A/N: This was originally written for the October challenge over at The Maple Bookshelf with the prompt: "Just because you can't touch me doesn't mean I can't feel that". So much thanks to TycheSong for everything she did to help with piecing this together. Hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: As usual, none of the HP universe is mine, I just like to play with it sometimes.
Draco Malfoy stepped on the gas and smirked with pleasure as the engine of his newest toy, an Aston Martin Zagato purred beneath him. He glanced toward the stunning, leggy blonde sitting in the passenger seat and his smirk widened as he observed the terrified look covering her delicate features. He increased their speed, watching the odometer climb and then looked back over, to gauge the woman's reaction.
"Muggles aren't good for much, you know," he commented casually, "but I have to admit this is far, far better than Apparation. My father would of course never-"
"Drakey look out!" the blonde witch shrieked, and then there was a crash and everything went dark.
When Draco woke, it took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the harsh white light. He focused on the mediwitch standing over him in dark blue robes and slurred, "What happened?"
"You were in a crash, Lord Malfoy," the witch informed him briskly. "You'll be just fine in a few hours."
"And what about…" Merlin, what was her name? "Isabelle?" That was it!
"Oh, she's just fine, don't you worry, just a few simple bumps and bruises. She's waiting quite anxiously to see you, I believe."
At that moment the blonde witch's rather shrill voice sounded from just outside the room, demanding quite loudly that she be allowed in to see "her Drakey".
Draco winced and shook his head, hurriedly saying, "No, no, please have her leave." The elderly witch arched one, clearly judgmental brow but walked to the door, saying something to whoever was standing outside and closing the door firmly.
Draco closed his eyes in a moment of bliss, reveling in the sudden quiet and then his eyes flew open again, pinning his icy gaze on the mediwitch and demanding, "My car? Do you know what happened to the Aston?"
The witch cast him a sympathetic glance as she bustled about his bed, simply murmuring, "I'm afraid it was a rather violent crash, Lord Malfoy. The poor woman in the other car-"
He cut her off, interrupting to say, "If the car is gone, I'm need to speak to my accountant, Mr. Grinth, he'll need to have it replaced, tell him please." He received another disapproving look from the witch, for what he wasn't sure, and she sailed out of the room without another word. Draco relaxed back into his pillow with a satisfied smile, sure now that Mr. Grinth would handle everything.
Nearly two weeks later Draco was finally allowed to return to his house, an opulent brownstone in the Wizarding Quarter of London. He had ended up having some rather more severe internal injuries and so, despite his most charming cajoling, the doctors at St. Mungo's had refused to release him. The only reason he was even able to leave when he did was due to a rather substantial donation by Malfois Incorporated towards the new children's' wing at Mungo's.
He walked through the front door and took a deep breath, reveling in the scent of his favorite dinner, roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, wafting from the direction of the kitchen. "Krumbly!" he called out, his voice echoing loudly through the large, empty home and a moment later a loud crack sounded and a small, wrinkled house-elf appeared before him.
"Master!" he cried, wringing his hands excitedly. "We is so glad to see you. Grimble is be making your favorites for dinner."
Draco nodded in approval. "Excellent. I'm going to retire until dinner, please hold all calls, unless it's my mother." A noise that sounded oddly similar to a snort sounded behind him, but when he turned, there was nothing and no one to be seen. Dismissing the sound as the result of being cooped up in a hospital room for far too long, he turned to climb the stairs all the way to the third floor to the master bedroom and the comfort of his own bed.
He was barely through the door before he shed his robes, tossing them carelessly over the back of a chair and loosening the top few buttons of his shirt. A moment later he fell into the large bed that dominated the center of the room with a contented sigh. He had had the best of the best available at St. Mungo's of course, but their best was nothing near the comfort of the home he had so carefully assembled after the family's loss of Malfoy Manor.
He closed his eyes, allowing his mind to wander over all he would have to catch up on after his unexpected hiatus. A few minutes later he had all but abandoned his thoughts and was drifting in and out of a light sleep when a loud thud sounded. His eyes flew open and he sat up halfway, propping himself on his elbows to survey the room and find the source of the noise.
