Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to J K Rowling. No profit is being made.
Author's Notes: This was written forever ago for the dmhgficexchange over at livejournal, I just never got around to posting it elsewhere. I polished up some mistakes, but nothing was changed plot-wise. There is sex in this story, so proceed with caution.
Hermione's drunk when she first spots him across the chintzy reception hall.
He's bent across the polished stone bar, tucking drinks back, surely wishing he could be anywhere but at the Ministry's Mandatory Equal Opportunity Seminar. That makes two of them, and if Hermione's assessment of facial expressions is correct, plenty more of her colleagues feel the same.
She plucks at the olive from her poorly made martini with her two front teeth, embracing the saltiness as she averts her gaze to the center of the social stomping ground. Dead center is Ronald Weasley with his lanky arm around the waist of his loopy new girlfriend, Luna Lovegood. Hermione narrows her eyes.
She wanted salty but ended up bitter.
She sets off toward her ex-fiancé and company because, quite frankly, she hadn't spent an absurd amount of money on that ivory pantsuit for her health. She realizes, as she's almost near to approaching them, that the crowd is sparse and she would have absolutely nothing to start conversation about and not anyone she could feign laughter with.
Hermione panics and keeps her path set on walking straight by the group, making sure to add a little swagger to her step.
As she passes her eyes land on Ron and then to his hand on the small of Luna's back.
She looks straight ahead to focus in on a target for flirtatious conversation. She only finds Draco Malfoy sitting alone at the bar. She risks a nonchalant glance in Ron's direction; he's looking straight at her and her fit bottom as it shakes on by.
She looks back to Malfoy slumped over the bar.
Ron hates Malfoy. So does Hermione, but as she makes her decision she realizes that she hates Ron more.
She's sitting next to him at the bar and she orders another martini. It's gone before the glass has a chance to hit the counter.
The flirtatious repartee she was hoping for was being replaced by the soft clinks of ice in his glass. She only hoped Ron turned his attention back to the lost cause at the end of his arm. Crashing and burning doesn't emit an aura of jealousy.
She was thinking more along the lines of pity.
The only way she could save herself from this public display of distress would be to somehow leave the seminar early with Malfoy. But even if she groveled dramatically he would never leave with her.
Hermione looks at him through her lashes, and looks to the shelves of liquor behind the bartender. Malfoy. Malfoy and booze. She gets the bartenders attention; two shots of volcanic tequila, she says. The drinks get poured and she slides one over to Malfoy. He looks at her with mild interest before accepting the shot and lowering it in salute.
They take the shot at the same time and she smiles despite the burn it leaves in her throat.
She wasn't expecting him to take the bait as quickly as he had.
She's leading him out of the hall with her hand playfully tugging his. They stumble together as they reach the double doors and she pivots her steps and pulls him toward her with his tie. Their eyes lock for fraction of a second before she reaches up on her toes and brushes his lips with her own. His mouth tastes like the tequila she fed him and sweet peppermint candy.
She pulls her lips away from his and looks purposefully over his shoulder.
Her mouth still tastes of him later as she smiles, knowing full well that Ron had seen every second of their exchange.
She's not surprised and more relieved than she's willing to admit when she sees him standing under the chandelier at Blaise's twenty-fourth birthday extravaganza. She doesn't know why she came; she's gone the years before, but even then she hadn't even wanted to go. She doesn't like Blaise now any more than she had in the years past.
She takes a glass of champagne from a passing waiter and circles the perimeter of the room.
She's eyeing Ron with her flute to her lips when a scantily clad girl slips into his arms. It's Pansy Parkinson.
Hermione doesn't have time to be jealous or angry about Ron's poor choice of lady companions because she's almost to the chandelier. She sees him standing there, alone, one hand in his pocket and the other lazily swirling firewhiskey around a glass.
She stands at an angle so Ron can see the corner of her face as she smiles.
Hermione's surprised when the first words out of his mouth are, what could you possibly want now?
She smirks and takes two glasses of champagne, handing one to him. Just saying hello to my favorite cleared felon, is all. He doesn't look amused as he swallows his firewhiskey and follows the motion with the champagne.
Her eyes follow his as he quickly scans her face, her arms, her hands. She's unsure as to what he's looking for, but he snaps his eyes back to her face and he doesn't wait a compete second before he turns to walk towards Blaise.
Hermione's left standing alone under the chandelier in a party for a person she doesn't like.
He simply can't just go and walk off unannounced; she needs him. There is no plan without him. There is no scheme. He is the only person that can make this work; he is the last person on the face of the earth Ron would want to see her with.
And Hermione's desperate to be seen.
She's having a completely horrible time. She's leaning against the stairwell and unhealthily obsessing over how many times Ron has grazed Pansy's neck with his lips. She lost count in the seventies somewhere, mostly because it was many more times he had done so within the past few hours with Pansy than he had with her in the span of their entire relationship.
Every so often Hermione glances in Draco Malfoy's direction. She imagines killing him just for the purpose of bringing him back to life to watch herself murder him a second time. He was ruining her plan and had no conscious knowledge of the fact.
She watches as his face gradually flushes after each new sip of whiskey.
She sees Ron add another kiss to Pansy's jaw line.
She sees Malfoy clap Blaise on the back, excusing himself to the loo.
She hears Ron drunkenly holler, I gotta take a leak!
And Hermione is following the plan before she even knows what the plan is. She reaches the bathroom door one step ahead of Malfoy. She seeks his face and levels him with a knowing look found deep within her smoldering eyes. Fancy seeing you here. It's a purr from the lips of a seductress.
She doesn't miss the vague smile across his lips as he follows her into the washroom.
Hermione knows exactly how long Ron would be willing to wait to use a toilet without growing impatient. Which means she needs to make it short. Short yes, but also good. Believable.
He already has her on the sink, their mouths interlocked with feverish passion. His hands are on her face, in her hair, on her thighs, under her shirt, cupping her breasts. It's enough to make her forget about the plan altogether.
