How To Marry Hermione Granger
Hermione smothered her cinnamon scone in honey, and took a dainty bite, trying to avoid smearing the sticky substance on her face. She chewed, her mind idly wandering until she noticed his silvery eyes were fixed on her. She swallowed a half chewed lump of scone. "What?" she said thickly.
She reached for her napkin to shield her face from the eyes of everyone in the café. "Is there honey on my face? Why are you staring at me like that?"
He shrugged. "I've been thinking of getting married," he said casually, turning his attention back to his toast.
"Okay, um, I didn't know you were seeing anyone."
"Okay, so, you're planning to marry some witch and you're not even dating her? Malfoy, did your parents forget to have that talk with you?" She loved teasing him. Perhaps it made up for all the times she couldn't without one of them getting checked into the hospital wing.
He didn't respond.
"Right, well, have you asked her yet?" she said, resuming her curious expression.
He smirked. "No."
"Has she given you any indication that she even wants to marry you?"
"Not really, but I'm sure she'll come round."
Hermione frowned. "Okay, Malfoy, who is this witch that you aren't dating, but think you're going to marry? Do you even know her?"
"Of course I do. It's you," Draco said confidently and he indulged the urge to roll his eyes as she nearly choked on her scone. "Please, you can spare me the drama."
Hermione studied him for a moment before letting out a shaky laugh. "That wasn't funny. I thought..."
"You're laughing, but I'm serious."
The mirth in her eyes faded and realization hit her like Hagrid running at full speed. "You're serious?"
He nodded. "S'pose I am."
"Uh, well, don't take this the wrong way," she said, clearing her throat, "but I think you're barking. I clearly can't marry you."
He raised an eyebrow. "Why not?"
"I think it's obvious, Draco."
"Apparently not, Hermione."
He began to count off his fingers. "Look, we're both single, intellectually matched …and, love, you aren't getting any younger," he teased. "And as a bonus, you'd be getting a right fit bloke."
He may as well have called her old and saggy!
"I'm only saying," he continued, "that if I were going to be married to someone, it would be you. I think it could work."
She pushed her plate of scone away, and lowered her voice to a whisper. "You need a reason why you and I can't get married? How about, we aren't even dating for starters!" She sighed. "Technically, we are at the age to be thinking about marriage. And you are a good man…but that doesn't mean anything. This is absurd… I'm sorry Malfoy, the answer is no."
For a moment she thought he hadn't heard her, because he only fiddled with his cuff links and picked invisible lint from his work robes. He finally looked up. "Thank you for letting me down gently, Granger," he drawled. "But now that you've got that out of your system, I want you to really think about it…We'll talk later." And with that he dropped a few coins onto the table and left the tiny café.
He was at least partially right. She was closer to thirty than both Draco and Harry, even if it was only by a few months. And Harry was already married; he and Pansy had been for going on two years now. Hermione still couldn't wrap her brain around the concept of them. But they seemed happy, so she was happy for them.
In a perfect life, she'd planned to be married by twenty-eight, a nice round number—a good place in her life. She was one year and seven months behind schedule, but with no prospects in sight. Marriage was logically the next step. Not to mention that her parents were growing anxious for grandchildren.
Her parents had always thought it would have been Ron, and with good reason. They were together for four years. Just around the time when he finally worked up the nerve to discuss marriage, the Chudley Cannons, his favorite childhood Quidditch team, signed him to play Keeper. She really was happy for him, but when he started staying away for longer and longer periods of time, missed birthdays, and never made an anniversary, she had to tell herself that it was his dream and playing Quidditch made him happy. Two lonely years later, she was still waiting, he had clearly made his choice. When he chose to play for the Chudley Cannons over her, she committed herself to work as well and that was three years ago. She'd never had to think that she might end up with someone other than Ron, and quite frankly it scared her to be so dependent on one person. She was not willing to give her heart over to some unsuspecting bloke who might not treat it as delicately as it deserved.
And now, out of Merlin's wand, came Draco and his most unromantic way of proposing. She reckoned he was attractive, but she didn't love him, at least not like that. Hermione was a logical person, and logic had never presented to her the possibility of a relationship with him. There seemed to be only one explanation; Draco had gone completely barmy.
The door bell rang and Hermione set down her toiletries to answer the door.
"Ginny, I can't believe you're dressed faster—oh my God, Draco?" She tightened her dressing gown around her body, acutely aware of her naked body underneath. "What are you doing here?"
She felt heat rise in her face as his gaze traveled the length of her body and back, his eyes shining playfully. "Hello to you, too, Granger," he drawled, "but I've no time for small talk. Hurry up and get dressed, you'll want to get there early, or we'll be in line all night." He pushed into her flat and looked around.
Ignoring his greeting, she circled in front of him, her bare feet slapping the tile. "I said what are you doing here?"
He sighed. "Weasley said she couldn't make it. I'm going to go in her place. Is that all right?"
"Well of course, but Ginny never said anything—"
"We don't have all night, you know."
"Well, where's Ginny? Why couldn't she come? Why did she not Owl me herself?"
"Do you really want to have this conversation dressed like that? I'm not complaining, I'm only saying…"
Hermione opened her mouth, and then closed it. "Fine, all right. I'll be dressed in a little while. I have some crisps in the cupboard; help yourself. But don't make a mess!" she called from the top of the stairs.
Hermione rubbed her palms against her dress. It was the first time, she realized, that she had been completely alone with Draco outside of a work setting. Usually Harry, Dean, Ginny and Pansy, in some combination, were all around too.
She ignored the sweaty palms and the way Draco lightly touched the small of her back. Instead, she focused on the sight before her. The museum captured centuries of wizarding history within the confines of a single building. She loved visiting the museum not only for the art, but also for the beautiful structure of the building, her favorite parts being the wide, arched windows and polished stone floors, as black as the midnight sea. Ever so often, the museum would present a new piece of art focusing on influential witches and wizards of the past century. Many of them, Hermione noticed, were fallen heroes of the war. The piece that had been unveiled recently was a bronzed statue of Albus Dumbledore and an enchanted creation of Fawkes. The late-afternoon sunlight glanced off Dumbledore's eyes, and for a moment they seemed to twinkle in the light.
