Thursday, March 2, 2000 - later
She runs in from the rain, kicking off her shoes, shucking her scarf, and I'm smiling at her. Late for dance class. Like an eight-year-old who desperately didn't want to go.
When she sees me sitting, she gasps, clutching her pearls, like I'm the killer in a horror story.
"What are you doing here?" she wheezes. "Is everything – Is your father doing alright?"
Thinking of me. Going from zero to ax-murder to genuine concern in .07 seconds.
I stand, and before I can answer, she's onto another emotion.
"I'm taking these classes, Draco." She glares at me. "I only have one more week left, and I intend to finish. The inheritance will transfer and that's that. I made a deal."
Stubborn little wench.
I open the door for her, and sweep my hand to guide her entrance. "After you."
She stares at me for a few moments, and then enters.
A sharp admonishment comes from the direction of the gramophone. "Miss Granger, you are two minutes late."
Merlin, fuck that fucking voice.
"I'm afraid that was my fault, Miss Truesdale," I say, and the withered old bat spins around, face cracking into a delighted smile.
"Young Mr. Malfoy! What a lovely surprise." She pats at her grey hair, and slips her hand into mine as I kiss her knuckles. "You have been so missed."
"I'm glad to hear it," I flirt back.
"How is your mother? I was so sorry to hear about your father's incident," she pouts, and then with a wave of her hand the gramophone tunes up and Granger is sent to the ballet bar.
I answer in the respectful way, eyes catching on the evening Prophet laying on her end table. A picture of my family stares up at me.
She must know who's paying her, right? She must know why she's been required to stay past her usual classes for private lessons with a Muggle-born girl.
Truesdale floats over a chair for me to sit in at the front of the room, and slides over her own stool.
"If you are here to check on her progress, Mr. Malfoy, I am sorry to report that she needs much more time and focus to truly compare to girls her age."
And there it is.
I smile at the dig. And I wonder if some of my quips and insults as a child were absorbed through watching Truesdale "teach."
I turn my eyes to see Granger in her final demi plié and grand plié, ankles rolling outward, backside slipping out of alignment.
And maybe there's some truth in the insult.
I bite back my grin.
Truesdale sets up the Viennese Waltz on the floor, guiding Granger through the formations and turns. Her cheeks burn bright as she stumbles. Her eyes pretend I don't exist.
"You see, Mr. Malfoy? She is unfocused and uncoordinated."
You cow. Get stuffed.
"Hm. Perhaps she's been working too long without a partner," I say.
Granger's eyes finally meet mine as I move toward her. There's that ax-murder fear again…
"Er, I don't quite know the steps yet—"
"Come on, Granger," I whisper. "Let me take you for a spin."
I take her in my arms, one hand along her back, one sliding against her palm. She's tense, already in fight or flight mode. She looks down at our feet, eyes flitting around at the footsteps she has to follow.
"Look at me," I say. Trust me.
Her eyes land on mine, and we glide.
My feet guide us, my hand pushes and tugs at her ribs, and her eyes stay on me. Her breath catches as I turn us, and her eyes deepen, like tunnels I can dance through.
It feels nothing like Legilimency. And yet it's everything like it. Connecting to her in this way. This trust she gives me. And the feeling of nothing between us. No space, or bricks, or monsters. No misunderstandings or assumptions. No blood or war.
And when the music stops and Truesdale adjusts her spine and her elbows, she stays in my arms, in my eyes, letting me into her very soul, and searching for mine underneath all the cobwebs and shadows.
The music plays again. And when she's doing better than before, I turn her under my arm. Her feet stumble, but she comes back to me with ease, eyes wide and surprised, and she laughs.
And I see a blue dress spinning. And a girl laughing as she stumbles into her partner. Laughing and happy.
Truesdale, of course, has to be a cunt about it.
"The dance floor is no place for laughter, Miss Granger." And then she added under her breath, "Excellent work."
We go through several other dances and styles, testing my memory as much as hers. She trusts me. She watches me. Her eyes stay on mine, not drifting to our feet or to Truesdale.
And then the gramophone plays the French Waltz. She looks at me with wide eyes like we have a joke. Like we've known each other for years and someone has just brought up a simple thing of no consequence to them, and we just smile in our tea at each other.
I bow to her. And she smiles. And when she curtseys, a beautiful dip, steady and low, she keeps her eyes on me, and it's like we were always meant to meet each other this way, in this dance.
She floats into my arms, and it's clear this dance is much more practiced for her. She anticipates my steps instead of letting me push her where she needs to be. She lifts her own arm to spin under. She doesn't squeeze my hand, pressing when she forgets the steps. Instead it just rests against my skin.
We part from each other, and she smiles at me in the reflection of the dance studio mirrors when we greet our new partner. I bring my palm up, watching her, thinking of how she wouldn't touch me. Even after I found a way to orbit her, found a pathway to appear in front of her, closer than I'd had any right to be. I stole her breath, and hoped I could take more from her, and all she had the courage to do was bring her palm within an inch of mine.
Even though she wanted to.
Brave little lion, still waiting for the snake to strike.
She laughs, bringing me out of my thoughts, and as we spin around imaginary partners, we have a moment of facing each other across the room. And she giggles.
It's contagious as Dragon Pox. I smile back at her, loving the sound of it.
"Miss Granger. Keep focused on your new partner."
She laughs outright, and I grin at her.
Truesdale starts in on the metaphoric symbolism of the dance, and I see Granger's eyes dull, in the same way they used to in Trelawney's classroom when she had to hold her tongue.
"The new partner in the French Waltz signifies the end of our youthful escapades," Truesdale sings from across the room, voice carrying over the gramophone. Granger one-two-threes her way back to me, and I lift my hand, palm facing her. "And in returning to your original partner, it signifies that you have forsaken all others, and you have chosen your partner for life."
Something shifts in her eyes. She blinks at me, hearing Truesdale's symbolism.
My hand is lifted, facing her, offering myself to her. Choosing her.
And I wait lifetimes for her.
