TAGS: Slow Burn | Mutual Pining | Ministry of Magic Employee Hermione Granger | Ministry of Magic Employee Draco Malfoy | cursebreaker Hermione | Investigations | Potions | Angst | Eventual Smut | Harry Potter Epilogue What Epilogue | Spooky House Investigation | Hurt/Comfort | poisons and antidotes | Happy Ending

CHAPTER COUNT: 30 (28 of 30 posted)


AUTHOR NOTE: Thank you for reading! I post to AO3 first and share visuals on Twitter (xdarkofthemoon) and Tumblr (darkofthemoonfic).

There was a time when cruelty had come easily to him. When saying the very worst thing rested at the tip of his tongue, ready to strike without hesitating. There was a time when he reveled in it, smiling smugly after a particularly barbed insult hit its mark. A time when he wouldn't think about it days or even hours later. It was like releasing a breath. There until it was gone.

Now, though, it was like a little piece of Draco Malfoy broke off with each cruel remark. A piece that was a part of him as much as whoever was on the receiving end of his wickedness. It made him quieter. More thoughtful. And particularly more vulnerable if he'd forgotten to occlude that day, which was why, after the glares and stares that followed him most mornings turned into whispered jeers, he was feeling a bit like his old self. Poised to snap at whatever unsuspecting fool crossed his path first.

There had been another write-up in the Prophet. This time about the longterm effects of the cruciatus. Before the Dark Lord's rise and fall it hadn't been studied extensively. Unforgivable curses were unforgivable for a reason. Their use was rare. But now there were willing wizards and witches who had been tortured and wanted to understand why their joints hurt or what was causing their migraines. The article mentioned Longbottom's parents. With a picture of an infant Neville cradled in their arms. Detailed the expense of their neurological damage. At the hands of a witch who bore the same mark as him and shared his blood.

It gave them all a reason to continue to hate him and for him to hate himself. So as he reached his desk that morning he had already run through his long list of failures and misdeeds at least twice. It helped him prepare for the whispers of Should be in Azkaban and Death Eater and perhaps his favorite, You'll get what's coming to you. It was such a thing he would have said as a thirteen year old. Hilariously lazy.

Draco never slouched. Posture was something his father enforced from an early age, rapping his knuckles with his wand if he slumped at the dinner table. Rigid, upright, shoulders back. Chin tilted down in submission when in front of superiors. Nose angled upwards in the presence of those beneath them.

Granger clearly never had such training. Her shoulders, her entire torso, it seemed, was forever hunched over a piece of parchment or curled around a book. When she walked it was usually weighed down by those books. But when she stood defiant, with hands on hips and nose in the air, she was truly in charge. In the halls of the Ministry she vacillated between the two.

Today she had an armful and a half of stacked parchment and books. A quill behind her ear. Spots of ink on her face and hands. Like she didn't notice. Somehow couldn't feel it on her skin.

Most days he would have kept his eyes down and avoided her. Avoided anyone he knew from school. But today wasn't most days, apparently. Sensible shoes, knee-length skirt, lumpy jumper. Hair not as bushy as years past but still wild. She dressed like she was far older than their twenty-one years. As if by appearing to be older she could climb the ranks to Minister faster. She was a junior cursebreaker, so she was often in and out of the offices in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement to consult on various cases.

He knew the sound of her ugly shoes on the wood floor. Could sense her passing his desk. If he looked up, she was always looking somewhere else — at the floor or a piece of parchment in her hand. Not that he had wanted to catch her eye. More often than not she was with Potter or Weasley or both. As if nothing had changed. The golden trio, together forever. Saving the wizarding world one unfair advantage at a time.

Her shoes clacked, accompanied by someone with a loud tread, and then the footsteps stopped close enough that he had to look up to see why. A wizard he didn't recognized was smiling at her, flirting, really, over her stack of books. If he'd been a gentleman he would have offered to help carry them.

"I'm sure you've already read it, but there's a new treatise on werewolf rights and…"

Draco listened to him ramble on, annoyed at the endless chatter taking place in front of his desk. He had work to do, and couldn't this idiot see that she was carrying heavy books and shifting her weight from foot to foot? Obviously she had better places to be. Wasn't interested in this drabble. So he opened his cursed mouth.

"I'm sure she's not only read it but left smudged notes in the margins," he said. "You'll have to think of something else to impress her with. Better luck next time."

