New story. I still own nothing. Can't wait to read what you all think!
2 bed, 2 bath, full kitchen.
Clean, private, newly refurbished building in Diagon Alley
Hermione Granger closed the latest issue of The Daily Prophet as she entered the flat listed in the classified ads. Someone was already there, getting a tour from the real estate agent. And it was someone Hermione recognized instantly. Even those who didn't know him could spot Draco Malfoy in a crowd just by the shade of his platinum blond hair.
"Granger," he greeted her with a tip of his head.
"Afternoon, Malfoy," she replied. "I'm surprised to see you here. Unless you're planning on buying the building."
A smirk appeared on his lips, but it wasn't the same smirk she had seen growing up with him. There was something friendly about it now. "Not a bad idea, Granger," he remarked. "Perhaps I should hire you to handle my investments."
Her cheeky smile rivalled his. "You already did," she pointed out. He closed the distance between them and embraced her. "It's good to see you out of the office. You spend far too much time there."
"I could say the same for you," he replied, pulling away so that only his arm was around her shoulders. "So, what are you doing here? Finally had enough of living with the Weasleys?"
He led her from the living room to the spacious kitchen. "It's been four years. I figured it was time for me to have a place of my own," she said, distracting herself by examining the cupboards. It had been four years of an on again, off again relationship with Ron Weasley, and four years of his mother, Molly, wondering when they would get their act together.
"Funny, I felt exactly the same way," he replied.
"Have you secretly been living at the Weasleys' house all this time?" she inquired, checking the sink tap to ensure the flat had good water pressure.
Chuckling, he shook his head. "No, I meant my parents' house," he explained. "It's a bit hard to have a social life when your parents can burst into the room at any moment."
Her face twisted in disgust. "I really didn't need to know about that," she replied, moving on to the first bathroom. She examined the new faucets and freshly laid tiles, imagining how she could soak in the clawfoot bathtub after a long day at work. And there would be no one to interrupt her. It would be her own personal, private, quiet space. There was nothing more appealing than that.
"Wait til you see the bedroom," Draco commented, coming up behind her. "That trail of drool will turn into a puddle."
Startled, she whirled around to face him. "Don't do that," she reprimanded as she followed him to the first bedroom. It was a large room with a walk-in closet and plenty of space for a desk. Yellow walls and white carpet, Hermione could picture herself coming home to that room everyday. "I want this place."
Draco, leaning against the doorway, replied, "Yeah, me too."
Defeated, Hermione sat down at the foot of the bed. There was no way she would get the place if Draco wanted it. His pockets were deeper, and the realtor cared only about money. "Oh," she said. "I, um, there's some work I need to finish up back at the office. I'll see you later?"
As she walked past, Draco reached for her arm and held her in place. "Take the afternoon off, Granger," he suggested. "No one deserves it more than you."
She shook her head and attempted to shake free of his hand. "No, it'll just be there tomorrow along with whatever else comes in," she excused. "I should really go."
Nodding, he let her go and watched her leave. The real estate agent joined him in the bedroom and asked for his opinion. "It's a really lovely space," he commented. "I'm going to need some time to think about it though. I can have the deposit to you soon."
Without awaiting a reply, Draco took off and Apparated back to the offices of Malfoy Incorporated. His office was located on the top floor of the twenty story building, and he had made sure Hermione had been placed in one just down the hall from him. He jogged, his shoes squeaking on the freshly waxed hardwood floors, until he stood outside of her closed door. He didn't knock. He never knocked.
The door opened and Hermione glanced up. "Will you never learn some manners?" She said it every time he entered her office, and he always replied with a shrug.
Instead, he said, "I'm sorry."
Placing her quill down, she closed the file she had been reading when he interrupted. "Okay, you have my attention now," she stated. "What's wrong?"
Draco sat down and leaned forward, placing his elbows on his thighs. "We're friends, right?" he asked. A smile touched her lips as they both seemed to recall the exact moment their friendship had begun. When she nodded her head, he continued. "I saw the look on your face when you figured out that I could have that place if I wanted to. I've never really had friends before, not like you. That's not a blood status remark or anything. Please don't take it that way. I just mean that you and I have a real friendship, and I don't want to ruin that."
Brows furrowed, Hermione leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms over her chest. "I'm not sure I'm following, Draco."
"I just think that there are three solutions when it comes to that flat," he stated. "Option one - neither of us takes it. We accept the fact that every other place might pale in comparison, but at least we still have our friendship at the end of the day. Option two - we flip for it. No being a sore loser, no getting mad that the other one won."
Hermione shook her head. "What's the third option?" she inquired. "I don't much like either of those."
"We move in together."