Authors Note: Well its finally here! The collaboration chapter with AislingIsobel is finally finished after 2 long weeks of hard work! I know I know I said I would update once a week but I promise this will more than make up for it at over 4000 words! Thank you everyone for following and adding to your favorites! AislingIsobel and I appreciate you all so much. We really hope you enjoy the chapter

WARNINGS!: This chapter contains minor spoilers for Prisoner of Circumstance! This chapter also contains MA content so as usual please read with discretion and use good judgment! One last thing! This chapter due to the difference in writing style switches from a shifting 3rd person omniscient with character focus to a broad 3rd person omniscient.


Draco woke the next morning with an empty but still warm bed, and a shuffling from the living room. He stretched the sleep from his limbs before swinging his legs over the edge of the bed where he retrieved his sweat pants, pulling them on as the shuffling continued. With sleep still clouding his vision he padded into the hall, leaning in the doorway as he watched Granger rifling around in her bag, shoulder deep in the beaded satin bent over his dining table. What a lovely view…

"Ah-ha! There it is…" she continued to mumble to herself as she pulled out what seemed to be a spare set of clothes. A delicate blue silk tunic dress, a pair of black leggings, and black open toe suede booties with gold metal detailing. Even this early in the morning he had to admit she had good taste. After all she was walking around his home in nothing but her knickers and one of his shirts so that had to count for something. She closed her bag, gathering the haul and turned with a gasp, obviously startled by his silent appearance.

"Trying to sneak off, eh? You should know better than that, I've always been a light sleeper." He fought the urge to yawn and pushed himself upright, slowly walking toward her. She was oddly quiet, not bothering to toss a quip back at him, just shifting her weight back and forth as she blushed, staring at him as if he had grown another head. As he approached her he took the garments from her hands, setting them back on the table behind her as he replaced the distance with his body. She wouldn't make eye contact but rather chose to stare at his chest, distracted, until he slid his hand beneath her chin, capturing her mouth and attention in one action as he lowered his lips to her own. He'd never known her to melt before but that's the only way he could think to describe the way she leaned into him now.

He could feel her delicate hands drift up his chest as he cupped her cheek, possessively curling his other arm around her waist. Her whole body complied with his touch, her lips a cushion that yielded to his demands and he reveled in it. He wanted to drown in the warmth of it, the normalcy and the comfort she brought him was as intoxicating as it was sobering. He needed her more than he realized. Their short conversation last night was just the beginning of the real journey they were about to face. He took a deep breath through his nose as his lips parted against hers and she greeted him with an open mouthed kiss that made him want to growl, there was so much hunger behind it. By now he was crushing her against him, rolling the length of his body against hers until she wrapped her arms around his neck. Just as he was about to pick her up and lay her across the table she peeled her mouth from his and tried to speak through her labored breath. He nuzzled his way up her neck leaving a trail of kisses as he listened to what was now a whimper.

"Dracoooo… Dahlia's class is in an hour, I have to get dressed." Her actions didn't match her words. Her hands were still tangled in his hair as he kissed up her jaw.

His response was little more than a murmur against her ear. "Mmm… stay."

What he got in turn was more of a scoff than a laugh and it made him want to take the little tart over his knee for a good spanking. Did she really think she was going to make it out of here without a little fun after the way she cheated him of his prize last night.

"But they…" she gasped as he nipped her earlobe, her breath and words faltering for a moment. "…need me."

"I, need you." He knew he was going to have to relent soon but he'd be damned if she wasn't going to fight for her freedom.

"The sooner I leave the sooner I'll get back." She seemed to have snapped out of the daze he put her in and he could appreciate a woman on a mission. She made a good point, which is why he had a plan.

"Fine… but I get to help." He picked her up and threw her over his shoulder, snagging her clothes with the other hand as he stalked off toward the bedroom with the brunette giggling and swatting his backside.

He tossed her down on the bed, pulling her across the comforter until her ass was flush with the edge before stepping between her legs.

"Draco I need to get dressed!" Her protests were feeble and halfhearted. If he didn't know better he would have thought she was having second thoughts.

"Yes I know, little miss book worm but first I need to undress you." Before she could protest he added "It's not the first time I've seen you Hermione and I'll be damned if it's the last." Laying over her he pushed his nose under the hem of the t-shirt she was wearing, progressing past her navel and ribs, leaving a trail of wet kisses on her porcelain skin. Pulling the thin material over her head didn't distract him from the task at hand, torturing her in a way that would remind her of him all day. He latched onto her left nipple, pulling it from his lips with a pop as she whimpered.