She lifts her hand, and looks into my eyes as she presses her skin to mine.
We spin, moving around each other, connected. Finally.
We're back at the beginning. Our hands drop. I bow. She curtseys. And I could drop to one knee right now, based solely on the look in her eyes.
"Adequate, Miss Granger."
She blinks, breaking away from me. And the moment is gone.
Truesdale offers her a few classes with twelve-year-olds over the summer, to complement the level she is currently at. I smile at the black floors while Granger turns orange with rage.
We exit to the lobby, and I say, "For what it's worth, I think you're on level with fourteen-year-olds. At least."
She glares at me, and it's just as exhilarating as her smile.
I watch her change out of her shoes and toss her scarf around her neck. I want to take her home. I want to dance with her in a more familiar way, where she's vastly more practiced.
But I have things to do.
"Do you and Monsieur DuBois always meet at that café?"
She looks up at me, surprised. "Er… yes, mainly. Why?"
I ignore the question. "And you and Madame Bernard have tea at that French restaurant?"
She's suspicious now. "Why?"
I grin at her. Her scarf flutters around her shoulders, and I need to touch her again. "Like I said." My fingers twist her scarf into her coat, knuckles brushing her neck. "You've been working too long without a partner."
She stares at me, and I smirk, leaving and heading to the Ministry.
Friday, March 3, 2000
When the door opens, Monica Wilkins/Jean Granger stands there, smiling softly. Her eyes drift over my face.
"Can I help you?" she says, with an amiable smile.
And my gut slices open.
I'm too late.
She doesn't even recognize me anymore.
There's sand in my throat and I can't even begin to explain who I am to her.
Wendell appears behind her. "Ah! Drake!" He holds her shoulders, rubbing her arms. "Darling, you remember Drake. He stopped by the shop. Taking his honeymoon alone, remember?"
Wendell nods at me over her shoulder, lifting his brows meaningfully. He remembers me, but wants me to go slow with her.
She sticks her hand out. "Sorry, I don't quite remember." She grins. "Monica Wilkins. Lovely to meet you."
I swallow, taking her hand, and find a bandage wrapped around her palm.
"Is Dr. Flanders here?" I ask Wendell. I wonder if he's discovered his real name yet.
"Yes, of course." Wendell ushers me inside, and I ignore the way Monica stands for a second too long at the doorway before closing it.
Dr. Flanders is doing the dishes from breakfast. He smiles at me, like he's been expecting me. While Wendell sets Monica up in the living room with a television show, I turn to Dr. Flanders.
"What's wrong with her?"
"All a part of the process, Mr. Malfoy. There's bound to be relapses."
"Is this my fault?" I ask, watching Monica stare at the remote control.
A hand on my shoulder. "No, no." Dr. Flanders shakes his head. "The mind is a strange network. Even if we had moved forward with the Pensieve, she might have regressed." He adjusts his glasses and says, "I do apologize, Mr. Malfoy. I suppose I shouldn't have assumed you would want strangers prying into your brain."
Ah, why not. It's all the rage.
"What happened to her hand?"
Dr. Flanders looks down. "That's on me, I'm afraid. She was making tea for us and burned herself. I shouldn't have let her use the stove. And I can't heal her with magic until she remembers magic, so…"
I watch as Monica giggles at the television box. Wendell smiles at her.
"Yes, he's doing quite well. Henry, actually. He's remembered his name."
Henry and Jean Granger.
"What do you need from me?" I ask.
Dr. Flanders says, "Whatever you're willing to give," and gives me a kind smile.
I watch Jean Granger press a hand to her temple, frowning at something.
"All of it," I say. And I echo back her daughter's words. "Anything they need."
I spend the rest of the day with the Grangers, downing Pepper-Up Potions like candy. Just before dinner, I take my Portkey back to the U.K., head to the coffee shop on the corner, and walk into the office at 8:45AM with Granger's coffee cup.
I place it on her desk, and tell Carrie I'll be out of the office all day.
I pop back into the Granger's backyard as Jean and Henry serve the lamb chops.
"How was your phone call?" Jean asks, taking my coat.
"Excellent, thank you. Everyone in the U.K. says hello." I grin at Dr. Flanders.
While I do the dishes – with magic, of course; Dr. Flanders disapproves and keeps Jean's attention away from the kitchen – Henry turns to Jean.
"Monica, dear. I think Dr. Flanders and Drake have something exciting to show us."
She looks over at me, and I quickly grab the dish hovering over the sink. "Oh, really? What is it?"
Dr. Flanders grins. "It's like a movie. But it's inside of this bowl." He places the Pensieve on the dining room table. "Drake is going to show you how it works."
I stare into the suds. I still don't like this. Henry is ready, but Jean? She stares out the window when asked a direct question. She laughs at silence. And she's having issues with basic motor functions. She held the remote control upside down for several minutes, pressing "buttons" on the back. She forgot how to hold her fork at dinner. Henry had to cut her pork chops for her.
But Dr. Flanders says her brain is trying to fight the new information. Every time she has some kind of a relapse moment, he smiles, explaining to me that she wants to remember, but the memory charm is fighting her.
I don't like it. She's going to end up in the bathroom again, locked inside with her husband on the other side of the door. She doesn't even remember she had a daughter at this point.
"What a strange invention," Jean says, staring at the Pensieve. I'm drying my hands when she looks up at me and says, "Did you create this, Draco?"
Draco, not Drake.
She smiles at me, and I see her daughter's eyes.
"Not quite." My voice is gone. I clear my throat. "But you might see me inside. Er, in the movie."
"Oh, how fun!" She beams.
I move to the cabinet where we stored the vials. Dr. Flanders said we should start slow. Something without action, without conflict. Just her. And preferably no magic.
My fingers shake as I pluck the vial labeled January 1995 from the shelf. It's not like they'll read my thoughts. They'll just see the physical moment. Dr. Flanders is explaining that things may look real, but they won't be able to affect them. The people in the movie won't be able to see them.
Jean laughs a bit. "How silly. Of course not."
