So, I know I said this was a One Shot in the summary, but apparently I have lied. I decided to write a sequel/companion-piece/whatever-you-want-to-call-it about the aftermath of our couple's breakup from Hermione's POV.

It's been sitting on my computer for a few weeks while I've been humming and hawing about posting it.. I'm currently in the middle of another story called Diary of an Illicit Affair (so check that out too, if you feel like it. It's kinda hot) but I decided I might as well post this too. It's kinda good, I guess.

Anyway, this is for sure the last piece of this puzzle. Have a read and lemme know what you think!

Enjoy


Expiry Date

She thought that this – that he – was what she wanted. She thought she would be happy, that everything would go back to normal. She was wrong.

X

Her eyes flutter open to the soft light of the sun seeping in through the cracks of the bedroom blinds. She blinks a couple times, rubbing the crusty sleep out of the corners of her eyes as she gets used to the brightness. The covers are warm and inviting, and the sunlight has brought with it some warmer air but she is still cold.

Rolling onto her back in the middle of the bed, she glances sideways at the other occupant. Her boyfriend. His back is to her, revealing sharp, broad shoulders and muscles. His red hair looks almost orange in the sun rise. His fair, freckled skin along his arms is more tanned. His tall, muscular, broad body.

His presence in her bed is entirely different to that of the man who used to occupy her sheets at night. His lean, thin – but still quite muscular – shoulders. His platinum blonde hair which shone like gold in the sun light. His pale, flawless skin; he could never keep a tan for more than a few days. His tall, thin build.

The only similarity between the two bodies is the scars.

Ron has scars across the chest.

Hehas scars all over his back.

She runs her fingers over his smooth, freckled skin and can't help but imagine the scars she used to trace. The healed bumps of skin always sent shivers through her fingers and down her arms. She feels her boyfriend stir before he wakes and pulls her arm back slowly as he turns to face her. For a moment she imagines dark grey eyes staring back at her and a cool, calm demeanor greeting her. [Hewas always so calm and simple in the mornings.]

Ron looks back at her with bright blue eyes and a lazy, tired grin. He slips his arm around her waist and pulls her to him. Her body collides with his hard, muscular chest; it's quick and sloppy as opposed to slow and elegant. His body doesn't quite fit hers.

"Morning," he murmurs, pressing a soft kiss to her forehead.

"Morning," she whispers back.

"I have to take a shower before work. Care to join me?" he asks, wiggling his eyebrows up and down suggestively.

She blinks, looking at him for a moment before responding with a smile. "You go ahead, I'll be right in."

He grins, pressing a chaste kiss to her lips before crawling out of bed. "Hurry up, Luv. I might have to start without you, if you know what I mean," he teases.

She smiles back softly, rolling her eyes playfully as he disappears into the adjoining bathroom. The smile soon fades as the reality of her situation begins to set in. Heused to lie with her in the mornings, sometimes for hours on end, before even thinking about getting ready. Sometimes they would talk, bicker back and forth the way they've always done. Sometimes they wouldn't say anything at all, just stare at one another in the silence. Her smile fades as the reality begins to settle in.

This is not one of those mornings. This is no longer that world.

She left that world – that bed, those routines, that blond-haired, grey-eyed man – behind four months ago.

She is happy. This is what she wants. Ronald Weasley is who she wants, he's who she's supposed to be with. He's who she's always wanted, who she grieved when she thought she lost him. This is where she's supposed to be.

Red hair. Not blond.

Blue eyes. Not grey.

Tanned, freckled skin. Not pale and flawless.

Broad. Not thin.

This is her life. Finally.

[And every day for the last four months she tells herself she doesn't miss him.]

X

She feels him shiver under her touch as she trails her fingers softly across his back. She traces each scar once before kissing them softly. He's lying on his stomach, his arms folded underneath the pillow below his head with his head turned in her direction. He's staring at her intently, though his gaze is tired.

Her marvels her touch.

When she's done she wordlessly lies down next to him, curling onto her side with her arms tucked under her chin and her legs bent. She stares back, silently. He shifts, then, mirroring her position. A small, shy smile graces her lips – which he returns.

They remain like this for what feels like hours before he breaks the silence, starting their little game they sometimes play.

"Eating worms or kissing Neville's toad?"

"How many worms?" she asks softly, not missing a beat.

"Three."

"How long do I have to kiss Trevor?"

