The clock is wrong, but that's only one of Hermione's concerns right now.
The others are related, of course: the clock is wrong; the weight at her back isn't moving; the lips on her neck are curving into a grin; and, above all, she has missed a meeting and someone is bound to come looking for her soon.
"Merlin, Granger." The lips at her neck turn to teeth, skimming up to her ear and biting down. "You perfect little harlot." His fingertips skitter down her thigh, and a new wave of sensation flutters through her even as he gives a dark laugh against the bare skin of her shoulder blade. He pauses, their panting breaths still filling the room. "I still need that requisition signed," he murmurs in her ear.
He pulls out of her, the heavy weight of his cock dropping free as she pushes herself up onto her elbows. Parchment is scattered all over her desk; her thighs ache; and Draco Malfoy is zipping up behind her.
The clock is wrong.
It has to be. It is old, after all, a gift from Ron's aunt on their first anniversary. "Been in the family for ages, dearie," she told Hermione, nodding sagely and grinning at her with too few teeth. It reads ten past two.
A man who looked very much like Draco Malfoy walked into her office, brandishing a piece of parchment and a pitch-perfect insult, at five minutes till one. Their paths cross so rarely at work that she was immediately suspicious. She sees him from afar regularly enough, but he never needs to come to her office. Then last week's conversation with Ron came crashing back to her. Her mouth falling open, she took in Malfoy's body – the way he smirked at her as he leaned against the doorframe, the way he arched his brow and waited for her reaction to whatever he'd called her.
The rush of arousal between her legs made her take in a sharp breath.
She remembers glancing at the old clock, the thrill of the game blossoming in her mind, just to make sure they would have enough time. That would have been right before she grabbed him by the front of his robes and dragged him inside, laughing against his neck and feeling her face heat as she stammered out an, are you sure?, followed quickly by a breathless, thank you.
It's not funny anymore. That potion is the first of any consequence she ever brewed on her own. It defines who she is as a witch; she would know it anywhere.
He is already strolling – no, sauntering – towards the door, his robes smoothed down and the flush of his orgasm still splashed across his features. She gathers her torn blouse around her shoulders, trying to wrap herself in it before lowering herself to her chair, one fist tight across her mouth and her eyes still glued to the clock. He glances over his shoulder at her, appraising her. He doesn't speak, thankfully, but he doesn't have to. The amusement in his eyes is enough.
There is no altering Polyjuice. It only lasts for an hour.
Hermione does the unthinkable – well, besides letting, no, bending over and inviting Malfoy to... oh God, she can't even think about it – and cancels the rest of her meetings that afternoon. She Floos home and prays that Ron hasn't had reason to do the same.
Dusting residue from her robes, she takes a deep breath and charges to the kitchen, her mind whirling. A cup of tea. That's what she needs. A cup of tea and a long, hot shower, as much soap as she can find, and then a book. Yes, that's it. Maybe if she picks up that wretched novel again, already discarded last week, and riles herself up with its flippantly incorrect references to eighteenth century legal codes, she will be able to distract herself from what she's done, this horrible mistake she's made.
She pushes open the kitchen door and stops dead, her arm still outstretched and her palm flat against the wood.
In an expression of surprise that must mirror hers, Ron jerks his head up from where he's been hunched over the counter. There is a small knife in one hand and a strawberry in the other. His face splits into a goofy grin. "You're early!" He glances around the kitchen with a look of sheepish pride on his face. Hermione follows his gaze.
Roses. Chocolates. Strawberries. Cream. She feels a lead knot form in her stomach, and with it, an awareness of the rest of her body that she has been trying to block out: the dampness between her thighs; the bruises on her arms; the sensitive, chafed flesh of her nipples. She's still sore inside, too, stretched too quickly and fucked much more roughly than she's used to.
She's never come twice in one day before, never mind one hour. Her hands tremble as she remembers.
"I know you said you'd try to be early today," Ron is saying, wiping his hands on a tea towel, "but I wasn't sure, you know? Thought I'd still have time to get this stuff ready."
