Disclaimer: JKR owns anything that is obviously hers. I own the rest. I do not make any money off this.
Characters: Draco Malfoy, Ginny Weasley, Hermione Granger, Theodore Nott, Others
Genres: Angst, Drama, Humour, Romance
Story Warnings: Epilogue? What Epilogue?, Profanity, Smut
Overall Rating: NC-17
Summary: Hermione needs to get rid of her pesky virginity for her very own reasons. The solution to that is, of course, to make a list of the boys at Hogwarts to find out which one will suit her purpose best! Draco Malfoy is at first left off her list, but when he finds out and teases her about it, she realises that maybe he has a point--after all, who would be better to take her virginity than the most gossiped about skirt chaser at Hogwarts? He's not quite as willing as she thought he'd be, though. Written to fit a prompt.
Extra Note: Thank you to mazvn and cklls for the beta and dollfaced for the banner. :)
Chapter Length: 5,950
Ways to get over a stupid misplaced infatuation.
Hermione stared at her new list.
So far it only had one option.
Not that she would ever do anything that drastic, but right now it was her frustration talking. She kept seeing him flirting and it made her want to scream and kick someone. Preferably him. She didn't want to feel this way. She'd never asked for any of this stupid emotional baggage. She'd attempted to lecture herself on how sex wasn't love and it was perfectly all right to enjoy sex without feeling you had to make it mean more, but nothing worked.
She added another item to the list.
Make him drink poison.
Yes, that was far more feasible. She'd be rid of him and able to move on with her life. Brilliant!
She sighed. If only she could.
"What are you doing?"
She jolted at the sound of the voice and immediately attempted to cover up her list with her arms. "M-Malfoy? How's that any of your business?"
"Don't make me take this from you as well."
"Have you ever heard of personal boundaries?"
He pushed away her arms, revealing her pathetic plans. "Ah. Weasley again, I see. I do like the idea of making him drink poison. I could even help if you'd like."
She rolled her eyes. "What do you want?"
"Who says I want anything?"
"You only come within ten feet of me if you want something, so spit it out."
He nodded. "Right. There is something. Remember that potion you stole?"
"Shh!" She glanced around. "Keep your voice down!"
"Yeah, that's the thing. I was the only one supposed to be there that day, so Slughorn thinks I did it. He put me in detention for two weeks."
"You didn't tell him it was me?"
"No. But I hoped you could do something to get me out of detention or at least make it worth my while."
Worth his while? She knew what he didn't mean by that, so it was probably something a bit more material. "I'm sorry, I don't have any money."
He snorted. "Yeah, money is what I need."
"I can try to talk to him or see if I can persuade him that I have some use for you during your detention time."
"That would be nice."
"But what do you want from me if I fail? Do you want me to confess to him?"
"No. But at the very least I want you to help me with my Muggle Studies essay on aeroplanes. In fact, I think I want that even if you can get me out of detention."
She'd really rather not. And she'd certainly not bring him to her room this time. But she supposed it would be a small price to pay. "All right. Meet me here tomorrow after school."
He nodded and left and she sighed. Tomorrow would be a very long day.
Draco stopped up a few stacks away from Hermione as he heard his name softly spoken to his right and looked over to see Pansy standing there with a suspicious look on her face.
"Pansy, hey. You use the library too, huh?"
"Not as much as you, apparently."
"You have a problem with me approaching Granger." It was a mere statement of fact.
"Why do you need to do that?"
"I thought you'd have eavesdropped."
"Yeah, I heard. She got you in trouble. So what? Turn her in!"
"Her help is what might help me get my NEWTs and stay out of Azkaban. I really can't bother about your petty grievances when my own future is at stake here."
"You forget something, love."
"I know now."
"How thick do you think I am? You're covering for Granger stealing a potion. Your mystery girl stole a potion. What are the odds?"
He immediately felt chilled to the bone. He'd forgotten about that.
"So... what are you going to do about it?" he quietly asked.
"What exactly can I do?"
"Cut your losses?"
