Hermione slammed the door behind her, blinked hard against the tears that were filling her eyes, and ran down the darkened corridor. She didn't know where she was headed. She didn't really care either. Ron had just kissed Lavender Brown right in front of her. In front of everyone. Losing house points didn't matter too much at the moment.
She slowed as she reached the familiar landing that led to the Library. Of course her feet would have carried her here. She sighed and wiped her eyes; only then realizing her wand was still in her hand. She felt a little bad about sending the birds after Ron, but she felt worse when she thought about the way he had wrapped his arms around Lavender so easily, as if she hadn't been there at all. Tucking her wand back pocket, Hermione pushed open the large door with a creak and slipped inside.
The Library was dark and quiet. She walked forward a bit before stopping. She didn't really know what she was doing here other than fleeing the images of Ron and Lavender together, but sadly, they didn't seem to be going anywhere but on a constant loop in her head. Even the hundreds of books in the Hogwarts Library couldn't distract her tonight.
But she could try. What else did she have to do anyways? Her fingers ran over the dust-covered shelves lightly before a dark corner caught her eye. The Restricted Section. If there was anything that could keep her mind off of Ron tonight, it would be in there. Hermione cast a quick look around to make sure she was alone then made for the metal gate that blocked off the most dangerous and powerful books that Hogwarts had to offer.
Normally students would need a signed note from a Professor to be presented to Madam Pince for entry, but Hermione had gotten one of these so many times for extra reading and extra credit assignments that the Librarian had just given her the password to the Restricted Section to cut down on time.
"Lectio Nefastus," Hermione whispered and the gate spun open. She latched it behind her and made her way into the dark stacks. The shelves were closer together in this part of the Library, not normally needing to accommodate more than one person at a time. Instead of the warm orange glow of candles and lanterns, a pale blue light cascaded down from floating candles similar to the ones in the Great Hall, but not near as many and not near as bright. It was eerily dark in the stacks this late at night.
She wandered for a bit, mulling over what it was she wanted to pull off of the shelf and get lost in. Books on curses, poisons, and dangerous spells lined the walls. Hermione passed them over. She felt guilty enough about sending the birds after Ron, she couldn't imagine what some of these volumes held in them. There was an interesting book, bound in dark green leather that she reached out for when she heard him.
"And what exactly is the Gryffindor Princess doing wandering around the Restricted Section after hours?" He had a drawling voice that always seemed to be part patronizing and part sarcastic. Hermione had come to despise his voice, his tone, his… everything.
She turned, glaring at him, but jumped back when she realized how close he was to her.
Draco Malfoy was the last person she wanted to see right now. Well, maybe next to last, after Ron. And Lavender. Hermione swallowed against the lump in her throat and hoped she didn't look like she had just been crying. Merlin knows Malfoy would tease her mercilessly if he found out.
"None of your business," she snapped.
"Oh ho ho," Malfoy raised an eyebrow. "Something the matter, Granger? You're a bit touchy tonight."
Hermione bristled. "Go away," she muttered and turned away from him. She waited a moment, but he didn't leave. In fact she could feel him staring at her. "What?" She snapped, turning back towards him.
Malfoy's eyes were a stormy grey but under the pale blue light they looked almost silver. She was taken aback for a moment as a floating candle passed right over them, illuminating his white blond hair, his sharply angled cheekbones, and his tall frame. Hermione blocked out those thoughts as she had blocked them out many times before.
"You've been crying," he said in a strange tone.
Great. He noticed. Now would come the torment. Well, it couldn't be any worse than what she had witnessed earlier.
"Who made you cry?"
"Afraid someone is taking your place?" Hermione spat as nastily as she could and tried to sniff quietly.
Malfoy's grey eyes bore into hers until she looked away. He had this habit of staring at her and sometimes Hermione felt like he could see right through her. She would catch him sometimes, in classes, in the corridors, staring at her, watching her. He would sneer and his eyes would flick away most of the time, but sometimes… they would stay on her. She would stare back, trapped in his gaze, until one of them broke it.
"No one takes anything from me," he said darkly.
