For Her Tainted Quill. Happy belated Christmas. This is M for a reason.

Disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot.


Hermione smoothed down her long night shirt, not quite sure why she was walking barefoot through the grounds of Hogwarts. The moon helped Hermione find her way down to the lake where she dipped her toes into the freezing water. She looked all around her, not surprised she was the only one walking the grounds at this time of night.

She waded out until the water came to her knees, stroking her fingertips through the water. She heard a rustle and quickly turned around, her wand drawn. She turned full circle; ready to attack first and question later. When she was sure that nobody was around she tucked her wand back up her sleeve. She turned to walk back to the shore; walking straight into a tall, solid form.

Hermione gasped as her eyes took in the boxer clad form of Draco Malfoy.

"What are you doing here?" She asked in a whisper.

Draco said nothing; instead he put one arm beneath her knees and one behind her back. Straightening up he picked Hermione up bridal style and walked back to shore.

"Draco?"

Draco still said nothing, simply staring ahead as he finally made it out of the water. He set Hermione on her feet again and cast a drying charm on both of them. He continued to stand there and stare at a point just to the left of Hermione.

She turned around, seeing that they were indeed alone on the grounds. She whipped her head back and was startled to find that Draco was much closer than before. She stared up into his cool, grey eyes surprised to see several emotions passing through them.

Hermione thought it looked like he was having an inner battle with himself. Hermione put a hand on his cheek, rubbing her thumb in circles over the stubble covered cheek, trying to calm him. Draco's eyelids fluttered shut as he sucked in a breath.

Hermione's eyes widened and she repeated the motion. Draco nuzzled into her hand and opened his eyes, staring right into Hermione's amber orbs. He gently cupped her face with both hands as he bent his head to hers; closing the distance between their lips.

Hermione was shocked. She stayed still, not managing to make herself push him off or respond to him. Draco pulled back a fraction, leaning on the petite brunette's nose with his own. Hermione raised an eyebrow at him which he returned with a smirk, leaning in to kiss her again.

Hermione kissed back this time, ready for the Slytherin. He walked her back to the tree, not stopping until her arse was firmly against the trunk. Hermione gasped at the rough friction the tree caused. Draco chuckled darkly at the Gryffindor, darting his tongue to lick her lips. Hermione moaned and open her mouth wider.

Hermione's hand travelled into his hair as the other pressed against his chest, stroking the muscles softly. Draco moaned at the contact as his hands pulled her legs up to wrap around his waist. His hands travelled up her thighs, one slipping round to cup her pert bum as the other went to toy with her wet knickers.

Draco's hands shifted again as he moved a hand to each hip, pulling the fabric away from her body. He tossed the scrap of fabric to the grass as his mouth travelled down her neck. Hermione moaned as the strong, pale man thrust two fingers inside of her tight passage. Her back arched as he started circling her tight nub. She pumped her hips, matching his rhythm, to bring her closer to completion.

Hermione startled as she heard voices speaking. Looking around, she found no one and urged Draco to continue. He thrust his fingers into her harder, making Hermione cry out.

She heard the voices again and felt everything slipping away.

"Get up offa that thing, and dance till you feel better.

Get up offa that thing, and dance till you-"

Hermione tapped her wand to the alarm clock, turning it off. Why, oh why, must my alarm cut off the glorious ending? Hermione thought to herself as she checked her alarm clock; 6:31 glared back at her in angry, red block numbers.

Sighing, she sat up and accio'd her robe. Tying it securely around her waist she made her way to her sitting room. Pulling a pouch of cat food out, she put it in a dish and placed it on the ground.

"Crooks, breakfast," she called out as she made her way to her bathroom.

The old half-kneazle wound his way through Hermione's legs, purring as she walked to the bathroom. The corners of her mouth turned up, bringing her out of her play-back of her dream. Hermione had a long shower; one large pro of coming back to teach was the never-ending hot water. Washing herself and her hair, Hermione hummed along to the wizarding wireless she kept in her bathroom.

She cast a wandless drying spell on herself and wrapped a fluffy white towel around her. Walking over to the counter she turned down the wireless as it no longer had to compete with the running water. She liberally applied an anti-frizz potion to her hair and cast a drying spell on it. Her hair fell down her back in large curls, ending just below her shoulder blades. She put on a small amount of makeup, a sweep of foundation and some mascara; then quickly made her way to her room.

She wore muggle clothes under her teaching robes, usually dark fitted pants with a blouse or jumper. Pulling her hair out from under her robe she walked back into her sitting room. Checking she had her wand, quill and parchment she walked out of her rooms and made her way to the Staff Room for a meeting.

Hermione had been teaching at Hogwarts for three years now, taking over Professor Vector after she had gained her mastery in Arithmancy. That year had also seen Neville Longbottom take over for Professor Sprout. The two old alumni were pleased to have each other there to lean on through their first year teaching, Friday night drinks at the Three Broomsticks were established so that they could see their friends outside of Hogwarts. They had both been the designated sober legs for each other on more than one occasion.

Hermione took a left turn, leading out to the greenhouses. Neville always lost track of time when he went to see to his plants. She knocked on greenhouse number three and let herself in when she heard a muffled reply.

"Neville?" She called out, as she couldn't see him.

Suddenly, his head popped out from behind a large green and blue leafed plant.

"Morning Hermione," he greeted, smiling.

"Are you forgetting something, Nev?"

"Aah, no?"

"A meeting perhaps...?"

"Oh!" He replied, jumping to his feet as he finished what he was doing with the large plant. "I completely forgot!"

Hermione smiled and bit back a laugh as Neville stood there, trying to locate his wand.

"Accio wand."

Neville's wand zoomed into Hermione's outstretched hand which she held out to Neville. He grabbed his wand and cast a cleansing charm on himself. Hermione led the way out of the greenhouse, letting Neville lock up and then walking together to the meeting.

"You really need to set up an alarm or something, without me you would completely forget staff meetings."

"I know, I know. I will set up something to remind me about staff meetings."

"Good. So, are we still going down to the Three Broomsticks to meet everyone?"

"Definitely, I was thinking of maybe... Well, maybe bringing... You know..."

"It wouldn't be a certain former Hufflepuff, who works at the Leaky, would it?"

