Title: Red Threads

DISCLAIMER: I do NOT own Harry Potter

*

December 19th

Today marked the end of yet another relationship. Draco Malfoy stood by the snow-capped window of his tattoo parlor, looking lost and distressed - his hair was disheveled, his eyes were red from lack of sleep, and the shirt he'd thrown on smelled of whisky and cigarettes. To say he was having an awful morning was an understatement. Tasha broke up with him earlier, she was the fourth relationship he's ended in the last six months. The blond tattoo artist heaved a heavy sigh, and lit a cigarette, as he thought back at their argument earlier.

'I don't feel that you're really into me; you just weren't present the whole time we were together!'

Draco shook his head to dismiss the voice of his ex-girlfriend that rang in his ear. As he dragged on his cigarette, he wondered what exactly the buxom blonde meant by it. Come to think of it, almost everyone he's ever dated said the same thing about him.

The dashing bachelor stared aimlessly out the window, recalling everything Tasha Finley had ever spoken to him about - from her hair care products to her shopping trips in Paris, and her parties in New York. There really wasn't a single detail he had missed out on. His now former lover was a social butterfly, and she was exactly the kind of woman his mother would've begged him to marry…

Except, of course, that was a lost cause now.

A rush of cold wind that entered his shop, as his front door creaked open brought him back to his senses. Draco groaned silently, and ditched his cigarette in a haste. Looking at the mirror, he assessed himself quickly, and frowned. No, he wasn't exactly in the right state to meet a new customer, but he had to be professional. He'd thrown on his shirt and a jacket in a hurry to chase Tasha down the street, and plead with her to go back inside the shop with him to talk. Alas, he only succeeded in earning his ire when she spotted a lipstick mark on his shirt - one that wasn't hers. Draco squinted at the thought of her hitting his face with the back of her hand. He hadn't even thought of picking up all the Christmas decorations she'd thrown at him. His shop was a right mess, to say the least. Sighing, he combed his hair using his fingers, and fixed his shirt before he stepped out to check on the customer - his first for the day.

"Morning, Draco."

"Mr. Wilson, what can I do for you today?" Draco asked the old man, who stood by the counter of his shop, tinkering with his sound system to play his favorite Christmas carols. Mr. Wilson and his wife owned the charming row of apartments down the street, and visited the different shops along the street daily. He frequented Draco's, the barber shop, and the pub down the street as they were 'manlier' than the rest. The seventy-year-old was such a regular fixture, the young tattoo artist sometimes wondered if he had hired him one drunken afternoon. He made for good company, however, as the young blond wasn't much of a talker. Mr. Wilson kept his clients entertained with his stories, as Draco went about his work - at least that was the case until his charming little wife picked him up in time for supper.

The man in question cleared his throat and smirked, as Draco jumped in surprise. "You're quite jumpy today. It looks like you've had a rough morning," he said, before scanning the playlist for his favorite Johnny Mathis songs.

"Did I ever," Draco replied, rubbing his face with his hands, feeling slightly relieved that it had been the old man rather than someone else. "Tasha and I broke up earlier. She threw a fit, as you could see."

"I can see that," Mr. Wilson nodded, frowning. "Well, not to be rude or anything, but I always thought the two of you were a little off together. Maybe now you can find the right girl for you."

The dashing blond smiled at the old man, who acted like the grandfather he never had, and scratched his head. "At this rate, I'll probably be a spinster."

The stocky old man made a face, and waved a hand at him. "You're still young, boy. I'm sure there's a lovely girl out there you're destined to be with, you just haven't found her yet," he told Draco, as he started moving towards the small common area where various Christmas trinkets were scattered. He bent down and picked up a pair of lovebirds and hung them back on the tree.

Draco watched as the old man started straightening the decors once again, grateful that he didn't have to throw everything away. He glanced at the clock and frowned. It was ten in the morning, and pretty soon, he'll have customers coming in. He sighed. "Do you mind if I go freshen up for a bit, Mr. Wilson?"

"Not at all. I'll watch your shop for you, so take your time."

The young shop owner nodded his thanks, and went up to his private space on the second floor - his home most days when he worked til past ten in the evening because of a client, or if he was too drunk to show up at his parents. In all ten months he's set up shop, he had spent more time here than with his family. This was his home… at least for now.

She watched in silence, as the ruggedly handsome man who owned the tattoo parlour across the street disappeared into the second floor of his shop. Sighing, she drew the curtains close, and allowed her heart to beat slower than it was right at that moment. Hermione hated how the blond lothario had such an effect on her. It seems they've always ran parallel to each other - since their University days, in fact - but their lives never seemed to intersect.

The chimes that hung by her book cafe's door, followed by her staff's warm greeting, alerted her that they had a new visitor. The young shop owner straightened her dress, and hurried out to help her staff welcome a posh young lady draped in the latest fall fashion that she undoubtedly straight off the designer's showroom in Paris or Milan.