Hermione glanced back up at him. Why couldn't they have placed the shelves a little further apart? The Library was a big place, certainly they could have spared a few extra inches in the Restricted Section so that Malfoy wouldn't be standing so close to her right now.
Why was he though? Didn't he normally act like her mere presence could infect him with some horrible disease? She thought back to fourth year when her arm brushed his in Potions and he wiped it off much to Pansy's amusement. Ugh. Even Pansy could get a guy to like her… What was so wrong with her that she was almost the only girl left in her year that hadn't had a boyfriend? And why was she suddenly upset over that fact?
"Well all I need is this book," Hermione reached for the green leather book again, but Malfoy snatched it off the shelf before she could get it. Sighing she said, "Give it back, Malfoy," and crossed her arms over her chest.
Malfoy smirked down at her. Being this close made him tower over her and she hated the fact that she had to actually look up to him. Malfoy ran a long finger down the spine then opened it, thumbing through the pages.
"Wicked Warlocks of the Western World," He read aloud the title. "But you're such a good little girl, what would you even do with a book like this?" His smirk widened.
"Read it," Hermione stuck out her chin and reached for the book, but Malfoy jerked it back and held it up over his head. Not one to be defeated, Hermione lunged for it. He obviously had not been expecting this because when her body collided with his, he didn't push her away. Instead his eyes widened with surprise as her hands landed on his chest and she couldn't help but feel the muscles that hours of Quidditch training had left on his body.
"Granger," Malfoy said her name.
Hermione looked up at him, those dark grey eyes trained on her.
"You're touching me," he finished.
Hermione pulled back. "Afraid I'll get you dirty?" She narrowed her eyes.
Malfoy's eyes stayed wide for a moment longer before they moved down the length of her body and back up to her own.
"Quite the opposite," he muttered.
Hermione blinked in surprise. What did that mean?
"You ought to be more careful," He snarled. There he was; the bully she had known for years. "You could get yourself in a lot of trouble doing something like that." His voice was low and dangerous.
"Is that a threat?" she retorted.
Malfoy's expression was unreadable. That was one thing she noticed about their little staring spells; she could never tell what he was thinking.
"Yes," he said darkly and took a step forward. Hermione's back hit the shelves behind her and he was only inches away from her. "That is most definitely a threat."
Hermione was in no mood to be trifled with tonight. She had come here for some peace and quiet, not to be intimidated by Malfoy. "Try me," She lifted her face up, glaring at him with a fire in her eyes.
He paused. Expression still a mystery, but thrown off for a second by her answer. Then he laughed. He laughed in her face.
Hermione glared darkly at him.
"If I even thought for a minute you actually meant that…" Malfoy trailed off, shaking his head.
"You think I'm all talk?" Her emotional turmoil was making her brash. All of these awful feelings swirled in her and finally she found an outlet in Malfoy. "Everyone thinks I'm just some bookworm, don't they?" She started getting louder. "They think I am just some robot that feeds off of routines and repetition. That I'm nothing but 'good old Granger' who never does anything she isn't supposed to!" Hermione fumed.
That's why Ron had kissed Lavender. He had never even really seen her as girlfriend material, even after she had asked him to Slughorn's party. Lavender was bouncy and playful. She flirted and giggled. Of course Ron would be interested in a girl like that instead of… instead of her.
"I don't know," Hermione sighed sadly. "Maybe they're right."
Malfoy's hand wrapped around the side of her neck, forcing her face up towards his. She stifled a gasp as he bent down, hovering over her. "Oh Granger," He breathed out and she could feel his breath on her lips. "You're so much more than that."
His lips were inches, millimeters away from hers. Hermione stopped breathing, frozen in place between Malfoy and the silent books behind her. Her eyes were wide, trying to take in information, to understand what was happening right now.
"Let me know if you ever want to find out what that is," he whispered, brushing his thumb over her jawline.
Hermione closed her eyes. Too much now. Too much to handle.
His hand slithered off of her neck and slowly she opened her eyes up again. He was already moving away from her, the pale blue eyes flames illuminating his silver eyes as he backed away. Hermione's heart was racing, thundering in her ears, but not loud enough to block out the sound of his dark chuckle as she stood, perfect in place, where he had left her.