Roses are red
Violets are blue
I don't own Harry Potter
This is sad, but true
Written for Troping Thursdays in Dramione Fanfiction Writers on Facebook
It started as a seemingly harmless and mutually beneficial agreement. By pretending to date each other, Hermione would get her mother off her back after she split with Ron, and Draco would use the Golden Girl to climb the slippery corporate ladder.
The rules were simple: no physical contact of any kind unless explicitly necessary, and only ever in public; no personal discussions regarding the three 'F' words: friends, family, and feelings; and definitely, under no circumstances whatsoever, would either of them fall for the other.
Within six months, they broke all three.
"It will never work, Malfoy."
"Of course it will work."
"My mother won't buy it; she knows how awful you were to me in school."
"Then let this be my redemption."
"You seem awfully keen…"
"I need this merger," his tone was tense. "I know I can land it, with your name."
"I can be," he nodded and took a step towards her. "If you agree to my proposal, I will show you just how much."
She was silent for a long moment. "We need rules," she said finally.
"Scared you might actually fall for me, Granger?" Malfoy smirked.
Hermione scoffed. "As if."
Draco broke the first rule on day twenty-six.
To keep up appearances, they arrived at the office together on Monday morning. Draco had ushered Hermione into the elevator after they arrived in the lobby; only, he had left his hand on the small of her back for the first few seconds of their ascent. He rather enjoyed the feeling of her petite figure under his palm and had been focusing so intently on the way the heat from her body was radiating into his fingertips that he had momentarily forgotten himself.
He wasn't sure if Hermione had noticed; neither of them had said anything, though she had been oddly stiff throughout the entire ride and then avoided him for the rest of the day. Draco had not been able to concentrate on his work at all, and spent the time swinging from annoyance at the witch and unbridled embarrassment.
Looking back, he would pin point this as the moment their relationship began to change from one of mutual convenience to something more tangible.
Hermione broke the second rule halfway through their agreement.
She had turned up at Draco's flat unannounced late one rainy evening. She was completely soaked, her cardigan hanging from her small frame and dripping water onto his carpet. Her hair rebelled against any kind of order, the curls sticking up in all directions. Draco had ushered her inside after one look at her; not because she looked like a small animal that had been caught in a storm drain, but because the redness around her eyes and the puffiness of her cheeks told him that she had been crying.
"I'm sorry," she had choked out once he had dried her off and set her up on the couch with hot chocolate.
"It's fine," he insisted, sitting down beside her. He wanted to ask what had happened; what had made her feel like the only place she could seek comfort on this miserable Sunday night was his place. Draco remembered their agreement though; they weren't to talk about their personal lives with each other, aside from things that may come up in conversation. Luckily for him, Hermione was not in the right frame of mind to remember the rules.
"It's Harry," she whispered. "He doesn't approve of…" she trailed off and gestured between them with the hand not currently holding her steaming mug.
Draco felt a swooping sensation in his stomach at her words but pushed it down before fixing his features into his patented sneer. "Potter? What do you care what he thinks? This isn't real." He mimicked her gesture.
As the words left his mouth, he acknowledged how sour they tasted on his tongue. This isn't real. The phrase would haunt him for weeks afterwards, especially when he remembered the way Hermione's face fell even further as he uttered it.
"Of course," she replied in a small voice, her gaze dropping to her lap. "It's just," she licked her lips and blinked quickly before continuing. "If I did want to date you, I feel like they should support me." She sniffed and shot him a furtive glance, which he missed because he was busy searching for reason in his own mug of hot chocolate.
What did she mean if she wanted to date him? Of course, that wasn't the issue here; Hermione had made the rules quite clear when they had first agreed to enter in to a fake relationship. But then she was here, in the middle of the night, crying and breaking the second rule…
"…just that Ron and I split on good terms and I am happy for him and Lavender. What I don't understand is how everyone can accept her after everything but when I tell them I'm dating a completely respectable businessman, they're all 'concerned' and 'looking out for me and my best interests' – it's not fair!"
Draco nodded and sipped his hot chocolate, unsure of what exactly she was on about, or how to respond to her. His support, albeit silent, seemed to be what she needed, however, as they both woke to the sound of the Daily Prophet owl early the next morning, tangled together on his couch.
"Let's pretend it never happened, shall we?" Hermione spoke quickly as she gathered her cardigan and walked backwards out of the room.
"Yeah, good plan." He had barely uttered his assent before she slammed the door behind her.
The third rule was broken simultaneously; when, neither one could actually tell, but it all came to a head at the end of month six. It happened in Draco's office, with the door open. They had both agreed, though it wasn't strictly a rule, to keep public arguments to a minimum. It would be odd, they had conceded, for them to never argue, because they had been adversaries for so long, and most of their colleagues had witnessed at least one of their legendary rows.
This one started off as any other; Hermione had gone to see Draco for a report she needed for a case on House Elf welfare. He swore that she had given him the deadline of the following Tuesday, and so he hadn't even started it yet.
"You always do this!"
"What? Fail to meet imaginary deadlines?" Draco replied sarcastically.
"I told you I needed it today!"
"No, your memo said the fifteenth – that's next week!"