"Five seconds."

She looks thoughtful for a moment before smiling softly. "I'll kiss Trevor."

"Why?"

She shrugs. "I've always liked him."

He smirks, rolling his eyes playfully.

"Being sorted into Gryffindor or Hufflepuff?" she asks, a sly, mischievous smile playing on her lips.

He scowls at her. "I'd rather eat worms," he mutters.

She laughs – his heart soars. "Gryffindor or Hufflepuff?"

"Do I have to be friends with Potter?"

She rolls her eyes. "No."

"Then Gryffindor," he replies, the playful disgust evident on his face. "Because quite frankly I look horrid in yellow."

She laughs again, rolling eyes.

A few moments later he crawls out of her bed and makes his way towards the bathroom. He turns to her, silently inviting her with the tilt of his head.

X

Three days later she sees himfor the first time in months.

He's sitting in the corner of "their" little coffee shop in muggle England – having coffee was never really considered a date. His back is to the corner, the way it always is when he's in a room, and he's sitting behind a small round table. A coffee, no doubt black with one sugar, sits in front of him as he holds open a muggle newspaper over his lap. His blond hair looks brighter in the soft glow of the light above him, his skin just as pale and perfect.

He looks beautiful.

Her chest tightens and her palms begin to sweat as she peers at him through the window. Should she talk to him? Would he even want to talk to her? She finds herself desperately wanting to hear his voice – at the very least to make sure he's okay. He must be, right?

She pushes the door open softly and makes a slow, deliberate pace towards him. He must sense her presence – or someone's presence at least – because before she even reaches the table he looks up at her, his grey eyes intense. Her breath catches in her throat as she stares at him silently.

He stares back.

Then, the question is out of her mouth before she can stop it. "Eating slugs or losing a Quidditch match to Gryffindor."

"Eating slugs," he replies, not missing a single beat – even now.

She's surprised by the realization of just how much she's missed his voice since the last time they spoke. She smiles softly. "May I sit?"

"It is a free country, Granger," he drawls.

She sits down in the empty chair across from him as he folds his paper and places it on the table. "How've you been?"

"Fine. You?"

"Good."

"How's Weasley?" he asks casually, though she can hear the bitterness in his tone.

"He's great. He's recuperating really quickly – in fact he's already back at work," she replies.

"Good." His response is short.

She blinks, taken aback by the aggression in his voice. She sits back in her chair, her hands sitting in her lap as she looks across the table at him. He's currently looking at everything in the small cafe except for her.

His hair has gotten longer, she notices. It's messy and unruly – it's a rebellion of his own, not slicked back and neat with gel or long and sophisticated like his father's. It looks like he just rolled out of bed this morning, threw on a suit and left; she used to love playing with it, tugging it gently during their trysts.
His suit – black jacket, white shirt and black tie – remains the same. The tie is loose around his neck and the first two buttons of his shirt are undone; those were the first things he'd undo when he left work, he always felt like he would suffocate.

"How's work?"

His voice, curious and strong, startles her out of her thoughts. She looks up to find him looking back and she realizes that while she was looking him over his gaze had finally landed on her. How embarrassing.

"Work? Work is good," she replies tentatively.

His jaw tightens because he doesn't believe her, but he lets it go.

"You?"

He shrugs nonchalantly. "We just settled a deal in France."

"That's great," she says encouragingly.

"Do you want something to drink?"

She shakes her head. "I can't stay. But we should grab a coffee some time. Catch up."

"Why?"

She blinks, looking at him. He looks back, his gaze hard, the expression on his face one of mixed emotions. "Well, I mean...I just..."

"We're not friends, Granger," he retorts sharply.

She shrugs, ignoring the bite in his tone as she leans forward. "We could be? I mean we could try-"

"Why? You made it plainly clear that you wanted nothing to do with me," he reminds her.

"I...that's not how I meant it to come across. I just needed to get back to Ron-"

The harsh, inhale of breath from her companion stops her. He hates even just the sound of his name.

She takes a breath. "Look, I...I just want to have coffee," she whispers. "I just want to talk."

He seems to visibly soften at this admission, but he still looks weary. He looks down into his mug, as if weighing his options, before looking back up. "I have to go too. Owl me a time and a place and I'll be there."

"Friday at 5 o'clock. Here," she says, not missing a beat.

