Disclaimer- I do not own Harry Potter© or any of the concepts derived from the book series. The book series is the soul property of J.K. Rowling.
(This was originally the sequel to To Keep It Simple, but all that you really need to know is that Hermione and Draco had a thing at Hogwarts, but after a highly complex chain of events, it was revealed that Pansy had gone apeshit and wanted Hermione lolDEAD. Aside from referencing that, This and Here has nothing to do with To Keep It Simple. DO NOT READ To Keep It Simple. I wrote it 6 years ago. It is stylistically mortifying.)
This and Here
Some would describe Draco as--slender. Others would describe him as--lanky. But how would Draco describe himself? Well, Draco liked to describe himself as--sex. Lean muscle, sculpted chest, chiseled... er... defined abdomen. Yes, he'd suffered years of grueling work outs and training sessions with overzealous fitness gurus to get here, and no, he didn't care if he wasn't being modest about it. Self-centered? Of course. He was a Malfoy.
Approximately nine years after leaving Hogwarts, Draco found himself comparing his biceps in the floor length mirror at the foot of his bed. Yes, his bed in his bedroom in his bachelor pad of love. Perhaps the love part was pushing it because no member of the opposite sex had laid foot in his room since he'd first purchased it a few years back. Other then his mother and the cleaning services.
It wasn't that he hadn't the charm or the finesse or the good looks to bed a woman (he was a Malfoy for fuck's sake). He simply didn't have the time... or the commitment. What he did have was a reputation for being a manslut... or a cold hearted bastard-- depending on which of his latest conquests you asked. He'd had his fair share of women-- a date here, a fuck there—but Draco considered himself a workaholic, and his bedroom was his temple. He'd only ever imagined sharing his bed with two women. One was Anya Ivanov, voted most beautiful Witch by Wizard Weekly back in 2003. The other-- well, the other was perhaps even more elusive than Anya. But it didn't even matter any ways because Draco was very career-oriented. He prided himself in being the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement at the ripe age of 27.
Ahh, but no establishment as respected as the Ministry only produces just one prodigal business professional. Of course, there was another up and coming business leader heading the Department of International Magical Cooperation. Who else other then Hermione Granger? Never had a witch caused so much conflict in the history of the Ministry of Magic—and that was including that oh-so-popular Umbridge woman.
With each time he saw her face on the front page of the Daily Prophet instead of his own-- well, the faster and faster he could see his window of opportunity closing until barely enough light was streaming in to give him hope. Becoming the Minister had been his goal since his first day at work... not quite since the first day, but Gods, if Hermione Granger could do it, then so could he.
Hermione Granger, Merlin, the number she did on him back at Hogwarts...
Draco Malfoy had stumbled into Hermione's train compartment with only one thing on his mind.
"Why?" he asked, dropping into the seat across from her. He let his head fall against the wall of the compartment, tried to hide his fidgeting hands in his pockets. Through the wall, he could hear the whistling of the train as it drifted through the tunnel. She hadnt even looked at him when he walked in. Merlin, she was impossible to understand.
"Draco, I think the question is.. Why not?" she finally replied. Ugh... she must have been expecting him. That would explain how calm she was. Normally at a time like this, she'd be twitching like crazy, playing with her hair, tugging at the loose threads of her sweatshirt. He felt a tug in his stomach, clenching his throat shut. He tried to control his frustration.
"What are you talking about? Hermione-- all I know is that I didn't risk everything for some stupid fling!" he hissed. Ahh--the older, more malicious Draco Malfoy was pushing himself into the conversation. What he said must have stung because she jerked her head away from the window to glare at him.
"Don't even try to pretend that you were the only one risking everything!" she cried out "You and I both know that the reason we got into so much trouble was because Pansy was fucking batshit crazy and wanted to kill me!"
Well, geez, when she put it that way...
"And just so you know, I didn't give up everything for a fling either, but I don't have much of a choice considering the options!" Hermione frantically said.
"Options? What options?" he countered, "I only see one option. We keep seeing each other."
She groaned and shook her head.
