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The thump of the bass drum punches through his ribcage with every beat, while the whump of the bass guitar dictates the rhythm of his heart.
The air is thick with smoke coming from the other patrons, many of them dreadlocked and wearing Bob Marley t-shirts.
It’s a Thursday night and the Purple Turtle in Camden is pumping.
Draco turns to the barman and orders another pint of lager.
Now one might think that a rasta punk pub would be the last place one would find Draco Malfoy, and one would be correct. One might also assume that Draco does not want to be found, hence his visit to this grungy hole in the wall.
Draco had not been having a great week. Or, in fact, a great month.
It was the anniversary of the Great Battle in five weeks' time and Wizarding London seemed to have lost its head in the preparations for the prestigious event. Ten long years had passed since His Lordship Potter had defeated He Who Should Stay Dead and in an attempt to send home the message that Wizarding London was truly embracing its Muggle neighbours, Diagon Alley had started to resemble Piccadilly Circus' poorer and slightly mentally deficient younger cousin. Twice removed.
The Ministry had also been on Draco's case to add a float to the parade. They were planning to showcase the milestones they had overcome over the past decade. There were floats promoting more magically enhanced Muggle products than Arthur Weasley could dream of, each ministry department had one to showcase their best achievements and the Malfoys had been ordered to include a float to represent redemption and forgiveness.
It was, in Draco's eyes, one of the worst ideas in the history of existence, topping that of the mere platypus.
He sighed, nodded along to the band and inhaled as much of the smoke as possible, enjoying the second hand buzz of weed. Looking around the pub, he knew that his choice of one night stand partner would be limited - dreadlocks were not attractive on anyone - and found himself staring at a girl sitting amongst a group of scrawny, washed out stoners. She was laughing, great belly aching huffs, her face red. Her long, sleek black hair flowed down her back and her shoulders. She was wearing ripped jeans and a black t-shirt with a funny yellow symbol on the chest. She was breathtaking.
Draco finished his pint and while keeping an eye on the girl, thought of ways to get her alone.
Finally an idea came to him. A little slow for his liking, but he was probably well on his way to being completely stoned.
He walked over to the group, reached between the guys and grabbed the girl's hand.
"There you are!" he shouted over the music. "I've been looking for you everywhere!" He pulled her to her feet and couldn't help but notice how her eyes had widened. Not in shock, but pure terror. She quickly smoothed down her hair and that seemed to help her calm down.
"What are you on about?" she asked, stepping away from him.
"You looked bored," he explained with a slight jerk of his shoulder. "Come, let me buy you a drink."
The girl glanced back at the group of boys, who in the few seconds she'd been away, had forgotten about her. She rolled her eyes and followed Draco to the bar.
He ordered two pints and invited her to take up the seat next to him. With a hop, she mounted the seat and sipped at the pint.
She had sky blue eyes that besides being a little bloodshot, sent a delicious shiver down Draco's spine.
"Your place or mine?" he asked, leaning close to her ear.
"Does your place have a cellar?"
The layout of his Maida Vale house ran through his head.
"No. Do you like cellars?"
"No, just checking to make sure you're not planning on kidnapping me."
Draco smiled widely. "I'm looking for a shag."
She mirrored his smile. "Glad to know we're on the same page."
She left her drink on the counter, grabbed his hand and dragged him out into the balmy London evening to hail a taxi.
They were barely through the front door when she spun around, grabbed him by the lapels of his jacket and pushed him against the door, slamming it shut. Her lips glued to his, her tongue exploring and teasing.
He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her against him, grinding his crotch against her pelvis, his erection growing by the moment.
She broke the kiss to gulp down some oxygen, head thrown back, neck exposed. He leaned down and began leaving a trail of little nip kisses from her collar to her ear.
Then his hands gripped the hem of her t-shirt and pulled it over her head and off, it landed in the umbrella stand. He lightly pushed at her shoulders, forcing her to lean back so that he could take in the view of her chest, breasts resting in a bright red bra with black trim. She pulled away from him and with a cheeky grin, ran up the stairs to find his bedroom.
With a shake of his head, he thundered after her.
Her jeans lay abandoned on the landing. Her bra a few feet away on the passage floor.
Her panties hung on the door knob to his room.
She was spread out on his bed, leaning back on her elbows. As he stood in the doorway, she quirked an eyebrow at him.
Draco had never stripped so fast in his life. Within seconds his jeans, t-shirt and boxers lay on the floor. His trainers thudded against the wall as he kicked them off.
Once naked, he took a moment to gaze at the woman lying on his bed. He gripped his cock and gave it a few tugs to relieve the tension.
"Well? I'm not lying here for my health, you know." she said, her right hand sneaking over her waist towards her hips, along the inside of her thigh, lightly teasing her folds.
Draco jumped her, landing on all fours, trapping her beneath him. She let out a squeak of surprise.
"I hear sex is one of the healthiest activities you can do," he replied, before capturing her lips in another breathtaking kiss. He used his knee to separate her legs, before snuggling into the space between, rubbing his cock against her core, spreading her wetness along his shaft.
