Fair Warning: I'm going to earn that "M" a little this chapter

It's a striking study in comparison, if you ask Hermione, how she spends an evening with Ron Weasley versus Draco Malfoy.

Ron has invited her out to the same pub he always favours. The walls are covered in photographs of everything from football to American baseball to Quidditch. "International Sports" it touts as you enter from a noisy street. It's crowded here and more than a little dirty. The liquor is mid-shelf at best, the beer selection consists of four taps, and the ladies' room graffiti of phone numbers and lovers names has been the same since about 1992 if the faded song lyrics scribbled above the paper roll are any indication.

Draco wouldn't be caught dead in a place like this.

It's not that she minds the atmosphere necessarily. Nor is it a question of appreciating the refined luxuries in life as well. It's more that she has the capacity for both.

Even so, it really is a bit too loud.

When they enter, as with most occasions, they start on opposite sides of a table, tucked in a booth toward the back. However as the pub fills to capacity, ultimately one of them sneaks over to the other side and they end up cuddled close, speaking directly in each other's ears.

Their conversation starts on safe ground. Ron is excited to tell her all about his trip to the states. The new shop is already projecting to outsell most European locations and George wants to break ground on a location in three more cities by the end of next year. It really is quite an empire. Shame Fred can't see, they lament, raising their glasses to his dead brother.

Ron mentions he had a little fling while away and Hermione is thrilled to hear it. Too often they have stumbled back into bed together out of loneliness (or simply habit) and they both agreed last time, not six months ago, that it had to stop. Unfortunately, beer after beer, she watches as his resolve crumbles and, though she doesn't agree with a word he says, she's drawn in by the old-shoe comfort of Ron Weasley. He's all familiar scent and open expression and there is history here. Not all of it good, but they know they will always have love between them.

"I mean, she was fun but we just didn't connect you know? There wasn't that... whatever it is that you think 'blimey, I'll just know her for the rest of my life'. Not like we had right? It's hard... makes me wonder why we never really made it work."

She smiles and shrugs, unable to voice all the ways that they just really don't mesh without hurting his feelings. She doesn't agree with him in the slightest; knows deep down inside her that they are poorly matched. But it's hard to keep breaking his heart when he's giving her that smile and piercing her with the ice of his eyes. They were good together, his eyes say.

Sort of.

Sometimes.

"It's just, what if that's why it never works? Like maybe I can't get... invested when I'm still thinking about you."

He's looking at her with that boy-next-door grin and she knows he's trying to use what he thinks of as "smart words" like invested to impress her.

"You know I love you, Ron," she begins carefully, "but we just don't... I don't know... click." She feels a little helpless and more than a little addled as the drinks start to course through her blood.

"Have you had any luck, 'Mione? I mean, any men I don't know about?" He gives her a more guarded smile and she knows it would kill him to know which blonde prat she's currently pining over.

So she shakes her head and smiles with what probably, for better or worse, looks like reassurance. "No, not as such. You know I'd tell you if there was someone. You're still my best friend."

His expressive blues search her and then he's leaning in and his lips are warm against hers and the sounds in the muggle bar are muffled by that rush of blood through her veins. There is a relief mixed with attraction and fondness. But also, there is a panic and a sense of wrong. It's ridiculous anyway, she chides herself. Here she is with this adorably handsome man who genuinely cares for her and is begging for whatever she's willing to give. He has been her lover and her friend and her rock on more occasions than she can name. Why should this feel wrong? It's not like anyone is at home waiting for her…

His lips move against hers and then his arms are wrapped around her and his hand is clinging to her mane of hair behind her neck. Eyes closed, she starts to get a little lost in her head. He's affectionate and welcoming and there is want somewhere down deep. Want of being held and loved and worshipped and touched.

A low moan rumbles from him, vibrating through her, and she's rattled by how disappointed she suddenly is. Behind her closed lids there is platinum hair and a wicked grin; a picture forming of the man whose touch she craves and it's not the one currently enjoying the privilege. It's not fair to any of them to let this continue.

