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All's Fair in Love & Quidditch

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Mouthful of Bad Decisions

Hermione Granger couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She stared at her boyfriend Ron Weasley as if he had grown a third head and willed her anger down as she listened to him repeat his words to her over and over again as he shoveled his mouth full of food. She had no idea how he had ended up with such atrocious table manners with Molly Weasley as his mother. No one else in the family seemed to eat so disgracefully, and Hermione reminded herself once again to close her eyes and count to 10 before she spoke.

“Stop. Ronald. Stop. Finish chewing for Merlin’s sake, and then speak to me.”

Ron heaved a heavy sigh, as he quickly chewed and swallowed. Setting his fork down, he gazed at her mockingly as he wiped his mouth with his napkin, before setting it in his lap. “Better?”

“Yes,” she replied, sitting up straighter. “It’s not a race Ronald; there will still be food on the table after you finish speaking.”

He barely contained the retort that sprang to his mind as he gazed at her face. No matter how much he loved her, he could never stand the way she sometimes spoke to him. While he didn’t condone the notion of Blood purity, he always found that for a muggleborn she was always a bit too arrogant. “I was saying I’ve been offered a starting position with the Cannons, and I’ve taken it.” Hermione was torn between joy and sadness at his words but knowing that the Cannons were Ron’s favorite team she promptly dismissed her sadness and congratulated her boyfriend of the last three years. “Thanks. So, we leave next week, and we’ll join the Cannons on the road for a couple of weeks before we head back to Chudley, and you can move your stuff in whenever I find a place.”

This statement had been one too many for Hermione, and she couldn’t help the loud “WHAT!” that left her mouth.

Ron raised an eyebrow at her and gave her a strange look. “I thought you’d be happy.”

“With what part?”

“All of it.”

“All of it?”

“Well yeah. That was da dream, wadn’t?”

“Who’s dream?”

“Our dream! Blimey Mione! It’s the Cannons!”

“I understand that Ronald, but that’s not MY dream. That’s YOUR dream, and you’ve up and made all these plans without even discussing it with me!”

“What’s there to discuss, Mione? I got a starting position with the Cannons! The. Cannons.”

“And that’s wonderful for YOU, Ronald. You want to break your contract with the Bats and go work with the Cannons, then so be it, but I’m not going.”

“Whatta ya mean you’re not coming?! You have to come!”

“I have to do no such thing! I have a contract here Ronald! I can’t just leave.”

“Sure you can. I dun it.”

“Bully for you.”

“It’s not a big deal Mione. You’re only a healer.”

“ONLY A HEALER!”

“Come on Mione. You know what I mean. I’m sure you can find a new job once we get settled in Chudley.”

“Have you gone completely mental?”

“Why are you ruining this for me?”

“Ruining this for you? What about what you’re doing to me? Don’t I get a say in my life?”

“Bloody hell Mione! It’s just Chudley. It’s not the end of the world. You can find another job.”

“I don’t want another job. I like this job.”

“What are you going on about? You hate this job.”

“I happen to love my job, Ronald.”

“Since when?”

“Since when? Are you joking?”

“No, but I’m starting to think you’re having a laugh now. You hate Quidditch.”

“I don’t hate Quidditch, Ronald, as evidenced by the fact that I’m here now.”

“So, then what’s the problem with following me to Chudley?”

“I’ve done that once before, and I don’t fancy doing it again, thank you.”

“You’d rather stay here without me then?”

“Yes. This is where my job is. This is where my home is.”

“So, you’ll get a new job and a new home. You’re my fiancé for Merlin’s sake! You have to come with me! I told them you would.”

“Fiancé? Since when? Last time I checked, you hadn’t asked, and I hadn’t answered.”

“Oh right, ya, about that. Fancy getting married?”

“No,” she said, standing suddenly, “not to you. Not today, and not ever.”

“Whatta ya playing at Mione? You love me, and I love you.” He reached for her hand, not even bothering to stand up.

“And that’s all there is to it, huh?”

“Well yeah.”

Hermione scoffed, “You’re an idiot, Ronald Weasley, and I’ve been a daft bint for not seeing it until now.”

“And what’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means we’re over Ronald Weasley. Enjoy Chudley.”

Neither Hermione nor Ron had been aware of the crowd that their argument had drawn. Though looking back on it, one of them should’ve realized that having this conversation in the middle of the dining hall at Ballycastle's field was probably not the smartest decision they’d ever made, but the applause that Hermione received as she left the room did bolster her confidence somewhat. As did the conversation she had with the team manager asking if she could take the rest of the day off since they were only running some mild training drills and her assistant Medi-witch was on duty. Tom, the Manager, had readily agreed.

Hermione had used that to her advantage and gone home and immediately packed up what little was hers in the tiny flat she and Ron had moved into only months before; she supposed there was a reason that it had never truly felt like home to her, and why many of her things were still in boxes. All the easier to pack she decided then, dropping everything into the canvas cross body bag she had replaced her beaded bag with some months ago. Hermione was sure she was supposed to feel more than she was, and even then, she should probably be feeling more sadness than anger. But there was just no two ways about it. What she felt was anger, at herself for loving that selfish git for so long, and at him for proving how little he knew her. Dropping her key on the floor next to the floo, she grabbed some floo powder and dropped it in the hearth, not shedding a single tear as she announced her destination and said goodbye to this chapter of her life.

Chapter Text

Hangovers and Hexes

Ron was still trying to piece together how his day had gone from so amazing to complete shite quite so quickly when he arrived at his best friend’s house the morning after his very public breakup with Hermione. He was still slightly buzzed when he stumbled through the floo and was more than a little surprised to see his sister, his brother George and Harry all sitting around the kitchen table.

“Wass dis den?” he asked sitting down at the table with them.

“Is it true then?”

“Iss whas true den? Mate, have ewe gots neee hangs poetshun?” Ok. Maybe he was a little more than buzzed. Merlin did his head hurt suddenly.

Ginny rolled her eyes in disgust at her brother as Harry got up to grab a potion and set it in front of Ron with a clear thunk. Ron quickly put the potion down, grimacing in disgust at the taste. He allowed the potion to settle for a moment and then asked if there was anything to eat.

“You. Don’t. Get. Anything. To. Eat. Until. You. Tell. Us. What. Happened!” exclaimed Ginny a slap punctuating every word of her sentence to her brother.

“Cor! Layoff! I had an absolute rubbish day yesterday. How about a little support for me?”

“Sure,” replied George, “we’ll give you a little support right after you explain this.” Ron’s face blanched as he gazed down at the newspaper his brother had slid across the table to him. The headline on the front page of the Prophet was terrible enough, but the full-size picture, above the fold, was going to result in a howler from his mother.

Ron let out a loud groan as his head and arms sunk on to the table. “I’m gonna need another drink.”

“No. You’re going to need a new healer to sort out the hex I’m going to give you!” Ron felt himself yelp at the thought of his sister’s famed bat-boogey hex sprung to mind.

“And this is why I took your wand, Gin.” Ron looked up at Harry, noting that he hadn’t spoken at all since he walked through the door.

“Alright there Harry?”

“Why don’t you tell us what happened Ron.”

“Is everyone barking mad today?”

“Ron, my best friend, moved out of her apartment suddenly yesterday, content to go Godric only knows where without telling me. Then I get the paper this morning, and there’s a story about how my other best mate is out snogging a slag he picked up at a bar on the same day that his relationship ended. I come downstairs to find not one, but two Weasleys in my kitchen trying to make heads or tails of what the hell happened because none of us knows where Hermione is, before a third shows up, obviously still sloshed. So yeah mate, I guess you could say we’re all a bit mad at the moment.”

“Blimey Harry.”

“Answer the damn question Ronnie boy or so help me Mum’s going to have one less son by nightfall.”

Ron’s eyes went wide as he gazed across the table at his brother. “You wouldn’t dare!”

“Try me.”

“I’m sure Mum would understand. He is the favorite now.”

“And Harry here ranks second.”

“In case you’re wondering where that leaves you Ickle Ronniekins, it’s below Percy-”

“FAR below Percy”

“Especially since you’ve now somehow managed to run off her second favorite daughter.”

“Oi! Will you lot lay off!” exclaimed Ron his face as red as his hair.

“Right, let’s put this into terms you’ll understand, Ronald,” began Ginny turning in her chair to look her brother in the eyes now.

“Did you or did you not accept a position with the Cannons?”

“Yea.”

“Did you or did you not assume Hermione would follow you?”

“Yeah, but-“

Ginny raised her hand to silence him and then continued “Did you or did you not decide to move to another country, without talking to your girlfriend about it first?”

“Yeah, but-“

“Did you or did you not randomly propose to her during the said conversation?”

“Well, sort of-“

“Yes or no.”

“I mean I guess I did.”

“Did you or did you not decide to have this conversation while at work?”

“Of course, I did! I was excited!”

Squeezing her eyes tightly, Ginny turned from her brother in disgust, “One of you deal with him. I just can’t.”

“Why is everyone so up in arms about this! The Cannons asked me to join the team as a STARTER! Why would I not take them up on that?”

“Because you have a contract with the Bats you fool!”

“I didn’t realize it was such a big thing though. I’m not a starter, and I’ve hardly gotten to play this year!”

“Had you even discussed this with either team before you accepted?”

“Well no. I figured if the Cannons were offering me the position that it was fine.”

George looked across the table at his brother as Ginny buried the heels of her hands into her eyes. “Did Mum drop you when you were a baby?”

“How could you be so stupid! You have a contract, Ron! You can’t just throw it away!” added Ginny in exasperation.

“I know that now don’t I! Would’ve been nice to discuss it for they went and sacked me.”

“The Bats sacked you?”

“Circe’s tit! You’ve gone and done it now haven’t you Ronnie!”

“They said I was in breach of contract or something like that, so they released me from it, with a fine – a big fine might I add, and then I get home, and find Hermione’s not even there! There’s no note. No nothing. I waited for ages for her to come home before I found her bloody key on the floor on the way to the fridge. There wasn’t even any dinner!”

“What part of her ending it with you did you not understand?”

“I didn’t think she was serious! How many times have we fought? I just thought it would be like it usually was. We fight. She’d get home first. Make dinner. Say she was sorry. I would say I was sorry. We’d eat, maybe snog a little and everything was fine again.”

“You told her you got a new job, in a new country, ordered her to come with you, and then proposed to her during the argument about said job and you didn’t think she was serious when she said it was over?”

“I mean, no?”

Ginny heaved a heavy sigh and slammed her hands on the table. “Harry James Potter you give me my wand back right now so I can hex this bloody fool straight to Chudley!”

Harry met her gaze steadily, before turning his attention to Ron. “So. That’s it then.”

“You’re not making any sense mate.”

“You and Hermione are done.”

“I can win her back Harry. I’m sure of it.”

“No,” replied Harry softly shaking his head, his green eyes a mixture of sadness and anger. “I’m afraid you can’t, and for once I’m glad of it. You're a right git you know that? How can you have loved her for so long and not seen this coming? You’re supposed to be one of her best friends! But you don’t know her at all Mate. She’s already followed you once. Gave up every other opportunity that might have come her way to be a Healer for a Quidditch team – your Quidditch team, nonetheless. I stood by, even helped you convince her! And then you pull this, and follow it up by ending up splashed all over the paper with some random quidditch groupie? A slag you picked up at the pub?” Harry stood from the table, frustration rippling from his body as he ran his hands through his hair.
Slowly he began to pace as he continued to speak. “I’m sorry Mate, but I’m gonna need some time. You’re my best mate. I’ve stuck by you through some pretty crazy shite; I’ve watched you hurt my other best friend more times than I can count. I’ve never tried to pick a side. I’ve tried to be neutral, Keep the peace for the greater good, and all that, but Mate. This time? You’ve gone too far.”

“Come off it, Harry. It was a one-off. I’ll find Hermione. I’ll make her see reason. I can’t bloody well turn down the Cannon position now after what happened with the Bats. But I know I can make it work with her.”

“Ronnie you’re not listening little brother. It’s over. And I think it’s fairly safe to say that you should probably get going back to your flat right about now.”

“Why’s that?” asked Ron glaring at his brother.

“Cause Harry’s just pulled out Ginny’s wand, and I’m certain you’re about to get hexed.”

Ron’s eyes were the size of saucers as he saw Harry withdraw his sister’s wand from his pocket, and proceed to hand it to her. In the next few moments, the kitchen at Grimmauld place filled with many sounds – chairs scraping back from the table and toppling over on to the floor, heckling, laughing, shrieking and a definite plea for mercy just before the green flames roared to life in the hearth… and a loud sneeze followed by a painful muttering and the unmistakable sound of bat wings.

Chapter Text

Forgetting What I'm Lacking

Hermione did not return to work for the rest of the week. Mainly because they were merely running drills and had no real need for her, and partially because she had no desire to run into Ron. Instead, she lay by the pool at Blaise Zabini’s home in Italy, working on her tan and ignoring every Owl that came to find her. Well no, not ignoring. She felt genuinely bad for the long trip the poor birds had to make to find her, and so she would give them some food and water and allow them to rest. After which, she then reattached whatever letter they had for her and send them back home, the letters unopened and a “Don’t worry, I’m fine.” Scrawled on the outside.

Normally, Hermione would’ve felt tremendous guilt for leaving everything unanswered, but she didn’t have the mental capacity to deal with everyone nagging her about Ron or encouraging her to work it out. The fact was, she wanted nothing more to do with him, and if she was honest with herself, their relationship had been dead in the water for quite some time. It was why she had agreed to move in with him in the first place – hoping that he would be right and that being in the same house, as well as, working together, would rekindle their romance and bring back the closeness they had once shared. He had been wrong, obviously, and Hermione was furious at herself for ignoring the gut feeling she had had to end it over the past year and a half.

Sighing to herself, she turned on to her stomach and undid her top. As much as she would never admit it, she enjoyed being a Healer for the Bats. It wasn’t her first choice by any means, but when she had finished her Healer training there hadn’t been opportunities available – not even at St. Mungo’s where she had completed her residency. It had been aggravating and astounding. There were some options outside of the country, but nothing concrete. So, when Ron had told her that there was an opening for a healer with the Ballycastle Bats she had applied. She told herself it was for no other reason than to keep her skills relevant, though she had told Ron exactly what he wanted to hear – she did it to be close to him and for their relationship. There had probably been some bit of truth to her words to him, but it hadn’t felt like it at the time.

“Now there’s a sight I enjoy coming home to.”

Hermione stifled a giggle as she heard the familiar voice behind her. “You’ll forgive me if I don’t get up and give you a hug,” she replied, shielding her eyes with her hand as she looked up at him.

“That’s a shame. I was quite looking forward to it,” Blaise teased, giving her a salacious wink and laughing as Hermione blushed. “Aw Cara Mia, I’ve missed that color on you.”

“Oh, stop it!” she replied ducking her head and fumbling to retie her top.

“Let me help you,” he offered walking forward to grasp the ties to her lilac bikini top and tying it neatly, before giving her a firm smack on the ass.

“Blaise!” she exclaimed sitting up with a laugh.

“It’s nice to see you smile again,” he replied pulling her up to her feet.

“Thanks for letting me crash for a little bit Blaise.” Her voice was soft and apologetic as if she felt like she was a great imposition to the single wizard.

“Of course!” he replied, quickly dismissing her tone. “My homes are always open to you Cara Mia,” He rubbed her arms affectionately and watched the relief flood through her. She always was so easy to read. “Do you want to talk about it?” he asked softly watching the way her eyes dropped. She shook her head no, and he sighed. They had become good friends during their 8th year, as co-Head Boy and Girl, and he knew when to push her and when to leave her be. This was certainly one of those leave her be times. “How about a movie then?”

A small smile crept across her face, “and a drink?”

“And a drink,” he nodded encouragingly.
.
.
.
A couple of days later, Hermione got a surprise floo-call from the Bat’s team owner, Harrod Wetherbee. The two had become friends during her time with the Bats, and he had grown exceptionally fond of the young woman.

“Hermione, normally we would never ask this, but there’s been an emergency with another team. It seems during the match between Montrose and Kestrels, an unprecedented number of fouls and dirty wand use by fans occurred; resulting in all of the Montrose medics becoming injured themselves.” The statement left Hermione at a loss. Everyone knew that there were occasionally drunken fans that were happy to “help” their team to victory through a well-placed jinx, but to do was a heinous foul for the team. Many of the stadiums had begun placing protective wards around the fields to prevent such a thing as attempts to confiscate wands upon entry to games had rarely worked. On occasion, some of the lesser teams would forget, which seemed to be the case for the Kestrels that day.

“Baggins reached out and was asking if we could spare anyone, and I immediately thought of you.”

“You want me to go to Montrose?”

“Yes.”

“For how long?”

“The rest of the Season.”

Hermione felt herself suck in a breath at that. “Harrod are you sure? The season’s just begun!”

“I know Hermione, and normally I wouldn’t even have suggested it. The Medi-witch you trained here has been doing amazing, and I know we’d be able to get by without you since we still have a full staff for games. All of whom I have great faith in because you trained them. But Baggins is desperate, and frankly, he’s called in every favor he can. I know that you can easily handle the workload on a small staff there, and the Magpie’s aren’t as injury prone as some of the other teams.”

“Harrod-“

“Hermione, they’re offering you a full year’s salary on top of the salary you’d still be getting with us, and the Magpie’s have an estate that all players stay at during the year, so you’d have a place of your own there.”

Even Hermione couldn’t ignore just how good of an offer that was. It would give her a change of scenario, a place to call her own and some extra money while she sorted out what she would do next. “Alright, Harrod, tell Baggins he’s got himself a new Healer.”

“Fantastic! He’ll expect you in Cardiff on Monday at 8 am.”

“Sounds good. Thank you, Harrod.”

“Oh, and Hermione?”

“Yes, Sir?”

“You know I never liked that git.”

Hermione laughed loudly. “I know Harrod. It looks like we’re both rid of him now though.”

“Good riddance, I say. He’s the Cannons problem now.” Hermione gave another laugh and said goodbye to her former boss.

“Well Cara Mia,” began Blaise coming in from the hallway, “sounds like we have something to celebrate tonight.”

“I guess so,” she confirmed standing up and brushing off her skirt. “Got anything in mind?”

“Oh, I can think of a few things,” he purred wrapping his arms around her waist.

Gazing at him affectionately, she trailed her hands up his arms around his neck. “I bet you do.”

A moment later, Blaise’s mouth dropped to hers. His sensual full lips were expertly parting hers in a matter of seconds, his tongue seeking and gaining entrance to hers with no resistance. A small moan escaped her lips as his arms tightened around her waist, pulling her body flush against his. Her moan grew louder as his hands slipped under her shirt while his lips trailed a path down her jaw to her neck to her collarbone.

“What do you need Cara?”

“To-to forget,” she stuttered. Her mind struggled to focus on words so that she can only utter one plea. “Make me forget all about him Blaise.”

“With pleasure, Cara,” he whispered pushing her back towards the wall. With a quick spell, he locked the floo and then cast the contraception charm. Her kisses became demanding and urgent, and he groaned as she nipped at his bottom lip; he noted the way her hips were rocking forward, seeking friction. He hitched her leg over his hip and ground into her. Relishing in the moan that escaped her lips as he did so. Her hands were under his shirt, clawing at his back, pulling him closer, needing more of him. She threw her head back as one of his hands found its way under her skirt and ghosted over the sensitive bud at her apex.

“Yes,” she growled, pushing her body against his hand.

“Still so responsive, did he not know how to make you cum, Cara.”

“N-n-no,” she acquiesced, feeling the hum in her body growing.

“Hmmmmmmm,” he replied, his finger sliding down against the damp cotton of her panties. “So wet for me, Cara.” He smiled as she whimpered against his lips, and pressed his finger harder against her, feeling the moisture from her slit seeping through her panties. He nipped at the tender spot behind her ear, her whimpers growing louder as he slid first one finger than two into her folds.
He began pumping his fingers in and out of her, setting the pace that he knew would bring her to her release. She squeezed and clawed at his back and shoulders, moaning his name, begging him not to stop.

“Come for me, Cara. Come for me the way I know you can.”

Hermione bit her bottom lip, remembering the way he used to make her come in their shared dorm 8th year. She and Ron had decided not to pursue anything at that time since he was still sorting his options and she was returning to school for her final year; she had been single and curious, and Blaise had been a willing teacher. He had opened her eyes to her body, taught her to how to chase and find that release, and shown her things she could never have learned in books. He hadn’t been her first by any means, but he had been the one that had shown her what it could be. The one that had given her permission to enjoy it and be unashamed to ask for what she wanted, what she needed.

“Faster,” she breathed, rocking her body against his fingers. His other hand was under her shirt, squeezing and pinching her nipple through her bra. She squeezed her eyes shut, allowing the feeling that was building to take her over, her mouth dropping open as a small squeak escaped signaling her release.

Blaise continued to pump his fingers in and out of her slowly, letting her ride out her orgasm, and was already undoing the button and zipper to his pants when her lips met his again. Shimming his pants and boxers and down to his knees, he began pushing against her. Hermione lifted her other leg, locking her ankles together behind him.

“Fuck me.” Her tone is begging him to fill her. Her eyes are pleading as they stared into his eyes. A predatory smile spread across his face, as his thick head rubbed at her entrance. Her lips moved to his jaw, kissing and nipping her way down to his neck. When he continued teasing her, denying her what she wanted, she bit his shoulder. Blaise hissed in reply and plunged into her hard. They both inhaled sharply as he filled her.

“So tight, Cara.”

“Shut up and MOVE!” she growled; her hips are again rocking against him. Blaise responded with a throaty chuckle. Placing one hand above her on the wall, he gripped her hip tightly with the other as he set an excruciating pace. He was pounding her unrelentingly as she clung to him. Feeling her walls beginning to tighten around him, he continues at his pace, pushing her further, and further. Knowing her second release is right around the corner.

“Come for me, Cara. Come on my cock.”

“Sooo cloosse.” She hisses, her breaths coming in hard pants, as she begs for him to keep going. “Blaise, please.”

He grunts his response, his hand slipping between them, pushing on her sensitive nub. He felt her nails dig into his skin, leaving deep half-moon gauges on his back. Hissing in pleasure, he pinched her nub, sending her over the edge, her walls clenching suddenly around him, pushing him to his release.

“Fuck witch,” declared Blaise. “I forgot how good you felt.”

Hermione gave a weak chuckle in response, gingerly letting herself down. “How about a shower and then food?” she suggested.

“Shower, round 2, and then food?” mused Blaise. Hermione chuckled again, before nodding.

“Fine. Shower. Round 2, and then food, but I expect something delicious.”

“Would that be delicious round 2 or food?” he pondered, deftly dodging the hand she reached out to hit him with as he opened the door and exited the room.

Chapter Text

Rest and Relaxation the Blaise Way

The shower did lead to round 2, as Blaise had suggested, and was every bit as satisfying as the food they ate afterward, much to his delight. Hermione was able to dissuade the insatiable wizard from round 3, by casually mentioning the desire to get some new clothes for her wardrobe. Blaise, being well Blaise, had been all too eager to help her put together a modern look. His love for both women’s bodies and finely tailored clothes, combined with his supermodel mother and nearly endless bank account, had always led him to an almost appalling love of shopping and there were few things he adored more than dressing up his friend, and occasional lover, Hermione Granger.

It was a discovery she had made during the Holidays their 8th year, when the charming Italian had invited her, and several others, to his mother’s villa in France. Hermione had had a near panic attack on discovering that his mother held an annual Yule ball and she had nothing suitable to wear to it. Blaise for his part had been thrilled to have another excuse to shop; his thrill had rapidly been replaced by shock upon discovering that under her baggy robes, a multitude of layers, and numerous jumpers, lay a shapely figure that inexplicably seemed to resemble an hourglass. Blaise, his mother Arabella, and Daphne Greengrass (both of whom Hermione thought were the very definition of goddess-like looks and elegance) had cried foul and outrage at her for daring to hide her body under such hideous rags. Hermione had held it together rather well considering the fuss they were making over her, blaming the war and the megalomaniac that wanted her and everyone like her dead for keeping her priorities on things besides clothes and fashion.

It was, however, when she mentioned that she no longer had a mother to ask questions to or go shopping with that she had fallen apart. Arabella had been horrified at the sacrifice the poor girl crying on the floor of the dressing room had made. From that moment on, the older witch made it her mission to ensure that Hermione always had someone to turn to for any reason – fashion or love or life. Hermione had begun to protest, thinking of her second mother in Molly Weasley, but realized that she was always afraid that should anything happen between her and Ron that she would lose that relationship with Molly. The woman had practically cut her off 4th year just at the insinuations from the Prophet about her and Harry, and really, Hermione had no desire to deal with that again. Plus, with the grief of losing Fred, she hadn’t wanted to burden Molly with her own broken heart and tears.

Arabella also understood the one thing about Hermione that Molly had never accepted – Hermione had no desire to be a stay at home mum with a large family, not that she saw anything wrong with it. It just wasn’t the path she wanted. And neither Ron nor Molly ever seemed to understand that, often telling her that she would change her mind when she was older and things had settled down more. Hermione remained undeterred; what she wanted was to follow the example of her mother who balanced a career, her marriage and family. Sure, it had meant having fewer children than she had intended at first, but she had found no less love or fulfillment than Molly in the life she had chosen. In that way, Hermione had seen Arabella as the magical variation of her Muggle mother and had gladly accepted her offer.

Instantly, the older woman had set straight to helping her new adopted daughter, create a signature look and a capsule wardrobe. (because even she recognized that Hermione would likely never be a clothes horse like the rest of them.) Hermione had learned a great deal about herself during that trip and had found a way to dress in a way that was both flattering and comfortable; there was something so freeing to her about having 25 pieces of clothes that she could effortlessly use to create twice as many looks. Arabella had not pushed her outside of her comfort zone of jeans and jumpers but had shown her that she could still look put together while being comfortable.

Not to be outdone, Blaise had focused on finding her a dress for the ball and find it he had. Along with shoes, jewelry, nail polish and a lipstick in the perfect shade of red; after that, it was Blaise who she had gone to anytime she needed clothes for a special occasion - Including graduation and the anniversary of Victory Day. She had even learned how to stop trying to pay for it all, by their third shopping trip together.

Hermione had taken to literally calling Arabella her fairy godmother by the end of those Hols, especially after she took her to her stylist and the two taught her how to both tame and free her wild mass of curls, and how to accentuate her face with makeup and a proper skincare routine. Not to mention the trip Arabella had taken her on to purchase lingerie and other unmentionables. Arabella was a supermodel after all, and one with seven dead husbands and a healthy sex drive. Blaise may have taught Hermione to ask for what she wanted sexually, but it was Arabella who had encouraged her to find and own her sexual prowess.

Of course, those early shopping trips hadn’t been entirely perfect. There were many fights in the dressing room as Hermione refused to come out in clothes she felt were too revealing, or that everyone else thought were just horrific and demanded she removes from her body instantly. The story most often shared was of the little old lady in the nail salon that had made Hermione cry by blatantly refusing even to touch her hands until she promised to stop the atrocious habit of nail-biting and had wrapped her knuckles twice with a nail file for even thinking about doing it again during her manicure. All these years later, Hermione had never been able to bite her nails again without picturing that woman’s face or remembering the sting on her hands.