"Oh," says Hermione faintly, letting the door fall closed behind her. "What's all this, then?"
"What's all this? It's Valentine's Day!" He laughs and moves over to her, wrapping her in his arms. "I'm trying to be romantic! I won't tell you how many strawberries I butchered with my wand, trying to shape them into hearts and books for you." He nuzzles her hair and drapes his arms around her. Despite herself, she smiles. "Had to just slice them by hand. Do you like it?" He pulls back a bit and gazes earnestly at her, watching her reaction to the manufactured romance littering her kitchen table.
"I– of course," she assures him, pecking him on the cheek. "I love it. Thank you."
"Did you and George close the shop early?" She hears herself and cringes, not quite able to believe she's suddenly reduced to making awkward small talk with her own husband while her brain tries to figure out a way to get herself into the bath.
"Yeah." He moves over to the table and pops a chocolate into his mouth. "Not much traffic this afternoon, and anyway, George thinks he's got that new Polyjuice line worked out, a way to get the fantasy part in without the hair. He and Angelina were going to go home and try it."
Hermione freezes. "Oh. That... one you mentioned before?" She tries to keep her voice casual.
He raises his hands in surrender. "Now, don't get angry about it again. I know you don't approve."
"It's not that. It's just–"
"I know, I know. Not your thing. But look, if George wants his wife to Polyjuice into that waitress he keeps ogling at the Hog's Head, give her a good time and get it out of his system, and if Angelina doesn't mind doing it, then what's the problem?"
Hermione tries to remember her previous indignation. "It's just that I– I can't imagine how anyone could–"
He rolls his eyes. "I know what you said, Hermione," he says, starting to laugh. "But I also saw your face. You already had someone in mind."
She wants to weep.
He grins at her and nudges a chocolate at her lips. She opens her mouth and focuses on the sugar bursting on her tongue to distract her from this entire situation, if only for a moment. "But don't worry. I'll figure it out." He grasps her hands and leads her into a loose ballroom dancing position, swaying his hips. "I was thinking maybe that new film star you and Ginny are always on about, who did all the filming in his shorts in an underwater tank?"
She pretends she's still chewing the chocolate so she doesn't have to respond. A film star. Honestly. That's who he thinks she desires: someone harmless and distant and incapable of actually ruining their marriage.
"Ah, or a Quidditch bloke, eh? Captain of the Cannons? Actually, no." He frowns. "Might not be able to watch the matches after that." He grins again, moving his hand up into her hair and stroking lightly. "Long as it's not Harry." His voice goes quiet.
She pulls back. "What?"
"Just..." He drops his eyes. "Is it? Because I guess I could? But, I don't know. It would be a bit weird."
Sweet Merlin. How could she have been so stupid? She really thought he'd figured it out somehow, that he hadn't actually flipped out about it, and that he'd come to her office today to surprise her for Valentine's Day. "Ron." She takes his face between her hands, gazing up at him. "I don't want you to turn into a film star to have sex with me. I don't want you to turn into a Cannons player to have sex with me. And I never, ever want you to turn into Harry to have sex with me." These are all completely true statements.
His shoulders sag as he lets out a breath. "Okay." He wraps his arms around her again and kisses her in that way that lets her know exactly what he wants. "No Polyjuice," he says, smiling against her mouth. "How about just you and me?"
She nods, feeling numb. "Of course. Just you and me," she whispers. "I– let me just shower first. It's been a long day, and–"
"It's been a half-day!" he says with a laugh, tugging at her hand. "Come on. You're perfect just the way you are."
She did a cleaning charm on herself as soon as Malfoy left her office, of course, but it's not enough. She can still feel the imprints of his fingers everywhere they touched her. She can't do this, not now. "Ron, it's just–"
They are halfway up the stairs when he turns around, blinking at her expectantly with such an earnest look on his face that she can't go through with any protest.
"Thank you," she murmurs, gesturing back down to the kitchen. "For all this."
He grins and tugs at her arm again, racing her to the bedroom.
