A/N: Hello, it's me again. Finally =P (if you've been waiting, that is)
I truly apologize for the long delay in posting this. But you guys don't want excuses, I know. So consider this a Christmas present to all my readers! I'm typically the grinch, but I won't poop on your parades =P
Disclaimer: I think by now it's pretty clear I don't own HP. Or Draco =(
Unbeta'd cuz SilverRiv was busy, but a shout out to her all the same! Thank you for everything!
And now to the bonus chapter...
Bonus Chapter 2:
Narcissa Malfoy stalked down the cobbled streets of Diagon Alley. In the six months since the end of the War, the Alley had recovered remarkably well. The streets were packed with last minute Christmas shoppers, and she watched them with disdain, having completed her own shopping months in advance.
No, she wasn't here to shop, despite the excuse she had given Draco that morning. She knew for a fact that the Mudb – Muggleborn girl, the one her son was so smitten with, would be here today.
Cissa was no fool. While the girl would be stain on the purity of the Malfoy bloodline, she knew nothing she said or did would make her son change his mind. Besides, the boy had foolishly ensured that no self-respecting Pureblood girl would marry him, anyway.
Chestnut locks caught her eye, and she saw the girl in question heading her way. Perfect. She was dressed in Muggle clothes, and still carrying that ridiculously ugly beaded bag she always seemed to have on her person.
Striding purposefully, and wearing her best intimidating expression, she approached the girl.
'Ah, Ms. Granger! Fancy seeing you here.' A cool smile made its way to her lips as she help out a hand for the younger woman to shake.
'Mrs. Malfoy,' the girl acknowledged, shaking the proffered hand firmly. Cissa tried not to be impressed by her unaffected response. Even most pureblood girls faltered under her cold glare.
'How are you today?' the little chit enquired, perfectly mimicking Cissa's own tone of polite indifference.
Narcissa's smile warmed a tiny bit. Well, well. Mudblood or not, this girl might prove worthy of the Malfoy name after all, Narcissa mused internally. 'I am quite well, Ms. Granger, if a bit famished. Would you be inclined to join me for tea at the Leaky Cauldron?'
'I don't see why not,' the girl replied dryly, shrugging as she shoved her hands into the pockets of her pants. Pants? What self-respecting woman wore pants? Cissa scoffed disdainfully to herself as she led the way to the noisy inn.
Tom, the smarmy innkeeper, took one glance at her and quickly escorted them to a private back room with a table and two chairs.
'Just tea will do,' Narcissa ordered, as she sat down elegantly. The girl followed suit, settling into the chair across from her.
Tom nodded, turning to leave. 'I'll have a few of your crumpets, as well,' the girl called after him. Both Narcissa and the innkeeper stared at her in shock. She just ignored them, grabbing a copy of Witch Weekly from the table and flipping through it.
Tom recovered first. 'Of course, Ms. Granger,' he replied, bowing slightly and stumbling out of the room.
'I'm guessing there was a reason you sought me out?' The girl asked once the man was gone. Her eyes stayed on the magazine, which she continued to flip through disinterestedly as she spoke.
For the third time that day, Narcissa was shocked at the girl's behaviour, which so reminded her of her own from when she was in Hogwarts. Narcissa had approached her as she would any other Gryffindor, but this one clearly played like a Slytherin. Different tactics, then.
'Draco appears smitten with you.' Narcissa stated, ignoring the girl's question. 'And now I see why.'
'Do you?' was the response, as the girl watched her curiously.
Cissa sighed, giving up on subtlety. 'Do you intend to marry him?' she asked bluntly, watching the girl deflate at the question.
'Marry him?' she inquired, looking puzzled. 'He hasn't asked me to.'
Narcissa glared at her balefully. 'Do not mock me, Ms. Granger. I assure you, I don't take kindly to it. I'm willing to tolerate you since helped rid us of the Dark Lord, but I will not stand by and let you toy with my son's future. No pureblood woman will even consider Draco after everything he's sacrificed for you, yet here you sit, mocking me.'
The girl just stared back at her, as though trying to solve a difficult puzzle. 'I don't understand what you are trying to imply, Mrs. Malfoy,' she finally replied. 'But I assure you that Draco has never once brought up the topic of marriage. We just started dating a few weeks ago. Marriage is the last thing on our minds.'