At first glance, everything seemed to be in order and he was tempted to write the noise off as leftover paranoia on his part, but when he took a second look, he spotted it, almost hidden by his hanging robes, a large red tome that seemed to have fallen off the bookshelf of its own volition.
"What the hell?" he muttered to himself as he climbed out of bed to investigate. He reached the book and bent to pick it up, a deep frown furrowing his brow as he flipped open the book to read the title. Les Secrets et la Sauvagerie de la Famille de Malfois.
No sooner had he made that particular discovery that another noise came, again behind him, the source this time the drapes sliding open and allowing the sunlight to pour into the room.
"Who's there?" he snapped, cursing inwardly as he realised he had left his wand sitting on the edge of his nightstand all the way across the room. Silence reigned in the room in answer to his question.
"Do you have any idea who I am?" he demanded of the seemingly empty room. This time though, he received an answer, in the form of an obviously human snort of laughter. He snarled, darting across the room to grab his wand, brandishing it aimlessly as he growled, "Show yourself or I swear on Merlin's grave I'll see to it that you rot in Azkaban for the rest of your life."
"Circe, Malfoy," a light, dulcet voice sounded behind him, "you seem to think you have quite a bit more power than I know you do."
He whirled to face the intruder and his sharply cut jaw dropped open. "Granger," he croaked. "Why the hell are you in my house?"
The woman standing on the opposite side of the bed raised one slim cinnamon brow. "Can you really not guess, Malfoy?" she asked incredulously. "I know you're not exactly my equal, but come now."
His mouth snapped shut and he frowned. "You're trespassing in my house, in my bedroom no less, and actually mocking me?" he finally exclaimed.
Hermione rolled her eyes and muttered something indistinguishable about choices before spreading her arms and offering calmly, "Kick me out then."
Draco scoffed. "Hurt the Gryffindor Princess and ruin my own life in the process? I don't think so, Granger."
Hermione let out a short, humourless bust of laughter and shook her head. "You can't hurt me Malfoy. But if you're not going to make me leave, then I have no choice but to stay." With that, she shifted to perch on the edge of his nightstand and stared at him expectantly.
His face flushed a crimson shade of red and he sputtered, "Granger, get out of my house or Merlin help me—"
"No, I can't."
"Bollocks. You're just being a typically pretentious, infuriatingly stubborn Gryffindor and I'm not going to stand for it in my home, consequences be damned. Incarcerous!" Thick ropes flew from the end of his wand... And landed on nothing but thin air and the corner of his mahogany nightstand.
"I told you that you couldn't hurt me, Malfoy," her voice sounded in his ear. He turned, finding himself nose to nose with Hermione Granger and stumbled backwards.
"How...how did you do that?" Hermione rolled her eyes at him again and then winked out of sight, appearing again near the bookshelf. This time though, Draco realised, he could see the bookshelf throughher body.
"Merlin," he breathed. "You're a ghost."
Hermione materialised fully and clapped her hands slowly. "Well done, Malfoy. You figured it out almost as quickly as I did."
"But...but you're not dead."
Hermione raised a brow, her tone slightly derisive as she said, "I think we just established that I am, unless you know of another way a person might become a ghost?"
"But if you're dead, why are you here? Why not off haunting Potty and Weasley or that dreadful old school library?"
Instead of answering him, Hermione turned her back, trailing her fingers over the spines of his books before casually asking, "How's the new car?"
"Gone now apparently, thanks to some—" He froze and all the colour leeched from his face. "The woman in the other car...the mediwitch said something about her. What happened to her?"
"She died," Hermione said plainly. "She died on her way home from visiting her Muggle parents because some asshole was too busy trying to impress his girlfriend to drive properly."
Draco sat down hard on the edge of his bed. "I killed you," he whispered, horror filling his voice.
