A/N:
Never done this before, but why not. Song rec for this chapter: Colors (Stripped) by Halsey.

~Chapter 17: Racing Realitiy~


Hermione toyed with the sleeve of her jumper, a stray fringe occupying her focus until she formulated the only question which seemed worthwhile.

"What the hell are you doing here?"

Hardly the greeting she was going for, but it certainly got the message across.

"Well, hello to you, too," drawled Malfoy.

This wasn't happening. She was dreaming it, hallucinating. But no matter how many times she blinked, the backdrop to such an implausible spectacle didn't budge.

"Why…" She let her next question trail off, swallowing the lump in the back of her throat. "Y-you're here."

"Brilliant observation," he said nonchalantly. "Nothing gets past you, does it?"

"Why?"

Draco ignored her enquiry, peering straight over her shoulder and inside the open flat.

"Is there an Auror staying with you?"

"No."

"No?" His focus snapped back on her, and if Hermione hadn't known better, she might've confused his stiff tone for genuine concern. "They're letting you stay here alone?"

"They aren't letting me do anything…" She placed a hand on one hip, growing frustrated. "Did you seriously come all this way just to make sure no one's kidnapped me yet?"

"No. Although if you answer the door for just anyone, I'm surprised you haven't been... Seriously, Granger – what if they'd taken Polyjuice?"

"Oh, please." Hermione rolled her eyes, not bothering to mention how the added security they'd put on her complex could've rivalled that of Gringotts. "Because someone trying to lure me out of my flat is really going to impersonate you, Malfoy."

He smirked. "Clearly, it would have worked."

Clearly.

"Was there something I could help you with?"

She partly wanted to invite him in; half wanted to slam the door in his face without further explanation, uncertain of which choice unnerved her most. Internally debating both options, she glanced down the hallway to make sure no one else could overhear the conversation. Not another soul in sight, and given the hour, it wasn't surprising.

"Looking for someone?" he answered her question with another.

"No. Just trying to discern if this visit has a purpose."

"It does."

"Being... what?" she asked. "Did Greengrass put you up to this? Come to make sure I'm not bloodied up on my kitchen floor after one night alone?"

Never mind that you were the one to give Malfoy your address…

Even so, it still wasn't an explanation for him showing up there. Unless her note had come off in that way? Like reading between the lines of I'm here if you ever want to talk directly translated into something else. Something more.

Maybe it did.

Hermione began severely reevaluating her previous decisions until he finally cleared his throat and clarified.

"Actually, I came to return something."

"Oh?"

So normally well-spoken and right then her vocabulary was reduced to that of a three-year-old's. Her eyes grew huge as he reached inside his pocket, noticeably equipped with an Extension Charm, and withdrew something.

"I found this lying around," said Draco, the CD player she'd all but forgotten about appearing in his right hand as he held it out for her to take. "Figured I'd bring it back."

"Found it?" Hermione repeated, working to steady her tone.

"Yes."

She almost corrected him – nearly made it a point to emphasise how he was the one who'd stolen the item (for reasons still unknown) and held it captive in the first place. Or perhaps just mention how he easily he could have sent it via post versus coming all this way. Instead, she held onto each truthful accusation, a fluttering sensation settling deep within her stomach.

"I – okay. Thanks…"

She took hold of the Walkman and inspected it. An insignificant gesture to most, it might as well have been a white flag waving in their book. An imprudent impulse to drop the device, fling her arms around his neck, and give a repeat performance of that night in question washed over, but thankfully, it went ignored due to his following question.

"Something the matter?"

Only my better judgement.

"You could've kept it," rambled Hermione as if keeping her lips preoccupied meant they wouldn't make the same mistake twice. "If you'd like. I mean… I wouldn't have minded, really. I've got another. It only plays cassettes, but it still works. Call me old-fashioned, I guess." She forced her mouth shut, embarrassment burning both cheeks. What in Godric's name was she saying? "I – sorry… You haven't the slightest clue what I'm talking about, do you?"

