A/N: I wrote this piece as a gift for my favorite internet friend: RZZMG. She's a wonder. I've never met anyone who works harder or is more giving. I'll be forever grateful that she's a Dramione fan as her writing is beyond compare. Not only is she totally amazing at writing, she's prolific at it, as well. She's kind and thoughtful, smart and eloquent, generous and fearless. I love her to the moon and back and all the way to the bottom of my heart. RZZMG, I hope you enjoy your gift.

Disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot. These characters are not mine, but I'm ever so glad they exist!


April 5, 2007

"Astrobonically rich is what I am, Astoria; that's why you should have dinner with me."

Hermione held back a laugh. "Do you mean astronomically, Malfoy? And how does the state of your Gringott's account have anything to do with her going to dinner with you?"

Draco scoffed. "Granger, that is NOT what Astoria would say. And she has about as much Muggle knowledge as I do; she won't know if I get a word wrong!" Despite his assurances that his word choice didn't matter, she noticed that the tips of his ears were tinged pink – a telltale sign of his embarrassment. "You're supposed to be helping me here, Granger, not making fun of me," he exclaimed petulantly.

Sometimes dealing with him was like dealing with an errant child, Hermione thought with a small shake of her head. Internally sighing, she held up her hands in surrender. "Okay, Malfoy, you're right. Let's try this again, from the top; but first, is it really your money that will woo Astoria?"

"We've been over this, Granger," he said. And here, his voice took on the tone of his father, implying he was about to repeat words he'd oft heard from Lucius. "It disappoints me that we have to have this conversation again. You're not getting any younger and you owe it to the Malfoy name to produce progeny in a timely manner." At her prompting he continued, this time without the high-handed tone. "Astoria comes from a family that my parents are well acquainted with; they won't have any objections to her. Also, I don't have to worry about introducing her to them and the brooms they'd make her fly."

"Your parents make new people fly on brooms?" Hermione asked, truly puzzled but conjuring some absolutely terrifying and hysterical images at the mere thought. She, herself, had met them many times now and never had to ride a broom for them. Which was probably good, since, you know, she hated flying.

"Granger," he said with a roll of his eyes. "It's a wizard saying. It just means they like to interrogate and try to intimidate. You know," he said, with a wry smile, "they want to make sure the new person can hold their own, can prove themselves."

"Okay, so your parents like to vet your dates. What parents don't?" she asked, one eyebrow arched, clearly not getting it.

"Granger, Granger, Granger." Draco grimaced. "If only it were that simple. My parents are Slytherin through and through. Their interrogations are not just about getting to know someone; they are complicated mazes of ridiculously loaded questions. It's about weeding out the unworthy. Not everyone has pure motives; not everyone can be trusted. My parents haven't lasted this long by being stupid."

Hermione shrank back from him. Frowning, she commented, "You make it sound like we're still at war."

"The Dark Lord may be gone, and it may no longer be a life or death situation, but you're naïve if you think pure-blooded society isn't still a type of war. Oh, it's no longer about blood status, not really, but it's a constantly shifting landscape of allies, enemies, backstabbing, and ladder-climbing, all to ensure that each family feels they have the advantage over the others."

Hermione nodded thoughtfully. "So your parents don't have to vet Astoria because your families are already allies?"

"Of sorts. We're not fully allied until there's a marriage, but for all intents and purposes, we're as allied as families get without that. Her mother and my mother were good friends growing up, which bled over to their husbands when they got married."

"So Astoria will please your parents and solidify an alliance of sorts. That's all well and good, but not very romantic. How do you feel about her?" Hermione asked, genuinely curious to see if she could get him to talk about his feelings.

"You and your love of romance." He paused, smiling slightly to himself. That was one of the things he enjoyed about being friends with Granger – you wouldn't necessarily know it just by being casual acquaintances with her, but she was totally girly when it came to love. She believed that love was the heart of marriage; she'd rather be alone than marry for some more practical, pedestrian reason, despite how very logical she was in most other contexts. How did you explain arranged marriages to someone who hadn't grown up knowing marriage had very little, if anything, to do with love? If a person was lucky, they'd marry and feelings of companionship and a deep friendship would occur; only the very luckiest found love with their betrothed after the marriage , he didn't think the idea of mistresses would sit well with her.

"Arranged marriages are just tradition, Granger. I actually have quite a bit of freedom in my family. My parents didn't pair me up with anyone the moment I was born. There are expectations on me, of course, on whom I should end up with, but they don't have a particular person picked out for me. It's more of an unspoken list of qualifications for a 'Great Malfoy Bride'." He stopped at the stricken, slightly pitying look in her eye, wanting to erase that look and throw her a bit of a bone. "I don't not like Astoria. I guess I don't know her that well; she seems nice enough. She understands the expectations on us, regardless of whether we actually end up together. And you know," he said, nudging her foot gently with his, "all is not entirely lost to me in an arranged marriage. There will be love inside the marriage, or there will be love outside of the marriage; either way, I won't be loveless, so you can stop feeling sorry for me."

Hermione sputtered, but did not manage to form any actual words.

"Offended your sensibilities, have I?" he asked, with a bit of a sneer. "That's the way of things, Granger. I may not have asked to be born into this life, but I'll be damned if I'm stuck without love for eternity just because I happen to have to marry a certain type of woman."

Hermione's cheeks burned from his condemnation, despite knowing she was not wrong. She straightened her spine, indignant that he didn't see where she was coming from. "I just – I mean – marriage… the vows… they mean something, Malfoy. You shouldn't get married to someone you don't want to spend the rest of your life with."

He was livid. How dare she look down on him for something about which he had no (okay, very, very little) control? It was hypocritical of her. If he couldn't look down on her for her blood status, then she had no right to judge him for his choices related to marriage – he had no choice in the matter. At least that was how he felt. And that was exactly what he told her.

But of course she didn't see it his way and they had argued until she threw him out of her flat.

Fighting was their thing, but it usually stopped short of them actually hurting one another – it was just something they thrived on, something to do to stimulate the mind. They could argue about almost anything, sometimes simply playing devil's advocate for each other, for no other reason than because it felt good. But this, this fight was different. This would not be easily swept under the table and forgotten.

He slammed the door on his way out. He'd left the Muggle way so he could walk around for a while and try to cool himself down. It wouldn't do to arrive home in such a state – it would only prompt questions he was unwilling to answer.

Shite! He'd gone over to her flat to get help with Astoria and now they'd had a huge row and he was uncertain of the best way to approach Astoria. He and Astoria may both know what was coming in the way of dating and time spent one-on-one rather than chaperoned, but he still wanted to ask her out properly. What was he going to do without Granger's advice? And why did she have to be so blasted stubborn? Why couldn't she try to understand him?

Meanwhile, back in her flat, Hermione was also fuming. She picked up a vase off her coffee table and hurled it against the wall, pretending the vase was Malfoy's face. God, he was SUCH an arrogant prick! How dare he bring up her blood status and compare it to his silly arranged marriage! Oooo! He was SO frustrating; he made her blood boil!


May 3, 2007

"Boring." Granger has just asked him about his date with Astoria and it was the only descriptor he could think of. She scoffed, which made him smirk a little. He had missed her over their three week fight – the longest fight they'd ever had, the most serious fight they'd ever had, if he was honest with himself. He still didn't think he was entirely wrong – it didn't feel like he had a choice – but he could see where he had hurt Granger. He'd brought up something they'd had an unspoken agreement never to discuss. He'd known, once those hateful words came out of his mouth, that he hadn't meant to hurt her. He was just so bloody frustrated with the situation. While he knew, understood, and accepted his duty as a Malfoy, he also wasn't willing to live life without love, even if it meant straying outside the bounds of the marriage bed. That's what made this so difficult; he didn't want to cheat on his wife. Oh, he knew plenty of pure-bloods did; many of his friends' parents stepped out on each other; his father had even told him it was the rule, not the exception. But he'd seen the love between his father and his mother. While it hadn't been flashy or overly demonstrative, they had loved each other genuinely and deeply. He wanted that. He thought, just maybe, he might even deserve it. But if it couldn't be with the witch he was married to, he'd still be damned if he didn't have it in some way, shape, or form.

It had taken him two weeks to swallow his pride and apologize to Granger. It had been four more days before she accepted his apology and offered a tentative olive branch of her own. While he knew that she would never be able to condone him having an affair, she was able to apologize for not trying to see where he was coming from, or understand that the society he was raised in had different rules from what she was used to.

It had been a bit awkward between them the first time they hung out after the fight, both of them walking on eggshells, until he'd finally gotten sick of it; he'd baited her into a stupid argument over the merits of chimera scales as wand cores in order to get them back on easy footing.

They were currently sat in her flat, eating Chinese takeout in her living room. They had eschewed the sofa in lieu of the floor; during one of the very first hangouts they had ever had, she had introduced him to the joy of eating Chinese food straight from the carton. Now, unless they were actually in a Chinese restaurant, he refused to eat it any other way.

She flung a lo mein noodle at him. "Malfoy! That's mean. I'm sure Astoria was lovely!" Though internally, she found herself a bit relieved that he hadn't enjoyed himself. Perhaps they wouldn't have to cross the married but having an affair bridge just yet.

"Granger!" he mocked. "I can say whatever I damn well please. It's not my fault her conversation makes the Weasel's seem sparkling by comparison!"

She snorted and stuck her tongue out at him. "Perhaps she was just intimidated by you? Or perhaps she was simply acting the way she was told a pure-blood wife should act?" She held her breath momentarily, unsure if she had just reopened that tender subject, but Malfoy simply smirked at her, saying, "That's probably accurate." He took a bite of his food before adding, "And besides, it's not like I was at the top of my game, either, what with you and me not being on speaking terms." He rolled his eyes at her, "I guess I'm going to have to take Astoria to dinner, again."

"Oh, come off it! Don't act like taking her to dinner is going to be some sort of hardship for you. She may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but she's gorgeous! Just keep your vocabulary simple and sit back and stare at her. You're bound to enjoy your dinner that way!" Hermione was only mostly joking; Astoria truly was gorgeous, and she and Draco would have beautiful babies when/if it came time for that.

"Granger! What I need is someone to provide outside stimulation if the atmosphere goes south. You're good at making people feel comfortable, you know?"

"You want me to come and be your buffer? Are you insane? I can't come on your date, Malfoy. Astoria would never stand for that; and I would never disrespect her like that!"

"I never exactly mentioned you being the buffer, but fine, fine, I see where you're coming from. What if you brought a date? It could be like one of those twople dates?" he said, with his most endearing grin – the one he reserved for when he wanted to get his way.