His lips curl into the smirk she finds she's missed more than she should. "Friday at 5 then. Here."

[She can hardly squash the giddy little part of her subconscious from jumping up and down.]

X

"You should quit your job," he tells her.

She looks across the room at him, tilting her head to the side curiously. He's standing leaning against the doorframe leading out to the balcony in her room, his skin still slick and his hair still messy. His boxers are hanging low on his hips revealing his dark blond happy trail and the "v" that leads down, down, down...

His right hand dons a burning cigarette. [He looks edible.]

"What do you mean?" she asks softly, propping herself up onto her elbows. She's lying on her stomach, sprawled across her bed.

He shrugs. "You're miserable at the Ministry."

"I'm miserable in general," she points outs, casting her gaze to the side. Out of the corner of her eye she sees him wince and then shift uncomfortably.

"Quitting your job might make you happier."

"Maybe," she murmurs, lifting her gaze back to him.

He's staring at her intently, watching her. She stares back. "It was just a thought," he shrugs casually. "You don't have to."

"I'll think about it."

X

She glances at her wrist watch as she crosses the street to the cafe. She's early, as always, but it has nothing to do with always being punctual. The truth is, she's been looking forward to this visit all day.
She sees him through the window, sitting in the same spot he occupied a few days ago. A giddy sort of excitement washes over her and she finds herself smiling like a little school girl. She stops in front of the door, taking a deep breath and smoothing out her clothes – a dark grey pencil skirt, a white blouse and a black blazer with the sleeves rolled up around her elbows. Collecting herself, she pushes the door open.
He smiles that shy, boyish smile when he sees her – a smile she's missed more than she would ever care to admit. He stands when she approaches the table and she notices there's two mugs, accompanied by two treats – an apple fritter for him and strawberry Danish for her. She smiles softly as they both sit down.

"I took the liberty of ordering your favourite," he says softly. "It is still your favourite, right? English Breakfast tea, one milk, two sugar."

She smiles, nodding her head. "Thank you."

"That was also the last Danish."

She thanks him once more and then asks him how his week was. And just like that they delve into conversation – like old friends catching up on one another's lives – avoiding only one topic. Her boyfriend.

And her boyfriend is the furthest thing from her mind at the moment.

About two hours later she glances at her watch, a small gasp escaping her lips as she realizes what time it is. "Oh, I didn't realize it was so late. I should probably go, Ron will be wondering where I am," she says, pushing herself to her feet as she gathers her things.

Draco blinks. "You didn't tell him?"

She freezes, looking at him guiltily. "No... I mean, I'm sure he wouldn't mind," she replies. Although, funnily enough, she's fairly certain he would definitely mind – especially if he knew the depth of their previous relationship. "We should do this more often. Maybe once a week?" she suggests, changing the subject.

"Once a week?"

"Or once every two weeks. I know you're busy with your company and stuff, but-"

"Why?" he asks suddenly, his voice harsher than it's been all evening.

She blinks, looking at him curiously. "What do you mean?"

"Why are you doing this?"

"I...I want to be friends," she replies, her voice wavering uncertainly.

"We aren't friends, Granger. We were never friends," he reminds her bitterly.

She blinks, taken aback. What happened to the carefree, humorous attitude he donned just moments before. "I...I thought... I mean, I thought we could try," she whispers.

"Why?" he demands roughly. His eyes are dark and narrow and his jaw is set in a tense line as he glares at her.

"I-I miss you."

His mouth falls open in a silent gasp as he stares at her. His gaze softens, but only for a second before he slides his mask back on. "You can't," he tells her firmly, pushing himself to his feet at well. "You can't."

"I, Draco-"

"You don't get to missme, Granger. Not now."

"W-what does thatmean?" she asks. She's only vaguely aware that she sounds like a small child being reprimanded for sneaking her hand into the cookie jar.

"It means we can't continue this," he replies stiffly, grabbing his briefcase off the floor. "And I can't continue to be your secret. Good-bye, Granger."

She watches him leave, brushing past her, across the cafe and out onto the busy muggle street. She wants to call out after him but she can't find her voice and she feels an overwhelming feeling to dissolve into tears.

[Moments later, in the privacy of her own flat with Ron at her side, she lets the tears run freely down her cheeks. And she blames it on work.]

