Return to Platform 9 ¾
Saturday, June 30, 2018
Draco Malfoy stood in the crowd on Platform 9 ¾, waiting for the red train to arrive. He was excited Scorpius was coming home for the summer. He just wished he could stop yawning.
Last night, his sleep had been interrupted by a so-called first-day-of-school dream brought on by anxiety. He'd dreamed he was walking to London, walking, in the snow without any shoes on, late to pick up Scorpius. Then he'd noticed he was naked except for a pair of boxers patterned with seashells. And then he'd walked into Honeydukes to buy a dozen Peppermint Pestles, which he hated.
He blamed Hermione Granger for such a ridiculous dream. She was the reason he was so nervous, and the reason he was wearing these loose, summer robes. It only got worse when she finally walked through the brick wall onto the platform, right behind the Potters, and suddenly, he couldn't breathe.
Every morning for the past ten months, Draco had woken up in bed, smoldering with the heat of his dreams and imagination. But all those figments of Hermione (dressed in lace or leather or pink ribbons or nothing at all) paled in comparison to the real Hermione.
She stood in sunlight, in pretty sandals and a lemon-yellow sundress trimmed with white lace. Her hair was loose and bright with an auburn sheen. Her skin glowed, and there were freckles on her shoulders. She looked happy and confident. No longer defeated.
And that dress... Draco stared at how it curved over her slender body, how it revealed her beautiful arms and legs. He just wanted to eat that dress right off of her and taste all the delectable parts underneath.
Hermione laughed at something, and Draco felt as if someone had punched him in the gut. It took him a moment to realize she was laughing at Ron Weasley. He and Padma Patil stood beside Hermione, holding hands. She was at ease with both of them, her gestures conveying a natural comfort. She'd done it. She'd kept her best friends.
Send them owls. Buy them souvenirs.
Draco had received postcards from Hermione throughout last autumn. From Egypt and India and Brazil, but also from Venice and Marrakesh and Tokyo.
On Christmas Day, two large owls had delivered a heavy box wrapped in brown paper and red string. He'd opened it to find two pairs of black boots nestled together. Four silver wheels were attached to each sole. Hermione's note had read, "These are roller skates. Wear good socks with them." Draco had remembered her joke and laughed like an idiot. They were like ice skates but for land. That's all she'd had to say. He'd charmed the gravel walkway that led to the front gates into a glassy smoothness and skated with Scorpius, who'd loved them. They'd braved a Muggle department store on Boxing Day to buy an "authentic" pair for Michael, Scorpius' best mate.
More postcards had followed throughout the winter and spring. The last one, from New York, had arrived in late April, and he'd heard nothing more from her since. Had she met someone and fallen in love? Had she forgotten their encounter? Or was she ashamed of it? Would she ignore him when she saw him? Long minutes passed, and he became more and more certain that he was a fool.
Hermione followed Potter's gaze, turning slightly to her left. When her eyes met Draco's, through the crowd, her smile was radiant. His heart tripped and then soared. Now, he knew he was a fool, grinning like that Squib's Cheshire Cat in the middle of King's Cross. He tried to compose himself into a state of proper Slytherin ennui as Hermione hurried toward him.
"Hello, Granger," he said, his heart pounding hard inside his chest. "How was the world?"
"Enjoyable. I recommend it."
"Did you sleep with everyone as you'd planned?"
"Not quite everyone."
This flirtatious statement was accompanied by a shrug, and one lacy strap of her dress slid off her shoulder. She lifted it back into place.
"Will you be travelling this summer?" he asked, determined not to stare at her recently bare shoulder.
"No, I'll be home with Rosie. I have her every other week. We'll go to Shell Cottage. And I'd like to show her the lighthouse."
That strap was slipping down again. Damned, temptress lace. Draco wondered if Hermione had worn the dress to torture him. He certainly hoped so.
"How is Scorpius?" she asked. "Are he and Michael Brillig still best mates?"
"Inseparable. How did you know about Michael?"