"You mean a double date," she corrected. "And I'm not dating anyone right now, you know that; I don't have anyone to bring. Thanks ever so for rubbing that in." She glared at him before resuming her meal.

He leaned over to chuck a finger under her chin. "Leave it all to me, Granger. You know what your problem's been?"

She jerked her chin out of his hand and stuck her tongue out. "No, but I'm sure you think you're about to enlighten me," she said with a roll of her eyes. "Do me a favor? Pass me the fried rice before getting on your high horse?"

He handed her the carton, but not before taking a large bite himself. "Haha. Hear me out before you judge, you harpy." He winked to show her he was joking. "You always pick men who are beneath you; that's why none of your relationships have worked. They start out fine, I'm sure, but eventually, the men become passive. When this happens, you are no longer challenged, and you become bored – rightfully so." He held up his hands to show he wasn't judging her. "Let me bring a date for you to this dinner with Astoria. Then you'll be there to help out, in case Astoria is so boring that I drop dead in my soup course. But there's also something in it for you."

"Oh, you mean like watching you drop dead in your soup?" she asked, batting her eyes in her best impression of innocence.

"Ha ha. As funny as always, Granger. You'll be getting a date with a guy who can not only keep up with you, but may actually surpass you, if I'm being honest."

"When are you ever honest, Malfoy? You're a Slytherin," she said, one eyebrow rising in disbelief.

"Fine, if you're too chicken to face a meal with a real man…" he trailed off, knowing his words would prompt her outrage.

"I'm Gryffindor, you idiot. I'm not a chicken! Fine, bring your little friend to this dinner, but if he disappoints, you owe me."

"Name your terms." He may have been giddy on the inside at having gotten his way, but he also wasn't an idiot. He wasn't going to agree to owe her anything until he knew what she would be expecting.

She tilted her head to the side and scrutinized him, weighing her options. She bit her lip and tapped one finger against the side of the fried rice container she was still eating out of. "Alright, Malfoy. I'll go on this double date with you and the man you'd like to bring for me. But if I'm not satisfied with him, you have to take me on a shopping spree to Flourish and Blotts. And you can't complain while you do it."

He hesitated momentarily – Granger's book-buying sprees were legendary – and that was when she didn't have someone footing the bill for her. But he was pretty sure he wasn't going to lose this bet – he knew plenty of intelligent men; surely one of them would be interested in having dinner with Granger. He smirked at her, held out his hand for her to shake, and said, "Game on, Granger. You're going down. And you're going down hard."

It was Hermione's turn to smirk. "That remains to be seen, Malfoy, but I very rarely do that sort of thing on the first date. Even if I did, it's unlikely you'd be around to witness it."

His jaw literally dropped for a second as her innuendo slapped him in the face. He quickly snapped it shut though, hiding his shock and the flare of heat that went through him as the mental image of her sucking one of his friends' cocks deep into her mouth flooded his brain. He took a sip of water to clear his suddenly dry mouth and ended up choking on it. When his airway was finally clear, he aimed what he hoped was a glare of disgust at her. "Granger, that's entirely too much information. I hardly want to imagine you doing that with a friend of mine."

She shrugged and continued eating, smiling to herself at his attempt to look fearsome. She loved occasionally saying things that would shock him. His face when he figured out what she was alluding to was one for the Pensieve. She'd consider this a down-payment for when he lost this bet.


June 7, 2007

Cinnamon and sugar flooded her mouth as Hermione licked her fingers after dusting the spices onto the apple cake she had made for Malfoy's birthday. Sure, there was going to be a huge ball in his honor at the Manor tomorrow night, but tonight was Thursday – their designated hang out night. They got together other times, but the first Thursday of the month was always just the two of them.

They had been thrown together quite a bit after the great Slytherin exodus into the Order of the Phoenix during the Second Wizarding War. They were paired up doing research to help with the war effort and found, when they went on missions, that they worked together in quite a complementary fashion. Their camaraderie increased when, after the War, Ron and Pansy had gotten married. Having their best friends get married meant a lot of group hang outs, and they found they enjoyed each other's company even without the stress and tension of the war. Ron and Pansy's marriage drew many unlikely people to their group hangouts, from all across House lines. It wasn't unusual to see any combination of Blaise, Theo, Ginny, Harry, Luna, Neville, Tracey, Pansy, Ron, Draco, Hermione, Padma, and Parvati. Various others ones came occasionally, and not all of these made it every time, but they could often be found in each other's homes, or out for dinner or drinks. But they all knew that the first Thursday of every month belonged solely to Draco and Hermione - it was a bit of a sacred ritual for both of them, one they stuck to no matter what. They couldn't remember what had started it, but it was probably down to the time they'd had to spend together helping with preparations for Ron and Pansy's wedding.

Hermione put the cinnamon and sugar away and stopped to check on the tomato sauce she had made for the spaghetti they were having for an entrée. She untied the strings of her apron and pulled it over her head just as she heard the Floo in her apartment activate. Laying it quickly on the counter, she hurried out to see him. "Happy birthday, Malfoy!"

He grinned in spite of himself, but quickly stifled it. It wouldn't do to show her how pleased he was to be celebrating himself, again, tonight – she'd know anyway, she was good at reading him. "It's not my birthday any longer, Granger. I'm afraid, in your old age, you're forgetting things."

She snorted. "Malfoy, you cad! I'm not even nine months older than you!" She barely contained her mirth. "You know I love birthdays; they should be celebrated for as long as possible! But if you don't want the cake I made you, that's fine. I'm sure Harry and Ron will enjoy it tomorrow." She knew he wouldn't be able to stand the thought of those two enjoying something of his. The three of them might be friendly now, but friendship only went so far when rivalry ran as deep as theirs. Just as she predicted, he was quickly backpedaling.

"Granger," he whined, "don't be daft. I suppose eating cake is never a bad thing; I guess I could choke some down."

She rolled her eyes at him, internally smiling to herself. "Thanks ever so, Draco. I know how put out you must be," she said drily. "Are you hungry?" she asked.

"Famished, if truth be told. Father's a slave driver, and I missed lunch today."

"What were you working on that you couldn't even take a break for lunch?" she asked, heading back into the kitchen, knowing he'd follow.

"Oh, you know- acquiring companies, taking over the world, that sort of thing." He walked over to the cabinet that held her glasses and took two down. He filled them with the red wine she had sitting on her counter and brought them over to her kitchen table. He then took the plates she had filled with spaghetti and placed them on the table, as well. "You may have missed your calling, Granger; this smells delicious!"

"Thank you, but I'm sure it doesn't compare to the food we ate in Italy. I still can't believe you took us there on that disastrous double date! The food was the only thing that kept me from getting up and walking out."

Draco smirked. "The food was delicious, wasn't it? And of course we went to Italy! If you want to experience authentic cuisine, what better place to do so?"

"I mean, I suppose that's true, but seriously, most people don't just dash off to Italy at a moment's notice! International apparition licenses are very expensive."

Malfoy just shrugged, apparently used to the perks of being disgustingly rich. "The fee is absolutely worth it, Granger. I like being able to go wherever I want when the whim enters my head. Besides, we didn't have to Apparate last night; I could have used the Portkey the restaurant owner gave me."

Granger clearly didn't believe him. He sighed deeply. "Honestly, Granger, sometimes I don't know what to do with you. Restaurant owners, as well as shop owners and other businesses or tourist locations have the option of giving out a small number of Portkeys to their places of business. Besides allowing the person who has the portkey to come and go as they please, there are usually additional perks involved – for restaurants, it means there's always a table open for you."

She stared at him, not quite sure whether to believe him, or not. "How many of these Portkeys do you have?"

He thought about it for a minute, "Dozens, I suppose. I've never really counted them, before."

She was flabbergasted. It was sometimes hard to believe how the other half lived. And she hadn't exactly grown up poor, herself. She gave a shake of her head before asking, "Have you seen Astoria since our disaster of a date?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact. We had tea yesterday. She couldn't stop talking about how much she enjoyed your company." He paused a moment before looking at her out of the corner of his eye and continuing, "She is quite determined to play matchmaker for you."

Hermione choked on the bite she had just taken. Reaching for her water glass to clear her throat, she tried desperately to clear the food lodged there. She took a sip of water, hand to her throat to try to help massage the food out of the way. Finally righting her situation, she stammered, "Um… what?"

Draco's smirk grew. "Apparently, she thinks you're quite the catch; she enjoyed your company so much, she's determined to see you marry well. She's roped me into agreeing to help. I'm to persuade you to agree to double date with us again, but this time Astoria will bring a date for you."

"Isn't it against the Slytherin code for you to be telling me this? Shouldn't you be manipulating me into agreeing to another double date?"

"Granger, Granger, Granger. Don't pretend to understand Slytherins – we're a crafty breed. I'm telling you, instead of manipulating you, because the look on your face was priceless! Definitely worth skipping the normal Slytherin rules." Hermione continued to look wary, and a little bit alarmed. "Cheer up; it could be worse. You'll be getting to spend more quality time with me, as well as eat exquisite food and enjoy exotic scenery. What more could you ask for, really?"

"Gee, I don't know, Malfoy; how about a date that doesn't try to molest me during the salad course." Was it her imagination, or did his jaw just clench at the mention of Marcus' manhandling of her?

He cleared his throat. "That outcome was regrettable. Flint is usually much more a gentleman than that."

"I find that hard to believe, since when I went to the bathroom during the main course, he was snogging out with one of the waitstaff and he had his hand so far up her dress…"

"Fine!" he exploded. "I picked a world-class prat to be your date that evening." He took a deep breath, subconsciously clenching his fist. He had to remind himself that he'd taken care of things when he punched Marcus in the face more than once at the end of that evening. No one treated a woman like that in his presence, let alone his Granger. "You don't have to worry about him anymore. He won't be treating anyone that way again. We had a little… talk at the end of the night, and I'm certain he sees things my way now."

She was startled that he had felt the need to stand up for her that way, though part of her was grateful that she wasn't the only one who told him his actions were wrong. She'd pried Marcus' hand away from her thigh and when he'd put it back, moments later, she'd stabbed it with her salad fork. Needless to say, he'd made a bit of a scene, but he hadn't put his hands on her again. Marcus had eventually found sympathy for his bleeding hand – yes, they could have fixed it with magic, but none of them were willing to, and he couldn't fix it himself, because she'd gotten his wand hand – with one of the waitresses, which is how he ended up snogging her in the bathroom hallway – tres classy!