In the end, Hermione had found her style, and dressed in a way that made her feel comfortable, and often pretty regularly. However, she knew, being the Head Healer for the Magpies, was also going to mean more public appearances with the Quidditch Club that held the league records for most wins and had the most prolific Charity presence in the International Quidditch League. The Magpie players and staff were featured heavily in local and global publications like Witch Weekly and Wizards Monthly, and of course the Daily Prophet and Seeker Weekly – the quidditch only publication that featured entire articles on individual players and staff of the prominent teams across the Globe. The Bats had been a wonderful organization, but they were not nearly as prolific or popular as the Magpies. Add that Hermione was also newly single, and still a beloved war heroine, with a well-known love for the less fortunate and underdogs, all but guaranteed she would be photographed more, while increasing the popularity of the team, of course. (The private estate that she would be living within courtesy of the Magpies was also one of the reasons she had taken the job – no press was allowed within the grounds. Period.)

There was just no way around it, being on a more prestigious and photographed team would also mean she would need more professional work wear and evening wear. And Blaise was the perfect person to help her upgrade – especially once she found out that he was not just a season box holder for the Magpies but was also one of their annual contributors and attendees at their many fundraisers and galas. Hermione felt rather fortunate to discover this, as it meant he knew every event that remained for the year and could ensure she had something appropriate to wear each time. She had balked at having to have a new dress for each occasion, reminding him that she could change her accessories or the length of the dress to suit her needs as well. Her logic never went over well with him in this regard, but he knew he could always surprise her with something whenever the mood struck and blame it on needing her to be a date and match whatever he was wearing. He was a Slytherin after all, and these were the times his cunning side shown. That there was a function the very first week, she was there, meant that he could go ahead and buy her something extra special to help show off her new single status and team; while, of course, happening to match him as her escort for the night perfectly. He could even see the headlines now about the classic beauty of the Gryffindor princess as she stepped out with her new team and a new beau on her arm. With that in mind, he tucked away a stunning formal dress that would accentuate her curves perfectly, while she was in the dressing room trying on a different dress for the children’s benefit the following month.

When they finally returned to Blaise’s villa later that evening, exhausted from shopping, and content from dinner and gelato at a local pizzeria, Blaise had immediately set to work on seducing her for round 3. She had pretended that she was too tired even to consider it but had returned to his room dressed in nothing but a pair of very high heels, thigh high stockings and a scrap of silk that had made her feel like Aphrodite. Hermione had squealed when the Wizard had practically pounced on her, almost ripping the piece of silk from her body in his desire to have her. Hermione had uttered not a single complaint when he had taken her against the large window, her hands and breasts pressed against the cold glass as he had pounded her from behind. She was sure she would have bruises on her hip from his fingers, and she had whimpered in pain and pleasure as he wrapped his hand in her hair and tilted her head back, forcing her to arch back as he made her come again.

When her legs had turned to jelly, he had sat her down in the high wing back chair in his room and sunk to his knees in between her legs. “I want to worship you,” he had breathed, his mouth nipping and kissed at her stocking covered legs; the soft silk was intensifying every sensation as he made his way to her exposed thighs, where his fingers lit a fire deep in her belly. He pressed his nose into her curls, savoring her smell and teasingly tonguing her clit as she squeezed his shoulders. He continued to whisper terms of praise to her, as he licked and sucked and tasted her. His lips and tongue were alternating with his fingers inside her. Hermione preened and purred and whimpered at his attention. Her body clenching and tightening as he urged her on. Blaise was always pushing her to chase that high before suddenly ceasing his ministrations. She growled in frustration as he withdrew from her yet again, threatening his favorite piece of anatomy with a push of her high heel if he didn’t give her the release she needed without any further delay.

Blaise’s same throaty chuckle reached her ears, as he flicked his tongue over her clit again. Followed by two fingers sliding into her tight wet heat, his fingertips curling just slightly to reach that spongy spot that drove her mad. Hermione bucked against his hand, her nails scraping his scalp, as she pulled him deeper into her. Her cry of release ripped from her throat, not a minute later.
“Oh no, Bella,” he breathed, noting the way her body sagged, “I’m not done with you yet.”

Hermione returned his mischievous grin with one of her own, as she slipped from the chair, effectively pushing him back to the floor with her body. “Oh, you aren’t?” she challenged, her mouth leaving a teasing trail from his ear to his jaw and neck. “Maybe I’m not done with YOU,” Hermione countered, her teeth scraping the skin on his shoulder, followed by a soothing lick from her tongue. Blaise growled, his hands tangling into her hair, as she began moving down his body. Her fingers pinched, flicked and toyed with one nipple, while her mouth and tongue teased the other. The moan that escaped his mouth made a smile spread across her face, as she alternated her ministrations before continuing down his body. She happily hummed as she reached his hard length; noting the moisture is glistening at the tip, she flicked her tongue over the head, and he sucked in his breath.

“Shall I return the favor?” she pondered, licking the head again. Her eyes were meeting his, as she sucked the tip into her mouth.

“Minx,” he ground out, his hands tightening in her air. It was her turn to chuckle, as she began to lick and suck and move her hands around his length. Blaise moaned in pleasure, as her teeth scraped against his head in between gentle pulls into her mouth. Her hands moved across his thighs, to his balls and back again — her fingertips alternating between ghosting over and gently massaging the sensitive flesh.

“Merlin, Cara.” The words caught in his throat, as she pulled up sharply on his length her tongue flicking against his head once again. “Fuck witch!”

Hermione let out a yelp, as he stood up suddenly, grabbing her in his arms and moving her to the bed. Giggling, she pulled him down on top of her; their lips met in a heated kiss. Her giggles gave way to a loud moan as he deftly slid inside her. He settled her heeled ankle on his shoulder as he began to move deep inside her. His groans of pleasure echoing her moans, as he began to build her up again gradually.

“Yes, Cara,” he encouraged feeling her coming undone around him, “just like that, Bella. Ugh just like that.”

“Don’t stop,” she breathed back, one hand holding him firmly around his back while the other pinched and teased his nipple. “Right there.”

“You’re gonna be so sore tomorrow Bella.”

“Worth it,” she replied kissing him deeply, her hips meeting his thrust for thrust.

“I’m close Cara; come again for me, Bella,” the words whispered in her ears, her body shivering as he nipped at her earlobe in between his pleas for her to come with him.

Moving her hand to her clit, she began moving it in fast circles, feeling her body tightening again. “Don’t stop,” she breathed again.

Blaise’s movements were becoming more erratic; they were both chasing their high now. She knew him well enough to know that he was trying to hold out for her; almost as if sensing what she needed, his mouth moved to her breast, and he bit down on her nipple. Hermione exploded around him as he began to suck the hardened pebble into his mouth. With another couple of thrusts, Blaise was grunting out his release in her ear. She clenched around him, as he released fully into her, his body shivering with relief.

Sliding out of her, he cast a scourgify as she did the contraception charm. He removed her shoes, and stockings before handing her the silk nightie she had had on earlier; after slipping into his silk boxers, he climbed into the bed with her.

“Thank you,” she mumbled, a giant yawn escaping her mouth as she snuggled into his side.

“For what, Bella?”

“For making me forget.”

A wide smile spread across his face as he tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, “My pleasure Cara Mia. My pleasure.”

.
.
.

The first thing Hermione noticed when she woke up was warmth; she didn’t have to turn her head to know that it came from the smooth body behind her. Raising her arms above her head, she unconsciously moved into a languid stretch – noting with mild satisfaction the protests and tenderness of her limbs. It had been so long since Hermione had shagged like that. No, she thought corrected, herself, fucked. Merlin, it had been years since she had properly fucked like she had been yesterday. She had loved Ron, but sex with him had never been the highlight of their relationship.

She had always dismissed it because he was so different from her previous experiences. While tender, he was also unsure and had never been interested in making sure she was satisfied as well. With Ron, there was no such thing as foreplay or oral. Hell, she’d been lucky if it had lasted more than 10 minutes most of the time. She had been at her wit's end trying to make their sex life stronger in the beginning. She had tried lingerie and even tacky role play costumes. She had suggested different positions or different places around the house and was denied at every turn. No, safe, uncomplicated, utterly dull and boring sex. On the bed. In the missionary position. No exceptions. That was her sex life for 2.5 years with Ron. It was no wonder she owned so many toys now!

At first, she had thought it was just inexperience, but had found out after a drunken night of truth or dare at the Burrow, that he had had just as many partners as she had. Probably more she thought, wrinkling her brow in frustration at the memory. He had been upset with her answer when she had given it, and when Harry called him out on having just as many, Hermione had snapped about the unfairness of it. After all, why was it ok for him to have multiple partners, and be called a stud, but the same number of partners for her meant that she was a slag? Everyone but Ron had agreed with her that there was no need for him to be upset with her, but he had thrown the fact that she had been so much more “experienced” in her face quite often when they fought about sex.

She had finally snapped amid one said argument. They were her lovers, and she and Ron hadn’t been together or anything more than best friends when she had been with each of them, and thus she felt entitled to keep her privacy. That she had confidently called each of them a lover and didn’t refer to them as just random hookups, had irked him; no matter, how much he had annoyed her, she had never revealed just who they were. Repeatedly telling him that it was none of his business who they were. Ron had stayed at Harry’s for a week after that fight. Probably should’ve ended it then, she thought ruefully.

“Bella, it’s too early to be thinking so much.”

Hermione snorted. “I’m sorry Blaise. Just thinking about what I need to do today.”

“Hmmmmmmmmm,” he mumbled, turning over to face her, “Am I on the list?” Giggling she gave him a playful smack, and only halfheartedly tried to pull herself away as he drew her into his body, pressing his hard erection against her side.

“Aren’t you sore?” she queried, trying in vain to dodge his lips and his hands.

“If I say yes, will you kiss and make it better?”

“No!”

“Worth a try,” he grumbled before kissing her soundly on the lips. “Come on then, Cara Mia. Since I know, they’ll be no going back to bed for you. Let’s get you up and fed and see what we can cross off that list for you.”

“Don’t think that by helping me, you’ll be getting any later,” she waggled her finger in his face as she spoke, only deftly snatching it back as he moved to bite it.

“Is that a challenge, Cara?”

“You’re incorrigible.”

“Thank you.” He replied exiting the bed, his smooth skin and erection taunting her as he stretched.

“It wasn’t meant to be a compliment Blaise!” she huffed; her cheeks flushed from the sudden sexual desire flooding her brain.

Catching the pink tinge to her cheeks, he gave her a quick wink and slipped a shirt on over his head. Tossing her a pair of his pajama bottoms as he crossed to the door, “Would hate for one of us to get distracted during breakfast. Especially if there are whip cream and strawberries.” With another wink he slipped from the room, leaving a grumbling Hermione in his wake.

Despite his teasing, Blaise ended up being incredibly helpful for the rest of the day. Helping her sort out what she would wear to work her first week; they had agreed that first impressions were everything, and with all her new clothes purchases she needed to resort her capsule wardrobe. Focusing on her capsule always made her think of Arabella and Blaise had suggested inviting her over to celebrate before she started her new job Monday. He also gave her warning that her new team had a game her first weekend with them, then requested to be her date to the Magpies Gala that same weekend. She penned both into her planner, lamenting that she’d already had to figure out what to wear, but Blaise had brushed her off with a “don’t worry about it” and reminded her to make her to do list as a distraction.

When she finished, he helped her figure out what she would be taking with her out of her boxes of belongings and what she would be leaving behind in her room at his villa. She asked to use his owl to send messages off to her friends finally. She was sure Harry was worried sick about her by that point, and Ginny was probably coming unhinged. Since it was Saturday, she sent both letters together, sure that they would be together at the Burrow for lunch the following day, and added in a third for George, to save his owl the trip. She penned additional letters to Luna, Neville, Daphne, and Professor McGonagall who she had become very close to since graduation.

Feeling as if she had accomplished most of the things on her list, she settled in with a book by the pool once again and read or talked to Blaise quickly for the rest of the day. Blaise surprised her with a couples massage out on the screen in porch, near the pool, in the late afternoon. Not one to miss a chance to learn, Hermione used the opportunity to speak to the massage therapist about different techniques she could use at work. They discussed techniques for sports-related injuries, muscle fatigue and how to see and incorporate healing massage for magic. Blaise, always the willing test subject, happily laid on the bed for her to practice on while she had the guidance of the experienced masseuse, before finally convincing her to stretch out on the table next to him and enjoy her massage.

They had another late dinner, and Hermione successfully slipped to her room for a good night’s sleep before Blaise could corner her for any more sex. Her body was sore, and she was content from all they had accomplished that day including her massage. The next morning, her last in Italy, Hermione awoke refreshed and better than she had in quite some time. She dressed in her swimsuit, throwing on some yoga shorts and a tank top to cover them, and started her day by the pool working on her yoga vinyasa and her handstand.

“That’s coming along nicely,” commented Blaise, settling into one of the pool chairs and watching her the last few minutes. She had smiled and kept going, knowing that Blaise was there as much to admire as he was to enjoy the early morning sun warming his dark skin. It was why he had charmed his back deck so that it was always the perfect temperature for swimming and lounging. When she finished, she had begun to remove her shorts and tank, laughing as Blaise groaned that she still had on clothes underneath, then jumping into the pool for some easy laps to stretch her muscles a bit more before breakfast.

After a half hour of complaining, Blaise finally convinced her to exit the pool so they could have breakfast. She smiled broadly at him, as he waited by the steps for her, a large fluffy towel in his hands. He groaned about the way the deep metallic blue of her bikini amplified the deep golden glow her honey color skin had taken on during the week she had been there. She allowed him to wrap the towel around her and didn’t pull back when he dragged her into his body and placed his lips on hers. Nipping playfully at his bottom lip, she yelped when she felt his hands sliding under her towel and around her waist. She struggled between holding her towel up and trying to smack his hands away as he began to untie her suit.

Giggling, she tried to scold him, but he remained unpulsed and continued his actions. “I thought you were hungry,” she grumbled against his lips.

“Maybe I’m hungry for something else at the moment.” She groaned at the clear line, and he swallowed the gasp that escaped her lips moments later as his hands succeeded at their task, spreading against the bare skin of her back as he pulled her closer still. Her bikini top hung loosely around her neck, covered only by the towel that she was now only holding with one hand, as the other clung to his back.

“Blaise, mate you out here? I need to talk to you!”

They both froze as the familiar drawl hit their ears. Blaise groaned in annoyance as he met the grey eyes across the pool, and Hermione bit back a gasp, both of her hands grasping to pull her towel closer around her body.

“Oh, sorry Mate, didn’t expect you to have company,” the man from the doorway apologized. “I’ll just meet you inside in a few minutes, yeah?”

“Yeah, I’ll be in in a few minutes.” Agreed Blaise, his arms still holding her tightly beneath the towel, her head bowed against his chest as she tried to shield herself from the other man.

She didn’t need to look to know he had walked away but turned her wide eyes up to meet Blaise’s eyes, her voice not more than a hiss, “What the hell is Malfoy doing here?!”

“Cara, you know he’s my best friend.”

“I’m aware believe me, but what is he doing HERE?”

Blaise shrugged, “Ruining the moment?”

She chuckled in response, “Oh yeah, he’s definitely a mood killer for me. Sorry.”

He kissed her lips softly, “It’s ok, Cara Mia. I still have this afternoon and tonight. I plan on having you at least once more before you leave me tomorrow.”

This time her laugh was loud and full, as she smacked him on the chest. “I’ll go get dressed, while you go talk to your friend.”

“Wear something sexy,” he teased wiggling his eyebrows at her and then giving her a firm smack on her ass as she turned to walk away. She gave a little squeal and tried to give him a glare over her shoulder, but only succeeded and making him laugh.

Chapter Text

Playing with Fire

Draco paced back and forth in his best friend’s study. Fury etched across his face.

“Where have you been this week?” he demanded the moment his friend entered the room.

“What are you talking about?” countered Blaise casually throwing up a silencing charm.

“Work. Malfoy Apothecary. Ring any bells?”

“I’m hardly one to forget that I’m the CEO of a major corporation, Drake,” replied Blaise plopping down on to the couch in the large room.

“Are you sure? Cause it feels like you are.”

“I am allowed to take time off.”

“Not during a week like this!” the words exploded from his mouth.

Blaise felt exasperated. “I didn’t take the whole week. I only take a couple of days and some half days. Hardly anything.”

“Hardly anything!” the blonde scoffed.

“Yeah mate. I spoke to Nev and Theo; all the angles were covered.”

“This was a major week for us!”

Crinkling his brow, he looked at his friend, “And I was there when I needed to be and left my team to take care of the rest so that we could discuss it later before making a final decision.”

“This was your responsibility - not your teams.”

“It’s called delegation and teamwork Drake. You should try it sometime.”

Pausing Draco looked at his weary friend on the couch, “Is this because of her?”

“Because of who?” Blaise replied absently rubbing his face in his hands.

“The tart by the pool.”

“Don’t call her that.”

“Why did you develop feelings for the slag?” a low growl from Blaise was the only response. Draco’s eyes widened in shock, “You DID develop feelings for her!”

“She’s different,” he conceded.

“What is the matter with you! Did she give you a love potion?”

“No.”

“Then what is it mate cause this isn’t like you.”

Sighing heavily, Blaise gave in. “It’s Granger.”

Confused, Draco furrowed his brow as he stared at the weary man on the couch. “What’s Granger?”

“Not what. Who. The girl, by the pool. The one you saw me with. It’s Granger.”

A deep booming laugh escaped Draco’s lips. “Aw that was a good one Blaise, but you and I both know that Hermione Granger is tied up with her Ginger Weasel in Ireland.”

Meeting his eyes, the Italian informed him that she and Weasley had split, before asking him when the last time he’d seen the Gryffindor Princess in person. “When she moved out of the flat,” Draco replied dismissively. “But that girl by the pool was showing off more assets-“

“Don’t talk about her like that!” he exclaimed standing suddenly.

“Woah. Blaise. Calm down.” Draco raised his hands in surrender, eyeing his him skeptically he continued, “Are you with her?”

“No.”

“Do you love her?”

“No.”

“Then what’s with this over-protective bullshit?”

“She’s a friend, alright? A good friend and I adore her.”

“You adore her?” he queried carefully repeating the strange word choice.

“Yes.”

“But you don’t love her.” The words were more of a statement rather than a question

“Not like that,” conceded Blaise finally. “Mia’s fun to be around and beautiful.” Crossing to the window a far-off look overtook him, “She’s so intelligent and great to talk to, and that body… and sex. Sex with her is just addicting.”

“YOU’RE SLEEPING WITH GRANGER!”

A small chuckle escaped his mouth, “I thought you didn’t believe me that it was her.”

“I didn’t. I don’t. It’s just not like you. Are you’re saying that you’ve been…” a look of horror crossed Draco’s face as he struggled to find the right words, “making love to the swot?”

“There’s no making love in this house,” Blaise replied with a rueful smile, “I’m not that far gone Drake, but yes, I’ve been fucking her. Repeatedly and thoroughly.” A look of pride and satisfaction crossed his face, and he fought back the stirring in his pants as he thought about the last few days.

Draco crossed to the bar and poured himself a shot of firewhiskey, downing it in one go before taking a second one.

“What was that for?” questioned Blaise.

“That was me trying to get the mental image of you fucking Granger out of my head,” Draco muttered.

“Ha. You still don’t believe me that it’s her!”

“Not even close,” he confirmed.

Blaise’s face spreads into a Cheshire cat grin. “Staying for lunch are you?”

“Yes, and a few others will be joining us any minute.”

“What?”

“I told you. You missed work, and I wasn’t happy about it.”

“Fucking hell Draco. It’s Sunday!”

“And your point?”

“Dammit, it was my last day with her!”

“Are you sure you don’t love her? You seem lovesick over this piece of ass.”

Draco yelped as he was suddenly thrown against the wall and wrapped in a total body bind. His eyes were huge as they meet Blaise’s “I warned you once about talking about her like that. She may not be mine, but I won’t tolerate it.“ growled the dark-skinned wizard, anger pulsating off of him. “You will be respectful and polite, like the pureblood git you were brought up to be in her presence. You’ll remember 8th year and what happened afterward. And if you refer to her as anything other than Granger again, I will end you. Are we clear?”

Struggling to nod, Draco agreed, abruptly falling to the floor as Blaise released the spell. Standing shakily, he brushed off his clothes. He eyed his friend for a moment before quietly asking him yet again if he wasn’t in love with the witch.

“I’m not you,” Blaise replied, staring his best friend deep in the eyes, noting with satisfaction the way Draco swallowed uncomfortably. Heaving a sigh, Blaise finally broke eye contact, absentmindedly rubbing his neck as he spoke, “If I could, I would. She’s certainly desirable and like I said, easy to love, but you know my heart belongs to someone else. As much as I could see myself with her, it wouldn’t be fair to either of us. I’m her friend. Her occasional lover. I enjoy being both of those things to her, but, no, there’s nothing more there.”

Observing his oldest friend, Draco nodded again. He knew where his mate’s heart lay, and he felt a surge of anger for the umpteenth time as he considered it. There was no reason to discuss it, they played the cards they were dealt, and at the end of the night, Blaise had risked it all and lost his heart in return. Draco knew that he wouldn’t have taken it back even if he could; Blaise had known the risks going in, and he had wagered it all anyways. It had taken a year to pull him out of the funk he fell in after that but recruiting him to help Draco figure out what to do with the mess of businesses and corporations that his father had left him with when Lucius went to Azkaban for life had helped.

The two friends had set out to pick apart and dismantle the entire portfolio and, in the end, had destroyed what Malfoy Enterprises had once been — selling off pieces as much as the whole, liquidating businesses and properties without hesitation. Until all that remained were two parts of the whole - Malfoy Apothecary and Black Wineries, the two oldest pieces of the Malfoy’s business history, and the two they determined they could turn into the most successful and respectable of all the businesses that had once made up his father’s and grandfather’s fortunes.

They had taken it a step further and began to replace some of the older and more nefarious associates within the company’s walls, replacing them with experts in their fields, and younger, more just counterparts. Anyone who had ties to Voldemort, or allegiance to his father, was sacked immediately and without question, albeit with an excellent severance package. Draco had stayed on as the Chairman of the Board for both companies, retaining his majority stock in each, but purposefully kept himself out of the day to day business so as not to taint it entirely with his Death Eater reputation. Instead, he had turned to his Hogwarts alumni, courting people from all houses that he knew would not only be efficient but show the more united front he wanted for his company.

Draco started with the Apothecary asking Blaise to step in as CEO, betting on his charm, connections and love of potions to help boost the Company. With Blaise at the helm, they quickly added new department heads. They secured Neville Longbottom as the Head of Herbology first. Ernie McMillian was next and placed as the head of Research and Development. Theo Nott was the final piece of that puzzle and became head Potioneer. Within months the company had surged to the forefront of the Potions world with more than a dozen groundbreaking and quickly patented potions that revolutionized the healing world. The most significant breakthrough was finding a way to create Wolfsbane both more effective and at a cheaper cost, thus giving more accessibility to those afflicted with Lycanthropy – most due to Greyback.

The Black Wineries had required a bit more work, but he had passed it off to the Greengrass sisters without hesitation, knowing that both were eager to leave the shadows and expectations of pureblood princesses relegated to being housewives and socialites. Daphne ran the business as the CEO and was one of the savviest businesspeople Draco had ever met. Her knowledge of wine history and food pairings, as well as her ability to read people, made her a force to be reckoned with at every turn. Astoria as the head of operations had organized the different wineries around France and Italy and created a more streamlined production timeline. Their fluency in both languages had quickly endeared them to all the workers and caused critics to look past their age and good looks. Susan Bones had slipped in as the Research and Development Head, creating new flavor profiles and organic stabilizers that allowed the wine to retain a better shelf life. She and Daphne had made a lethal combination of business savvy and taste, and when combined in a meeting, left no room for error. Michael Corner, now Michelle, had proven to be a marketing genius, creating a new label under the Black Winery name that could be made and sold to the masses and not just the elite — removing the elitist and pureblood stigma from the name of the company in one fell swoop.

In the five years since Draco had taken over, the two businesses had doubled their profits yearly and had more than made up for the loss of all the other companies combined. The success had quickly shut up any of the naysayers who had wanted to see Draco fail, but he had wanted to go a step further, giving no doubt has to how he had changed and the Malfoy dedication to not have a repeat of the Wizarding Wars.

He used all of the money he made from selling off the other pieces to create the Phoenix Charity, which he left in the capable hands of the Patil Twins. The Phoenix Charity focused on two parts. The first was on Hogwarts itself - providing guest lecturers and professors from abroad to further education, assisting with the revamping of the curriculum while liaising with the ministry and board of directors, and continued financial support for resources as needed. The second focus was on creating unity for muggleborn families. PC provided scholarships for Muggleborns entering Hogwarts for the first time, free tutoring for anyone who had been affected or unable to attend school during the war, and connections and communication options that would allow Muggleborns to have better links to their muggle families while at school.

Draco also created a specific avenue to care for War Widows and Orphans, called the Lupin Society, giving them housing, education, and other assistance, in honor of his late professor Remus Lupin and his wife Tonks, Draco’s cousin, who had left behind a young son Teddy. His mother and her sister, Andromeda, Teddy’s Grandmother, had taken the lead on that, after their reconciliation. Each determined to change the legacy of the once elitist House of Black; Narcissa especially had been bound and determined that her future grandchildren wouldn’t be tainted by the legacy of her husband’s decisions. They had all but destroyed the Manor, revamping it from top to bottom to create a refuge and base of operations for the Lupin Society. Narcissa’s beloved Gardens also now included a public playground, park, and tours with monthly classes for anyone else interested in gardening in the main greenhouse. The lessons were so popular that she had often thought about adding a second one each month.

While Draco still felt tainted and undeserving due to his actions and role in the war, he hoped that the legacy he would leave behind as the last of the Malfoys would at least be one of positive change and not of death and failure like his father. It was the driving force behind all the business decisions he had made since turning 18, and most days he’d like to think he was succeeding in that endeavor even if he wasn’t directly apart of the day to day operations of any of it.

His thoughts returning to the present, Draco poured a drink for his friend, then refilled his glass, levitating the other glass to Blaise.

“To bad hands and new beginnings.” It was the same toast they had made every year since they graduated. Blaise smiled wistfully and raised his glass to his oldest friend. They downed their shots and refilled their glasses once more.

“Come on then Mate. Introduce me to this new and improved Granger before the others arrive.”

“I’m really going to hate you if I don’t get to hit that once more before she leaves tomorrow you know that right?”

Draco shrugged. “Just put it on my tab.”
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Making her way back inside and to her room, Hermione hopped in a hot shower and took care with her hair and makeup – remembering that Arabella was coming at some point that day to spend time with them as well. Wonder how that’s going to fit into Blaise’s plans? She thought with a rueful smile. Looking at her closet, she contemplated what to wear. She loved her capsule wardrobe. On most days it made life so much easier. But on days like today – when she was torn between pureblood mothers and sexy Slytherins – she struggled with what the proper protocol was. Did she wear jeans and a cute top? A dress? A long dress? A short dress? Should she be dressing for tea or fun?