Draco made a mental note to buy Ginny something nice for canceling on Hermione. The night the Dumbledore statue had been revealed, Hermione had been visiting her parents and he had been here, along with Harry and Pansy. So tonight, he was free to watch her without distraction, and she looked nervous; he could tell she was nervous because her behavior around him had changed.
She smoothed her hair every other minute and avoided standing too near to him. So he did his best to help her relax by discussing fairly neutral topics. But it didn't help that the dress clung to her body in the most enticing places.
He allowed his imagination to conjure images of her bared skin, his hands hovering over her body like a prayer. And as he paid his reverence, she would gaze at him with lust-filled eyes and beg for his touch. Suddenly, the fantasy Hermione began to talk about Fawkes, the image vanished, forcing him to will his body into submission as he realized the real Hermione actually was talking about Fawkes.
"I can't- I can't believe how life-like Fawkes—oh!" The bird appeared to burst into flame just as she leaned in to touch it. Her words cut off and she jumped back, nearly toppling over, landing clumsily in Draco's arms. She looked up at him and cleared her throat.
"That was…you knew that was going to happen." He only grinned in reply. "You could have warned me, prat."
He playfully stroked his chin. "I could have, but where's the fun in that? Anyway, there was no real threat of danger. I think you rather enjoy playing the damsel. "
It drizzled while they were inside, effectively chilling the already cool April night. Hermione shivered, and crossed her arms over her chest. She glanced sideways at Draco, noticing that he seemed occupied enough watching his shoes splash through the tiny puddles on the pavement.
"You're awfully quiet," said Hermione softly.
He shrugged. "Just thinking."
"About what exactly?"
He took a breath and let it back out slowly. "Right now? About food—would you like to get a bite?"
Her stomach flipped, the evening was beginning to take an awkward turn and she decided not to answer. "You know, you never told me why Ginny didn't come tonight. I suppose I could just Owl her. I'm certain she wouldn't be this elusive. But it would save me loads of trouble if you just told me."
He smirked. "I was dead serious this morning. You said we couldn't get married because we aren't dating. But we do that, don't we? I mean what is that but spending time in the other's company?"
She stopped, her features crinkled. "This isn't a date, Malfoy, and there's more to marriage than 'spending time'." She grabbed his arm and turned him around. "And I suppose you ignored everything else I said?'
"Here we go…"
"No, listen to me. The most important thing between two people who want to spend the rest of their lives with each other is love—"
"You're causing a scene."
"No, I want you to understand. We aren't in love, and this is frustrating because—"
"Let's go talk about—"
"you don't seem to—"
"this some place—"
"Do you see what I mean!" Hands on her hips and cheeks flushed, she looked slightly hysterical.
"A scene, Granger."
She huffed, and looked away. "What are you trying to do, really? Because I don't understand. You can't just decide to marry someone one day. You have to love them, yeah? I mean, this is a lifelong decision— there is a process to these things, and you can't just say you want to marry someone because that person will be the one you will see everyday for the rest of your life. I'm not—I can't be that person, can I?"
Hermione held her breath as Draco seemed to draw in her words. He shoved both hands his trouser pockets and turned to resume walking.
"Somehow," he said quietly, "a street corner doesn't strike me as the proper place to have this conversation. We can talk about it over dinner. I'm starving. I'll even let you choose."
With new determination, Hermione decided that if he was more willing to talk over food, then so be it. She caught stride with him and walked in silence until they stopped at a small place, The Black Cat. She thought it reminded her of The Leaky Cauldron. Without preamble, Hermione called the barmaid over and ordered Fish and Chips and a glass of pumpkin juice. Draco ordered the same, with a butterbeer instead.
The simple meal was prepared in no time, and as soon as the barmaid sashayed away, with much winking and flirting with Draco, Hermione started.
"Talk. What is going on with you?"
"Why do you keep asking me that?"
"Because you're avoiding the question. Straight answer, now!"
"I want to marry you. It's really that simple." His eyes were penetrating, as if he were trying to make her understand something he had not yet said.
"I can't. You know that."
Infuriated, she blinked several times, praying that she wouldn't cry. If he would just—cooperate! He was one of her best friends and she thought he deserved anything he wanted. But he was making a mistake. He just wanted a family. He was lonely, even if he couldn't say it, and she understood that. In the time they had grown close as friends, she had gotten to know things about Draco that she otherwise would not have even imagined. He loved doing things with his friends and being the only two single people in their group, he frequently suggested that the pair of them do things together. He was also more open-minded than even Ron. He was even one of the first to accept Harry and Pansy's relationship, with a non-committal shrug. So as a friend, it was her duty to help him realize what a huge mistake he was making.
"You have to know why I can't, don't you? I mean, beside the fact that we aren't in love, we're from two completely different backgrounds. You're…I'm—I…" She paused and reached out to touch his arm. "You're pureblood and I'm Muggleborn. Marrying someone like me would change the Malfoy line forever—"
"I'm aware of all of that, Granger." He looked bored, like this was somehow a redundant conversation.
"What about your parents, Draco? I like your mum, but it has taken us years to be able to hold a cordial conversation. And your father is…he's come a long way as well, but they would never approve of you marrying a Muggleborn and you know that."
"Moot point. They wouldn't be marrying you, therefore it isn't really their decision to make."
"Are you really going to sit here and say that you don't care what your parents think? That you don't care about centuries' worth of pristine bloodline? I find that very hard to believe, Malfoy; that type of thing is important to your family. So, forgive me if I give a little more thought to this than you seem to have done."
"Granger, I am insulted that you would think that I don't realize what this decision means. I didn't wake up this morning and decide I might marry a Muggleborn. When have you ever known me to jump into anything? So again, what is your point?"
"My point," she continued, "is that you are going to make some witch very happy one day. Of that I'm sure, but it won't be me."