"No, not our options. My options, Draco," she sighed.
He hadn't even realized his hands had been tearing apart the insides of his pockets until now. Until the exact moment that she'd blatantly told him off. So this was what it was about then. Her. God, he had been so stupid, thinking that Hermione would be willing to keep giving up a part of herself to this. She was so concerned about her own self-preservation that she had completely given up on him.
"What do you want, Hermione? What does any other wizard have that I don't?" he finally retaliated, not sure what else to say.
"That's just it! It's what they don't have that you do! You're so cocky, you know that? You just assume that people will bend to your whim to fit your little life plan. But I won't Draco!" she shot back. She turned away from him, folding her arms across her chest.
Fine. It wasn't as though there weren't loads of other girls to pick from at Hogwarts. If this was what she wanted, then so be it. He'd had enough of putting himself on the line for her, and whatever, it wasn't like this was real love or anything. Pulling his head away from the compartment wall, he smoothed out the wrinkles in his sleeves and pants and cleared his throat.
"All right," he said coolly.
"What?" she replied, confused.
Yeah, she head right. He was done helping her figure out her problems. He wasn't her fucking therapist. Lifting himself from his seat, he stepped towards her across the aisle, and bent down until his lips were right by her ear.
"Have a good holiday," he sneered, "Give Pothead and Weasel my regards."
She pushed him away just as Harry and Ron burst into the compartment, Chocolate Frogs leaping from their arms. Ron immediately dropped his freshly purchased candies and pulled his wand from his back pocket.
"Don't bother, Weasley," he hissed, "I was just leaving."
And without turning to look at Hermione, he left the compartment.
Gods, within that five minute meeting on the train, he'd somehow broken his own heart under the assumption that he was breaking hers.
Why was he even thinking about this? It was the past, and he was entirely done with it. Done with it. Who the fuck was Hermione Granger?
Ugh. Who the fuck wasn't Hermione Granger...
Draco squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head. He didn't have time for this.
He checked his reflection, adjusted the tie, tugged on the freshly ironed collar and swept a hand through his hair. He never would have imagined actually enjoying wearing Muggle clothing, but after reports began coming in of Wizards and Witches winding up in asylums in the Muggle world for masquerading as "magical beings" in their tacky velvet robes and hats, the Ministry reformed the uniform requirement. Every so often on casual Fridays though, he'd see a rare crushed velvet robe here and there.
He collected his things into his briefcase; his wand, paperwork from the project he'd been working on last night, his quill and a various assortment of other magical knick-knacks, then grabbed his coat from the hanger and swung his front door open.
Oh Merlin, what was she doing here?
"Mother?" he exclaimed.
Hermione had had enough of these motherfucking papers on her motherfucking desk.
Every thirty minutes, she would have to wave her wand, clear up the mess, then make another one. Technically, it wasn't so much her mess as it was the mess of her staff. God, they needed their hand held through every brainless task. She shook her head and scolded herself for being so critical. It really wasn't their fault that she was so much more competent. Ugh, there she went again.
Her pessimism didn't come without a reason. She'd had to claw her way into the Ministry and smash through glass ceilings while still exuding some sort of charisma and solicitude as an advocate for the advancement of magical relations. Scratch that-- THE advocate for the advancement of magical relations. As the head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation, she was constantly having to prove her competence to her superiors. Well, soon enough, she'd be able to stop kissing ass all the time. Sure, she was the most controversial candidate running for the position of the Minister of Magic, but she frankly didn't really give a flying shit. She had projects she wanted to get done, policies she wanted to change. The Ministry hadn't made her very happy these past nine years, but so help her, it would make her very very successful.
Really, only one obstacle stood between her and the Minister position. Her biggest opponent, Draco. She'd only had nice things to say about his campaign to the media, but about him? She'd always refrained from commenting.
