This Is How It Goes
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the associated characters. I am merely borrowing them for my own amusement and make no money off this writing.
Summary: Hermione & Draco are both teachers at Hogwarts, and when he disappears for a summer, their budding relationship is crushed. What hoops will Draco have to jump through to regain Hermione's trust?
Hermione Granger pushed her hair back for the third time with a small aggravated sound. The potion she was staring intently at wasn't a difficult one by any means; but the text she was following kept getting obscured by tendrils of loose hair. It was a conundrum: if she left the potion on its own to find a hair tie, it would probably burn and she'd have to start all over… but if she kept at it with her hair down, she was likely to set herself on fire, or screw up. It seemed either way she was doomed to redo the past forty-five minutes of work.
Rolling her shoulders as she exhaled, she stared at the potion as she stirred twice counter clockwise, once clockwise, counting silently to herself. Two more… once more… hurriedly, she added the salamander tails, sneezing as the potion spit out smoke a sickly green colour. Blanching a bit, she waved her hands, pulling back to get fresh air for a split second.
Two more steps, she thought to herself as she set back to stirring the potion. After ten slow clockwise stirs, she added the last bit of bat wings and counted the seconds. "Four… three… two… one…" Smiling a little as she stood, taking the potion from the fire, Hermione straightened her back and stretched. "Done." She said, with a satisfied tone as she turned to grab the bottles. Just as she'd grabbed the first one, another hand closed over hers.
"If you promise to pull your hair back, I'll bottle this for you."
Glaring at the owner of the smooth hand, Hermione shrugged, her body stiffening at the voice. "Fine," she snapped, "but don't you dare mess that up. It's the last one I'm supposed to do tonight." Frowning at Draco's pale grey eyes, she watched him carefully as he poured a measured amount into the six bottles she'd gathered.
"Impressive." Holding the last bottle to the light, Draco swirled it a bit. "You're a fair hand, though it looks like you forgot a stir on the end – it's a little clumpy." Setting it down, he crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the counter.
Flushing, she pulled her hair back with more force than necessary, glaring still at Draco. "As long as it does the job, being 'clumpy' won't matter."
Giving a smile, noticing the way her eyes lingered on his muggle clothing, Draco shrugged. "I'm sure it'll do fine. But you really should let the potions teacher take care of stocking for the school year."
Hermione snorted. "Too bad the potions teacher has been on an extended vacation." Turning from Draco, Hermione shuffled the ingredients away, filing them back into the cabinet neatly.
Giving her a calculated glance, Draco threw his hands in the air. "You're still mad about Slytherin winning the House cup, aren't you?!" Draco had slipped into the potion master's chair easily the past few years, and for the first time, his house had won the House cup. He hadn't realized that it would take such a toll on Ms. Granger, as she seemed to take it as a personal offense that her house (Gryffindor, of course) hadn't won.
"I am not mad about that." But even as she said it, the end of her wand jerked a bit, with barely restrained irritation.
"Well, what then? You haven't said a single thing to me since last May!" Draco was sure about that part; he'd been counting. He hadn't realized that he so looked forward to Hermione's wit and her sharp observations, until, typically, they'd been taken away from him.
Turning to him, her lips pulled into a thin line that made her look remarkably like McGonagall, she narrowed her eyes. "You just up and left! I thought we… were friends." She continued darkly, "Or at least I had."
Brushing past him, she left Draco in a stunned, but resigned silence. Well, fine, he thought to himself. If that was the way she wanted to start the year off…
The Sorting was uneventful as usual. There were no children Draco was hoping to come to his House; on the contrary, he found that he was disliking those in his House more and more. They were snotty little rich kids, who either asked him insistently about the Dark Arts, or how he survived the War.
Picking at his food, he glanced at Hermione. She still hadn't talked to him. As it stood, she was talking to Neville, who had accepted the position of Herbology teacher shortly after the War ended. Entirely put out by the whole meal, he was giving a less than friendly look to the Headmaster as he stood and asked for silence.
