This is my first finished Dramione fanfic that was inspired by an itchy back due to dry skin. Romantic, eh?
In all seriousness though this started out as very a very lighthearted story that was never intended to go where it did. Though this story is indeed best served silly I was surprised to find that it did breach some important issues between Draco and Hermione and I hope that in the end it comes off as a realistic development between the two of them given the context in which it takes place.
Also, I hope that you like it. A lot.
"Good lord, Granger. If you don't hurry up I'll fire you." Draco Malfoy was hurriedly making his way through the midday crowds that filled Diagon Alley with his assistant/secretary/errand runner Hermione Granger. This was not the first time that Draco had Hermione running errands during her lunch hour but it was the first time that he had accompanied her on such an errand. Apparently this was the type that could not afford error—not that she ever failed in her duty. She was, as always, good at what she did.
"Well, really, Malfoy! If you would just slow down—for just a moment, you would find that it's easier for people to get out of your way when you're not to busy plowing them over!" Just because Mr. Malfoy happened to be her boss did not mean that she, for one moment, held her tongue around him. It didn't matter that he had become more civil after the war, he was still an arrogant prat who thrived by exercising his superiority complex.
"That is besides the point," he muttered, elbowing a gangly teenager out of his way.
"Really? And what is the point?" she questioned, though she hardly cared.
"The point is you have short legs."
She could hardly contain her scoff. "How very mature of you, Malfoy. No wonder you need my help to get a simple present for your son."
"I don't need your help getting the gift," he spat as he turned to face her in the middle of the crowd. She nearly ran straight into his chest as she had been so focused on simply keeping up with him. "I need your assistance on speaking to the people selling the blasted things."
"You mean the Weasleys," she said dryly. "Honestly, more often than not I find you completely unbelievable."
He looked down his nose at her with a smirk on his lips. It was so easy to push her buttons. "You flatter me. Though, given my history with the Weasley brood it should be obvious that I'll need you as a mediator."
"Then why come at all?" she questioned. "You'll just end up causing trouble and Godric knows I'm capable of picking out a birthday present."
"I'm very knowledgeable on what you're capable of, Ms. Granger," he said, getting irritated with her opinion. "But this is my son's birthday present and I should have a hand in it."
She stared at him for a moment, her mouth slightly agape. His affinity for his young son, Scorpius, always seemed to escape Hermione until moments like this when it practically slapped her in the face. "Of course, Mr. Malfoy," she said, shaking the surprise from her face.
Draco Malfoy was clearly many things to many different people. To the majority of the Wizarding World he was the reformed son of a Death Eater. To his coworkers, in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, he was the apathetic yet brilliant young boss. To his estranged wife, Astoria Malfoy (née Greengrass), he was a cold, unfeeling bastard (though if anyone asked, Hermione did not gather this information from their screaming matches held in his office). To Hermione Granger herself, he was a demanding, criticizing, harsh, and impossible arse who also unfortunately controlled her paycheck. She was also hesitant to note that despite his garish qualities he was unfortunately good at his job. To little Scorpius Malfoy, possible the only opinion out of the many that Draco actually cared about, he was Daddy.
It annoyed Hermione to no end that the git actually made for a good father, but she supposed that it wasn't really something worth complaining about. Him being a good father was rather good for the future. One less bad egg in the halls of Hogwarts. It just stung that he couldn't have been like the boy his son would turn out to be.
"Now where's this bloody joke shop?" he snapped, bringing her out of her character analysis.
She sighed and forced a grin that was exceptionally unconvincing. "Just around the corner if you'll follow me…what is it exactly that you're getting Scorpius?"
He walked behind her, thankfully not pushing her to go any faster through the crowd. "He's got his heart set on a fireworks display tonight and since I am his father he will get nothing but the best. Even if the best is a product of the Weasleys'." He couldn't quite hide the edge of scorn that found its way to the end of his statement.
"How humble of you," she jested, holding the door to Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes open for him. "I'll be sure to let them know of your backhanded compliment."
"Very good," he responded dismissively.
Despite the chaos outside, the shop inside was empty. She checked her watch, saw that it was 12:15 and sighed. How she wished to be a part of the bustling lunch crowd on the streets. At least Draco let her scarf down her lunch before forcing her to make nice between a Slytherin and a Gryffindor. That was something.
"Ron?" she called out. "George? Verity?"
"Be right out!" called a voice that Hermione identified as Ron.
Great, she thought. He was the most hot-headed of the Weasleys. She could practically feel the impending headache that was to come.
He came out from the back of the store with two armfuls of boxes stacked high above his head obscuring his face from view. "Oh, Ronald," she berated. "Here, let me help you."
And then many things happened in an unfortunate sequence. Hermione stepped forward, arms outstretched to grab some of the boxes from the top. Draco, either feeling uncharacteristically helpful, or like a small child clinging on his mother's skirt in a large department store, tailed closely behind. Meanwhile, Ron turned on his heel to the sound of Hermione's voice, causing the uppermost box to slide off the impressive stack, hitting Hermione square on the head, which in turn caused the powdery contents inside to burst out of the box and rain down on Draco and Hermione like fresh snow.
The powder had the semblance of flour and it got everywhere, slipping past the collars of their shirts, down their backs and fronts, and getting stuck at their waists where their shirts tucked into his trousers and her pencil skirt respectively.
"Dammit, Weasely! What is this stuff?" Draco demanded, attempting to brush the powder off his work robes.
Hermione was rooted to the spot, her mind reeling at the possible side-effects of the mysterious substance.
"Oh, shit!" Ron cried out, and hastily set the rest of the boxes down on the counter. "Shit, shit, shit…"
His mutters drove Hermione to uproot herself. "Ronald!" she nearly shrilled, "please stop panicking long enough to tell us what this is!"
Draco looked up at him, eyes wide when he realized that this situation was potentially worse than just a ruined outfit.
"It's fine," Ron responded with urgency. "I mean, it should be fine. We haven't finished testing it yet but…Look, it's not going to kill you or anything."