“WHY MUST EVERYTHING WITH PUREBLOODS BE SO COMPLICATED?!” She yelled at herself. Suddenly she heard a pop behind her and yelped as she turned. “Oh, Lala! You scared me!”

“Lala is sorry Missy Mee-ah! Lala is hearing Missy, and Lala wanted to help Missy.”

“Oh Lala,” Hermione dropped to her knees in front of the little house elf, “I would love your help! You always know exactly what I should wear.”

Lala smiled brightly under the praise. She had been with the Zabini family since Arabella was a little girl and had been Blaise’s nanny as well as a longtime companion. He had confessed to Hermione more than once that he would be lost if it wasn’t for the small house elf. She had been free since Arabella had become her primary owner at 18 but had never wanted to leave her. They had compromised, and Lala took a small salary and a few days off a month in exchange for staying with Arabella, and then Blaise. She had an excellent eye for fashion and was often dressed in cute outfits herself – either handmade or from the toddler section. Today she wore a black and white plaid dress. The waist was defined with a red ribbon, and it cascaded into ruffles from the middle down to the floor. Her hair was in two pigtails, and each tied with a red ribbon. From the moment, Lala had met Hermione she had formed a strong attachment to her, and while she knew she’d likely never marry her Master Blaise, Lala still treated her as if she would someday be her mistress.

Crossing to her closet, Lala immediately pulled out a long black maxi dress with three-quarter sleeves and a built-in tie around the waist. Levitating it to Hermione, she continued going through the closet and emerging with her black strappy sandals and necklace of oval amber stones. Hermione chose sexy black lace boy shorts and matching black lace bra. Slipping the dress over her shoulders, she immediately pushed the sleeves up to her elbows, and Lala adjusted the top of the dress, so it hung to one side, exposing her collarbone and shoulder. With a snap of her fingers, Lala transformed Hermione’s bra to strapless and placed the necklace around her neck. Nodding in approval, Lala handed Hermione small stud earrings to put in, and dried Hermione’s hair with a flick of her hand, leaving it cascading in soft waves across her shoulder. A swipe of mascara, hint of bronzer and a dab of soft plum lips gloss completed her look. Twirling in the mirror, she looked at Lala and asked how she looked, laughing when the house elf clapped in jumped in delight.

“Thank you, Lala. I never would’ve been able to come up without this.”

“Missy Mee-ah is smart, just unsure. One day Missy will see what everyone else sees, and she will be sure.”

Hermione blinked in surprise at the wise words of the petite elf. “Thank you, Lala.” The words were said automatically, disbelief still registering in the witch’s eyes. Lala nodded and shooed her to the library telling her that Master and his friend would be joining her soon. Following those instructions, Hermione soon found herself settled into her favorite armchair in the library, her legs crossed at the knee, the dress hiked up to just above that with a cup of tea on the table beside her, and a book in her hand.

She didn’t like to admit that she was nervous about starting her job with the Magpies the next day, but she was. She had loved working with the Bats. True being a healer for a quidditch team had never been on her radar, but once she had started, she had found it fun and rewarding. Not to mention a great way to keep her skills up, because you never knew what kind of mishap those players would find themselves in! In the two years, she had been with the team, Hermione had incorporated many muggle techniques into her healing techniques – secretly spending time with several muggle footy teams, thanks to her Uncle David who played professionally for England.

It had also been a great excuse to spend time with her mother's brother. He was giving her the connection with her muggle roots that she had so greatly missed since she had obliviated her parents all those years ago. In the end, it hadn’t made a difference as they had died in a car accident on their way to the airport to catch a flight to Australia. Hermione had missed everything since no one else in the family knew how to get ahold of her. She had been devastated when her Uncle David had told her, but he hadn’t allowed anyone to take anything or destroy anything in their absence as he was named the Estate Executor and sole heir. David had found it so strange that everything with Hermione’s name had been removed from their will but refused to believe that the Grangers would’ve forgotten their only daughter, so had chosen to leave everything in a trust for her. His professional career kept him very busy, but he always made time for his favorite (and only) niece and Hermione had always been so grateful to him for the love and support he had given her through the years.

Making a mental note to send him a letter, she returned to the book in her hands, reviewing some of the techniques inside it, wondering if she’d be able to use some of these techniques with the new team. This thought opened up a new world of questions and ideas, and she was deep in thought, having accio’d her notebook and a ballpoint pen (so much easier than quills) as her mind began rapidly firing things off. She was deeply engrossed in thought when she heard a throat clear, and her eyes lifted to see Blaise standing a few feet away from her. Noting that he had changed his clothes as well, she flashed him a quick smile, setting her things aside and rising to greet him.

“All done then?” she asked as he gave her a light peck on the lips.

“Not quite,” came a drawl from the doorway.

Tilting her head slightly she glanced over Blaise’s shoulder and felt her smile falter. Her gaze returned quickly to Blaise who gave her a contrite smile. Narrowing her eyes at him, he mouthed “sorry” at her, and she felt herself exhale loudly. “It’s fine,” she whispered patting his chest.

Squaring her shoulders, lifting her chin, she moved around him and crossed to the doorway where the blonde stood casually, his shoulder leaned against the doorframe with his hands in his pockets. She noted with satisfaction that his eyes were hungrily roving up and down her body. “Hello, Malfoy.”

His hard grey eyes settled onto her soft brown ones, and she willed herself to stand firm under his piercing stare. She noted with satisfaction something akin to lust and then recognition pass through his face before that all too familiar Malfoy smugness settled back into place. “Granger.”

She felt a smile slowly spreading across her face as she watched his eyes flicker down to her lips and then down to her exposed collarbone before meeting her eyes again. Feeling a flash of bravery, she took a step closer to him, noting the way he inhaled his breath sharply but didn’t flinch or step back, as she stepped into his personal space.

“See something you like, Draco?” Her voice low and seductive. She couldn’t help the ripple of pleasure that washed over her as she watched him process her intentional use of his first name; nor did she miss the way he licked his lips or the way his eyes darted once again to her lips before shifting to her breasts and back to her eyes again.

Sensing Blaise approaching her, she asked Draco if he was hungry. “I could eat,” he casually replied his mask firmly back in place. “You?”

“Oh yes. Famished. I’ve worked up quite the appetite it seems and haven’t been able to satisfy myself at all this morning.” Noting the widening of his eyes with satisfaction, she turned to Blaise and asked him if they should make their way to the dining room for brunch since they had never had breakfast and it was now far too late for that. Blaise nodded, baffled by her reserved manner, though he smiled sweetly at her and offered his arm.

“Coming, Malfoy?” she called over her shoulder, not bothering to slow her steps.

“Careful Cara,” warned Blaise, his voice low enough for only to hear. “You don’t know what you’re playing with.”

“Oh please, Blaise. I’m nothing to him but a mudblood swot-“

“Mia.”

She dismissed the warning tone in her friend’s voice with a wave of her hand, “He doesn’t scare me, Blaise.”

“I’m not saying you should be scared, but don’t tease him.”

“Oh, but why? It’s so much fun!” she countered.

“Hermione.”

She paused at the use of her name and cast a glance at him as they entered the dining room.

“Don’t tell me you’re jealous!” she laughed. “Are you afraid he’ll take me away from you?” she laughed again at the thought but stopped abruptly when she realized Blaise wasn’t laughing.

Her friend turned his chocolate eyes to hers; she felt her breath catch at the sadness within them, and she suddenly knew she had stumbled upon something she shouldn’t have - a cavernous truth that may have been better off left buried in the abyss. She searched his eyes, trying in vain to grab the mysterious thread that she had somehow tugged on, but not seeing anything else could only whisper, “Blaise?”

Blaise gave a cursory look over their shoulder, then pulling her chair out for her, simply replied, “Just… tread lightly, Cara Mia.” She nodded and watched as he sat at the head of the table. Her mind momentarily distracted as Draco strolled in a few moments later to join them.

Chapter Text

Don't Judge a Book by its Cover

Before they began to eat Lala walked in to announce the arrival of Blaise’s mother Arabella, who was quickly followed by Astoria, her sister Daphne with Susan and finally Neville and Theo. Hermione stood and greeted each of them. She was excited to catch up with some of her classmates. She hadn’t seen Daphne since she and Susan had gotten married the previous year, and didn’t miss the blush that passed across Neville’s cheeks when she asked about how things were going with Theo now that the two lived and worked together. She had smiled and winked at Theo, knowing just how long he had held a torch for her first friend. When the conversation turned towards business, Arabella excused Hermione and herself to take tea in the sunroom. It was just an excuse for the two women to catch up and Hermione decided to use the time to brooch the subject of Blaise and his warning. Relating the conversation to Arabella, Hermione waited patiently for the older woman to mull the information over.

Finally, Arabella looked at Hermione, “Cheri, do you remember that I told you that I consider you a daughter?”

“Oui, yes, of course.”

“And Draco as my son?”

“Oui.”

Nodding, Arabella continued. “It has always upset me greatly that I could not protect Draco from the path his parents set him upon, and when his mother was left on house arrest and his father was sent to Azkaban. I arranged for him to stay in my home in Cornwall before you all returned to school during your last year.”

“Oui, mere, but I don’t understand-“

Lifting her hand the woman cut off the woman she called her daughter. “I know you know this. But I’m reminding you of these truths because I need you to understand, that I know a great many things because of my relationship with that young man. He is mon autre fils, my other son. There are things I can say and things I cannot. Just as with you, I may know a great deal, but the stories are not always mine to tell; Comprenez vous?”

“Oui, mere. I understand.”

“Tres Bon. Now. Do you remember that lovely little book store we ventured into together the last time we were in Paris?”

“Oh yes! The Brown Paper Book Shop!”

“Oui! What did you feel when you first entered that shop?”

Hermione contemplated her answer for a moment before responding with confidence. “I hated it.”

“But why?”

She gave a noncommittal shrug, “It didn’t make sense to me.”

“What did not?”

“All the books covered so you couldn’t see the covers.”

“But was the cover important to the book?” pressed on Arabella.

“Well no,” she admitted.

“Because what mattered more than the cover was the story inside. The contents; not what lovey pictures an illustrator made, not what a publisher thought would sell more books, not even the name of the author on the outside of the book. What mattered most was what was inside the book, no?”

The words hung in the air between the two women as Hermione reflected upon what Arabella said, while Arabella merely sipped her tea. Arabella was right, of course, Hermione knew that. She tried connecting the dots between the two topics, thinking about how outraged she had been when she couldn’t find a new release by an author when she had stepped into the book store. The owner had merely chuckled at her, explaining that his books weren’t separated that way. The books were organized by subject, and no authors names or titles were listed on the outside of the book. Each had a magicked brown paper cover adhered to it, that would only be removed once the book had been purchased and read. Instead of a title and author on the brown paper, was a small paragraph description of the subject of the book.

Hermione had purchased a book of poems there that had been described as “poems on love and life from a poet born many centuries ago.” It had turned out to be a collection of poems by Rumi, a poet she had never considered reading before then.

Her other purchases had all been equally fascinating and surprising. Two of the books had turned out to be muggle children’s books – the Magical Monarch of Mo by Frank L. Baum, and the Little Prince, in its original French. The three books had been such huge favorites with Hermione that she always traveled with them now, but she could readily admit that she would never have purchased any of them if she had been given a choice, or seen their names or cover art. In that way, she had been pleasantly surprised and had become a frequent patron of the shop since then. Always eager to see what she would discover next, when all the stigmas and preconceived notions had been removed, and all that was left was the essence of what the book was.

Returning her gaze to Arabella, “So you’re simply telling me not to judge a book by its cover?”

Arabella wrinkled her nose in a combination of disgust and laughter, her words coming out in a musical lilt, “Well, I wouldn’t quite have put it that way but yes. You have learned that truth when it comes to books, but what about people? Could the same lesson not be applied to a person’s character or worth? If you strip away the labels, the pretenses, the mask they want you to see; if you were able to take a moment to read the heart of a man and judge his character for himself, would you be able to? Could you see past his cover?”

“But they’re not the same Mere!”

“Aren’t they, mon Cherie?” she paused, gauging the young woman carefully, “What did you know of Slytherins before you entered Hogwarts?”

Hermione paused. She had read extensively about all the houses in Hogwarts: A History before she had begun school and looking back Hermione had to admit that even then she had become quite biased against the house right from the start. Everyone in Gryffindor, in the entire school for that matter, knew that Slytherin was the "bad" house. The place where dark wizards and evil beings got their foundations. Hermione went on to say as much, surprised when Arabella nodded her head in agreement.

“So, before you had even met a single person sorted into Slytherin you had already decided that they were bad people?”

“Well… yes, I guess I had.”

Arabella nodded. “As did everyone else in your school,” she confirmed. Hermione shrugged, suddenly feeling embarrassed about her actions and thought process. “And yet, you have a special relationship now with several Slytherins – with my Blaise and Daphne. You have gone to dinners with Astoria and had drinks with Pansy. You and Theo have had many deep philosophical and intellectual debates, have you not?”

Hermione nodded, knowing each of the statements was true. Since her 8th year, Hermione had more friends that were Slytherin than any other house. Her brains weren’t seen as a bad thing by them. They thought she was cunning and witty, and her desire to be the best was something they understood and supported. If she was honest with herself, she had more in common with her Slytherin and Ravenclaw friends than she did her Gryffindor ones. She felt suddenly overwhelmed and perplexed by these revelations, and she looked at Arabella in confusion.

The older witch smiled at her in the most loving and understanding way. “You are a warrior, Mon Cherie. You have learned that you are the storm. You did not need a white knight to save you because you had your sword. But where you were praised for doing what you needed to live and survive, others were not given that luxury.”

“Others like Draco.”

“Others like most Slytherins and many others whose parents had chosen a side long before they were even born. Even your young Mr. Weasley had chosen a side and made decisions based on the family he grew up in." Arabella raised her hand to prevent Hermione from interrupting her again as she continued, “Yes, he is a pureblood that didn’t believe in blood purity, but he was also a person that believed a person was evil simply because of their last name or what house they were sorted into at Hogwarts. How many friends did he have from outside of his own house or family? One maybe two? Or was it only the people that came to be apart of your Dumbledore Army? And how many did he befriend and talk to? Any?”

Hermione felt her mouth go dry. How many friends outside of Gryffindor did Ronald have? Did Harry have? Yes, he led the DA but was he actually friends with any of them? Even with his crush on Cho, he hadn’t been friends with her; he’d merely found her attractive. Luna was the only exception for most of them, and that was more by Luna’s doing than any of their own. Hogwarts had never promoted house unity until after the war; they had been focused on their houses being their families, had all their classes and meals with their houses; they played on their house teams, and everything was a competition between the four houses. And while you may have classes with other houses like Gryffindors and Slytherins sharing potions, it was rare that anyone sat with someone from a different house.

“Even you, Mia, were separated and forced to create opinions on people you didn’t know simply by the labels given to you by a book and a hat, encouraged by headmasters and teachers, and peers. Perhaps, it’s time to let all that fully go, and judge a person for their character and merit, and not on their past or the labels set upon them by others. You do not like being pigeonholed as the brains of the golden trio or the Gryffindor princess. You hate those labels. You want to be known as more than the brightest witch of your age. Would it be so hard for you to believe that Draco hates being labeled as the Slytherin Prince or known as nothing more than the Malfoy Heir or Death Eater? You testified that he didn’t identify you and that you believed he was forced to take the mark as a child by his father – his legal guardian. And yet here we are how many years later, and you still see him this way. Still, you judge him for the sins of his father and the world that he was born into. You don’t like being told you are good at being a witch for a muggle-born, but you don’t believe that he is capable of being anything but a bully despite what you have seen him do over the last few years with his company. Even knowing that it is because of him that Blaise is here today, you give him no credit for changing or growing up. Why is that, Mon Cheri?”

Shaking her head Hermione found herself whispering that she didn’t know; in truth, she’d never thought about it in the terms that Arabella was now explaining them to her in. Hermione felt embarrassed and ashamed, and her eyes were heavy with tears.

“I do not say these things to you to shame you, Mia. I love you very much. You are my daughter in all ways but blood. You are strong, and your actions and words hold more power than you realize. I am simply asking you to consider the lessons you’ve learned and look at things through a new lens. Tomorrow starts a new chapter for you; perhaps it is the best time to start fresh with a new view of life.”

Nodding, Hermione agreed. Arabella rose and pulled the young girl into a hug. “I love you dearly, sweet girl. I cannot share stories that are not mine, but I hope that you can learn some lessons without having to experience the pain and sorrow that I have experienced.”

“Thank you, Arabella. I will consider everything you said. I am so thankful to have you in my life. I may be an adult, but I still need a mother sometimes.”

Arabella smiled brightly and cupped the young woman’s face in her hands. “I am very proud of you Hermione, and I have no doubt your birth mother would be as well.” She kissed both her cheeks and stepped back, “Now before I leave you, if I may give you one more piece of advice?”

“Oui, mere. Anything.”

“Rome was built on ruins and yet is quite breathtaking. You would do well to remember that cities are not the only thing that can be rebuilt into something greater than it once was.”

Chapter Text

Welcome to the Magpies!

The rest of the day had passed somewhat uneventfully, and much to Blaise’s dismay, he and Hermione didn’t get any more alone time together before she went to bed that night. He knew that her anxiety would demand that she packed and repacked and that she would change her mind about her outfit at least twice before Lala would intervene. Blaise was comforted that they would share breakfast before going to their separate jobs and that she had already promised that they would get all the alone time they needed after the Gala the following weekend. It had made him feel a bit like a lovesick puppy, as he was sad at the way things had ended for the weekend, but he hadn't been lying to Draco. Hermoine was just a friend, and he knew that it was the years of friendship that brought them both a level of comfort they didn’t find in their typical day to day that he would miss more than the possibility of a relationship.

In the morning, they ate breakfast together, and Blaise complimented Hermione’s choice of clothing for her first day of work. She smiled sheepishly, admitting that Lala had chosen her outfit and just left it out on the bed for her when she came out of the shower. Her black skinny jeans and black camisole gave her an air of sophistication when paired with her sky-high black heels. The blush Blazer added a touch of feminine grace, and Blaise noted with a smile that she wore a pair of stud earrings he had given her for graduation years ago. She blushed when he commented on them and told him that she always wore them for luck on her first days.

“You’re not going to need any luck,” he told her giving her a quick kiss, careful not to smudge her lipstick or make her teary.

“I’ll send you an owl once I’m settled tonight, ok?”

“Of course, Cara Mia.”

Giving her one final, lingering kiss, he wished her luck and watched her disappear through the green flames of his floo, before heading off to work himself.

Hermione landed in the traveling room of the Montrose Magpies main office where a beautiful brunette woman was waiting for her.

“Good Morning. Miss Granger?” Hermione nodded. “My name is Emily. Welcome to the Magpies.” Hermione thanked her and shook the woman’s offered hand. “I’m going to be assisting you this week. Helping you learn the ins and outs of the estate and ensuring you meet everyone.”

“That sounds great Emily. Thank you.”

“It’s my pleasure, Miss Granger.”

“Please call me Hermione.”

“Hemione, then.” The two women exchanged smiles, before Emily continued, “our first stop this morning is with Mr. Baggins, the team owner. He’ll have some paperwork to review with you, and then we’ll head over to the Estate office so you can pick your home.”

“My home?”

“Yes. You are staying on the estate correct?”

“Well, yes. Mr. Weatherbee informed me that was an option.”

“Perfect. We do prefer for everyone to stay on the Estate. Makes everything much easier. We do have several shared residences, row homes and the like, but we try to ensure that our more senior staff have a bit more privacy and have a home of their own while with us.”

“That’s wonderful.” Emily gave her a happy smile and motioned for her to follow her through the doors.

“You won’t have much time with Mr. Baggins, I’m afraid. Mondays are his busiest day, but with everything that happened with the medical team, he wanted to ensure that he met you straight away.”

“Yes, I heard there was quite the situation.”

“Terrible mess, all that, but we’re hopeful it won’t happen again. Ah, here we are,” Emily stopped in front of a large glass office and opened the door. She motioned for Hermione to join her, over her shoulder as she greeted the secretary behind the impressive black walnut desk. “Good morning, Mrs. Prewitt. I’ve brought Miss Granger to meet Mr. Baggins. She has an appointment I believe.”

The heavyset redhead behind the desk gave Hermione a once over, peering over her glasses, before looking down at a calendar on her desk. “Ah yes, Miss Granger. New Medical staff. A bit old for a Mediwitch aren’t you, dearie?”

“I’m a Doctor Healer actually, Mrs. Prewitt,” Corrected Hermione.

“You’re a bit young for all that education aren’t you, dearie?” Hermione felt her eyes narrowing as she gazed at the older woman before her, especially as she continued, “No wonder you’re unmarried.”

Hermione felt her mouth tightening into a solid line at the woman’s words but quickly replaced it with a broad smile and asked the woman if she was by any chance related to Molly Weasley nee Prewitt. The woman brightened, “Why yes dearie. Molly is my favorite cousin; we are quite close. Why do you ask?”

“Oh, no reason. Prewitt isn’t a common last name, and it dawned on me that Molly was the only Prewitt I knew.”

“Well, I hardly think someone who is not part of the Sacred 28 would know many Prewitts.”

“Of course, you’re quite right, Mrs. Prewitt, but as I am an intimate family-friendly of the Weasleys, another Sacred 28 family as I'm sure you know, I found it odd that I had never met you before.”

“Oh, really dearie. Well, I’m there quite often. Perhaps you’re not as close to them as you thought. Perhaps you’ve been spending too much time on that fancy education of yours.”

“Oh yes. How silly of me. I thought spending almost every holiday including Christmas and solstice with them, made me quite close to them. Especially when combined with weekly dinners, my very intimate relationship with one of their sons, and the weekly owls I exchange with several others.”

“Isn’t your best friend engaged to their daughter?” added Emily, seeing where the conversation was headed.

Hermione gave her a grateful smile and wink as she nodded her head, “Oh yes. Well, that’s just a small detail since I am also their only daughter, Ginny’s maid of honor, and she is in fact, set to marry my best friend-“

“Harry Potter,” interposed Emily.

“Yes, my best friend Harry Potter next year.” Seeing Mr. Baggins approaching the door with a knowing look on his face, she quickly added “but of course, I’ve been far too busy becoming one of the youngest Doctor Healer’s in the country to attend every soiree they invite me too. So, I’m sure it is quite possible that we have somehow missed meeting each other at all these family gatherings. Perhaps I’ll see you at the next one since we’ll be working together now. What a treat that will be.”

Turning to the door, she greeted Mr. Baggins, “Good Morning, Mr. Baggins, I believe we have an appointment this morning. I’m Hermione Jean Granger.”

At hearing her full name, the secretary blanched, while Mr. Baggins, coming in at the end of Hermione’s last few sentiments, seemed to be aware that something had transpired between the three women in his antechamber. “Yes. I’m delighted to meet you. I was just about to see if you were whisked to another appointment.”

“I’m so sorry,” she replied shaking his hand, “I was just becoming acquainted with your wonderful secretary Mrs. Prewitt. It seems she and I have a connection to the same family.”

“Why yes, the Weasleys! I’m lucky that Wetherbee allowed you to leave after what happened with Ron.”

“Well, I’m sure if Ginny had tried to lure me to the Harpies, as Ronald had to the Cannons, that he wouldn’t have let me out of his sight! But he did say that you were desperate, and I knew that my team was well trained and could handle anything in my absence with the Bats – though I’m not sure I’m prepared to fight down the number of hexes and injuries your team sustains every week!”

Mr. Baggins let a big booming laugh, his Scottish brogue shining through as his blue eyes twinkled merrily in his handsome face, “You’ve taken down a Dark Lord lassie; I’m sure a few hexes and broken bones won’t even make you bat an eye!”

“Well I certainly didn’t take down Voldemort on my own, so I hope you have capable staff to assist me while I’m here!”

“Of course, we do lass! Everyone here,” he pointedly looked over at Mrs. Prewitt before continuing, “is thrilled to welcome you to the Magpie family, and I for one am hoping that you’ll decide you to stay on once our season is up.”

“Oh, Mr. Baggins, I’m not quite sure that’ll be possible, Harold would be quite put out I’m sure, but I am very partial to Scotland, so I don’t think I can eliminate that option.”

“Wonderful! Well, I know you have a tight schedule today, but I would love to extend an invitation to dinner to you with my wife and I this week, and of course, we are hoping you will join us at our annual Gala this weekend.”

“Oh, I’m not sure there’s any more space available,” exclaimed Mrs. Prewitt, seeming to collect herself.

“Surely, an invitation was set aside for the Lead Healer,” questioned Emily looking at the woman in disbelief.

“That’s quite alright,” interjected Hermione, not wanting to give Mrs. Prewitt a chance to contradict Emily, “I was already planning to attend.” She once again gave the fussy secretary a polite smile before turning to her attention back to Mr. Baggins. “I’m attending with Blaise Zabini as his plus one.”

“That’s wonderful! Mr. Zabini is one of our most prestigious supporters,” chimed in Emily.

“Yes, Blaise is a dear friend. I had lunch with him and his mother Arabella yesterday. We were joined by several friends as well: Daphne Greengrass, her sister Astoria, Theo Nott, and Neville Longbottom. Oh, and Draco Malfoy was there as well since he and Blaise are best friends and Blaise is the CEO for Malfoy Apothecary.” Hermione saw with satisfaction the way dropping several important, and well-connected names of the Sacred 28 seemed to impact Mrs. Prewitt. To be friends with Blaise was one thing, but to be so close as to intimately share a meal with his mother, as well as his best friend, would not go unnoticed by the obvious pureblood elitist snob.

“He’s quite excited that I’m going to be working for his favorite quidditch team,” she added turning her attention once again to Mr. Baggins, “He’s also hoping I stay on for a good long while.”

Mr. Baggins gave her a conspiratorial wink, “Well perhaps I’ll let him do the swaying and just wait here with a handsome incentives package to sweeten the deal.”

Hermione gave a delighted laugh and told him she was sure Blaise was up to the challenge. “I didn’t mean to have our meeting here in your lobby, Mr. Baggins, but if there’s nothing else, I’m sure Emily has quite the agenda for me for my first day, and she said it was your busiest day of the week. I would, of course, be honored to join you and your wife for dinner tomorrow evening and hope that we can also have lunch later in the week to make sure I am aware of anything I’ll need to know for the Gala and the game this weekend.”

“Wonderful! I’ll arrange everything and have Emily pass the information along to you.” He took her hand and placed a kiss across her knuckles, “It has been an absolute delight, Miss Granger. You have already more than lived up to your reputation as the brightest witch of your age, and I am excited to have you join our team.”

Without meaning to Hermione gave a small courtesy, and then a bright smile. “I should warn you, Mr. Baggins, having been friends with the likes of Blaise Zabini and George Weasley, for a great many years, I am almost impervious to charm so that flattery will get you nowhere.”

Mr. Baggins gave another booming laugh and ushered both her and Emily out of the room.

Hermione turned to Emily with wide eyes, and a deep sigh, once they had made it a good way down the hall “What was that all about!”

Emily shook her head but laughed in delight, “I’ve no idea, but I’ve never seen Mrs. Prewitt behave that way! I must say you behaved admirably.”