I turn to the Pensieve before I can think too hard on it, and pour the silver wisps into the bowl.
Henry, Jean, and I lean forward, and the Hogwarts library swims into focus.
I stand in the middle of it, staring at myself, seated at a table in the corner, working hard on an essay.
Jean gasps to my left. "Oh lovely!"
Almost as if I heard her, the younger version of me looks up, through us to the other side of the aisle.
I turn. Henry is gazing at the vast library, eyes bright with wonder. Jean is staring at the young me with a smile.
And behind them sits a bushy-haired know-it-all, researching a golden egg. I gesture for them to turn and see her.
Henry presses his lips together, inhaling quickly. Jean just tilts her head at her daughter. I watch her expression. A simple smile.
Hermione sits back in her chair, and picks up a blue Sugar Quill. I blush, looking down at the Hogwarts library stones, reminding myself that they can't read my thoughts.
Henry chuckles. I look up, watching him watch his daughter. He shakes his head and whispers, "…rot her teeth," under his breath. He leans in to me and asks, "How old is she?"
"Fifteen," I say automatically.
I encourage them to move closer. Jean is quick to move, but Henry takes slow steps, walking around the table.
"Sweet thing," Jean murmurs kindly when Hermione tries to write with the wrong quill, jumping and sucking the candy into her mouth while she scribbles with the real one.
And some morbid need twists in me. I turn to watch myself watch her. To watch the first moment I'd thought about her mouth consciously.
And it almost knocks me over. The raw desire on my face. The way I lick my lips quickly, gripping at my own quill.
I watch in horror as the younger me watches her. No Occlumency yet. Nothing to shield myself from her. Just an open fixation.
I wait for this boy to tear his eyes away, to look ashamed of himself, but he just stares at her.
I'd always wondered how Blaise had figured it out. And now it's just disgusting to me how blatant it all was.
I tear my eyes away, as the younger me wets his lips again. I stare down at my feet, feeling frustrated and vile and helpless.
I look up, ready to take them back, and I find Jean Granger watching the boy in the corner lusting after her only daughter. I feel a blush staining my cheeks and neck, and I turn to Henry, eyes still on his daughter, thankfully.
Jean smiles up at me, points to Hermione, and says, "Is this your fiancé?"
My muscles freeze. I stare at her until finally I remember that was my alias. A young man from the U.K. taking his honeymoon alone.
Before I can answer, she leans in and whispers, "You seem to like her."
I know. And so does every-fucking-body else.
I close my eyes, rubbing my jaw.
Jean giggles. And I open my eyes to watch Hermione look up, catch me staring, and quickly look away, wiping her mouth and blushing.
"She likes you, too," Jean says. I roll my eyes, and then she says, "She told me so."
Henry looks at his wife. I wait, heart beating.
Jean's brows knit together and she looks away for a moment. Then back to Hermione.
"Wendell," she says, staring at her daughter with wary eyes. "Who is that?"
Henry steps toward her, taking her arm. "Her name is Hermione."
Jean squints, stepping backwards. "I'd like to go. Can we go home now?"
We leave the memory.
Jean has to go lie down.
And Henry eyes me for the rest of the night.
Sunday, March 5, 2000
I spend the weekend dropping in on Granger's classes, flirting with Monsieur DuBois and winking at Madame Bernard. I say goodbye to her after every appointment, and head back to Australia.
Jean has a break-through on Saturday, while Henry regresses.
It's incredibly frustrating, watching them take one step forward, and two steps back.
By Sunday evening, they are at the same pace. They know their real names. They know they have a daughter named Hermione. Henry doesn't know more than that, but Jean remembers her at six, learning to ride a bike.
"She skinned her knee and cried for hours. You honestly don't remember, Henry?"
Henry is easily frustrated in these moments. And Dr. Flanders has to dose them with Calming Draught before every session.
It's time for them to see her in different stages of life, and in emotionally different places.
I take the vial from the cabinet that I've lovingly labeled "The Slap" and pour it into the Pensieve.
I watch her march towards me as I smirk at her. She slaps it off of me.
I laugh at myself, while Jean sucks in a breath, ready to chastise her daughter. I'm still laughing when we pull out of the memory.
I show them the Yule Ball, and I'm careful not to draw attention to my former self, letting them watch her dance and laugh with Krum. Jean leans into me while I watch myself pout in the corner with Pansy on my arm.
"Who is this beefy boy?" she says, vaguely waving at Krum. "You didn't escort her to this?"
I smile and swallow. "No, I was…" I look over at myself, glaring at her in disgust wondering if the Mudblood had slipped something into our pumpkin juice at the breakfast table. "I was an idiot." I chuckle.
Jean loops her arm through mine. "Good things come to those who wait."
Monday, March 6, 2000
They don't recognize me in the morning.
Dr. Flanders calms them, and escorts me to the front door, telling me things are normal. And he'll contact me in a few days.
But all I can hear on my way to a quiet corner where I can take my Portkey, is the sound of Jean's trembling voice asking who I was and what I wanted.
But they did ask where their daughter was.
I make it back to the Manor, seeing my bed for the first time in two days.
I'm seconds away from taking a Dreamless Sleep potion when Mippy pops into my bedroom.
"Master Draco! Mistress is worried! You is not home all weekend!"
I roll my eyes, sigh, and place the potion back down on my dresser. I follow the little elf down to the drawing room where Mother is reading a book. She doesn't lift her eyes from the page.
"Oh. You're alive. Splendid."
"Mother." I nod at her.
"For three days now I've donated your dinner scraps to the poor. Like some kind of soup kitchen."
"You, personally, handed out food?" I lift a brow at her.
She lifts one back. "Your father was released back to Azkaban this morning."
"Did you find Hermione on Thursday evening?"
"Did you make up?"
She frowns at me. "Well?"
"'Well,' what?" I shrug. "We made up. We have a very important week ahead of us." I stare at the carpets, kicking my shoes against it. "I… I'm working on a project for her." I look up at Mother and she's waiting for me to continue. "I've been to Australia. I'm working with a doctor to counter-act the memory charm on her parents."