Draco, being the worrier that he was, sighed with relief. At least he wasn't going to perish in an unfortunate joke shop incident involving the Weasel and Granger.
Hermione took a step closer to Ron. "Just tell me what it is, please."
Ron took an equal-sized step away from her, putting his hands up as a barrier. "If you could just try not to get any of that on me, I would greatly appreciate it."
It was with those words that Ronald Bilius Weasley put his life in danger.
"Ron," Hermione seethed in a low, dangerous voice. "What the bloody hell is this stuff."
"It's…it's Itchy Powder. From our newest line of Revenge Best Served Silly products. It should really just make you itchy but we haven't tested its longevity or intensity yet."
Hermione sighed in relief. "Itchy Powder. Thank Merlin, I thought we might turn purple or sprout bat wings from our ears or something. But if it's just going to make us itchy…" She trailed off, shaking some of the stuff from her hair and turning to look at Draco, who was not as pleased as she.
"Weasley," he muttered. "You are an idiot. If you worked for me I would fire you."
"Well, get out of here then! What the hell are you doing in my shop anyway? Shouldn't you be punting puppies for yucks or something?"
"I'm fairly certain I had my secretary schedule that in for three tomorrow so you'll have to take that up with her," he replied coolly.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Will you both shut up and let me deal with this?" They complied by crossing their arms across their respective chests and nodding. "Alright. Ron, Draco is here to buy some of your Wildfire Whiz-bangs. Pick out the most expensive set because it's probably what he would deem the best anyway. But before you go," she said, catching him as he turned away, "could you fetch me a feather duster or something to get this stuff off of us before it becomes permanent?"
He dutifully walked away without another word and she turned to face her boss.
"This doesn't help improve your stance on the Weasleys at all, does it?"
"Just further cements what I already knew," he clipped with a grin and itched at his elbow. The powder was already taking effect.
"Don't scratch," she warned him, the sight of him scratching made her want to indulge as well. "It'll just make it worse than it is."
He huffed at her apparent control over the situation, but flexed his hand as he returned it to his side. While she sympathized with his current predicament, as it was her own as well, she fought the urge to squirm, fearing that the powder would travel deeper under her clothes.
Ron reappeared from the back room with a flamboyant feather duster that she'd wager George picked out. It looked like it was plucked from the rear end of a peacock. Ron started to brush the powder off of her head much to her dismay, making her feel like a child incapable of doing anything. She caught Malfoy smirking at her and she knew he was thinking the same thing. Flinching when he got to her shoulders, because it itched and because she couldn't stand Malfoy's mocking stare any longer, she snatched the duster form his hands. "I can get it," she said, trying not to snap at her old friend. "Why don't you get the fireworks, okay?"
She started to brush off her arms when Draco spoke.
"Real gem, that one." She could tell he was trying to distract himself from the itchiness.
"It's the thought that counts," she muttered, "and at least he tries." Draco looked up at her, but didn't say anything.
She switched from her arms to her torso and added, "You should take off your ridiculous work robe and shake it out."
"It's not ridiculous," he argued, but heeded her advice, "it's professional."
"It's outdated," she countered back, turning around in an attempt to brush off her back. "You're the only one at the office who wears one and no one has the stones to tell you because you're the Head and they're too intimidated."
"Are you sure it's not respect?"
"If they truly respected you, they would tell you the truth."
Smugly he said, "Was that a roundabout way of saying that you respect me, Granger?"
Hermione stopped her feathering tirade and feared she had just come across a horrible truth. Then she squashed the thought from her head. "Where are my manners?" She said, switching gears. "You must be itching to high heavens." She jumped towards him and began brushing the offending powder off of his arms and shoulders in such a frenzy that she didn't realize how close she was to him until his breath tickled her ear.
It took her a moment to realize that she had stopped brushing and that they were just staring at each other intently. Him with an uncomfortable but curious nature and her with a tinge of apprehension that always came over her when she was on the brink of discovering something new. There was a look in his eye that Hermione had witnessed in many other men before but never expected to see it in him. One would think it was impossible for Draco Abraxas Malfoy to appear bashful even if was only for a moment.
She blinked at stepped an arms-length away. What she had seen in his eyes was gone now so she thrust the feather duster towards him. "Um, here," she said lamely. "I don't really think it helps, but you can do it yourself if you want."
He grabbed hold of it and looked at it as if he was unsure of what exactly he was looking at. Given his wealthy background it was entirely possible that this was the first time he had even held a feather duster.
When Ron came back with the fireworks it was carelessly tossed onto the counter.
"I got you all the different types because I figured you could afford them. They'll do different things when combined together so don't be afraid get creative."
"Thanks," said Draco dryly. "You can charge to my account in Gringotts and mail the packages to the Manor by five o'clock tonight. I don't have the patience to carry them back to the office." Then he warned, "Don't. Be. Late."
"Of course not, wouldn't want to upset the spoiled brat, would I?"
Draco was preparing to deliver the vilest verbal beat-down of the century when suddenly Hermione spoke up. "Ron, don't be rude," she snapped as she fiddled with her collar so that it didn't brush up against her neck in a sinfully scratchy way. "I've met Scorpius and despite his parentage he is one of the nicest little boys I've ever met."
Both men stared at her, surprised by her opinion on the littlest Malfoy. Their scrutiny made the itching worse, and her hand crept up the back of her neck. "What?" she demanded. "He is. It's probably all thanks to the house elves." There was still an awkward tension in the little joke shop, so she switched gears yet again. "Is there anything we can do about the itching? An antidote or something that you've been working on?"
Ron nodded. "Yeah, George might have something for you, but he's meeting with some blokes right now in Dublin and he won't be back until later today."
"Well, what are we supposed to until he gets back?" Draco ground out. "This itching will drive me mad long before then!"
"Just wait it out, I guess," hedged Ron.
"Wait it out," groaned Draco, his hands rushing to his head in an attempt to either alleviate the irritating itching or pull out his hair in frustration. All he really managed to do was muss it up. Hermione's own scalp started to itch and her fingers twitched at her side.