"The junior Malfoy, isn't it?" The other wizard said. Granger glanced over at him then back to her companion.

"Sorry, I don't think I know you. Maintenance department?" Fucking stupid retort. Some of the only people worth talking to at the Ministry were in that department. Why had he said it?

"Just as charming as they say. How often has someone broken your nose? I know Hermione here's left you bruised and bloody before but maybe you need a reminder—"

"Charlie," Granger said, and it was the familiar way she said it that made him reassess her companion. The red hair. Fresh burn marks and old scars on his forearms. One of the Weasley brood, clearly. The one who worked with dragons. Older than them by a few years. A Hogwarts quidditch legend.

"Whatever else you have to say, Weasley, I don't care. Take your discussion elsewhere," Draco said, then made a show of flicking his quill and returning to his work. Writing a report on exploding toilets at Royal Albert Hall. The prestige of his job a forever delight.

"Looks like you're busy doing my little brother's paperwork for him. How nice that the department takes pity on the unemployable."

"Do remind me the last time your little brother accomplished anything without riding someone else's coat tails and then we can talk about pity."

"Listen, you arrogant—"

"It's fine, Charlie, we're leaving," she said, shifting the books in her arms. Some of her parchment fell to the floor and the Weasley stooped to collect it. "Don't pay attention to him."

"Don't worry, Hermione, I can handle a smarmy bastard on my own."

"Piss off, Weasley. Plenty of other places in this building for you to flex your muscles to impress whatever witch walks by," Draco said, his quill hovering over the parchment. Leaving little spots of ink he'd have to remove later.

"Unlike some, it doesn't take much effort on my part," Weasley said, crossing his arms. A weak intimidation tactic that made Draco laugh and shake his head. Granger shifted her books again, and he bit the inside of his cheek to refrain from saying something about it. But then she did.

"Honestly, it's like being with a bunch of fourth years," she said, rolling her eyes.

"Granger, you do know they stop giving marks after you leave school. No need to break your back with all those books. Everyone's aware you're the Head Swot without a bunch of props."

He regretted it the instant he saw the flash of hurt on her face. A piece of him fractured off. Studying in the Slytherin common room. Feverishly reading and rereading the passage about grindylows for Professor Lupin's class when Marcus Flint and a few of the other older Slytherins returned from whatever trouble they were causing in the corridors after hours.

Reading again, Draco? Why you think you have to study is beyond me. Can't you just get dear old dad to buy your good marks? He buys you everything else.

"Some of us need books for our jobs, Malfoy. Not everything is for show," she replied, her eyes were narrowed and she made a pointed glance at the pin in his tie. A family heirloom. Some emerald he'd found in the vault, wrapped in silver. Nestled in the dimple of his black silk tie.

And then they were gone. Striding away with the echo of her clacking shoes. One last nasty look from the Weasley over his shoulder.

For several minutes Draco stared at his report, trying to remember his line of thought. All he could hear was the sound of her shoes. The tone of her voice. Just how true that simple statement was.

He sent Theo an owl — Drinks. Diagon 6pm. The first few months after the war, after house arrest and a trial, he couldn't go anywhere even if he wanted to. The tattoo on his forearm prevented it. If he tried, restaurants were booked. Pubs were full. Shops would turn him away, even when he offered to pay double. There were no laws about reform, only suggestions. Most pubs still lacked refinement but they weren't allowed to refuse service anymore. Not that he reported it when he was refused.

When he'd finally finished writing his report a few hours later he cleared his already immaculate desk, sending off memos and moving discarded parchment to the waste basket. He liked to leave his workspace empty at the end of the day. It seemed like a rational thing to do. His presence there was conditional. His job probational. Working for the Ministry had always ranked low on his career aspiration list. For most of his childhood the only thing he wanted to do was play quidditch. At school he developed an aptitude for potions. But no one wanted a former Death Eater as an apprentice. So instead he toiled away, assisting the aurors of the DMLE with the promise that, perhaps someday, he might move up from his lowly paperwork and occasional dark object assessments accompanied by multiple aurors should he be tempted. He'd excelled in trainings — both physical and written. Every year he was required to complete the tests and every year he earned top marks. And yet here he was, in a small desk. With an emerald fucking tie pin.

Not everything is for show.


