Title: Stronger
By: mandy-jg
Pairing: Marcus/Hermione
Summary: And for that moment, he did indeed feel like the strongest person in the world...
Rating: R
Warnings: FLUFF
A/N: For the Valentine Challenge at Granger Enchanted. And for pinkwands. ♥


There were many smiles she liked upon his face, none of them were forced, and that was probably what she liked about them the most. If he gave you one, it was because you had earned it. It was a private thing, just for those precious few. When he laughed his face lit up completely, changing his expression instantly; the bitter, mean Quidditch brute disappearing. She loved to see that change, to see the man underneath that was hidden so well.

She didn't have a joke to tell that would make him laugh, his sense of humour incredibly darker than her own. His ribs were in reach, with a determined brush of her fingertips across them she could have him laughing in seconds. This wasn't the time for that smile, he was wearing a different one, that held an entirely different meaning.

It wasn't all that different from the one he used to wear at Hogwarts. A little self satisfied smirk, like he knew something that you didn't, it had the unique ability to irritate and intrigue you at the same time. In a different set of circumstances she would be quizzing him, but she knew the secret, or rather, exactly what he wanted.

He wouldn't ask outright, but his body language made it perfectly clear.

The leg bent at the knee, the arm folded up and resting behind his head. Over the course of the morning the blanket resting over him had slipped down, now lying over his thighs. Hermione had to admit that he looked rather delicious spread across her bed, and it was taking every bit of her self-control not to throw herself at him and take all that he was offering.

A soft growl passed his lips as she used her fingers, running them over his abdomen slowly. He wasn't a fan of her taking her time. When he had no such qualms about tormenting her with slow hands, or covering every inch of her with his lips as she was helpless to resist or stop if she wanted. He wasn't a fan of being the play thing, there was one speed according to Marcus Flint and she was nowhere near it.

"Hermione," he said softly, a smile quirking his lips, but not a hint of amusement in his tone.


"Having fun?"

"Oh yes, loads," Hermione grinned, moving herself over him, resting her hands on either side of his head. "I could look at you all day," she brushed her lips against his.

"Not how I pictured the day unfolding."

"No?" She asked, her kisses trailing across his chin. "Do tell."

"It goes a little something like this," he said placing her hands on her hips, pulling them down to hover over his own. "And then," Marcus smiled up at her, before lowering her down over his hard length.

Hermione sighed, barely keeping her eyes open as he moved into her. Remaining motionless as her body adjusted to his girth.

He grinned up at her as her hips started moving against his, "Like the plan?"

"Love the plan," she moaned as her hips rose and fell against his.

The rhythm between them steady, Hermione didn't feel the need to rush this, she wanted to savour it. The urgency had been replaced by knowledge, of just what to do, those just right places to touch. Her fingertips lingering on his peaked nipples, pulling and tweaking the taut flesh as he breathed heavily below her. His hands holding her buttocks firm as he guided her movements.

It was this smile Hermione realised that she liked the most, a flash of green behind lidded eyes and a smile on his face reminiscent of a cat that had caught the mouse.

His eyes opened to lock onto hers, their hips slowing as they stared at each other. The smile vanishing, hers growing as he lay beneath her motionless, eyes darkening before her eyes. All she could hear was his ragged breath as she rose above him. A hand buried itself in her hair, pulling her down to his hungry lips which devoured her own. His tongue swiping into her mouth, aggressively taking a hold of her, easily overpowering her. Holding her hips tightly, he rolled them as one, remaining snug within her.

Hermione wrapped her arms around his firm shoulders as he increased the speed of his thrusts, his cock seemingly slamming into her, his eyes closed, jaw rigid as he loomed over her. She buried her head into his shoulder, soft grunts echoing in her ears. Her hips rising to meet his faster as the pressure rose within her, Hermione could hear herself whispering in his ear, a plea passing her lips.

She groaned as his hips stopped, a wry smile on his lips as he sat back on his haunches, "Marcus..."

It died on her lips as he pulled her hips flush against his, her eyes closing as the new angle caused his cock to rub against her clit as he moved inside of her. A strange smile came over his face as he continued to piston against her, her hands struggled to gain a purchase on his shoulder. Clenching the sheets beneath her, Marcus held her hips firmly as he moved them against his quickly. One hand moved between her thighs, finding her clit with his fingers easily, rolling around it quickly. A cry escaping her lips, as he smiled darkly, twisting it harshly. Marcus leaned down, swallowing her cries with a kiss. Hermione held his face close to her own, their eyes locking as her release washed over her.

