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Story Notes:

A/N: Response to the After Dark Challenge on Slytherin_Cross
Warning: Romantic and fluffy
To everyone that adores Hermione/Blaise as much as I do!

Originally Posted: July 21, 2004

She was going to kill Malfoy.

Okay, perhaps not kill but there was definitely hexing in the future of the Head Boy.

Hermione Granger ran a hand through her thick caramel colored hair, a finger twirling one of the curls as her brown eyes surveyed the dark hallways. She was supposed to be performing patrol with the blond Slytherin, not one of her favorite activities but he wasn't really that awful and did provide somewhat entertaining conversation. It at least gave her someone to argue with as they performed one of their many duties as Heads this term. It had been his suggestion for them to venture into the darkest corners of the dungeon that evening, giving her a story about overhearing rumors of students sneaking into the hidden rooms in the lowest level of the castle to snog.

The entire story had sounded suspicious to Hermione who liked to think she knew just about everything that was happening at her school. It had not helped that Draco had been smiling smugly as he gave her the reasoning behind patrolling somewhere most students normally avoided. He was a cunning wizard, though, and she had been unable to argue that his weak excuse was possibly a lie.

Besides, she had not been able to come up with any reasonable explanation for him wanting to patrol the dungeons, the blond Slytherin quite relieved to be rooming on the third floor instead of the drafty lowest level of the castle. She had grudgingly agreed to his suggestion, having no particular fear of the dungeon or the dark. After all, she had faced far worse during the past six and a half years that she had been best friends with Harry Potter, the Boy Who Finally Kicked Voldemort's Arse.

They had barely left the staircase and entered the dungeons, however, before Draco suddenly coughed. The blond wizard had obviously been faking, making the same foolish attempts to pretend he was ill that Ron and Harry tried to make whenever she urged them to study. She had watched Draco's face, trying to figure out if he had decided to renege on their truce, the one that had allowed them to work together as Heads and become somewhat friendly amongst the insults and competition for high marks.

Looking into his gray eyes, she had not seen anything to indicate that he was planning some cruel trick, instead seeing the usual amusement and arrogance. When she had declared that she would see him back to the room, since he was so ill he could not continue his patrol, he had rolled his eyes at her sarcasm. He had then told her to continue the patrol, again with the smug, knowing smile that she always felt an inclination to smack off his handsome face, before waving his fingers at her and hurrying up the stairs to go back to their warm common room.

Yes, she would hex him for certain once she returned upstairs. A part of Hermione argued that she should just go back and finish the patrol elsewhere, knowing that Ron and Pansy had all ready checked the Slytherin dorms and the few classrooms down here, which was the only reason to really patrol this level of the castle. This end of the basement was dark and covered in shadows, the few candles along the wall not providing a large amount of light. She highly doubted that anyone would venture into this area during the light of day, much less violating curfew to do so. But, the responsible part of her knew that she needed to complete the patrol. Even if no one else knew she'd left it unfinished, she would know and that was just not acceptable. With a determined gleam in her eyes, she slowly made her way down the dark hallway.

She had just passed a curving wall when she saw movement. Stopping, she held up her wand and whispered, "Lumos," intending to catch whomever was skulking around the castle. Her eyes widened as she saw someone rather unexpected leaning against the wall of the dungeon with a smirk on his full lips. Blaise Zabini. The only wizard at this blasted school that caused her heart to race and her mind to daydream romantic visions. The dark Slytherin moved his indigo eyes lazily over her, not seeming bothered at all that he had just been caught out past curfew by the Head Girl. In fact, she had a sneaky suspicion that that had been his intention.

Hermione's eyes moved over him quickly, not wanting to get caught staring but not able to resist a slight ogle. It was a universal truth acknowledged by the witches at Hogwarts, and a few of the wizards, that Blaise Zabini was the most attractive wizard at the school. Harry was good-looking in a friendly and approachable way and Draco was often the subject of lust with his pale blond hair and pointy but handsome face and there were a handful of other wizards that were worthy of a second look as well as the occasional naughty thought. Blaise, however, was absolutely beautiful. She knew it was a strange word to describe a wizard but it was appropriate for the dark Slytherin.