"Yeah," Neville replied whilst chuckling "Do you think anyone would mind?"

"Not at all, if she could come that'd be great!"

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, Neville."

"Okay, well I'll owl her after the meeting then."

Hermione smiled at her old friend as they continued their walk in silence. On the way they ran into Draco who nodded at them both and joined in the walk to the meeting. Draco had started just last year, replacing Professor Flitwick when he had decided that he would like to live the rest of his years in Ireland.

Draco had been humbled by the war, choosing to become a spy after Dumbledore had passed. He had Snape to help guide him, making the changes easier and subtly creating occlumency walls to protect his secret. He had managed to keep his parents out of jail, with the help of Harry Potter and a sizeable chunk of the Malfoy fortune of course.

He had even been invited to the now monthly Order of the Phoenix lunches held at the Burrow. He didn't always attend but he made sure to appear a few times a year so that he wouldn't receive a howler from Molly; that was a breakfast owl-post to never forget.

"Do either of you know what the meeting is about this time?" Draco asked.

"No, I just assumed it was like the normal ones; detentions, any problems, new procedures and then gossip," Hermione replied, saying the last word as if it were a cuss word.

"Well, I'd assume that too, except for the fact that we usually only have a staff meeting every fortnight."

"I thought there was something odd. Do you know what this meeting is about then?"

"I have my thoughts, but nothing I know for sure."

"Well, that's an evasive answer."

"I don't want to get you worried for nothing Granger, and look, we're here so what does it matter now?" He questioned with a raised eyebrow as he opened the door for Hermione.

Hermione just rolled her eyes and sat down at the table, with one chair between her and Severus Snape, as usual. Draco nodded to his godfather as he sat beside him, while Neville avoided the Potion Master's eyes and sat on Hermione's other side.

Hermione sat quietly as Draco and Severus had a whispered conversation and Neville wrote his letter to Hannah. Soon enough, Headmistress McGonagall walked through the doors and took her seat at the head of the table. The chatter died off and McGonagall soon started. Going through the motions she went over the normal agenda, rather quicker than normal.

"Now, I'm sure you are all wondering why I called this meeting a week early. Correct?" She asked, receiving nods and mummers or agreement from the staff. "Simply put, I have an announcement to make that I'd rather we all discuss in this room rather than at the staff table when it is announced after the weekend.

"As you all know, the birth rate has been less than satisfactory lately and squib birth rates have been increasing. Now, given these developments the ministry feel the need to give incentives to all ministry funded employees that are married, parents or both."

There was a general gasp from most of the staff and then the silence was broken as they all tried to ask their questions. Hermione, Draco and Snape all refrained from this, sitting quietly until the Headmistress could speak again.

"Yes, well, I didn't say I agreed with it but you do have a right to know. Now, does anyone have anything to ask in a mature and dignified manner?"

"Headmistress," Professor Smith, the new History of Magic teacher started. "What are the incentives exactly?"

With a flourish of her wand McGonagall conjured a long piece of parchment as well as her reading glasses. Pushing the glasses onto her nose and unrolling the parchment, she quickly scanned until she reached halfway.

"Any employee whose wages or salary is paid by the Ministry of Magic shall receive an increase in their wage or salary of 10% if married, with an added increase of 5% with their first child. For the next three children the employee's wage or salary will be increased 2.5%.

"Any employee that has a child or children out of wedlock shall receive an increase of 5% in their wage or salary. If they get married after the child is born than they shall receive the extra 10% and be eligible for the 2.5% increases if they have any children in this marriage."

The staff sat there in silence, each of them thinking over their current situation. Teachers didn't typically earn much when compared with many other professions. More than many Ministry employees but in the grand scheme of things a 10% increase would help many of them. Not that many of them had homes or children to support. Most teachers were single, simply leaving to find more suitable employment if they chose to marry or start a family.

"Anymore questions?" The Headmistress asked.

"What if you all ready are married?" The former Katie Bell, now Katie Weasley, asked.

"Then you shall be receiving your 10% increase at the start of next month."

"Do you get back-paid for-" Katie began.

"No. Seeing as this policy is not being changed until January first and was not foreseen," McGonagall said, causing Draco to let out a snort, "the Ministry see no reason to back-pay any employees."

"Does it state any regulations for a marriage or child?" Madam Hooch asked.

"Only that the marriage be valid and the child be yours through blood or legal adoption. Although I think adopted children only receive the 2.5% increase. Now, anymore questions?"

"What does it mean by valid marriage?" Draco asked.

"I believe that would mean proper filing at the Ministry, which would include consummation."

"What if you're bent?"

Hermione turned her head to Draco with a raised eyebrow, as did Snape and McGonagall.

"Not me! Look at Boot over there," Draco defended, pointing towards Terry Boot. "It's obvious he wanted to ask."

Terry flushed with embarrassment, looking down to his lap.

"Unfortunately, due to the fact that two men or two women cannot wed they are null and void for the marriage incentives."

Terry just nodded his head, praying the attention be drawn away from him.

"Now, are there any final questions? Breakfast is about to begin and it wouldn't be wise for us all to be late."

Seeing that there were no more questions for now, McGonagall declared the meeting over and left to the Great Hall. As usual, Hermione, Draco, Neville, Terry and Severus remained, avoiding the bottle neck at the door and the chatter of their gossipy colleagues.

"Ten percent would sure be nice," Neville said after the last Professor left.

"Yeah, at least you can get it," Terry commented in a frustrated tone.

"You can marry, Boot, just find another teacher who wants the ten percent," Draco suggested with a smirk.

"Yes, however there is that small problem of the consummation, Malfoy. I hardly think they'll count anal as consummation."

The other four cringed and tried to erase the mental image created by his vulgarity.

"Thank you for that image, Boot," Snape drawled. "You have successfully put me off my breakfast."

"Now, now, Uncle, don't let Boot put you off your breakfast. You aren't his type, so no need to worry there."

Snape narrowed his eyes at Draco. He stood, sneered at his former pupils and left to the Great Hall.

"So, Granger, are you going to get married now?"

"I don't see that happening, Draco," Hermione replied, also taking her leave.

Silently, the three men followed her out as they all made their way to the Great Hall.