Blaise Zabini cleared his throat as he looked across the table with a level gaze. As one of the youngest Headmasters in Hogwarts history, he thoroughly had the attention of every female in the room, except maybe Hermione's, Draco noted with a bit of satisfaction. As Blaise gave his beginning of the year speech, Draco admitted that he could see the appeal; with his olive skin, large hazel eyes, and dark ruffled hair, Blaise sometimes looked more like a model stepped out of a magazine than a respected wizard. Toying with his food, Draco's eyes wandered over the tables, picking out students.
Potter's brats sat in the thick of things, of course, seeming to absorb the Gryffindor table from each end, with the three spread out over it. The newest, Lily, had been sorted this year. She reminded Draco so strongly of her mother, that he had to resist the urge to call her 'Weasley'. Frowning, he cast another look at Hermione, seeing that she was still stolidly ignoring him.
The speech soon ended and Draco returned to his chambers with his first years dutifully following. Theodore Nott's son, a charming and uncanny look alike of his father, seemed to already be amassing followers. Briefly giving them the first year lecture of what not to do and what to do, Draco returned to his rooms, brooding a glass of spiced rum before the fireplace.
Hermione would notice him, even if it took him all year. Really. How long could she stay mad at him anyhow?
How long she could stay mad at him proved to be quite a while; it was a month into the term before Draco felt he had time to take a breath, let alone put any of his plans into action. All the while, she'd ignored him at Head of House meetings, been cold in the hall, and to top it off, she'd been hard on his students. While a little House rivalry was all good and well, he'd always thought he was the one who got to be inherently cruel and unusual to first years. But his own troops (mainly, perhaps, Theo's son, Benjamin) seemed to be spending a lot of detentions in Hermione's office.
After having to rearrange Slytherin's quidditch practice three times in a week, Draco figured it was about time to take it straight to Hermione. He couldn't have her punishing his students for 'breathing too loudly' in class, or other such silly things. Straightening his back, he knocked on her classroom door. With a tip-tap of her quill, she never even glanced up at him as she replied, "Yes, yes. What is it?"
Still staring at the parchment, Hermione frowned, crossing a line out. When she finally glanced up, she raised an eyebrow, setting her quill down. "Hello Professor Malfoy. Did you need something?"
Draco stepped into the classroom, shutting the door behind him as he looked at his feet. Clearing his throat, he gave her a direct look, as he threw his cards on the table. "Slytherin students seem to be garnering many a detention from you these days, Hermione." Just because she didn't want to call him Draco, didn't mean he was going to give up his rights to call her Hermione.
"That would have something to do with the fact that they're bossy, misbehaved, irresponsible prats, Professor." The fact that she managed to keep a straight face while proclaiming his House 'bossy, misbehaved, and irresponsible' caused a small smile on his part.
"Well, at least you've got some spirit in you these days, I guess." Running a hand through his hair, his eyes glanced to Crookshanks, the bane of his existence. That cat had managed four times now to get into his potions stores and wreck all sorts of havoc.
Folding her hands on her desk, Hermione gave him a blank stare. "Is there something you wanted in particular? I've got scrolls to grade." She gestured to the pile to her left, watching him silently.
"I-" Draco closed his mouth. It was perhaps the dumbest thing he'd ever felt inclined to say in his almost thirty years of life. "I miss you." He thought he saw just a flicker of surprise in her honey brown eyes before she shrugged, scoffing at him.
"We've been residing in the same school for close to five years now. I don't see how you can 'miss' someone you're practically living with."
Draco closed the space between them in a few long strides, laying his palms on the desk as he leaned towards her, watching her flinch and retreat a few inches. "Before I left, you let me kiss you. What changed?" Hermione licked her lips involuntarily, and Draco's eyes followed the motion. "I really, really would like to kiss you again. I'd also like to spend an evening with you beside the fire, discussing anything I could possibly think of that would keep you there for just a little longer. I miss you, Hermione."
Hermione watched him warily. Something in her was lured to him; his voice was like velvet. She could feel a blush rising on her cheeks as she stuttered, "Don't kiss me." It was barely a whisper. Her eyes were wide, cheeks flushed, lips parted a little. Draco's mind was wandering, wondering if she would look like this if his kisses slipped down her neck…
"I don't want to want you."