He begins kneading her breast, applying the subtlest pressure in the most effective way. Her back arches and she's moaning against his mouth. He's kissing her chin, her neck, her shoulder; quickly moving towards her collarbone.
His touch leaves a scalding trail of lust atop her skin, one that can only be soothed by the presence of his hands on every inch of exposed skin he can manage to reach under such circumstances. Her heart is pounding and her ears are ringing and she's only mutely aware of the fact that her role in this situation is not to withdrawal into passion.
She's almost completely lost in the frantic desire of the moment when she realizes his hand has disappeared under her skirt, and any minute Ron will give up and relieve himself on shrubbery.
She's sliding her body against his now, a discreet maneuver to get off the sink. He backs her against the door and she stands on the tips her toes.
Her lips barely skim his as her hand reaches for the door. Thanks is just a murmur lost in the back of his mind as she slips out the door.
She leaves him standing there, painfully turned on, and being glared at by an irate Ron Weasley.
One month has passed and Hermione has yet to see Ron or Draco.
She's nearing a wholly anxiety-driven breakdown because if her sources are correct, Ron has been spotted finagling about with a tart French floozy. And what makes that all the worse is the fact that Hermione has not had an opportunity to present herself in the utmost stunning fashion.
She'd jump at the chance to reenact the events of Blaise's party, but only for the purpose of rendering Ronald more resentful and angered than he already was.
Certainly not to rekindle the fire that had been dully burning beneath her lips for the last four weeks.
Instead of being a socialite in a killer dress she's strolling through Flourish & Blotts in khakis and cotton, trying to find a cookbook with recipes not including frogspawn.
She idly wonders if there's a publication on how to effectively make an ex-lover green with envy as she thumbs over Girtha Guldruel's Guide on Rectifying Recipes.
She's leaving the store empty-handed and sour when she hears her name echo out from an alley behind her. She stops and turns to find him leaning against the sturdy stonework, gray slacks and black sweater all but blending into the negative space behind him.
He looks very nice this way, she observes. Far too masculine to be deemed pretty, but also too manicured to be gruffly handsome in any way. She's not sure what this means for him, but for her, it's a few minutes allowance to see what he has to say for himself.
Judging by the raspy tone of his voice and his biting remarks, he's angry and possibly frustrated with her. Which in Hermione's eyes screams success. She started this charade on a whim, knowing it would be difficult to get him as deep in it as she wanted without giving any heed.
And Draco Malfoy was sinking faster than lead in water.
You intrigue me is a lie from the lips of the devil; her response when he asks her what she's doing. She slides her hand across the soft fabric of his woven sweater, trailing small circles over his belly as she avoids his eyes.
The more chary retorts he makes, the better at lying she becomes. She's just having fun,
she says. Her hands lay flat across his stomach. Don't you want to have fun?
He shrugs her hands off of him kindly. Not that kind of fun, Granger.
She knows this won't be lasting very long at all. If his physical state of arousal from their previous rendezvous was anything to judge by, she knew he'd be beckoning sooner rather than later.
She's leaning towards his face now, aiming to give him what she knows he wants. He turns his head slightly away from her.
She places a soft hand on his shoulder and applies a quick peck on his angular cheekbone. She's leaning closer now, whispering sweet lullabies into his ear.
Her tongue just barely flicks out of her mouth and against his ear when she whispers deeply and without reservations. Let me know when you change your mind.
She knows she should be thinking of how to get her plan back on track, but her traitorous mind does not allow it.
All she can think of is how nice his sweater felt under her palm.
She's fighting the urge to vocalize how ironic it is; rain for a funeral. It couldn't be more morose if there was any effort instilled.
Witches and wizards from far and wide pay their respects, the round-faced boy who's turned into the angle-jawed man stands glumly in the middle.
Her plain black dress matches her very disposition. Sullen and dour down to the last bone.
She doesn't notice Ron holding a beautiful brunette's hand. She doesn't notice Draco standing somberly with Blaise. She's approaching Neville. She whispers sweetly to him, holding his chin with her soft fingers.
Your grandmother was a great witch, she says, wiping away a tear that falls from Neville's face. She was a great woman.
She feels her throat constricting as she hugs him, but even had she wanted to, not one single tear fell for his grandmother.
The reception, only one hour after the actual burial ceremony, felt days away.
She's rigid in the unforgiving wooden chair, deftly pushing unknown contents around her full plate with a salad fork. She doesn't see him approach her, but a trace of peppermint reaches her nose and she turns to look at him.
Hollow eyes meet hollow eyes.
They remain silent; every so often they look at the other. He wasn't especially close with the Longbottoms by any degree, but a loss within the community, either large or small, is enough to ruffle the smoothest of feathers.
He asks if she's okay. She shrugs. She's been asking herself that all day.
She's looking at him, her full emotional palette on display.
Do you want to catch some air?
He holds her elbow as she stands. The first step into the rainy haze is like being reborn. She doesn't think about how ghastly walking out the backdoor with Malfoy could have looked. She doesn't think about anything.
Hermione just feels.
The rain falls in intricate patterns across her face, each new bead of water cooler than the last. Layers of gooseflesh envelope her exposed skin as she remains standing in the dreadful weather.
She turns to the voice. There's worry and concern creased into his face. He's standing closer to the building, just short of rainfall.
He extends his hand the second lightning cracks in the sky.
She doesn't need persuading. She takes it without thought, and within moments his free hand is on her face, rubbing the water off her cheeks with the expanse of his palm. Her teeth chatter when he leans closer to her.
His forehead meets hers; she craves the warmth it brings.
Her heart is clenching and her limbs are shaking because he's kissing her. It feels as if he's trying to heal her with the power of his psyche. His lips move in a melodic dance, a rhythm that tells a story to her parted mouth.
She draws a shuddering breath when he pulls away, hesitates, and retreats. She turns once more, facing the onslaught of the rain.