His blank stare was enough indication.

"Here," Hermione thrust out the CD player, "you keep it –"

"No," said Draco, and as if clutching for any excuse to shoot down the suggestion, he added, "I don't have any use for your Muggle rubbish, Granger."

"Is that so?" She gave a knowing smirk, trying to slide over the on-button with little success. "Interesting, well... Surely the batteries must have died somehow."

The look on his face was rather endearing; she had to admit. A mixture of confusion and stubborn willpower – his adamant persistence never to admit defeat. This time, it was he who glanced down the deserted hallway lined with neighbouring flats.

"You came here for another reason," said Hermione, raising an eyebrow.

"I told you, I came to return –"

"Rubbish. You could've Owled me this, and you know it."

He frowned and she looked back down at the circular device, turning to toss it on the entryway's side table beside the abandoned telephone. When she turned back to face him, he spoke up first.

"I should go –"

"Wait."

Draco froze, waiting on an explanation she didn't have and likely never would.

"That's it?" she asked, mentioning the unspeakable with a reckless rush of confidence. "We're just going to pretend like the other night never happened? Pretend like this is perfectly fine? Like you just... just showing up here, unannounced, is completely normal –"

"You left," said Draco before looking straight at her. "You left without saying shit – you think that's perfectlyfine?"

She deadpanned, summoning the leftover shards of courage shattered by his claim.

"What did you expect?" You pulled away. "Did you expect me to come grovelling?" Never. "Apologise for what happened?" Because I won't.

"No, but –"

"I didn't know what else to say," Hermione admitted, honesty trickling out like a poorly mended rooftop. "So, I'm sorry… for thinking a note would be the easiest goodbye between two people like us –"

"And who would that be?" he asked unexpectedly. "Two people like us?"

Ignoring the tugging sensation of guilt, Hermione locked glances with the wall behind him, as if eye contact alone could somehow foster Legilimency.

"A mistake."

Her concentration returned only when he took a sweeping step forward.

"Well then," said Draco, his hand finding the nape of her neck as if it belonged there, "good thing I'm used to making those."

"Yeah…" Hermione shuddered over the depleting distance between them. "Me too."

She didn't know which one of them leaned in first. It didn't matter, seeing as neither made any attempt to pull back.

He tasted better than she remembered, like sweet danger and reckless insanity, parting her lips with a gentle skim of his tongue. She granted him unrestricted access, both hands rushing to catch herself as she fell back against the open door frame – nothing but perfect caresses and impulsive movements controlling their uninhibited showcase.

Everything happened so quickly; she could hardly distinguish between where his movements ended, and hers began. A tiny voice of reason begged her to run back inside her flat, as alone and embarrassed as the other night. They could sort things out later, in a more sensible way; the way that didn't include their bodies pressed together, the rest of the world collapsing around them faster than her own inhibitions.

Nevertheless, another part of her – the part which had led her to the Manor; had made her walk into that drawing-room; made her take such a thoughtless plunge and kiss him that night – seised control instead.

"Would you –" She fought to get the words out as his lips travelled down her jawline. "Do you want to come in – for, er..."

Coffee, tea, a bloody crocheting circle, for Merlin's sake, SAY SOMETHING!

But she'd let too many beats pass to make up for them now. Her gaze dropped, and she could feel him trying to interpret the meaning behind her flushed cheeks and sheepish implication.

"Are you asking me inside, Granger?"

"No," she shook her head. A lie if she'd ever told one, but the smallest look of disappointment crossing his features gave her enough nerve to continue. "I'm asking what you want..."

Pausing for his reply felt like waiting on a pending verdict, the jury still out on the case until he finally drew it to a close, pressing his lips to hers as the door swung shut behind them.

They stumbled across the threshold of her flat, down a hallway and through an empty sitting room, the moments speeding by like a train about to derail.