Hermione quietly made her way to the doors of the Hogwarts entrance hall, waiting for Terry, Neville and Draco. Unfortunately, Hannah couldn't get the night off work at such short notice but said that she would be there next week for drinks. Draco joined Hermione at the doors shortly after.

"So, are you going to marry, Draco?"

"I would enjoy that extra ten percent."

"Why would you need it?"

"Well, not that it's any of your business but with my Father not working and instead living a bachelor lifestyle I can't rely on the Malfoy fortune to be around forever."

"How can he tap into yours, though?"

"He can't, but I have to pay for Mother's expenses as Father decided to leave her with nothing in the divorce."

The divorce had shocked most of the wizarding world in the United Kingdom. Lucius kicked Narcissa out of his manor when he found out it was his wife that pronounced Potter dead when he was not at the final battle. Lucius pretended to be reformed after his second stint in Azkaban but his true nature came out when he learnt of his wife's "betrayal". Lucius Malfoy was definitely not reformed; choosing to turn his back on his seemingly ever-faithful wife turned most of the public's opinion against him.

However, Draco had confided in Hermione one drunken night. Telling her all about how his parents had both lead very separate lives during most of his life; stopping only when the Dark Lord returned so that Narcissa wouldn't be used as a Death Eater whore. He may not have truly loved his wife but he enjoyed having a trophy wife and respected her enough to protect her. Draco had also let slip that Lucius was dating one Cho Chang, who happened to fly for the Holyhead Harpies which Lucius co-owned with Chang's father.

Narcissa had been attacked by Fenrir after Voldemort had fallen, he had witnessed her betrayal. His last act had been attacking Narcissa as Remus Lupin had thrown a swift Sectumpsempra which ended his life.

"Right," Hermione stated. "So you want to marry just for the ten percent?"

"Mostly, having a wife doesn't seem too bad."

"Really? Play-boy Malfoy saying having a wife doesn't seem too bad? Someone alert The Daily Prophet."

"Ha-ha Granger, very funny."

"In all seriousness though, you want to get married?"

"Well yeah, don't you?"

"Eventually, I don't have an opportunity now and all the losers I dated after Ron hasn't left me with much hope."

"Dating a Weasley would do that to you."

Hermione chuckled with Draco at this.

"So, who have you got in mind?"

"For what?"

"Marriage."

"Oh right. Well, nobody at the moment. I haven't really had any lasting relationships since... Well, since Pansy."

"Right, just been jumping from bed to bed," Hermione said with a snort.

"Like you haven't been doing the same thing, Granger," Draco countered.

Hermione's face changed into a mask of anger in a split second.

"Excuse me?"

"Come on, it's public knowledge you haven't committed to anyone after Ron and that ended six years ago. Are you telling me you haven't had sex in six years, Granger?"

"Well, no," she replied, her face softening to an annoyed expression.

"Exactly, and if you haven't actually been in a serious relationship then that would be called jumping from be to bed wouldn't it?"

"Hmph."

Draco rolled his eyes, "I'm not making fun. I'm simply making a point; people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones or whatever."

"Right."

"When was the last time you got laid?"

"Malfoy!"

"That long, huh?"

Hermione huffed in indignation, turning her back on the Slytherin and finally spotting Terry and Neville.

"About time boys, let's go," she said, opening the giant oak doors and storming down to the gate.

Terry and Neville raised an eyebrow at Draco who simply shrugged in return, leading the way down the path and catching up to Hermione who was still scowling.

"So, I assume a year?"

"No."

"Longer?" Draco exclaimed, his eyebrows shooting up to his hairline.

"Malfoy, I refuse to talk to you about my sex life."

"Why? I'll tell you about mine."

"I don't want to know about yours Malfoy."

"Sure you don't. Now, how long?"

"I'm not telling you, Draco."

The truth was, Hermione hadn't had sex since the Christmas before and the man it had happened with didn't even remember. It had been at the Christmas party Harry and Ginny held every year at Grimmauld place.

She had had a few too many drinks and somehow ended up in bed with Draco. She had quickly fled the next morning, praying nobody had seen and that Draco wouldn't remember. The actual event was basically non-existent in Hermione's own memory. All she could remember was his talented fingers and brief images of removing one another's clothing.

Hermione continued to walk to The Three Broomsticks, maintaining her silence as Draco peppered her with questions. Terry and Neville eventually caught up and then over took them on their way, leaving Hermione alone to deal with Draco and his never-ending questions.

"Hermione, just tell me when and who and I'll leave you alone."

"No. It's none of your business, Malfoy." Hermione replied stiffly.

"I'll find out somehow."

"I'm sure you'll try but I can guarantee that you won't," Hermione replied, pushing past him and making her way into the Three Broomsticks.

Hermione quickly pushed through the crowded bar, Draco following closely behind her. They were greeted with a large noise, not a distinguishable greeting but they knew it was some sort of 'hello'. Ron and Neville went off to buy a round of drinks as Hermione and Draco squished into their seats.

It was an odd assortment of old Hogwarts students. Harry, Ginny, Ron, Lavender, the Patil twins, Neville, Terry, Hermione, Draco, Seamus, Dean, Justin, Michael and even Blaise were all present tonight. They often had more depending on who could make it; Madam Rosmerta even booked them the largest booth on Friday nights.

They all fell into an easy conversation; some talking about Quidditch while a few had a discussion about the changes at the Ministry. Eventually the entire group started discussing the new incentives. With the exception of Ginny, Dean, Michael, Parvati and Lavender the rest were all employed at the Ministry or through Ministry funding.

Harry, Ron, Dean and Padma were all quite excited; an extra 10 percent added to their salaries just because they were married? Why not? And if they chose to have children they'd get a boost again, it definitely got their approval.

The singles of the group weren't as thrilled, why should their married friends be the only ones getting a benefit? The increase in their pay wasn't even due to their abilities, just for their choices. It hardly seemed fair to them.

The 'discussion' was turning quite fierce between Blaise and Ron.

"Why should married people earn more?" Blaise asked angrily, slamming his hand on the table. "If anything they'll be more distracted from work because they'll be worrying about their significant other. At least with singles we aren't going to ring in sick because our 'sweedums' needs us to look after them."

"I think it's good, we have more to pay for!" Ron countered. "Especially if we have kids, having extra money will do a world of good."

