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Through the huge glass windows, Hermione could see the people of London move on the sidewalks below, an endless ribbon of faceless bodies, bundled in winter coats as the early February chill hung in the air. The office was decorated in shades of whites, creams and subdued yellows which she supposed was to give the place an air of cleanliness and optimism.

But all she wanted to do was scream and it stuck in her throat. So she swallowed it and turned away from the scene.

She moved away from the window and took her seat in one of the off white leather chairs circled around the low coffee table. Draco sat in the other, fiddling with a sheet of paper, not looking at her. The therapist, a kind-faced older looking wizard sat on a similar colored sofa pushed again the wall, quick quotes quill poised in the air, though not with the same haughty air as a reporter’s, but ready to record what happened next all the same.

The wizard smiled at both of them. “As you go through the separation process, it’s important to remember why you came together in the first place.” He looked at each of there faces in turn and faltered. “ Draco, why don’t you start?”

Draco glanced at Hermione for just a second before settling his eyes firmly on the piece of paper in front of him.

“I fell in love with Hermione because she’s brilliant, and I only put it that way because I can’t think of another word that means more than brilliant. She’s always thinking, always trying to solve one problem or another, most of the time, more than one at a time. She’s never still, even when she’s sitting, she’s doing something like wiggling her foot or chewing on a pen. “ Draco stopped and lowered the paper and looked at the therapist. “ Should I keep going or is that enough?”

“Do you have more?” the older wizard prompt.

“Obviously.” Draco snapped holding up the well filled out piece of paper. The wizard made a motion for him to continue.

“Even the first time I saw her, she was problem-solving, chasing a toad down a train corridor, not watching where she was going. When she ran into me, I was actually nice to her because my mother had taught me to never offend a witch. That was the last time I said anything kind to her for a long time.” He swallowed and rubbed his forehead. “ Hermione always saw right through it though. Anyway, I fell in love with the sound of her voice. She could read me a textbook out loud and I’d still want to stay and listen. That’s a good thing because she talks, a lot, about everything. It’s all an in-depth analyst from what’s for dinner tonight to how to solve the problems of the world, which she has a list and several solutions. “

“The first time I met her mother, she hugged me and told me I was a good egg, whatever that means. Her father was less impressed but we got there. But that’s her family, not Hermione- “ he straightens the papers and scanned the rest. “ I got impatient and made a list so, I wrote: Smile, murderous hair, lack of dance and cooking skills, magical abilities, tits which just occurs to me I shouldn’t have read out loud, Ummm eyes, outspokenness and potential to be a great mother.” He folded the paper and put it on the coffee table and looked to her. “That’s all.”

His eyes were light but she could feel the walls behind them. She wanted nothing more than to crawl into the chair and buried her face against his chest and cry, but no good would come of that now.

“Thank you Draco, that was very good. Hermione? Your letter?”

She nodded and leaned over the chair to reach down to her briefcase, pulled out a folder and set the letter in front of her like a speech. Draco made a noise that was somewhere between a snort and a laugh.

She ignored it and started in. “It took me a long time to fall in love with Draco, nearly ten years of knowing each other before I could dissociate the past from who he actually is and even longer to admit I actually found him attractive. But when I did fall, I fell all at once with my whole heart. His smile won me over, not the smirk he shows to most people but his real smile, the one only a few people have seen. I love that Draco is who he is with no apologies for it. He is ambitious for the benefit of himself and his loved ones and strives for only the best for them. He values quality over quantity in all things. "

Taking a deep steadying breath in and out she carried on. " Draco rebuilt himself from nothing after the war. He paid for his own mistakes as well as his fathers and continues to try and do better. One day he will make a wonderful father of his own." She stopped and looked over at him and saw he had his eyes hidden behind his hand. Hesitating to speak the therapist motioned for her to go on.

" It's also important to note that Draco eats like a teenager and never gains an ounce and while
I love that I'm also slightly jealous. “ She laughed quietly at her own joke. “He’s also fiercely competitive as am I and some of my best memories of him have been in made up competitions between us and…I’m sorry...memories between…. I can’t do this.” She put the paper back into the folder and stuffed it back in her briefcase. “Everything else just seems so...superficial I don’t see the point.”

“Are you saying this whole thing -” Draco gestured around the room “Which was your idea that was so important we do, is superficial?”

“No, I mean the letters, we said the things that are most important then why does anything else matter?”
“Merlin, Hermione.” Draco ran his finger through his hair and didn’t say anything else. Hermione looked at the therapist in confusion.