Her lashes flutter, and she takes a slow breath. "And is it working? You're sure the doctor knows what he's doing?"
I think of Jean clutching her robe tightly around herself, looking at me like an intruder. I swallow. "Yes." I look away. "They're lovely people. I can't wait for you to meet them soon."
She hums. "Well, if that's the ace up your sleeve, I hardly need to give you this."
She pulls from her robes a small golden box, opens it, and places it on the end table.
The Malfoy engagement ring sparkles back at me.
"Curse-free," she says.
I stare at it, and shake my head free of the image of it on her finger.
"That's not… I don't need that. Not yet." I press my lips together. "You remember what she said. It's not something she wants."
Mother tilts her head at me. She closes the ring box, stands and walks past me. "I think you'd be surprised at the answer if you just asked her."
She presses the box into my hands, and leaves me alone in the drawing room.
Monday, March 6, 2000
The lift doors open, and she smiles when her eyes land on me.
"Good morning, Mr. Malfoy," she hums, taking the cup of coffee from my warm fingers and letting me walk her to her office.
"Is there anything I can do for you before we head to the Ministry?"
"No," she breathes. "I just need to gather my things."
"I'll handle Skeeter today. Don't give her a second thought."
She nods at me. "Twenty minutes?"
She disappears into her office, her arm brushing mine.
She's considerably more anxious when I come to collect her. Blaise is visiting her, and I give him a curious look when she doesn't make eye contact with either of us as she heads for the lifts.
Waterstone, Granger, and I make our way to the Apparition point, into the main entrance of the Ministry, and down to the courtrooms. It is now clear to me that Waterstone is not equipped to understand social cues. She yammers on and on about Wizengamot member and their families, where they've stood on previous issues, who prefers direct eye contact.
And all of it is overwhelming Granger.
We have about ten minutes, and she looks like she's focusing on focusing.
"Cornelia," I interrupt, and Waterstone stops. "You know what would be most helpful right now?" I turn my Malfoy smile on her. "I think it would put everyone at ease to know when they'll be beginning."
Waterstone looks at me like she's just had a wonderful thought. "I'll head up, and see if I can't watch the Wizengamot as they arrive, shall I?"
There it is. "Thank you. What a splendid idea."
Waterstone leaves us alone, taking the lift upstairs. I stand across from Granger, leaning on the wall, hands in my pockets. She chews on her lip, eyes staring wide at the stones in front of her.
She laughs lightly.
I guess so.
I watch her mind work. She'll do brilliantly. She's always done brilliantly.
I let her think. I stare at her shoes, fondly remembering her ugly little Ministry shoes she wore to my trial, and every day after. Pansy has her in better shoes, obviously—
"I want to be with you."
The words jar me. I can scarcely believe they came from her.
"I want to date you. In public. Not just lunch in your office."
I swallow my heartbeat, listening to her words, trying to make sense of them.
"I want to come out as a couple to M.C.G., and figure out what to do about the Love Contract and dating policies…"
Her voice dances across the dank stones, quiet and sure. I'm afraid if I lift my eyes to her the spell will break and she'll stop.
"I want to go to dinner with you, and be photographed in the Prophet. And hold hands on the way to the Apparition point."
Like we want the same things. Like there's nothing between us any longer and why aren't we just doing those things—
"I want to spend the night again – every night."
Yes. Tie you to bed.
"I want to have weekly meals with your mother—"
She'd love that.
"—and let Mippy make me pumpkin soup—"
That fucking soup. We'll have it every night if you want.
"—and spend hours in that library—"
Her voice trembles. And I really should have known it's the library she'd get emotional about. Should have shown it to her years ago. Given her the keys.
"I want to be your wife."
My throat closes. My eyes are dry. I can't move.
"And see you in the mornings, and marry you in the gazebo and – and rule the fucking world with you."
There's a song playing somewhere, thrumming in time to her voice. Something low and lovely. Pale pinks and periwinkle blues and velvet navy and golden silk dance in a carousel.
Lovegood was right. There are colors. Everywhere.
"And I don't know where the wires got crossed along the way, I don't know how things got so twisted. But that's all I've ever wanted."
Where is the fucking ring. Why don't I have it on me. At all times.
Her voice trembles as she continues to wreck me. "When you ask me why I've done the things I have, I want to be able to say it's because I love you." I feel my pulse in my ribs, beating to get out. "That everything has been for you. It's never been about the 'right thing to do.'" She laughs at herself. "It's because I love you."
I'd never imagined her saying it. Never knew what it would sound like from her lips, with that voice that tortured me in my dreams, singing to me in the mornings as I gripped myself, screaming and crying in my nightmares.
It's an exquisite sound. Like the first time you hear a song that you'll come to play on repeat.
"And I want to know you." She's still talking and I just don't know why we're not holding each other yet. "I want to know everything about you. And I understand that I have to ask, but I want to be able to ask. I want you to tell me things when I ask." She's getting off topic now. "But if there's something you can't tell me, not right now, then maybe there's a – a hand signal or something. Like you pull your ear—"
I jump when I realize it's me that she's waiting for. It's me that has to stop this nonsensical monologue.
I move for her, scared to look at her face and see that I dreamed it all.
But she has tears running down her cheeks, looking like she just fought for her life. I step into her, and she breathes deep, waiting.
"Ask," I beg. "Ask me now."
She looks deep into my eyes and says, "Why didn't you identify me that night. At Malfoy Manor."
My body flows into hers, my hands braced softly on the wall on either side of her. She tilts her head back, ready to drink me in.
I smirk at her. "It was the right thing to do."
She blinks at me. A slow smile pulling at her face. Her tears tumble down and she laughs, crying. She tilts her face toward the ceiling and whispers, "God, I hate you."
I smile. "I love you, too, Granger."
It was supposed to feel difficult, wasn't it? Not as simple as breathing.
I kiss her, and she holds me close. I slide against her spine, pulling her in. Her lips press wet kisses against mine, and she pulls back.
