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“Fuck.”  The drink sloshed down my throat, forcing the rest of my thoughts down with it.  I had asked for this, after all.  I could already hear her logic, already feel her disdain at my regret.  

 

So distracted was I by the pale dress hugging her hips as she swayed with a tall unknown wizard, I barely noticed someone sidle up next to me.  So furious by the way his hands ran up her abdomen, thumbs tracing under her breasts that if Theo hadn’t magicked his glasses to be shatterproof, I certainly would be bleeding by now.  

 

“Hi,” a scratchy voice spoke at me, trying to distract me, trying to get me to see her instead of my ex dancing with some tosser seven leagues below her.  

 

“Not interested,” I said, voice as thick and explicit as the whip that once reddened Hermione’s arse.  Fuck it had bruised delightfully under my attentions; her moans still as vivid, still as visceral as months ago.    

 

“Don’t be silly,” the bint says instead.  Rough hands land on my bare forearm, daring to touch the tattoo Hermione had helped design for me.  I immediately regret having rolled up my sleeves.

 

“I read your article in the paper,” the witch continued, and I finally ripped my attention from Hermione to the stranger.  I took her in quickly, almost clinically.  She was blonde, taller than Hermione, a bit thinner, which bothered me because her curves—the landscape I longed to grip tightly—would never be there with this stranger, and she had on a bright red dress that did nothing for her willowy figure.  But maybe, just maybe, I had been right, and I was meant to move on.   I could give Hermione the space to find her true partner, someone worthy of her strength, dedication, and beautiful golden righteousness instead of tainted, jaded me.  

 

Taking a sip of the burning liquor, I finally meet the witches terribly dull eyes, forcing myself to push past it; maybe she meant my article in Potions Monthly, and then perhaps I too could find another intellectual in this brash woman.  That was the best part of our relationship.  Hermione had forced me into debates with her after my first article published in Potions Monthly two years ago.  She would later joke about how I had been unwilling to entertain her love without intellectual discourse, but she wasn’t wrong.  Just like I knew how much Hermione needed to feel equal to someone intellectually, I did too.  But could we each find a partner that would fit even more perfectly than she had fit with me?  

 

“What did you think then?”  The blonde’s eyes widened.  I watched her swallow hard, eyes darting over my face as if she hadn’t expected me to engage in discourse after her comment.  I fought the urge to sneer at her, preparing myself for some asinine remark better discussed in third-year potions.

 

“Oh, well.  I enjoyed the bits about your mother.  It’s so hard to find a family man these days.  I do so love that you still entertain her parties and help plan them. I've been known to plan meticulously, as well”  She must have thought my steely gaze was code for intrigued because she continued.  I was reassured that I had not lost my touch, however, as Seamus—Theo’s business partner and bartender—eyed me over her shoulder, recognising my growing frustration at the witch before me.    

 

She giggled, the sound as nauseating as Filch’s voice.  “I know you said you weren’t actively looking for a partner, but I am happy to help you practice for the big day.”  

 

I worked hard to keep my lips from curling into a sneer of disdain.  Both at her for making me look away from Hermione and myself for thinking there was another her out there for me.  But, I failed; the sneer my godfather made infamous dripped across my lips before I responded.  

 

“Oh, that article.” 

 

Ignoring the vapid woman's batting eyelashes and the fact that she was practically hanging off my arm now, I straightened and turned precisely 40 degrees away from her, hoping my body language screamed disinterest where my manners could not.  As quickly as possible I unrolled my sleeves and slipped my prized cufflinks back into their rightful place as I scanned the crowd once more—attempting to literally put this woman’s presence behind me. 

 

However, I didn’t see Hermione anymore. There were more bodies on the dance floor now, true, but her partner was gone too.  At least, I couldn’t identify his unnaturally tall stature and dirty blonde hair from my dark corner of the bar.  

 

“Well, of course, that article!” she purred in my ear, continuing to miss every sign of disinterest I had thrown her way.  Her fingers came into view, presumably to trail down my jaw but my hand clamped around her wrist before she made contact. 

 

“I am unsure what sort of things you think you know about me, but I can guarantee that no one enjoys being touched without consent.”  My tone was low, measured, belying the panic I felt as I darted my eyes as quickly as possible from face to face, couple to couple.  I tried to find her tamed curls and silk dress, so different, so angelic, compared to the glittery, uncouth monstrosities the rest of the women wore.  

 

The blonde faltered then, and I let go of her wrist once confident my words registered.  

 

“Sorry, you’re right.  Wizards like you must have witches throwing themselves at them constantly.  I don’t know what I was thinking.”  I almost exhaled then, almost rolled my eyes up and thanked Merlin that she finally got the message, but I didn’t want to risk missing Hermione as the crowd moved and swayed to the beat.  

