Hermione stepped out of the floo into her shared living room with Tony and dusted the soot off of her clothes before stalking into the apartment toward the bedroom. She was muttering under her breath as she stalked her way across the room. She wasn't even sure what time it was, but it was dark outside. Given that it was fall, that could mean anything. She just knew the second that she was able to leave London, she found the nearest floo and was shouting out the address for Stark Tower, while Harry ran after her. She flung her arm back behind her, closing the floo off from any unwanted visitors.
She threw open the bedroom door and jumped when the person lying in the bed leapt up and took a defensive pose. She held her hands up in surrender.
"It's me, it's me," she breathed out quickly, trying to not set Tony off any more. She should have realized he would have been back in the bedroom. Why sleep on the couch when the bed had been free for days.
"Hermione?" Tony said, reaching over to turn on the light on the bedside table. "What time is it?"
"I have no idea," Hermione said. "I didn't check a clock before heading back. But I'm guessing it's late or early."
"What happened?" Tony said, rubbing his hands down his face. "You just disappeared. And you weren't answering the phone I gave you. I didn't know if you were even going to come back. I mean if they caught Dolohov and he's in wizard prison there's no reason for you to come back here."
"Yeah, they didn't catch him," Hermione said, moving toward the closet and looking through it for a change of clothes.
"What?" Tony said, sitting up straighter in bed. "What do you mean they didn't catch him? That Longbottom guy said that they had a lead. Your friend was leading the mission. What happened?"
Hermione turned back around holding a sweatshirt and yoga pants in her hands. "Yeah, that's what they thought. I got there just as they were coming back from the mission, empty handed. They said that they traced him to a remote location, but when they got there, the hideout was empty, save for some rubbish and a taunting note."
"If it was all a bust, why were you gone almost a week?"
"Because they were worried about me after what the note said."
"I'm guessing the taunting note was some kind of threat to your person, like most of the other notes that you were sent."
"BINGO," Hermione said, moving to sit on the edge of the bed, turning to face Tony, who was still sitting under the covers. "They were worried, said that I needed a protective detail. I told them that I lived in a building with the bloody Avengers, one of whom is a fucking god, and that I would be fine, but they still insisted that I stay. And not at Grimmauld. Oh, no. They wanted me to stay at the fucking Ministry. Under twenty four hour Auror protection."
Tony moved forward. "How did you get away?"
"I told them I had to use the loo and made a run for the floo."
"What's going to stop them from coming here?"
"I closed the floo, so..."
"Can't your friend just walk in the front door and ask to see you?"
"He wouldn't do that," Hermione said.
"What makes you so sure about that?"
"Because Harry knows better than to come storming in here like the calvary. He knows I would hex his bollocks off without any hesitation."
Tony chuckled. "Well, now I know that I don't want to be on the wrong end of your wrath."
Hermione smiled. "Yes, best you keep on my good side, or you won't know what hit you."
"I missed you," Tony said, suddenly serious. "This place was feeling a little too empty without you."
"How can it feel empty? You have Bruce and Thor!" Hermione said.
"That's different. They're not here."
Hermione gave him a smile. "I know what you mean. I was surrounded by people all the time at the Ministry, and I never felt more alone. I love Harry, I do. But it just wasn't the same as having you around."
Silence spread between them, and they shared a look.
"Did you end things with Bruce?" Tony asked.
Hermione shook her head. "When would I have had time? I just got back."
"Fuck," Tony cursed closing his eyes. "Trying to do right by you is going to be the death of me."
Hermione smiled. "Patience," she said. "We have time."
"How do you know? An alien could come down and eat this tower, and I'll never have had the chance to sleep with you."
Hermione shook her head. "Because one of us has to be the optimist in this Tower, and you and Bruce have enough negativity to make up for whatever positivity I emit."
"When did you become so wise, Glinda?"
"I think it was spending a year living with two teenage boys in a tent in the woods."
"Yeah, that couldn't have been the greatest experience, I was in boarding school, teenage boys are gross."
"I want to kiss you."
"What a segue."
"Our banter turns me on."
"I know. It's late. Want the bed?"
Hermione shook her head. "No, go back to sleep. I want to shower and then I'll just sleep on the couch. First thing in the morning I'll talk to Bruce."
Hermione paced the lab. She hadn't really slept the night before, she was still pissed at Harry for essentially holding her hostage at the ministry. And to make things worse, Molly had shown up. And that just made her feel so much worse. She hadn't seen her former mother-in-law since she had moved to America. And she could feel the guilt rising in her the second she was in the same room as her. Guilt that she was sleeping with one man, and falling in love with another. She knew she shouldn't feel guilty, it had been over six years since Ron's death, but still. She felt like she was dishonoring his memory with moving on. And was she moving on too quickly? Should she still be in mourning? What was an appropriate amount of time before it was okay to move on? All questions she felt had already been answered, but the second Molly walked into the room, they all came flooding back to her. And how would she explain to Molly that the men she chose to move on from Ron with it were Iron Man and the Hulk. How would that look?
