Post Hogwarts: A chance encounter with Hermione Granger in a Muggle café leaves Draco Malfoy aching for more. D/Hr with mentions of BW/Hr, H/G, and R/L. Disregards the events of HBP and DH.
Disclaimer: JK Rowling's, not mine. No profits, just good times.
* * * 10 * * *
Draco's lips hummed over the soft skin at the hollow of her hipbone. Pressing a kiss there, he turned his cheek to rest upon the flat of her stomach, looking up the slopes and planes of her body to the dark eyes that watched him drowsily. He liked her best here, naked and sated in his bed, skin pale and luminous in the moonlight that shone through the windows of his flat.
"I'm still waiting for an answer."
"I am still considering my opinion." he replied coolly, glancing up at her and catching the amusement flickering in her eyes.
"One would imagine that someone with your intellect would have formulated an opinion by now."
"One would also imagine that someone with your intellect would appreciate the merits of a well constructed critique."
"It's not that complicated of a book."
"All the same, I mean to dazzle you with my insight."
She huffed and remained silent, fingers coming up to run lazily through his pale hair. Draco quickly lost himself in the soothing sensation of her fingers and the slow rise and fall of her breathing beneath his cheek. He had just begun to drift along into a daydream of seducing Hermione at the library at Hogwarts, when, feeling her stir a bit, he glanced up at her.
"Well?" she said expectantly.
Sigh. Fine then.
"Well. I found it to be a… well… somewhat harrowing psychological exploration of the travails of a lonesome impoverished childhood in Canada."
"You can't be serious."
"I am quite serious."
"Furthermore, I question the skill of the author. It was a bit tedious at times," he went on awkwardly, when she said nothing, "Was I really supposed to accept such a vocabularic range in a mere child?"
"Yes, vocabularic, and honestly, suspension of disbelief can only be stretched so far. I mean really, even you weren't such a Faustian little menace as a child."
"You're completely mad. Did you even read the bloody book?"
"Of course I read it, and I seriously question the appropriateness of such a disquieting memoir in the hands of young impressionable minds."
"You didn't read it."
"You didn't." Hermione chuckled, amusement dancing in her eyes. "I can't believe you. After I suffered through a thousand pages of that awful Ayn Rand and all her moochers and looters and laissez-faire elitist rot, and you couldn't be bloody bothered to read Anne of Green Gables."
"I read two chapters and that was more than enough. Horrid child."
"Anne Shirley is clever and charming!"
"No, you are clever and charming. Anne Shirley is like an experiment in Weasel breeding gone horribly wrong. Annoying hair and always talking talking talking, like some insipid child who's nicked an adult vocabulary and uses it to drone on and on about useless nonsense."
"How tragical." Hermione was outright laughing now.
"Indeed. That book is a testament to the inanity that Potter and his little Weasel friends are breeding and unleashing on the world." Draco crawled up her body, smirking as his lips skimmed over her navel, between her breasts, across her shoulder. Looking right in her eyes, he feigned an expression of concerned disdain, "Merlin. Just think of the abominations you might have spawned if you had actually gotten together and reproduced with Ron Weasley. Or worse, Percy! The absurdity. The horror. The freckles."
She laughed again and swatted at him.
"Did you really hate my book that much?" he questioned, giving her a serious, mournful look that made her smile and touch his cheek gently.
"I didn't really like it very much, but I suppose I didn't hate it. She has an… interesting perspective. Besides, my father rather liked her work and I always respected his opinions."
"And your mother?"
"She loathed her."
"Were all you Grangers such avid readers?" he smirked.
"Very much so. Our house was always full of books."
"Yes I'm picturing it now. Mother and Father Granger with tea and pipe, respectively, seated in elegant armchairs and reading Whitman and Dostoyevsky. And there on the rug by the blazing hearth, is wee little six-year-old you, mad hair strewn all about, and curled up with a giant volume of Proust."
"Oh shut it, Malfoy!" she exclaimed, reaching up to swat him again. He caught her arm and pushed it back onto the bed, pinning her and grinning haughtily.