 

“Would you like to dance? Seems awfully lonely standing here, nursing whiskey as your foot taps to the beat thrumming through us all.”  I almost growled, almost ripped my eyes away from my quest.  I was not tapping with the rhythm of the bass, only the rhythm of my accelerated heartbeat at the idea that Hermione had left.  

 

Instead, I took a deep breath.

 

And then I spotted her.  She was with a new wizard this time, a colleague I’d often teased her about.  I felt deep heat rush through me, my hand coming to my gut, forcing my breath to remain even.  Hermione was a vision, even with her back to me.  Her body was moving in time with the song, hips gyrating and this time letting the interloper place a thigh between her own.  And I knew she was on fire, just for a very different reason than myself.  

 

I was going to reject this woman's request, but just as I was about to send Seamus the two-finger salute and storm out of there to rip my flat to shreds, I paused.  

 

“My name is—”

 

“Let’s dance.”  I cut her off.  If I didn’t know her name, it would be simpler.  I wouldn’t feel quite so bullish when the alcohol wore off, and I’d be forced to face my own hypocrisy.   

 

Slamming back the remaining whiskey, I reached over to hide my tumbler behind the bar, knowing Seamus wouldn’t touch it unless I confirmed I was heading home and tried to let this strange witch lead the way.  It wouldn’t do to look too eager. I would never admit to my hand on her back, gently guiding her closer to where Hermione was lost in another man's moves.  

 

I stopped—probably much too close to them to play it off as a coincidence—on the dance floor, thankful bodies naturally gravitated away from mine when I was in this state of mind.  The blonde stood before me, a large smile on her face and her body began to move in stilted motions against the rhythm as she tried to wrap her arms around my neck.  

 

I kept Hermione in my peripheral as I turned her as playfully as possible—her back to my front—and nudged her head to not obscure my view.  The less I had to see of her, the better.  Where this woman moved with her whole body, no rhythm to be found, I could see Hermione’s hips and thighs, giving the man just as much pleasure as she was getting from him.  Her pale green hemline was hiked up so high I could see a peek of her luscious arse, and I almost stormed over to drag it down for my witch.  

 

Instead, I watched her dance with somebody, almost wishing I hadn’t come out tonight.  Hermione’s hands were in her neatly constrained hair, and I began to move with the woman pretending it was this goddess in green.  Hermione’s body rocked with the beat, chest first, then hips, then legs.  I was as mesmerised by her fluid movement as a venomous snake was to its charmer.

 

Had it only been a few months since we were last together?  Since my mother had invited her to tea and had stolen Hermione away for hours?  How long had it been since I had gotten her back from mother and sat Hermione down only to let her go, demanded she find someone worthy, disregarded her desires, and accused her of not knowing her own mind?  It felt longer; like an eternity had come and gone, a new universe dissolved and rebuilt in the time since I had last felt her breath against my own, her fingers entwined with mine.  

 

Father still asked after her. Always ended a conversation with a slight jab as to why I had let her go; they didn’t understand.  Hermione didn’t understand.   And as I watched her drop a hand to the prat’s neck and his head dared dip down as she rose up, I didn’t understand myself.  

 

Because at that moment, all I understood was how incredibly barmy, utterly moronic, and totally dense I had been instead.  

 

“No,” I barked.  The deep bass swallowed my command as my heart hammered faster than the rapid tempo.  I apologetically moved the decoy witch away from me and stormed over to Hermione.  

 

The wizard saw me before she realised what was happening.  I didn’t care.  Everyone knew who I was, and I was unsurprised when he stepped away, arms up in the air.  I knew I would later feel disgusted by the joy his fear brought me, but he wasn’t my focus, and for once my reputation served me.  

 

Just as Hermione’s body turned to follow his, just as she attempted to understand what had scared him quite so brilliantly, I gripped her hips, dragging her against my chest.  She was always so small compared to me.  At 160 centimetres, I could easily rest my chin on her head— something she had admitted to loving even before she was sure she loved me.  

 

“Get off me you bellend!” Her words sliced through the physical relief I felt in having her near once again.  “Draco, let me go.”

 

She knew it was me.  She knew, and that fortified my resolve. 

 

I didn’t listen to her demand.  I knew that that could get me in trouble, knew that this could add more crumbling sand to the crevice I had created between us.  But the more she wriggled, the more determined I got to make this right; the more she complained, the more I heard 'please don't' and 'don’t leave again' laced within her words.  

 

“No,” I growled, my hands sliding over the soft plains of her stomach, landing just over her pelvis and she instinctively moved with me as I danced us to the edge of the crowd, away from the noise.  

 

“What is wrong with you!” She finally screamed, ripping herself out of my hold, arms outstretched before her to keep me away, that brilliant fire blazing in her eyes.  The way her body vibrated with her anger was mesmerising.  

 

I said nothing, just drinking her in. My eyes zeroed onto my favourite freckle, the one that rested alone amongst the bronze expanse of her throat, slightly off-centre by her right clavicle.  Then blazed over her exposed left arm where an intricate series of small runic and ancient symbols forced the horrific slur into something courageous and hers.  