His tongue is probing her mouth and his hands searching her blouse when she pulls away, pushing his chest lightly with her hands and shaking her head softly. Her curls are bouncing around her cheeks and she keeps her eyes squeezed shut, unable to meet his gaze.

When she looks up she sees what she was anticipating: Hurt on her friends face. Hurt and confusion. "Ron, I can't," she says simply.

"Why the hell not? I thought you were single?"

That's the Ron she knows. Brash and temperamental and accusing...which is just one of many reasons why they don't work. It immediately makes her feel defensive. "We can't keep doing this. We agreed."

He sits back away from her, his back bouncing hard against the booth as he crosses his arms over his chest. "Well you agreed and I didn't have much say in it, did I? I don't get it, 'Mione. You always say the same shite. We're "friends" and you "love me" and it's so nice being together and then as soon as we get close you pull... this." He gestures vaguely toward her before running his hand through his hair and then taking a long pull from his beer.

"That's not fair. You know as well as I do we never work. You're no happier with me than I am with you."

"Sorry I make you so miserable," he says petulantly.

Hermione sighs and takes his hand. "You know you don't, stop digging for compliments."

He removes his hand from hers to take another drink and, though she can see he's pouting, he seems to already be calming considerably. Fast to anger and fast to forgive. That's her Ron.

"So tell me all the gossip I've missed then. Harry says Malfoy's afraid of your driving. Prefers the muggle bus. Smart move on his part if you ask me."

She signals the bartender to bring them another round and settles in to regale her ex-boyfriend with stories about her current unrequited love interest. Unbeknownst to him of course.

He will make two more attempts for a kiss before the night is over and a very drunk Hermione will make excuses of being exhausted so she can break away, annoyed and yearning for the wrong man.

XXXXXXXXXXXX

It is after two in the morning when Draco hears the door open and watches a stumbling Granger fall through the opening. Her lipstick is completely gone and her face is flushed. The top button of her shirt is no longer done. He purses his lips and rises. He's waited up for hours, agonizing over the conversation he wanted to have earlier in the day, and is not pleased that this is the result. He was even worried for her when she was gone so long. Not to mention, he has been feeling wretched for the dark tone that has settled between them all week. He was ready to apologize. To try to talk it out. After his conversation with Astoria at lunch, he thought maybe he might want to stay. To show her he's worth giving a chance outside of their professional relationship. Now he just sees why it probably never meant anything to her anyway.

As he passes by, she seems startled by his presence and he sneers, "I guess you and Weasel are back together then," and continues on his way.

He doesn't quite reach the hall when she spits back, "Of course not. Christ, what a dreadful thought."

Curiosity stops him and he looks her over, his eyes taking her in with something like condescension. "Certainly appears to be the case. If your disheveled state is anything to go by."

He watches her look down at herself and sway a bit. "He got a little handsy. Old habits."

Draco snorts. "Old habit that repeats whenever he comes crawling back I'd wager."

"What the fuck is that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing that it doesn't sound like."

"That's bollocks. You don't get to make me feel like a whore over his attempts to reconnect."

"Don't project your issues on me. I never called you anything of the kind. I just think it's pathetic you keep going back to the same prat you just said you had no intention of being with. What, you can't get a date with anyone else?" He sneers at her and goes to leave again but now she is truly riled.

"I can get a bloody date, you insufferable prat! I go out and meet people and occasionally even get laid but I don't just want to date! I want a goddamn relationship. I want someone who's mine and I'm his but no one is asking so I settle for… fuck… familiar!"

She positively screeching at him and he's never quite seen her like this. Even after cocktails at Potter's. This is a whole new level of intoxicated. He goes for the obvious. "You're drunk."

She roars at him, throwing her jacket on the ground at her feet. "Of COURSE I'm drunk! You think I go about snogging my exes when I'm sober?! Jesus, I probably undid months of being aloof so he doesn't start getting hopeful again but fuck, Draco, you've fucked me up. Fucked up everything! I LIKE being alone. Or I did. Then you show up and I get all… accustomed to you and then you'll be gone and it's your fault everything keeps changing and... I don't like change, Draco! I can't control it and I DON'T LIKE IT!" She's panting now and Draco just stares with saucer eyes.

