Good Night, Granger

Part III

The days remaining until the Potter-Weasley wedding had dwindled by at an alarming rate—alarming to one witch, at least. Hermione, while she thought Harry was making a mistake, was secretly eager for the whole affair to be over and done with. She did not have long to wait, as the wedding was the next afternoon. She and Harry had talked things through and agreed to behave amiably in public, though Hermione was slightly bitter that he was acting like nothing had occurred.

Her work schedule for the last two months had been extremely hectic; with a surge of witches and wizards turning to arithmancy for their assorted dilemmas, the firm where she was employed had taken on several new employees and Hermione's workload had increased dramatically. She rather liked her job, and felt she was good at it, though she was a bit slower in production these days; Hermione had become extra diligent in her calculations to make up for her frequent lapses in attention. Though she was reluctant to admit it, she often found her thoughts turning to a certain blonde wizard whom she had not seen in nearly two months.

Hermione sighed in resignation as she packed away her work and gathered her things to apparate home. She was tired and frustrated, and didn't care in the least that it was Friday, for tomorrow she would have to be civil throughout a wedding she had no desire to attend, and she had to go it alone. Hermione, before she headed home, stifled a giggle at the thought of her skiving off the wedding completely; she was fairly confident that it would go over poorly. Apparating into the foyer of her building, Hermione made her way up the stairs, absent-mindedly humming an indiscernible tune. Once into her flat, her evening was a dull affair consisting of canned soup, a very thick book, and falling asleep on her settee.

Hermione began to stir when the sunlight poured in through her sitting room window; after several minutes of groaning and grumbling, she finally pulled herself upright and began to work out the cricks in her neck. The witch ambled into the bathroom only to give a leap of fright at her appearance—her eye make-up was smudged, and her hair looked as if she'd been dragged backwards through a bramble bush. She smirked as she thought of the reaction she would get if she showed up to Harry's wedding in such a state, but even as she did so, she turned on the tap and adjusted the water temperature for her shower.

Half an hour later, she emerged from the bathroom, hair dripping and cursing herself for forgetting to bring in the towels from the laundry. She had nearly made it into her bedroom when a voice she hadn't heard in two months stopped her in her tracks…naked.

"Granger, about time you…"

"Oh no," she whimpered as she dashed into the bedroom and slammed the door behind her.

In the hallway, Draco Malfoy's mind was spinning—Granger was likely going to hex him to bits when she emerged from her bedroom. He contemplated just leaving, though he knew it was cowardly—ultimately, his desire to see Hermione planted him firmly on her settee. He braced himself when she emerged ten minutes later, fully dressed and composed.

"I'm sorry," he stammered out before she had the opportunity to draw wand.

"You could have knocked," she said testily.

"I did, for several minutes. When I tried the door it just opened. I was concerned."

She stood staring at him; he was just as handsome as she remembered, and the faint pink tinge on his cheeks was rather becoming…then she noticed that he was dressed rather formally for a morning visit.

"You look awfully nice this morning, big plans today?"

"A wedding," he said with a devilish smirk. "I read the announcement in the paper, and though I don't have an invitation, surely I could tag along with you…as your date, perhaps?"

Hermione didn't say one word; she continued to stare at Draco as if he'd grown a second head. After long minutes of scrutiny, she nodded her head absently, "Yes, of course."

Draco smiled at her, "How about breakfast? I know this wonderful place not far from here…"

"Alright," Hermione said in an odd tone. She grabbed up her purse and headed for the door, her hand accidentally encountering Draco's as they reached for the knob. Before she could stop herself she turned to face him fully, "It's been two months since I've heard from you, why?"

Draco answered her, not with words, but by crashing his lips down upon hers. She gasped as her eyes fluttered closed, allowing herself to enjoy his kiss. Draco was having difficulty maintaining control—this was the reason he hadn't been round or owled; he didn't think he'd be able to stop himself from kissing her. Hermione Granger had occupied his thoughts far more than he was willing to admit to anyone—himself included. He bit back a groan when she pressed herself against him in a most inviting manner, he was quite sure that the move was naively unintentional and that she had no idea how it affected him; it took all of his restraint to keep his hands from roaming. At last, he wrenched himself back and stared at her—chest heaving, eyes hooded with desire, lips swollen and red…she looked confused, as if she wasn't quite sure if he were rejecting her or not.

"Plenty of time for that later," Draco said lightly, "but I need breakfast before I faint dead away." Her expression cleared, albeit reluctantly. She followed him out of the building and into the small shop he'd been speaking of—of course, he was right, it was divine. Their breakfast passed with relatively no awkwardness, as if they hadn't been bitter enemies for years, or as if they hadn't just snogged each other senseless, and it wasn't long until they were back in Hermione's flat.