“Well thank you! I’m quite used to dealing with people like her, just wasn’t sure I’d deal with it 15 minutes into my first day!” She and Emily shared another laugh and continued about their day. Hermione had been unknowingly right in her previous statement – Emily did have a lot of other things to check off their list for the day and the remaining part of the day passed in a blur of names and faces, hallways and offices.

Chapter Text

Won't You Be My Neighbor

Hermione sat in the plush couch in her new home in Montrose Estates with a large glass of wine in hand. She had completed her first week as the Lead Healer of the Magpies quidditch team, and she was completely unsure how to feel about it. No, that's not entirely true, Hermione thought to herself. The facilities were top of the line, and she had been pleasantly surprised with all the equipment and healing rooms the team had. They had also compiled quite a diverse group of healers to work with her during matches, and she had been delighted with their work and efficiency.

She had dedicated one entire day to reviewing skills, experience, expectations, and protocols. Ensuring that everyone ran the same diagnostic spells at the start of each exam was a top priority for the Lead Healer, since every trainer and healer could perform a different one. In the off-chance, a player was more seriously injured, they would save precious time knowing what was done in the room prior. Hermione had also stressed that a head to toe scan was required as part of each exam.

“If the player says they’re fine, why would we even bother with that?” one of the Med-Witches had asked.

“Because a player can feel fine but still have received internal damage to one of their organs from a rogue bludger or gotten a hairline fracture when catching a ball, the wrong way. In my experience with the Bats, and in speaking to healers in other professions, a head to toe scan can save a life or in our case a career.” Her response had earned a knowing chuckle from all present, and they had continued with the conversation.
Hermione was also keen to avoid the disaster that their predecessors had succumbed to, and her team was all too eager to create a new system to prevent that from happening to them.

“No one wants to be hexed like that!” the head MediWitch Kasey said.

“Not to mention the damage to your reputation” Healer Noah Kaufman chimed in.

Hermione and the others had nodded along and had spent half of that afternoon crafting a complex set of spells and wards together that they could cast before the game, and that they could cast to protect them and any patients they were working on while on the field. That had been a decidedly pleasant way to spend a Tuesday she had thought afterward. Her new medical team wouldn’t regularly be meeting, with most having careers outside of the stadium during the week, but the time they had had together had brought a real sense of calm to Hermione.

Dinner with the Baggins that evening had gone well, and Hermione had been surprised to discover her assistant Emily was their daughter. The two women got along very well, and Hermione felt an immediate fondness for both of her parents. Emily and her father had quite the time regaling Mrs. Baggins of the conversation between Hermione and Mrs. Prewitt, and Mrs. Baggins had almost fallen over with laughter.

“I would've given anything to see that old cow's face,” she laughed wiping tears from her eyes. Mr. Baggins replied that she'd get to see it in person on Saturday night at the Gala and Mrs. Baggins immediately told Emily to make sure to swap some of the tables seating around to ensure she had a good view. Hermione had laughed along with her at that point, and the rest of the meal had passed in a delighted fashion.

The rest of the week had been a blur of names and faces. Beautiful faces. After the third day, Hermione had found herself wondering if the Magpies employed anyone unattractive. She honestly felt as if she was the ugliest person in the room at every turn and had blushed when Emily had made a joke about how lucky she was to be single with all those options around. Hermione had laughed and laughed but thought that if she wanted to have a fun rebound or two, the Magpies team could provide plenty of options. Not that she would ever dip into the company pool, but it was tempting.

When those thoughts popped into her head, she turned to focus on learning the layout of the field and estate and of course, setting up her new home. Looking around with a sigh, she had to admit that, her new house was a perk of the Magpies she'd be reluctant to give up by returning to the Bats. After her meeting with Mr. Baggins, Emily had taken Hermione to the housing office, and they had set off with the head of housing Mrs. Price to review the homes available. Hermione had been torn between two styles, and Mrs. Price had suggested walking through the estate on the way to lunch so she could see some of them in person.

“You could also use it to pick out which lot you would like.” she had added as they walked out the door.

In the end, Hermione had found a quaint open lot at the end of a cul-de-sac with only two other houses on it. Behind the lot was a wooded area that would provide additional privacy and a pond that she’d share with the neighbor. The small lake was clean enough to swim in, and the neighbor had even built a dock and ramp to it. With that decided, which house to choose was remarkably easy. Hermione had gone for the one with the large back porch so she could sit out in the morning or early evening with a cup of tea and a book while taking in the pond and forest. It was magnificent. Plus, it complimented the two other houses on the cul-de-sac which she thought the neighbors would appreciate – even if it was just temporary.

Then had come the fight about a smaller house. Hermione had thought it crazy how much room the other two women thought one person needed. Despite stating that even a three bedroom was too large for just her, Hermione had given up in the end when Emily had suggested turning one room into a library and using the other as a guest room. “For your best friend, Harry Potter or the lovely Mr. Zabini,” she had teased with a wink. Hermione had giggled and blushed as Mrs. Price had raised an eyebrow at her, discreetly adding “private floo connection” to her list for the witch's new home, along with an owl for her.

Much to Hermione’s dismay, a house elf was also on the list. The fight was short-lived, however, seeing that the House Elf was free and upset about being rejected. Hermione had finally agreed to let her stay adding that she supposed if Po was willing to do the shopping for her and dust that it would be OK if she stayed, as those were the two things she hated most about being home.

Hermione kneeled before the small elf to discuss her terms more directly. “You must take time off when I'm traveling with the team. I insist you accept a galleon a week as payment and that you have a room of your own along with your clothes. It will make me very unhappy if you punish yourself if you think you've done something wrong.” Poor Po’s eyes had gone very wide at that, but she had nodded nonetheless.

Hermione had asked if there was anything Po would like to add before they shook on it, and Po had considered the witch for a long moment before cleaning her little throat and speaking softly, “What should Po call Missy?” Hermione had smiled softly and told her that she would like it if she called her Mia like her close friends did; this had caused a broad smile to spread across the elf’s face, and she clapped happily at being called Missy Mia’s friend. “Po wants to make Missy Mee-ah happy!” the young elf declared.

Seeing this as an opportunity Hermione thoughtfully added, “You know Po, I love flowers, but I am a terrible gardener. Can you help me with that too?”

“Po was the kitchen elf’s assistant for a big family. Po can care for flowers and herbs and plants for potions.”

“That's wonderful Po! I would love if you could do that for me as well. Having potion ingredients on hand would be very helpful as I am a healer,” she added as an afterthought.

Stepping forward, Emily sank to her knees next to Hermione and told the small elf that Hermione would have an owl that would need caring for and that Hermione liked coffee in the morning and tea in the evening. Hermione had been unsure how Emily had known that but had smiled in agreement, nonetheless. They had wrapped up the details a few minutes later and shook hands. When they finished, Hermione had given Po the address to Blaise's house so she could talk to Lala about the things Hermione liked and didn't like and the way she treated elves and what her expectations would be. Po had been very excited, and Hermione advised her not to come back for two full days so there would be time for the house and room to be ready for her.

When they had finished, Po had gone to find Lala and the three witches had turned back to creating Hermione’s home - including deciding where Po’s room would be. Some of the details Hermione had chosen to defer to the two other witches, but she was surprised to find she had many different opinions on the features of her home. She was quite surprised at first, but then it dawned on her that she had never had a house that was solely her own.

After Hogwarts, she had shared a flat with Ginny and Blaise and Theo because she didn’t want to move into Grimmauld Place with Harry and Ron. She loved them but living with them in a tent for a year had been more than enough for her. Ginny moved out when she had been picked up by the Harpies, and Neville had moved in to take her place. Ron had been furious that she was “surrounding herself with snakes” as Blaise wasn’t in a great place mentally and Draco was there quite often as a result. Hermione had dismissed him, reminding him that Neville lived there as well. She had eventually moved in with George in the flat above WWW when she had begun her residency at St. Mungo’s in London, but mainly because her long hours made apparition difficult and they didn’t have a floo at the flat. Hermione had lived with George until her residency was done and had moved in with Harry and Gin at Grimmauld Place since there was no worry about rent while she tried to find a job. Hermione had begrudgingly agreed to date Ron again by that point, partly due to Harry’s insistence, and when the position with the Bat’s opened she continued to live there due to the floo connection.

Of course, then Ron had convinced her to move in with him to a flat nearer to the Bats facility in Northern Ireland – after nearly a year of trying, and against her better judgment, she had accepted. Ron’s cheapness had won out, and they had chosen a flat that gave discounts to players in exchange for free advertisement for the building. The press continually harassed Hermione since they could camp outside of the building and she had fought to have the floo connected to the Bats stadium, so she didn’t have to deal with it. Ron had loved the press there and had drunkenly admitted one night to choosing the flat because of it. The confession had infuriated Hermione, who valued her privacy, but it was all moot now she thought, thinking about Ron.

Her new home reflected who she was and what she loved. The colors were all done in varying degrees of greys and blues with pops of blush and lilac. The woods were all honeyed oak, and Po had ensured that there were fresh flowers in every room. She had a library, filled with books, and there was a little nook with a writing desk for her, and a daybed to lounge and read upon when the mood struck. Po had added a second lower shelf in the middle of the room to accommodate all of Hermione’s medical books and rested books on Quidditch upon the top – something she was sure Blaise or Lala had told her to do.

Mrs. Price had taken all of Hermione’s pictures and made them black and white – which unified the combination of moving and non-moving images. Hermione had also noticed that Mrs. Price had discreetly removed all the pictures of her and Ron post-Hogwarts, and it was something that had sat very well with her. The Property Manager had also managed to unearth some pictures of Hermione throughout her residency and career with the Bats, and all of her degrees were now framed and hung as well. She didn’t own a lot of valuables, but what she did own was now displayed throughout the home. It made her feel as if it was hers, and not at all temporary, like every other place that she had lived over the past few years. It was unlike anything she had ever experienced before, and it filled her with tranquility.

Po had chosen to make her room inside a couple of cabinets in the mudroom. She had a bed, table with chair, dresser for her clothes, and a small bookcase with a few precious treasures. There was also a new piggy bank where she would place her galleons that Hermione insisted on giving her. Po had emphasized that the colors in her room matched with the house and had chosen grey and cream with blush linens. Lala had given her a collection of recipes that the older Elf knew were longtime favorites of the witch and offered her a few new dresses that she no longer wore.

Along with Po’s new home in the mudroom, was a perch and sheltered area for Hermione’s new owl, Athena. Hermione had never thought to own an owl, and she hadn’t had a single idea on how to pick one. The three witches had made their way to the main owlery on the property to see if there were any available at Mrs. Price suggestion and though hesitant, Hermione had agreed.

Upon entering the owlery, a young barn owl had flown around Hermione, staring at her intently, obviously studying her with her piercing black eyes. The owl master had informed her that it was a new owl, that seemed headstrong and probably not best for her, but Hermione hadn’t been able to take her eyes off the heart-shaped face, and flawless white belly of the bird in flight. Remembering the way Harry used to speak to Hedgewig, Hermione asked the owl if she would like to come home with her and was surprised when the owl not only hooted in reply but had landed at her feet and looked up at her. Everyone agreed that it looked as if the bird was SMILING at her. When Hermione had said she would take her and asked for everything in the shop she would need for her new owl, the bird had flown to her shoulder and nuzzled against her face. Emily said that at that moment, Hermione had looked like the Goddess Athena, which had caused her to smile in delight before turning to the bird and promptly naming her Athena.

Hermione had just gotten up to check on Athena when she heard her floo activate. It had only been active for a couple of days, and the list she gave to Mrs. Price of authorized people had been very, very small. She hadn’t even told any of them that she had it yet, so when Hermione spotted her best friend dusting himself while looking around perplexed she dropped her wine glass in her haste to throw her arms around him.

“HARRY!”

“Merlin’s beard, Mione! You’re a hard witch to get a hold of!” she laughed as he squeezed her tightly, and he took a step back to look at her. “Alright, Mione?”

Hermione merely nodded, “All the better for seeing you, Harry.”

Harry smiled brightly at his friend and then extended his hand. “I’m hoping I’m not too late, but I brought dinner.”

Peering at the bag, Hermione jumped up and done a little. “Is that what I think it is?”

“All the way from London!”

“You truly are a savior Harry,” she replied happily, taking the bag from him and headed to the kitchen.

“So, I’ve been told,” he grumbled following behind her, cleaning up and repairing the mess she had made from dropping her wine glass on the way. Only when he glanced up at her smiling face did he realize she’d only been teasing. “Haha. Very funny.”

The two friends settled in around Hermione’s dining room table, chatting easily as they tucked into their meal from their favorite take away place in London. The two friends relished in the time together, as they hadn’t had a chance to in quite some time.

“I like this new place,” Harry told her as she handed him a dish to dry after they were done eating. She smiled, taking in his words while continuing to wash the dishes from their meal by hand. Anyone who knew her knew she enjoyed doing some things the muggle way – like making her tea with water that was boiled in a kettle versus by magic. Somethings just felt right done the way she had grown up with, and while Harry had hated his past with the Dursleys, doing dishes had always felt soothing to him as well.

Hermione gazed around before responding. “It does feel very different from everywhere else I’ve lived.”

“That’s because it’s like you – sophisticated and relaxed.” Hermione snorted. “It’s true!”

“Oh yes sophisticated and relaxed, that’s me! Sounds exactly like me.” Harry laughed at her retort before agreeing that most people wouldn’t use those exact words to describe her, but knowing her as he did, she needed to take his word that it was accurate. Hermione finally agreed to disagree with a knowing smile before asking Harry if he’d like to continue their conversation on the back porch. Grabbing their glasses and the rest of the wine, the two settled into the swing Hermione had installed and sat contently looking out at the forest behind her new house.

“So, do you want to talk about Ron?”

Hermione shook her head. “Harry, I know how you feel about being put in the middle of things between us-“

“I do, but I want you to know that I told him it was over for good between the two of you.” Hermione turned wide eyes on to her best friend, asking him to repeat himself, and so he repeated not only the statement but the story of what had happened between the 3 Weasleys and himself the day after her public break up with Ron.

“You- you picked me?” Harry nodded. “But you never pick me! You always side with Ron!”

Harry felt shame rush over him at her words. “I’ve always tried to stay neutral Mione. I always thought that I had, but that day, I realized how I hadn’t been. I’ve been a terrible friend to you, and seeing him sitting there, still drunk, and unapologetic for what he’d done! It was too much. I couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t even about him being your boyfriend anymore. His actions proved he didn’t even know you at all. How could he call himself your best friend and make decisions like that? It was too much.”

Hermione had nodded along, listening to Harry’s speech. She was still stunned by what had happened that day. That Ron still didn’t understand why she was upset the next day, didn’t surprise her. It just angered her more and made Harry’s words all the more real. He wasn’t her best friend. She could tell Ron so many inane details about his life – not just cause she had been his girlfriend, but because they had been friends since they were 11! And yet, Ron had routinely forgotten even the simplest things about her – like how she hated firewhiskey and red wine. He couldn’t even remember her coffee order – though it stayed the same and they ordered it every single day on their way into work together. But that Harry, Ginny, AND George had all sided with her! George she could understand, but Harry and Ginny. They had never sided with her on any of their arguments before.

“I wish I had been there to see Ginny hit him with her bat boogey hex, though.”

“It was bloody brilliant! George and I laughed for hours about it afterward!” The two shared a great laugh over the mental image, and Harry shared more stories with Hermione about what had happened after he left.

Hermione snuggled into Harry’s side, their hands intertwining as she rested her head on his shoulder. Anyone seeing them would struggle to see any gaps between their bodies, but for the two only children, it felt like the comfort of a family member – the sibling that neither of them had, that they had found in each other. It was how the two defined their relationship since their time on the run together. Their relationship had always remained strictly platonic, but they had always drawn strength from physical contact from each other.

They remained in a content silence for several minutes before Hermione spoke again. “How are things with you and Ginny?” Hermione cautiously asked her friend.

Harry took a deep breath, thinking about how he wanted to reply to his friend. He knew that lying would do him no good, so he went with the only thing he could. “I’m not really sure actually. We still love each other,” he rushed on, “but it’s hard with our schedules. Sometimes I feel like we’re together more because it’s easy and expected and less because we want to spend the rest of our life together.”

“I know what you mean. That’s how I felt about Ron.” This answer surprised Harry, and he turned to his best friend to ask for how long. “Before we moved in together. It was just what everyone wanted and told me was the next step for our relationship.”

“Hermione, I am so so sorry.”

“For what?” she asked, looking at her best friend.

“For pressuring you. You had expressed so many times that you were sure that you and Ron made better friends than a couple. I’m sorry I didn’t listen.”

“It’s ok, Harry. I understand, really, I do. I should’ve listened to my gut.”

“Yes, and I should’ve supported that decision and feeling rather than listening to Ron and just wanting you to stop fighting. You seem happier now than you did those last few months with Ron.”

“I think I am happier now, Harry. I loved Ron; I really did, but… I feel like I lost a part of myself trying to make everything work with him. I mean I’m a healer for a quidditch team for Merlin’s sake! I hate FLYING, and I spend my days healing people that get injured while doing it.”

Harry laughed, heartily at this. Anyone who knew Hermione knew she hated flying on brooms and had hated Quidditch all through school. The number of times Harry was injured while playing the sport, did nothing to ease this feeling. How Ron had been able to convince Hermione into becoming a healer for the Bats had had more to do with the lack of openings available at St. Mungo’s and private practices than it did with her love for Ron or quidditch. Yet here she was, working for another team, and gearing up for one of the biggest matches of the year.

“Are you ready for tomorrow, then?”

“Sure. The team has spent some extra time working together, learning new roles and expectations. We’ve created some new protection spells to ensure no one gets injured like last time.”

“That’s great! But I meant for all the press.”

“Well, there’s always press at matches, Harry.”

“Merlin Mione, do you even know who the Magpies are playing tomorrow?”

Hermione sat up at her best friend’s tone. “No, I don’t. It never much matters to me who we play. You know I don’t pay much attention to the game itself. That’s not my job.”

“Merlin’s beard Hermione! Tomorrow is the Magpie Annual Charity match! The Magpies are going to be playing an exhibition, and they are going to be flying against the best flyers in the entire league!”

Confusion etched across Hermione’s brow. She still didn’t understand what that had to do with her and expressed as much. “So that means Ginny is playing tomorrow?” she asked grasping at straws.

“Yes, Hermione!”

“Ok. So, what’s the big deal?”

Harry was growing exasperated. “What position does Ginny play?”

“She’s a chaser.”

“Do you know who the best chaser on the Magpies is?”

“No, I haven’t met all the players yet. A few were out this week, playing for the British national team.”

“So, you don’t know about the rivalry between the Magpies chaser and Ginny?” Hermione just shrugged her shoulders. She could suddenly sense that this was a big deal, and she should know it. Quidditch had never been her thing. If they had been talking about footy, it would be a different story, but no one in this world knew anything about footy, so she had just continued to follow her Uncle and her favorite teams quietly. Her long pause most have finally snapped something in Harry, cause he was swearing under his breath.

Hermione gave him space as he began to pace across the porch.

“I just don’t know how you could not know this, Hermione! You research everything! When you agreed to be on this team, I figured you knew. How could you have been with the team for a week and not have looked at the names of all the players?!”

This was too much for the witch, and she jumped to her feet, pulling herself up as much to her full height as she could, “I’ve been a little busy, Harry! I’m glad you think I’ve been doing nothing this week! But I’ve been busting my arse trying to catch up and learn everything I could with a new team - a team that has never worked together before might I add and includes specialist and equipment, I’ve never had access to before! Oh, and let’s not forget the little detail about having to resort my entire life to another country AGAIN!”

Her words seemed to take the wind out of Harry’s sails a bit, and he stumbled over an apology as he tried to figure out the best way to explain this to her. “Hermione, tomorrow is an important game. The Magpie chasers are the top of the league. Their head chaser is #1 in the league in points and has been for the last several years. He and Gin rarely get the opportunity to face off against each other, but in the last few times they have – it’s been explosive. It’s no wonder they’ve been worrying about beefing up their medical team before this match! There are so many old rivalries and wounds that come up whenever they face off. I can’t believe you’ve never heard Ron vent about this! It’s one of his favorite subjects!”

“Oh, for Circe’s sake, Harry spit it out! Who is this great almighty chaser that’s got your knickers all in a twist?!”

“That would be me, Granger.”

Hermione whipped her head around at the voice that had come from the path near the pond.

“I’m not sure how I feel about being responsible for getting Potter’s knickers in a twist – he’s not really my type – but it may be worth it to hear him talk so highly about me,” he added, strolling closer to the porch as he drawled on.

“Malfoy! What are you doing at my pond?”

“Excuse me, Doctor Healer Granger, but that happens to be my pond. I dug it myself when I choose this plot.”
She noted the way he deliberately said her career titles. Very few people knew that she held the two degrees, and most simply referred to her as Healer Granger; even as this thought entered her mind, another came racing after it, and she found her mouth struggling to keep up with her brain as words stumbled out of her mouth, “Your pond- this plot- you can’t mean.”

A large smirk graced Draco’s face as he finally reached the bottom step to her porch. His face softly lit by the fairy lights dancing along the railing, showing the way his sharp features were no longer angular and pointy, but rather added a chiseled quality to his face. The beard that he had been sporting for a bit gave him a rugged look that made him seem aloof and disinterested. When combined with his piercing grey eyes, the total package was nothing short of devastatingly handsome.

“Brightest witch of our age,” he replied, tapping the end of his nose with his finger. “Well, I’ll be off,” he added, placing his hands into his pockets, “early day tomorrow and all. Always a pleasure to meet a fan, Potter. Goodnight, neighbor.” That the last bit was said looking directly into her eyes and punctuated by a wink, almost made Hermione snap then and there.

Instead, she was forced to turn enraged eyes on her best friend, who immediately raised his hands in surrender. “Don’t kill the messenger,” was all he could say before making a hasty retreat himself.

Stomping back inside, Hermione felt her blood boiling. Draco blessed Malfoy played for the Magpies. Their #1 chaser! And to think she had shared a meal with him not even a week ago at Blaise’s. And Blaise! Her eyes narrowed thinking of the charming wizard who’s bed she had warmed the week before. The man that had spoken so highly about the team, and he had never said anything! Not a single word.

“Just wait until I get my hands on that smooth-talking snake tomorrow!” she hissed to her reflection in the bathroom mirror and with that Hermione downed both a calming draught and a sleeping potion. There was absolutely no way she’d be able to turn her brain off now, and there was no way that she would be anything but her best tomorrow. When sleep did finally come, she found her dreams haunted by a pair of silver eyes, as words from both Blaise and his mother danced around her.

Chapter Text

Game. Set. Match.

By the time, Hermione went to the field for some pre-match press, she had memorized every player that would be playing on both teams, and wasn’t the least bit surprised when she was asked to stand with the Head Coach of the Magpies, John Barnes, and the team Captain for some promo pictures. Hermione hoped she looked more confident than she felt dressed in the newly redesigned medical team uniform that she had created with the help of Emily and Mrs. Price. The new outfit favored the style of the Magpies Quidditch uniform, with black pants tucked into black boots and a matching shirt. Her jacket, replacing the long voluminous robes known to most healers, was Doctor white, but form-fitting, and ended just at her hips. Like the Magpies uniform, it clasped at her chest with a symbol. Whereas the Magpies uniform was the Magpie itself, it’s wings spread out and the player’s number in the center of its chest; the medical jacket was clasped with the Staff of Asclepius, the commonly pictured staff with a serpent around it that represented the medical profession. Her shoulders contained the same decorations as the team’s as well but had MM embroidered upon them. The back of her uniform was emblazoned with her name and MEDICAL. It was designed to stand out brightly in the crowds and hopefully prevent accidental hexing – though they had already placed all the wards in anticipation of the masses.

Next to her, with a smile on his face, looking far more handsome than he had any right to, was none other than Draco sodding Malfoy. His Quidditch uniform clung to his body in a way that enhanced the way his body had changed from their time at Hogwarts. He was no longer long and lean, his ferrety features as filled in as his chest. His perfectly trimmed beard gave him a softer, more relatable look and set his features more into the category of chiseled over pointy. His pale blonde hair, more golden than silver, in the bright sunlight, was worn shorter than it had been when they were children but was still long enough to brush his forehead, causing him to push it back with the sweep of his long fingers. Gone were the days of gelled slicked back hair and even Hermione was forced to admit that it suited him better as did the faint tan of his skin from hours spent in the sun training.

For their home game, he was in their custom black pants, and a crisp white tee shirt with black ribbed collar. The long white jacket, favoring more traditional wizarding robes without the volume, only accentuated the broadness of his shoulders and narrowness of his waist. Across his chest, the Magpie stood proudly, wings outstretched from its body before disappearing under the curve of Draco’s arm. A bold number one sat in the center of the Magpie’s body, identifying his team number, and a large black C was embroidered above his heart, indicating his role of team captain. An additional black bar secured the Quidditch jacket above the Magpies head. His decorations were black and served discreetly as extra padding for the Chaser, who did not currently have on any of his additional paddings. Across his back, was his name in the Magpies signature font.

Together, smiling side by side, they cut a striking pair, her dark curly hair framing her face, his golden glow highlighting his indulgent smile. The Magpies logo and Quidditch hoops looming just so in the background, adding a surreal touch to this new reality. It was an image guaranteed to make the cover of Seeker Weekly as well as the front page of the Prophet.

Draco knew that he had thrown her for a loop last night, but he also knew Granger well enough to know that she wasn’t the type to stay clueless for long. That she suddenly could speak eloquently and knowledgeable about the team to the journalists in front of them only confirmed that opinion. She even knew how long the rivalry between Draco and Ginny existed and was sure to add that it wasn’t an old school rivalry or a matter of Gryffindor versus Slytherin. “You do realize that we’re no longer children and making your entire acquaintance with someone contingent on what house they belonged to is as ridiculous as not being friends with someone based on their blood type right?” had been her brilliant reply.

That she was standing next to a pureblood, who was also widely known as an enemy from those same days, seemed to cause a couple of chuckles and to sputter from the journalist that had asked the question.

“Listen, I know the rivalry aspect is a great headline and if all you’re here for today is to sell a few papers than by all means play it up. We obviously can’t stop you, but if you go that route, know that you are missing the entire purpose of today’s match.”

“And what is that Miss Granger?” pressed one of the younger journalists in the back.

“That’s easy Mr. Lark – to support the Phoenix Charity; that’s why we’re here today after all, and why these stands are full. Not to show how great one team or another is, but to have the opportunity to watch two of the greatest quidditch players in history, along with some of the best players in the league, put on a great show while raising awareness and funds for a much-needed organization.”

“You’ll also be missing out on the delight of many of the benefactors of this beloved charity who will be sitting in the boxes on both sides of the arena today,” added Coach Barnes.

“This may be a charity match,” chimed in Draco, “but it’s still one of the most highly anticipated games of the year, even played so early in the season. This match counts for something far greater than points, and we all know it.”

“One last question,” stated the Team Manager, Joon-ho Kim. “You, Ms. Barry.”

Ms. Barry cleared her throat before speaking directly to Hermione. “Miss Granger will you be attending the Gala tonight and if so, who will you be attending with now that you and Mr. Weasley are no longer an item?”