He broke the kiss and made to move further down her body when she grabbed his head.
"Oral can wait. Bang me into the bed, now." she demanded.
Draco nudged her pelvis with his, making her tilt her hips upwards, and spreading her legs further apart. She reached down, grabbed his cock and with a slight swivel of her hips, engulfed him completely. Draco grunted at the tightness squeezing at him, sending the remaining blood in his head straight to his cock.
The girl rotated her hips, prompting him to move. His hips began to pump frantically. He swallowed her groan in a sloppy kiss, his hands undecided where to settle, roaming over her body. She arched up as his tip brushed against her cervix.
“Harder, dammit,” she gasped, her hands grabbing his hips, trying to strengthen the pounding. He had a moment to frown at her request before she clenched her walls, causing his vision to white out for a second. He kept pounding into her, pushing her further up the bed until her head was pressed up against the headboard.
Pushing her hands against the padded headboard, she tilted her hips and rolled them both over until she was straddling him. She took his hands, placed them on her breasts as she began undulate her hips, his cock trapped inside her. She clenched around him at random intervals, causing his abs to contract in pleasure, forcing him into a crunch. By the fourth time, he sat up completely, wrapped his arms around her and kissed her until his lungs burned for oxygen. Her walls started fluttering with mini contractions, growing stronger and stronger until she threw her head back and cried out in release. The slickness became a flood and Draco grabbed her hips, pumping into her the last few strokes before his brain short circuited and he came.
After catching their breath for a few beats, she pushed herself up and off him before sliding off the bed and heading into the bathroom.
Draco lay back, his entire body still fizzing from the sex. Merlin’s balls, that had been better than he expected.
A few seconds later, he closed his eyes and fell into a doze.
When he woke up, she was gone. His stomach clenched in regret.
In his time since the war, Draco had discovered many advantages to the Muggle way of life. His favourite, by far, was coffee. And not just any coffee. He had become a connoisseur.
Now being a self proclaimed expert in coffee meant that a common Starbucks or Café Nero just wouldn’t do. One had to search for that perfect coffee shop that imported and correctly brewed the perfect blends, flavours and types of coffee.
After many unsuccessful meanderings, Draco found the only shop in London that treated coffee the way it should be treated – with respect, awe and dignity.
He took a seat on an overstuffed couch in the corner of Bean. There, he ordered a plunger of the Jamaican Blue Mountain blend.
He was so engrossed by an article in the Daily Prophet that he did not see a young woman sitting on the couch across from him. That is, until he turned the page and caught a glimpse of curly hair.
He lowered the newspaper ever so slightly, and his eyes widened in surprise.
Hermione Granger was sitting across from him, engrossed in a book – mug of forgotten whatever and a rapidly cooling pain au chocolat on the table between them. She had not yet noticed his attention and Draco enjoyed having some time to take in his former school…erm…mate.
Her lips were pursed as she read the thick tome on the arm of the couch, her feet tucked up next to her. Her hair wasn’t the wild mane he remembered. Instead, it was piled on the top of her head and held in place with a rather intricate bronze clip. Draco noticed how tanned she was, under the soft sunlight filtering through the large window behind her. Had she just come back from a holiday?
“Take a picture, it’ll last longer.”
Draco blinked and fumbled with his newspaper whilst clearing his throat.
“Uh…um…I…excuse me?” he stuttered.
“You were staring.” She arched an eyebrow his way.
It was in his nature to lie and deny that she was right. Also, it would be well embarrassing to be caught doing both.
She closed the book, slid her legs off the couch and reached for her mug. She grimaced after she took a sip and set it aside. “It’s all right, though. I don’t mind.”
Draco desperately looked around for some kind of distraction. He found himself coming up short.
“So, what brings you to my favourite coffee shop? Besides wanting to stare at me like a creepy lecher.” She signalled to the barista for a refill.
Using great self control, Draco found his tongue and put it to use.
“Your coffee shop? I hardly think so. I’ve been coming here for months. First time I’ve seen you here. And for the record, I am not a creepy lecher. I’m a Malfoy.”
Hermione shrugged. “Same thing.”
Draco opened his mouth to respond but stopped short. Something wasn’t right with this situation. Granger was supposed to be the flustered one, wand at the ready, eyes blazing and tongue razor sharp. Instead she just sat back on her couch with the pain au chocolat in hand and smiled at him.
“You’re in a good mood. It’s very off-putting.” He sniffed and looked around for his order. The barista approached the table and set down the cafetiere and mug in front of him.
“Far be it from me to off-put Draco Malfoy,” she laughed. “To be honest, I only found this coffee shop today, but I’ve already decided it’s my favourite.”
“So if I ask you very nicely to go find another one, you’ll…?”
“I’d tell you to sod off.” She arched an eyebrow at him and took a large bite from her pastry. After chewing for a few seconds, she frowned at him, then swallowed. “We could always set up a visitation schedule.”