Draco could sense Blaise was about to make a stab at the Weasley family so he cleared his throat and shook his head a fraction at Blaise.

"Guys, I don't really think anyone is going to see each other's point of view so leave it alone," Parvati said in a bored tone.

Ron sneered at Parvati and downed his drink. Standing, he quickly said goodbye to everyone and then floo-ed home with Lavender.

"What do you think, Hermione?" Harry asked.

Hermione had surprisingly stayed silent during the heated debate, wisely avoiding a row with a drunken Ron. All though they still remained good friends, dating one another changed Hermione's perspective on their friendship – why would you remain friends with someone you constantly squabbled with? Hermione was still very close with Ron and Harry but they were in happy marital bliss where as she was happily working and teaching the new generation. Hermione just tried to keep what little patience she had tied together around Ron.

"Well, I think the incentives have merit," Hermione started, playing with her butter beer. "I'd rather this than a law making me get married but it does sting a bit. I mean, a new teacher could start at Hogwarts next year, get married and be earning more than me all ready. That part hardly seems fair but on the whole, it's not an entirely bad idea."

The singles of the group nodded along, agreeing with Hermione's fair judgement.

"Oh, I didn't think about it like that," Harry replied, downing his drink.

"It's not that I don't think the Ministry has reason, because they do, it's just that why should a new employee instantly earn more than me because of their marital status? I think you should have been employed by the Ministry for a certain amount of time before you get these benefits."

"I agree," said Draco, nodding his head. "I don't want some new, useless teacher to come in and start earning more than me. It's hardly fair."

"Draco, you are a new teacher," Hermione said with her brows furrowed.

The rest of the occupants rolled their eyes at the bickering pair. Most of the group had bets on when the two would get together; they all ready bickered like an old married couple. It was fairly obvious they liked each other; one of them just needed to tell the other.

"No, I'm not."

"Yes, you are. You're the newest staff member we have, just because you get along and settled in quickly doesn't change that."

Truth be told, without Hermione Draco wouldn't have settled in at Hogwarts so fast let alone even had the job. Hermione had found out that Flitwick was retiring two years ago and started a search of her own to find a replacement. Minerva had asked Hermione to see if she knew anyone that was looking to teach, as she preferred to have the same staff for a long while rather than finding replacements every few years.

Hermione had then heard through Remus that Draco was having a hard time finding a job, she had dug a little deeper and found out that he had completed a double degree in Charms and Potions. She had suggested him to Minerva, saying that having another Potions Master would come in handy for the infirmary and give Snape another ally in the staff. Even after he had been exonerated, Snape was not treated like the other staff, many were still frightened of him.

Eventually, the group had decided to call it a night with one last firewhisky. Hermione and Draco bid everyone goodbye as they went to line up for the floo while they started the walk up to Hogwarts. Terry and Neville had gone back earlier, as they had to get up the following morning to chaperone the Hogsmeade weekend. Draco was helping a slightly tipsy Hermione up the walk way as she had had a few too many shots.

"Hermione, can I just carry you? It'll be so much faster."

"No, that'sh too weird," Hermione said in a slur.

"I've done it before, come on," Draco reasoned, shifting Hermione's arm more comfortably on his shoulders.

"You have not!"

"Have too; remember last New Year's Eve or your birthday? And there was-"

"I get it! Fine, jusht levitate me or shomething."

Draco rolled his eyes and snorted, swinging her up and over his shoulder and carrying her caveman style.

"Draco! Put me down!" Hermione ordered in a shrill tone; pummelling Draco's back with her fists.

"You said I could carry you, now stop fidgeting and keep still."

Hermione crossed her arms and turned to scowl at the back of the blond's head.

"Scowling at me isn't going to change anything, Granger."

"Why do you do that?" Hermione asked, her slur coming back in her softly spoken words.

"Do what?"

"Call me Grander," she mumbled. "I mean, you call me Hermione enough, yet you shtill call me Granger shometimesh. Why?"

"Old habits die hard."

"I wish you would jusht call me Hermione," she whispered, her fingers now playing with his cloak.

"Why?"

"Well, I call you Draco, it only sheems fair. You call most of the others by their first names too and-and... Never mind."

"I don't call Longbottom or Boot by their first names, and finish that sentence."

"Yesh, but they are boysh and you aren't really friends with them and Ilikethewayyousaymyname," she blurted out.

"I'm kind of friends with them, and repeat that last part. In between your slurring and speech speed I couldn't quite catch that."

Hermione remained silent, flushed with embarrassment at letting the last part slip.

"Hermione?"

"Mmm?"

"What was the last part of what you said?"

"I don't know."

Draco's eyes shot up to his hairline as his eyes bulged.

"The great Gryffindor know-it-all doesn't know something? I find that very hard to believe, especially considering it came out of your mouth."

Still not gaining an answer Draco waved his hand, deactivating the wards to allow himself and Hermione through. Putting the wards back up, Draco shifted Hermione a little and kept walking up to the entrance hall. He opened the large doors and was about to ask Hermione if she was okay to be set down when he heard the clearing of a throat. Looking to his left Draco's eyes widened as he took in Headmistress McGonagall and Professor Snape, both looking at him with an eyebrow raised.

"Draco?" Hermione said softly.

"Snape and McGonagall," he replied in a whisper, barely moving his lips.

The two older staff members walked swiftly towards their former students. Draco checked with Hermione and then placed her on her feet, keeping one arm around his shoulders and telling her to bend her knee a little. The two younger Professors felt like they were back to being students, fully prepared for a long, stern lecture from their former Heads of House.

"Draco, Hermione, what were the two of you doing?" Professor McGonagall asked, her thin eyebrow still arched.

Draco shot Hermione a look, clearly telling her to keep quiet so he could explain.

"Well, as you know, we have Friday night drinks at the local," Draco started. "Hermione and I were walking back but she tripped over. She was limping a little so, being the gentleman I am, I offered to carry her the rest of the way."

Both of the Professors turned a critical stare to Hermione, looking at her ankle and noting that she was leaning on Draco.

"Is this true Hermione?" McGonagall asked.

"Yes ma'am," Hermione responded, managing to keep the slur out of her voice.