"You'll hurt me." The truth, out there for the first time. Hermione finally admitting it to herself and to Draco, the reason she kept her distance. "You'll leave me. You'll make me want you and then you'll leave me." She swallowed hard as she stood, moving a step back from the desk. Draco's eyes, a seeming darker shade of slate watched her like a hawk.
He straightened slowly, his eyes never leaving her as he shook his head. "I wouldn't. On any count." Something was hurting, a little strange. Draco hadn't felt this particular hurt before… something deep in his stomach that made him a little queasy, but also scared. Fear was okay, fear, he could understand. But this pain was different. Deeper.
He walked away. It took all his willpower not to run from the room. Instead he walked calmly, with all the tattered dignity he could pull around himself. He hadn't counted on falling for her over the last summer. It had just happened, and now he was paying for it. Dearly too, it seemed.
Scattering a group of Ravenclaws as he made his way to his quarters, he swore softly. No other woman caused a spark like Hermione did. Before, he had been thinking of ways to get her attention, to win her back. Only now it had hit him that there was nothing to win back. She didn't want him. He was too risky. High risk, he thought to himself caustically.
Divorcing Pansy had been pie compared to this. Perhaps the hardest part of that fiasco was getting her to leave him alone. After that, it had been breezy. And why shouldn't it have been? He'd never really felt anything for her, after all. His mother had guilted him into it shortly after the War had ended, and he'd never questioned it. Until he'd started teaching at Hogwarts and Pansy had started talking of children. Realizing that if he didn't escape from her soon, he never would, he'd made a run for it. They'd settled and that was that. He was free.
To fall for Granger… At first, it'd been business as usual. House rivalry, snide comments when no one else was around, gloating a bit too much about winning this or that… he couldn't really point out when it changed. Next thing he knew, he was sharing a small smile with her, a real one, that made his stomach flip-flop a little more than it should've. Flopping into his armchair, Draco watched the fire lick at the logs. She was gone, he admitted silently to himself. He had lost her, and his chance. So be it.
How naïve he'd been, to think that would be the end of it. Draco had no idea of the next few months of trouble in store for him. Each time he accidentally brushed her hand with his, each time Blaise paired them to some sort of duty, and all those times she caught him awkwardly staring at her.
By the time the Christmas holidays came around, Draco was close to climbing a wall. He opted, as usual, to stay for the holidays at the castle. The twelve Christmas trees decorated the hall as he wandered the castle. He wasn't really looking for anything, and he wasn't really trying to catch students doing things. It just seemed to happen, as he yelled at yet another couple catching a few quick snogs in a dark hallway.
He wasn't sure how he ended up at the entrance to her quarters, just down the corridor from the Gryffindor tower. He licked his lips nervously as he paused. Finally, he knocked. His feet had led him here, so maybe it was time to face the music. After about two seconds of waiting, his mind was racing. Was she even staying for Christmas? She usually went back with Potter, he remembered after a few, swallowing as he turned from the door, stalking for only a few steps.
"Oh." Her soft exhale had him turning back to face her, a blush high on his cheeks, as he stared at the ground, feeling like he'd been caught raiding the cookie jar all over again. "Would-would you like some tea?" Glancing up at her, his amazement plain, he nodded silently. She looked gorgeous. Soft and comfortable, simply divine, in his opinion. She was wearing clothes that he expected she would wear on a snowy day spent indoors, surrounded by books and sipping hot chocolate. Unbidden, the image of her, her books and clutter, scattered around his study, appeared in his mind.
Hermione closed the door behind him, sliding past him quietly to pour another cup of tea. Handing it to him, she wrapped her hands around her own cup, exhaling slowly. "How've you been?" Her voice sounded stressed, Draco noted, feeling almost numbly removed from the scene. Detached.
"I've been okay." He swallowed as he gripped the cup more firmly, feeling, for some reason, that he would drop it any second. "Yourself?"
"Oh, I've been good." A small smile as she pushed her hair behind her ear, though a few strands still escaped. Without thinking on it, he reached out, tucking them back more securely. Seeming to realize his faux-pas, he jerked back a second after doing it, looking away from her. Hermione pretended not to have noticed as she curled up on one end of the couch. "Fleur and Bill had a baby, finally." She traced a fingertip around the rim of the cup, "They'd been trying for such a long time, now."