Draco nearly took her up on her offer, until he realised she was teasing him. He poured himself a cup of coffee from the cafetiere and settled back in his seat. “So Granger, been on holiday lately? Get some sun, sand and sex?”
Hermione’s eyes wavered for a second and she bit her lip. After a few moments, she looked him in the eye. “Something like that.”
She began gathering her things, whilst holding the pastry in her teeth.
“Going so soon?” he playfully chided her.
“Work,” she said removing the pastry briefly to take a bite then she left the shop, collecting her refill order on the way to the door.
Draco’s threshold for odd was far and wide and yet this little encounter could definitely, in his mind, be classified as very odd.
He turned back to his reading.
Draco was procrastinating. Again.
He thought about the plans for the Malfoy float littering his desk, little notes scribbled with suggested improvements and miniature models leaning against the walls.
His latest conquest had been a redhead. All delicious curves hidden under a gold dress that looked as if it had been poured over her. Their eyes had met across the bar of the pub just off Leicester Square. The woman had put the straw of her cocktail to her lips and sucked, hollowing her cheeks.
Draco was not one to turn down an invitation as welcome as that one. Within the snapshots of light from the strobes above, he made his way to the woman in gold. He smiled at her as he took her hand and led her to a dark corner of the club. She pushed him up against the black wall and pressed her lips against his, stealing his breath in a dazzling kiss.
“My place?” he gasped once she pulled away.
With an arch of her eyebrow, she nodded, a cheeky smile on her lips.
Draco returned the smile and led her back to his house.
Unlike the brunette he had shagged a week earlier, this redhead was all about oral. She had him on his knees, her thighs resting on his shoulders, her back pressed against the wall as he buried his face between her legs and gave his tongue a long overdue workout.
She came with a deep moan, her chest heaving. The redhead slid from his shoulders, pushed him onto his back and proceeded to divest him of his trousers and suck his brains out through his cock.
After he came with a wild yelp and a full body shudder, she excused herself and ducked into the bathroom. It was only fifteen minutes later, when Draco’s brain finally began firing on all cylinders, that he noticed she had not reappeared and there were no sounds coming from his bathroom.
She had disappeared.
“Do women still like to cuddle after sex?”
Draco sank into the couch across from Hermione who had chosen that moment to take a sip of her Vanilla Chai Tea and promptly choked on it.
“Excuse me?” she finally gasped out, wiping away any spilled tea with a serviette.
Dumping the plans for the float on the table between them, narrowly missing Hermione’s tea cup, he frowned and motioned for his usual order before turning to Hermione.
“Women. They like cuddling, don’t they? I mean, that’s a major part of the whole sex thing for them. Well, at least that’s what all my previous girlfriends have said.”
“And how many previous girlfriends would that be?” Hermione tried to hide a smile.
Draco spluttered for a moment before answering with a lame, “Enough.”
“And what exactly is the context of the cuddleless sex I assume you’re having?”
Draco felt himself blush. “One night stands,” he muttered.
“And that is the problem. One night stands are just that. Get in, get off, get out. Cuddling implies feelings.” Hermione waved her hand as if to bat the word feelings away.
“And what if the one night stand could be more? What if I wanted to cuddle?”
“Then I’d say buy a cat or start answering personal ads in the Prophet.”
Just as he was about to start blabbering his heart out, Draco stopped short.
“Granger, weren’t you the one to fall in love and marry your high school sweetheart? In fact, aren’t you supposed to be a Weasley now?”
“There was a slight deviation from that plan,” she said quietly.
“So, the biggest prude in Hogwarts is now championing random sex? I think the universe just tilted the wrong way.”
Hermione narrowed her eyes at him. “You, Malfoy, are talking through your arse, as usual. You don’t know anything about me or my love life. So keep your ignorant comments to yourself.”
Draco nodded in mock understanding. “Bad break up, was it?”
In response, Hermione tipped her hot chocolate all over Draco’s float plans and stormed out of the coffee shop.
The worst part was, Draco felt worse about upsetting her than he did about his ruined paperwork. And that was more unsettling than the lack of post sex cuddling he’d been experiencing lately.
That night he found himself in the Ministry, sitting at a conference table with a collection of people who dubbed themselves the “Post War Rehabilitation Committee.” It was made up of members of various charity boards, private businesses who contributed heavily to the post war rebuilding of Wizarding England and, of course, Harry Potter, who was elected chairman of the committee and therefore was sitting at the head of the table, pinching the bridge of his nose whilst Colin Creevey and Jessica Abbott almost came to blows over the appropriate colours to be used for the bunting that would be strung across Diagon Alley.
Draco bit back a sigh and toyed with his hot chocolate-stained plans.
“Red is completely inappropriate!” Jessica was screeching.
“As if green is any better.”
“Green is the colour of nature and calm.”
“And of a bloody death curse, you stupid cow.”
Jessica reared back as if struck and her shoulders nearly brushed her ears. As she opened her mouth to respond, Harry slammed his hand on the table.
