Draco bolted from the conference room. Hot on his heels with disregard for anyone in his way, he reached the sanctuary of his office and slammed the door with a shuddering bang.
The meeting had not gone well. Not only had he found out that a competitor apothecary was trying to buy him out, he had also mistakenly outed his plan to exactly the wrong person.
The sheer volume of mistakes he’d made in the last fifteen minutes was staggering, and he felt his mind swim attempting to process it all.
Before he had much time to think on it, however, the door swung open, and in she walked. Clad in a white business suit, pink stilettos, and a look that could freeze molten lava, his exquisite wife strolled in like she owned the place.
She stopped dead as soon as she saw the look on his face.
“Tell me,” she said.
Draco let out a long sigh, looking down at his shoes. He couldn’t seem to muster anything more than this morose display of fatigue and dismay.
“I didn’t say pout, Draco; I said tell me what happened.”
Her voice was so soft, yet so incredibly firm. She’d come to stand beside him, and he could feel the warmth radiating from her body. It made the hair on his arms stand on end.
He took a deep breath and told her what had happened in as few words as possible, the feeling of mounting shame growing with every syllable.
When he finished, he was vaguely aware that she had moved to stand directly in front of him. He felt her voice before his ears had registered the fact that she was speaking.
“You know what you need to do then?”
She whispered the words, speaking almost directly into his mouth, her hot breath dancing over his dry lips, affording them a modicum of moisture. Slowly, he felt her hand slide down the front of his trousers and grasp him tightly, causing him to gasp.
“Grab them by the fucking bollocks and don’t let go.”
Despite the bit of pain she’d caused, he found himself smiling.
Somehow, she always knew what he needed to hear.
“I’m sure you have somewhere to be,” he said, looking into her fiery eyes.
She smirked back and quietly said, “I do.”
His own smile deepend and he said, “Thanks, Granger.”
She leaned in to kiss him, and as she backed away she said, “I'm glad I kept my name, if only to hear you keep calling me that.”
The door slammed behind her, and Draco sat straight up in bed, eyes wide.
“Well that was... new,” he said aloud to no one.
He did the math in his head and realized it had been nearly seven years since the incident in Malfoy Manor. The hint of cringe at the memory crossed his face, though he’d mostly put it behind him.
He’d gone to great lengths to restore his reputation after the war. Suffice it to say, even Potter and Weasley had forgiven him by now, though it had taken far more effort than Draco had anticipated to win the Weasel over. Still, if he was going to consult for the Aurors, he knew he needed their buy in, at the very least.
Hermione Granger, on the other hand, as it turned out, he could live without.
He’d made several attempts to apologize to her, of course. The first four were in the year after the battle. She’d rebuffed him so many times that he’d chosen to give her space. After that, he’d attempted once a year, every year. Each time, she had sent back his notes, refused to answer his Floo calls, and even rebuffed his attempts to have Potter or Weasley speak to her on his behalf. It seemed she’d been willing to engage any effort necessary to get him to leave her be.
His last attempt had been four years prior to the dream (or nightmare) he’d just had, which he was well and truly shocked to have had, by the way.
Imagine having Hermione Granger as a wife. Not only that, but a bollocks grabbing, absolute minx of a Hermione Granger, in a fitted white pant suit that hugged her in all the right places.
Did she even have those curves?
Was she even the type to be so domineering with a man?
He recognized that he had no idea, though based on what he knew of her personality, he could make some educated guesses.
All of these thoughts, and more, went swirling through his mind as he entered the Ministry that Monday. Headed, not to his posh dream-office, but to his humble cubicle on the floor of the Auror Department, where he assisted first with the capture of Death Eaters at large, and later with all things Dark Magic.
The office in his dream had been one that he hadn’t known to exist in his waking life, not for anyone in the Ministry. At least, he’d never set foot in one like it. As it was, he was grateful to have a desk at all. In the first few years he’d been stationed in the Auror office, he simply had to hang about until he was needed, or else set up a workplace in the area of whichever Auror he was assisting.
It was maddening, if he was honest.
Of course, it was one of the less aggravating parts of the job when compared to waiting on Potter and Weasley, who, for the first six months, found ways of making him be the one to fetch tea in the early mornings.
It had taken a while for them to lose interest in this particular game, once they realized he truly wasn’t bothered by being a tea-fetcher. This was, of course, an act. He couldn’t possibly have been more bothered, but they did not need to know that.
Along with his apologies to a number of witches and wizards he’d harmed, had come a forced sense of humility. After some time, however, the force stopped being needed and he slipped slowly into a genuine way of being that lacked the boastful, proud attitude of his youth. He found that he preferred it this way. His false bravado, it turned out, had required an amount of energy that he’d never enjoyed having to generate on a day-to-day basis.
Reaching his cubicle at last, he put his things down, and checked the time. Half eight. He had at least an hour before any meetings were to begin.
Glancing over to the lifts, he tried to remember which floor her office was on.
Obliviator Headquarters would be... near Magical Accidents and Catastrophes, so level three, just one away from his own.
Without any sort of plan for what he’d even do, he headed to the lift and descended the one level.
It was early, and though it had been many years since he’d attempted to see her, he imagined that she was likely still an early riser, just as she had been at Hogwarts. They’d shared this trait, often finding themselves in the library together, but never acknowledging it in all the years they’d attended school.
The floor was not yet the bustling mess it surely would be in another hour or so, and as he scanned the room he caught sight of a light just beyond a door cracked open slightly and moved towards it.
He heard her voice emanating from beyond the door, and realized that she was in an early meeting with her assistant. Likely, she required this person to come in on her schedule.
For a moment, he felt envy rise in him that she had not only a private office, but a dedicated assistant to handle her more general affairs.
He knew that she and Weasley hadn’t worked out as a couple, and that as far as anyone knew, she was single.
Not that he was there to ask her out. What an absurd thought that was.
No, he simply wanted to catch a glimpse of her. Why, he had no idea.
Something about the dream made him want to see some sort of concrete representation of the witch. Perhaps then he could put to rest any fantasies that might attempt to occur to him in the wee hours of the night.