When he pushes inside her ten minutes later, she realises with a gasp that cleaning charms in this situation have their deficiencies. It might have righted her on the outside, but she still feels slick and open, Malfoy's come easing the way for her own husband.
She lies flat on her back, buries her face in his neck, and wonders how she is ever going to fix this.
Hermione goes to work the next day as if walking a plank. She is certain Malfoy will be waiting outside her office first thing in the morning, his arms crossed casually across his chest. His head will be leant back against the wall, and he'll be giving her (and her secretary, and everyone she works with who might walk by, oh God) that annoying little smirk he has, like he's just caught the canary and the cream.
He'll have told the entire bloody office by now, and all his friends, and it will be back to Ron by lunchtime. She has no idea what to do but thinks she might have some leverage. There are whispers downstairs that his office has been "correcting" a few too many invoices lately, something she has the power either to report or conceal. She might just have to make him understand that.
It would be oh so wrong, and she hates herself for even considering it, but not as much as she hates the thought of Ron ever, ever finding out what she's done. She will make this go away, and then she will fix her marriage, and then she will never think about Draco Malfoy again. That much she can promise herself.
She will never again watch him with rising fury from across a boardroom as he lazily signs a parchment that will lower the pay of the entire goblin liaison division. Never again glance up to see his eyes on her in the lift, trying to incite her rage by making sure she can see him brush his fingers across his secretary's arse. Never again wake up in a cold sweat from a lust-soaked dream of slapping him across the face, climbing into his lap, yanking on his hair and forcing his teeth across her breasts as she rides him.
Her steps falter, and she closes her eyes for a moment to compose herself. Then she rounds the corner to her office with dread, clutching the ends of her long scarf in each fist.
Malfoy is not there.
Ron wants sex again that night, and that's a good thing, isn't it? It means they have a healthy marriage, that they're still desirable to each other. They have only been married for seven years, but she feels like she's known him since the beginning of time.
It was only one mistake, only one brief hour; compared to all the time she has spent with Ron, both in the bedroom and not, it hardly amounts to anything. So why can't she get that one tiny hour out of her head?
Ron collapses on top of her, panting, and Hermione smoothes her hand over his damp hair. It's because she's still thinking of the damage control; that must be it. She's still not sure Malfoy won't tell everyone he knows, or give his Pensieve memories of that hour to the Prophet. She has to speak to him, but Merlin, what can she say?
The truth certainly won't do, but neither will any lie she can think of.
The next morning, Malfoy still has not made any sort of appearance at her office. She can't figure him out. Even if he didn't care about an explanation for her behaviour, he should at least be dying to gloat, shouldn't he?
She opens her office door and totters in on unsteady legs, grateful for the chance to sit in peace for a few minutes before her first meeting of the day. She needs to compose herself. She needs to get Malfoy – and his fingers, and his tongue, and his... oh Merlin – out of her bloody head.
But this office is the last place she should be, she now realises, if forgetting is her goal. She sits in her chair and remembers slinking down, a smile she hoped was seductive on her face, as she slowly unbuttoned her blouse, his lips parted and his eyes watching her the entire time. Once the buttons were undone, he reached out and dragged his fingers down her chest, the intensity on his face along with that slow, steady touch from collarbone to navel combining to send a rush of heat through her body.
He stepped closer, still clothed but with his groin inches from her mouth. "Lady's choice, Granger," he growled, hooking one thumb under his belt. "In this chair with my cock in your mouth, or on that desk with my tongue in you."
Her eyes closed at his words, dirtier than anything Ron could have said to her, but then she came back to herself and looked him square in the eye. Pushing herself up from the chair with her blouse still fluttering open, she stepped out of her skirt and hopped on the desk.
He grinned at her, dropping to his knees without protest. "I'd expect nothing less of you." His fingers slid down her stomach and between her legs, pushing them apart.