Her eyes closed, head falling down against the bed below her, her arms tightening around his neck. His harsh breaths in her ear, as he thrust slowly against her, before he emptied himself, his arms shaking as he held himself over her. Hermione's arms run down his, steadying him as her breathing calmed. He laughed quietly, falling to the side of her, reclining over her he pulled the blanket over her.

Brushing the hair back from her face, with a small smile he spoke quietly, "And we spend the rest of the day in various formations of that."

"Sounds lovely," Hermione sighed, rolling over to face him. "With regular breaks for the important things, I hope."

"I'll let you up for the toilet, maybe to eat, but there ain't much else to leave for," his arm looped around her, pulling her snug against him.

"So generous," she yawned, her eyes fluttering closed. The urge to sleep overtaking her as she cuddled against the solid warmth. Hermione felt him move her hair from her face, and the soft kiss on her lips as she drifted to sleep. It was a peaceful sleep, she was comfortable, she felt safe, she didn't want to awaken, but she could feel movement beside her, but sleeping was incredibly inviting, but the insistent whisper in her ear couldn't be ignored any longer.

"Hermione wake up," he groaned, shaking her slightly.

"No," she whispered, burrowing closer into him.

"Please dammit!" He said urgently, "Someone just walked past the bloody door."

"What?" Hermione asked, her eyes opening to see Marcus wielding his wand in the direction of the door.

"They just walked in straight through your wards, what time is it?"

"Oh god, what's the time?" She asked peering over his shoulder at the alarm on the table. "You can put it down," Hermione sighed, crawling out of bed, "It's Harry and Ron."

"I'll keep it in hand if you don't mind, they are liable to hex me on sight, what the hell are they doing here?" He asked, standing and pulling his pants on.

"It's Valentine's Day, we have plans, you made me forget," Hermione smiled, tying her robe around her waist.

"Well," he sat down on the edge of her bed. "Tell them to sod off, and come back in here."

"I can't,' she sighed walking over to him, her arms wrapping around his shoulders. "I have two single, lonely friends who have no idea that I'm not single, nor am I lonely, and they need me to help them mock this couple's holiday."

"They don't need your help," he grinned at her, pulling open her robe, cupping her breasts firmly, he smiled his wicked smirk at her. Lowering his lips, "I hover do."

"Marcus," she whispered, her head falling back. "Please..."

"Fine," he grumbled, dropping kisses over her chest. "How long will the bastards need?"

"Depends," she moaned, as he teased a nipple with his teeth.

"On what?"

"On how long it takes for them to get drunk, and pass out at the Leaky," she smiled, pulling his lips up to hers Hermione kissed him deeply. He pulled her onto her lap, pushing her robe off her shoulders. "Marcus..." she gasped as they parted.

"Right," he said firmly. Pushing her back, "Go get the sods pissed."

She retied the robe around her as she walked to the door, "I'll Floo you later? Okay?"

"Sure," he sighed, standing and stretching. "It would probably be easier if you just told them I was here, get it out of the way."

"Not today," Hermione said, "Lavender just broke up with Ron for the umpteenth time, he won't want to hear about this. Not today."

"Right, another day," he snapped.

She turned to him quickly, "Are you mad?!"

"Of course not," he grumbled, pulling his shirt on. "I just wonder what the next reason will be, or should that be excuse."

"You are mad," Hermione said slowly.

"Would it be that fucking bad if they knew? If they knew about this?" He said quietly, walking up to her. "You treat it like some dirty little secret that you couldn't bear them to know."

"I will tell them," she sighed. "It's just awkward, it has to be the right time, if I tell them at the wrong time. They won't take it well, that's the only reason. I want them to know."

"It sure as hell doesn't seem like that, I'm good enough to shag in some dark corner of your precious little library, but not good enough to bring home to those that are important to you."

Hermione sighed, glad for the sound proofing spells active throughout her flat. "This relationship is important to me, so much so that I don't want to ruin it by telling them at the wrong time. You don't know them like I do."