“Enough. Red is part of the union jack and therefore patriotic. It stays. Green is negotiable.” He looked down at his notes.
“So you’ll discriminate against a Hogwarts house just because of a colour?” Draco baited Harry.
“To be honest, Malfoy, I don’t care. Let’s just keep black to a minimum, shall we? Next order of business. How are the floats coming along?”
Everyone at the table nodded enthusiastically and began sharing their themes and ideas. Draco kept quiet and looked down at his plans.
“Malfoy?” Harry caught Draco’s eye.”Any progress on your float?”
“It’s a work in progress.”
“Mean’s he hasn’t even put a hammer to a nail,” huffed Dean Thomas.
“Who needs tools when you have magic?” Draco shrugged.
“Right, that’s it. Float inspections will take place in the coming week. If I’m not happy, we’ll scrap it.” Harry shuffled his notes. “I have a wife and a plate of lasagne waiting for me at home, so if there is nothing else, I’m calling this meeting to a close.” He stood up and left the room. Draco followed shortly after him.
He caught Harry at the Floo network.
“So, Potter, ruling a committee isn’t what the brochure advertised, is it?” Draco smirked.
“I didn’t even have a chance to decline. It was decided. Good PR and all that nonsense. I’m a freaking Auror, not a chairperson,” Harry grouched, resettling his notes.
“Tell me, out of morbid interest, why Granger isn’t on the committee. She’s a natural for this bureaucratic circus.”
Harry went very still then turned to face Draco.
“Hermione doesn’t live in England anymore.”
Before Draco could respond, Harry grabbed some Floo powder and disappeared.
Draco felt his life take a turn from liveable to rather complicated.
She was sitting in her usual spot when he came into the coffee shop the next day. Draco rushed to the couch and glared down at her.
“According to Potter, you’re not supposed to be here.”
Hermione’s eyes widened and, for a moment, Draco caught himself wondering at the colour in them. All delicious shades of chocolate and hazelnut. He felt himself craving a hazelnut latte.
“Please don’t tell him you’ve seen me, or talked to me.”
“Why? Are you an Unspeakable?” Draco settled onto the wingback chair across from her and signalled to a barista.
Hermione rolled her eyes. “If I told you, I’d have to kill you.”
Draco shrugged. “At least then I’d have a good reason to not do this stupid parade.”
“What parade?” Hermione frowned.
“The whole, let’s-pretend-we’re-not-all-emotionally-scarred-wrecks-from-a-war-we-brought-on-ourselves parade. It’s supposed to meet my lifetime quota of altruistic endeavours.”
The barista appeared and he ordered two hazelnut lattes before continuing.
“Now I’m stuck building a float to represent some arbitrary bollocks about redemption and forgiveness. I don’t see why I’m seen as the expert. I maintain, I was as much a prisoner of war as anyone.”
“And you’re back to being an arse.”
“An arse who knows your whereabouts. So indulge me, why the subterfuge with Potter?”
Hermione looked around wearily. “I can’t talk here. Shall we go for a walk?”
With a sigh, Draco stood and held out his hand in an unconscious gesture instilled in him by his mother. Manners maketh the wizard and all that.
With their lattes to go, they left the shop, Hermione leading him towards Regent's Park. It was only once they were walking through the quiet heart of the green space, sunlight filtering through the leaves, that she began to talk.
“After the war, I left England. Moved around the world a bit until I ended up in Africa.”
Draco bit back a comment, and nodded for her to continue.
“Life was…good. I worked as a researcher on exotic potion ingredients.”
She sipped her coffee. Draco motioned for her to continue.
With a sigh she rattled off: “Shit happened and I came back to England. There. That’s it.”
“That gives me a prologue and an epilogue, but no story. Come on Granger, what happened?” Draco threw in a smile to take the edge off his begging.
She shrugged. “I’m still working through it, but I’ll tell you one day.” She dropped her cup into a nearby dustbin and Disapparated.
Draco Disapparated home, his mind whirling.
She was blonde. Platinum blonde. And much to Draco’s glee, the carpets matched the drapes. She was undulating above him in a sinuous motion, his hands on her breasts, kneading and pinching.
He had picked her up at wine bar on Regent Street. Five minutes and one glass of wine later, he was happiness personified.
Until she lifted her hips. His pelvis followed her until she pushed gently on his stomach. With a wink, she pulled her leg over his body and positioned herself on her hands and knees. Draco scrambled up behind her and within moments was sliding to the hilt. She felt amazing – the slick slip-slide of his cock inside her. She rocked herself back against him, groaning low in her throat.
He couldn’t keep it going for much longer. Grabbing her hips, he held her tight and pounded into her hard and fast . His orgasm hit him so suddenly, he fell over her, pressing her into the bed, stretched along her body.
Before she could push him off, he wrapped his arms around her waist and rolled to his side, keeping her tight against his body. She huffed a laugh, but didn’t wiggle away. He buried his face in her neck and breathed deeply. He felt her heart slowing down beneath his lips. Draco’s eyes fluttered and within minutes, he was asleep.