His features were stunning, long black eye lashes, high cheekbones, thick curly black hair that just brushed his neck, eyes that were an amazing shade of indigo and sometimes violet, and full lips. He reminded her of a God, with his gorgeous skin tone inherited from his Italian and Greek ancestors and the graceful way he walked. He was charming and intelligent and elegant, tall and slender without an overly muscular build. Lavendar had once mentioned having a dream with Blaise as a deity worshipped by all who saw him due to his beauty and intellect and confidence, though Hermione got the impression that her friend had not been nearly as attracted to his clever mind as she was to his gorgeous eyes and pretty face.

To make him even more attractive, he was not conceited about his looks at all, laughing whenever someone mentioned them and easily making fun of himself. He was, however, rather arrogant about his mind and quite smug about his grades, which were second to her own. Like most Slytherins, he was ambitious and cunning and sneaky, though Blaise tended to be the quiet Slytherin, the one that lurked and observed and analyzed, finding amusement in the oddest things and easily fading into the background for his first five years at school. During sixth year, however, he had begun to speak up in class, his opinions and comments intriguing Hermione, who honestly hadn't even known his name and had only vaguely placed him as the quiet Slytherin no one seemed to know. He was still rather quiet, usually only speaking if he had something to say, but he was no longer ignored or overlooked, charming many with his quick wit and sarcastic observations as well as those beautiful eyes.

"Do I pass inspection?" Blaise drawled lazily, watching as Hermione's cheeks flushed at being caught staring at him. His lips curved into a smirk as he added helpfully, "If you need to see more, I can lose the robe or turn for you."

"That won't be necessary," she said sharply, miffed that she'd been caught ogling the handsome wizard and even more irritated that he was laughing at her. Though it was a bit difficult to concentrate on annoyance when her mind was dwelling on the possibility of him removing his robe.

"Sembrate bei quando siete arrabbiati," Blaise smiled charmingly.

"Don't do that, Zabini," she threatened, her eyes curious despite herself. She frowned, "You know I hate when you do that! It's not fair that you can speak Italian, a language that I hardly know, in that sexy accent and expect me to simply forget that I'm upset with you."

"Fair? What is this strange word of which you speak? I do not believe they have taught us Slytherins that particular word," Blaise smirked as she growled at him, his eyes darkening as his tongue moved along the curve of his lower lip.

"Ha! That doesn't surprise me at all," Hermione snorted, her eyes narrowing as she studied Blaise, "What are you doing out here?"

"I was merely out for a stroll," he gave her his best innocent look, though the devilish gleam in his eyes contradicted his tone.

"Why don't I believe you?" she asked drly.

"Because you are far too suspicious and sneaky for a Gryffindor," Blaise informed her loftily, his fingers smoothing the lines of his robe as he gave her a teasing smile.

"I am only suspicious when the situation warrants suspicion," Hermione said smoothly.

"And this situation warrants suspicion?" Blaise asked with an arch of his brow.

"Finding you lurking in this dark hallway that I never patrol with that 'I've got a secret' smirk on your lips? Yes, I do believe that is slightly suspicious," Hermione pointed out.

"Some might call it romantic," he leered playfully, "you and me in a dark, unused hallway. Whatever could we be doing instead of verbally sparring?"

"Blaise!" Hermione gawked at him, her cheeks flushed and her body tingling as his eyes caught hers.

"I knew you'd think of something good," he smiled proudly, confiding, "it's always the quiet ones."

"You're such an arse," she muttered as her lips curved into a slight smile.

"What was that?" he grinned, "You like my arse? Why, Hermione! You wicked little vixen. What am I going to do with you?"

"Really, Blaise, I thought you were a Slytherin," she scoffed, her eyes darkening, "I would have thought you'd have a million ideas."

"A million and one, actually," Blaise smiled smugly, having to surpass her expectations of him.