The older wizard turned his whole body towards her and steepled his finger. “Have you ever considered, that it was all the little things that lead you here?”

Anger flared in her, drying up all the sadness at once. “Little things? You think I’m here because I didn’t appreciate the little things?” she took up her briefcase from the floor and set it in her lap to make sure it was shut. “Thank you for getting me a new mug of tea when I’m reading and I don’t notice when mine has gone cold. Thank you for never stopping holding doors open for me or pulling out my chair and all that other pureblood shit you had beaten into you. Thank you for sleeping in the guest bedroom when I needed space and...oh thank you so fucking much for resisting the urge to have an extramarital affair, that was so noble of you.” She stood up and took off out of the office and down the carpet interior corridor lined with other no-named offices and to the elevator. Because the building was mixed with muggles she couldn’t just apparate home.

This building happened to host the world’s slowest moving lift. The walls hummed with electricity as the “ up” arrow lit up and chimed in slow motion. She heard feet moving coming up behind her and she didn’t even have to turn around to know who it was.

“That was dramatic. So are we done with that shit then?” his voice bit at the air as he jammed the elevator button she’d already pressed.

“No, we are not done with marriage consoling after just one and a half sessions. We just...need to skip a step or find a new approach or even a new therapist. That one seemed way too nice.”

Draco slid his hands in his coat pockets. “ Or maybe, we just need to talk between us, no mediator. “ The elevator dinged and the doors slid open in front of them.

Hermione stepped in and was finally forced to look at his face as she turned her back to the rear of the elevator. His head was dipped low and the blond fringe hung in his face in a way she hadn’t seen since the end of the war. He stood next to her but made no moves to touch her when as before, he would have gladly taken the private moment to grab her hand or slid an arm around her waist.

“We talk, we think we’re better, we make up for a few days and then we fight again worst than before and the cycle starts over.” The elevator doors closed.

“That’s just marriage though.”

“That is not just marriage. Just because you come from a family that doesn’t believe in divorce- “

“Oh don’t start this again, just because no one in my family has been properly divorced doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in it, I just think we aren’t beyond repair yet.” The elevator lurched down towards the main lobby.

“We are though. Or we were never there and now with everything...it’s just become obvious. We should have never gotten married in the first place.” Hermione pushed the lobby button rapidly, willing the machine to move faster. A few beats of silence passed and the lift jolted to a stop and the light dinged again.

“Lots of couples have miscarriages, we can work through this Hermione you just have to stop fighting me.” He didn’t look down at her but he did remove his hand closest to her from its pocket. Another wave of anger crashed through her spurring on another boost of adrenaline as she speed walked out of the opened doors.

“Not paying attention if you still think this is about the miscarriage,” she muttered just loud enough for him to hear over the harsh sound of heels slamming against the marble.

“Oh for fucks sake!” it was much too loud and people stopped at looked at him but he waved them off. Hermione didn’t slow down, weaving through people leaving him a few steps behind at all times. Once outside and the crowd thinned the caught up to her easily. They both turned the corner to the alley where they could apparate.

“Yes, Fucks sake. Go fuck Pansy Parkinson if that’s what you really want.” She mumbled again. He sidestepped around her, his long frame cutting her off.

“That is not what I want and that’s never what I wanted. I told you we came close because I wanted to be honest with you. “ he snapped, lip curling like it had in his school days. “Pansy’s my best friend and she was there for me and things got carried away. “ Hermione went to dodge around him again and he cut her off. “ That way you didn’t have to wonder like I do every time you go off to Potter’s -”

“Harry is married with children- “

“Obviously that doesn’t stop people Granger!” he held out both hands at his sides. “What do you want from me now?”

“I want to go home.” she sniffed, toeing the pavement with her shoe.

“You mean to my ancestral home that you used to be terrified of but we’ve built so much of a life in it you don’t want to live anywhere else? “

“Yes. That’s the one.”

“Fine. I’ll stay somewhere else tonight. Enjoy your giant empty house.” He disapparated.

“Fine.” she sniffed again and left for home.

Chapter Text

Part 2

3 years previously

" Hermione, this is my grandmother, Violet Parkinson. I hope you don't mind I brought her along she just knows so much more about these historical homes than I do." Pansy placed a hand affectionately on her grandmother's shoulder.

"Oh not at all. A pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Parkinson. "Hermione stuck out her hand to the older witch who looked like someone had melted Pansy in the sun and tried to compensate for their mistake with makeup and pitch-black hair dye. "I'm Hermione Granger- Malfoy. "

"Oooh isn't that a mouthful! " Violet exclaimed taking Hermione's hand in her boney cold ones. " I understand though there’s a lot of pressure with the Malfoy name though. My Pansy could have handled it though but alas," she clicked her tongue and shook her head. " Best laid plans."