"Granger, wait," Draco breathed into the space between them, questioning his sanity all the while. "Look… I didn't come here tonight thinking –"

"I know you didn't."

But he hadn't, and she needed to know that. He hardly knew why he'd done it himself – Apparated into Muggle London without the faintest plan besides a shit cover story she saw right through.

So then, what was the purpose?

To demand an explanation over her vague note? To gain a repeat performance of that night? To see her one last time?

The latter raised worse questions than the way she looked at him right then, darkened eyes and parted pink lips that he knew would fucking ruin him with what she said next.

"It - tonight…" Her voice broke through his hesitations, telling the single lie they both needed to hear. "It doesn't have to mean anything, you know."

"Just tonight," Draco repeated the rationalisation as her hands began loosening his tie.

He took the momentary pause to intake his surroundings: a modest sized flat decked with things he didn't recognise, pictures of people he didn't know, and furniture which looked painstakingly Muggle to match everything else surrounding it.

Then there was her, wearing the baggiest jumper to contrast another pair of her sinfully tight trousers. The olive coloured top brought out the undertones in her skin, the denim material clutching every curve as she took his hand and led them down another short hallway.

When they entered her bedroom, only the glow of moonlight and London's city brightness crept through her curtain-covered window. Their movements grew desperate as if racing reality, removing articles of clothing between each uncoordinated footfall and zealous kiss.

He tossed her oversized jumper to the floor, not bothering to hide his wandering stare as it raked her body, the witch clad in nothing more than modest undergarments and a cloak of chocolate brown curls. She began unbuttoning his shirt, joining their lips before sliding it off.

When they broke apart, Hermione waited, taking note of how he tensed when her eyes danced around the faint scars on his chest. She ran a hand across his left forearm, glancing down at what she already knew would be there.

"I-it's…"

Only a scar.

But she faltered, studying the faded remnant of an interwoven mark barely visible through the dim lighting.

"Hey," his fingers brushed her chin, forcing her to look at him, "if you want to stop –"

"Do you?" she asked suddenly.

He paused, furrowing his brow with the answer.

"No."

"Good." Images of skulls and snakes fled her mind completely as she pressed her body flush against his, a telltale firmness prodding her hip bone. "Me neither…"

He trailed shivers down her back before moving to cup a handful of her breast. She bit her bottom lip as the tingling warmth in her stomach travelled lower, surrendering to his wandering touch and the thrill it inspired.

She reached for his belt buckle, making steady work of it until he took her hands and moved them to his shoulders. An undignified squeal escaped as he lifted her from the ground, cradling her backside as he walked them forward.

The mattress creaked beneath her newly-added weight. She sat up, perched on both elbows, and gazed towards the man standing at the edge of her bed. His trousers hung dangerously low, belt and zipper half-open to expose the grey pants peeking out beneath.

A fire lit inside her at the suggestive sight. He was doing it on purpose. Standing there, shirtless and exuding appeal, with his hair tousled and a bulge tenting his slacks.

Two could play at that game.

Hermione sat up further, boldness overtaking as she reached back to unhook her bra. She slowly pulled the fabric away from her chest, lowering both arms as his eyes lingered, greedily drinking up the sight of her exposed skin.

She tossed the material through midair, his reflexes kicking in to catch the undergarment as the biggest and most sinful simper decorated his handsome features.

"Your turn, Malfoy…"

The way he lifted his gaze and wetted his lips made excitement soak through onto her knickers. Clenching both thighs together, she yearned for the smallest tinge of satisfaction over the growing ache now settling between them.

He moved to indulge her request, hooking his thumbs beneath the hem of his trousers and pulling them down in one swift movement. His arousal sprang free from prior restraints, sitting hard and heavy at a base of blond curls, as a betraying blush crept onto her cheeks.

Before she had time to process the vision, his frame moved atop hers – demanding control within seconds. More lustful twinges accumulated as his mouth feathered across one of her nipples, his hand massaging its counterpart. He tweaked and toyed with both breasts as a string of indecent sounds danced on her tongue.

