It was late afternoon and the rosy pink hues of the sunset were filtering through the Library windows to light the rows of books with a soft glow. Heedless of this vision, Hermione was searching the potions section frantically. She skimmed a potential book but quickly resorted to banging it against her head in frustration.
"Short on time, Granger?" a familiar voice whispered.
She looked up to see Malfoy leaning against the bookshelf beside her.
"We've got weeks until the potion is due, Malfoy," Hermione responded, shoving the book roughly back into it's place.
"No, you were-"
Hermione spared him an irritated glance.
Malfoy continued, "were you trying to shove knowledge into your head by force?" Malfoy mimed banging a book against his head. "Not enough time to absorb it the normal way?"
"I've got plenty of time!" Hermione said angrily.
"Touchy today," Malfoy eyed her quizzically.
Hermione choose not to reply and pulled down another book to skim it's contents.
"Perhaps you are bull-headed in more ways than one," he said in his baiting tone that made her briefly grip her book's pages too hard.
Suddenly the book was yanked from her hands.
"Bloody-" Hermione exclaimed.
"What's the point of friendly banter if you are just going to ignore me?" he asked, Hermione could see the frustration he was trying to hide in his eyes.
"Friendly banter?" Hermione asked. His hot stare tingled down her back and she shuddered. She wanted her book back to hide her face in.
"Yes, you are supposed to ask me about why I called you a bull."
"But I'm not one, so I don't see why it matters if you think so," Hermione said waspishly.
"You are bull-headed," Malfoy said more seriously, closing some of the space between them.
Hermione avoided looking at his face and considered whether she could retrieve her book from Malfoy's hands.
"Why is insulting me friendly banter?" she asked, unable to help herself.
"What insult?" Malfoy asked. She couldn't trust herself to determine whether there was sarcasm in his voice. "That is called teasing, Granger." He was even closer and she could feel his breath now. "Friends tease each other, right?"
"Friends, yes," Hermione agreed, trying to keep the bitterness from tingeing her voice.
"They did something," Malfoy said it as a statement.
Hermione looked up.
"Ron and Harry, your friends," Malfoy said with distaste. "Something insulting about this holiday I presume." He gestured to the Valentine's Day cheer that decorated even the solemn library.
She shrugged. He might have guessed part of it, but there was no way she was telling him what exactly had happened.
"Granger, difficult as always. The point was, all this red," he pointed at the shiny hearts hanging from the ceiling, "is making you see red, like a bull. Just tell me what about it exactly has you ready to bite everyone's head off."
"I would say the same of you, Malfoy," Hermione used her anger to fuel the courage she needed to finally look him the eye. "Why are you insulting my friends, all of a sudden. I thought you had gotten past that!"
"But now you are hiding in the library again! It's Ron's fault, right? I'll smash his face in for you."
"Malfoy, what's eating you?" Hermione ignored his baseless threat.
Malfoy's face was vulnerable only for a second, and it was only because of her experience from her time with him for Potion class that she even recognized the vulnerability.
"Something is eating you!" she realized. "Was it my friends?" she asked, trying to reason out his behavior.
His deepened scowl seemed to affirm her question.
"What did they do?" she asked.
"What did they do to you?" he countered.
She stiffened and tried not to remember that conversation.
"What did Ron do?" he pressed.
Hermione felt the frustration welling up inside her, why couldn't he just let her live this down?
"Why is it always Ron?" Malfoy sounded resigned and irritated. If she didn't know any better it seemed like Malfoy's version of… jealousy? Malfoy had leaned back, looking away from her.
Hermione took a deep breath, "It isn't about Ron."
Malfoy looked up sharply. "What do you mean?" He asked with a fervor that caused her to back against the bookshelf.
"It was what Ron said but it was what he said about… someone else."
"You got a crush, Granger?"
Hermione couldn't read his face beyond his trademark smirk and cursed herself as she blushed at his accusation. "Why would you ask that?" she tried to cover with bluster.