For his part, Draco was happily single. Witch Weekly had contacted him multiple times, wanting to paint him as some untouchable bachelor. As it was, he had no interest in being in the public eye at all, if he could help it.
It was for the same reason that he’d declined all offers to join major quidditch teams, having no interest in being the subject of any articles or exposés. He also hadn’t dated any witches.
Instead, he’d developed a habit of venturing out into the Muggle world and meeting women there. He found it a great relief to get to be someone other than the Draco Malfoy he was known to be in the Wizarding World. No long-term attachments, just a series of flings and one night stands that did the job of satisfying his appetite.
But then… perhaps he was missing out on what could be an even more satisfying arrangement. This thought crossed his mind as he heard her voice grow louder from within her office, not because of raised volume, but because she was nearing her door.
Thinking quickly, he turned to the desk he’d stationed himself near on purpose and perfectly timed the dropping of the scroll he’d brought with him into the inbox as she emerged from the office, mid-sentence with her assistant.
“...and I’ll need to run to the Ministry library to- oh,” she said, stopping in her tracks as she saw him standing there.
She was wearing a suit that was startlingly similar to the one she’d had on in his dream, only it was a neutral shade of periwinkle, rather than stark white. Her assistant was a bookish little thing, holding a stack of papers and trailing after her like a lost puppy.
“Did you need me to run to the library for you, Ms. Granger?”
Her eyes had locked with his, and for a moment he forgot himself and stared back before breaking eye contact and turning to leave with a curt nod. He could feel her eyes on his back as he strode away, heart racing for no good reason.
“No, that won’t be necessary, Edith,” he heard her say as he disappeared into a lift.
Later that day, he overheard Potter saying something about research he was backed up on. With precision, he offered his support on the project and managed to secure an assigned trip to the library where, if he was lucky, he might catch another glimpse of her.
It went on like this for weeks, with Draco finding discrete ways to be assigned nearer to her. Something about the way she’d held his eye contact had him wanting more. It became his constant motivation, and one that he did not stop to question.
The only question was, had she noticed?
One day, her life was normal. She was moving along in her research on memory restoration, while keeping up with all of her usual duties. Her new assistant was working out extremely well. There was the small matter of her personal life, or lack thereof, but she never let that bother her. She owned a modest, chic flat in Muggle London, and had a happy, reasonably quiet life.
Until Draco Malfoy started appearing in it once again.
He’d pursued a conversation with her rather forcibly in the years after the war before he’d finally taken the hint and given up. She hadn’t been interested in re-traumatizing herself by speaking to him, whatever Harry and Ron had told her, feeling rather sure that while people can certainly change, no one could change that much.
Malfoy was, like his father, always good at putting on whatever personality best suited his interests, and that trait was something that didn’t leave a person simply because their side lost the war.
Had he shown signs of being a closet turncoat? Perhaps. Hermione rather thought, however, that the lowering of his wand on top of the Astronomy Tower and his hesitancy to name them at Malfoy Manor had been more acts of cowardice than loyalty.
So she had rebuffed him, time and again, and it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that he’d begun appearing in ways similar to before, only he wasn’t attempting to seek conversations with her.
In fact, he didn’t seem to be in her orbit on purpose at all.
Each and every time he’d appeared, there had been a solid reason for it. Hermione knew, because she’d begun fact-checking all of his alibis. When he’d shown up in the library, Harry had confirmed that he’d sent him there.
She had to be discrete to find out this information, of course, but it was becoming something of an obsessive preoccupation for her to go and discover his potential intentions each and every time he appeared.
Was it possible that he was purposefully putting himself in her path? She could hardly see why he would.
The first morning it had happened, she had locked eyes with him for what felt like the longest few seconds of her life. It felt strange to say, but the sensation was as though they’d had an entire conversation in just those short moments.
What they’d discussed, she had no idea, but she was rapidly developing an intense desire to find out.
Her pull to know more was manifesting in a number of ways that she very much did not appreciate, the worst of which being the dreams.
They’d started out innocently enough, with her simply dreaming of them being acquaintances. A scene in a pub, she there with Harry and Ron, while Malfoy joined the group with ease, as if it were a normal occurrence. That particular arrangement had never happened in her waking life, as Ron and Harry knew not to invite her along if they were going out with Malfoy.
In the dream, she had regarded him as a friend, and they’d passed the time rather casually and enjoyably.
After the fifth or sixth time he’d appeared during her workdays, her desire to know his motives had increased, and so had the vividness of her dreams. The most recent had resulted in her waking up mid-orgasm, and so ravenous for release, that she found herself with her hand between her legs, finishing herself off with thoughts of blonde hair drifting across her tightly shut eyes.
Feeling attracted to Draco Malfoy was not a new phenomenon for her. Truth be told, she’d fancied him for years. Not that that mattered, of course, because she would sooner ask an Elf to punish themself than pursue that sort of relationship with the man.
It couldn’t harm anyone, however, for her to entertain a fantasy. After all, she was a woman with needs, and none of the blokes she’d dated seemed to be able to navigate her particular needs all that well. Perhaps she was too much in her own head while in the act of love-making, but the last few she’d dated had left her woefully unsatisfied.
Her imagined version of Draco Malfoy could not possibly live up to the man in real life. That was what she’d decided, but it didn’t stop her from using the idea for a bit of self-pleasuring.
However, the fact that she’d begun to engage in that sort of fantasizing, paired with the fact that she’d kept crossing paths with him during her workday, had begun to make her feel insane.
First the library, then outside the Minister’s office, and again in the cafeteria, all in the same week. He’d then appeared twice more on her floor, once in the Atrium as she arrived, and two other times in the library, which she had admittedly gone to thinking she might see him there.
Perhaps she was playing into it, even causing some of the “happenstance” to occur herself.
This thought crossed her mind just as she was finishing up her workday one evening.
Edith popped her head around the corner of her open office door and said, “Alright with you if I take off, Ms. Granger? Have everything you need for tomorrow’s meeting?”
She looked up with a false smile plastered across her face, solely for her assistant’s benefit.
“Yes, of course, Edith, thank you for your help today.”
Edith nodded and said, “Remember, Mr. Potter said you’re meeting in the newly renovated wing this time. The Auror office expansion.”
