AN: My dearest followers, I owe you all a big apology for disappearing from the scene for a few long months. I just started my Masters and my schedule is absolutely outrageous. So much so that I haven't written absolutely anything in the past three months, how sad is that... Tonight though, this one wouldn't leave me, so I decided that maybe it was time to relax and just write a short one, featuring another of my favourite pairings. This story will be published in three chapters altogether, all to be published as soon as I finish writing them. As I am about to continue writing chapter 2, that may very well be tomorrow or within the next couple of days. I missed writing and hearing from you, my wonderful followers, so please let me know your thoughts if you have a spare moment. Happy reading!
Hermione curled her feet under as she leaned deeper into her armchair and opened her book. But the letters swirled before her and the words were making no sense, and no matter how much she tried to focus, nothing worked. She closed the book with a dull thud and set it on the coffee table, picking up her tea instead. Six bloody months, how long does one need when they ask for 'a bit of space' anyway?
The war had been taxing on them all, and the Final Battle had just been the proverbial cherry on top. Their friends dead and many families broken, the victory was bittersweet to say the least. Harry was recovering well in Ginny's arms, their love finally blossoming without the threat of death and violence. And she was happy to see Harry finally healing and opening his heart to love. The relationship was still young and Hermione knew it could still go both ways, but where she couldn't be there for Harry as a best friend, she knew Ginny could as a partner.
She had the same hopes for her relationship with Ron, especially after the kiss they shared in the heat of the battle. But it seemed like there was no longer a place in his life for her. Fred's death hit the youngest Weasley son hard, and he spent a lot of time helping George out in the shop these days. That much she knew. But he wouldn't let her support him, even properly spend time with him.
'Maybe we should not see each other for a little bit..I...I need a bit of space, to think and to...just be with my family' she could still hear his words after Fred's funeral.
That had been the last time they had a proper conversation. Ever since then, it was like he avoided being in the same room with her alone. Whenever she stopped by at the shop, he would greet her, offer a small smile and then disappear into the back room for stock. When she attended the Weasley Sunday brunch, he never stayed long and only talked to her when necessary. Was this Ron's third and final time to abandon Harry and herself? There was no way of knowing truthfully, unless Ron actually talked to her. But six months... Was she even hoping anymore? Was it worth waiting around for someone who clearly had no interest in their relationship? Is this how she would spend most of her evenings instead of enjoying the freedom and chance at a new life they fought so hard for?
Well she knew at least one person who would smack her over the head for such thoughts, and that was none other than Draco Malfoy. Lord Peroxide, as she secretly liked to called the blond despite his natural locks, was a right pain in her ass, but also surprisingly a really good friend these days. He was there beside them in the front line when the Final Battle went down, and apparently had been working with the Order for the year before then, even though his family life was crumbling around him. In the end they both ended up orphans, as Hermione's parents were killed in a car accident in Sydney, and Lucius and Narcissa were casualties of the battle, but it was something else that brought them close together.
Since there were no more crazed Lords and parents to please, Draco actually apologised to Harry and Hermione for the way he treated them, and eased up on the attitude quite considerably. It took a night out and plenty of firewhiskey for a truce to be established, but Hermione could see the sincerity in the blond's words when he admitted that he was tired of the whole persona. If nothing else, the war taught them that they were all humans, and they could all die and bleed the same. Draco was still a pragmatic man and a cunning Slytherin, something that would never change and Hermione was surprisingly grateful for it, so he worked hard to clear his family name and establish himself within the new order in Wizarding Britain. His inheritance remained vast enough for him to devote himself to charity alongside Malfoy Industries, and the public was soon accepting him back into their ranks.
Their friendship was solidified when Hermione established the Memorial Library on Diagon Street, for the public to have access to books that no longer had owners, and selections from libraries that became the property of Gringotts after the family lines died out and they were left forgotten in the vaults. It was Draco who donated the initial funds to buy the property and set up everything the library would need. He was their main benefactor and the library has flourished under their joined patronage. Hermione finished her N.E. after setting the place up and had since established herself as the Manager of the whole project, making them the most desirable bachelor and bachelorette in the business world.
