Disclaimer: I don't own anything you recognise.

A/N: This is my dramione-duet entry.

Kinks: Attraction, romance, unresolved sexual tension, passion, tenderness, banter, humour, some angst is fine. Intensity of emotion, whatever the emotion, is a plus. I like two strong personalities clashing. Happy ending not required but if you go unhappy, please make it make sense within the story. Must admit I have a softness for arrogant, confident, proud Draco being gobsmacked by love.

Squicks: Infidelity, Ron or Harry bashing, weak or whiny Draco or Hermione, Makeover(Slutty)Hermione. A prejudiced Draco is unworthy of Hermione's love.

Prompts: 1. A simple, secret act of kindness (or sacrifice) changes everything. 2. Narcissa Malfoy and Molly Weasley become unlikely friends and then matchmakers, convinced that Draco and Hermione would make the perfect couple, despite the fact that they appear to hate each other. After all, appearances can be deceiving. 3. Draco has become a celebrated painter or photographer (Creevy connection?). He is hired to create Hermione's portrait (for her Chocolate Frog card or for a future living portrait or perhaps even for sexy, boudoir art). What happens in the privacy of the studio stays in the privacy of the studio – or does it?

The story is complete and I'll be posting weekly.

Hope you'll like it.

The Artist

Part I

"You must be joking."

Narcissa eyed her only son with perfectly veiled amusement as she timidly sipped from her ceramic tea cup. Daintily she placed the cup on its saucer and picked a cucumber sandwich to nibble on until he managed to gather his scattered thoughts.

It wasn't often she had the pleasure of seeing her twenty-nine year old son splutter in a mixture of indignation and stubborn denial.

It was also not often she placed such a demand on him.

"I get you are friends with Weasel-"

"His name is Ronald, Draco. Honestly you are not a kid any more." She softly admonished with a frown.

Draco's light grey eyes rolled as he fought off a sneer. His mother had made the transition to this new, tolerant society with her usual grace and adaptability while he and his father were left struggling to adjust to a world where blood purity meant nothing if you hadn't much else to offer the community. They couldn't bribe their way to society's good graces after their involvement in the war, and not out of lack of trying either.

So Narcissa did what she does best; damage control. And an embark on a long, strenuous campaign to show the wizarding world the Malfoys would survive and come up where they rightfully belonged; the top.

Of course in this day the top included people like the Weasleys, Potter and Muggleborns.

It burn to think his family was saved by none other than the boy Draco hated with all his heart. If Potter hadn't testified in his family's favour, chances were the Malfoys wouldn't have come out the trials unscathed.

Potter was the one who bargained with Lucius to help them round up the remaining Death Eaters and provide additional information to lock up the rest for good; not that the man wasn't willing but as a true Slytherin, Lucius only agreed to cooperate when he was assured he'd be fully pardoned.

But thanks to Narcissa's machinations and the plethora of fund raisers and charity events she planned and hosted annually, the family had regained their social standing and were once again considered amongst the most influential families in magical England.

It was common knowledge among the Malfoys' social circle that since the war, Lucius only publicly acted as the head of the house; privately Narcissa took all important decisions and he was forced to follow them. His past mistakes were forgiven, not forgotten; and Draco's brilliant mother refused to let Lucius' bigotry and sullen acceptance of this new world order destroy what she had painstakingly built this past decade.

She refused to let him dictate their lives any longer and went to great lengths to offer her only child a chance for a new beginning.

Narcissa was the one who pushed Draco to return to Hogwarts and finish his final year when Headmistress McGonagall personally arrived to Malfoy Manor to deliver his letter.

Narcissa was the one who encouraged him to pursue his childhood dream of becoming an artist when the summer after his graduation she found his sketchbook hidden under his pillow.

Narcissa was the one who had bellowed at Lucius that he had done enough when he spitefully called Draco a disgrace to the family name and forbade him to go to art school. He had already destroyed Draco's childhood; she refused to allow him to dictate how Draco would live his life as well. If Lucius disagreed, he had no place in their family.

Narcissa was the one who came to his first exhibit and bought his first painting; a portrait of a blonde woman reading to a small child. She knew this was his thank you for everything she had done for him. She had proudly hang it above the fireplace in her favourite drawing room where she spend most of her afternoons.

That was the room Draco was currently sitting in; fists clenched and lips set in a firm line.

"Forgive my language, mother." He stiffly said. "But what you are asking-"

"A favour. I'm asking my son a favour."

"You are asking me to paint mudblood Granger!" He bellowed, loosing his tight grip on his control.

"Draco!" Narcissa snapped, equally furious. "Watch your tongue! I won't have you of all people uttering that foul word! Not after everything we've been through! Everything we have lost!"

Draco averted his gaze, sulking like a petulant child.

"It's been years, Draco. You should know better."

He nodded sullenly.

"Molly and her family are one of the reasons we regained our social standing. Despite our families' past alienation, she was kind enough to extent that olive branch and you know how it benefited us. She got me my sister back, little dragon."

Draco winced at the nickname. Only at her most vulnerable did Narcissa called him that. Against his better judgement he turned his eyes on his mother. She was surreptitiously trying to wipe a stray tear.

His heart clenched. He hated to see his mother cry. Knowing he had no other choice, he rolled his eyes, sighed heavily and beat down his instincts that screamed at him to run the fuck away.

