Disclaimer: Sadly, I own nothing. J.K. Rowling owns everything. I'm okay with this.
Author's Note: This is my first fan fiction, ever. You have been warned.
It's just a Draco/Hermione story I've been working on for the last month or so. I'm a perfectionist, but I'm not an English major, so please don't blast me away because of poor grammar. It's kind of smutty and semi-graphic as the story progresses, but I tried to keep it tasteful. I'm just trying to get better as a writer and I happen to love writing about Harry Potter, win-win. Hope you enjoy it! Read and review, please. With that said, I want to thank my awesome and hilarious beta kate04 for all her hard work. :)
(Today: April 20th)
Is it just me, or does it feel like life speeds by too fast?
I swear it was yesterday when I stepped off the Hogwarts Express with optimistic eyes, an omnipresent book, and bushy brown hair that gave me…we'll say character. Now, I'm twenty-five and I've accomplished more in my young years than witches and wizards achieve in their entire lives.
With my partially desensitized eyes, I pack my trusty books in my bag, sweep my magically straightened hair from my face, and head out my office door for the day, stopping to check my appearance in the mirror. Where did the time go?
The war left me craving peace and normalcy, so I decided to take my parent's advice and live as a Muggle for two years in London. I worked at a wonderful little bookstore, lived on my own, let my relationship with Ron mature, and took the maximum amount of courses needed to get a degree in psychology in exactly two years. Don't get me wrong, it was hard work, but I enjoyed every moment of it. After graduation, I decided to rejoin the wizarding world and took a job as a magical law officer. Harry and Ron were shocked I didn't want to be an esteemed Auror, but I really wanted to study the patterns and habits of common criminals. I find it simply fascinating.
So, for five years I've work overtime, weekends, and holidays to rise in ranks. That is, until I got the promotion of my life.
Yes, I am the head of the entire Department of Magical Law Enforcement.
This particular promotion came as a surprise; I had half-expected Draco Malfoy to get the position. He may have been a foul git in school, but he's changed…somewhat. Yes, he still has that arrogant smirk, that pompous swagger, and the ability to grate the nerves of many; but he has the right training, the skills, and the exact authoritativeness that a department like this needs to function correctly. How do I know all this?
He was my partner three of the five years I've worked here.
(Two months ago)
"I do believe that congratulations are in order. The, and I quote," he clears his throat, reciting a sentence from today's Daily Prophet from memory, "'Youngest head of The Department of Magical Law Enforcement in three centuries'," Malfoy says in his conceited tone, leaning against the open doorway of my new office. He's looking awfully smug in perfect, tailored robes.
My new junior assistant, Melissa, swoons at the sight of him (all the women do), giggling and blushing as if she'd never been in a room with a man before. I roll my eyes at her absurd behaviour.
Yes, he's attractive; I honestly see what they're all gawking over, but really…must she drool?
Of course, Malfoy, knowing his power over her, winks and says, "Well hello there…"
Her blush deepens, "G-g-good a-a-a-afternoon, Mr. M-M-Malfoy."
I ask her to leave for a few minutes, unable to tolerate her stammering a minute longer. She stares at him, gaping with her mouth slightly ajar. It takes a few moments, but she slips past him in the doorway, timidly excusing herself and blushing when she realizes he's so close to…
She stumbles on her own dress robes. I have to fight not to laugh when she catches herself, blushes fiercely, and runs off. Poor thing.
Draco Malfoy is just a mere mortal, no matter what he thinks of himself…seriously.
Humored, he watches her go then turns back to me with a sly smirk on his face, "Glad to see your assistant has your penchant of being clumsy and a bit barmy in the head."
Annoyed, I shed my dress robes, smooth my business pant suit, fold my arms, and lean against my desk, "She only tripped because she was intimidated by you."
After raising an eyebrow, he replies snootily, "Intimidated? Please, that silly girl was drooling. It was quite disturbing actually."
Silently I agree. Sitting on my desk comfortably, crossing my legs, and yawning sarcastically I say, "As much as I'm enjoying this stimulating conversation with my old partner…is there a reason you're still standing here?" I regard him with a curious glance and pop my knuckles.