Theo met him at the corner of Diagon and Knockturn, right outside his flat. He pulled out a gilded pocket watch and shook his head. "Three minutes late. Abysmal."

"You'll recover," Draco replied, keeping his steps quick as they twisted down the street. It was crowded, and he considered suggesting they just go back to Theo's flat with a bottle. But Theo liked to observe the room at the bar. Which of the patrons cast stones at them and which ones avoided them altogether. To him it was all a game. And neither of them ever won.

The Leaky Cauldron was generally off-limits because of the familiar crowd. But the Scroll & Raven on the outskirts of Diagon was usually open to them. The bartender was an old woman named Oona who didn't so much as say hello when they walked in and took their usual seats at the booth furthest from the door.

"How's the slog today?" Theo asked, stretching his arms over the backrest. He tapped his fingers — an old habit his father failed to snuff out — waiting for their drinks to appear.

"Intolerable. Robards still won't give me much to do beyond useless paperwork and filing. It's a fucking joke," Draco said, snatching his glass of Ogden's the moment it arrived. He drained it in a single gulp and signaled to Oona for another. Theo quirked a brow and followed suit.

"Did you get a paper cut?"

"Did I— no?"

"Oh, sorry, just assumed since you're knocking back the firewhiskey like a sixth year that your horrid job filing paperwork must have done something terrible to you," Theo said. He chuckled to himself, forever pleased with his own wit. "My mistake."

"You ever think that it's your company that drives me to drink?"

"I happen to know that you adore my company."

Draco sighed. "Knew I would be better off buying my own bottle and going home."

"Ah, but then you'd have no one to complain to. So what is it?"

The bar was nearly empty but he still glanced around, looking for any familiar faces who might eavesdrop. There was a hag in the corner, sipping gillywater. A few goblins whispering near the door.

"Nothing, really. One of the Weasleys came through my department. Sight of them always ruins my day, you know that." Draco sipped his second drink, warmed by the first.

Not everything is for show.

"Not the fit sister then?" Theo asked. "Shame."

Draco changed the subject. "What misery did you bestow on the world today?"

Theo tapped his fingers against the back of the booth. Drumming from his little finger to his forefinger and back again. "Had a lovely little meeting with some of your auror pals actually."

They'd both grown used to the endless interviews and inspections and "We're just here to follow up" knocks on the door. Three years of it.


"And it appears my dear father has finally admitted to hiding something at the estate. Wanted to know how to access it. Robards and Potter and some quiet wanker I can't remember the name of."

Theo's father was much older than most of their parents. Married three times. Widower two times. Father one time. Theo's mother had died in childbirth. Theodore Nott, Sr., quickly remarried and left his son to be raised by house elves in a separate wing of the estate. While he conducted "business" from the other. Occasionally wandering to Theo's rooms to pick a fight. The day he turned seventeen and came into a large portion of his inheritance, Theo purchased a flat and moved out. The estate became a Death Eater holding after that.

"They want you to help them?" Draco asked. He knew what the house meant for Theo — bruises and hurled curses. Dark magic dripping from the walls. Before the Dark Lord had taken over Malfoy Manor, Theo had spent more time there than his own house. On breaks from Hogwarts they would get into petty bouts of trouble together until Draco's mother had enough. She'd indulge them much longer than his father would.

"I told them everything I know. Not much else I can do for them," Theo replied.

They sipped their drinks and Draco tipped his glass, contemplating the whiskey for a moment. Tilting it back and forth in the cloudy tumbler. "He say what he hid there?"

"Number of things. Experimental potions seemed to be the main entity Robards was concerned about. A few cursed objects they'll want to stabilize. Rare books to take for the Ministry's libraries. Hey," he said, brightening, "do me a favor and let them know I left a couple Muggle magazines under my bed. I'd like them back."

Draco scoffed. "That will be a top priority for Potter, at the very least."

As the hour dwindled they talked about upcoming quidditch matches and the latest gossip from the Greengrass sisters and their other classmates. The ones who still spoke to them, at least. More patrons filtered into the pub. A few taking the energy to narrow their eyes at them. Draco scowled and finished his third drink.

