A/N: Apologies for the delay - I've been on Holidays, got a new job and moved to a new city. You know, real life interruptions and all that. I'm also working on some original fictions. *pouty face*
Hermione next encounters Draco Malfoy in her apartment complex. She is coming home from a frustrating day at work and there he is, squeezed between the emergency stairwell door and several haphazardly parked bicycles.
He shrugs away from the concrete pillar he has been leaning against. "Your elevator won't let me up to your level." He says it nonchalantly with no awkwardness as she presses the 'up' button for the elevator.
Hermione is instantly weary. It has been three weeks since she left him on the floor of his living room and she had not responded to any of his letters or floos since then.
The elevator arrives and he follows Hermione in. She swipes her keycard against the sensor and presses the button for her floor.
"How did you find out where I live?"
His answer is blunt. "I ordered your Human resources department to cough it up."
The elevator doors open before Hermione has a chance to answer that incredibly self-entitled statement. She snorts and walks out, knowing he would follow her. She opens her apartment door and doesn't bother to stop him when he steps in immediately following her. She watches as he discards his polished designer dress shoes in the foyer and slips on a pair of indoor slippers. He strides across her floorboards and stops squarely in front of her at the kitchen bench.
Hermione fights to keep her composure. She averts her eyes from the golden strands of hair falling across his brow, instead opting to rifle through a stack of her unopened mail. It's pretty much all advertisements and neighbourhood notices but Hermione feigns immersion in her task until he lightly grips her chin and tilts her head upwards.
"Are you feeling bashful, Granger?" He's smiling gently, a mirthful tilt to the corner of his lips.
She yanks her chin from between his fingers. "Wait here."
He frowns but obeys, strangely enough.
Hermione fights the urge to slam her bedroom door and climb out the window and reminds herself that she is nine storey's up and has never had a head for heights. Instead, she walks to her wardrobe and pulls out his dry cleaned shirt protected by a thin layer of flimsy see-through plastic.
Draco is reading one of her cook books when she arrives back in her kitchen. "Here." She tries to take on his nonchalant tone but it's difficult when his physical presence makes her heart skitter like a panicked mouse under a cat's paw.
He looks from the shirt and back to her. "I didn't come here for that." He raises a hand as if to touch her but it drops before he reaches her. "Why didn't you answer any of my floos or letters?"
Hermione feels the burning stamp of guilt as she lays the laundered shirt on the table beside her. She picks at the plastic when he takes a step closer. She backs away. "Look Malfoy – "
"Draco." He's turned away from her now. He's leaning back against her kitchen bench, staring up towards her whitewashed ceiling. "I've seen you naked, I think you've earned the right to call me by my given name."
She's fighting the blush that threatens to light up her entire face. "Look…Draco. That…what happened at the wedding…I don't know what came over me. Honestly, I had a lot to drink, I was feeling sorry for myself and things just happened, ok? Can we just…" He's staring at her, waiting for her to go on. "Can't we just pretend that this never happened?"
He's smiling again, almost whimsically, one could say, as he turns back to stare at whatever it is that fascinates him on the ceiling. "I don't think I can. Afterall," he pauses and sends another smirk in her direction. "Seeing you naked was…a revelation."
She watches as he shrugs off his suit jacket, depositing on top of his dry cleaned shirt as he walks to stand in front of her. She tries to speak. "I think…"
"I think we should make a go of this." He interrupts her, watching her intently. "Of us."
Hermione is momentarily stunned. "What?"
Draco smiles, this time tentatively, without mirth or malice. "You know…that thing normal human beings do…I think it's called dating." His head tilts playfully to the side. "Is it a foreign concept for a war heroine such as yourself? Even…"
"I know what dating is." Hermione snaps before she can filter the words through her normally sensible brain. She collects herself as she takes a deep breath in. That proves to be a mistake because she discovers that Draco Malfoy smells like all sorts of sin. "What I mean to say is…we're…we're better suited…as friends."
He's staring at her blankly, that strangely beautiful smile gone. "Friends?"
Hermione latches onto the idea. "Yes…like how Harry, Ron and I are friends."