"Draco, calm down," she said trying to keep the peace, though the only thing she wanted at the moment was to run back home to find Crookshanks' old scratching post and use it to scratch every inch of her skin. "We'll make a game of this. A test of wills, if you like, between the two of us. Whoever scratches first loses and is subject to…to… something…"She struggled to maintain her concentration but there was a spot just between her shoulder blades that felt as though it was the marching grounds for an ant's parade.
"Something?" Draco prompted, looking as though there was a rival gang of ants marching through his trousers.
"Something," she tried again, the word coming out in a strangled rhythm as an itching fever took over her brain, "that I can't think of at the moment, but we'll agree upon later!" She rotated her shoulders in hopes of reaching the elusive spot but nothing was satisfied.
"No!" Draco spat. "I refuse to your terms as they are undefined."
If she weren't other wised engaged in a distraction she would have taken the time to note his atrocious behavior that was making him look like a spoiled man-child, but she was, so she didn't. "Well, I can't bloody well concentrate at the moment so you think of something, you…you ponce!"
"I can't think of anything either," he roared in response, despite it being a rather pathetic reply.
Draco was gripping the counter top so hard that Ron feared it might crack, so he intervened in hopes of relieving the tension. "Why don't you make it a contest like Hermione said and who ever loses is the loser."
Hermione and Draco's glares were so intense that Ron felt himself starting to itch as well.
"If anyone ever told you that you were brilliant," said Draco lowly, "then they were lying."
Ron rolled his eyes and amended. "I just meant that both of your egos are so huge that neither of you can stomach the idea of simply losing to the other." He also muttered something else that Hermione pretended not to hear despite it bringing a blush to her face. "As soon as I can," he said to Hermione, "I'll send the remedy to your office, but just remember, you don't have to share it if you don't want to."
Hermione smiled at her old friend. "Thanks, Ron. I hope the next time I see you I haven't scratched my skin clean off."
He frowned but nodded just the same. "Before you go," he said, stopping them as they turned towards the door to leave. "You should really clean yourselves off properly." He took out his wand and with a wave the Itchy Powder was magically brushed off them. "It's like you both forgot you're wizards or something," he finished with a large, goofy grin.
Unfortunately, Draco and Hermione couldn't just apparate back to the offices and had to walk back through the crowds to find a floo. Every time he bumped into a passerby Draco fought the desire to grab a hold of them and use them as a personal back scratcher. But that would have been unseemly and he would not lose to Granger. To keep her head straight, Hermione took the time to list all of the spells in the Standard Book of Spells: Grade 7 in alphabetical order…backwards. By the time they got to the floo she had recited all the way to Lapifors.
From the floo they made it to the lift. Hermione risked a glance at Draco as they waited for it to stop at their floor. It was understood that the challenge of wills was on despite the lack of acknowledgement of it and she desperately wanted him to break so that she could release the fury of her fingers on her irritated skin. But he just stood there with his eyes upward, staring at ceiling as he clenched his jaw.
He sensed her staring and his eyes flitted over to her. She was biting her lip and he had the sudden image of her with her hands all over him scratching him to sweet ecstasy. He quickly shut his eyes and shook the thoughts out of his head where they didn't belong.
"What are you thinking of?" she asked in a strained tone.
"Um, Scorpius." His response was immediate and his voice, strangled. He had probably spoken too quickly, but she didn't seem to notice so he didn't let the thought worry him. "And karma," he added as a partially true afterthought.
He often did think about the concept of karma, and when that happened he always wondered what he did right in the world to get such an amazing son. But Granger didn't' need to know that so he quickly thought on his feet. "This is probably what I get for trying to one up Astoria as the better parent."
"Oh, please," she scoffed. She was about to say more when the lift doors opened. They both looked outside and then back at each other. Whatever she had been about to say would have to be left in the lift. They did not cordially converse in the public eye. She gave an apologetic smile and made for the open door when it suddenly started to close. She stepped back surprised and saw Draco's hands on the 'Door Close' button.
He looked surprised at his own action, but cleared his throat to gain some composure and said, "You were saying?"
She looked away to hide her smirk and then with horror realized that she had found his actions somewhat cute. "I—um, just meant that you'd have to try really hard to actually be a worse parent that Astoria." He didn't look at her, but she could tell he was pleased by the short chuckle he gave so she continued. "I remember, back when Scorpius was still a baby, she brought him into the office looking for you—and you must have been in a meeting or something, I can't quite recall—anyway, when she couldn't find you, she had me change his diaper because she refused to do it herself! I probably should have been mortified, but just I couldn't believe it! The only plus side was that I figured out the reason for her constant visits were a lot less scandalous than I previously assumed."
He looked at her with wide eyes and she feared she had overstepped herself in this semi-amiable atmosphere by referencing his possible sexual exploits with his soon-to-be ex-wife. Then he said in disbelief, "I remember that day! She actually had the nerve to tell me over dinner that I was a horrible father for not being there when she needed me. And then she implied that she was the one who took care of the diaper!" He was dumbstruck. "Well, congrats, Granger. You have officially changed his diaper more than his own mother. You know, this might reflect poorly on me if I weren't in the process of divorcing the twit."
She laughed. "Well, it should be obvious to you that Scorpius adores you and that you needn't do anything to win him over."
Draco smiled, looking down at his feet and absentmindedly brought his hand to the back of his head where he began to scratch.
"Ha!" she let out with a jump, causing him to freeze in apprehension. "You scratched first! I win!"
He pulled his hand away instantly and looked at it like it was a traitorous backstabber. "That doesn't count! We were in a time-out!"
"No we weren't!" she said smartly, a huge grin on her face. "You just lost to me, Draco. Ha!"
"Whatever," he dismissed. "You've been scratching your hand this whole time."
She gasped. "I have not," she said indignantly.
He stepped towards her and grabbed her hand and exclaimed, "Look at how red it is! You've clearly been scratching and I've just been too much of a gentleman to point it out." She looked down at their hands together and felt herself get a little flushed at the coolness of his touch. He noticed and dropped her hand like it was fire and looked away from her.