“Yes, of course, thank you so much. Have a great night.”
“You too! And if I may be so bold, do something fun tonight, you’ve been working rather hard lately.”
Working hard at discovering the ulterior motives of my school bully who I seem to fancy for no logical reason, yes that’s correct, Edith.
She just smiled back and said, “Oh, I think it’s Chinese takeaway and Muggle telly for me, that’s my version of fun.”
Edith giggled, “Well, to each their own I suppose! See you in the morning,” she tittered before disappearing down the hall.
Hermione listened to her footsteps echoing through the halls. There would be no one left on her floor at this point, she was usually the last to leave. As she gathered her things and began plotting her course home, she remembered a pub that had recently opened up right near her favorite Chinese restaurant. It was a small, cozy looking place, boasting of the best hot mulled cider in London. She’d often thought of stopping there for a drink on her way home, but it had always seemed too sad a thing to do.
Who goes for a drink on their own?
Well, that evening, Hermione Granger did.
As he sat back in his chair, contemplating ordering a whiskey and forgetting about the cider altogether, his eyes were drawn to the entrance of the pub, and he found himself blinking repeatedly in disbelief.
Hermione Granger was walking through the door, dusting a light coating of snow off her coat, and looking around cautiously. He felt his body freeze in place as his mind whirred. Was she meeting someone? What was she doing there? He had never seen her in any of the neighborhood bars; he wasn’t even sure that she drank alcohol.
There weren’t many people in the pub, and he was in a back corner, but it only took a few moments for her eyes to fall upon him. He made an attempt to soften his own look of shock upon seeing her, only to see it reflected back tenfold. He looked down at his drink, tracking her in his peripheral vision as she made her way over to the bar. He heard her order the cider, scoffing inwardly at the choice, although he’d made it himself only minutes before. The drink was handed to her quickly, as it was their special, and it was only a few moments later then he heard her voice far too near him.
“Hello,” she said.
He looked up, startled to see her standing right in front of him. Trying to read her energy was like deciphering a rune. Was she angry? He truly did not know what to make of her; her face was expressionless.
“Hello,” he replied.
After a moment he started and found himself standing, inwardly cursing his Pure-blood upbringing as he did so. It was almost involuntary for him to stand when a woman approached a table.
“Please,” he said, motioning toward the empty seat.
“Oh, um,” she said, looking around at the other tables so near by. “I only came to…. to ask, um…”
He stood there waiting as she grasped her cider so tightly that he thought the glass might shatter.
“Have you been following me?” she said, a slightly apologetic note in her voice.
He raised an eyebrow as he replied, “I believe you’re the one who entered the pub after I did, Granger, I could ask you the same question.”
She took in a breath and he heard a slight shudder as she did so. He still had no idea what to make of her presence there. Countless nights of dreams about her, and occasional intentional daydreams, and there she was standing in front of him. It was beyond surreal.
“What are you doing in a Muggle pub?” she said quietly.
“They’re the only kind I frequent,” he said, then put his hands in his pockets for something to do. They were both still just standing there awkwardly.
“Would you like to sit, or will this be a standing interrogation only?”
He didn’t say it unkindly, but there also wasn’t a bit of irony in his voice. He was well aware that he’d still never had the chance to apologize to this witch, and was readily intent on doing so. To that end, he sat down, hoping that she would simply follow.
She stood there, seemingly at war with herself as he settled back into his chair. Finally, she seemed to decide there was nothing else to do but join him, and she placed her cider on the table, then turned to hang her coat on the rack on the wall.
As she did so, he caught a glimpse of her thigh, as the slit in the back of her skirt briefly moved to the side when she was turned around. When she spun back to face him, his eyes shot up to meet hers, but it was clear where he’d been looking. Even in the dim light, he saw a blush creep across her cheeks.
Clearing her throat and looking down at the floor, she walked back to the table and took her seat, grabbing hold of the warm glass of cider like it was a lifeline. She drank deeply, not looking him in the eye.
When her glass was already half drained, he said, “I don’t suppose this means you’re ready to hear my apology?”
This caused her to look up, startled, as if she’d been deep in thought. She stared at him, mouth slightly agape for a long moment. Finally, she said, “I’m not sure what I’m doing here, to be honest.”
He stared back at her like she was a riddle to solve. Eventually, he took it upon himself to direct the conversation.
“Well, since you’re not objecting, I will say to you what I’ve tried to say many times before, though you wouldn’t allow it, and please note that this speech was written nearly seven years ago, so you’ll have to imagine I’m saying it to you then.”
Studying her as he spoke, he noticed that she seemed to be holding her breath, but he pressed on.
“From the first time I saw you, I have been nothing but inconsiderate, cruel, malicious, and spiteful. I was a complete and utter shit. My unfair treatment of you was nothing that you ever came close to deserving, and I truly do not have words that could adequately encompass just how much I loathe myself for having behaved that way.”
Her mouth was now agape as she listened, though she still didn’t seem to be breathing.
“I in no way expect you to accept my apology. You’d be right to never speak to me again. If I were you, that’s probably what I would do. But if it asuages any of the pain, any of it whatsoever, then I want you to know that I know I was wrong. That you did not deserve it. And that you are infinitely a better person than I will ever be. Blood purity is a made-up game, existing only to uphold centuries’ old ways of thinking that don’t belong in civilized society, and I’m sorry that I didn’t know better then, but I know better now.”
He then picked up the cider and drained his glass in one. She watched him do so with curiosity, and then without saying anything, drained her own glass in one.
“Shall we have another?” she said.
Strong hands grasped her by the arms, and she felt herself become featherlight as she was lifted to her feet on still-wobbly legs.
“I knew the fourth cider was a mistake,” said a voice behind her, and rather close to her ear.
The voice spoke more quietly when it said, “Do you have any Sober-Up Potion?”
“Potion?!” she nearly yelled, which caused a hand to suddenly be over her mouth. Before she knew it, she was being hoisted up a flight of stairs and placed in front of a door. She looked up at the building and was surprised to recognize it.