There's a momentary pause and without answering her, Draco Malfoy turns and shuffles away from her, grabbing both his jacket and shirt and heads towards her foyer. He's bent donning his shoes when Hermione reaches him. She's about to speak when he straightens again. "I'll pick you up tomorrow at eight then?"
Hermione is dumbfounded and she's sure she's gaping like a fish out of water. "No."
"Why not?" He's smiling again and Hermione is sure that Draco Malfoy just lost his ever loving mind on her living room floor. "Friends have dinner together, talk about their lives and how Janice in marketing has totally had work done."
He pecks her affectionately of the cheek, waving over his shoulder as her meanders into the hallway towards the lifts.
Hermione is left dumbstruck staring at her front door.
She risks a mention of Draco to Harry in her next letter. She subtly enquires if there have been any mentions of Draco Malfoy's insidious madness in the gossip rags between a sentence about her remaining goldfish which she has now named Gus and an enquiry about where Ron had gone on his honeymoon.
Harry responds a week later. He writes nothing about Draco Malfoy but does mention that Ron was still in the Greek Islands on honeymoon and had had an unfortunate scuffle with a giant octopus. Fortunately, Astoria was a well trained and resourceful mediwitch.
Draco Malfoy is prompt. He's at her door as per his one sided agreement at eight, dressed quite casually in a pair of slacks and a simple shirt with rolled up sleeves. He smiles boyishly when she opens her door still dress in her work-wear and sporting a head full of monstrously wiry curls frustrated by a day in the Hong Kong humidity.
He hands her a bunch of white daisies and invites himself in, quietly slipping past her disgruntled form with a smirk. "I'll wait for you to change, darling."
Hermione is unsure what to do with these so she places them in a rinsed out jam jar for contemplation later. "Where are you planning to take me?"
"A carnival!" He's practically vibrating with glee when he yells this, rubbing his hands together like a child on Christmas morning.
"Excuse me?" Hermione is dumbstruck at this. "A carnival?"
Draco's smiling like a man several marbles short of a collection by now. "I've never been to a muggle one before and who better to take me than…" He sidles up to her, stroking a finger down her arm, "…my dearest, loveliest, muggleborn friend."
She's changed into a pair of pleated summer shorts she bought on a whim years ago on a Japanese business trip (she had been wearing a khaki skirt which had been much maligned by Malfoy) and was side-apparated by him into a sparse wooded area. Just beyond the tree-line, Hermione could hear laughter and the cheerful jingle played for those waiting in line for the rides.
Malfoy is all eager curiosity now and she trails behind him as they exit the woods and move with the crowd through the entrance of flashing lights.
Hermione spends the rest of the night accompanying him on the rides. "What is this amazing broomless flying contraption called?" "A carousel".
Eating typical carnival foods. "You eat cotton?" "It's cotton candy." "Just because you dye it pink and sprinkle it with sugar, does not make it edible."
And the most enlightening part of the night, introducing Draco to the concept of clowns. "Merlin, there is a profuse proliferation of Weasley's here."
Hermione is barely awake enough to keep her head above water as she bathes that night. Her writing desk hovers before her and through half a yawn, Hermione pens a quick letter to Pavarti who now works for Witch Weekly as one of their chief gossip columnists. She slips in a subtle enquiry about the Malfoy family between sentences asking after Padma's wellbeing and an offer to bring Parvati some century old ginseng which happens to be all the anti-aging craze in Britain this year when she next visits home.
Parvati writes back promptly. She requests two pots of the most expensive ginseng infused night cream currently in production much to Hermione's consternation but this request is followed by three pages of extensive background research into the Malfoy family, so Hermione doesn't particularly mind. Apart from the surprising realisation that Narcissa Malfoy is now seemingly reconciled with her sister Andromeda Tonks and Lucius' new found interest in Muggle golf, there was little else of interest to Hermione.
It's Christmas eve when Hermione next encounters Draco Malfoy. It's less an encounter and more of a planned meet. A non-date as Draco likes to call it. She admits to herself that she is enjoying their time together but she's keen to get away today. An hour and three quarters of a cup of latte later, Hermione is tapping her feet against the pavement and drumming her fingers against the glass table top.