X

There are only two things that help Hermione sleep when she can't find it herself. Muggle sleeping pills, which she tries not to take to prevent her from becoming too dependent on them, and sitting outside on the balcony, looking up at the stars on a warm August night.

After nearly half an hour of not being able to put her mind to rest, she crawls carefully out of her bed, slips her feet into her warm fuzzy slippers and tip toes across the hardwood floor to the balcony doors. She closes them quietly behind her before settling into one of two plastic chairs and pulling her legs to her chest. Wrapping her arms around her shins, she rests the tip of her chin on the tops of her knees, gazing out across the beautiful horizon and through the clear, starry sky. She finds the Big Dipper first. Then the Little Dipper.

It's nights like this – when she has no real reason not to be able to sleep – that bug her the most. At least having nightmares or thinking too much about Ron gives her a reason. Tonight she has no reason. She's tired, exhausted really, she just can't find it in herself to fall asleep.

She hears the door click open next to her and tilts her head to the side, peering up at her visitor through heavy eyelashes. A ghost of a tired, sleepy smile spreads across his thin, pale lips. He yawns, pushing his left hand through his hair as he shuffles across the concrete floor and sits in the chair next to her. She watches him as he leans back against it, resting the back of his neck against the top of the chair and stretches his legs out lazily. He looks at her, his eyes only barely open.

"Hi," he murmurs softly, his voice hoarse and sleepy.

"Hi," she whispers back.

"Nightmare?"

She shakes her head softly. He doesn't even have to mention Ron's name, he just looks at her, and she shakes her head to that too.

"Did you take a pill?"

"No. I'm afraid to."

"What if you cut it in half?" he suggests curiously.

She shakes her head. "I just have to stay out here for a bit. Relax," she murmurs.

"'Kay," he murmurs back, folding his arms over his chest comfortably.

She tilts her head, watching him stifle a yawn. "You don't have to stay with me, you know..."

He shrugs. "'S'not a big deal."

She doesn't know how long it takes her to finally doze off. An hour. Half an hour. Maybe only 10 minutes. Sleep is finally beginning to claim her – her eyelids are drooping, her body is like dead weight and her mind is falling away from her – when she feels his strong arms scoop her up out of the chair. His left arm curls under her legs at her knees and the other wraps around her back as she snuggles into his warm, muscular chest.

He carries her back inside, closing the door behind him with his foot before shuffling quietly across the floor; he must think she's asleep. He places, rather than tosses her on the bed the way he did this afternoon, before climbing over her carefully to lie down next to her and a small, sleepy smile spreads across her lips when her folds himself around her.

It's moments like this she knows she can get used to.

X

She didn't think she'd miss him this much.

In fact, she had never really thought about it before now. How much she might miss him.

They were together for nearly three years. But then, they weren't really together,were they? They hadn't been a couple. They had hardly even been friends – so he's right in that aspect. They were just...two people engaging in a sexual (passionate, lustful, desperate) relationship brought on my too much stress, alcohol and depression.

Sure, as time went on they began to spend more and more time together.

Sure, the more time they spent together the more they actually liked each other.

And sure, in the end, she had begun to care a great deal for him.

But she had been so focused, so hell-bent on returning to Ron once he had recovered from his coma, she hadn't even thought about what it would mean for them. For him.

Perhaps she was naive in thinking it would just go away. Perhaps she was naive in thinking that everything would go back to normal, like nothing had even happened. That she would just forget about him. That he would no longer mean anything to her. That she had meant nothing to him.

The truth is she had been devastated by the look on his face when she left him. She hadn't known, exactly, what she was expecting or how she thought he was going to react, but his reaction wasn't what she had expected. She hadn't expected him to look so cold and distant – so unbelievably hurt.

"Please don't be like this. You knew-"
"That the second he woke up you'd go running? Yeah, I knew. But maybe I thought you might've had the class to wait until I wasn't around."

She hadn't expected to feel so guilty either.

She thought that avoiding him at all costs afterward would make it go away. Out of sight, out of mind. And for the most part it worked. She was able to fall gracefully back into her relationship with Ron, nurse him back to health and, essentially, live happily-ever-after.

But seeing him the other day, in the coffee shop, brought back a tidal wave of emotions and memories she hadn't been prepared for. She thought that approaching him as a friend, that pursuing a sort of friendship with him, would fill that...gap. If she's being honest with herself, there's been a gap since the moment she left him in his flat four months ago. She thought that by just having him in her life she wouldn't feel so empty and cold.