"Pansy?"

"In the flesh," the raven-haired lady said, taking off her expensive sunglasses that framed about half her face. "I love what you did to this place! See, I told you a nice Christmas cottage theme is the way to go."

"Yes, you did! I'm so excited for the Christmas eve party this year, I'm sure everyone's gonna love it! Oh, and you look amazing," Hermione said, as they hugged and blew air kisses at each other. "You're still globetrotting, I see."

"And you're still fantasizing about the bad boy from school," the young socialite teased, leading her friend to their usual table at the back. "Come now, even shop owners deserve a break. I brought a few bottles of champagne, and caviar. Let's catch up."

Hermione gave her staff a sorry look, but they only smiled and encouraged her to join her friend. She had been working hard to keep her quaint little book cafe' afloat. Except for the Christmas eve and the midSummer night's parties she hosts, her small cafe' wasn't as popular as the tattoo parlour across the street; but she had a couple of regulars and students, who flocked the shop for a nice hot cuppa, and a good book.

The minute she stepped into her small office at the back of the room, the comely brunette noticed that her friend had already started setting up - on her table were two flute glasses, an ice bucket where two bottles of Moét were being chilled, and a cheese platter, which she must've snuck in without her notice.

"Isn't it a bit too early for champagne?"

"Oh, live a little, you little prude," Pansy chastised, as she poured the pricey drink in her glass. "Besides, there are no rules."

Hermione shook her head, and sat across the raven-haired beauty. Their friendship always amazed the people around them, as they seemed to be polar opposites - she was more reserved and traditional, whereas Pansy was more outgoing and liberated; however, they enjoy each other's company, and are always up-to-date about each other's lives.

"Are you still lusting over Draco Malfoy?"

Hermione began coughing, choking on the sweet, sparkly liquid she'd just started drinking. She should've known better than to consume the champagne as fast as she could, Pansy wasn't known for her tact, after all.

"I take it you still are," Pansy assessed with a frown. She took a sip off her glass of champagne, as her friend continued to cough. "When you're done…"

"Sorry about that, I wasn't expecting you to blurt things out like so," Hermione replied, as she regained her composure.

"Why haven't you made a move on him?"

"Are you insane," Hermione scoffed, as she carefully placed her glass on the table.

"Well, you've been watching him since we were in Uni. I don't see why you've never bothered making yourself visible to him," Pansy pointed out, watching her friend roll her eyes in defiance. That was the thing with her friend Hermione, the young socialite thought - she was as intelligent as she was stubborn. Pansy could never understand what was holding her back. The brunette believed in red threads, and she knew hers connected the dashing man right across the street, but she'd rather keep to herself than to tell him that they had this sublime cosmic connection, perhaps out of fear of being laughed at.

"I'm not sure what it will take to get you to make the first move, but you better act now while he's in-between relationships," Pansy said coolly.

"We'll see," Hermione replied, downing her new glass of champagne. The wheels in her head started moving as her friend started talking to her about her own adventures in Dubai and Turkey. She was amazed at how her friend had been the first to make a move on about eighty-percent of the guys she's been with. Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if she were to make the first move this time, she thought. After all, she had nothing to lose.

Smiling secretly, Hermione poured more champagne on her glass, as she continued to plan her agenda for that evening.

xXxXx

This was a huge mistake!

Hermione came to that conclusion the minute she stepped inside his tattoo parlour at nearly ten in the evening. The Wintertime Festival has commenced, and it they had a big night fair going on. As a tradition, she allowed her staff close shop earlier so they can all attend the party at the town square. She couldn't have chosen a better time to execute her plan, she thought as she waved the girls goodbye. As soon as they left, the young entrepreneur soaked in a luxurious bath, and took the emerald green scoop back bodycon dress, which she always found too short and sexy for her liking. Popping another bottle of champagne open, the comely brunette worked on straightening her hair, and applying make up the way Pansy showed her with the new set she bought from Paris. Downing another glass, she slipped into the skimpy dress that she swore she'd never wear, and a pair of ankle boots. She looked at her reflection, she decided that she looked 'positively shaggable' by Pansy's standards. She grabbed her leather jacket, a scarf and hat, and downed one more glass of champagne before she carried out the rest of her plan. As she made her way over to the tattoo parlour, she felt her heart hammer against her chest, and kept convincing herself that what she was doing was perfectly fine.

'Pansy's done this a lot of times,' Hermione thought to herself, as she slid the door of Draco's tattoo parlour open, and took a step in. 'What's the worst that could happen?'

She immediately regretted her decision the minute she closed the door behind her. Hermione silently gulped as she stood just a few steps away from the ruggedly handsome blond wearing a loose white shirt half tucked inside a pair of tight fitted jeans. She felt her heart race, as she fixed her eyes on his narrow hips, and firm buttocks. She felt a blush creep up her face at the thought of how it would be like to sink her fingernails into those rounded cheeks while he pounded on her relentlessly.