"Don't be stupid, Draco. But why her? I don't understand it. I thought you hated her as much as I do!"
"I... don't know, Pansy. It's not like I can help it. She's kinder than you think, though. She hasn't turned down helping me with anything yet."
"But she doesn't want you."
"That has nothing to do with kindness."
"But she doesn't want you."
He clenched his jaw and his fists, fighting back the urge to yell at Pansy. "What do you want from me?" he hissed. "I know she doesn't want me. I know you hate her. I know my family would object. I know every single thing about this is as stupid as can be."
Then he turned on his heel and marched out of the library.
"Oh, look. I thought you'd be out getting drunk or snogging fifth years. Looks like you still have time to study, huh?"
Hermione cringed. Not only did she have to deal with Draco today, she also had to deal with his dreadful ex-girlfriend? She supposed that was the price of being Head Girl.
"Some of us can do more than one thing without getting confused," she said as sweetly as she possibly could. "Can I help you with anything?"
Pansy regarded her with a very distasteful look on her face. "This is difficult."
"Take your time," Hermione said, absent-mindedly doodling whilst waiting for Pansy to think up some more abuse.
"I'm not certain time will help. Look, I..." She sighed, sounding really irritable. "I don't want to be nice to you, but I'd like some answers without you going on the defensive, all right?"
Normally Hermione would make some kind of scathing response, but she was too drained for that right now. "Answers about what?"
"Last I heard, you left him for someone else, so I don't see how he's any of your business."
"We're friends. You do know how that works, right?"
"Still doesn't give you any right to butt in."
"And I won't if I can't see any reason to. But first, what happened between you?"
Hermione put down her quill. "What I imagine happens between Draco and a lot of witches."
"No, that would be nothing."
Hermione pursed her lips. "I see you haven't paid any attention to the rumours."
Pansy laughed. "I know the rumours. I started them. I also know Draco. He's a cautious wizard when it comes to intimacy, even the physical kind. I usually pretend I believe the rumours, but I think we both know better."
"I think that has changed," Hermione muttered, examining her nails.
"Then you're not thinking hard enough."
"Yes, excuse you. What happened between the two of you?"
"All right. Did you really end it to be with your cheating ex?"
Hermione gaped. Pansy certainly didn't hold anything back. "He told you that?"
"I'm asking the questions here."
"No, now I am!" Hermione said a little too loudly, and suddenly Madam Pince materialised next to her. Her face was still pinched from her illness, but that didn't prevent her from glaring at Hermione and looking scrunched.
Hermione ducked her head. "I'm sorry, Madam Pince," she said before the librarian could scold her. "I became too excited about my turn with the book."
That didn't seem to appease Pince. "I don't see why I have to tolerate your filthy little hands on all my books," she hissed. "Keep quiet or leave!" Then she vanished again.
Hermione shuddered. She'd liked it much better when Pince hadn't been around.
Pansy drew out a chair next to Hermione and moved it closer, before she continued in a low voice as if there hadn't been any interruptions. "He didn't tell me it was you, obviously. I figured that out for myself." She waved it off as insignificant.
"Eavesdropping on you. Now answer my question."
"No! I mean, that was the plan, I suppose, but..." She shrugged.
"Why do you need all these details?"
"Because Draco is stupider than dirt. I can't count on him to figure anything out on his own."
Hermione couldn't help the snort.
"So what happened?" Pansy pushed.
Hermione shrugged again. This was embarrassing. "He said... he wanted to be with other girls now."
Hermione continued, "And that it was time for me to get back together with Ron. And there was no point in... doing it again..." She fought the lump in her throat. The last thing she needed was to begin bawling in front of Pansy bloody Parkinson. "That's fine, though," she said with a shrug. "It was the deal. No promises were broken. We both got what we wanted."
Some of it, anyway.
"The thing you need to know about Draco..." Pansy finally said, "is that he's very defensive. He doesn't like to leave any opening for others to hurt him. He doesn't really have any friends, and he refuses to see most witches as people that could be interesting on more than a physical level. He's a lonely boy, but he thinks he prefers it that way. He doesn't realise that the pain is the price we pay for the joys and that it's usually worth it."