"I'm going to bed," she hollers with finality and stomps down the hall, slamming herself into her room.

Draco waits maybe a beat and then storms down after her. He flings her door open and finds her hopping awkwardly trying to pull off her left boot.

"We're not finished, Hermione."

"I don't have anything else to say. I'm tired and I'm drunk and I smell like that cheap wizard cologne Ron bathes in because I don't know why. He must think the sounds of a woman choking are just incredibly appealing."

She is mumbling and continuing to hop until she finally ends up perched on the end of the bed and pulls the boot so hard it flies into her nightstand. Draco snickers.

"Fuck you, these boots are tight."

He starts across the room and picks up the offending footwear, righting it to stand neatly by the wall. "Would you like help with the other?"

"I'm perfectly capable… ugh," she tugs on the other boot with little effect. "…of taking off my own… ugh…bloody boots, thank you very much."

"Maybe unzip them."

"They are unzi—oh."

Some of the fire is going out of her temper but she seems to muster what little is left for one last dig. "I'm sure your new wife will be happy to let you undress her top to bottom. No doubt that pureblooded princess will need the assistance with complicated things like zippers.

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"You know, that empty-headed blonde brood mare you're going to marry."

"What the hell… Astoria? I'm not even interested in marrying her."

"Then why are you going to live with her!?"

"Because you don't want me here!"

Hermione, who seemed primed, anticipating something and ready with a retort, seems to stop suddenly and looks at him with an odd expression.

"That's not true." Her voice is softer than before.

"Isn't it?" he hisses back, his own ire reignited.

Hermione drops her chin and regards Draco with a cautious interest. "No. No, Draco, it's not. I never said such a thing. Merlin, Draco, is that why you've been such a prick?"

He folds his arms over his chest and glares at her. "I've been perfectly civil."

Rolling her eyes, Hermione flops down on her bed and sighs in apparent exasperation. "Well you haven't called me a mudblood or tried to hex me but you've been barely less than hostile."

"I haven't called you such a thing since we were children. Regardless, I don't care for being in a position to feel like a burden." He looks away, unable or unwilling to keep her gaze.

Hermione furrows her brow and chews her bottom lip, perhaps reviewing the last few weeks in her head. No small task, he imagines, since her head is fuzzy with drink. "Is this about Pansy?" she slurs out carefully. "She's the one who said 'burden' not me."

"Yes because that would be terribly unprofessional of you." His tone is condescending and Hermione's drunken semblance of patience is wearing onion-skin thin.

"Draco Lucius Malfoy, you stop snarking at me this instance. Now sit down and stop pacing." Her foggy head seems to be starting to clear, adrenaline washing away some of the copious amounts of rum she consumed during the evening.

Draco is mildly surprised, but no more than she when he actually listens, flopping down especially hard on the other end of her side of the bed.

"Careful, you'll owe me a mattress," she chides but with a little cheek in her tone. Draco for his part is not anywhere near ready to engage in banter and pointedly won't meet her eyes. He hears her sigh before she says, "Draco, I apologize if I've said something to make you think I'm inconvenienced by you in any way."

"Don't talk down to me in that swotty voice you reserve for lecturing." He still refuses to look at her and an indifferent mask has clouded his facial features. He's been told this can be quite irritating and hopes to Salazar that it is.

From the corner of his eye, he sees her fist clinch.

"Fine. How about this then: Stop being a fucking arse. I've been incredibly nice to you and not just because I'm supposed to be. I don't have to watch films with you and take you to my favorite restaurants and hang out with your harpy ex-girlfriend and watch you drool all over the muggle tart at the uni!" She snaps her mouth closed, seeming to want to cut off any further outburst.

Draco is, if not chastised, at least puzzled. Still locked up in his emotionless, protective state, he asks carefully, "then why do you?"

"Because I like it. I mean, not the 'muggle tart' bit but the other things. I've…it's nice to have someone who likes to do things I like. Even if it's just staying in on a Saturday to watch a film and order take-away."

"So, you..." he pauses a moment and blinks his eyes closed, steeling himself with whatever passes for bravery for a self-doubting Slytherin. "I don't want to live with the Greengrasses."