"Have I mentioned how much I love your brilliant and creative mind?" Hermione mused playfully, watching him study her for a moment before his fingers went through his curly black hair, the locks now tousled and sexier than before.

"Not today," he sniffed sadly, his eyes amused as he sighed dramatically, thankful that no one was around to witness his foolish behavior, "I was beginning to think that you only wanted me for my looks."

"Hmm…now that you mention it," she laughed when he moved forward swiftly and caught her, pulling her willing body against his.

"Brat," he whispered affectionately before his lips brushed across hers.

"Be nice or I'll give you a detention for being out past curfew," Hermione threatened, her fingers moving along the curve of his cheek, watching him smile.

"I can very nice, Hermione," he purred as his hand moved along her back, "and I was only out past curfew because I wanted to see you," his eyes moved over her face, "because I wanted to kiss you," his lips brushed against hers, "because I wanted to be with you."

"I suppose that's a valid excuse," she smiled as she leaned and brushed her lips against his, nibbling on his bottom lip. Pulling back, she saw that his eyes were nearly black, her body responding to his need. She asked, "Was Malfoy involved in this plan?"

"Yes, though only out of necessity. How else was I to lure you into the darkest corners of the dungeons so I could have my wicked way with you?" Blaise smiled smugly, "And I must point out that my plan was a success."

"Would you rather gloat or kiss me?" Hermione rolled her eyes, laughing as he kissed the ticklish spot below her ear.

"I have a surprise for you," Blaise confessed as he took her hand, "As much as I enjoy snogging you in dark hallways, it is not what I had planned for this evening."

"Merlin, I love your plans," Hermione admitted as she followed her boyfriend of fourteen months, a possessive smile on her face as he winked at her. He was the most attractive and brilliant wizard at the school and he was hers. He loved her just like she was, having no desire to change her at all, and she loved him even more for that complete acceptance and devotion. She was average in looks and bossy and opinionated and had unmanageable hair and was the top student of their year and Blaise loved her for all those things and more.

When he'd first approached her and made his interest known, she'd been very surprised and insecure because he was devastatingly handsome and a Slytherin and mysterious and quiet and bloody brilliant. She, however, was just plain old Hermione, friend to Harry and Ron, know-it-all, outspoken and not exactly quiet though she was studious. She had hesitated, not believing he was the type to play a joke but not believing he could possibly be interested in her.

He had smiled the sexy smile that he always reserved for her, and he had looked into her eyes and she had known that he was sincere, that he did like her and wanted to know her better, so she had accepted. They had been together ever since, becoming friends and then lovers. This was not the first time he had surprised her during patrol. The raven-haired wizard loved to sneak up on her and pull her into a dark corner for a kiss or conversation or both, knowing she would scold him for being out after curfew but believing the risk of detention was worth seeing her before he went to sleep.

"Ti amo," Blaise whispered as he opened a door that she hadn't even noticed. He wasn't sure what he had ever done to deserve Hermione, but he often thanked every God he had ever heard of for giving him this beautiful and intelligent woman.

"I love you, too," she smiled tenderly as she kissed him. Ending the kiss, she moved past him to enter the room. Her eyes widened as she saw the table with the hot chocolate and brownies, her favorite snack during the winter, and the vase of roses in so many shades she couldn't even count them all. There was a warm fire and pillows on the floor, the setting romantic and comfortable. She sighed, "Oh Blaise, this is lovely."

"Happy Valentine's Day, my love," Blaise smiled, seeing the look of pleasure in her eyes at his efforts to celebrate the holiday that had just begun at midnight. He had never considered himself much of a romantic until he'd fallen in love with the brunette witch, believing such gestures to be sappy and foolish. Now, though, he could admit that he was a hopeless romantic when it came to Hermione, loving to surprise her and cause her to smile and make her aware of his love in thoughtful ways. The raven-haired wizard pulled her into his arms, his eyes looking into hers as they shared a silent moment of appreciation for one another before their lips met in a passionate and loving kiss.

*the end*

End Notes:

Sembrate bei quando siete arrabbiati: You look beautiful when you're angry