Pansy shook her head. " Grandmother, No. The house, focus, please. " and Pansy led them out of the entryway and into the main living space. Hermione looked up at Pansy's very pretty profile, pointing something out about the walls or the moldings she wasn’t listening to. Her dark, perfectly straight hair moved like silk. Had she always been this tall or had she just been so focused on other things she hadn't noticed? Hermione shook her head and refocused on what was being discussed.

"Oh, that wall backs up to the formal dining room. " She interrupted their musings as soon as she realized what they were talking about. " We’re working with a curse breaker in there, the ley lines of the house go weird in there still and the cellar but we just had that sealed off for good. The rest of the house is perfectly safe to work on though. "

Violet appraised her with watery hazel eyes. "Of course dear. May I also say how brave it is of you to move in here, despite the ...past."

Hermione put on her politician’s grin to keep her own face from betraying the level of deep offense she felt. "Thank you. Though since Voldemort nor Bellatrix live here anymore I find I'm not actually afraid of the physical house. Pansy, I was hoping we could take up these wood floors and continue the marble from the entrance throughout the first floor if at all possible "

Pansy glanced down politely and tapped her own shoes on the dark, worn hardworking floor. "That could work, it would all just depend on availability - "

"Of course, if it were me I'd want to show ol' Rita Skeeter what for as well. Saying all that about you being afraid to integrate all the way into our world what with not taking the Malfoy name and wondering if you’d live if in this house and what your children would inherit...but you’re getting there.”
“I did...I did take the Malfoy name, I just kept my own too.”

“Oh but surely your children won’t be called Granger- Malfoy too. And what about the Blacks Draco inherited that line too, these things are very important to the magical community.”

“Grandmother she’s lived in the magical community for like 15 years now.” Pansy rolled her eyes. “Come on we’re here to help with renovations, not grill Hermione on her personal life.”

Violet clicked her tongue loudly. “I just want to know what they’ll call the children! Oh, look there’s the man of the house!” Violet held out her arms and scooted towards Draco while Hermione and Pansy exchanged looks. “He’ll answer my question.”

“Violet!” Draco let the old women pull him down into an awkward hug “ And I’m sorry the answer is no, I can’t marry you.” He pulled himself out of the hug and stood next to Hermione, letting his arm wrap around her waist. “You’re too late I’m taken. “

“Charming as always. Tell me, dear, since these two hens don’t seem to know.” Pansy and Hermione looked at each other again and Pansy mouthed “sorry” while Hermione nodded.” What will you call the children?”

Draco looked down at Hermione for an explanation and she shook her head. “ I suppose we’ll call them...I don’t know ...we hadn’t talked about it yet. I suppose it would depend on the hypothetical gender as well -”

“Last name dear,” Hermione whispered.

“Oh well that I had assumed they’d be a Malfoy...what...why?” Draco looked at all three witches clearly uncomfortable.

“Oh well, that settles that then.” Violet looked very pleased with herself. “Now with these old Manor you need to remember-”

Hermione didn’t hear anything else she said, it all became a garble of sound as something unsettling wormed its way into her being.

That night she crawled into bed and curled herself around him, resting her head on his chest, and sighed heavily.

He shut the book in his hands and took a free hand through her hands. “Yes?”

“What will call the children Draco? It’s so bloody important to everyone else and the only thing we’ve agreed on is that we’d like them to exist one day. The half-blood Malfoys, Granger Malfoys who might be in Gryffindor or may or may not have constellation names or maybe we’ll name them after my family- “

“Or-” he cut her off. “ We just wait for right now, until we actually have a human that needs a name, because you’re getting all stressed out about something that hasn’t happened. And Violet Parkinson is a nosy old bitch who can go get stuffed for all I care, she’s always been that way. “

“Hhhmmm,” she responded, taking one of her fingers and tracing down the center of his torso.

“And you know what else? We won’t even have the children to name if we don’t make them. I think we should practice that, don’t you?” his hand traced down her spine, sending shivers through her. Hermione laughed and leaned up to kiss him, slowly, deep with intent.

 

***

Present-day

Hermione toed off her shoes and left them where she had landed, and padded barefoot across the chilly marble floor towards the kitchens. It was so strange what once seemed an endless maze of a house, she now knew so well and felt so comfortable in. She knew right wherein the vast kitchen she could find a chilled bottle of her favorite wine and a packet of crisps. Not even bothering to grab a glass for the wine, she took her new treasures upstairs to the giant bathtub and filled the thing with scalding hot water and added the potion that made a thick foam of bubbles scented like apples before she could stop herself and pick another scent.