"Don't deny the truth, Granger, you know exactly how it went." he tsked, bending down to nuzzle her neck, before speaking in a tinny impersonation of a little girl's voice, "Mummy, Daddy, don't you think Odette de Crécy is a metaphor for the belle epoqu-"
"Enough, enough!" she laughed, struggling futilely against his arms, before lying back and pouting at him. "I never read Swann's Way."
He kissed her gently, then rolled to his side, tugging her against him, "They must have been incredibly fond of you."
"Very much so."
"You must miss them terribly."
"Every day. Every hour." She said, smiling sadly. Laying her head back on the pillow, she reached up to run her fingertips over the scruff on his jaw, "Do you?"
"What of me?"
"Do you miss them? Your parents, I mean."
"Some days more than others," he shrugged. "They'd have never functioned well in the world as it is today. They weren't the sort of people who could adapt."
"And you would have had to watch them watch the world they knew being dismantled."
"It would have been unbearable. They'd have floundered. Father would have scoffed at the trade and employment reforms, and dug his heels in until he'd run the business into the ground, and Mother would have spurned the changing social strata and her circle would have completely diminished."
"Still, they were… "
"Still nothing, really." Draco interrupted, his voice flat. "They were not kind people. They were misguided and selfish, and they would have ended up bitter and isolated and likely more hateful than they already were, and that's only if they escaped life in Azkaban or the Kiss. I did love them, Granger, but losing my parents was not the same experience as you losing yours."
He took up a strand of her hair, twisting and untwisting it around his finger as she mulled over his words. After a moment, she looked up at him with her large dark eyes and responded quietly.
"I suppose you're right. And still, I think I was the lucky one."
"Lucky? How so?"
"I mean, it was awful but… well, at least I made it out with my two best friends," she said quietly, a faint flicker of sadness in her eyes as she watched him.
Ah. Of course, he thought as he caught her meaning. He swallowed at the bitter lump that swelled in his throat, surprised at how quickly it rose up, even now. Vince and Greg.
Funny, really, how the thought of them hurt more than the memory of his parents. Like Blaise, he'd known Vince and Greg since he before he could walk, but he'd had different sorts of friendships with them. Blaise had always been something more of an intellectual peer. They'd learned to play chess together, been study partners at Hogwarts, used one another to cut their teeth on philosophical debates. Blaise was more reserved and cautious than Draco's other friends, and those qualities had gotten him through the war unscathed.
Vince and Gregg, on the other hand, had been his chums. They'd spent summers playing pick-up Quidditch, skinning their knees, building forts on his father's land, and getting into all sorts of mischief. When they were very young, they had made fun of girls together, and when they got older, they had chased girls together. The first time Draco ever got pissed off his arse was on a bottle of Ogden's Finest that Vince nicked from Greg's father's stash. They had made one another laugh and helped each other out of a scrape, and understood the pressures and expectations each was under from their families. Greg and Vince had been intensely loyal, sometimes blindly so. Logic, reason, and self-preservation had eventually overruled Draco's loyalty, and in the end, saved his life. His two friends had stayed true to their families and the war had claimed them along with so many others.
Draco often wondered what it would be like if they were still around. Would they have forgiven him for turning? As young men fresh out of school, would they have taken a romp around the Continent? Gone together to Arrows games? Been one another's wingmen when they finessed women at upscale bars? Would they have stood up in each other's weddings and watched their collective children skin knees and team up for games of Quidditch?
Pulling himself from his thoughts, he met Hermione's eyes, knowing that she could discern all this without a word from him. He reached out for her, tugging her up until he could rest his face against her chest. "Yes," he said simply, "you're right. Losing them was worst of all."
She didn't say anything for a while, just lay there against him while he lost himself in the thrum of her heartbeat, the rhythm of her breath, the faint sounds of traffic on the street below.
"Tell me something." he said against her skin.
"A radical shift in conversation, perhaps?"
"Well, if you insist."
"I absolutely demand it." he was smiling now.
"Vocabularic is not a word."
"It most certainly is." He snorted. "Besides that's not a shift, that's a throwback to our earlier discussion. Try again."
"I ran into the twins today when I went out to the market in Diagon."
"Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber? Lovely. How did that go?"
"Rather well, actually. In fact, I, um… invited them for tomorrow night."
Draco groaned and rolled over.