It was always the same face leveled at him. Like at any moment he would declare himself an eternal servant of the Dark Lord, instead of a 21-year-old with a mild drinking problem and growing anxiety. He left a galleon on the table, paying for their drinks and a rather large gratuity. Theo lit up a smoke and Draco let himself enjoy the plumes before they dissipated. He'd never taken up the habit himself but something about the proximity of it soothed him, though he wasn't thrilled at the way the smell clung to his hair and clothes after he'd been around Theo. After a few minutes he waved goodbye and started walking to the apparition point. He had to pass the busier end of Diagon, getting a good look at the crowd at the Leaky Cauldron.

Standing in the shadows beside it was Granger and the older Weasley from earlier. He was having a smoke and she appeared to be lecturing him about it. The door opened and Potter joined them, laughing. The Weasley stubbed the cigarette out in the bricks, then vanished it. For a moment Draco watched him lean closer to Granger, whispering in her ear.

He kept walking until he reached an apothecary that was still open, bought a bottle, then headed to the apparition point. Before he apparated he chugged some pepper up potion. If he splinched himself on a random Tuesday, he'd be really put out.

Part of his probation required him to live near an auror. Someone who could monitor his comings and goings with special wards on his living quarters. Dawlish was middle-aged and clearly hated being reduced to such a task. He mostly left Draco alone. It was a Muggle neighborhood, so he wasn't allowed to apparate directly into his flat. Instead he had to jump to another apparition point and then walk several blocks in the November chill. Stopping at the corner store for a pick and mix. Hands in the pockets of his Muggle pea coat. A tight grip on his wand until he had climbed the stairs, opened his wards, and reset them once the door was locked and he could breathe again.

The flat was small and mostly empty. It seemed useless to have much furniture. It wasn't as if he did any entertaining besides Theo for the occasional drink. He ate his pathetic dinner, poured a glass of firewhiskey, and grimaced. It was barely eight. Occlumency was harder when he'd been drinking. Most nights he couldn't fall asleep until well into the wee hours of the morning. He needed sleep tonight. Needed to turn his brain off entirely. To silence the voices and the stares and the replayed visions of the day the week the month the last five fucking years. Instead of finishing his whiskey he grabbed his last vial of dreamless sleep from the cupboard.

Not everything is for show.

He drained it and let the peppermint flavored potion take him to oblivion.

There were three blissful days without incident. Three days where he'd centered his thoughts and hid his fears and anxieties away behind layers of walls in his mind. Three days of being left alone before he was summoned to the Head Auror's office with a vague note. He made sure his desk was clear before he went.

John Dawlish yawned, covering his mouth with his sleeve. Smacking his lips together. He looked about as bored as a teenaged mandrake. And he startled awake when Head Auror Gawain Robards slapped a folder down onto the table in front of them.

"We want you to lead the investigation of the Nott estate," Robards said. Draco glanced at Dawlish, expecting him to ask questions. When he didn't, Robards cleared his throat, gaining both of their attention. "Malfoy, this is your chance to prove that you can handle being out from behind your desk."

What the fuck? He must have said it aloud because Robards leveled an icy glare at him. "Sorry, sir, just caught off guard. You want me to lead? Not Dawlish?"

"Dawlish has given you quite the glowing review for the last year. Excellent marks on your training aptitude tests and quick reflexes with the field modules. You're consistent with your paperwork and you follow instruction."

That was debatable. "How will this work? Will there be a team or—"

"You're familiar with the Nott family, aren't you?"

"Theo and I grew up together. Our fathers… well, you bloody know they worked together. So yes, you could say I'm familiar."

"We'll need you to get as detailed information on the layout of the estate as you can. Nott Sr. has been cooperative to an extent, but when it comes to the layout of the house he's always vague."

"How so?"

"Oh, he'll say, changes with the day or That depends on who opens the door. We'd rather not have to rely on his information when we can. You're close with his son, that will help the case."

He remembered what Theo had said about it earlier in the week. What his father had divulged. "What exactly am I looking for?"

"Your standard Death Eater menu — dark objects, cursed objects, basilisk in the basement," Dawlish said, laughing at his own stupid joke.

"Right," Draco, flicked his eyes over him with distaste. "Nott Sr. was very skilled with potions. He provided the Dark Lord with anything he needed brewed."

"That's what he has told us, that there are experimental potions somewhere in the estate. He also alluded to something that was to be deployed upon You-Know-Who's death. Do you know about this?"

Draco shook his head. "The Dark Lord always spoke as though he'd live forever."

