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December 1st, 2000

“A picture,” Hermione repeated, confused. “You want me to take a picture?”

“Yes,” Draco confirmed briskly. “With me.”

“With you?” she echoed.

“Brightest witch of your age,” he sighed, raking a hand through his hair. “Yes. I want you to take a picture with me,” he repeated.

She frowned. “Why would I - ”

“Look, Granger,” Draco interrupted, taking her hands. “You’ve met my mother.”

“Yes,” she replied uncertainly, “but I don’t see why I should - ”

“So you know, then,” Draco continued, “that if you’re going to be in a relationship with me, you will sometimes have to do foolish and antiquated things, simply because they strike Narcissa Malfoy’s fancy.”

“And she wants a picture?” Hermione pressed, giving him a skeptical once-over.

“It’s a picture for a Christmas card,” Draco clarified curtly. “It’s the card she wants.”

“Oh,” Hermione said, surprised. “I thought only Mug- ” she broke off. “Nevermind,” she muttered quietly, shifting her stance.

“Granger,” Draco sighed, smoothing his hands over her shoulders, “I told you. It’s - ” he stopped, hesitating. “You don’t need to worry about saying things like that anymore,” he murmured, swallowing uncomfortably.

She managed a small smile, nodding her understanding. “I just - didn’t realize wizards sent Christmas cards,” she ventured.

He brushed a thumb over her lip, tilting her chin up. “They do,” he said. “Or at least,” he amended, straightening, “the Malfoys do, so now you will.” He stepped back, picking up the camera. “Ready?”

“What, here?” she asked, looking around. “Now?”

“Yes,” he said briskly.

“But - ” she looked down. “How do I look?”

He took a step towards her, smiling.

“Beautiful,” he told her, and the moment she smiled, the camera flashed.

“You look wonderful,” it squeaked. 

o0o0o0o

December 1st, 2001

“You know, I’m glad you suggested we walk there,” Draco remarked, patting her hand where it rested in the crook of his arm. “How are your feet?” he asked, glancing down at her shoes.

“I’m a witch, Draco,” Hermione reminded him, rolling her eyes. “I used a cushioning charm. And snow repellent,” she added, picking one foot up to show him; he watched as the thin layer of sleet on the ground melted off, keeping her feet intact.

“That’s my girl,” he said, kissing her cheek. “You look amazing.”

“You don’t look too bad yourself,” she commented. “Which I love,” she added, “as I’m not above showing you off.”

“This isn’t about Weasley and Brown, is it?” he asked, and she made a face.

“Let’s just say I enjoy it when Lavender looks at you a little too long,” she said, and he shook his head, emitting a feigned sigh of a laugh. “I’m not entirely without flaws,” she insisted defensively, giving him a little shove.

“Your flaws are so quaint, they’re very nearly flattering,” he told her, and she laughed.

“Thanks for coming to this,” she said. “I think Harry will be happy to see you.”

“I’m not entirely dreading the experience,” Draco replied carefully. “Though if you think I’ll admit that - ”

“Believe me, I don’t,” she assured him, shaking her head. “One of these days you two will finally break down and admit that you like each other, though.”

“Don’t count on it,” Draco grumbled. “Seeing him at work is more than enough.”

“And your weekend quidditch league?” she prompted, flashing him a knowing smile.

“Also more than enough,” Draco confirmed, not meeting her eye.

“Ah,” Hermione remarked sagely, and then Draco stopped, pulling her against him. “What?”

“I like this spot,” he said, gesturing. “The trees. This,” he said, pointing, “right here.”

“You’re not going to try for another picture, are you?” Hermione said exasperatedly, as he maneuvered her into place. “Is this about the Christmas card thing again?”

“Did you think it was a one time event?” Draco asked snottily, reaching into his pocket. “Christmas has a nasty habit of repeating itself, you know - hold on,” he said, casting a Leviosa to set the camera, and then slipping an arm around her wait. “There. Pretend you like me, Granger,” he instructed, and she smiled.

“Oh, put me to work, why don’t you,” she joked, and as she laughed, the camera flashed.

“Stunning!” it purred, and Draco tucked it back in his pocket, throwing an arm around her shoulders and turning her back towards the road.

“You brought the bottle of wine, right?” Hermione asked, and Draco nodded, gesturing to his pocket.

“Got it,” he said, and she made a face.