He'd been trying rather hard to avoid the thought of tomorrow night.
He and Hermione had been dating for nearly three months now, and the prolonged estrangement from her friends was the one thorn in their relationship. She tried not to let it show, but he could see how it wore at her, and so had reluctantly agreed when Luna had suggested that, if they would host a dinner party, she would deliver a Weasley.
"I'm sorry." Hermione said, biting her lip and looking at him, worry evident in her dark eyes, "They were so friendly and I was so thrilled to talk to them again, and when they asked what I was up to this weekend, I just responded without thinking. And they're so bloody smart, they cottoned on to the plan with Ron right away and absolutely insisted that they should come and help break the ice and I just couldn't find a way to say no and..."
Tension built in Draco's temples at the thought of forthcoming party, dulling the sound of Hermione's voice as blood seemed to pound through his veins. He was not looking forward to this. Had been dreading it in fact.
Luna's general idea was to begin working on the Weasley clan one at a time, showing them that Hermione was happy and proving to them that Draco wasn't such a bad guy. Of course, they would start with the Weasley over whom Luna could exert the most influence: Ronald.
"… and I figured, after all those two were next on Luna's list of Weasley's-To-Conquer, why not lump them in with Ron?" Hermione rambled on, fidgeting with the edge of the pillowcase, "Plus they are far more likely to just poke fun at us and find everything hilarious, rather than rip our heads off and maybe Ron will go along with it and everything will be alright."
She looked at him with hopeful eyes. Draco rubbed at the tension in his face, then ran his hands through his hair. If he wanted her, he would have to get through this. There was little more to it.
He sighed, reaching up and burying his hands in her wild hair and tilting her head back so he could kiss her deeply.
"Its fine," he murmured against her mouth, "I'll be my charming intelligent self, and provide a generous table of food and wine. What Weasley heart would not be melted?"
She pulled away and cocked an eyebrow at him.
"And of course, do my best to restrain my inner prat."
* * *
Draco Malfoy was such a snotty ferret prat.
The laughter and stories at the table around him faded into the back of Ron's consciousness, and he tried not to glare as Malfoy went into the kitchen to open another bottle of what was surely very expensive wine. The pale git returned to the table with it and refilled everyone's glass, brushing his hand over Hermione's shoulder when she held her glass up for him, and Ron hated the slight blush that warmed her cheeks at Malfoy's touch.
"And when I got home I found George stuck to the bathroom wall with gigantic pieces of sellotape," Katie was saying, her eyes tearing up with laughter, "and both of the boys running around the house, screaming bloody murder as all the little unicorn dolls chased them from room to room. They were both completely covered in glitter and flower petals, and the whole house and both of my sons reeked of perfume for days!"
"Oh and it just gets better!" George choked out, laughing and slapping Fred on the back, as Fred clutched his stomach and shook with silent laughter. Jo and Teddy Nott, friends of Malfoy apparently, were also laughing heartily, as were Luna and Hermione. Malfoy at least had the decency to look amused.
"That's right," Katie went on, smirking at her husband and Fred, "I managed to Petrify the unicorns but I couldn't get George un-sellotaped from the wall, so I floo'ed over to the shop to get Fred, and I found him sellotaped to the floor in the backroom and more of the little unicorn dolls were taking turns prancing up and down his body. He was also covered in flower petals and perfume, and those little dolls had done something to perm his hair!"
"He refused to let us cut it off and walked around with this huge poof of orange curls for a week before the spell wore off." George grinned.
"I think I pulled it off with aplomb." Fred said, winking at Luna and Hermione.
"You looked like a partially shredded carrot." Katie scoffed.
"Hey now, I got three dates that week."
"Obviously women of taste and class." said George, soberly.
"Keepers, right-oh." Fred smiled, putting a hand over his heart.
"And I take it, you plan to put them on shelves soon?" Teddy asked.
"Of course," Fred replied, "Just tinker with the spell strength and change up the marketing a bit. 'Not just the doll of your dreams, girls, but the perfect revenge on insufferable brothers.' A top seller, I'd wager."
"Do you do all your business in Britain or have you expanded out to Europe?" Teddy, inquired, and Ron's attention was drawn away again as Hermione leaned into Malfoy and said something quietly.
