Step one: fall back into good graces.

That was putting it lightly. Draco grimaced as he neared Hermione's office. He was getting strange looks from his co-workers—and for good reason. He'd donned his best suit for today, including the flashy silver buttons that she liked and the hideous tie she'd bought him for his birthday. A huge bouquet of lilies in his hand.

And no. This was not the first time Draco had come groveling to his girlfriend's office. But this was definitely the first time that he was honestly afraid she would turn him away.

He smiled uncomfortably at Hermione's secretary and took a deep breath before rapping on the door.

"Just a moment!" Hermione's chipper voice replied. Nervous, Draco pulled at his collar. He could feel the sweat beading over his skin—felt the cool lake of it building up in his suit. He grimaced, wiping his sleeve across his forehead. This was going to be horrible.

"We'll meet Wednesday for lunch?"

Draco stiffened at the voice.

"Yes, yes. Anabelle's at one o'clock."

"Good. It was really great to see you, Hermione." The door opened as the guest said her name, and as he turned, Draco drew himself up to his full height. Anthony Goldstein paled at the sight of him. "Malfoy," he greeted quietly.

"Goldstein," Draco cut back shortly. His anger flared as Hermione appeared behind him, her hand resting intimately on his elbow. Draco hardened his gaze at her, but she completely ignored him.

"It was good to see you too, Tony. I will see you Wednesday." Goldstein smiled thinly, nodded at Hermione and then Draco, and left as quickly as he could.

"Granger," Draco growled. He was furious at the exchange he had just witnessed. What the fuck was she playing at?"

"Malfoy," she bit back. Instead of inviting him in, she stood in the doorway with her arms crossed, barring him from entering. "What are you doing here?"

"I came to talk to you about what happened last week. Just in the nick of time, it appears."

She bristled at his statement, her whole body stiffening and her eyes narrowing.

"You need to leave."

"No." Draco shook his head, holding his ground when she tried to drag him away from the office. "Granger!" He raised his voice and tugged her back to his side. "Listen, I need to talk to you."

"I don't want to talk to you." She pulled her hands away from him and pointed down the hallway. "Go."

"Hermione, please." He softened his voice, molded his face to sincerity. "Five minutes. Please."

She gave him a hard look then marched past him into her office.

"You have exactly five minutes before I call security, Draco."

Nervous now, he cautiously sat down on the chair across from her desk. On the other side, Hermione calmly stared him down. She was still angry, though. The lines around her mouth were tight.

He opened his mouth—twice—but nothing came out.

"Time is ticking, Draco."

He swallowed, then thrust the bouquet of flowers at her.

"I got these for you." She arched a brow but thankfully accepted the flowers. She settled them onto the corner of the desk and turned her gaze back to him.

"Listen," he began when she started to look impatient. "I have been doing some thinking, and I am really sorry about what happened." He broke off as she snorted. He frowned.

"You think that kicking me out of your apartment can just be remedied by flowers and a half-arsed apology?" She rolled her eyes, extracting a small bird from the cage beside her desk. She whispered in its ear and then released into the air. The bird raced through the small window above the door. She fixed him in her furious gaze. "You can hardly expect me to be so understanding."

"I know." Draco sighed. "I know that I was an arse, but I was just…embarrassed. Because I-I love you, and Zabini and Theo don't understand that—"

"That gives you no reason to be so cruel to me."

"No, you're absolutely right. And you can't imagine what kind of guilt I have been going through—"

"Yes, I can see that you're all torn up." She rose from her desk at the same time that the door opened. "Thank you for your visit. Your time is up."

"Wait," Draco cried, struggling against Saint Potter and the Weasel King as they unceremoniously forced him out of his chair. "Granger, wait!"

"Please show him the door, boys." Hermione settled back into her chair as he was dragged out of the room. "Perhaps if you grovel enough I might forgive you." Though her voice was cold, he caught a glimpse of her smile as the door shut behind him.