It took a while for Hermione to get over how deep Pansy was sounding and stop staring long enough to ask, "What does that have to do with me?"
"You said you had a deal. He probably said those things to you so you wouldn't say them first. If he rejected you, you couldn't reject him."
Hermione scowled. "You hate me. You're setting me up to be humiliated, aren't you?"
Pansy shook her head, looking regretful. "I do hate you and would love to humiliate you, but this isn't about me or you right now. This is about him. If you look, I'm certain you can see that he was lying. And this is about as nice as I can be to you without vomiting, so if you'll excuse me..." She turned around and left.
Hermione pursed her lips, staring at Pansy's receding back. That had been surreal.
Draco dragged his feet the last few steps towards Hermione's door. He didn't know why she'd asked him to come here. Originally, she'd said the library after school, but then she'd sent him a note, saying something had come up and to meet her up here after dinner instead.
He'd really have preferred the library.
Didn't she realise that they'd had sex in the bed in this very room?
He supposed she did. She had to sleep in that bed every night. Not that it was likely to bother her.
Reluctantly, he lifted his hand and knocked, startling when the door almost immediately swung open.
"There you are!" Hermione said, looking far too cheerful. "Well, come on in!"
He did as told and shot her a wary glance. "Like last time? I mean, last time I wrote an essay. I mean before the... um, should I sit at the desk?"
She shrugged and trotted over to the bed, swooping up a cat in her path. "So, aeroplanes, huh?"
"Yeah..." he sat down and took out parchments. "Although I don't understand how they float such a big thing without magic. It must get awfully heavy with all that metal and all those people inside."
"Science, Draco. Physics. Every time you think 'I wonder how they do that without magic?' that's probably the answer."
He nodded. He was at least beginning to understand that much. "So... why did you have to reschedule?"
"Something came up."
"You said that. What came up?"
"If you must know, I was visiting with Professor Slughorn, trying to get you out of detention."
He perked up. "Yeah? Did it work?"
"Oh. Well. At least you tried."
"I said that wrong. You don't have to do the detention with him, but he still insisted on assigning certain tasks that you could then do with me instead. During which time he felt that we could also do any extra tasks I might have for you."
"Ah." That would be hell.
"Seeing as how I landed you in that detention, I'll simply do the work and he'll be none the wiser."
He glanced at her. She'd sat down in the middle of her bed, her back against the headboard and the cat on her lap. "So..." he hesitantly began, "I don't have to do anything?"
"No. I'll tell you what you 'did' each day and it should be fine in case he asks you about it."
"Then you did get me out!"
"That has to be the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me!"
She snorted. "Don't forget that Pansy spread the sex god rumour about you."
"You're right. It's probably a toss-up between the two of you."
Her lips twitched. "What any girl wants to hear. Now, let's get back to that essay of yours..."
Getting homework help from Hermione in her room really wasn't that bad, Draco decided after a while of her obediently answering his questions and explaining the uses of aeroplanes to the best of her abilities. The only time it became awkward for him was when she leaned over him to check his book. She was too close. He could smell her hair. If he turned his head, he could kiss her neck.
He wondered how she'd react to that. Would she jump away and yell at him or turn her head against him and smile, allowing him to kiss her lips and drag her into his lap to hold her close whilst he deepened the kiss and...
"Hm?" He blinked and looked up at Hermione, who was staring at him rather bemusedly. "What?"
"Are you tired? You were completely gone for a second there."
"Uh, yeah... I guess..." Maybe he was a little tired. Or maybe he had a hard time not reaching out for her.
"We can stop now if you like."
"No, I'd really like to finish this."
"We can finish it tomorrow. You can come by when I'm doing detention work and we can continue talking there."
In the Potions classroom. A safe place. A place that wouldn't have beds or leaning or memories. "All right!"
"See you tomorrow, then," she said with a smile.