"I asked," Hermione said, staring down at her sandals.
"You asked after my son?"
Draco didn't even bother to mask the tenderness in his voice. It would have felt like sacrilege to try when that tender feeling was filling him up inside, like faith. Like love. He reached out and hooked his finger under the fallen strap of Hermione's sundress. He slowly slid it back into place, his knuckles caressing her warm skin.
"Thank you," she whispered.
"You're welcome." His fingers stroked the lace and then trailed down her arm. He watched, with pleasure, when she shivered at his touch. He almost took her hand in his, almost. But he still wasn't sure how she felt about him. So he traced the line of her fingers with a fleeting touch and then dropped his hand to his side.
"Will you remain idle?" he asked. "Living off your cereal fortune? Or will you go back to the Ministry in the fall?"
"Actually, I'll be at Hogwarts."
"Hogwarts?" Draco stared down at her in shock. His heart was beating so violently now that he felt his pulse in the backs of his knees. Was that even possible? "Why Hogwarts?"
"Minerva offered me the Transfiguration position, and I accepted," she said. Her eyes glowed bright with excitement. She had always loved school.
He had, too, even when she'd kicked his arse in every class. He thought about September 1st and new beginnings and fresh starts. About crowded hallways and private offices and lingering dinners in the Great Hall. About autumn walks to Hogsmeade and scarves wrapped tight. About warm butterbeers and Firewhiskeys and the hearth fire at The Three Broomsticks.
No matter how hard he tried, Draco could not stop himself from smiling. No, not smiling, grinning, in a giddy, undisciplined and very un-Slytherin fashion.
"What? What is it?" Hermione asked.
"I've accepted Defense," he said.
Hermione's entire face lit up. She grinned (also in a giddy, undisciplined fashion) before composing herself and rolling her eyes. "Oh, please, Malfoy. Can you even cast a Patronus?"
"I can." He'd learned the tricky charm well into his twenties, after he'd become a husband and a father.
"I don't believe you," Hermione said. "Do it. Now."
"I'm not a trained monkey to perform at your command."
"Is that your Patronus, a trained monkey? With a little vest and hat? How adorable."
Hermione sounded like she was talking to a Kneazle kitten, but her eyes gleamed wickedly. Draco wanted to kiss that smirk right off her smart face.
"My Patronus is not adorable," he said, with dignity. "It is manly and strong."
"Show me your full-bodied Patronus, and I'll show you mine."
Draco grabbed Hermione's hand and pulled her through the crowd to an archway and into an out-of-sight alcove. Ten months ago, he'd sat right here, alone and missing his son. He'd watched Hermione leave her husband and board a blue train, bound for the shore. In the fall, as new professors and chaperones, they would board a red train, bound for the north. It was strange and almost fateful – the sequence of endings and beginnings that wove around them, binding them together. Draco laced his fingers through Hermione's and pulled her close.
"I can't believe you're leaving a multi-million Galleon company so you can teach spells to children," she said. "Who'll run Malfoy Enterprises?""
"I will, but I'll leave daily business to my vice chairman and the board," he answered absently.
At the moment, he had less affection for Malfoy Enterprises than he would for a rampaging hippogriff. Instead, he concentrated on the very affectionate task of sliding his hand back up Hermione's arm and slipping his fingers under the insolent scrap of lace she dared to call a sleeve.
"I also missed my son," he admitted quietly. "I don't like living in an empty house."
"So, you haven't met the perfect woman?" Hermione asked.
Her voice was breathless. She stared up at him, seeming dazed. Both excellent signs. Draco pulled her sleeve down, exposing her shoulder.
"I have met the perfect woman," he said, meeting her gaze with honesty and courage. "But I'm still waiting for her."
The Hogwarts Express would arrive in less than ten minutes. Draco knew if he kissed Hermione's lips, he would be doomed to a hell of desire and frustration again. But he couldn't resist her completely, not when she was right here, in flesh and blood, the woman of his dreams. He leaned down, placing his lips on her bare shoulder, kissing every enticing freckle that he'd been dying to kiss since she'd walked onto Platform 9 ¾. She smelled even better than he remembered.
