her bluntly. "As I said before, it's like living with a Dyspraxic Giant-

"I am not heavy-handed! I am-

"Loud and annoying," he finished with a bored tone. "And a pain in the arse-

"Wait," Hermione mumbled quietly. "'re having trouble sleeping too?"


Draco realised his mistake too late. "I sleep fine," he said, giving her pointed look. "Even if your Gryffindor beds are ridiculously uncomfortable."

The brunette paused and tilted her head; her honeyed eyes dancing up and down the length of him cautiously. "So...what were you doing in the kitchen?"

"I was trying to make a drink," he rolled his eyes, gesturing to her kettle. "But your fucking Muggle shit is broken-

"It's not broken," she muttered a little distantly, shifting her weight. "I'll get changed and I'll make us some-

"I don't want you to make me-

"Oh, don't be so childish," she frowned, but it faltered when the wind roared again. She dented her bottom lip with anxiety as she weighed up her pride against her fear and sudden loneliness. "Look, I need to ask you a few questions anyway, so-

"Questions?" Draco echoed. "Why should I answer any-

"Malfoy, stop it," she scorned with an irritated huff. "I'm not trying to pull anything-


"The questions I have are about your stay and how to possibly make it more...comfortable for you," she explained, heading to her room. "So, stop being so-

"You have ten minutes," he warned, leaving the kitchen and collapsing heavily into the couch he had slept on the other night. "Hurry up, Granger."

It took Hermione less than two minutes to change into a baggy t-shirt and her loose bottoms, and she also gathered her blanket, knowing the bellowing night would banish her to sitting room again. Draco tapped his foot impatiently against the coffee table's leg as she prepared two cups of steaming chocolate, and Hermione nibbled at her tongue to halt the biting words at the tip.

"Right," the witch exhaled, setting down their mugs and relaxing into the opposite couch. "I'm going to Hogsmeade this weekend and I thought you might want me to get some things for you-

"I don't need you to get anything for me!" he spat, rising from his seat with furious movements. "How many times do I need to tell you, Granger? Are you bloody deaf? I don't need anything from you-

"I knew you'd react like that," she told him, her tone prim and controlled like this was simply a business meeting. "Look, it's not my money; it's Hogwarts' money, and seeing as your father was one of the Governors, it's technically your family's money."

It wasn't true. Hermione would be paying for anything that he requested, assuming it was within her price range. She'd expected that he would take her offer as an insult to his pride, and had invented her little white lie to convince him. She wasn't sure why, but she wanted him to have a few comforts to call his own; perhaps to possibly calm his mood, or maybe it was something else that she couldn't quite put her finger on.

The pretty Gryffindor couldn't help but look at him differently after his escape attempt, and the way he had cupped her cheek with his bloody palm. She'd never once considered the possibility that Malfoy could be gentle in anything that he did, and his sticky caress had completely thrown her; made her more aware of his needs and feelings. Seeing the Dark Mark should have appalled her and reignited her anger towards him, but it hadn't. Instead, she found McGonagall's voice swimming in her mind.

It might do you well to remember that he was forced into his mission when you are dealing with him.

Hermione told herself she didn't care, not quite anyway, but she'd moved from hatred, to indifference, to something else. She just didn't know what. She studied him with her calm gaze as he warily retook his seat, resting his chin against the back of his knuckles.

"And you're offering to collect these things for me?" he asked sceptically. "Why?"

"Purely selfish reasons," she grinned. "If you have some luxuries, you might be a bit more pleasant."

Draco scoffed. "It will take more than some toys to make me pleasant towards you, Granger," he told her firmly, eyeing her with a half-lidded stare. "Aside from that unlikely notion, you're not expecting anything in return?"

"I know you wouldn't agree to anything I asked anyway," she shrugged. "And you have nothing I want."

He felt his jaw twitch. "Fine," he rasped out. "I am getting rather sick of those red bed covers, so get me some green ones. And that sodding shampoo of yours-

"Hold on a second," Hermione said, reaching for her bag. "I'll write this down."