"I- you don't?"

He opens his eyes and looks at her finally. "I was rather just getting comfortable here." His pride screams at him not to admit the rest but he says anyway, "She didn't want to marry me you know. Astoria. Didn't even know her parents had petitioned."

Hermione tucks a curl behind her ear. "I was growing rather used to having you here too." She looks away with a slight blush on her cheeks and Draco wonders if she is embarrassed to admit having been unprofessionally friendly with her charge. He can't find himself to care, just happy to see her warmth slowly returning to her voice.

Then he remembers her tirade in the living room, screaming how he was going to leave and this tiny flame ignites somewhere inside his cold center. Suddenly he wishes very much she were not drunk, or that he was drunk as well so they'd be on even ground. If he could Accio a bottle of whiskey he would be doing so.

"Do you have any Sober Up?"

"Hmmm? Oh, um. I don't know, maybe…" She seems distracted and thoughtful and he wonders if she realizes what he is just now hoping she meant.

Rising from her bed, he walks into her adjoining bathroom and starts searching cabinets. He finds the potion in question, garishly packaged in a purple bottle with a cartoon duck giving a "thumbs up" to the viewer. He sneers at it in disgust, fucking muggle marketing, but takes it back to the witch sitting on the bed, her head bowed like she's either in very deep thought or about to pass out.

He nudges her shoulder with the bottle. "Take it."

She looks up in question then studies the bottle like she's not sure what it is. He hadn't thought she was too inebriated to read…

"Come on, take it. You give me too much credit if you think I poisoned it in that amount of time."

"Don't be ridiculous." She takes it from him but hesitates a bit longer before admitting. "I'm not sure I'm looking forward to being sober just yet."

Yes, he supposes it could be a might awkward…

She downs in like she's taking a shot of muggle liquor and shudders at what he knows to be the horrid taste. "Better?"

A long pause before she looks up and says, "sort of."

"What do you mean 'sort of'?"

"Well now it's just terribly uncomfortable." There is a slight pout in her voice. Draco thinks it's a little endearing.

He snorts and comments, "No more uncomfortable than living with you the last two weeks."

Hermione gives him a wide eyed look, dripping with incredulity. "And whose fault is that?"

"Yours obviously. Don't give me that look, you've been strange ever since the Greengrass thing came up."

"No… I've been strange since you screamed at me for sitting on it for a bit. It's not as if my not telling you changed the pending outcome."

She's looking away from him again and her face has settled on an expression of annoyance. "How long did you know about it?"

"Oh come on, Draco, why does it matter? I apologized alright? Either you forgive me for that or you can just show yourself out of my bedroom."

It hadn't really occurred to him they were having this conversation in her private space. Her bedchamber. On her bed. Where she sleeps.

Nude.

No use getting distracted. That assumption of their familiarity is what landed him here in this position in the first place.

"I'm not angry you didn't tell me."

"I… oh. Wait, then what are you angry about?"

Draco thinks back on their argument. Why was he angry? He supposes he was just disappointed that she seemed so flippant about his removal. Is that really where all of this started? Seems a bit petty now, blaming her and being purposefully cruel just because she wasn't some lovestruck fool, pining at the possibility of his departure.

"I guess I was just surprised how easy… it makes sense though I guess. I mean I'm sure giving up your home constantly to wayward wizards is a bit of a burden."

"I wish you'd stop saying that. Burden. I've never said that."

Something occurs to Draco and his curiosity is too great to not follow the mental distraction. "Why did you lie about that? Taking other wizards and witches in?"

She looks at him in confusion and replies, "I've never lied to you Draco. I understand you might have issues trusting me, hiding the petition, but I've not lied."

"Astoria, she has no reason to be dishonest. She says you've taken in others before but you said I was the first. She was surprised you agreed to take me actually, being a pureblood. Said you're a bit prejudiced against us." There is a little challenge in his voice. He'd nearly forgotten that but now that it's on his mind, he's feeling a little misplaced betrayal at Granger. She's probably within her rights to be wary of purebloods but that doesn't make him feel good about it.