Draco, sensing the need to broach the subject, said, "Granger, about earlier…"

"I'm sorry," she squeaked as she turned an alarming shade of red.

"Why?" he said in a slightly demanding tone.

"I didn't mean for that to happen."

"Are you ashamed?" A shake of the head; "Do you regret it?" Another shake, though slower in coming. He moved next to her quickly, lifting her chin and looking into her eyes—she looked apprehensive. "What do you want, Hermione?" he said, deliberately drawing out the tones of her given name. She opened her mouth, as if to speak, then thought better of it. She leaned forward and pressed her lips to Draco's in a chaste kiss and his stomach did a stupid sort of flop as he began returning her kiss, going at an agonizingly slow pace to avoid startling her.

After a few moments, Draco realized thad he needn't coddle her—she was quite enthusiastic, if a little inexperienced, and that combination was beguiling. She was nibbling his neck in a most distracting manner and Draco was content with the pace of things until he felt her hand brush across the front of his trousers.

"We need to stop," he croaked desperately.

"Why?" Hermione asked, genuinely bewildered.

"Don't you think we're moving a bit fast?"

Her face fell, "Oh, alright. I'm, uh, I'm rather tired. I think I'd like to take a nap before the wedding. I'll be leaving here at half past six, if you'd still like to come."

Draco wanted to kick himself nearly as much as he wanted to shake some sense into the normally astute witch that was retreating down the hallway. He knew a dismissal when he heard one, and he was never one to abide them—he had and always would depart on his terms. The bedroom door clicked softly behind Hermione and Draco waited a few moments before opening her door. The sight of her sitting cross-legged on the bed with tears streaming down her face did odd things to him, and he moved to sit next to her.

"What's wrong, Granger?" She didn't respond to him at all, save for the trembling of her shoulders. "I'm not rejecting you," Draco hazarded; he could assume that was her problem.

Apparently, he had assumed correctly, she looked up the tiniest bit to where she could peer at him from beneath her lashes. "You aren't?" she said in a voice thick from crying.

"We're just moving rather quickly, is all. You're not the type of girl for quick tumbles and meaningless dalliances, and I'm not going to allow you to do something you'd regret."

Hermione had the wild thought that Draco Malfoy—son of one of the most vicious Death Eaters to ever live—was being more honorable and noble than her own best-friend, the man who had saved the wizarding world.

Draco watched the emotions play across her face for a moment before continuing, "I don't want you to think I don't respect you, or that I don't actually…like…you. I haven't been round at all in the last two months because I wasn't sure I could behave myself. You know I've actually grown to be absurdly jealous of Potter because he's been with you?" He paused when he saw the dark look cross her face, and he clarified himself, "Not only like that, but he's been your friend for years." Hermione nodded and Draco relaxed; it seemed she was appeased.

She flumped backwards onto the pillows and snuggled in; Draco stood and covered her with a blanket—a most repugnant red and gold number that reeked of Gryffindor. It was a pivotal moment in their friendship and relationship, for he did not say a word, and not even the smallest of sneers formed upon his lips. He kissed her chastely on the lips before assuring her that he would be back to collect her between six and half past. Her eyelids were drooping by the time he let himself out.

A few hours later, Hermione rose from her nap, though she didn't feel well rested. This situation with Malfoy was, admittedly, probably more than she could handle. Thoughts assailed her mind as she dressed for the wedding; as she was slipping into the lightweight lavender dress she'd chosen, she'd convinced herself that she was far too inexperienced to keep the attention of someone as confident as Malfoy. By the time she had finished charming her hair into perfect ringlets and piling them on top of her head, she had decided that the ideal course of action would be to call things off before things went any further. By the time she had slipped on her shoes and applied a coat of mascara, she was forcing herself not to shed a tear—neither over Harry's marriage nor over Draco Malfoy. By the time she'd wiped off her ruined makeup for the second time, she'd wised up and charmed it to be waterproof, and decided that she would reserve judgment on "the Malfoy situation," as she'd taken to calling it, until at least after the wedding; the day would be difficult enough without adding that to it.

Hermione glanced at a clock and realized that it was nearly half past six, and she would be leaving for the wedding in a few moments—she scolded herself for thinking Draco would turn up. She recalled her behavior from that morning; she'd nearly thrown herself at him, and then was a sobbing mess when he left. What man in his right mind would come back?