She didn't know what to expect when she approached him – perhaps a little bit of anger, hostility – but she wasn't expecting him to just flat out reject her. Nor did she expect his rejection to hurt so much. It was like someone had punched her in the stomach and then in the chest and then, last but not least, in the throat. All at once she felt like she was going to throw up, like her heart was going to stop beating and like the air had been sucked out of her lungs.

And yet she cannot blame him. He's right, in a way, isn't he? They aren't friends. They never had been friends.

They'd been enemies. Peers. Acquaintances. Fuck-buddies. Lovers, perhaps.

But not friends.

Their...relationship was based on pure convenience, sort of like a business deal. She would help him escape the world that let him down, forget about the sins of his family and the pressures for his future – he was taking over his father's business and rebuilding it from the ground up. He would help her escape her reality, forget that her boyfriend was in a coma, that he might never wake up, would comfort her, keep her company when her friendscould not.

They were comfortable, sure. They would bicker and banter and argue, would sit in silence, would talk through the night.

But they were never friends.

Nor were they ever justfuck-buddies.

X

She returns to her living room with a bag of frozen peas to see him lounging across her couch in a truly worn-out, pained sort of state. She stops just as she's walking out of the kitchen to look at him properly.
He's wearing muggle jeans, an Oxford shirt and white socks, his legs kicked up on the coffee table. His head is resting back on the back of the couch, his hair ruffled and messy (sort of like his sex hair), his left arm propped up on the arm of the couch with his other one lying in his lap, injured. His knuckles are swollen and cracked and the blood is only just beginning to dry. It almost matches the shiner developing under his left eye.

This is Draco Malfoy, bloodied and bruised – and not from her, this time.

She smirks, rolling her eyes as she thinks about why he's in this current situation. Overbearing, overprotective Ferret. She walks towards him, stepping over his out-stretched legs before sitting next to him, her knees tucked underneath her, on the couch.

"Here," she whispers, taking his swollen hand in hers and placing the bag of peas across his knuckles.

He winces, drawing in a sharp breath at the coldness. "Fuck, Granger," he mutters.

She rolls her eyes. "Don't be such a baby. This will stop the swelling." When she looks up at him he's looking back, his head tilted towards her with a lazy grin on his thin, hard lips. He looks thoroughly pleased with himself. "You didn't have to do that, you know," she tells him softly. "I was handling it."

"His hands were all over you, Granger. Strong and stubborn as you might be, I wasn't gonna take a chance," he murmurs.

She finds herself blushing pink.

"Besides, now I have the battle wounds to prove I've been in my first muggle fight. Imagine that," he says cheekily.

She giggles softly, shaking her head as she rolls her eyes playfully. "You're such a guy."

He smirks, lifting his uninjured hand to cup her chin and pull her face so it's just millimeters away from his. "I thought girls like that sort of thing."

"They do," she breathes, closing the gap as she pressed her lips aggressively against his.

X

Brown eyes meet grey ones from across the ballroom. Her stomach twists and her heart skips a beat in response. She smiles softly, shyly, as a light blush spreads across her cheeks and over the bridge of her nose; her body temperature is rising by the second. He smiles back, showing him her pearly whites, but it doesn't quite reach his eyes.

She's surprised to see him here, at a Ministry gala. He's always hated these things, thinking them a pathetic excuse to dress up and get drunk. And it never helped that he always felt unwanted and out of place. She wonders sometimes if he's harder on himself than anybody else is on him, because of his past, because of his name. It's why he tries so hard to differentiate himself – and his company – from his father.

She tilts her head to the side, signaling for him to follow her. He shrugs, pushing his hands into his pockets with an ever-so slight nod of his blond head. This is different from every other time they've ever done this, but she still feels that thrill prickling across her skin. She walks towards the drinks table, turning her back on the rest of the room as she picks up a glass of champagne. Feeling his presence behind her, rather than seeing him, she turns her head to the right.

Standing behind her, his black suit jacket brushes against her bare back – where her shiny, black gown dips down to the small of her back – as he reaches around her to pick up his own glass. His warm breath fans over her neck, sending goose bumps across her skin.

"Hi," she whispers.

"Hi," he murmurs back. He stands next to her, his back to the table as he faces the crowd with a cool look of indifference.

"I didn't think you'd be here."