"If you are such a gentleman," she said, trying to bypass the awkward moment. "Then you'll agree that the time spent in this lift was in fact a free-scratching zone and that as soon as we step out the competition will be back on!"
"Fine!" he agreed quickly. It was his suggestion in the first place. "It's about time we got back to work anyway!"
"Good," she said as he reached for the 'Door Open' button. "But before you do," she interrupted, "you should remember that as soon as that door opens we won't be able to scratch without losing, so if you would like to indulge in a little itch relief now would be the time."
His finger hovered over the button and he gave her a calculated stare before his hands went straight to his collar to scratch the bejeezus out of his neck and chest. It took Hermione a millisecond to drop her own guard enough to start scratching at her sides and stomach with reckless abandon.
Five minutes later the lift doors opened with a pleasant ring and they both stepped out looking as professional as they could muster even though the skin underneath their clothing was red with irritation and scratch marks that now itched more than ever.
Hermione could feel her coworkers' eyes watching them as they walked in and wondered if there was a neon sign floating above them that flashed the word 'Guilty!' in obnoxious, bright lights.
Hermione left Draco's side to sit at her own desk and whimpered at the friction that her seat gave to her legs and back. She cleared her throat to cover her fumble as she watched Draco breach the door to his office and sit down at his own desk which she had a clear view of through his window.
He knew she was there watching him, but he refused to acknowledge her stare. Couldn't she tell the office was already suspicious? He snorted. Probably not. She was probably suffering from the effects of the Itchy Powder too much to notice anything but the powder. Not like him though. No. He could do this. He could ignore the urge to use his name plate as a back scratcher or to tear off his shirt and roll around on the floor like a dog, rug burns be damned.
He felt his hand start to cramp up and realized that he had a vice-grip on the edge of his desk. It took momentous effort to let go of the desk and his hand went flying to hair but he stopped in a fist just before contact was made. His gaze went to the window that looked out over his employees. Usually he used to keep an eye on them to make sure they weren't wasting time. The tables had turned however, and now they were all watching him either with wide eyes or furrowed brows. With a growl he pulled out his wand and spelled the blinds to close. Just before they did he saw Hermione's stare go into a shocked rage.
He smirked to himself. Seeing her like that made him almost giddy.
The knock on his door made the smirk disappear faster than it took Hermione to barge into his office and shut the door behind her.
"What do you think you're doing?" she demanded. Her hands were on her hip momentarily before she removed them and attempted to cross them in front of her only to ball her fists and drop them so that they hovered next to her hips where they couldn't touch anything.
At first he had followed the tirade of her hands to make sure she didn't scratch but now he was just looking at her shapely hips. It was then that he realized that his bum was itchy.
"Malfoy," she barked, and then took out her wand and cast a silencing spell on the room so as to not cause concern for the other employees.
He looked back up at her dragging himself out of his daze. "Yes, Ms. Granger? Is there a reason why you barged into my office like a crazed barbarian?" She was slipping. Maybe if he provoked her enough she would crack first and lose the competition so he could take care of the tingly sensation that danced along his backside.
"You are a cheater," she said storming up to his desk and leaned over in what she probably thought was a menacing stance. He was slightly put-out when he realized she was a tasteful dresser and buttoned her shirt in a professional manner that did not allow for anyone to view not even the slightest of undergarments. For some reason that didn't make him any less curious.
Again he focused his wandering mind. "Just how exactly am I a cheater?" He did his best to sound aloof though it very forced.
"How am I supposed to know if you've scratched yourself if I can't see you? Either you keep the blinds open or I stay in here." She harrumphed for added effect.
"Well I guess you're staying in here because I will not tolerate the stares from my underlings."
"Underlings!" she shouted. "These people, for reasons that I cannot fathom, actually respect you as the Head and you have the gall to treat them with such disdain! You are infuriating!"
"So now you're saying that you don't respect me?" he said, stepping out from behind his desk to approach her. He was losing his reserve as well. She took an involuntary step back but stuck out her chin in defiance. "You actually preferred the old Head before I took over, huh? What was his name—Tumberry? You realize he was a horrible budgeter and was going to bring this whole department down along with you and your precious co-workers if I hadn't come along to fix everything!"
"Yeah, well," she faltered, "at least he was agreeable!"
"Because that is what's most important—being well liked! I suppose I was damned from the start, then. I should just resign!"
"Dammit, Draco!" she yelled. "You're a good boss despite your horrible tendency to lash out when you're stressed—which by the way, I'm surprised you haven't dropped dead from a heart attack yet! I mean, have you heard of deep breathing or counting to ten?"
Draco responded with a very low, deep exhale that didn't really do much for his calm, but Hermione was so caught up in his extreme glare that she feared she had been Petrified again. His eyes were like clear cut ice with flecks of darker grey that demanded attention if you found yourself in close proximity of them, which she of course was.
Hermione wasn't the only one noticing things for the first time however. Though his glare was meant to scare and subdue her, his attention drifted to the freckles that spread across her cheeks and nose. They added a warmth to her skin that he would always be lacking. Actually, everything about her was warm; her freckles, milk-chocolate colored eyes, and wild, curly hair—everything, and he wanted to find out what it felt like.
Wait—what? He shook his head and faltered backward. Everything was becoming too much for him and now he was the one that was cracking.
"Draco," Hermione said. "Are you feeling alright?" She brought a hand to his forehead and brushed away his fringe to feel if he was warm. It was just the slightest of touches but it was the closest thing to scratching since leaving the lift and to Draco it felt spectacular. Closing his eyes he leaned into it and moved his head from side to side.
"Just to be clear," he said in a low rumble. "I haven't lost yet. I'm not scratching myself; you're the one scratching me." When his eyes opened he saw her smirking at him with devilish intent that he'd never imagined he would see on her pert little face. Her hand slowly left his forehead and traveled down to his bicep where she firmly gripped it. Her other hand did the same on the opposite side.