Was that what she was however, a bachelorette? Was Draco also the reason why Ron no longer appeared to have any interest in her? He never mentioned the blond, but maybe that was his problem all along. Even so, Hermione decided that if Ron asked her to choose, she wouldn't. She felt no compulsion to choose between the man who was once her best friend but could be much more, and a good friend who supported her in her new life.
Her thoughts were so glum she didn't even notice the roar of the fireplace and the very blond on her mind stepping out into her living room. "Sweatpants, Granger? Really?" he snickered and Hermione finally noticed him.
"Well look at you mister chic." She drawled back, raising a brow at his attire. "Jeans? The grand Lord Malfoy wearing jeans? What has the world come to..." she grinned. Truth be told, while dressed simply, Draco still looked very handsome. The dark-wash jeans were just a little loose on his slim frame, and the black polo shirt tight enough to show off his Quiddich physique. By now she was used to it however, especially since Draco looked good in about anything. The DC sneakers were a bit of a surprise though.
Draco merely rolled his eyes and plopped himself down onto her sofa, stretching his long legs out comfortably. "Seriously, you need to get out of here. You've been acting like a hermit these past couple of weeks. You even missed our lunch date on Wednesday, Granger! And I am a busy man." he raised a brow, expecting a damn good excuse.
Hermione sighed and took a sip of her tea. "Sorry, got hung up at the library and my phone died on me almost right after I left the apartment. I keep forgetting to charge that thing." she admitted.
Draco just rolled his eyes. "Fine, you're forgiven just this once. But since you bailed on me the day before yesterday, you will come with me now. No excuse." he said firmly.
"And where am I supposed to let you drag me off to?" she asked, wondering what he was planning. The slytherin was still very much used to getting his way and often surprised her with lunch dates in random little places around muggle London where they wouldn't be spotted, or a visit to one of his charities that made her forget her own work for a few hours. But never had he before barged in on her in the evening with a demand to take her out.
Draco chuckled with amusement. "It's a Friday night, the possibilities are endless. You, my friend, need to relax a bit or you'll keep walking around looking like you swallowed a bloody ruler." Hermione huffed and began to protest but he silenced her with a raised hand. "I know, I know. You're stressed and still waiting on Weasley, but really. It's been too long. You haven't been on a night out in months, and I could use the company." he shrugged.
She raised an incredulous brow. "And that company should be me? I've seen you in action, Draco, and know very well about your weekly conquests. If I go out with you, it could damage your...flow or whatever you call it."
Draco just laughed at her reasoning. "Flow? Seriously, Granger? Trying to keep up with the kids theses days?" he winked and received a fluffy pillow in the face for his efforts. "No, seriously. You've been hiding behind books for too long, it's time you get out there and have some fun with someone who can give it to you good."
Hermione wrinkled her nose at the crude words but when she looked at the blond again, she knew there was no way she would refuse this one. She needed a distraction, and maybe going out with Draco would give her just that. "Alright. But where are we going? I need to know what to wear." she said and got up to get the blond some firewhiskey.
"Brixton Jamm. Live hip hop and RnB tonight, I promised to be there." Draco smirked at her surprised expression.
"Hip hop? Who's trying to keep up with the kids now?" Hermione shook her head disbelievingly. "And you want me to endure a night of that?" she asked.
"Oh come on Granger, live a little. Would you prefer a grimy pub? No? Thought so. I promised Beatz and Pepe to be there. They're good kids from one of the worse neighbourhoods. They may be always getting into trouble but at least they know good music and dancing. So just go with it and see what happens?" he suggested, knowing he was on thin ice.
He may have known Hermione this well only for a few months but their friendship was an instant one once they called a truce and realised they had more in common than they thought. One thing Draco always envied the brunette was her persistence and dedication. Whether it was to her friends or her work, Hermione seemed to be able to put her own passion into everything she touched. She helped him most when he needed a good friend after the war, and he had no qualms about giving back just as good as he got to the first real friend he had in his life.