Malfoy merely looked down at her, now obviously calculating. Hermione couldn't help but worry at that look. Normally it was good. Normally it meant he was going to help her while still looking very Malfoy-ish. Normally it ended with her friends erroneously pitying her and Malfoy sneaking a wink when no one was looking. Now she was sure it was going to be turned against her. She held her breath as he started to move, but he was only putting her book back. She sighed with disappointment.
No, that's daft, she told herself, not disappointment! But then he leaned toward her again, his chest very close as he reached over her head for another book. She gulped, a little dizzy as she held her breath. His robes were open and she tried not to watch how his shirt stretched across his bicep and pectoral muscles. She tried to shut down her brain. Just because a boy is suddenly nice to you, you shouldn't develop a crush, she repeated her mantra of several weeks. Especially, if the boy is Malfoy!
He wasn't moving, she was slightly panicky now. She looked up to see what was keeping him, and was caught right in his stare.
There was that look. Another look she couldn't help but like even though he got it when he thought he had one-upped her in their arguments or when he knew something in potions before she did. It was cute, the half smirk that tried to hide how pleased he was with himself. It lacked the normal arrogance and was unguarded in that sense. It made him look very boyish and adorable, but he was wearing it now. He had tricked her into something!
"Who is it?" he asked, his voice the purr he used when he was 'teasing' her. "Your crush?"
"Malfoy," she started, trying to sound disapproving, but she didn't quite manage it.
"Me?" he asked with a real smirk this time.
Her first instinct was to adamantly refuse, to tell him he wasn't her crush. However, her other instincts told her she would destroy this if she lied. You're a Gryffindor, she told herself, you are brave. The way he made her heart jump to her throat actually made it easier to grab that brave part of her and throw the next words into his face. "So what if it is?"
Her heart beat hard and fast against her chest and she could barely hear anything else as she waited for his response. If she had to escape, it would either be under his arm or right past his face, neither of which would be desirable, considering. She watched his face as it slowly broke into 'that look,' the look of triumph, barely disguised by any resemblance of his smirk. It was disarming to an extent that frightened Hermione. She was falling faster and faster for him.
He moved and Hermione, her adrenaline still pumping, jumped, her back jamming against the bookshelf. He grabbed her hand gently and Hermione allowed it, watching him with anxious anticipation.
He pulled it up to his face and dragged his chapped lips across her knuckles, unhurried, before dropping a kiss on the back of her hand, feather soft. She had no breath and her stomach pricked. He kept her hand near his face and started at her over the top of it, his eyes almost tender. He could just be teasing me, she tried to remind herself, but she hoped that she was reading those grey eyes of his right.
"It was making me see red," he said, his voice rough but casual, as if he was continuing a conversation.
"What?" Hermione searched in her mind for what he was talking about. She felt the disappointment returning.
"All the sappy romance, since I thought my crush was still caught up on someone else."
Hermione continued to look up into his eyes with confusion, although she unconsciously squeezed his hand as what he said started to catch up with her brain.
"You started acting like a prat right after Ron got that love-howler from the Brown girl," he continued.
That had been embarrassing to witness but…
"He joked that I should send one to you," Hermione tried to explain, looking down. "Everybody laughed as if it was a huge, horrible joke."
He dropped her hand and Hermione looked up again, startled. However, his hand was now reaching slowly towards her face and she watched its leisurely progression. He curled his fingers around a piece of her hair and pulled it behind her ear, his hand brushing it's helix.
"I like my howlers in person," he told her softly. "But I wouldn't mind getting one of those from you, Granger."
She swallowed and then smiled, his response fueling her bravado. "It's a little late for that, but we can still do what she proposed in the howler."
Malfoy looked confused now. He must not have processed what the howler said, even though the words had echoed throughout the hall.
"A Hogsmeade date, Malfoy," Hermione laughed a little and the tension started to break.