Eventually after her panic attack, things were lovely with Molly, she just left out the Avengers stuff. She would find out soon enough, when there was something to tell. And it would be a long time before Hermione went to visit Harry and the kids again. She just couldn't risk not being able to get back. The fact that she was held in the Ministry and not invited back to Grimmauld should have been her first clue. There were anti-Apparition charms in the Ministry. She couldn't get out. The fact that the Aurors keeping guard yesterday let her go to the loo on her own was great for her, terrible for them. It was the first time she was able to get away to find a floo and get home. She smiled to herself. Home. It's strange that she had only lived in the tower almost a year, and yet, it felt more like home here than anywhere else she had lived.
She stopped pacing and looked up as Bruce walked into the lab.
"You're back?" he said, stopping in the doorway, taking her in. "And you look like shit."
"You really know how to flatter a girl," she said, her voice coming out sounding just as nervous as she was feeling.
"What's wrong?" Bruce asked.
"Why do you think somethings wrong?"
"Because I know you, Hermione. I can tell when somethings up."
Hermione sighed. "We need to talk."
"You're ending our arrangement."
"Merlin, Bruce. Can't I get a word in before you demonstrate how well you can just read my mind?"
Bruce let out a bitter laugh. "I figured this day would come eventually. It's Tony, isn't it," Bruce didn't even bother framing that as a question. "Of course it is. How long have the two of you been together?"
"We're not," Hermione said. "I couldn't do that to you. We realized we were on the same page right before I was whisked away for my forced visit home. I just got back last night. I told Tony I didn't want to do anything with him as long as we were still in our arrangement."
Bruce sighed. "I guess I should have expected this. I mean, I did expect this, eventually. I just expected that we would have had A LOT more sex before this came to fruition."
Hermione gave him a sad smile. "I know. I'm sorry. I didn't mean for this to hurt you, we had agreed that it would all be platonic, but..."
"Feelings always get involved. I know," Bruce said, sardonically. "I'm okay, really. I care about you, you're one of my closest friends. But I'm not in love with you. I think what we did was good. It showed me that I can have a relationship if I can just find the right person. Someone who can accept me for who I am."
Hermione walked over to Bruce and pulled him into a hug. "We're still friends, right? We didn't ruin that did we?"
Bruce gave her a squeeze, mumbling into her shoulder. "Of course not. We're still friends. Just without the extra benefits now."
"Good, because we all work in the same lab, and I don't want things to get awkward here."
"Things are probably going to be a little awkward at first, but they'll even out after a little bit. I promise."
Hermione stepped back, giving Bruce a genuine smile. "Don't worry, we won't be flaunting our relationship around here. Or whatever there ends up being between us. I wouldn't do that to you."
"You mean, I won't have to worry about walking in on you guys in your lab?"
"Yeah, you definitely don't have to worry about that. Sex in the lab will remain as a thing that happened between us. It'll be our thing."
Bruce smiled. "I can handle that. And if you and Tony don't work out, I would be very happy to be a rebound."
Hermione smiled. "I appreciate the offer, but I wouldn't want to use you like that."
"Are we going to be okay?"
Bruce was quiet while he pondered. "Yeah," he said after a few minutes. "I think we'll be just fine."
Tony walked into the lab and saw Bruce hard at work on whatever it was that he was working on. He didn't look up when he walked through, and that was Tony's first clue that something happened, and he tried to keep his glee from showing. He schooled his features as he walked through the lab and entered Hermione's. She was busy stirring a potion, and Tony knew better than to interrupt. He did that once and he will never do it again. He had never seen his witch so angry. Her hair seemed to spark as she yelled at him. He leaned against the door jamb and waited for her to be finished. She gave the potion two more counter clockwise stirs and then turned around to look at Tony, giving him an appreciative smile.
"You talked to Bruce," Tony stated.
Hermione pulled out her wand, and cast a quick charm. "Silencing charm," she explained tucking the wand back into her sleeve. "I don't think it's fair for Bruce to overhear anything that we're going to talk about."
Tony straightened up and moved further into the room. "So, you did talk to Bruce."
"And it's done? Your arrangement?"
Hermione nodded. "It is."
Tony moved across the room, closing the gap between them, before bringing his hands to her face, bringing her in for a kiss. Like the other two kisses before, it just felt right. He thought that he and Pepper had a connection and that's why they worked so well together, but maybe he was wrong. Maybe there was so much more to a relationship than what he and Pepper had. They were two people who merely existed together. He had loved her, very much. But there was never this spark, or feeling of just fitting together like there was with Hermione. He felt drawn to her the moment they met, and he couldn't help but wonder if it wasn't all an accident that he ended up where he ended up when he landed in Tennessee. Well, the scientist in him knew logically that he ended up where he ended up because he had already started up a flight plan there. But apparently the hidden chick flick version of himself was starting to believe in fate or whatever.