Marcus stepped back, his eyes darkening, "Relationship, really? Don't get ahead of yourself darling, this isn't a bloody relationship."

Her arms wrapped around her middle as she moved back to rest against the door, her insides felt like lead. "I thought it was," she said quietly. "I believed it was, what was it then?"

"We fucked," he said, a cruel glint in his eyes as he lent over her. "Whenever you had that itch you came to me," he whispered into her ear.

"It wasn't like that," Hermione breathed.

"You're a smart girl Granger, surely it's not too hard to figure out. Really, you and me? Incredibly unlikely to say the least. Did you really think that this would last? Become a relationship?"

"Yes! I thought it was."

"Don't be naive," he chuckled, straightening up. "It was a shag pure and simply, if it makes you feel better, you weren't half bad. A hell of a lot better than I ever thought you'd be."

"Marcus, stop," Hermione shook her head. "I didn't think like that, it wasn't like that..."

"It was exactly like that."


"I think we'll end this here, don't you think that's best?"

Hermione looked up at this man looking down at her, even though his face was familiar she didn't recognise him at all. Nor did she want to. He was wrong, very wrong, but one look at his eyes, hard and unyielding as they were showed her that he believed it. She closed her eyes, wrapping her robe tighter around her, reaching behind her for the door knob. "Let yourself out," she said sadly. She wrenched the door open, and without looking at him she let herself out, shutting the door quietly behind her.

It was a short walk down the hall to her kitchenette and her friends. Harry was bustling around the stove, he was the only one of them who managed to create anything edible in her kitchen. While Ron and herself generally just waited for him to cook something wonderful for them. Ron was sitting at her table reading the sports pages of the days Prophet, he put it down when he noticed her walk in.

"Morning sunshine!" He chirped, "Un-Happy Valentines Day to you."

Hermione smiled at his greeting, "Morning," she said softly.

Harry came over beside her, giving her a quick hug, "Someone's in the mood," he whispered.

She shuddered as the breeze from her front door opening and closing brushed against her legs, "I'm fine," she sighed.

He looked at her closely as he stepped back, Hermione could see him pondering, watching the wheels turn over. "Well you have been working a lot lately, a lazy day with your friends is in order."

"Indeed," Ron agreed heartily. "Now that lazy day should be started with a nice breakfast, eh cook?"

"Right," Harry winked at her as he stepped back to the stove. Ron picked up the paper again, groaning as he read an article on his beloved Cannons.

"I'm going to have a quick shower while you boys are busy." Ron grunted from behind the paper, swearing to himself, Harry stopped however. His eyebrows furrowing as he watched her, "I'm fine," she said again, more firmly this time.

He nodded slowly, Hermione recognised the expression. He was curious, and a curious Harry Potter was a determined one. She dashed down the hall, locking the bathroom door behind her.

With the water as hot as she could handle, she stepped under the spray. Hermione quickly sank to the floor of her shower, the steam enveloping her. The words echoed through her ears, all she could hear were his hard words, and his face as he said those things to her. She wanted to fight back, and tell him how wrong he was, it may have started like that, but it had changed.

There was a time when Marcus was nothing more than someone she kind of, sort of used to know. Then they had met for the first real time, and maybe for a little while it had been nothing more than scratching that itch. However she wasn't capable of having something only physical with someone, she needed more. They needed to have some connection, and Hermione had thought they had.

They might not have had much (if anything) in common, but there was just something that she couldn't put her fingers on. Whatever it was, she had liked it. She liked them, she liked being with him no matter what they were doing.

Hermione tried to reason his about face, it was out of the blue. This issue wasn't one, he could hardly blame her for not telling everyone, not when he'd all but shoved her into his closet when his flatmate stumbled into his room drunk a few weeks ago. They were both guilty, it didn't seem fair that all the blame should be hers to bear.

When the water temperature got too much, Hermione muttered the spell and the spray stopped. The steam lingering around her as she sat, water dripping down her forehead, her eyes felt heavy.

"Hermione?!" Harry called, knocking on the door heavily. "Are you alright? You've been in there a fair while."

Hermione stood weakly, her knees shaking, wrapping her towel around her, she opened the door. "Harry, I'm..."