"I wouldn't be if I didn't have to make a good impression on these people," he admits, a sheepish, crooked smile on his lips as he looks at her. His gaze rakes over her, causing her to blush once more. "You look good. I meant to tell you the other day. Really good."

She smiles shyly, like a girl receiving a compliment from a boy for the first time. "Thank you. So do you."

"Hmm," he mutters, taking a longing sip from his glass.

"'Mione!"

The sound of her boyfriend's voice calling her name pulls her, rather suddenly, back to reality. She smiles apologetically at Draco.

He shrugs. "I'll go."

"Wait, no-"

"Malfoy," Ron greets him, curling his arm around her waist when he reaches them.

"Weasley."

Hermione finds herself holding her breath as a small part of her waits for the fists to be thrown.

"Mind if I steal my girlfriend back?"

Her eyes widen as she chokes on her champagne at his choice of words. She looks at Draco, whose eyes flash dangerously and she has an overwhelming urge to-

"No, not all. I was just leaving anyway," the blond grounds out. He walks away without another word or glance in her direction.

She looks at Ron curiously as he begins to pull her into the stage. "What are you doing?"

"Just c'mere for a minute," he grins.

Once they're on stage, Ron takes hold of the mic, tapping it twice before clearing his throat and drawing the attention of everybody in the room. The only person whose attention she really cares for belongs to a man with grey, stormy eyes, watching them intensely.

"Good evening, everyone," Ron greets the crowd confidently. "There are a few things I'd like for everybody to know." He looks at her, lifting her hand to kiss her knuckles, softly. "I have...an amazing girlfriend. She's been with me through thick and thin. She's been so supportive and loving and amazing. She's the reason I'm here right now, because she gave me the strength to come back."

She feels a pang of guilt stab her in the chest as he gazes at her lovingly. Tears spring to her eyes at his words.

"I wanted to do this tonight, in front of everyone, to let everybody know just how much I love this woman," he says, as for the first time his voice gives away his nervousness.

She gasps when he drops to one knee in front of her, in front of everyone. Raises a shaky right hand to her mouth as he clutches her left and plays with her fingers. From the crowd she hears several gasps of surprise and awe but she can't take her eyes off the kneeling redhead, who's captured everybody's attention.

"Hermione Granger, will you marry me?"

Everything else is a blur.

The "aww"s and "oooh"s, catcalls and hollering from the crowd.

Her, nodding through tears as she can't form a coherent sentence.

Ron, slipping a ring – where did it even come from? – onto her finger.

Ron, embracing her and kissing her and spinning her around and around until she's dizzy.

Her, searching the crowd for hissoft, blond hair and dark grey eyes.

Him, slipping out the back entrance.

X

She feels him before she sees him. Before she even has a chance to greet him, his hand wraps around her elbow sending electric-like shocks through her system. He guides her across the back of the ballroom, unnoticed by the others in the room, and into a dark corridor. She gasps before humming in satisfaction as he pushes her gently against the wall.

He presses himself against her, placing his forearms flat against the wall next to her head as he rests his forehead against hers. "Hi," he murmurs.

"Hi," she breathes.

He kisses her then, in the dark, and it's like the world just melts away. His tongue slips easily into her mouth, wrestling hers for dominance in which he wins; he always wins. Vaguely, in the back of her mind, she knows that they can get caught at any moment but he's so intoxicating and hot. She hasn't seen him in three days because he's been away on business and that's the longest she's gone without seeing him since they started this whirlwind, tumultuous, forbidden affair. When he pulls back, his grey, hot, lustful eyes boring into hers, they're both panting.

"How was your trip?"

"Boring," he groans. He slides his right hand down to her hip before cupping her buttocks as his left delves into her unruly hair. "Let's leave. I can think of much better things to occupy our time than sipping wine and mindless conversation," he grunts, his voice rough with desire.

She can't help but smile. And with a slight nod of her head, he tugs her further down the hall – a safer distance from the ballroom – where he apparates them back to her flat.

X

She is confused. She is overwhelmed. She is at a complete and total loss.

Confused, because she should be happy but she's not.

Overwhelmed, because everyone else is happy – and suffocating her – and she's not.

At a complete and total loss, because her boyfriend is perfect and loving and perfect and beautiful and perfect and she can't stop thinking about another man.

