When Hermione Granger walked through the door Marcus Flint barely recognized her. The bushy hair that had been her defining feature at school was pulled up into a brutal twist. Of course, he had been several years ahead of her and wouldn't have expected to have recognized her at all if it hadn't been for all the press coverage after the war. The golden girl, the articles claimed. Harry Potter's best friend! Responsible for Voldemort's downfall! The stories made it sound as though she had single-handedly throttled the man with a strand of that hair. The only thing that had kept him from despising her was that she seemed, at least if the attitude he gleaned from the articles could be believed, to have found all of the hoopla off-putting. Now she was dragging a small girl by the hand. The girl had a shock of curly red hair and sullen brown eyes. "I understand that you offer flying lessons in addition to selling brooms," Hermione said with no introduction.
"I do," he said. "Though, to be honest, most parents are happy to take care of that part at home."
"I hate riding a broom," she said.
"Wouldn't the girl's father want to take her flying?" he asked. He wasn't sure why he was trying to drive this customer away. Usually, he would have the kid on the most expensive broom he could soak them for and signed up for a 10-week course the moment a well-groomed mother inquired about flying lessons.
"Her father and I are separated," Hermione Granger said. Her face did not invite him to ask any questions about that.
"He's a rat bastard," the little girl piped up.
Hermione Granger looked uncomfortable, and she smiled the grim smile of a parent who was wishing her child had not just said that. "Your father is a good man and loves you very much," she said. "We just stopped loving one another."
"That's not what you told Aunt Ginny," the little girl said. "You said he was a cheating prick and that you hoped –"
"Rose," Hermione said, her voice a clear warning. The girl stopped talking. "Do you have children, Mr. Flint?" She asked. When he shook his head she said through a tight smile, "Then you are unfamiliar with their uncanny way of remembering a conversation they overheard and repeating it for two years straight while simultaneously forgetting being asked to clean up their room." She sighed. "At any rate, Ronald is too busy with his new baby to teach Rose how to fly and I certainly am not capable of doing it."
"Well, let's get her signed up for flying lessons, " Marcus Flint said.
By the fifth lesson, Marcus still hadn't quite figured this woman out. Most parents dropped their children off and then left for coffee or, at the very least, sat down and pulled out books to read. Not this one. She watched her daughter the entire lesson. She paid attention. He began to wonder what it would be like to have that kind of attention focused on him. He began to wonder what kind of man had been stupid enough to let that kind of attention go.
"What do you do, Hermione, when you aren't standing at the pitch watching your daughter learn to fly?" He asked during that fifth lesson.
"Magical Law Enforcement," she said, her eyes still on her daughter.
"A lawyer," he said feeling a bit disappointed that she was out of his league. He had failed his N.E.W.T. exams first once and then again and then had begun offering flying lessons. He hadn't had a glorious Quidditch career. He didn't make a lot of money. He was not the sort of man any woman who had become a lawyer would be interested in.
"I thought, going into it," she was saying, "that being a solicitor would be all about helping the less fortunate. Turns out it's mostly about helping one company take slightly more advantage of another company." She turned and looked at him then, the first time he could remember her having looked at anything other than Rose during a lesson. "Your job is honest," she said. "I envy you that."
"Not many people envy a man who spends his days selling brooms and teaching other people's children how to fly," he said looking away from her and studying Rose, who was repeating a feint drill with frightening determination. "She's very athletic," he added.
"She gets that from her father," Hermione said and turned back to watch her daughter fly toward the ground and then pull back up.
Marcus noted the girl was getting progressively more daring with how close she got before pulling up and thought with somewhat soppy nostalgia that this one would have a great time at school, would surely make the team her first year. "Hermione," he asked before his nerves failed, "would you be interested in going out for coffee sometime?"
"After a lesson?" She asked, her nose squinched in a way that made him wild to kiss her.
"I was thinking without your daughter," he said, adding in a rush, "not that Rose isn't a great kid, I just. -"
"That would be nice," Hermione said, her voice almost as rushed as his. "She's at her dad's every other weekend. Maybe this Saturday? I mean, unless you have plans. I shouldn't assume you don't have weekend plans," she said, stumbling over the words and biting her lip as she kept her eyes on Rose.
"I don't," he said. "Coffee with you, that's all."