Oh God, the more she thinks about it, the more she is pretty sure she said things to him in that hour that she would never say to Ron, things she said because part of her forgot it was Ron, or was supposed to be. In hindsight, and in an incredibly twisted way, she's relieved that it wasn't. Ron wouldn't have forgiven her for the moments when she lost herself completely, tugging on blond hair and spitting words she would never let herself say to anyone but Malfoy.
But Malfoy only laughed, glancing up from between her legs with hooded eyes and a wet mouth, the sound coming out as a dark moan. "Why don't you tell me what you really think of me, Granger? And while you're at it, spread your legs wider. Hook this heel on the desk drawer, there's a good girl. Ah." His fingers trailed up the inside of one thigh. "Much better. Now go on." He breathed against her skin, keeping his tongue an inch from where she needed it. "Beg me for it."
She was already so wet she came easily a moment later, unable to hold back, with two of his fingers deep inside her and his tongue curling patterns over her. She squeezed her eyes shut and shuddered.
No, Merlin, it's impossible to sit in this office now and not think about what happened, how easily she fell apart under his touch. She runs her fingertips over the edge of her desk, remembering how the sharpness dug into her hips when, barely recovered from her first orgasm, she jumped down from the desk and bent over it, his hand splayed across her back to hold her down.
She jumps and sucks in a breath at the sudden knock on the door. It's followed quickly by the handle turning and a head poking in, and her heart is hammering through her chest as her secretary blinks at her.
"The Undersecretary is here," she says, tilting her head to the side. "Are you... do you need a minute?"
Hermione can only nod, taking a deep breath. "Thank you, Carla. Let me just splash my face," she says, struggling to keep her voice even. "Not feeling well this morning."
Carla gives her a sympathetic smile and withdraws.
There is still no sign of Malfoy.
She and Ron have dinner with Harry and Ginny that night, laughing and talking as if nothing is wrong.
There is no way Malfoy has told anyone, she finds herself thinking as she picks the cucumber pieces out of her salad. Even if Ron hasn't heard yet, George and Harry, between them, are on a first name basis with the entire British wizarding community. One of them would have told Ron if they knew, or at least would have pulled her aside by now and told her what they'd heard.
She has something of an out-of-body experience, imagining herself floating above the table watching the four of them from all angles. Still nothing. Harry isn't shooting her covert glances; Ginny isn't nudging her foot or dragging her off to the loo for any kind of confrontation. Part of her wants to put her fork down and scream at them all, because even if no one has told them, how can they not know?
How can they not look at her right now and see it all over her face – that she married her best friend, and the best sex she's ever had in her life happened two days ago when she locked her office door and let her worst enemy fuck her so thoroughly she can still feel it?
She had to have known. Even if Ron did figure out the object of her twisted sexual fantasies, he never would have agreed to Polyjuice himself as Malfoy of all people and proceed to fuck her.
On some level, one she needs to confront, she knew all along that it wasn't Ron.
And she did it anyway.
The next day there is still no sign of Malfoy near her office. Her division has to attend a low-budget reception in the afternoon for their Norwegian counterparts, and after exchanging pleasantries, Hermione takes a glass of white wine to a corner and returns to her thoughts, hoping to fly under the radar.
At ten to five, Malfoy walks in.
He is sharing a joke with a pair of low-level functionaries, laughing and back-slapping, and Hermione wants to stamp her foot. She hates men like him and always has. He waves off his entourage and heads for the bar, not looking in her direction. Unsure of what to do, she remains in her corner, trying to appear as the bored but confident division head surveying the room, rather than the bored and uncomfortable woman without enough alcohol in her system, just looking for a quick escape route.
Just as she's decided no one can actually fire her for leaving, he turns towards her. He is on the other side of the room, but there is no mistaking the object of his gaze. He is expressionless, one hand in his pocket and the other around a wineglass. As she holds his gaze, he slowly lowers his eyes, taking in every inch of her body, it seems, before raising his head again.
The hint of a smile plays at his lips.
She can feel her face heat. Her escape plan flies out the window as she makes her way across to him, fury building.
"Don't look at me like that," she hisses when she reaches him.
