A/N: So... I'm working on another collection and a sequel to another story, but this one-shot kind of sprung itself on me. I'm thinking I'll write a second chapter (where the "heat" with happen) that's more from Draco's POV. Read and enjoy! Comments are welcomed. xoxoxo

I do not own Harry Potter.

Returning for her eighth (technically seventh) year at Hogwarts had been trying, to be sure, but not altogether a horrible experience. The returning eighth years - including the few Slytherins who dared to return - had actually got on surprisingly well. The older students shared a separate common room, their own table in the Great Hall for mealtimes, and since they were "of age" many of the rules - including curfews - did not apply to them. The ending of the war had brought a comfortable understanding among them. Old prejudices faded as new friendships formed and the former separation between houses was just a memory only resurrected for quidditch matches.

If she really thought hard about it, the new-found camaraderie was quite refreshing and not entirely surprising. She felt that those who actually made the choice to return to Hogwarts at all were taking the first step toward admitting that the past needed to stay there - in the past.

In the early days of the fall, she was approached by a very repentant Draco Malfoy. Recognizing that humbling himself enough to speak to her, let alone apologize was a feat in itself, she chose to graciously overlook the fact that he still seemed to separate himself from the rest of them. They would exchange pleasantries in passing and occasionally study in the same space - a shared table in the library or the common room - but she wouldn't call it friendship. Perhaps peaceful coexistence was a more appropriate description.

But then it went sideways.

It had happened five days ago, but the shame and embarrassment of it was still quite present. The one time - one time - she let herself be too distracted to cast the charm to lock the door to the prefects' bathroom and someone walks in and catches her completely starkers getting out of the bath.

Not just someone. Draco sodding Malfoy.

Standing there, soap suds still clinging to the tips of her curls, naked as the day she was born, her feet stood frozen on the cold tiles. Embarrassment was not a strong enough word for what she felt in that moment. Of all the wizards in all the world….

But he walked in. Try as she might, she could not erase from her memory the wide-eyed look of shock on his pristine face and the pink tinge of his cheeks as he muttered apologies amongst obscenities and backed quickly out of the room. She hadn't been able to face him since. They didn't really interact on a regular basis anyway, but now that she was actively avoiding him, she noticed how much he was just - around.

She found herself peeking out her doorway in the morning to make sure she wouldn't see him on her way to breakfast, making certain to sit in the front row in every class to avoid having to sit with him, and even studying in her room instead of the common area in the evenings. Finally, it was getting to be too much. She needed to confront the situation and move past it - 'Gryffindor courage', and all that.

There was something else. Something else she needed to know. Something she wanted to ask but didn't dare. It tickled the back of her conscience until it almost drove her batty, but still she couldn't put it into words.

He saw me naked.

Hermione Granger was not a girl who "got around". Heaven knows she was far too busy with more important things the last two years. She didn't like the fact that the first boy to see her completely in the buff was...well it was not an ideal circumstance.

After five days of inner turmoil, she could stand it no longer and approached him in the common room late one evening.

"I need to talk to you." He slowly lowered the book he was reading and peered around the room, assuming she must be speaking to someone else. When it appeared that they were alone, his eyes rose to meet hers and he cocked a pale brow.

"Yes, Granger?"

Now that they were in fact alone...together...in the same room... Is it a thousand degrees in here?... Her eyes darted around, not wanting to make contact with the one with whom she was speaking.

"I need to ask you something….and I need you to be honest." She attempted to keep her voice calm and collected but her words came out with a bit more force than she would have liked.

"Granger, if this is about the other day, I can assure you…" He began to shake his head apologetically.

She cut him off with an emphatic shake of her head, "No. That is…" she faltered, "...not really. I mean, I know it was an accident."

"It was." He closed his book and laid it in his lap before directing his gaze at her again with a smirk. "But you have been avoiding me."

Her cheeks flared scarlet. She didn't think he would notice anything amiss - it's not as if they spent any time together, per se. Still it intrigued her a bit that he paid her any attention at all. She laughed at herself.

"Well, obviously I was embarrassed."

"Obviously." He genuinely smiled then and it was quite disarming since it happened so rarely. For a moment she completely forgot what it was she wanted to ask of him.

"So, Granger, what was your question?"

"It's just…" Oh heavens...how to ask. "You saw me...and I'd like to know...that is... In your objective opinion…" She fumbled frantically for the right words but even as she spoke, she couldn't help but regret the decision to even have this conversation.

"Granger, spit it out." He sounded mildly irritated but he smiled at her discomfort, which somehow helped her find the whole thing terribly funny.

"I need to know what you thought…." She blurted the words but continued quietly when she saw the shock on his face. "...of me. Objectively." She raised her chin in a pathetic attempt to feel that she had asked a perfectly reasonable question.

Malfoy looked down at the book in his lap a moment and cleared his throat before repeating her words. "You want me to tell you what I thought of you?"

He raised his eyes to meet hers again with a tilt of his head. "Objectively."

She nodded before crossing her arms across her chest, attempting to slow her breathing before she continued. "Look, I know we're not exactly friends so you would have no reason to be unnecessarily kind about it, and I just want…"

"Is this some kind of trap?" His voice was low, if not a bit menacing.

" Absolutely not. I would never..." she shook her head, biting her lip as he continued.

"...because this isn't funny, Granger."

"I'm not trying to…" she stomped her foot like a petulant child as she huffed out a breath. How dare he think I would bait him into something!

"Ron cheated on me!" She hadn't meant to shout, but she couldn't help it.