 

I had been there every step of the way; it had been her trips to the tattoo parlour—understanding just what sort of Muggle witchcraft she was staining her skin with—that had encouraged my own.  

 

“Draco Lucius,” she hissed, just as I followed the ridiculously high hem of her dress.  Hermione stomped her foot, the thin material quivering around her as she continued to demand a response.  It served to cool my anger even as my eyes flashed up at her with how exposed she was, so easy for others to see, to ogle, to love what I so coveted.  

 

“Draco, what are you doing?” she tried again, hand coming up to lightly push at my shoulder, to force me to respond, force me to focus on her words rather than my anger, or her body, or the way she had been moving with others.  

 

“You were dancing with that tosser, and almost kissed him.  I thought you were just fucking friends!”  I hissed back, getting closer, swatting her hands away.  Intentionally reminding her and myself that although I was respecting her boundaries, I was of sound mind and could also demand the removal of them.  I’d always been the stronger one physically after all. 

 

“You were getting off on it too!” She shouted, eyes widening in alarm when she realised what she had just admitted.  But she backtracked quickly, ignoring the comment and I let her believe that for now, I hadn’t registered that she was watching me watch her.   

 

“Stay there.”  I froze.  I always heard her, always listened, always respected her wishes even if my mind was screaming at my muscles to move.  

 

“If you don’t want to see me dancing with somebody, Draco, then you know what you should have done.  You know how this could have played out differently.  It was you who said goodbye,” Hermione shouted.  She got in my face, her anger visceral, her frustration palpable, a delicious shock running through me every time our chests touched with each deep inhale.  

 

I couldn’t form words or explain myself, defend myself, fuck even apologising would have been better than this silence.  

 

“Why are you out tonight, Draco?  Why now? It’s been months.  You don’t even know me anymore, haven’t seen me since.  So how dare you pull me away from him."  Her hands violently swiped at the curls that had fallen out of her updo and thwarted her vision.  She was on a roll.

 

"You cannot just do that!  I'm not who I was with you.  Willing to let a little boy,” she spat, “dictate how he can hurt me because he doesn’t trust my own mind to bloody love him.  Because he was too scared to fully commit to me, too cowardly to see how worthy you were of me.  So again, if you don’t want to see me dancing with somebody, you bloody wanker, stay home.  It’s too late for you to start caring for me now.”  

 

She pushed away from me again, arms outstretched gesturing to herself.  “I am doing so fine without you!  Look at me, do I look like a sad, rumpled version of myself?  I am not anywhere near that sad woman that left the Manor months ago.  Because I am Hermione bloody Granger and nothing, I mean nothing, can stop me from finding happiness.”  

 

In two steps, I crowded her again, my arms dragging over her curves, my eyes following the intimate path of her throat as she gulped in breath.  Without thought, I brought up my hand, dragging my thumb over her clavicle, and pressing into her freckle before speaking quietly, intimately, reverently.  

 

“I have never been more in love with you than I am at this very moment.  I’m the dumbest cliche in the bloody magical world, Hermione.  Please.”  My voice was hoarse, breathing uneven, her breath slamming into my neck, her heart thrumming madly against my hand as I continued to talk, begged her to listen. 

 

“You told me to get my shit together if I ever dared to crawl back.  You told me I needed to act my age and demand more of myself if I had the bollocks to win you back.  Well, here I am.  

 

Salazar's scrotum I was miserable.  Sulking around the Manor, spending time watching my father drink, knowing if I indulged with him, I would do something irreversibly stupid like come to your flat and demand you take me back even though my self-doubt hadn't abated.  But fuck Granger,” I growled, as my lips wrapped around the surname she’d demanded I use in the bedroom.  

 

She shivered against me just as I knew she would, eyes finally meeting mine through her lashes.  

 

"Fuck, I cannot sit by and suffer through this horrific mistake a moment longer."  And I didn’t hesitate.  I didn’t wait as I brought my face down to hers, slanted my lips over hers and took a sip of her kiss like a man starved, parched, and dying.  

 

Her hands flew into my hair, tugging tight, nails digging in as I moved us against the far wall of the room.  I, we , chased away the months I had forced myself to live without her, with her kiss.  I filled up the cracks of my soul with her body heat, her beating heart so in tune with my own, and her breathy moans burrowing under my skin, as I separated and attacked over and over again.  

 

My hands were an entity of their own, one reaching desperately to trail up her inner thigh, the other hand keeping her head tilted.  It tugged lightly at her hair, wishing I could just tangle my fingers in her curls.  

 

“Hate this.” I finally breathed out, lips separating for deep gulps of unnecessary air.  Hermione’s eyes were closed as she licked her lips, and I almost wanted to devour them again, but I waited, let her collect herself.  

