Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling and her publishers.
Hermione shut the door to 12 Grimmauld Place and leaned against it. Eyes closed, ghost of a smile on her lips, she let the sounds of the party fill her ears.
To her right, noise poured out of the parlor. Seamus and Dean were singing, making up in volume what they had lost in pitch with each successive drink. From the hooting and hollering, it sounded like Parvati and Lavender were dancing one of their infamous sultry dances, and Hermione could hear Neville earnestly begging Hannah to get down off the table. It appeared Harry's first ever house party was an unqualified success. It was good to have music and laughter filling up this once dark house.
Draco's dry voice, egging Hannah on over Neville's protests and offering to stuff a Galleon somewhere unmentionable, scattered Hermione's thoughts.
She'd go left, she decided. Perhaps a hot cup of tea would chase away the last of the chill she'd caught when she'd slipped outside a half hour before. At any rate, it would give her knees a chance to stop trembling before she rejoined the party.
Half-wishing she could find a bed upstairs and curl up for a nap, she pushed open the kitchen door and almost jumped out of her skin when Ron shouted, "Hermione!"
"Ron!" Hand over her heart, Hermione looked from face to face, reading their expressions: Ron's anxious, Harry's concerned, Ginny's curious. "What is it?"
"Are you all right?" Ron crossed the kitchen in two long strides. His bright blue eyes scanned her from head-to-foot as if looking for some sign of injury.
"Of course, I'm all right." Without conscious thought, Hermione rubbed her lips together, suddenly afraid lipstick was smeared across her face. When she caught her hands checking her blouse, making sure it was buttoned properly, she forced her arms to her sides. Ignoring Ginny's knowing smirk, she asked, "Is there some reason I shouldn't be?"
"Ron's been looking for you, Hermione." Harry was quiet but determined. "He says you disappeared after dancing with Malfoy." He hesitated but forged ahead. "Malfoy vanished, too."
"Did he? What a coincidence!" Hermione knew her voice was too bright and too loud. She abandoned her original plan of a cup of tea and ladled a mug of punch from the full bowl waiting to be carried out to the party. Her mouth puckered at the taste; George's "Special Recipe" was mostly alcohol. She drained her glass and immediately filled it again. Hermione had the feeling she'd need every drop of courage she could muster to get through this conversation, even liquid courage. "I just stepped out for some air."
"I looked for you outside. I didn't see you."
"Oh." She forced herself to meet Ron's gaze. "Well, I was behind the shed." Away from prying eyes, she finished silently.
Ron's hands fisted on his hips. "You went all the way across the garden and behind the shed? Why?"
"I told you: to get some air." It wasn't a complete lie, Hermione consoled herself. There was plenty of air to be had with all the heavy breathing that had been going on.
Ron and Harry exchanged meaningful glances, and Ron pulled the two chairs facing Harry and Ginny away from the table. "Have a seat, Hermione. I think we need to talk."
Reluctant, Hermione perched on the edge of her seat, mug of punch between her palms.
Ron took a deep breath. "Hermione, you know I love you."
Oh, Merlin, not this. "I love you, too, Ron. As friends. I'm so grateful we were able to salvage our friendship after we broke up."
He waved his big hands in the air, dismissing her words. "Because I love you, and because Harry loves you, we worry about you. Especially when you're in over your head and refusing to admit it."
"I don't know what you mean, Ron." Hermione smiled toothily. "There's no reason to worry about me."
"Oh, really?" He leaned back in his chair. "That was some dance you danced with Malfoy."
"Everyone's cutting loose tonight. Why can't I?" Her skin still tingled with the memory of Draco pressing against her, pelvis aligned with hers as they moved to the music, one hand dangerously low on her back and the other in her hair.
Harry and Ron shared another look.
Harry cleared his throat. "When Malfoy transferred to Magical Law Enforcement and became your partner, we were worried but you said you could handle him, that you could take anything he could dish out." He reached across the table and patted her hand. "We both thought you'd come to us, though, after everything we've been through, if it turned out you were wrong."
Nettled, Hermione extracted her hand. "I don't appreciate your patronizing tone. What makes you think I was wrong, anyway?"