"Why were you two so late back? I believe Mr Boot and Mr Longbottom arrived a few hours ago," Snape asked with narrow eyes, suspicion written all over his face.

"Well-" Draco started.

"Not you Draco," Snape said, cutting him off with his hand up. "Granger, explain."

"Aah, well you s-see," Hermione started, stuttering on the 's' as she avoided her slur. "Neville and Terry have to watch over the trip to town tomorrow. They came back early to make sure they had a full night of s-sleep."

Hermione managed to avoid most 's' words and only had a slight stutter over the last word.

"Why are you stuttering, Miss Granger?"

"Severus, stop the inquisition. These are your colleague's not your students any more. Now Draco, please escort Hermione to her rooms and make sure she doesn't hurt that ankle."

"Yes Headmistress," he replied.

At Draco's nod the Headmistress turned and left, leaving the three colleagues behind. Hermione kept her arm around Draco and attempted to fake a slight limp. Rather than give away the white lie, Draco picked Hermione up bridal style causing her to let out a squeal.

"Please refrain from waking the students Granger," Snape purred from behind the pair.

Hermione scowled and tightened her arms around Draco, turning her head to stare straight ahead as her eyes narrowed in anger. Draco broke into a smirk as Severus joined them.

"What are you doing Uncle?"

"Figuring out the real reason you were carrying Miss Granger-"

"Can you not call me that? We've worked togheder for three years," Hermione snapped, not caring to take the slur out of her voice.

"Aah, so it was because she is drunk," Severus replied, a sneer breaking out on his face.

"Are you surprised?"

"No. I've seen all four of you bring back one another, usually one just uses a levitation charm though," Severus commented, turning and walking back to his dungeon chambers.

"You make this a regular occurrence?"

"Make what a regular occurrence?"

"Getting drunk."

"No. Just shpecial occashions ushually."

"Aah, so tonight is special or were you bored?"

"I drank to avoid fighting with Ronald over the new inshentives."

"What?"

"It's easier to drink than fight," Hermione responded in her 'teacher tone'.

"You should have just given him a piece of your mind, Granger."

"Not worth it," she whispered into his chest which was currently acting as her pillow.

Draco carried Hermione up the stairs in silence, thankful she lived on the same floor as him. Hermione snuggled in closer to his chest, sighing in content. Draco kept walking past his door; a portrait of a Dragon keeping guard; and made his way to Hermione's door. The Sphinx in the portrait eyed him wearily, unsure who this strange pale man was.

"Hermione, what's your password?" Draco whispered, not taking his eyes off the Sphinx.

"Einstein," Hermione muttered into his chest.

The Sphinx heard the password and swung himself open, Draco quickly climbed inside and was surprised to see a rather large piano in the sitting room. Other than that, there was only a fireplace, coffee table, two arm chairs, a couch and a small kitchenette. Draco turned his attention to the three doors. The middle one was open to reveal a bathroom and the last one matched the door in his room that led to his office. With the renovations made in the castle after the war it had been decided that teachers should have a secret door that led straight from their office to their bedroom.

Walking silently past a sleeping Crookshanks, Draco made his way to the first door. Opening it with a wave of his hand, Draco walked in and placed an almost asleep Hermione on her bed.

"You owe me for this Hermione," Draco whispered, taking off her travelling cloak and placing it at the foot of the bed.

"I know," she whispered back, slipping her shoes off which hit the floor with a thud.

"So, why do you want me to call you Hermione, not Granger?" Malfoy whispered, pushing her hair out of her face.

"I like the way you say it, sounds good," she replied, moving herself into a more comfortable sleeping position.

Draco's eyes widened as his eyebrows shot up into his hairline. Whatever he expected, it certainly wasn't that. He gulped loudly, not quite sure what to say. Hermione shifted in her sleep, her navy blue dress slipping up to reveal an indecent amount of creamy white thigh. Draco quickly pulled up a blanket to cover the Gryffindor and silently backed away to the door.

"Draco," Hermione mumbled, freezing Draco in his tracks.

"Hermione?" He asked again.

Draco stood, rooted to the spot until he heard a soft snore. Wondering why on earth Hermione said his name in her sleep, he quickly left her rooms and headed for his own.


Draco opened one blurry eye to a tap-tap-tapping sound at his window. Mentally cursing whatever dunderhead decided to write to him this early in the morning, he looked at his clock. It was only just seven in the morning. The tapping on his window was becoming increasingly frantic, which only added to his annoyed state on what should have been a peaceful Saturday morning.

He sat up, wrapped a blanket around himself and shuffled to the window. He opened it and was greeted with a vision of white; not just from the snow. Bloody Potter, Draco thought to himself. He opened the window and allowed Hedwig to enter his room. He gave the owl a treat and untied the letter from her leg.

Draco,

Did you manage to get Hermione home okay?
Hope you aren't hungover.

Harry.

Draco rolled his eyes at the letter. He wrote a quick reply, tied it to Hedwig's letter and let her out the window. Now wide awake, Draco decided to have a long shower and then go check on Hermione.


Showered and clothed, Draco made his way down the hall with a vial full of orange liquid. The Sphinx eyed Draco, cocking a brow at him.

"Is she awake?" Draco asked the portrait.

The Sphinx shook it's head in answer.

"Well then, Einstein."

The portrait swung itself outward and Draco climbed in. He took a pouch of cat food out and set it on a dish on the ground for Crookshanks. The aging cat wound himself around Draco's legs in appreciation and then went on to his food. Draco opened a window in the small sitting room, allowing some fresh air to blow in.

He then made his way into Hermione's room where Hermione was sleeping quite peacefully, wrapped up in a ball. Draco snorted at Hermione and sat on the bed in front of her. Gently shaking her awake, Draco was greeted with a groan and a mumbled greeting.

"Hermione, wake up."

"Don't wanna."

"I've got a sober up potion for you," he whispered in a sing song voice.

"Sober up potion?" Hermione asked in a mumble, opening one eye.

"Yup, so sit up so you can take it."

Hermione did as she was told and gulped back the potion in one go. Her face scrunched up at the taste but she was instantly relieved of her pounding headache and queasy stomach.

"Thank you," she said in a croaky voice.

"You're welcome. Want to get some breakfast?"

"Can I make myself presentable first?"

"I think everyone would like it better if you did.'