He woke up alone.
Hermione showed up at the Manor a week before the parade. Draco stood in the doorway speechless for a long time.
“Can I come in?” She finally asked, a smile on her face.
“I don’t know,” he leaned against the door frame, arms crossed. “Are you going to drink my coffee, tell me a few lies then bugger off again?”
“I’m definitely going to drink your coffee, but I was also thinking of helping you with the float.”
“Who says I need help?” he arched an eyebrow.
“I may or may not have had dinner with a certain friend last night who may or may not have mentioned your lack of preparation for, and I quote, the biggest fucking waste of time since the invention of Sims.”
“What the hell is Sims?”
“It’s a Muggle thing. So, can I come in?”
Draco sighed and stepped aside. Hermione practically skipped across the threshold. It was only once she was inside that he wondered why his wards hadn’t hindered her.
Draco huffed a laugh. He had led Hermione out to the old stables, which he had converted into the workshop to build the doomed float. House-elves were tinkering with the float, ruching the bunting here and hanging from the framework there. To them, it was a giant jungle gym. To Draco, it was a giant headache.
“What is the symbolism of the sword piercing the heart?” Hermione asked, climbing onto the float to investigate the centre piece a little closer. Glitter floated into her hair.
“It’s a bit obvious, isn’t it? Swords represent war and it pierced the heart of our society.”
“Try again Malfoy. I think it’s a bit too literal for our crowd.”
He waved his wand and the centre piece changed into a six layered cake, covered with green icing. More glitter floated through the air.
“Have your cake and eat it then.” He indicated with his other hand.
Hermione let out a tinkling laugh. “You have to take this a little seriously.”
“Bollocks. I was shanghaied into this. I plan to make them reconsider their actions.”
Hermione walked around the cake, wand in hand, a frown on her face. She suddenly stopped, waved her wand and the centre piece changed again.
“A dildo parading down the street with a flower growing out of it takes inappropriate to a whole new level, Granger.”
Hermione had the good sense to blush. “It’s not a dildo, you dildo. It’s a wand with a poppy growing out of it. Poppies are the national symbol for remembrance of fallen soldiers.”
“Maybe for Muggles.” He frowned and waved his wand. “What about this?”
The centre piece turned into a coiled snake, bigger than any Hermione had ever seen. She got such a fright, she fell backwards, towards the edge of the float. Her arms windmilled for a few seconds before she lost her balance and fell.
Draco caught her at the last moment and held her close. She smacked him against the chest. “That’s not funny Malfoy.”
“Look again,” he urged, nodding towards the float.
The snake uncoiled and Hermione realised it was covered in red poppies.
“Good enough for you?” he asked, his lips close to her cheek.
“Nope,” she pushed away and with a wave changed the snake into a bed of red poppies growing on the float.
As Draco was about to give some apt criticism on the downright girliness that his float would not be part of, Harry Potter walked into the shed, following a house-elf.
“Malfoy, you still haven’t fin-” Potter stopped in his tracks.
“Hello Harry.” Hermione greeted him with a smile and a hug.
His eyes were huge and round behind his glasses, darting from Hermione to Draco and back again.
“Did I interrupt something?” he asked, removing his glasses to clean them on the hem of his robe.
“We’re just brainstorming ideas for the float. We’re at an impasse as to the central concept,” Hermione replied, walking back towards the float and plucking a poppy from the side.
Harry slid his eyes to Draco, who held his hands up and shrugged. He had no explanation.
With a jerk of his head, Harry motioned for Draco to join him outside.
In the relative darkness of the garden, Draco folded his arms and leaned against the shed. “What?”
Harry looked over Draco’s shoulder at Hermione, who was discussing ideas with the house-elves.
“I should be asking you that,” he said pointedly.
“I have no idea what you’re on about Potter. She came here on her own. In fact, if you could take her with you, maybe I will be able to get some work done.”
Harry smirked. “Is she that distracting?”
“Interfering more like. Come on, do you want this float in your parade or not?”
“It’s not my-”
“Exactly! Take her and scoot. I have serious work to do.”
With that, Draco swept across the garden to the house, which had a study, with a proper bar that held Firewhisky.
And Draco felt he’d earned a large glass of it.
Harry frowned at Draco’s retreating form for a moment before joining Hermione inside the shed.
“I’ve heard about post traumatic stress disorder, but hanging out with Malfoy is a bit extreme, don’t you think?” Harry looked at his friend with trepidation.
“I’m not suffering from PTSD, despite what you think. Besides, it's too entertaining pushing his buttons.”
“Hermione, don't go poking snakes.”
“There’s a poking joke in there I’m going to stay away from, just for you, okay?”
Harry rolled his eyes and took her hand. “Come on, let’s go home.”
“I don’t really know nor care. Come along.”
With that, they Disapparated to Hermione’s flat.
Hermione was by no means oblivious to what she was doing and why she continued to do so. She was playing with fire and for brief moments, she looked forward to getting burned.
