A/N: written as a fic request for kureyon on LJ, who asked for an angsty Ginny/Draco/Hermione triangle, but ultimately Draco/Hermione - with an obstacle. Multi-parter. Also, just a warning: the characters might seem OOC. So if you're a stickler for that, this might not be your slice of pie.

"The greatest lie ever told about love is that it sets you free."

- Zadie Smith, On Beauty.



Normalcy after the war was an illusion – a kind of forced normalcy that barely the skimmed the froth of reality, that looked good on top but hid what was really going on at its murky bottom. For appearances, Hogwarts looked almost impeccably the same, having undergone renovations and reconstructions after the final battle so that the students could finish up their last year at school. A large portrait of Dumbledore hung in the corridor of Headmasters, often seen winking every now and then, or sucking on a lemon drop. But what was the talk of the school was the empty spot beside his, rumored to be reserved for a pending portrait of Snape.

She listened on as Ginny, Ron, and Harry continued chatting about this when she got up from her seat in the library, shoving her books into her bag.

Ron looked up at her. He had been doodling what looked like Quidditch plays on his parchment for the past hour, despite the top of it being titled The Ten Magical Uses of Knotgrass. "We're already in the library, Hermione – where else could you be going?"

"Head duties, Ronald," she said to him, rolling her eyes. "I'll see you tomorrow at breakfast," she said, meeting eyes with both Harry and Ginny, who bid her good night. "And Ron, finish that essay. You're already on Sprout's last nerves."

With a swish of her wand, the doodles on his parchment vanished. Ron cried out in protest.

"We save the bloody world and they still expect us to do homework?" he grumbled, as she walked out.

She made her way to the Head commons, straightening out her skirt. Today had been a close one – she hadn't been aware that Ron had been snooping over her shoulder when she read his owl. It was a good thing they had both enchanted their secret notes so that if any other eyes accidentally (or not so accidentally) happened upon it, the note was enchanted to look like it had been written in some bizarre code.

He was waiting for her when she finally came in, sitting on the couch and reading a book. His robes were off, tossed on the other side of the couch, with his Head Boy badge winking at her. She used to wonder if Malfoy took the time to polish his badge every night. It winked at her an awful lot, like a blatant taunt of who she had to be stuck with for the rest of the year.

"I hope you know, literature does nothing for my libido," he said to her, when she closed the door behind her. She shrugged off her book bag and her shoes.

"Maybe you're just not reading the right kind of literature," she suggested.

He got up, carelessly throwing his book aside, and with three long strides was already in front of her. His gray eyes were always a little bit darkly tinted with that little bit of annoyance reserved just for her; that was their self-instated status of normalcy. If it wasn't one thing, it was another. And somehow, this worked for them – the fact that they didn't even like each other, not even as human beings, yet Malfoy spent little to no time in latching onto her bottom lip and slipping her knickers off with those adept thumbs of his.

She blamed it on the war. The war had sent the world and everybody in it topsy-turvy and now it had become easier for her, more than ever, to look the other way. It was just so easy to, to close her eyes and moan his name, when he was just so good at fucking her in exactly the right way she needed to be fucked, after a long and tiresome day of lectures and uprightness. Except she hardly ever looked the other way when he did that. This was because usually her eyeballs disappeared entirely, rolling to the back of her head as she came.

Their relationship hinged on a primal need, not an emotional one. The last thing either of them needed was to get involved when everybody was still scrambling to get back into normalcy – whatever that meant – and their sex was convenient. It had started during the war as an escape – a way to momentarily forget that they were constantly on the brink of their lives, teetering towards their inevitable deaths. Unlike Ron and Harry, Hermione did not have any emotional attachment to Draco. That was part of their deal. It was sex and nothing else. It was a dead-end, with no roads that led any farther. It was safe.

But here they were, in a freshly and dizzying post-war world, and they had kept with them so many relics and scars from the war – including the sex. She hated to admit it, but it had become a habit. And bad habits were always hard to break.

She cringed at the thought of anybody in school finding out about how often she and Malfoy found a broom closet to get off in. In the beginning, she scrubbed herself nightly after one of their encounters, making sure every pureblood skin cell that had rubbed off on her wasn't allowed to settle and was instead washed down the drain. Back then, she'd convinced herself that it was one-time thing. Or a three-time thing. Or even a seven-time thing. But if Hermione Granger was ever in denial, she wasn't in it for too long. She was smarter than that. She was realer than that.

When Malfoy pulled her aside – and as she let him – during patrol one night in the Astronomy tower, shoving her against the wall and pulling up her skirt, she knew she had the face the facts: this wasn't going anywhere. Not until the end of the year, anyway. Not until they were rid of each other for good.

And the truth was that stranger couples had emerged from the war. Dean Thomas and Pansy Parkinson, for example. They had gone public the moment everybody found them making out amongst all of the rubble, both of their wands having long been toppled to the floor. It was honestly a little poignant, as if the end of the war marked the end of forced pretenses.

Not that she would ever consider that with Malfoy. Why would she, if she was already so comfortable loathing him?

"Don't make me wait again," Malfoy half-breathed, half-snarled to her when they finished. He kissed her, deep and rushed, his long fingers buried in her mass of hair.

"As if you could get off without me," she scoffed, her body still tingling from her climax. "I was in the library with Ron, Harry, and Ginny. I'm sorry if I can't just pop up and say, 'Got to go guys, I've got a fuck date with the Head Boy!'"

"My, my, is Hermione Granger making excuses?" He shook his head, smirking. "I never thought I'd see the day. Then again, I never thought I'd see many things." She watched as his eyes lowered and trailed over her body again. She felt herself blush, but straightened herself up with the small amount of dignity she had left. She pushed him aside and picked up her underwear.