'You really don't know,' Cissa realized, her anger dissolving to irritation as she sat back in her chair. What was her son playing at?
'I suppose this conversation can wait, then. I'll be seeing you.' She let a threatening note enter her voice as she rose from her seat, and was impressed when the girl refused to be intimidated.
'Good bye, Mrs. Malfoy,' the Granger girl returned with polite indifference. Narcissa, however, could clearly see the confusion in her guarded eyes. 'I look forward to seeing you again as well. And if Draco and I ever discuss marriage, I promise you'll be the first to hear about it.'
The library was nearly empty when Hermione slammed Complex Magical Theories shut with a sigh, before adding it to the growing pile of books she'd already looked through.
Lunch began in another ten minutes, and she was yet to make any progress on her research.
Hermione had once prided herself for knowing every major Spell necessary for the War. Yet the Power Transfer Spell that Draco had used to save her wasn't in any of the Defensive Magic tomes she'd been able to get her hands on.
She'd then looked in the Charms and Magical Theory sections, only to meet with even more disappointment. There wasn't a single comment or even a footnote that was relevant to her search.
When the Spell had come up at the Malfoy trial, even a few of the rigid Wizengamot members had shared significant looks before staring pointedly at the two of them. And Narcissa Malfoy had looked horrified, her piercing eyes meeting Hermione's confused ones for the first time since the trial began.
Draco, of course, had point-blank refused to answer her questions about it. All he would tell her was that she should never attempt the Spell on anyone, ever – which only made Hermione all the more curious. Further, the secrets were creating a rift between them.
Ignoring the librarian's annoyed glare, Hermione carefully gathered up her large pile of books, before heading back to the shelves she'd taken them from.
'Granger,' The voice was unmistakable, and she could hear his smirk even before she saw it. He was leaning against the bookshelf behind her, looking smug as ever.
'Draco,' she acknowledged stiffly, her frustration with her research leaking into her tone.
'Find anything yet?' he asked, his tone strange combination of taunting and concerned.
'Not yet,' she huffed, before stubbornly adding, 'But I will.'
'Or you could just let it go.'
'Or you could just tell me what's so special about this Spell,' Hermione countered effortlessly. They'd been over it so many times that this argument was practically scripted by now.
'You know I can't do that.'
'And why not?'
'I just can't, Granger.'
This was the point where she usually gave up and changed the subject.
Screw the script. She was going into uncharted territory now. 'It's a Pureblood secret, isn't it? That's why you won't tell me.'
Draco flinched, and she knew she was right. 'I guess I was wrong about you, Malfoy. You haven't changes all that much after all.' She turned and strode away, anger plain on her face.
As Draco watched her retreating figure, he realized he was utterly and completely screwed.
Three years later…
Draco was at work, pulling a late night at his desk in the Auror office, when it finally happened. He'd known it was inevitable, of course, but he'd always thought he'd be able to handle the pain when it came. He tried to muffle his grunts as his hand clenched over his chest, the air escaping him in gasps and pants. His hand ripped open his work robes, dreading, but knowing exactly what he'd find – a burn in the shape of an 'X' was forming over his heart, almost as if he was being branded.
Unfortunately for him, he wasn't nearly as quiet as he'd hoped, and Potter, the only other Auror stupid enough to work so late, was at his side in moments.
'Malfoy? What happened?' he demanded frantically, searching for a foe that didn't exist.
'Nothing. I'm fine. Go back to work,' Draco wheezed out, shaking his head weakly in warning.
Potter didn't seem convinced. 'You don't seem fine, Malfoy. Quit playing the hero. Let's get you to St. Mungo's.'
He reached forward to take Draco's arm, but Draco recoilded quickly, hissing in agony. 'They can't do anything for me, Potter. It'll pass.'
Potter hovered uncertainly, eyes wide. 'At least tell me what's happening,' he compromised, leaning over the shaking blonde in concern, his piercing green eyes landing on the fresh burn. 'That looks like it could use some salve,' he added.
Draco shook his head, through his pain, even as the burn turned redder. 'It's – none of your – business, Potter,' he spat.