The last time they'd been in a similar situation, vying for the same position, had been at Hogwarts. During their 7th and final year, Hermione had passed with the highest marks in each class. She'd received enough N.E.W.T.S to be able to pursue any career possible, McGonagall had said. Well, McGonagall had told that to one other person, and of course, that person was Draco. Since then, their paths had barely strayed from each other. They'd both started working at the Ministry the same year, both were promoted to Head of their respective departments the same year (Granted, Draco was promoted first... but Hermione had known about her promotion earlier), both announced their intentions to run for the position of the Minister of Magic--well, technically, that last one was unavoidable.
So because of all these convergences in their paths, Draco had never really left Hermione's head since Hogwarts. Or so was the excuse she gave herself. She would occasionally see him in passing, have to share a lift with him or walk past him in the atrium, but in the nine years since Hogwarts, she'd never actually spoken to him. Perhaps it was for the best because they hadn't exactly settled their relationship on the best of terms back at Hogwarts. In her defense, she just hadn't been able to handle his cockiness anymore, his need to control every little thing in his life. And even though she'd initiated the break-up, he very easily could have talked her out of it instead of flouncing out of the cart with a 'Have a good holiday', like some stupid line from a Louisa May Alcott novel. Their last year at Hogwarts had been spent in complete ignorance of each other. Sometimes she would see him snogging his new girlfriend, but it was a different girl every month, so it had never bothered her. Bah! Not like it would've bothered her if he'd gone off and gotten married.
She waved her wand and separated the papers on her desk into four separate piles. Now wasn't the time for dwelling on the past. Now was the time to get rid of these fucking papers. She snatched one off the top of one pile, only to have it immediately replaced by a paper from another pile. Oh, fuck it all!
She threw up her arms in surrender and pushed her chair away from her desk. Right now she needed coffee, and she needed it badly.
Draco gagged as his mother floated into his flat. What was this part Veela, part blood-sucking-life-draining-monster doing, touching his things and breathing all over his furniture? He hadn't partaken in any family events ever since leaving the Malfoy Mansion in Wiltshire nine years ago for London. Narcissa glanced at the clothes strewn over the leather armchair and couch and sniffed, turning her nose up. Fascinating. The first thing his mother did after what seemed like ages of separation—patronize his flat.
"Draco, dear, you really should consider cleaning this mess up," she said coolly. He shrugged, then blatantly turned to look at the clock above his kitchen sink, even going so far as to count the numbers loud enough so that his mother could hear.
"Mother, now really isn't a good time to have a friendly chat about Malfoy ethics—" he groaned when he sensed that his mother didn't plan on leaving.
"I'm not here to talk about that," she sharply bit out, clucking her tongue as her eyes roamed across the room again. Geez, now that she wouldn't stop doing it, he couldn't help taking a good look around himself. Good god, what did he pay cleaning services to swing by twice a week for? To get all chummy with his dust bunnies? His flat always managed to look like shit within an hour of them leaving.
"Have you been reading the Daily Prophet lately?" Narcissa asked, raising a brow.
Of course he read the Daily Prophet. Draco could clearly recall yesterday's front page—God awful mud slinging between former Death Eaters and the Ministry of Magic. Oh those little cutie-patootie Death Eaters, back to their old bigoted ways, arguing bloodlines at a time like this. Hermione had sparked controversy within the former Death Eater community after successfully beating a pureblood candidate for the position as the head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation a few years back. For the most part, the Ministry refused to acknowledge the argument because one: they had a very bad history with Death Eaters, storming in all the time and fucking their shit up, and two: Death Eaters weren't exactly the most likable people in the Wizarding community. Of course, they weren't referred to as being former Death Eaters, but God, people could take a hint. Pureblood this, Mudblood that, Voldemort rules! So on and so forth.
Draco's personal opinion? He thought the argument was complete bullocks. He'd given up the entire Death-Eater lineage after deserting the Wiltshire Mansion all those years ago. But judging from the fact that the last time he'd seen his mother had been after his father had gotten arrested... well, it didn't take a genius to figure out why she was back.
"Your father and I--"
"Mother, if you're here to try to coerce me into being a part of some stupid plot to slay mudbloods everywhere, forget it. The door's behind you, you know your way out," he said, drumming his fingers impatiently on the kitchen counter.