"You look lovely," came the cool voice of the man she'd been obsessing over all afternoon.

"You startled me," she choked out. Draco chuckled and offered his arm for her. She accepted it, and without a word—merely a calming breath—apparated them to the Burrow.

There were many guests arriving, so no one took note of Hermione's sudden appearance, or of the fact that she was holding the arm of someone who would most likely be very unwelcome.

Hermione steered Draco to a pair of open seats near the back of the groom's side and the pair sat and nervously awaited the start of the ceremony. After a few minutes, Draco broke the tense silence enveloping them, "You're awfully quiet."

She sighed, "I just want this to be over with."

"Are we staying for the reception?"

Hermione smirked, "We'll stay only as long as is necessary. I imagine once I'm spotted here with you they'll be asking me to leave."

Draco tried not to be stung by her comment, though he knew it to be true; he had never been popular with Potter or the Weasley's, and truthfully, he had no desire to be—though he didn't want Hermione to be exiled due to her association with him. She noted his sudden pensive expression and realized it was likely in reaction to her careless comment. She opened her mouth to attempt an explanation, but at that moment, the strains of a classical piece were amplified throughout the area magically, and a small boy with violently red hair tottered down the aisle. Hermione was glad she had thought to put a cooling charm on her dress—it appeared Draco had also had the forethought to apply such charms to his clothing as well.

Once the boy had reached his destination, a woman Hermione had never seen ushered him to a waiting seat—Hermione assumed they were some distant relations. Hastily turning her head back to the aisle, the witch critically eyed the bridesmaids along with their escorts. Ron, as Harry's best man, was escorting Lavender Brown, who was apparently Ginny's maid of honor; they were followed by Neville, escorting Luna; George escorting his sister-in-law, Gabrielle Delacour, and Fred escorting a girl Hermione had never seen—she assumed the girl to be a cousin, and the last-minute replacement for Ginny's bridesmaids. Hermione couldn't help but snicker as she took in the truly hideous pink dresses the unfortunate girls were sashaying up the aisle in—though they seemed pleased as punch to be wearing them.

As the bold chords of the wedding march began, every guest rose and turned to gasp at what a gorgeous bride Ginny made; Hermione, though she stood, stubbornly kept her gaze straight ahead. At last, Ginny had made her way to where Harry was undoubtedly eagerly awaiting her, and Hermione had been allowed to reclaim her seat. She allowed her attention to wander as the ceremony commenced; she hadn't noticed them exchanging vows, or the knotting of the binding cords, and it was only when the people surrounding her began to clap enthusiastically that she snapped from her reverie.

"Welcome back," Draco whispered in her ear. He couldn't blame her for drifting off, and he half wished he could have—it was a painfully boring ceremony, exactly like every other he'd ever seen. As the newly christened Mr. and Mrs. Harry Potter dashed away from their ceremony, Draco couldn't help leaning toward Hermione, "Do you think anyone would notice if you slipped away?"

Hermione had been about to respond, but the sudden appearance of a red-eared Ronald Weasley made her response die in her throat.

"I cannot believe you," the angry young man spat at his former girlfriend.

"Nice to see you too, Ron," Hermione responded lightly.

"You brought him here!"

"Well spotted," Draco drawled.

"I'm afraid I didn't have an escort and Draco was kind enough to offer to accompany me."

The feather-light tone Hermione used was infuriating Ron beyond reason, and it was clear to Draco that Ron was perilously close to lashing out at Hermione.

Ron, deciding to match her methods, said, "Wasn't Ginny gorgeous? I've never seen Harry so happy."

Draco chose that moment to slip his hand into Hermione's; he gave her a reassuring squeeze, and she responded smoothly. "She was breathtaking, I hope they'll be very happy together."

Ron's face fell—that hadn't been the reaction he was aiming for. He had hoped Hermione would tear up and storm away, it would certainly confirm his suspicions about what went on between Harry and Hermione. Realizing his cause was lost; Ron turned and walked away without another word.

"That was brilliant," Draco said as Hermione pulled him from his seat and toward a tree a good distance away from where the ceremony had been held.

"Git," she hissed furiously as they reached the tree. Hermione was trembling, though with rage or emotion, Draco couldn't be sure.

"Are you alright?"

Her gaze snapped up to his and she looked into his cool grey eyes, "I want to go back to my flat."

"Without attending the reception?"

Hermione groaned, "I may as well get it over with." In a move that surprised both of them, Draco lifted her chin and kissed her gently on the mouth.

"We may as well get it over with."