She let herself sink into the foam anyway, and took a drink straight from the wine bottle, which would have driven Draco insane. Letting the water cleanse her of this terrible day, she closed her eyes and tried to untighten every screaming muscle, breathing deep, inhaling the good, exhaling the bad.

Moments of silence dragged past and the only thing that changed was her desire for more wine and the crisps.

Ripping the bag open with wet hands and stuffing a handful into her mouth, her crunching echoed in the tile room, uncomfortably loud to her own ears. The bag slipped and no sooner had it touched the floor than a house-elf appeared.

“I’m not done-” she said with her mouth still full.

“Begging pardon miss. Elsie needs to ask you something miss anyways. Was wondering if we might be putting away the bassinet that is being in the master’s bedroom? Miss Hermione can take it with her when she leaves of course.”
Time stopped again, hitting Hermione with all force of a speeding knight bus. Her skin actually prickled and stomach rolled at the sensation. Of course, Draco would keep the house, it would be her who would have to find someplace else to live eventually.

And the bassinette. Still out there, still empty, gathering dust. Would Draco bring in wife number two and immediately fill the place with screaming blonde purebloods?

“Just a moment Elsie.”

Hermione got out of the tub and wrapped herself in her robe, letting her heart lead her and not her brain, to the bassinet now that had been up for six months now.

Shortly after their baby passed, she’d gone through a deep valley of depression and asked Draco “ for some space.” not even sure what she meant by that herself. He’d taken it literally and started sleeping in a nearby guest bedroom and taking more business trips away.

Had she done this? Had she pushed him away? Had she pushed him right into the arms of his best friend in her quest for something she didn’t even understand herself.

Tears brimmed over and raced down her face. He’d get to keep it all, the house, the name, and the memories. Resting her hand over her navel, feeling suddenly empty, she stepped away and crawled under the covers of what was still her bed for now and sobbed until she fell asleep.

A few hours later she awoke to the sound of Draco moving around the room, shedding his clothes and stepping into the bathroom. When the sound of a rushing shower came on she lept up to where his coat hung over the back of a chair and sniffed it deeply.

It only smelled of a pub, cigarettes and his natural scent. The pockets held nothing incriminating either. He’d just made himself scarce for a few hours, he’d never intended to stay anywhere or with anyone. Relief brought a fresh wave of tears to her already stained and puffy face.

She laid back down and pretended to sleep while, for the first time in months, he laid down on the other side of the mattress, careful to try not to wake or touch her.

Without looking, she slid her hands between the sheets until she found him and locked their fingers together. His lips brushed the back of her hand but neither one of them spoke.

There was no need.

Chapter Text

Part 3 

 

3 years previously 

 

Draco pushed the small velvet box across the dingy pub table with a single finger and took a deep drink of his whiskey. 

From across the table Harry Potter through him a dirty look through beat up glasses and took the box. He opened it and sighed reclining back into the booth seat. 

“Malfoy, this is an engagement ring.” He turned the box in his hand. “ I don’t know what you pureblood wanks do, probably exchange handshakes, but to most of us this means you give this to the person you want to marry.”  Harry snapped the box shut. 

 

Draco rolled his eyes. “I don’t know why I even bother you’re as subtle as a hippogriff stampede. Do you think Granger will like it?” he tried to grab the box back by Harry held it high and telepathically Ginny appeared at that moment and took it from him.  She whistled low and tilted the box so the ring shined in the light. 

 

“She will. Sorry, Harry, my next husband is going to be pureblood about to kick the bucket and leave me rings like this. “ Ginny could hardly tear her eyes away from the stone. 

 

“Set me up with his brother. And I guess so Malfoy but...you’re asking her already? Seems kind of soon.” Harry took a drink from his beer and tried to take the box from Ginny’s hands but she moved it away, still mesmerized by the shine. “Give the nice ferret his shiny back Gin.” 

“It’s so pretty though. Fine. Hermione might think it’s a little showy but she deserves it. Show everyone your laying serious claim to those tits.” Ginny smirked and handed the ring back.  

 

Draco took it and held up his glass to hers, clinking them together “Weaselette gets it.”  

 

“Ginerva you give me a headache.” Harry rubbed his eyes under his glasses. “ It’s just that Hermione plans every second over every waking moment, I’m sure she already has a rough day penciled in when she wants you to propose and where. If you’re asking my opinion I think you should hold off.”  He put both hands on the table and drummed them nervously. “ I need...more drink something stronger…” he slid out of the booth headed up towards the bar.