Hermione growled. "You're impossible."
This back and forth went on for a while. It was familiar territory, a common scene at the office. That was, until Draco brought up the time Hermione had broken rule number two.
"Well maybe if you stopped snivelling all over my lounge, crying over the Boy Who Lives to Annoy Me, and actually talked to me about work, I would have done it!"
Hermione had paused for a moment, her eyes wide. Draco revelled for less than a second in the glory that was rendering Hermione Granger speechless. His joy quickly melted into chagrin as Hermione's nostrils flared. Her eyes flashed dangerously as she took too long strides towards him and poked a sharp nail right in the centre of his sternum.
"Oi!" He complained.
"First of all," she began in a deadly whisper, "this is not the place, nor the time, to be calling me out on that night. If you wish to discuss it privately," she glanced towards the open office door, noting that Margaret the secretary was busy filing her nails, "then you can come back to my place after work."
"Well just as long as you don't touch me once we're safely inside."
Hermione's eyes narrowed, and her finger dug a little deeper into his chest. Draco winced, but he returned her fiery glare. "I believe you were the one to break the first rule, Malfoy."
They continued on this new path for some time, until…
"Well maybe the rules are stupid!"
"The rules are necessary, you insufferable prat!"
"Why? What purpose do they serve, Hermione? To protect you from actually feeling something for the Big Bad Death Eater?"
A strange feeling burst in her stomach at the sound of her first name falling from his lips, but she forced her mind to concentrate on the argument at hand. "Exactly! They're to protect both of us from getting too involved and ultimately getting hurt."
"Newsflash, Princess. We're both hurt. Now what do you have to say about your precious rules?"
"Well, I didn't mean to hurt you, but I – "
Draco scoffed. "Save it. Take your rules and your relationship and shove them up your – "
"Just what is wrong with you?" Hermione screeched over the top of him. "You agreed to the sodding rules, and now you're telling me it's all my fault because the rules hurt you?"
"No," Draco's eyes flashed, and one large hand wrapped around her wrist. "You hurt me."
"How did I hurt you?" Her arm was slack in his grasp, shock etched upon her features.
"By making me break rule number three." If she had not been standing nearly chest to chest with him, Hermione would not have heard him.
"You broke rule…" she trailed off as understanding settled around her like a warm cloak. "Oh."
"Oh?" His grip loosened and he took a step back. "I confess that I have feelings for you, and you say 'oh'?"
He knew he was being petty. He hadn't meant to say it out loud; hell, he hadn't admitted it to himself, but now that he had, it was completely clear; Draco Malfoy was in love with Hermione Granger.
"Well I'm just shocked, I wasn't expecting – " She stopped abruptly as he raised a hand to cut her off.
"It's fine," he said, his grey eyes swirling with an emotion Hermione had never seen in them before. "I knew what I was getting into."
"But you don't – "
"No, really, I'm okay," he continued. "I don't need your sympathy, or your pity." He was backing out of the office now, while Hermione remained rooted to the spot.
"I think you should – "
"Save it," he bit out as his right hand wrapped around his suit jacket and slung it over his shoulder. "I'm going for a walk."
"You're not going anywhere!" Hermione shouted over his last two words. He stopped abruptly in the door way and looked at her.
"Oh really? And what, pray tell, are you going to do to stop me?"
"Tell you I love you." Her voice was squeaky and an octave too high, but there was no doubting the sincerity of her words.
There was a long pause, in which both Hermione and Draco felt as if everyone in the entire universe stopped what they were doing, to turn and look at them, waiting for the next move.
The brunette witch held her breath when, after what felt like an eternity, Draco took a robotic step towards her, his brow furrowed.
"You love me?"
"I think so," she said, her voice cracking on the last syllable. "I mean, yes. I do." A blush began to bloom on her cheeks and she added as an afterthought; "Love you, that is."
A slow smile spread across his handsome face as he came to stand in front of her. "Really?" She squirmed under his intense gaze but couldn't help the grin that broke across her own features. "What an interesting turn of events."
"Are you done talking yet?" Hermione asked, swiping her tongue over her suddenly parched lips. Draco was looking down at her with a mixture of intrigue and desire swirling in his eyes. "Only, I assume that your journey across the room had a purpose, and I'd rather like for you to hurry up and – "
He cut her off by dipping his head and claiming her lips in his own in one flawless movement. She squeaked in surprise and he swallowed the sound, his strong arms wrapping around her and pulling her flush against him.
Her hands had come to rest on his chest, and she fisted them into the front of his shirt, her nails scratching at the luxurious fabric. They clung to each other, teasing and tasting until neither one could remember how to breathe.
Draco pulled back first and rested his forehead against Hermione's. He grinned as he drank in her expression and placed a quick kiss on the tip of her nose. "I love you, too." He whispered.
Hermione placed her hand over his heart and emitted a gasp of false-shock. "What do you know! He does have a heart!"
"Ha, ha." He rolled his eyes as Hermione giggled with mirth. "Trust you to ruin a perfectly sweet moment."
"Oh, Malfoy," she giggled, "haven't I told you about my relationship rules?" Her eyes shone with mirth as he groaned.