She clucked her tongue. Nope, she probably hadn't heard a single word of what he'd just said.
"I know it's been a while since we spoke-- but your father and I believe we know a way to help you bounce ahead in the polls again," she explained. She almost sat down on one of his barstools, but thought better of it and skirted away towards one of the few areas of the room where clothes weren't strewn about the floor.
Wait-- was his mother actually offering to help him? And not in that reverse psychology sort of way.
"With all this controversy raging between... well, old family friends and the Ministry over the bloodlines of potential Ministry candidates, we would prefer if the Malfoy name did not get affiliated with this... mess."
So it was just about his father. Whew, for a second he thought his parents had genuinely started caring for him. Merlin, that would have been so icky.
"We considered our options, and decided that the best alternative would be for you to invest some time in forming a solid relationship with a mud-- with someone of... mixed blood..."
Oh god, and now Draco was just going to stop listening. Was this how they spent his father's visiting hours? Plotting how to use their estranged son in their plot to get Lucius out on parole? Bah... he hated to admit it, but the plot wasn't even that ludicrous. The media would do wonders with a picture of Draco, heir to the pureblood Malfoy name, canoodling with a mixed-blood Brazilian model, especially with the frenzy they were having with the Death Eaters. The public would love it-- their next Minister of Magic, doing away with the greatest age-old rivalry in magic history to bolster the modernization of the Wizarding world. And it wasn't as though he wouldn't mind it, either. But--he really didn't have the time for this.
"Mother, firstly, you spell like liquor. Secondly, I would never even fathom wasting my time doing something as ridiculous as that. Now, you've already made me fifteen minutes late, I'd like to get to work, so you need to leave," Draco urged.
Narcissa sighed and reached into her small crocodile-skin handbag, pulling out the corner of a lace handkerchief. Her eyes were now one thousand times larger than their original alien-squinty-bug-eyed size and her bottom lip was jutted out and quaking like a leaf. Good god his mother had no shame. Draco groaned and threw up his arms in surrender.
"For heaven's sake," he muttered, nursing his forehead in his palm, "I'll do it, I'll do it—but only because I don't want the rest of your face to melt off."
She scoffed and neatly placed the white square of fabric into her purse. Her eyes were all narrow and squinty again.
"Consider it your reinitiation," she said without a hint of emotion.
Draco sneered and opened the door for his mother.
"Oh whoopee, now we can all sit around the dinner table and eat in silence like we used to," he mumbled sarcastically.
There was no way in hell he was going to slut himself out for his parents.
Number one Witch!
Or so it used to read on the side of her coffee mug before Ron, in all his drunken debauchery, crossed out the 'w' with sharpie marker and replaced it with a 'b' to demonstrate how adept he was with muggle tools.
What ever. The rest of her cups still had coffee residue in them and she just hadn't had the time to clean them out. And plus, if she covered the mug just so, the mug only read "Number one", and she was completely fine with that.
When she got to the lounge, nobody was there. Just a steaming pot of freshly brewed coffee waiting to be drank. She could feel the saliva forming at the edge of her mouth.
She poured the dark brown liquid into her mug and watched as the spiral of smoke floated from the surface. Coffee was so... sooo sexy. If she had a choice of how to die—it would either involve drowning in coffee or drinking too much of it. As she opened up a cup of cream, someone else walked into the lounge, nearly bumping the cup out of her hand as they jostled past.
"Morning, Granger," the stranger said as they poured themselves a cup of coffee.
Hermione nodded in reply, keeping her head down as she stirred her beverage.
And oh good lord, her world was crumbling around her.
His hair--his hair was so blonde and straight and perfectly kept and oh god those eyes, those blue eyes with the gray flecks-- ugh, and his nose, the aquiline nose that went perfectly with that angular jaw and... and... AND that smirk, that little vindictive smirk. How could she ever forget that sadistic little smirk? UGH! Why was she ogling him? She turned away immediately as a million thoughts raced through her mind. She'd always known they'd have to meet sooner or later... but like this? She'd hoped to see him at a conference, or some sort of debate, where she could have at least had the pleasure of poking fun at his politics. Instead, she was meeting him for the first time since Hogwarts in a lounge, stirring her coffee like a madwoman with a mug that read "Number one Bitch". If this wasn't irony, she didn't know what was.
