Epilogue – I'm Draco Bloody Malfoy
Three months later
He'd noticed the changes in her. She had seemed happy before, but now she just radiated joy. If possible, she was more beautiful than ever. She whistled and hummed whenever she thought no one was listening and often smiled for seemingly no reason at all.
He saw her nearly every day, depending on her work schedule. On the days she was busy with a case, he missed her. He still was thankful that she had shown up in his life again all those months ago and that this time he was able to treat her as an equal and not as Harry and Ron's know-it-all friend.
Every morning, he awoke, intending to tell her how he really felt about her. Surely, she must know—he held the door for her whenever he could, brought her coffee and lunch to work when she was too busy to leave the building, and made a point to tell her when she looked particularly lovely. But today, he would say the words he'd been longing to say—how every day he saw her was amazing and every day he was away from her was painful. That he couldn't imagine a life without her.
He didn't mean to fall for her so quickly, especially given how tenuous their relationship had been in the beginning. It had simply happened, and he was powerless to fight it. He wondered what Ronald would think… No, it wouldn't do to dwell on that. Hermione had just begun rectifying her relationship with him, and he felt enough guilt about how this might affect that progress. But he couldn't help himself—he was in love, for the first time since he was a student.
He awoke that morning, showered, and shaved, taking the time to make sure his hair lay the way he wished. He picked his clothes with care, hoping she would notice how much effort he'd put into impressing her.
He nibbled on some toast to try to settle his nerves. It wasn't working. Taking a deep breath, he Apparated to ARDEC. It was time.
Appearing in the lobby, he stormed past the receptionist's desk and straight towards Hermione's office.
"Sir, Miss Granger is with someone! She said she wasn't to be disturbed!"
But he failed to hear. He was a man on a mission, and he would be damned if anyone would stop him today.
He threw her door open with no regard for who was inside the office. "Hermione Granger, I love you!"
A sharp gasp of air was not what he expected to hear. He actually looked up and couldn't believe his eyes.
Hermione, his Hermione, was on her desk… draped over another man, her hair piled on top of her head and her shirt hanging from a lamp across the room.
She screeched and grabbed the man's shirt from under his head and attempted to cover herself with it.
"How dare you! How dare you barge into my office and interrupt me! I could have been with a client!"
The man under her smirked. "I certainly hope you do not give all of your clients such personal attention."
He was dumbfounded. He knew it was possible that if he waited too long, he might lose her. But to him?
George had mentioned this to him in passing the other day, but he thought he was joking! "You better watch her at work," George had said. "There's a relationship there you couldn't even begin to imagine."
Well, he didn't have to imagine now. He now knew exactly what Hermione Granger in a relationship looked like, sans shirt, knees on either side of a man's waist, her lips nipping and sucking across his collarbone, the man's head tipped back in pleasure.
Three months of lunches and coffees and doors. Three months trying to show her she was the center of his world.
His heart felt crushed. Literally. Like someone had thrust it between the clamps of one of the vises he had seen in his father's Muggle toolbox and twisted the screw as far as it would go.
"Honestly, Percival. I know your mother was incredibly busy raising you and all of your siblings, but I'm sure the good woman taught you to knock before entering a room." Snape sneered in his most professorial tones. The phrase was just missing a "ten points from Gryffindor" at the end.
Percy opened and closed his mouth, but words eluded him.
"Get out, Percy. Now. I will speak with you in a moment!"
Percy spun on the heel of his wingtips as he slammed the door shut.
She crumpled against his chest, mortified. His arms came around her, rubbing soothing circles into her back. He was desperately trying not to laugh.
"He loves me? He loves me? How? Why? What!" Her angry, confused words were muffled as she spoke them directly into his chest.
"Of course he loves you. Every man who knows you loves you."
She groaned. "How am I going to be able to keep working with him? Why did he have to come in now. Oh God, George is never going to let me live this down…"
He kept running his hands up and down her back. Each time, his thumbs caught on her bra. His fingers glanced over the clasp. Maybe if he could just distract her…
"Severus Snape, this is not the time. She scrambled off the desk and crossed the room to retrieve her shirt, which she made sure was buttoned before she turned back to him.
He didn't given her the same courtesy. He sat with his arse at the edge of the desk, his arms spread, his palms flat and his fingers curled over the edge. His shirt was on the floor where she had dropped it. He arched an eyebrow, beckoning her to return to the desk.
She angrily tucked her shirt in before releasing her hair and shaking it out.
"You better put your shirt back on, Severus. It's quite cold outside."
She stormed past him and toward the door, her heels clicking across the hardwood floor.
Quick as a cat, he stalked behind her. As her hand reached the knob, he pounced, leaning his body against her back and locking her between his arms, his hands slamming into the door.