"Granger." Malfoy is arching one fine brow (more meticulously kept than her own). "Out with it, woman. Or can I assume that this is the expression of your sexual tension enhanced by my irrepressible presence."
Hermione is debating whether to tell him or not and figuring that since they have come to a reluctant truce ever since she rescued him from an overeager clown, figured it couldn't hurt. And it might just speed along this non-date during which Draco had decided to air all his disgruntlement over his personal French chef's recent love affair with Kale.
"I have to go, Draco." She's tucking her mobile into her purse and riffling around for some coins to pay for coffee. "I have to pick up my parents from the airport."
Draco puts a few notes on the table, tucking them under his cup to prevent them from flying away. "I'll come with you. I always wanted to meet a dentist." He's smiling slyly now, an expression which used to alarm her but now only caused her to roll her eyes. Their waitress however, was backing away, leaving the money behind.
"Your scaring the muggles, Malfoy." She stands and gives him a nod. "I won't be able to meet you until after my parents head home. They're staying until after new years so stay away from my place, do you hear me Malfoy?"
"I'll come with you." He says again with a faint smile.
Hermione notices the firm press of his lips and the tense set of his shoulders and can't help but feel guilty over her words. It's not like she's ashamed of him or anything but introducing Harry and Ron to her father had been harrowing enough and that had been without the somewhat negative feedback they had received about Draco during her Hogwarts years. Her brief interlude on the Malfoy's drawing room floor during the second great war remained, thankfully, secret from her parents.
"On your best behaviour, right Malfoy?" She ventures reluctantly.
The angry energy around him is gone in an instant. He's smiling at her tentatively and holds up a set of car keys.
"You drive?" Hermione is surprised that she is even amazed anymore with this version of Draco.
He's smiling wholeheartedly now, jingling his keys with glee. "Had to learn, didn't I? Half my company is completely, obliviously muggle." He walks around the table and grabs her hand, tucking it neatly in the groove of his arm.
He leads her into a nearby underground carpark. She can't help but note how charming he is when he tries, lifting her over a particularly large puddle and shielding her head when they walked under a dripping overhead pipe. He stops in front a subtle silver Mercedes and quite chivalrously opens the passenger side door for her.
Hermione can't help but shake her head. "Where's the obnoxious Lambourghini, Draco?"
He's smiling again. That wide genuine one that Hermione discovers she has come to like.
"I can hardly pick up my girlfriend's parents in that little thing now can I? The luggage would hardly fit."
"Malfoy!" Hermione's at the door next to him and takes the opportunity to punch his arm.
Draco's all innocent eyes. "You're a girl and you're my friend. Girlfriend. Merlin Granger, for such a stickler for the facts, you sure were slow on the uptake just then."
Hermione choses to ignore him and instead climbed into the four-wheel drive. He eases the door shut and rounded the bonnet to climb in beside her.
It was a surreal experience to watch Draco manoeuvre the busy Hong Kong traffic like he had grown up in the muggle world and hadn't spent the majority of his teenage years either straddling a flying broom or being ferried around in a Thestral drawn carriage. He even suffered the same frustrations as a muggle driver after being cut off while merging lanes on the bridge.
She is still staring, dumbstruck, when they pull into the airport parking facility.
He smiled and gently closes her mouth with a finger under her chin. "We're here darling. What flight are your parents on?"
Hermione is self-conscious in an instant and fumbles for the car door, leaping out and darting ahead as Draco locks the car and jogs to keep up with her.
By the time they enter at the arrivals hall, her parents are already there loading their luggage onto a trolley. Hermione notes that they seem to have brought enough for a month long sojourn in the wilds of Scotland, not a seven day stay in one of the most populated cities in the world.
Her mother spots her first and Hermione finds herself immediately embraced in a warm hug which smelt of home and mint. Her father is next, but his embrace is a brief, strong squeeze, no less affectionate but infinitely more succinct. They both turn expectantly towards Draco, awaiting an introduction Hermione is reluctant to give.
"Mum, dad…this is my umm…" she glances nervously to her side, "my friend. Draco."
Mr. Granger puffs up instantly. "Draco…Malfoy?"
Draco is smiling and offering his right hand when her father punches him in the face.