"I'm sorry. That was probably a lot. The… marriage thing and staying every night—"
Oh no you don't, Granger.
"Oh, I don't know. I think the gazebo is available this weekend."
She laughs. Like I'm kidding. And I grin at her.
The chime of the lifts arriving. I kiss her before pulling my arms away.
Waterstone marches down the corridor, announcing that they are ready for us.
Granger shoves the tears off her cheeks, wipes at her mascara, and strides to the oak doors. She looks back at me before disappearing, smiling and flushed.
The door closes, and I wait.
Wait for her.
What's another few hours after all this time?
We go to lunch and she talks my ear off. She tries to pay. The minx.
On Tuesday I follow her to tea with Madame Michele. The small woman smiles at me from the corner of her eye.
They all smile at me now. The girls in the office. Kelsey, who's always known. They all smirk into their magazines when I walk Granger to her office or when I escort her to the lifts for trial.
And I smirk back.
On Wednesday, we finish dinner at a lovely Italian place and she turns to me with soft eyes and says, "Would you like to come over to mine for a drink?"
Her place. Her bed with her sheets that smell like her.
I sigh. "As much as I want to, I can't. There's something I need to get back to at the office tonight." The lie comes easily.
"Is it anything you need help with?"
I stare at her, clenching my jaw to keep from telling her. "Not yet. But possibly soon."
She nods, and I lean into her, pressing a soft kiss to her lips. Her fingers trace my jaw, and I pull away before I stay with her all night.
Once she's disappeared, I Apparate to Heathrow.
Friday, March 10, 2000
Dr. Flanders and the Grangers stay in a hotel suite near the office. When I'm not walking Granger to her office or escorting her down the lifts to the Wizengamot, I'm with the Grangers.
They've maintained their memories for four days. They survived the stresses of Muggle travel (which Dr. Flanders assures me is not all that stressful, but I'm still unconvinced). They decided to close Sweet Tooth and put it on the market, officially moving back to the U.K.
I'll let the Granger family decide if they want their old house, but in the meantime, I send a crew to the Muggle neighborhood to clean my blood off the walls and erase any magical signatures haunting the house.
The Wizengamot votes for the Werewolf Policy. Of course, they do.
Father writes to me the night before to let me know that he has it on good authority that the majority of the council is voting in her favor. And the minority are weak-minded fools who only need a letter from the right person—
I roll my eyes and toss the letter into the fire.
When Granger and I head back to the office on Friday afternoon, I take her hand when we step into the lifts.
"I have a surprise for you." Merlin I hope this works.
"A good surprise?"
I nod. "I was shocked to hear it was ready today." Dr. Flanders and I were supposed to do this on Sunday, but he said it was time. "So, I wanted you to have it now, in honor of your triumph in the Wizengamot today."
"I – thank you," she stutters. "I'm… quite speechless really. It's something you had made?"
"No." Just wait, you silly witch. "Fixed, really."
She won't give it up though. So I tell her to just take the afternoon off, which she also doesn't like.
I march away from her, demanding that she go to her office and not come back.
I take a deep breath once I'm in the staff meeting. We begin as soon as I settle in. Mockridge starts in on our second quarter projections, quite pleased with himself that we have all ten installments of the inheritance to work with.
I'm just thinking of the Muggle-born Integration Program and how to throw money at it when the door to the conference room slams open.
Oh, fucking hell.
She marches to me, ignoring every other person in the room.
Something's gone wrong. Where is Dr. Flanders?
She reaches for me – to throttle me – and then her lips are on mine, leaning into me, hovering over my body. My hands steady her, holding her head and twirling her hair as she smiles into me.
She pulls away with a smirk, and tries to address the room with as much dignity as she can muster.
"Draco Malfoy and I are dating. We, uh… Yes. We're dating. Boyfriend and girlfriend," she stumbles. My face heats. "So, we'll need to take a look at that… er, Love Contract business. And just… abolish that, I say."
Blaise cheers. A few of the ladies giggle.
"Because… because I love him," she says, and I feel her eyes on me, inviting me. "And he loves me – I think—"
"I do, yes." There's some odd sensation of joy trying to overcome my face.
"So. That's that! I'll, uh, let you all get back to it."
She bids us goodbye, and they applaud her exit. All but Mockridge, who really for the life of him can't figure out what just happened.
At the end of the meeting, I run to my office, still blushing and smiling.
Blaise follows me in and jumps on my back, hollering.
"You did it! You hooked yourself a Golden Girl, mate!"
"Oh, she fiery! You'll have your hands full for sure—"
I knock him off of me and he shoves me onto the couch, one knee pressing into my chest. I'm about to twist his nipple to get him off when I see him snarling down at me.
My eyes go wide.
"If you fucking dare," he hisses, "choose Harry Potter as your best man over me…" He growls and I look up at him, quite terrified. "I will kill you the Zabini way. And then I'll marry your sexy little widow, and fuck her everywhere in Malfoy Manor—"
"What the fuck, Blaise!"
"I just want to be clear—"
"Yes, yes! You're the best man!"
"I'm the fucking best man."
"YES. You're the best man!"
He lifts off me, and smiles broadly. "Excellent. Now that that's straightened out, I have a new client to discuss with you."
He goes to sit in my office chair, spinning it in circles until I've collected myself enough to join him at my desk.
I call a meeting with Potter and Ginny Weasley. Dr. Flanders thinks more memories will help, especially ones that show Hermione with her parents.
Potter is finishing dinner on the stove as we chat. He's quite interested in Dr. Flanders and his techniques, but Ginny Weasley can't stop beaming at me. It's unnerving.
We sit around the small dining table, and I try not to notice all the little touches that scream Hermione here. The books, the pictures, the Muggle things that Ginny Weasley would have no use for.
"So, tomorrow, if your schedules allow?" I ask.
"Absolutely." Potter grins. "This is… It's quite extraordinary, Malfoy. What you've done."
I stand. "I've done nothing. Just… paid someone, really." I take one last look around the flat, and start to take my leave.
