Disclaimer: Not mine; all JKR's.

Summary: Draco and Hermione are engaged, living together, and still calling each other 'Granger' and 'Malfoy'.

A/N: A random idea that popped into my head because I've always been intriuged by the idea that Hermione and Draco are more likely to address each other by their last names, despite how close they may be. Quite different from my usual writing style because it's more of a story-telling session - the first and last bits at least. Anyhow, R&R please, that would be tremendously encouraging.


Last Name Basis

People wondered why they didn't refer to each other by their first names. Reasonably, first names, or even nicknames, were a way of showing affection. No one questioned why this was so – it just was. No one bothered to think about what affection and love really meant – surely it was not about how two people addressed each other? No one realised that they were affectionate simply because they didn't refer to each other by their first names.

It was a habit, perhaps, and one that was hard to get rid of. After all, they had spent roughly a decade referring to each other by their last names, and it was difficult to suddenly change the way they spoke, even if their characters and outlooks on life had been through a major overhaul. For their character change was a slow, gradual one that began the day that they meant, and lasted for years and years. Even now, ten years into the future, they were still changing because of each other, and because they loved each other.

The way they addressed each other, however, was something completely different. It was a simple midsummer's night when they were having a not-so-romantic dinner at home, when she had brought up this issue. A long discussion had followed, a discussion that we shall follow.

---

"Granger, pass the salad, would you?" Draco asked, gesturing at the salad bowl that sat by Hermione's elbow. She looked at him sharply but made no move to pick up the salad bowl. "Granger! Please, pass the salad over," he repeated, oblivious to the murderous look on her face.

"No," replied Hermione suddenly, jutting her chin out defiantly. "No, I won't."

Draco blinked twice, at a loss for words. "What?" he asked dumbly, before frowning and putting on a look of mild irritation. "Are you all right? Was work really tiring? I know how some of the patients get – they don't understand that being a healer isn't as simple as it –"

Cutting him off abruptly, Hermione said, "And being your girlfriend isn't as easy as it looks, either." When Draco gaped openly at her, she rolled her eyes in annoyance. Didn't he get that this had nothing to do with Hermione's job – she was a healer at St. Mungo's and she loved it. What was the matter, however, was their relationship. "We've been dating for three years, Draco. Three years! We're engaged, for heaven's sake, but no one knows." – she waved her hand in front of his face, the classy diamond ring on her middle finger sparkling expensively – "We're like some secret, underground relationship. Can't you even bother to call me by my first name?"

"I've always called you Granger," replied Draco matter-of-factly. "Even since our first year in Hogwarts. You had no problem then."

"I wasn't your girlfriend then!" snapped Hermione, leaping to her feet. She exhaled sharply, folding her arms and glaring at Draco. "Don't you think our relationship has changed? Don't you think so?" When Draco nodded mutely and got to his feet as well, she continued, "It's almost as if you're ashamed of us, Draco. As if your ashamed with the fact that we're together." Hermione gestured animated at the space between them.

Draco creased his brow. "How could you think that?" he asked quickly. "I'm not ashamed, Granger. And you can't say that it's an underground relationship, either! All our friends know – Blaise knows, Pansy knows, the Weasleys know … even Potter knows! What else do you want me to do, Granger?"

"Call me Hermione!" shouted Hermione in exasperation. "Is that really so difficult? My first name may be two syllables longer, but I'd expect your over-sized brain to be able to handle that!"

Narrowing his eyes at her personal attack, Draco said, not bothering to hide the defensive tone in his voice, "Well, you never call me Draco either. Are you ashamed?"

"I'm not ashamed, I'm a girl! I'm not supposed to make the first move! But with you sitting on your arse and being the complete git that you were in Hogwarts, I'm forced to do something!" Hermione flung her arms up in the air. "We need to fix our relationship!"

Draco grabbed her hands and snapped them down to her sides, stepping so close to her that their noses almost touched. "There is nothing wrong with our relationship – we've been together for three years, we know each other better than we know ourselves, we've been staying together for almost a year with hardly any hiccup, and we're getting married next June. What are you worrying about?" Draco touched his lips to Hermione's forehead gently, hugging her tight. Hermione wrapped her arms around Draco, leaning against his chest and revelling in the security he never failed to give her. "I love you. Remember that, always."

"I know that," Hermione mumbled softly. "But I can't help but wish that we could have what so many other couples have too – pet names and nicknames. I don't know … last names make us seem like such strangers."

Draco pulled apart to look Hermione in the eye. "Do you feel like we're strangers?" he asked incredulously. They knew each other so well that they were able to read each other's minds – well, unless they were quarrelling, in which case they lost all ability for rational thought. But otherwise, they had an unbelievable chemistry and were able to amaze even the most unromantic people they knew (in other words, Ronald Weasley). Draco had changed so much from the arrogant prat he had been – while it was true that he was still a man of power, status and wealth, he no longer used these things to put others down. The only parts of Draco's personality that remained were his biting sarcasm and uncannily Malfoy smirk. As for Hermione, she was still the know-it-all she had always been, except that, with Draco by her side, she was a lot less adamant about rattling off everything she knew like a walking, talking encyclopedia. Because Draco read almost as widely as she did, Hermione was comforted enough to know in her heart that they shared something no one else did. Her bossy nature was also somewhat less annoying – while she still loved organising things, she was more understanding, something she had learnt, strangely enough, from Draco.