"Actually, I only came to offer my congratulations and—"
Smiling, I interrupt. "Well, Malfoy, isn't this just like old times at school? You must be used to me being better than you by now. You really should be, after all, it really is the story of your life," I smartly reply, propped against my desk with arms folded, observing him with a playful glare.
He shrugs evasively, "As much as you get off on being a department head, I never wanted this ruddy job. I actually recommended you for the position. I happen to enjoy having a life…shame you don't have one."
Ignoring these little quips is a skill I've mastered over the last three years. Well, that and not hexing him for being such a git sometimes, "So, I heard your job was open. Are you going back to being an Auror?"
A smile creeps across his face momentarily, "Oh quite the contrary; that's what I was came in here to discuss with you before you so savagely interrupted me." He pauses, for what I can only assume, is effect. "Granger, you're looking at your brand new Secondary, just one step under you."
In utter shock, I mumble, "What?"
"It looks like we're going to be working together very closely, Granger. Just like – what did you say again? Oh yes, just like old times."
To be honest, I'm happy that it's him. Yes, he's still a prat and we clash, but he's matured a great deal.
Following the war, Malfoy became an Auror; much to the shock of everyone.
Honestly, he was a damn good one. So when he inexplicably decided to become a magical law officer a year after his mother died, I didn't understand. Why would he throw away his esteemed career fighting dark wizards, witches, and aspiring dark lords? Why throw all of that away to pursue and capture common criminals and fugitives, investigate crimes, and collect evidence like the common Muggle detective?
I never had the chance to ask. Instead, the morning he showed up in the department I was too busy dealing with my heavy work-load because I was in need of a partner and after that…well, I was too busy struggling to convince the department head that he wasn't the perfect partner for me. This, obviously, didn't work.
Of course, being his partner was an interesting experience. Why?
Because he's Draco Malfoy…and I'm Hermione Granger.
"Malfoy, this isn't a good idea," I repeat as we enter into the dimly lit house in pursuit of a criminal named Thomas Fines, "Maybe we should send a Patronus to the Aurors for help." Because Merlin knows I've watched enough Muggle movies to know that following a dangerous criminal into a house isn't the best idea.
Especially when that criminal is a confessed killer. He escaped from an American wizarding prison nearly two weeks ago and with some help from people we've already apprehended, he came to England. Malfoy and I tracked him to Scotland after scattered sightings led us from London to this abandoned house.
"Quit whining, Granger. We can handle this. He's just one psychopath…without a wand. Lumos." A small beam of light erupts from his wand, somewhat brightening the empty foyer.
Lighting my own wand, I argue in a hoarse whisper, "He killed three wizards, Malfoy! Let's just call for backup. We don't know if he's wandless for certain and it's better that we be safe than sorry."
"So says the girl who runs towards danger like the batty Gryffindor she is."
Huffing, "At least I think things through, unlike you."
"By the time everyone gets here, he'll be gone; I'm sick of—"
Suddenly, Malfoy's body is thrown against the wall with a resounding smash. He slumps helplessly to the floor. The sheer force sends pictures and paintings crashing down as the entire infrastructure of the house rattles and shakes. I have to dodge falling debris and find myself sprawled on the floor as well. Malfoy's groans and cursing let me know he's not too badly hurt.
By the time I get back to my feet, Malfoy is in front of me…and there's a hand around his neck.
Thomas Fines has made an appearance.
He stands just a head taller than Malfoy, who is bleeding from a gash on his forehead, and he's staring at me with cold blue eyes, wand pointed threateningly. "Well, hey there, lil' lady," his southern American accent is very charming, but I can see the menace in his eyes. He looks haggard from all the running; matted brown hair and torn clothes make him look nothing like his old photos.
Any other time I would take him down by force, but I've read his file extensively. I know I can't play like this.
Evenly, I reply, "Good day…fine weather we're having, hmm?"
