All the usual disclaimers. None of these characters belong to me.


One

Harry Potter sighed as he stepped out of the Ministry floos. The traffic in the atrium was thicker than usual but that wasn't out of the ordinary for the end of October. The weeks leading up to December involved a ton of prepping and paperwork. Since the war, the Ministry had taken to shutting down for the entire week of Christmas. Only a skeleton crew of aurors remained on call. Six years out and this would be his first year not stuck walking around with a charmed galleon in his pocket, hoping and praying that he wouldn't be needed. He crossed the crowded atrium and entered the closest lift. It zigged and zagged before finally opening its doors for him on the fifth floor.

Department of Magical Law Enforcement

No matter how long he'd been working here, he'd never become accustomed to the disembodied voice announcing his destination. Harry paused in the open breakroom doorway and poked his head inside. Ron was seated at a table gulping a sobering potion.

"Long night?" he asked, a slight grin in place.

Ron vanished the bottle and trudged behind him as they trekked towards their desks.

"Long night. Rough night. Bloody horrible night."

"Still hoping things will get better now that you're engaged?"

Ron turned by his desk and sighed. "I thought it would make her feel better. Less possessive. It's a big commitment."

"Don't I know?" Harry chuckled. "I still get lectures from Hermione whenever I fuck something up with Ginny. I forgot about Ginny's team banquet last week and you know what that means."

Ron snorted as he dropped into his desk chair. He frowned at the stack of paperwork on his desk. "They went to yoga to," he lifted his hands and curled his fingers in air quotes, "destress."

"More like gripe about me," Harry laughed and rounded his own desk to take a seat.

Ron's expression sobered after a moment and he reached up to tug at his auror robes. "How is Hermione anyway? She hasn't said a word to me since the news broke."

Harry ran a hand through his unruly hair and sighed. "She's fine. She's not jealous of your engagement, if that's what you're getting at."

"Merlin, no!" Ron scoffed. "I wouldn't accuse her of that. She's the one who broke up with me two years ago anyway. I know we weren't right for each other but that article in the Prophet," he shook his head, "it was just cruel."

Harry expression darkened at the mention of the article Rita Skeeter had written. She'd wasted no time in commenting on Ron and Lavender's engagement. She'd also saw fit to drag Hermione's name into the fray. Some goon had apparently followed her into the muggle side of London and snapped a picture of her. They'd caught her eating a Danish and hugging a large bottle of wine to her chest. The caption had read, Forever Single Ex Drowns Sorrows in Pastries and Wine.

"I can't say I disagree. Hermione was rather livid. She didn't want to say anything to you though. You know she still doesn't get on with Lavender. She didn't want to add any fuel to the fire."

"Yeah, but we were friends first," Ron frowned.

Across the room within her office, Hermione pretended not to hear them. Really, she wished she couldn't. Everything just felt amplified this morning.

Harry and Ron's voices dropped and the sound of footsteps could be heard coming down the hall in her direction. Not just any footsteps though. Dragonhide leather and expensive. No doubt paired with a custom suit.

Her breath caught in her throat and she lifted her eyes from her report. Her quill stilled over the parchment, the ink no doubt dripping and she'd have to start again but he looked inside as he approached. She could feel the heat creeping up her neck and over her cheeks when his grey eyes connected with hers.

He'd been the boy who'd first taught her what mudblood meant. He'd been the boy who'd hexed her teeth, by accident mind you, but laughed when they grew out of control. He'd called her names. He'd fought to eradicate her very being.

It made it all the more surprising that the first time he'd accidentally brushed his hand against hers when reaching for the coffee pot in their two departments' joint meeting, despite his polite demeanor, she'd still expected him to jerk away. But he'd not even flinched. Instead, he dropped his hand and gestured for her to go first.

She recalled being seated next to him that same year during a Ministry-wide meeting. He'd removed his briefcase when she'd been ushered down his row and nodded to her politely. They sat next to one another trying their damnedest not to speak when her knee brushed against his thigh as she shifted in her seat. Or when his elbow accidentally brushed the side of her breast when they stood.

She'd still been dating Ron back then and it was clear when they crossed paths at the Yule Gala that he was biting his tongue on remarking about that. But instead he'd been polite and complimentary of her dress.

He'd been dating Astoria Greengrass when she ran into him at a book signing once in Diagon Alley and despite her protests, he'd paid for her signed copy. A small penance, he'd called it. She didn't dare mention it to Ron. Harry heard from Ginny though. She threatened to make him shit pixies if he ever told Ron.