He takes a sip of wine. "Like what?"
"You know very well like what."
He wets his lips, regarding her. "You're awfully concerned about one innocent look for a woman who wanted me to do a lot more than look at her the other day."
"Shhhh!" Hermione's gaze darts around the room.
He only smiles, lifting his glass to his lips again.
"You're infuriating," she spits. "Where have you been? Why haven't you told anyone?"
He blinks at her. "I've been where I always am," he says slowly, as if she's a child, "and you can't mean you wanted me to tell anyone?"
"Of course not! But it would have been a perfectly Malfoy thing to do, so, why haven't you?"
He sighs. "Granger. I imagine you're new at this, so let me give you some advice." He leans in close, his shoulder nudging hers. "Extramarital affairs are usually best conducted in secret."
Her jaw clenches, but she pushes the words out anyway. "We are not having an extramarital affair."
He raises an eyebrow. "Ah. My mistake." He makes to turn away. "No need to keep anything secret, then."
"You. What? No." She grabs his arm and jerks him back, her chest heaving. "Don't you dare."
To her surprise, he laughs. "All right, all right. Don't make a scene." He glances around the room as he shakes her off and rights himself.
She covers her face with her hand. "This is a nightmare," she moans. "My life is ruined, and you're joking about it."
"I'd argue that your life is enriched," he says, giving her that damn smirk again. "But do go on." He takes another sip of wine. "How have I ruined your life?"
She can't believe this conversation is actually real. "I'm married," she mutters, her voice low and her eyes scanning the room.
"So am I." He shrugs. "But if you're that bothered by it, one might advise you in future not to throw yourself at men who knock on your office door."
"I did not throw myself at–" She presses her lips together, breathing hard through her nose.
He is watching her, that amused expression still on his face. "All right, Granger, you win. I do have a high opinion of myself, but I'm also not so much of an idiot as to think our little rendezvous was entirely genuine. Was it a lust potion, or just a dare?"
She blinks at him. "A dare?"
He shrugs. "I don't know what Gryffindors do for fun."
She kneads her forehead. "It was a mistake, is what it was."
He rolls his eyes and starts to refute that, and it's the last straw. She can't believe he can possibly be this flippant about it.
"I didn't think it was you, all right?"
He considers this, gazing into his wineglass and swirling the liquid around. "Ah," he says at last. Hermione glances sideways at him. That cannot possibly be hurt in his voice. "May I ask who you thought, or hoped, it was?"
"No," she says with a scowl, clutching her wine, "you may not." She turns away from him, scanning the room to make sure no one is watching them.
"Then may I ask," he continues, his voice low at her ear, and she freezes when she realises he has stepped far too close to her, "whether it's fair to say that regardless of who you thought it was underneath, it was, in appearance, me who made you moan like that–" he moves even closer, dropping his voice – "and me who made you come like that?"
Her mouth falls open and a small noise escapes her. It takes all her energy not to lean back against him, his words showering over her. Instead, she stands rigid, her fingers white around her glass. "I don't even like you," she mutters.
She can feel his amusement as he shifts his stance behind her. "I don't particularly like you, either. But I respect you, oddly enough, and more importantly, I'm attracted to you. Isn't that enough?"
She turns to stare at him. "No! Liking me would be nice, even if I wanted to continue with this–" she makes a mad gesture with her hands – "which I don't, so it doesn't even matter."
"Surely you have enough people who like you." He pulls the word out mockingly, and she knows he means her husband. His voice is low again, and Hermione almost forgets they are still in a room full of other people. "I said," he drawls, "I'm attracted to you. Isn't... that... enough?"
The words slide right down her spine. She wants to say yes so badly she almost doesn't trust herself to speak. Her nipples have already hardened under her blouse, the brush of material against them spiking heat through her body. She could have his hands on her in seconds if she says yes, she knows this; she wants it so much it hurts.