"I think we can help each other out," she said in an unintentionally seductive tone, "without either of us losing the bet."
His hands found their way to her back just under the shoulder blades. "It's rare times like this when I think you should have been a Slytherin-Ravenclaw hybrid."
"Do shut up."
He complied by dragging his fingers up and down her back and she fell against his chest in sweet relief that she almost forgot to return the favor. Her own fingers slid to his back and began to run up and down in a feverous passion. She slowly realized that she was nuzzling his chest and that he had his own face pressed into the crook of her neck. His breath tickled causing her back to arch and eyes to roll with distinct pleasure. One of her hands found its way into his hair where she attempted to lose it in the silky strands while the other made its way to his chest that just begged to be touched.
His hands began to wander as well, one making it to what he now considered her glorious hair. The other made a bold and daring move southward. Somewhere in the back of his head a little voice was telling him that this could potentially end the current activity and send him on the receiving end of a smarting slap, but it was a very quite voice that he was used to ignoring.
He spread his hand flat against her bum figuring that if this was his last move he might as well get a good feel out of it. Through this brave exploration Draco found a new appreciation for the words 'Hermione Granger' and 'tight ass'. She moaned into his chest and his grip tightened eliciting another moan and she pressed against him in a way that would have made a lesser man shudder.
Her leg lifted and wrapped around one of his so he began to rub his hand from her bum to her thigh.
While this wasn't exactly scratching it sure did wonders for the itch.
The hand providing ministrations on his chest popped the first button on his shirt and slipped underneath the collar to get a good grip his shoulder. He hissed as her nails dragged down his arm. His head rolled back only to hit the wall behind him. When did they get close to a wall, he wondered. His desk, where this all started, was in the middle of the room.
Suddenly, there was sharp pain that cut into his bicep and a different kind of hiss escaped from him. His hands gripped her again but this time in a restraining fashion. "Er, Hermione," he started, "I'm bleeding."
"Hm?" she murmured with the cutest dazed expression he'd ever seen. Then the words abruptly registered in her brain. "Dear lord! Oh, I'm so sorry! I didn't realize…" she trailed quickly taking her hands off of him.
The delicious haze that had clouded their senses was gone.
He stepped back with a cough. "Quite alright. Just got a little carried away, is all."
"A little carried away?" she said with a nervous chuckle. "Draco, I have your DNA under my nails."
"DNA?" he asked.
"It's a Muggle thing," she waved off, pulling out her wand. "Here, I'll just take care of your arm."
She had to undo another one of his shirt buttons along with his vest in order to uncover his shoulder. He wore a sleeveless undershirt that Hermione couldn't help but notice was particularly flattering on him. Biting her lip she used wordless magic to heal the wound she made. She was quite embarrassed and wasn't sure that she would be able to live this down. How does one recover from scratching her boss so furiously in a heat of passion that he bleeds?
Undoubtedly, one didn't.
It took her a moment to realize she was fiddling with the edge of his shirt while he watched her. She dropped it and turned away from him just as he attempted to reach out and still her hands. He only met air. He screwed his mouth up into a frown not sure of what just happened.
"You should button up," she said over her shoulder. She was walking to the other side of the room where she sat down against the wall. He moved to follow her but she held up a hand that stopped his tracks. "We should probably keep a distance between us unless you want things to get out of hand again."
He knew she was only trying to make a point and that the option to let things get out of hand again wasn't really on the table, but he thought that it wouldn't be completely terrible if it was. Sure, he was Draco Malfoy and she was Hermione Granger, sworn enemies in the halls of Hogwarts, but that was ages ago and the halls of Hogwarts were far and away. They were fully grown adults now. Capable of making adult like decisions with each other. Decisions involving scratching irritated skin with a passion and pleasure comparable to heavy-petting.
Okay, it was a little weird, but it wasn't like it was wrong. He was separated from his estranged wife and she was single. Well, at least he thought she was. He actually didn't know. Granger's social status had never really concerned him before. And now it did? he asked himself. Well…currently.
"Stop it," Hermione said with her hands in her hair. Apparently the no self-scratching thing was off. Then he realized he was scratching himself just under his ribs.
"Stop what?" he asked.
"Stop thinking of ways to make what we did happen again. Oh, don't give me that look. I know exactly what you were thinking. Brightest witch and all that…and of course, the fact that you're a guy."
Smirking, he sat down with his back to his desk, legs outstretched. "So what do you propose we do, then? Hope this passes before work ends? Pray that the Red-headed Wonder sends us the remedy soon?"
"That's exactly what I propose," she said primly.
"Well…alright." He honestly didn't know what else to do. Was she really willing to have them sit in their respective spots and just wait this thing out? That was decidedly less exciting than what they had previously been doing. Now they were just sitting on the floor in silence. He scratched at his ankle with the toe of his shoe. Plus he was itchy.
Hermione was the first to break the silence. "So…how old is Scorpius going to be this year?"
He looked at her with his head cocked to the side. "He's turning six, but we both know you already knew that. No need to play curious."
"Well, we need to do something to pass the time," she reasoned. He couldn't help but think that they already had been doing something to pass the time, though in truth, it was probably better this way. Starting something with Granger, even if the something was rather ambiguous would be far too difficult. "So," she continued. "Will he be spending any time with Astoria?"
"No, she'll be away in Paris over the weekend."
"Oh," she said. "Business?"
He snorted. "Shopping."
"Oh," she said again, looking a little upset by the news.
"Do know what's funny?" he asked. She looked up so he took that as a cue to continue. "No one refers to her as Scorpius' mother. She's always Astoria. I think Scorpius even stopped calling her 'Mum' a while back."
"Well, that's not very funny at all. It's actually rather sad."
He sighed. "Yeah, well, at least it makes the divorce easier. No doubt in my mind about this decision."
"Was their doubt when you decided to marry her?"