Despite all that, six years since the war and both of their former relationships come and gone, they'd had a few lengthy conversations. The wall between them was slowly beginning to fall. It seemed like they were bumping into one another a lot lately.

Last month he'd offered her an arm when she nearly stepped in a puddle just outside the Ministry. He'd chatted with her about the need for refurbishments and he'd not let go until she was safely past the entrance.

And last week they'd sat together at lunch in the canteen discussing current events. He'd smiled, not smirked, when she made a rather snarky remark about his opinions.

And just last night she'd slept with him.

Draco's nostrils flared when he caught sight of her. She'd ushered him out the door while the alcohol was still coursing through his bloodstream. And he'd let her, waking up in his own bed across town alone.

They'd not been drunk but buzzed enough to know that what they were doing wasn't something they'd have chosen completely sober. However, when he saw her leave after dinner with Potter's wife, something inside him made him throw more money than necessary down for his own meal and follow her out the door.

For whatever reason, she didn't question his presence or stop him from following her to the pub. She didn't balk, well not too much, when he bought her first drink. And her second.

She argued with him about literature and degraded his view of muggle classics. He kissed her so hard that he cut his lip on one of her teeth.

"What are we doing?" she'd asked between kisses as they inched their way inside her flat.

"Whatever you want" had been his reply.

She'd pressed both hands against his chest and stared up at him as she sucked greedy gulps of air into her lungs. A trembling hand had lifted and cupped his jaw, her trim nails tracing his jawline.

"Just once. To satisfy our curiosity."

He'd only been able to nod like an idiot, scared she'd turn him away. He thought she might, too, the moment she saw the blur on his left forearm that used to be a dark mark. Instead, she'd kissed him so hard he saw stars behind his lids and pressed her further into her mattress.

He'd only ever been with Astoria really. He'd snogged his fair share of girls at Hogwarts but the war interrupted any plans for anything else. He'd had no idea what to expect when he finally had this muggleborn witch beneath him, his secret, forbidden fantasy come to life. While demure and well-spoken in her day-to-day life, she was full of breathy sighs and sultry moans in her bed. Her hands touched him everywhere but seemed to prefer digging her fingers into his back.

Such a contrast to the witch he'd once thought loved him. She was a blazing inferno in comparison to the cold-hearted bitch his mother adored.

She asked and he gave. And yet, she made him leave when reality spun back into control and the fog of her orgasm faded.

Draco tried not to stare as he passed her open doorway but their eyes connected in the seconds it took for him to will his feet forward.

She was entirely put together again. Curls managed into a messy bun at the back of her head. Strands he'd had his fingers knotted in just hours before. Her blouse was buttoned but for the last one and he now knew what lay beneath.

His jaw ticked before he dipped his head in a brisk nod and finally looked away.

Hermione released a shuddering breath and melted against her chair. She didn't know why she'd done it. Why she'd allowed him inside her flat. Why she'd allowed him to buy her a drink or to even follow her to the pub.

She didn't sleep with random men. Hell, she'd only ever been with Ron.

But there was something about Draco Malfoy that had always intrigued her. When they were kids, it was the brooding, horrible little boy that she'd been sure was just trained to say the terrible things he said. It was the way she saw him suffering through his own demons during the war. And it was the quiet and seemingly repentant man she'd come to know over the last few years since he joined the Ministry as a barrister.

The funny thing that she'd not been able to stop rehashing was that he'd kissed her like it was something he'd wanted to do for longer than it had taken them to down two drinks together at a pub. He'd touched her like he was savoring the experience.

Her heart pulsed in her chest and she straightened her spine when Harry and Ron appeared in her doorway.

"Morning," Harry greeted with a lopsided smile.

"Alright, Hermione?" Ron asked. He was worried over her and she knew it. She'd not spoken to him at all since the article in the Prophet.

It was then that she knew Draco's attention had been a balm to her frayed nerves and tattered emotions. No matter what Rita Skeeter said, she was desirable. Someone wanted her, even if he only agreed to one night.

She forced a smile and nodded. "Just fine, thanks."


Well, since we're all stuck inside right now I thought I'd drop this. I plan to update about once a week depending on how quickly I write and the reception it receives. Please be kind and drop a review. Above all, remember to be kind to one another. Be a MVP. Stay indoors.