Malfoy apparently snaps out of his own pain when hearing this comment and I wish he'd just shut up, but of course he has his own plans…which involve yelling, "What the ruddy hell are you going on about, Granger? Stun him!"
Thomas' grip around Malfoy's neck tightens, shutting him up. Thank Merlin!
He chuckles, "Now, now, why would she do a thang like that? Stunnin' me isn't the smartest decision, 'cause if she even thinks 'bout doin' that, I'll kill yuh."
Nonchalantly, I wave my hand, "Oh, go ahead and kill him. It'll be of no consequence to me. He's a git anyway." I can't look at Malfoy directly in the face, because if I do, Thomas will see the concern I have for him.
Malfoy gasps, while Thomas looks humored, "Really now?"
Without him noticing, I find my wand and with a mental "Accio wand," it's now in my possession. Thank Merlin that I practiced wandless magic for a while. I make sure it stays behind my back. "Seriously, he tormented me in school for six years, called me a Mudblood, and nearly got me killed in 6th year. So you can go ahead and kill him and walk right out of here. No one has to know."
Thomas smiles thinly, "Well, boy," he shakes his head, "Looks like you should've picked a different partner; perhaps one who cares." Pushing the wand into Malfoy's side harder, he's no longer paying attention to me, focused on his next kill.
I pull my wand out to my side slowly. I have one shot to make this right and I better make it good.
"You know, it's really a shame she doesn't care. It's gonna to make killin' yuh—"
The red beam hits him directly in the forehead, making him release his grip on Malfoy and drop to the floor with a reverberating rumble; the "stolen" wand skates along the floor until it hits the wall. More pictures fall and I have to quickly repair the ceiling before it comes crashing down on us. Without any further hesitation, my otter patronus spurts from my wand, scampering off to deliver the message to the ministry.
"It's over," I breathe a sigh of relief.
When Malfoy says nothing, I look at him…only to find him glaring.
Oh, he's livid and still bleeding from the head a little.
I know better than to heal him now. I haven't seen him this angry since the time I decided to take on an evil witch by myself…a fight that put me in the hospital for a week. He saved me only so he could yell at me for being so damn stupid and bloody proud. Even in the dim room, I see his face flush angrily and his fists clench.
"What's wrong, Malfoy?"
There is a quick calm before the storm. Mentally, I retrieve an umbrella before he lets loose, "You were going to let him kill me. I can't believe it! We've been partners for two years now and you were going to let him kill me over—"
It's best to remain calm with him when he gets like this. So I roll my eyes and interrupt coolly, "Seriously, Malfoy, when did you become so dense? I wasn't going to let him kill you."
Hotly, he snarls, "Oh, really now? Because—"
"Criminals like Thomas Fines," I refer to the stunned body on the floor between us, "Enjoy seeing people suffer. If you would've – oh, I don't know – read his file instead of Spell-o-taping Richland to his chair, you would've known that. He would've killed you a lot faster if he knew I actually cared about you."
It takes about a second for his anger to dissipate, "You care about me, Granger?"
We may fight, squabble, and piss each other off, but at the end of the day I have to agree that not only do we make an excellent team…I do care about him.
He may no longer be my partner, but he'll always remain my friend. We've grown close over the years. We've been through a lot together. He's saved my life and I've saved his; he's even taken a hex for me. Unselfish I know; I was just as shocked as anyone that he sacrificed himself for me, but Malfoy has really changed a lot. I've noticed it more than anyone.
If in a tight situation (and we've been in plenty) there is no one I trust more with my life and safety. We're a lot alike; more than I ever realized. He's poised, sharp, resilient, and willful, just like me. Sometimes I trust him more than my closest friends. Malfoy is confident, while Harry sometimes questions himself. Malfoy is relaxed, while Ron easily flies off in anger….
Speaking of Ron, after six years of dating (and arguing about our future for four), Ron and I have finally reached a suitable agreement about the biggest commitment of our lives.
Yes, we're getting married after five years of engagement as soon as this Quidditch season ends and he returns from two months of training. It gives me six more months to plan a small and sensible wedding.