There is a short sharp scream from her mother and Hermione is on her father's back, pulling at his swinging fists. Her mother joins in shortly after and the entire nuclear Granger family end up in a heap on the airport floor surrounded by disgruntled security staff.
Malfoy is standing when Hermione finally manages to sweep her hair away from her eyes. He's gingerly dabbing at his bleeding lip with the cuff of his sleeve. He sends her a hesitant smile which instantly falls away when he spots her father's glare.
Hermione snaps her head towards her father. "Dad! What on earth was that for?"
"That was for all the years that boy treated you like a second class citizen in a place you called home for six years." Mr. Granger huffs, crossing his arms over his chest. "It was less than he deserved."
"That is quite enough." Hermione's mother snaps. "You're making a spectacle of yourself! I'm sure Hermione has a good reason why she has brought this young man to the airport to meet us!"
Hermione sputters for a while, unable to come up with a logical explanation. She can't help but note that Draco isn't venturing any suggestions himself. She skirts the situation and instead turning to the gathering crowd of security officers and assures them that this is simply a family disagreement and that they had no need to drag all four of them into custody for questioning in regards to more sinister matters.
That night Hermione is soaking in her bathtub, massaging the aching soles of her feet after an evening exploring the night markets with her extremely curious mother (her father sits this out in her apartment, pleading sore knuckles as an excuse). She reads a letter from Ron which is short and difficult to make out. He's somewhere in Europe and its snowing buckets. She laughs and sets it aside after he mentions his frozen bollocks for the third time. Instead of writing back to Ron, Hermione chooses to pen a letter to Luna. It's four pages long and Draco is mentioned in every paragraph.
She receives a reply from Luna in the ungodly hours of the morning. It's twelve pages long (eight, if Hermione were to edit away Luna's absent tangents). Hermione understands the point though…she likes Draco Malfoy, and not just as a friend.
The split in his lip had healed quite well by the time Hermione saw Draco Malfoy again. She thought it was a good decision for him to stay away from her somewhat disgruntled father.
Having come to the realisations that Luna had recently helped her come to however, made their encounter somewhat of an awkward occasion for Hermione. This is why she had chosen to invite Malfoy to the movies, minimal eye contact and forced conversation and all.
Draco choses the movie, buys the tickets and even insists on buying her popcorn. It turns out to be a Spanish arthouse flick entirely subtitled in Chinese. Hermione, being quite proficient in languages, usually had no issues with keeping up with the dialogue but found herself instead, staring at his profile while he laughed at the appropriate moments, noting the crinkle at the corner of his eyes and how he flashed a good row of teeth when he smiled (she was the daughter of two dentists afterall). He caught her her staring at one point but pointedly turned her face back towards the screen with a nudge.
Afterwards, they walked through the cool night streets, stopping at street stalls from which Malfoy bought an assortment of deep fried, artery clogging, heart attacks wrapped in newspaper and devoured them with a fervour matched only by the male Weasleys at Christmas dinner (a comparison Hermione kept to herself).
He made conversation occasionally but mostly they walked in companionable silence. Hermione sipped her soy milk and glances, as nonchalantly as she can, at his hand which swings by his side with each step. At one point, she unconsciously reaches for it only to mentally slap herself nanoseconds before touch down and snatches her hand away with a jerk.
Malfoy glances at her from the corner of his eye, grinning through a mouthful of his latest pork bun.
"Granger. If you want to hold my hand, just do it. No need to act like an epileptic at a rave."
Hermione scowls and choses to ignore his highly offensive comment. "I wasn't trying to hold your hand. We're walking. My hand is swinging, your hand is swinging. The statistical likelihood of contact secondary to proximity alone is simple enough to comprehend, Malfoy."
He balls up the wrapper of his finished snack and dunks it in a passing bin. He turns to face her, holding her at arms length by her shoulders and lowers his voice. "Well I think the statistical likelihood of you wanting to hold my hand is somewhat higher." His tone is sweet, reassuring and so uncharacteristic of the act of bravado he had adopted for the past few weeks after their encounter in her apartment, that Hermione is left momentarily stunned.