It didn't occur to him until he was out in the corridor what had been so off about this. Her good mood. He hadn't seen her in such a good mood since that night they'd spent together. Even the morning after she'd seemed kind of subdued, probably already regretting everything. And then she'd been struggling with her relationship. But today... today she'd been almost... happy?
His heart sank as he realised what that probably meant. She'd most likely patched things up with Weasley.
He sighed. Good thing he hadn't actually kissed her, then.
Hermione gave herself one last once-over before she went for her detention work in the dungeons. Pansy had better be right about Draco or she would kill her, and not in a quick and painless way. Oh, no. She had researched poisons! There would be pain and lots of it!
Yet she'd thought he'd responded a bit the day before when she'd done her best to be relaxed and approachable around him. So maybe Pansy wasn't merely out to cause misery.
Or maybe Pansy was better at causing misery than Hermione gave her credit for.
Today, Hermione planned to find out what was what for certain.
Amazingly enough, Draco had for once shown up on time for their meeting and was already seated at one of the tables in the front of the class, reading. He looked up and then stared when he saw her.
"You don't mind, do you?" she said, walking up to the front of the classroom. "Today was actually fairly balmy."
He shook his head. "No, it's fine... It's simply... been a while since you wore a skirt, hasn't it?"
She pursed her lips. Not since last time she wanted to provoke a physical response out of him, no. She'd also chosen a button-down shirt, just to have more options. "Not that long, really. But it feels like a long time, I'll give you that."
"A lot has happened," he muttered, giving her an indecipherable look.
She began climbing a ladder. "Just ask me your questions whenever you're ready," she said, going for the highest shelf.
"What are you doing?" he asked, sounding alarmed.
"I'm supposed to sort and clean these jars." She pointed to the top row of dusty glass jars.
She took out her wand and summoned the soapy water she'd prepared earlier, thanking Merlin for the magic to keep it heated so she didn't have to keep running off for more. And then she began cleaning the top shelf and jars. Occasionally, she had to get up on the tips of her toes to reach the back, but it wasn't too difficult to reach.
Draco was being completely quiet. A few glances told her he was staring at her, but right now she needed to get this task done so she could turn her mind back to more important matters. Like whether Draco still found her legs sexy.
She hadn't really thought about how the workout would make her sweat or how dusty it'd be here, though.
Oh, well. She'd have to clean up as best she could afterwards and leave further testing of Draco's potential attraction to her for another time.
There was only one small jar left in the back, when she reached up and almost lost her balance. It was not as bad as the last time she'd lost her balance on a ladder, though, and she quickly regained her footing, stretching once more to reach.
"Get down from there, Hermione."
She looked down, actually puzzled by his demand. He sounded almost angry. "Why?"
"You know that heights scare you and you risk hurting yourself if you panic."
She snorted at him. "Please. I may not be very comfortable with heights but I've flown a Thestral. A Thestral. Do you know what that's like, even for those who aren't afraid of heights? You fly on nothing you can see, high above everything... If I could do that, I can dust jars."
"That's not what you said at the library that time."
"That ladder was wobbly. I only asked you to hold it."
"Need me to hold this one?"
She sighed. "Look, either look up my skirt or do your essay, but for pity's sake stop fretting over me climbing a stupid ladder."
"If you want me to stop fretting then get down!"
She shot him an exasperated look and climbed down, but only because she was done anyway. When she was on the floor, she wiped her brow and began unbuttoning her shirt.
He immediately looked alarmed. "What are you doing?"
"I'm hot, Draco. And I probably look a fright to boot." She could only imagine what the dust did to her face. "I should probably go freshen up."
"No... You look fine, really." He looked away.
She gave him a long look and then shrugged, going closer to him. "So, what else do you need for this essay of yours?" She leaned in to squint at what he'd already written.
"Um... Muggles don't have anything like... Portkeys, do they?"
"No. That's usually when they use aeroplanes. Or cars. Or ships."
"Or... ships..." he muttered, writing everything down.
She leaned in a little closer, feeling her breasts rub against his arm. He froze. She wondered if she was invading his personal space and making him uncomfortable or if he was having a more positive reaction to her, dust and all.