“Oh, Miss Barry. How disappointing that that’s the question you choose to ask,” began Hermione. “Of course, I shall be attending the gala tonight in support of my team and of the Phoenix Charity. I will be attending as the guest of a dear friend, as I often have in the past.” She smiled at the woman, though Draco could see it didn’t reach her eyes.

“Thank you for your time,” he added, “If you’ll excuse us, we must get ready for the game.” Placing his hand gently on Hermione’s back, he steered her to the left, away from the press and into one of the tunnels, the sound of cameras clicking echoing around them. “Don’t say anything until you get into your office,” he said in a low voice that only she could hear. With a gentle nod of her head, she continued forward, allowing Draco to continue to walk with her, his hand still at her back.

Once they were in her office, she breathed a sigh of relief, before muttering some unkind things under her breath. Draco merely leaned against the now closed door and chuckled. “You did very well, all things considering,” he commented, watching her pace slightly.

She paused for a moment, seeming to consider his words before responding. “Thank you. I’m glad I was able to not make a fool of myself today.”

“No one would’ve ever let that happen to the brightest witch of our age.” She smiled as he used the terminology to describe her for the second time in so many hours.

“You just love to say that don’t you.”

“Well, it’s been a while. I thought you might’ve forgotten.” His words caught her off-guard, and she suddenly realized that while his mannerisms seemed casual and uncaring, his grey eyes were focused solely on her, studying her carefully.

“I have,” she replied solemnly. “I don’t often feel like the girl that earned that title anymore.”

He was surprised by her truthfulness and regarded her carefully. “That’s understandable considering the woman you’ve become,” he replied his body shifting off the wall, “but I do not doubt that the woman you are is every bit as bright as the girl you once were.” With those words, he gave her a wink and headed out the door. Leaving Hermione feeling breathless, but for what reason, she wasn’t sure.


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The exhibition match was a huge success. The visiting team composed of some of the biggest stars of the Quidditch world vs. the first place Magpies had not only drawn a vast crowd, but the players on both sides had heard about Hermione’s statements and were putting on a spectacular show for all to see. There had been quite a few remarkable saves by the keepers, death-defying dives by the seekers as they hunted the snitch, and the chasers were pulling out all the stops with more tricks and sweeping passes than anyone could remember seeing in any recent match. This had resulted in a massive score in a relatively short amount of time, and by the time the score was over 150 points, both medical teams had converged on to the field several times. The wards erected around the crowds meant that no one from the audience was injured and that none of the players or staff were injured by some of the more unruly spectators – not for lack of trying! There had been a couple of ejections of wizards who couldn’t seem to keep their wands in their pockets.

When the score was 190 to 170, the Magpies seeker, Alisa Beird, known as “The Lady” by her fans, suddenly took off into the sky, and immediately was chased by the Falcons seeker, Jamie Raun. No one seemed to pay attention to anything else as the two female seekers were seen racing from one end of the pitch to the other, a golden flash being the only indication that they were closing in on the snitch. Just as Draco tied the game at 190, a loud cheer rang out around the stadium. Alisa had caught the snitch – her fingers just grazing it out of the clutches of the visiting seeker. The thunderous applause shook the stadium, and Hermione thought she might need to add special hearing protection to the list of things she should have on hand for the next game.

After the game, Hermione and her team sprang to action. Reminding them all that she required that each player that had been on the field be examined for injury the healers set to work. The Lead Healer herself examined the apparent injuries. Healer Kaufmann was conducting the exams on the remaining players before sending them on to the showers, physio, or for more intensive healing. Several of the players would require stitches and pain potions for various cuts and bruises, and the mediwitches took the lead in these areas — the most extreme injury, sustained by one of the beaters, Ian Dori. Ian was hit by two bludgers simultaneously and suffered a nasty fall. The Goal Keeper, Flip Rodriguez had several broken bones in his hand after it had gotten caught between the hoop and a broom. And somehow, Draco had suffered a dislocated shoulder and broken wrist while attempting to protect Alisa while she was chasing the snitch.

Hermione had set Healer Kaufman and Medi Witch Warner on the task of fixing Ian up after he had tried to hit on her for the third time; the Italian had never been rejected before and had been hard pressed to believe her, even with his injuries. She had finally told him that she needed a break from Gingers, before calling Noah in to take over. Her laughter was still bubbling as she entered the next room to check on Flip. It only took her a few minutes to get him settled and found herself yet again turning down another man as he tried to score a date with her. The Spaniard took the rejection about as well as the Italian man in the next room had, and once again, Hermione felt herself laughing as she exited her patient’s room.

She hadn’t quite had time to gather herself as she walked into the last room.

“And what has you so giggly, Mia?”

Immediately her giggling stopped, and she walked into the room and proceeded to smack the wizard in front of her with her clipboard swearing at him in earnest.

“Dammit, Mia! Stop!” yelled Blaise trying to dodge her hits.

“You could’ve fucking warned me, Blaise! Would it have been so hard to say ‘oh you know who plays for the Magpies?’ but nooooooooooooo, for some fucking stupid arse reason you decided to keep your mouth shut.”

“Bloody hell, witch! OW! Ok! I’m sorry! OW! Mia, stop it!”

“I will not! You infuriate me! How could you!? After everything!”

“Mia, I’m sorry! Ow! Dammit, woman stop hitting me!”

“NO! You deserve it!”

“You kind of do,” added in a chuckling Draco, wincing in pain as he laid back. “Whenever you’re done, Granger, these bruises could use your attention, and this arm is incredibly uncomfortable.”

Hermione gave Blaise one last smack to his arm and chest, before smoothing her hair and straightening her jacket. She shot him daggers as she bent to pick up her clipboard that had fallen during her onslaught on the handsome wizard and made her way to Draco’s side.

“You’re not the only one that’s gonna have a few bruises that need attention,” replied Blaise, rubbing absently at his arm and chest. “Fucking hell, woman.”

“And you can sort those yourself, you piece of dragonshit.”

Draco looked at her with a fair bit of amusement in his eyes, “Tut tut witch. Such language Doctor Healer Granger. For shame.”

“Piss off,” she replied, waving her wand over his arm, watching it has it left a trail of colors ranging from red to yellow and back again. “Right popping your arm back in, in 5…4..3..” she pushed the shoulder back in at the moment, eliciting a significant hiss from Draco.

“Merlin Granger! Can’t you count?”

“Hurts less when you’re not expecting it,” she muttered waving her wand over the shoulder again, nodding with satisfaction when the trail was green. She fussed and examined Draco's wrist for a few moments before crossing to a cabinet in the room and pulling out several vials.

“Right, this one first,” she started taking the cork out of the first vial and handing it to him; she watched him tip it back and promptly replaced the one in his hand with a second and third. Before she began to mutter a couple more spells, and he felt the bones in his wrist begin to shift. He knew that one of the vials she had given him had been a pain potion because it hadn’t hurt nearly as bad as his shoulders had. “That looks better already,” she commented, rubbing some salve into the area she just worked on.

“Now for the hard part,” she lifted his arm gingerly and placed a charm on it to keep it weightlessly suspended while she lifted his shirt.

“Granger, if you wanted my shirt off, you could’ve asked.”

“Shut it, Malfoy. You were breathing heavy when you were laughing. I want to make sure you didn’t injure your ribs or have any internal bleeding, and I can’t do that with your shirt on.”

“Does that mean you’re going to check me next, Doc? I may have some internal bleeding after that beating,” cajoled Blaise.

“After that cheeky double cross you’ll be lucky if you get anything out of me tonight,” she scoffed in reply. “Now be quiet so I can be done and get out of here.”

“But Mia, the gala!” Blaise implored, trying to give her his best puppy dog eyes.

She snorted in derision at him, mumbling something about him having a date with his hand if he didn’t shut up soon, causing Draco to burst into a fit of laughter that turned into coughing as he winced. Hermione poked and prodded him, and after a few more chants and wand movements, she began applying more salve to both sides of his ribs.

“Ok, Malfoy, that should just about do it. You’ll need to apply this salve again in a couple of hours and try not to drink too much tonight. You’ll need to take another pain potion in three hours, and this potion will ensure that nothing gets infected. Neither mixes well with alcohol, so tread carefully.” Hermione stressed the words to Draco as she placed the vials of potions next to him on the table.

“I don’t mix well with alcohol Granger, so no worries there,” he reassured as he lowered his shirt. Hermione nodded as she carefully lowered his arm while lifting the charm.

“Ok, anything else?”

“I think I’m all set unless you needed an escort for the gala tonight because this git has lost all his charm.”

“Hey!” exclaimed Blaise, staring at his best friend in shock as Hermione giggled.

“Actually, you’d be the third offer I’ve turned down since the game ended, “she mused.

“What! Mia! You can’t! I bought you a dress to match my new suit,” pleaded Blaise.

“Oh gee, Blaise since you bought me a dress,” she mocked, her arms crossing her chest as she rolled her eyes. She glanced over at the dark-skinned wizard and felt a moment of regret. He was her friend and had been so good to her the last couple of weeks. The look that passed between them held more than the mocking anger she felt and the expression he held conveyed that he had willingly withheld information for her, but had done it for her good. Think about what I told you, his look seemed to say, I know you both better than you realize his eyes told her. And her scoff in response held more than a passing irritation, but an understanding that he did know she would’ve turned down the offer if she had known Draco was on the team, and really how silly would that have been?

“Ugh. Fine. But I’m still mad at you!” Hermione was quick to add as Blaise cheered.

“I promise you won’t regret this, Mia. The dress is waiting at your house; Lala took it over and wanted to be there to help Po get you ready.”

“Gasp! But what will you do without your house elf to help you get ready Blaise?” she teased.

“I’ll manage,” he replied grumpily, his eyes dropping down to the floor as he kicked his foot pointily.

“Because you’ll be at my house using mine,” chipped in Draco standing up unsteadily. His tone was more confident than his appearance. Though sweaty and dirty was a look, Hermione could quickly get used to seeing him in. Wait. Did she think that? No. Focus Hermione.

“Oh yes, at Draco’s house RIGHT. NEXT. DOOR. TO MINE.” Huffed Hermione. Each word punctuated by a slap to Blaise’s arm. Her righteous indignation at him, combining with the irritation she felt at thinking of the Ferret as attractive. Again.

“OW! Dammit, witch! Stop being so violent.”

“Oh, but I thought you liked it rough?” she teased demurely, sickeningly batting her eyes, that she knew would make his pulse rise.

Draco chuckled again as Hermione told him to notify her if his pain worsened or he developed a fever. “And you,” she accused, “You better not be late to pick me up, and don’t think you’ll be getting any tonight after all that either.”

With those words, Hermione swept from the room, leaving behind a bemused Draco and a stunned Blaise. “Brother, are you screwed,” cackled Draco smacking his best friend on the shoulder. “That better be some dress you got her to wear tonight.”

“Mate, you have no idea. She’s gonna look stunning.”

“She always does.” Draco concurred before heading for the showers.

Chapter Text

Oh What a Night

“I got him all settled for you. My elf is with him.”

“Thank you,” she replied softly, her eyes meeting his in the mirror. “I foolishly gave our elves the night off thinking the night would go off without a hitch.”

He chuckled softly as he leaned against the door jamb, his hands making their way deep into his pockets. “Normally, you’d be right. None of us could have predicted Weasel-bee would show up, and with a slag on his arm no less.”

He caught the look on Hermione’s face in the mirror and once again chuckled. She scrunched her nose and let a deep breath. “I should’ve known he’d do something stupid like that.”

“Maybe, though if I recall, he stopped being your responsibility a couple of weeks ago.”

“Keeping tabs on me Draco?” she asked with mock indignation.

“More like ensuring our team had the best doctor healer available before our next match.” He smirked in return as she stuck her tongue out at him. “Mature, Granger.”

“I had no idea Blaise couldn’t handle his liquor,” she mused.

“In his defense, that had more to do with George Weasley feeding him shots more than anything.”

“He really should know not to take anything George hands him.”

“A lesson he’s learned the hard way now.”

“I thought Angelina was going to kill George for that.”

“Oh, there’s still time for her to accomplish that. She’s just smart enough not to do it in public.”

“I don’t envy George tomorrow.”

“Or Blaise.” They both laughed at that.

“Wait until Molly finds out.” Each seemed to give an involuntary shudder as they thought about the Weasley matriarch’s reactions to her son’s behavior this evening. Knowing that more than a few dozen witnesses had also seen what happened would ensure plenty of gossip, and she was reasonably sure a photographer had been there for the money shot.

Hermione’s hand absently reached behind her neck. She was tracing the neckline of her halter. “Here. Let me help you.” Her eyes went wide, as Draco crossed the threshold of her bedroom, and stood directly behind her in front of her dresser and mirror. Meeting her eyes in the mirror, she saw a hint of amusement dance in his silver eyes, “No funny business, Granger. Warlock’s honor.”

There was a sincerity in his eyes that she hadn’t recalled seeing before. Not taking her eyes from his, she gave a slight nod. For a moment, she was sure she saw a flicker of relief in his eyes, but his eyes were fixated on the back of her dress. His fingers grazing hers was the only indication that she had frozen in place, and she quickly whispered an apology as she lowered her hand.

Staring at their reflection in the mirror, Hermione couldn’t help but study the tall blonde behind her. She had seen the hint of a small smile played at his lips as she had sorry, but it had disappeared as he examined the neckline of her halter top in earnest. Even with her heels on, Hermione was still a good two inches shorter than the man standing behind her, working to unclasp the halter that Lala had been able to do up with a snap of her fingers. Hermione couldn’t stop her mind from remembering the chiseled chest and toned body she had examined only hours before. It was his arms and shoulders that had caught her breath earlier, she had always had a thing for those areas, and the way his strong, nimble fingers were brushing against the back of her neck had her breath catching yet again.

Draco was dashing in his muggle suit, that draped around his shoulders in just the right way. The suit, understated in its elegance, was at first glance a basic black suit: Black jacket, pants, waistcoat and tie set against a crisp white shirt. But there were details if you cared to pay attention that set it above an ordinary black suit. Take the tie, that was flared fuller than a usual tie would be. The lapels of his suit jacket had a satin outline, that not only, accentuated the shape of the lapel, causing them to stand out rather than disappear, but also showed off the broadness of his shoulders and the narrowness of his hips. It was a smart trick really, so simple, and yet so impactful. The suit jacket had fallen to just the right length at his wrist, showing only a hint of white from his shirt, and his cufflinks, personalized with the Magpies logo. It was a sin, really, the way Draco and Blaise could wear clothes. The perfect cuts of their well-tailored suits had stood in sharp contrast to the obvious off the rack creation Ron had worn.

Where Draco and Blaise's suits had fit them perfectly, falling at just the right place on their ankles and wrists, Ron's suit had been too short in both areas. The unique weave of the material in Ron's grey suit and the cut had made him look smaller. The blue stripe in his tie standing out in contrast to the magenta paisley pocket square in his left breast pocket. And NOT in a good way. Hermione probably would never really have noticed all those little details before, had it not been for Blaise and Draco. Even Harry, who had cut quite the dashing figure that night.

“I can hear you thinking from here,” Draco whispered softly. Glancing up into the mirror, he noted the blush that was spreading across Hermione's cheeks and down the lovely neck just below his fingertips. Draco wondered what could be running through her beautiful mind that would cause her to react that way, and secretly hoped the intimacy on the moment was affecting her as much as it was affecting him. He had no idea what had possessed him to step into her bedroom and volunteer to do this. Well, that wasn't true; he knew exactly what had prompted his outburst. She had looked so thoughtful, standing in her bedroom, in front of her dresser, her eyes on her mirror but unfocused. Draco had stood there watching for several moments before he had spoken up, silently taking in how exquisite she looked, and how deeply he wished she would look up and catch his eye and smile. Not just any smile, but that smile. The smile reserved for lovers.

“There!” he proclaimed, holding the now separated ends of her halter in his hands above her shoulders. Hermione’s hands instantly pressed to her chest to keep her dress in place. Now it was Draco who blushed and stumbled upon an apology as he hastily retreated to the doorway. His mind reeling a mile a minute with all the things that could happen if she just let go of her dress. Images of that expensive gown cascading down her luscious body and pooling at her heeled feet came unbidden. The thoughts were rapidly making him hard.

“Draco?” her use of his first name for the second time in so many minutes stopped him in his tracks, and he once again found himself drawn into the depth of the chocolate eyes in the mirror. “I’ll be out in a minute if you’d like to join me for a nightcap.” The words had barely left her mouth when she saw him nod and shut the door firmly behind him. Considering herself in the mirror, Hermione worked on steadying her heartbeat – and choosing something acceptable to wear for her nightcap, silently cursing herself for stupidity. While Draco stood on the opposite side of the door, thinking of anything and everything he could to make the pressure in his pants subside before she came out.

Chapter Text

Let's Have a Ball

Blaise had, of course, blown her away with his dress choice for her. And he hadn’t exaggerated when he said he had picked her dress to compliment his suit. The fact that his suit was a daring burgundy three-piece paired with a black shirt and tie could be overlooked when paired next to the flowing A-line she was wearing in the same colors. The bodice of her dress was black and embellished with crystals that began in tight circles around the top of the halter before cascading down into a flower pattern down to the smallest part of her waist where the crystals again came together to create a belt. From the waist down, the dress flared in layers of chiffon that skimmed her curves, the chiffon shifting from black to the same burgundy as Blaise’s suit in a perfect ombre as it descended towards the floor.

Lala and Po had gathered her mass of hair into a soft bun that looked elegant despite her unruly curls. Jeweled pins had been tucked into curls in and around the bun, giving the haphazard design a sense of precision that looked effortless. She wore only a pair of diamond studs and a simple diamond tennis bracelet as her jewelry, and her makeup had only been touched up with a bit of bronzer on her cheek, a swipe of dark eyeliner and mascara, and a soft pink gloss that accentuated the natural color of her lips. The low cut of her dress exposed her back, and as usual, she found herself thankful to be a witch, as she was unable to wear a bra with it, and used magic to keep everything in place. Her black heels gave her height an added bump, and she thanked Lala as she added a cushioning charm to prevent them from hurting her feet.

Entering the Gala on Blaise’s arm had given Hermione a massive boost in confidence, as they had been stopped along the entryway by press several times for pictures. Threatening to harm his favorite body part had seen Blaise on his best behavior, and he had kept the flirting with her minimal in front of the cameras. That they had immediately run into Harry and Ginny on the red carpet had also helped. Harry wore a simple navy suit, appropriate for the event, though a bit boring Blaise would later comment. Ginny, on the other hand, looked ethereal in a beautiful seafoam dress with layers wrapping around and accentuating her athletic quidditch body. The two women had happily greeted each other, chatting away while the press took some additional pictures – excited to see not just the Wizard World’s favorite couple, but the newly single War Heroine looking radiant, and not at all lonely, on the arm of the very handsome, and well-established bachelor. The gentlemen had greeted each other cordially, shaking hands, as the two women fussed over each other. They smiled indulgently for the camera, posing together as they were asked, knowing full well there would be a picture of the four of them featured heavily in whatever the Prophet printed the following day.

Hermione was surprised that the four of them had been seated at the same table, but was sure Emily had somehow been part of that decision. Upon her approach of the table, Hermione felt more at ease as she noted some familiar faces. Blaise immediately joked that he was being given exclusive donor treatment, as all three of the Magpies star chasers, including Draco, Angelina Johnson, and Roo Yori, plus their dates, were all already seated at the table. Hermione was surprised to see Alisa Beird, the Magpies Seeker, as Draco’s date, but was pleasantly surprised to see George Weasley as Angelina’s. The Weasely siblings greeted each other with some good-natured ribbing about the match, and an invitation was issued to the other players at their table to join in the Weasley quidditch monthly pick-up game to decide which of the gingers was the better player. Hermione’s comment about one of them being a professional player and one of them merely a business owner, saw Ginny toasting her long-time friend, as George feigned injury – practically fainting into his chair while clutching his heart, at the not so subtle jab.

When all the laughing subsided, Hermione was finally introduced to the beautiful woman on her right. “I’m Liz Yari,” the petite woman began, “I’m married to Roo here.”

Angelina from the other side of the table: “She’s his better half.”
Roo smiled as the comment led to more teasing and laughter.

Hermione gasped: “Liz Yari? As in Elizabeth Yari, the cultural anthropologist?”

Roo, shocked:“You know my wife?”

Hermione to Roo: “Well, no. I’ve never met her before, but I’m a huge fan of her work.”
And then to Liz: “I attended two of your lectures in London last year. I was so sad to miss the one in Dublin.”

From Ginny, pondering aloud: “Wasn’t that the weekend my git of a brother almost started an international incident?”

Hermione is blushing as George laughs: “We don’t talk about that.”

Ginny to Alissa: “That’s a yes.”

Liz, thoughtfully to Hermione: “Oh, that was the one on House Elves, I believe.”
Almost everyone at the table groans loudly.

From George: “Not House Elves!”

From Harry across the table: “I thought you were past SPEW, Hermione!”

Blaise, exaggeratingly whispering for all the table to hear: “You’ve only just gotten house elves to like you again, Princess,”

Alissa to Draco, and Liz to Hermione at the same time: “What am I missing?”

Hermione, rushing to defend SPEW: “I admit I was a bit overzealous –“

From Ginny: “A bit!”

Harry: “Do I need to remind you about the badges?”

Alissa to Ginny: “She had badges?”

Ginny, in response: “Oh, my Godric! The badges!”

From George to Alissa: “And Posters.”

Angelina, chiming in: “And meetings!”

Hermione, to her fellow Gryffindors at the table, clearly still miffed: “That no one attended!”

Draco, in explanation to Liz and Alissa: “Hermione, here was the House Elf Champion that the Elves never wanted.”

Blaise, chuckling to himself: “It took two years for an elf to go near her after we graduated!”

Ginny, to Harry: “Do you remember the horror in their eyes at Hogwarts when she told them she had Christmas presents for them?”

George, laughing to himself: “Or when she asked Mum to teach her how to knit?”

Ginny, now also openly laughing: “And she ended up with the longest sock mum had ever seen!”

Hermione, crossing her arms in annoyance: “I may have forgotten to charm the needles to stop after a certain length and start on the partner.”

This admission caused even more laughter to spread across the table.

Harry, to the two Weasleys: “Is that the sock that Fred hung up for her for St. Nicholas?”

Ginny and George in Unison: “YES!”

Hermione, trying in vain to hide her blush: “As I recall, I got a lot of candy that year, and you all tried to steal it.”

Ginny, wiping a tear from her eye: “Cause Dad had to use the candy from the 8 of us to fill it.”

Draco to Ginny: “Wait, 8? Wasn’t Harry there? He always seemed to be with you lot.”

Ginny, indignantly: “Of course, Harry was there!"

George, leaning over Angie to faux whisper to Draco, his eyes darting suspiciously towards Harry: "Mum wasn’t about to take candy from the chosen one!”

Harry, preening, lifts his glass to toast George before taking a sip.

Ginny, confirming her brother’s words: “Yeah, he’s the favorite after all!”

Hermione, trying to deflect the attention on her once lost cause: “In any case, DOCTOR Yari here is the reason I finally let go of SPEW and realized the cultural importance and necessity of House Elves – as long as they are treated properly and cared for.”

This declaration saw a large round of applause and cheers to the now red Anthropologist, as the boys all promised to buy her drinks and have a dance to show her their appreciation for setting Hermione straight.

Hermione in explanation: “And that’s why I wanted to attend the Dublin conference because it was specifically on the necessity of reclassing certain creatures into magical entities deserving of better laws and representation.”

Roo, lifting his glass to toast both the ladies to his left with a wink: “Oh, Healer Granger, I think you just became my wife’s new favorite person!”

Blaise to George: “And now I’ve lost my date for the night!”

George, pushing Blaise away in mock indignation: “Don’t look at me, you tosser, you’re not my type!” Then wrapping his arms protectively around Angie, whispering “save me!” loudly into her ear for added effect.

Angie is trying unsuccessfully to unwrap the redhead from around her lap: “Sod off!”

It’s a promising start to the evening that sets the tone for the table. There are many differences amongst the ten of them, but the jovial nature continues to flow as freely as the alcohol. They are blissfully ignorant of the stares and whispers their laughter is causing around the ballroom, and many others in attendance are wondering what such an unlikely mix of people could be discussing to cause such a ruckus of laughter. Their conversations, stories, and laughter continue through dinner, with George and Blaise alternately giving colorful commentary on each dish. The conversation only lags when they politely listen to and applaud the speeches of the night. When the dancing begins, the entire group was on the floor, dancing together with many partners swapping.
After a solid half hour of dancing, Hermione, Ginny, and Liz made their way to the exterior of the room to see what was being auctioned off in the silent auction, while the others returned to the table conversing in smaller groups of two and three. No one was worried about the seating chart any longer, the seating being more fluid since the dancing had begun. Draco had used this moment to check in on his best friend and see how he was holding up.

“I’m fine,” Blaise replied dismissively downing his champagne with a single gulp.

“Mate that’s the 5th one you’ve had since dinner,” maintained Draco, his glass in hand.

“Oh yeah? I thought your doc told you to go easy on the booze tonight,” replied Blaise haughtily pointing at the champagne flute in Draco’s hands.

“It’s a shandi, you prat.”

“Why on earth are you drinking one of those foul things?” the horror evident in his best friend’s voice.

Draco set his champagne flute next to Blaise’s now refilled one. Blaise glanced from one to the other, realizing they were the same color, and bubbling in the same way. “Oh.”

“Yeah,” Draco confirmed with an eye roll.

A round of laughter reached their ears, and they turned to see Hermione, Ginny, Liz, and now Angie all struggling to breathe at some joke they had shared. “At least she’s having a good time.”

Blaise took in his friend, his raised eyebrow asking the same question his friend had previously with a single look. Now it was Draco’s turn to be dismissive, “I’m fine.”

“Yeah, that’s what we are, a couple of ‘fine’ chaps; both longing for something we can never have.”

“It’s better this way, and you know it,” assured Draco, taking a sip of his drink.

Blaise didn’t get a chance to respond as he caught a movement out of the corner of his eye. “Oh, no.”

“What is he doing here?” exclaimed Draco setting his glass down with a thud.

“Nothing good,” replied Blaise, both wizards were already out of their seats, their sudden movements attracting the attention of the others at the table. George was the next one out of his seat, making his way quickly behind the two other wizards, Harry hot on his heels, as a very drunk Ron had just approached Hermione with an overdone groupie on his arm.

“This is not going to end well.”

Chapter Text

A Late Nightcap

Hermione silently scolded herself for caring what Draco thought of her pajamas. She was even more furious that she had asked him to stay. No, not asked, invited. She INVITED him to stay. Glaring at her reflection, she verbally expressed her thoughts of disbelief, “What the hell is wrong with you-you silly witch?” knowing that she wasn’t Mary Poppins and her mirror wouldn’t actually talk back, Hermione finally strode into her bathroom, pulling jeweled pins out of her as she went. She washed her face after piling all her hair on her head in a loose top bun. Staring at herself in the mirror, Hermione nodded in satisfaction. She didn’t have to impress Draco Malfoy anyways. Who cares what he thought of her pj’s? It’s not like he’s never seen them before, not that they hadn’t at least gotten a touch better as she’s aged she thought glancing down at her old Manchester United shirt and black leggings. “Merlin’s saggy left nut. Sod it all.” She told herself, throwing her towel down on the counter in her bathroom and slipping her feet into her slippers.