The hollow sound of empty tattoo bottles as they hit the floor brought her back to the present. She shook her head, and looked at the devilishly handsome man who appeared like he was putting away his tools for the day, and sighed in relief that he hadn't bothered turning around to look at her. On the counter, she noticed a bottle of whisky, almost drained of its contents, and an ashtray full of cigarette butts - his, apparently. Just as she was about to sneak out, she heard him sigh loudly, and speak.

"I'm closed for the day."

Hermione felt her heart leap to her throat the minute she heard his voice. This was the first time, in all the years that she's known him, that he's ever addressed her - even if he meant it as her cue to leave. She knew the logical thing to do was heed his instructions. Then again, she thought to herself, if she were being logical, she wouldn't be caught dead entering his shop looking the way she did.

"That's too bad."

The words escaped her lips before she had a chance to think it through, much to her dismay. The brunette's eyes shot wide open, and she slowly felt her face burn with embarrassment. The silence that filled the room did nothing to help her calm down. She held her breath as she watched the young man slowly gaze over his shoulder, and smirk.

"I beg your pardon?"

"Well," Hermione said, wishing he wouldn't notice how her voice started to shake, and her hands started to fidget. "I… I said that's too bad you're closed for the day."

Curiously, the dashing blond gently placed his tattoo machine back on the table, and faced her. If he were surprised or delighted at her appearance, he did not dare show it. He eyed her appraisingly, and smirked. Not bad, he thought, as his eyes wandered from the tip of her head, down to her silky straight tresses. She had a pretty face, he'd give her that - doe-eyes, an aristocratic nose, and bow-shaped lips, which she painted in red. She was clad in a bodycon dress, which he figured would've been sexier if she took off her leather coat, and she had pretty strong legs that he figured would wrap around his waist quite perfectly. Yes, he thought to himself. She wasn't bad at all.

The woman appeared to be a little jittery in contrast to the cool persona she displayed earlier, he observed. He watched, as she played with her hands - usually a tell-tale sign that she wasn't as brave as she had made herself out to be. A wicked smile played on his lips just then.

"And why's that," he smirked, making his way to the counter where his bottle of liquor sat for a good number of hours.

She took a step back, surprised he hadn't dismissed her once again. Did he actually enjoy her novice flirting skills, she asked herself. He raised his eyebrow, and she gasped, not fully understanding what he meant by his inquiry. She cleared her throat. "Come again?"

He snickered. "We haven't started," he winked, walking to the counter to pour some more whisky on his glass. "You said it was too bad my shop's closed. Why's that?"

"Oh… because I wanted a tattoo…"

"You can come back tomorrow -"

"I'm only here tonight," she lied.

"Is that so?" he asked, raising the glass of liquor to his lips.

She drew a sharp breath, as she watched him watching her. She wanted to back out right there and then - after all, what did she know about flirting, but the liquid courage she'd drank the whole day made her decide otherwise. Hermione squared her shoulders, and kept her gaze at him. What would Pansy do in this instance, the shy bookworm asked herself as she tried to recall her cheeky friend's stories about her most recent hook-ups, and prayed to the gods she wouldn't make a fool of herself.

"Yes, that's right," Hermione replied, slowly moving her gaze from his eyes to his lips. "Sadly, you seem uninterested in marking me." She silently cursed herself, as the words continued to spill out of her lips. 'Marking me… where the heck did that come from,' she thought incredulously. She hesitantly looked up, and found him staring back at her, his smirk growing bigger.

'Wonderful! Now, he must think I'm completely nuts. I should've left ten minutes ago,' she scolded herself. "Well,"she said, as she turned around to head for the door.

"Well, where are you going?"

"Out," she replied, pointing at the door. "You're closed for the day, right?"

Draco chuckled, and set his glass on the table, amused at how the woman could be both assertive and unsure at the same time. Where did the cool chick who said she wanted a tattoo disappear to, he wondered. Unless, of course, she liked to tease.

"I've changed my mind," he said, as he made his way towards her, his eyes never leaving hers. The dashing blond could tell that she was fidgeting - probably nervous, or even excited - and his mind automatically came up with a hundred different thoughts of how the night would end. He reached her within five steps, standing a breath away from the svelte brunette. He was a good head taller than her, but he could see that she tried not lot that bother her. Winking at her, he took her hand, and led her towards the ink bed at the far corner of the room.

As soon as they reached his workspace, Draco let her hand go, and turned her around so that she had her back to him. He gently stroked her arm with the tips of his fingers, and felt her freeze for a moment. Smirking, he parted her hair, and leaned closer until she could feel his breath by the nape of her neck. "Tell me what tattoo you had in mind," he whispered huskily.