 

“ I think it’s sweet, but I’ve been in love with the same person my whole life .” Ginny shrugged.

 

“ I thought you “dated” other people in school? Zabini would never shut up about what a slut he thought you were.” Draco took another drink. 

“Oh, I was.” Ginny nodded taking another drink. “But I was scared and felt very alone and vulnerable. So I went looking in all the wrong places for reassurance...or comfort ...or something.” 

 

“You found something though and laid claim to Scarhead pretty fast. “ 

 

“I did. But truthfully, marriage isn’t at all what I thought it would be- “ Her face fell as someone walked in the pub. “Don’t turn around, it’s Ron he’s been … well, he’s been more of an asshole lately. I guess Lavender stopped putting out after the baby. Dammit, Malfoy I said don’t turn around.”

 

But Draco had turned his body in the booth to watch the ginger wizard glance around and spot his sister and subsequently, Draco, in the booth on the other side of the pub. He made straight towards them, his face already turning a shade of purplish red. 

 

“Get out Death Eater, no one wants you here,” Ron growled jerking his head over his shoulder. 

 

“I don’t think I will Weasel. I’m having a lovely conversation with your sister about fucking. “ Ginny snorted, disguising a laugh. “But she’s out of luck, Granger has the corner market on my libido now. Insatiable, that one.” Draco grinned behind his glass as he drained it. He knew exactly what he was doing to get Weasley worked up and had no real intention of hanging around.  It just felt good to provoke his rival with this again, especially knowing where he stood with Granger.

 

“Don’t talk about Hermione like that.” Ron took his hands out his jeans pocket and curled them into fists. “And stay away from my family before you get any more of us murdered. Everyone else seems to forget you’re scum but I haven’t forgotten it. Not for a second. “ 

 

Draco stood, straightening his shirt deliberately slowly as Ginny watched the interaction, nervously glancing over her shoulder for Harry who was still standing at the crowded bar. The blond rolled his neck and shook out his shoulders before turning back to the witch. “ I guess I’ll see you at the wedding. “ He gave Ron a knowing smirk, one that couldn’t be mistaken for anything other than “ I win.” 

 

Then Ron swung, but unlike the schoolyard fights of their youth, this wasn’t a punch to inconvenience and humiliate the other, this was a move to seriously injure. It was filled with a thousand unaired grievances of the past. Draco tried to dodge it but space was limited and the table blocked his range of motion. He went down and took the table with him. Ginny screamed and Harry dropped the full mugs he was holding, spilling beer everywhere. 

 

Ron’s whole countenance was beet red as Harry used his whole body to hold him back. Draco’s ears rang with the all to familiar hum of a concussion and his vision rolled in slow motion waves. When he managed to focus again on Weasley only blue eyes stood out in the clashing reds of skin and hair. 

 

“ YOU will never deserve her! You fucked up a long time ago and lost that chance! One day she’ll wake up and see what a big mistake all this was! Hermione is brilliant and brave, she can do so much better. She’ll figure it out one day Malfoy.”  

 

Draco got to his feet waving away several strangers offering a hand up. Using his sleeve stop the trickle of blood from his nose, he shoulder checked the agitated Weasley on his way out of the pub, the other wizard’s words still echoing in his mind. 

 

Present-day.

 

Hermione was looking up at him, her eyes dark and cold, almost the same color as the pupil, her nose tipped in red and hair hanging limply around her face. She was wearing the same lumpy grey bathrobe she had for 3 days.  She was still the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen, did she know that? Had he possibly said it enough in the last week or so? And why this fucking robe? She had others...he’d go buy her new ones or whatever she wanted. Anything at all if she would just say something. Anything. 

 

“Hermione, I- “

 

“Draco, I just...I need some space. Please. I’m sorry just leave me alone.”

 

Space. He could do that.

 

Suddenly he was at yet another bar, cradling a cigarette between his finger and staring at an empty shot glass. Hermione would always complain about the smell so he had almost completely stomped out the habit entirely. 

 

But now she hadn’t been close enough to smell him in months. She only acknowledged his existence if she had too, giving him no sign she’d had enough space. Still, he slept in the guest bedroom alone like some kicked dog waiting for its master’s return. 

 

For now, he just wanted the smell of Pansy’s perfume off of him. It clawed his way into his senses as if he’d just bathed in a vat of it. It smelled like roses and guilt and like a crime he could get away with. She would never know, she would never need to know. 