Tony pushed all thoughts out of his mind when Hermione wrapped her arms around Tony's neck pulling him in closer, opening her mouth to welcome his tongue and deepen the kiss. Tony moved his hands from her face, running them down her sides, before settling them on her hips. He moved from her lips and began peppering kisses down her neck, reveling in her sighs, smiling against her neck. He moved back up, recapturing her lips. He moved his hands around her back side feeling her incredibly tight ass. He would have to ask her when on earth she managed to find time to take advantage of the gym facilities. He pulled her even closer, and groaned when he felt her body come in contact with his aching erection. He had been wanting to fuck her for so long and it was finally going to happen. Hopefully on his couch. Fuck, he had been fantasizing about taking her on that damn couch for weeks. And then just as quickly as their kiss had begun, Hermione was pushing him away and moving across the room.
"Is everything okay?" Tony asked, fighting for his breath.
"Yeah, no. We can't have sex in the lab," Hermione said, wringing her hands, equally out of breath.
"What?" Tony asked, wondering if he had heard her right.
"We can't have sex in the lab. I promised Bruce that things wouldn't be awkward, and that he wouldn't have to worry about walking in on us."
"Do a little spell to keep him out!" Tony said, frustrated.
Hermione shook her head. "I won't do that. I can't just break a promise to him, literally an hour after I gave said promise."
"Why does it matter so much? We can't have sex in the lab? Ever? Surely when Banner is off doing self discovery we can? He wouldn't even be in the same building."
"No sex in the lab, I promised."
Tony sighed. "I don't understand why this would be the one thing you would promise Banner in order to end things. I mean...wait..." Tony said, suddenly having a moment of clarity. "Oh my god," he said. "You two had sex in the lab."
Hermione didn't say anything, but she didn't need to. She looked down at the ground, her face reddening.
Tony cursed, running his hands through his hair. He didn't know why, but this made him irrationally angry. This was his lab, and he wanted to fuck his girl on his couch. "How many times did you fuck in this lab?"
Hermione bit her lip, but didn't look up. He watched her take a couple deep breaths before looking up at him, wrapping her arms around herself. "A lot."
Tony turned around and kicked the leg of one of the counters. "Fuck," he shouted, thankful for the silencing charm Hermione had cast. "The couch?" he asked, gesturing toward it.
Hermione shook her head. "Never in here, mostly in his work area."
Tony nodded his head. "Fine, fine. Was it all a big 'Fuck You Tony' for you guys?"
"What?" Hermione asked shaking her head.
"Your escapades. I mean, I did accuse you when I returned of fucking in the lab and then you guys were like, 'you know what would really stick it to Tony while he's heartbroken? Fucking in the lab.'"
"That's not fair," Hermione bit out. "You knew Bruce and I were together. We were honest with you. You never told us anywhere was off limits."
"No, that's for you and him to tell me." Tony spit back
"What's going on?" Hermione asked on the verge of tears. "Why are we fighting?"
"You know why," Tony said.
"I really don't. So what if we can't have sex in the bloody lab. We have the whole fucking Tower."
"Not. The. Point."
"Then what is the point?"
"That Banner fucked you in the first place! He knew that I had feelings for you, and I thought that you had feelings for me. He should have known to keep his hands off of you. I had dibs first."
Tony knew the second those words left his lips that he was fucked. If he thought her hair looked like it sparked when he interrupted her brewing, it was nothing compared to the lightning storm going around her head at the moment.
"I am not your fucking property, Tony Stark, and it would be good of you to keep that little bit of information at the forefront of your mind. I won't be having you treat me as such. I am a human, and I am independent, and if I ever hear you refer to me as something to be 'dibbed' you will learn what it feels like to be very strongly hexed," Hermione almost whispered, her throat constricting with tears, before she started walking toward the lab door.
"Where are you going?" Tony asked, not even moving from his spot. If he turned around, he would forget that he was angry. And he wanted to hold a grudge for a few hours because he still hadn't had sex with Hermione and it was all fucking Banner's fault.
"Away for a bit. I'm going to go find a hotel. I need some space."
"Fine," Tony bit out, sounding every bit the petulant child.
"Don't bother trying to call me, I won't answer. I'll be back when I can stand to be in the same room with you."
Tony listened as she walked through the lab and into the elevator. As soon as he heard the doors close, he walked over to the couch and sank down into it putting his hands over his face. In true Tony Stark fashion, he completely fucked up.
So, I LOVED everyone's thoughts that Neville was Dolohov polyjuiced, and I almost completely rewrote everything, but I loved this chapter too much. One more totally angsty chapter, and then things will start to turn around. Especially once we enter the Winter Soldier time line and start bringing in Cap and Natasha! Please leave a review and let me know what you think!