After a moment of contemplation, Hermione shook her head. "It's not that I feel so, it's just that I don't want others to think so. I really love you, and I know you really love me, and I don't want any one to suspect that simply because we don't act like we do," she said quietly.

Smiling reassuringly, Draco cupped her small face in his hands. "Why do we need to care what people think? We love each other, and isn't that all that really matters?"

"No!" exclaimed Hermione urgently, her eyes tearing up inexplicably. Not wanting to let Draco see her cry, she turned her back on him and continued, "No, it isn't. Look at Harry and Ginny – they're always holding hands, or hugging, or being all lovey-dovey! They call each other things like 'darling' or 'sweetheart' or 'dear', but never, ever, 'Potter' or 'Weasley'! Why can't we be like that?"

Draco found himself getting angry, and he was upset with himself for getting angry with Hermione over such a trivial matter. "Why would you want to be like that?" he demanded. "Just because they're always all over each other doesn't mean anything! It doesn't mean that they really love each other! I love you; isn't that enough?"

"It's not!" screamed Hermione, spinning round to face him, her cheeks flushed with emotion. "Why can't you just agree to this one thing? I know you love me, but that's not enough! I know how people look at us – my friends always think you don't really love me, and they're always trying to tell me that you're not good enough, even though I know that you are! And your mother; she's never accepted me, even when you announced our engagement! She thinks that I'm just one of your flings! She's waiting – as everyone else is – for us to crumble and break apart. We're not destined to be together, but I want to prove them wrong!"

In a flash, she was engulfed by a suffocating hug as Draco wrapped her trembling form into his arms. She crashed against him, her face burying itself in his chest as she let Draco hug her so tightly she thought they'd begin to melt together to form one. "I want to prove them wrong, too," whispered Draco, and for the first time, Hermione realised that he was holding back tears. His voice was hoarse and raw with emotion as he spoke. "I want to prove them wrong. I can't agree to this because I can't let myself. I can't let myself give up." Draco choked out a few sobs, then regained his composure. "I want to prove that we can be the perfect couple, even if we're simply 'Granger' and 'Malfoy' to each other. I want to show the world that you're special, and I'm special, and we're special – too special for something as common as pet names, Granger."

Hermione looked up at Draco, sniffling in the emotional way she detested. She thought it a display of weakness that insulted the name of all females. But, in Draco's arms, none of that mattered anymore, because he'd be there to help her along, even if she was weak and uncertain. "What?" she asked. "Why?"

Draco smiled warmly at her, his grey eyes sparkling. "Because 'Granger' is the most special name I can call you. All the Slytherins use … that name, which I'd never use again. The Gryffindors call you 'Hermione', and Weasley with his mouth full calls you 'Mione'. People who don't really know you call you 'Miss Granger' or 'Miss Hermione', and that Bulgarian Buffoon calls you 'Herm-own-ninny' or something. I'm the only person who gets to call you 'Granger', see? And I want to be special to you … I don't to simply be like one of the other people," he explained slowly, smiling at her all the while. His sincerity and honesty was clear for all to see, and the fact that he had opened his heart to her and let himself be so vulnerable touched Hermione, and she smiled back.

"That was either very romantic," she said playfully. "Or very rehearsed."

Draco looked mock-hurt. "Do you think I'd be the kind to rehearse something like that?" he asked in indignation.

"No," replied Hermione, grinning widely. "You're too much of an egoistic prat."

---

Which sums up why Hermione and Draco call each other 'Granger' and 'Malfoy'. Just like the rationale behind nicknames and pet names, it's because of affection. Even though they have a rather strange way of showing affection, that's hardly our problem. What matters is that they really do love each other, despite the fact that they were from rival houses, and are from two completely different worlds – in more than one sense.

Does this mean they live happily ever after? Far from it.

---

"Granger, can we not order dinner in today?" Draco asked as Hermione climbed leisurely out of her seat at the verandah. "It's bad for your health."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "I can decide what's bad for my health or not, Malfoy," she replied snappishly. "Right now, I want Butterbeer and fudge! Treacle fudge!" Hermione walked over to Draco and looked him in the eye. "Go out and buy me fudge, Malfoy," she demanded.

Draco got to his feet and pushed Hermione down onto the couch slowly. "No, Granger. Fudge and Butterbeer are both bad for your health. I'll make you a salad."

"No! I don't want salad!" Hermione whined childishly, trying to get up, but was restrained by Draco's hands on her shoulders, holding her down.

Smirking, Draco replied, "Too bad, Granger." Then he took a seat beside her. "I know your tired, and I understand –"

"You don't understand!" exclaimed Hermione. "You will never understand!"

Draco gathered the agitated Hermione into his arms and kissed her forehead. She melted into his embrace, finally letting herself relax after months of being extremely uptight about the littlest of things. "I may not understand," he replied soothingly, "But when you do give birth six months later, I promise to help you take care of our child while you rest."

Hermione pretended to contemplate this for a while, before grinning up at Draco. "You said it, Malfoy. I'm going to hold it against you. Six months down the road, don't complain."

"I won't," Draco whispered into her ear. "I'll want another one."

---

Then again, maybe they did live happily ever after.