Hermione swallowed hard, her heart pounding so hard, it might just rip out of her chest. This was it, she thought. There was no turning back.

"Well?"

She breathed deeply before taking her leather jacket off, and watched it fall to the ground. With her exposed back to him, she didn't know how he'd react, but the sharp intake of breath she heard was enough to let her know that he liked what he saw.

"Well," she said, hoping her voice won't falter. "I was thinking you can draw me a nice tattoo down my back."

He smiled corruptly at her, his eyes twinkling with mischief. "Consider it done."

xXxXx

Draco lay in his double-sized bed with scratches down his back, and a huge smile on his face. Curled up beside him, breathing evenly with her eyes closed, and her face flushed, was the little minx responsible for his marks. He sighed contentedly while he replayed the events that led to their current state.

The minute he watched her slide the black leather jacket off her shoulders, he knew there was no other way to end the night, but in his bed. He held his breath as she turned her head and glanced at him.

"I was thinking you could do the Lotus tattoo down my back like the one in that drawing," Hermione pointed at the sketch she saw on top of his work area. "Do you think you can do that?"

Her smoky voice lured him to come closer, as though he were in a trance, until he stood directly in front of the svelte brunette. Draco caught her nervous surprise for a split second, as though she hadn't expected him to stand above her so close. Somewhere deep down inside of him, he knew that the vixen lying on his ink bed wasn't as adept in the art of seduction as she had thought she was, but he was feeling quite generous with his time tonight.

"A lotus?"

"Yes, but I don't want the words attached to it. Can you, perhaps, just draw a red string around its stem?"

"Red string," he repeated, silently cursing himself for sounding quite stupid. The dashing blond shook his head to rid the thoughts that had just crossed his mind. Earlier that day, Mr. Wilson had just been talking to him about a red thread connecting people and fate; he thought it was quite odd to be hearing the same thing from a complete stranger on the same day. When he drew his attention back to her, Draco noticed her gazing up at him curiously, calculating whether or not he'd take the bait.

"Consider it done," he smiled mischievously. Draco walked up to his drawing table, where his tablet was. With his stylus at hand, he started drawing what she had requested of him. From his peripheral, he could see that she was slightly craning her neck to take a peek at what he was sketching. He decided to pretend he hadn't noticed her watching, smirking as he noticed her inch her way closer to where he sat nearly peering over his shoulder in order to satisfy her curiousity. As if on cue, he shifted his gaze directly at her, and smirked. "How big do you want it?"

Hermione gasped, her eyes widening at the double entendre. She could actually feel her face turn red as the seconds ticked by.

"The tattoo, uh… Miss…" Draco struggled to remember what name she went by until he realized she never told him. With a sorry smile on his handsome face, he shook his head once again and cleared his throat. "Sorry, I seem to have forgotten my manners this evening. What is your name?"

"Why do you need it?"

"So I could address you properly," he replied.

The svelte brunette smiled coyly, and lowered her gaze. "You don't really need my name to give me a tattoo, right?"

He smiled wickedly. This woman was something else, he thought. "Very well," he said, as he handed her the gadget. "Is that alright? If so, how big do you want it to be?"

"Maybe halfway down my spine," she replied, and watched him take the tablet back from him and hook it up to a printer.

"I'm going to need you to tie your hair, and uh, take the top part of your dress off," Draco tried his best to sound professional about the procedure, but he could tell his client was a bit nervous about all of this. "I can get you a towel if -"

"No, it's fine," she said quietly. "If you could turn the other way though -"

"Of course."

Half an hour later, Draco found himself drawing the outline of a tattoo on the beautiful stranger who'd waltzed into his shop that night. It was the longest, most excruciating thirty minutes of his life, and the silence between them was heavy and awkward. He usually worked quietly, occasionally engaging in small talk his clients usually started; it didn't seem like she was about to talk to him anytime soon.

"You're really not going to tell me your name, aren't you," he finally said, cursing himself once again at the strange question he managed to blurt out.

The woman laughed throatily. "No."

"Do I know you from somewhere?"

"I don't think so."

"Oh," he frowned while tracing the sketch along her creamy skin, leaning closer to make sure he didn't miss a spot. "Interesting tattoo choice."

"The lotus?"

"The red strings," he said his breath touching her skin. The blond paused briefly and raised a brow - did he just feel her quiver, he asked silently.

"Oh, that. I've always been fascinated with the concept that there's someone out there whom you're destined to be with for the rest of your life," she said before she could filter her words. That particular topic has always been her weakness, the comely brunette just couldn't keep her mouth shut about it.

"How exactly does this red thread - red string or whatever you call it - work," he asked, silently relieved he finally found a topic the woman felt more comfortable talking about.

"Well, according to the Japanese, we're all born with a red thread that's connected to someone else. They say that no matter where you are in the world or what your circumstances are, fate will eventually find a way to bring you and the other person together. It may take time, and the thread can get tangled, but it will never break," Hermione responded, sighing.