As it hits her face it mixes with the tears she finally sheds.
She's surprised when Harry owls her. In the aftermath of her and Ron's breakup it felt as though they had divided the city. What friends they could keep, what restaurants they could frequent. Harry had somehow fallen through a hole in the sifter and landed in Ron's pile of belongings for what seemed like eternity.
It's been almost three months since they've properly spoken.
She's tracing her finger around the tip of her teacup when he asks how she's been doing. She looks at him, and without having to speak tells him all he needs to know.
That bad? Harry asks. She sighs through her nose and quirks her lip. She doesn't know what she wants to say.
He tells her she looks good. She smiles depreciatively and returns the sentiment.
He's told me that you're dating Malfoy. There's an edge to his statement; almost as if he was too cowardly to have it be a question.
She's surprised and slightly ecstatic. Certainly not.
Harry tells her that Ron is quite certain. I'm not sure where he got the idea, Harry, but I can assure you it's not what it seems.
He kisses her on the cheek when they depart.
She suppresses her smile as she realizes things are looking better than she could have imagined.
Hermione hopes that when she dies her loved ones won't all rush out to sell her worldly belongings before her casket has a chance to close.
It's before the auction begins when she spots him enter. He's windswept and elegant and practically glowing with wealth. She slips past the doors and into the room, sneaking a quick glance at the guest list as she goes.
She sits in the middle of the room and beams, the guests filtering in all around her.
When the bidding begins, it isn't ancient paintings and carved bureaus that catch Hermione's eye.
To her left and her right is a two-pointed constellation of the utmost red and the most platinum of blond.
A white gold necklace laced with the most beautiful canary diamonds seizes Hermione's attention. She sends him a timid smile and he nods in return.
His hand lazily lifts his paddle in the air and her heart threatens to pound straight out of her chest.
The smile melts off her face when Ron thrusts his paddle in the air, staring straight at her face; his free arm snaking behind his French girlfriend's back.
She's met with the brute force of nausea and she wishes to God and Merlin alike that she could just disappear. Malfoy's paddle rises in response to the higher price.
The price is rising without concern and if she can venture a guess, Ron will back down soon before he's forced to sell his girlfriend for penance.
As the last hand is raised and the bid is closed, Hermione leans forward in her chair.
A tuck of his chin is all she needs to put her best smile on showcase.
Draco Malfoy is no fool. And he doesn't appreciated being taken for as such.
Which is precisely why he allows her to drag him into bathrooms for a snog. Why he bids on gaudy jewelry. Because to him it's purely a game.
And the fun of it is that she hasn't a clue he's in on it.
He's observed on more than one occasion how aloof she is with him.
And how that drastically changes the second her ex-fiancé looms into view. He figures he must have done something dreadful for her to take such lengths, but it's not in Draco's nature to pry.
For it seems to be the sole motivation of the sport that their behavior has turned into.
And although it seems tragically archaic, he was a Slytherin afterall. And Slytherins aren't ones to back down from a challenge.
And Draco can't wait to see the results.
Hermione doesn't like to admit it, but she has a compulsion involving reflective surfaces. She loathes them. Not because she doesn't like what she sees, not by a long shot. Just that once she catches a glimpse of herself, she feels an obsessive impulse to look at herself at every chance available, just to make sure something hasn't changed since her last glance. And she does so until she's completely consumed in a fit of narcissism.
Twenty minutes prior she spotted herself on the far wall of the ballroom; one enchanted to look like a wall made of ice. After the occasion it's been a whirlwind of self-appreciation. In the margarita fountain, in Harry's glasses, on the waiter's polished silver platter, in Lavender Brown's ghastly silver pendant earrings.
The difference between the other occasions and now is that Hermione needs to look good.
She darts past numerous holiday greetings and well wishes to see the length of her body in the reflection of the glass patio doors. Wrapped around her like a whisper is a dress made with the lightest gold silken material. Her collarbones poke out from the top, sporting the beautiful canary diamond necklace wrapped around her bare neck. Her hair is twisted up for maximum affect and the faint trace of flustered skin is seen.
She's checking the entrance obsessively. She can't wait for him to see her and for them to be seen. Dance, drink and be merry; it's the holiday way, is it not? And that is exactly what she intends to do. If Draco Malfoy ever decides to make an appearance, that is.
She takes the opportunity to examine her features in her wine glass, making sure the night hasn't ebbed away any of her glamour.
When she averts her gaze back to the door she's met with an unpleasant sight. Draco Malfoy, looking absurdly handsome, and with the most beautiful witch Hermione has ever seen.
Despite the biting taste, she swallows her wine in one go. She backs away from the majority of the crowd and harshly closes her eyes as she's faced with a wall of ice.
She doesn't want to see what the angry tears are doing to her face.
She's drinking tacky Christmas-inspired cocktails like they're oxygen and she's in an iron lung.
In the back of her mind she knows she's acting like a fool and that she'll have a hard time showing her face at the Ministry after this occasion, but she's feeling warm and jovial and she can't find it in her to care.
All she cares about is the fact that each drink down her throat yields a promise of fuzzy eyesight.
And where's a care in the world when you can only make out the wooly outline of Malfoy and his date as they waltz about the dance floor like angels gliding across clouds?
He's making sure to not appear as if he's watching her. At every time he spins Gabrielle around in his arms his eyes find the ice wall parallel to him and he spots her reflection. She's slumped over a chair staring off in his direction with her eyebrow quirked and a drink leaning precariously close to the satin of her party dress.
Every so often she'll cough into her hand and look over her shoulder nonchalantly, feigning the look of indifference, before narrowing her vision in on him again. He fights the urge to smirk as Gabrielle is within his grasp once more.
He'll admit that she is a lovely companion, but where good traits start and end that is all he can wager. He's aware of the fact that she has a stunning array of features, but she's French and acts as such. And truthfully, he cannot stand the broad and even getting her to agree to accompany him had sourly reminded him of that.