"Fine, yeah," he shook his head. "Except you aren't, I'm not bloody stupid Hermione. I'm surprised Ron can't see it, but you look fucking miserable."


"No, later. We are talking about this," he said firmly, leaving no room for argument. "Ron's going to have a fit if we don't feed him soon, so get dressed, and join us."

"Okay," she sighed, moving past him into her bedroom. Halting in the doorway as she took in the rumpled bedding, the pit in her stomach growing. It was fairly obvious what had happened here, Harry would know, she could feel him looking over her shoulder. "Later Harry."

"Oh hell yes."

Hermione shut the door behind her, with a quickly spoken spell the bed righted itself, fresh sheets in place. She dressed comfortably, pulling her hair back into a tie. It was just going to be the three of them, hardly in need of something fancy. They had it planned for weeks, for a little while it had been just Harry and herself, the single ones. On a day when everyone else would be coupled up, and doing all those things that couples did, they would make fun of it all.

Or maybe they'd just curl up on her lounge and watch horrible, sappy movies and feel miserable. That wasn't the plan, but that was all that Hermione felt like doing. So after they had eaten they trouped onto her lounge, and had a mini-marathon of movies. Ron snoring beside her, while she curled into Harry, her head resting on his shoulder as he pretended not to cry as they watched one of the movies the boys rented.

There was a horrible sinking feeling inside her, and it wasn't because of the break-up unfolding on the screen, nor was it because she had over-eaten all the disgusting food that Ron had brought around. There weren't many times in her life when she had want for another time turner, but right now was one of them. She would go back, and watch it all again, to look for that vital clue as to why it had all gone to hell so quickly. It had all been fine, hardly a hiccup on the surface, and then he changed in an instance.

She wanted to know why, needed to know why. Something that had seemed perfect couldn't fall apart like that, it just didn't seem possible. It wasn't a regular union theirs, but she had grown rather fond of it, and ending like that, or at all wasn't something that she wanted.

Hermione sighed, smiling as Harry drew her closer with his arm. He turned the television off, "Hermione, what's wrong?"

She looked up at him, a soft comforting smile on his face, "You won't like it Harry."

"If it's upsetting you this much, I doubt I will, but you can't keep it to yourself. That much is obvious, tell me now while bozo sleeps."

Hermione glanced over her shoulder at Ron who slept on oblivious, she moved onto Harry's lap, facing him and Ron. "This morning, I forgot you two were coming over, and I, wasn't alone."

"I gathered as much by your bed," he smiled softly, stroking her hair.

"Right," she shook her head.

"Hermione, you shouldn't be moping if you spent most of the night shagging," he blushed as he said this. "Much as it pains me to say this, but you should be bloody glowing. What happened?"

"Well you two trampled in, and we had a disagreement."


"And he said some things, and... it hurt," she whispered, closing her eyes.

"Bloody hell," Harry said softly, cradling her closer. "What did he say?"

"We've been seeing each other for a couple of months Harry, last night wasn't a one-off."


"I've never done casual, and I thought this wasn't, I just assumed it was a relationship. Every single sign was there, the only thing was that no-one knew. Other than that, it was the longest relationship I've been in after Ron."

"What did he say?" Harry asked again, softly so not to disturb Ron.

"That we just fucked, and that he didn't really care that much for me, I was just someone he came to when he wanted a shag," she said sadly, wiping her cheeks.

"Bastard," he swore, his arms tightening around her. "I'm sorry love, he sounds like a right prick."

"It does seem that way, I just can't make myself believe him," Hermione whispered. "Before, when we were..."

"Busy," Harry grinned.

"Yes," she smiled. "Then, there was a moment, and his face, his eyes I saw something and it made me feel wonderful. A different kind of wonderful, for that moment I truly believed that I'd found something just right for me. Like it had all fallen together perfectly and it was just the two of us, and it felt right."

"Maybe it wasn't what you thought it was, going by what he said, I don't think he's the type of person to give those looks."

"He isn't," Hermione agreed. "But that's why I noticed it, he doesn't give them, and I saw it. I felt it, god I could just live in that moment forever and I'd be happy. Do you remember the first time you knew that it wasn't just a crush, or that this person was the one you'd been waiting for? It's so heady, it was like it had all slowed down around me, and all I could see, feel, and hear was him."