He rolled his head on his neck. "Okay, forget this whole marriage thing for now. May I at least take you out? You know, just a proper dinner—we can even go as friends," he added quickly.
She didn't see anything wrong with that. They were friends, she kept reminding herself, and she had known him just as long as she had known Harry and Ron.
"I said okay, there's no harm in having dinner…your treat."
Draco couldn't recall a time when he had been more nervous. Without doubt, it was the first time he'd been nervous about a date.
But he wanted this woman to be his wife, and eventually the mother of his children. And that made all the difference. He had to show her, convince her somehow that this was a good idea. He wasn't sure why it was such a good idea, but he'd always known marriage was going to be a part of his life. And the thought of being with Hermione somehow lessened the pressure. It was silly, though, actually going through with the prerequisite dating period considering their history, but that seemed to be the rule that she set for him.
He didn't know if there was a label for his feelings for Hermione. He only knew he admired her beauty, and not just because of the way she looked. She was a good person, especially to have forgiven him for his past, even when he hadn't asked for it. But she had, and his fondness began to grow, unchecked, until she was so embedded in his life that he often felt foolish for never having noticed before.
It hadn't always been so clear to him what he felt for her. It came to him very unexpectedly. Their tiny group of friends did everything together and on one evening, Harry pulled out a Muggle board game. As usual, Draco and Hermione ended up paired together, the other couples automatically pairing off. She didn't know how to play, but was excited nonetheless.
They lost the game because she was terrible at games of strategy, but it didn't matter. He had fun because of her. And he realized that was it. He was accomplished, and had made a small fortune for himself, and he was satisfied. But he often felt like he was missing something really important in his life. Oddly, that feeling disappeared whenever she was around; with her, he felt comfortable and happy… happiness felt good, he wanted to feel like that, always.
"Doesn't this feel…I don't know…weird to you?" She sat across from him in one of the most posh restaurants in Dragon Park, a very upscale part of Diagon Alley. Asarai's, an underground restaurant, fascinated Hermione, and her eyes never strayed long from the opaque glass ceiling—which allowed the silver light of the moon and night strollers above to cast flickering shadows over their table. She supposed that no matter what, Draco would always be a spoiled rich boy. She looked around; perhaps that wasn't so bad.
"Oh, well, thanks."
She laughed. "No, I just mean…never mind."
He shrugged a shoulder. "I don't know what the big deal is."
"No, I'm just a little...I don't know. I'm fine." She smiled weakly for proof.
"Well, there's no need to be nervous, if that's the problem. It's only me." He thanked Merlin for his ability to hide his own nerves. "No matter how ravishing I look."
"Please. I hardly noticed."
"Liar," he said as their food arrived.
Liar indeed. He looked handsome. His robes were immaculate and she supposed her heady state was thanks to his cologne, sandalwood. His clean-shaven face held that perpetual smirk that now made her traitorous insides buzz with excitement. She had no idea that upon sight of her in another dress that fit her curves like a second skin, he had been immediately aroused.
She inhaled deeply, and looked up again at the ceiling. "I love this restaurant. I've wanted to come here since it opened," she said absently.
He watched her, and smiled at her words. "It would always be like this with us," he said quietly. "I would deny you nothing, Hermione."
Her eyes snapped back to his and she blushed at the sincerity in his gaze. A lifetime of being showered with the finest gifts, the most extravagant holidays, and all with a man who knew you almost as well as yourself. It sounded almost too good to be true, and yet….
"Do you know what Melvin asked me today?" she asked, suddenly.
"Let's talk about something else. You'll have all day Monday to tell me about Melvin." Draco said, taking a sip of wine without breaking eye contact.
She looked crestfallen, and played with the napkin folded neatly in her lap.
"I don't mean it to be rude, love, but I'm in a swanky restaurant, eating fabulous cuisine with a stunning woman. I'm not the least bit interested in Melvin."
Hermione looked unfazed. "Malfoy, you don't have to use those lines on me." He laughed that rare open laugh that revealed his canines. It was feral and added an edge to his naturally aristocratic face; she thought it suited him.
"Granger, I swear, you're something else," he said.
"What is that supposed to mean?" She lifted her glass and held it delicately between her fingers.
"Nothing. Just that you're so different from any other woman I know. Pansy, for instance."
"Mm, well, I'm not Pansy."
"Thank God," he replied, rolling his eyes.
Hermione laughed and shook her head. "Malfoy, are you speaking ill of Harry's wife?"
"No, I'm sure she's great. But she wouldn't be the woman for me." His tongue darted out to moisten his lips before he took a long draught from his water glass. Hermione looked away, his unspoken words dancing in the air between them.
The rest of dinner went better than either of them expected, and Draco often found himself staring at her hands. He admired her manners and looked on when she would bring the napkin up and press it to the corners of her mouth. Her fingers held the silverware dexterously, and he wondered what it would feel like to have those long graceful fingers sliding over his skin, holding his dick as nimbly as she held her eating utensils.
It came as no surprise to him that by the end of dinner he had to stall their leave, giving him time to force the erection away. He quickly entertained the possibly of her finding out that he had been aroused all during dinner. To know that the mere of sight of food passing her lips had made him as hard as an iron staff. The outcome could not bode well for him…
Hermione decided Apparation with any amount of alcohol would not be safe, and insisted they walk to her flat, and he could Floo from there. They walked in silence, both reveling in their own interpretation of the evening.
"Well, here we are," she said her speech a little slower than usual. "Just have to find my keys…"
Once inside, Hermione kicked off her shoes and carried them to a small closet in the living room. "Thank you for the evening. I had a really good time."
"Well," she said, waving her hand in the direction of the Floo powder. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight," Draco said as she turned and disappeared into the dark hallway.
Hermione went into the bathroom, and pulled the clip from her riotous curls, letting them fall where they may. She waited until she thought he had gone and went back into the living room, not looking as she rounded the corner heading to the kitchen.