He grinned and caught another piece of her hair between his fingers carefully. He twisted it, watching in fascination as the bands wrapped around his finger. Hermione permitted it again because it allowed her to openly appreciate his face in a way she had longed to since her crush began. She could finally admit how handsome he was to herself with that sharp jaw line or admire his mouth, which she had forbidden herself to look at. His lips quirked into a smirk, and Hermione watched the 'calculating look' cross his features again. She worriedly tried to guess his thoughts.
"Let's turn the hugely horrid joke on them then, ay Granger?"
His hand found her's again and he entwined their fingers, leading her towards the exit of the Library. The pink sunlight still filtered through its windows and shone onto their faces as they passed it hand-in-hand.
"Malfoy!" Hermione protested, but a huge grin spread across her face.
They wouldn't be the only ones seeing red that Valentine's.
A/N: Quick fluffy break from my main story. Fluff fluff fluff! This isn't beta-ed so all faults are mine- well, they are also mine if it is beta-ed but anyway...
Love it? Hate it? Please let me know! I'm one of those review junkies.
I'll post the second part next week for Valentines!
They walked down the path towards Hogsmeade, Hermione trying to keep up with Malfoy's longer strides. Malfoy noticed and slowed his pace a little. When she caught up with him he caught her hand with his.
Startled, she looked up at him.
"Cold, isn't it?" he asked with a smirk.
"Cold?" Hermione questioned.
He entwined his fingers around hers and pulled both their hands into his coat pocket, inadvertently pulling her closer to him.
When she accidentally bumped into him, he chuckled under his breath. Maybe not so inadvertently. Hermione didn't try to pull away, instead she snuggled against his shoulder. It really was cold outside.
"Before all this" -she gestured with her free hand in the general area between them- "what were you planning to do today?"
Malfoy's hand squeezed hers. "There wasn't another plan."
Hermione tipped her head to the side. "What do you mean? You couldn't have planned out what happened in the library…"
He smirked down at her, his face inches away, and asked, "What makes you sure?"
"Don't try to make me believe that everything worked out just how you wanted."
"Of course not, you think I wanted that fight outside of the great hall?"
"You were being rather stupid," Hermione agreed.
He watched a group pass them into the entrance of Hogsmeade and then he looked back down at her, his eyes startling grey against the almost white sky.
"Do you trust me?" he asked.
"That depends," Hermione answered.
"No, you aren't. You are still Draco Malfoy and we both know I shouldn't blindly trust said person."
He rested his chin on her head. "You're learning."
"I've always known this. Having my heart stolen doesn't mean my wits went with it."
"If only I'd been a more clever thief," he sighed into her hair.
"Stop that, it tickles."
Instead, he did it again and she shoved him in the chest with her free hand. He stumbled but tugged on her arm so that she fell after him.
They stumbled into the wall of one of the shops and Malfoy's hand let go of hers to wrap around her, catching her as she fell against him. "Do you friends hate me?" he asked more solemnly, his arms still around her.
"They just don't know you," she told him.
He muttered something so quietly, she didn't heard it despite their faces being so close.
Hermione arched her neck to try to see his face. By the time she saw it, he was smiling mischieviously, looking across the path. She followed his gaze to The Three Broomsticks, where all her friends were visible through the window.
"Just trust me on this. It will be all in good fun."
Hermione frowned at him, he still had that smile that meant he wasn't up to anything good.
"I promise no one will get hurt." He crossed her heart solemnly with his finger but it was ruined by the glint in his eyes.
"You ruin this and there will be no way I trust your next promise, Malfoy," she said seriously.
Malfoy pulled her in and kissed her forehead. "Wait five minutes if you can but make sure you are the first one in that door. Oh, and don't tell them we're dating yet, okay?"
"What are you planning?" Hermione asked, trying to fight the blush creeping into her face.
He winked and started towards the doors. "Just promise me to be the first one, okay?"