"Harry, it was real, I know it was. That is the sort of thing you can't fake."

"But he told you," Harry groaned. "I'm not trying to be mean, but you have to see what happened. You had this moment and then he turned around and said that. When I realised I loved Ginny I sure as hell didn't tell her that I was only interested in a shag every now and then."

"Because you'd never get another one again," she laughed.

"True, but you just don't do that. Who would do that?!"

"He did, and I don't know why, but I will find out," Hermione nodded, as Ron sat upright with a start.

"Did it finish?" He asked, "I missed the ending, now I won't know if they got together in the end."

She smiled, moving between them again, "Don't worry Ron, they always do."

Harry shook his head but stayed silent as Ron grumbled beside them, she knew she was right, it always worked out in the end, if they were given the chance. And when the time was right, she was going to sort it out.


This was supposed to be an ideal way to spend the day. The sun was shining, the breeze was fresh not chilling you to the bone, an afternoon at a Quidditch match should be an ideal venture. They had seats in the best box in the stadium, the alcohol was flowing freely; all the ingredients were there, but he couldn't muster up an ounce of cheer. The drink in his hand was quickly warming, as the desire to drink it faded, and the friend beside him rapidly losing all patience with his mood.

"Jeez mate, a smile wouldn't hurt, this is pretty bloody perfect," he groaned.

"Yeah, perfect," Marcus deadpanned, throwing the plastic cup in the bin. "I'm having a ball."

Ordinarily, he would be having a ball. He just felt wretched, it was more than being tired, he felt lethargic, all he really wanted to do was go home and crawl into bed. To just sleep the day away, and maybe wake up tomorrow and everything would right again. It wouldn't be though, he'd well and truly fucked it up. The words repeated themselves over and over in his head, and he cringed himself at what he said. The lies he had told her, the hurt in her eyes, he wanted to go back and take it all back. Right now though she'd no doubt be sandwiched between those idiots, and if they knew, they would be telling her she was well rid of him. He would be very unwelcome, it would just be a disaster.

And what would he say? I'm sorry felt weak, and hardly adequate. Groveling was out of the question, there had to be something, he knew there was, he just had to figure out what it was.

The noise in the box surrounding him had faded away, he looked up from the floor as Adrian stood beside him, "Where you going?"

"Well I'm going home," he sighed.

"What? The game's on?" Marcus asked, looking over at the empty pitch in front of him.

"It was on, it finished fifteen minutes ago, not that you noticed," Adrian said, shaking his head. "What's going on mate?"

"Nothing," he grumbled, standing and stretching.

"Nothing says he who loves Quidditch more than anyone I know, but also happened to daydream through an entire match."

"It's nothing, just pre-occupied."

"Who is she?" Adrian said, starting down the stairs.

"There's no-one," Marcus said sadly, right behind him. "Not anymore."

"Uh-huh!" He turned on him instantly, "I knew it! You've been absent for weeks, and that bit the other week with you and the closet? Did you hide your witch in there?"

Ah, that day. It had hardly been a shining moment, a quiet afternoon with Hermione at his flat that he shared with Adrian. Who of course forgot that doors should be knocked on before entering, and if the door was locked, by all means - stay out. He hadn't though, and Marcus had rather panicky, shoved her into his closet. The look on her face as he opened the door ten minutes later hadn't been pretty, he should have been upfront with Adrian then and there. He'd just figured Hermione would like to meet his best friend, when she had clothes on.

"Yeah, that was her."

"Well I'm going to go out on a limb, I don't think she liked that, and it's probably why there isn't anyone anymore?"

"Something similar," Marcus grumbled, pushing past him.

Adrian dashed to keep up with him, "Come on mate, what happened? I've never seen you out sorts over a witch before. She break your heart?"

He stopped dead in his tracks, "Something similar."

"You, hers?"

Marcus nodded dumbly, "I think I might have."

"Bloody hell," he swore loudly. "Jeez."


"Okay then, let's go get pissed, and you can tell me everything."

"Ade, I don't want to."

"Bugger that, we are talking right now, come on."