He's finally able to breathe properly when she excuses herself and leaves him be.
She's sitting alone with the room spinning in orbits around her head when two nameless people approach her. She doesn't concentrate too much on their faces, but when he speaks all need for vision is lost.
Is there room at this table?
Instead of attempting to slur her way through a witty response she merely waves her hand flippantly and blindly gropes about the table in search for the shallow remains of her cocktail. A thick odor of foul cologne stings her nostrils and she can only assume that Ron has put himself between his new beau and harms way.
On a normal day, Hermione would have elaborated on this observation without a moment of hesitation. And it's not as if she's faltering, she's just very drunk and she'd much rather focus her remaining drop of attention on his girlfriend. And she can't recall ever being told her name.
She noisily drinks away the last impending drop of liquor before she leans across the table, sporting a sly grin.
He's not sure if what he is witnessing is reality or if a glamour charm has been cast on the room and all his holiday wishes have been granted simultaneously.
He's seen her drunk before. It's something you grow accustomed to. Mouths on faces, shoes on feet, grass on earth, red hair on Weasleys, drunk on Grangers.
What makes this time so different, so special even, is that Hermione Granger is totally and completely annihilated.
He can't hear a word she's saying over the excited buzz of the room around him, but her body language speaks miles.
He's watching as she leans across the tabletop and grins suggestively at Weasley's date. Her mouth drops and Weasley's face reddens at the same time Hermione claps her hands to her mouth and chuckles. He could hear the drunken slur of oops in his mind before he even sees her lips form the word.
He's so caught up in the excitement of the situation that he nearly doesn't notice his date gliding over to Hermione's table. Gabrielle's vision is locked on Ron's date and she wiggles her fingers in a chic salute of acknowledgement. Draco notices the havoc this could wreck and he's already frantically thinking of an approach to evade the potentially catastrophic situation at hand.
His doubts only expand further when Gabrielle plants herself at the table, gushing madly to her friend using wildly exaggerative facial expressions and excessive hand gesturing.
He sees Hermione narrow her vision in on Gabrielle and he's up and out of his chair before he knows what he intends to do.
He's approaching the table as Hermione begins to open her mouth, a wicked look in her eye and her index finger pointed accusingly towards the witch in question. He grabs the finger and averts all attention to himself. He's awkwardly standing before the four of them, Hermione's finger held rigidly in his palm.
Granger. Dance with me. It's more of a demand than a request and before he can inwardly groan at the look on his date's face he's pulling Hermione towards the exit.
He tries to convince himself that his actions were completely selfish and were spawned only out of the need to salvage his reputation.
And that nothing was done out of concern for the girl stumbling behind him.
She's just now opening her eyes and she sees that she is no longer seated a table, but rather being led down an emergency staircase.
She's curious as to how her legs hadn't noticed the fact that they were being dragged, but warm hands had a hold of her waist and it felt delightful. Her movements are sluggish and she's tired.
She sees his hair before she sees his face and she ceases any and all movement in her body. She teeters for a moment before a firm grasp keeps her standing upright.
She's calling him a bad man with the best enunciation she can manage as she tries to physically pry his hands from her waist. The lingering contact reminds her of the way those hands had once touched her and before she knows what's happening her loins are stirring and she's decided that she wants him and she'll be damned if she can't have him.
She's crushing her body to his and pressing his hands harder into the flesh of her waist.
So sexy, she mumbles with her head against his chest. He braces his hands on her shoulders and holds her out and away from him. A look of questioning is etched across his face but she mistakes it for intrigue and attempts to push herself closer. She's not standing properly and the effort it takes for him to keep her at bay results in her stumbling into the wall.
She's arching her back off the wall and blindly grabbing at the waist of his trousers. Her fingers find belt loops and within an instant she's pulling him to her. She's biting her lip in concentration as she's reaching down and removing one of her heels. He grabs a hold of her once more and asks what it is that she plans on doing with only one shoe removed.
She stares him dead in the eye as she answers his query, looking at him as if the answer had been so obvious that even a blind man with hearing problems could have detected it.
He's struggling to ignore the intense heat spreading throughout his body as he keeps her hands a safe distance away from his belt buckle. He knows in some distant and far off part of his mind that he has never in his life wanted something so vigorously and ignored it with such fervor. Somehow he feels it's in part with how incredibly inebriated she is, but he's not entirely sure if what he's feeling towards that is repugnance or concern.
She's holding her shoe in one hand and rubbing his side with the other. Her hand travels to the side of his face and he vehemently suppresses the urge to nuzzle his face in her warm hand.
The more she touches him the more he spirals into the dark abyss of coming undone.
Despite the fact that she's unable to walk properly or speak without slurring, she can see the want stirring in his eyes. It's written in the stormy catacombs of charcoal gray and even more so in the faint beads of sweat forming along his brow.
She's trailing her fingers across the moisture and brings her hand down and across his lips. They part ever so slightly without his acquiescence and she's surprised at the heat stirring beneath them.
She finds his labored breathing against her hand endearing and despite his earlier protests she leans forward to replace her fingers with her smiling lips. Their lips meet for a fraction of a second before his head is turned away.
She's not sure if it's the rum in her system, but she's seeing red. She knows that he wants it just as greatly as she does and she's frustrated and wants to hit something.
Not such a good idea, Granger.
She's astounded. She is full of good ideas; the only ideas she ever has are good ones. She narrows her eyes to slits and jabs him in the abdomen with the dramatic pointed toe of her heel. He sucks in a breath that sounds more like a hiss and snarls at her. What the hell are you playing at, you crazy bint?
She jabs him once more for emphasis as she speaks. You want to sleep with me!
He shakes his head as he lets out a strangled laugh. Not right now, no.