"Apparently not all of his followers thought that would happen. They wanted to ensure that his…progress continued. We believe this potion to be dangerous to Muggles and Muggleborns, based on what little information we were able to extract from him and our current intelligence."

Extract. With Veritaserum, likely. Though he wasn't sure that the Ministry was above torture, especially for someone convicted on heinous crimes. Nott Sr. had performed the killing curse on more than one occasion. Though he had an appeal within the next year, Draco doubted he would be given a lighter sentence. This bit of cooperation was his last resort.

"You received top marks in potions," Robards said. Draco nodded. "Highest N.E.W.T score we've seen."

There was no way he had a better score than Granger but he did believe that he at least excelled compared to his other classmates.

"Yes, I always had an interest in it. Professor Snape was a good teacher." Slughorn was passable.

"This is why I want you on this case, Malfoy."

"And who else will I be working with? I'm not exactly the favorite in the department." In the country. Perhaps on the entire bloody continent.

"No, you're not." Robards laughed to himself. "You know the rules. No one goes alone; you'll need a partner."

"And who's the lucky Auror?"

"Actually, you'll be paired with a cursebreaker. The likelihood that there are cursed objects throughout the estate is high. There's also the chance that certain rooms themselves are cursed. We want you to be prepared."

One of the Weasleys was a cursebreaker, but he worked for Gringotts. Or he had before the war. There'd been no reason for him to know much about that department beyond their occasional presence on his floor.

"So a lucky cursebreaker then. Who's assigned to me?"

"Believe it or not we had a volunteer. She's a junior cursebreaker but very bright, and Potter says she could have been an Auror herself."

A volunteer because no one else would want to work with him. Brightest witch of her age, likely. There was only one person who fit that description. One person who seemed to put what was right over everything else.

"Granger volunteered?"

Robards glanced at his watch. "She'll arrive any moment and we can go over what we know."

Draco hadn't seen her since Tuesday. When he'd snapped at her. But her words still rattled through his brain. Of course she'd volunteer — as a bonus she got to nanny him. Put him in his metaphorical place.

Right on time, she knocked on the door and Robards let her in.

"I think that's all you need me for," said Dawlish. He gave a lazy wave. "Nice to see you, Miss Granger."

She wore her same practical shoes and dowdy attire. "Auror Robards," she said, tentatively pulling the chair formerly occupied by Dawlish. Sitting at the very edge of it, hands in a nervous bundle on her lap. As if she'd have to flee at any moment. Or answer a question, hand high in the air.

"You two were in the same year at Hogwarts?" Robards made an attempt at smalltalk that neither Draco nor Granger was thrilled about. They both nodded when required and provided basic responses to his questions about their favorite classes and professors. Where they spent their summers. Bloody stupid.

"Right. We don't have much information, but you should both read through the file that we do have. Set up a meeting with your friend Theo. You might want to talk with some of the other Aurors, get some advice."

Draco stared at the folder. Theodore James Nott, Sr., it said in large black letters. Death Eater. High rank, part of You-Know-Who's inner circle. Even the aurors hadn't stopped using his many nicknames instead of the regal one he bestowed upon himself. But it wasn't that detail that snagged his interest. It was the folder itself. Thin. Labeled like he labeled his own paperwork. And he wondered what the folder for Draco Malfoy had written on its front. Draco Lucius Malfoy. Death Eater. Disposable. There would probably only be a single page inside. Pathetic. Listing all the things he was told to do but failed to do. The punishments he'd received. The ones he was ordered to bestow on others.

He looked at Granger out of the corner of his eye. She'd pulled the files from the folder and began to flip through them. Large brown eyes reading quickly. She would devour entire textbooks in the library in a single evening. Leaning in her chair and taking up the nicest table at the back, away from the other study areas. Hoarding the books he needed to write his own essays. Jumping a little in her seat if she noticed him.

"As a precaution, you'll be given a portkey to be used in an emergency. Should there be anything unexpected at the house or if one of you is injured, it will take you straight to the field office in Dover," Robards explained.

Draco nodded. It had been years since he'd been allowed to travel far without permission. Local apparition was about all that anyone on probation was afforded. Granger continued to absorb the information in front of her.

"Your main objective is the retrieval of a potion that Mr. Nott invented," Robards said.