“You ok there, Granger? You’re charging out like a lion ready to pounce.”

“What?” she hadn’t realized that she had stomped out. “Sorry.” She added her face was flaming with embarrassment.

Draco chuckled softly, telling her it was her house and she was a Gryffindor after all. “As long as you’re not looking for prey, I’m sure we’ll be fine.”

Hermione watched him for a moment, noting the tug of a smile playing at the corner of his lips and a mischievous twinkle in his eye. She resisted the urge to stick her tongue out at him again before turning to her kitchen.

Draco followed quietly behind her, perching himself at the kitchen island opposite her. While she busied herself getting a bottle of something and some glasses, Draco studied her carefully. Most girls he knew would’ve come out in a slip of something, all lace, and silk, makeup still on, and a robe that concealed nothing. But not Granger, she wore a muggle footy team shirt, in that shade of red that always made her skin tone shine in a bronzed goddess sort of way, and those yoga pants she had always been partial to in 8th year. Merlin bless the person that came up with that piece of second skin masquerading as pants, Draco thought as he watched her reach up into her counter, exposing the perfect curve of her bubbled ass, along with the two dimples just above her waistband that her shirt now showed thanks to the rise of her arm. Muggle clothing was definitely his favorite thing about their world post-Voldy.

He shifted his legs restlessly, as it dawned on him that he saw no panty lines. Circe’s tit, of course, the woman wouldn’t be wearing underwear he thought to himself. He had no idea how Blaise didn’t go around with a raging hard-on every time he was near her. Draco snorted, thinking of how Blaise said it was challenging not to want to fuck her anytime she was near. He'd only been in her house for less than an hour, and he'd been hard for at least half of it. Thank Salazar he was at least a gentleman and would never force a woman, cause his mind was definitely compiling quite the list of things he'd like to do to her.

Draco watched Hermione as she approached, making sure to focus on her face, and not on the sway of her hips or the soft movement of her breasts under her shirt — fucking hell, he thought as she sat the bottle down. It really should be illegal for a woman to be that sexy.

Hermione raised her eyebrow at him as she unstopped the bottle, having no idea the turmoil and state of the mind of the man across from her, silently asking him if he’d care for a glass.

“As long as my doctor says it’s ok,” he said, sitting down at the bar across from her. Trying to hide the way his body had responded to her.

“I noticed you had some non-champagne champagne this evening, so I don’t think a shot or two with me will hurt anything.” She poured two equal drams into the glasses only to hesitant to pass it over to him. “Did you take your other pain potion?”

Draco sighed, replying with a huff, “Yes, Doctor Healer Granger.”

She eyed him, wearily, “Are you in any pain now?”

“No, Doctor Healer Granger.” His mocking tone in complete contradiction to her sterner one; his smirk was masking his relief that his erection was lessening as he envisioned that one time he had caught Slughorn walking out of the prefect bathroom naked.

“Did you take your other potion?” She maintained eye contact with him, watching his eyes swirling with a myriad of emotions she couldn’t quite identify, and he fidgeted subtly in the bar stool across from her.

“Yes, Doctor Healer Granger. Shall I take my shirt off so you can check if I used the salve too?”

This answer saw her sliding the glass across the bar to him. “Cheeky.”

“It’s not my fault you keep trying to find excuses to get my shirt off.”

Hermione found herself sputtering her drink as she tried to drink and laugh at the same time. The result of which was now a damp Draco. “Oh, my Gods! Draco, I’m so sorry.”

A genuine smile spread across Draco’s face, followed by a big laugh; she swore she'd never seen him laugh so much in one evening before, not that it stopped the blush that spread across her face. She could feel the heat radiating from her face, which seemed only to amuse Draco more. Hermione could easily picture Ron’s reaction if she had done that to him, the way he would’ve sworn at her and flew off the handle in rage. Draco, on the other hand, said nothing, merely giving her a wink, as he shrugged out of his jacket and waistcoat. His gesture was almost daring her to take a step further, seeing as her response almost certainly proved his point about her trying to get his shirt off.

“You know you are a witch, Hermione,” he scolded softly as he drew his wand and cast a cleaning and drying spell upon himself.

“I know. Sorry. I just…” Hermione felt herself blush further. She had frozen watching him casually remove his jacket and waistcoat. She had been stunned by the way the crisp white shirt, speckled with red from the Chambord liqueur she had poured them, rippled perfectly with his muscles. Hermione wondered when he had rolled his sleeves up on his dress shirt, and how a man’s forearms could be so damn attractive. She was surrounded by good looking men all day long, and yet, it was Draco fucking Malfoy, that seemed to render her into a complete idiot.

“Don’t tell me I’ve rendered the great Hermione Granger speechless?”

His words snapped her out of her reverie, bringing her quickly back to the present, “Oh, shut it, you prat.”

Draco chuckled again, observing her over the rim of his glass as he tipped the liquid into his mouth, polishing off the lot in one go. He took a moment to let the sweet liquid roll against his tongue, his mouth exploding in a mixture of raspberries, blackberries, vanilla, cognac and something else. Citrus, he thought as he swallowed the last of the liquid down. “I like that,” he stated thoughtfully eyeing the glass again.

After a moment’s reflection, she held the bottle up for him to see, as she explained that it had been her grandmother’s favorite liqueur. “My mum liked it best with champagne, but Grand-mère always preferred it straight up.”

“She had good taste,” he mused happily allowing her to pour a refill for him.

“My grandfather certainly thought so,” she bemusedly replied, refilling her glass. Draco merely chuckled. They sat quietly for a few minutes. The silence was stretching out between them feeling natural and not at all awkward as she had imagined it would.

“I didn’t realize you had a Grand-mère as well,” he said at last.

Hermione nodded. “My mother’s mother was from Togo. French is their national language."

"i didn't realize that."

"Well you know French colonies and all that." It was one of the few conversations they had had regularly that first year after Hogwarts. Draco's views on colonization had been a surprise to both her and Blaise, and they had been shocked in a good way by his point of view.

"Almost as bad as the Brits, those French," Draco teased.

Hermione suppressed a giggle. "Yes, well. She met my grandfather, who was studying abroad in Ghana. He was French, and was excited by the difference in the French they spoke. When it was time to return home to France, he asked her to go with him.”

“And she said yes,” supplied Draco.

Nodding again she continued, “He said it was love at first sight for him.”

“Not for her?”

“She was betrothed to another man, twice her age, that she had no desire to be with for the rest of her life. It was an arranged marriage by her uncle because both her parents had passed suddenly and she was young and beautiful. Grandfather was her age, with kind eyes, and intelligence.”

“So not love at first sight for her, then.”

“No. Grand-mère said they were friends and the sex was good." Draco laughed at such an honest assessment. "Love came after my Uncle David was born, and by the time my mum was born, she couldn’t imagine her life without him.”

“Ah. So he wore her down.”

“Probably. The way Grand-mère described him, I'm sure he was as charming and annoying as Blaise," she added with a giggle. “Who was your Grand-mère?” she asked as an afterthought.

“Believe it or not, my dad’s mum. She was as opposite of my father and grandfather as the day is to night.”

“So she was a kind, considerate, and thoughtful. Not at all self-absorbed or power hungry.”

Draco snorted. “Tell me how you really feel Granger.”

“Sorry,” she replied, biting her bottom lip. “Surely, you know that there’s no love lost between your father and me.”

“You like him about as much as I do,” he admitted, nudging his glass back to her. The words caught her by surprise, and she was sure her face reflected it.

Draco gave a little snigger at her the look on her face. If there was one thing Granger would never be good at, it would be poker. Standing up he gathering his jacket and waistcoat. “And on that note, I think I shall be heading home.”

Hermione nodded agreeably, finally coming around the kitchen counter to escort him to the door, feeling a strange mixture of emotions. “Thank you for helping with Blaise.”

The blonde wizard merely shrugged, loosening his tie slightly. “He’s my best friend," he stated as if it was a blanket coverall. "Though he’ll be thoroughly angry with himself when he realizes who put him to bed tonight.”

"And what bed he isn't in," she added, giving him a knowing look that made them both smile broadly, before saying goodnight to each other.

Closing the door firmly behind him, Hermione felt her mind begin to wander and rush through all the changes and emotions she had experienced over the last few weeks. Locking the door wandlessly, she turned all the lights off before heading to bed. Hermione had told him about her grandparents. She’d never discussed them with anyone in the magical world, not even Harry or Blaise. But she’d felt no need to hide them from him or to gloss over them. Perhaps it was the alcohol, she thought.

“You’re a fool Granger,” she told herself as she climbed into bed; her thoughts now lingering on the wizard who lived next door, the one passed out upstairs, and the one she was sure was going to hate his siblings tomorrow.

Chapter Text

It's Too Early for This

The next morning, Hermione grumpily got out of bed far earlier than intended. It felt as if she hadn’t slept a wink; her dreams had been full of redheads and snakes, and she had woken with an unexplainable ache in her heart and wet panties. Moments like this made her question every ounce of her sanity, and the decisions that had led her to this path. It was foolish, she knew for someone so logical and pragmatic, but the one thing she had never been able to explain or understand fully had been romantic entanglements. Or sexual desires. Well, that wasn’t true. Sure, she had been a relatively late bloomer, but she certainly felt that she had made up for it in the end. Not that any of that would help her at this moment. Shaking her head, she changed her clothes and went out to her back porch. She needed to clear her head, and that meant either yoga or a swim, or both.

Just as she had the previous week, Hermione began her yoga flow, concentrating on her vinyasa and handstand at the end. Clearing her head of everything but the sound of her breath, she focused on feeling each move and connecting to her magic. There was something about being outside, in the elements, that helped her align herself in a way Hermione had never understood. Her physical strength was not something she was known for, but she worked her body in the same way she did her mind. Her body was no longer the thin, lanky pre-adolescent body that Hermione had hid under layers of fabric and shame. Instead, it was soft and full, her hips and breasts giving her a feminine quality that she still wasn’t as comfortable with as others seemed to be, but she was stronger and more flexible than her appearance belied, and for that she was grateful.

Finishing her yoga, she turned to the pond, wondering if she would bother Draco if she went for a swim when she caught a glimpse of movement in the water. Apparently, he had had the same idea. She thought wirily approaching the pond slowly. She couldn’t help the way her breath caught as she watched his long, lithe body move through the water with a grace she had only seen from him when flying. It wasn’t the first time she had ever felt a loss of breath when watching him, but as Blaise’s best friend, and her once sworn enemy it always felt so strange, like he was more off-limits than usual. Not that it stopped her subconscious she thought with a rueful smile, recalling her dream from the night before. Stupid hormones, she swore to herself.

So caught up in the debate and internal struggle she was having, she didn’t immediately notice that she had garnered the attention of the attractive blonde who had exited the pond, and was walking towards her. Water droplets clung to his body and dripped from the hair he absently pushed back from his face, the water giving it a deeper honeyed tone, as he approached her. His dark green trunks hung low on his hips, showing off that deep V, his Apollo’s belt, that was the weakness of many, herself included. The hair trailing down from his navel down to his shorts was the same dirty blonde as his beard, and she found she appreciated that he wasn’t wholly hairless like some of the others. His body was well defined, hours spent flying, throwing, swimming, and the like, helping to fill out the once painfully gaunt frame she remembered from school. He didn’t have the overly muscled 12 pack of many of his teammates, but his stomach was well toned. He’d rather have his sweets and the occasional glass of something tasty, instead of the 12 pack that Flip and the others showed off. He wasn’t a slave to his body, which she appreciated, but it was still something enviable. His broad chest and well-defined shoulders balanced out the slightly more narrow waist and she was thankful to note, as she had the day of the game, that his legs were also well defined, and not the skinny chicken legs of a person who merely focused on one half of their body instead of the whole package.

It was ridiculous she was sure the way she appreciated the most random of body parts on a man - shoulders, biceps and back, that damn V, a nice ass, and legs. Gods, she loved a well-defined calf and thighs that were muscular over lean.

“Neighbor,” he drawled, stopping a few feet from her. “Isn’t it a bit early to be thinking so much?”

Hermione wrinkled her nose at him, glad her face was somewhat shaded so he couldn’t notice the pink tint to her cheeks. “Good morning,” she replied softly, her voice sounding a bit shakier than she had intended. Clearing her throat, she asked about his shoulder.

“No complaints,” he remarked, rolling his arm backward and forward and showing her a full range of motion.

She nodded, stomping down the immediate surge of desire that coursed through her as she watched his muscles ripple, and try and focus her mind solely in her official capacity by asking about his wrist and ribs. He told her he felt great, and everything seemed to have healed nicely, which led her to nod again.

“You’re up early,” he remarked, noting the heated glaze to her eyes, and the way her eyes had darted across his body with pleasure. It was a look he was familiar with, though he had to admit that it looked better on her than anyone else he’d encountered. He tried not to let his chest puff out with pride, and forced himself not to follow the trail of thought his brain had immediately gone in – knowing that his swim trunks would do him no favors at all at shielding his body’s response.

“I never sleep past 8. Even on weekends. It’s a curse,” Hermione replied with a shrug. Her eyes finally stopped their inspection, and appreciation of his form, as her gaze settled upon his face. His gray eyes were swimming with amusement, and dare she say, knowing.

“I’m familiar with that curse. Except it’s generally 7 for me.” His words were calm and even, but his eyes had deepened another shade - changing from the gray of a cloudy day, to the depth of an impending storm.

“Don’t you wish that was something that plagued Blaise?” she asked with a nervous laugh. Her eyes were shifting to the ground.

Draco smirked, tempted to tease her, to see what was going on in that beautiful mind of hers, but the way she ducked her head, the tone in her voice, made him bite his tongue. “Constantly. Especially when I used to have to drag his ass up for classes or meetings.”

Hermione laughed, remembering how many times she and the former Slytherin had had to go into Blaise’s room to wake the sleeping Head Boy up. “Probably why I didn’t even go up to check on him this morning.”

Draco snorted. “I don’t blame you.” He eyed her carefully for a moment before giving voice to something that he had been thinking about since he had first seen her at Blaise’s in Italy. “So. You and Blaise.”

“Me and Blaise?”

“Are you just using him for a rebound from the Weasel? Or are you serious about him this time?”

Hermione dismissed the implication of the phrase this time and wondered what brought on his curiosity. Sadly, she and Draco had been around each other many times before due to each of their friendships with the good looking Italian, and while they hadn’t ever become friends, they had buried the hatchet long ago and formed a truce of sorts out of respect for their shared friends. She had been embarrassed the first time that he had found her sneaking out of Blaise’s room during 8th year, and horrified when he had walked in on them sleeping in Blaise’s bed, naked, after one of their trysts.
Never in all those times or things had he ever questioned her intentions about the other Slytherin Prince.

“My relationship with Blaise is what it has always been.”

“And that is? Friends with benefits?”

She wrinkled her nose at the crude phrase, but nodded nonetheless, “Nothing has changed on that front Draco. You know as well as I do that his heart belongs to someone else.”

Draco did know that, and he shouldn't have been surprised that she did as well. He knew that she and Blaise were close though, and really should’ve expected as much. Blaise was the King of Neutrality and hidden emotions. Everyone knew he was a flirt, a smooth talker, that was charming and had an appreciation for the human body in it’s all forms, but few knew that he was very much like an iceberg with more profound thoughts and emotions hidden behind his suave exterior. It was one of the things they had always had in common and made them even closer as friends.

“And what of your heart? Hoping he’ll take up the challenge?”

She snorted in response, “Never. I love Blaise, I do, but we could never be more than what we are. And my heart is just fine. Thank you.”

“Not broken by the WesaelBee, then?” She snorted again, her eyes unwillingly following his hand as he brushed his damp locks off his forehead. He raised an eyebrow at her. “Weren’t you two supposed to be married by now?”

“If he had had his way, I’m sure we would’ve been, but it wasn’t what I wanted.”

“And what did you want?” he asked, studying her seriously.

“This.” He raised an eyebrow at her, and she found herself blushing furiously as she realized what the implication of her response was. “I meant ‘this’ as in my work. I wanted a career, and then marriage and perhaps a family years later.”

“Not content to be barefoot and pregnant at 19, then?” She scoffed, quickly adding that there was nothing wrong with that path, but that it wasn’t for her. “It’s ok, Granger. I never pictured you’d be content to walk in Molly’s footsteps with 25 miniature redheaded Weasels pulling on your apron while you bake cakes and things trapped in a kitchen all day.”

“How is that we aren’t even friends and you know that, but Ronald was shocked that that’s not what I wanted out of my life?”

Draco shrugged. “He’s never been the brightest bulb. He let you go, didn’t he?”

Hermione raised an eyebrow at him and thought she something flash in his eyes, but nothing else changed in his countenance. She would’ve flushed right down to her toes if she had said something like that, but the Slytherin Prince seemed unflappable.

“Well, the pond’s all yours, Granger. Be sure to throw up a notice-me-not charm if you don’t want the boys to catch you showing off your muggle fashion.”
Hermione paused for a moment before blanching. Recalling as she did so that Blaise had once told her that most Witches and Wizards still dressed in swimming costumes very similar to the ones of the early 1930s, with fitted one piece with full coverage bottoms that came down further into the thigh area. Not at all like the cheeky boy shorts, the halter top two-piece she was currently wearing under her yoga shorts and tank.

“Wait,” she said, noting that Draco had started to walk away, “but you’re wearing a muggle suit.”

Draco flashed her a lopsided grin and shrugged. “I prefer being naked, but I didn’t want to scare you so early in the morning.”

He paused long enough to wink and see her flush crimson from her hairline to her chest, before walking away, chuckling as he absently dried his hair with his towel. “Catch you later, Granger,” he called over his shoulder as he headed across the lawn and up the stairs back into his own house, never once breaking his stride or sparing her glance across her shoulder.
Groaning to herself, Hermione turned her attention to the pond, putting up a few spells, as she grumbled about cheeky Slytherins and muttering that it was much too early for this.

Chapter Text

And Now the Real Work Begin

Hermione sat behind her desk in her new office at the Magpies, reviewing her work planner. She hadn’t had the chance yet to sit down and alter her schedule to reflect her new team, and she knew as September faded into October that she wouldn’t be able to go on without it. As much as she had hated Quidditch at Hogwarts, Hermione had learned a great deal about the sport since becoming a healer for the Bats, and had been surprised at just how physically taxing and demanding the game was, and how vigorous and active the teams had to be – often playing in a variety of leagues at the same time. It was the reason why her planner was so important, and why Hermione was so annoyed, she had let it slide for this long.

The Quidditch season ran from late August/early September until the end of May/beginning of June. Every team in the British and Irish Quidditch League (the BIQL) played 32 games during their season: compromised of 24 conference games and eight non-conference games. The conference games allotted for two games against each team of the 12 other teams in the league, one at home and one away. These were the games that mattered to win the British and Irish League cup, and was overseen not just by the BIQL, but by the International Confederation of Wizard’s Quidditch Committee (ICWQC), which oversaw every league in the world, and the Department of Magical Game and Sport (DMGS) at the British Ministry of Magic. The Magpies were the winningest team in the League’s history, having won the cup a record 34 times, and though it was early in the season, there was quite a lot of chatter that this season would lead to win number 35. The additional eight non-conference games were split against international teams from Africa, Asia, Australia, the Americas, and Europe, and were played at home or abroad, and many charity matches, as decided by the individual teams within the BIQL and the DMGS.

All matches came under the ICWQC, even the charity matches. The International games fell under The International Association of Quidditch (IAQ) and the Federation Internationale de Quidditch Association (FIQA). The IAQ was also in charge of the European cup played every three years in the gap of the World cup, and was open to all teams in Europe. Many countries had several teams that competed for this cup, as most countries had more than one team. It was a highly contested battle every year when the 13 teams of the BIQL were in the mix with countries like Bulgaria and Luxembourg, which only had one team each.

Meanwhile, the FIQA was responsible for the World Cup every four years, where nations supported teams, regardless of League affiliations, and supported by the Department of Magical Game and Sport of whatever Ministry was hosting the cup that year. Draco and Ginny currently both played for the England National team in competition for the World Cup, whereas Viktor had always played for his home team Bulgaria. On the Magpies, there were no fewer than five players that played for different National organizations, including England, Spain, Italy, and France. The World Cup was played every four years, with two years of preliminary matches that knocked the large playing field down to the top 16 national teams. Almost an entire year was devoted to the top 16 games that faced off against each other in a knock out rounds culminating to the final match in August. There was always a gap year after the three years leading up to the World Cup because quite honestly most people were exhausted, the players spent, but this was the year that the European Cup, and many other regional cup tournaments, had their finals.

That had been how Hermione had come to understand, why Quidditch was such an ordeal to most Wizards – especially Pureblood Wizards. Quidditch was a Global Phenomenon by this point, easily the biggest sport in the Wizarding World, with nearly a dozen committees and organizations overseeing the games in one form or another across the world. There was nary a year in the British calendar when some big match or another wasn’t played, whether it was the League Cup, the European Cup, the World Cup, or a Charity match. Not to mention rec leagues for amateurs, exhibition matches, and teams and competitions at almost every Wizarding school in the world. The BIQL also included the Josef Wronski Exhibition, named after one of the most notorious and acclaimed players in BIQL history, that consisted of an obstacle course and drills, with an award for excellence for both individual players and teams as a whole. The only thing missing, in Hermione’s mind, was children’s day camps and family rec leagues. Both which she had thought to mention a time or two, but hadn’t yet.

Hermione marked the Phoenix Charity match off her calendar, noting that it had been the last game in September, before sighing as she realized that the Magpies had a game almost every weekend in October – two home and two away. The final home match that month was against the Cannons, which meant Ron. Hermione sighed. She didn’t have room in her head at the moment for his shenanigans. She made a note in her calendar to spend extra time on her appearance that weekend – she was sure she would have to participate in the press conference beforehand, and there would no doubt be questions about her past relationship. The end of the month also ijncluded another Ball – this time hosted by the Black Wineries, which Hermione quickly pushed to the back of her mind alongside Ron. Her mind still annoyed after the events of the Phoenix Charity Ball.

Closing her planner with another sigh, Hermione focused her attention back on her staff. Throughout the week, only she, Healer Daniel Gill, the team masseur and acupuncturist, and Kristine Leahy, the American MediWitch, were in the Medical Bay. The others held established positions in top Medical programs across the UK during the week, joining the Magpies Medical Team only for matches. The smaller staff suited Hermione just fine, and she found that she quite enjoyed their company. She set Kristine to figuring out the filing system and paperwork as they attempted to make sense of all the medical records, while she focused on creating a better lab area in one of the spare medical rooms. Hermione was eager to begin brewing her potions again, and Emily had been incredibly helpful, providing her with the necessary tools and ingredients.

During their down times, Hermione learned new techniques from Daniel and showed him some of the techniques she had learned from the Muggle sports trainers on her Uncle’s team. (She had been surprised when both Daniel and Kristine were familiar with British footy and tried to hide her amusement at their faces when she mentioned that her Uncle David played for one of the more successful teams.) Both Daniel and Hermione believed recovery was as essential to training, and they wanted to be sure that each player was getting the necessary treatments and support to help their muscle aches, joint points and the general weariness that came from the amount of training they put in. Hermione also wanted to be sure that the players that had to pull double duty – for national games, as well as the Magpies, were given ample time to recover.

Hermione also spent her first couple weeks, bringing in every player on the team for complete physicals. She had found in her early days that the record keeping system was a bit shoddy and that the players hadn’t had full exams since some time in the summer. She didn’t know why this bothered her, but she wanted to correct it as soon as possible. Having complete medical histories would help them be more aware and prepared for recurring injuries and hopefully prevent some of them. Hermione had had enough surprises over the last few months, and if she could control something and be more prepared to address it head on that, she was going to do what she could to make it happen.

Of course, that had led to a lot of fun conversations and flirtatious moments with several of the players on the team. Ian and Flip were still licking their wounds from her rejection after the first game and were hoping she’d change her mind. Both were using the universal love of their accents to try and coax her into giving them each chance. As much as she loved hearing them purr at her in Spanish and Italian, she still pushed them off with a laugh and sent them on their merry ways. It was a little harder with some of them. Hermione had given serious thought to what a tryst with JJ Woods or Nicholas Coolridge might entail. Whereas Flip and Ian made her feel as if she might be another notch on their belts, Nicholas had given her shivers with some of his ideas. JJ had taken it a step further, making her feel as if his interest was more serious. Of course, they had both included a few lines, and Hermione was still chuckling after JJ’s pickup line which included something about strong hands and nimble fingers when her final appointment of the week had walked in.

“Good day, Granger,” Draco had drawled, leaning as he always did against the doorframe. She hadn’t even bothered to hide her smile, as she nodded and indicated for him to come in and shut the door. The oral exam had been easy enough. Hermione was reasonably sure that Draco wasn’t a drinker or a smoker or a drug addict, though she had been slightly surprised to learn that he wasn’t sexually active. For some reason asking him that had left her more flustered than any of the others, and noting that he hadn’t had a partner in nearly a year had caused her eyebrows to draw back into her hairline.

“Don’t look so shocked, Granger.”

“I’m- I’m sorry, Malfoy. I just-just didn’t expect you to be…”

“Picky?”

“Well, I was going to say celibate but yeah that too.”

She had chuckled at her foolish assumptions, and he had smirked at the way she was flustered while talking about sex. “I thought you weren’t the type to get flustered by sex Granger. Not with being with Blaise on and off these many years.”

“I’m not. I quite like dirty talk during sex actually, but I-ah. Um.” She found herself flustered again as the weight of her statement down on her, and she noted that Draco’s eyes had darkened to mercurial pools as he listened to her talk about things she enjoyed during sex. She turned her attention to running the few diagnostics spells she would need to confirm his vitals, and tried to ignore the racing of her pulse as her cheeks flamed.

“Do continue Doctor Healer Granger,” Draco drawled, when it became clear she was trying not to, “I’m finding this topic fascinating.”

“Oh, shut up, Prat.” She replied, smacking his chest with the back of her hand.

“Merlin woman, I don’t mind it rough, but at least learn my safe word before you start beating me,” he replied, smugly rubbing his chest.

Hermione, who had turned back to her notes to hide her blush over the turn in the conversation, looked up at him suddenly, her mouth gaping. “Safe word?”

“It’s apples,” he replied, smugly, leaning a bit closer.

Blinking, she eyed him with uncertainty, “What is?”

“My safe word is apples.”

She watched as a smile tugged at the corner of his lips, and it dawned on her suddenly that he was teasing her. Good Godric! He wasn’t just teasing her; he was flirting with her. She had heard of the great Draco Malfoy’s legendary prowess and charm but never thought she’d find herself on the receiving end. Feeling her brain catch up, she leaned back into him, noting with satisfaction that his nostrils flared, and his eyes widened slightly by the bold move.

“My safe word is comet.” She purred.

She smiled in satisfaction as his grey eyes widened. “Comet? Like the broom company?” She nodded — a coy smile playing on her lips. Draco found himself swallowing hard before he continued. “I thought you hated to fly.”