She prods him for a last time before he snatches the heel from her grasp and throws it down the stairwell. Her arms are crossed and she belligerently informs him that he shouldn't get used to the offer. I'm intoxicated, in case you hadn't noticed, is a slur from her lips. She quickly snaps her hand out and pokes his belly once more. Plus, you're getting plump, Malfoy.
As she brings her hand back to her side, she wonders if there's any oxygen left in the room.
There's an ominous pressure against her head and within a moment she sees black.
If she had poked him once more, he swears to Merlin he would have let her fall.
Instead he carries her down the stairs like a perfect gentleman, even picking up her discarded shoe along the way.
He takes her to his home, not knowing what else to do with her, and levitates her up the stairs. She's floating midair when he discovers the guest bedroom littered with his flying equipment. He curses madly under his breath and levitates her into his bedroom, sacrificing his comfort for her needs.
He hardly flinches when he hears her head collide with the doorframe.
She wakes up and her head fucking hurts.
It's pounding and throbbing in the worst way imaginable and it takes her a few moments before she can open her eyes to adjust. When she does she wishes she had kept them closed.
She's not in her own home. She's looking around frantically for any sign of recognition. Her eyes land on a moving photo framed on the bedside table, featuring a young Draco Malfoy and Blaise Zabini. She finds it suiting that he'd keep a framed picture of himself by his bed.
She snaps her head up and drops the duvet from the clutch of her arms. She's in Draco Malfoy's bed. She unceremoniously tumbles out and stares in horror at the Egyptian cotton sheets. Her mind calculates what this means and what most likely happened and she's cursing the entire Christmas holiday and grabbing her wand in a frenzy.
She apparates away almost immediately, so quickly she accidentally leaves her favorite pair of shoes behind. All the while promising to herself to never touch of another drop of alcohol for as long as her name remains Hermione Granger.
She spends almost the entire day in and out of the bathtub. The water is never anything short of scalding.
She means to cleanse him away.
It's not even that she's disgusted with herself for letting it happen. She's disgusted because part of her is glad that it happened.
She represses the urge to gag as she's rubbing her skin raw with a washcloth.
There's a knock at her door and she nearly topples over in surprise. She hasn't had a visitor since Harry, and that was in autumn.
She opens the door and sees the face she thought would never appear again on the other side of the doorframe.
She lets him enter and marvels at her voice as it remains unwavering.
Her heart is performing an African drum solo in her chest.
He sits uncomfortably on the couch he always hated and rubs his palms on his corduroy slacks. They're the awful maroon ones; the ones he wore despite the inoperable rip along the seam of the bum.
After the pleasantries are spoken, a dull silence hangs in the air.
It's heavy and it weighs down on her shoulders and her disposition.
Despite her ill-tempered thoughts towards him, he still knows her better than she knows herself. He answers the question he knows she won't ask but desperately wants to.
I just wanted to see how you are.
He reaches up and runs his clumsy hands through his unruly red mane of hair and mumbles something that sounds suspiciously like I miss you.
Heat flares beneath the skin of her face and she has to fight not to scream and throw the iron candlestick he refused to help pay for at his head.
He sees this and clears his throat, stands up. His shirts are still too short and his jacket sleeves too long. One year ago she would have laughed and wrapped her arms around his torso. He would have kissed the summit of her head and commented on the absurdity of the pair.
He turns to her once more and pushes his hands into his pockets. It reminds her of someone else and a nervous lump rises to her throat.
I don't like the way we are now, Hermione. Can't we just have us back again?
She honestly considers it for a moment. She likes to think that it could be possible; that things could go back to their natural flow.
I don't know, Ron.
I don't know.
She stares at the wall for thirty minutes after he leaves, a crisp eggshell invitation in her hands. They're throwing a New Years party. He wants her to be there.
She stares at the thick card. They live together now. Her name is Antoinette. She tries her best not to judge her based on her appearance and name alone, but it's a difficult feat to manage.
It's not in Hermione's nature to be a reasonable human being.
She wishes he had never come.
It's what she's wanted all along. For him to care enough to step in; to intervene. To see what he was missing. To do something about it. Now she doesn't know if she wants him to do anything about it. Does she want him to want her after he's wanted someone else? After he wanted someone like Antoinette? She and Hermione are two completely different women.
It's like comparing couture to Chaucer.
She wishes he had never come.
She hadn't missed the expectant look on his face after he informed her that Malfoy had been invited. She had tried her best to seem pleased about the fact.
All she got was the lump returning to her throat.
She's standing in the majestic foyer in her modest black chiffon dress and she can't believe she came. The invitation had said that their New Year's celebration was to be held in their 'quaint countryside home'.
There was nothing quaint about it.
She contemplates turning around and leaving, but the house elf that took her coat is nowhere to be seen, and the aggressive-looking butler is staring at her keenly. She takes a deep breath and saddles on her best team-player grin and allows the man with the pointed coat tails to lead her past great white columns and marble staircases into the most grandiose ballroom she has ever seen with her own two eyes.
She almost chokes on her tongue when she spots what looks to be Michelangelo's David standing royally by the veranda doors.
She's heading off to get a glass of chilled Pellegrino when she walks by the same beautiful woman she recognizes as Malfoy's date from the week before.
She bitterly thinks to herself that if David is there anything is possible.
Midnight seems hours away and Hermione is devoting every ounce of her attention to the second hand of the clock.
It's a simple and clandestine distraction from the merry couples cavorting about the marble finished floors.
Her eyes lazily skim over to where Ron is swaying with Antoinette and she searches within the frozen void of her heart and surprisingly finds nothing. She tries harder; tries to think of all that she could be missing; thinks of all the jealousy that should be stirring within her. There's absolutely nothing.
She seeks out Malfoy, and to where he is standing crossly with his lady friend. Almost instantaneously something heavy and foul is rousing inside of her.
It takes her breath away.
It's finally seeing after years of being blind.
She looks to Ron frantically once more, and back to Malfoy seconds later. The difference in emotions is astounding.
It's like holding a pair of twos when your opponent has a royal flush.