She pursed her lips and nodded. He gave her his dashing smile and disappeared into the pub. Hermione leaned against the wall again and bit her lip worriedly.
She saw Ron, Lavender, Harry, and Ginny sitting around a table next to the window inside The Three Broomsticks. She watched suspiciously as Malfoy approached the group. No one had gotten up and punched him yet. That was a good sign.
They continued to chat in what seemed a non-threatening manner for a minute or two more before she noticed a Hufflepuff couple heading towards the entrance. She hurriedly half-jogged to the door and rudely rushed in right in front of them. They were Hufflepuffs and too much caught up in each other to notice much.
She was shrugging off her coat when Ginny's loud laugh caught her attention. She looked up to see the whole table staring at her.
Malfoy, who had been leaning against the wall, sat up and started walking jauntily towards her. She thought she picked up a little embarrassment underneath the bravado.
"Malfoy, what's going on?"
He got down on one knee and grabbed her hand.
Hermione could only think of one reason for him to be in that position. Was this what he thought a casual joke was? Her heart was pounding as she tried to silently communicate that he should not propose to her.
"Malfoy," she warned, trying to shake off his hand. "You better not be-"
"Hermione Granger," he interupted grandly.
"Er… Erm, Malfoy-" The words were getting stuck in her head in her panic.
"Would you do the honor-" he continued over the top of her, and Hermione could feel her breath stopping. He finished, "-of dating me?"
Her breath rushed out in relief. "Dating?" she repeated.
"Yes, as in going out with me for the rest of the year." He spread his arms towards himself and smiled grandly.
"The year?" Hermione asked, confused by the time specificity.
"Or longer," he said with a barely concealed hesitancy, as if worried she didn't want that, and Hermione couldn't help finding it adorable.
Ron guffawed behind him at the table. Ginny shushed him. Hermione could feel her face warming up as she remembered they had an audience.
"And if I say no?" she asked, curious to know what exactly Malfoy was doing.
"Told you!" Ron crowed. "You owe me your broom!"
Hermione narrowed her eyes and turned to Malfoy. He looked unperturbed. "And if I say yes?" she asked, testing him.
"The smartest person in our group has to do his homework," Harry supplied.
"Which would be you," Malfoy added smugly.
Hermione raised an eyebrow in irritation, she wasn't amused by this plan.
"But, I'd trade it for a date," Malfoy said hurriedly, shifting from one knee to the other.
"A date," Hermione repeated, unimpressed. "And you agreed to this?" Hermione asked the table of her 'friends,' folding her arms. The boys both looked sheepish. Ginny just looked amused. Lavender looked between the rest of the table and Hermione, apparently trying to figure out what was going on.
"You want me to do your homework?" Hermione asked Malfoy, putting a hand on her hip, waiting for his answer.
He bit his lip. "I'd rather have a date."
She ignored him and turned back to the table. "Ginny, what exactly is going on here?"
Ginny grinned and sipped her pink milkshake. "How badly do you want to know?" she asked saucily.
"Ginny," Hermione said sternly. "Now."
Ginny sighed and rolled her eyes. "You are no fun."
"Out with it, Ginny. And you" -she turned on Malfoy, who was still on one knee- "get up."
With his face pointing away from the table, he gave her a devious smile and looked her up and down from his position. Hermione fought to keep her cheeks from burning. Satisfied with her reaction, he stood up. Instead of moving back, he leaned even closer to her, his hand grazing hers behind his back where they wouldn't see it.
"Hey," Ron protested. "Get away from her!"
They all ignored him.
"Well, Ginny?" Hermione tried to keep up her stern tone even as Malfoy's fingers traced along hers.
"It was just a friendly bet, Hermione, no need to get so uptight."
"And explain the parameters of this bet?"
"Isn't it obvious?" Ron started.
"Ginny?" Hermione interrupted.
"Well," Ginny started with a smile, enjoying Hermione's attention. "Ron teased Malfoy that he wasn't on a date."