"Draco," Hermione murmured. He felt her hand against his heartbeat. He placed his palm on the back of her waist, pulling her closer. "Can you wait for me just a little longer?"
"Hermione," he said against her skin. "I'll wait until September 1st and not one day later."
"Are you mad?" she cried out. She pushed away from him with enough force that he stumbled back and sat down on a bench, his back against a brick wall. "Pick me up for a proper date a week from tomorrow. Promptly at seven o'clock."
Technically, it wasn't a roar because it had been silent. It was also not really a word or a thought anymore. It had transcended into pure feeling. A cry of victory and joy and excitement. Yes, Hermione wanted him. Yes, she would be his. Yes, he would shag her absolutely senseless in a week and a day. Yes, yes, YES!
"Seven in the morning or the evening?" he asked. He glanced down at his fingernails as if he were bored.
"Morning then." It was twelve hours sooner.
"A bit eager, aren't you?" she teased.
"Hermione Granger, don't you dare tease me about patience."
"Draco Malfoy, I'm not teasing you at all."
"You are the queen of..." Draco's riposte trailed away as Hermione began to pace and utter an incantation he didn't understand. It sounded Russian. The hair on his arms stood up as her magic charged the air around them. The lights flickered and dimmed with a hiss. A thin barrier of silvery smoke filled the archways that led from the alcove to the main platform. Somehow, he knew they couldn't be seen or heard now.
He gazed up Hermione in awe. She was staring at him now, the force of her gaze so intense he couldn't breathe. He heard a sound like thunder or surf. Her long hair whipped in the air as if windblown. Her other sleeve had fallen down, and her shoulders glowed in the half-light. She looked fiercer and more powerful than anyone in a lemon-yellow sundress ever had. The Goddess of Daisies and War.
"It's your turn," she said in a low voice as she approached him. "I want you to remember why you're waiting."
It all happened shamefully fast.
Hermione straddled Draco. Her fingers delved into his hair and pulled his face up to hers. She kissed him, her mouth wet and open, her tongue stroking his. Arousal swept through him, powerful and consuming. He grabbed Hermione's waist and pressed his hips up, seeking the fever heat between her thighs. Her yellow dress... it wasn't nearly soft or naked enough. His fingers scrambled under the lacy hem, and he groaned when he touched her skin. His hands slid up her legs until his fingers were inside her knickers, inside her. She was impossibly hot and silky, fragrant with lust. Draco bit her bottom lip.
"I said it was your turn," Hermione growled. She leaned back, took his hand by the wrist and pulled it away from her. He was shocked to hear himself whimper.
"Please," he begged.
"No," she said ruthlessly. She placed his palms on her hips, over that bloody dress again. "If you touch me anywhere else but here, I will stop."
It took all of Draco's strength to keep his hands on Hermione's hips, but he did because he believed her threat. She stroked his face and neck and arms. She tugged his shirt out of his trousers and traced the muscles of his stomach, making him gasp. He gripped her hips hard, knowing his fingers would leave bruises. Marking her gave him dark, primal satisfaction.
His moment of control was ripped away when Hermione unbuttoned his trousers and reached inside his pants. He bucked against her hand and whimpered again. She began to stroke him hard and fast, and it was pure bliss. He had to touch her. His fingers stroked up her back to the soft skin above her dress.
Hermione slowed her hand, and Draco stared up at her, his eyes wild.
"Please don't stop," he whispered.
The goddess took mercy. She moved again, her strokes stronger now. Draco's head fell back against the brick wall. He gazed up at her face, enthralled. Whatever magic she'd cast on this room was still being worked. She was a storm all around him, above him, her hair whipping in the air. Her skin gleamed bronze in the shadows. The sound of thunder rumbled in his ears and his chest. He couldn't tell what was magic and what was her, and he didn't care. He could die from the intensity of this pleasure and never even care.