Something noticeably comparable to anger bubbles through his veins as she turns her head away from his gaze once more. She's been doing this all evening long. Never would she frequent the same social grouping as he, or really any social grouping at all. She would turn away from him at the first initiation of pleasantries and it's extremely frustrating to him.
He excuses himself from conversation and makes over to where she is standing. She quickly peers over her shoulder and breaks stride towards an imposing looking staircase. She's made it up the entire scale and is sprinting for an unlocked door when he calls her name.
She turns towards him with a defeated look upon her face and he feels pride swell in his chest.
He's won the charade, so it seems, and he intends to collect.
She turns with a heavy heart and is very much aware of the blood pumping noisily through her body.
Her nerves are ricocheting in agitation and she feels as if angry bees are swarming in her gut as his eyes survey her closely.
She's waiting for him to berate her, to call her the long list of crude names she knows he's picked out for her after she so drunkenly gave herself to him. She's waiting but nothing ever comes. They stand facing each other awkwardly; distanced in the vacant hallway and she feels him waiting for her to speak first. It's absurd and she knows it but curiosity bubbles in her throat and pushes out the strangled question, do you want something, Malfoy?
You're ignoring me.
She wants to point out that he doesn't exactly spread himself thin when it comes to keeping in touch with her, but her heart is pounding and she's tempted to Apparate away and forever erase the name Malfoy from her mind. When she never responds he scoffs and pulls his hands from his pockets.
You're just sour because you know I've won it.
She's truly lost and she looks at him with a skeptical eye. Won what, exactly?
He sneers and stares at her with a scathing look that punches her in the gut. She's trying to convince herself that this isn't happening and that there's no possible way he could have caught on.
Like you don't know, is all he says, but it's all she needs to hear. Her mouth drops open in shock and she's standing there for what feels like eons trying to think of something, anything, to say in her defense. Again there's nothing and she feigns her best look of innocence.
She's telling him, I haven't a clue as to what you're on about, when he interrupts her, practically exploding with the fact that she's completely full of shit. That he knows it, that she knows it, and that her great Muggle aunt in Scotland knows it. She folds her arms across her chest and squeezes, tries to strangle her traitorous heart of its beats. She wants to tell him that she's sorry, wants to say it one hundred times over until he can never think of her saying any other combination of two words.
Instead she's tightening the grip she has on herself and is speaking in a voice so small she hardly recognizes it as being her own. When did you figure it out?
He's telling her that he's not an idiot. She knows this, and she never took him for a fool. She wants to tell him this, wants to tell him that it all wasn't because she thought she could hoodwink him so easily. She wants to tell him everything. Wants to tell him about how she dreams of a face vaguely similar to his, how when she moves her hand she can just barely feel the fabric of his sweater underneath her palm, how when she's least expecting it, the faintest hint of peppermint flavor envelopes her mouth in a sickeningly sweet memory. Instead she listens, listens to him careen on about all the things that led him on to her plan. Listens until his words grace her ears with one thing that can fill her up with more than memories of peppermint and black sweaters.
Bloody Hell, Granger; how could I not know? It got to the point where I was looking forward to being in the same room as a Weasley.
She's trying her best to not beam like a love struck schoolgirl as he says this, but resistance is futile and a smile breaks through like the morning sun.
She's smiling and he can't decide if he wants to punch her in the mouth or grab her and kiss her until she has no strength left to smile. Instead of pursuing either of the options, he shoves his hands in his pockets as he's apt to do at any point of a conversation and asks her why are you smiling?
Her grin falters, but even as it's heavily evident that she's trying to hide it, it's still there.
Draco's sure that even if it disappeared he'd still see it.
She shrugs once and asks, why are you still here talking to me? through the smile on her lips.
He doesn't have an answer for her. He can't tell her that he'd rather be arguing with her than not speaking at all. He thinks of a safe retort and slides on his patent smirk for good measure.
Surprised you would be object to having me around, considering your behavior from last week.
There's a red mist glazing over her vision as she's consumed with righteous, indignant anger.
My behavior? The question is more of a shriek and her voice is shaking with the force of it. How can you speak of my behavior when you're the one who brought me back to your house?
Her mind is painfully throbbing with the need to repress the memory of waking up in his bed, but her curiosity is unrelenting and it needs its fix of the truth.
He stares at her blankly and asks, do you even remember what happened?
She narrows her eyes and shakes her head no, and almost laughs at his ridiculousness when he tells her, you were practically begging for it.
She has self respect in high abundance, she tells him, and that also she would never lower herself to the point of having to beg for anything from the likes of him. He's shaking his head and chuckling. Something is twinkling in his eyes and if she wasn't completely livid with him she would probably stop to admire it.
You weren't begging for anything from me, Granger. You were begging for me.
She's almost certain that he's making this up, but just to be sure she needs to redeem herself.
Well that could explain why I woke up completely unsatisfied.
She's afraid she struck a severe cord. The second she says this, his mouth is agape and a large vein is pounding alarmingly along his temple.
He hasn't said anything yet and she's petrified. She prays to every holy being on the planet that he, for some odd twist of fate, isn't carrying his wand on him this evening. For that is the only way she'll make it out of this terrible party alive.
She absentmindedly wonders what's happening downstairs and then snaps back into reality when she hears his low warning voice speak out to her.
If you're implying what I think you're implying, Granger, I have news for you.
She feels her height shrink four feet and she's left standing inches tall, cowering under his menacing glare and biting tone.
I could satisfy you more than any other man has in your entire life.
She's just now realizing that he's incredibly offended, and she really has to fight the urge to laugh. His ego is wounded and he can't handle it. She feels confidence stir within her and she stands up tall and proud.
Well obviously you didn't.
He's looking at her now with an odd expression; almost as if he's trying to mentally calculate what she's saying. His expression lightens miraculously and he's looking at her with the faintest trace of a smirk. He says her name, drags it out long and slow. She's looking at him, almost frightened and more than terribly embarrassed.