“Are you using an extension charm?” she demanded. “Draco, those are illegal, and you work for the Ministry -

“Oh?” he echoed. “So I suppose you, deputy head of contracts for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, don’t currently have a deceptively tiny purse that - ”

“Yes, well, nevermind,” she cut in quickly, her cheeks flushing a delightfully vibrant shade of pink. “As I was saying - ”

“Sure you were,” Draco permitted with a smirk. “Do go on.”

“I’m excited to see them,” she said brightly. “Things are so much easier now that you’re all friends.”

“Weasley is not my friend, Granger, how dare you,” Draco sniffed haughtily. “Nor is any other member of your Gryffindor loon brigade.”

She sighed. “You’ll be good, won’t you?”

“Granger, I’m always good,” he said as he pulled her closer, letting his hand slip. “I have impeccable manners,” he added, gripping possessively at her hips.

“This is going to be fun,” she murmured, leaning into him.

“Ten galleons to let Weasley catch me with my hand up your skirt,” he offered, and she reached out, smacking his chest. “Hey! Fine,” he conceded, pouting. “I won’t, then,” he said, but she, to his surprise, was smiling.

“Make it fifteen,” she countered breathlessly, turning to face him, “if he catches my hand down your pants.”

“Deal,” Draco said with a grin, sealing it with a kiss.

o0o0o0o

December 1st, 2002

“Pansy?” Hermione said, accepting the mug of tea and settling herself on their sofa. “Really?”

“You know, oddly, I really think it’ll work,” Draco said with a shrug, sitting down beside her. “Plus, he’s been a shit keeper since he and Lavender split up - ”

“Is this really about quidditch?” Hermione asked skeptically. “Or do you just want him to be happy?”

“You know, one of these days you’ll tire of your baseless accusations,” Draco said, shaking his head. “My obligation towards the emotional well-being of your idiot friends begins and ends with whether I win at amateur quidditch games on the weekends, and I could not be more clear about that.”

“Mm, sure,” Hermione permitted airily, taking a sip. “Is Theo coming to Harry and Ginny’s this year?”

“Yes,” Draco said. “As promised.” He glanced at her, hiding a smile. “Should I be nervous that this is the third time you’ve asked?”

“No!” Hermione exclaimed, reddening. “It’s just - ”

“You know, if you’re wondering if he’s bringing Daphne, you can just ask,” Draco said. “I know you’ve got a little girl crush on her.”

“She’s just so pretty, ” Hermione groaned, “and smart, and classy. I want to learn from her,” she said with a sigh. “I want to bottle her up and put on her essence and be like her.”

“You’re so funny about making friends with women,” Draco chuckled. “You could learn those things from my mother, too, you know.” He leaned over, kissing her forehead. “But I’d rather you just be you.”

“Your mother is oddly terrifying,” Hermione reminded him. “Daphne does normal things with me, you know? Like brunch,” she added, tossing in a contented sigh. “Did you know how wonderful brunch is?”

“This friendship of yours is adorable,” Draco said fondly. “You do know that she’s just as fucked up as Theo, right?”

“That’s the best part,” Hermione declared decisively, taking a sip of her tea; Earl Grey with lemon, just how she liked it.

“Well, if Pansy works out with Weasley, then we’ll have succeeded in blending all of our friends,” Draco said, “and then they’ll ruin each other, and we won’t have to see them ever again.” He sipped his coffee. “The dream,” he sighed.

“You know, you play coy, but you love it,” Hermione said, nudging him with her bare foot. “Don’t pretend you don’t send Harry silly owls during the day, or that you don’t want to help Ron find love - ”

“Granger,” Draco erupted firmly, “I cannot hear you over the volume of your utter ludicrousness. ” She smiled, making a face, and he reached over, affectionately sliding a curl behind her ear. “Anyway,” he said tangentially, “we should probably do a picture for the Christmas card now, since we’re just sitting around.”

“Ugh,” Hermione said, letting her head fall back against the arm of the couch. “But there are boxes everywhere!”

“Yes,” Draco agreed, “and would you rather simply take a picture, or continue unpacking the boxes?”

“Fine,” she muttered, frowning into her mug. “Picture, then.”

“Thought so,” he said, leaping up to scoop the camera from the top of of a partially opened box.

“Are you sure this is where you want to take the picture?” Hermione asked dubiously, looking around at the room. “This place is an absolute mess.