As she removed her parchment and her quill, one of her allergy shots tumbled out of her bag and rolled across the floor to tap Draco's feet. The pale wizard picked it up with his lean fingers and analysed it carefully, turning it over and cocking an eyebrow at the illustrations along the cylindrical object.

"What, Muggles can't read now?" he mocked. "Should have guessed-

"They're directional pictures," the brunette retorted angrily. "If I have an allergic attack and someone finds it, the pictures explain how to give me the shot."

"Why don't you just do it yourself?"

"If I reach a certain stage I won't be able to," she explained. "They're a precaution-

"And if you don't get the shot?" he asked, shooting the witch a wary look and realising he was too interested in her answer. "What happens then?"

"I could die," she stated, and Draco didn't like how flippant her comment sounded. "Just chuck it here, Malfoy. Let's get on with your list."

Draco looked away from her with an unsettling sensation fluttering in his gut, and his grey-ice stare went back to the strange item in his grip. He inspected the images one last time before he tossed it over to her and licked his teeth thoughtfully, clasping his hands together.

"So, you're scared of the wind, and a measly bee can kill you," he reiterated in his husky voice. "I thought you Gryffindors were supposed to be indestructible, or does that annoying trait only apply to that scarred prick you hang around with?"

"I'm human," she whispered quietly, meeting his sullen stare purposefully. "I have flaws, just like everyone else."

Draco frowned and snapped out of his unwelcome thoughts. "Whatever," he growled. "Anyway, I want green bedding and some new shower stuff. That cheap shit you use is starting to grate away my skin."

"Don't get my hopes up," she mumbled sarcastically, earning her a sharp glare as she scribbled down his requests. "Anything else?"

"A few boxes of Bertie Bott's beans," he replied. "And some Toothflossing Stringmints."

"Nothing else for your room?"

"I doubt there's anything in Hogsmeade that could make that room any less tragic," he muttered cynically. "The bedding will do."

"Fine. Anything else?"

The Slytherin prince paused and cocked his head with consideration. "If Tomes and Scrolls has anything new, get me something to read. Your Muggle shit is starting to give a migraine."

She narrowed her eyes. "I thought you said it wasn't that bad-

"I'd rather read some decent Wizard literature," he scowled at her. "That book you told me to read is just fucking bizarre."

"You're reading the Martin Luther King book?" she asked, her fawny eyes wide with interest. "What do you think of it?"

"I assumed that you would have told me to read it in some futile effort to brainwash me into liking Muggles," he hissed with distaste, regurgitating the words with a venomous look. "But your stupid little plan backfired because all it did was prove how fucking disgusting Muggles really are."

It took everything she had not lunge across the table and slap him. "Okay," she breathed with obvious strain. "Why do you say that?"

"Because according to that book, Muggles enslaved black Muggles and treated them like shit," he spat, apparently very angry at the notion. "Unless I have misinterpreted the book?"

"No," Hermione sighed. "That's right."

Draco sneered at her. It was a preposterous and alien concept that had instantly grasped his disgusted attention, and something that he had never even considered an issue within any society. Discrimination against skin colour was unheard of in Wizarding history, and the thought just made his despise Muggles that little bit more. Blaise, possible the only one of his friends who he respected, was dark-skinned, and the idea that he would have been mistreated because of the tone of his skin infuriated him, and simply concreted how barbaric and inferior Muggles were.

"Fucking morons," he grumbled, curling back his lip as he watched her. "And you defend this scum?"

The witch inhaled another calming breath and decided she would have to chose her words very carefully if she wanted this to work in her favour. "It was a shameful period that Muggles regret-

"Shameful is an understatement," Draco told her, tapping his foot with agitation. "I thought you were the clever one-

"I never once said I thought it was right," she defended quickly. "I'm saying that it happened and-

"Well, it's a bloody joke," he snarled, his breathing slightly elevated with his ire. "I can't believe you would side with a species that would segregate according to skin colour. It's jut skin. It's not something anyone can control."

There it is...

Hermione swallowed away a nervous scratch in her windpipe and squared her shoulders. "Yes," she said as steadily as she could. "It's unfair to judge a person by something they can't help, isn't it?"