We didn't sleep together, he tells her. Whatever you think happened didn't. I slept on a couch downstairs.
And for the first time in days Hermione feels as though she can finally breathe.
He's giving up and turning to walk away when her hand snaps out and grabs his wrist, preventing him from getting far. He hadn't even realized that she was standing close enough to touch him.
We didn't sleep together, she repeats.
He's shaking his head no, about to speak, when completely out of nowhere she's on him and the soft lips he didn't know he was craving are his once again.
People always tell Hermione that if there's one thing she doesn't do well, it's acting spontaneously. That she needs to let go of any and all inhibitions and just let herself live. She's always told them that she lived just fine and that they would do better worrying about themselves rather than meddling with her and her perfectly content life.
She finally understands what all those people meant when they told her to let go.
His hands are on the outsides of her hips and he's hoisting her up against the hallway wall. Her back is pressed into the thick bronze frame of an expensive looking painting, but the pain is the least of her worries as Draco's mouth explores her own.
She's a bit frantic at first, all over the place. Her lips crush against his brutally, travel to his face, his jaw, his earlobe, his neck, anywhere within immediate reach. Her hands are a constant force on his body. She rubs his chest, gropes for more shirt to hold onto, almost as if the more contact she makes the more real the situation gets.
She's breathing heavily against his mouth, scavenging for his oxygen and sweet peppermint flavor. She may let out a soft moan here or there, but she's too far gone to notice.
She doesn't realize how loud their ministrations could be to a bystander, how exposed in the sense of locale they are.
All she can focus on is that his hands are slowly and torturously sliding up the bare expanse of her thighs and in any second they'll make contact with her panties.
She holds her breath and anticipates.
Every ounce of sound is drained from the room and her eyes explode with stars as she feels a finger hook around the elastic band.
Draco's completely convinced that in any moment he'll wake up from a dream. A very good dream, in fact. One in which he's pressing Hermione Granger against an ornately carved frame in Weasley's home and snogging her quite magnificently.
A soft moan escapes from her parted mouth and he's awake. This is no dream and his blood is pumping throughout his entire body in supreme eagerness and he's never been more awake and alive in his entire subsistence. Her legs are wrapped around his body, her hips rolling and rotating against his own, creating a delicious flow of excitement and lingering arousal in rolling heat waves between them.
He's pressing himself into her further and he's taking his hands from outside her dress to inside and she stiffens as if she's the calm before a storm. Her breathing is hitched and her eyes are glassy and her skin is so smooth under his palm.
It reminds him of smooth butter cream frosting and he's certain it'll taste the same.
He wants to keep his hands there forever. He lavishes in the feel of her heated skin beneath his palms, he aims to channel the memory of the feeling it brings to an omnipresent part of his brain.
He never wants to think of anything other than the way her skin feels under his.
He loves the way it feels but he needs more. He can feel the heat envelope his hands as they travel further and his heart is pounding and his mouth is watering and his pants are growing increasingly tighter by the moment.
He feels soft fabric beneath his grasp and he dips his fingers under the thin cloth and she comes undone in his arms. She snaps her head back and gasps in a deep, overwhelming breath. Her words are morphed into wanton moans and murmurs of oh yes, oh please, oh yes and he's not in any position to deny a lady of her wishes.
His fingers sink into the moisture between her legs and he feels like he's home and he's happy and he never wants to leave. Her hips are bucking and jerking in any and every direction and the most delightful sounds are slurring from her dampened, parted lips. Her head is rolling against the wall and her legs are twitching around his body and his heartbeat is racing and she looks so beautiful and natural and sexual that he's risking his stimulation by staring at her any longer.
Her eyelashes fan against her face and her head lolls against the wall and he can't take his eyes off her spent face. His fingers move, constantly rubbing and sliding and paying the most delicious attention to the small bundle of nerves that craves his every touch and provokes her every desire. His entire psyche is absorbed into the act and it's hanging over their heads, the pressure of it building down on them and forcing out their primitive behavior.
The straps of her dress are slipping off her shoulders, revealing the crest of her flushed breasts. They heave with the exertion of each breath she takes and his eyes are drawn to the few beads of sweat accenting the creamy peach skin. His head is bent forward and his lips are searching and tasting and laving at her throat, her chest, her breasts. She emits a lengthy whimper the second he takes her nipple into his mouth and her legs cease their trembling and suddenly she's exploding around him.
Her head cracks back against the wall and his mouth captures her seconds later and absorbs her mumbling and breathing with his tongue as it rubs and twines with hers.
Her legs go limp around his waist and as he pulls away for air her taste is in his mouth and her arousal is in the air and it's lovelier than the sweetest butter cream ever made.
She's having an out of body experience and she's surprised when she hears a voice vaguely similar to her own whisper bed.
His hands are holding her bum and her arms are wrapped like long jelly morsels around his neck and he's backing her into the nearest available bedroom. Her eyes land on a discarded pair of maroon corduroys and she's partially aware of the fact that she's about to fornicate on her ex fiancé's bed but the thought is far off in her mind when she feels her panties being removed from her body. She's looking up to see Malfoy removing his collared shirt and a quick flash of hesitance flashes across his face.
Are you sure? he asks.
His words are like venom, spreading sweet, saccharine poison through her body until suddenly the tension feels cumbersome and she tries to swallow it down before it completely engulfs her.
I-why? Are you not sure?
She's watching him watch her and suddenly his mouth is snapping shut and his eyes are calculating something far off in the distance. I'm definitely sure, he affirms and she's stupidly nodding her head.
I'm, is all she can manage to say because he's suddenly on top of her and his bare chest is pressing against her chiffon-covered breasts and she's never wanted to get a piece of clothing off of herself more than she does right in this moment. His mouth is on hers as if his kisses could solve the mysteries of the universe.