Ugh, please don't snog, Ron silently pleaded.
Honestly, he could still hardly believe he was here, sitting across from Draco Malfoy. Having dinner.
Ron picked up his glass and took a healthy drink, wishing it tasted like vinegar and petrol. Of course it didn't. It tasted of dark fruits and smoke, and it was ever so smooth, and really complimented the curry Hermione had put into the main dish, and fuck he hated Malfoy.
Almost enough to ruin his appetite.
Not quite though. Hermione was such a damn good cook. Always had been. He'd really missed going to her place for dinners.
Salad was bloody good, too. Goat's cheese and poached pears. Maybe he should have a bit more.
And perhaps another bit of bread. Mione was doing amazing things with rosemary these days. Ron broke off another piece of bread, and returned to studying the man seated at the other end of the table.
For his part, Malfoy's cool demeanor seemed to be showing cracks, and Ron suspected he was also feeling ill at ease. The blond appeared to be fighting an internal battle not to refer to Ron or the twins as 'Weasel,' as well as to keep himself from outright pawing Hermione in front of all their guests. Malfoy had uncharacteristically stumbled over their names a number of times, managing to spit out 'Weasel…ley' several times before resorting to referring to Ron, George and Fred as 'You.' His efforts to tamp down an obvious compulsion to grope the brunette at his side gave Malfoy the appearance of being twitchy and stiff at the same time. Ron took another bite of his bread and tried not to snicker as Malfoy idly lifted his hand as though to touch Hermione's hair, then caught himself and reached for his wineglass instead, scowling into it like a petulant little girl.
Wanker really should be able to keep his hands to himself in polite company.
Though, if Ron was being honest with himself, he hadn't been free of his own moments of petulance in the last few days.
On Monday, when Luna had first presented him with the invitation to dinner at Hermione's place, he had balked at the idea and gone to their room for a nap. Upon emerging a few hours later, he found Luna finishing up dinner-for-one at the kitchen table. She had dabbed at her mouth with a napkin, and airily informed him that Hermione deserved better from him, and that until he decided to be a more considerate friend, Luna herself would be less than considerate about making meals or sharing her… affections.
Luna had been true to her word, and by the time Thursday rolled around, he had reluctantly agreed to attend dinner on Saturday.
The last twenty-four hours had left Ron a wreck of frazzled nerves and mixed emotions. Last night at dinner, he'd pushed his food around on his plate while drudging up the memory of every nasty thing Draco Malfoy had ever said about his family. He'd soon lost his appetite and gone to bed, where he tossed and turned and tried not to remember the finer details of Malfoy's song writing abilities.
In the morning, he'd stared at his juice and porridge while thinking of how wrong it had felt when Hermione began missing birthday parties and family dinners and holiday festivities in the months after her breakup with Bill.
At midday, he was poking around in the pantry for the makings of a sandwich, when he began to think of that awful summer they had spent holed up in Grimmauld Place with that miserable blond prat. The wanker only ever stopped bitching and complaining long enough to take a stab at tormenting them, Ron grumbled to himself as he angrily cut into a tomato and a hunk of cheese before slapping the sandwich together. He got two bites in before hurling the rest into the rubbish bin and going out on his broom for an hour.
While sipping his afternoon tea, he quietly watched his lovely wife, who was knitting and humming to herself in her favorite armchair. He remembered how, the summer they were eighteen, just after they'd won the war and left Hogwarts, he had confessed to Hermione that Luna Lovegood made him tongue-tied and weak-kneed, and Hermione had swallowed her childhood crush on him and spent the rest of the summer helping him win Luna's affections. At that memory, Ron had set down his tea, gone to his closet to put on a nice jumper and Luna's favorite tweed jacket, and told his wife he'd run out to grab a bottle of wine to take to dinner.
When they arrived at the door to Hermione's flat, he was unable to discern whether the discomfort in his stomach was fear that Harry wouldn't understand why he was here, worry that he would have to watch Hermione and Malfoy snog all night, or just pangs of hunger from his inability to eat food for the past day.