“Well, that’s to be expected when we’ve just moved in,” Draco determined. “Gives the picture character, don’t you think?” he added, pulling her up from the sofa to give her a hug. “We’ve moved in together. It’s a big deal. Some might say,” he added hastily, adjusting the camera so that it faced them.

She smiled. “Some might say that,” she agreed. “Though it’s funny that you, who supposedly hates everyone, would care so much what they think of our Christmas card,” she commented offhandedly. “Is it really that important?”

“Honestly, Granger, isn’t your brilliant mind tired of having this conversation?” he said, tapping her nose. “Smile, won’t you? Pretend to like me.” 

“Fine,” she sighed, but at his bristled look of indignation, an unwilling laugh slipped out.

“Perfect!” the camera announced with a flash.

“You heard the thing,” Draco said, leaning down to kiss her. “Perfect,” he murmured against her lips.

o0o0o0o

December 1st, 2003

“Setting up Ron and Pansy was a mistake,” Draco announced, striding into the kitchen. “I did not realize that I would then be burdened with Weasley family events.”

“Nor did I,” Hermione said, greeting him with a kiss on his cheek. “But Molly has better leftovers than we do,” she said, leaning on tiptoe to press a canapé to his lips. “Hungry?”

“Merlin’s balls, Granger,” he muttered, a laugh escaping as she pushed it into his mouth. “You’re absolutely militant when you want someone to eat with you.”

She grinned, and he took a seat at one of the kitchen chairs, settling her in his lap. “Are you enjoying yourself, at least?” she asked, leaning back against his chest.

“Well, as much as I thoroughly despise everyone here, I’ve been to worse holiday parties,” he permitted grandly. “I, at least, did not have to wear dress robes, unlike every party my mother has ever thrown.”

“How was your quidditch game?” she asked, licking a stray crumb from her finger. “Did you win?”

“Granger, what a question,” Draco said, shaking his head. “Of course I did. I had the best team.”

“Theo?” she asked, and he made a face.

“Fuck no,” he said vehemently. “I gave him to Harry. I took Lady Potter,” he said, looking pleased with himself. “Her loyalties are so easily bought.”

“With what?” Hermione laughed, swatting at his shoulder. “You paid Ginny to be on your team?”

“With gloating rights,” Draco said, preening in satisfaction. “I’m a Slytherin. I have sufficient cunning to know she’s going to find far more pleasure in besting both her brother and her husband than she would any other form of currency.”

“Oh, aren’t you crafty,” Hermione said, smiling. “Sorry I missed it,” she added. “Daph and I were in here with Molly cleaning up.”

“Best that you did,” Draco remarked. “Pansy was in rare heckling form.”

“Was she?” Hermione sighed, shaking her head. “She never says much when I’m watching.”

“Oh - that, my foolish little minx, is deeply intentional,” Draco assured her. “She knows better than to cross you.”

“What!” Hermione exclaimed, twisting to face him. “But I’m such a delight!”

“Yes, you are,” he agreed. “But you wouldn’t hesitate to hex her right between the eyes if she made even the smallest misstep. In fact,” he added, “I heard a rumor that you already did. Something about ‘if she ever hurts Weasley - ’”

“Oh,” Hermione muttered sheepishly. “Yes, I, um - may have said something.”

“Might have,” he said with a chuckle, tightening his arms around her. “Love that about you,” he added, murmuring in her ear. “In case that was unclear.”

Hermione smiled, looking out to catch the sun setting over the Burrow. “Want to head back outside?” she asked, gesturing. “Could get a nice picture out there,” she added meaningfully, and Draco’s smirk broadened warmly to a smile.

“The Christmas cards are growing on you, aren’t they?” he asked, nudging her to her feet. “I knew it.”

“Yes,” she sighed, “it seems that everything about you eventually invades me. Like a fungus,” she clarified brightly.

“Careful,” Draco warned, “or I’ll invade you in that broom closet.”

“Hope that’s a promise,” she purred, and then she reached for his hand, pulling him outside.

“So picturesque,” the camera wailed ecstatically, as a flash captured them under the golden sheen of sunset.

o0o0o0o

December 1st, 2004

“Draco,” Hermione sighed, brushing her hair out of her eyes, “I know I said today, but I’m just exhausted - ”

“Granger,” he said, setting the paper bag on her desk, “you have to eat, you know.”