"If you hadn't of bought me the sober up potion, I would hex you into next week for that."

Draco snorted and then left Hermione's room to let her get ready. Waiting in her sitting room he took a look around, pausing to look at all the photos and surprised to see one of him amongst them.

It was from last year's Christmas party at Grimmauld Place. Hermione had a Santa hat on with her arms around Draco's neck and a beaming smile on her face. Draco was half smiling with an arm around Hermione's waist and a glass of firewhisky in his free hand. The two didn't move in this photo; Luna had been trying out muggle cameras so she could do an article about them.

Draco had never seen himself in a muggle photograph. He may have swapped sides but he still didn't like muggles much; he had merely grown tolerant of them. He had a look at the other photos, noting that there weren't any others where Hermione was wrapped so... Lovingly, around anyone else.

Sure, there were photos of Hermione with her arms around a Weasley or Harry and various other former fellow students or Order members but they were more family embraces rather than a loving embrace. It shocked Draco; they looked like a real couple.

And then he got an idea; a wonderful idea. Or maybe a rather horrible idea depending on how you look at it.

He would marry Hermione Granger.

How could he not have thought of it before?

They'd be perfect together. All of their others friends were in couples or looking to be single for life. They spent all their time together. Hell, they'd even been on dates before and never realised it.

A kiss on the cheek was a normal way of saying goodbye. If Draco was escorting her anywhere he'd place a hand on her lower back. He'd take her coat when they arrived somewhere together, he'd pay the bill when they went on their twice monthly dinners.

He slapped his palm into his forehead, cursing his own stupidity.

How on earth could he not have seen it before?

He'd been falling for Hermione this whole time.

This made him nervous. What if Hermione didn't like him back? But she must, she spent all that time with him and as far as he was aware she hadn't been dating since they had started spending so much time together.

Hermione came into her sitting room, bringing Draco out of his thoughts. She was showered and ready for the day, a small smile gracing her lips.

Draco cursed himself again; she's beautiful, he thought to himself. She's fucking beautiful and I hadn't even noticed.

"Ready for breakfast?" She asked, walking to her cupboards.

"Yes, I already fed your cat," he replied when he saw she was going to grab a pouch of cat food.

"Oh, thank you Draco. I'm sure Crooks really appreciated it," she replied, smiling at him again.

Draco followed Hermione to the Great Hall in a daze, nodding and agreeing to whatever she was saying when he thought it was appropriate.

"Draco, are you okay?"

"Yes, why wouldn't I be?"

"Well, you just agreed that I should ask Severus on a date and wear a tutu on said date."

"I what?" Draco exclaimed, stopping just before the doors to the Great Hall.

"I was kidding Draco," Hermione responded, chuckling and stopping too. "I was just seeing if you were paying attention; which you weren't. So, I repeat, are you okay?"

"Yeah, just a little distracted."

"Oh, anything I could help with?"

"Maybe, we'll talk more after breakfast?"

"If you accompany me to Hogsmeade then you've got a deal," she replied with a smile.

"Sure."

Draco walked in front of Hermione and entered the Great Hall. Thinking to himself about the strange situation he was in. Somehow, he had entered into a non-sexual relationship with Hermione Granger of all people. It was crazy.

How did someone accidentally find themselves in a relationship?

Draco pulled out Hermione's chair and tucked it in once she had sat down, as usual. Oh god, he thought, how in Merlin's name did I not realise this?

Draco glanced around the Hall. Noting that not a single student batted an eye at his behaviour, how long had he been doing this? He thought back as Hermione placed his coffee in front of him and started placing food on his plate. As far as he could remember working at Hogwarts he had been pulling out her chair. He'd started doing it after their dinners, he realised. He would pull out her chair every time they ate together so it must have bled into their everyday lives.

Well, that's how Draco reasoned it to himself at least.


After breakfast the two Professors had made their way to Hogsmeade; semi-free of responsibility as they weren't chaperones. Draco traipsed around after Hermione as she did some last minute Christmas shopping. Asking what he thought of her planned gifts for Blaise and Severus.

"Why are you buying for them?" Draco asked moodily.

"I always buy for them. What's wrong?" Hermione asked with concern, she could pick up on his annoyed tone faster than anyone else.

"Nothing."

Hermione raised an eyebrow but didn't comment. If he didn't want to tell her now then she wasn't going to push, he'd only get more annoyed.

"Now, do you know if Severus has this book?" Hermione asked, picking up a book on modern Potions theories.

"I haven't seen it but I don't peruse his bookshelf quite as thoroughly as you would."

"Right, I might just stick with a nice quill and some red ink then."

"So we're moving shops?"

"Right after I pick up a book for Blaise, sure."

"What are you getting him?"

"We're getting him a book on-"

"We?"

"Yes we; as in the two of us. You always forget to get him a gift and yet he never fails to get you one. I got him a joint one from us last year and you didn't seem to mind."

"Right, that's fine then. I'll pay for it."

"Oh Draco, don't be silly. I can pay for it."

"No, you chose it so I'll pay for it."

Hermione could tell he wasn't going to give up so conceded defeat and let Draco pay for the book. They quickly moved on to the next store, picked out an elegant eagle feather quill and a few bottles of red ink.

"Is this one from the both of us too?"

"If you'd like, I was planning on getting him a bottle of firewhisky from you like last year."

"You got him a gift from just me last year?"

"No. I bought a bottle of firewhisky and a new book. I gave him the both of them from us but he assumed you got him the alcohol. Or I think he did."

"How do you know I don't get him my own gift?"

"Because, last year you were so stressed with working that everything else fell by the way side."

"Right, well may as well do the same this year."

"How do you mean?"

"Give him both things from the two of us."

"All right."

"I'm paying for it this year, no arguments."

"Okay, I'll pay for it next year," she replied with a smile.

"You plan on doing this next year too?"

"Why wreck a good thing, right?"

Draco nodded, suddenly hit with a thought.

"Hermione, do you do this for all of our mutual friends?"

"Well, yes. You aren't really use to this whole having friends thing so I cover up your forgetfulness, by signing both our names. Is that okay?"

Draco nodded again, too stunned to speak.