Luckily, when he and Luna had walked through the front door, the first person he saw was Hermione. At the sight of his dear childhood friend, all Ron's nervousness and anxiety was immediately replaced with a knot of affection and guilt at the back of his throat. He'd taken two big steps and engulfed her in a long, tight hug. Pulling away, he'd grasped her by the shoulders and scrunched up his forehead, scrutinizing her face. Hermione had stood there quietly, looking back at him with warmth and worry. For the millionth time, he'd wished he shared Harry's ability to discern every detail about her just from her eyes. Finally, he'd sighed and released her into Luna's warm embrace.
Ron was then immediately engulfed by Fred, George and Katie, all of them laughing and clapping him on the back in their usual enthusiastic greeting.
Then, grinning widely, Fred had stepped aside, swept his arm out and said, "You remember, Draco Malfoy, of course."
Ron hadn't been able to stop himself from stiffening and narrowing his eyes slightly as he caught sight of his childhood nemesis standing further back in Hermione's flat with several unfamiliar people.
Malfoy was much as Ron remembered him. Tall and pale and lean, with cold grey eyes, wearing an expensive charcoal sweater made of Merlin-knows-what, hands shoved casually in the pockets of his trousers, and lips pressed together in a thin, tense line. If compelled to be polite, Ron might say Malfoy wasn't as pointy as he recalled. Maybe angular. Prat.
Malfoy had slowly crossed the room and stopped just in front of Ron, regarding him silently for a moment, before cautiously extending his hand.
Ron wanted slap Malfoy's hand away and kick him in the shin. Instead he set his jaw, and warily shook Malfoy's hand, doing his best to keep a snarl out of his voice.
At that, Luna and Hermione had both seemed to release a collective sigh, and had gracefully separated the two, Hermione tugging Malfoy off to the kitchen to help her get drinks for their guests, while Luna and Ron introduced themselves to Teddy and Jo Nott.
The rest of the evening had progressed relatively smoothly. Ron immediately liked Teddy and Jo, finding them warm and easy to chat with, and they seemed to know Hermione and were kind to her. Fred and George were their usual selves, and Ron was grateful they were there. Whenever the conversation got awkward, or Malfoy slipped on a 'Weasel-ley', or Ron snorted rudely in response to something Malfoy said, the twins lightened things up with stories of mishaps in their lab, the antics of George's boys, or just general nonsense. They also seemed to delight in finding subtle ways to tease Hermione and make her blush, commenting on how she seemed to have acquired a healthy athletic glow, inquiring if she was getting enough sleep lately, or complimenting her on mastering that just-shagged hair style.
Ron didn't much like the implications of those comments, but Hermione seemed to take them in stride. He felt Luna reach over and take his hand. He smiled affectionately at her and tried to tune back into the conversation.
"So we've got catalog circulation pretty broadly across Europe and the States, but you know the shops in Hogsmeade and London and Dublin are all doing swimmingly, so we've really been thinking hard about expanding into Europe." Fred was saying.
"Is that so? Where have you been looking?" Malfoy inquired.
"Larger cities mostly," George replied, "Berlin, Florence, Vienna, Barcelona, Paris."
"I spent a great deal of time abroad in the last few years, and I know the business community in those cities quite well. I could put you in touch with a number of contacts if you get serious about any of those places." Malfoy offered, his voice casual and smooth. "They could be a lot of help with permits, getting good real estate, local magical regulations, etc."
"That could be very helpful. We'll keep it in mind." Fred said, lifting his glass a bit and nodding, "Thanks, Malfoy."
"What were you doing?" Ron found himself saying suddenly.
"Pardon?" Malfoy had immediately stiffened and eyed Ron stonily from across the table.
"What was it you were doing abroad for so long?" Ron clarified, ignoring the way Luna had tightened her grip on his hand, "I mean we didn't hear much about you after the war and all. What were you up to?"
"I stuck around London for a year or so," Malfoy answered slowly, "Getting a handle on the family business. Figuring out how things worked, trimming fat and clearing cobwebs on a few divisions."
"But then you split."
"After a year I had competent leadership installed, and decided to work on reviving some of our offices abroad."
"A bit anxious to get out of London, eh?" Ron pressed, now feeling Luna's fingernails digging into his skin.