"You won't stay for dinner?" Potter asks.
No, not after Blaise's dramatics this afternoon.
"Hermione should be home soon, don't you think?" Ginny grins at me with manic eyes.
I scowl at her.
"I don't want to intrude—"
"Oh, Draco, dear, we're practically family now," Weasley says in a gross imitation of my mother's friends. Her eyes sparkle. "Besides, I need to grill you about your intentions."
I swallow. I've never wanted siblings for this exact reason. Too familiar.
"Granger and I have talked," I say, still standing, trying to extricate myself. "And we're… on the same page now. We want the same things."
Potter nods at me, trying to catch up, but Ginny Weasley stands quickly.
"When are you proposing?"
I blink at her. "That's… I think we're a bit early for that—"
"You have it on you don't you," she whispers.
"I have no idea what you're—"
And she's on me. Shoving me into the wall, hands fumbling through my pockets.
"OW! Weasley! What the fuck are you doing?"
Potter is protesting, but this witch grew up with six brothers. I grab for her hands and she slaps me away, digging into a different place in my robes.
"POTTER!" I look to him and he's shrugging at me, helpless. I'm a second away from shoving Ginny Weasley off of my person when she sings.
And she's holding a golden box, flipping open the lid, and gasping.
She stumbles away from me, staring down at the ring. Potter appears over her shoulder and his eyebrows jump.
"Blimey, Malfoy," Weasley says.
"It's… I'm not doing it tonight. I was just—"
"Oh, yes, you must do it tonight." Weasley looks up at me, eyes bright and mischievous.
I shake my head. "No, I… I want to speak with Henry. When he owns his mind again." I look down. "I've spent a lot of time with them, and it's only right that I…"
I trail off, and when I look up, Potter is regarding me with something… something disgusting really. Something like pride or acceptance or friendship and it's awful. I sneer at him like I used to and he smiles at me.
Weasley pushes the ring box into Potter's hands. "Harry, quick. Bake a pot pie. We'll bury the ring in it and all have supper together and—"
"Excuse me?" I gasp. "You'll do no such thing."
The locks in the door start to turn, and we toss the ring box between us, running like mice into a casual position at the table. Granger pushes open the door and Weasley is jumping into her arms, congratulating her, while I tuck the ring box back into a pocket, recasting the Notice-Me-Not Charm.
We explain to her that they'll have a session with her parents and Dr. Flanders tomorrow, and her eyes don't leave mine.
Weasley catches on. She makes some excuse for leaving, dragging Potter behind her even as he protests over the dinner still uneaten on the stove.
And now we're alone in her flat. Her… tiny little flat.
"Don't I pay you, Granger? Surely with Weasley's Quidditch salary and your measly income, you can afford an upgrade."
"I like this place," she huffs. "Besides, I'm barely in it."
And I plan to keep it that way. I grin at her and say, "You outed us to the entire office today."
"I did. I really did, didn't I?" She's a bit nervous about it still, so I step in to her, touching her, holding her. "Was there a discussion of what to do with the Love Contract, or will you need to resign."
Oh, she's hilarious. I smile against her lips. She pulls me close.
I try to kiss her. To really kiss her, like I've wanted to, but she pulls away and looks up at me.
"Did you really show my parents your memories?"
I stare at a point over her shoulder, still trying to fight the bricks that snap into place. "A few," I say. "Just about everyone has seen into my mind now, so I thought, what's the difference?"
She smiles, and I kiss her neck, finding her skin just as sweet as I remembered.
"Wouldn't you like to know."
I can tell she aches to ask me more. But she just drags her fingers through my hair, and whispers into my ear, "Thank you, Draco. Thank you for bringing them back to me."
I press our hips together, and smile against her skin when I say, "Of course. It was the right thing to do."
She slaps my shoulder, blushing and trying to pull away from me. I'm laughing when I tug her back, pressing her into the hallway wall. She fights me, cursing my name until I press my tongue to hers, and I feel her melt back into me.
My hands slide around her waist, dropping down to hold her backside close to me. She sighs a small moan into my mouth, and I pepper kisses across her jaw until I whisper into her ear, "Show me your bedroom, Granger."
She kisses me quickly, and tugs us down the hall to the door on the left. I drink in as much of her bedroom as I can before I'm shoved to sit on her mattress, her legs climbing over mine and her lips on me again.
I laugh into her, thinking how easily she could have talked me into something slow and sweet today, but this witch is randy.
My hands slide up her sides and back down, rounding over her backside. It sounds like she growls against my lips. I squeeze her, filling my palms with her cheeks and rubbing circles against her dress.
She sighs against my lips, shifting on her knees to press closer to me. Her breasts push into my chest, and her hips open wide to press against mine. Her hands hold my head close to her as she devours me, and my palms slide across her dress, down to her thighs, rounding her knees and back, taking her dress with them.
My cock presses against her, and she rolls forward against it.
How many times have I wanked to this thought. This barest of ideas. Hermione Granger's thighs on either side of mine, her hands threading through my hair.
My hands slide over her thighs, and she mumbles against my lips, "Touch me."
She's wet, dripping through her knickers. I rub her through the fabric and she moans, kissing down my neck, hands sliding to unbutton my robes. My thumb drags against her, slow slides from her entrance to her clit that make her hips vibrate. Once I'm down to my shirt, she starts on her own dress. Buttons down the front pop open, and I watch her greedy fingers as she breathes against my neck.
She shrugs the dress off, sliding it down her shoulders and to the floor behind her. I press a circle on her clit, and she shivers, hands pausing before sliding into my hair again. She attacks my mouth with teeth and tongue, gripping my head to hers, and her hips start rolling back against my hand.
I bring my free hand to her hips, squeezing her as she moans into my mouth.
My hand twists until I've pushed aside her knickers, and I slide one finger inside of her. Like coming home after a long day. I release a shaky sigh against her lips, and brush my thumb over her clit in strong quick movements that have her starting to gasp. Her cunt flutters around my finger, and she groans when I add a second.