 

But he would tell her anyway, and she’d get her space for good. 

 

Hermione’s face was grinning up at him from a white mesh veil, which morphed into Pansy looking up at him through her lashes and all he could hear was Weasley screaming “She’ll figure it out one day Malfoy.” 

He awoke with a start, sitting up and panting for air. His chest ached with the continued pounding of his heart. 

 

Hermione stirred, rolling over but not waking all the way up. Her hair was piled on her head with a few shorter curls framing her face, her cheeks and nose were still puffy from crying the night before but she looked peaceful for the first time in a long time. She went to bed in just a robe and it was starting to fall open, revealing her collarbone and a patch of light freckles few knew existed.

 

It was the most he’d seen of his wife in months. When she was awake she was dressed and moving away from him, walls up and armor on. The fierce fighter the world knew her as and the only side he was permitted near anymore. He wanted nothing more than to pull the rest of the thing off and ravish her until she was coming undone and he could bury himself in her and pretend this never happened. 

 

It just wasn’t that easy anymore. The battle lines had been drawn, she made it clear she wanted out. The days Weasley had threatened to come but Draco had always imagined she would just vanish in the night, he never could have imagined how entangled their lives would become. 

 

She must have felt him staring at her because her eyes slowly opened and found his and for just the briefest of moments, the corners of her mouth turned up when she looked at him like she had forgotten to be mad just for a second. 

 

“Hi.” her voice was soft as if she was afraid she’d spook him. “ You...you can sleep in here, that’s fine with me.”

 

“Oh shit, right, I should have...I had a couple of drinks and I took a shower -”

 

“No, that’s alright I’ll move into a guest room until I can find my own place. “ Her eyes darted up to the ceiling unable to look at him any longer. “What are you going to do today?”

 

“I’m meeting with a solicitor actually. About, dividing assets and alimony payments, things like that -” it felt as if his throat was closing in on itself as he pushed the words out with great effort.

 

She pushed herself to sit up against the headboard. “Oh, you don’t have to do that. I don’t need alimony. I've got my own career, everything you had before belongs to you.” 

 

Draco shook his head. “I want to make sure you’re taken care of. What’s mine is your’s Hermione.” 

 

***

 

The solicitor had a harsh American accent and was way too tanned for having lived in England for any recent span of time. His hands moved constantly and his voice boomed into all the free space in the room. Draco hated Mr. Tyrell from the moment of meeting him but he came highly recommended and besides, this was going to be quick if Hermione didn’t want anything. 

 

“Mr. Malfoy I’m gonna be honest with ya’. I know you’re not used to money being an object, but if this goes wrong, it could be, I just want  you to be aware.” 

 

Draco shook his head. “She doesn’t want anything and I just want to see that she’s comfortable...this isn’t ...we aren’t ...it’s all mutual. “

 

Tyrell stopped moving and stood, starting to pace the room, his quill recording everything as he spoke.  “I can’t imagine you have an outside perception of what you and Ms. Granger look like as a couple but I guarantee her solicitor does. Hermione is a well-loved public figure, a model citizen and a war heroine, a war of which you were on the losing side. I know I know I believe it when they say you were just a kid who got caught on the wrong side of the fence and I’m going to go to bat for you Mr. Malfoy...but you should know that the judge is always going to favor Hermione Granger, so we should go in high and hope it’s over with quickly.” 

 

Frustration started to seep into his veins from the solicitor’s implications. “There shouldn’t even be a need for a judge she doesn’t want anything.”

 

“She may have told you that to your face but you don’t know what she’s saying to her solicitor. Let me ask you, is there any possibility Hermione is pregnant with your child?” 

 

“What? No.” Draco sat up straighter, getting nervous.

 

“Good cause according to what you brought me, the house belongs to the Malfoy heir as well as several of these properties. Did Hermione have an affair?” he conjured an apple took a bite, flipping through several documents on his desk. 

 

“No.”

 

“Did you?”

 

“No.”

 

“Mr. Malfoy we need to be honest with one another -”

 

“There was an isolated incident that I was completely honest about, nothing happened.”

 

“There’s a default clause in the several of these deeds that site infidelity. Two French properties - “

 

“I don’t give a fuck about the properties she can have them all!” Draco shouted finally reaching the end of his rope.

 

“So she gets everything she wants and then what Mr. Malfoy? She sinks what little good reputation you’ve gained back in oblivion. You work for the Ministry finance department, right? You think you are going to keep that job with half your wealth sunk into a bad marriage?”

 

“It wasn’t a bad marriage!” he got to his feet ready to win this shouting match with Tyrell.