"Give the man a medal," Hermione muttered bitterly under her breath and then, louder, "Yes, you did. And now you and I, for reasons I cannot even begin to understand nor do I particularly care to think about, are stuck together for what really may be the rest of eternity. So I'll be needing a room of my own. I'm sure you have space in this monstrosity of a house."
His head snapped up, disbelief flashing in his eyes. "Are you actually alright with this?"
"I don't really see how I have much of a choice, Malfoy."
He stared at her for several long moments, until she began to silently tap her foot. With a heavy sigh, he yelled, "Krumbly!" Then, he turned his attention back to her. "Just try to stay out of my way, Granger."
Hermione wasn't entirely sure why she had demanded a room from Malfoy, it had seemed to be the logical thing to do at the time. But now it was the middle of the night and she had been pacing for nearly three hours, as it turned out ghosts had no need for sleep.
The little house-elf that had appeared at Malfoy's summons had escorted her to what she assumed was a guest room, very tastefully furnished in varying delicate shades of blue. It was a perfectly acceptable place to stay; Malfoy seemed to employ a rather talented interior designer. The only flaw in the otherwise ideal space was that it was completely lacking in any form of entertainment, there wasn't even a decent book to be found.
It had taken her almost a week, but she had finally figured out how to interact with solid objects without the trauma of watching her hand slide right through them, and now it was her dearest wish in the world to just sit down with a good book and forget about everything for a few hours. Suddenly, she stopped mid-stride, her mind flashing back to the book she had found earlier, the one she had been trying to borrow before she had been discovered by Malfoy.
She glanced at the clock over the mantle. It was already half past two; no doubt the master of the house was fast asleep in his overly large bed by now. It would be nothing for her to sneak up and borrow the book; he would never even notice it was gone, judging by his surprise when he had read the title. Her mind made up, she slipped from the room. She opened the door out of habit—though she supposed it was no longer necessary—and made her way silently through the house.
The large house was utterly silent, almost eerily so, until she neared the door of the master bedroom. A loud cry echoed through the dark and she froze, momentarily forgetting that she couldn't be seen, until a whimper, like that of a hurting child, again broke the silence. A frown creased Hermione's brow as she neared the door, until she finally drifted through it unconsciously, more concerned with discovering what was happening inside that room.
What she found was surprising, to say the least. Draco laid curled up on the bed, whimpering in his sleep. He had tossed his covers to the ground, and was shivering in the cold night air, though Hermione couldn't imagine why he chose to sleep only in night pants in the middle of winter, so she supposed he deserved it.
Just then the man in the bed did something she had heard from Harry nearly too many times to count, letting out a bloodcurdling scream followed by heavy sobs. Hermione froze, intensely uncomfortable at witnessing the most private of moments from a man she had spent most of her life hoping to never see again.
As his sobs again quieted into whimpers, Hermione turned her eyes away from the somber sight and spied the book bound in red leather on the chair where it had been discarded earlier. Doing her best to block out the sounds of a nightmare that still permeated the room, she picked it up and carried it from the room, closing the door carefully behind her.
"Granger, why are you at my breakfast table?"
"Krumbly invited me."
"You don't eat."
"I like the light."
That night, Hermione roamed the house exploring, invisible to all but the cat who lived in the kitchen. She began her self-conducted tour on the third floor, sometime around two in the morning, hurrying past the door to the master bedroom, trying to pretend as if she didn't hear the moans of fear coming from inside the room. And yet, despite all her efforts, Hermione had no explanation for why she found herself standing outside that door until the dreams quieted.
Hermione sat curled in her favourite chair, in a small, cosy sitting room on the second floor. The firelight flickered gently over the pages of her book, another selection from Malfoy's surprisingly extensive library. She was completely engrossed in the story of a brazen heroine and her dashing pirate lover when a very loud, very feminine scream echoed from above her head.
Hermione closed her book with an irritated snap. This was the third this week, just another in a long parade of beautiful girls of somewhat dubious intelligence. Hermione had caught a glimpse of this one as she stumbled tipsily up the stairs with this one and, judging by the sounds that kept interrupting her reading, she had a rather impressive pair of lungs for such a tiny woman. If Malfoy though that he could disrupt the entire house with his flavour of the evening, he was very much mistaken.