The remaining three had managed to actually have quite an entertaining conversation, revolving mostly around Hermione and the Golden Trio's escapades at Hogwarts. Apparently, at some point during their meal, Astoria had decided Hermione Granger was to be her next matchmaking project. She'd had some recent success matchmaking her sister, Daphne, with the older brother of Pansy Parkinson. She'd also had a hand in nudging Ron and Pansy together and was working on making sure Harry ended up with Tracey Davis and Ginny ended up with Blaise Zabini. She apparently already had Hermione's first candidate picked out! They'd all be meeting for dinner again next week.

"Well, thank you for defending my honor. Are you ready for our dinner next week? Where will we be going? Do you know who Astoria's bringing as my date?"

"I'm afraid I didn't ask," he said drolly. "Tea the other day was rather focused on me, you know, because it was my birthday." He was just giving her a hard time; she was SO easy to rile up. Astoria had chatted his ear off about who would be a good potential date for Granger. Apparently she chatted quite freely when she was passionate about a particular subject.

"What? Oh, of course it was! Tonight should be, too, really. What, um…. How was your day?" Even when she knew he was baiting her, it was hard to resist reacting as he wanted her to.

He laughed, "Oh, Granger, you're entirely too easy to tease. In fact, Tori and I did speak of you at tea. I believe she's bringing Theo to dinner next week." He glanced at her and noticed her biting her lower lip. "Now, don't be nervous, Granger, I think you'll like Theo; you guys already get along. If nothing else, he's a guaranteed good time. And he has enough manners to know not to feel you up during the salad course – unless, of course, you decide you want him to!"

Hermione stuck her nose in the air and primly declared, "I suppose that depends on how entertaining you and Astoria are!"

Draco just smirked at her, eyes dancing with mirth. She decided to turn the tables on him. "So, it's Tori now, is it? Things must be going quite well!"

Malfoy flushed. "Well, we've had tea three times, and lunch twice, and last time we had tea, on my birthday, I managed not to drop or spill anything on her. And as far as I know, I didn't stick my foot in my mouth."

Little known fact about Draco Malfoy – everyone always thought he was smooth and suave and very, very good with the ladies. And while those things could be true – he WAS raised a Malfoy – when he was alone with a girl, things often fell apart for him. Despite his exceptional skills as a Seeker, it wasn't unusual for him to knock things over when he was nervous, which, you know, he almost always was in the presence of females. Females other than Pansy, whom he'd known practically from birth, and Granger, who was probably his best friend; she was certainly the one he spent the most time with. He didn't have to try to impress Granger; she already knew the dark parts of him and chose to be his friend anyway. But put him in front of a female who wasn't Pansy, or Granger, especially one whom he needed to impress and, well, things often when from bad to worse. Especially since most females didn't take well to having things spilled on them. His words often came out wrong, as well, as he tried to make amends for spilling, but often, inadvertently, ended up saying something offensive in the process. Astoria, Tori as she asked him to call her recently, seemed to find this trait of his endearing. The first time he'd spilled on her she'd simply thanked him for helping to give her a reason to get rid of the dress she was wearing – one her mother insisted on, but that she hated. Stains couldn't be simply siphoned off through a cleaning spell, not when the fabric was as expensive as Tori's dress. He'd offered to replace it, but she'd shrugged it off, saying there were plenty more where that one came from and for him not to give it another thought.

"That's really great, Malfoy! I'm glad the two of you are getting along." And she was. Happy for him. But there was also a small part of her that felt sad; if things continued to progress with Malfoy and 'Tori', then things would have to change between Malfoy and her. There was no way Astoria would let them hang out, usually alone, as often as they did. No matter how much Astoria may like her. But she pushed that thought away – it wouldn't be for several more months, at least.

They enjoyed the rest of the spaghetti and the entire bottle of wine, laughing and joking for over an hour. Hermione finally got up and cleared the dishes from the table, refusing help from Draco, insisting that since they were celebrating his birthday, he did not need to lift a finger.

She put candles in his cake and brought it over to the table, singing 'Happy Birthday' along the way. He laughed at her choice of apple cinnamon cake – they had a long-running joke between them about his love of apples. He ooh'd and aah'd over how delicious the cake was, hamming it up a bit to try to make her smile. As much fun as they were having, he could tell something was bothering her, but past experience told him he'd have to let her tell him in her own time. By the time he was leaving hours later, she still hadn't managed to entirely shake the sadness, so he did something he rarely did – he gave her a hug. It's not that they never hugged – their standard greeting and goodbye included a hug; Hermione liked hugs. He had just never grown up showing a lot of physical affection, which meant he very rarely initiated said hugs. But this situation seemed to call for it. So he wrapped his arms around her and held on. And when she moved to pull back half a second later, he didn't let go.


July 5, 2007

"Damn it, Malfoy! Stop cheating!" Hermione yelled, trying not to laugh. They were playing a board game, and he'd just tried sneaking extra money from the bank – not for the first time tonight.

"When I introduced Tori to this game last week, she never noticed when I was cheating." He looked put out that she would call him on it, but she NEVER let him get away with cheating, so he wasn't exactly surprised.

"She probably just didn't want to say anything; I bet she let you win! She probably thinks that what boys like, to always win." She rolled her eyes in obvious disdain.

"Granger, that's true though – men do like to win!"

"But don't they want to win fair and square? It's not really winning if you have to cheat." She couldn't wrap her logical brain around the idea of winning by cheating. It was so dishonorable and completely went against her Gryffindor principles.

He grinned at her. "Oh, Granger; it's no wonder you weren't sorted into Slytherin. One of the joys of winning by cheating, is knowing you pulled one over on the other guy."

"So, you want Astoria to let you win?"

"Well, I wouldn't mind her letting me win, as long as she wasn't obvious about it. I don't want to have to acknowledge that she let me win."

"So you just want to deceive each other? Is that what all Slytherins want? Is that -? Is that what Theo wants?" she asked, the last question coming out hesitantly, and in a very small voice, almost as if she was speaking to herself.

"So things are going well with you and Teddy, then?" he asked, throwing out the old nickname he knew Theo wasn't so fond of, anymore.

Hermione could feel her cheeks heat up and knew they were turning quite pink. She tucked a strand of hair behind one ear and said, "I think so. He's quite nice, and very thoughtful. He brought me those flowers on the mantel during work today."

Draco glanced behind him and noticed the giant bouquet of flowers – they had met for dinner and walked in through her front door, rather than through the floo, so he hadn't really noticed the giant bouquet until she pointed them out.

"We've also had lunch several times since our initial double date with you and Astoria. And I think we're supposed to have dinner tomorrow, but I don't know where he's taking me." A soft smile played on her lips; she was a bit surprised at just how much she was looking forward to seeing Theo again.

"Have you told Potty and Weaselbee, yet?" He didn't know why he was trying to ruin the mood for her, using the nicknames she hated.

But it didn't seem to faze her. She shook her head slightly, but kept the smile on her face, "They were in my office when the flowers were delivered. I guess he's mentioned it to them, though; they didn't give me a hard time about it."

Draco was disgruntled. "How come he hasn't talked to me about it? I'm important to you, right?"

She looked surprised. "Of course, Malfoy! But your girlfriend is the one who set us up; you were at dinner with us for our first date. He probably figures you already know!"

He refused to be placated. "Well, of course I know about it, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't still appreciate knowing his intentions."

She didn't know whether to be flattered and irritated, so she settled somewhere in the middle. "Malfoy, you still manage to surprise me, sometimes. I appreciate what you're saying, but there's no way I'm telling Theo he needs to ask your permission to continue dating me."

He sat there, mouth gaping open like a fish. He finally collected himself and managed to say, "Not my permission! You're—I mean- it's just- it's about respect, Granger. If—I just—I want him to respect my place in your life. Plus, I have to, you know, put him in his place and ask him about his intentions, and what not, you know?" He hadn't meant to admit that he was feeling a little vulnerable about his place in her life, so he made sure to emphasize that last part, which was actually true, too. He really did want to make sure that Theo had good intentions for Hermione. She didn't date much, and she was his best friend, so he had to protect her. He knew what Slytherins were capable of!

"Just—okay. Tell me this, Granger; do you at least know Theo's intentions? Is he—is he treating you alright? You know, like you deserve to be treated?" There was a bit of a blush on his cheeks; he was obviously embarrassed to be asking this.

"Well, of course! He's been quite a proper gentleman, actually." She waited a beat before clearing her throat and continuing, "Thank you for asking."

He seemed to ignore her thanks, still focused on figuring out Theo's intentions. "So, he's not like pressuring you, or anything?"

"Are you trying to ask if Theo and I are having sex?" she hissed, outraged that he felt like that was any of his business! That was one topic they had never spoken of, in all their years of friendship. "I would never ask about your sex life with Astoria!" Her cheeks were flushed with color and her eyes practically sparked with heat.

I bet she's a hellcat in bed he thought. Immediately he shook his head, trying to clear it of that train of thought. He put his hands up in surrender, trying to show her he hadn't meant any harm. "Woah, Granger. That's not what I was getting at." Well, maybe he had been slightly curious to know how far she and Theo had gone, but he'd certainly never admit to that now! "I just wanted to tell you to keep your guard up. You love to see the best in people, sometimes especially when they don't deserve it – I'm proof of that." He smirked fondly at her. His self-deprecation seemed to have cooled the anger she had previously been feeling. He fumbled at bit for words as he continued, "I just – I don't want – Theo's a good guy, and I know you can – you're capable of taking care of yourself. But you're my – I guess. Well, you know, you can't be too careful!" he rushed out.

She looked a bit bemused as she stared at him, trying to comprehend what he was saying. "Well, thanks, Dad." She rolled her eyes at him, but smiled to show it wasn't in anger. "Can we get back to the game now, please?"

A while later, after she'd severely trounced him in the board game they'd been playing she ventured to ask him about Astoria, as she assumed that's what had him so distracted from the game. "How's it going with you two?" She had to ask him three times before he registered her question enough to answer it.

"Oh, yeah, uh, she's great," he said as he moved his piece several spaces.

Hermione shook her head at him. He obviously wasn't ready to talk about whatever was bothering him, and if she pestered him, they'd likely end the night with another argument. She decided to let it go – he'd talk to her when he was ready, and not a moment before.

Meanwhile, across the board, Draco was pondering his thoughts on Astoria. It really seemed like he liked her much better whenever Hermione wasn't around. Which didn't really make sense – he liked them both in different ways, right?