Draco shut his eyes and began to cry out. Ecstasy rose up inside him, beyond any hope of control. Heat and brilliance flared through his body as he came. His heart, his breath, his mind - every vital part of him – was flung up into the beautiful storm that was Hermione. He pulled her close to him, his fingernails digging into her shoulder blades. His lips rested against the freckles on her shoulder. He didn't even know if she'd come.
"Train's here in five minutes," Hermione whispered in his ear. Draco shivered as she licked the sweat off his neck and placed a kiss upon his pulse.
He wanted to kiss her back. He tried to move, but he was too weak. So he just lay against her, floating, his eyes closed and his hand on her back. Thank God breathing was involuntary, or he'd be as dead as Neville's dead toad.
"The privacy spell will also lift in five minutes," she said. "See you a week from Sunday for that proper date."
Draco felt Hermione climbing off him and forced his weary eyes open. She was walking away, casting a quick Scourgify and running her fingers through her hair to remove any evidence of their intimacy. For a moment, he thought she would leave him without another word, but then she stopped. Framed in the silvery shimmer of an archway, she gazed back at him with a stunning smile.
"Oh, and you should know I prefer milk chocolate to dark," she said. "And I hate the smell of lilies." With that brisk advice, she turned and left.
It seemed like only seconds had passed when Draco heard the shrill whistle of the train arriving in the station. He'd sat on this bench for five minutes – entranced, sated, stained and half-undressed. And now, possibly in full view of any curious passersby. He stood up, cast his own Scourgify and fastened his trousers. He tried not to sway as he walked, but it was difficult. He still felt dizzy with pleasure, like he'd drunk ten Tahitian Zombie Bombs.
"Snap out of it, you prat," he muttered to himself. "It was only wild, incredible, mind-blowing, soul-ravishing sex." And they hadn't even actually had sex yet.
From somewhere to the left, a light Stinging Hex struck his hand, and he yelped. Luckily, no one heard, and the hex had enough bite to startle him into sharp focus. He didn't dare look at her.
He turned and saw Scorpius running toward him, a huge smile on his pale face. Draco's answering smile was just as huge. He lifted his son up into his arms. For the first time in the four, long years since Astoria's death, he felt like his world was perfect and complete again.
"How were your exams?" he asked as he set Scorpius back onto the ground.
"Great. I think I did really well."
"Why wouldn't you? You're a Ravenclaw."
As they loaded trunks onto a trolley, Draco glanced back at Hermione. He had to see her one more time. She was hugging her daughter, her eyes closed. The steam of the train floated around them. A few seconds later, Hermione opened her eyes, looked right at Draco and smiled. Then she turned her attention back to Rosie, and he turned his attention back to Scorpius who was talking about Herbology with surprising enthusiasm.
"Can we build a greenhouse off the garden, Dad? Professor Longbottom suggested some experiments I could conduct over the summer. And I have some ideas of my own about Abyssinian Shrivelfigs. "
"Of course." Draco knew the perfect place for a greenhouse, right over Great-Great-Grandmother Zophia's lily garden. The flowers did have an oppressive, cloying fragrance. He'd send the bulbs by crate to his new colleague, Longbottom, with instructions not to plant them near Hogwarts.
However, Granger was wrong about dark chocolate. He loved it when she was wrong.
Fine chocolate was as fascinating and complex as fine wine. He would take her to Venezuela, through the jungle to the Barlovento Plantation. Its cocoa beans were nourished in earth rich with vanilla, honey, and exotic fruit. Tasting their chocolate was frequently compared to orgasm.
Conveniently, the plantation's guest villas had heavenly, white beds.
Yes, this was beginning to sound like a proper date indeed.
Author's Ending Notes:
The bit about dark chocolate, Venezuela and the Barlovento Plantation is an amalgamation of facts derived from the website of fine chocolate maker, Michel Cluizel.
Thank you for reading September First - reviews are welcomed. :)