"Hermione," he said, his voice strained. "Do you... need to stand so close?"
"Does it make you uncomfortable?"
"Quite frankly, it's making me confused."
"Of course it is. Tell me, Draco, did you enjoy looking at my legs?"
He flushed—something she hadn't seen in ages. "You could've worn trousers. You knew you were going to climb ladders today."
"But I told you. I enjoy showing off skin around you."
This didn't seem to help his confusion. "Why? Is it a confidence thing? Do you need reassurance that you're still sexy? You could've simply asked. I would've told you that you are."
"It's hard to ask you if I'm sexy when you're avoiding me and would rather be with anyone else."
His flush deepened. "Why are you doing this? We had a one-off and now you're obviously with Weasley, so what—"
She sighed, sitting down on the table next to him, showing off her legs whilst doing so. "Oh, don't be stupid, Draco. You know I broke it off with him."
"But you were so depressed about him and then—"
"Do I really need to spell it out?"
"Yes, please. Because I don't understand anything right now."
"Fine. You and I slept together."
"I'm with you so far."
"Then I woke up to you sneaking out and telling me that you'd rather shag other witches than me."
He flinched. "I'm certain that's not quite how—"
"Shut up. That's how it went."
"I'm sorry," he muttered.
"Then I wrote Ron—"
"Now I'm following again."
"—to tell him not to wait for me, because I'd rather be friends with him than lovers."
"What?" He looked positively stunned.
"And meanwhile you were avoiding me whilst flirting with any other girl who would look at you. You know, being true to what you'd said."
"Again, that's not quite how—"
"I told you to shut up!" she interrupted him.
"Yes, Madam Granger."
She ignored his cheekiness. "Then I stole the potion."
"And lied to me about your Weasley cheating again, obviously," he interjected.
"What was I supposed to say?"
"If you regretted breaking up with him so much, then why didn't you talk to him and work it out?"
She sighed. "You're still not getting it. Next, you caught me making a fantasy list at the library."
"I liked that list."
"And Pansy Parkinson overheard us talking when you told me about your detention."
He stared at her. "How did you know that? Did she say something?"
"She said quite a lot, actually."
He groaned. "I'm so, so sorry. Please believe that I didn't know she'd actually confront you about something that wasn't any of her business. I should've known better."
"I'm kind of glad she did, actually."
"She told me you were stupider than dirt, and I'm likely to agree."
"Are you still following?" she asked.
"No, not at all."
She sighed. She really had to do this the embarrassing way, didn't she? She slipped down on the bench next to him. "I didn't take the hate potion because of Ron."
He stared at her. "You didn't?"
"Then..." He seemed to have a hard time processing this.
"No." He shook his head.
"I mean... no." He shook his head again.
"Oh." A heavy feeling was beginning to develop in the pit of her stomach.
"No! I'm just... me?"
She stared at him. "Try speaking in whole sentences instead. Maybe I'll have a better chance of figuring out what you're trying to say."
"I'm afraid I don't... I mean, I don't think I understand," he stammered.
"Stupider than dirt, remember?"
She put her hand on his cheek and leaned in to kiss him. He didn't draw back. If anything, he seemed uncertain how to respond. When she made to pull away, though, he followed. It gave her some hope and she put her arms around his neck, kissing him more firmly.
"Wait..." he muttered, breaking the kiss. "What exactly is this?"
She looked away. Couldn't he tell? But then she forced herself to raise her head and look him straight in the eyes. "I know I said I wouldn't, but I fell for you whilst I was trying to seduce you."
She shook her head. Really? He had to ask her why? "I'll be damned if I know. The potion didn't work. I can still list a whole foot of flaws I see in you without any bloody potion, but it doesn't seem to matter."
It was his turn to look away. "Why are you telling me this?"
He couldn't have hurt her more if he'd punched her face at that moment. The implied rejection was almost too much to bear, but she had to see this through. "She said you were defensive. That you had problems letting anyone in. I only need to know if that's the reason you rejected me or if you were simply done with me."
"I don't think I can do this," he said, physically withdrawing from her and hurriedly beginning to pack up his things.