August 2, 2007

She heard him Apparate into her living room just as she was putting the finishing touches on the bowl of buttered popcorn. Both she and Draco loved it drenched in butter, but she had found out recently that Theo liked his popcorn bone dry – no butter, not even any salt! It was practically sacrilege to hold movie nights with him.

She and Draco had decided to spend their Thursday night hang out having a Star Wars marathon. They had each requested to leave work early today and have the day off on Friday. After leaving work at just after noon, they had gone their separate ways, agreeing to meet back at Hermione's apartment an hour later.

Hearing him arrive, she walked out of the kitchen, the largest bowl she owned filled to the brim with the freshly popped treat. "What'd you bring?" she had asked him. It had been his job to procure the sweets, hers to provide an unending supply of popcorn, and the movies, of course.

Movie marathons were best enjoyed in pajamas, so that's what they were wearing – his were a thin white t-shirt and cotton pants decorated with little cartoon dragons riding on broomsticks, hers were black yoga pants and a long-sleeved "Ask Me About S.P.E.W" shirt.

He was unloading his goodies onto her coffee table – by the time he was done it looked like a miniature version of Honeyduke's. There were licorice wands, jelly slugs, chocolate frogs, Bertie Botts beans, pepper imps, chocolate cauldrons, exploding bonbons, blood pops, sugar quills, and an assorted mixture of his finest chocolate truffles. Draco had also stopped by The Three Broomsticks to get butterbeers and a mixture of sandwiches for them to enjoy later.

"This is a feast, Malfoy! You've out done yourself," she proclaimed, setting the popcorn bowl down long enough to slide the first movie (Episode IV) into her DVD player. She then took a seat next to him – he'd already stolen the corner of the couch – reaching out to grab the popcorn, before snuggling into the back of the sofa and plopping the bowl in his lap, so they could share.

"Well, you did say there were six movies, and I didn't want us to run out of anything!" He looked over at her and grinned, before turning to look at the screen again when the opening credits started rolling.

It was 6 by the time they finished the first two movies in their marathon. They decided to take a brief break to eat dinner while not in front of the TV. They took the assortment of sandwiches into her kitchen and sat at the little table she had in there. He ended up telling her about the first time he'd ever seen a film (which surprisingly hadn't been with her, but with Blaise – they'd watched Jurassic Park over Christmas Break during third year. Blaise's mother had been dating a muggle who was really into film at the time; Draco had loved it, even more so because it was an act of rebellion against Lucius) and she'd told him of the memories she had of watching movies with her father growing up. She'd watched them with her mother, too, of course, but it had always felt more like bonding time with her father.

They polished off the third movie after that, finishing around 10pm. They started the fourth movie, the first of the prequels, and Hermione drew even closer to Draco – he'd claimed his corner seat back after dinner – snuggling into him a bit due to her sleepiness. She ended up dozing off about half-way through the movie, but woke up during the closing credits. He offered to leave after that, saying they could finish up the other two movies another time, but she wouldn't hear of it, insisting she had gotten her second wind. So even though it was after midnight, they started the fifth movie, Attack of the Clones, after a brief intermission for Draco to use the bathroom.

Snuggled up on the couch once again, Draco pulled the blanket from the back of the sofa and spread it out over both of them, pulling Hermione closer in the process. The warmth seemed to cocoon itself around her, and she found herself giving in to the lure of sleep once again.

When she woke up next time, she found herself unusually warm, but quite comfortable and she couldn't figure out where she was, at first. She recognized her TV, and the bookcases that lined one wall, so she knew she was in her living room, but for the life of her, she couldn't remember what she was doing out there. Deciding she wasn't quite ready to get up, and feeling as comfortable as she could remember being in quite some time, she mentally shrugged and closed her eyes to sleep some more.

When Draco woke, he wasn't quite as comfortable; he'd fallen asleep basically sitting up, and had a large crick in his neck. He raised his head, noticing the light coming in through the living room window was still a watery gray – the sun wasn't really up, yet. When he realized Hermione was still asleep, though, he decided not to move; he could sit here a bit longer, at least. He looked down at where her head rested on his chest and he had to smile to himself over the fact that her hair seemed to have gained mass overnight. As he sat there killing time, he was struck with the thought that he enjoyed waking up with her, much as he enjoyed all of the time he spent with her, even the arguments. He tried to picture waking up with Astoria sprawled across him and the image just wouldn't come to him. Astoria was lovely, but she wasn't an inherently warm person like Granger was. He knew it was dangerous territory to be comparing his soon to be betrothed to his best friend, whom he was supposed to have only platonic feelings for.

Of course he followed that guideline – he never had non-platonic feelings for his best friend, Hermione Granger. I mean, you couldn't really count the secret thoughts he entertained while waiting for her to wake up, could you? He'd never allow himself to think these things in the light of day, nor would he ever speak them aloud. What no one else knew about couldn't hurt him, right?


September 6, 2007

"Ooops!" Hermione giggled as she tripped and almost lost her balance walking on the sand. Draco had brought her to a tiny coastal town in Spain she couldn't quite remember the name of – she'd had quite a bit too much sangria with their tapas dinner. Now they were walking along the beach and she'd been trying to get out of the way of a rogue wave – the tide was coming in, and she had been following the waves for the last several minutes, running closer as they washed out to sea, and escaping back to higher ground when they came in. It was a sort of game to her slightly drunk mind. She just hadn't moved quickly enough this last time and had almost fallen over. She turned around and waved back at Draco, who was firmly on the dry sand, watching her little game. As she made her way over to him, he couldn't help thinking how very beautiful she was – head tossed back with laughter, carrying her shoes in one hand. He'd been having thoughts like that more frequently in the last month. Apparently thinking about Granger in less than platonic ways had opened a Pandora's Box he didn't know how to close. He wasn't even sure he wanted to close that box anymore; he'd been so unsure about what to do – pursue Granger or try to ignore Granger – he'd been ignoring Astoria's owls for the past week. He'd probably have a Howler from her when he got back to his house. He was making a mental note to have one of his house-elves set it off for him when he returned when Granger plopped herself down on the sand beside him.

"Did you have fun, Little Sandpiper?" he asked.

She nodded her head vigorously. "This is the best birthday, yet," she declared.

They watched the tide coming in for a few moments before Granger interrupted the silence to say, "I had fun being your girlfriend for the night!" He laughed. The restaurant had made her wear a sombrero while they sang to her when the found out it was her birthday. When the song was over, before she could slip the sombrero off her head, their waiter had come over to take a souvenir picture of them. "Give your girlfriend a birthday kiss," he'd suggested. Hermione had been about to correct him, when Draco had covered her hand with his on their table, and leaned over to give her a kiss on the cheek. He smiled at that memory, reaching into his pocket to assure the picture was still there – the waiter had called it a Polaroid. The rest of the time in the restaurant, people kept sending them tequila shots in honor of her birthday. It would have been rude to leave the shots untouched, so they were both more than a little sloshed.

"It was pretty fun, wasn't it?" he agreed. "You're like the best fake girlfriend I've ever had," he joked. Unfortunately, drunk Hermione didn't really understand the joke. "Have you had more than one fake relationship, Malfoy?" She eyed him suspiciously, waiting for him to answer. He glanced over at her fondly and said, "You're my only one!" She gasped, "Does this mean you're a virgin, Draco Malfoy?" He couldn't help but laugh at her again – she was ridiculous when she was drunk! Smirking he replied, "I guess you could say that."

Almost immediately he regretted playing along, as she began singing, "Malfoy's a virgin, Malfoy's a virgin." He didn't know why he was blushing; no one else was around to hear her song. He cleared his throat. "Doesn't that put us on even footing, Granger? You're a fake relationship virgin, too, yeah?"

She stopped singing and seemed to ponder his question quite seriously. She tapped one index finger against her lips, pursing them in an exaggerated picture of someone thinking quite hard. Apparently her over-emphasized motions worked, for she turned to him with a delighted gasp. "Do you know what this means, Malfoy?" She leaned towards him, cupping her hands around her lips. "We've popped each other's cherries!" she stated, in what he thought was probably supposed to be a whisper, before dissolving into giggles.

"Want to know a secret, Granger?" he asked, realizing only then, that he, too, might be just a little bit drunk.

"Ablosutely!" she slurred. "I love secrets. I'm an excellent Secret Keeper!" she exclaimed proudly, preening just a little bit as she thought about how great she was at holding on to secrets.

"Well," he started, leaning closer so he could whisper in her ear – he was a much quieter drunk whisperer. "This time, losing my virginity didn't hurt."

"Malfoy, I don't think losing your virginity is supposed to hurt when you're the guy."

He leaned closer to her, as he was now having trouble seeing straight. "Well, Granger, it didn't hurt down there, but you try losing your virginity to Pansy Parkinson and see if you make it out of the situation without any pain. I'm pretty sure I still have scars from her nail marks in my back."

"Poor baby!" she said with mock concern.

He grinned, knowing she was right to poke fun at him, but unwilling to just let her win. "I guess I'll just have to make you pay for not sympathizing with me!" Then, without any further warning, he reached over and began tickling her mercilessly.

She fell back against the sand, wiggling and squirming. He managed to get his leg over both of hers, sitting back on his heels and keeping her legs planted firmly in the sand, to prevent her from possibly kicking him. She wailed her laughter to the sky, unsure how much longer she'd last before crossing the line from laughter to tears.

"Say 'Uncle', Granger. Say it and I stop tickling you." He watched her carefully, ensuring she didn't actually mind being tickled.

"Never surrender," she managed to get out. He stopped tickling her, keeping her legs still and pinning her arms above her head. "Granger," he growled. She stubbornly refused to give in to him, so he decided to try a different tactic.

Seconds later, his lips met hers in a heated kiss. Maybe it was the alcohol, or maybe it was the talks of popping cherries earlier, or maybe he really was just trying to get her to submit to him, but whatever the reason, he thought this just might be the best idea he'd ever had. He tensed a little, waiting to see how Granger would respond. He wasn't disappointed.

She may not have been able to use her hands, but Granger managed to be an active participant in the kiss all the same. She used lips and teeth and tongue to her advantage. God, how she wanted to touch him! Several minutes of snogging later, he was still adamantly holding her arms above her head. Maybe if she rubbed against him?

Just as she was about to try that tactic, a particularly large wave crashed upon the shore, spraying them with foam. They sprang apart, panting.