He contemplated briefly not following Adrian to the pub, but it was pointless; he'd just follow him home. Marcus may as well just go now, and then he could crawl into bed and sleep a dreamless sleep after. So he walked after Adrian to the Apparation point, and followed him to their destination, the alley behind the Leaky Cauldron. The pub was dark as they walked in, its decor far from fitting of the holiday, which was something that pleased Marcus a great deal, he was hardly in the mood to sit in room full of pink bloody hearts. He sunk into a chair at a table tucked into the back corner, leaving Adrian to order, his idea after all, only fair that he paid.

He slid a drink over to Marcus, placing a bowl of garishly coloured lollies in the center of the table, he sat down opposite him. "What are they?" He asked, peering at the little hearts.

"Tom was trying to get rid of them, those Weasley's latest invention, candies for the holiday," Adrian chuckled, sipping on his Mulled Mead.

"I'll pass," he smiled slightly.

"Alright then," Adrian said, setting his glass down. "Spill mate, tell all."

"It's simple, I fucked up."

"Well I gathered that," he grinned. "But how?"

"I was rude, I was mean, and I wouldn't be all that surprised if the next time she sees me I end up with some horrible bloody hex. Even more so if it's from her friends."

"Did you mean it? What you said?"

Marcus sighed, "No. Not a single word, I freaked out, I lyed awake for an hour or more as she slept panicking. Then she woke up, for a bit it was fine, and then it's like I snapped," he groaned. "She said something innocent enough, and I twisted it, taking something from it and using it to get the fuck out of it."

"Well it's natural to freak, god when was your last relationship?"

"This was the first relationship," he said quietly, spinning his mug in his hands. "It's just been women before, none stuck, her though, I couldn't stop thinking about her. At first I thought it would just be like all the others, just a bit of fun, nothing serious and crazy feelings would pass. She hooked me though, I was stuck good."

"You didn't mind?"

"Nope, it didn't get serious, it was just easy, then I screwed up."

Adrian smiled, draining his glass, "It's always fixable."


"Do you want to? That's the only thing you need to figure out," he pulled the bowl over, laughing as he read the inscriptions. "Genius, so what's it going to be?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, you can either just let it go, you've already fucked it as you say, so it won't be too hard to just let it slide if you want. If on the other hand, you like this bird, well you'll have to do something to get her back and make it stick," Adrian looked at him closely. "So what's it going to be? Fight of flight?"

He swallowed the last of his mead, staring at the dregs in the bottom. It was an easy question, the answer coming easily. "Fight," he said, slamming his mug down on the table.

"Good man, well let's get another round and we can figure your mess out," Adrian smiled, slapping his shoulder as he headed to the bar.

Marcus pulled the bowl of candies closer to him, grabbing a couple, watching the engraved lettering shift before his eyes before settling, love hurts glaring up at him. He threw that one in the bowl, the other one stopped choosing just another love struck fool, blinking at him.

"Alright," he said sliding in opposite him. "So how did you meet?"

"I saw her, crossing Diagon Alley one day, and I liked what I saw, so I followed her for a while. What does this have to do with fixing it?"

"Nothing, I'm curious," Adrian grinned at him.

Shaking his head, "I saw her again in that coffee shop near the Quidditch shop, and I sat near her, just sort of discreetly observing her," he chuckled. "She didn't even notice me, she was busy reading something. I think that's what intriuged me, most other witches start preening and flirting as soon as you give them a minuscule amount of attention, she didn't even bloody notice and I liked that. Anyway, the next day I saw her going into Flourish and Blotts, and I followed, and..."

"Tell me you talked to her man, girls don't like stalkers."

"I bumped into her, and we talked. She smiled, laughed a little, I think I charmed her. We got a coffee together, and I backed away, but the next week I came out of some shop and there she was."

"So she stalked?"

"No," Marcus laughed, picking up his mug. "It was a pure coincidence, and things developed."

"How so?"

"We chatted, and then I Apparated us back to the flat, and they developed."

"Ah," he shook his head. "And it went on like that?"

"For a few months," he nodded. "Up until today, and the grand fuck up."

"Well, she'd probably see through a stalker routine again, I think you'll just have to be straight up with her."

"Probably, I'll go see her tomorrow," Marcus nodded, "She'll be more tolerant then I'd think..."


"She just walked in," he groaned, his head felling to the table as Hermione sat down at a table with Potter and Weasley.

"Where?" Adrian said, his head spinning as he looked around the crowded pub. "Shit. Marcus, Hermione Granger?"