“I know,” she sighed, “but I just have so much to do, there’s - there’s just so much to learn,” she said frantically, “I thought this would be an easy transition but the Wizengamot is still so fractured, and it’s impossible to get a majority aligned unless I meet with them all individually - and they have the most unrealistic expectations - ”

“Ah, politics,” Draco said, easing her into her chair and stepping behind her, rubbing her shoulders. “You knew it would be like this when you were selected,” he reminded her. “You’ve got a lot to prove, I know, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have lunch.”

She sighed, leaning into his touch. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, turning her head to kiss his hand. “I know you must feel horribly neglected - ”

“If you’ve got ten minutes, we can fix that,” he said with a grin, and at her look of utter exhaustion, he laughed.

“No, no, I’m joking,” he assured her, looking at the parchment in front of her. “Is this the list of support you need from the Wizengamot for the Creatures amendment?”

“Yes,” she confirmed with a groan, and he picked it up, studying the names.

“How about,” he suggested softly, “I speak to a few of these people? I know some of them,” he added, pointing to their names. “Friends of the family.”

“You always say that like you’re in the mafia,” Hermione grumbled, and at his vacant glance, she shook her head. “Nevermind,” she assured him. “But no, you don’t have to - ”

“I’d like to,” he cut in, still glancing over the parchment. “You don’t like politics, Granger, but I do.” He set it down, turning her chair to lean over her. “Let me help you,” he said softly. “I’m on your team.”

She hesitated for a moment - she was, after all, so accustomed to independence - but then smiled, pulling his face to hers. “Love you,” she whispered, brushing her lips against his. “Maybe I’ll take that ten minute offer after all.”

“Nine,” Draco corrected briskly, opening his briefcase and pulling out the camera. “Picture first.”

“Draco,” she groaned, slumping in her chair. “Here?”

“Yes,” he said. “Here, in your office, where everyone can see all the plaques with your name and title and your fancy leather books. And then,” he added, adjusting the camera and pulling her up by the waist to stand beside her, “I’ll fuck you on your desk,” he whispered, and she laughed, just as the camera flashed.

“Such poise!” the camera declared, “so refined!”

“This thing,” Hermione sighed, shaking her head. “It has absolutely no idea what it’s talking about.”

“Mm,” Draco agreed vacantly, leaning her back and unbuttoning her sensible white oxford. “Should I turn it around?” he asked, kissing her neck and slipping his hands under her skirt.

“Nah,” she said, as she wrapped her legs around his hips. “Let’s see if it gets anything good.”

o0o0o0o

December 1st, 2005

“Sorry,” Draco murmured in her ear after they’d escaped the crowd. “Mother wouldn’t let me do it without having some kind of idiotic soirée afterwards.” He kissed her cheek, holding unusually tight to her waist. “I really hope you’re not upset.”

“I’m not, really,” she assured him. “This is lovely,” she added sincerely, taking in the twinkling stars that blinked idyllically from the enchanted ceiling. “I love it,” she declared, looking breathless.

“And you,” she clarified with a smile.

“Good,” he sighed, looking helplessly relieved. “I asked Harry about the whole ceiling bit and he thought it was brilliant - but then, of course,” Draco muttered, “I had to second guess myself when I remembered that he has the most fucking dreadful taste - ”

“You asked Harry?” Hermione echoed in surprise, placing her arms around his neck. “He knew?”

“Well, yes,” Draco confessed sheepishly. “He was also in charge of getting everyone out of here in the event you said no,” he added, glancing down.

“Oh, Draco Malfoy, you absolute buffoon,” Hermione whispered, placing her hands on either side of his face and forcing him to look at her. “There’s no way I was saying no.”

He pulled her hand to his lips, kissing her knuckles. “Well,” he said, “there was always the chance that you might have taken this as an opportunity to realize what a horrible mistake you made with me.”

She grinned. “Never,” she whispered. “I promise, I’ll be blissfully ignorant forever.”

“You’ll be blissful, at least,” he said. “I’ll make sure of it.”

She smiled. “Better take a picture,” she suggested. “Before the makeup and hair potion gets ruined,” she explained, gesturing.

“Ruined?” he echoed, opening the drawer with the camera and setting it up. “Doing what?”