Potter glared back. 'It is my concern when my best Auror is writhing on the floor with mysterious burns on his chest!' he exploded angrily. 'Now, you can tell me what is wrong, and let me help you, or you can go with me to St. Mungo's.'
Draco considered his options. There wasn't a choice here, not really. 'Granger. She's sleeping with someone right now.' He hadn't seen Granger since Hogwarts, so he didn't know if she had been seeing anyone since then. But she'd been celibate. Till tonight.
Potter blinked. 'What?'
Draco ignored him, sighing in relief as the pain, which had been growing sharper by the second, suddenly disappeared, leaving behind just a dull throbbing. 'That was over pitifully quickly,' he couldn't help commenting.
Potter was still staring at him, but Draco could almost see the cogs turning in his brain. 'How would you know that?'
'I'm a seer?' he tried, and Harry shook his head angrily, his eyes snapping to interrogator mode. Draco gulped, knowing he'd be spilling all his secrets that night.
When Draco got back from work a couple of days later, he was greeted with a sharp slap that sent his ears ringing the moment he stepped through the door. Wand instantly in hand, he struggled to orient himself and find the threat. What he found, though, stopped him short. 'Granger?'
Her eyes were red, hair knotted messily as she stood before him, clad in casual Muggle clothes.
'How did you get past the wards?' was the first question past his shocked lips.
Granger let out a short snort with no real humour. 'I'm a curse breaker. And your wards were, frankly, pathetic.' She moved away from the doorway where she'd ambushed him, heading to the kitchen area of his simple one bedroom apartment, where she seemed completely at home.
'What are you doing here?' He finally managed, not moving from the doorframe.
'Invading your privacy,' she replied icily, grabbing a soda from his fridge. 'Now you know how it feels.' The lid popped open by itself, and Draco was impressed at her Magical prowess, even as he realized Potter had probably told Granger about his little incident.
'It's not so bad,' he commented, finally stepping into his house and hanging up his coat. 'Make yourself at home,' he added acerbically.
He settled on his couch, carefully watching her as she moved fluidly through his tiny kitchen, occasionally sipping her soda. 'You're cooking?' he asked, confused.
'There was nothing to eat in your fridge,' she shrugged, stirring the contents of a pan on the stove. 'I hope you like Italian.'
Draco didn't know how to respond to that, so he ignored it. 'Are you going to tell me why you're here?' he tried again.
'Set the table,' she replied, pulling the pan off the stove with one final stir.
Draco raised his brows, but wisely did as he was told, not bothering to get out of his work clothes.
A few minutes later, they were both sitting at his tiny dining table, plates of pasta before them, when Hermione finally spoke.
'Harry told me what happened.' She let the words hand in the air between them for a few seconds, as if expecting him to say something. When he didn't, she frowned at him. 'Why didn't you say anything?'
'What did you want me to say, Granger?' he sniffed, shaking his head.
She glared back. 'Oh, I don't know. Maybe a "Granger, we're fucking married" would've been nice.'
Draco snorted. 'Technically, Granger, I'm married to you. You, on the other hand, are absolutely fucking single, and free to do whatever and whoever you please.'
Granger's eyes widened, her anger melting into confusion. 'How does that even work?'
Draco sighed. 'That Power-Transfer Spell you were bugging me about, remember? It was part of a Pureblood marriage ritual. A bonding of Magical cores. I initiated the bond that day because it was the only way you'd survive.'
Granger's face hardened. 'Why didn't you tell me then, that day in the Library? My filthy blood wasn't good enough for you? Were you ashamed of –'
'No, Granger!' The protest left his lips before he realized what he was saying. She looked startled at his vehemence, so Draco took her momentary silence as a chance to interrupt her tirade. 'I was afraid. We'd barely begun seeing each other, and marriage wasn't something I even took into consideration back then. I was scared you'd run from me if you ever found out. That it'd complicate things, maybe even force you to make decisions you weren't ready for.'
Granger tilted her head, surveying him as if trying to determine how genuine his words were. 'But I ran anyway,' she finished soberly. 'You stupid, stupid man.'
