A/N: Mwahahahaha!

Stripped Bare

By Kittenshift17

Chapter 27

He hadn't let go of her even when all their tears seemed to have ceased. He wasn't sure he could. He'd clutched her to him, lifting her up and wrapping her legs around his hips as he'd carried her back into the shower while she clung to him. Draco had no explanation for what had just occurred. All he knew was that he couldn't let her go again. Not ever. Every thought he'd been entertaining about the idea of keeping this physical and of dodging his father's order to marry her were forgotten.

The witch had broken something inside of him, stripping away everything he was and everything he'd done and leaving him raw and emotionally naked. He'd never felt so exposed. So vulnerable. The feeling of her magic so interwoven with his made him feel like she was a part of his very soul. A part he couldn't live without.

She didn't speak as she clung to him beneath the spray of the shower. She didn't need too. Draco knew she felt as bare as he did. That his tenderly whispered words had unravelled the tight ropes she kept around her emotions and let them all come spilling out into the open. He could never let her go. Draco realised in that moment as he'd made to love to her that he was stuck with her forever; that he wanted no one else; that she was it for him, for the rest of his days.

She leaned against him, trying to catch her breath slowly; trying to get herself back in order. Draco didn't think he'd ever get himself back in order. Not when he was so intertwined with the little curly-haired witch in his arms. He'd never much believed in the concept of soul mates, despite knowing that melds like theirs were possible. Yet, despite being aware of how much he loathed certain things about her, Draco knew she was it for him.

His witch.

His soulmate.

His destiny.

"Hermione?" he asked quietly, pulling back from the witch and waiting for her to open her eyes and meet his gaze.

"Yes?" she whispered. Her eyes were red-rimmed with tears.

Draco bit his lip, feeling a strange swooping sensation in his stomach as he reached for the courage to ask her what he needed to ask her.

"Will you... I mean, would you like to… Ah, bloody hell," he sighed, stammering and tripping over the words in a show of nerves he'd not felt when conversing with females since he'd been fourteen.

She giggled just a little bit when he tipped his face up into the spray of the shower for a minute, trying to sort out his jumbled thoughts and Draco found himself enjoying the sound of her amusement. The part of him that hated her for so long wanted to recoil, to retreat and protect himself from the scorn he feared she would dish out. The self-serving part of him wanted to run away and hide, to never speak to her again. To threaten her into silence over what she'd seen of his weaknesses and his vulnerabilities.

Another part of him knew it wouldn't be worth it. Not when the witch giggling at him was the one he would be spending the rest of his life with. There was nothing for it but to dig down really deep inside of himself and find what little courage he could scrape together.

"Will you be my girlfriend, Granger?" Draco asked. He looked at her once more, blinking the water out of his eyes and shaking his hair back so he could see her reaction.

Her eyes widened slightly for a moment at the point-blank request. She looked startled, like a small child caught with her hand in the cookie jar. In fact she looked a bit like she was going to have heart failure to have been asked such a question by the likes of him. Draco stared at her carefully, gauging her reaction, trying to prepare himself for the blow if she said 'no'.

"Are you sure that's a good idea?" she whispered. "Are you sure that's what you want?"

"Do you think I'd swallow my pride and ask if I weren't sure?" Draco asked her quietly in return, raising one eyebrow at the witch.

"I'd have said no two hours ago," she admitted, "But now… You do realise what being in a relationship with me would mean, don't you, Malfoy?"

"Putting up with you all the time?" he smirked, "As long as I can shag you whenever I feel like it, I'm thinking I could handle the rest of your annoying habits, Granger."

"You do realise that if you date me, you'll eventually have to put up with my family too, don't you? Meaning Harry. Meaning Ron and the rest of the Weasleys. Meaning my godson and your cousin, Teddy Lupin. Meaning my muggle parents, if I can fix the memory charm I did on them."

"I know," Draco nodded, "And you'll have to put up with my family. Meaning my obnoxious, pompous, snarky git of a father. And my condescending, calculating and extremely judgemental mother."

"And you'd have to put up with my interest in House Elf rights. And my intent to return to Hogwarts and complete my NEWTs. And my intention to go into the DRCMC at the Ministry when I graduate. And my habit of being bossy, swotty, and fussy about just about everything."

Draco shrugged his shoulders slightly.

"You'd have to put up with my interest in Wandlore and my intention to start an apprenticeship with Mr Ollivander – if he'll take me – after I've graduated too. And you'd have to put up with my habit of being possessive, snarky, rude, condescending, smug, sarcastic arsehole all of the time. And my extremely low levels of tolerance for your dunderheaded friends. And my dislike for your ex-boyfriend. Not to mention my habit of being a right prat whenever I feel like I'm being too forward, thus pushing people away by reverting to childish name-calling as a means of self-defence."

"You'd have to deal with this," she countered, pointing at her wild mane of curls, currently clinging to her scalp and plastered against her neck thanks to the spray of the shower.

Draco felt a slow smirk arrange itself across his face as he eyed the unruly next before lifting his hands and sliding them into the tangle.

"I kind of like this," he admitted quietly, gripping the curls just tight enough to smart without actually hurting her.