It's been six days. Six days since Ron proposed to her in front of the entire Wizarding World. Six days since she said yes. Six days since hewalked away; six days since she's seen or spoken to him.

She's tried, of course. She's owled both his flat and his office and every single letter has been sent back to her, unopened. She's called his flat and his office on numerous occasions but he appears to be screening her calls. He's ignoring her. Avoiding her. She doesn't blame him, really. She just wants to talk to him.

But then, she doesn't even know what to say. Somehow "I'm sorry", she knows, just won't cut it.

This is what she wanted, isn't it? She thought this was what she wanted. That Ronald Weasley was what she wanted. She thought she would happy, that everything would go back to the way it was. She thought that when he proposed she would've jumped for joy, or maybe dropped to her knees in front of him and squealed her acceptance. She thought she'd be diving head first into making the wedding plans, that Ron would be telling her there's no need to rush.

She's beginning to wonder, now, if perhaps she was already happy. Perhaps she was wrong.

Two hours ago Ron was talking to her about making wedding plans, talking about colour pallets and flowers and whether or not Ginny would be her Maid of Honour – but of course she would, seeing as how they're best friends. He seemed lost in thought, rambling on and on about weddings this and weddings thatwhile she just tuned him out. It was making her nauseous and dizzy, and all of a sudden she found herself telling him she was going for a walk, not even giving him a chance to respond.

She isn't sure how long she spends wandering around her neighbourhood. She isn't sure when she made the decision, or even how she ended up at hisdoor. But she's here, now, and despite the overwhelming nervousness trying to make her faint, she knocks on the door. The sound of her fist hitting the door is louder, more desperate and anxious than she meant to be.

She brings her hands up to her head to subconsciously pat down her hair and wipe her face in a vain attempt to pull herself together. And only then does she realize she's been crying.

The door swings open then, revealing a disheveled-looking Draco Malfoy. He's naked except for his boxers, his hair is mused in that post-sex way and his face is all screwed up. He reels backwards, his eyes widening in shock before glaring at her. "What are you doing here?" he snaps sharply.

She blinks, taken aback. "I, um..." she trails off, distracted by the smell of firewhiskey on his breath. Calculating quickly in her head, she realizes it's only 2 o'clock in the afternoon. On a Saturday. "Are you drunk?"

"What are you doing here, Granger?" he demands, slurring her name in disgust.

"I wanted to see you," she whispers.

He looks stunned for a moment and his gaze softens. It only lasts a few seconds before he puts his mask back up. "What do you want?"

"I...I dunno," she breathes. And suddenly the air is thicker than it was a minute ago because she's just answered more than one variation of the same question. She doesn't know what she wants. She blinks in confusion of her own words, shaking her head.

As if on cue, a tall, leggy blond stumbles out from the hallway leading down to his bedroom, giggling as she carries her purse in one hand and a bottle of Bourbon in the other. Her clothes are all backwards and sideways. Hermione stares, shocked and disgusted and hurt, as she throws her arms around Draco's neck and presses a long, sloppy kiss against his lips – which she notes with a small amount of pride that he doesn't return – before pulling back.

"Call me," she slurs seductively, slipping a piece of paper into his hand, before brushing past both of them and staggering down the hall.

When she looks back at him, he's watching her intently as though he's trying to gauge her reaction. Her chest tightens as bile rises in her throat and she feels an overwhelming need to cry and scream. Instead she shakes her head and follows the same path as the drunk girl.

"You got yourself engaged, Hermione," he calls after her. His voice is laced with the malice and hatred of their youth.

She whirls around to face him, hot, angry tears of betrayal slipping down her already wet cheeks. "Yeah. And you wasted notime in moving on, did you?"

He smirks darkly, raising a perfectly arched blond eyebrow at her. "Remind you of anyone?"

"He was my boyfriend-"

"So was I!" he shouts. She can hear the anger and betrayal clear as day in his voice. "You might've denied it, Granger. But that's what it was."

"Do you even know her?"

"Does it matter?"

She shakes her head, once, before spinning on her heel and walking away, desperately refraining herself from sprinting to the elevator.

[She realizes two things that night. One: she's in love with Draco Malfoy. Two: even if he doesn't want her anymore, she can't marry Ron.]

X

Two weeks later, the Wizarding World is thrown into a state of shock and confusion when the seemingly happily engaged couple calls off the impending nuptials. They make a very public announcement that they won't be getting married, although Ron does all the talking.