Her legs are wrapping around his body on reflex and she can feel his arousal pressing into her and suddenly she's feeling completely uninhibited and candid and she's never behaved before as she is doing now.
Her hands seek his belt buckle like a rocket launching into space.
Her movements are urgent and hasty, she whips the belt out of the loops with a resounding smack and he's chuckling in her mouth. The vibrations make her shudder delightfully and she's smiling and purring and enjoying herself in a way she never has.
He's shifting his weight now, balancing himself on elbows as his hands slide the straps down and off her arms. She's expecting him to remove her dress and she lifts her bottom slightly off the mattress. Her body is rubbing against his in a completely accidental provocative manner and any thought of her dress being removed is lost.
He descends upon her once more, roughly bunching the dress around her middle, exposing her intimate bits hurriedly. She has no time to be shy or modest because he's already out of his own pants and his boxers are gathered around his knees and she's staring at him in all his glory.
He crushes his lips to hers once more, sucking the breath clean out of her lungs with his intoxicating rhythm. She can feel the tip of him as is brushes against her and it's waning on her self control.
His tongue is in her mouth when he finally enters her.
Her legs jerk around him and her mouth is open and she's feeling every ounce of him to the tips of her fingers and toes. She's physically incapable of movement until he pulls himself out and buries himself in her once more. Her hips snap up to meet his and her arms wrap under his arms and around his back and her mouth is buried in the crook of his shoulder.
She gasping erratically with every thrust and she's never felt so completely full in her life. He's filling her to the hilt with each plunge, her lungs are so full of oxygen she's bursting with it, her mouth is full of his sweat and his peppermint taste.
Her heart is pounding raggedly in her chest; it constricts every time she hears him whisper her name under his breath.
Her body is writhing in someone else's sheets and her toes are curling against the smooth fabric and her body is sweating and she loves every moment of it. She can only keep her eyes open for seconds at a time, before immeasurable pleasure quakes her body and renders her motionless. In those few blissful seconds of eyesight, she stares at his face as it's completely forfeiting over into passion.
Sweat is dripping lusciously from his nose and his hair is matted to his face and he's worrying his bottom lip. His nose flares one half of a second before his mouth opens and he grunts softly. She watches him when she can and she's completely mesmerized by the beauty of the situation.
Bliss is shooting throughout her body, sending her into tremors of delight and complete satisfaction.
He's speeding his thrusts, her entire body moves forward with the force of them. She feels that he's in a tumultuous fit of need. Just sensing this is enough to send her completely over the edge and she's certain he'll be going with her. He's driving into her with vigor and she can feel the muscles in her body begin to contract. Her legs tighten around his body, her heels locking into place underneath his bum. Her knees are shaking and her legs are seizing and she's terrified that she's going to implode and never return from the experience.
His hips are moving at a ludicrously fast pace and she's not sure if she can handle it completely. The headboard is rattling and he's grunting and her fingers and curling against the skin of his back.
Her vocabulary is limited to oh, oh, oh and light explodes before her eyes and her legs shake madly and her body is spiraling into its culmination headfirst.
He's trembling above her and not seconds after her release he climaxes with his forehead against hers and one word on his lips.
She leaves the room fifteen minutes later. It smells of sex and potpourri.
She walks down the staircase and scans the room quickly for Malfoy. His blonde head of hair is nowhere to be seen and it tugs at her chest. Her dress is rumpled and her hair is a disaster and her lipstick is smeared but she still joins the crowd that is gathering excitedly in the ballroom.
A fork chimes against a champagne glass and she snaps her head up to look; Ron and Antoinette are standing at the head of the crowd, his arm wrapped around her tightly. Her face is glowing with happiness and Hermione's gut sinks.
Nothing they say registers after their introduction rings in her eyes and stings at her vision.
We're getting married!
She turns on her heel and marches up the stairs, digging in her clutch wallet as she takes the steps two at a time. She finds the small bottle she's looking for and slides back into Ron's bedroom.
She sprays her perfume on the pillows before she slinks back out of the room.
She can hear the New Years countdown below her and she storms down the stairs.
Five, four, three, two.
She slams the front door on one.
She's feeling incredibly underwhelmed as she zips up the back of her ice blue cotton dress. It's the only color she deems acceptable for a winter wedding, even if it's one she absolutely has no desire to attend.
She feels small and unattractive as she dabs powder on her nose and eyes the plain twist her hair is molded into.
She's bitter because Ron is marrying someone he got engaged to three weeks ago and she hasn't seen or heard from Draco in the same amount of time.
She's making to leave when a knock echoes from her door. She's almost afraid to answer whoever's calling, considering her most recent visitors.
She opens the door enough to poke her head through and her knees threaten to give out when she sees Draco Malfoy standing in an impeccable black suit in her terribly lit Muggle apartment building's hallway.
She lets him in and she's flooded with a nights worth of scorching memories. If he wasn't in the room she would probably fan herself with her wedding invitation.
Can I get you anything? she asks to fill the void of silence.
He shakes his head no and shoves his hands in his pockets. She smiles softly to herself before she turns to him once more. So why are you here?
He tilts his head to the right, his eyes twinkling as a crooked smile graces his lips. Granger, he says. She looks at him and shakes her head, indicating she has no idea what he means by that.
He walks forward and places his hands on her bare arms. Her skin sizzles beneath the contact.
We'd end up together at some point during this thing, he points out. Her heart thumps in her chest as he picks up her handbag and slides her knee-length white collared jacket onto her arms. Might as well show up together, Granger. Give them a little something extra to talk about.
She smiles and lets out a soft laugh and takes his arm when he offers it.
They walk into Ron and Antoinette's countryside home and into the veranda where the ceremony is set to take place.
Draco takes her coat and heads off to put it away accordingly and she scans the room for the groom.
She first spots him leaning over the counter of the open bar, tucking drinks back and looking miserable.
Her insides swell with happiness and triumph and she thinks to herself that she should feel a drop of remorse.
But sometimes success knows no shame.