"Don't be frightened," he said, startling her despite the warning.
"Oh God, Malfoy? I thought you'd gone! Did you leave something?"
"No, I never left. I thought since we both had a good time that maybe we could talk a little. It's still early."
Her heart had calmed, and she realized he stood in the very spot she'd left him in, his hands in the pockets of his trousers. She studied his demeanor; she had never seen Draco nervous, especially in front of her.
Hermione felt an odd sense of empowerment; perhaps it would help calm her nerves. She idly smoothed the hair from her face. "Well, I was going to make some tea. Would you care for some?"
He smiled. "Absolutely," he said and followed her into the kitchen.
Compared to the kitchen in his childhood home, Draco was very surprised at the size of Hermione's. Even his own estate was significantly more spacious. He wondered if the rest of her flat was as tiny. And then he remembered a very crammed bookshelf in the corner of her living room. He smiled, thinking how delighted she'd be with the size of the library at his home.
Hermione was acutely aware of his eyes following her around the kitchen. She deliberately kept her back turned, looking busy because she didn't really know what to say to him. All evening their conversation had been easy, but this was different. He was in her flat, at night. And what did people talk about at night? She tried to think of what she might say to Harry, but he had never proposed marriage to her, so that lifted a certain amount of pressure.
She had a list of questions a mile long, but maybe they weren't appropriate. So, she went with something safe, such as whether he took milk in his tea. She opened her mouth to speak, but he spoke first.
"Lovely pair of slippers you've got."
She looked down and felt her cheeks redden as the large fuzzy purple bunnies stared back at her. "Oh, purple is my favorite color, and my parents got these for me last Christmas. Uh—do you take milk in your tea?"
She heard him chuckle. "Yes, and plenty of it."
It was well past midnight when Hermione closed the Floo connection in her living room, having just seen Draco off. She sighed; it had been a six-hour evening and it was the drooping of their eyelids that cut the conversation off. She went to bed, saving tomorrow to wonder why she'd agreed to another date with Draco Malfoy.
A yellow shoe box sailed across the room and landed at the foot of her bed. Hermione emerged from behind it, hair wild and face red. She stepped over the pile of boxes, temporarily suppressing the urge to immediately stack them by color once again.
She opened the box and promptly grinned at its contents; old letters between girlfriends, trinkets from Ron, and a scrap of fabric from Viktor's Quidditch uniform. She shuffled through the letters and pulled out a crumpled piece of parchment torn from the pages of Witch Weekly: How To Know When Marriage is for You by Ramona Ballantine.
Hermione read the article and smiled. Ginny had ripped the article from the magazine when rumor spread among them that Ron was going to propose. It gave step-by-step instructions on the road to a successful marriage. At first Hermione laughed, no article could tell her when marriage was right for her, but the more she read, she realized this Ballantine woman had a point. 'Like attracts like,' the article stated, and she nodded, thinking of her parents. Both of them were dentists, born in Suffolk …even Draco's parents fit the mold.
To deny Draco because they were opposites in every sense of the word would be hypocritical and hurtful to their friendship. But the idea of her and Draco simply did not make sense, but Merlin help her if she did not want it to. Hermione swiped at her tear-stained cheeks and heaved a shuddering sigh. She needed to talk to someone. After stacking the boxes neatly back into her closet, she sat down at her desk and began to ink a very vague letter to Harry.
Harry clutched the wrinkled parchment in his hand, watching her pretend as if everything were fine. One thing he had learned in his time with Pansy was that if women acted like things were fine, they usually weren't. Not to mention the few ink smudges on the parchment that could only be identified as tear stains.
"Hermione, please stop this, and tell me what's bothering you."
She startled and looked up at him. He thought she looked fit to burst into tears. Surprisingly, her voice came out calm and steady.
"It's Malfoy," she said.
His brow creased and he blinked several times. "Is he hurt?"
She shook her head.
"Has he…um…hurt you?" he asked, fisting the parchment tightly.
"No," she replied, quietly.
He relaxed in his seat.
"Well, I don't understand—what's the matter?"
She took a deep breath and looked him squarely in the eyes. "Harry, Malfoy has asked me to be his wife," she said flatly.
Hermione frowned impatiently, as she watched Harry's face redden with laughter. "I'm s-sorry Hermione, but—"
"I'm not joking Harry, it's true."
He continued laughing. "Yeah right, Hermione, like Malfoy would ask you…" He let his voice trail off, shaking his head and oblivious to the fierce-looking brunette now standing before him.
"I don't know why you're having a laugh—you married Pansy, so I wouldn't talk!" she shouted at him.
"Oi!" he said, his face falling, "I didn't say anything to deserve that! I only meant, it's Malfoy. I-I didn't expect—I didn't even know you were dating, yet"
Sighing, Hermione sat back down. "I'm sorry. I'm so confused …why is he doing this Harry?"
He shrugged in reply, then said, "What did you tell him, you know, when he asked?"
"I told him no, of course!"
Harry raised an eyebrow. "Hermione, I'm going to ask you something and it may sound a little off, but…do you fancy him?" Then Harry's eyes widened as if he'd just solved a very difficult jigsaw puzzle. "Ah Merlin, do you want to marry him—do you love him?"
"Absolutely no—why would you ask something like that?"
"I don't know, I thought—"
"Well, you thought wrong," she snapped and sipped her now-cold tea.
Harry watched his friend with a strange mixture of pity and hope. "Well, why did you ask me over?"
The talk with Harry was not going as well as she had hoped. He only served to further complicate things. "If I didn't know better, I'd think you were trying to convince me to marry him. We're just so different."
"Are you so different Hermione? Of course, it's obvious about your bloodlines, but other than that? You two read the most books out of anyone I know. You both love getting dressed up and attending those blasted things Pansy is always throwing. You work in the same department."
"That's great Harry, but that's hardly enough reason to marry him."