October, 4, 2007

Hermione blew on her bowl of soup to cool it down to a tolerable temperature. While she waited on her soup, she wondered how Draco was doing, then shook her head at herself. They were just friends; she needed to stop thinking about him so much! Truthfully, she wasn't sure what the status of their relationship was anymore. She thought back to the last time she'd seen him – the day after the Sangria Kissing Incident.

She'd waited all morning for Draco to come over so they could talk about what had happened. But the more time went on, the angrier she got when he didn't show. Obviously what had happened between them on the beach meant nothing to him! She was an idiot to think it would change anything. They'd both had too much to drink and had behaved inappropriately. By the time Theo came over to see why she'd missed work, she had decided to forget about the whole thing. As with most things that write themselves on your heart, this was easier said than done.

She and Theo had kissed several times since they started dating, but they had been chaste kisses, and one snogging session. She'd been trying to move slowly with him, having never dated a Slytherin before him. But she really wanted to erase the feel of Draco's lips against hers, so when he came over that afternoon, she'd seduced him into a heavy snog out session. She couldn't seem to get into the kissing, even though Theo was an above average kisser – she spent the whole time trying not to compare his style to Draco's. Her mind was so preoccupied with trying to stay in the moment, Theo had her shirt pushed up, baring her breasts, before she really realized what was happening. She did still have her bra on, so she wasn't too worried, but she wondered if maybe it was time to start reining it in.

Just then, two things happened. One, Theo covered her breasts with his hands, causing her to arch her back against him (she may not have been totally into this make out session, but pleasure was pleasure, and Theo knew how to use his hands!) and two, Draco had Apparated into her apartment. He had brought flowers with him. Oh, bollocks!

Draco dropped the flowers he'd been planning to give Hermione and was walking over towards the two of them, where they still lay entangled on the sofa. He was yelling, but Hermione was so mortified that she had only managed to catch him saying, "She's with me now!" And then his fist hit Theo's jaw.

Hermione pushed against Theo's chest, struggling to right her clothes at the same time. "What are you talking about, Draco?" Okay, so she wasn't quite as detached as she was pretending to be; she just couldn't make herself call him Malfoy when he'd had his tongue down her throat the night before. She looked over at Theo and noticed him massaging his jaw, "There's ice in the kitchen, Theo." She turned to look at Draco, only to see him with his jaw wide open, staring at her in disbelief.

"Are you serious, right now, Granger? You were there on the beach last night, right? We snogged!"

"But we both know this," she waved her hand between herself and Draco, "can't go anywhere!"

"What are you talking about, you nut job?" he asked. He hadn't meant to lose his temper, but seriously? He'd walked in and Theo had his hands full of Hermione's breasts. There's only so much a guy can be expected to take!

"Don't be naïve, Malfoy! Your parents? They'll never let us be together, and I'm not going to enter into a relationship that I know is going nowhere!" She was standing up now, nose to nose with him, or she would have been, if she was taller.

He scoffed. "I don't care about my parents, Granger."

"You should. They're important! They're your family."

He ran his hands through his hair, tugging lightly on the ends. Why couldn't she understand this? "I don't, though, Granger. I choose you!"

Why was he making this so bloody difficult? "Draco." She took a deep breath. "I won't let you do that. You can't choose me over your parents. I refuse to break up your family. You've fought too hard to get back on track with each other and I won't be selfish and cause a rift between you."

He growled with frustration. "Stop thinking about my family, Granger. What do you want?"

She sighed. "It doesn't work like that, Draco. Some things are more important; it doesn't matter what I want."

"It matters to me, Hermione."

She could see the hope flickering in his eyes. She didn't want to say anything to snuff that out. But she knew what she had to do; he'd never drop it if she didn't.

"I don't want you." She didn't know how she was remaining on her feet; it felt like her whole world upended.

Draco's head jerked back, as if she had physically slapped him. He stared at her for a brief moment, looking wounded, before gathering up his pride and turning to leave. Just before he Apparated out of apartment he spoke one last sentence. "I didn't have you pegged as a liar, Hermione," he tossed out over his shoulder, without looking back.

When she came out of her memories, her soup had gone cold, and she had tears in her eyes. It still killed her to picture that last interaction between them. She'd owled her supervisor, almost immediately, asking for an out-of-town assignment; she had just needed to get away for a while, if she had any hope of being able to salvage a friendship with Draco out of this mess. Her supervisor sent her to Romania, to work at Charlie Weasley's dragon sanctuary. It was meant to be a month-long assignment and it was almost over, but she just didn't know if she was ready to go back to her life in England. Scratch that, she knew she wasn't ready, but she didn't know what to do, or how to get out of going back.

As she was contemplating whether to try using a heating charm on her soup, or to just get up and get a new bowl, Charlie came into the mess hall and found her. She hadn't told him anything about her situation at home, and he hadn't pried, but he was good at reading people and knew something was going on with her. She'd been reticent and withdrawn around the sanctuary, not asking nearly as many questions as she normally would. Knowing her time here was drawing to a close, he'd come to find her.

"Hey, Hermione, can I talk to you for a minute?"

"Of course, Charlie!" She pushed her bowl out of the way and tried to give him her full attention.

"Your assignment is almost over," he started. "I know you probably have plans to go back home, but I've cleared it with the others here and you're free to stay here as long as you'd like." He paused, unsure what else needed to be said. "You don't need to decide anything right now, but I thought you should know: this can be a really great place to heal and think things over."

She didn't know what to say. This offer was more than she'd hoped for. She could put off going home and give herself some more space from Draco. She knew she'd need to face him eventually, but she was desperate to keep him in her life, and in order to do that, she had to place him back in his platonic box.


November 1, 2007

Hermione was sitting in her bunk in the tent she shared with the only other female witch at the sanctuary, Sonja, who was getting ready to take a leave of absence to have a baby. The mail owls had come during breakfast, but she had skipped out on that meal, opting to sleep in, instead, as she hadn't been sleeping particularly well recently. Sonja dropped a letter on her bunk, before heading to the showers to start her own day.

Stop hiding, Granger.

Where's your Gryffindor spirit? How can you have run away from what we have? How long are you going to stay away?

You've been my friend for 9 years now – and my best friend for probably 8 of them. In all of our years of friendship we've argued thousands of times, but we've always worked it out. We've never gone this long without speaking. I miss you.

I told myself that I would give you space, but I also want you to know you're not alone. This thing between us, it's not something that is just going to disappear. You can't research this away, or find the answer in a book.

What's in your heart, Granger?

If it's me, we'll figure it out together. If it's not me, well, we'll figure that out, too.

What's in your heart?

Figure that out and everything else will follow.

DM

Draco had written a letter. How fitting that it arrived on the first Thursday of the month. Unexpectedly, she found herself with tears in her eyes. She missed him, too.

What's in your heart? That was a good question. What was in her heart? And could she really follow it when she finally figured it out?


December 1, 2007

Follow your heart. Follow your heart. Follow your heart.

She'd lost track of how many times she'd told herself those words. Figuring out how to do so was another matter.

She knew she liked Draco. A lot. She'd been falling for him for quite some time, if she was very honest with herself. Her body wanted him, and her heart wanted him, but her mind was conflicted.

She didn't know if wanting him was enough reason to potentially tear his family apart. He and his parents had had a hard enough time after the war coming back together. She couldn't count the times she and Draco had talked about how pleased he was with his parents' progress and the improvement in their relationship. She couldn't be the reason that fell to pieces. She just couldn't.

She fell asleep that night remembering her last pleasant interaction with Draco, reliving the kisses they'd shared on the beach. It was much harder at night to remember that she shouldn't think about him in that way.

She woke up several hours later in much the same state as she often found herself recently – with an ache between her thighs. Mostly she could ignore it, but tonight didn't seem to be one of those nights. Grateful that Sonja was on maternity leave and she had the tent to herself, she hesitantly moved her hand down to find herself soaking wet.

She'd been dreaming of their beach kisses, but they had gone much further than they'd gone in person, even further than her previous dreams. Draco had kissed her nipples and tongued her cunt. He'd pressed her hand to his cock, teaching her how he liked to be pleased.

She'd finally come awake after dream Draco brought her to orgasm and just as he was moving into position to press forward and fill her.

Awake and alone in her bed, she ached. She pressed a finger on either side of her clit and whimpered at the jolt of pleasure running through her. She had never been this sensitive, or this ready; though she didn't please herself often, she knew it wouldn't take long this time. She stroked a finger gently around her clit again and brought her other hand up, wet with her own juices and pinched her nipples, first one, and then the other.

She squeezed her eyes shut as pleasure swam through her. She gasped and squirmed in place, pressing her thighs together. This felt wonderful, but she still felt empty. She kept up the attention to her clit and slipped her other hand down, sliding two, and then three, fingers into her channel. She could feel her walls grasping at her fingers, trying to keep them inside. She couldn't get quite deep enough to erase the ache, but her pleasure was already close to spiraling out of control.

With her eyes squeezed shut, she pumped her fingers in and out more quickly, taking a chance and lightly pinching her sensitive clit. She saw sparks behind her eyelids and a flash of gray eyes as she fell over the edge into one of the strongest orgasms of her life.

She lay in bed, panting and trying to catch her breath. The ache wasn't as strong, but it was still there. She groaned. Her feelings for Draco were growing instead of abating. She'd already extended her time here to months, instead of weeks. At this rate, though, she'd need years before going back to England and facing him.


January 3, 2008

The past few weeks had been a nightmare. The more she tried to deny them, the more she was plagued with thoughts of Draco during the day and dreams about him at night. She had masturbated more often in the last month than she had in her entire life, it seemed. Almost nightly she'd find herself awakened from a dream, unable to fall back asleep until she slipped her hand between her legs and brought herself. If she wasn't so wet all the time, she'd be worried about rubbing herself raw - though it didn't usually take more than a few touches to reach her peak, especially if she gave in and thought of Draco from the start.

Ron and Pansy had been staying at the sanctuary for a couple of weeks now. He was visiting Charlie and trying to subtly check on his best friend, and Pansy didn't want to be away from him for the holidays (she also wanted to speak with Hermione, but that was her secret mission).

Hermione was glad they were visiting; she had come to the conclusion that a relationship with Draco was possible and that he was serious about them – he'd even sat down with Ron to talk about how to win her over. Hermione had made Ron tell her, in excruciating detail, exactly what had transpired at that meeting. She felt hope grow in her heart, but she still had one major hang-up. This is why she was currently holed up with Pansy, in the tent she shared with Ron, drinking firewhiskey and trying to work up the courage to ask Pansy about her biggest fear. Pansy, however, beat her to the punch.