Her lips parted, eyes squeezed shut, and when I rub my fingers inside of her, and circle my thumb on her clit, I watch as she comes with a shout, holding me inside of her, her face scrunched up.
Her face starts to relax, her eyes drift open to mine, and I say, "You're so beautiful."
I watch her eyes darken, and her teeth bite down on her lip, as she flutters around me again. Not quite an orgasm, but still something pleasurable to her. Something I gave her.
She's catching her breath still when her hands move from gripping my shoulders to the buttons on my shirt. I remove my fingers from her, holding her hips close to me as she kisses my neck. She opens my shirt, pushing it down my shoulders, leaving it on my elbows for me to finish, and then her hands drop to my buckle.
I smile into her hair.
She shifts on the mattress, giving herself more space to unbutton me, and I close my eyes when she sucks on my neck like I do to her. My cock twitches.
I feel her lifting off me to stand, pulling my trousers down my hips, and I laugh at her eagerness.
The sound is stuck in my throat when I open my eyes. She's sliding down to her knees. Between my legs.
Her hands pull me out of my trunks, and her eyes meet mine before I can even ask, "What are you doing?"
She swallows her nerves and says, "I think I know how. I've read… a few things."
I shake my head, trying to tell her, trying to find the words to make her understand that this will ruin me.
"—have to," she finishes for me. "I know. I—I want to. "
A fever inches up my chest, burning me as I look down at Hermione Granger, on her knees in front of me, about to suck me off.
And my lips tremble.
She reads me like one of her books, brows furrowing, and says, "Why are you afraid?"
My mouth opens, useless. I can't… explain it. How my mind works. How things had to stay in boxes and how this… this… had to be locked away even deeper. I remember the hours Severus spent, extricating this from my mind, leaving behind one or two of the more aggressive and purely sexual fantasies.
It would be odd to find no desire for her whatsoever, he'd told me.
"It's a lot," I say, feeling my stomach shaking.
She smiles up at me, and strokes me slowly, softly, and says, "Do you want me to go slow?" A wink. Teasing me a bit, but truly asking.
So, I reach for her face, pressing my fingers into her hair, and say, "I want this. Very much."
She grins. And I watch as she brings her lips to the tip.
I can't breathe. She looks up at me. And her tongue peeks out to lick just the head.
She blinks at me with her wide eyes and asks, "Tell me what you like?"
What do I even like?
"You," my voice tremors, before I can even process a response.
And the slow grin spreading a beautiful blush over her cheeks and down her neck is all I can see behind my closed eyes when she opens her lips and takes me into her mouth.
I gasp, and my fist closes on her hair. I think of sugar quills and soup spoons and swotty voices answering questions before my hand can even shoot into the air.
I grow harder, thicker, twitching inside her mouth. My eyes are screwed up and my fist releases her hair so I don't hurt her, clenching the comforter under me instead.
She slides her mouth on me. Pressure too light, like her hand earlier. Teasing almost. I feel her tongue twitching nervously, trying to figure out its purpose.
"Suck," a dark voice from my throat demands. And when she does, I groan out, my hands covering my face, helpless as she pulls at me.
I'm breathing quickly, feeling my stomach panting, just knowing that she's on her knees, with my cock in her mouth.
And it's like Hermione Granger solved a riddle she's been trying to crack. She takes more of me into her mouth, and sucks, pulling me into her, placing a hand on my thigh and squeezing the base of me with the other. It feels like the pressure will never end, and I moan into my palms, fighting the urge to just thrust into her.
She finally takes a breath, gasping, and before I can tell her she's done well and she can stop now, she descends on me again, sucking and dragging me into her mouth.
She pulls off me. "Draco."
My fingers part over my eyes and I look down at her, flushed cheeks and swollen lips.
She hides a smirk behind her lips, and says, "Tell me if I'm doing it right?"
I take a deep breath as she dips her head, keeping her eyes on me as her tongue slips out, licking the tip. And then she tilts her head so she can lick my shaft. I groan when her tongue finds the underside of my head, all my nerves shaking in my skin.
She blinks at me, watching my face. Her eyes above a book, her eyes over the ledger at Cornerstone, her eyes across my desk. And she licks over the spot again.
My heels dig into the floor on either side of her, my hips begging to thrust, to fuck her. I'm sweating.
She places her lips around the head of my cock, watching my reaction, and presses her tongue against the underside, rubbing. My hands reach for her, and stop. My fists drop to the bed.
She's too quick of a learner. She watches for pieces to click in the puzzle and then she pushes further. Her tongue runs over and over the head of my cock, and she sucks. Just the head. Soft suction that has my thighs clenching, my balls pulling tight.
My hips jump. Her eyes widen, her tongue sliding along my shaft as I push into her mouth. And before I can apologize she sucks, blinding pressure.
My hand reaches for her. I pull her off of me, grabbing her hair, and dragging her up until I can toss her on the bed.
She breathes into my forehead as I kiss at her chest, pulling off her bra and sucking at her breasts.
I hear myself muttering against her skin.
"…want you to suck me off every morning and every night. Gonna fuck your mouth ten times a day, Granger."
She laughs, gasping, and moaning, her fingers running through my hair as I move aside her knickers, pressing myself to her entrance.
Her nails dig into my back, and I slide in so easily.
"So, good," I mumble. "You'd get an Outstanding in Oral Sex, Granger."
She laughs and says, "So would you—Oh!"
I'm rougher than I've been with her, but she's wet and wrapping herself around me, breathing in my ear such delightful little sounds.
My hips slam into hers, our bones knocking together, and my cock filling her completely. I feel myself cresting, thinking of her mouth on my cock again, thinking of shooting into her mouth—
"Fuck, fuck." And when her back arches, a small groan singing from her lips, I groan, "I love you," into her neck and she shivers, her legs squeezing me, her cunt squeezing me, until she pulses and cries out, her head thrown back against her mattress.
I don't slow down for her. I can't.