(Two and a half months ago)
"Excuse me everyone. Hermione and I, well, we have an announcement to make," Ron stands up at the dining table, pulling me up with him. I suppress my frown, groan, and reluctance to spill the news. "We finally set a wedding date!"
Mrs. Weasley squeals excitedly. Mr. Weasley slaps his son on the back, a job well done. Ginny looks at me quizzically, but I just return her smile weakly. No, I didn't mention it to her when we went baby clothes shopping yesterday. Harry hugs us both. Luna claps her hands. Neville says, "It's about time." And a few minutes later, everyone toasts to our happiness and good health.
I'm instantly bombarded with questions.
George's girlfriend, Kristen: "Who are your bridesmaids going to be?"
Luna: "Is Ginny your matron of honor?"
Mrs. Weasley: "Have you started dress shopping?"
Harry: "Where is it going to be?"
Kristen again: "Oh, Hermione! You're going to make a beautiful bride—"
Mrs. Weasley: "Yes she will. Oh, I can't wait for her to start popping out little grandbabies for me."
Ron grins excitedly, loving the idea of children with me.
Ginny makes a face, controlling her laughter.
Harry looks uncomfortable, shifting in his seat.
I excuse myself to throw up.
October 20th: The day our families finally leave me the hell alone about this ruddy wedding. I couldn't be happier.
To be frank, our families and friends are the only reason I'm marrying Ron in October. Contrary to popular beliefs, we're not Harry and Ginny; I don't wish to marry young, start a family, and settle into suburbia. They married at nineteen and eighteen, respectively. And while I was a weeping maid of honor at their wedding, I stood next to Ginny at that alter knowing that I could never do that to myself.
(Five years ago)
I look back at Ron, only to find him on his knee.
What the hell is he doing?
He's supposed to be grabbing his bags, not on his knee. His portkey leaves in ten minutes and I don't have time for games. He has to leave for Quidditch training in Greece and I have to do this before he leaves. If only I can muster up the nerve.
"Hermione, will you marry me?"
Simply, I look down at him, "We're too young."
"You're twenty, I'm nineteen, and we love each other," he argues gently, "What's the problem?"
I want to tell him I can't marry him, but I don't. I want to tell him I don't love him anymore, but I won't. I want to tell him I asked him over here today to break up with him, but I can't. I've fought so long to be here right now, with Ron on his knee asking me to love him for the rest of our lives. Maybe this is the thing I'm looking for to make me see what everyone else does.
They say Ron and I belong together; that we're perfect, that we make sense. They want us to be like Harry and Ginny…and deep down I should too. Harry and Ginny just make sense. It's like Harry was made for Ginny and vice versa. They're fluid together. Where she falters, he's right there to pick up the pieces; if she doesn't know something, he has the answer. They fly together in sync. Hell, they even make sense when they're fighting. I should want that for Ron and me. I should want us to make as much sense as they do, but deep down, I'm not so sure we do. If I don't have an answer, I know better than to ask Ron. And when we fight? Merlin...it's terrible.
But I knew all this; I knew all about Ron's volatile temper when I met him and I still pined after him for years. When I look back on it, I still wonder why I liked him so much. He picked fights with me, called me a traitor when I went to the Yule Ball with Viktor Krum, and started dating Lavender Brown to make me jealous. But somehow we managed to get together. Maybe if we can get to this point without cursing each other, then maybe we can make it for the long haul.
Truthfully, "We're still too young."
Of course, he supplies a solution, "We don't have to get married tomorrow…"
"So will you marry me?"
Hesitating, I hope I'm not making a mistake, "I will."
Sometimes I do think marrying him is a mistake.
Ron and I hardly agree on anything. He wants to marry now; I still want to wait. He wants to live in a wizarding town; I want to live in a Muggle town, to be closer to my family. He wants to start having kids as soon as we're married and I don't. He wants four kids and I'm not even sure I want kids at all. He loves the thought of having kids with me, but the idea of frizzy redheads running around makes me queasy.
He talks. I listen.
I talk. He rants.
We can't have a decent conversation without yelling and I'm so tired. I concede.