"Draco misses you, Granger."

Those words went straight to Hermione's heart. She missed him, too. Before she could stop herself, she blurted out her worry. "His parents will never accept me. And he's worked too hard to be close with them; I can't take that away from him!"

Pansy knew she could easily relieve Granger's worries with a few well-placed words. But Draco was worth fighting for and Hermione needed to prove it. To Pansy, to herself, and to Draco.

"I think you're just scared, Granger. If the war was still going on, I might think you had a point. But the war's been over for years. And don't you and Narcissa have tea? Regularly?"

Hermione squirmed in her seat. "Yes, but…"

Pansy moved in for the kill. "But nothing, Granger. Lady Malfoy doesn't do anything she doesn't want to do – certainly not more than once. She likes you."

"But that's a far cry from accepting me into her family." Hermione felt herself grasping at straws.

"Gracious, Granger! Carriage before the thestral much? Try dating him before you freak out over whether Lord and Lady Malfoy will accept you."

"Do you really think so?"

"I do. And if you tell anyone what I'm about to say, I'll deny it to the grave, but you know you and Draco are the two smartest people to come out of Hogwarts. Together you can figure this out. But only together. Separately, you're both just miserable."

"He's miserable?" Hermione asked.

"What do you think, Granger? He tried to declare himself to you and you hurt him." Pansy didn't like betraying Draco this way, but desperate times called for desperate measures. When it all worked out for him as he wanted, he'd easily forgive her!

Tears welled in Hermione's eyes over Pansy's words.

"He knew you were lying," Pansy said, softening the blow of her previous words. "But I know he was hurt. Also angry. I'm pretty sure he nearly destroyed his wing of the Manor that first night."

Hermione was worried now. "Is he okay?"

Pansy didn't mind giving the two of them a boost in the right direction, but she had to draw the line somewhere. "I'm sure you have a lot of questions, but I'm not the one you should ask. I think you know what you need to do; haven't you caused both of you enough misery?"

Hermione took a deep breath and turned to start packing. It was time to go home and stop hiding. She knew what she had to do.

She had waited until the next morning to try to leave, only to find out the Romanian offices were closed to issuing new Portkeys – their quota had already been met for the month, what with the holidays having just passed. So Hermione had headed to the airport and taken a plane to get back home.

She arrived back in England in the early afternoon and headed straight to Draco's office, knowing he'd be working. When she arrived he was in a meeting, and scheduled to be there for the next few hours, but she was told that she could wait in his office.

She stretched out on his couch to wait for him, intending to practice her apology while she waited. However, his couch was comfortable and the entire office smelled like him; wrapped in such a comforting scent, and in the face of her recent insomnia, she quickly fell asleep.

Draco came back to his office around 4PM and didn't notice her. When he finally realized she was there, he was quite excited – he was fairly sure he knew what it meant for her to be in his office right now. He decided not to wake her, but to let her sleep while he finished up some work for the day.

She woke up while he was finishing his paperwork; when she opened her eyes and saw him busily signing documents, she kept herself still, watching him undisturbed. Her heart stuttered in her chest at his looks. Even with dark smudges under his eyes, denoting sleep was also battling with him, he made her toes curl. She looked her fill, having never previously given herself permission to do so.

His gray eyes were tracing back and forth across the page as he read over his paperwork. She waited until he'd signed his name with a flourish before sitting up and hesitantly saying, "Hi, Draco."

He was momentarily startled, but a cautious smile lit up his face when he saw she was awake. He pushed his chair back and stood up to walk over to her, nervously tugging at his tie.

He sat on the edge of the couch beside her, looking ready to leap up at the slightest provocation. She wasn't pleased he was nervous, but she was pleased at the implications – he had to really like her for nerves to be a part of the story. She couldn't remember the last time he'd been nervous around her.

At that realization, she mentally stepped back into her Gryffindor bravery. She reached over to still his restless hands and pulled them away from the tie he was till tugging at. She meant to say something profound, something monumental, something brave. Instead, all the came out was, "I'm back."

He hadn't known what to say and was relieved when she started. Until he heard what she had to say. "Really, Granger? That's it? That's all you have to say? You're back?"

He didn't really know why he was picking a fight with her. He was glad she was back, that she was here. But he was also still hurt that she had just left him, and for so long!

She smiled at him and it thawed some of the deeper hurt. She wrapped her arms around him and gave him a big hug; she'd missed the grumpy git, even more than she'd thought. "I'm sorry, Draco."

"Oh, well…that's…uh… it's hard to stay mad in the face of having you here and hearing you apologize." He paused briefly. "Almost as good as if you'd admit you were wrong."

She mock glared at him. "It's a known fact that Hermione Granger is entirely incapable of being wrong." She'd meant it as a joke, but she could feel him closing himself off from her, so she rushed to continue, "Except in matters of the heart."

He looked back over at her, a bit of heat coming back into his eyes. He looked her straight in the eye, and asked, "Is that so…Hermione?" his use of her name quite deliberate.

She removed her hands from over his, placing them directly on his cheeks and making sure his eyes stayed locked on hers, "Yes, Draco, that is so."

He'd had enough waiting, enough frustrating nights filled with reliving her kisses over and over. It was time to experience her again. He leaned toward her, ready to claim her lips with his; when they met, it was better than he remembered. For long minutes he lost himself in the sensations she evoked. Her lips were soft and perfect. He thought he might want to kiss them for the rest of his life. He groaned and moved to deepen the kiss, moving a hand up to angle her head into a better position.

All of a sudden he felt her small hands on his chest, applying pressure and forcing their lips apart, even as her tongue came out to lick her lips. Immediately, feelings of rejection crowded into his mind, causing him to start closing himself off again, putting up his mental walls, and keeping himself safe.

"Draco, stop," she said, as she slid one hand down his chest to his hand, and gripped it firmly. "Look at me," she coaxed.

He didn't want to make eye contact. He thought he might want the earth to swallow him whole – apparently he'd misjudged the situation and she wasn't in his office to tell him they should be together.

Before he could spiral too far out of control, her voice broke into his thoughts. "… I'd like to keep on kissing you. But I also need to clear the air with you."

He tilted his head a bit, so he could just see her if he looked up through the hair falling in his face. He watched her warily.

Now that she was here, in front of him, she wanted to forget everything she'd practiced saying on the plane, in anticipation of this moment. He deserved an explanation. He looked so uncertain – she'd done that to him. Her heart seemed to swell into her throat, making it even harder to speak.

She was just sitting there, looking at him. He was about to jump out of his skin – how could she be so calm? His temper flared, as it was apt to do when he was nervous or felt out of his element. "Granger, stop bloody staring at me like I'm a creature in one of your ozos!"

"Zoos," she corrected without thinking, before she could stop herself.

"Granger," he growled.

"Sorry!" she squeaked, but he seemed not to hear her.

Before he could wind himself up too far, or begin what looked to be an epic rant, she again grabbed his hands with hers. He could feel her hands trembling and heard her take a shaky breath.

"I shouldn't have left."

Draco stared at her, a bit in wonder at this girl in front of him. She made his temperature rise like no one else, but with a few words, she also had the capacity to pull him away from the ledge, and the darkness that threatened to overtake him.

He took a deep breath, too, trying to let go of his hurt and anger so that he could really understand their situation. "Why did you?" he asked quietly.

"I was scared." She paused before clarifying, "I am scared."

"What?" he asked, genuinely bewildered. "Granger, you have to know I'd never force you to do something you aren't comfortable with."

"I'm not scared of you, Draco." She flashed him a smile. "You've been my friend, my best friend, for years, Draco. I trust you."

He shifted in his seat. "It doesn't feel like that, Hermione. It feels like you're just telling me what you think I want to hear."

"It may be what you want to hear, but that doesn't mean I'm putting you on! I'm not scared of you, Malfoy. I'm – I'm." She took a deep breath. "What I'm scared of is my feelings for you."

He looked at her, completely dumbfounded. "But Granger, if you have feelings for me, and you already know I have feelings for you… what is there left to be scared of?"

She frowned at him. "What if we don't work out? Or what if we do and your parents can never learn to accept me?"

"Oh, Granger." He felt a rush of affection for her and tugged on her hands, pulling her into his arms. "You worry too much."

She smacked a hand against his chest, "How can you say that? Isn't our friendship important to you?"

He gave a soft laugh. "Of course it is! It's probably the most important thing to me." She raised her eyebrows at him as if to say, "So you see my point?"

"But," he emphasized, "If we start this, we aren't going to lose that, Granger. We'll make it work, even if we decide that kissing each other is a bad idea."

"But how do you know?" If only there was some sort of guarantee he could give her.

"Well," he tilted his head, "I know you, Granger. You were able to be friends with the Weasel after you broke things off. Should our relationship, which, I might add, hasn't even technically started, fall apart, I have no doubt we could keep our friendship together." He paused, weighing whether to continue, or not. "You're important to me, Granger, and I like being friends with you." He held up a hand to stop her from interrupting. "But I want to try for something more. Throw caution to the wind and let's explore what else could be between us."

She wanted to. She really did. But she still had to contend with his parents.

"What about your parents?" A thought occurred to her, "What about Astoria?"

His eyes flashed. "Screw my parents, Granger! Do you want me or not?" It was a simple question, why did she keep dodging it?

"Yes! Yes, I want you. Of course I want you," she answered without hesitation.

He gripped her upper arms and pulled her towards him, pressing his lips rather inexpertly to hers in his rush to be kissing her again. There must still have been a part of him wanting to punish her as he pressed his lips harder against hers, making the kiss almost punishing, instead of sweet.

She moved one of her hands to the back of his neck, playing with the fine hairs there, subtly calming him and causing him to gentle the kiss. He moved his hands, one slipping up to cup her jaw and tilt her head, while the other slid into her hair, tangling the tresses around his fingers. He heard her moan as he licked at her lower lip, trying to get her to open up and let his tongue in.

After several minutes of exploring her warm mouth, he pulled back and placed his forehead against hers. He kissed the tip of her nose before softly saying, "By the way, my mother loves you. She gave her blessing about a week after you left. And it only took her that long because I wouldn't come out of my room…"

She didn't know whether to laugh or cry over that. Before she could decide, he kissed her lips again. "And my mother pretty much owns my father, so she brought him around. They'll want lunch once they hear you're back."

"Will they make me fly on a broom?" she asked, raising one eyebrow, trying to determine her emotions.

"Obviously," he drawled. "And don't think I'll save you from them, either." He was joking, mostly. She could handle herself, but he'd probably still try to help. No matter what she said, his parents could be intimidating.