“Hey! This is my flat!” she cried, pointing up at it with a haphazard arm. All of her weight rested on a warm body behind her, which was repeatedly working to prop her upright.
“Granger, I need you to rally. Can you let us inside? It’s bloody freezing out here.”
Granger. Only one person would still call her that.
It was at that moment that she remembered she’d been out drinking with Draco Malfoy. The very same wizard who had been haunting her dreams for over a fortnight. She spun around, fixing him with a surprisingly steady glare.
“Malfoy! How do you know where I live?!”
She watched through slanted eyes as he seemed to be chuckling at her. “Well, you gave me the address about ten minutes ago when we left the pub.”
In that moment, she lost her footing and her hands landed on his chest. Without a thought, she found herself spreading her fingers out and then grasping at the material of his coat.
“Granger?” he said, and she looked up at him, mouth agape. “The door?”
“Oh!” she yelled directly into his face, before spinning around and drawing her wand.
After she did so, she felt him close what little distance there was between them, towering over her and covering her back with a wall of warmth.
“A... Alohamora,” she cast, and the lock clicked obediently as he reached around her to turn the knob, sending shivers up her spine, that she only barely felt.
She stepped through the door, only vaguely aware of the fact that he was following her.
Growing suddenly more lucid, she became suspicious and spun around to confront him just as he shut the door behind him.
“What,” she said, with the command of Molly Weasley, “is your intention here, Draco Malfoy?”
On his last name, she poked a finger into his chest, and heard a puff of air leave his nostrils as he laughed quietly at her actions.
“Right now I’m merely trying to ensure you get safely to bed, and ideally,” he said, taking her by the shoulders and spinning her around, “sobered up before you do so. Where are your potion supplies?”
The feel of his hands on her shoulders made her jump, and she could feel herself slowly beginning to sober with the stark reality of Draco Malfoy standing in her flat. Touching her.
“In the kitchen,” she muttered, pointing vaguely toward a door on the other side of the room.
He guided her over to the couch and sat her down before turning toward the door and saying, “Wait here. Sober-Up doesn’t take long to prepare.”
He was gone for some indeterminate amount of time, a variety of sounds and smells being emitted from the adjacent room. Eventually he returned, a steaming cup of tea in hand, which he passed to her with a level of grace that she would never have associated with the wizard before her.
She downed the tea, which was at perfect drinking temperature, just as quickly as she’d swallowed the first of her mulled ciders. The taste of the potion made it bitter, but she found her tastebuds were rather dulled, much like the majority of her other senses.
But then… her faculties began to return to her, as if her world was in black and white, but turned to color in an instant.
Looking over to her right, she saw that Malfoy had sat down on her couch, sipping on his own cup of tea and regarding her with watchful eyes.
“Thank you,” she breathed, then brought the cup back to her mouth to finish the rest.
If the first had felt like the color returning to the world, the second and last came with a rush of emotion she hadn’t been ready to contend with. Was it awe? Admiration? She felt something very powerful come over her, and swell even more when he caught her eye.
As gray met brown, she found herself unable to look away.
“You’re welcome,” he finally said, and brought his cup to his lips once again. She found her eyes lingering on them.
Then he placed the cup down and stood, and Hermione felt a panic come over her.
She didn’t want him to leave, but she also didn’t want him to stay. Torn between the two commitments, she simply stared, mouth agape, as he brushed off his trousers and made his way over to the rack where he’d placed both their coats.
“You can use the Floo,” she said, causing him to turn and look at her. His eyes then went from the door to the fireplace, considering the options. Without much deliberation, he turned to the Floo, quickly locating the dish of powder that she kept on the mantle.
Turning back to look at her, he said, “Thanks, Granger. For this and… for hearing me out.”
Clutching her now empty tea cup, and sitting up rather primly on her own couch she simply replied, “My pleasure.”
Then, he was gone.
That evening! She began the inevitable mental review, painful as it was, in an effort to come to some conclusion about what exactly had happened.
His apology had been, quite lovely, actually. Entirely sincere, without a hint of obligation behind it. She wondered how he’d reached a point of being able to deliver such a speech, if indeed he’d written it just after the war. Then again, she supposed that multiple near death experiences, paired with being faced by the reality of a world ruled by Voldemort, had been rather sobering.
She had always imagined that whatever apology he’d concocted had been nothing more than a box to check off so that he could get on with his affairs. No matter who told her that he’d changed, or that his apologies seemed sincere, she simply hadn’t listened.
In retrospect, it seemed rather foolish on her part, but once her mind got set on something, it tended to stay there.
Hence, her new subconscious (and now perhaps conscious) preoccupation with Malfoy.
Their conversation had flowed easily, beginning with talk of their jobs at the Ministry, and veering eventually to their school days, favorite subjects, and overall career aspirations. He’d even gotten a bit vulnerable with her and mentioned that he was working up to becoming an Auror, and felt as though he was spending years without even a cubicle, as some sort of unofficial penance for his family’s role in the war. Hermione found herself with a level of sympathy for the man that she’d never thought possible.
At some point, she had gotten the uncomfortable sensation of being on a date.
That was when she really started to drink, and given that she wasn’t one to imbibe regularly, it did not take much.
The drunken part of the evening was a bit of a blur, and she felt a swoop in her belly recalling that he’d gone to great lengths to actually brew her a Sobering Potion. That he’d been in her house. On her couch. A place he’d also been in one of her dreams…
Her mind had just landed on this recollection when she walked into the conference room in the newly renovated wing of the Ministry for her meeting with Harry and Ron, only to be face-to-face with the very wizard she’d been picturing in her mind.
“Oh!” she nearly shouted upon seeing him, and then looked around at the others in the room.
Harry, Ron, and two witches who she knew to be Unspeakables were scattered about the room, not having sat down for the meeting just yet. Aside from Malfoy, only Harry had noticed her entrance, as Ron was deep in conversation with the two Unspeakables.
“Morning, Granger,” Malfoy said with a slight smirk that was both reminiscent of their Hogwarts days, and entirely foreign to her all at once. He walked past her and she spun to face him as he did so.
“Are you not staying?” she said, with just a touch of longing in her voice that she cursed herself for as soon as it left her mouth.