"And you believe that?"

"Don't you?"

"Not really. I mean, if you meet someone you feel a connection to, I really wouldn't owe it to fate."

"What would you owe it to then," she asked, glancing sideways.

"Luck? I could've just been at the right place at the right time," he replied cheekily, before leaning back to check if he'd been able to outline her tattoo properly. This was just the start, he thought. They've still got a long way to go, with the kind of detail she wanted.

She smiled and turned her gaze forward once more. "There's no such thing as luck, Draco Malfoy," she said boldly. "There are no accidents."

"Oh," he said smiling. He seemed to like the sound of his name falling from her lips, he wanted to hear it some more. Feeling bolder, Draco moved closer until the felt the warmth radiating from the vixen's body. With her back still turned at him, he brazenly placed his hands on her hips to hold her steady as he leaned forward until his lips touched the shell of her right ear. She quivered once again, to his delight. He chuckled. "Do you believe it was fate that led you to my shop tonight?"

Her breath hitched as she listened to his husky voice caressing her ear. It was exhilarating and alarming how her body reacted to him so quickly, she could feel her nipples start to pebble under the fabric of her dress and her underwear start to dampen. She could feel the tip of his nose brush against the side of neck, and she had to bite her lower lip to keep her from moaning.

"Well," he whispered against the nape of her neck, as his hands moved down her thighs and held her legs apart from each other.

"Uh… I… yes," she sighed, leaning against him as he started planting kisses on her neck.

"And not wearing anything under this dress wasn't an accident at all, was it?" he whispered again, as one of his hands worked its way up her thigh. He chuckled after he heard her gasp once more. "Did you really think I hadn't picked up on your attempt at getting me hooked, or your lack of undergarment when you sat on this bed? And here, you want me to believe in fate?"

Her eyes widened at having been busted. Maybe she wasn't as smooth as she intended, she thought silently. While her plans may have been foiled, the brunette knew she had to think of something to wipe the smug look off the blond's face. She took a deep breath and thought of what Pansy would do in this situation.

"No answer, love?" he taunted, moving his hands up her side until they reached her slender waist. He was about to plant another kiss on her neck when he felt her hands on his. Draco leaned back to see what the vixen was up to. He watched as she stood to face him, and with the naughtiest smile playing on her lips, she leaned forward until her lips were nearly touching his.

"Au contraire, Draco Malfoy, I believe you play a role in my destiny," she whispered, brushing his lips slightly with hers. "I'm just taking fate into my own hands," she added, as she finally closed the gap between them, slanting her mouth over his.

If Draco was shocked at her brazen move, he dare not let it show; and while he noticed her lack of confidence at what she was doing, he decided to use it to his advantage. He grabbed her by the waist, and coaxed her to straddle his lap as he kissed her back showing her exactly how it's done. Her mouth was warm and sweet, it was addictive, he thought as he plunged his tongue into hers. Slowly, he moved his hands up her sides, and tugged on the top part of her dress she'd been holding on to. She gasped and pulled away, attempting to cover herself up, but he held her hands to her sides and latched onto one of her breasts and sucked on her pebbled pink nipple. He heard her groan and felt her buck against his crotch, urging him to continue his ministrations, which he was more than happy to comply with. He moved his hand up her thigh until he felt her wet and warm folds brushing against his fingers. Without any hesitation, the blond artist dipped a finger into her slick folds, and he was rewarded by a low groan from the woman straddling him.

"Do you like that?"

"Yes…" she gasped, throwing her head back as he added another finger, and started pumping in and out of her wet folds. "Oh, don't stop… please don't stop…"

"Look at you, so wet and hungry… and so pretty," he said, as he ran the back of his other hand gently across her cheek, while the other one continued to assault her wet pussy. He watched her in awe as she cupped her pert breasts with her hands while she rubbed her clit against his palm and glided her warm core over his fingers. His cock twitched and his jeans started to tighten as he listened to her breathless sighs and sensual moans, but he didn't want to stop - right now the only thing that mattered to him was making sure his vixen was sated.

She threw her head back and moaned when she felt him curl his fingers inside her. It was like nothing she'd ever felt before, not that she had a lot to compare it to - one ex-boyfriend and one childhood friend were all she'd ever been with, and she was starting to believe she'd been their firsts as well. She continued to ride his fingers shamelessly until she felt her walls tighten around his long fingers. Her eyes widened for a moment before she threw her head back as a huge waves of orgasm hit her, she cried out in ecstasy and held on to his arms as she continued to ride out her release. After she'd recovered from her high, she dropped to her knees in front of him and begged to return the favor.

Draco didn't need to be told twice, his cock was stiff and aching for release. He unzipped his jeans to free his cock, and he smirked at how obviously impressed the vixen as she stared at his length and girth. His moment of glory lasted all of five seconds before he felt her warm and wet mouth around his shaft, taking as much of him inside. With his fingers now entangled around her hair, the dashing blond started thrusting his cock in and out of her mouth, slowly at first until she'd gotten used to the rhythm.