She applied another layer of mascara before stepping away from her mirror. Her kitten, Mistoffelees, meowed softly.
“Does Mummy look good enough to leave the house?” She asked it, doing a quick pirouette before scratching the cat's chin and grabbing her clutch purse.
With another twirl and a giggle, she Disapparated from her flat.
Outside the bar, Draco pulled the woman against him. Her long curls of blue black hair tickled his hands as they circled her waist.
“Come home with me,” he whispered into her hair. She purred her agreement.
Draco hailed a taxi and gave him the address of the apartment he kept in Muggle London.
The sunlight filtered in through a gap in the curtains and Draco awoke to find himself pressed against a soft, curvy body. His face enveloped by caramel curls.
The girl he had brought home had black hair.
He lifted his head and squinted over at the face of the girl in his arms. Her hair hid it from view.
Carefully moving his hand so as not to wake her, he reached forward and moved the curls. He felt his blood run cold.
He was spooning with Hermione Granger. Or possibly her doppelgänger.
“Granger?” he croaked.
The woman murmured in her sleep and snuggled in closer to him. Draco gently shook her shoulder until her eyes opened, hindered slightly by the mascara cementing her eyelids together.
She rolled over, into his chest and finally fluttered her eyes open.
“Morning Malfoy,” she murmured, her voice gravelly and so damned sexy. Draco moved his hips away to avoid embarrassing himself.
He pushed himself across the bed, dragging the sheet with him to protect his modesty.
“Granger? What the hell?”
Hermione rolled onto her back, unconcerned that her breasts were in full view.
“Good morning Malfoy.” She smiled.
Draco spluttered, swinging wildly between anger and arousal. Without a word, he wrapped the sheet around his waist and retreated to the bathroom.
His mind was spinning. He played through the previous night’s adventure. He was definitely not drunk. The woman he’d brought home was definitely not Granger. How the hell did she end up in his bed?
After splashing his face with cold water and pulling on a pair of pyjama pants, he strode back into the bedroom. Hermione was bending over to pick up her bra. She had yet to put on her panties and the view had Draco’s lust spiking. He suppressed it and shoved it into a small, dark corner of his mind.
“What the hell are you doing here?” he finally spat out.
“Enjoying an awkward morning after episode, obviously.” She said, stuffing her underwear into her bag before shimmying back into her dress.
“Awkward? Awkward? Granger! You polyjuiced yourself to shag me. That’s a few levels beyond awkward.”
“Calm down Malfoy, you’ll give yourself a heart attack.” She was on her knees, stretching under his bed to retrieve her shoe. The other one was on his dresser across the room.
“Don’t tell me to calm down. This is just sick. You’re demented. Get out!” he yelled.
She grabbed her errant shoe from the dresser, pulled it on and turned to face him with a smile.
“See you around, Malfoy.”
She laughed softly as she left the house.
“You need to book her into a mental ward.” Draco was pacing in front of Harry’s desk later that morning.
“Malfoy, you need to give me some context here.” Harry sighed, putting his paperwork aside and pinching the bridge of his nose.
“Your friend Granger is fucking deranged. DERANGED!”
Harry waved his hand for Draco to continue.
“What kind of herbs did she ingest in Africa?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“She polyjuiced herself last night and we, well…” Draco realised that telling the best friend of the girl he’d done those very naughty things with was not a good idea.
“You did what?” Harry frowned.
“Nothing. Nothing. Just, drinks. And such. Oh is that the time? I have to go.” Draco left in a swirl of very expensive robes.
Draco found Hermione in his garden shed, working on his float.
“You’re not welcome here,” he snarled.
“Why? Did you not like that thing I did with my-”
“Stop that. Stop fucking with my head.”
“I’m not fucking with your head, Malfoy.”
“Then what do you call it?”
“This is not the kind of therapy you need.”
“So, Draco, did you prefer me as a blonde or a red head?” she said, slowly walking towards him.
“That was you too?” He grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her. “What is wrong with you? Are you stalking me? Is this some game you have going that you laugh about afterwards? Are you exploiting your new found sexual prowess?”
Hermione’s eyes widened and she pushed away from him.
“It’s nothing like that.”
“Then what is it, Granger? Explain it to me. Because, where I’m standing, I see a loose cannon with a sick sense of humour.”
“Fuck you Malfoy.”
“You have, often.”
Hermione sagged where she stood. “I need a drink.”
A house-elf snapped his fingers and a strawberry smoothie appeared in front of her on a floating tray. Hermione smiled softly. “I had something a little stronger in mind.”
With a nod, the house-elf replaced the smoothie with a bottle of Firewhisky. He poured out two large measures, floating them to Hermione and Draco before going back to playing with glitter.
Hermione downed her drink in a single gulp. Draco refilled her glass and settled against one of the former stall walls.
Once she had downed the second whisky, Hermione shook herself and cleared her throat.
“First off, I wasn’t stalking you, okay? I just went out to random spots and you happened to be there. I don’t have a locating spell on you or something as daft.”