"Hermione, if you want my advice…I say give the poor sod a chance. I did with Pansy, and now I really can't imagine a day in my life without her. I'm not saying you should make a decision right this moment, but consider it. He's not exactly my best mate, but he's all right, even if he is a bit pointy." He paused when she smiled. Then, "The fact that we're having this conversation at all should tell you something."
"Well, I've got to be off. I promised Pansy I'd take her shopping 'round Dragon Park." He moved to the fireplace and grabbed a handful of Floo powder. "Never tires of spending money, that one. But Hermione, I really hope you listen to what I said. You'll make the right decision, I'm sure of it."
"Hm, well, thanks Harry."
"No, I really think this might be it, Pans. What? Don't look at me like that."
"Oh please, Harry, those two have been dancing around each other for years. I'd not be willing to bet my wardrobe on anything just yet," she replied, watching Harry's reflection remove his trousers in the mirror of her vanity. She picked up a brush and began to slowly pull it through her thick, dark hair. "Though it would be delightful to see Draco settle down. He's nearly thirty…"
Harry sat on the edge of the bed, pulling his glasses off and setting them on the stand.
"What, is there some sort of timeline that he must adhere to in order—"
"Don't be silly, I'm only saying; the older he gets the harder it will be to find a woman of his caliber that isn't taken. Not to mention children—don't roll your eyes! I'm serious!" She moved around to stand directly in front of Harry. "I read in Witches Weekly that older women have a harder time getting pregnant. That would be dreadful…"
"Well," he said, pulling her by the wrist to stand between his legs, and placing a kiss on the center of her belly, "that's something we don't have to worry about. Anyway, they aren't together yet so don't start getting ahead of yourself."
She moved up to him, running her hands through his tangled black hair. "I'm not. I'm just worried about a friend."
"Pansy, don't worry about Malfoy, he always gets what he wants, and listening to Hermione today, I bet he isn't going to have to work very hard." He finished and began running his hands under her gown to touch her bare stomach.
"I hope you're right," she said, before he pulled her to lie beside him and she kissed him, her thoughts of Draco and Hermione quickly forgotten.
Draco and Hermione huddled beneath a tiny shelter in the middle of a Muggle park, the name of which he couldn't be bothered to remember at the time. His hair whipped away from his face by the strong winds and rain.
"Hermione, I'm willing to do many things, but hiking in the rain isn't one of them."
She bit her lip, looking very disheartened. "Oh, shut it. We weren't going to hike—I hate hiking, but there's a beautiful botanical garden on the other side that I wanted to show you. Oh, damn this rain," she said, watching the fat rain drops splashing on the ground.
"Come on, Granger, surely there is something else we can do for the evening. We can see this garden any time. Let's just go to dinner, yeah?"
Hermione frowned and shook her head. "We always go to dinner…"
"Well we have to eat, and there's not much we can do while it's raining in torrents out here."
"Oh, I suppose you're right." She finally looked up at him, her eyes suddenly luminous. "I could cook for you. We don't have to go to the same old restaurants."
"You can cook?" Draco blurted, quickly trying to remember a time when he might have tasted food prepared by human hands.
"Well, I'm no master chef, but how else do you suppose I've managed not to starve? Hm, what do you like?" she asked already in the planning stages of the meal.
A sensation, not quite unpleasant, sent a thrill through his chest. It seemed very personal, I could cook for you. No girlfriend had ever offered to do so much as to fix him a drink. And Hermione wanted to cook for him. He bit back a grin and looked over at her.
"Well, I'll bring the wine, and you can surprise me."
Hermione smiled up at him and nodded. "Okay."
"Draco could you stir that, please?"
He took the wooden spoon she handed to him and began slowly stirring what looked to be a thick brown potion. "What is this?" he asked, the aroma causing his mouth to water.
She grinned, "Oh, it's gravy, it's usually made from the juices from the roast meat, but from a packet is quicker."
He set down the spoon to lean against the counter next to Hermione.
"What is that you're doing there?"
"This?" she said. "Slicing carrots. Would you like to try it?"
Draco held up a hand, eyeing the knife in her fist. "Oh, no. You're doing so well, I'm sure I'd cock it all up."
She shrugged and finished up with the carrots and moved on to potatoes, cutting them differently, "peeling" she had called it.
"Couldn't you do this with magic?" Draco nicked a carrot slice when she wasn't looking
"Of course I could, but it isn't the same…and somehow, I'm terrible with cooking charms."
Draco smiled, but still found it hard to believe that Hermione Granger could be bad with any type of magic.
She had pulled her mass of hair up in a messy bun on the top of her head, still wearing the white sleeveless tee-shirt and a khaki skirt. A little of the pale pink strap of her bra was visible as it slipped on her shoulder. He felt drawn to her, and suddenly he was standing behind her, his body scant inches from hers.
Over her shoulder he saw that she was cutting the potatoes into big square chunks and setting them aside.
"Whatever you're doing now, I want to learn," he whispered in her ear. She jumped, dropped the knife on the cutting board, and tried to turn around.
"No," he said, reaching forward, his body now flush against hers. He picked up the knife. "I want you to teach me. Show me what to do."
"H-Hold the knife like this." Hermione adjusted the position of his hand on the knife, but left hers covering it.
He allowed her to guide his hand and together they prepared a simple meal of roast beef and carrots with roasted potatoes and a simple red wine. They shared the last slice of a delicious chocolate cake that Mrs. Weasley had baked.
He was in the living room, fiddling with something Hermione explained was a 'remote control,' when he noticed her standing in front of him, holding the unfinished bottle of wine and two new glasses.
"Follow me," she said simply.
"Where are we going?" Draco asked, but stood to follow anyway.
She led him up the narrow staircase, down a hall and into a neat little room.
"Is this your bedroom?" he asked, a bit too cheerfully.
"Absolutely not," she replied with a smile. "I didn't bring you up here for the bedroom anyway. Here, hold these."
She unlatched the casement window and pushed the two halves wide. He thought he saw her blush as she lifted her leg to step out on the rooftop, clutching the hem of her skirt.
"Now hand me those," she said, as she smoothed the garment. "And now you come through."