"Think about it," he murmurs. "We were good together. I can't say I predicted when I woke up that morning how the day would turn out, but once it did, I also can't say I was disappointed. You rather ruined my Valentine's Day, in fact," he adds, a low laugh tickling her neck. "I had to try to make love to my wife that night when all I could think about was the way you tasted, the way you felt when I was inside you."
She takes in a shuddering breath, unable to turn around. She tries to bring her glass up to her lips for a deep gulp, but her hand shakes.
"We should do it again sometime," he says quietly.
She closes her eyes to compose herself, trying to find the words to refuse him, but when she turns around, he has already moved off across the room, grinning at a group of Norwegians at the bar and trading business cards.
Malfoy makes himself scarce again, which suits Hermione just fine. She's better off if she just never sees him again, she figures. He's already in her head every second of the day, for God's sake. Even without taking him up on his offer, their one time together appears to be more than enough to fuel her imagination.
She thinks about the way his brash confidence in the workplace gets under her skin, the way his glad-handing encapsulates everything she despises in ambitious, controlling men. But then she thinks about the way he touched her, letting her set the pace and the limits and working within them; the way he went down on her before he even undressed himself; the way he fucked her roughly from behind because of the way she responded to it, not just for his own pursuit of pleasure... and she can't reconcile that man with the one she sees at work.
"Show me how you want it, Granger," he murmured in her ear after she came the first time, then he threw his shirt to the floor and opened his trousers. He gathered her in his arms and kissed her with bruising force, one hand tangled in her hair. Her own hands clutched at his shoulders, his biceps, and finally his open belt, tugging at it until he was close enough and then lifting his cock out.
"Show me what you can do with this thing," she shot back, wrapping her fist around him. He hissed through his clenched jaw, falling on top of her. His mouth moved over her breasts, and she threw her head back with a moan, her body already responding again. "God, Malfoy. I hate that you're so fucking good at this."
He grinned at that, watching her even as he licked slowly over one nipple.
"Oh," she gasped again, then, "No. Like this." She pushed him off and moved off the desk herself, ignoring the ruined parchment littering it as she turned around and bent over it. She grabbed the opposite edge and curled her fingers around it before glancing back over her shoulder.
"Merlin, Granger," he murmured, one hand smoothing up under the scraps of her blouse that he hadn't already ripped free. She felt his cock nudge her, sliding against her wetness without yet going inside, and she moaned in frustration.
"Fuck me," she gasped.
With a groan, he slipped inside her easily and then pushed, too rough and too quickly, but her legs spread even wider of their own accord. She could feel him deep inside as he held himself still. She pressed her cheek to the desk and waited for him to move, but for one long, aching moment, he only lifted his fingers to her back and slid them slowly, deliberately down her spine. She moaned, trembling underneath him at the sensation.
"Please," she whispered.
His breath was warm over her shoulder blades. "Tell me."
"Just do it."
"Tell me," he murmured. His cock felt like it was thickening just from holding still inside her. She nearly sobbed.
"Fuck me," she growled. "Hard. God, Malfoy, come on, you miserable prick."
His low laugh slid over her skin, and she couldn't stop from clenching around him from the new wave of desire. He pulled back and slammed into her, one palm over her back and the fingers of his other hand curling into the flesh of her hip. "Granger," he groaned after a few deep thrusts, pulling back and slowing his pace. He slid out of her so slowly, making her body ache inside from the loss of contact. Then he pushed in again, just as slowly, and she could hear his breathing speed up as if he were watching every inch disappear. "Fuck," he murmured. "You look so good with my cock in you."
At the next deep thrust, she gasped, clutched at the desk and began to fall apart.
She thinks about the way his hair falls into his eyes when he's writing, and then chastises herself for even noticing something like that.
She thinks about the way he looks at her whenever they pass each other or have to be in the same room, and she wonders if he's thinking about her, too.
She is still thinking about him when she arrives home one night a week later, climbing the stairs to her bedroom and already tugging her blouse free from her skirt. She's exhausted from continuously evaluating her life, trying to figure out day after day where it all went wrong and how she can fix it, when all she wants to do is knock on Malfoy's office door and push him up against a wall.