Coffee led to a walk. A walk led to dinner. Dinner led to more coffee, this time at his flat. Marcus wasn't quite sure what happened that made that round of coffee lead into him suggesting she seemed tense and would she like a back rub. Optimism, he supposed.
She suggested, a few minutes into letting him knead his fingers into the flesh of her shoulders, that maybe she should take her shirt off "to make the back rub easier."
She was wearing a black lace bra and, seeing that, Marcus began to think that his optimism - optimism which had also led to changing his sheets that morning just because, as he told himself, civilized people did that on a regular basis - might not be wholly misplaced.
Her knickers matched.
Afterward, he began pulling pins out of her mussed twist. "Merlin, woman," he said. "Let your hair down."
She reached her hand up to touch her hair self-consciously, an almost incomprehensible gesture in a woman who'd been gasping his name minutes earlier as she shuddered into climax under him. Later he'd realize that all the years of torment in school had left her permanently insecure about her hair. He'd learn that her ex-husband had been happy to exploit that insecurity when they'd been in the stage of their breakup where they'd said the cruelest things possible to one another. Now he just grabbed her hand and brought it to his mouth. "It's beautiful," he said. "You're beautiful."
She shook her head and he rolled his eyes. "Beautiful," he said again, "but a bit of a liar."
She looked offended and he grinned. "You told me, when we first met, that you didn't like riding brooms and that appears to have been not true at all."
"This wasn't what I meant," Hermione said, batting at his hand. "And the first time we met you probably called me some kind of horrid name."
Marcus was lying next to her on the sheets - sheets that really needed changing again at this point - propped up on one elbow and using his other hand to keep spreading her hair out along the pillow. "Kids can be right shites," he agreed. "Fortunately we aren't twelve anymore."
She reached a hand out to touch his face, running her fingers along his jaw. "Really?" she asked.
"I'm really not twelve," he said. "Not even on the right side of thirty, love."
"That wasn't exactly what I meant," she said.
Marcus sighed. "I grew up, Hermione. We all grew up. Even little princelings like Nott and Malfoy don't go around spouting off blood purity rhetoric anymore. We've all got jobs and rent to pay and we spend our time trying to remember if there's anything in our flats to eat."
"Malfoy has a job?" Hermione looked doubtful.
"Well, maybe not him," Marcus admitted. "But I do. You do. Hell, you've even got an ex-husband. We've got real things to deal with now, not that bullshite."
"The war was pretty real," she said, rubbing at her arm.
He leaned over and kissed the 'mudblood' scar that neither of them had openly acknowledged before this. "That wasn't what I meant," he said softly. "Just that... if you can forgive any arrogant, hateful tripe I might have spewed at you when I was a kid I'd be grateful. My only defense is that I didn't know how serious it was."
She leaned toward him so she could rest her cheek against his bare chest. "We should have all just been throwing childish taunts at each other. They shouldn't have ever been," she paused and he leaned over to brush his lips over her forehead. "They shouldn't have ever turned into war. Not like they did."
Marcus wasn't quite sure what she meant but that she was here was, he assumed, a pretty good indication that she'd forgiven him.
"Did you know Malfoy has a kid the same age as Rose?" he asked. "They'll be in the same class at Hogwarts."
She smothered a laugh. "Is it wrong that I hope this kid and Rose become best friends just because I know that would make Ron mental?"
"Not wrong," Marcus said, "though that mean streak does make me wonder if maybe you aren't quite the noble and good-hearted Gryffindor people assume." He smiled as he looked at her, hair down and sweat still drying on her skin. "You've got a bit of a vengeful streak, Miss Hermione Granger. Weasley. Granger."
Hermione laughed. "Granger again, and you have no idea, Marcus Flint. You don't make a good lawyer if you aren't willing to go for the jugular every time and I am very, very good at what I do." She bit her lip and looked at him. "Someday maybe I'll tell you some of the things we got up to - I got up to - while your lot was wasting time singing absurd fight songs about Quidditch."
"I'd like that," he said, hearing the implied promise this wasn't a one-time thing.
"I should tell Rose to stay away from the Malfoy boy," Hermione said, amused mischief in her voice. "That’ll ensure she'll seek him out."