"What do you want me to do?"


"Really Molly, you shouldn't have!" Hermione smiled gratefully as she demurely ate her pancakes.

The previous evening she had attended a 'surprise' party in her honour at the Burrow and ended up staying the night. It was a blast and she had fun with all her friends. The brunette witch even ate a second serving of Molly's delicious cake, despite her aversion to sweets.

Molly had been delighted to share she had been planning this soiree for weeks and was oh so happy Hermione liked it. Hermione couldn't bare to spoil Mrs Weasley's delight by admitting she knew about the party from the start. Ron had let it slip while drunk and she knew Molly would castrate him if she found out so she had kept silent. It really hadn't been intentional after all. She had just been promoted to Deputy Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and Harry and Ron had been kind enough to drag her to the Leaky for a celebratory night out that led to the worst hangover in the history of hangovers the day after. But it was totally worth it.

"Oh, it was nothing dear." Molly smiled as she flipped a pancake. "It's not everyday a woman turns thirty I'll have you know! Besides we still hadn't celebrate your promotion. Why not combine it with your birthday bash?"

Hermione chuckled.

"Well, thanks anyway. It was amazing. I hadn't had the chance to hang around with anyone besides Harry and Ron for months. Work has been chaotic; so it was a nice surprise." She hid a mischievous smile.

"It was, wasn't it?"

A few minutes of comfortable silence passed as Hermione ate her delicious breakfast and Molly cooked for the late risers.


Hermione, mouth full, looked up and quirk a questioning eyebrow.

"I still haven't give you my present, dear."

Hermione swallowed, feeling a sudden and inexplicable twitch of dread swirling in her stomach. Molly's smile was sneaky as she slowly pushed a cream envelope, sealed with dark green wax towards her.

"Oh Molly, you've done more than enough! You didn't need to buy me something!" Hermione admonished as she gingerly took the letter.

"Nonsense. After all it cost me nothing. Narcissa was more than willing to help me."

Narcissa? "Narcissa Malfoy?" The younger woman asked quietly as she fingered the envelope.

She was one of the few people who was openly supportive of Molly's friendship with Lady Malfoy. The formerly snotty pure blood had proven she was a loyal friend. But not hers. Hermione had been invited to various social gatherings in Malfoy Manor and quite a few small, intimate meetings between Narcissa, Molly and Andromeda. The Ministerial affairs were hard to avoid; as a high ranking official she was obliged to attend most events. But on the occasions she could avoid, Hermione always had a handy excuse to decline Narcissa's invitations.

Despite her warmer attitude towards the Muggle Born witch, Narcissa Malfoy was an intimidating woman and Hermione was weary of her. Especially since Narcissa seemed so interest in her love life recently.

Unlike his wife though, Lucius had maintained his cold, standoffish personality. Whenever he came in contact with someone he deemed beneath him, a sneer would adorn his face and his distaste would be palpable. Keeping in mind he was walking a very thin line, he had managed to keep his vitriol to himself so far. The elder Malfoy was many things, but an idiot he was not.

Even the whisper of a suspicion regarding his involvement in any nefarious plans would land him with a one way ticket to Azkaban for permanent residence.

As for the younger Malfoy...

Hermione was willing to admit she had never been as shocked as the day she read about Draco's first exhibit. Never in her life had she imagined the snotty, arrogant blond boy would turn out to be an artist. A fantastic one at that.

Draco was considered amongst the most talented painters in Europe, wizarding and Muggle, and was often away in France and Italy for exhibits or simply to create another master piece. People were willing to pay him thousands of galleons to have their portrait commissioned by him.

To have an original Draco Malfoy painting was a sign of wealth.

His latest exhibit, Darkness and Light, was currently in display in the Wizarding Museum of Arts in Camberwell; it had received rave reviews and was considered his greatest one so far. Hermione had visited the Museum two days ago and she was still reeling.

The raw emotion Draco evoked with his strong brushes and use of shadows and light to highlight the struggle in his models, because Darkness and Light was a series of beautiful portraits, had touched her deeply.

Hermione had only seen him from afar; their social circles were vastly different and Draco usually avoided the various Ministry factions and events she was forced to attend.

And when he did attend, usually when his mother had been involved, he showed up with a stunning witch accompanying him, stayed for an hour or so and left before anyone had the chance to speak to him. Narcissa always laughed it off and said it was his artistic nature. The young Malfoy's mind was always focused on his next project and when inspiration stroke he dumped everything and everyone.

Secretly Hermione was curious to know the man her childhood bully had grown to be. But she would rather face Voldemort than admit it to anyone.

"Yes." Molly's voice brought her back to the present. "I didn't know what to get you; you have everything you need and I thought a book was too trite. So I asked Cissa for advice and voila!"

Hands trembling, Hermione smiled tremulously and broke the wax seal. The parchment was obviously expensive and on the right top corner it carried a very familiar tiny crest. Eyes wide, she read the few lines written in emerald green ink.

Dear Hermione,

I am delighted to say my son, Draco, has gracefully agreed to have your portrait commissioned as a birthday gift from Molly.

Please let Molly know when you will have time for a preliminary visit to his studio to sort out the details. I will be more than happy to accompany you if you would like.

Sincerely, Narcissa Malfoy.