"Uh-huh," he mumbled into the table. "Is she looking?"

"At the idiot kissing the table? No, she's not facing this way, well you sure went out of the usual range."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Marcus snapped, his head coming up rapidly.

"It's just, she's smart, not a dumb bimbo like the others were, and her skirt goes to her knees. Bloody hell mate, I have to say I like it though," he grinned at him. "My boy is growing up."

"Shut up," Marcus groaned. "Remember, she more than likely hates me?"

"Right, so what do we do?"

"We get the fuck out of here," he said quickly, draining his mug.

"Right," Adrian said, standing and walking right into the waitress sending drinks flying around them, and all eyes onto them as they crashed to the floor. "Sorry ma'am," he groaned.

Marcus closed his eyes, counting to ten he opened them again, and Hermione was looking right at him. He stood quickly, her eyes following him, that bottom lip of hers being chewed rapidly as was the norm when she was thinking. Before he had a chance to leave, she turned to her friends and was out the door before he could blink. Without thinking he dashed after her, seeing Potter watching him didn't deter Marcus, he'd figure it out by himself.

As he made it out into the alcove connecting the pub to Diagon Alley she was just about to pass through, "Hermione, wait."

"Not today," she said quietly.

"No we have to," Marcus said firmly, moving up behind her, pulling the wand from her hand. "Strike while the iron's hot, or something like that. I can't leave it till tomorrow."

"Leave what?" She sighed turning to him, "More lies? More accusations? Or have I done something else? Please tell me how I'm behaving."

"Hermione, I was wrong..."

"Damn right you were," she snapped, crossing her arms across her chest.

"Very wrong," Marcus sighed. "I'm sorry I said that to you, I've been a bloody mess all afternoon. But you fucking scared me, and I responded the only way I knew how."

"Badly," Hermione said dryly. "And how did I scare you? I did nothing, nothing wrong. So I hadn't told Harry and Ron yet, big fucking deal. Who shoved me in their closet the other week so their friend wouldn't see me?! Do you know how temperamental those two are? It had to be perfect timing, otherwise they would react terribly, the only reason Harry didn't come and more than likely attempt to beat the daylights out of you is because I was upset and he chose to stick with me."

"Hermione, I ---"

"No! I'm talking now, you did all the talking this morning, I think I've earned a turn." He nodded, "You say I scared you? Well, you should have said something, done something, but you chose to hurt me. No-one has ever said anything like that to me, hurt me so intentionally. You meant to do that, you tried to make me hate you. Didn't you?"

He nodded again, "Yes."

"Why?" Hermione whispered.

"Because then it would be easier for me to let you go," he said softly. "If you hated me, I wouldn't fight you not wanting to see me again."

"You're an idiot," she shook her head.

"That's me."

"Bloody idiot," she swore, hitting his shoulder lightly. "So, you were trying to break up with me?"

"I think so," Marcus sighed. "I was scared, it was bloody terrifying, and I didn't know what else to do."

"Marcus, how did I scare you? I didn't do anything..."

"You loved me," he said simply, closing his eyes.

"What?! I didn't say anything," she said slowly.

"You didn't have to, I just knew, and it was surprising to say the least."

"I..." Hermione moved away from him. "My feelings for you are deeper than they used to be, maybe I do, I haven't defined it."

"It doesn't matter," Marcus said, turning to keep his eyes on her.

"Oh it does," she laughed lightly, shaking her head. "Love isn't something to be frightened off, you celebrate it, it's one of the most wonderful things in the world. To not love is a shame, if I love you, you should have been happy. Not saying those things, trying to make me hate you."

"I've never had to deal with this," Marcus said quickly. "Women don't love me. They may tolerate me, like me, desire me even, but they have never loved me. It's something I've never experienced."

"You're parents, your friends..."

"That's different, my parents - have to. My mates, well it's only Adrian and I've known him since before I was walking. It's just something that's natural with him, but you," he smiled. "Bloody hell Granger, you weren't supposed to. I didn't know what to do, you made me feel, out of my bloody depth, I had to gain some control over everything."

"It just happens Marcus, you can't control it," she said softly, tapping her fingers against her lips, she whispered. "When love is your greatest weakness, you will be the strongest person in the world."