“Oh please. Once is coincidence. Twice is fucking stalking.”
“Do you want to hear me out, or what?”
Draco nodded for her to continue, not trusting himself to speak.
“I…I miss having sex, okay? I enjoy it and I miss it. That’s why I went out and looked for it. And when I saw you, well, better the devil you know. You know?”
Draco frowned, and took a sip of his drink.
“Anyway, I just… thing is… I did fall in love. It was amazing. Passionate. Exciting. All consuming. I thought it was going to last forever.”
“It was, okay? It was going to be forever. But then…you know what Africa’s like-“
“Never been, actually.”
“Whatever. It’s…magical, but devastating. He got sick. Really sick and no one could figure out what it was. I couldn’t figure it out, even with my magic. And one day…he just…he was there, talking to me and then…BANG! On the floor, unconscious. Ten days. He was in a coma for ten days before he just…faded. Like he gave up fighting and just left.”
By now, Hermione’s eyes were filled with tears. She blinked them away and held out her glass. Draco silently refilled it.
After taking a sip, she continued.
“I stayed afterwards. I thought I could just keep going, but everything reminded me of him. After a year, I decided I needed a change of scenery and came back here.”
“And the casual sex?”
“Can I tell you a secret?”
“I want to fall in love again. I want to find someone to share my life with, but then...as I’m talking to someone in a bar or club, I freeze, and think – if I fall for this person, how long before they get taken from me? Malfoy, no one’s heart can take that kind of damage more than once in their lives.”
“So random one night stands are the answer?”
“Hey, at least you got to cuddle afterwards,” she pointed out.
“Granger, are you falling in love with me?” he asked softly, not looking up from the glass in his hand.
“No. You’re just a good shag. But I think that is helping me more than any counselling I could try.”
With that, she finished her drink and left.
Draco sank to the floor, pulling the bottle close to his side.
The Malfoy float did not make it into the parade. Harry had pitched a fit when he arrived at the manor the day before to find the burnt out ruins in the shed.
Malfoy just crossed his arms and muttered something about not feeling very forgiving or reconciliatory at that moment.
Harry had given him a hard stare before Apparating away to deal with the rest of the parade.
Malfoy stayed ensconced in his manor for a week after that incident. He couldn’t go back to his Muggle apartment as the memory of Granger was still strong in the sheets of his bed.
He seethed at the thought of her using him all those times. Not that he didn’t enjoy it. In fact, it had been in the top five sexual encounters he’d ever had. But the deception gnawed at him. He had always, in the back of his mind, trusted Granger. She was always this ideal of honesty and courage. But what she had done was the antithesis of that and it made his entire existence tilt the wrong way.
And what was that bollocks about her not falling in love with him? Women fell over themselves to be loved by him. Well, as far as he knew how to love.
Dammit, she had him all in knots and he didn’t like it one bit.
In a fit of childishness, he Apparated to the alley beside his favourite coffee shop. Like hell if she thought that he’d stop going there just because of her.
He stepped through the door confidently and placed his usual order. He turned to his usual spot and damn her to hell, there she sat.
He figuratively rolled up his sleeves and descended upon her for a final confrontation.
“Hello Malfoy,” she murmured before he even had a chance to speak. It drained him of his bluster somewhat and he stiffly took a seat across from her.
“What are you doing here?” he spat through clenched teeth.
“Enjoying a rather good book.” She lifted it and showed him the cover for a moment before settling back to her reading.
“This is my coffee shop. I was here first. You are not allowed here. They forbid mentally unstable people.”
Hermione ignored him, taking a sip of her drink and settling more comfortably into the couch.
He felt his ire rise at her obstinacy.
“Listen here you witch, you can’t just come in here and spoil my last corner of solitude.”
“You’re not superman, you don’t need a fortress.”
Draco blinked. “I’m not saying I’m a super man, although I have had some compliments that could equal me being super might suggest I'm pretty super. But that’s besides the point. You’ve ruined all my other favourite places. Don’t ruin this one.” He found himself lowering his voice. “Please Granger.”
She put her book away and leaned towards him. “What makes you think I have other places that I can say are my favourite?”
She gathered up her bag, book and take away cup and stood up.
“You know what Malfoy? You’re still a bully.”
With that she left in a huff.
Draco’s coffee didn’t taste as good that night.
The Golden Toad was a hole in the wall pub snuggled in an alley just off Diagon Alley. Unlike most of the wizarding pubs, The Golden Toad boasted an almost Muggle-esque décor, including an enchanted jukebox.
Draco was ensconced in a far corner, a bottle of Firewhisky and a single glass on the table.
The door flew open with a bang and a boisterous crowd pushed through the narrow doorway. It contained an above average number of gingers.
Draco sneered and sank deeper in his seat.
The group took over a few tables close to the jukebox and shouted their orders at the barman. Ron Weasley was lifted from his seat and set upon one of the semi-sturdy tables. He wore a top hat lopsidedly on his head and a cardboard sign around his neck.