“It’s the heights that bother me, not the broom. I happen to enjoy a good broom ride, but sometimes, it’s a challenge to find one that can handle me.”

The smile that graced her face was nothing short of coquettish, and Draco had to blink a couple of times before he found his voice again. Gathering his thoughts, he felt his smirk slide back into place.
Fighting with Granger had always been one of his favorite things. The fire that danced in her eyes made his pulse race. Her brown eyes smoldered in a way that made him weak, and all he wanted was to continue to make a fan that flame. But this Granger. The flirtish, coy one. She did something different to him entirely.

“I think you’ve been looking at the wrong broom companies.” He said at last.

“Oh yeah?” she asked, glancing up at him from under her long, full lashes.

“Well, Comet is a reliable, safe option. It’s a good starter broom. But a girl like you,” he purposely allowed his eyes to drift across her body from top to bottom and back again, “would do better with something with a bit more power behind it.”

The coy smile across her lips spread into a teasing one. She quite reminded him of the cat that ate the canary with that look. “You think so?”

“I know so.” Draco asserted.

“And have you any suggestions than Malfoy? A Cleansweep perhaps?” she coaxed, setting her paperwork aside.

Draco scoffed. “Cleansweeps are child’s play. Sure, they’re reliable, and when you’re young, that’s what you need. They have bursts of energy, some good get up and go. Perfect when you don’t know what you’re missing.”

“Learned that from experience have you?” she mocked telling him to spin around so she can continue her exam.

“Do I need to take my shirt off for this part, Doctor Healer Granger?” he needled over his shoulder as he followed her instructions and turned around.

“No,” she replied firmly, grateful that he had already turned away from her desk so that he couldn’t see her face blush. She was getting rather tired of these pink cheeks when she was around him. Even the deep caramel of her skin couldn’t hide the continuous flush to her skin. Hermione didn’t know what it was about him that made her skin feel as if it was on fire constantly. Fighting with him had always exhilarated her if she was honest, but this new turn that their acquaintance had taken, was a whole new ballgame for her. At times, Hermione wondered if she wasn’t out of her depth with the Slytherin Prince, but she did enjoy it when he underestimated her. It always made the outcome so much sweeter.

“Of course, everyone’s taken a spin on a clean sweep, haven’t they?” he mused with a shrug as she came back around her desk to continue his exam.

“So not a Comet then, and not a Cleansweep.” Hermione was rushing now. Trying to ensure that she covered everything she needed to, so this side conversation could come to an end.

“Definitely not.” He stated, agreeing with her with an additional nod of his head.

“Let me guess then, a Nimbus? A Firebolt?” she queried, lowering her wand. Her final spell was revealing that he still had a bit of damage in his shoulder. Crossing back to her desk, Hermione pulled out his chart to make a few notes. While she was enjoying whatever, this, was between the two of them, Hermione wanted to look at different treatment options for his shoulder, and didn’t want to forget about it because of their witty banter. She made an additional note to talk to Daniel about possible acupuncture techniques, and see what the healer on the National team was doing for him.

“Of course.”

“Predictable.” She mused.

“It is not.”

“Everyone knows that Nimbus is just expensive toys, and Firebolts are just a flash in the pants racing broom.” She stated with a dismissive wave of her hands.

“They are not! Ok. Well, maybe you’re right about the Nimbus. And, I suppose it’s true for someone like Potter it would just be all about speed, but Firebolts are world class for a reason. They are not only fast, but they are sensitive, responsive,” he amended, casually setting his hands on the top of her desk. “You have to fully trust your skills and your abilities if you mount a Firebolt. Going from 0 – 150 in 10 seconds leaves a lot of risks, chances for injury. That kind of power requires strength, control, focus. You have to know what you’re doing.”

Hermione considered him for a moment, her eyes noting the pink in his cheeks, the earnest set to his face. The heat in his gaze, melting his intense eyes to a dangerous level of molten silver. She wondered how far she’d be able to take this moment between them before one of them cracked. Leaning against her desk, she mimicking his stance on the opposite of side of the hardwood, placing her hands just short of his. Her voice was soft and breathless, “And do you know what you’re doing, Draco?”

His eyes flashed at this continued use of his first name. Dammit all to Hades, if his name didn’t sound heavenly on her tongue. “Most definitely.”

Leaning a bit more on her hands, she lowered her lashes, before the next suggestion poured out of her lips, “Maybe you can show me what I’ve been missing then?”

The tell-tale Malfoy smirk spread across his face. “Gladly.”

“Of course, I’d have to trust you first.” Her smirk, almost as good as his.

“Are you saying that you don’t trust me, Hermione?” She tried not to shiver, at the way he caressed her name. It sounded so foreign in his mouth, and yet Hermione couldn’t help but feel it would sound even better in a moan. Was it her mind, or had his body moved closer to hers? Part of her wanted to check the spacing across the desk but was afraid that if she took her eyes off him even for a second that he would take full advantage of it.

“Not a lick,” Hermione replied, forcing herself to keep her tone lighter. Noting the way his eyes drifted down to her lips, causing her to lick them absently.

“Well, we can’t have that, neighbor,” Draco advised, his body seeming even closer than it had a moment ago.

“And how do you propose we fix that?” The words were out of her mouth before she could register it, and Hermione noticed he was closer still. Close enough that she could see flecks of blue dancing in the depth of his eyes. Had his eyes always looked like the swirling storm clouds gathering over the sea? She wondered.

“I would suggest something a bit more hands on.” The last two words sounded exaggerated to her ears.

Hermione could feel his breath on her lips. His nose mere centimeters from her face. She swallowed hard, her brain working overdrive trying to regain control of the situation. “Perhaps you should speak to Blaise then.”

“And why would I do that, Granger?” he asked, tilting his head to take her in better.

“He’s always been my favorite teacher,” she began, making sure to pull back just a bit to create some more space between them. Her brain began working overdrive as she watched her words tumble over him. “Blaise knows exactly how I learn, what an eager student I can be, and I’m sure he’d be more than happy to be of assistance in helping us learn how to trust each other. After all, he knows exactly how well I can ride a broom.”

“I’m sure he does, but he’s not much of a firebolt guy.”

“Are you saying that I can’t ride two brooms at the same time, Malfoy?” she countered, her head tilting just as his head previously. “How will I know which is better if I can’t take them both for a spin?” she continued innocently. “Wouldn’t it make more sense to ride them one after another? I mean, they are so close. They may require multiple rides, in succession.”

Now it was Draco that found himself lost in the eyes of the woman in front of him. Golden flecks were fanning the fire in her eyes. Her words flashing in his mind, as his brain connected her words. “You want to ride two brooms simultaneously?”

“Well, maybe not at the same exact time, but it would make sense if they were both there wouldn’t? Shouldn’t they be there together, side by side, so I can make a more accurate decision about which broom I like to ride?”

She smirked as Draco’s ears tinged a bit pink and his breath seemed to catch slightly as his head gave an almost imperceptible nod. She could only imagine the images running through his mind. Draco, for his part, felt as if he was seeing the lioness in front of him, clearly for the first time. It wasn’t often the Slytherin felt at a loss for words, but as the silence stretched between them, it was clear, he may have lost this round.

“Anyways, your exam looks good,” Hermione informed him, the silky purr of her tone, replaced with a hint of indifference. “Do you have any health concerns?”

Draco merely shook his head, not trusting his voice just yet, as he took a step back from her desk. A slow smile spread across her face, very much giving the Slytherin the idea that he had just been pardoned from a Lion’s den.

“Well, then we’re all set Malfoy. Enjoy the rest of your day.” She added sweetly mimicking his body language again before indicating towards the door with her hand. Draco grunted understanding that he had was dismissed, quickly mumbled a goodbye, and headed to the door. It wasn’t until later when the blood thrumming in his ears had subsided that he wondered if it had been his imagination or if he had heard Hermione burst into laughter the moment he crossed over the threshold of her office and shut the door.

Chapter Text

What Are Neighbors For

Two games came and went – one home and one away, and the Magpies won them both - the first game against the Catapults, by a landslide and the second game against the Arrows by a narrow margin. The Magpies had taken some more injuries, the most severe being once again to Flip, leaving him benched for the rest of the month. This was good news for JJ, who was the backup Keeper, but not so much to Hermione who had been forced to spend more time with the good looking Spaniard while he recovered. Hermione, confident as ever in her abilities to take care of herself, said nothing about the matter, but both Daniel and Kristine made sure to mention it to Emily after the second week, who told the team Captain to handle it before it went up the chain. All of them merely smiled and nodded to Hermione when she mentioned how much better things were with Flip a few days later, content to let her think she had handled this one on her own.

Hermione was regaling Ginny with some of her more colorful stories about Flip’s antics in the previous couple of weeks over a glass of wine when she heard a knock on her front door. She crossed to answer it without thinking, and when she opened the door, her voice gave away her shock at who stood on the other side. “Malfoy! What a surprise. Is everything alright?”

Draco merely nodded, stepping over the threshold of her home as she stepped back and waved him in. As he took another couple steps in, he realized she wasn’t alone at home.

Ginny, from the kitchen, “Ferret.”

Draco with barely a glance, “Red.”

“So how can I help you, Malfoy?” asked Hermione now standing beside him.

“These are for you,” he said hastily holding two bags in front of him.

“For me? What are they?” the hesitancy evident in her voice.

“You’ve been Weasel-free for a month,” he began, only to be interrupted with something he can only assume was offense by the other woman in the room. He turned his attention to her briefly, “I said Weasel-free, not Ginger-free, Red; try to keep up.” Ginny’s response could only be something between a laugh and a scoff, but she wisely kept her mouth closed as he continued. “I thought you might want to celebrate this momentous occasion,” he added this time shoving the bags into her hands.

“Um, thanks?” she looked down at the bags unsure.

“For Merlin’s sake, witch, it’s not a trap! I just wasn’t sure how you’d be feeling so I got you an option for each.” At her unsure stare, he sighed heavily and snatched both bags back from her before heading toward her kitchen. Draco paused at the bar, opposite of Ginny, before finally shrugging and setting the bags on the countertop.

“In this bag,” he started, as he reached into the bag, “Is the moping/will I ever find love again/why can’t I find the one kit.” He unloaded the bag on to the counter, and Hermione found herself laughing at his assortment. “Ice cream. Caramel sauce. Bailey’s. Chocolate buttons. Oreos. Chick Flicks.”

“How do you know what a chick flick is?” asked Ginny, picking up a couple of the movies.

“Hi, my best friend is Blaise, which meant I spent a lot of time around Granger here during 8th year.”

“But these are muggle movies,” added Hermione.

“So? Don’t you have a television and a DBD player?”

“D-Vee-D player,” she corrected rifling through the stack of movies that came out of the bag - Titanic, The Philadelphia Story, Pretty Woman, Shakespeare in Love, Love Actually, Sense and Sensibility, and Sixteen Candles.

“Fine. A DVD player.”

“I don’t actually,” she replied. “I don’t own either.”

Draco wrinkled his brow at her. “Was that by choice?”

She shook her head no before answering, “No, I just didn’t even think that was something I could have here.”

“Right, well, you can. I have both, and some of the others do too.” Hermione took the news that Draco had muggle electronics in his home with wide eyes, which grew larger at his next statement. “If you want you two can come over and watch whatever suits your fancy later. Just don’t ask me to join you. I hate those movies, and I’ll be hiding out in my bedroom or library, while you two cry and stuff your faces should you turn up with them.”

Hermione was still in a state of shock at what he had just said, so it was Ginny who asked what was in the second bag.

“This is the men suck/ we’re better off without them/ woman power bag,” he replied. He set out a bottle of Vodka, some lemonade, a bottle of Pimms, angsty music and movies, voodoo doll, “ok it’s not real, but I thought you might laugh,” he muttered at that one, and a life-size cut out of her ex, “For target practice,” he added when she raised her eyebrow at him.

Nodding, she began to go through the DVDs from this bag – 10 Things I Hate About You, First Wives Club, War of the Roses, Legally Blonde, Muriel’s Wedding, and How to Marry a Millionaire.

“You know some of these have happy endings right?” Hermione teased.

“Yeah, but they have lots of that girly angst you seem so fond of,” Draco replied which made both Hermione and Ginny snort.

Hermione marveled at the movies in her hands. Her brain was struggling to keep up with what she was seeing. “This is really nice of you Malfoy.”

“Think nothing of it, Granger. Blaise would be none too happy with me if I were un-neighborly.” Hermione nodded absently, setting the movies back on the counter, as Ginny began to rifle through the collections on the bar. “Right well I’m off then. If you want to use my DVD player have your elf bring you over – she can get through the wards.” Not knowing what to say, Hermione found herself nodding again. “Well goodnight, Granger. Red.”

“Ferret.”

Ginny watched as Draco let himself out, and Hermione continued to stare at the stacks in front of her. “Well, that was interesting,” the red-head chimed in, observing her friend. Hermione nodded again. “So, when are you going to sleep with him?”

“What! Ginny! No! It’s Malfoy.”

Ginny smiled, thinking Hermione was trying more to convince herself than she was trying to convince her, and gave her a shrug. “So what.”

“So what? Ginny! Are you insane?” How could Ginny not see that this was Malfoy they were talking about. Sure he had grown up, a lot, but it was still Malfoy. Being sweet and nice and considerate. It was just so out of character.

“What? You don’t have to be blind to see how insanely attractive he is.”

“You two are rivals.”

“On the pitch only, and only when we’re not both playing for the national team. Doesn't mean I can't think he's hot.”

Hermione, clearly lost in thought, “I just don’t understand.”

“Understand what? That you two just need to get naked and shag like bunnies?”

“Ginny!” exclaimed Hermione, smacking her across the arm.

“What!" the redhead replied with a laugh. "The sexual tension between the two of you was insane!”

“It was not! I barely spoke!”

“Hello! The Great Hermione Granger rendered SPEECHLESS.” Ginny widened her eyes for emphasis as she crossed to the cabinets to look for glasses and a spoon.

“It’s just… Ginny…" Hermione struggled for a moment to put her thoughts into words. "Ginny, this is my favorite ice cream.”

Ginny, returning to where Hermione stood, “I know.”

“And he brought me everything to make ice cream sundaes. The way I like them.”

“Uh-huh.”

“And these are some of my all-time favorite movies,” Hermione stated indicating the pile on the left.

“Go on.”

“And so are these,” she added pointing to the other pile.

Ginny, nodded, an irritating Cheshire cat grin on her face, “And the alcohol?”

“He brought me Baileys for my sundaes and Vodka AND Pimms.”

“Instead of the traditional shooter – tequila.”

“Because tequila makes me sick.”

“Does it now, and he knows that how?” asked Ginny, already knowing this, but wondering if her friend did.

Hermione recalling a night of very drunken revelry at the loft after 8th year, “We talked about it once at Blaise’s.”

“So, he was paying attention.” mused Ginny picking up the ice cream - noting that it had a stasis charm on it to keep it from melting. Smart, Ferret, she mused to herself.

“I guess so.”

By this time, Ginny had the lid off of the cookie dough ice cream and was digging out chunks of cookie dough, in between responding to her friend, who still seemed to be processing what Ginny had already put together. “You know Hermione. Half of these movies end with the good-looking, rich guy getting the girl.”

“Hmm,” replied Hermione, not paying attention to her.

“Can I ask you something?” Ginny waited patiently for whatever thought was running through Hermione’s head to come to its inevitable conclusion. When Hermione’s soft brown eyes finally met Ginny’s, the redhead couldn’t help but smile. “Would Ron have known to get you any of these things?”

Hermione's brow creased in confusion. “What do you mean?”

“Did Ron know what your favorite ice cream was? How you like to pour Bailey’s over your sundaes? Did he know what any of your favorite movies were? Did he ever even watch a single movie with you? Let alone own a TB and DBD player?”

“T-Vee and D-Vee-D player," Hermione corrected without thinking.

“Whatever, the facts are my daft half-wit brother has been your friend since you were 11 and has claimed to love you romantically for years, and he couldn’t have pulled off one bit of this for you.”

Sighing heavily, Hermione rubbed her temples. Ginny was right, of course. Ron had been less than a stellar boyfriend, and in all honesty, he hadn't been a great friend to her through the years either. He couldn't remember her coffee order let alone how she liked to make ice cream sundaes with crumbled Oreos and Bailey's when she was sad or upset. “What’s your point, Ginny?”

“Maybe you’ve had your heart wrapped up in the wrong nitwit for all these years.” Seeing her friend’s eyes widened, Ginny decided to put it to rest, for now. Giving Hermione's hand a sympathetic pat, Ginny casually returned to scooping out chunks of cookie dough from the ice cream in her hand, before indicating to the two bags with her spoon. “Now which one of these bags do you want to choose – shall we stuff ourselves with sweets or drink until we can’t remember anymore?”

Chapter Text

Friendships and Fairy Tales

Draco opened his door and leaned against it casually. “Red.”

“We need to talk Ferret,” the redhead replied briskly walking past him and into the living room.

“By all means, please come in.” the sarcasm in his voice unmistakable as he shut the door and joined her in the living room.

“Is your house set up like Hermione’s?” she asked, spinning around in a circle before plopping down on his dark brown leather couch. His home was extremely warm and inviting, and surprisingly light for the very masculine touches she noted in what she could see — the soft cream walls, balanced against the darker leather furniture in the living room. The floors were well-hewn in a farmhouse style and polished to a high shine. A floor to ceiling fireplace dominated the room, sitting directly opposite of the couch, and compromised of flagstones in varying shades of cream, grey, and brown. Above the fireplace, an exquisite painting, a watercolor of a mountain and a bit of forest made in blues and greens, set atop of the honey-oak mantle that matched both the bar stools in the kitchen and the floor. Ginny noticed there weren't many, knick-knacks laying about, but she hadn't expected that out of Draco. He seemed like a minimal guy, and his home reflected that.

“Technically, her house would be like mine, since I was here first, and it is my design, but yes, they are very similar. Our bedrooms are on opposite sides of the house, though, and my kitchen is more open.”

“You know an awful lot about where her bedroom is,” Ginny commented, trying to catch Draco’s eye as he walked by her.

“Is there something I can help you with Weaselette?” he countered, walking towards his kitchen.

“What is this look you have going on? Are you in jeans?” asked Ginny standing up to follow him. The dining room table and sideboard were the same oak as the floors, and she wondered if they were reclaimed wood from somewhere else. The white chairs complimented the white cabinets in the kitchen, and the three rooms flowed cohesively from one to another. With the lower cabinet and island in the center stained a dark espresso to match the living room furniture.

Draco sighed, hoping his annoyance was evident. “Yes, She-weasel, I am wearing jeans. I like them if you must know. They’re comfortable.”

“Well wonders, never cease,” she replied off-handedly seating herself on one of the honey-colored stools at the breakfast bar. She silently assessed him. His black ribbed sweater fit him well and emphasized how broad his shoulders were. His jeans appeared to be well worn, with patches of dirt on the knees; as if he had been outside wearing them to do manual labor.

Realizing that he wasn’t going to be getting rid of her anytime soon, he grabbed two tumblers from the cabinet and accio’d an open bottle of firewhiskey as he sat the glasses down in front of them.

“You don’t even know what I want to talk to you about yet,” she stated incredulously watching him pour two fingers full into each glass.

“Only because you won’t get to your point, Ginerva.”

“Watch it Malfoy. I will hex you.” She threatened as she accepted the glass he slid across to her.

“Thankfully, I’m prepared for that, and have anti-hex wards inside my own home.”

“That’s a thing?” she gasped.

“It would have to be with you around, I’m sure.” Draco teased, mildly amused by the expression on her face.

“Haha, very funny,” she mocked, raising her glass to his; he clinked it without hesitation, nodding cheers to her. She waited until they had both knocked back their shots before she finally decided to get to the point. “I want to know how long?”

He had felt the firewhiskey in his belly, threatening to return the moment she had spoken, and he had quickly locked all his emotions down. Ensuring his mask was back in place before he had responded without emotion. “How long what?”

But Ginny had seen it. The quick flick of panic in his eyes before they went dead. She knew she was right about this, even if Hermione was clueless, Ginny wasn’t. Draco Malfoy was in love with her best friend. She would bet her life on it. She just had to hear him say it before she could make any plans and spring into action to help Hermione realize just what was waiting for her. Waiting until he had poured a second glass for each of them, she timed her next question for the moment he took a sip. “How long have you been in love with Hermione?”

The subsequent bath of firewhiskey she received was all the answer she needed, and though Ginny was drenched, she laughed at the sputtering man in front of her.

“What?”

“Oh, come on now, Malfoy. We both know it’s true. What I want to know, as her best friend, is how long?”

Draco cast a drying and cleaning spell at her with the wave of his hand, before turning his attention to the top of the island in front of him. Taking a few deep breaths, he pondered his options. He could always continue to deny it or tell her it was just a passing fancy but knowing Ginerva Molly Weasley as he once he did, he was aware of how fast she’d see through that. Considering her emphasis on being Hermione’s best friend, he opted for a different approach.

“For about as long as Blaise has been in love with you. Probably longer.” The choking sound from the other side of the island let him know he had made the correct decision, and he chuckled softly at the variety of swear words currently tumbling out of the redhead’s mouth. “Tut tut, Ginny. Such language from a lady.”

“Piss off, Draco. That was a low-blow, and you know it.”

“Was it now?” he countered, holding the bottle towards her.

Nodding her head, she held her glass out to him to refill it. “You know it was.”

“And why’s that? Don’t you know how long Blaise has been in love with you for?”

The glare she gave him would have seen a lesser man backpedaling and apologizing, but Draco knew better. “You know damn well I do.” She ground out.

“Then you should know the answer.” He replied with a shrug of his shoulder, tossing back another shot.

“But Draco that’s impossible. That would mean…” the words died in her throat as she turned her now wide-eyed gaze on to him.

“That he was still in love with you? Yes.” He confirmed. He casually filled his glass again. He was mentally noting how many each of them was on now. They’d probably be through the bottle shortly at their current pace.

She downed her glass, her face grimacing slightly as the liquid burned its way down her throat. “But, it’s been years.”

“Did you think because you turned him down that he would automatically stop loving you?” He studied her carefully, watching the questions and answers unfolding as they came to her. “Interesting.”

“I didn’t know,” she whispered.

“I doubt you were supposed to.”

“But how do you know?”

“Same way you do – best friend.” She nodded, understanding his meaning.

“What a pair we are, Malfoy.”

“If by a pair, you mean greatest chasers in recent history, then yes, we are.”

“You know that’s not what I meant.”

He nodded solemnly. “Yes, Gin, I do. We did use to be friends, you know.”

She smiled brightly at him, clinking his cup again with hers. “Yes, we were.” They both knocked their shots back and stood in relative silence.

“So now what?” she asked, eyeing him carefully.

“Well, you were the one who came barging in here. What were you expecting to happen?”

“I knew you loved her, and I wanted to know how serious you were about it.”

“And you thought you could make me squirm.”

“Well yeah,” she admitted with a loud laugh, taking another shot. “How about you come to the Burrow for the pick-up quidditch game?”

“No, thank you,” he replied with a laugh, “I have no wish to die.”

“What? No, you wouldn’t die.”

“Ginny, think about it. Me, Draco Malfoy, Slytherin Prince, Marked Death Eater. At. The. Burrow. Lair of the Light. Headquarters for all things Gryffindor. No, bloody, thank you.”

“Yeah, but I like you. And George likes you. Plus, I invited everyone at the Gala, remember? I mean Angie will be there – she even plays with you professionally and is constantly singing your praises!”

“I’m her captain she has to do that.”

“Drayyyco,” whined Ginny.

“Gin-nerve-ah,” he mimicked back, filling his glass again.

“Come on! It would be so perfect. I’ll be there. Hermione will be there.”

“Her ex-boyfriend will be there,” he chimed in.

Ginny scoffed. “That fucking Git. If he knew what was good for him, he wouldn’t dare show his face while I was there.”

“Ah, still riding high from the Gala fiasco I see.” The snort that slipped out of Ginny was anything but ladylike. “At least tell me your mother ripped him a new one.”

At that, Ginny laughed so hard she lost her breath. “Oh. It was better than that. He didn’t show up for Sunday dinner-“

“Too hungover, I’m sure,” he interjected.

Nodding, Ginny continued, “Beyond. So not only are we all there, fuming might I add but then the Prophet arrives. Dad had to give Mum a calming draught after she read that article.”

“Well, it was front-page news.”

“Fucking fool.” She tossed back her shot before continuing, “Mum asked us to fill in the gaps.”

“And you were all too happy to oblige.”

“I had to!” she yelled, standing up. “Hermione wouldn’t even come to dinner that day. She was mortified and angry.”

“A drunk and then hungover Blaise didn’t help.”

Ginny groaned. “I completely forgot about that.”

“Trust me. She hasn’t.” They both snickered, and he refilled their glass again.

She eyed the bottle as he poured out the last of it. “Is there more?”

Draco rolled his eyes at her. “Is there more? Witch, I’m a Malfoy. There’s always more.”

Giggling again, she toasted him again, “To rich purebloods.”

“Of which you are one of,” he replied, clinking their glasses.

“No, I’m not.”

“Ah, well, you will be when you marry Potter.”

“That’s not happening either,” she replied solemnly. Draco’s eyebrows rose as he watched the bubbly witch become morose. Accoing another bottle of FireWhiskey, he refilled their glasses.

“Molly first. Potter second.”

Straightening, Ginny agreed, taking the shot back with a flourish. “Mum sent him a howler. At work.”

“She sent a howler to him at the Cannons?” The audacity of it was more than Draco could even fathom. Everyone knew that the Weasley Matriarch was notoriously protective of her children, but her temper was the things of legend. There had been nothing more delightful at the Slytherin table then when one of the Weasley children would receive a howler form their mother. Everyone in the Great Hall could hear her voice clearly – even over the din of conversation and clinking cutlery.

“He had been trying to dodge it and ran out into the middle of the field just as it exploded. The entire team and coaching staff and trainers were on the field. Everyone was there. Everyone heard it.”

Draco couldn’t help but laugh his ass off at that. He mentally made a note to reach out to one of his friends on the Cannons and see if he could get a copy of the memory to view. He was sure it would make Hermoine’s day. “Fucking hell,” he muttered, realizing that he had immediately thought of her.

“What?”

“Nothing. So. What happened between you and Saint Potter? It’s only been a few weeks since you were making goo-goo eyes at each other at the gala.”

“Hermione apparently.”

Draco nearly choked on his drink. “What? What did Granger do?”

“It’s cute the way you call her that still. Like your own pet name for her.”

“Shut it, Red.”

“Ohh, hit a nerve I see; ‘N-ee-ways,” she said, tossing her hair behind her shoulder. “My wonderful best friend apparently had a heart to heart with her other best friend about his feelings, and what the hold up was. We were engaged, sort of, more like an understanding, but we kept pushing the wedding date back further and further. Neither of us could pick a date. Something she said, must’ve struck a nerve because next thing I know, he’s asking for a break and telling me how deeply he loves me, but marrying me," she paused, taking in a shaky breath before continuing. "Marrying me would apparently be a step in the wrong direction.”

“That’s why you’re staying with Granger at the moment.”