"Dracoooo… please." He laughed against her skin as he dipped down to her waist and worked a new trail down to the edge of her panties, pulling them down her legs before nipping above her hip bone. He sank his teeth into her delicate flesh and sucked until a deep purple hickey formed, leaving his mark on her. Admiring his handy work he picked up the matching set of black lace, slipping the cool fabric into place on her petite frame before helping her stand to fasten the front clasp on her bra.

"Now that you're properly frustrated, little witch, I'll leave you to the rest." He smacked her ass and laid back on the bed to watch her finish dressing. Usually she would have been irritated by his antics but this morning she was in a bubbly mood. If he didn't like the smile on her face so much he'd actually be concerned.

"I was properly frustrated all night, thanks to you." she retorted, rolling her eyes. Cheeky.

After only a few minutes and quick comb of her amber curls she was done, looking polished and prim as usual. Draco wasn't looking forward to letting her go but she'd be back soon enough. With a heavy sigh he stood from the bed and pulled her in for one more kiss before her departure.

"Here, take mine until I have yours mended. It should be done by the time you get back." This way she'd have more than enough reason to come back. He helped her shrug into his black wool P-coat before ushering her down the hall where she gathered her purse and camera, heels clicking on the hard tile.

As he unlocked the door she placed her hand over his tentatively. "Thank you... for last night. I think we needed it." The bolt clicked and slid free as something in him snapped loose. "I'll see you in a few hours, yeah?" she gave him a sheepish glance and removed her hand as she straightened her camera strap.

"Hurry back…" With that she stepped out of his apartment onto the terrace and waved over her shoulder as she apparated in a blur of blue and black.

He closed the door to stave off the winter wind and slumped against its cold glass surface. His apartment seemed sterile and empty without little miss perfect here to brighten it with her shy smile and witty words. The thought made him sigh and scrub his hand over his features, attempting to wipe some of the sleep from his mind. He sat down at the dining table and studied the stitching of her little pink coat before fetching the small sewing kit he kept in the bathroom. What she didn't know was that he'd planned to fix it himself.

The stitching pattern wasn't too difficult to mimic and luckily the button strings hadnt snapped, just pulled loose. As he strung the last thread tight and locked in the stitch with a double square knot he thought of the way the fabric hugged close to her curves, sending a low growl though his chest. Hanging the garment back on its proper chair he stood and stalked off to the bathroom for a shower. If he was going to think about her constantly he had to do something to relieve the perma-erection she'd left him with.

Hermione apparated directly into the castles courtyard, knowing it was against the rules, stepping quickly down the halls of her former school. Nothing had really changed except for the staircases, of course, they were always shifting. Her heels clicked on the hard stone floors with every step as she hurried along to the Defense against the Dark Arts classroom. When she finally arrived she noted that the archway had yet to be filled with students. She was just late enough to be early for class. When she knocked on the huge metal studded oak door it opened almost immediately, revealing walls lined with moving portraits, magnificent and quirky tools of the trade. What caught her eye was the enormous portrait of Sirius Black that was homed at the highest point in the room, next to the opening of Dahlia's new office. His portrait smiled and leaned against the open doorframe painted into the scenery. She only had a few brief encounters with the man but she truly did admire him for the happiness he brought to her friends. To top it all off Faux was perched in the window, pulling out feathers. Poor thing must be molting but soon enough he'd burst into flame and be reborn. Oh how she missed this place.

Dahlia heard the doors open and the clicking of heels on the stairs coming to her office. Glancing at the clock, the DADA professor gave a slight laugh, Hermione Granger was late. That never happened. This fact combined with the owl she thought belonged to the Malfoys; something truly interesting must have taken place yesterday. The wavy haired witch broached the open door and with it pulling a huge knowing grin from Dahlia with just a glimpse of her face.

"You had an interesting night," she remarked, now having the final piece of the puzzle.

Hermione looked shocked at the blatant and accurate observation stopping in her tracks to the desk. A flush of red streaked pale cheeks; "Well…" she stammered becoming nervous losing all thought and composure.