"I'm Hermione Granger; I'm not scared of your parents," she said emphatically.

"Says the girl who ran away for months."

"Fair point," she admitted. "But I still maintain I'm not scared of your parents. I'm scared of letting my heart rule my head. I'm imminently logical, you know, and letting my heart lead isn't." She boldly swung a leg over his lap, straddling him. "However…. I do want to take this chance with you."

This time she kissed him. Long and hard and sweet. She took her time about it, exploring his mouth thoroughly with her tongue. When she pulled back to get some air, he said, as unconcerned as if he was reciting his grocery list, "I broke up with Astoria."

"Astoria?" she questioned, mind still fuzzy from their kissing.

"You know," he prompted, "my supposed-to-be-betrothed? A few inches taller than you? Was on your disastrous blind date with Marcus."

"Ha. Ha. You're a riot," she said with a roll of her eyes.

He nodded. "It's about time you acknowledged me." He winked to show he was joking. "I broke up with her before coming to see you that afternoon. That's part of why it took me so long to get there." His countenance darkened. Seeing that, she leaned forward, nuzzling her cheek against his. He heard her take a deep breath and then felt her warm breath against his ear. "I broke it off with Theo that night, too."

He turned his head to eye her a bit skeptically, almost afraid to believe her.

She responded to his unspoken question, moving her head so she could whisper directly into his ear again. "I sent him away almost as soon as you Disapparated." She felt strangely vulnerable and unwilling to meet his eye. "I almost came after you that night." She felt him stiffen at that admission.

"Why didn't you? And why'd you just leave?" He felt her sigh again.

"Oh, Draco. You're… you're my best friend. And I couldn't bear the thought of losing you."

He was getting a bit aggravated; they seemed to be talking in circles. "But, Granger, I'm not going anywhere!"

"Yes, but… well, what if we didn't work out? I thought it would just be easier to remain friends. So I left to try to do that. To give us space to figure it all out."

He pulled her into his arms and hugged her tightly. "Oh, Hermione, you daft, daft, girl. Don't you see? If you and Ron could remain friends so can we. I don't think we'll have a problem, but if we do, we're smart enough to figure out how to work it out." He could feel her relax against him slightly.

"But there's a difference between you and him. My feelings for you are much greater than mine ever were for him."

A wicked smirk she couldn't see graced his face. "Is that so?" he purred.

She pulled back and finally looked him in the eye again. She wanted him to know she was being honest. "It is absolutely so."

"And did you come to any interesting conclusions while you were away?"

"As a matter of fact, I did. I decided that even though I was scared of losing my best friend, I was more scared of not trying for something with you."

He took her hands in his again and looked her in the eye. "Granger, can we please be done talking? I'd really like to snog you."

She smirked briefly, "I don't know; how are you feeling? I'd like to keep kissing you, too, but are you still upset?"

"Well, I'm not totally over it, but I understand your reasoning, so we're good for now."

She leaned forward and captured his lips with hers, holding his head tenderly between her hands, trying to show him without words how sorry she was. Merlin! Everything with him felt better than she had imagined.

She didn't realize she had said that out loud until Draco asked, "You've imagined us together, Granger?" She gasped as his lips found the sensitive spot below her ear and then moaned as he sucked on it gently. She bit her lower lip and tried to remember his question. "Y-yes," she responded breathily. She wanted to affect him as much as he was affecting her. "Yes," she tried again, her voice much stronger this time. "I tried to ignore thoughts of you at first – I had gone there to salvage our friendship, after all. Thinking about you sexually wasn't helping that at all."

He'd been in the process of removing her shirt, but froze, quite the feral look on his face. Knowing she'd be more inclined to answer if he seduced it out of her, he gently placed his hands over her breasts, thumbs rubbing gently over her nipples. Even still being encased in her bra, they responded, going taut and hard. He leaned forward and brought his lips to her ear. "Did you touch yourself while you thought of me sexually?"

She nodded, moaning as he pinched one of her nipples between his thumb and forefinger. He released it, only to engulf it in his mouth as a reward for her answer. A moment later, his mouth returned to her ear to ask, "Did you come while thinking of me, of us, sexually?" He took the lobe of her ear into his mouth while he waited for her response.

She nodded vigorously, the movement causing him to drop her earlobe. She had moved her own hands up to her breasts, squeezing them lightly, before rolling the stiff tips between her fingers. She bit her lip and arched her back into his touch when he brought his hands to cover hers, squeezing and rolling with more pressure.

His cock was straining against his pants already and he longed to remove them, or at least unzip them, to give himself some more bloody room. Instead, he resumed kissing her, adjusting her stance over his lap, drawing her closer, pressing her harder against his pelvis. She whimpered when the movement caused him to grind against her clit. He grunted in response, and she reached to undo the last buttons on his shirt, pushing it off his shoulders and running her hands down his chest. It was better than she imagined, but he wasn't overly muscular, despite the regular Quidditch he played. He was somehow sexier for it in her mind.

He saw her lick her lips, but missed the mischief that sparked in her eyes. Next thing he knew, she was kissing him again while rocking against him. It felt better than anything he'd felt before and he couldn't seem to catch his breath. This beautiful creature before him would be his undoing, he was sure. He couldn't wait to experience it.

He jerked against her when he felt her hand sliding under the waistband of his slacks. He stopped her, having to make sure they both knew what they were doing. "We're not moving too fast, are we, Granger?"

She appreciated his desire to check with her, but seriously, she didn't have time for this hesitation! "Malfoy, thank you for being a gentleman, but we've basically had several years of foreplay at this point." He gave a short laugh in agreement; it came out a bit strangled at the end, as she grasped him firmly.

He threw his head back when her hand glided over the tip of him. He screwed his eyes shut against the wave of pleasure he felt, knowing it couldn't possibly get better. Until she whispered in his ear, "Let's see if my dreams were right about how you like to be pleasured."

She didn't know what had come over her, but seeing him like this made her feel invincible and sexy. She didn't fully believe she had just told him she dreamed about pleasuring him, but his reaction was worth it.

He pushed her to the side, momentarily hurting her feelings. But he was pulling her back into his lap moments later, having stood, shucked his slacks and boxers, and sat back down. He felt better now that he had released his cock; it was angry red and already weeping for her. This girl, this woman, had always managed to get under his skin. It was no surprise their physical chemistry was explosive.

He was panting as he wrapped her hand around his prick again and said, "Have at, Gorgeous. Let's see how accurate your dreams are," a wicked gleam in his eye.

She may have been dreaming about him this way for weeks now, but a small part of her had always assumed it would be a bit awkward to see her best friend naked, much as it had been awkward seeing Ron naked. But Draco, seeing him nude made her hot all over. Her breasts felt heavier and the bloom of heat between her legs was hotter than she ever remembered it being. She widened her stance, moving her knees to rest on either side of his thighs, so she was no longer sitting on his lap, giving herself more room to maneuver. She could smell her arousal in the air in this position.

Keeping her hand on his cock, she leaned forward to kiss him while she started moving over it, slowly at first. He kissed her back hungrily, wanting to consume her as she consumed him.

Once she found a rhythm she was comfortable with, she leaned back, pressing her forehead to his, both of them looking down and watching her hand shuttle along his shaft and over the head of his cock, now liberally weeping precum.

His breath stuttered as she twisted her wrist slightly, while pulling up towards the head of his cock. "You're so beautiful," she stated. "Even better than my dreams."

His hands were gripping the couch on either side of him. She loved seeing him like this, given over to what she was doing to him. She decided to press her advantage. "Does that feel good, Draco?"

He grunted and licked his lips before responding. "Fuck. Yeah." Another grunt. "SO good." Grunt. "Harder."

He moved his forehead to her shoulder, as if it was now too heavy to hold up. "Fuck." He jerked his hips up, trying to follow her hand. "Just like that, Beautiful." Grunt. "Just." Grunt. "Like." Grunt. "That."

God, the air was so hot around them. She wished she had taken her pants off; sweat was dripping off both of them. She doubled her efforts on his cock, wanting to see him come, and soon. She reached down with her free hand and softly palmed his balls. She rolled them gently with her fingers; she wasn't able to do that more than a few times before he was warning her that he was about to cum.

True to his word, he came after only a few more tugs with her hand. He shouted her name to the ceiling of his office and soaked her hands, her belly, and one of the legs of her pants in his thick, pearly ejaculate.

He leaned heavily against her, his head still pressed against her shoulder. He felt lightheaded and boneless in the wake of what had to be the best orgasm of his life. He heard her licking his spunk off her hand before she gave a hum and a little wiggle, obviously pleased with his taste.

He wrenched open his eyes and reached for her wand on the table beside the couch, too tired to summon his from his desk. He cleaned them both up before kissing her soundly.

Coming up for air, he smirked naughtily. "Alright, Gorgeous. Your turn. Strip for me and let's see if we can't get you an orgasm, too."

She grinned at him before standing and nervously placing her hands at the waistband of her leggings. Taking a deep breath, she wiggled them over her hips and dropped them, letting gravity take them to the floor. She'd dropped her panties at the same time so she stood before him naked, and just a little bit bashful.

"God, you're beautiful," he whispered, voice full of awe. He pulled her to stand right in front of him, spreading his knees so she was standing between them. Leaning forward, he kissed everywhere he could reach – belly button, thighs, underside of her breasts, ribs, hip bones, and finally, the apex of her legs. She squirmed against his mouth, first because it tickled, and then because of the need he ignited deep in her belly.

All the while, he held her firmly in place, hands wrapped around her waist, fingers pressed gently against the small of her back, worshipping her body with his mouth. Kissing her pussy affectionately, he couldn't help giving her a small lick before leaning back and looking up at her with eyes full of love and desire.

He tugged her onto the couch with him before pressing gently on her shoulders, laying her down and slipping off the sofa to kneel next to her knees. Her cheeks, already pink from desire, reddened with a bit of a blush. She knew what he wanted and even though she felt a bit embarrassed, she wanted to give it, as well.

She wiggled in place to get a little more comfortable, sliding one leg off the couch, bending it at the knee, and planting it firmly on the floor, giving him a sightline directly to her pussy, already pink and glistening with arousal.

She'd normally start out wetting her fingers with her tongue; this time, she slid two fingers down between her lower lips, then back up to wrap around a nipple, pulling and twisting it lightly, while her other hand squeezed her other breast. "Can you put a pillow under my head?" she asked. He quickly complied; with her position more comfortable, and with the ability to see him as well as he could see her, she continued pleasuring herself.