"They've been comparing notes," Ginny murmured.
"Remember that day you and Malfoy were trapped in the lift? When no one could figure out why it stopped working?"
"I remember." Hermione's cheeks warmed.
"When we finally got you out," Harry said, "you looked so strange, so flustered. I figured the two of you had been fighting—'cause who wouldn't fight with Malfoy if stuck in a small space with him?—but you both walked off toward MLE like nothing was wrong. It's been niggling at me ever since."
"We're not children anymore." Hermione drained the last of her punch. "The days when Draco and I would fling insults and then flounce away from each other in a snit are long over."
"I saw you in Diagon Alley," Ron said quietly. "He was way inside your bubble."
"My bubble?" Hermione rubbed her forehead.
"Everyone has an area of personal space around them—"
"Yes, Ron, I am familiar with the concept; I'm just surprised you are. Been reading Lavender's copies of Witch Weekly again?"
"—and no one, especially not a pointy-faced git, should be in your bubble without your permission."
"I've also checked the Floo records, and Malfoy has Flooed in just seconds after you every day for a week." Ron nodded in response to her shocked expression. "Exactly. That can't be coincidence. He must be stalking you and monitoring when you leave your flat."
"It sounds like you're the stalker here, Ron," Ginny pointed out. Hermione covered her face with her hands and wondered how her two best friends had ever passed the Auror training program.
Harry fixed his best "authoritative Auror look" upon her. "Tonight, after the way he danced with you—"
"Again, inside your bubble," Ron said with great emphasis.
"—when the two of you disappeared at the same time, Ron and I started weighing the evidence and figured out Malfoy's up to no good."
Ron wrapped his arm over her shoulders and gave her a quick squeeze. "He won't get away with harassing you, Hermione."
"Do you really think anyone could harass Hermione and get away with it? Be serious." The door creaked open, and Hermione turned to find Draco in the kitchen, hands on his hips.
"Draco." She half-stood.
He ignored her completely. "We're dating, you idiots."
Ginny's hand on his arm kept Harry seated at the table, but Ron rose to his full and intimidating height. Draco was unimpressed.
"We're dating," he repeated. "That means we dance and shop together and sneak out of parties for a little time alone. It means Hermione stops lifts at work and jumps me, and I spend the night at her flat and follow her through the Floo every morning. Most of all, it means she allows me in her damn bubble and there's nothing you lot can do about it."
Hermione dropped her purse and wand on the table and marched through her flat.
"Thanks a lot, Draco. That was such fun." She glared down at the blond in her bathtub, reclining with his ankles crossed and bubbles up to his chin. "I didn't think Ron and Harry would ever calm down."
"Is that what kept you? Calming them down?"
"That and they wouldn't let me leave until I let them check me for the Imperious or a love potion." Hermione stepped out of her shoes and unzipped her skirt, pushing it down over her hips. "Then Harry insisted on teaching me how to put you in a headlock and incapacitate you with pressure points, and Ron lectured me—hysterically and at length, I might add—about letting you enter my personal bubble."
Draco's shoulders shook. "Maybe I should have stuck around and told Weasley how much I love being in your personal bubble," he choked out. "Yours is the finest bubble I've ever entered."
Hermione smothered a smile and unbuttoned her blouse. "Well, I do rather like it when you're in my bubble," she conceded as solemnly as she could. "Upon reflection, having you in my bubble was the high point of my night."
He burst out laughing, and she sat on the edge of the tub, watching him and playing with the bluish bubbles.
"I guess our secret's out, huh?" she asked quietly.
"And it's about time, too." Draco's chuckles slowed and he folded his arms behind his head. "No more skulking around, no more pretending we aren't together just to spare your friends' delicate feelings." He sighed, satisfied. "Finally."
Hermione picked up a handful of bubbles. "They love me and they, um, don't love you, so this will be hard for them. You'll take it easy on them, right?"
He smiled sweetly. "No way."
She blew the bubbles into his face and squealed when he grabbed her wrist and pulled her into the tub.
A/N: This was written as a gift for Suprockstar through the luvlikerockets Dramione community on LJ. Prompt: bubbles