Her confusion transforms into a glare. "I am not prejudiced. I assist purebloods when they need it but most of the oldest families are terribly wealthy and very insular. They don't have much use for me."

"Yes they do," he argues, disbelieving she could be so naive. "Probably more than anyone. Not with housing or food but they're the most ignorant, the most lost-at-sea with muggles."

"Well pardon me but our resources are limited. I thought maybe it was more important for families not to starve to death instead of holding Astoria's hand while she learned to use her fucking toaster."

There it is. That haughty, stubborn Gryffindor he's known since they were children. "Sounds like Astoria's right," he accuses. He'd almost be amused, being right while she is so wrong, but it's too serious a topic for mirth. "You've not really forgiven us have you?"

"Forgiven?..."

"For Hogwarts. For the war. Merlin, no wonder you want me out of your house. Probably why you lied about it. Easier to shuffle me out if I thought I was a special exception in the first place."

"Oh for the last time I didn't lie." Exasperation has crept into her tone now. "I said you were the first Death Eater and you are." Gods he hates it when she calls him that, sums him up by the mark on his arm. "I didn't think I needed to give an account of all the witches and wizards who have ever spent time as my guest. Shall I write a list?" She asks sarcastically, her hostility frothing back up. "There was Harry, and then Ron of course, and Ginny stayed a weekend, and Seamus, and then Minerva came for tea-"

"Oh stop it," he hisses, all bemusement gone. He stands and is across the room, glaring at her before she can respond. "You're being obtuse and it's unbecoming. Just admit you wanted me gone and I'll make it really easy on you. I can have a bag packed and be out the door in about two minutes. Just give me a head start before you call muggle authorities or some traitor wizards to hunt me like a fox for sport."

Now Hermione has risen and she's advancing on him, her finger pointed and then she's poking his chest and screaming at him. "How fucking dare you! I've been nothing but good to you!" This isn't the incoherent ramblings of a drunken witch either. Hermione is dead sober now and she's a little terrifying if he's honest, her hair crackling with magical energy and her gaze sharp like a knife, digging into his skull.

"I've helped you get your wand, from Ollivander no less," she throws in as an aside, "and you're lucky he would even see you, signed you up at the university, opened my home to you, taken you to meet my parents... my friends… invited you into my fucking LIFE! I didn't do enough? Didn't bleed enough for you? Wasn't what? Pretty enough? Pure enough to be Draco Malfoy's friend-"

"You think I want to be your fucking friend?!" he roars back. "You're a clever witch... Don't you know what I want?!"

And that's it. The last final fucking straw and Draco pushes her against the wardrobe, cradling the back of her head to protect her from the impact, and crashes his lips against hers. Together they are ships on rough seas and flint rocks and consuming fire.

She's divine.

He couldn't give a knut that she tastes like a mixture of muggle rum and that awful Sober Up. All he knows is her lips are lush and warm and it is a rough kiss, all clashing teeth and biting lips and suckling tongues.

He's vaguely aware when she starts tearing at the buttons on his shirt and then her warm hands are touching his skin and he's sneaking his own fingers up the back of her shirt and fiddling with the clasp of her bra.

He releases her mouth in favor of her neck and suckles the skin. Hermione is running her hands into his hair and gripping tight enough to deliciously sting, from the roots all the way to his toes.

"I don't want you to leave," she gasps out desperate, like it was hard to breathe through the truth of it.

He follows the column of her throat to her jaw and then reclaims her mouth. Somewhere between thrusting his tongue between her teeth and brushing his nose against the tip of hers he assures in turn, "I want to stay. I want to stay with you."

Hermione whimpers and guides him back with a gentle push until he feels the backs of his legs hit her mattress and then he topples over, dragging her with him. He rolls them until he is settled over her, looking down into her face. "I want to stay. I never wanted to leave."

Her hand reaches to cup his face then run gently down to his jaw. "I was afraid to tell you. Afraid you'd want to go." She looks away and drops her hand, her teeth sinking into her bottom lip as she loses the nerve to meet his eyes. "She's pretty. I… I met her. Astoria. This isn't... Is this just because she wasn't… because she didn't…"

Draco is a little hurt and almost gives in to that petty feeling of offense that she'd think so little of him. Of his feelings for her. "Am I with you because she didn't want to court me?"