"Hermione, what exactly is your objection to us dating?" He's looking at her with earnest hesitation now, his eyes taking in her expression as he steps closer and wraps her in his embrace.
Hermione pauses then gives in to the urge and tucks her head under his chin. She marvels at the perfection of their fit. "Draco…I just…"
"I think you like me…more than you are willing to admit." Draco wraps a curl around his index finger. "But I can wait for that admission. My question is…what is your objection to us dating?"
Hermione nuzzles the smooth pale skin beneath the opening of his shirt collar. "It all feels too fast."
She feels his smile against her curls. "It's not too fast. It's been ten years in the making."
"Oh sweet Merlin's balls on a stick!" A female voice exclaims.
Draco jerks and swings Hermione in his arms in order to face where the exclamation had come from. "Hell."
Hermione struggles to turn in Draco's arms. "What? Who is that, Draco?"
She tenses, recognising the voice immediately. Pushing out of Draco's enforced hold, she spins and comes face to face with Harry, Ginny, Ron and a tall statuesque blonde who Hermione assumes must be Astoria Greengrass-Weasley.
Ron has just about unhinged his jaw, gaping in shock. "I…I leave for my honeymoon for a few weeks and you…you're…Malfoy…touching…"
Ginny is staring at her brother with a sardonic twist to her lips. "Very eloquent, Ron. I believe the technical term is 'have consensual intercourse between two informed and consenting adults' but we could also go with 'dancing the buttocks jig', 'making the beast with two backs' or as George likes to put it 'taking old one-eye to the optometrist', not that he knows what an optometrist is."
Hermione sputters. "We…we were not! We were just hugging!"
Ron chooses to ignore her. He is now mildly green in colour and squatting close to the gutter. Astoria however is clapping her hands gleefully and rushing forward to hug Hermione. "I'm so glad Draco is dating you! Now we can have triple dates!"
Harry choses that moment to squat beside Ron, facing the gutter also.
Hermione resigns herself to postponing that letter she was planning to write to her mother tonight. Mrs. Granger would just have to wait for an update regarding "her handsome future son-in-law" as she likes to refer to Draco. At least one of her parents had warmed to him.
Hermione's home is stretched to its limits when all her surprise guests come home with her. It isn't until Ron accidentally elbows Ginny in the face fixing tea in her compact kitchen, that Hermione allows Draco to convince her to move their dinner party to his apartment. Astoria and Ginny are both keen for the idea and Ron and Harry eye each other before reluctantly going along with it.
They all floo over with relatively little fuss, though Ron does manage to trip over and land like the great lump he is on Draco's couch, smearing a streak of floo dust on the light upholstery. To his credit, Draco doesn't comment, choosing instead to simply scourgify the mess while playing their gracious host.
They're on their way to the kitchen when Hermione spots Draco's dinning room table. She can't help but blush and sends an accusing look to Draco when he deliberately brushes past her, a hand resting dangerously low on her back. His look is smouldering before Ron knowingly pushes between them, shouldering Draco aside as he went.
Hermione has to fight the urge to roll her eyes at his immaturity but again, Draco takes it all in stride and Hermione finds herself truly amazed that Draco Malfoy has indeed grown up.
Hermione finds herself casually peeling potatoes by hand (Molly Weasley always insisted on magic free food preparation, strangely enough), watching Harry who is watching Ron who is watching Draco with a vein throbbing in the centre of his forehead. Draco, seemingly oblivious is catching up with Astoria about all their pureblood, upper class relations.
"Daphne just got engaged to Adrian Pucey!" Astoria was laughing unaffectedly, sweeping a strand of silky hair behind her ear. "They have literally been circling each other like feral cats since our Hogwarts days, just last Christmas, Daphne set Adrian's hair on fire at Madame Zabini's Yule's eve festivities."
"Yes, thank Merlin, the nearest ice swan had melted into the punch bowl." Draco murmured sardonically. "But its funny how a few months can change things."
Hermione had to hide her smile in a rampant curl. She set down the last of her peeled potatoes and scooped them onto Ginny's chopping board. Excusing herself, she made her way towards Draco's master bedroom on the pretence of going to the bathroom. She feels his eyes follow her across the room before she rounds the corner.