"Mmm… you like that, don't you?" he asked, as he pulled on her hair and rammed his cock into her warm mouth once again. "You like me fucking your mouth like this?" He knew he was being rough and that he was probably hurting her with how he kept pushing himself deep into her wet and warm mouth, but he was close to hitting his climax and he didn't want to stop. Draco dropped his gaze at the vixen and saw that while she had tears streaming down her cheeks, she still looked at him with wide-eyed innocence. It drove him to the edge, and he could feel his seed start to spill out of his cock. "I'm close… I'm going to cum…" The vixen nodded slightly, and that was all he needed to trigger his release. He groaned as he spilled his seed into her warm mouth, some dribbled down the sides because he had released so much. He watched her swallow as much as she can, before she looked up at him with proudly.

"That was amazing," he whispered, as he wiped the sides of her mouth with his hand. He stood and held his hand out to her. "Come with me."

She tried to fix her dress to cover herself up, but she felt him yank her up so quickly, the green dress dropped to the floor completely. She gasped, attempting to cover up, but he wasn't about to let her. Hermione let him take her hand and lead her out of his work area. "Where are we going?"

"Somewhere we can fuck more comfortably," he responded, as he started climbing the stairs. "You do want to be fucked, don't you?"

"I do…" she replied. "But I don't really need a bed for that."

Her response roused something sleeping deep within the dashing blond, as he backed her up against the wall and kissed her lips forcefully while his hands cupped her breasts, kneading and pinching her hardened nipples. When he thrusted his tongue into her mouth once again, she brazenly sucked on it while grinding her hips against his crotch. "Fuck me," she whispered against his mouth. "Right here. Right now."

"Wrap your legs around me," he whispered back as he lined his cock against her wet pussy and slid himself into her tight entrance. "Look at you, love, you're so wet," he said huskily as he peppered her with kisses.

She held onto him tight when he pushed himself deeper into her. He was bigger and thicker than her previous lovers, but he felt so good inside her, she wanted more. She moved her mouth away from his lips, and started kissing his neck while she bucked against him. "Move, Draco… Please, I want more…"

"You're quite demanding, you know that?" he teased before he started moving in and out of her tight, warm pussy. He smiled as she whimpered, and he started thrusting a steady pace, not really caring that they were right in the middle of his staircase, with the curtains still drawn. He felt her muscles start to contract around his cock, as her whimpers were getting louder, so he picked up the pace and rammed his cock into her faster and harder until he felt her muscles milking his cock as she came. He looked at the vixen who was still riding her orgasm, moaning with her eyes closed, and he thought he'd never seen anyone so beautiful in his life. When she whispered his name, he felt his balls start to tighten and his cock start to release his seed once more. "I'm gonna come."

"Come inside me," she whispered against the shell of his ear. "I want your seed inside me."

All his restraint vanished into thin air, as he thrusted a few more times before he groaned and released a sea of cum inside her. He rested his head on her shoulder, as they both recovered from their high. He had never had sex on the stairs, but he was sure this wasn't going to be the last time he'll ever do it. When he had finally recovered, he carried her all the way to his bedroom, and dropped her in the middle of his bed.

"Ready for round two?" he asked, as he stripped himself completely of his clothing.

She laid on his bed and watched him discard his shirt and jeans, and smiled. "I'm ready if you are," she replied mischievously. She giggled when he climbed on the bed and crawled towards her. She made no protest when he trapped her underneath him, and pin her hands above her head. Just as he was about to kiss her, she whispered, "Hermione."

"Huh?"

"My name is Hermione," she said. "I just thought you ought to know."

They had sex three more times that night, with each round being more intense and longer than the previous. Draco laid in bed satisfied, and the vixen slept beside him with a smile. He ran his fingers across her smooth cheeks, as he watched her rest. He'll ask for a fourth round when she wakes up in a few hours, he thought to himself, as he drifted off to dreamland with a smile on his face.

He woke up a few hours later to an empty bed, the vixen was gone and she didn't bother leaving any contact details behind. If not for the scratches on his back, he would've thought he'd just dreamt her up.

He rolled in bed and tried to play back everything that happened yesterday from the moment she stepped into his shop. Draco had never felt so frustrated about letting a girl slip away, especially since he felt something different with her - everything they did was something he'd never experienced with anyone… it was as if they were connected somehow.

'We're all born with a red thread that's connected to someone else. It may take time, and the thread can get tangled, but it will never break…'

Draco sat up when he recalled what she'd said about fate and destiny - and the red strings that were said to bind these two people together. Maybe she was telling the truth when she said he was part of her destiny. Damn, he wished he'd taken her seriously, he thought silently, cursing his stupidity.