The rain had stopped, leaving behind the strong smell of wet grass and the rooftop provided a perfect view of the stars. Hermione lived so close to the lights of Diagon Alley, Draco hardly thought a view like this one possible from there.
"I know this is probably nothing compared to your view from your house in Wiltshire, but this is one of my favorite places to come and think."
"I've actually never noticed the stars at home. I find it rather lonely-- no one to share the view with, you know?" he asked, shifting his eyes to meet her gaze. She looked pretty, staring wide-eyed back at him. Her hair was still piled atop her head but a few tendrils had escaped the tie and now framed her face.
She nodded and sipped her wine. Draco's heart raced just a little as he continued to watch her. To his dismay, she flicked her tongue out to taste the bit of red liquid clinging to her bottom lip. His cock twitched and he looked away. Hopefully she wouldn't notice…
"Dinner was bloody fantastic." He would have said anything to get his mind off the throbbing in his trousers. "Where did you ever learn to cook?"
"Always the tone of surprise," she teased, "but thanks. My father actually…he's a wonderful cook."
For as long as he and Hermione had been co-workers and friends even longer, he realized that he'd never asked about her home life. In fact, he avoided anything that could lead to discussion of their past if he could preferring to forget it had ever happened rather than to rehash ancient feelings.
"What are you doing for lunch tomorrow?" he blurted.
"Draco, we have work tomorrow." She turned to him and quirked an eyebrow.
"Yes," he said, absently reaching over to slip the strap of her bra back into place, "but you get as long as you want for lunch, so don't make any plans."
"What about Harry?"
"I'm almost certain he will understand."
She bit her lip and quickly thought of Harry; the three of them usually had lunch together unless something work related came up…or Pansy.
"Granger, don't do that." He sounded rather like his father, a little sterner than he meant.
"Over-analyze everything. I've known you for seventeen years, Granger—"
"I'm not, I was just—"
"Bollocks, there's nothing to think about. Are you joining me for lunch or not?" he said, the muscle in his jaw jumping.
Fully expecting her to turn him down, Draco's eyes darted up to meet hers and he smiled.
The air outside had grown cooler and he noticed Hermione shiver. Silently swearing that he hadn't even brought a light cloak that he could summon, he scooted behind Hermione and wrapped her body in his.
All at once, his senses were bombarded. Her smell was intoxicating: citrus and a very fragrant soap. She sighed, letting the weight of her body settled into his embrace.
"Mm," she hummed, "You're so warm. I could fall asleep."
Merlin, help him, she felt good. Even through the sleeves of his oxford, he could sense the velvety texture of her skin. Her lightly frizzed curls tickled his chin, and gently he pulled her hair to one side. He looked down, and caught his lip between his teeth. The smooth expanse of her neck and chest were exposed. The neckline of her tee shirt was low enough to reveal a generous amount of cleavage. His fingertips tingled as he raised his hand to stroke the skin at her collar.
His fingers summoned hundreds of tiny goosebumps on her flesh as he traced every dip and curve of her throat. Such perfect skin. Perfect, pouty lips. If only she'd let him…
Using his index finger to tilt her chin up, he leaned forward, never taking his eyes from hers. Just as his lips were less than a breath away, he stopped, waiting. He needed permission, needed to know that she wanted this as much as he did. He could feel the tiny puffs of air against his mouth. She still smelled like chocolate cake mixed with wine.
"Kiss me…" she whispered, her forehead creasing with her urgent request.
Then, they were kissing. Slow and tentative at first, he nipped at her bottom lip and she would elicit tiny moans. She slid her hand up and around his neck, running her fingers through the hair at his nape. He tightened his grip with the hand draped around her waist, effectively pulling her closer.
She was returning his kiss with equal fervor, sucking and digging her fingers into his flesh. She leaned back against the rough tiles, pulling him along with her. The heat of her mouth, the sliding of her tongue over his, was easily the most arousing thing he'd ever experienced. Langorously, he kissed back, wanting to stretch this moment for as long as he could go without air.
Suddenly, Hermione pulled away with a loud smack. "Draco," she said, breathlessly. "Draco, we have to stop."
His mouth still humming with the memory of her lips, Draco stared back dazedly. "What?"
He couldn't understand why she'd stopped. Had he done something wrong? It didn't feel wrong, he thought, as he stared at her mouth, still red from their heavy kissing.
She sat up, pushing him away as she did. "Will you answer one question for me?"
"Anything." His voice was a little to raspy for his liking, so he cleared his throat. "What is it?" Better.
He groaned. "You really know how to ruin the moment—"
"No, Draco," she said, sitting up straighter. "I'm serious. I really need to know if—"
He ran a hand through his hair and sighed. She continued to stare up at him, her eyes curiously searching his.
"I don't know, Granger. What do you want me to say?"
"The truth. Just be honest. You say you want me to marry you, but you can't even talk about it? Very mature," she said cocking her head to one side.
"Mature? What about you, one minute your kissing me like there is no tomorrow, the next you're back to hiding behind your feelings with your incessant questions. So who, between us, is being immature here, huh?
She turned around completely now, facing him. "Don't turn this on me! Just answer the bloody question!"
He exhaled loudly through his nose. "Fuck, Granger I don't know. I-I just want it to be you. There's no one else—"
"So, you're asking out of convenience, then?" She held up a hand when he opened his mouth to speak. "No, it's clear now. I'm all that's left," she concluded, failing miserably to hide the hurt in her voice. "If that's the case, Malfoy, I'd rather be alone forever than marry you."
This was not the reaction he'd hoped for after snogging her with everything he had. He searched his mind frantically to string together the right words.
"That's not what I meant," he began, but was again cut off.
"I don't want to hear it. Just leave." She wouldn't even look at him.
"Can you just let me talk? That's not—"
Tears were welling up in her eyes as she began shaking her head. "No—I don't want to hear it. Leave. Leave now!"
"Shut up!" he shouted at her and grabbed her wrists. His grip was strong, but not enough to leave bruises. "Let me say something!"