Draco snapped his head up and wanted to inhale the words back into his mouth. The topic of their heated conversation had instantly crested into a sensitive territory; her blood.

The creases of his earlier rage slowly dissipated from his snowy features, leaving wide silver eyes and slightly parted lips. His fair eyebrows drew together with ill-veiled confusion and something that bordered anxiety seized every muscle in his sinewy shape. He was tense and stiff, but when Hermione took a closer look, she could see the small, volatile vibrations of his clasped hands, and she stilled her breaths. The silence was humid, and Hermione didn't dare flinch when a rumble of wind sliced it in half.

"You sly bitch," Draco murmured quietly, his expression blank. "You did that on purpose-

"I simply gave you some history and facts," she reasoned with deceptive composure. "You came to your own conclusion-

"It's different, Granger!" he interrupted adamantly, banging his balled fist onto the table with a shrill bash. "The circumstances are completely fucking different!"

"The circumstances are always different," she said slowly, ignoring the compulsion to back away from him. "But...but the point and the problem are always the same-

"Fuck you," he growled. "If you think this has changed my opinions towards Muggles then you are bloody wrong, Granger!"

"That's up to you," she shrugged with forced nonchalance, but she could see the doubt behind the silver flecks in his stormy glare, and that was what she had wanted. "Is there anything else you'd like me to get from Hogsmeade?"

Draco relaxed is mouth and leaned back into the couch, warily keeping his attention on her innocent features. "You know, you're quite a conniving cow, Granger," he told her blandly.

Despite the gravity of their previous words, Hermione couldn't stop the feminine giggle that trickled from her lips. "That from a Slytherin," she remarked. "I might be tempted to take that as a compliment from you, Malfoy."

"Don't," he said, his tone notably calmer but still tense. "And need I remind you that it is the Slytherin House that receives the most negative preconceptions? So, you can jump right off that high horse of yours, Granger, because you judge too."

The tawny-haired witch blinked in uninhibited surprise. "I...I guess you're right," she admitted begrudgingly. "But unfortunately, you conform to the stereotype-

"But you made that decision before you ever met me," he argued back. "And you made the same assumptions about every other Slytherin."

Hermione licked her lips and took a deep breath. "Okay," she started slowly. "Then I apologise for jumping to conclusions." She paused to fix him with an almost sad gaze. "It's a shame you lived up to them."

Draco tore his eyes away from her and stared at his woven fingers, feeling yet another odd flicker within his chest; roused by something she had said or done. His body and brain continued to react to her with unwelcome twitches and sensations, and he wondered briefly if it was simply psychosomatic. Either his sanity really was seeping out of his ears, or Granger was less...annoying.

He had no idea which option he preferred.



It was an accident.

Draco hadn't meant to fall asleep on the sofa again; lulled into a too-perfect sleep by her musical breaths. He'd woken up with an inappropriate stiffness between his legs and a twisted urge to steal a touch while she slept.

Maybe a taste...

Her scent was stronger in the mornings and deliciously musky, and it embedded itself into his sinuses. It reminded him of Summer outside; the Summer he had missed cooped away in Scotland, and he craved it. Her. With silent gratitude to Merlin that he'd woken first, he hastily headed to his room to nurse away his bone-hard erection, unable to resist a small stroke of her chaotic hair with slightly trembling fingers.

Her lips had never looked so inviting at that moment; slightly dry from sleep with an invitation for him to moisten them. But he didn't yield to the revolting temptation, and quickly ripped himself away, silently scolding himself all the way to his room.

He collapsed in a lonely corner of the room and buried his face in his palms, letting his self-disgust burn him from the inside out with throbbing heat. He had no idea who he hated more at that moment; her or himself.

And the worst thing; her little trick last night had left questions chewing at his mind even in his sleep. Granger was...altering things, plucking away thoughts like dying petals and muddling them up for her own amusement.

What the fuck was she doing to him?



Hermione had batted her lids by the morning and felt blissfully rested and warm, if a little disorientated. With no recollection of actually falling asleep, she wondered when exactly Malfoy had left, but a quick glance at the clock had told her she was running late on her morning routine and she didn't have time to mull over it. She skipped her shower and settled on a Scourgify to fake some freshness, before hurrying down to Herbology. Her classes passed by slowly, and she spent her lunch in the library with company in the form of a ham sandwich and her studies on Horcruxes.

