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Lost and Found in Love

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Hogwarts, early spring 1999
Draco and Hermione's Eighth Year

Hermione hated to admit it, but she and Malfoy were a bit lost. They'd been in the Forbidden Forest for several hours, searching for various potion ingredients that required nocturnal harvesting. They'd had a list of seven or eight plants to gather, all told, and with one thing and another, they'd become turned around in the dark, dank undergrowth. That it was a new moon didn't help matters.

She'd been trying to retrace their steps and was getting flustered. With the thick canopy overhead, they couldn't see the stars. The Point Me spell wasn't working, either, as there seemed to be too much magical interference. It didn't help that Malfoy was whiney and skittish. He had apparently not conquered his fear of the Forest since their excursion in First Year, and his constant jumping at shadows was getting on Hermione's nerves. "Shhh! Malfoy, you're breathing too loudly. I can't hear anything else," she hissed.

Draco waved his arms in the air, his robe flapping comically around his legs. "Hear? There's nothing to hear, Granger, except for the sounds of impending doom!" He looked around at the looming, foreboding trees nervously. "Remember that unicorn, with the slashed throat? We're going to die in here. I just know it."

Hermione scoffed. "We aren't going to die, Malfoy! That was seven years ago. Anyway, that unicorn had been killed by Voldemort, and he's never coming back. Now just shut up and listen for that babbling brook we crossed over twenty minutes ago."

"Why? How could that possibly help us get out of here?" Draco's voice cracked with barely-contained panic.

"Have you forgotten why we came in here in the first place?" Hermione stopped and looked back at him. He glowered at her.

"I've been a bit distracted with the fact that we're probably going to be killed and eaten!"

"Oh honestly, Malfoy, don't be so melodramatic. Stay focused. Things won't bother us if we don't bother them. We're here to gather potion ingredients, right? All we have left is to gather pitcher plants at midnight for that Relaxation Elixir we've been set to brew. Pitcher plants grow near water, so we find the brook, collect the plants, and then we can follow the stream out of the woods. Simple."

"Oh, of course. Simple, really. How bloody foolish of me. Of course, that's all we need to do," Draco said with a sneer on his face. Hermione rolled her eyes and walked off in a new direction, letting a branch swing back and smack Malfoy in the face. She smirked at his shout of indignation. If he wasn't so bloody handsome, she'd stomp right back up to the castle and demand a different Advanced Potions partner. However, this arrangement let her have some alone time with the cute, blond git. Not that that had gotten her anywhere…

Lost in her musings, she gave a shout of her own as she stepped into a hole and fell headlong. She cried out as a sharp pain shot through her ankle. Was it broken? She clutched at it, tears filling her eyes.

She'd been several yards ahead of Malfoy, but it was just a second or two before he was at her side. At first he didn't seem to realize she was hurt. "Get up, Granger!" he said fretfully, one hand gripping her elbow tightly and hauling her upright. "Don't just lie there, get up!"

"I'm trying, you idiot," she gasped, unable to put her foot down. "I think my ankle is sprained!"

Indeed, the ankle was already swelling inside her boot. She could feel it. She grimaced as she tried to put weight on it. She absolutely couldn't stand on it and almost passed out from the pain.

"It might be broken, Malfoy. I can't walk on it." She clung to his robes, afraid of falling. Surprisingly, he didn't shove her away, but instead just stood there, one arm wrapped around her waist, the most quiet he'd been since they'd set out on their quest. She hung onto him to balance herself, panting with the effort.

Finally, he turned his head to look down at her. "You can't walk?" he asked, quietly. She shook her head. Then she jumped when he grabbed her by the arms. "You can't walk?!" he shouted.

He was paler than she'd ever seen him, his grey eyes wide with concern and fright.

"What are we going to do now?" he yelled, starting to shake her. Her head bobbled back and forth. It felt like he was rattling her brain loose. "What are we going to do, Granger? I need you! You're the one who's the expert on this gods-forsaken hellhole! You've been all over this Forest. What are we going to do—"

The resounding smack of her hand across his cheek echoed through the trees and surprised both of them. He instantly let go of her, and she barely managed to remain upright.

"Don't you ever, ever shake me like that again," she snarled at him, shaking a finger in his face and tottering on her one good leg. "Get a grip, Malfoy. On yourself, not on me!"

He raised his hand to his cheek, staring at her in a daze. "You slapped me," he said, in wonder. "Again."

She shrugged awkwardly. "Merlin's pants, Draco, of course I did! You were shaking me like I was a snow globe or something. You need to snap out of it. It was either slap you or kiss you."

His eyes snapped back into focus. She colored pink.

"Slap me… or kiss me?" he asked. When she nodded, turning even pinker, he demanded, "Why?"

"To shock you out of your panic," she whispered.

His hands closed over her arms once more. She flinched and raised a hand, afraid he might shake her again, but in the next instant, he'd pulled her against him, and he was kissing her, crushing their lips together.

It kind of hurt, but it mostly felt wonderful, especially when he began to coax her mouth open with the hot, moist tip of his tongue. She whimpered against him and surrendered to the sensations, allowing their tongues to touch and tease. He slid one strong arm around her back, holding her steady and safe, while his other hand rose to cradle her head, his fingers sliding through her hair. He moved her head gently, positioning her for the best access, and one of his legs found its way between hers. He then let his hand slide down to carefully lift her injured leg off the ground. With kisses and whispers, he coaxed her to wrap it around him, and he held her steady with his hand under her knee. She gasped, as this position pressed her most intimate areas against his warm, muscular thigh. She gripped the front of his robe and ground against him, feeling waves of heated pleasure pulsing through her as she wriggled.

They moaned together, and he broke their kiss for just a moment to ease them down onto the soft, thick moss at their feet. He kept his leg between hers and he gently rested her sore ankle on the ground. Leaning over her, his blond fringe hanging in his eyes, he smiled predatorily before once more capturing her mouth with his.

"There ye are!" A booming, hairy voice rang out through the trees. "We've been lookin' all over for ye, 'ermione, Malfoy, and… oh, blimey!" Hagrid stuttered to a blushing halt when he could fully see the pair, amorously entwined upon the mossy carpet of the forest.

"I'll, er, I'll jus' be, um, over here then," Hagrid stammered, gesturing aimlessly over his shoulder. "You, uh, you carry on and I'll be ready to take you back. When you're finished. Ready, I mean!" He lumbered off to hide behind a tree.

Draco, red of cheek and swollen of well-kissed lips, smiled down into Hermione's face. She was grinning up at him.

"Well. The kiss was much better than the slap, I'll have you know," he drawled. He made no move to stand up. Hermione, too, was perfectly content to remain where she was. "Being lost wasn't so bad after all."

"Oh? And what made you come to that conclusion?" asked the slightly-breathless, pretty witch currently picking leaves out of his hair.

"Well, you know that old saying, 'tis better to have found love while lost than to have never loved at all," Draco quipped with a smirk.

There came a groan from Hermione, and then she silenced him once more. But this time, definitely not with a slap.