"Draco, if you don't get out now, I'm turning you in to Law Enforcement. And let me go!" She wrenched her hands free and shoved him in the chest with both fists. Tears were falling, unchecked.
Draco got up and scrambled towards the open window. "Hermione—" he tried, but she just turned her head.
"Fuck!" he yelled, and she flinched as he hurled his glass. It shattered against the trunk of an old, unsuspecting tree.
It had been three days.
All of his Owls had been returned unopened and he'd been blocked from Flooing her. He chucked the returned Owl post into the rubbish bin, which was now overflowing. At this point, Voldemort probably held a better chance at getting Hermione to talk to him.
"Draco?" A woman's voice called out. He had almost been excited. But, there was no way Hermione would be coming to see him. Not unless it was to hex him.
Damned house elf, the front door might as well be left wide open if he were going to let everyone in.
"Draco!" the voice called again. Blast. It was Pansy. He'd recognize that whinge anywhere. He hastily cleared his desk and raked a hand through his hair, mumbling something about useless elves.
She jiggled the doorknob, resolving to use an unlocking charm.
"Oh God, Draco. It reeks in here!" she said crinkling her nose and stuffing her wand back into her handbag.
"Please then, feel free to leave my bedroom," he replied making no move to offer her a seat. Pregnant lady or not, he didn't want her there.
"Nonsense. Now what's all this I hear about you missing work for three days?"
"Gosh Mum, I didn't know I had to report my every move to you." He shuffled over to the bureau to pour drink He tipped the bottle until it was completely upside down, resulting in nothing but a lone drop clinging to the rim.
"It's not like you to be so melodramatic. Why don't you just talk to her?"
"Pansy, you are a ruddy genius, I don't know why I hadn't thought of that!" She looked hurt at the bite in his tone. Good. "Anyway, I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about."
She laughed. Though Draco had schooled his features to read as annoyed, she had known him since before Hogwarts. Draco was most bothered when he drank anything stronger than red wine. And by the looks of things he'd polished off a full bottle of firewhiskey in three days, maybe sooner.
"Whatever, you don't fool me. Sweetheart, you need to tell her everything. Harry told me about the proposal. You are so in love with her—no, you are! She deserves the truth, talk to her. I know you probably chose her because she's not like any other witch you've met and all that, but really, she is. She's a woman, and as foolish as romance sounds to you, she wants that. You owe her that."
She reached up to touch his face.
"Oh, you need to shave. But really, stop sulking, clean yourself up,go to work and talk to her," she said. "Now, I'd love to stay with you—really I would, but I have a hair appointment. Harry's taking me out tonight! Goodbye, darling…and get that sorry elf to clean up around here."
As much as he hated to admit it, Pansy was absolutely right.
He'd always assumed he'd never be one of those wretched men that followed their women around like lovesick pups. Yet, much to his chagrin, he'd done just that. He looked down at his clothes; he'd been wearing the same sleeping trousers for three days. But Pansy put it best. He loved Hermione, and suddenly, he felt he needed to share that realisation with her. She needed to know.
Her office door was closed. She never closed the door unless she was in a meeting or just didn't want to be disturbed.
He knocked, feeling a bit foolish for having to do so, and nervously shifted the colorful bouquet of flowers.
A laugh that was distinctly Hermione's carried through the wooden door. At least she was in a good mood. "Come in!" she said, still giggling.
He turned the handle and entered. Melvin and Hermione looked up at him, and Hermione jumped to her feet, pushing Melvin from his seat on the edge of her desk.
"Draco!" She said it a bit too cheerfully.
"Hello, Mr. Malfoy," Melvin said
"So sorry for interrupting," Draco said tersely. "I'll just be leaving."
Hermione opened her mouth, but Melvin spoke up first. "No actually, I was just about to leave. You come in." He stood and touched Hermione on the shoulder, lowering his voice. "So I'll see you this evening?"
What a fool he'd been. Even his pitiful flowers sagged a bit.
"Yes," she replied and smiled, darting a nervous glance in Draco's direction. He felt a bit of satisfaction at her uneasiness. Served her right.
Once Melvin had gone, Draco remained quiet and stood rather stiffly. What did you say to someone after realizing you'd been replaced?
"I wish you had Owled me before stopping by," she said.
"I've been Owling you for three bloody days. You sent them all back, unopened." He ground the last word out through clenched teeth.
"Hm, I suppose you're right. Did you need something?" How could she be so flippant? He was practically spitting with anger, and she stood before him with as much concern as a toddler might have.
"Yes—I came to apologise. And I need to talk to you about something really important. Could we go somewhere?"
In a strange way, he knew it would come to this. He couldn't readily believe she wanted to date Melvin, of all people. The old History of Magic professor at Hogwarts had had more personality. The pathetic bouquet in his hand rustled as he awaited her response.
"Granger, I'm only asking once…"
That seemed to settle it, for she placed her hands, palms down, on the desktop and looked him straight in the eye.
"Malfoy, the crux of it is you and I cannot function as a couple. You're so stubborn. You couldn't even give me a straight answer… we argue—"
"Everyone does. Relationships aren't always harmonious, and—"
She exhaled sharply through her nose. "Malfoy, look what dating has done to us. Think what it would do to our friendship!" she said, throwing up a hand. "Can we just forget this whole mess? I just want my friend back."
Maybe she was right and Pansy was wrong. Surely love couldn't possibly hurt this much. He'd thought love would be like Harry and Pansy. The way Pansy always cooed at Harry, and the way they were always disappearing, only to return nearly an hour later and grinning like idiots in love. Pansy had made it seem like telling her would be the solution to his pitiful existence. But it seemed she was wrong. Maybe Harry and Pansy was a fluke and love like that didn't exist for him. Absently, he lifted a hand and massaged an area of his chest suspiciously near his heart. He was better off never having loved her at all…
"Fine," he said, gesturing listlessly. "But before I go I'd like to say what I've been trying to tell you for nearly a week." He took a step back.