Hermione felt her eyebrow raise at that. "And then?"
"Malfoy said that he bet he could get the next single female to walk through the door to date him for a year."
"Ah," Hermione said, enlightened on one front.
"Then they hammered out the details of the bet."
"Which were what, exactly?" Hermione said patiently, giving Malfoy an unimpressed look.
"Well, the girl had to be single, not a lesbian, within ten years of Malfoy's age. You heard what was bet. Oh, and Malfoy said we had pretend they were a normal couple. No teasing or saying how bad of a couple they were. You know, trying to get them to break up."
Hermione raised her eyebrow, waiting for the rest of it.
"I think that was it," Ginny finished with a shrug. "Harry?"
"Hmm?" Harry had been too caught up in watching Ginny to really follow. "Oh, yeah."
"Technically, I'm not-" Hermione started, but Malfoy leaned in to whisper in her ear, his lips brushing it's shell.
"Think about the parameters of the bet carefully before you finish that sentence," he said very quietly.
"No trying to break us up? No teasing or protests?"
She could hear his smile and she frowned again because he was right. She pressed her lips together hard and considered it more carefully.
"We can tell them later, once they are used to the idea," he wheedled, his mouth still on her ear.
"Oi!" Ron yelled. "What are you telling her? Are you blackmailing her? Too afraid you'll lose your broom?"
Hermione closed her eyes in irritation at Ron.
Malfoy ran his fingers up onto her wrist, making her twitch as he found a sensitive spot. "Don't tell me you want to hear that every time he sees us?"
Her lips still tight against each other, she shifted her head to give him an annoyed look.
He smiled, too familiar with what that look meant after trying to convince her of so many things before this.
"So, Hermione Granger, will you please go out with me?"
He pulled her hand up to kiss it again and Ron gagged at the table.
Hermione couldn't help but smile. "You know, I think I will."
Someone choked but she wasn't really thinking about it. Malfoy grabbed her around the waist and spun her around. Hermione hung onto him and laughed into his shoulder.
"Wh- what just happened?" Ron sputtered.
"Malfoy just won the bet, that's what!" Ginny laughed, leaning into Harry's arm.
Ron shook his other arm. "Harry! You can't let Malfoy and Hermione date! It's foul play, that is."
Harry blinked owlishly at the two. "After they were potions partners for a month straight, Ginny said it might happen."
Hermione, still leaning against Malfoy, shot Ginny a betrayed look.
Ginny grinned sheepishly and shrugged.
"Why do you care, Won-Won?" Lavender asked with a pout.
"Be-because it's Malfoy, that's why!" Ron said, gesturing.
Hermione tisked. "Not even an hour into it, and you're already breaking the bet, Ronald?"
Ron looked up and frowned.
"Does 'No teasing or protests' sound familiar, Weasley?" Malfoy added, his voice vibrating through her chest. "What should we do with oath-breakers, Hermione?"
Hermione smirked and twirled her wand. "Well, we've got Jelly-Legs, Tarantallegra, Entomorphis…"
"Or maybe a Pimple Jinx?" Malfoy suggested with a smirk.
Ron gaped, his mouth opening and closing. "You ferret!" Ron made to lunge but Ginny stopped him.
"Of course, there is also the bat-bogey hex too!" Ginny added maliciously.
Malfoy grinned and leaned down to rest his forehead against Hermione's. She grinned up at him, enjoying the fruits of another of his mischievous smile.
"I guess I don't mind your horrid joke if these are the results."
Malfoy chuckled. "Maybe we should enjoy it somewhere else," he suggested.
Hermione looked behind them, where Ron was still fuming. "I suppose you've got a point."
They walked hand in hand towards the door.
They definitely weren't the only ones who saw red that Valentine's.
A/N: Happy Vday, my lovely readers! Thank you for the kudos and especially to those who commented! Hope you enjoy a little more fluff for Valentines and please check out my main dramione story if you enjoyed this!