She should walk away. Now. "Look, it's easy, Malfoy," she heard herself say. "Or I'll make it easy. Just say yes or no. If you say no, I won't ever even hint at having feelings for you again. I promise. Just... make a choice?"
"I... can't..." He shook his head, grabbed his bag and all but ran out.
Crushed and shocked to the core even though she shouldn't be, Hermione stared after him.
He'd said no.
Draco rushed up to the old office, praying that nobody was using it and then sat down at the desk and tried to control his breathing.
He'd fucking panicked and he wasn't even certain why. All he knew was that he was shaking and not in a very good way.
What was happening here?
He was in love with her. He wanted to be with her. She'd told him that she felt the same way and rather than be happy and kiss her again, he'd run off.
Oh, God, the way she'd looked at him when he'd got up to leave. It had been so heartbreaking, but he'd been unable to explain what was happening. He didn't know.
Maybe Pansy had a point about his problems letting anyone in.
He'd been doing nothing but thinking up excuses why he couldn't try to win Hermione over for so long. It had never even occurred to him that she might want to be won over.
It certainly had never occurred to him that if she wanted to be won over, his first instinct would be to create as much distance between them as he possibly could.
He knew he'd hurt her badly just now and it made him feel rotten to the core.
She'd kissed him and told him she had feelings for him and then he'd fled the room like he was hunted by a dragon.
Reluctantly he got to his feet again. He could at least go to her room and apologise for that.
Before he could decide against it, he forced his feet in the direction of her room. It really wasn't that far from here. He would think of something to say once he got there, he hoped. Something to make her understand what he didn't even understand himself. She was smart. Far smarter than him. She'd tell him why he felt this way.
He reached the door and knocked a few times. She didn't seem inclined to answer, but he knew she had to be in there, so he kept knocking. Finally, she opened the door and stared at him with big, wounded eyes.
Something inside him squeezed together so tightly he could hardly breathe. "I'm sorry—"
The second the words were out, she slammed the door in his face.
He knocked again a few times, but she didn't open.
"Come on, Hermione," he said, his voice hoarse from all the emotions he was trying to keep in check. "I didn't mean..."
"Go away!" she shouted from the other side.
He winced. "There's no need for you to—"
She tore the door open and glared at him. "That is not for you to decide!"
"I know..." he muttered, mostly feeling like running away again. "I never wanted any of this to happen."
She sneered at him and stepped aside. "Get in here so I can yell at you without half the school hearing it."
He hesitantly entered. He deserved to be yelled at.
She slammed the door behind him and then turned to face him. "Why are you here?" she asked, crossing her arms. "Why don't you have the decency to leave me alone? Even you must realise that you're the last person I want to see right now."
He nodded. "Please let me explain."
"And what's this brilliant explanation for running off like that?"
She snorted. "I could tell that much."
"I didn't... I mean, I..." He began sweating. This was hard. The words wouldn't come out.
She took a long hard look at him and then sighed and quite suddenly plonked down in her chair, looking more deflated than anything. "You're sorry. I get it. You're not obligated to have feelings for me. I didn't think you did, but then Pansy made me think I was wrong and... I'm sorry for putting you in that position. You were clearly uncomfortable with it. It's not your fault. I should've known I couldn't trust her. I did know, but..." She shrugged, looking away.
He violently shook his head. "No! Listen!"
"Pansy was right, all right? I don't do feelings very well."
"I'm beginning to see that."
"No, I said that wrong. I don't share feelings very well. I have them, but... I prefer to keep them to myself."
"You're hardly the first person ever to have intimacy issues, Draco."
But it went a bit further than that! How could he explain it? "I never even told Pansy..."
"Told her what?"
He frowned, trying to find the words. "That I liked her. Going out with her simply sort of happened without me having to do or say anything. She accepted that I couldn't voice those feelings and never seemed to mind. I'm... actually better at it now. I mean... I told her about you, didn't I?"
He was afraid to ask exactly what Pansy had told Hermione about that.