"Should I have asked before I did it? I didn't want to make a big deal out of it, and well it just seemed like the-"

"Hermione!" Draco exclaimed. "It's fine, I'm just stunned you did it is all."

Hermione shrugged, moving to the counter. Draco paid for the items and the pair made their way to the Three Broomsticks. Draco took Hermione's coat and placed it on the coat rack with his own. Thankfully Hermione had shrunk the presents and put them in her handbag as Draco steered them towards a booth occupied by Severus, Minerva and Terry.

They greeted the odd trio, and Draco left to get Hermione a drink and to order them both a meal; then made his way back to the table. He took his seat to the right side of Hermione, who was sitting beside Severus, and placed their drinks on the table. He placed his arm on the back of the booth and Hermione slid a little closer.

Obviously she'd rather encroach on my space than Uncle's, Draco reasoned to himself.

"Thank you," Hermione said as she grabbed her drink, petting his thigh in gratitude.

Draco nodded and fell into an easy conversation with the table. They were discussing the new ministry incentives, only stopping when their meals arrived and then continuing once the empty plates were taken away.

"It's barbaric. They're basically saying marry and have children or find a job elsewhere," Severus said with a sneer.

"Not really. They still offer basic wages to anyone who isn't married, you just get a raise if you marry or have a child. At least they didn't discriminate against solo parents," Hermione countered.

"Well, easy for you to say Hermione. We all know you're going to get married," Terry replied, his eyes moving slowly between herself and Draco.

Hermione had turned away from Terry so didn't see his eyes, but Draco did and he was not impressed. Who knew about this accidental relationship?

Hermione snorted softly and rolled her eyes.

"You find the possibility of Marriage funny, Granger?" Severus asked; his sneer still firmly in place.

"Well, no. Marriage is fine; I just don't think I'll be getting married anytime soon."

"I beg to differ."

"Why?"

"Because; it's quite obvious to everyone but yourself and Draco that the two of you are together."

Draco sucked in a breath and curled his right hand into a fist. Hermione removed her hand from Draco's thigh and looked down at her drink. Draco waited for the denial to come from Hermione.

Only, it never came. Perhaps Hermione had figured out that they were in an accidental relationship, too? Draco mused to himself. He noticed that a small blush was starting to stain Hermione's cheeks and decided to save her the embarrassment.

"Perhaps we have realised and have just been keeping it quiet from nosey colleagues and meddling friends," Draco replied. "Or maybe, and here's a crazy thought, we're very good friends who happen to be the only single ones left in our ring of friends."

"We have single friends," Terry replied.

"Blaise doesn't count," Hermione replied. "He's obviously quite happy living the bachelor lifestyle and neither does Justin; for the same reason."

"That doesn't explain the joint Christmas presents last year," Minerva chipped in.

Hermione looked at Draco; she didn't want to drop him in it but the trio were being rather thorough with their argument.

"There's an easy explanation for that," Draco replied standing up.

Hermione followed his lead and accio'd their coats to her, grabbing them and tucking them over her arm.

"Which is?" Terry asked.

"Nobody's business," Draco replied, helping Hermione into her coat and then leading the way out of the crowded pub.

The two silently walked back to castle, each lost in their own thoughts. Thankfully there were no students around as Draco stopped Hermione in the middle of the path.

"When did you realise?" Draco blurted out.

"I thought about it this morning, after I got my memories of last night back and then today while we were shopping everything kind of clicked. When did you realise?"

"Same as you, I figured it out this morning."

Hermione chuckled, and then covered her mouth with her hand. She lowered her hand to say something and chuckled again. The chuckling turned into giggles and then soon she was full on laughing. Clutching her sides, Hermione bent forwards and puther hand on Draco's shoulder. Seeing her laughing, Draco couldn't help but join in. The two held each other as they laughed loudly in the silence.

After a few minutes the pair stopped laughing, only to realise they were embracing in the middle of the walkway. They disentangled themselves and started to walk back to the castle.

"How did we not realise?" Draco asked.

"I know, right? I mean, we spend all of our time together. Snape noticed for Merlin's sake!"

"We're blind. We're honestly, completely blind. How did we not see it?"

"I agree completely. I realised in the shower today that we've actually been on dates."

"And I take your coat for you."

"And I make sure you have your coffee before anyone talks to you in the morning."

"I kiss you on the cheek when I say goodbye."

"I dish up your breakfast in the morning."

"I drag you away from your work when you've been at it too long."

"I make sure you don't spend all of your spare time in the labs with Snape."

"Circe! We're blind."

"We are definitely blind."

They settled into a companionable silence, continuing on their way back to the castle. They walked up the stairs to their floor and then stood awkwardly halfway between each of their doors.

"What do we do now?" Hermione asked.

"Do?"

"Yes. I mean, we can just stay how we are if you want..."

"No."

"No?"

"No. I want to marry you."

"What?"

"I want to marry you Hermione."

"No."

"No?"

"No. We can't go from being friends to getting married, Draco. That's much too fast."

"But, we've basically been dating for a year and a half."

"That doesn't count," Hermione said with a snort.

"Why not?"

"Because we didn't realise that we were even dating!"

"So? It doesn't change the fact that we were – are. That we are dating," Draco countered, running a hand through his hair.

"Draco, rushing into a marriage isn't a good idea."

"It wouldn't be rushing. We've known each other since we were eleven. We've been friends since seventh year. We became best friends five years ago and now we've been dating for 18 months. If anything, we've been doing the complete opposite of rushing."

"Draco-"

"Hermione, please, I really need that extra money."

"You want to marry me for the money?" She asked with narrowed eyes.

"No! I like you too, and I want to be with you but the money would really help."

"If there was no money would you still feel the same?"

"Of course I would," Draco replied with utmost sincerity.

"Draco," Hermione said softly. "I don't want to marry someone for the extra money or because they are in like with me. It's love or nothing."

"Hermione, marry me."

"Draco, you want to do this for the money and because I'm convenient."

"Well, I'll be honest. I do need the money but that isn't why I'm asking you this. I really love the way our life is, and today I realised that if I don't do something to make sure you stay with me then I'll lose that. I'm not prepared to lose that."

"Well that's the sweetest proposal, isn't it?" Hermione asked sarcastically.

"Hermione, marry me."

"You want the money for Narcissa."