 

Her eyes fluttered open as fingers traced idle patterns along my neck, then she tensed as my words registered.  But before I could assure her it wasn’t her, wasn’t the kiss, wasn’t anything she did that I hated, she tried to move.  And before I could clarify that she should never change anything about her, including a single hair on her head to entice anyone—even me—she spoke.  

 

“Hate what?” 

 

I didn’t let her back up.  Instead, my fingers—having paused their naughty exploration—resumed their path towards salvation, lightly running along the inner line of her knickers as my knee urged her legs apart.  “Hate that my fingers aren’t tangled up in your curls.  Hate that you spent hours on hair I just want to ruin, hate that you felt like you had to force your curls into compliance when I know you hate it.” 

 

Watching her relax into me again and not expecting a response, my fingers finally traced over the wet gusset of her knickers.  Her shiver, decidedly different this time than moments earlier, had me groaning in her ear.  

 

“Why are you soaked, Granger?” 

 

“You were livid, the muscles in your neck pulsing, your jaw ticking.  Your entire body was taut, made worse when she approached.  That blonde had no concept of how little you wanted her.  And you forget—I always know when you’re watching.”  She tilted her head to the side, taking in the pink of my cheeks.  The heat extending down my neck confirmed once again that the Malfoy subtlety fell away when it came to Hermione Granger.  

 

“Why did you come out, Draco?  I haven’t heard from you in months beyond the papers.  I really am better, feeling better than I had when you said goodbye.” She was quiet, her words soft, almost disjointed as she asked me again why I was there, why I was pulling her so close, why now.  

 

I dropped my forehead to hers, closing my eyes and feeling her further melt into me.  She was always so strong, so ready to rebuild herself and come back better, but there were some things she didn’t understand.  Some answers only I could supply, and I truthfully didn’t know how to articulate them properly.  

 

I swallowed before leaving a lingering kiss on her forehead and breathing out heavily.  “You seem so much more confident now, you know?”  I started instead, and she simply rolled her eyes at me.  

 

“No, Malfoy,” she teased darkly, “You’re just finally seeing me for who I am, without the cloud of your insecurities.  I spoke with Lucius just last week; he said you were finally becoming your own man, finally comfortable in your own skin.  And if, if leaving me was what you needed, then I am happy for you.  But Draco, I cannot do it again.  This was nice. This was needed after watching you with that witch tonight, but please, let me go now,”  Hermione finished. 

 

What had started out as such a positive moment turned melancholy, the parts of her she had worked so hard to twist, strengthen, flip on its head, were still frayed after the way I had hurt her.  

 

“I won’t, I can’t, even if I wanted to.  You do deserve better—” Instead of letting me finish, she pushed me hard enough to stumble back.  But she wasn’t strong enough to push me far, and I propelled myself just as hard to reach her.  No way I was letting her walk away.  No way was I going to walk away again, either.  

 

“No, Hermione Jean Granger.  For fuck’s sakes, can I finish?”  I growled, pushing her towards the coat check, sending Seamus the signal, ignoring the attending and summoning our light robes before urging her outside.  

 

She barely resisted, anger palpable and eyes weary as she wrapped her arms around herself, keeping the forward momentum without me.  She didn't slow her steps, didn’t let me stop her or guide her again as she moved down into the main street of Diagon Alley and towards the Leaky.  

 

I kept pace, stayed silent, playing quietly with the lining of her robe and mine—the same robe I had gotten her for her birthday last year.  

 

“Hermione,"  I breathed, finally cutting through the rhythm of our heels clicking against the stoned pavement and her quiet mumblings—a habit when she was trying to keep calm and settle her thoughts.  

 

She let out a controlled breath and I watched her hands fall to her sides in my peripheral.  “Draco,” she echoed carefully.  

 

“I—would you...come back to the Manor, please?  Mother and Father will surely be tucked away in their wing, and just please...can we talk?”  I kept moving, only a few short strides away from the dingy pub when I realised she had stopped.  

 

She looked frustrated; as if my request was a monumental decision she had to take and was aghast at the short turnaround time.  However, before I could summon any new words to reassure her, convince her, beg her, she started with renewed vigour towards the pub, passed me and entered without a glance back.  

 

I was stunned for a moment, unsure what this meant, but I was rarely denied this way, and never walked away from.  So, instead of doing the sensible thing of letting her go and drifting through the alley with renewed heartbreak, I followed.  

 

“Hermione, what…” I started, catching up to her just as she threw floo powder into the flames.  The magic stained her pale green dress neon green and adding to the panic pounding from my heart into my throat.  

 

I almost threw myself in after her until she turned, looking up at me with an unreadable expression and shouted, “Malfoy Manor!”  

 

The blood rushing through my head almost drowned out her words, but when they finally registered milliseconds later a cheshire grin cut through my panicked expression.  I ran in the moment the flames calmed, repeated Hermione’s actions and stumbled out of my fireplace.  She was already walking away from the receiving room, removing her heels and making her way out into the hall, up the stairs and towards her favoured room.  