When his descending touch finally reached the apex of her legs, her breathing hitched with a soft purr of approval. He skimmed the damp fabric of her knickers, trailing an assured middle finger down her covered slit until her hips bucked against his palm, teasing her sex with torturous leisure before moving to shed the unnecessary barrier.

"Fuck, Granger," Draco hissed, slipping a single digit inside her core.

He didn't comment on how ready she already was for him, her excitement that was evidenced by the telltale slickness accommodating his thrusting fingers. She groaned in delight at the overwhelming sensation, his thumb tracing lazy circles around her clit before adding a second digit.

"Oh God, yes… Please."

"Please, what?" asked Draco, picking up his pace without waiting for an answer.

His cock twitched each time her walls clenched around his curling fingertips, her whimpers drowning out all prior uncertainties more efficiently than a bottle of Firewhisky straight to the head. There was no exaggeration of her noises, no dramatic shrieks to feign enjoyment. Just breathy sighs and sultry moans which she conspicuously tried to censor, as if not wanting to let on how much she enjoyed lying back as he pleasured her senseless.

But he wanted her to scream. To know that she wanted this as much as he needed it. To know he'd abandoned everything – his principles, his self-respect, and most definitely his sanity just to watch her unravel beneath his touch.

A blood traitor, but he knew he'd been called worse. A Mudblood, but Salazar forgive him, she was fucking intoxicating. Filthy in a way he could've never predicted. Dirty only in the muddled-up images which made his cock stand at attention late at night.

"Draco, if you keep – ah! Fuck," she cursed when he brushed the sensitive spot against her front wall.

"Gryffindor's golden girl knows how to swear after all," he murmured, pressing his hardness into the mattress, and wishing instead it was her tight heat.

"Your faul – oh God," she moaned, grabbing hold of his wrist. "Wait!"

He obeyed the request, his free hand moving to fist her wild curls.

"Tell me what you want, Granger."

And he knew whatever her answer was, he would begrudgingly oblige. Even if she whispered the dreaded words which commanded him to stop. Or if, Salazar-willing, she muttered the ones which begged him otherwise – to kiss her, touch her, fuck her with his tongue, whatever filthy request she could conjure for him – there was little he wouldn't do for the witch panting beneath him.

"To feel you," she said finally, nothing but the intoxicating scent of her sex lingering between them as he withdrew from her. "All of you," she clarified before reaching between their bodies, her fingers leisurely stroking him up and down.

He shivered at the caress, arching into her palm ever so slightly. Settling between her parted thighs, her forced them wider apart with his knees, her pussy like liquid satin as his cock grazed against it. He must have spent too long savouring the curves of her body, the feel of her shivering in anticipation beneath him, because soon she interrupted the trance.

"What?" whispered Hermione, taking note of his momentary pause.

The way she looked right then was sensational: hair flung across the pillow and a delicate blush staining each cheek.

"Nothing," he said so the improper thought wouldn't pass. Instead, he tilted her hips towards him, poised at her entrance, and watched as she tossed her head back – an uninhibited sound of rapture replacing each rapid, shallow breath.

Hermione's eyelids fluttered shut at the contact, focusing on nothing more than the initial rush of them sliding together. Once sheathed by her centre, he stilled, allowing her a moment to adjust. She couldn't resist the same sinful grin he wore right then, curving her spine from up off the mattress and breathing his name, coating it with lewdness worth of a harlot as she rocked herself on him.

"Gods … Move!"

He responded to her pleading whimpers with long, complete stokes: bringing himself to her entrance each time before sinking back in, all the way to the hilt then back out again.

"This what you want?" he teased against the flesh of her pulse point.

She gave a desperate nod, unable to stifle her impulse as the carnal thought broke free. "Fuck, yes – harder."

The primal glint flashing in his eyes made her tighten around him.