And she shakes around me, gasping for air as I thrust against her, pushing our bodies together, until we're blended. My fingers twist into her hair, fisting the curls, burying my face against it, and she might even come again as I pour into her, her walls rolling waves on me, pulling me deeper and keeping me close. I gasp for air into her curls, our bodies slick and sliding together.
Her hand runs through my hair, and I stay inside of her, resting on top of her until she squirms to push me off.
I stare up at her bedroom ceiling. And she curls against my side, and says, "So you like blow jobs, huh?"
I laugh into the humidity of her room. I'm about to say something about making good on my promise to have her ten times a day, when I take in the decorations of her bedroom.
"Granger," I start, sitting up, turning to look at the wall behind me. "Are you in the middle of redecorating?"
"What?" she breathes. She turns to look.
Her walls… are completely blank. A few nails where pictures used to hang. Those pictures sit in the corner of her room. White walls in every direction.
"You'd think after so many speeches from Monsieur DuBois, you would have learned something about decorating. Like… color."
"Oh," she says, laughing a little. Nervously. "I used to… never mind. I had something up, but I took it down a few months ago." She sits in the middle of her bed in only her knickers. "I haven't gotten around to redecorating."
I stare at her as she looks to one of her walls with tight eyes.
"What was it?"
She looks at me, and blushes. "It was nothing. I just…" She looks away biting her lip.
I turn her face back to mine with a fingertip. "Tell me?"
Her eyes flicker back and forth between mine, and I see her turn redder. She rolls her eyes and stands. "I… had a… Wall."
"A wall?" I ask, watching as she moves to her old Hogwarts chest in the corner of the room.
"Mm-hmm. I just…" She looks at me. "I told you I wanted to know you. I wanted to understand you." I nod at her. "So, I have…" She shakes her head and reaches into the chest, pulling out the picture of us at Fortescue's with Mother. "I saved a few things. And I was trying to piece together a timeline…" She laughs. "It's stupid really."
I stand, slipping my trunks back on and approach her, hoping she won't snap closed the chest before I can see inside.
She bites her lip, and I see newspaper clippings. The same ones that sit in my bottom drawer at home, tucked away under her knickers from the governor's ball and her green silk bra that she left behind.
I smile, but she thinks I'm teasing her.
"I don't mean to be so strange. It's just… I was trying to figure it out. Trying to follow the events." I look at her. "Your blood on my living room walls. The Auction." My eye twitches, and she reaches up to brush the tension away. "I just wanted to know you."
Her eyes are so bright. And they're all mine. Finally.
I kiss her. I reach for my wand, careful not to disturb the ring in my robes. It's not time for that yet. I send the picture of us at Fortescue's to a place on her blank walls. It sticks. She watches as the rest of her pictures and clippings dance out of her chest and stick to her wall, recreating her timeline.
She watches me curiously. And I smile at her.
I'm ready now.
"Let's start from the beginning," I say. I take her hand.
Sunday, September 1, 1991
The Hogwarts Express chugs us towards Scotland, and I can't help but examine the passengers overstuffed into this train car.
Blaise Zabini is an odd fellow. He likes to figure out how people tick. Theo Nott is less complicated, and Crabbe and Goyle even less so.
But Pansy Parkinson and Daphne Greengrass should really find their own car. Seven of us in one is just obnoxious.
They're talking nail colors and Witch Weekly and really only Theo is engaging with them. Zabini asks me about my family's vineyards and I don't bloody well know, do I?
The door to the car slams open, and a girl our age looks around, searching the floor for the first few seconds while we wait for her to speak.
She's… broad. Everything about her is wide. Her hair is oddly wild like she'd recently been electrified. Her teeth as she opens her mouth are large. And her eyes as she turns them onto me are wide and dark.
She's… unusual. And clearly not well bred if that's how she shows up to the first day of school, slamming compartments open without introducing herself.
"Has anyone seen a toad?" She turns her eyes on Zabini first. He lifts a brow at her.
And I feel like Zabini and I are still waiting to figure out which of us will lead this pack, so I jump on the opportunity before he can even open his mouth.
"One just stumbled in," I say.
Greengrass laughs. Goyle rumbles next to me. And the girl who takes up too much space turns her wide eyes on me.
She lifts a brow. Unimpressed. There's a fire behind her eyes, blazing to fight with me.
"Charming," she says, looking me over. She turns back to the others, and says, "A boy named Neville has lost his pet toad."
She tells them what compartment Neville is in if the toad is found. She introduces herself to Theo when he reaches out his hand. She frowns at Parkinson when she doesn't bother to introduce herself.
But she doesn't look at me again.
"Are you related to Granger the potioneer?" I ask for some reason.
She looks at me. Her eyes sweeping over my hair before returning to my eyes. "No. My parents are Muggles."
And something extinguishes inside me. Ended before it even burned.
The entire compartment shifts, readjusts, turns their back to her. And she feels it. I watch her lips press together, and her feet shift as she says goodbye, not glancing my way again.
The door snaps closed.
People are supposed to cry. They're supposed to feel an insult hit them and crawl away.
I'm good at insults. I know how this works.
I'm still thinking about fire when the train stops, thinking about how I can make her cry instead of challenge me. What button I needed to press.
When the Sorting Hat places Hermione Granger in Gryffindor, her tie changing colors, it makes sense. She fights like a lion.
And there's something gold about her.
Much love to all of you for reading this story. Whether you've followed it for a full year, awaiting every (late) chapter, or whether you decided to wait and binge it, or just if you've stumbled here... Thank You. Thank you to those of you who begged for a Draco POV. Thank you to those of you who begged for an Auction fic. My muses.
Let me clarify from my last A/N. The drabbles that I posed on Tumblr WILL be collected into a fic that I will post on FFnet and AO3. You will see the proposal, the wedding, the pregnancy, the children (Lucy and Sebastian). No timeline for that or the Lucissa story. I'm thinking those will be pleasant breaks from Auction angst, so they may be worked on this summer.
As for The Auction: Give me some time to get ahead so I can give you weekly updates. I'm thinking June.
You can find me on Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest under LovesBitca8.