"I came back often enough, but yes, if you must know. Quite a few people I knew died in that war, including my parents, so no, I wasn't particularly keen on spending all my time walking down Memory Lane."
"We all lost people in the war. Being in London was difficult for everyone." Ron dismissed, unable to restrain the irritation in his voice, "But it was a time to man up and rebuild. For most of us anyway."
"We did our best to help put funds into those rebuilding projects." Malfoy was sitting back in his chair, his entire body tense, his gaze hard and fixed on Ron.
"Yeah, those charitable contributions are a great tax write-off, aren't they?" Ron shot back, registering Hermione's frown and the movement of her hand to Malfoy's knee.
"We didn't write-off a knut." Malfoy said coldly.
"Not quite the same as getting your hands dirty rebuilding a school or a hospital though, is it?"
"Ronald--." Luna warned quietly, squeezing his hand harder.
"Everyone did what we could back then." Hermione said, her tone soothing, but her expression filled with warning. "There were so many things to be done that required physical AND financial generosity."
"You could also say I suspected any physical presence on my part might be less than welcome. I daresay I was right." Malfoy said, almost sneering at Ron, before taking a breath and turning to Hermione, taking her hand from his knee and clasping it in his own, "Perhaps we should clear the table for dessert?"
"Oh, dessert as well?" Katie asked cheerily and a bit too loudly, as Hermione and Malfoy began picking up plates from the table and taking them into the kitchen, "You do spoil us rotten, Hermione. How I've missed eating dinner here. We should have you both over to dinner soon. The boys would just love to see their Auntie."
Luna dropped Ron's hand, looked at him crossly, and reached over to his side, pinching him hard enough to elicit and silent 'Ow!' Ron knit his brow and shrugged his shoulders, lifting his hands just off his lap and clenching his fingers as he mimed strangling Malfoy. Luna slapped his hands down, and Ron sat back in his chair with a huff.
Jo stood up quickly with a smile, reaching to take up plates as well, "I hope you had a hand in dessert, Draco."
"Do you cook, Malfoy?" George asked with amusement.
"Draco's quite a good cook, actually." Teddy offered, "A fine baker as well."
"I picked up a few useful skills when I was traveling. It's rather a lot like potions, I find."
"Once he made us cannoli," Jo said, "It was heavenly. I'm a fair cook, but I'm wretched at pastries."
"Sorry Jo, no cannoli tonight. I thought baklava and Turkish coffee might be nice." Malfoy called from the kitchen,
"Oh, I love baklava." Katie sighed.
"George can't cook either," Fred said, "Shockingly bad for someone so good at charms and potions."
"This coming from the bloke who makes liver and onions every night." George scoffed.
"Top notch liver and onions. None finer in all of London." Fred declared.
Ron smiled lazily as the twins bickered about who was the worse cook, all the while watching Malfoy and Hermione in the kitchen. Malfoy was leaning back against the counter, rubbing his temples and Hermione stepped close to him, running her hand soothingly along his arm and saying something quietly. Ron didn't miss the softening of Malfoy's expression, or the affection in Hermione's eyes as she brushed her lips against his cheek. Didn't miss it and didn't like it. Didn't like the way it jumbled his thoughts. Didn't like the way it made him feel guilty for not trusting Hermione, and also guilty about being here when he knew how much Harry was against it. He didn't like pissing Luna off and he sure as hell, didn't like the idea of trying to be chummy or even civil to Malfoy after everything. Years and years of everything. Part of him said he should try harder. Part of him said to grab his coat and go. Ron sighed again. For tonight at least, he'd settle for civility and a few pieces of baklava.
* * * * * * * *
Apologies for the wait. This story is completely plotted out and I love it and plan to finish it. Sometimes its just hard to find the time to write. Thanks for sticking with me. Reviews are very encouraging, so please leave one.
*Anne of Green Gables was written by Canadian author L.M. Montgomery. Personally, I'm with Hermione. I adore Anne Shirley.
*The book Hermione refers to is meant to be Atlas Shrugged by Russian-born American author Ayn Rand. Before anyone castigates me, I have nothing against Ayn Rand, though I do think Draco would like her work and Hermione would detest it.
*Swann's Way is the first volume in French author Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time.