Dahlia laughed, "It's all right Hermione," she motioned for the girl to take a seat, "I don't judge and you never have to tell me anything you don't want to." Granger took a seat while Dahlia picked up the envelope she received yesterday, "That charm worked fantastically, as I knew it would, great pictures," she said with her nose wrinkling studying the glossy prints, "these will do wonderfully, thank you again Hermione." Professor Black looked at the girl again, her posture, her general demeanor was off. Putting down the pictures and straightening the framed family photo of Sirius and Nathaniel, giving a love sick smile to the boys, "Something you want to talk about?"

The young witch paused unsure where to look as eye contact was too much to bear at the moment. What would Dahlia say if she confessed to where she had been or who she was with and what almost happened and what did happen? She felt the heat back on her face looking up to see Sirius' wife looking rather confused and quite concerned. The Gryffindor opened her mouth but words failed to form.

"Hermione," Dahlia said softly, "I will never condemn you for your actions, you're my friend and all I ever want is for you to be happy. Please remember you can tell me anything and will find a safe space with me." She pulled out a drawer rummaging for a minute before placing a piece of chocolate in front of Granger, "Tea?"

The wavy haired witch nodded sheepishly taking a bite of the confection, smiling a bit; she certainly took after Professor Lupin in method, her grin dropped again; he was just another casualty in her world. Finishing the nib while Dahlia was busying herself with getting the tea started she noticed a business card on the desk. Picking it up, the curious thing, it read: John Constantine: Exorcist, Demonologist, and Master of the Dark Arts, but 'Master' was crossed out and 'Petty Dabbler' was handwritten underneath it with what Hermione thought was an American phone number.

"John Constantine," she asked interestedly.

A loud, over-dramatic sigh broke from Dahlia's mouth followed by a light laugh, "I'm surprised you haven't heard of him. A thorn in my side from my school days," she turned to the young witch, "he either dropped out or was expelled, picked up being an exorcist, he's quite good just enormously cocky," the professor laughed again, "Sirius told me not to take his card, that I'd never be rid of him." She brought her care worn tea set over to her desk heating the water and pouring two cups when the kettle whistled.

"Why is 'petty dabbler' written in?" She was deflecting by being her usual inquisitive self, making the professor shake her head in amusement.

"That is a story for another day," she took the card and handed Hermione a cup. Dahlia fixed her tea after placing the card in her desk; watching the girl while stirring her tea, "So, why did I receive my pictures from an owl that belongs to the Malfoys?" she took a sip of tea and waited.

"I blame you and today's lesson on runes. They put me in a bloody awkward position yesterday," she confessed still refusing to make eye contact, nibbling on the chocolate square.

Dahlia took another sip of tea, her trademarked cat that ate the canary grin behind her favorite chipped mug, "Do enlighten me Miss Granger."

"I-uh …ran into…" she paused still wary of admitting her tale to Dahlia, "Draco, while photographing the runes at St. Pancras…or rather…backed into him while he was on a run." she took her own cup of tea in hand using it as a shield from the professor's stare of amusement.

Dahlia's voice perked up at the name, "Draco," the professor said slightly teasing. She remembered there was an incident back when Hermione was in school about being in the Slytherin common room. "I see," she paused waiting for the young witch to continue.

Hermione flushed scarlet again, "Just like you saw me coming from the Slytherin common room as I saw you coming from the Potion's classroom," the Gryffindor fumed a bit before settling down. "Yes, Draco…and thank you for not outing me to Albus that morning," she took another sip of tea with a sheepish smile remembering their awkward exchange in the corridor. Hermione was probably the only person besides Sirius that knew what Dahlia had been doing in Slughorn's classroom that early in the morning. "I'm surprised you haven't noticed it's his coat I'm wearing," she turned open the lapel to flash the monogrammed silver DM stitched in the lining. "He ripped mine in the tumble down to the icy ground and insisted on having it repaired after I practically jogged back to his flat because that was the only way he would answer any of my questions." She began to relax sitting back into the overstuffed armchair, crossing her legs.

Dahlia was slightly taken back at the witch's remarks; the pace of the words reminded the Ravenclaw of her proclivity for talking fast. "I have always let my students make their own decisions regardless if I think I know better. I noticed the coat dear, just waiting for you to open up to me." Dahlia smiled kindly but couldn't keep the amusement off her face, her eyes were laughing. She saw Hermione relax and it felt like old times. She missed the clever witch's company and insight, wishing she had taken the position of being her assistant.