He was almost through the door, but put his hand on the doorframe as he leaned back in, still smirking. “Fetching tea. Shall I bring you some?”
Without thinking, she rounded on Harry and said, “You have him fetching tea?”
Harry gaped at her, open-mouthed, and a light chuckle from behind caused her to turn and face Malfoy again.
“I offered, actually, but thanks for defending my honor, Granger.”
Then he winked at her, and disappeared.
She stood rooted to the spot and her face scrunched up into a grimace as she heard Harry say, “Well, I’m going to need to know what that was all about.”
Taking a deep breath, she turned to face him.
“What was what all about?” she said, not looking at him, and heading straight for the empty seat at the table next to Ron.
Harry was unable to question her further, as one of the Unspeakables called the meeting to order. Malfoy returned with the tea, but refrained from any seemingly flirtatious behavior for the remainder of her time there. Once they’d finished their conversation, and she’d given her input on their case as a Memory Charms expert, she left hastily, saying that she had lunch plans.
When she returned from lunch to a memo from Harry asking her to explain the interaction with Malfoy, she quickly sent a note back.
“I met with him and heard his apology. That is all.”
She very much hoped that Harry would let it rest at that.
Even when he’d traveled down to her level, he’d found her out of her office. Then, when they needed her again for the same case she’d come in for already, she sent back a lengthy scroll with every answer she could think of to any of their potential questions, and said she was unavailable to meet.
Unfortunately, her thorough “memo” covered all they needed to know. However, it didn’t go missed by Potter or Weasley that the witch seemed to be avoiding their, or rather his, company.
When Draco seemed put out by this, it piqued both Potter and Weasley’s interest, though they didn’t question him on it. He did see them whispering to one another, and imagined that they were concocting theories about whatever might have occurred between him and Granger. For his part, Draco merely thought that they’d reconciled and became something like friends, but the witch in question didn’t seem to want anything to do with him.
He supposed it would simply go back to the way it was before, which he’d become rather accustomed to, but noticed that the idea left a bit of a weight in his stomach. A weight that he truly did not want to examine too closely.
Instead, he attempted to put her out of his mind… a task which was far easier said than done.
Especially with Potter and Weasley around.
“Come on, mate, just tell us what happened!” Weasley burst out one day.
“Ron, we said we’d leave it!” Potter snapped.
“What I can’t understand,” Draco said, without looking up from his paperwork, “is why the two of you believe that anything ‘happened’ between me and Granger, other than her finally hearing my apology after seven years.”
He could feel them exchanging glances, he didn’t need to look up and see it.
“Well, fine then,” Weasley said. “We’re going to invite her to the pub this week then!”
“Be my guest,” Draco drawled.
Now he could hear stifled whispering as the two idiots carried on a conversation about him that he could very nearly hear.
“What are you two on about?” he asked, hopeful that he would break up the whisper-fest.
“We’re not on about anything,” Potter said, “We just wondered whether you’re on that good of terms or if it would still be… awkward.”
Draco looked between the two of them, wondering if they’d badgered Granger like this as well. Perhaps it was them she’d been avoiding, and not him at all. He took a deep breath and spoke, careful to keep his voice steady as he lied.
“No, I don’t think it would be awkward at all.”
Ginny Weasley stood in her office, wearing her full Quidditch gear, having just stopped in on her way to Harpies practice. Hermione had been working rather hard to avoid Malfoy, and this invitation to sit in a pub with him while being ogled by all of their friends was utterly ludicrous.
“But you said that you reconciled! Come on, Granger—”
“Don't call me that. He calls me that,” Hermione said, looking back down at the paperwork on her desk.
Ginny backed up and let out a low whistle. “Well, alright then,” she said, “suit yourself. You can sit this one out, as usual, but it’s going to look odd.”
Hermione’s head shot up. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Ginny scoffed. “My meaning is entirely plain. It’s going to look odd for you not to be there tomorrow, given that you just accepted his apology, and—”
“I never accepted anything,” Hermione found herself saying. She recognized that she was being unnecessarily harsh, but wasn’t interested in having her relationship with Malfoy examined by others, when she herself was unsure what it was in the first place.
Ginny stared back at her, gobsmacked.
“Right,” she said, before looking down at her watch. “I don’t think I have time for this right now. If I’m late to another practice I’ll get fined again.”
Hermione refocused on the report that was due within the next two hours and said in a forced casual tone, “Don’t let me keep you.”
With that, Ginny left, and Hermione was alone with her thoughts. Thoughts, and a severe twisting in her belly that seemed to have moved in for good, ever since the night when she desperately hadn’t wanted Draco Malfoy to leave her flat.
She couldn’t take Dreamless Sleep every night, and after their little meeting over tea, and his wink, she’d become wholly unable to keep him out of her thoughts.
However, in the end, Hermione decided that it would look odd for her to be absent from the gathering, and would perhaps provide an even greater headache than simply making an appearance would. On Thursday evening, before leaving work, she sent Harry a memo letting him know that she would be in attendance the following night.
The Jobberknoll was a favorite of writers and other creative types, as well as a superb place for groups of friends to meet up, especially when the meeting might involve the joining of groups of people who wouldn’t necessarily get along. This was how Harry and Ron had brought together various colleagues, all hailing from different Hogwarts houses, and ensured they would be able to get along.
Hermione had been aware of this strategy, and was therefore not surprised at all that the pub had been chosen for her first introduction to a Slytherin/Gryffindor gathering. However, she’d heard previously that these things had been quite successful, and was interested to see the group dynamics.
The evening started out normal enough, with everyone sitting down at a long table, swapping stories about their various work obligations that week.
When she arrived, Blaise Zabini was regaling them all with a tale of his dealings with the Goblin Liaison in France.
“...He in no way expected that I could speak both French and Gobbledegook,” she heard him saying as she took her seat beside Ginny.
“Well, look who decided to show up,” Ginny murmured.
Hermione threw her a sarcastic smirk as she took off her coat. She’d changed out of her Ministry robes, of course, and was wearing a casual, yet fitting, black dress that she’d never had occasion to wear.
“I decided it would be more awkward not to show,” she said, to which Ginny gave a quick nod and an approving smirk.