Kicking her shoes off in the hall, she turns on the light and –
– screams bloody murder at the sight of a strange man in her bed.
"Whoa! Hey, hey, hey. Hermione. It's me." He jumps to his feet, his shorts tight around the erection he was palming, and her eyes nearly fall out of their sockets. She's got her wand out in seconds, aiming it at his throat.
"Who are you?" she barks. "Get out of my bedroom!"
"Hermione! It's me, it's Ron." The man is tall and broad, with the muscles of an athlete and the strong features of a man who is used to getting what he wants. He is handsome, she'll give him that, but his eyes are wrong. A man who looks like that should be giving her a look of lazy confidence, not watching her with panicked eyes the size of saucers.
"Ron!" She bends over, breathing deeply with her hands on her thighs. "What are you doing?"
"It's me, I swear! It's George's Polyjuice! I'm really sorry. I thought you'd like it."
"You thought I'd like coming home to find a strange naked man in my bed?" she shrieks.
"No, okay, shhh. Just, um, I thought it would be..." In this strange body, Ron still scratches the back of his neck exactly the same way he usually does when he's nervous. "Yeah, okay, I guess it was a bad idea. But I thought– I mean, when we talked about it before, it really looked like you had an idea, but you just didn't want to tell me, and it was right after I listed some Quidditch players, so I thought maybe it was Jarvis Howard." He glances down at his body, unable to keep an excited grin from his face. "I look amazing, don't I?"
"You look like a strange naked man in my bed!" she says, lodging one hand in her hair. "Am I supposed to be turned on by this?"
His face falls, and she closes her eyes.
"Okay. I'm sorry. I don't mean to shout." She approaches him cautiously. Whoever this Jarvis Howard is, he couldn't be further from what she wants. "You were trying to make me happy."
He sits on the edge of the bed, nodding.
"Right." Merlin, if this is what he thinks she wants, he doesn't know her at all. The thought makes her both angry and sad, and without meaning to, she feels a wall go up. The lies tumble out easily after that. "It's not that I didn't want to tell you," she begins, sitting beside him on the bed. "There's no one. I honestly was just sceptical of the whole idea. No offense to George."
He gives her a smile, flashing perfect white teeth that make her cringe. "None taken. I guess maybe it's not that we need to be more like him and Angelina, but that we should be a bit worried that they like to have sex with other people all the time." His grin deepens. "Or make each other look like other people. You know what I mean."
She nods, staring at the floor.
"So... you don't want to..." He nudges her shoulder. "You know."
She glances at him, and something settles inside her. Suddenly all the turmoil of the past few weeks – months, really, and maybe years, if she's honest with herself about how long she's watched Malfoy – eases into a sense of calm. "No," she says gently, nudging him back. "I don't want to."
"Okay." He stands up. "I'll just go, uh, watch the match for another... half hour or so."
She nods. "Right. Okay."
When he leaves, she changes her clothes and gets into bed, lying on her back and staring up at the ceiling. She remembers gazing at Malfoy as he stood inside her office door that day, watching her right back even as he made some flippant remark about the unfairness of someone in his position needing her signature for anything. She's finally realised a great deal about that day: what she felt wasn't any surge of love towards her husband for taking such a risk to make her happy, to give her something she wanted.
No. What she felt that day was nothing but desire for someone new.
She should have at least brought a file folder or clipboard to tuck under her arm, she thinks with a wince as she exits the lift and strides down the corridor. It would look less suspicious than just showing up at Malfoy's office door with no reason to be there.
But it's too late to turn back now.
She lifts her hand and knocks loudly, twice, then takes a deep breath. Her stomach is in knots, and she knows she's probably making a huge mistake, but she can't stop herself. She has to see this through.
"Hermione Granger to see you, sir."
She turns around to see Malfoy's assistant giving her a coy smile, speaking into a device on her desk. "Oh. I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to barge past."
The girl rolls her eyes. "I'm sure you didn't."