 

I did little more than follow her, trailing after like a love-sick fool.  My mouth ran dry as Hermione ran her fingers through her hair, removing all the charms, my mouth agape as her curls sprung down and bounced around her head in a halo of whiskey and caramel.  Fuck, I missed her hair.

 

Hermione magicked the double doors to the library open and moved towards her favoured red settee.  She settled into the corner, knees up, calves conveniently covering the molten heat I had barely grazed earlier, and stared expectantly at me.  

 

“No,” Hermione clipped when I made to sit beside her, slowly rising once again, arms up in surrender.  “No, you stay there, or anywhere else, and I will give you exactly ten minutes to explain yourself properly before I leave, walk away, and pretend tonight never happened.”

 

She flicked her wand out of her disillusioned wrist holster, charmed a timed tempus into the air by the hearth, and set her wand on my coffee table.  

 

“Right.”  My eyes followed the second hand of the clock as it steadily counted down.  “I don’t deserve you, Hermione.  That is a fact.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want you more.  I never claimed to be a good enough man to not take whatever you’re willing to give me, even if I tried to be.  If you’re still willing to give it to me, that is.”

 

Her head tilted, the fingers that had been attempting to calm her riotous curls, dropping to land against her neck as if she had to cool herself, steady her thoughts, her heart.  “What exactly do you want to take, Draco?”

 

My heart sped up, blood rushing to my core, and I attempted to casually unbutton the top two buttons of my shirt as I swallowed hard.  Hermione watched me intently as her legs slowly parted.  I drank in the slight display of her knickers; the teaser of deep green, with a sinful darkened spot in the gusset that covered her centre from my perusal.  

 

“I.” I shook my head, forcing my attention back to the vixen before me and not how her knees were practically parallel to my sofa.  My jaw ticked, teeth grinding down as I willed myself not to watch her fingers descent.  But it was no use, I greedily watched the finger drag from her clavicle down her chest to slowly skim over her covered nipple.  

 

“I, everything.  Whatever you're willing to give me.  Anything .”  I managed to choke out in a rush as her eyes darkened.  

 

Her fingers drifted over to her other breast, the light outline of her right nipple—sharp from her teasing—taunted me.  “You interrupted my pleasure twice tonight, Draco.  I think, for the next seven minutes and 45 seconds you need to tell me what you see here, for our future, and focus on that while I enjoy myself.  I do so love the ambience of this room, after all.”

 

“Fuck,” I whispered, as she slowly dropped the straps of her dress, the silky material slithering down to rest along her abdomen as she pulled her arms free from the thin straps.  

 

“Uh, uh, uh.  Talk, or I stop.”  I nodded, swallowing thickly again and looking around for something. Anything that would help me get out what I needed to before it was too late.  

 

“My father said…”

 

“Ohhh,” she shivered, her hand finally gliding over her knickers.  “Invoking your father.”

 

I grimaced, knowing how attractive she found my father, how I had milked it in the past, reminding her just what she could expect twenty years down the road.  

 

Her fingers dipped under the waistband of her knickers, and I wanted to scream or rip them off and demand she let me see.  As if reading my mind, she spoke, her voice thick with need, a need I wanted to fill.  

 

“I’m adding two minutes.  You’ve hardly explained a thing and perhaps without my knickers in the way you’ll speed this along, hmm?  Incentive always seemed to work well for you in the past after all.” 

 

The timer changed back to eight minutes as she shimmied out of the soaked green lace, placing it daintily beside her wand and scooting into position.  

 

“Fuck. Right."  I had to undo my cufflinks, dropping the expensive dragons she had gifted me beside her wand, and undid a further two buttons from my shirt, needing air.  "I regretted my decision, regretted letting you walk away almost immediately.  My parents were furious, still are, definitely haven’t treated me the same since, the traitors.  They bring you into every conversation imaginable...Fuck.  Hermione, you are killing me!”

 

Her right hand had spread herself wide for my perusal the longer I spoke, a thin finger circling her entrance, collecting the moisture that beckoned me forward before a soft moan interrupted my words.  

 

She had finally touched her swollen bud.  

 

“Don’t stop, Draco,” she hummed, eyes half-lidded as she forced her hand away from herself, lazily tracing her lips in my silence.  

 

“My parents brought you up in every conversation, every time you printed a new article in some journal or another.  My father always had underhanded comments about not holding onto the best, always offering to step in and fix my mistake.”  

 

Hermione's fingers were circling her bud once again, picking up speed.  My eyes flashed quickly to the time—just under five minutes.  She was moaning lightly, chest beginning to heave and I kept speaking, needing to give her more ammunition as her fingers moved faster, her hand getting wetter.  