He says that they have both come to the conclusion that getting married is far too big of a step for both parties. He says that he loves her, but that he had confused his gratitude for her for true love rather than sisterly kind he truly feels. He says that while they will no longer be engaged in a romantic relationship they have decided to stay friends.

She can see the pain in his eyes as he says this. And despite the confidence in his voice, she can hear the slight trail of betrayal. And when he grabs her hand, in a seemingly friendly advance, she can feel his anger and disappointment. She has hurt him. And he has lied for her, saying it was a mutual decision after days of conversations. He has lied to protect her.

She looks at him fondly, smiling appreciatively and squeezing his hand for support. He smiles back, and although it doesn't reach his eyes she knows she is forgiven. He doesn't hate her. In fact, it's exactly the opposite.

She sees his face in the crowd, watching them intently at the beginning. But when it's all over he's no longer there and she's reminded, too, of just how much she's hurt him.

She returns to her flat in a daze, with a fuzzy head and a heavy heart. A part of her wants to curl into a ball in the middle of her bed and die. Another part of her wants to curl up with a tub of Rocky Road ice cream and a bottle of firewhiskey. Some other, very small, part of her is too exhausted and depressed to care.

When she steps off the elevator, looking down the hall towards her door, she freezes. Her heart leaps into her throat and her stomach falls. Sitting on the ground, his back against her door with his legs bent is one very familiar blond wizard. He looks up at her and she expects to see bloodshot eyes and a drunk demeanor. Instead, his eyes are a soft grey colour as he looks at her tenderly. She smiles shyly at him, tucking a strand of her hair behind her ear and she walks on shaky legs towards him.

He pushes himself to his feet, pushing his hands into his pockets as he cocks his head to the side. He smiles back, and this time she sees it sparkling in his eyes. He steps aside as she reaches the door, watching her intently as she slides the key into the lock before pushing the door open.

And she leaves it open as she walks further into the room, placing her purse on the floor next to the couch in the living room and shrugging her jacket off her shoulders. He follows her, kicking the door shut with his foot as he too shrugs his jacket off, throwing it on top of hers on the couch. She looks up at him as he closes the gap between them, one arm encircling her waist while his other hand buries itself in her hair, tugging softly. Her lips part in a silent gasp as she feels his breath, hot and sticky, on her face.

And then his lips are on hers – hot, wet, demanding and hungry – and his hands are all over the place – cupping her breasts, squeezing her bum, ripping away her clothes – and she loses herself in him – her hands in his hair, her lips at his throat, her hips bucking into his arousal. And the rest is lost in ecstasy.

X

This is where she's supposed to be, she decides. Who cares if they aren't supposed to be together? Who cares if this is wrong and forbidden? Who cares if the world is against him because he is him, and she is her?

Who cares if their relationship never should've started to begin with? Never should've continued? Who cares if it should've ended a long time ago? Who cares if this feels very much like she's ignoring the expiry date on some piece of outdated food?

This is where she's supposed to be – but even more than that, this is where she wantsto be.

She looks up him as she folds her arms across his chest and props her chin on her hands. She smiles innocently at him, tilting her head to the side slightly. "Hi," she whispers.

"Hi," he murmurs back, pushing his fingers through her messy, knotty hair. "I want to take you out on a date."

She looks thoughtful for a moment, and he looks back with wide, hopeful eyes. "Okay," she shrugs casually, although her heart is nearly beating itself through her chest.

He grins. "Today. Right now."

"Sure."

"R-Really?" he wonders curiously.

"Yeah, why not?" she smiles, pushing herself off of him before rolling out of bed. She watches him as he watches her, looking stunned, as she pulls on a clean pair of knickers and bra from her dresser. "Aren't you gonna get ready?"

He blinks. "Yeah. Yeah," he repeats more confidently, climbing quickly to his own feet as he struggles into his boxers.

"Where do you want to go?"

"Where do youwant to go?" he replies with the same question.

She shrugs, crawling back onto the bed and then shifting across the mattress to kneel in front of him. He's buckling up his belt when she slips her index fingers through the loops on his jeans, looking up at him. "I'll go wherever you go," she whispers.

He smiles, taking her face in both of his hands, brushing his right thumb across her bottom lip. "Everywhere."

[This time, when he kisses her, he isn't afraid that it'll be the last time.]


Fin!