She heaved out more obscenities as he fulfilled her sex-laden plea; crashing into her as if his sole goal was to subdue every other sensation except the one building below her navel. Her fingernails scraped his back, nearly hard enough to break the skin, but his growled response and quickening thrusts didn't seem to deliver any objection.

She worked with him, rolling her hips as their bodies fell into perfect rhythm. Gods, why did he have to feel so exquisite moving inside her? So raw, and rough, and breathtakingly erotic, she could feel his reverberations within her stomach. Their dynamic was sensational, and the caution she'd already tossed to the wind soon dissolved entirely, leaving her with only a wanton wonder of why they hadn't done this sooner…

She allowed herself to get lost in the act alone.

Within minutes, her need grew almost unbearable – her fingers scratching red marks down the veins of his arm to signal her impending release. As if reading her thoughts, he sat back on his haunches and reached between their bodies, splaying a hand across her lower abdomen as his thumb found her aching bud.

"Oh… fuck," she panted, unable to string together the broken incoherencies. "Gods, yes – don't stop."

"Wouldn't dream of it."

He claimed her orgasm after a few more gentle thrusts and circles drawn around her clit, her toes curling against the soft sheets as his name fell from her lips. The chaos and tension over the past few weeks escaped her; the same animalistic fire which led them there in the first place now surging freely, toppling her right over that glorious peak.

She'd never come for longer; blissful bouts of euphoria rushing out in sequential waves, each stronger than the next until they eventually ebbed. She rode out every last drop of pleasure her climax presented, thoroughly sated as her body went slack against the sheets to signal its inevitable end.

When her eyes fluttered open, they met with his.

Draco's lips tipped into a smirk, looking rather pleased with himself as she laid there static for a few moments; overtaken with a haze of heightened sensitivity and lingering endorphins.

Her display prompted his movements to grow frantic. Never before had he looked so entirely feral as he did right then: his face contorted with pleasure, sweat forming on his temples as he gave one final lurch forward, spilling into her with a low groan of gratification.

Tranquillity washed over his expression after he came. For what felt like the first time, she saw him without lines furrowing his brow, mouth hanging slack-jawed as he worked to catch his staggering breaths.

What now? She didn't dare ask it. Any of it…

She didn't question why he delivered such a tender kiss to her shoulder after he'd fucked her rougher than anyone ever had. Or why she stayed silent after he performed the Cleaning Charm, unwilling to ruin the moment with unnecessary speech or guilty admissions. Hermione simply shared the warmth of her blankets as she threw them over her nakedness, feeling like she could sleep for three straight weeks once her head lay back on the pillow.

She waited for him to leave, to break the bout of silence and snap them both back into reality, but he made no such attempt. Each complicated question swirling around them seemed unimportant as he pulled her to his chest, his heartbeat reverberating so loudly in her eardrum it may as well have been her own. She wrapped an arm around his torso, a small and silent imploration for him to stay.

For whatever morning brought could wait.

Nothing but the smell of men's cologne and the warmth of another's body heat befell her as sleep met Hermione easier than it had in weeks.


A/N:
1,000 followers – holy, wow…. Never did I initially expect this story to reach anywhere close. So thank you all, for the constant love and support and patience directed my way. I truly appreciate it more than you know.

I hope you all enjoyed the first sprinklings of smut. I promise the next chapter will contain more plot (as much as I might want to write a pwp of them going on a week-long sexcation to the Greek Isles, I WILL resist).

To Phinoa, thanks so much for always taking the time to shower me with helpful and supportive feedback. And occasional reassurance that it's okay if the first smut scene doesn't happen until chapter 362 (hey look, it didn't take that long after all). Oh! And also, shoutout for co-parenting one of the lines from this chapter with me hahaha You're amazing, girl.

Anyway, I've rambled enough.
Thanks for reading! Hope you guys are having a good 2018 so far. Lots of love sent your way.

~MMM