She nods a little, still not looking at him, but he does feel her other hand tracing idling against his back. There is something familiar and sweet about that gesture and he recognizes this for what it is: Self-doubt. Nerves. Hermione is not implying anything shameful about him, only voicing a lack of faith in her own appeal.

Once upon a time, Draco was a charming, self-assured, well-bred young man and tonight, he will choose to play the hero not the villain in the story of his own life.

"My feelings for you began long before you ever uttered her name, Hermione. Brightest witch…," he muses, "I don't know how you missed it."

She turns her head and he's smirking when she looks back at him. Whether she would have been offended by his expression he doesn't give her time to decide when he simply covers her mouth with his own again and slowly settles himself snuggly against her.

What starts as a sweet kiss, full of convincing and gentle urging, evolves into an expression of Draco's suppressed need. Years without, not just sex, but affection, human contact. Within short minutes he's vibrating with want and then he's fumbling with the button on her jeans and he could nearly sob at the intensity of his desire. He wants her completely and he tries to convey with his kiss how much he needs her. He's only been living here a matter of weeks but he feels like he's been denying himself her touch for lifetimes. Watching her and longing and being washed over with this fondness, this affection, like he could drown within her if she'd deign to allow it. Before he knows it, he's shoving at her jeans, pushing them down and cupping her arse.

"Fuck, I think I'm in love with you," he mumbles against her. Frantic. Realizing.

She whimpers again and he feels her body melt but her grip tighten. She doesn't say it back, but that's alright. She didn't push him away either. Maybe she thinks it's too soon. Maybe she thinks he's just acting on some other misplaced emotion. Gratitude or loneliness or, hell, just a lack of getting shagged for years.

Right now he doesn't care. He hadn't even realized how far he was falling until he said the words. But his affections are not dependent upon her own. He was falling for her, loving her, regardless of her permission.

Then her hand is struggling between their tight-fitted bodies to undo the button on his own trousers and any deeper thoughts completely vanish.

She manages the button and is about half successful with the zip before she orders, "take these off," preceding a particularly hard nip to his jaw.

He considers to reply with a cheeky, "yes ma'am", but thinks better of it and simply pulls himself away, enough to shimmy out of the rather fitted pants (muggles do like their trousers tight) as she pulls her blouse over her head. He settles back against her, their bare legs now twined together.

They are laying more on their sides now, and Hermione runs her foot invitingly up his calf. Her knee is nestled between the two of his and then her hand is sneaking down his stomach and playing with the band of his boxers.

Draco could scream with the anticipation of it. Years in a cell, alone and afraid, and now weeks with this beautiful witch, slowly sealing himself to her, and she's so close he could weep.

"Please, Hermione, touch me please."

When she deftly plucks at the elastic and slips her hand inside, finding him steel and straining, one choked gasp escapes him. His hand quickly reaches down, finding hers and holding her in place. She is wrapped tight around him and his length is bucking at her, begging for friction, but Draco is embarrassed to say he's not sure he can handle much more just yet.

"It's just been…I've not… fuck."

"It's ok," she assure him, dropping a sweet lingering kiss on his lower lip. A kiss with wet lips and a whisper of tongue that is full of promise and not at all chaste. "As slow as you want. Anything you want."

He rolls her onto her back and forces her hand away from his cock. He had wanted her touch so badly but now he finds denying himself is the only way to make this last. Instead he looms over her and lowers his head to her breasts to worship her as she deserves. She's all soft curves, spilling from lace that he quickly removes, then perfect pink tips and pale skin. He laps at her like a starved man.

She mewls when he touches her and he reaches lower to drag her knickers down her legs. His hand trails her thigh on the way back up and he settles his palm against her mound, one finger gently playing with her as he gauges her response to his attentions.

He gauges that she quite likes everything so far.

Kissing her again, hard, he's now two fingers into her passage and she's panting beneath him, jerking her hips and pointing her toes.