 

“ You think you're gonna be able to get another job as the dick who cheated on the Golden girl?” 

 

“I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING- “

 

“Do yourself a favor Mr. Malfoy, come up with the biggest number you can think of for an alimony payment and double it and then pray to Merlin her solicitors a cock-up. And for the love of fuck don’t admit to anyone else you cheated.” He took another bite of the apple and stared Draco down. 

 

“FUCK” Draco roared and the apple Tyrell’s hand caught on fire. He twisted his hair in his fingers, kicked the other chair over and stormed out of the office. 

 

“Hey, that was my lunch! I’ll be in touch, Mr. Malfoy.” 

 

***

Draco spent the rest of the afternoon smoking and drinking his way through several pubs getting very, very drunk until one bartender insisted he take the Floo home or he’d called the Auror’s to shove somber up potion down his throat. 

 

Stumbling through the grate, he was shocked to see Hermione there waiting for him, hands folded nervously in her lap and book lying open with only a few pages read. She was wearing a black blouse with buttons undone and her cleavage spilling out of it and a knee-length black skirt, hair charmed and makeup on. 

 

Fucking stunning was all his brain would supply for a moment, then finally he managed a “Granger.”

 

“Draco, are you drunk? I was hoping we could talk, just the two of us, but it’s not a conversation I want to have while your drunk. “

“Why, are you going to tell me exactly how to plan to ruin me? Or were we going to play a guessing game and if you won you got a lot of money, and if I won you got a lot of money. “  He walked around her, trying to hurry upstairs to the bedroom before he tripped or vomited or both.

 

 “What are earth are you talking about? I don’t want any money from you -” Hermione’s eyes were wide with confusion. She was standing, holding herself like she was ready to catch him if he fell.

 

“Fine. Do you want the house? Do you want all the other houses? Going to drag me through it, either way might as well get everything you want.” despite previous judgments that he’d had enough he managed to summon another bottle of whiskey from its spot in an open office on the other side of the house. “ Or have your solicitor call mine and we’ll work out some appropriate number and terms of my public humiliation.” 

 

“Draco, you sound like your father!” she covered her mouth as soon as the words left her mouth. “No! No! What I mean was that it sounds like something your father would say to you. Oh my god, I didn’t mean it like that.”

 

Physical pain boiled through him at her words. The whiskey bottle exploded in his hand from a wave of uncontrolled magic and the glass ripped the skin of his hands, leaving his hand covered in small bleeding cuts. Hermione's voice faded to nothing and a high pitched whine filled his ears. All he could register was the feeling of being sucker-punched in the gut. He wanted to scream any number of insults, he wanted to throw something, anything. 

 

Anything .

 

As quickly as it came, it vanished, taking every ounce of energy he possed. As if someone had snuffed out the flame of a candle and all that was left was the smoldering wick. His hands felt numb as he shakily took out his wand to heal them while Hermione mumbled apology after apology but none of it meant anything anymore. 

 

“Draco...say something…”

 

“I ...need some space..” and he went back to guest bedroom and slept there the rest of the night. 

Chapter Text

Hermione watched her own face blink back at her from the tabloid cover. She and Draco were at some Ministry event, smiling for the press with a grand looking staircase in the background. It was at some estate or another as a fundraiser for a for financial aid for muggle-borns going to Hogwarts for the first time a cause she’d worked towards for quite some time that had trouble gaining momentum until Draco got wind of it and shoved in down the Ministry finance departments throats until they couldn’t stand the sight of him. In the picture, she was beaming at the press, both her arms around his one, and he was grinning just as widely, looking down at her. 

 

He is ambitious for the benefit of himself and his loved ones and strives for only the best for them. “ her own voice echoed from memory.  

 

But now the headline read in bold “Malfoy marriage on the rocks? Can they make it work? Who’s to blame for the split?” 

 

Tears pricked at her eyes. They hadn’t spoken all week. Hermione had taken some of her things and was sleeping in Ginny and Harry’s guest room until she could find a place of her own. 

 

The witch reading the tabloid folded it closed and Hermione finally had to look away. She physically ached from how much she missed him and spent most of her time lying on her bed in an uneasy mix of exhaustion and restlessness. If this relationship was over, truly over because she didn’t love him anymore, why was this so hard to do?

 

She paid for her uneaten lunch and continued her apartment search. They all felt too small until she reminded herself that she’d only need space for herself, and then they all felt much too large. 