Marcus groaned through an admiring laugh. "You are definitely not the good girl I would have assumed."
She pulled herself up and straddled his thighs and he hissed in his breath. "We aren't kids anymore," she agreed. "But, unless I am very much mistaken, you might not be averse to a second go-round."
Marcus reached a hand up to trace the curve of her breast. "I could be convinced," he said. "Persuaded."
She slipped down his legs until she was sprawled out, half on him and half on the bed, her hair covering her face as she lowered her head to his hip. "I have to admit, Marcus Flint," she said, "that the way you've kept in shape with all the flying is most appealing." He was going to ask if her ex had let himself go when she ran a tongue along his skin and almost all thoughts except ones about this witch fled his brain.
"Hermione," he groaned as she continued to tease him, her mouth tracing the lines of his muscles and hips.
"You wanted something?" she asked.
He managed to keep from grabbing her by all that hair and shoving her mouth where he wanted it, albeit barely. He thought his patience would be rewarded when she moved her mouth lower and he could feel her hot breath on his cock - a cock that had sprung back to attention as if he were that teenage boy again - but she moved lower yet and began kissing the inside of his thigh.
"You're trying to kill me," he said. "Why?"
She laughed and it was one of the most beautiful sounds he'd ever heard. It had been so long. Women weren't interested in their kid's flying teacher, they weren't, but this one seemed to be. This wonderful, brilliant, shockingly vicious one seemed to be and he wasn't going to question it.
He did later. "Why me?" he'd ask her. "You could have had anyone. Why a washed-up Quidditch player who never made it big?"
She'd hit him in the arm when he asked that. "Don't put yourself down like that," she'd say. "And not many men are interested in a divorcee with kids and a time-sucking career."
"Your kids are great," he'd say, confused. "And do people actually object to how incredibly brilliant and successful you are?"
She'd look at him at that and he'd remember her ex, a man who'd been more than threatened by her career. Not, of course, that he refused to cash the alimony cheques.
That conversation, though, occurred in the future, after they'd admitted to Rose and Hugo they were seeing one another, after Rose had sulked for three weeks and finally manipulated Marcus into giving her a broom she should have been much too young to be able to control, after Ron Weasley confronted his ex-wife in public for 'screwing a worthless Slytherin'.
"Grow up," she would tell him. "The rest of us have."
Now, however, Marcus Flint just lay in his bed and thanked whatever gods had decided to take mercy on him and entice this woman to meet him for coffee even if she did seem to intend to kill him in pieces, her mouth on his thigh and her fingers tangled in his wiry curls and only the light tease of her hair brushing against his cock. "Hermione," he said again, his voice nearly begging her.
"Oh?" she said, "you wanted this maybe?" and she ran her tongue around just the tip of him and right as he was about to decide that she really was utterly, completely and unforgivably diabolical she took his whole cock into her mouth and began running her lips up and down his shaft. He kept his hands fisted in the rumbled sheet so he wouldn't grab at her until she pulled her head away and said, "You can, you know."
He lifted his hands tentatively to her hair and when she just smiled at him from under her lashes before taking him into her mouth again he tightened his grip and pulled her head toward him. She somehow managed to keep her tongue doing something that pushed him even faster towards his second climax of the night even as he was thrusting into her. He could feel the back of her throat and could feel she was wet and hot and sucking so damn hard he was going to die.
She really was trying to kill him.
Still, it was a good way to go.
When he came into her she gently lifted her head off him and swallowed, wiping a trail of semen off her lips with the back of her hand. "Fuck, woman," he said, breathing the words out. "You are amazing."
"Well," she said with a grin. "As you pointed out, we aren't kids anymore."
"Thank Merlin for that," Marcus said, pulling her back up to cuddle against him. "Thank Merlin some things just get better as you get older. Give me a few minutes to recover from being turned into a puddle of goo by the impressive witch lying here and I'll return the favor."
"I think I want a nap first," Hermione admitted. "Maybe in the morning?"
"Deal," he said as he wrapped both arms around her. "Maybe then we can also talk a little bit more about how you think you don't like riding brooms."
"Maybe," Hermione said around a yawn, "I've just never had the right one before. Maybe I just needed an upgrade from the one I got in school."
Marcus smothered a snort.
He had to admit he really liked that vicious streak.