 

“I’ve been watching you when we end up in the same places—not following,” I quickly corrected as she raised a strong brow at my comment.  She slid down the sofa, head barely on the armrest, linking a leg over the back and my blunt nails seared themselves into my palms as I squeezed them into fists.  

 

“You just seemed so much more put together than me these past few months, Hermione.  I had hoped to see something, anything that would prove to me that you were as heartbroken as me.  A sign, I would have even taken one lingering look.  But instead, you were going out with Pansy and taking day trips with Red.  You were always laughing at the Ministry in our joint conferences as if my absence in your life did nothing.  As if seeing me sitting across from you, with bags under my eyes was unaffecting you.”

 

My name fell like a prayer off her lips, the time at twenty-five seconds as she rode her fingers faster, her palm rubbing her clit, her left hand gently teasing her nipples.  

 

“Draco,” she attempted again, voice tight, made thicker with her restraint.  “Draco does this look like your absence did nothing to me?”

 

“I love you,” I shouted, she was so close, and I needed to be the reason she came, not her hand.  “Please, please, let me love you again.”  

 

“Fuck just come here,” Hermione growled, pulling her wet hand away and lifting it towards me.  I knew she simply wanted me to take its place, but instead, I took her wrist in my hand and dragged my tongue along her first two fingers.  I licked up her essence before sucking them into my mouth.  

 

“Mine,” I whispered, before placing a hot kiss along her palm.  “Please be mine again.  Don’t let me walk away again.”

 

“Yes.  Now.  Please !” Hermione whined, and I moved like a man possessed.  I ripped the rest of my shirt apart, buttons flying haphazardly around us and landed on my knees, pulling her hips closer to the edge of the sofa before diving right in.  

 

“Fuuucckkk,” she moaned above me, her hands coming to tangle in my hair, holding me in place as my tongue swirled my name around her nub.  With barely any preparation, I pushed one finger into her, moaning as her hips bucked into my hand.  Her grip tightened, and she covered my nose with her sodden folds, breath rushing out of me as she ground hard into my face.  

 

But I would suffocate in her sex if I could.  

 

My fingers thrummed into her, her cunt grinding into me, and I finally had to bend my head, forehead hitting her mound, as I took in a long gulping breath.  Her whine at the loss of my tongue on her clit took a decidedly different note as I pushed another finger into her tight cavern.  

 

“Fuck,” I breathed out.  Her warmth engulfed my fingers, tugged them deeper in, and demanded attention as I searched for the spongy wall that would have her screaming in moments.  

 

But then her fingers gripped my hair tightly, and I let her drag my face towards her, our lips meeting in an indecent collision of lust, longing, love.  She groaned as she tasted herself, kissing the corners of my lips, riding my fingers, and I was in ecstasy.  

 

How many nights had I thought of this, tried to recall the exact heat of her sex, the sting of her nails, the sound of her moans?  But nothing, nothing could ever compare to the real thing, not even my pensive.  

 

“Come for me,” I gasped out, forcing our lips apart, foreheads touching as she panted below me.  My thumb circled her clit, and my fingers remained hooked inside her, barely able to move as her walls held me in place. 

 

With tiny nods against my forehead—her mouth fell open, breath harsh, and eyes on the hand in her, on her, pleasuring her—she came.  Her head snapped back, and I catalogued the flush of her skin, the sheen of sweat along her temple, the quakes of her muscles as she sighed out my name, subconsciously demanding my psyche to imprint every detail into my hippocampus.  

 

I slowed my fingers, making wider circles around her clit.  I remembered how sensitive she was, always prided myself in knowing just the right ways to touch her without overwhelming her as she came down from her petite mort.  

 

“Please,” she finally said.  “Please make me yours again. Please.”  She was almost sobbing as her arms, lethargic after her release, attempted to hold tight to my biceps.  But she didn’t need to beg me.  She already had me, and I told her as I quickly divested myself of my trousers and pants, laughing almost manically as her dress also found purchase on the library floor.  

 

She wriggled until she was lying nude on the red sofa, but I knew it would be too small, and I was unwilling to have this moment ruined because of my height or physical logistics.  

 

“Do you trust me?”  I held my breath, knowing she shouldn’t, not after months of separation, knowing that this night wasn’t enough to repair that, not yet.  But instead of letting that voice grow louder than my love for her, I pushed it down, forced it away and waited for her answer.  I'd blown down my walls with rarely exposed vulnerability lining my words; I knew I had to trust her judgment now.

 

My heartbeat jolted at the soft smile and slow nod she granted me.  

 

“Yes,” she said finally, with certainty, without regret.  

 

I helped her stand, her soft skin rubbing against my own as I held her tight, asked her to clear her mind, and apparated us to my bedroom.  

 

“Thank you,” I whispered as I bent down to lift her and carry her to my bed.  Her fingers ran through my hair again, this time in gentle glides, more for comfort and affection than hurried, unquenchable fire.  