"What do we know about the potion?" Draco asked, knowing the answer from their earlier discussion. He asked instead for his new partner's benefit.

"As he describes it, it's a poison that only affects Muggleborns," Robards flicked his eyes to Granger. "He was not involved in its distribution, so we've been unable to trace it to its source. However, he claims that we can find the potion in his manor. From there we can begin to work on an antidote and get it into the hands of every witch and wizard in Britain."

"You say you're unable to trace its source. That makes it sound as though this potion has already been released, somehow." Granger said, sat rigid in her chair with the folder on her lap.

"And thus the need for expediency. Take the next few days to prepare yourselves but try to move quickly. We've already had a few admissions to St. Mungo's and I'd like to avoid any more," Robards said. He glanced at the clock on his wall. "My apologies but I have another meeting. I'll leave you to discuss and make your plans. If you need me, you know how to reach me."

They all stood and Draco realized what he had to do now just as Granger turned to face him.

"We can go to my office," she said, gathering the contents of the folder and sweeping from the room. He followed her clunky steps to the lifts, leaving some space between them.

"I think it's probably best if we do some research first. And I can talk with Harry about some of his tips for investigating a Death Eater hideout—"

Draco snorted.


"You do realize that I grew up going to most of these Death Eater hideouts and there's really not much Potter can tell you about them that I don't already know."

She held the folder over her chest, arms crossed. "Right. Yes, I suppose you would."

The lift arrived and he held the door as she boarded it. As they rode down to her floor he tried to think of something useful to share but nothing came to mind.

"You're friends with his son?" Granger asked.


"Could you schedule a meeting with him to go over the layout of the house? And anything else he can tell us? I'd rather not have to pull an Auror in for that meeting. Maybe something more casual…I don't want to scare him or—"

"You can't really scare Theo, Granger. He's not some naive sot. Son of a Death Eater, remember?"

She sighed, pushing past him when the lift stopped. He followed her to her cramped office. There were stacks of paper everywhere. Some were weighted down by what he assumed were formerly cursed objects. On one wall was a large calendar with her diary entries listed in blue ink. A small framed portrait of the Golden Trio. A Muggle photograph of her with her parents, at least a decade old. Her teeth were still overly large and hair a tangle.

When she caught him looking at her things she cleared her throat. "Shall we begin then?"

For the next two hours they discussed strategy and he mostly listened while Granger listed the types of curses they might encounter and what books she thought they should review. When someone knocked on her door, wondering why she wasn't in a meeting, she jumped and excused herself. Leaving him in a jumbled daze in the guest chair in her office. He took one last look and returned to his desk, wondering what in the hell he was going to do.

With a few flicks of his wand he sent memos to the Ministry archive requesting some of the books Granger had mentioned and one to Theo, who replied with a lewd drawing of a Veela. The archivist replied that all of those titles had already been requested. So he wrote to his mother to request copies from the Manor's library.

Theo met him at the Scroll & Raven after work, positively gleeful at Draco's assignment.

"Just think, if you don't botch it, you could be an Auror like Potter. Imagine if they made you partners. Personally, I can see it. There's something beneath all that animosity—"

"Shut it," Draco said, rolling his eyes. "This is clearly conditional. And you know I don't want to actually be an Auror."

"Looks like you're not the only Ministry employee in need of a drink this evening," Theo said, nudging his chin to the direction over Draco's shoulder. When he turned and saw her curly hair his stomach turned. Once again she was with Charlie Weasley. Through some subtle investigating and ill-advised eavesdropping on the more gossipy witches in line at the café he'd learned that the elder Weasley brother was assisting the Ministry with some adolescent dragons that had been confiscated from a traveling magizoo. And he was single.

"You do know if anything happens to her they'll blame you," Theo said. It was matter-of-fact. Practical. And accurate.

Across the bar he watched Granger and her new Weasley. Laughing together over pints of butterbeer. Her brown curls cascading down her back. Cheeks pink from the alcohol and the company. Eyes bright.

He wondered when she'd grown so beautiful. Wondered when he'd first realized it. Was it a random day at the Ministry? Or was it further back? Covered in ash and sweat in the Great Hall, grieving and celebrating victory with her friends. Or maybe it was long before that. In a blue dress with Krum on her arm. Or in the steely look in her eyes before she punched him.

With the last swig of his whiskey he swallowed it down.