"I'm not... Hermione. Did it, happen?"

"Yes," Hermione sighed.

"Please?" Marcus said, moving to stand beside her, his hands folding into hers.

Her eyes locked onto his, and his heart rate sped. The door behind them banged open, "Hermione?"

"Yes, Harry?" She said quietly, keeping her gaze on Marcus.

"So this is him?"

Marcus hid a smile at the disbelief lacing Potter's voice, "Yes. Where's Ron?"

"In the bathroom, he didn't even notice, what's going on?"

"We are talking, sorting it out," she smiled at Marcus. "Can you excuse me to Ron? I won't be coming back in tonight."

"You sure?"

"I'm positive, please?"

"Fine," Potter grumbled, he fought the urge to turn and look at him. "I'm coming around to your place tomorrow, we'll have a talk."

"Of course, good night Harry," Hermione said firmly.

"Night," and the door slammed again.

Marcus smiled, stepping closer to Hermione, his hands coming up to cup her cheeks, "Hermione?"

"Marcus," she said softly, as he lent down to her.

"Please," he whispered against her cheek. "I need to hear it."

He could feel her smile, "I love you." She brought her lips to his, brushing against his slightly. It had be the gentlest kiss they had ever shared, their lips seeming to hardly touched as they parted, her sighs heaven to his ears as she fell into him. Her hands holding onto the collar of his coat as she held herself against him. It was that feeling all over again, the same one he'd had that morning. It was beyond anything he'd ever felt for anyone before, and thankfully it no longer scared the wits out of him.

He knew what it was now despite being sure he'd never felt it before, her arms wrapped around him, holding him to her. "Hermione," he sighed.

"I do," she smiled, tilting her head up to look at him. "I do love you. It's scary, wonderful and amazing all at once."

"I know," Marcus said softly, clearing his throat. "Because, I love you," he brushed her cheek gently, "Those three words have my whole life in them. All of me, it's all yours."

Her smile grew till she was positively beaming at him, her small hands around his neck pulling his lips down to hers. "Let's go home," she said against his lips.

Marcus wrapped his arms around her tight, deciding to Apparate them straight to his place, and incidentally directly into his bathroom.

Hermione laughed slightly as she stepped away after they settled, "A little presumptuous?"

Helping her undo her coat, "We don't, it's just private, and I have a lot of atoning to do."

She smiled as he pulled her coat from her shoulders, "Well by all means, make it up to me."

He took his time helping her to remove her clothes, placing them on the chair in the corner as opposed to his clothes which ended up wherever they fell. Hermione pulled the tie from her hair, and the curls draped over her shoulders, distracting him completely. "Do you know what first made me notice you?"

She shook her head, "You never said."

"These," he smiled, his fingers running through them. "You were dashing down the street, and you had everything in order, the things in your hand, you were in complete control. Except for your hair, it was blowing everywhere in the wind, and you couldn't keep it down. This riotous hair, I didn't want you to control it. It was so different to every other witch I saw, they all looked the same. Your hair made you unique, and a darn sight more interesting than the carbon copies strolling the street."

"That's an odd sort of compliment," she chuckled, shuffling back as he nudged her gently towards the bed.

"Well it's the truth, and I think that's all we should speak from now on," he said quietly, following her onto the bed, hovering over her.

"Most definitely," Hermione sighed, running her hands up his back, pulling him down to her.

He kissed her again, firmly this time, his hands holding her face in place. Marcus could feel her hands exploring him as she returned his kisses, smiling against her lips, he took them into his own and held them together above her head.

"Uh-uh, not this time," he whispered, his lips trailing down her cheek, to the lobe of her ear. "I have amends to make, remember? Which means, you my dear can't do a thing."

Marcus continued as she let her hands fall against the bed, his hands touching the right places, bringing her closer to the edge, he delighted in watching her face change as the pleasure overwhelmed her. Their bodies coming together, slowly, no rush to their movements. When she looked him in the eye, and when she said those words again she came undone around him, he wasn't scared. There was no reason to be scared, a sense of calm came over him as he repeated it back to her, meaning it completely.

And as they lay their together, her arms wrapped around him, as she smiled happily, her words came back to him.

And for that moment, he did indeed feel like the strongest person in the world, with her right beside him.