"Why is it that hard for you?" she asked. She seemed to earnestly want to understand him.
He shrugged. "I have my theories. Does it really matter?"
"I'd like to know."
Girls and their constant need to believe there was a deeper reason for everything.
"My father always taught me that showing tender emotion is a weakness that can be exploited by others. It wasn't until after the Battle of Hogwarts that I saw him show any himself. It doesn't come natural to me."
Her lips were pressed tightly together. "I really don't like your father."
"I don't think he minds that."
She snorted. "Is that what you're afraid of? That I'll exploit you?"
"You are fairly dominating, Hermione." And he meant that in the best possible way. He loved the way she always surprised him.
She shook her head. "No... I'm goal-oriented. I don't want anyone to be the boss in any relationship I might have. That's not how it works."
"But that's what's so confusing to me. I was taught that I should be the boss in all of my relationships with people, but I clearly can't control you!"
"Nor do you want to."
"Think about all those other witches you've tried to go out with who either let you take charge or ran away. I believe 'vapid' was the word you used?"
"I... maybe?" This was slightly confusing.
"I think you're tired of always taking the initiative. It might scare you to not be fully in control, but it also excites you."
He stared at her. "How old were you again?"
"Don't even go there," she warned.
He grinned. "I simply meant... that was rather insightful."
"Now the question remains... are you in love with that feeling, or are you in love with me?"
He pursed his lips. "I don't recall saying anything about being in love."
"Oh, please. You're still here. You're in love." The way she said it was like it was nothing out of the ordinary, simply another fact of the day.
He couldn't help but laugh. She was so refreshingly blunt and unashamed of herself. "Please don't hold back now."
She raised an eyebrow and got to her feet. "All right, I won't. You're in love. Either with this feeling or with me or both. I must be in love with you because I certainly am not in love with feeling like an idiot for falling for someone who doesn't want me." She went up to him and put her hands on his shoulders. "I hope you're in love with me or at least want me enough to eventually fall in love with me."
He touched her cheek, unable to look away from her eyes. Of course he was in love with her. He didn't have any doubts whatsoever. "I want you more than anything."
"Are you completely certain about that?" she asked, leaning her cheek against his hand. "You mentioned your father. He won't be thrilled if we start seeing each other. I don't think meeting your family would ever be an option."
"I wouldn't be the first blood traitor in the family. What my parents intend to do about that is up to them."
"Really. I'm old enough to live my own life."
"I thought you lived to please your father."
He sighed and looked away, dropping his hand. "Yeah... Until that meant getting the Dark Mark and having to torture and attempt to kill people or alternately watch my family die in front of my very eyes. Since then, I've been much less enthusiastic about it."
She shook her head and smiled. "You're so damaged."
"Aren't we all?"
"Certainly. Do you think you'll ever be able to say the words?"
He looked at her. He had a feeling he would very soon if she kept looking at him like that. "Would it be a problem if I couldn't?"
"I think I'd be sad if you never said it."
"Hmm..." He put his arms around her waist. "But what if I had to go to Azkaban? Would you still be there when I got out?"
She snorted a laugh but stopped when he shot her a puzzled look. "Oh, you're serious? You're not going to Azkaban."
"We don't know that yet," he had to point out. "My trial is pending and—"
"And you've had stellar reviews all year and are now seeing a Muggle-born who was prominent on the winning side of the war. You're not going anywhere."
He blinked in surprise. "When you put it like that..."
"Yeah, I know. Falling for me was the smartest thing you did all year."
"So, about making you tell me anything I want to hear."
He raised an eyebrow at her. "Yes?"
"I'll need to seduce you until you're so mad with need that you can't keep quiet, of course."
"And that will motivate me to break down, how?"
"Well..." She shot him a wicked smile. "If you actually want me to have sex with you again, you'll give in eventually."
He stared at her. "You wouldn't."
"Is that a challenge?"
Well! He'd actually planned on saying the words right now, but...
He shouldn't waste such a golden opportunity.
He couldn't wait to be seduced.
"Bring it on," he whispered before he hid a smirk and bent down to kiss her.