His bathroom is a complement of modern design and age old comforts. The claw foot tub seemed strangely at home in the corner next to a state of art shower with eight shower heads. She is still admiring the Italian marble benchtop which she hadn't noticed on her last visit when Draco slips in through the door.
His smile is soft and strangely mischievous. Taking her hand, he leads her towards the door, through his bedroom and onto the large balcony which is open to the cool night air. The infinity pool nearby appeared to spill into the Hong Kong skyline, throwing moving shadows across his face.
Draco backs her against a paned glass door, lowering his head.
Hermione finds herself instantly rising on tiptoes to meet his lips. Her arms wrap themselves around his broad shoulders, holding on to the material of shirt between his shoulder blades for dear life. Beneath her fingers, his muscles tense and relax. His lips move across hers, first, quite gently, then with a mounting urgency which Hermione responds to in kind.
There is a heat building between them that is undaunted by the prospect of the company which awaits them just a few rooms away. Draco's hands are in her hair, grasping masses of curls, open, close, until he can draw her as near as the laws of physics will allow.
Hermione is moaning into his mouth, writhing against his heated form. There is a hot sensation between her thighs and she can't resist the urge to wrap her leg around his thigh.
Draco insinuates his leg between her thighs in response and allows her to ride it.
She's moaning in earnest and desperately reaching for his clothing.
He bites back a pained growl when she reaches her goal. He's thrusting into her hand like he can't control himself and tears his lips away from hers in order to lean his forehead against the cooling influence of the glass behind her.
She's unzipping his fly before he can stop her, reaching past the elastic of his boxers.
Draco's husky shout echoes into the empty night air and thrusts his cock into her hot hand. She gives him an experimental stroke which has him grinding into her body.
He's tearing at her clothes the next instant. His hands are everywhere at once but not the exact spot she needs him. With some degree of shock, Hermione feels cool air brush her pussy an instant before she is jerked against his body, then hoisted against the glass behind her.
Draco is deep with one thrust, sending their animal cries of agony into the silence around them. His mouth lands on her cheek, tracing a path to her ear, sucking a lobe before trailing down her throat to lands on her collarbone, bruising the skin with an exquisite suction.
Now that the initial fervour is satisfied for a moment, Draco gives her a leisurely thrust, stirring himself inside her until Hermione is keening against his shoulder, her legs wrapped tightly around him.
His hands travel down her still clothed form, reaching between her thighs, seeking the centre of all her passion. He holds her still as she tries to jerk away, too sensitive for the direct contact but can't help the pleasure which makes her eyes roll as he circles the swollen nub with one finger. He alternates the pressure, soft then firm, while keeping his cock firmly inside her so that every time she clenched against the delirious pleasure, there was hard, hot fullness driving her mad.
Draco's finger continues its leisurely circuit until it deviates from its set course and brushes directly across her aching clit just as he gives her another hard thrust with his engorged cock.
Hermione is screaming and he swallows the sound with firm lips across hers. She tangles with his tongue with an unknown desperation, jerking herself up and down on his cock even as her thighs quiver uncontrollably. She is embarrassingly soaked and desperate, letting a hot wash of unbearable, nerve burning sensation sweep across her system.
Draco holds her and soothes her until she stops burning, until its only a slow simmer that makes her languid and sleepy. This sensation dissipates quickly when he begins thrusting again. Small movements to begin with, coating himself if her wetness until he can slide in and out of her with an aggression that has Hermione arching her back and meeting his every thrust.
She begins to see stars again when she feels his cock swell to almost uncomfortable proportions, every thrust stretches her to unfathomable limits until she's sure that she can feel every thrust in the base of her spine.
She's coming again in an embarrassingly short time. The great jerking movements of her hips bring a smile to his lips which are busy devouring hers. All her limbs tense and quiver, leaving her weak and lost in his embrace. Until he starts thrusting again.
What feels like hours later, Hermione is dizzy and lying sprawled across Draco's bed. There is a rawness between her thighs and every time she shifts to rub her legs across the cool sheets, there is a slow trickle of his cum which coats her thighs.
He's kissing his way across her shoulder blades when she remembers.
There's a smile against her skin. "Will learn to amuse themselves."