"Oh, well, that's good. I guess." Perching on the other side of the couch, he took a sip of tea. "I've never liked tea, you know."
Hermione looked up, a glimmer of humor in her eyes. "Really?"
"Yeah." He set the cup down, shrugging a little sheepishly. "I've always preferred hot chocolate, or cider. Tea is boring."
"Well, I like tea. Even if it's a little boring." She smiled into her cup, taking another drink before setting the mug down. She cleared her throat as she sat up a little straighter, her hands nervously placed in her lap. "I owe you an apology, Draco." His eyes moved to her face, though she was staring at her hands still. "In the past few weeks, I've learned that you… can miss someone, when you're practically living with them."
"It's okay," he mumbled softly. Hermione Granger rarely apologized, and the fact that she was giving him one, without prompting, was utterly astounding.
"No, it's not okay. I've seen you watching me." She took a sip of her tea, trying to settle her nerves. She hadn't been alone with Draco in such a long time. "You look thin. You're avoiding meals."
Scratching the back of his neck, his cheeks still flushed a bit, Draco shrugged. Embarrassment was a strange feeling for him. He hadn't much experience with it, and the warmth in his face and his shaky hands made him feel weak and defenseless. "I forget. Sometimes." He cleared his throat, "to eat, I mean. I just… forget." It wasn't him forgetting in the least, and he knew it. But he wasn't about to tell her that he avoided meals at all cost because to see her ignore him so easily for another thirty minutes at a time was more than he could possibly stand at this point.
"Oh." Setting her tea at the table, she looked to Draco, waiting for him to lift his eyes. When they met, she opened her mouth, then closed it. Seeming to steel herself, she straightened, as she spoke more firmly. "Kiss me… Draco."
It wasn't a question, Draco noticed with a light feeling swooning about his head. The three steps across the room to her seemed like more than he could possibly survive. His heart was pounding and his vision had narrowed to Hermione, just Hermione. With her wild hair, softly curved lips, stubborn chin, and dreamy brown eyes, well… she was more than he could ever hope for. And she wanted to kiss him?
Holding her face between his hands with a feather light touch, he let his lips brush hers for just a second. Then she was pulling him down, her hands tracing a path down his chest, one slinking behind his neck to pull him closer. "I've missed you." The simple desperation in the words, her wide eyes staring up at him…
"I've missed you too." He was at a loss for words as he pulled her closer, letting his hands roam freely, hers mimicking his as he kissed her lips, jaw, neck… soft, he thought in a daze to himself. His fingers wound through her hair absently, his other hand tracing down her neck, shoulder, falling to her back, wrapping his arm around her tightly.
The past months of hell that he'd endured seemed to pale in comparison, as if they didn't matter. Because he was kissing her and she was kissing back. Pushing just a little, Hermione fell softly back against the couch, Draco trailing kisses down her jaw as he kissed her pulse point firmly on her neck. "Missed you so much," he whispered against her. Her hands were pulling his shirt up his back and over his head as he lifted a little to let her tug it off.
The cool air combined with her cold hands made him gasp a little, looking down at her with blatant appreciation as she let her hands wander over his chest. Taking his time, Draco looked her over, trying to memorize the way her cheeks were flushed oh-so-slightly, her hair curled around her shoulders in disarray. "You're gorgeous, Hermione," he murmured, watching her cheeks redden at his words. Giving an entirely Slytherin-like smirk, he kissed her, groaning appreciatively at the faint touch of her nails on his back.
"You won't hurt me, right, Draco?" Hermione's voice was fragile sounding, her breath coming in short gasps. Her hands played with his hair, twisting as he bit her shoulder gently, pushing her shirt aside.
"Not unless you want me to," he teased, kissing where he'd just bitten.
Hermione groaned, arching her hips up against Draco's as her eyes closed for just a second. "I'll have to investigate that possibility thoroughly, then…" Draco smiled, making a small agreeing sound as he worked on her shirt.
He imagined that there would be plenty of possibilities for them to explore for a long time.
A/N: Wrote this one a while back, just a drabble thing to keep me occupied while we were snowed in… hope you liked it. I've been in a fluff mood lately. I'm thinking of writing some Blaise/Hermione stuff next, sooo, keep your eyes peeled. Happy New year!