He's so sure it'll work out this way, so I decide to go along with it and hope for the best. I wish I had his confidence. I wish thinking about it didn't make me ill. I don't know how to be a wife or a mother, but we've been together forever. Maybe I can learn. Maybe his confidence will ooze onto me.
Well, maybe I know how to be a wife, but I just don't want to be his.
No, let's think positive thoughts.
We've been through a lot together: War, death, school.
He's one of my best friends, so why shouldn't we get married? He loves me. I...well, maybe his love will be the proof I need to be sure I'm not making the biggest mistake of my life.
Maybe I can learn to love him like he loves me.
"Ginny, I don't think I can go through with this," I sob into the phone.
I know it's late. I know.
One moment I'm sitting here looking at colours for the reception tables, calmly sipping a cup of tea. The next I'm shaking and crying into my hands, experiencing a full-blown panic attack. I can't breathe. I can't think. All I can do is sit here and sob; the knowledge that I'm making the biggest mistake of my life looming over my head.
"Hermione, calm down, you're just a bit—"
"No, I don't know what I'm thinking marrying him!"
"You're stressed and tired and no—"
I'm damn near hysterical when I yell, "I don't love him anymore! I can't marry him!"
"You've got cold feet. You need to—"
"It's not! I don't!"
"This is the third time we've had this conversation in two weeks. Just stop what you're doing; go take a bath, call Ron, and talk about your fears—"
Sobbing harder, "He thinks I'm being a drama queen!"
I note the irritation in her voice, "Ron is such a bloody git sometimes."
Grumbling, I take a deep breath to calm down, wiping my eyes, "I know that."
I hear her moving around, "Give me five minutes. I'll be there and you can talk to me. You're not being a drama queen. You're under a lot of stress; you have a new job and you've decided to solely undertake the job of planning your entire wedding. I'm sure you haven't slept for days and I won't stand it any longer. Tomorrow we'll go look for table cloths and centerpieces. I'm not letting you do this alone."
Sighing, "I don't even want to look at another damn thing for this wedding."
"Okay. We'll go out and you choose."
Anyway, other than that horrific mess, life is still good.
In addition to my new promotion and impending marriage, everyone is in good health. I just finished paying off my Muggle house. Ginny and Harry welcomed baby James Potter into the world two months ago and Luna and Neville are engaged. They're due to get married two months before Ron and me. He and Luna just got jobs at Hogwarts. He's teaching Herbology and she's teaching Care of Magical Creatures. Also, they just bought a little home in a small town just outside of Hogsmeade.
Overall, life is pretty good.
But there's an old saying, "If it seems too good to be true, then it is."
I pride myself in distrusting those silly, old sayings. They aren't backed by reason, empirical evidence, science, logic, or anything worth mentioning. Of course, everything changes when I walk up the stairs to Ron's flat to wish him a safe trip to Bulgaria for a Quidditch match.
"Oh! Harder! Baby! Harder!"
Bloody hell. Confused, I turn the key in the lock as more sounds emit from the flat. I roll my eyes.
I'll have to close my eyes and Apparate to Ron's bedroom. I want to quickly discuss plans for our small wedding and spend the rest of the time listening to him talk about Quidditch…like I care. This should leave Dean and his companion plenty of time to either conclude their shag-fest or take it to his room.
"Yes! Merlin! You feel so good!" a deeper voice rings out, muffled.
Dean shares a flat with Ron because they both play Quidditch and need a place away from their parents when they're home. I hate it. As you hear, he's always bringing women (Muggles and witches alike) home. But Dean is one of his best mates and, to be honest, I don't have the energy to bicker. He won't be living here much longer.
I guess I just need to calm down. I'm already more irritable than usual. I just hate the idea of getting married. And, not to mention, I'm sexually frustrated because Ron decides to morph into a barmy traditionalist and forgo sex until our wedding night.
I roll my eyes. Silencing charm anyone?
Opening the door, I silently creep in. I'm hoping to avoid interrupting or causing any awkwardness and quietly praying Dean and his girl-of-the-night aren't in the living...
My mouth drops.