 

“Mmm,” she responded, before using my neck as leverage to bring her lips to mine for a tender kiss.  I rested her against my silk sheets, grinning widely as her skin prickled from its cool embrace.  

 

I joined her and just soaked her in for a moment.  I counted each time she blinked, watched as her lashes kissed her cheeks, the light freckles along the bridge of her nose, and the way she bit the corner of her mouth the longer I stared.

 

“You are so incredibly beautiful.” My compliment was firm, confident, unwavering, and free of lust.  I needed to make sure she knew I didn’t just mean her nude form below me or the glorious way in which she just owned her pleasure.  Her hand cupped my cheek, and I knew she got it.  Just as she always had.  

 

Sitting back up on my knees, I moved her legs around me, pushing them up before crowding over her once again.  My fingers brushed through her folds, grinning foolishly at how she still fluttered in anticipation of my ministrations.    

 

“I missed you,” she said, and I moved my hand away. I positioned myself, gliding through her folds and teasing her momentarily.  

 

“I missed all of this, all of us, but really I just missed having you near, waking up next to you.”  I slowly moved into her, my eyes closing as her heat surrounded me, engulfed me, and lit me up from within.  

 

“I missed you too.”

 

My eyes finally blinked open, eyes trained on hers as my thrusts started deep and slow.  I pulled fully, just the tip finding purchase in Hermione’s entrance before I moved forward, filling her, encapsulating myself, bringing us together over and over again.  I tried to grind my pelvis into her hips, knowing how much this added to her pleasure but she pulled me down.  

 

Her lips were just as slow against mine.  Her tongue danced and explored my mouth as languidly as I studied her around my cock with each renewed thrust.  

 

“Please, just a little faster,” she gasped when my hips stuttered, upsetting my steady rhythm and I eagerly complied.  It’s a dance.  With each continued thrust, I ground harder into her pelvis, eating up each whimper, sucking up each moan as I pulled my hips back and started over again.  Her body kept pace with me, one leg slung low over my thigh, the other planted flat against my mattress, bringing me in as deep as she could.  It's as if she wanted all of me; as if she felt she needed to hold on tight and thrust up faster to confirm I am there, that I am real.  

 

“I’m yours,” I murmured in response to her desperate hold on me.  Her hands tightened just a moment along my shoulders before a moany chuckle escaped her.  “Yours,” I repeated.  I picked up the pace, adding the wooden headboard— knocking against the manor’s century-old structure—as the base to our passionate song.  

 

“Yours,” she echoed, tongue darting out to lick her lips.  

 

“Mine,” she gasped, mirroring my statement, knowing I needed the reassurance as much as she did.  

 

At Hermione’s reassurance, she dropped her legs as my hands caged around her head and met her gyrations with renewed force as I drove my love into her.  Our skin clapped together, sweat dripping down my neck, my back, down my forehead, and landing on her chest.  Her right hand gripped my arm, nails digging into the tattoo that crept up my bicep as her left hand chased the beads of sweat splattering along her skin.  

 

I growled as her fingers parted through the moisture my exertions left on her skin before her forefinger and middle finger spread into a ‘v’ and felt the way I moved into her.  

 

“Draco,” she whispered.  “I love you too.”

 

That was all I needed.  

 

“Fuck,” I hissed out as I gripped her thigh, placing it over my shoulder carefully before I snapped into her, her moans reaching a full crescendo as her fingers worked over her clit in time with my feverish thrusts.  

 

She shattered around me moments later, a long, musical ‘Yes’ left her lips, repeatedly followed by my name as she quaked under me.  Her back arched as the last of her orgasm moved through her, sending shocks of electricity to my balls and I didn't stop.  I knew what she wanted.  I knew what she would demand of me before she could even find the words to ask for it.  

 

I thrust once, twice, and then I froze, spilling into her.  I muttered my thanks to the deity below me, the witch who allowed me back into her even after my stupidity.  

 

I remained frozen above her even as my arms quaked, trying to catalogue the ripples of her core around my cock and our slippery release mixed between us before I could no longer hold myself up. 

 

I used the momentum of my fall as I collapsed to the side of her, to roll her onto me and pulled her thigh over my still trembling legs.  

 

Hermione’s breathing evened out before mine.  Her wandering fingers traced over my scars, followed the path of my adonis belt and the minx already had me twitching in anticipation.  

 

Chuckling, I placed a huffed kiss to her cooling brow.  

 

“You’re insatiable.  Give me five minutes.”

 

“Mmmm.  Well, of course, I am.  You owe me months of pleasure!”  She retorted, leaving kisses along my chest before lightly running up my neck with her teeth.  

 

Pulling back from her, I licked my lips and quirked a brow at her innocent expression.  “I do, do I?”

 

Before she could respond, Hermione squealed as I dragged her up my body, seating her above my face and got to work on those months of owed pleasure.  

