A/N: Probably the closest to what the person who made the request wanted.
Summary: (4) Hermione asks Draco a question he is disinclined to answer. Brush your teeth after reading.
Rating: This story contains character death, graphic het!sex, and foul language. Rate accordingly.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
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Variations on a Theme
“Why are we here?” Hermione asks, sounding decidedly snobby.
Draco does not look up from his text. “Old Snape said that we had to find study partners, or he would fail us all for being brainless idiots. Word for word, I believe.”
“Believe it or not, Malfoy, I was listening when Professor Snape made his announcement,” she replies, moving from snobby to outright snotty. “I was actually inquiring as to why you suggested that we should work together.”
He does look up this time, but it is only to take a pinch of boomslang skin from the supply that Snape has given them for their project and toss it into the steaming cauldron. “Maybe I need a tutor,” he says casually.
Feeling an external pressure on the book in his hands, Draco’s eyes flicker back down and he sees that Hermione has placed her hand in the middle of one of the pages. “You don’t need a tutor,” she replies in a decisive tone.
“You don’t know that.” Draco raises his eyebrow at her.
The hand moves from his book over to the powdered boomslang skin to throw another pinch into the cauldron. “You’re not failing, so you don’t need a tutor.”
With a put-upon sigh, Draco closes his book and frowns. “Granger, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you have no way of knowing what my performance in Potions is. Maybe I’ve been failing all this time, and old Snape has just allowed me to slide by, for six and a half long years.”
“No matter what kind of money and authority your father used to be able to throw at him, Professor Snape wouldn’t do that,” she tells him, prim and logical and utterly obnoxious. “He’s not willing to suffer fools for any price.”
“Well, gosh, Granger,” he says with a bright, fake smile, “you sure know an awful lot about my Head of House. Is there something you’d like to share with the rest of the class?”
“Sod off, Malfoy.” She throws more powdered skin in the cauldron and gives the mixture a vigorous stir.
His smile turns into a smirk. “Oh, very intelligent response, Granger. Very mature.”
Draco enjoys getting under Hermione’s skin, on a level even above irritating her friends. Neither Potter nor Weasley are capable of the verbal fencing that she is; not to mention that neither of the boys make that delightful little face when they are exasperated. Hermione’s nose wrinkles and her lips purse and something in Draco’s gut is warm whenever she does it.
Which is why he will actually go out of his way to bother her.
Which is, if he would allow himself to consider it, a large part of the reason that he asked her if she would be his study partner in Potions.
He does not like this idea — she is, after all, a Mudblood and therefore meant to be his antithesis in every respect — but it has been growing in his mind for so long that it’s become too well-rooted for removal.
“When the boomslang skin has been completely added,” she tells him, rudely interrupting his train of thought, “we’ll need to change the cauldron. And let it simmer, of course.”
“So the presence of iron has an effect on the result, then?” he asks, not really intending it to be a question, tossing in the last little bit of powder.
Her scowl is humorous — Hermione is simply not designed to scowl and instead looks only petulant. “I thought you were failing, Malfoy,” she says pointedly.
“Why the hell would I be failing Potions?” he asks her with a smirk. “My Head of House is my professor and, what’s more, he likes me. Well, sort of. Inasmuch as he likes anyone. Don’t tell me that your highest marks aren’t in Transfigurations.” Blinking, he looks down at the cauldron, the contents of which have a markedly brown hue, which he does not recall from the assignment. “I think we need to move this over now — the reaction is trying to take place and there’s nothing for it to react with.”
Sniffing and obviously put out, Hermione practically slams an iron cauldron under his nose. “We’re not talking about my marks,” she says, watching him pour the contents of their pewter cauldron into the iron one and handing him a ladle. “We’re talking about your marks, and the fact that you’re a nasty liar.”
“My two hundred year old Aunt Muriel can come up with insults better than yours,” he tells her mildly, adjusting the flame under the cauldron with his wand. “And, incidentally, I never said that I was failing. I merely presented it as a hypothetical.”
“You don’t make any sense, Malfoy,” she exclaims, giving him her frustrated look, which is infinitely more attractive than her scowling look. “Why are you doing this?”
“Well…” he says speculatively, “if I don’t stir the potion, the book informs me that it will clot. And then old Snape will fail the both of us, and then you’ll throw yourself off Gryffindor Tower in shame.”
“You horrible Slytherin,” Hermione says irritably, “you know what I meant.”
Draco’s tone is deliberately conversational. “You know, Granger, last week, Ginny Weasley called me a ‘disease-ridden hemorrhoid on the arsehole of humanity.’ Now, I don’t expect you to do so well on your first try, but you’d think that someone as reputedly intelligent as you are could come up with some decent expletives.”
She smiles at him suddenly and it is all he can do not to fall out of his chair. “It won’t work, Malfoy.”
“You’re trying to change the subject,” she says sweetly.
“I am not.” He winces at the defensive note in his voice.
“Why did you ask to be my partner, Malfoy?”
He does not like the look in her eye. “Easy — a good mark without having to do any work.”
“Bullshit,” Hermione tells him firmly. “You knew I’d make you do your share of the assignment.”
Draco stares at his feet and does his best to mumble something incoherent, hoping she’ll leave him alone.
“Malfoy?” she asks quietly, that edge of steel gone from her voice.
Snapping his head up, he glares in her general direction. “What?”
Quickly, before he can realize what she is doing, Hermione leans forward and presses a gentle kiss to his lips.
He almost jumps when she pulls away, touching his bottom lip with his finger in something approaching wonder. “Why the hell did you do that?” he snarls.
She shrugs and blushes violently. “Just in case that was the reason you wanted to work together.”
As he continues to stare at her, Draco can’t keep himself from offering Hermione a shy smile.