"Not a speck of it, actually. I guess there never really was when it came to her." His response was blunt and his eyes were trained in on his shoes. "But I had different priorities then. The goal was to marry a beautiful woman who could maintain the Malfoy status. Astoria fit the bill. It was an easy thing to work out. Nothing about it was hidden. She knew as well as I that this was a business transaction and it was treated as such. At first it worked out rather well. We were both attractive and well, let's just say we got along famously were it counted." She didn't say anything, but he could tell from her raised eyebrows that he understood his implied meaning.
"And then she got pregnant and I was going to be a father. I don't think she ever actually wanted to get pregnant. Probably hoped that years of pureblood inbreeding would've left either her barren or me sterile," he joked with a smile.
Then his smile seemed to fall from his face. "Soon after that I realized I had gotten what I wanted from her and that I was, in fact, the cold hearted bastard that everyone called me. Using a woman for offspring. Why couldn't I have fallen in love like everyone else? Done it the right way? That was the point of the whole arrangement anyway. Get the Malfoys on the right track.
I wasn't the only one with an apparent hidden agenda, though. Astoria decided that this would be the one and only time that she would ever get pregnant. The day she gave birth to Scorpius was the day she made sure it would never happen again. Had the Healer do it right then and there without even telling me. I was too wrapped up in the baby; didn't even notice what they were doing. She thought she was secure after that. Because she was Scorpius' mother she thought I wouldn't divorce her. Well, it took five years but I finally got here." It wasn't until he finished that he realized all that he had revealed to Hermione. She had gotten him to expose himself so easily. It just took a few questions and he was singing like a sad, drunken canary.
"Wow…" she said, and he thought it was because there was really nothing else to say on the matter. Then she continued. "You…really aren't the romantic type, are you?"
He laughed. That was probably the last thing he thought she would critique him on. Wasn't she the Queen of the Pious? And yet, she turned the spotlight on his lack of romantic capabilities. Figures. For someone who so favored rules she always did surprise him with the avenues she took. "No, I guess not."
"Well," she said with a sweet smile. "At least you're taking a step in the right direction with this divorce. Loveless marriages don't really suit anyone."
He was still grinning when he spoke again. Things were going well between them but he was quite certain his next question could be the wrench that broke the machine. "And you? Wasn't there a time when you were going to be Mrs. Ron Weasley?" He knew they weren't together. They didn't speak like lovers in the shop; just old friends comfortable with each other. Then again, it could be one and the same, love and friendship. How would he know? Draco was no expert in the field. Maybe that's why he failed in the first place.
This time she laughed. "No, absolutely not! Well, I mean, there was a time when I thought that maybe…but I left those dreams back at Hogwarts. I thought I loved him for the longest time." She slipped her hand to her cheek to cool her blush. "From third year to, well…all the way up through the war. Then the adventure ended and life became normal again. We weren't scared all the time. No one was in constant danger. And things between Ron and me just weren't as…big as I thought they once were. The romance was a part of the atmosphere that we were living in, I guess. Our…fallout, for lack of a better term, was small as well. We weren't what we thought we were. No harm, no foul. And now we're just the friends we should've been all along."
"Well, that sounds quite civil."
She laughed again. "It was terribly civil. Nothing flashy or dramatic about it. I guess my life isn't too romantic either."
He waved it off. "At least yours wasn't self-imposed. I mean, you're not trapped in your own mess or anything."
"Neither are you," she argued back.
"I'm a single father, Hermione. I've got a son to take care of. I don't think we date very well."
"Single father's date very well and besides, Scorpius is adorable! Any woman worth your time can see that. Believe me. He'll help you in the dating field, not hinder you. Just remember not to wear your work robes and you should be fine."
Draco looked at Hermione. She was just sitting there on the floor with her legs tucked underneath her, hair wild around her face, and clothes as neat as she could keep them after their little romp.
She was beautiful.
She was beautiful and she liked Scorpius and she said anyone who liked Scorpius was worth his time, right?
His eyes screwed up in concentration. He was getting ahead of himself.
Hermione watched Draco as he muddled through his thoughts. She didn't know what to think about him anymore. She always thought she had him pegged. Even when it was apparent that he had changed into a respectable man after the war. But now she understood that he was a dad now. Nothing changes a person more than taking care of a child. That's when you really grow up. Draco was living proof.
There was a flutter by his office window that looked outside. Hermione recognized it as the shop bird that George and Ron used to send out orders. "It must be the remedy!" She stood and walked to the window to let in the fluttery creature. It flew in and landed awkwardly on Draco's desk, the parcel attached to its leg making landing difficult. Draco was standing by this point and undid the knot. The owl didn't hesitate to fly back out the window as soon as he was done not even waiting for a tip or snack. Well that's good, thought Draco. Hardly seems fair to pay for the Weasel's fumble. What was left was a jar and instructions.
Hermione snatched up the letter first. "It's from George. He says this should work. It's a lotion he made, just rub it were it itches. Also, he'd like talk to us about the Itchy Powder. Guess he wants to know what to fix."
"Well I say chuck the whole thing. It's absolute rubbish."
"Not a prank guy, huh?"
"Not in the slightest."
They stared at the jar of lotion. The instructions were to apply it where it itched. But they were itchy every where.
"You know, I don't think I need to use this," she motioned to the jar. "I mean, I'm not that itchy anymore. I really think it's wearing off."
Draco raised an eyebrow at her. "That might be more convincing if you were using my quill to scratch your bum."
Hermione froze then shifted her gaze to her hand which indeed did have a quill in it. She gave a nervous chuckle.
"Well, how exactly are we going to do this? You should know I veto stripping in front of you."
He gave her a feral grin. "What made you think this is a democracy?" He began undoing his vest buttons and she gasped.
"You can't be serious!" He didn't stop with his unbuttoning. "Well," she said indignantly. "Where is that atrocious robe?"
"Strange," he said to her as she found it hanging on a cloak hanger. "I was under the odd assumption that you didn't like it."
"Oh, it's quite frivolous, but I bet it'll make for an excellent divider." With a wave of her wand it floated between them like it was hung up over a laundry line, not quite skimming the floor.
He sidestepped it and she saw he was completely shirtless. "Has anyone ever told you you're a quick thinker when you're flustered?"