 



The following morning:

 

Jax, the husky we had adopted a year into our relationship, woke us enthusiastically, surely at my mother's behest.  Though he was technically ours, when I had let Hermione go, she'd left him to live at the manor citing the lack of space in her tiny flat. My mother, still without grandchildren of her own, had claimed the handsome devil as her companion, and I had a feeling she sent Jax to do her bidding this morning. It seemed I wasn't the only one who had missed Hermione during her long absence.

 

In between heartfelt hello’s between mother and child, Hermione confessed she’d been secretly meeting my mother and Jax for tea almost daily.  But I forgave her as her skilful mouth proceeded to apologise in the most pleasurable way.  I also suspected Hermione was hoping my parents would have left the dining room the longer we delayed, and I was in no position to convince her otherwise. 

 

It had been a fruitless attempt.  The moment we stepped into the dining room, my painfully punctual parents acted as if they had just sat down for breakfast at half eleven as well.  With an exasperated look my way, Hermione mouthed 'Luna', confirming that my treacherous house-elf had told them when we were on our way. 

 

Jax trotted ahead of us like the perfect aristocratic pup my mother was moulding him to be, and stopped daintily between mothers seat and Hermione’s.

 

“Darling!  Such a delight to see you this morning.  Biscuit?” Mother barely looked up from the tabloid-esq magazine.  She turned the page as she elegantly gestured to the excessive breakfast set-up before us.  

 

"Thank you, mother—"

 

"Not you, Draco. I'm greeting Hermione of course." I almost threw my head back, fighting down my guffaw and ran a hand up and down Hermione’s back. 

 

“Oh! It’s lovely to see you as well, Cissy.  And, no thank you.  I think just tea, for now, will do,” Hermione answered shyly.  Without looking at her, I knew the tan of her skin would be slowly staining a deeper glow as the normally larger-than-life witch attempted to make herself as small as possible.  

 

“Oh well, I insist on some toast then.  Wouldn’t do to expend as much energy as you have on an empty stomach, after all.”  She took a dainty sip of tea as she finally looked over at us.  Her glittering eyes and a slight uptick of her lip were the only indications Mother was just as elated as I to see Hermione in my transfigured clothes.  

 

“Merlin,” Hermione whispered beside me as I helped her into her seat.  She tried to busy herself with petting Jax’s head as it rested in her lap.  

 

“Don’t worry, mother; your elf insisted on snacks early this morning.”

 

If it was possible, Hermione’s skin glowed brighter, and I had to choke down another laugh at her embarrassment.  When mothers house-elf, Memory, had shown up in my bedroom laden down with protein-filled snacks and tea near on two am, we had laughed it off.  Now, in the light of day, even my collar felt suddenly too tight at the reminder that my parents always knew what happened under their roof.  

 

But Narcissa Malfoy was shameless around those she considered family.  She had walked in on us more times than I wanted to count in the early days of our relationship.  Always finding us hours later, and in decidedly less compromising positions, to give Hermione pointers on how best to 'get pleasure from the Malfoy men'. 

 

“Ms Granger,” Father’s aristocratic lilt finally joined in.  He laid the paper down by his plate and lazily added a dash of milk to his tea before raising a brow at my witch, ignoring me entirely.  

 

“Hermione, please,” Hermione automatically responded, before rolling her eyes at me, knowing it was a futile attempt.  

 

“Well, Ms Granger may not be applicable for much longer, hmm?  Would hate not to give it its proper use before it becomes obsolete.”  Fathers grin was shark-like as Hermione choked on her tea and I on my sugary confection.  When his gaze finally turned to me, there was a gleam of pride in his eye; how this little witch had gotten so close to my ice-cold, traditionalist father, I would never know.  

 

Not waiting for a verbal response he continued, “I’d love to hear your thoughts on the newest Chinese runes article in Magically Runic later today; I know you have read it.  I also presume you will be here for the entirety of the day."

 

Hermione gave a relieved nod at the benign inquiry before Father added, "Tippy needs some time to launder the clothing he found in the library, after all.”

 

I bit hard into my inner cheek as Hermione finally huffed, having forgotten just how incredibly candid my parents were.  

 

“Oh and Ms Granger?”  I groaned as Father waited patiently under Hermione’s narrowed gaze. He chuckled, recognising her stubbornness would keep us there all morning before brandishing her wand, handle first, and handing it back to her.  

 

The only thing louder than my mother’s tinkling laughter and my father’s deep chuckle was the sound of Hermione’s head hitting the dining room table in sheer embarrassment.  

 

“Love you,” I whispered, leaning into her hidden visage before turning back to my parents.  

 

“You two leave her alone.  You’ve wanted her back here for months; don’t scare her away now.”

 

After the teasing fell away, the rest of breakfast was animated in the face of our happy reunion.  As we returned to my wing, eager to continue our physical reintroductions, I thanked Merlin that I had seen her dancing with somebody else.  Salazar only knows if I would have sorted myself out in time otherwise.