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It's the five year anniversary of the final battle, and you've all agreed to meet at The Leaky Cauldron. You didn't really want to go, you've had enough of remembering, enough for one lifetime, but Ron talks to you into it and you concede.
So when the night arrives you're not really enjoying yourself, but you paste a smile on your face anyway. Ron has left you at a back table while he makes rounds around the room, trying to talk to everyone. You don't know why he's doing it, but you leave him to it, because it means you don't have pretend so much.
After a few hours and Ron's several rounds of drinks and shots later, you excuse yourself. You can't breathe, you feel like you're suffocating. Harry sees you leaving and mouths the question, "Are you okay?" You smile as best you can and nod, indicating that he should stay inside. You want to be alone.
And yet, when you enter the alley you find that you're not alone. At the very end of the alley you catch sight of the glowing butt of a cigarette, and you can smell the stench of smoke from where you stand. You're not sure who it is until he talks.
"Shouldn't you be inside, Granger? You are, after all, one of the heroes of this day." Draco Malfoy's drawl is unmistakable and you curse inwardly.
"Why are you even here?" you ask pointedly.
"I was invited, actually, by Potter himself," Malfoy returns almost coolly. "However, my presence doesn't seem to be appreciated, so I came out for a smoke." You can hear the scorn in his voice, and to your surprise, a bit of hurt. You bite your lip.
"I'm sorry, Draco, old habits and all that." You don't know why you call him by his first name, but you mean it as a gesture of good faith, your words practically begging for there to be no harsh exchanges or name calling. He is silent for a minute and you can tell he's taking a drag from his cigarette.
"Apology accepted," he finally says, and you feel a pressure you didn't even know had been there release in your chest.
"Could I have one, actually?" you ask, looking pointedly at the box shape in his pocket. He looks at you funny but pulls the package out anyway and holds it out to you. You take one from the box, and he holds the lighter while you inhale. You taste the smoke in your mouth and are brought back to the two weeks you spent with your cousin when you were fifteen; sneaking smokes and drinks from your aunt and uncle. You never told Harry and Ron; but you suspect if they knew of your behavior they would disapprove.
"Didn't take you for a smoker, Granger," Draco says as he puts away the cigarettes and lighter. You shrug and he smirks.
You both stand there in comfortable silence for a few minutes, both taking the occasional drag. Finally, he speaks up, and it's what you've been expecting.
"Where's Weaslby?" You roll your eyes at the way he filled your expectations, but you find you're not offended. You did say so yourself; old habits and all that.
"Inside," you say, between puffs.
"I can't believe he'd let your out of his sight for a moment," Draco says, and this comment sparks something inside of you. You feel rage and you turn towards him, stumbling a bit in your heels.
"I don't need his permission, you know," you say hotly; your blood is boiling. "I can do whatever I want." It is with those words that you find yourself suddenly pressed against the wall of the pub. The bricks scrape your back uncomfortably, but you don't dare move. Draco is standing in front of you, leaning on the wall, his face centimeters from yours, and yet, he's not actually touching you at all, not yet anyway. He's close enough you can smell his breath, and it smells like cigarettes and Firewhiskey. You catch a whiff of his cologne as well and you have to admit to yourself that it's not altogether unpleasant. That thoughts scares you; and what scares you even more is that you don't exactly want him to back off either.
Neither of you says anything, you just stare at each other. You can tell he's trying to size you up, and you're doing the same to him as well. You can tell right off that he's not the boy he was in school. He's changed, his eyes look harder, and yet they're not filled with the cruelty that she was used to seeing there. The war had changed him; it had changed them all, but at that moment she felt like his was the most important change.
You're too busy thinking, so you don't notice him shifting his weight, so you're properly shocked when his lips collide with yours. He's pressing against you now, and his mouth is working at yours and pushing him away is the furthest thing from your mind. You don't even care that your back is painfully scraping the bricks. All you can feel is thrill.
His hand moves away from the wall and fists in your hair, which you had left down for the party. He tugs gently, tilting your head up so he can kiss you more easily. You wrap your arms around his neck, pulling him closer.
This is the most excitement you've had in a while.
The thought shocks you, and you pull away suddenly. He looks at you questioningly, but you just shake your head. You're both breathing heavily and neither of you speaks.
The darkness of the alley is broken when the door to the pub opens and light spills out. Draco moves away from you so quickly you have to stop and think if he was actually there.
"Hermione, you out here?" Ron's voice calls you from the doorway. His speech is a bit slurred, and you close your eyes for a moment, gathering strength. You can feel Draco's eyes on you but you ignore the burning stare.
"Yeah, Ron, I'll be back in in a moment," you call, and notice your voice is a lot steadier then you feel. There's a beat, and then the light disappears as Ron retreats back inside. Draco is back by your side in an instant.
"Granger," he begins, but you hold up your hand, effectively silencing him.
"I don't want to talk about it, and you shouldn't either," you say; and you find yourself back up against the wall.
"Why can't you just admit you're scared?" Draco's voice is rough and harsh, but you find yourself not minding, because he's right; the kiss scared you. You don't answer him, mostly because you don't trust your voice. "You're supposed to be smart, Granger, so tell me this; do you feel like you just felt with me when you're with him? Does he make you excited?" You're back to biting your lip again.
"Draco…" you begin, but you stop, mostly because you just can't answer him, because he's right and you don't want to give him the satisfaction. He sneers.
"I'd never take you, the heroic Hermione Granger, as a coward."
The comment hangs in the air for a moment and then you're pulling him to you and kissing him again, trying to prove a point. He doesn't even hesitate, and you're back to where you were moments before, your tongues tangling and his hand has reclaimed its place in your hair. His other hand slides up your shirt and his thumb brushes your nipples, and you're shocked when you hear yourself moan a little.
You continue like this for several minutes before pushing him away. He snickers at you, and you mumble something under your breath about not being a coward. You take a moment to adjust, making sure you don't look like you've been snogging someone in an alleyway. You turn to leave, but he grabs your hand and pulls you to him. He just looks at you, studying your face. He brushes your cheek with his thumb and he looks a little lost.
"I'm sorry," he says quietly. "For everything." You smile and stand up on your tiptoes and kiss his forehead.
"I forgive you," you say simply, and the truth is, you do.