"Please get on your side and I am not flustered."
He barked a laugh and she heard his trousers drop to the floor followed by his boxers. If she looked down she would be able to see them along with his bare feet and calves as he could undoubtedly see hers. "At the moment you are the epitome of flustered. Really, I'm quite flattered." His hand reached out for the jar of lotion on the desk. He scooped out a dollop of it and his hand disappeared behind the cloak again. "How confident are you in this George character's abilities?"
"He's brilliant at what he does," she said dropping her blouse and bra. "But since this is only in its testing stage, you'll have to tell me if it works."
"Fantastic," he muttered. Then, "Whoa."
"Draco? It works, right?"
"I'll say," he answered back. "Instant relief! You'll have to send my regards to George."
She hastily reached out for the jar and scooped up her own dollop. She applied it to her legs first as they were the most irritated. Draco was right. The lotion worked perfectly, even had a cooling effect to calm the skin. She couldn't hold in the sigh as she rubbed it into her thighs and then calves. When she was out she reached back for the jar only to bump hands with Draco. "Oh, sorry!"
"Quite alright, go ahead." He was simply motioning with his hand, the only part of him she could see. It was almost comical.
She complied and continued to apply the lotion to her body. "So besides fireworks, do you have anything else planned for Scorpius' party?"
"He's got some friends from school that we invited over tonight for the show."
"Yes, Astoria won't take care of him and since I work during the day I decided to send him to a preliminary school for wizards."
"So, is it public?" she questioned, quite bemused.
"Har, har. Yes it's public. And after school, because you'll probably ask, he get's picked up by the Muggleborn nanny who watches him until I get home."
"Wow," was all she could say.
"Well, I'm glad you're impressed." He sounded terse.
"It's not like that," she said. "It's just…" she struggled to reach her back which still itched fiercely."
"Yeah, I know," he said assuming she had trouble finding the right words. "Guess I've changed a lot since Hogwarts."
"While that's entirely true," she said. "I actually was more distracted by the fact that I can't reach my back."
"Oh," then more brightly, "I can help with that."
She sighed. It wasn't like there was anyone else in the room to help her. "Alright, just let me cover up." She bent to pick up her undergarments and skirt.
"Do you want me to cover up as well?" She could practically hear the smile.
"Yes, please." She zipped up the side of her skirt and slipped on her bra, very hesitantly deciding to clasp it in the back even though that meant he would also have the intimate task of unclasping it later on. She grabbed her blouse, held it in front of her chest and asked, "Are you decent?"
He answered by tearing down the cloak effectively ending the charm that held it up. She was shocked to find him bare-chested. "I thought you were going to cover up!" she hissed at him.
"My back itches too, you know. I thought you could return the favor," he finished with a grin.
"Fine," she clipped, "but you're up first. Turn around." She set down her blouse and scooped up some of the lotion applying it as professionally as possible while trying not to remember the feel of his muscular back. Despite concentrating on the ingredients needed to produce a Pepper-up potion she knew the feel of his back would linger on her fingertips for at least a little while.
"Alright," she said. It was her turn now. He turned around thrusting his arms into his shirt sleeves just as she was covering up with her blouse. For the briefest of seconds he saw her in her white lace bra and then it was covered by her sky-blue top. That image, combined with the modest look in her eyes when she realized he caught a glimpse, was the most angelic thing he'd seen since his newborn baby son.
He had the sudden urge to shag her brains out.
"If you could curb your staring that would make this a little less uncomfortable, thanks."
It dawned on him that he had been staring slack-jawed at her and that it was highly unbecoming. "Er, right." He almost apologized and than thought against it. Yeah, he had been staring but he wasn't exactly sorry for it. "Um, turn around."
She did and then tried to unclasp her bra with one hand. Amused, he smiled. "Just let me do it. You look as ridiculous as I apparently do in my work robes." He got it open easy enough and then had the chilling thought that never before in his life did he ever think that he would do what he had just done to her.
Hermione huffed. "You're staring again."
"Am not," he rebutted, scooping some of the remedy to rub into her back. He started at her shoulders rubbing it in much like a massage. "I was just thinking about the absurdity of this situation. Considering our younger selves I think it's safe to say this was not a foreseeable future."
"To be fair," she said smartly, "I never would have considered the possibility of getting in an Itchy Powder catastrophe with anyone."
"Don't play stupid, Granger. It doesn't suit you," he said with a lazy grin. "You know what I was referring to." She stiffened, but he continued anyway without noticing. "Given who we were in school and how we work together now, it's amazing that all we do is bicker. I mean, there's still this huge history of hate between us and—what? We're just going to ignore it?"
She spun to face him, her response filled with more gusto than either could have predicted. "Yes."
"Hermione, you know we can't do that."
"Why not?" she said with pleading eyes.
"We just…can't." He didn't really know why. Talking about it would be uncomfortable but this was what people did to get over something, right? "Ignoring it just won't work."
"Well, what else can we do?" she demanded. "What could you possibly say to make how you treated me okay? Do you even remember how horribly you bullied me? You hated me for my heritage, called me a Mudblood, and tried your damnedest to make me feel inferior to anyone and everyone! What can be done? Honestly, ask yourself what could you possible do to make up for that? "
He balked, unable to process what was happening.
"Let me just save you the trouble," she said much more calmly. "Whatever you think of simply won't be enough. You will have always done what you did and nothing can change that. So…I've decided to try to forget it. It's just easier this way. I know you're sorry because ever since you started to work here you've evaded any talk of Muggleborns. And it's not because you still despise us, but because you don't know what to say. You, yourself, try to forget the past because you know there's nothing you can do about it. And guess what—I agree. What's done is done and there's nothing you can do so it's easier if we both forget about it."
"But we don't forget it," he choked back. "I mean, we try. That's evident. But if we could truly forget about it then we wouldn't be standing her talking about it now. The past is always there, Hermione. Ignore it all you want but it'll always be there."
Her eyes shot down to the faded yet always dark mark on his forearm and his followed. "Like a stain?" she asked.