He may have been popular when younger, but none of those people were ever real friends to him. In Slytherin, everyone had their own agenda and he was no different then. With Hermione, there was just something about the way they were that clicked for him, and he decided not to question the quick connection. This time though, he was pushing it and he knew it. Hermione rarely went out for fun in the past months and he blamed the Weasel now more than ever for that. He had tried once to reason with her, make her see that the waiting was pointless, that she was holding onto something that will never happen, but in the end it only turned into an argument. Merlin, was she a stubborn one. And so he left the issue alone for a while. Enough was enough though and six months was way too long. It was time Hermione gripped the reins firmly and let the lioness within her roar. And Draco would take immense pride in getting her there, even if he would never be thanked for it.
Hermione set the tumbler of whiskey on the table before him and finally nodded. "Alright. But no funny business and don't leave me alone with the sharks. You want to leave with someone, do so, but tell me you're leaving." she lay down the rules.
Draco actually smiled sincerely at her agreement. "Alright, promise." he looked at his watch, noticing they still had plenty of time. "Take your time, Granger." he winked, the surname he still called her by more a term of affection these days than anything else.
And Hermione did just that. She took her time in the shower and decided to go all the way, applying some light make up to enhance her natural features. The only trouble came when she was choosing what to wear. There was no way she was wearing a dress and heels to a hip hop club. Instead she wiggled her way into some light blue jeans, tightened her belt and slipped on some sneakers. The only issue she was having with was a top. Clubs tended to get hot pretty fast but all she had was summer dresses, work clothes or sweaters. She tied her simple black bikini top on instead of a bra, knowing there was no point in sweating through lingerie.
"Draco! I have nothing to wear!" she called, huffing as she tied her hair up into a messy bun before rifling through her wardrobe again.
"My my, Granger. You've been hiding." Draco's voice drawled from behind her and she turned around, startled to see the blond leaning against her door frame and taking in her figure.
Draco had never really considered her looks too closely before, but seeing her without the sharp pencil skirt or a large sweater was quite a revelation. Who knew Hermione Granger, bookworm extraordinaire, was hiding the body of a curvaceous siren beneath all those clothes? Rounded hips enhanced by the tight jeans, flat inviting tummy, a narrow waist and just the right handful hidden by the black triangles of her bikini top. He would have to take her shopping and burn those sweaters just to make her show off that body...
"Stop staring and help me find something." Hermione said irritably but her cheeks were pinked slightly at the intensity of his gaze. She was by no means inexperienced, summer and winter vacations in France saw to her meeting some wonderful people, exploring and growing into her own sexuality. But it has been months since someone looked at her that way and after the war she vowed to herself that it would stay that way until Ron finally decided whether he wanted what they could have or not.
Draco stepped into her bedroom properly and took a good look at what she had there before shaking his head. "This won't do. Do you have an old t-shirt or something?" he asked, pointing at a chest of drawers.
Hermione opened one of them and pulled out a washed out band t-shirt she got at a concert when she was fifteen. "Something like this?" she asked.
Draco took it and after a short look nodded. "Do you have any kind of sentimental bond with it?" he asked.
"No, not really, it';s just an old-HEY!" she cried out as he took out his wand and severed more than a half off. "What did you do that for?" she asked, grabbing it back.
"Try it on." he said, not phased by her anger at all.
Hermione huffed and pulled the ruined shirt over her head, looking into the mirror. It was cropped so short it barely covered her bikini top and shower off all of her belly. On second though, it looked really good but she wasn't sure she wanted to show that much skin. Draco came up behind her and carefully released her wild curls, carding his fingers through them until they rippled around her shoulders and down her shoulder blades.
"That's more like it." he grinned, looking her over once more. It was definitely time for Hermione Granger to stop hiding.
"I don't think this is a good idea." Hermione said, still unsure whether she wanted to do this.
Draco however looked into her eyes through the mirror and grinned. "Come on Granger. I dare you. Just this once, trust me and let go." he said softly but the challenge was clearly there.
And Hermione didn't know whether to blame temporary insanity, or the fact that Draco just made her want to do outrageous and new things because he was Draco, but she finally nodded and slipped her hair band on her wrist for later if her neck got too hot. "Alright, let's do this."
Draco led her to the living room and settled his leather jacket over her shoulders to wade away the November chill before apparating them with a pop, both of them thinking the same thing. This will be a night unlike any other. And they had no idea just how right they were...