The whole group then chorused in laughter at something Zabini had said, and Hermione took the opportunity to look around the table and take in who was there. She spotted Harry, Ron, Neville, Dean, and Katie, as well as Theodore Nott, Pansy Parkinson, and Gregory Goyle. Her brow creased when she realized that Malfoy was nowhere to be seen.
Just as she was about to decide she’d stressed herself out for nothing, a hand rested gently on her shoulder. Turning around quickly, she saw who the hand belonged to and stifled a gasp just in time.
“Can I get you a drink, Granger? Perhaps a cider?” Malfoy said with a grin in his voice, even if it wasn’t plastered across his face. Indeed, he didn’t let on much from his expression, yet she could feel the exchange of a particular energy in that moment.
Ginny also spun around to face him and said, “Cider? They don’t have that here, Malfoy.”
Slowly, he turned his head to look directly at Ginny and said, “Right, my mistake,” without a hint of apology in his voice.
Unaffected, Ginny simply said, “She’ll take a Basilisk Fang, and so will I. Thank you so much, Malfoy.”
Hermione couldn’t help but smirk at Ginny’s cheek, and it was only then, when Malfoy returned her smirk and held eye contact with her as he walked away, that she felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.
The night progressed without any occurrences of note. That is, until the group began a game of “Fuck, Marry, Avada,” in which a person would be presented with the names of three people in attendance, and asked to separate them into the given categories.
“Parkinson!” Ron yelled, “You’re up. It’s between me, Goyle, and Longbottom.”
Pansy nearly spit out her drink, which she had been in the middle of swallowing. “Too easy, Weasley,” she said, over the raucous jeers which were coursing around the table. This caused Nott to begin a chant of “Easy Weasley'' which he briefly conducted the group in, before being cut off by Pansy.
“Alright, enough! I would marry Goyle,” she said, and many hands slapped Greg Goyle on the back at this pronouncement.
“Hold on, you haven’t heard my reason!” Pansy shouted, and everyone quieted down to hear it. “It’s because my Mum would Avada me if I married any but another Pure-blood, and not a nasty blood traitor.”
This caused every Gryffindor at the table to boo loudly; even Hermione found herself joining in. However, Hermione was also planning her exit at this point, completely horrified that she would be picked on to play next.
“And I don’t fancy a trip to Azkaban for muder, so I would forego the Avada, but I would fuck Weasley and Longbottom.... At the same time.”
The table erupted at this. It was a mixture of “That’s cheating!” cries, and general drunken hollering. Ron and Neville stared at one another in shock, and Pansy threw them both winks before calling the table to order.
“Alright, Ginny is up next and I call the names. Your three are Nott, Malfoy, and Potter.”
Ginny stood to get a better look at her choices, while also rolling her eyes.
“Well, this is a trick, since Potter and I have been down this road already and everyone here knows how that turned out.”
There were numerous pats on the back for Harry, and sweet smiles exchanged by him and Ginny. Their relationship had ended shortly after the end of the war, and it was a well-publicized parting, covered extensively in Witch Weekly.
“I suppose I would Avada Harry, simply because the other two options don’t make sense,” said Ginny.
“You’d be hard pressed to, though. I hear it’s a difficult task,” Zabini said.
There was scattered laughter among the whole group, and then Ginny continued.
“I’ve been to both Nott and Malfoy Manors, and I have to say, I’m rather more impressed by Nott’s, so I think I would fancy being Lady Nott, I’d marry Theo. Which means, I guess I’d have to fuck Malfoy.”
Hermione found herself glaring at Ginny, for a number of reasons. As the table erupted again in raucous jeers, Hermione’s mind flew to the day after Ginny had attended a gala at Malfoy Manor, and had pronounced the exact opposite about it, saying it was the finest she’d seen.
Glancing over at Malfoy, she found him looking at Ginny, stony faced, almost impassive, as the table unleashed their commentary.
Before Ginny could decide that it was Hermione’s turn next, she was up and away from the table, making her way to the loo. Once inside, she locked the door and splashed cold water on her face. The image of Ginny and Malfoy together had just sent a spear of jealousy straight through her chest. It was just a stupid game, she knew that, but it felt so real.
When she exited the loo, she nearly slammed into what seemed like a wall, but turned out to be the tall form of Draco Malfoy. Her neck erupted in chills at the sight of him, as well as the now familiar scent of his cologne.
“Are you alright? You left rather abruptly.”
“I’m fine, I just… that was nice of you to come and find me,” she said, now looking up into his eyes. Were they blue or grey? It was hard to tell, especially with the color of the walls bouncing off both of their faces.
“Of course,” he said, and she didn’t know where to look or what to say by way of reply, so she pretended to become very interested in a painting on the wall, which featured a wizard she couldn’t place. The plaque next to the painting said, “Harvey Ridgebit,” a name that sparked something in her memory.
“Interested in taming dragons, Granger?”
Her head snapped back to look at Malfoy, who was now smirking at her, and the look on his face caused her to gasp, ever so slightly. Was her flirting with her again? Harvey Ridgebit started the dragon sanctuary in Romania, she recalled. And Draco… dragon… he was definitely flirting with her.
Suddenly, her feet felt as though they were glued to the floor, and she was staring at his lips. And then his eyes. And then his lips.
“Possibly,” she found herself saying, just as he bent down, pressing his lips to hers.
That was when she woke up. It was Friday morning.
“That decides it,” she said aloud to the empty bedroom. “I won’t be going.”
Potter and Weasley were acting rather cagey about it, as well, whispering to one another their theories as to why she’d changed her mind. The only part of their exchange that Draco heard was when Potter mentioned receiving a memo from her on Thursday evening saying she would be joining them the following night.
He wondered what had changed.
Throughout the evening, he found that he couldn’t quite keep his mind from wondering this over and over again.
He cut out early and took a stroll through her neighborhood, with no real plan to seek her out, though he did stop into the pub here they’d reconnected at. After ordering a cider and sitting in the back at the same table as before, he finished the drink rather quickly and called it a night.
Back at home, he tossed and turned, both hoping for and dreading another dream like the ones he’d become accustomed to.