Hermione tears her mouth away from his and it's her turn to beg. "Draco, please, please… fuck…"

He frowns a little even as he starts to pull his boxers off his legs. "It will be fast…"

"I don't care… fuck I don't care… I'm close…"

That's plenty of assurance for him and then he's between her legs and he's never been so warm and wet and fisted tight and fuck it won't take long at all. But she was being quite honest as to her own progress because within five thrusts she is screaming and shaking and almost sobbing his name and then he's following, her own name falling from his lips and his face nuzzled into her lovely slender neck.

They are both breathing hard, panting and shuddering, for a long moment before he carefully moves himself and settles down to her side. Still breathing hard but now coming down from the high and settling his head at her shoulder, planting soft kisses intermittently on the milky skin there.

"Fuck I wanted that for a long time."

She laughs a little and offers, "You've only been here a few weeks. Can't have been pining over me for ages."

Draco grins against her and concedes, "No that's true. Though I can admit now you were rather fetching back in school. Especially sixth year. I mean you were pretty before that but, fuck me, that year…? I'm not sure if these were bigger or your jumpers got tighter…" he playfully cups her right breast and gives her nipple a passing caress with his thumb.

She slaps at him but chuckles and nestles in closer, wrapping her hand around his forearm as he holds her so intimately.

"So this was rather… unprofessional of me I suppose."

He rolls his eyes but secretly his heart speeds, concerned she will announce this was a huge mistake on her part and he needs to extract himself post haste from her bed and her life. He's quiet, waiting for her to continue.

She doesn't seem aware of his inner concerns as her voice remains light and unchanged. "But I suppose there's not technically a rule against it."

He tries to settle his heart when she shifts suddenly and is up on her hand, her elbow supporting her as she looks down at him.

"It occurs to me however, I'm not sure how this might affect your petition."

"Meaning?" he tries to ask casually.

She's biting her lip again before she answers. "It might be frowned upon, you fraternizing with me, as it were. I'm not sure if the department might see fit to move you if it looks like I'm… taking advantage of my position."

Draco smirks and grabs her hips, shifting her so she is straddling him, feeling a twitch of life surprisingly quickly. "I rather like you taking advantage, Miss Granger."

She blushes and smiles down at him. "I certainly wasn't voicing a complaint… but perhaps," she hesitates, biting that luscious lip again. "Perhaps it would be best we not mention it? At least until the petition is decided or maybe get the request retracted."

He's not fond of that idea. Sounds a lot like lying, a little like a secret, and a touch like she's ashamed.

She must read something along those lines in his face when she reassures, "Just until then. I don't want them to take you from me; especially not now. Then, after that's officially over? I could give a knut what anyone thinks."

She considers briefly and cants her head. "Think Parkinson will be able to hold her tongue? You have to let me be there when you tell her." His cheeky witch grins at that and he relishes in the wicked streak she's hiding under her prim and proper ways.

Draco shifts his weight to throw her off and put himself back into the dominating position over her. "Fuck Parkinson," he growls and kisses her hard, staking a claim this time. He remembers Pansy's nasty comments to Hermione and knows he won't allow a word said against her from this point on. He will protect her as his own, even if his deep feelings are not yet entirely returned.

"No thank you," she says between kisses and it takes him a moment to realize she had made a joke.

He chuckles and pretends to try another suggestion. "Fuck me?"

Hermione giggles and asks, "Already? I've been given to understand in past experience it takes a minute to recuperate."

Pressing himself against her, relishing in the little gasp of surprise when his length nudges against her thigh, he shakes his head. "Not with you apparently. I want you as much as you'll let me."

She smiles and runs a finger down his cheek, around the curve of his jaw, and then plays across his lips. "Merlin, you're gorgeous," she breathes.

Draco lowers himself and kisses her softly and can't help but repeat again, "I love you," fully expecting to be met with deflection. With silence.

Instead she kisses him back, harder like she has something to prove, and raises her pelvis to press against him, "Fuck, Draco, I love you too."

They don't sleep until a bright sun is shining through the windows from high in a blue sky, warming their skin as they lie twined together.

A/N:

:)

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