They looked at each other for a long moment before she continued, her eyes on the floor now, voice barely above a whisper. "He cheated on me." She swallowed hard before she was able to continue with a calm tone. "I wanted to end it anyway...but," she shook her head as if brushing off the thought, "that's neither here nor there... The fact remains that I wasn't somehow...enough for him. And I… I can't help but think that…"

"Stop." His command was so sharp that she jumped and was surprised to find his expression was softer than she expected it to be as she looked him in the eyes again. "Stop right there Granger. Don't you dare question your worth because that cock-headed wanker doesn't value you."

Her eyes were wide as she fought the unexpected tears that threatened to fall while he continued. Despite the anger in his voice, he was speaking, by far, the sweetest words she had ever heard from him.

"Ronald Weasley," he spit out the name as if it tasted vile on his tongue, "is a pathetic waste of a wizard who never deserved you."

The blush crept up her cheeks unwittingly as she reached up to wipe away a stray tear.

"But…. I'm glad you're rid of him. I never liked him anyway." There was a finality in his tone that was not to be questioned, so that topic was set aside and she ventured to press her original concern.

"The question at hand." She cleared her throat and gathered her wits again. "If you don't mind."

"Right." He seemed to examine her silently and it was all she could do to not wither under his gaze. "Objectively speaking," he smirked again at her verbiage, "and based solely on my unintentional observation in the prefects' bath," he paused for effect, "I find nothing whatsoever in the form or figure of Hermione Granger that would warrant the ginger prat to ever look elsewhere." He smiled, seemingly proud of himself as he noted the pink tinge of her cheeks. "Objectively."

She wasn't entirely sure where she was anticipating this conversation actually going, aside from just making her completely uncomfortable. "Well." She cleared her throat and straightened her shoulders. "Thank you. For that." Giving an awkward bow of her head she turned on her heel hoping to disappear behind her door and never bring this encounter up again.

"I wasn't finished." He called out to her and she paused but couldn't bring herself to turn. "I have several other observations I'd love to share with you... if you're interested."

She smirked as she faced him now. His tone was playful - he was toying with her. Well, she was not one to be toyed with. She was Hermione Fucking Granger, after all. Stepping behind the wingback chair, she rested her elbows on the back with her chin on one hand, attempting to appear cool and collected despite what this interaction seemed to be doing to her insides. "Is that so?"

Setting his book on the side table, he rose to stand, putting his hands in his trouser pockets as he stalked towards her. He only hummed his assent as he walked, his expression unreadable, and his eyes locked on hers. Part of her - a very small part - wanted to run away, but she wasn't afraid of him.

She had to keep telling herself that - she wasn't afraid of him.

Observing him as he walked - with that cool confidence he always had - she finally saw him. He was taller than she remembered, blond fringe falling over his forehead casually, shoulders broad with lean muscle - he really was handsome and it was much easier to notice now that he wasn't such a terrible prick.

His steps came to a stop in front of the chair on which she was leaning and she was grateful for the solid obstacle between them. She waited silently for him to continue while her heart hammered her ribcage.

"Although, I have to confess," his voice was low and he looked away with just a hint of uncertainty as he spoke, "I wouldn't call them objective."

"You wouldn't?" Her words left her as an embarrassingly breathy whisper which appeared to encourage him because he ventured to lock eyes with her once more. His eyes are actually quite beautiful...

He shook his head and grinned wolfishly at her. "No - these observations are a bit more….personal in nature." He paused for a beat, watching the heat rise in her cheeks. "Not really something that should be shared in the common room."

"Oh?" Damn these wobbly knees...

He shook his head and began walking around the chair, stepping around her in a wide circle as if he were either sizing her up or about to devour her whole, Hermione couldn't decide which was the more likely. "Are you curious, Granger?"

She was wildly curious, but this odd game they were currently playing would not allow her to reveal that to him. "I'm intrigued." She crossed her arms and turned to face him, only to find that he was closer than she anticipated and she had to tilt her chin up in order to meet his eyes. "I'm intrigued what it is you think you know about me."

He smiled sweetly at her now, as if he had a secret he was dying to tell her. Taking a step back, he crossed his arms to match her and continued walking around her. "Well, Granger, I'm going to my room to get ready for bed." Her eyes went wide and she thought perhaps this little cat-and-mouse charade was over - and was a bit surprised with the disappointment that came over her at the prospect of it.

Just as her brain began scrambling for something else to say, he stopped right beside her, leaning in to whisper. "In ten minutes, I'm going to come to your room - if your door is locked, I will go back to bed and promise to never bring up this conversation again."

Hermione couldn't help but hold her breath at the implication of what he just proposed, but heaven help her, she couldn't stop her mouth.

"And if it isn't?" She looked up at him through her lashes as heat pooled low in her belly and could have sworn she saw the corner of his lips twitch.

"Well then, perhaps I'll share my findings with you."

"Hmm." She couldn't manage actual words, but mustered a smirk as she raised her chin and sidled past him toward her room. She crept quietly even though that wild part deep down inside wanted to run. When she reached her door and turned around, he was still standing there, facing away from her but glancing over his shoulder in her direction. This time she definitely saw his lips curl into a smile when he sensed her eyes on him again.

She kept her eyes on the crisp lines of his white shirt as she shut the door.

But she didn't lock it.

Phew! I hope you enjoyed that! I haven't portrayed Draco in this light before, but I hope I did alright building some sexual tension between them and that it just didn't jump out of nowhere. Sorry to leave you hanging here! This will only be a two chapter work - the lemons are coming! Please only continue if that's appropriate for you - be sure to follow this story so you don't miss it.

Thanks!