It felt too uncomfortable to continue in silence so she started talking. "There were," she cleared her throat and tried again. "There were nights I woke up from dreams of you and I'd feel so empty inside. But I knew if I gave in, I'd never get over you. So I'd press my legs together and try to ignore the ache. Or, if it was really bad, I'd touch myself and try not to think of you."

"But then I got your letter and I still tried to ignore what was happening; I was determined to get this under control without complicating things even more. But one night, a couple of weeks later, I fell asleep thinking about our night on the beach." Her voice jumped up an octave on the last word, as she reached a hand down and nudged her clit, pleasure lancing through her. She dragged fingers around her clit, not actually touching it again. "In my dream that night, you were there. You were often there in my dreams. This night you were kissing my breasts."

"Over or under your clothes?" he interrupted.

"Uh… you had pushed my shirt up over them so they were bare, except for your mouth and your hand."

"Fuck, Granger. I could get used to that image," he groaned. He couldn't remember the last time he'd been this turned on again so quickly.

She managed to smirk at him, "Me, too."

He took in a deep breath and let it out through his nose. "What happened next?"

She slid two fingers inside herself, groaning at how good it felt. "Umm… then you moved down and kissed me."

He arched an eyebrow. "Where did I kiss you, Granger? Did I kiss your belly button?"

She shook her head.

"Did I kiss you here?" He placed a hand on her hip.

She shook her head again.

"Did I kiss you here?" He placed a hand on her knee.

Another head shake and a quietly whispered, "Higher."

He lifted her leg and placed it over his shoulder, moving his hand to her thigh.

She shook her head before he even voiced his question. "Higher."

He tilted his head and kissed her knee, running his hand up the outside of her thigh. "Say it, Granger. Where did I kiss you?"

She bit her bottom lip, obviously embarrassed, but she met his eye before saying, "You kissed my cunt, Draco."

"Holy. Shite," he whispered. It took everything within him not to ravish her in that moment. He'd never expected such a dirty word to come out of her mouth. He sat back on his heels – hoping to ratchet his desire for her back down to manageable levels.

He watched as she pumped two fingers in and out of her very wet pussy. Giving up his quest as a lost cause, he licked the palm of one hand and fisted his cock with it. "Do you know how sexy you look laid out like that?" he asked. He could look at her like this forever. How had he lived 27 years without this woman?

He watched her two hands busily working to bring about her pleasure. "Use another finger, Granger," he commanded. She did as bade, writhing as her orgasm came closer.

He matched his pace to hers, imagining how she would feel wrapped around him in place of his hand. They were both panting now. His face was close enough to her pussy that he could have licked her hand, if he wanted.

The air was warm and moist between her thighs. And full of the fragrance of her arousal, a scent Draco found quite enticing. He wanted to roll around in that scent, coat himself in it, like a cat. "God, you smell delicious, Granger. You're my new favorite scent."

She whimpered in response. Her whimper grew louder when he rocked forward and pushed her hand out of the way. "Don't worry, Beautiful; I've got you." He placed his mouth over her lower lips, placing a reverential kiss there before opening his mouth for a long lick from opening to clit. He took a moment to savor her flavor before diving back in. He felt her hands grasp his head, pressing him even closer as her thighs clamped around his head. He could definitely die a happy man now!

He considered bringing her with just his mouth, but didn't know if either of them could last much longer. He slid two fingers deep inside her, groaning at the feel of her walls surrounding them. He licked softly around her clit, alternating pressure and using both the flat and the tip of his tongue to stimulate her in a variety of ways. He crooked the fingers he had insider her and pressed against the spongy tissue she could never quite reach on her own.

"Oh my God! Draco! More! More please," she managed to beg, all the while plucking at her own nipples and squeezing her breasts. She reached down and tried to find purchase on the couch as he eased a third finger into her. He could tell she was close, she had moved one hand back to his head and was holding it tightly to her while uttering a string of words – mostly his name and profanities. He loved that she had such a dirty mouth when aroused. He'd tease her mercilessly about it later.

Moments later he felt her tense up and then his mouth was flooded with her juices. He eagerly lapped them up, keeping his fingers still inside her so as not to overstimulate her.

When she finally released his head from between her legs, he eased his fingers out of her, licking them off while he watched her. She was stunning in her post-orgasmic state – skin flushed and a bit sweaty, her chest rising and falling rapidly as she fought to catch her breath. She looked over at him through slitted eyes and reached for him. He interlocked his fingers with hers and she tugged to get him to come closer. He looked at her questioningly, hoping she meant what he thought she did.

"That was one hell of an orgasm, but I'd like to see what else you've got, if you're up for doing most of the work."

His lips twitched in a smile. "You're on," he said, and crawled onto the couch, covering her body with his, but making sure not to put too much weight on her.

Then he was kissing her and she could feel the hard length of him against her inner thigh. She hooked a leg around his waist and drew him even closer to her, urging him without words to stop waiting. He complied eagerly, rocking his pelvis against her, coating his cock thoroughly. She had her arms wrapped around his shoulders and when he finally slipped insider her in one deep thrust, she heard him groan with her at the feeling of finally being joined.

She couldn't decide whether to keep her eyes closed since they weighed a ton and the pleasure she was experiencing made it hard to think; but she also wanted to watch him as they made love. She finally opened her eyes to see him staring down at her.

"Hi," she whispered.

He huffed out a laugh and kissed her nose. "Hi," he replied.

"God, you feel amazing," she said, a little bit of wonder in her voice.

"I knew it would be amazing between us, but this is better than I ever imagined. It's like we're – "

"A perfect fit," she said before he could finish.

He leaned his head down to lick a line of sweat from her throat. She wriggled underneath him, needing friction, needing desperately for him to move. With a kiss to the underside of her jaw, he complied, gliding almost all the way out before reversing course and pushing all the way back in.

She hissed when he bottomed out all the way inside her. He instantly stilled. "Are you okay, Granger? Did I hurt you?"

"No. Feels so good. I just haven't done this in a while. At least not with anyone other than myself." She felt him grow impossibly harder inside her and whined in the back of her throat. He was hovering over her, close enough for her to kiss; she did, bringing their lips together briefly, before whispering, "So, you like it when I talk dirty? I'll never talk dirty to you again if you don't move this instant."

"I always knew you'd be bossy in bed, too, Granger." He obeyed her command and started moving again, upping his pace once he could feel his orgasm approaching. "You close, Princess? I'm not gonna last much longer – you feel too bloody good!" Without waiting for an answer, he moved one hand down between them, working her clit the way he'd seen her do earlier. He was bound and determined they would come at the same time. She moaned loudly at the added sensation, wholeheartedly approving of his initiative.

"Fuck, this feels so good!" he managed to pant out, upping his tempo even more.

"So. Close. Don't stop!" she panted in return. A few more deft strokes of his finger in conjunction with his cock and she called his name loudly as she orgasmed. He followed on the tail-end of her orgasm, jerking into her and breaking the rhythm he had previously established as he propelled himself as deeply inside her as he could.

"Hermione!" he shouted as he came, collapsing against her moments later.

They lay there panting for several minutes, his head resting on her chest, neither willing, or feeling particularly able, to move. "That was bloody brilliant!" she said.

"It was pretty fan-fucking-tastic," he agreed smugly.

Eventually she was able to move her arms again and she brought them around to embrace him tightly, before moving one hand up to stroke his hair gently. "I'm sorry it took me so long to come back," she whispered.

He raised himself up onto his elbows so he could see her for this conversation. He brushed some sweaty hair off her forehead and smiled at her. "Really, it's okay, Granger. I was hurt, but I knew when I went to your place that night that more than likely I'd freak you out. Your reaction was neither unexpected nor entirely unreasonable."

She didn't know what to say to that. She should have known he'd analyze her – he was a Slytherin; he read people well, he studied them, and he was cunning. They'd been best friends for ages; he knew her. Better than she seemed to know herself at times.

"I might have even been able to salvage the situation if I hadn't interrupted your snog out with Theo."

She stuck her tongue out at him; he smirked in response.

"I inadvertently embarrassed you, Granger, which made you less receptive to what I had to say. And the sight of him touching you how I wanted to be touching you made me frustrated and jealous. I sort of thought we had an understanding – I really liked snogging you on the beach."

"Me too!" she rushed to reassure him. "But we were drunk and you didn't really say anything when you dropped me off at my house. I didn't want to assume I knew your thoughts or intentions."

"Well, Granger, you know I tend to make an arse of myself in front of girls I want to impress."

"You wanted to impress me?" she questioned.

"Of course, Granger, you daft girl! Kissing you wasn't a revelation for me – I'd been wanting you for ages, really; I just never let myself go there."

She felt a rush of affection for this man – for all the things he meant to her. Here he was opening himself up to her, sharing the few parts of himself she didn't already know. She wanted to return the gift.

She placed her hands on his cheeks, holding him still, pushing a wayward piece of hair out of his eyes. She just looked at him for a moment before saying, "You do impress me! You are the best man I know. You are!" she repeated when he scoffed at her. "You've worked so hard and become a person you can really be proud of." She could sense him basking in her affection, a man not used to being encouraged in such a way. She made a mental note to do so more often before continuing, "If that wasn't enough, the rumors in school were apparently all true – I just had the best sex of my life."

He snorted at that, knowing the rumors she referred to were of his sexual prowess. He nuzzled her cheek with his nose before whispering, "Me, too."

"I think we should have some more excellent sex," she declared.

She could feel his member hardening at the mention of more sex. Despite that, he said, "I'm going to need some sustenance before we make that happen."

Her stomach growled in agreement. She laughed and pushed on his shoulder to get him to sit up. They untangled from each other and worked on making themselves presentable.

"Are you sure you have to put clothes back on?" she asked, disappointed he couldn't just be nude all the time.

"It's only for a little while, Granger, dear. Then we'll go back to your place; there are several rooms in your apartment that I'd like to christen."

"Why don't we just get takeout and eat it in my apartment?"

Much later that evening, after several rounds of hot, sweaty sex, they laid in her bed together, her head resting on his chest, his hand idly moving through her hair. As they were drifting off to sleep, she murmured, "I love you, Draco."

She just heard his reply before sleep overtook her, "I love you too, my Granger."

A/N: Please read and review. But I beg of you to be kind – I've never written sex scenes before. And I actually didn't intend to for this piece, either, but Draco and Hermione kind of have minds of their own. This doesn't mean I won't accept constructive criticism, but give it to me gently, please!