Draco rolled his eyes and tried to find a swift escape from the ruckus. More gingers crowded the Floo. He tried to draw the shadows around him. Seeing Weasley reminded him of Granger and thinking of Granger was not the point of his brooding. Forgetting about her, in fact, was.
“Buy the groom a drink?”
George Weasley slid into a seat across from Draco.
He pushed the bottle of Firewhisky towards George and glared at him.
“If I was a better man, I’d just take your bottle and ignore the cloud of misery hanging over your head.”
Draco arched an eyebrow.
“Luckily for you, I’m nosey. So, what gives?”
“What’s it to you?” Draco reached for the bottle and topped up his glass.
“It’s a glorious evening to celebrate and I can’t allow any gloominess in the area. So, what’s her name?”
Draco choked on his drink. As he coughed, George leaned over and patted him on the back a few times – hard.
“What…what makes you think there’s a girl involved?” wheezed Draco as he caught his breath.
“Only one species in the entire world can cause a man to look like you do. They’re called women. Strange creatures of tempestuous temperament and divine figure.”
“I’ll give you that.” Draco tilted his glass towards George, who had helped himself to some Firewhisky straight from the bottle. “They’re also mentally unstable.”
“Sounds like a good story.” George settled deeper into his seat.
“It’s…complicated. And confusing.”
“Maybe if you tell me, it’ll uncomplicate itself.” George took another sip of Firewhisky.
As Draco opened his mouth, the door opened and revealed the one person he’d been actively and somewhat successfully avoiding. His tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. George followed his gaze, twisting around to see what had tied Draco’s tongue.
“Ah,” he said, turning back to Draco.
Draco watched as Hermione looked around the pub, spotted someone from the bachelor party and joined them. She didn’t even glance in his direction. He felt himself deflate even further.
“Now that is interesting.” George smirked, leaning his elbows on the table. “You and Hermione. Have to say, I never saw that coming.”
“There is no Granger and I. There never was.”
“She’s…” It was on the tip of his tongue to call her a demented sex addict, but he stopped himself in time. “She’s just…odd,” he finished lamely.
“You’re no case for normal yourself, Malfoy.”
“I just mean she has issues.”
George looked at him pointedly, with an eyebrow raised.
“And she…uses people.”
George did not break his stare. He pointed to Draco then hooked his thumb over his shoulder. “Pot. Kettle. Black.”
“Oh fuck off. I’m fine. I don’t have issues.”
“Clearly. Because drinking alone in a bar and avoiding the girl you like is business as usual, isn’t it?”
“At least I’m not banging my way thro-”
Oh, wait. He had been doing exactly that. Draco felt an existential crisis on the horizon. He gulped down his drink and stood up. Weaving only slightly, he made his way to where Hermione was laughing with Neville over a glass of wine. He ignored Ron’s indignant hoot on spotting him.
“Granger,” he said, towering over her. “Can I have a word with you? Outside?”
The table fell into a hush. The only sound was Billy Joel crooning about New York in the background.
“Now why would I want to go into a dark street with a bully?” she asked.
“To hear an apology that isn’t for the entire pub to witness.”
Neville nudged her arm and nodded for her to go. She glowered at him as she exited her seat. There was a tension coiling through her as she made her way outside.
Leaning against the brick wall, she sighed. “Okay Malfoy, let’s hear it.”
Draco opened his mouth, but paused, taking her in properly for the first time all night.
She was wearing a pair of black, patent leather high-heeled boots that brushed the bottom of her black pencil skirt, and a sleeveless red silk shirt. Her hair was in a messy ponytail, the ends grazing her neck.
She looked ravishing and this triggered all his memories from their times together.
Before he realised it, he was pushing up against her, their lips sealed in a kiss. She felt perfect in his arms and he knew, right at that moment, that to fall in love with her would be the easiest thing he’d ever do.
When they broke apart, both gasping for breath, Draco smiled.
“I’m sorry.” he said, further words failing him.
“Malfoy, are you falling in love with me?” she asked, smiling back at him.
“Not yet, but the night is young.”
“We can’t just leave.”
“Why not? Unless anyone in there is going to do that thing with his tongue that I patented.” Draco nodded towards the bar, stepping away from her.
“It’s not like that.” She crossed her arms.
“Are you sure? You said it yourself, Granger. You like sex. It’s like therapy to you.”
“Yes, and you’re a wanker for holding that against me.”
“I’m not going to ask how many there have been. In fact, after tonight I’m going to make sure it’ll only be me.”
“Oh you silly man!” She smiled at him. “After that first night, it has only been you.”
Draco blinked. “Seriously?”
Hermione nodded and took his hand. “I think we should go home and discuss this further whilst cuddling. Don’t you agree?”
Draco couldn’t banish the goofy smile from his face.”Wholeheartedly.” He dropped a chaste kiss on her lips. “You do mean after a lot of sex, right?”
With a pop, they Apparated to Hermione’s little house and were not heard from for days afterwards.
Well, there was a very brief appearance at Ron’s wedding, but they were gone before the cake and speeches.