And damn, he wish he could remember what she said her name was, too.

xXxXx

December 22nd

"Look who finally decided to grace us with her presence!"

Hermione smiled wryly at her friend, as she made her way to her small office at the corner of her cafe' , away from the crowd. It's been three days since she snuck out of Draco's shop after their amorous encounter, and all she did was hide in her room, pretending to be sick. It was highly unlike her to act so cowardly, just like it was unlike her to march up to the man of her dreams and seduce him. It wasn't until Pansy threatened to close up shop two days before Christmas eve that the brooding brunette decided it was high time she stepped out of her room as well.

"Thanks for watching over the shop, Pans."

"Oh, you're welcome, I guess," the raven-haired woman responded, looking at her friend from where she was standing. Hermione's long, curly hair was tied up in a bun, and she wore a faded pair of jeans with her oversized jumper, which did nothing to complement how lovely her friend really was. She sighed. "Well, you look a little pale. I'm not sure if it's because of the awful lighting you have around here or - hey!"

Pansy was shocked to see her best friend dock quickly under the table. Just as she was about to head over to her quirky friend, she was distracted by the sound of the wind chimes as someone had just stepped inside. As she spun to greet the new arrivals, the pretty globetrotter finally understood her friend's reaction - inside the small cafe' strode one Draco Malfoy and an old man, whom she recognized as one of Hermione's regulars.

"Good morning."

"Hello," Pansy smiled at the stocky old man in a thick brown jacket.

"Are you new here? Is the other pretty lady not around? Could've sworn there was another lady who runs this shop."

Draco glanced at the man beside him quizzically, as it dawned upon him that he's never set foot in the small cafe' since he moved to this side of town. "We'd like a table for two, please."

"Right," Pansy said as she ushered the gentlemen to a table at the far side of the room where Hermione could get a good view. She looked at the old man, who still looked confused. "And I'm just helping out because my friend is feeling under weather."

"Ooo… that's not good. Her Christmas eve party is just a few days away."

"Oh trust me, she's beyond stressed out," she laughed as the two men settled into their seats. "Do you go to the party?"

"Just dinner last year because we had the kids over," Mr. Wilson replied. "Draco here, he's never attended a single one."

"You should definitely come over on the 24th then," Pansy said, looking at the dashing blond. "Doors open as early as six in the evening. We have dinner, drinks, games, and gift giving. Just bring a present, and we'll get it sorted."

"Do I know you from Uni?" Draco asked the green-eyed woman, who suddenly glanced at him wide-eyed. "I'm sorry, that must've taken you by surprise, I just thought you looked familiar. I'm Draco Malfoy and I studied art in Cambridge. I graduated three years ago."

"Oh," Pansy said awkwardly, glancing at Hermione, who was staring at her in horror. "Well, yeah I went to Cambridge too and studied Literature. My name is Pansy, by the way."

"That's a pretty name," the old man blurted out before fixing his gaze back at the young man once again. "Are you sure her name doesn't start with a P?"

"I'm positive it's an H," Draco whispered and then looked at Pansy. "I'm sorry. I've been looking for someone who said she was only in town for a day -"

"Girl snuck out on him while he was passed out," the old man interjected, laughing. "Must've been some night, son."

Pansy narrowed her eyes at the young man, whose face started to turn a bright shade of red. "And you have no idea what her name was?"

"It starts with an H is all I can remember. She's about five-feet-five-inches tall, slim, straight brown hair…" he replied, running a hand through his baby fine hair. "I've asked the bed and breakfast places around the block, and the hotel on St. Andrew's, but they don't know of anyone who fits the description."

"Would you know of anyone who fits the bill? The boy's desperate," the old man asked, smiling up at Pansy. When the young lady shook her head, he smirked. "Well, it was worth a shot. Let that be a lesson to you, boy - the next time you see her, don't let her go."

"The next time?" Pansy inquired again.

"Yeah, I'm positive they'll see each other again. That's how red strings work, right Draco?"

As soon as the young man nodded, Pansy politely excused herself and left them to the care of one of the waitresses, while she walked hurriedly to where her friend was hiding. The socialite looked around before she yanked her friend up and pulled her up the stairs and into her bedroom.

"Well, I had a pretty interesting chat with Draco Malfoy and the old guy -"

"Mr. Wilson," Hermione corrected, wincing as Pansy pulled her towards the bed. "His wife often comes over."

"Whatever. You're gonna want to sit for this one," she said, as they sat on her friend's bed. "So I found out that Draco slept with someone the other day - tall, slim, has straight brown hair... sound familiar?"

"My hair's not -"

"Too bad he couldn't remember what her name was," Pansy continued as though she hadn't put a word in. "Must've been caught up in the heat of the moment or something."

"Lucky him," Hermione said, playing with her hands on her lap.