Hermione had come very close to walking into the pub, finding that she fancied another cider after all, and she could be sure not to run into them.
Then he’d been there, and she hadn’t been able to face whatever sort of rom-com coincidence she might have walked into, so she’d hidden outside instead, a hasty Disillusionment Charm cast over herself. As she watched him through the window, she greatly wished that she’d had the power of Legilimency.
Had he come in hopes of running into her? Her absence must have been noted at the pub.
His drink was finished in record time, and she watched him stroll off down the street to the nearest Apparation point, just barely keeping herself from either following or calling out to him before heading home for another restless night.
He’d gotten the thing he’d been after, even if his goal of seven years prior was a bit different than the more recent one. Come to think of it, he couldn’t pinpoint what exactly his more recent goal had been. To understand her? To know her more? To find out whether the Granger of his dreams, the powerhouse wife of his, was anywhere near the reality in his waking life.
After spending one evening with her, he found he was less interested in the fantasy, and startlingly... more interested in getting to know the actual witch. To pursue an acquaintance with her, however, was out of the question. Her absence at that one pub night was message enough for him, and confirmed that she had indeed been avoiding him at the office. She clearly regretted the night she’d spent in his company, and probably felt rather embarrassed by the way it ended.
No, he would stay away from her now. He would do what was best, and allow her the dignity of his absence from her life.
It must have been, then, that he’d noticed her avoidance of him, and had begun aiding her in it.
She both hated herself for this, and thought it was probably for the best. After all, what was to become of their relationship? Her dreams of him had yet to cease, and she knew it to be just a fantasy of hers. Truth be told, she’d had thoughts like that of him in their early years, though far more innocent than any of her current dreams, but she’d put a stop to them back then. It seemed to be more easily done when he’d been actively bullying her. This new version of Draco Malfoy who was suddenly kind and flirtatious was intoxicating, to say the least.
Just as this thought crossed her mind, Ginny came breezing through her open office door.
“Granger, you’re coming with me,” she said, advancing toward the desk with the kind of energy Hermione knew she would not be able to nullify. “It’s Friday night and we are going to be out enjoying it.”
Although she knew her refusal would be wasted energy, Hermione groaned nonetheless.
“No, no, none of that. I need a witches night out, and you are the only one left available.”
Hermione scoffed loudly. “So, I’m your last resort, is that supposed to make me want to go more?”
Ginny rolled her eyes. “Of course not, it’s supposed to make you understand how desperate I am and feel bad enough for me that you’ll at least go semi-willingly!”
Hermione let out a very long sigh, but around half an hour later she’d changed her clothes and they’d Apparated to The Jobberknoll.
She did not share with Ginny anything about the dream she’d had that Thursday, nor any of the other nights. If Ginny knew about her secret… preoccupation, she would be impossible.
Instead, she listened as Ginny regaled her with tales of her dating escapades, over a couple of Basilisk Fang cocktails. (Hermione couldn’t resist, as she had only ever had one in her dream).
She knew that Ginny had sworn off wizards in the last year and focused on meeting Muggle men, but hadn’t been updated on the latest tales in quite some time. At the tail end of Ginny’s last story, she threw in a line that caused Hermione to nearly spit out her drink.
“...Haven’t seen Malfoy at that particular bar in a while, though.”
“You mean,” Hermione said, once she’d mostly recovered, “you’ve seen him there before? Regularly?”
She ignored the sly smirk from Ginny, more intent on knowing the information to be too concerned with how calculated the placement of it was.
Shrugging, Ginny said, “We always had an unspoken agreement not to get in one another’s way. Though, like I said, I haven’t seen him around in a few months.”
Hermione didn’t say anything, but her mouth seemed to have become permanently stuck open.
“Why do you ask, Hermione?” Her friend said in a forced casual tone. “You’re not interested are you?”
Catching the meaning behind the question, Hermione snapped herself out of it and said, “I haven’t the foggiest what you’re on about.”
Ginny barked out a laugh. “You sound like my father, he’s a horrific liar as well. Far too earnest for his own good, just like you.”
Hermione scoffed and made a few more affronted noises, rather than conjure up any actual rebuttals. The party in the booth behind them got up to leave, causing Ginny’s eyes to wander for a moment. Hermione took the opportunity to gain her composure, and then began to sip her cocktail.
“You see?” Ginny continued, “You can’t even muster up a good defense. What I want to understand is when did Malfoy get his hooks in you?”
Nearly choking on her drink again, Hermione recovered more quickly this time and said, “Hooks?! He hasn’t hooked anything, nor has he baited!”
Just then, a waiter appeared with a new round of drinks.
“From the gentleman at the bar,” he said, and both witches spun their heads around quickly enough to catch the familiar blonde head turning from the bar and exiting the pub, with a quick glance and a smirk back in their direction.
After the door shut, the women spun back around to face one another, mouths agape.
“Well, if this isn’t a worm, I don’t know what is,” Ginny said.
Hermione’s eyes flew wide with realization. “He heard our conversation,” she said, eyes moving all around the table top as if it held some sort of answer to this bizarre problem.
Had she said anything particularly revealing? Suddenly, she couldn’t remember anything they’d been speaking about.
“If you hurry, you can catch him, Hermione.”
Ginny's words washed over her and she felt her heart begin to race.
“Granger!” Ginny cried, “Get your coat and get after him right now, or so help me...”
Wordlessly, Hermione looked down at the drinks.
“I can more than manage the both of these on my own, now go.”
Without having a clue what she was doing, Hermione rose from her seat, grabbed her coat, and exited the pub without even stopping to put it on.
She was about ten paces away when a drawling voice sent shivers up her spine that had nothing to do with the cold.
“In a hurry to get somewhere special, Granger?”
She couldn’t help her gasp, and cringed to herself for her own melodrama before turning to face him.
“No?” she said, and hated herself for the way her voice went up as if it was a question. He grinned as he sauntered towards her. Before she knew it, he’d taken her coat and was helping her into.
As the silk inner lining of her coat slid comfortably over her shoulders, she felt his breath near her ear. “May I escort you wherever it is that you are going?”
Could he feel her chills? Did he feel them too?