"You don't know what it's like to have someone rely on you like that. I'm going to do anything I can to make sure I can provide for her."

"That doesn't make it okay to have a name only marriage Draco."

"It wouldn't be name only. We'd be together."

"And what if it doesn't work out?"

"It will."

"How do you know?"

"We lasted 18 months, accidentally dating, and I didn't once try for sex. Now, I don't know about you but that is not how my relationships go."

Hermione flushed at this, looking down.

"We haven't even kissed."

Draco leaned in to rectify the problem but Hermione stopped him. Hermione pulled him by the hand to her room; she muttered the password and then dragged him inside her rooms.

"Not in front of any students Draco."

Draco rolled his eyes and spun Hermione round so that she was almost at the wall. He softly brushed his lips against Hermione's, slowly pushing her back a step as he did so. He ghosted his lips over hers again and again until Hermione couldn't take it anymore. She slid her hand into his hair and pulled his face closer.

Her lips crashed against his, her tongue darting out and licking his bottom lip. Draco happily complied and opened his mouth. The two stayed joined at the mouth as Draco lifted Hermione's legs up to his waist. His hands moved up and down her sides, lightly brushing the sides of her full breasts as Hermione kept one hand firmly knotted in his hair and the other brushing up and down his torso.

Draco pulled Hermione off at the wall and, still joint at the mouth, carried Hermione to her bedroom. He dropped her on the bed and hastily climbed on top of her, kissing his way up her neck.

"Draco wait," Hermione pant out. "Don't you think we're moving too fast?"

"No," Draco mumbled into her neck; biting the creamy flesh and then soothing it with his tongue.

"But-"

"18 months Hermione."

"But-"

"You're going to make me wait longer?"

"If we've been together than you have cheated on me in those 18 months."

"Have not."

"You haven't?"

"No. Well..."

"Well, what?"

"Last year at the Christmas party, I woke up with a pounding headache with no clothes on. Only, I woke up alone but it definitely felt like I'd had sex."

"About that..."

"Yes?"

"It was me."

"It was you, what?"

"You and I slept together."

"You knew and didn't tell me?"

"No. I mean, I woke up in the bed and I got freaked out so I fled. Then nobody asked me about it so I never mentioned it. I don't remember it; I just remember waking up beside you, naked."

"Well then, we definitely shouldn't wait," Draco responded simply, going back to her neck.

"Why?"

"We've already done this but don't remember. We owe it to ourselves to create a new memory."

Draco licked a rather sensitive spot just below Hermione's ear, making her shudder.

"Right?" Draco whispered right beside her ear.

Hermione simply nodded, too distracted by Draco's tongue licking the rim of her ear. Draco smirked at her response and made his way down her neck again. With deft fingers, he slowly peeled away her coat and the clothing underneath; leaving her in only her knickers and bra.

Hermione wasted no time, quickly stripping Draco down until he was only in his boxers. Her hands explored his torso, trailing over the defined muscles and moving on to his arms.

Draco had stopped his assault on her neck and held himself above her with his palms flat on the bed. He simply stared at her; drinking in her ivory skin, full breasts and flat stomach. Hermione started to cover herself; uncomfortable with Draco staring at her but he stopped her.

"Don't. You are beautiful, Hermione," he whispered, his lips crashing down on hers once again.

The two kissed fiercely as their hands continued to explore each other's body. Draco made his way down her neck once again, biting and licking a path to her breasts. Hermione arched as he flicked his tongue over her nipple, hardening it to a pink tip. He slid his hands underneath her back and unhooked her bra. Pulling the bra off and flinging it to the floor; Draco stared at her breasts before dipping his head back down.

Hermione slipped a hand into Draco's boxers and gripped his hardened length as Draco cupped her breast. Hermione ghosted her hand over his length, circling the mushroom tip with her forefinger.

Draco moaned at the contact and then bit down softly. Hermione cried out and pumped her hand slowly over his shaft. Draco slid his hands down Hermione's sides and hooked his fingers on her knickers. Tugging, he pulled them down her legs and flicked them to the side.

Hermione eased Draco's member out of his boxers and then pulled them down his thighs. Draco shimmied his legs out of his boxers and kissed his way back to Hermione's lips. Quickly casting a silent contraceptive, Draco cocked a brow at Hermione.

Half-lidded brown eyes met bright gray as Draco stroked Hermione's intimate folds. Hermione moaned and bucked her hips. Draco slipped one finger inside her moist entrance, finding her more than ready Draco placed his head at her opening.

Draco raised an eyebrow at Hermione in a silent question. Gaining a nod from the Gryffindor Draco slowly entered her, hissing as the tight sleeve gripped him. Hermione cried out and arched her back, feeling the delicious sensation of being stretched and full. Draco stayed perfectly still, not wanting it to be over before it began.

And then slowly, ever so slowly, he pulled out and then buried himself to the hilt. Hermione moaned and wrapped her legs around his waist, her heels resting against his arse. Draco pulled out again, only to thrust back; hard.

Hermione bucked her hips up and dug her heels into his arse, urging him on. Draco sped up, thrusting hard and fast and hitting bottom every time. Hermione met his every thrust, coming closer and closer to completion.

Draco felt himself inch closer and closer to the brink. He slipped one hand between the two, finding Hermione's sensitive nub. He stroked the tight bud deftly, pushing Hermione over the edge.

She screamed his name. Her walls clamping over his cock was all Draco needed to be pulled over the edge. Moaning her name, Draco emptied himself completely in the petite witch.

Draco caught himself on his elbows and rested his head on breasts, trying to catch his breath. Hermione panted and rested her head in her pillows.

After he had successfully caught his breath back Draco propped himself on his side to Hermione's left.

"I love you," Hermione whispered, her eyes closed from exhaustion.

"I love you too," Draco whispered back. "Will you marry me?"

"I'd love to, on one condition."

"What?"

"We lie and say we have actually been together for a year or so."

Draco smirked but decided not to tease her this time.

"Whatever you wish Hermione."

"One more thing..."

"Yes?"

"We get married on Christmas Day."

"That's a week away!"

"I know, but at least you'll be more likely to buy me something whether it's for our anniversary or Christmas."

"All right then."

"Happy, early, Christmas Draco."

"Happy, early, Christmas Hermione."