"He's quite clever in the kitchen, and even cleverer when it comes to living out of the wizarding world I have to say. It was just by a stroke of luck that his owl showed up with a parcel of letters from home or else you wouldn't have the key to your lesson plan." She paused, her blush came back accompanied by a softer tone, "Conversation led to dinner, which led to wine…" she paused slightly, "which led to comfort drinking and watching David Bowie's Labyrinth."

Dahlia nodded draining the last bit of tea, "I always knew Draco was a gentleman, no matter who his father was, his mother taught him well. I'm happy he's thriving." Sirius' wife chuckled, "On a side note I made Sirius dress up as Jareth for NJ's first Halloween, it was brilliant. I've never let him live that down."

"More a gentleman than you'd know. He refused to let me apparate in my…unreliable state…and I may have…" she trailed off looking away from Dahlia; she began swirling her tea in its cup, and stood slowly pacing the office.

Dahlia looked at Hermione, the way she did when Albus used to pace. This escapade with Draco shook her to the core. She had lost her good sense in being inebriated with Malfoy; it was obvious that she spent the night. Putting together the puzzle, they hadn't had sex, but something happened, to one make her late and two admit her activities to the professor.

"...spent the night." The witch continued in a shy voice, ducking behind the armchair. Finally peeking out from its upholstered corner.

"Oh, Hermione," she said softly, "you should not be ashamed of what happened. He obviously makes you happy, there shouldn't be any stigma laid on you for a choice that makes you happy." She looked at the young woman, "If anyone should know about stigma in relationships it's the witch who married an escaped convict. Come and tell me all about it, forget that I'm Professor Black and just think of me as Dahlia, you're old friend. Talk to me like I did to you when you asked me anything and everything about Sirius." She smiled making Hermione feel a bit more at ease. Then Dahlia went in for the kill, "Spare no detail, I want every last element in all its unedited glory."

Not only was Dahlia a professor but also her friend and one of her most faithful confidants. Proceeding to tell her every detail from the painful memories and his apology for their dodgy past to the lovely dinner he prepared along with the excess drinking. "After unknowingly emptying a bottle myself he cut me off," that pulled a smile from the professor. "I suppose I nodded of in his lap after that because I woke up after the film was over. He told me I'd have to stay the night, and I admit I was quite intoxicated at that point. After brushing my teeth it seems he'd fallen asleep waiting to get me settled in so I sort of…"she paused trying to find the words, "made myself at home. Borrowed a t-shirt, and curled up to him." Dahlia studied her look, there was something in it telling the Ravenclaw there was more to the night than she led on.

Dahlia considered her friend's story, while true, there was information missing. Going right after it would put off the Gryffindor. The professor had to pull the information out gently if she was going to be completely forthcoming. "Isn't wearing your boyfriend's t-shirt the best? The smell and fit just over the top, holy grail of girlfriend privilege! I still have a few of Sirius' dress shirts I won't let him have back," she laughed lightly before tossing her pale blue eyes to Hermione. "Was that all that happened? You two slept and then woke up?"

"Exactly!" she exclaimed not noticing the use of 'boyfriend'. "I still feel terrible about sending his hoodie back via owl during 6th year. And I mean…well…Draco talks in his sleep and basically stripped down to his underpants in the middle of the night complaining of it being 'Hotter than Satan's nut-sac'" She had to laugh through Draco's choice of phrase so she didn't choke on it. "Later on he startled me awake after realizing his state of undress. Then, and I blame my lack of self-preservation on still being half asleep, he demanded fair payment in the form of my most hated weakness…"she paused, her tone was so serious making Dahlia lean forward, "the damn sadist tickled me!" The professor had to hold back her amusement letting the witch continue, "Which turned into world class snogging and somehow finding myself in his lap. We had this sort of odd frustrated conversation, split into pieces each time we came up for air; which I suppose is how our relationship started out. Hating each other I mean." Dahlia briefly remembered witnessing a hate fueled kiss between the two during their 5th year. "not that I could hate him after waking up this morning. I was so clear headed then that all I could do was ogle him like some kind of daft bimbo! You wouldn't believe what he looks like now, with his hair grown out and tousled…wearing nothing but a pair of low rising sweatpants…tight sculpted chest…abs you want to trace with your tongue… and bedroom eyes like you've never seen, "she was getting caught in the memory, forgetting exactly who she was talking to.