"We still have to keep up the pretense of normalcy, at least," she said, as he stepped into his boxers. "Or else it might get suspicious that we're disappearing all the time."

"Hence the cover story of Head obligations," he dryly said to her, as if already bored with the conversation. "I think you overestimate how big of a damn people actually give about who's taking off your knickers every night. It amazes me how you fall asleep at night, buried in this delusion that people care so much over what you do." He pulled on his trousers, glancing up at her. "Newsflash, Granger: they don't."

She rolled her eyes, picking up her blouse and walking past him to her room. Before she could get there, he grabbed her arm, whirling her around to face him.

"Don't you worry, my pious little Head Girl," he said to her, his voice low and taunting. "No one will ever find out about you and me. Not unless you want them to."

She swung her elbow back, breaking free from his grasp. He was chuckling to himself.

"Fuck you," she hissed at him, turning on her heel.

"But Granger, you already have!" he called out to her, before she slammed the door.

Hermione found comfort in the fact that even though she was fucking Malfoy, she still went to bed hating him with every fiber of her being. Maybe it was right, what people said. The more things changed, the more they stayed the same.

She groaned to herself, burying her face in her pillow. She thought about what her poor mum would think if she'd found out her daughter had so willingly allowed her childhood bully to escort her to a full-fledged orgasm every night.

"I'm so sorry, Mum," she said to her ceiling.


With the end of the school year drawing impossibly close, the languid and lazy air of Seventh Year students changed. There was a hum of anticipation she heard amongst her peers – constant conversations about their futures, and what would be waiting for them after Hogwarts. They channeled most of their nervous energy into their schoolwork – a good thing, since the end of the year meant exams and even more regurgitation of information they had learned since the beginning.

She should have known it was a plan bound for failure, but she tried it anyway. She tried to avoid Malfoy and the distractions he brought with him, which didn't make him too happy. It didn't make her that happy, either – much to her chagrin. Pre-war, stress and studies brought on a very specific kind of focus and determination all on its own. Post-war, stress and studies made her as sexually-frustrated as a newly celibate teenage boy. The further she got in on her studies, the more she kicked herself for swearing off sex with Malfoy until it was all finished.

She rapped her knuckles firmly on his door, waiting. She looked down at herself. She should have worn better pajamas. It wasn't likely he was going to be tempted to jump her bones once he saw her wearing a pair of shorts that were so old and thin that they were nearly see-through (and not even in the sexy, alluring kind of way), and an old Beethoven concert T-shirt her godmother had given to her as a joke last Christmas.

He opened the door. "What do you want, Granger? I know it can't be sex, since you'd so adamantly sworn your vagina to the books until exams were over."

When she glanced behind him, she noticed that he, too, had been studying. She could see his books sprawled out on his desk, his notes organized and neat. Why wasn't he going crazy like she was? Weren't males supposed to be more sexually-driven?

"I just want to talk," she said, her throat a little dry. He quirked one blond eyebrow at her but sighed and stepped back, allowing her to come into his room.

He closed the door behind her. "I don't really have time for one of your Holier than Thou lectures, Granger. As you can see, I've got my night cut out for me. So spare me the self-righteous dawdling and cut to the chase."

So she did. She jumped him. His smirky, scowly little mouth was a great deal less annoying when it was doing more kissing and less talking. Thankfully, he got the hint. He growled against her mouth and they clumsily moved backwards, falling on his bed. With his ink-stained fingers, he pulled off her "stupidly Muggle" Beethoven t-shirt (Malfoy wasn't anything if not observant and blunt, even in the middle of passionately undressing her) and threw it across the room.

When they were finished, she found herself tangled in his sheets, covered in sweat. He collapsed beside her, breathing hard.

In the beginning they had set aside certain rules for their rendezvous. Things like no fucking in an alcove in broad daylight, no suggestive language that might even give so much as a hint of suspicion to their housemates, and no bedrooms. Funny how Hermione had been the one to establish this rule – because she considered bedrooms to be an intimate, personal place – as well as be the one to break it.

She had seen his room before, of course; brief glances whenever she needed something from him, school-related. She'd had a peek at his bed and his luxurious satin sheets, and was disturbed by how neatly made it always was. He was a vile, privileged bully that was also a bed-maker. Somehow it just made him even stranger.

"Malfoy," she said, "why is your bed always made?"

"Because," he drawled. "Because I'm a civilized human being. What, am I a prat because I like the sight of a well-made bed every morning?"

She rolled her eyes. "As a matter of fact, you are. You're a prat for many things, but the fact that you like to make your bed every morning makes the once-innocuous activity now seem incredibly prattish."

"I'm glad I can make that sort of distinction for you, Granger," he said sardonically. "It's always an off day for me when I haven't made you lose at least little bit of hope in humanity." He sat up beside her, grabbing his clothes, glancing at her. "You better get back to those books, Granger. Wouldn't want to fail out as Hogwarts' first post-war Head Girl, would you?"

He tossed her t-shirt at her face. He knew that topic hit a special nerve in her. She begrudgingly grabbed it and pulled it back on.

"Ferretface," she muttered to herself, getting off his bed. She picked up her bra and began heading out of his room as he resharpened his quill. She could feel him watching her, and she tried to ignore the way knowing that made the hair on the back of her neck stand up on end.

'It's because you hate him,' she passionately reasoned to herself. 'Because he's vile.'

"Fuck you later!" he called out to her.

Some days she didn't know who she hated more – herself, for having stooped to this; or him, just for being himself.