"Granger, what the hell were you thinking?"
"I don't appreciate having to listen to you cavorting about at all hours of the night, and I doubt the elves do either."
"So you decided it was a good idea to drop her knickers on her head at breakfast?"
"Well she left them on the floor, they were only going to get thrown out with the rubbish. And it's not as if she was coming back anyways."
"You don't know that...don't give me that look, Granger."
"Next time it will be more than knickers, Malfoy."
"Whatever you say Granger. Pass the paper."
Hermione slipped through the door, wincing as she saw the scratch marks the blond man had left on his arms in his sleep. Just as she had done so many times for Harry, Hermione moved without thought to sit on the edge of the bed, murmuring, "Shhh...It's only a dream."
She lifted one hand to tentatively stroke his hair in hopes of calming him back into sleep, but the absolute absurdity of her current situation didn't hit her until she watched her hand pass literally through the man's platinum blond hair and into his head. Without thinking, she laughed, at herself, at the fact that she, of all people, was sitting on Draco Malfoy's bed, and most of all that he was the only one who would ever know she was still there.
At the sound of her laughter, the man in the bed stirred, turning toward her and muttering blearily, "Hermione?" In an instant, she vanished from sight, fleeing the room, her mind whirling the entire way back to her room.
"Good morning, Malfoy."
"Did you sleep well?"
"Better than usual, thank you."
" Well, good."
"Are there any more books in the house? I've read through the library I'm afraid."
"I'll have Krumbly have more delivered."
"Oh. Thank you."
"Malfoy, wake up. Malfoy!" Hermione had listened to his screams for nearly five minutes before finally deciding something had to be done and attempting to wake him from the terrors of his dreams.
She reached out to shake him, growling in frustration as her hand passed through his shoulder and he continued to scream and thrash about. "Draco!" she yelled.
His icy blue eyes flashed open and locked on hers, his entire body shaking. "Granger," he whispered. "What's wrong?"
"You were screaming," she explained, blushing faintly. "I didn't think you should be left alone, it's not healthy."
"Oh, well thanks, Granger," he said, surprise evident in his eyes.
"Well, goodnight, again, Granger." He rolled over and closed his eyes.
"Goodnight, Malfoy," she answered quietly as she drifted from the room.
"Good morning, Granger."
"Good morning, Malfoy. Do you have the paper?"
"Here. Hey, Granger?"
"Not a problem."
Draco stood from his spot in the plush armchair by the fire, glancing over to where Hermione sat with a book. "Goodnight, Granger."
She glanced up, "Goodnight, Malfoy. Sleep well."
"Yeah, I'm sure," he scoffed.
"Malfoy...what are your dreams about?" Hermione ventured tentatively as the man turned to leave.
Surprise crossed his face but he answered slowly, "Mostly the War. Sometimes...sometimes I dream about you, about the accident I mean." A faint blush mottled his cheeks as Hermione stared, seemingly stunned and he turned to leave the room without another word.
Draco woke with a start several hours later to find Hermione leaning over him, concern in her eyes, although he doubted if she realized it was there.
"Again?" he asked groggily, groaning and covering his eyes when she nodded. "Sorry, Granger," he muttered.
"It's fine," she said softly, leaning up against the headboard where she sat. "It's not as if I sleep anyways."
He reached over without a thought to pat her leg in sympathy, flinching in surprise as his hand passed right though her.
"You can't touch me," Hermione informed him in a prime example of her know-it-all voice.
"Oh," Draco muttered lamely.
"Go back to sleep, Malfoy."
"Granger, wake up."
"I don't sleep, Malfoy."
"Oh yeah. Sorry."
"I take it you had better dreams?"
"Yes, how did you know?"
"Draco, just because you can't touch me doesn't mean I can't feel that!"
"Bloody hell, Hermione. I'm going to shower."
"Please. I'll see you at breakfast."
A/N: Hope you all enjoyed this little one-shot, don't forget to review!