"Not so fast, Hermione."
She struggled to turn around and face him. She tipped her head back trying to look at him squarely. "What?"
He tipped his pelvis forward, pinning her to the door.
"You didn't say goodbye." He crushed his lips to hers, bringing his hands from the door to entwine in her hair.
She growled at him, trying to push away from his mouth. He used the opportunity to slip his tongue between her lips, sliding it across her teeth and coaxing her into returning the kiss.
When he felt her hands grasp his arse and pull him in closer, he knew he'd won.
He pulled away. "Well, darling, do you have anything you wish to say?"
"Go to hell, Severus."
He smiled and kissed her cheek. Standing back, he brushed his hands over her hair, arranging it so she could leave the office.
"Love you too. I'll see you when you come home."
He walked towards the desk to retrieve his shirt. As she opened the door, she called over her shoulder. "Draco's final exam is in my top right desk drawer. Could you take it to him for me?"
He slid the shirt on, but left it unbuttoned. Sitting at her desk, he opened the drawer and removed the test. 93/100.
Well done, Draco. Well done, indeed.
He made to button the shirt, amused to note that two of the buttons were missing. Not bothering to button it, he grabbed the test and stood, Apparating back to Spinner's End.
Draco was in the kitchen, making a late breakfast.
"Cripes, Severus! Can't you Apparate to your bedroom! I hate that popping noise in the morning! Good God, man, what happened to your shirt?"
He smirked. "Hermione."
"I see. At work again, I presume? You know, the Ministry isn't paying her to snog you all day long."
Severus rolled his eyes and thrust the test toward Draco. "You 'graduated,' by the way."
Draco quickly scanned the test, grinning. "Of course I passed. I'm Draco bloody Malfoy."
"Oh, really? Then why did you fail so abysmally the first time?"
"Well, I figured if you were willing to cut your hair and dress in those sexy denims and t-shirt for Granger, it was clearly my responsibility to let that play out…"
Draco never saw the Stinging Hex coming.
"Bloody hell! What was that for?"
"Whenever your father was around me while I was in my sexy trousers, that's how I avoided his advances. Of course, those pants were leather…"
Draco's nose crinkled as dramatically as his mother's. "Disgusting, Severus."
"I'm going to go wash up. Try to make sure you're home on time tonight for the party. Wouldn't want you to miss the opportunity to show off your newly certified Muggle-loving skills."
"I can't believe you're allowing us to have your belated birthday party here. And that you invited her parents."
"It was time. Especially with what I'm planning for this evening."
"You're really going through with this, Severus? Are you sure?"
"Absolutely. I wouldn't have had Mum's ring resized otherwise."
"Well, good luck. You're going to need it." And out of nowhere, in an unusual display of affection, Draco hugged him.
"Now go get in the effin' shower, Snape. You reek of Hermione's perfume. I doubt her parents will appreciate that."
Draco grabbed the slices of toast he had made, and grabbing his keys, left the house.
Severus climbed the stairs and headed toward the bathroom. As he let the tub fill, he cleaned up the bathroom, throwing all of their clothes in the hamper. He passed a washrag over the sink, removing the bits of makeup and beard from the counter.
The tub was full. He removed his clothes and placed them in the hamper before sinking in the warm water. He was a tightly wound bundle of nerves. So many things had to go right tonight. If nothing else, by the end of the day, he will have hopefully overcome his fear of meeting her parents. And, should that go well, he would be one step closer to making Hermione his.
Assuming, of course, that Hermione didn't succumb to Percy's bumbling advances.
He snorted. Please. He had nothing to worry about in that regard.
AN: Well, we're done. The original prompt from kerravonsen was: "I'd like something Severus/Hermione, with a side order of Draco redemption, if possible. It would probably have to be AU for all of that to work. I'd prefer it to be something where neither Severus nor Hermione had a secret crush for the other all along: I like to see the relationship develop from nothing."
I think I've done that. For the help_chile auction on LJ, I originally offered a 1500 word story. The prompt clearly wouldn't let me stay within those parameters, so now you have my first true multi-chap clocking in just over 20,000 words. And while it may seem like I kind of just quit after getting these crazy kids together, I honestly planned it this way the entire time. We have a relationship developed from nothing :). I hope you enjoyed it-this is definitely not what I expected out of my first multi-chap. In fact, I was actually in the middle of another story all those months ago when I started this, and now that I have a long story under my belt, I feel like I may actually be able to tackle this project.
Thank you so much to all the ladies who held my hand on lj, buzz, and IM-who forced me to see this through in spite of all my misgivings. Special thanks must be extended to clairvoyant, my beta, my cheerleader, one of my best online friends ever. Without her, it's doubtful this story would have ever turned out as well as I hope it has.