He must feel something for her if he was willing to wait outside the pub in the freezing cold. After all, hadn’t she recently done the same?
At long last, she summoned up some of her Gryffindor courage and said, “I’m going wherever you’re going.” Then she turned, tentatively, and looked directly into his piercing eyes.
He quirked a brow at her and said, “Well then.” With that, he offered her his arm, which she took, feeling a hum of electricity at her first sober contact with his body, albeit through layers of wool.
The interdepartmental memos alone could be turned into a romance novel.
However, after two months of courting, they had yet to have sex. They’d told each other their deepest secrets. They even came clean about their dreams, and were shocked to find that they’d each been having fantasies involving the other. They laughed at the various plot lines as if none of them were things that could even remotely happen in real life.
Sex became something of an elephant in the room, with each one of them not wanting to push it. Not wanting to somehow ruin the blissful nature of their courtship.
The longer they waited, the more pressured it felt.
Draco was well aware of this fact, which was why it was particularly inconvenient when Hermione summoned up her courage to initiate it on the only evening when Draco could truly not afford to lose sleep.
“I’m meeting with Robards tomorrow to finally discuss my full-time Auror position,” he said, cradling her face in his hands and trying his hardest to convey every ounce of sincerity available to him through that one look.
“No that’s fine, I—”
“It’s not fine, and I won’t hear a word of that. This is something I ought to have brought my own courage to long ago and I won’t have you apologizing for my terrible timing.”
With that he kissed her, and tried to put many things into it. How much he adored her, how deeply he desired her, and how impossibly unfortunate it was that they hadn’t yet crossed this particular line.
He stepped behind her desk to leave her a note, but before he could begin writing, the door swung open, and in she walked. Clad in a white business suit, pink stilettos, and a look that could freeze molten lava, his exquisite girlfriend strolled in like she owned the entire Ministry.
She stopped dead as soon as she saw the look on his face, which was one of shock and awe as he drank her in, his eyes raking from her head to her hot pink toes.
“Tell me,” she said, in a would-be seductive voice, which she couldn’t help but mask with a touch of giddy euphoria.
Draco smirked at her and said, “Well, this isn’t going to go at all like the dream, because he offered me the position on the spot.”
Hermione squealed and launched herself forward, nearly falling on her unsteady stilettoed feet. “Blast these things!” she said as he caught her. Then she righted herself and began kissing frantically up his neck, while he did the same to her, until their mouths met. She kissed him ferociously, and he could feel her sentiments of pride and joy in each and every one without her having to express it verbally.
Then, he felt her hand slide down the front of his trousers, and his jaw clenched as he realized that she was picking up where the dream left off. At least, as far as he’d explained it.
“You never told me what happens after this,” she said in a breathless voice.
At that moment, he picked her up and spun her around to sit on the desk, then with a wave of his wand, slammed the door and silenced the room.
“Nothing, I woke up,” he said.
She grimaced, her hand now stroking at his length as he began to grow hard. “Isn’t that the worst?”
He closed his eyes and took in a deep breath as she increased the pressure.
“Yes, but I suppose it also means we can take it from here,” he said. Then he picked her up and spun her around, seating her on the edge of her desk. Removing his wand from the sheath on his arm, he magically moved everything off of her desk and conjured a cushion.
Before she could look back to see what he’d done, he pulled her lips to his and kissed her in a way he’d restrained himself from doing for months. Perhaps he’d been protecting her from the strength of his desire, or perhaps he’d been fending off any potential rejection she might have thrown his way, but the charge of getting his new position left him with a new sense of confidence coursing through his entire being.
The thing that surprised him, however, was that she responded with equal fervor, reaching up to curl her fingers into his hair, and letting her nails scratch at his scalp in the process. He removed her blazer and unbuttoned her blouse as she deftly unbuttoned and removed his shirt and tie. Their pants hit the floor, and before she could reach down to grab him, he had lowered her back onto the cushion, kissing a trail down her body to the top of her lace knickers.
He could feel her entire body quiver as he let his tongue dance over the lace, causing friction that seemed to be torturing her. He found himself smirking as he looked up to catch her expression of ecstasy coupled with torment. Then her fingers were in his hair again and she was guiding his movements, while bucking into him and letting out a series of whimpers and moans.
“Did you dream of this?” he said, as he pushed the material aside and tasted her fully. She moaned much more loudly, he grip tightening on his hair.
“So… so many times,” she panted.
“Mmmm,” he said, as he slid his tongue down between her folds, and back up to her clit. The vibration from his voice made her shake, and he did it a few more times before asking. “What happens next?”
She tried to speak a few times, but her throat was dry from all the heavy breathing. Eventually her voice came out and she said, “S... stop talking.”
He let out a low laugh and obeyed, redoubling his efforts to have her finish at least once before he allowed himself to be inside her. She wasn’t the witch from his dream, she was so much more, and he was going to treat her like a queen. Always.
Later, once they’d both finished, her twice and him once, they laid on the conjured cushion, legs dangling off the end of her desk. He reached down and threaded their fingers together.
“I can’t believe this wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t had that random dream,” he said.
“Me neither. Though I admit,” she said, turning her head to look at him, “I’ve had dreams of you in the past.”
He turned to face her, a look of shock on his face. “You’ve kept that quiet!”
She giggled. “It’s embarrassing!” she cried, and he laughed along.
“Well, would it help you to know that I wanked off to you after the Yule Ball?”
Hermione grabbed the extra pillow he’d conjured from under her head and smacked him in the face with it. He responded in kind, and they jousted back and forth until he stopped it with a searing kiss, indicating a potential for round two.
But first, he broke the kiss and said, “Did I tell you that you were my wife in the dream?”
She looked at him with sudden shock, which made him chuckle. “Relax, Granger, that’s not a proposal.”
She smirked and joined in his laughter, “And did I make a convincing Lady Malfoy?”
He shook his head. “You kept your name.”
She raised her eyebrows, eyes flying wide. “I think I want to hear more about these dreams of yours.”
Shaking his head again, he said, “I’d prefer to show you,” before descending upon his witch once again, and preparing to make her mind whir with new possibilities for her own pleasure.