"Like a stain," he agreed, suddenly wishing he could hide the mark because despite his brave talk he suddenly felt the weight of his past drape over his shoulders, drowning him in regret.
"I'm sorry," he said stepping back. She was right. What could he do to atone for his past? "Maybe we should just forget it all."
Hermione was confused. "But what about everything you just said. It's a stain—it'll always be there."
"Yeah, well, talking about it isn't going to make it go away. It'll just remind people of everything. Get them talking about it again. And then what?" he asked, feeling unsettled with how real this was turning out to be. "Then Scorpius will find out and how am I supposed to explain everything to him. 'Hi, son. I know you love me but I'm a bad guy'? You were completely right from the beginning. Talking about it was stupid and we should just try to bury it."
It was unnerving to see this shaken version of Draco Malfoy before her. The last time she had seen him like this was sixth year and there was something amiss in the world when Draco Malfoy couldn't intimidate a Hufflepuff with a single sneer.
"Draco…" He looked away unable to stand the honesty in her eyes. "Draco," she tried again clutching onto his shirt collar holding on tightly as he weakly pulled away. "Draco, I forgive you."
"No you don't," he argued back. "How could you? It's just like you said, after everything what can I possibly do to—"
He was cut off when her lips suddenly pressed up against his, effectively shutting him up. At first he didn't understand what was happening, then one thing became absolutely clear. She was kissing him. She had to be up on her tip toes to do it, and additionally had to fist his shirt collar in order to hold herself in place, but Hermione Granger was kissing him sweetly on the mouth.
Before he could realize that he wanted to kiss her back, it was over and she was looking at him like a child caught in the gaze of a potentially dangerous dog. His eyes softened and he smiled down at her.
Hermione sighed in relief and then there was a knock on the door causing the both of them to go into high alert as they realized they were both more or less shirtless in a room that was locked and silenced for the better half of the day.
"Shit!" Draco said, scrambling for the rest of his clothes. He glanced at the clock. It just before five which meant that it was most likely his son and nanny on the other side of the door. The knocking persisted. He whipped his wand around and took off the silencing spell. "Just a moment," he shouted as calmly as he could muster. "Just finishing an important fire-call!"
Hermione was fumbling with her blouse after having a spot of trouble clasping the back of her bra. He wanted to help her but he was having trouble with his own shirt. She blew some hair out of her face and looked at him. "It'll be easier if we switch." Then her hands shot towards him, slapping away his hands and began buttoning his shirt with considerable ease. He did the same, but was not nearly as effective when he felt his knuckles brush up against the cups of her bra. In the end, he was left to finish buttoning up his vest while she took care of the rest of her shirt.
She gave him an approving look after he ran his hands through his hair and pushed him towards the door. He took a steadying breath and opened the door with considered grace.
"Daddy!" Scorpius shouted, throwing his hands up in the air as he ran into the room. The nanny stood respectively just outside the door.
Draco swiftly scooped up his son causing the young boy to explode in a fit of giggles. "Have a good day, sport? Ready for a boring evening at home with your old man?"
"But Daddy," he little boy whined, "it's my birthday!"
"Is it now? Well, it's a good thing I bought fireworks today!"
"You got me fireworks!" The boy was absolutely ecstatic, squirming so much in Draco's arms that he had to be set down whereupon the moment his feet hit the ground he started to jump around, pumping his fists in the air. Hermione couldn't help but giggle at the sight, drawing the attention of the two newcomers to her.
When Scorpius saw her he immediately stopped his jumping parade. "Hullo, Ms. Granger," he said most politely.
"Hello, Scorpius," she said with a kind smile that was no doubt genuine. "Happy Birthday. How old are you now? Twenty-four?"
"No!" Scorpius said with more giggles. "I'm turning six." He held up his hands to show her how many fingers that was, as if it was necessary to understand.
"Only six?" she said in mock confusion, dropping down on her knees to be at his level. "But you're such a big boy."
"I know the twelve uses of dragon's blood," he said proudly.
"And intelligent," she added, standing back up again.
Scorpius reached for his father's trouser leg. "My Daddy taught me."
"Well, I suppose he's quite intelligent too, then," she amended with a secret smile in the corner of her mouth meant for Draco. He sent her his own private smile that apparently the nanny was able to decode.
The older woman cleared her throat and gave a polite smile to remind the other two grownups of her presence in the room. "Mr. Malfoy, is there anything else you'll be needing me to attend to?"
"Oh, no. That should be all, thank you."
She bid her goodbyes and handed Scorpius a toy train from her purse.
Hermione flushed with embarrassment and Draco fidgeted with his hair.
"I guess we better be going then, got some fireworks to set off and all."
Scorpius grinned. "Ms. Granger, would you like to come to my birthday party?"
"Oh, no, I mean, I-I-I couldn't—there's a lot of work I need to make up for today and um," she fumbled.
"Don't worry about the work," Draco interjected, it was entirely his fault that she was busy all day anyway. "I'm sure we'll be able to get all caught up next week."
"We?" she asked.
"Yes," he answered, then with a sheepish smile. "That is, if you don't mind staying a little late on Monday. We could order takeout?"
"Um, takeout's great," she sputtered. She glanced at Scorpius who was distracted by a toy train the nanny had given him. "Is this just supposed to be a work thing or…?" She let the implied question hang in the air, lacking the courage to actually ask it.
He took a step closer to her and questioned right back in a tone low enough that Scorpius wouldn't hear. "Do single dad's date?"
Hermione's eyebrows popped up in surprise. She almost couldn't believe what was happening. Yes," she said with a smile. "I hear they do."
"Well, that's excellent news," he grinned. "Would you like to tell me more at my son's birthday party?" He offered her his hand and added, "There'll be cake."
"And fireworks?" she asked with a devilish smile before taking his hand.
"Of course," he answered smugly. "There are always fireworks when dealing with dates and Malfoys."
Thanks for reading and like I said up top, I hope you liked it! I'd love to hear what you think : )