She smiled and allowed herself to be led to the large tent in which the reception was being held. There was a small queue at the entrance, and Hermione realized that it was the receiving line. She exchanged inane pleasantries with those that she knew, all of which gawked at the blonde wizard trailing behind her, and the possessive hand he had placed in the small of her back.

By the time the pair reached the head of the line, word had already reached Harry and Ginny, and neither looked overjoyed to see her.

"Congratulations," Hermione said in a stilted voice.

"Thank you," Harry returned, equally stiff.

"For Merlin's sake," Draco grumbled. "The ceremony was lovely and you look stunning, Ginny. I can only hope our wedding is as beautiful as yours." Draco flashed a wolfish smile and led a gob-smacked Hermione into the reception.

"Why," she tried. She stopped walking and turned her attention to the blonde wizard, "Why did you say that? Now everyone will think we're getting married! I heard Lavender gasp the very second you said it—it will be all over the reception within the hour!"

"Come on, I was just getting a rise out of Potter…Potters." And, indeed, he had; Harry had looked murderous and Ginny was shooting dark glances at her new husband for daring to react at all. Deciding that charming her would likely be the best way to work her out of the strop she'd gotten herself into, he took her hand and led her to the dance floor, where a few couples were already dancing to an elegant waltz. She didn't say one word as he lead her through the dance, even though Hermione felt he was holding her entirely too close to be appropriate.

After a few dances, and a couple of glasses of champagne, Hermione was much more amiable than she had been at the start of the reception. No one had stopped by to offer their congratulations, or to even ask her if the rumor was true, and this pleased her; this whole thing with Draco Malfoy was entirely too new to even contemplate such a thing.

The pair had stayed for nearly two hours when Harry and Ginny took their leave; both Draco and Hermione thought it was an ideal time to escape.

"My feet hurt," Hermione said as she kicked her shoes off and dropped onto the settee. Draco followed suit, and was sitting next to her in seconds; Hermione turned toward him with the intent to speak, but she was silenced when he leaned forward and captured her lips in a fiery kiss that had them both panting for breath in mere minutes.

Deciding to stop listening to her head every waking moment of her day, Hermione followed impulse. She stood, took Draco's hand, and pulled him from the sofa and toward her bedroom. Once there, things progressed rather quickly, and only when Hermione was completely naked with Draco positioning himself between her thighs did she begin to question her sanity.

'I want this,' she told herself forcefully. 'Even though he will probably leave the minute this is over and I won't see him for months, I still want this.'

She allowed herself to enjoy the experience—for it was certainly a far cry from a quick tumble in a spare bedroom. Draco was confident in his abilities and took his time with her—she could hardly believe the feelings and sounds he was drawing from her. He finally relented when she was too exhausted to keep her eyes open any longer. Draco chuckled as he tucked her into bed, slipped into his trousers, and took up his wand; she saw his actions through the small slit in her rapidly tearing eyes. She was half tempted to leap from bed and run after him, but thought better of it. Hermione reminded herself of the thoughts she'd had before they'd gone to bed together—she had known he would leave, but she was surprised it hurt this much. Shortly after, exhaustion finally claimed her and the witch slipped into a deep sleep; the tears that had begun to fall from beneath her closed lashes were absorbed into her pillow.

Draco had strolled into Hermione's sitting room, being careful to make sure the doors were locked and that restrictive wards had been placed on the floo—the last thing they needed was to have Ron Weasley barging through her flat unannounced, only to find Draco in her bed. After securing her home for the night, he made a brief stop at the loo before stripping and crawling into bed with her, where he wrapped himself tightly around her. He had meant to ponder where things were headed between the two of them—though he knew very well that she wasn't the type of witch to welcome any man to her bed, and that when he had been with her earlier there had been a good deal more than rampant hormones involved. He'd hardly started to contemplate his position and possibilities before he'd fallen asleep curled around the witch that he thought he might love.

The first thing Hermione Granger became aware of when she cracked one eye open late the next morning was that she was not alone. The thoughts of the previous night came flooding back to her—the wedding, her tugging Draco to her bedroom, the amazing experience she'd had, and Draco leaving as she'd fallen asleep. She carefully extracted herself from his grasp and turned to look at him as he slept.

The sun was filtering through her gauzy curtains and the sunlight fell across his face and upper body in a most becoming manner; she couldn't help but smile as she realized how peaceful and, dare she think it, angelic he looked. It was that sight that greeted Draco Malfoy as his eyes fluttered open—Hermione Granger, with her ridiculously tousled hair and smudged makeup was staring at him, and she was smiling. He'd never seen anything more beautiful.

"Good morning, Hermione."