"There's also the fact that everyone is aware of what happened between us while I was held captive here," Hermione said quietly, her brow furrowed. "Harry might be willing to get past it by throwing a punch at you because I've been able to tell him everything. Everyone else in my life will likely die of shock or be extremely concerned for my wellbeing and my mental health if I just announce we're a couple?"

"We wouldn't have to tell them right away," Draco rolled his eyes. "The last thing either of us needs right now is to have you dragged through the mud currently smeared on the Malfoy name."

"You're not just asking me because dating a muggle-born would look good for the idea of the Malfoys moving on from blood prejudice?" she asked suspiciously, her eyes narrowing.

Draco sighed. "I'm not going to lie and tell you that it wouldn't help, a while from now, if I were to be seen dating a muggleborn. But right now it's not high on my list of priorities, Granger. Just answer the bloody question, would you? Do you want to be my girlfriend or not?"

"If I say no?" she asked, raising her eyebrows challengingly.

Draco shrugged his shoulders. "I'll have to keep asking until you say yes."

"You'd do that? Without getting your wand in a knot?"

"Oh, it'll knot plenty. And I'll take it out on you with even more hard-core sex until you literally can't sit or walk around comfortably," he warned quietly, pressing her back against the shower wall once more and grinding his hardening arousal against her fiery core. "But you're it for me, witch."

Draco heard her breath catch and watched her eyes widen at his admission. She searched his face for some sign that he was joking, that he was being insincere and trying to trick her into agreeing for some ulterior reason.

"Say it again," she whispered, clinging to him a little tighter.

"You're it for me, Granger," Draco told her truthfully, "I don't want anyone else. I don't want to mess around anymore with bollocks about fuck buddies or friends with benefits or whatever else you wanted to call it. I want to shag you whenever I feel like it. I want to see you whenever I feel like it. And I want to claim you as my witch whenever anyone mentions you."

She blinked rapidly at his low tone and his serious statements, looking a little stunned.

"But we hate each other," she whispered. "You hate me. You tell me all the time how much you loathe me."

"Do we hate each other?" Draco asked her seriously, raising one eyebrow challengingly as he held her faze. "Do we really? I'm not in the habit of missing people I hate, Granger. Or of fucking them stupid every chance I get."

"Are you saying you don't hate me, Draco?" she asked, looking rather alarmed now.

Draco felt his lips twist uncomfortably at the turn the conversation had taken. The truth was that he didn't know what he felt for the little muggleborn. He knew she got on his last damn nerve. And that he loved fucking her into exhaustion.

"I'm saying you're all I want," he whispered, unable to hold her gaze any long as his cheeks warmed to pink. "I'm saying that when you were being tortured on my floor and Aunt Bella wanted to hand you over to that monster, the very idea hurt me and I couldn't keep quiet. I'm not saying I'm in love with you, or that I much fancy you right now. But you're growing on me. I don't want anyone else. I don't want you to want anyone else either. I want…."

Draco bit his lip, his brow furrowed as he tried to articulate what he wanted from her without sounding like a complete ponce. Or like a bloody sissy.

"What do you want?" she asked softly, combing her fingers through his hair gently.

"I want to see what we can be without all the mess of house rivalry and blood prejudice and war getting in the way," Draco admitted quietly, pressing his forehead to her and closing his eyes. "I want to see how deep this magic meld between us can get. Hell, one day I even want to see what our kids would look like."

He heard her breath catch again.

"Don't get me wrong, Granger, it's not going to be easy. You're a pain in the arse ninety-five percent of the time, you get on every bloody nerve I've got and you drive me spare. I'm no angel either. I'm an arrogant arsehole, too proud and stubborn and fucking entitled not to argue with you at every turn and angry-fuck you against every surface in the bloody Manor. We wouldn't be one of those couples that things just come easy to. We'd have to work at this every day. But if you're willing to do it, so am I."

Draco watched her, his heart in his throat as he awaited her answer. She nibbled her bottom lip, looking thoughtful.

"What would we tell people?" she asked.

"The truth," Draco shrugged. "You're interested in books and ensuring very topic out there has information on hand, right? You could write a bloody Memoir about this entire thing for all I care, as long as I get to crawl into bed beside you at the end of every day and I don't have to second-guess if you want to be with me."

"And my friends?"

Draco shrugged.

"Potter already knows, yeah? Let him help smooth the way toward the others warming up to me. Or don't. I don't care. If the Weasleys want to hate me for the rest of their lives, that's fine by me. As long as they don't disown you or upset you while they do it, I don't give a shit what those tossers think."

"You realise that, as my boyfriend, it would be wrong of you to refer to my family as tossers, right?"

Draco smirked.

"Witch, if you agree, l'll be your bloody family."

Draco knew he had her when her eyes snapped up to meet his once more, widening with wonder and maybe just a spark of something more.

"You really want to do this?" she double checked one more time before deigning to answer his bloody question.

Draco nodded. "I really want you. For the rest of my wretched life. So stop hesitating and bloody well tell me if that's what you want to, or if I need to fuck you into submission. Again."

He got the feeling she truly was right for him when a wicked little smirk pulled up the corners of her mouth.

"I might require the latter," she said.

"Thought you'd say that," he smirked in return.

When he drove into her once more, high and hard and brutal enough to make her whine, Draco felt like he'd been given a gift. A home. And when she came screaming in his arms a few short minutes later, he was thinking he'd found himself a bloody girlfriend, too.