Malfoy saves her from further awkwardness by throwing the door open and glaring at her. His expression is cold, and her breath hitches as she looks at him. Bugger. This really was a mistake.
He folds his arms across his chest. "Granger," he drawls, infusing her name with disdain. "What do you want?"
Her mouth falls open. "I–"
"Merlin's balls. Don't tell me you're on my arse about the fucking Bennett files again." He turns and stalks back to his desk, grabbing a folder and scribbling something onto a piece of parchment. He returns to the doorway a moment later and shoves them at her.
Startled, she glances down.
I want to lick you until you scream my name, you gorgeous thing.
Play along, or Lindsay will have it on the wireless by lunch that you were in here hiking your skirt up for me.
Meet me at Claridges, 6pm. Room 1125.
A wave of desire slams through her, and it's all Hermione can do not to grab him around the back of the neck and kiss him breathless. Instead, she crumples the parchment up and throws it in his face, disguising her heaving breaths as anger. She waves the folder at him.
"This? You want me to take this back upstairs to the Minister? This is a bloody joke, Malfoy."
She lifts her chin and tries to hold his gaze, wondering if he's thinking about it the way she is – the way he felt inside her that day as he started to come; the way he growled against her back and covered her hand with his own when she tried to touch herself; the way her second orgasm sent him over the edge, until he was coming in pulsing waves inside her clenching body.
"Your entire division's a joke, Granger. Tell the Minister that the files he needs are already on his fucking desk, and if he wants more than that, he'll have to come here and beg me himself." He waves his hand. "I don't waste my time with anyone in your pay grade." His eyes flash, and with a dramatic flourish, he storms back into his office and slams the door.
She hides a smile as she lets out a sound of indignation and annoyance. "I don't know how you work for that man!" she exclaims to Lindsay, but the girl is barely paying attention to her. Good.
She hurries back to her own office and sinks down in her chair, letting sensation wash over her. She wants him so badly it hurts.
The door looms large in front of her, the gold extravagance of the numbers glittering and the brass handle looking both foreboding and inviting.
Hermione knocks before she can lose her nerve.
When Malfoy answers, his face is unreadable. He is in his shirtsleeves, rolled to the elbow with the collar unbuttoned. No tie. His trousers are loose and he is barefoot. One hand holds a short glass filled with ice and the remnants of some amber liquid, while the other grips the doorframe. He locks his elbow and leans against it, his frame taking up the entire space as a slow smile begins to curve his lips. He looks her up and down, just like he always does, and she struggles to breathe.
"How do I know you're not an impostor?"
She nearly chokes on a startled laugh. Emboldened, she steps forward and returns his appraising gaze, letting her eyes fall down then back up his body. She wants to rip his shirt open and drag her fingernails over his chest. "You'll have to ask me something only I would know," she says, her chin lifted in challenge.
"Ah. Clever." He pretends to think for a moment. When he steps closer, it's to curl his fingers around the back of her neck and brush his cheek against hers. "What name did you gasp out in the middle of your second orgasm that day?" he murmurs in her ear. "The one you didn't think I heard." His teeth grasp her earlobe and tug gently, but the fingers around her neck hold her steady as her legs threaten to collapse under her.
"You didn't hear," she whispers. He couldn't have.
"What name, Granger?"
When his lips move down the side of her neck, she's lost. "Draco," she murmurs.
With one light bite to her neck, he lifts his mouth away and pulls back. He sets his drink down and watches her with dark eyes as he reaches up to begin unbuttoning his shirt. "So. Not an impostor."
She closes her eyes to compose herself.
"You'd better come in, Granger. I rather like the way that name sounded, you know. I'm going to make you say it again." He walks backward into the room for a few steps, beckoning her, before turning his back to her. He pushes his shirt off his shoulders and drops it to the floor as he strolls across the room, not looking back to see if she's following.
It doesn't matter. It's not like he has to ask twice.
Taking a deep breath and with electricity already buzzing inside her, Hermione follows him into the room, letting the door click shut behind her.