Another couple of hours amongst the creaking stacks and aisles after her lessons, and she decided to head back to her dorm. Thoughts of Malfoy invaded her as she meandered down the empty corridors, dredging up memories of their heavy conversation last night. It had been one of the most intense discussions she could ever recall having, and while she was certain that she'd successfully managed to get through to him on some level, it felt like a hollow victory. He'd looked puzzled and lost, and it hadn't suited his striking features or his demeanour at all.

Too focussed on her blond houseguest, Hermione didn't notice the incessant hum around her head, nor did she notice the red blotch on the back of her hand until she reached for the doorknob.

She'd been stung.

"Oh shit," she whispered, barging her way into her dorm and burying her hand in her bag.

She could feel it now; the venom rushing skywards and bubbling in her throat, triggering the anaphylaxis. Her wind passage was starting close up and restrict her breathing, and she sputtered and coughed as she frantically rummaged through the contents of her bag. Her head began to throb and swell, and she could feel her knees buckling with fleeting energy as she struggled to suck in more oxygen.

"Malfoy!" she wheezed out desperately, sinking gracelessly to the floor and dragging her bag with her, scattering her belongings across the floorboards. "Draco!"

There went the remains of her strangled voice, as the fringes of her vision started to blur and her surroundings began to wilt. Distantly, she heard a door open, and a tall shadow lingered at the edge of her view, but it was too distorted for her to make sense of it.

That was how Draco found her; dangerously jerking with unstable heaves of her chest and a terror-wide stare. Common sense kicked in and convinced him that this was a reaction to her allergy, but he remained frozen to the spot for a long moment.

He could honestly say that he considered turning around and leaving her for dead; shutting himself away in his room until the infuriating little Mudblood had choked on her last heartbeat. Maybe it would all stop then; her slow onslaught on his senses and that breakdown of his mind. Perhaps if she was eradicated and cut out of his existence, he could regain a sense of his self, or maybe he would just go insane that little bit quicker.

He moved before he could stop himself, hurling his body forward to land on his knees and sweeping his hands across her littered things. His eyes darted around for the illustrated tube, finally finding it tucked between the pages of a book. Swivelling on his kneecaps, he turned to face the fading witch and held the shot up to her.

"Granger," Draco snapped harshly. "Tell me what I'm supposed to do." He got no response; not even a flash of recognition in that golden gaze of hers. "Fuck."

Fumbling with the cylinder, he examined the small set of images and tried to quash his alarm in an effort to understand them. After the fourth inspection and a gargled gasp from his female companion, he gathered his nerves and shuffled closer to Hermione. He hesitated for a second before he leaned over her and parted her robes, his fingers slightly quivering as he started to tear away her buttons. He bunched the material up around her ribs and checked the shot one final time before he stabbed it into her side, just above the hip, and pressed his thumb against the tip.

His reluctantly, panicked pulse thundered in his skull as he waited to see if his attempt had worked. With his other hand braced against her bare waist, he instantly felt her breathing pattern start to change. He kept his fist gripped around the syringe and his palm flat against her satin skin, his eyes intently roaming across her dazed features.

Draco noted every detail of her fascinating face as the dubious seconds and minutes ticked away; from the rosy tint returning to her cheeks and the awareness seeping back into her eyes. He was close enough that his elevated breaths flicked at the loose hairs framing her face, and he couldn't halt the sigh when a throaty whimper escaped her lips and pushed into his mouth.

It tasted like sugar and sun.

He swallowed it down as she blinked a few times, and he half-expected her to shove him away and scold him for being too close. But he should have known better than to predict anything Granger did, and instead he found her gentle palms either side of his face, her thumbs absently brushing his cheekbones. She looked up at him with exquisite, glazed eyes, and he didn't dare move to break the contact.

"Thank you," she whispered tiredly, and he got another mouthful of her against his tongue.

He had no idea if it was true, but he would swear on Salazar's grave that she leaned in first.

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