Dahlia cleared her throat quietly pulling Hermione back to the present. "My goodness it got warm in here," she fanned herself slightly. Considering her words carefully, "I don't think appreciating who you're attracted to is being a 'daft bimbo'. When was the last time you've been intimate with anyone?"

"I suppose just after Harry and Ginny married. Getting Ron to commit was impossible, so it ended rather quickly. It's been almost 4 years come to think of it…" the realization twisted the Gryffindor's features unpleasantly.

The urge to say "GOOD GRACIOUS CHILD!" was overwhelming but Dahlia held her tongue. Carefully trying to find the right words; it was hard. Hermione was always so proper, aside from the particular anomaly just a moment ago, that is was almost hard to believe she had a bad girl streak. Dahlia always thought it would do her good to indulge in it from time to time. It hurt yet overjoyed her to see Miss Granger so flustered over a boy, er…Man. Merlin's beard she was getting old. More than anything she wanted to tell her to leave the school, lesson be damned, and go to him, pounce on him until they were spent. She'd be doing the same to her husband once the day was over.

"Why didn't you stay?! I would have understood. There are needs that can't be ignored my friend."

"Would it be too forward to say it was in the hopes of being appointed as your assistant next term?" her voice was hopeful looking at the lilac haired witch. "Of course I'll be heading back to his flat…" She paused. "as soon as the students have had their fill of knowledge."

Dahlia smiled, relieved that the conversation had turned so casual. "Good, as you have now become my assistant, I'd like to appoint you immediately." giving a wink to her that was pure Sirius, "I would have made you go after the lesson anyway."

Hermione laughed, "I'm surprised you didn't shove me out of your office the moment you heard I passed it up at all. You'd do anything to corrupt my good nature, Mrs. Black." She emphasized the professor's last name with a teasing grin. "Your husband is a terrible influence on you."

The professor laughed, "Downright awful indeed. And shoved you away before I get all the juicy details?! Never!" Dahlia glanced at the clock, "Oh! Lost track of time, the students should be here any moment," she pushed away from the desk and gathered the needed materials. "Are you ready Miss Granger?"

"Ready as ever!" She stood from her seat and followed the professor down the staircase just as students began to file in.

"Everyone please find your seats as we'll be starting shortly." Once all the children were seated Dahlia made short of her introduction as her new assistant lowered the window shades and started the projection charm to display the pictures she'd taken. "Today's lesson will be on Ancient Runes, which Miss Granger has so kindly agreed to help us with. Now please open your books to chapter eleven."

The lesson went along smoothly and the students seemed genuinely interested in the lesson. Even the usual class clowns kept their eyes trained on the glowing images of the stone and its shadowed runes.

Just as Dahlia was giving the homework assignment she noticed someone lurking outside the open classroom door. She only knew 2 people with naturally silver blonde hair and only one that would set foot on school grounds. It seems her assistant had a rather eager visitor. "Alright my precious students, that's all for today. Please remember that your reports will be due on Thursday, 16 inches of parchment and 3 photos of a place that houses your rune of choice and why you believe it was used. You are dismissed."

Dahlia approached the lovely girl and removed the textbooks from her hands and gently turned her in the direction of the open door and clasped her shoulders. "Remember dear girl, you have needs. The key to which lies just beyond that door." Just as Hermione was about to protest and go back to collecting the textbooks the mischievous Mrs. Black struck again. "Mr. Malfoy! Would you be so kind as to relieve my teaching assistant of her duties and escort her to a safe apparating distance from the school?" The lilac haired witch was practically yelling across the classroom and into the corridor.

Grinning shyly the younger Malfoy stepped into the open doorway addressing the DADA teacher. "You're as discreet as ever Dahlia."

"It's good to see you too Draco," Dumbledore's niece smiled turning to Hermione mouthing "Oh my!" pulling a light laugh from the wavy haired witch.

The moment his eyes found Miss Granger the atmosphere shifted so suddenly the half Veela felt the heat rise as if someone lit the classroom on fire. "Hermione." The name rolled of his tongue like a purr.

These two needed to go. Hermione gathered her purse and returned just in time for the elder to usher the two bewildered youths out of her classroom.

"Off you go you two, and for the love of all things magical remember to be safe!"

Shutting the heavy door behind them Dahlia heaved a sigh as the portrait of her husband gave a charming smirk and a seductive wink before disappearing from his post. She hurried to gather her things, with nothing on her mind but getting home and between the sheets with that cheeky wizard.