"It's interesting though, he said he only knows her name starts with an H," her best friend said, raising her eyebrow at her. "And you know what? She made him believe in the red strings of fate… Just like someone I know…"

Hermione sighed. "Alright, alright… I slept with him," she said, blushing. "I took your advice, and tried to follow how you do it, but I didn't expect us to go all the way. It was…"

"Yes?"

"It was indescribable," Hermione sighed. "I really felt we connected not just physically."

"And that's good news because he feels that connection, too, so stop hiding," Pansy told her.

"Well, what if he doesn't like me?"

"What are we, kindergarten?" Pansy asked incredulously, as she plopped down Hermione's neatly made four-poster bed. "Granted he liked the wild, shaggable you, what makes you think he won't like frumpy, nerdy you? Come on, don't act like this is still the 1800s. Live a little."

"We'll see."

They heard a small crash from downstairs, and looked at each other wide eyed. "Pans, I think you should go back down and check on the girls. I really can't do this yet. I can't face him right now."

The svelte young woman rolled her eyes, and started to make her way out of the room. "Alright, alright… By the way, Hermione," she said with a playful smile playing on her lips. "I may have invited Draco to your party."

Before the curly-haired brunette could react, Pansy shut the door close, and ran downstairs. Hermione groaned, this was not going to end well, she thought as she lay on her bed and buried her face in her pillow.

xXxXx

December 24th

The doors of her little book cafe' kept swinging open as guests continued to pour in. This was only the third time Hermione has hosted the Christmas eve party, yet every year, the number of attendees seem to keep growing. It wasn't usually a dressy affair, but her staff prodded her to fix herself up that evening. She wore the elegant emerald green off-shoulder cashmere sweater that Pansy gave her for her birthday, a nice slim cut pair of jeans, and her boots. Her hair was tied in a loose chignon, as she had no time to straighten or style it because of all the last minute preparations she made for the event, but her staff thought it was perfect.

"Lovely party, Hermione!"

The comely brunette smiled at several guests who had just greeted her. Her cozy little cafe' was bustling with activity - there were guests singing Christmas carols, playing a nice game of cards, and just talking. At the far corner of the room near the window, she saw Pansy shamelessly flirt with the new guy who had just moved in next door, and her staff were also being friendlier to some of the single men in the room. It seems like love was in the air as well this Christmas eve, she said to herself, as her thoughts drifted back to her night with Draco, and how she ran off without leaving a trace. If she'd only been brave enough to confront the dashing blond when he was here a few days back, she wouldn't have to live with more 'what-if's.

"A lotus tattoo... "

She froze on the spot as she felt someone step directly behind her, and whisper in her ear. Suddenly, she felt her heart speed up and her face redden, as she'd completely forgotten that her top exposed part of the outline the handsome tattoo artist made a few days back.

"I'm not sure we've met -"

"Yes, I don't think we have met properly," he cut her off, whispering huskily against her ear. "I own the tattoo parlour across the street. My name is Draco Malfoy, although you probably already know that." He heard her gasp when he held her arms and pulled her against him. "What? No comment?"

"I…"

"See, a few nights ago, there was this beautiful woman who came to my shop, asking for a tattoo. She wanted a lotus with red strings. I'm not sure if you've heard about the red thread or red strings of fate…"

"I have," she whispered her response, still standing tense against his hard body.

"Good. She said that we were all born with red threads that are connected to our destiny," he told her as he slowly moved his hand from her arm, and ran his fingers gently across the skin of her back, tracing the outline of her unfinished tattoo.

"She sounds like a pretty remarkable woman," she sighed.

"Indeed. Talented with words," he whispered darkly. "And even more talented with her mouth." He smirked when he felt the willowy brunette quiver against his touch. "Why did you run away," he asked as he spun her around to face him. "Hermione?"

She lowered her lashes and smiled when she heard him call her.

"Did you really think I wouldn't find out," he asked, leaning forward until his lips brushed hers.

"I was hoping you would… eventually," she confessed against his soft pink lips.

"Maybe it was high time our thread pulled us closer to each other," Draco whispered, as he moved his hands against her sides. "By the way, I forgot to bring a present."

"That's alright," she said, blushing as she took his hand. "I think I may have a few extra presents in my room. I can show you if you want."

"Lead on then, love."

Pansy watched as her best friend disappeared into her room with the gorgeous tattoo artist from across the street, and gave Mr. and Mrs. Wilson a thumbs up. She was ecstatic that after all these years, fate had finally brought the couple together. Along with the cafe' staff, the pretty socialite made a conscious effort to turn up the music and make the crowd as rowdy as possible to drown the moans of pleasure that the comely shop owner and her lover were making upstairs.

The guests left a little after midnight. Hermione and Draco managed to redress and bid them a Merry Christmas as each of them said goodbye. Everyone had noticed they were practically glowing, but only Pansy and the old couple saw their red threads.

The end.