"I said there was no one else. I meant it." She crossed her arms defensively, but he forged ahead. He'd been silenced far too long.
"There is no one else because I love you. I know that because—the way you make me feel, I've never felt that before. And, apparently I'm not the most romantic bloke around, but I would have done anything…whatever you wanted if it would have made you happy. I would have spent my life trying.…" Though he tried to cover it, his voice cracked, and her arms had unfolded to hang limply at her sides. "I just—I just didn't know how to say it. I couldn't, though I wanted to—a million times. So I tried to show you—but you wouldn't even let me show it. You—" He felt a sting prickling his eyelids and rolled his eyes. He would not cry like some sniveling Hufflepuff! Colour had risen high on his cheeks and he fought the urge to swipe his eyes.
"Shit…I guess none of that matters now. You've made your decision." He turned towards the door, his eye on the rubbish bin as he approached it.
For one fleeting moment he thought she might be close enough to touch him. When she said nothing, he turned his head just enough to see that she'd sat down and had not intended to say anything more.
He tossed the flowers into the bin and left without a backwards glance.
He thought he might move someplace where perhaps the weather did not mock his mood. Thunder crashed, and the flash of lightning showcased the violently swaying branches on the trees.
Grumbling, he turned back to his dinner of stale bread, pitifully wilted salad, and some meat that didn't remotely resemble the dinner Hermione had cooked for him. He swore it was the last time he tried anything the Muggle way. Chores were what elves were for.
"Sir?" The tiny elf was terrified to interrupt his brooding Master, but this was important.
"What now, Dain?" Draco said around a mouthful of bread.
"A visitor to see Master Draco," Dain said. Draco turned to see the elf's forehead pressed firmly to the floor in a deep genuflect. He wiped his mouth and stood up, resisting the urge to kick the elf as he stalked by.
"Haven't I told you about letting just anyone into my house? Clean this mess or it will be clothes for you!" The little elf yelped and hastily began clearing away dishes.
Draco entered the foyer, expecting to see Pansy's snooty expression, but stopped dead when he discovered Hermione's soaked and shivering body pressed against his front door. Perversely, he noticed the way her shirt clung to her breasts, the cool air already hardening her nipples.
"What the hell?" He stripped off his oxford shirt, popping buttons in the process. He could buy another, he thought as he draped it over her shoulders.
"I-I didn't want to ruin your floors," she said, looking up at him.
"Nonsense," said Draco, guiding her towards the living room. He then called for the Dain, ordering him to bring her something warm and dry to wear, and a hot drink. Once she had changed and she gripped the cup in two hands, he finally remembered his anger. That she supposedly had a date with Melvin…
"What do you want?" His voice was cold, but it was better than breaking into tears again.
"I didn't go to Melvin's," she whispered. Her eyes were fixed on the liquid in her cup, watching the ripples on the surface as it moved in her hands.
"Obviously. I meant, why are you here, all wet, and especially when you have a wand. Or are you getting so daft in your old age that you didn't remember to use it?"
She shot him annoyed look, but he didn't care. Why was she there at all?
"I felt so stupid when you were telling me all those things today," she began quietly. He was so stunned that he blinked a few times to process her confession.
She went on. "When you were saying those things, I was so wrong about you and your reasoning for everything…and I'm very sorry." She wiped her eyes. He couldn't tell if she were crying or just wiping rain water off of her face. He suspected the former. Hesitantly, he moved to sit next to her.
"Yeah, you were wrong, but so was I. Maybe shouldn't have been so presumptuous of you. I thought—automatically that you felt the same way. All the time we've spent around each other, I guess for me meant something entirely different. I fell in love with you. But I think," he said rubbing his palms together, "I rather like your suggestion. We're much better off as mates, yeah?"
Hermione set her cup and saucer down on the table. When she spoke, her voice was much more confident than her shaky apology. "I do hope you don't really feel that way. Because I came here tonight to clear some things up. After you left today, Melvin came back."
Upon hearing that name, Draco clenched his jaw, but wisely remained silent while she spoke.
"Weeks ago," she went on, "I tried to tell you. Melvin wanted to pay me to tutor his daughter in Transfiguration." Draco whipped his head around, a bewildered expression on his face. "Yes. Melvin is married and has no interest whatsoever in me, romantically. But, when he came back he said he'd heard everything you said, and he practically scolded me for letting you just leave like that."
He raised an eyebrow, not quite believing the turn that his evening was taking. "So," he began slowly. "What are you saying?" He dared not breathe, in case she whispered the words and he might miss them.
"I'm saying that even though we do argue, and we're nothing alike, and your parents—they'll hate me for sure…"
Draco rolled his eyes. "Rubbish, my parents don't hate you," he said, dismissing her fears. "And yes, we will argue. But there will never be a dull moment." He nudged her. "Frankly, I can't wait for the make-up sex, yeah?"
Hermione looked at him, a big smile on her face. "I'm saying that even through all of those things, that I love you too. And—I want to be with you." She turned to face him; her face had gone serious again. "But, if it's okay, I think we should wait before we marry. I just don't think we're ready yet."
Lifting his hands, Draco held her head between them, staring directly into her large brown eyes.
"I already told you, there is no other witch for me. As corny as it all sounds, I really do belong to you. For a very long time now, I reckon …so I'll wait until you're ready."
Tentatively, she reached up and rubbed his cheek with her hand. It was the first time she had ever touched him like that, and her hand was hot from holding onto the cup, but it felt good. Like searing her essence into his skin.
He opened his mouth to speak, but at that precise moment, she closed the gap between them. Draco could focus on nothing but the feel of her lips against his, the caressing of her tongue over his. It was a deep, soulful kiss that felt pleasantly familiar to him. Kissing her was like coming home … and in that moment he swore he'd never leave.
Disclaimer: JKRs characters that I manipulate like cute little marionettes...or not.
A very grand THANKS to Eilonwy for beta-ing this. Because of her this story makes much more sense. Thanks!!!
Also thanks to everyone who read this!