"Alright, Granger?" Draco sidled up to her after their introduction, the owner of the store clearly having no idea how well they already knew each other.
Hermione raked her hand through her hair, already having started sorting through the ingredients with the other. "Look, Malfoy, I just want to do my work, okay? So could you not, with the tormenting thing?"
"I was actually wondering if you wanted me to grab you some coffee." Draco answered, clearly amused by Hermione's apparent exasperation.
"I don't drink coffee." Hermione replied, picking up a knife and slicing into the frog with ease.
"Tea, then?" Draco seemed unaffected by her treatment of him; in fact his smile had grown a little wider.
"No thank you, Malfoy, I'm fine." Her words were punctuated with the thunk of the knife against the wooden table top as she began slicing the dandelion root, her shoulders sagging in relief when Draco finally left.
"Do you usually work in silence, or has my presence stunned you into being that way?" Draco asked somewhere in the middle of their third hour of sorting ingredients.
Hermione sighed, pushing her hair back off her face for the thousandth time. "I told you Malfoy, I just want to work."
Draco shrugged. "It is possible to do two things at once, Granger." He threw the toad's eye, smiling when it landed in the jar set about three feet down the desk from where he worked.
Hermione ceased her work again to glare at him. "Those are expensive ingredients, Malfoy!"
"Toad's eyes? Hardly. And even if I were chucking around unicorn blood, I could still pay for it." He paused, staring off in contemplation. "Well, maybe not a lot of unicorn blood. But you get the gist."
Hermione stared at him incredulously for a second, and then turned back to her work station. It was weird for her, being around him like this. He was so different than he was at school, and frankly, it unnerved her to no end.
"Coffee, Granger?" Draco asked, as he had every morning that week, and the two weeks previously.
Hermione sighed, tucking the stray hair behind her ears. "You know I don't like it."
"Always worth checking, opinions are easily changed." Hermione looked up at that to see if there was any hidden meaning in his words, but his easy smile and ever amused eyes had no change, and Hermione decided she had had to have imagined the difference in his voice.
"No tea, either, I'm guessing." Draco muttered, and Hermione shook her head, relaxing into the work once the door of the shop shut after him.
"Why're you working here, then? Heroine of the Great Battle, you should be in the Ministry surely." Draco had moved on from throwing around ingredients to asking questions, and Hermione wished he'd revert to before.
"Because," she paused to squeeze a particularly stubborn Bubotuber pod. "S.P.E.W wasn't going anywhere, and I'm too honest to be a politician." Draco chuckled.
"Not every Ministry worker is a politician, you know. I would've thought Law for you, or Muggle Artefacts."
Hermione screwed the lid on the jar tightly, passing it to Draco to put on a high shelf. "Well, instead I'm here, preparing Potions ingredients. Oh how the mighty have fallen." Draco laughed again, and Hermione found herself liking the sound. Until it was cut off by swearing.
She turned to see Draco clutching his hand, which was erupting in rather fierce blisters. "What did you do?" She demanded, before spotting the broken jar on the floor. "How much of an idiot can you be?" She pushed down on his shoulder, forcing him to sit while she searched for the same salve that Madam Pomfrey had applied four years ago on her hands.
She sat opposite him once she'd located the jar, wiping away the remaining pus with a towel and applying the salve carefully.
"You'll have to pay for that, you know." Hermione reminded him as she bandaged his hand.
He laughed. "Your concern is touching, Granger, really."
"Well, you got yourself into it, didn't you." Hermione let out a huff, as she packed the bandages away.
"Clumsiness is a trait you're born into." Draco's tone had changed again, and Hermione reached to push her hair off of her face, but was stopped by Draco's hand.
"You're a Seeker, Malfoy, clumsiness is hardly something anyone could accuse you of." Hermione pointed out softly, detaching her hand from Draco's with equal gentleness.
"I haven't played Quidditch in Merlin knows how long." He admitted, back to his normal self in a heartbeat. "Maybe I should challenge Weasley and Potter to a game."
Hermione snorted. "If you're that fond of losing. Maybe start off with someone a little less likely to kick your ass."
"So you'll play, then?" Draco grinned at her, standing. "Brilliant, see you Saturday."
"I never said that." She protested.
"You've never played Quidditch in your life; I think it's a brilliant way to start." His teasing tone always knocked Hermione sideways – he was so different from the cold, sneering Malfoy at Hogwarts. Malfoy obviously took her silence for consent, and waved, mouthing 'Saturday' at her through the window as he passed by it.
"I never agreed to this." Hermione fumed as Saturday morning rose, Ginny watching her pace unsympathetically.