She reached for him then, the pasta cold and forgotten as they kissed. His arms moved to her hips, while hers cupped his jaw tenderly. His eyes closed as he lost himself in her, and all would have been well. Unfortunately, when she pushed his robe open to run her hands over the planes of his chest, her hand nudged the little 'X' over his heart. A little spark in the corner of Draco's brain, the tiny sentient part of him that wasn't seeing fireworks, screeched angrily, forcing him to pull away from her abruptly.
'Aren't you seeing someone right now?' he rasped, his pulse racing as his hand instinctively moved to his chest. The half-healed burn throbbed, as if reminding him of the reason for its existence.
'We broke up.' She didn't seem very sad.
'I'm sorry,' Draco offered.
She grinned. 'I think we both know you're not.'
'Was it my fault?' he persisted, still feeling a little guilty.
She shook her head, grin widening. 'Not really. I'd already called it off before Harry told me about this little connection.' She used her index finger to gesture between the two of them as she spoke.
'Was it because he was horrible in bed?' he teased, feeling appeased. 'Not everyone is as good as me, Granger.'
She laughed a little at that, before sobering up. 'We had a conflict of interest,' she finally admitted. 'And maybe the sex was a little on the inferior side, too.'
'I'd be happy to fix that, if you'll have me,' Draco proposed, eyes dancing.
Granger looked thoughtful as she pretended to consider his request. 'Well, seeing how you're already married to me, I don't see why not,' she smirked finally, before adding seriously, 'I'm sorry I hurt you, Draco. I didn't know this would happen, but I feel guilty all the same.' her hand hovered over the mark over his heart, as if her touch alone could make it go away.
Draco brushed his lips lightly to hers. 'It wasn't your fault. If anything, it was mine. I'm sorry for not telling you about the spell, for putting you in this position in the first place.'
She nodded happily, and then a smirk slowly tugged at the edge of her lips. 'Do you have an owl? No wait, of course you do. Where's your owl?'
Draco looked at her in confusion before pointing her to his bedroom. 'In there. Why?'
'I need to send your mother a message,' she called over her shoulder as she skipped off in the direction he'd pointed, leaving him staring after her, baffled.
A/N: Okay, this time I swear this fic is done. Washed my hands off. Forgotten. So, please don't ask who Hermione's mystery guy is. I might end up weaving that into another little chapter, and I don't think you guys can bear that :P No seriously, I don't know who the man could be, but you guys are welcome to share your theories :P
Also, a heads up for those interested - I've written a Dramione one-shot which has just been published, so check it out if you're interested! :P It's called "Black, Two Sugars, and a Dash of Milk." Lame? I don't know. Link's on my profile.
In keeping with tradition, here's a shout out to all who've dropped reviews on this fic: Greylady96, lynnchan111, Imwaiting4myAliceandEdward, SlytherinPrincessNurse1994, jordan craig 948, SwishandFlick007, Yeah1910, ADragons-LionHeart, malfoylover64, lornabrownie, 4thkage, TurtleWoman23, LCB, MarauderRose19136, SmileSimplify, MereWhispers, AngelesPG, Green Eyed Lana Lee, just li'l old me, SilverRiv, Alytiger, GoodGirlsBadBoys00, Erainor, kmuscutt23, anja quickert 9, ellie1788, crazeenumberz537369, hockey1, minrrvamcg, Montara, MusicalCatharsis, LumosLight06, mionemalfoypotter, Draco Harrison, hjm1219, Meg, AlwaysAnAussie, Thisisonlyadrabble, BurningSkies20, marianna79, garbleturkey, PurrfectlyWordy, alpha wolfstar, garbleturkey, ndavis77, Kittykatsilvana, JustMeMarissa, nikkigerald, Beth, twinklegoesthesea, Frogtastic, theunstable1, chemicalflashes, imadoodlenoodle, and my surprisingly large number of guest reviewers. THANK YOU ALL for keeping me on track and sharing your thoughts.
Special thanks to my cousin, who found out I was writing fan fics (no one else in my "real" life knows), hunted down this fic, and guest-reviewed every chapter. I love you, you crazy idiot, but you're dead if you touch my phone again, are we clear?
Okay, this author note is long enough.
*drops mike and walks away*