Part V

Draco could tell by Hermione's expression that she didn't believe his feelings were sincere. What could he do to convince her that once in his life he wasn't lying?

"Nothing I've said or done tonight has been a lie. That statement surprises me as much as it does you, my dear. Everything I've done tonight has been steeped in truth. There's so much truth hanging off me that I don't even recognize myself. So believe me when I tell you that I'm not lying. I'm not playing games. I'm not seeking revenge. I'm… I'm…"

She placed her hands back on his chest and said in a passionate, dramatic voice, "You're what, Malfoy?"

He could detect an accusation of some sort in her question. She seemed weary and wounded, and that would never do. He needed to remedy that immediately.

Therefore, he answered her. "I'm going to kiss you; that's what I'm going to do."

Before she could stop him he lowered his head to hers, already imagining those sensual full lips under his. He imagined tasting her, smelling her, and drowning in the sound of her even before his lips touched hers. Angling his mouth closer, he was shocked when she reached up to place a hand on his cheek – to stop him? Or did it mean something more? Was the gesture meant to stop the kiss or encourage it? He hoped it was a sign of encouragement. His breath caught in his lungs and his heart fired rapid beats that felt out of time. He hadn't noticed until that moment just how much he craved the genuine, warm touch of a woman like her.

With his lips almost upon her lips, he spoke in a whisper. "If you stop me, you might as well go ahead and kill me, for I'll surely die if my lips aren't upon yours in the next three seconds."

She sucked in her breath as he counted. "One."

"You're mad," she said softly.

"Mad with desire, and getting madder every second. If you don't let me kiss you, Granger, I may burst into flames." His hands tangled in her mass of hair, and then he murmured, "Two."

"Please," she said. Something about her features softened as the plea left her mouth. No longer resisting in his arms, she moved her hands from his chest up to his shoulders, then knitting her hands behind his head.

"No need to beg, sweetness." He smiled, before uttering, "Three."

She moved slightly back in his grip just as his mouth touched hers. Moving back a hair, he said, "I'm serious. I'll expire on the spot if I don't kiss you this second."

Then she said the words he longed to hear. "I wouldn't want you to expire or anything."

That was all the invitation he needed.

He kissed her. If felt like the first time he had every kissed anyone, for it was the first time he had kissed THIS woman, in the moonlight, music floating from the ballroom beyond, moonlight and starlight cascading light down upon them. It was the first time he had kissed someone with this much desire and want. He was almost too overwhelmed to move anything but his lips, but then she leaned against his body and sighed into his mouth.

That was truly his undoing. Something long dormant awoken inside him. It was raw and potent. He wanted this woman with every fiber of his being. He wanted to kiss her now, and later, and all through eternity. He no longer cared for revenge. Any fool who ever said revenge was sweet had never felt desire this intense. Kissing her was sweeter. Beyond sweet. Beyond beautiful. It was the best thing he had ever done. He only cared for the feeling of lush lips under his, a soft feminine body pressed against his hard, aching one, and something else he could not yet name.

Blood pounded in his ears and he tilted her head back further so he could explore more of her mouth. Leaving one hand anchored in her hair, his other hand came to her face, cupping her jaw, to open her wider under his. When his tongue touched hers for the first time he was afraid he would shatter into a million tiny sparks of light.

Help his soul, she was kissing him back – mouth parted, tongue warring with his – he relaxed his grip, no longer afraid she would try to run away. His hand moved from her face to her neck. Every little beat of her pulse went through him light a bolt of lightning, exploding in his body.

His blood burned for her. He continued to kiss her, and heat swirled and coalesced like a fiery volcano, warming every inch of him. He was used to being cold, so at first he didn't recognize the heat that now ran rampant throughout every inch of his being.

She was no longer his enemy's best friend. She was no longer the bane of his existence. She was longing, pure and light. She was a passion, deeper than the core of the earth. She was a love, an emotion he had never imagine in all his years on earth that he would have the pleasure of knowing first hand.

Finally, he lifted his mouth from hers. Feeling uncertain, he smiled at her, kept her in his arms, knowing that the smile he gave her was the most honest smile he had ever bestowed on another person.

And what did she do?

She smiled in return.

The muted notes of a waltz started from the ballroom, beyond the closed doors. Draco had to strain to listen to it, but it grew louder as his breathing returned to normal. With a feeling of possessiveness, and a small amount of propriety, he moved one hand to her waist, and grasped her other hand in his. Then he said, "May I have this dance, Granger?"

She nodded, but then he amended, "No, that's not what I meant to say."

She looked at him perplexed, and he started to move her in time to the music… one, two three… one, two, three. "What did you mean to ask, Malfoy," she asked, her eyes wide with wonder, her lips full and red from a recent and thorough kissing.

Bringing his hand up from her face, while their bodies still moved in time to the music, he brushed his thumb along her bottom lip and said, "What I meant to ask was this: May I have every single dance for the rest of our lives?"

Reaching up for his hand, she stilled their dancing, brought his hand to her mouth and kissed his palm. Holding his hand in hers, she brought it down to her chest, above her heart, and then she stood on tiptoes so she could place a sweet, short kiss upon his lips. "Does that answer your question?" she asked.

"I believe it does," he said with a smile.

And indeed it did.

The End