She held out a hand for him, and he rejoined her. “You,” she said wickedly, and at his smile of surprise, the camera flashed.

“¡Magnifico!” it trilled.

“Is it speaking Spanish?” Hermione asked, frowning, but by then Draco had picked her up and she, laughing, allowed him carry her into their bedroom, pressing her lips to his jaw.

o0o0o0o

December 1st, 2006

“You know,” Hermione said slowly, “I spoke to your mother this morning, and she said something very interesting.”

“Mother is an interesting lady,” Draco murmured in agreement, sitting down beside her at their dining table. “Are we sure this is where we want to put people?” he asked, eyeing the seating chart. “Do we even really need to invite Krum to the wedding?”

“Yes,” Hermione said firmly, running the tip of her quill across her lip. “Draco, are you listening?”

“Yes, my dove,” he said instantly, but at her silence, he looked up. “Sorry,” he said guiltily. “Now I’m listening.”

“So,” Hermione said, patting his hand, “I was telling your mother today about how happy I am with the direction you’ve chosen with regard to your family’s business ventures - ”

“Are you?” Draco asked. “I suppose I’ve been meaning to ask. I know the last six months were strange, what with me leaving the Ministry to take over my father's role - ”

“No, no, you did the right thing,” she assured him. “I love the philanthropy you’ve added to the company’s portfolio - and anyway,” she said quickly, shaking her head, “that’s not what I wanted to bring up - ”

“As long as you’re happy - ”

“I am,” she said, giving his forearm a squeeze. “Truly. I mean it. This is the right place for you,” she said, smiling affectionately at him, and he, warmed by her reassurance, was relieved. “But anyway,” she continued. “I was telling Narcissa about how you’re so diligent about the Christmas cards - ”

“Oh, right, camera,” he determined, rising to his feet to fetch it. “Keep going,” he called over his shoulder.

“ - and she, interestingly, informed me that she has never asked you to make a Christmas card,” Hermione concluded.

“So?” Draco asked, flicking his wand to levitate the camera.

So,” Hermione said emphatically, “you told me that we had to do them for her.

“Did I?” Draco remarked absently. “Well, Granger, perhaps I’m just vain and wish all of our friends to envy us,” he determined, throwing an arm around her. “Pretend to like me, would you?”

“Everyone knows we’re engaged,” she reminded him, rolling her eyes. “Can’t we just skip this year?”

“Granger,” he said, turning to face her, “and skip a year of reminding people how much better my life is than theirs?”

She laughed; “¡Que linda!” the camera crooned, flashing brightly.

“Ack,” Draco said, making a face. “I suppose I’ll have to fix that.” 

o0o0o0o

December 1st, 2007

“You know, now that our friends have such cute babies, it’s kind of nice getting Christmas cards from them,” Hermione said fondly. “Theo and Daphne’s twins are ridiculously photogenic.”

Draco looked up, holding his breath.

“James is cute, too,” she sighed. “An absolute menace, but cute.”

Draco waited.

“Pansy mentioned the other day that she and Ron were thinking about trying,” she added offhandedly. “Hard to imagine what their offspring would be like,” she joked, sifting dreamily through the mail. “Best case, Pansy’s hair and Ron’s personality. Worst case, the opposite.”

Draco swallowed.

“I don’t know if it’s even possible to end up with a kid that’s cuter than Alessia,” Hermione continued, chattering to herself. “She’s so sweet, and she looks just like Daphne - ”

“Granger,” Draco erupted suddenly, upending everything on the table as he stood. “Granger, stop.”

“What?” Hermione asked, eyes wide as she faced him. “What are you - ”

“Let’s make a baby,” he interrupted breathlessly, “please.”

She gaped at him.

“I don’t care whose hair it has,” he said quickly, then paused. “Mine would be preferable,” he admitted, “but if it had yours, I would love it. I would fucking love it.”

“Draco,” she began, and he cut her off.

“Even if it had my horrible, unbearable, truly abhorrent personality, I would still love it, Granger, because it would be ours, ” he said. “And I swear, it can even be a Gryffindor - it can even be a fucking Hufflepuff - ”

“Draco,” she said, and he realized she was crying. “Yes.”

“Yes?” he asked, shoving the chair aside and running to her. “Yes? Really? You want to?”

“Yes, yes, I want to,” she exclaimed, laughing through her tears, and he ran to her, picking her up and spinning her until they had both collapsed, panting, onto the kitchen floor.