 

The court day arrived on the first of March with no signs of spring in sight and the cold seemed to chase them everywhere. Hermione sat in the hard metal chair next to her solicitor who stood, arguing with Draco’s solicitor who was also on his feet. They fought endlessly in circular arguments about who was right and who was wrong. Every misdeed ever committed against the other was dragged up and thrown at the other party until eventually they weren’t even talking about their adult relationship but times at school.

 

This isn’t right.

 

Gathering up every last bit of Gryffindor courage she turned her head to look at Draco, still seated like her and staring, unblinking at the table. 

 

She wondered when the last time she saw him smile was.

 

But when I did fall, I fell all at once with my whole heart. His smile won me over, not the smirk he shows to most people but his real smile, the one only a few people have seen. 

 

The tears came again and she briefly wondered if she was just going to cry every day from here on out. 

 

His hand was on her cheek wiping away a tear making its escape. “You’re so beautiful.” 

 

He turned to look at her and she became aware she’d been staring at him for a good minute. The bickering solicitors had just become mindless noise.  His grey eyes were softer than she expected, ringed in purple from exhaustion, postured hunched and defeated looking.

 

Draco opened his mouth to say something, thought better of it and shook his head. Hermione tilted her head towards the door at the back of the courtroom and Draco nodded, standing immediately saying something about a recess. Hermione couldn’t get to her feet fast enough, knocking over the chair on the way out of the confining space. 

 

  “She’s always thinking, always trying to solve one problem or another, most of the time, more than one at a time.”  Draco’s voice echoed in her head. But she didn’t know how to solve this one, she didn’t know how to fix them, she didn’t even know where to start- 

 

“Hermione!” and the sound of his voice calling her name was the sweetest thing she’d heard in months.  He was to her in three long strides, arms held out like the was going to finally hold her again, when he stopped and dropped his hands to sides, stuffing his hands in pockets like the temptation to touch her would be too much to bear. 

 

I love you, Granger, get over it. 

 

I, Hermione, take you Draco to be my lawfully wedded husband.

 

I’m so sorry for your loss Mrs. Granger - Malfoy. 

 

I just need some space-

 

I’m so sorry Hermione nothing happened I swear

 

You sound like your father! 

 

A gasping sob ripped from her throat and threw herself towards him, wrapping her arms against his waist, sobbing into his chest. She looked and felt like an idiot and she hated every second of it but couldn’t bring herself to stop. The feel of him under her hands and his scent filling her senses soothed the ache that had been her bones for so long. 

 

“Thank the fucking gods. “ Draco mumbled putting his arms around her and resting his chin lightly on her head, surrounding her. “I’m sorry Hermione, I’m so fucking sorry, I can’t say it enough. Please.”

 

“I don’t want this.” saying the words out loud was like a deep breath of fresh air. “I don’t want this but I don’t know what to do….I don’t know how to fix us. Draco I hate not knowing and this is worst of all. What do we do?” 

 

He stepped back and took her face in his hands. “Hey...listen to me for once in your life Granger, okay? This is our lives and we already fought like hell for them once yeah?” She nodded and gasped for air between sobs. The familiar slate color of his eyes were ringed in pink where he was trying to hold in tears himself and his hand shook. She wrapped her hands around his. “ And then...then we survived again when we lost the baby. So if we want to get married and divorced a thousand times over we’re going to do that. I’ll take you any way you’ll have me, I shouldn’t have-”

 

“You needed me and I pushed you away. I only thought about-” she started.

 

“But I shouldn’t have ever even thought about that, I was married to you. Merlin I had you right there I should have just-” he looked up towards the ceiling like the answers would be up there, blinking furiously. 

 

“I shouldn’t have said that you were like your father, you’re not you know you’re not. I was just...so angry but I should have just told you-” she sobbed again and pressed into him, irrationally afraid if she let go too long he would vanish forever. “ What are we going to do Draco?” 

 

“I love you Hermione and I’d rather spend the rest of my days fighting for you than without you. “ His heart pounded rapidly in her ear with his admission, fear making his hands tremble worse than before. 

 

“What about the solicitors and the paperwork and the press and...and all the people who say this can’t work?”  she conjured a tissue and wiped at her eyes. When she looked up the corners of this mouth turned up like he was trying not to smile. 

 

“This is our story and we’ll write it however we want to. “ His finger caught a tear sliding down her cheek and she leaned into his touch. Uncertainty at what she would say next coursed through her, but gathering her resolved she took a deep breath.

 

“I’m not sure this is ever going to work Draco - “his face fell and arms dropped away from her. She lifted her hands to his face “But I love you and you’re right, let’s keep fighting for us, this is our story.”