And now she'd probably turned this comfortable hesitation into an awkward hesitation. Oh god, she needed to spit something out before he got suspicious--
"—Malfoy," she finally blurted out.
She was not ready to talk to him again.
Draco hadn't planned it at all. He'd gone in for a cup of coffee. And there she was, standing there in a tight pencil skirt and a sleeveless white poofy blouse that did all sorts of magical things to her boobs. Oh and pumps. Those menacing pumps.
Initially, he'd walked right past the lounge, realizing he'd stopped breathing at the sight of her. He didn't want her first memory of him in nine years to be him stumbling into the room with his cheeks cherry red, reeling for air. On his second trip around, he resolved that yes, indeed, he would go talk to her. It was the least he could do, seeing as they'd have to meet at a conference sooner or later, and he'd be doing them both a favor by just getting it out of the way. And oh god, he just wanted to talk to her again.
"Morning, Granger," he managed to wrangle out as he poured himself a cup of coffee. He tried to turn his body as far way from hers as possible so that she wouldn't see the brutal concentration it required to keep his hand from shaking the coffee all over the counter.
He heard the pause, he sensed her roving stare, he suddenly felt very, very nervous. What if she didn't want anything to do with him? It wasn't exactly like she'd made the effort to contact him during all these years. She was probably glaring holes into the side of his head. Probably figuring out ways to slap a harassment suit on him.
"Malfoy," she finally said.
Ahh, no wild accusations or tantrums. He took that as a good thing. He began stirring his coffee, pondering how to start the conversation. The last time they'd spoke had been on the train back to London, and that had ended horribly. Well, on the bright side, the only direction to go after a discussion as godawful as that was... up!
What sorts of things should he even ask her? Was he allowed to ask about her private life or was that taboo? And was that taboo because they were both vying for the same job, or because they'd had sex that one crazy time and then they'd broken up on the train of all shitty places? If only he'd had a normal upbringing, maybe he would know what to talk about in situations like these. God, instead of playing tag or hide and seek like normal children, Draco had spent most of his childhood making his house elves do stupid things to entertain him, like translating the French anthem into German, or counting the number of fisheries on the East coast of Africa. To recap-- Draco's childhood had been the shittiest childhood ever. Thinking about it made him want to call up his mother just to make farty noises into the phone and blame it on the Crabbes.
His mother! How could he have forgotten what his mother had told him? Of course, he'd never actually planned on doing it, but it did give him inspiration. It'd look bloody brilliant if he and Hermione were suddenly chummy-chummy. Maybe it'd up his cool factor with those hippies who were all into Hermione's fight to grant House Elves and gorillas human rights and to loosen the restrictions on certain magical charms. Well, that was stretching it a bit-- but him and Hermione together? That would be front page material. And even though he told himself he hated his parents with every fiber of his being, he sort of had to love them. Or his mother at least, for pushing him out of her womb. Maybe this would help his father get parole.
In the end, though, these were all just excuses for Draco. He needed a reason, any reason, to talk to her again, even if it didn't really make sense to him why he had to.
"So, still single?"
And though the way he chose to engage her in conversation was perhaps the stupidest way he could've chosen to, and though the gorillas Hermione was fighting for could probably have done fifty times better coming up with a discussion topic, what mattered was that he'd made the effort.
Author's Note: 5.31.08
I've just finished rewriting this entire flipping story. There were a lot of stupid things I fixed, like Hermione and Draco running for Minister at 23? Wtf, 23 is still fetus-age. I don't even know if people run for the Minister position, but whatever. I also changed like... the words. And the plot-thing. And... everything else. Hopefully this reads way more impressively than before. If not, well, then consider this: I'm now partially blind from staring at my computer screen for so long, so I hope you reap the bounty of my pain. And if this is your first time reading this-- it's... really good. So keep reading.