They stayed that way for several minutes, her head against his chest.

“I know it’s Christmas card picture day,” she murmured to him eventually, “but let’s just use one of the wedding pictures, okay?”

“Yeah?” he asked, smoothing a hand over her hair. “Do you have other plans?”

“Yes,” she said, twisting around to look at him. “Let’s start today,” she added with a grin, and he, euphoric, pressed a grateful kiss to the center of her lovely forehead.

“Que bueno,” he murmured, and she rolled him over, pulling his shirt over his head.

o0o0o0o

December 1st, 2008

“Just in time for the Christmas card,” Hermione whispered, sitting up and reaching for her son. “Are you sure you want to name him Scorpius?” she asked, making a face. “I mean, I get the significance and everything - ”

“If you really hate it, we can name him something else,” Draco assured her, settling the newborn in her arms. “But personally, I’ve always liked the constellation thing.”

“No, I like it too,” she said, distracted as the baby cooed softly in his sleep. “I suppose Scorpius is a strong name,” she conceded after a moment, looking up with a smile. “Powerful, like his father’s.”

“Granger, you told me from the start that my name was ridiculous,” Draco reminded her, scoffing, and she smiled.

“Well, I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she decided, then tilted her head thoughtfully. “Though that might just be hormones and exhaustion talking.” 

“Might be,” he agreed, but smiled, relieved that she was on board. “Scorpius, then?” he asked, flicking his wand to move the camera slightly to the right before settling himself beside his wife and son. “You’re sure?”

“Yeah, sure,” she said, shrugging. “Fuck it, let’s name him Scorpius.”

“Granger!” Draco exclaimed. “Language!”

She laughed - a stifled, joyous laugh that she fought, so as not to wake the baby - and the camera flashed.

“Magnifique!” the camera sang.

“Oh, fuck me,” Draco sighed.

“Language,” Hermione murmured, and he turned, cradling her and Scorpius in his arms.

o0o0o0o

December 1st, 2009

“Draco,” Hermione called as she sifted through the mail, “Narcissa is watching Scorpius, so I thought we could - ”

She stopped, catching sight of oddly familiar handwritten script on an envelope marked with Muggle postage. She paused for a moment, breathless, before quickly tearing it open, her hands shaking as she read the note.

Dear Hermione and Draco,

This must seem very odd to you - it certainly does to us - but after nearly ten years of receiving your Christmas cards by mistake, we felt we owed it to you to return the favor. No idea who you were trying to reach, of course, but after this long, we feel as if we know you! Frankly, we might have better correspondence with you than most of our other friends - well, we do now, at least, since we’re finally writing back.

This image on the front is of us in Melbourne; you probably don’t care, of course, but at least now the contact is mutual. Thank you so much for sharing your lives with us, however unintentional it was - it was a joy to see your many accomplishments and life changes (though what is a Wizengamot? Is that a branch of Parliament? Also, how do you get the pictures to move like that? Do you order through a website?) and congratulations on your son; he is absolutely beautiful, and - just like the two of you - perfect in every way.

Needless to say, we look forward to your card this year.

Sincerely,
Monica and Wendell Wilkins

By the time she reached the end of the letter, she was sobbing; the door behind her fell shut and then Draco’s arms were around her, holding her against his chest.

“Why,” she gasped, when she could manage a breath, “why didn’t you just tell me this is what the cards were for - ”

“I didn’t know if they would write back,” Draco murmured in her ear. “I didn’t even know if they were receiving them, but I had to keep trying - I wanted them to be part of your life somehow, even if they didn’t remember - ”

Hermione cut him off, turning in his arms to press her lips to his.

“Thank you,” she said, wiping at her eyes. “Thank you, Draco - ”

He kissed her again, fully this time, spelling the many ways he loved her into the pressure of his lips against hers.

“God,” she said tearily, rubbing furiously at her cheeks. “And to think that all these years I've given you such a hard time about them.”

“Yes, well, Granger,” he said airily, “perhaps it’s best you finally learn to accept my excellent judgment unconditionally and without question, then.”

“Alternate offer,” she ventured hesitantly, and he raised an eyebrow, inviting it. “Blow job,” she suggested.

“Done,” he said instantly, scooping her up in his arms and grinning mercilessly. “Magnifico.”