"Then don't go. What's he gonna do? Spill bubotuber pus on you?" Ginny had found Hermione's rendition of that story hilarious, as had Harry and Ron when they had come over for dinner the night before. It hadn't been as awkward as the previous ones, thank God, now that she and Ron were back to normal, and Harry and Ginny were past the PDA stage.
Hermione laughed, a little too late. She hadn't told the others about the hand holding thing, or how that was just the culmination of the flirting throughout the weeks they'd been working together. "You never know, I'm still waiting for the bastard from Hogwarts to resurface."
Ginny tapped her spoon against her lips thoughtfully. "Maybe he's different, without his dad around." She suggested.
"Maybe." Hermione conceded. "Maybe he's bipolar."
"I like that idea better, actually." Ginny grinned, and then glanced at the time. "Shit, I've got to meet Luna. Have fun on your date."
"It is not a-" The door slammed before Hermione could finish her protest, gloomily gather her scarf, her eyes repeatedly tracking towards the clock. She stood when the clock said she had five minutes, and then realised that he hadn't told her where to go. She sank back into the sofa with a sigh of relief, her eyes drifting shut.
The doorbell woke her fifteen minutes later.
Draco smirked at her sleep ruffled appearance. "You're late, Granger."
"You didn't give me a location, Malfoy." Hermione retorted. "And I actually have some very important stuff to do, so I was going to cancel any way."
Draco looked down at her in amusement. "Surely you've got time for me to come in and have a quick coffee."
"I don't drink coffee." Hermione protested for the millionth time.
"I know; that's why I said I'll be drinking it." Draco paused, sensing her strong aversion to the idea. "Come on, Granger. As co-workers? I need someone to check up on your handiwork anyway." He waved his still-bandaged hand at her, and she reluctantly opened the door.
She unwrapped the bandages as his coffee brewed, the blisters mostly having popped and scabbed over.
"You'll be fine – it's a good thing you didn't fly as it would have only agitated it and slowed the healing process." She began to wind the clean bandage around his hand, pausing when his free hand pushed her hair behind her ear.
She looked up to meet Draco's eyes, and he blushed. "Sorry, I know it annoys you." He explained quickly, and Hermione nodded sharply, tying the bandage roughly and walking into the kitchen, taking a deep breath before bringing in Draco's coffee.
He was standing in front of a picture of her family when she re-entered. "You look a lot like your mum." He commented when she handed him his drink.
"Really? People always say the opposite, that I look like my dad."
"Nah, you've inherited your mother's beauty." And that comment was the straw that broke the camel's back.
"Okay, Malfoy, what the hell are you doing?"
Draco looked at her, bemused. "I believe it's called flirting, but clearly you've never encountered it before."
Hermione crossed her arms, glaring at him. "I'm serious."
"So am I!" Draco frowned. "Is there something wrong?"
"Me?" Draco was smiling.
"Yes, you. Why're you so different?" Hermione demanded.
"It's called growing up." Draco gazed levelly at her. "Why, do you miss the racist dick I was in school?" His face dropped into his old sneer. "Prefer me like this, eh, Granger?" That voice sent shivers down Hermione's spine, and she wrapped her arms around herself in a defensive gesture.
Draco sighed. "Didn't think so."
"Sorry. It's weird, having you be so…" Hermione searched for the word. "Human."
"Yeah well. Grief changed people, and all that." They fell into silence, and Draco sipped on his coffee while Hermione ran over the conversation in her head.
Work on Monday had been odd for a while, but it had slowly slipped back to normal, until it was time to leave.
"Now we've had the big scary serious conversation, can I take you out to coffee some time?" Draco asked as they walked towards The Leaky Cauldron.
Hermione sighed, frustrated that they were back to this. "I don't like coffee." She reminded him impatiently.
"It's an expression." Draco countered. "We could go out for dinner instead, or are you not a fan of eating post seven pm?"
Hermione grinned at his exasperation. "Well, it is supposed to be the time you put on most weight." She tapped her finger against her lip, hiding the nerves, and resisting the urge to run her hand through her hair.
They slowed to a stop once they reached the wall separating Diagon Alley from muggle London, and Draco stepped closer to her so that he chests was pressed against hers. "There are plenty of meal options, Granger, take your pick."
"I think," She paused to lick her lips, nerves pushing through slightly, "that coffee would be just fine." Hermione smirked, and then Draco was kissing her, his mouth hot on hers as his hand tangled in the insistent strands of hair that fell out of its bunch every day.
"You are so. Damn. Exasperating." Draco muttered before pulling away and disapparating, leaving Hermione flustered but triumphant.