Hermione Granger was a good girl. She did her homework- before it was due- and then asked for extra assignments. She was unfailingly polite to her teachers. She tutored her junior housemates in her spare time. All in all, it would be difficult to find a person who could muster up a solid criticism of her. Yes, Hermione was Hogwart's paragon of virtue and good behaviour, so why did she feel so guilty?
Her guilt stemmed from her polar opposite, Hogwart's bad boy and notorious lothario Draco Malfoy. Malfoy did his homework, when he felt like it. He was polite only to the teachers he respected, the others received several variations of snide, sarcastic, rude, and downright cruel. If it was suggested to Malfoy that he should donate his free time to tutoring others, his gray eyes would widen in genuine shock before he laughed good-naturedly at the joke. It would be difficult to find a person who couldn't muster up at least one criticism of Draco Malfoy.
But, Hermione loved him. Secretly, of course. And guiltily. But, it was love nonetheless. And, Draco loved her. Against all reason, prudence and practicality, they had fallen for each other.
Their's was a romance of stolen moments and sly glances.
She would scowl at him during his almost daily confrontations with the Golden Trio and make snide comments. But, she'd invariably glance back at him as they stormed away en masse, and smile to sweeten the blow. For his part, Draco directed the majority of his insults at Harry and Ron, throwing the occasional 'bookworm' at Hermione to avoid suspicion. 'Mudblood' was a word which no longer had a place in his vocabulary, not even to keep up pretences.
At meals they would studiously ignore each other, never looking at the other's table. If they met in the halls their eyes would meet before they realised, and they would hastily look away. In classes, Draco would smirk with his friends as Hermione leaped up and down in her chair, hand waving furiously in the air to answer questions. This was partly to maintain the pretence and partly because he genuinely found it amusing.
Potions was more difficult for them as Professor Slughorn, in a fit of optimistic madness, had decided to pair up Griffindors with Slytherins. 'Unity is the key', he had warbled genially when the inevitable eruption of outrage had occurred. So, for ninety minutes each Tuesday morning Hermione and Draco would have to pretend that they despised each other and could barely stand to speak to one another, all while sitting an inch apart at the small wooden desks. Draco found it the most difficult. Hermione, the queen of organisation, could compartmentalise her personal and school life fairly easily, especially when she was intent on learning a new potion. However, Draco had no such compunction to learn, and often found his mind wandering to the night before, when he and Hermione had been anything but separate. He often felt the need, while revisiting these memories, to reach over and stroke her cheek or to fix an unruly chestnut curl behind her ear. However, he resisted. Appearances had to be upheld after all.
The day would pass with both straining to avoid suspicion from others. Hermione had it the worst, listening as she must to Harry and Ron's daily denigration of Malfoy's character. Over and over again she had to listen as they condemned, belittled and worse, schemed against the man she loved. She tried to reign in the worst of their paranoia and prejudice against him, but Draco didn't help matters by deliberately goading them daily.
Draco's biggest issue with avoiding suspicion was keeping the anger off his face as he listened to his housemate's insult Hermione. It was difficult to sit quietly as they made fun of her for being a geeky bookworm, for having bushy hair and for being part of the Golden Trio. Even harder to endure, however, was when the Slytherin boys invariably turned to discussing her more attractive qualities. Her every curve was dissected in great detail. Speculation was rife as to how promiscuous she might be and rumours abounded that she was sleeping with Potter. As a pretty 'Mudblood' Hermione was taboo to the Slytherins which made them crave her more. Draco would try to change the subject when such topics came up. Failing this he would leave the room, fists clenched with impotent rage.
The evening would pass slowly. Hermione would spend her's by the fire in the Griffindor common room with Harry and Ron, chatting and finishing her homework. When they finally went to bed, she would make a show of climbing the stairs to her dormitory and calling goodnight to the boys. When they had disappeared inside their own dormitory, she would hurry back down the stairs and out the portrait hole. The Fat Lady would leer at her knowingly and give a saucy wink as Hermione rushed down the corridor.
Draco would be waiting in his room trying to while away the time with reading, inwardly cursing the seemingly nocturnal Weasley and Potter. He had suggested once to Hermione that she dope them with sleeping potion, but she had been horrified so he pretended he had been joking. She had giggled then, but still looked disturbed at his way of thinking.
Draco had his own room. When he had first started seeing Hermione it occurred to him that privacy would be valuable. Cue the worst night terrors that his dorm mates had ever seen. It had gotten to the point where they could no longer sleep. Thus, Snape had assigned Draco to a single room located just inside the Slytherin common room which had once housed a professor. Draco had been delighted that his plan had worked and that he managed to impress Hermione with his cunning.
Draco would sit up excitedly when he saw his door handle move and would sit up to greet Hermione as she slid silently into his room. She would pause for a moment and perform the 'silencio' spell before she ran over to Draco. He would gather her into his arms and she would snuggle her head into his shoulder. Both would sigh in contentment and be filled with awe at how right it felt to be together. After a few moments Draco would usually kiss the top of Hermione's head. She would raise her head to look at him and they would kiss, slowly at first but things tended to escalate quickly. All of the tension and repression from the day's pretence would spill out and they took full advantage of the fact that they could now touch each other freely. Draco would pause above her and say seriously, 'I love you'. Hermione would respond in kind, her eyes full with love for him.
After they had proved their love physically, they would lie wrapped up together and talk. They discussed everything about the day's events- Draco calling Hermione a woolly mammoth for example. He would apologise sheepishly. She might grin and admit it had been an inspired insult. She would begin brainstorming the insults she might call him tomorrow. He usually laughed good-naturedly until she said something like 'greasy gerbil', then he would feign offence and refuse to speak until she had apologised profusely and wet his face with kisses. Settling down with her in his arms again Draco would fill her in on the latest Slytherin speculation on she and Harry's 'relationship'. She would peal with laughter at the very idea, and Draco's chest would fill with smug pride that she only wanted him. Hermione would update him on Ron and Harry's latest 'brilliant' scheme against him and he would snicker at their weird obsession with him, and their optimistic belief that they could ever out-smart him.
Finally, they would curl up and go to sleep, bodies touching at every possible point in order to make up for the next morning when they would have to go back to 'hating' each other.
Hermione would wake up at seven and shower and dress in Draco's room. She would then escape Draco's kisses and sad, sleepy pleas to 'stay ten more minutes', and return to Griffindor tower. If there happened to be anyone awake in the common room she would say brightly that she had been at the library. Nobody ever thought anything strange about that.
And so, another day would begin. A day of being torn between love and friendship, right and wrong. A day of repressing true feelings and expressing false feelings. But, Hermione thought, as she caught sight of a gleaming platinum head in the crowd, it was worth it. He was worth it. And Draco, upon catching a glimpse of Hermione across the Great Hall at breakfast, agreed. She was worth it too.