Ginny nodded, not even questioning how he had pieced that together. “Yeah, I came over spitting fire, only for her to use that damn logical brain of hers and making me question everything as well.”

“She made you see that you don’t love him as much as you thought you did.”

“It was comfortable. WE were comfortable. The fairy tale was already written for us. Our love had survived a war. We had conquered a war! But we also grew up, and the fairy tale wasn’t quite the reality it seemed to be in the paper.”

Making an effort to sound as genuine as he felt, he told her he was sorry.

She eyed him, skeptically, “And why is that exactly?”

“I know you loved him, and he loved you. But…” Draco shrugged.

“But what? Come on, Blondie. Don’t stop talking now.”

“Maybe you were in the wrong Fairy Tale.” His words caught her completely off-guard, rendering the red-head speechless. Draco took the opportunity to refill both their glasses again before continuing in a contemplative manner. “You’ve never exactly been a damsel in distress, Red. You’re not a princess waiting for your prince charming in some far-off castle. Maybe at one point, you were Sleeping Beauty waiting for your Prince to battle his way through to give you that kiss you had always dreamed of alone in your tower. But really… in all actuality, you would never be happy with that. A man who kept you on a pedestal? A precious damsel that was left behind while he battled dragons. That’s not you. You’re the type of girl who wants to jump on her broom and fight the dragons by his side. You want a partner, not a pedestal. Harry was a pedestal.” He held his hand up to stop her from interrupting. “There’s nothing wrong with being on a pedestal. There’s nothing wrong with that fairytale, but that love story isn’t for everyone.” He shrugged again.

“Was Blaise the right Prince?” she asked with a sad smile.

Lifting his drink to his lips, he watched her over the rim of his glass. “That’s not for me to say, but I know that once he would’ve done anything for the chance to be.”

“I did care for him, you know,” Ginny admitted.

“I know Gin.” He reassured, giving her a soft smile.

“You’re a good friend, Draco.” She reached across the island top and covered his hand with her own.

“I have my moments, Red.” He replied with a casual wink. The action caused her to laugh heartily, and she told him to pour them another drink.

Standing, albeit shaky, Ginny lifted her glass in a toast to Draco. “To friendship and fairy tales.”

“To old friends and new fairy tales,” he amended. Ginny gave a quick nod of her head, and they clinked their glasses again.

Chapter Text

For Luck

Hermione sat on her favorite burgundy couch, at the edge of the orchard near the Weasley’s Quidditch Pitch, trying to enjoy the unseasonably warm October day. It was the only bi-week the Magpies had that month, and Ginny had taken advantage of it aligning with the Harpies schedule to host the Weasel off Quidditch match (as Draco and Blaise had taken to calling it.) Hermione was not thrilled at being at the Burrow again. It had only been a few weeks since her split with Ron, and she had been able to use the Magpies traveling the last couple of weeks for games to justify missing Sunday dinner, but it had been impossible to keep pushing it off – no matter how badly she wanted to. Despite Ginny’s reassurance, Hermione had been on edge from the minute that she had crossed the wards. That everyone but Ron seemed to be there today hadn’t helped in the slightest. Seeking solace in her spot had helped to take some of the edge off, but with it came more memories. Hermione stroked the arm of the chair tenderly, lost in her thoughts.

The couch had been her birthday gift from the twins during her third year. “We know you don’t like to play Quidditch, but we didn’t want you to feel like you had to be stuck inside with Mum either,” the two boys had told her as she had unwrapped it. It had looked like a piece of dollhouse furniture in the shoe box they had wrapped it in. It didn’t take them long to take her outside and show her the spell to return it to its actual size. That they had created an alcove of sorts for her in the yard at the Burrow, complete with warming charms in winter and cooling charms in summer, showed not only their mastery of spell work but a level of care and consideration that few would associate with the Weasley twins.

Everyone else had brushed it off as a one-off. Thinking it was a way for them to show off a bit perhaps, or to give the muggleborn book worm an easy out while the rest of them played quidditch together. But it had been so much more than that; it had been the moment that Hermione had learned to tell the twins apart, and where she had received her first kiss.

“I know that look.”

Hermione smiled at the voice that brought her out of reverie. She patted the spot next to her on the couch and happily snuggled into the side of the man that had sat down next to her.

“I miss him too, Mia.”

She nodded, absently wiping at a tear that had sprung to her eye, before laughing at her foolishness. “Well, I should hope so.” She met his eye as he hugged her closer with his arm. “Prat,” she added, smacking his chest.

“Hey, just cause I was the better looking one,” he teased.

“At least he had two ears,” she countered.

George grabbed his heart, “You wound me with your cruelty, witch.” Hermione laughed again. “It’s good to see you laugh, Mia.”

“Sorry, George. I was lost in thought.”

“You were thinking about Fred.”

Hermione nodded, a sheepish smile crossing her face. “This was where he kissed me for the first time.”

“I know. He told me.”

“Of course, he did,” Hermione mumbled. “Just tell me he didn’t tell you everything that happened on this couch.”

“It’s a good thing we can cast a good scourgify,” replied George with a knowing wink. His laugh boomed across the yard as Hermione ducked her head, her face turning a vibrant shade of red. He was sure he heard her mumble something along the lines of kill me now, which set him off on another fit of laughter.

“Why did I ever agree to date a twin?” she muttered.

“Cause we’re devilishly handsome? You were resistant to our charms? A sucker for gingers? Really just pick one.”

Hermione laughed. “You forgot witty and intelligent.”

“I thought that was implied. Really, woman you call yourself bright.”

She laughed again, before allowing him to tuck her back into his side. They sat together in companionable silence. Each thinking of the missing Weasley, each wondering what life would be like if he had survived and was there with them. In truth, George was thankful Hermione and Fred had dated and had kept their relationship a secret to everyone but him. It had given him someone to share the little bit of himself with – Hermione was one of the few people who had ever been able to tell them apart, and had been the only one to offer him the kind of comfort he needed most in his grief. It wasn’t that no one else in the family missed Fred, but there was an intimateness that only George and Hermione had known with him. It was an intimateness that had cemented their post-war friendship and allowed him to pick on and banter so easily with her.

It was a precious gift that neither took for granted.

Hermione lay her head on George’s shoulder and sighed once more.

“I’m available if you’d like to relive some of your kinkier memories on the couch later,” teased George waggling his eyebrows at Hermione.

She chuckled softly, quickly changing the subject. “Are you guys about ready to start?”

George nodded, looking back towards the pitch. “We’re only waiting on a couple more guys. Wood and Flint, I think.”

“Are you trying to balance the Slytherin contingent?”

“Please. We’re just bringing in all the pros we can!”

“You’re incorrigible!”

“Speaking of which, when did that happen?” George asked, nodding his head towards one of the benches in front of the pitch where Ginny and Draco we’re chatting excitedly.

“I’m not sure. A week or so, I think. Honestly, I don’t know what’s worse – them being chummy or living next door to him.”

“Living next door,” George replied, at the same time Blaise joined their conversation and added his two cents worth “Them being chummy.” Hermione laughed at the two of them, thinking each of their answers was perfect for the man that said it.

“And on that note, I think it’s time you both leave me alone,” giggled Hermione, motioning for both to go away.

Blaise pulled Hermione to her feet. “What about a kiss for luck then, Cara?”

“Oh, that’s a Brilliant idea!” she breathed, pushing him aside quickly, before grabbing George to bestow a kiss on his lips.

“Blimey!” blinked back George, his eyes wide. Hermione gave him a dazzling smile and wink, “Maybe I was with the wrong twin after all.”

“That is NOT what I meant, and you know it!” exclaimed Blaise indignantly.

“Oh, wasn’t it? My mistake. Shall I call Malfoy over?” Hermione’s eyes were flashing, and her tone was daring him to say yes.

“You wouldn’t dare!”

“You wanna bet?” she asked, stepping boldly towards the pitch.

“NO!” shouted George and Blaise together, grabbing her arms. They’re reaction drawing everyone’s attention. “Ok, fine, you would,” amended Blaise quickly, pulling her back towards him. “Come on, Mia. Where’s my kiss?”

“Why don’t you go ask Ginny for it?”

“Because I have no wish to die at the hands of Saint Potter,” grumbled Blaise, warily casting a glance at where the beautiful redhead sat with his best friend.

“Oh, they’re not together anymore,” continued George. “That’s why she’s staying with our Mia here.”

Blaise shot her an incredulous look. “Ginny is living with you, and you didn’t tell me!”

“Oh I’m sorry, was that an important detail you needed that I somehow neglected to inform you of?” Hermione asked, shooting Blaise her sweetest smile.

“Ok, but that’s not the same!”

“Oh, isn’t it?” she asked again batting her eyelashes at him. “Besides, why else would I prevent you from coming over to the house?”

“Because you’re still mad at me for letting George get my plowed at the Gala,” he mumbled.

Her smile brightened at that. “Oh, and I am.”

Even George paled at the flash of anger in her eyes, causing both men to splutter apologies at her and promises that it won’t happen again.

“Oh, I know it won’t, because I’m going to next week’s Ball with Ginny.”

Blaise opened his mouth to protest, before snapping it shut again with a nod. Nothing good ever came with arguing with Hermione when she was in a mood like this… her “Oh…” statements never boded well for the recipient. This he knew from experience.

Thankfully his brooding was interrupted by Ginny joining them, wondering aloud if Hermione had kissed ALL of her brothers. “All but two,” Hermione mused after a pause, “and you, of course.”

“Oh, should we fix that?” teased Ginny wiggling her eyebrows at her friend suggestively, even though she knew it was a bald-faced lie. The two girls have kissed each other countless times before.

“Why not!” chirped Hermione grabbing her best friend and pulling her close before planting her lips on hers. The two girls giggled as they pulled apart from each other, and Hermione full on laughed at the mix of expressions on the boys' faces around them.

“That was hot,” mumbled Blaise, trying in vain to regain his senses. Hermione rolled her eyes, knowing exactly why it was getting his blood boiling, and trying not to make eye contact with George who was muttering about his sister ruining perfectly good moments before her eyes landed on Draco’s.

His grey eyes were smoldering like mercury as he took her in. “Do I get one too or are you only kissing Gingers today?”

“I’d say only Gingers, but I don’t want Ian getting the wrong idea!”

Draco let out a booming laugh, remembering the way the Redheaded Italian had been hitting on her at every practice since their first game. Hermione tried not to stare at Draco as he laughed. His face transforming entirely into one of pure delight, his features becoming softer with joy alighted upon them. And was that a dimple? Merlin, how had she never noticed that. “So how about a private bet?” he asked, his voice dropping lower despite everyone else began to wander to the pitch.

Blinking, she tilted her head slightly to take him in fully. Meeting his eyes again, she suddenly felt breathless, and she was sure that was her pulse she heard beating in her ears. “What did you have in mind, Draco?”

“Dinner. Loser cooks.”

She eyed him skeptically for a moment. There was something in his soft lop-sided smile, something that seemed to be encouraging her to take the risk. She was sure it was partly Ginny’s voice, their conversation from the previous week still ringing in her ears. Finally, she nodded, telling herself to agree before she had time to really think about it. They were on the same team now, after all. Neighbors. In any case, it was just dinner. Just a good-natured wager between friends. Wait. Were she and Draco friends now?

As if sensing her mind beginning to spin out of control, Draco leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. “For luck,” he asserted, a roguish lop-sided grin spreading across his face just before he winked at her and headed back to the pitch.

Hermione felt a shiver run down her spine as she watched him go.

Fucking hell. She thought suddenly. That was new.

Chapter Text

It's a Weasel Off

Hermione had trouble keeping her eyes off the game that was played at the Burrow that day. Usually, she had no problem at all, tuning them out. Somehow knowing when to cheer or laugh without dedicating all of her attention to the field. Let’s face it reading at Quidditch games was just something she had pretty much always done. Today, though, it was all but impossible. She couldn’t have focused on her book if she had wanted to. It would be easy to say it was because there was a unique mix of professional and amateur players on the field today; or that it was because all old house rivalries had seemingly been set aside for this match. Everyone was genuinely having fun, and while there was still a competitive edge to the game, there was a playfulness and love for the game that was shining through everyone’s faces. That’s what Hermione was blaming for her attentive nature really, that and deep-rooted concern for the players' well-being — being a healer and all that what was expected of her – especially with five players from her team on the field currently.

On Ginny’s team were Draco and Angie as Chasers, JJ playing Keeper, and Ian was playing Beater. Nicholas Coolridge, MM’s alternate beater, was playing the same position on George’s team. Besides Nicholas, there were Marcus Flint and Oliver Wood, playing beater and keeper respectively, both who played for the Tornados. Jessie Graff, Michelle Warnaky and Meagan Martin all from the Harpies were also on George’s team. Hermione had laughed that so many of Ginny’s teammates were playing against her, but Ginny had said it was her idea. She wanted to be sure George couldn’t say he lost because she cheated – deliberately stacking the deck with people who knew her style well. He had of course forgotten that she and Draco played together on the national team, but that was neither here nor there now.

The rest of the players, mainly playing as alternates and backups today, were made up of a mix of old housemates that generally joined in on pickup games like Zacharias Smith and Bill Weasley. All of the amateurs were ecstatic for the opportunity to play with the pros, and the pros being consummate professionals, were happily sharing tips and encouraging their temporary teammates. It made Hermione wonder if there had ever been a clinic given for children’s charities, the way her Uncle David did. It was something she made a mental note to ask Emily about on the following Monday.

Hermione wasn’t alone on the sidelines observing the game. Draco had extended an invitation not just for Blaise to play, but for several key members of their leadership team to attend as well. Astoria and Ernie had arrived with Daphne and Susan, along with Neville and Theo. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley along with their daughter in law Fleur and her toddler daughter Victorie was sitting on the opposite side of the field, nearer the house, along with a couple of other significant others of people currently playing on the pitch. Hermione herself was wedged between Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnegan, discussing their plans to start a family, when she had spotted a familiar figure approaching the field.

She smiled brightly at the man she had called her best friend for over a decade and waved her arms at him.

“I didn’t know he was coming today,” remarked Dean smiling next to her.

“He wasn’t supposed to. He said he had Ministry work to do,” she replied, standing to greet him. She paused for a moment as those around her let out a groan, a missed throw by George that had resulted in a very near foul had a lot of smack talk coming from both on and off the pitch. Hermione gave a loud laugh as she made her way across the grass.

Throwing herself in her best friend’s arms, she gave him a tight squeeze, and he laughed with delight. “What are you doing here! You said you had to work!”

He laughed again, “I know. I know. I did. I do. But I ran into a familiar face at work today, and I thought I’d bring him by and take a break.”

Hermione barely spared a glance over Harry’s shoulder as she smacked him in the chest. “You’ve been working too hard! You need to take a break. I forbid you to go back to work today, Harry.”

“Merlin, Hermione, you can’t keep me from working.”

“You forget that I’m a Doctor, Harry. I can literally tell Kings you are unfit for duty and then what would you do?”

“She has a point, ‘arry. I vould listen to her. Herm-own-ninny iz not called brightest vitch ov age vor nothin’.”

“VIKTOR!!” Hermione squealed as the Bulgarian scooped her into his arms and spun her around. “Oh, Viktor, it’s so good to see you! How are you? What are you doing here?”

“I haff meeting vith Ministry for International Quidditch Match next month.”

“Oh, are you coming in for the Vultures match against the Magpies?”

Viktor tilted his head at her. It had been quite some time since they had seen each other face to face, but they had corresponded back and forth for years, and if there was one thing he knew, it was that Hermione did not like Quidditch. “How vould you know dis? You haff alvays disliked da game.”

Harry laughed as Hermione muttered under breath. “I don’t hate quidditch. I just didn’t like how often my friends seemed to get injured while playing.”

Harry, teasing her: “Yeah, that’s why you became a Healer for a Quidditch team.”

Viktor, eyes widening: “Vot iz dis? You tell me you become Healer, you did not mention you vere Healer for Quidditch team. Iz true?”

Hermione, squirming under his gaze: “Yes. I’m the Lead Healer for the Magpies.”

Viktor, grinning broadly: “Das iz vonderful Herm-own-ninny! Ve stay vith Magpies vhile ve play. Vill get to see you. Maybe take you to dinner if iz alright vith boyfriend.”

Hermione smiled softly at the strong man who had pulled her back against him for a hug as he spoke, being sure to give the appropriate distance between their bodies afterward. Viktor had always been so respectful in public, especially when it came to anything that could compromise her reputation.

She blushed as she ducked her head, tucking a wayward curl behind her ear: “No boyfriend, Viktor. We broke up last month.”

Viktor’s dark eyes narrowed as he took her in: “Vos not unfaitfull vas he? He did not hurt you? Ve did not like him in Bulgaria, and vill happily hex him if he hurt you.”

Hermione laughed, noting the way he held her body firmly to his now as he spoke: “I can hex him myself, you know.”

Viktor, laughing loudly, shaking his head in understanding: “Da. Dis I know. No vitch more powervul vith or vithout vand.” Hermione gave him a playful smack as Harry laughed, agreeing with him readily. “But you tell me, honestly da? You are ok? He did not hurt you?”

Hermione sighed deeply, annoyed that everyone immediately went to thinking she had been abused: “No, he did not hurt me. It wasn’t meant to be. We weren’t meant to be. I’m not sad about it.”

Dipping his head, Viktor looked deeply in her eyes. A flash of something hot lit his obsidian eyes which were dancing merrily: “I haff confession. I not sad about it either.”

Hermione giggled as he winked at her before telling him that Ron’s sister had taken care of hexing him on her behalf. “You can ask Harry. He was there.”

Viktor, to Harry: “Da? She hex her brother?”

Harry, smiled proudly: “Oh yes, and Ginny’s bat-bogey hex never misses.”

Viktor gave a nod: “Gut. I buy her drink to say thank you.”

Hermione was glad to see Harry laugh at this comment and noted that he didn’t seem jealous at all that the handsome seeker was interested in buying his new ex a drink.
Just as she was about to say something to him, they heard a loud shout from the air and the tell-tale thud of brooms colliding with bodies. In a flash, Hermione was spinning out of Viktor’s arms and running towards the pitch, pulling her hair into a ponytail as she did so. She was accio-ing her medical kit and shouting for everyone else to get out of the way as she skidded to a stop, dropping to her knees, she quickly began to run diagnostics. Beside her, Dean was doing the same thing, having trained as a healer with her at St. Mungo’s. They fell into an old shorthand they had developed when they had worked and trained together, and she was glad to see that his time in the private sector hadn’t dampened his skill at all.

“Draco you and this damn shoulder,” she hissed, as she noted it was dislocated yet again.

“You should see the other guy,” he replied, wincing in pain as she quickly popped it back into place.

“I can see him,” she snapped, noting a fine layer of sweat at his hairline and an added paleness to his skin that came from pain. The fall had left him short of breath, and she was sure there was a cracked rib or two in his chest; lower down one of his legs was bent at a weird angle and she hoped it was a clean break. She knew Joon, their team manager, would kill them both if their star chaser and team captain missed their match the following week because of this stupid grudge match between the Weasleys.

Next, to them, Dean was running diagnostics on Ian, who had crashed in a heap along with his teammate. Draco had been ducking a bludger sent directly at him by Flint and had rammed into Ian. Instinctively reaching for a broom handle to steady himself as he started to fall, unwittingly grabbing Ian’s instead of his own as he tried to correct himself; Ian had hit him with his bat out of reflex, sending them both unceremoniously crashing to the ground. He had landed on his arm wrong and fractured both his wrist as well as his arm in two places. He too had had the wind knocked out of him, and his shortness of breath was just a little less than Draco’s.

“Well looks like a night of skele-grow for both of you,” Hermione had stated, confirming Ian’s injuries with Dean. “I swear to everything holy if you two can’t play against the Cannons next week, I will personally take it out of each of your hides and then start in on the rest of you.” She could see a flirtatious comment on the lips of several of the men around her, but they were all wise enough to keep their innuendos to themselves at the moment.

“Dean, are you able to come with me? I think it would be safer with two of us then on my own.”

“Of course! It’ll be like old times.” She chuckled alongside him and then gave both of the players in front of her a soft look.

“I’m going to immobilize both of you until we get you back to the Estate. If you promise to be good, I will let you return to your respective homes to recover instead of making you stay in the Medical wing.”

Both men quickly agreed, each knowing that what Hermione was really doing was protecting them all from the wrath of their GM and Coach.

“Right call your Elves,” she told the two men on the ground matter-of-factly. Within moments three small pops could be heard. The three elves quickly glanced around and immediately all turned to face Hermione, falling into line in front of her, seeming to know that she was the person in charge. Hermione lowered to her knees and spoke quickly and clearly to the three elves in front of her – Draco, Ian’s and her own. She gave each implicit orders, directing the boys’ elves to keep them immobilized, and get them comfortable in their beds, while she sent Po to the medical bay to collect several vials of pain potions, sleep draughts and skel-e-grow. Ian’s elf Fiore took Dean along to help settle Ian, and Hermione informed her friend that she would be over shortly with some provisions before thanking him again for helping.

Turning to look at the remaining players she told them to keep the game going or end it if they saw fit, but if anyone else got injured there would be hell to pay. This comment was directed specifically at Blaise, George, and Ginny. All of whom gulped. Blaise told her he’d make sure Gin got back to her place later, and he’d go over and check on Draco after he dropped her off at Hermione’s. She made a quick farewell to everyone else and tried not to think about the promise in Viktor’s eye about getting to see her soon.

As Po returned to apparate her back to the Estate, after collecting the vials, she turned to Harry with one last warning “If I find out you went back to work, I will hex you. I happen to know they’re two men short right now, and I’m sure they wouldn’t turn down the offer of a couple of has-been alternates like yourselves.” She winked at Viktor as he spluttered about being called a has been, and she was still laughing at the threat he would show her later to correct that line of thinking.

Chapter Text

A Shoulder of Truth

“I hope you know,” Hermione told him, as she checked his arm yet again, “that I’m not making you dinner for this.”

Draco gave a soft laugh. “Noted.”

“How did you manage to do this to yourself again?”

“It’s an old injury.”

“How old?”

“Um. I think I was eight the first time.”

“EIGHT?? What happened?”

“It’s a long story.”

“We have plenty of time,” she replied as she reset his leg. “You’re going to have a long night of Skele-gro ahead of you.”

“My favorite,” he replied. Draco watched Hermione work from under his lashes. As much as he loathed the pain he was in, he would admit, if only to himself, that having Granger attend to him was worth it. Everyone on the team had agreed that the level of care they received since she had joined the team had risen exponentially, and it wasn’t just cause she was so damn good at what she did; it was the fact that she also cared about them. Even when Hermione was laughing at the funny pick up lines from some of the guys, Hermione still managed to care for them at a level higher than their previous healer. That she was so concerned about Draco’s shoulder had not gone unnoticed by a few others. Everyone knew that he had an old dislocation injury and was prone to have it dislocated again and again, but no one had cared whether it caused him regular pain or if it healed properly.

It was just so… Hermione. He decided finally.

Merlin, he hated the way she made him feel. His opinions on her had changed after she punched him in the face 3rd year. Looking back, Draco could say that he deserved it, and while most people would’ve taken that moment as a sign of how vulgar and uncouth muggles were, it had said the exact opposite to him. Hermione could’ve done more damage with her wand. Draco did not doubt that she had known an entire’s book worth of jinxes and hexes and truly uncomfortable things that she could’ve hit him with – discreetly, might he add. But Hermione hadn’t. She had used her hands. Regardless of injury to herself or of touching him. Looking back on it now, he could say it was fucking brilliant, and even a bit hot if he was honest. That moment, though, that had been the moment when he had started to question everything he knew about Muggles and Muggle-borns.

Hermione was the top of their class – in every subject, well-mannered, kind (to everyone but him which, granted, was deserved) and she was beautiful.

Fucking hell, was she beautiful.

Draco had noted her on the train their very first year. Her dark skin, wild hair, and large brown eyes left him in awe. She was unlike any girl he had meant to that point – even though she was similar in coloring to Blaise and Arabella, her features were well outside what he’d known from the likes of the Parkinsons or Greengrasses. And even at 11, Draco had thought she was beautiful. But then his training had kicked in, and he had forced himself to sneer and scowl and think of her as scum on his shoe for being a muggleborn. He still remembered the look of sadness that had flooded Hermione's brown eyes the first time he had called her a Mudblood, and it had left a feeling of wretchedness that had caused him to be extra nasty to everyone – even within the walls of his own house – for the rest of the month.

That feelings of unhappiness had only grown the more he had begun to watch her. That unhappiness had bloomed into grief when he noted the way Viktor Krum watched her, and when she floated down the stairs for the yule ball 4th year, Draco had felt sorrow deep into his bones that the smile on her face was not for him. Of course, he had been better at hiding his desolation than that stupid Weaselbee, and Draco may have accidentally jinxed him the next day in retaliation for leaving Hermione a sobbing mess on the stairs that night. That was when Blaise had figured him out. There was no love lost between the Malfoys and Weasleys, that information was well known. But the way Weaselbee treated Hermione, the girl that was supposed to be his best friend, who had already saved his life at least twice by Draco’s count, and was likely the only reason he wasn’t failing all of his classes, rubbed Draco wrong in so many ways. And Blaise knew it. That kind of treatment wasn’t to be born, and Draco had used their rivalry to his advantage, punishing the dimwitted redhead any chance he got on behalf of Ron's treatment of the girl Draco couldn’t have. It was ridiculous when Draco thought about it. (Even Blaise had thought so, though secretly he admired Draco for doing it.)

Blaise had watched on in silence, as good Slytherin best friend’s would, and if he discussed it with their other best friend Theo, the pair didn’t tell him. They both knew he was under observation by that point. That Crabbe and Goyle were less friends and bodyguards than informants and narcs, there to make sure Draco (and Blaise and Theo for that matter) was acting the proper pureblood and not mingling with mudbloods and blood traitors. Draco let Pansy cling to him, happy to use her as his cover. After all, how could he be in love with someone else if he was happily snogging Pansy? No one needed to know that when he closed his eyes, the girl in his arms changed dramatically into one with mahogany skin and unruly curls. Those thoughts were for him and his bed, with the proper silencing charms and wards in place. Thankfully, Draco had Blaise and Theo, to nudge him if his eyes lingered too long across the Great Hall, or if he had gone too long without insulting someone in the Golden Trio.

And he had his mother there to hold him back when his psychotic bitch of an aunt had thrown that beautiful soul to the floor and begun carving into her with that cursed blade.

The way Hermione’s eyes had looked at him, at once sunken and penetrating, the vivacious brown, at once as rich as chocolate and warm as whiskey, were dulled like leather from the pain being cast repeatedly upon her. Draco had willed his own eyes, gray and wide, that were usually cold and cruel, to hold tightly to hers, willingly the ice in his eyes to melt into iron, forged in strength and will for her to hold on. Draco couldn’t save her; he knew he couldn’t. He’d be killed if he tried, his mother most likely killed just for the irritation he caused. No. He couldn’t save her, though the veins in his neck popped and his muscles ached from being tensed so tightly against the desperate need to hurl his aunt away from her body and scoop Hermione into his arms and shield her from any more pain. But he needed her to live because the only way they all lived was if Potter won, and there was no way Potter would survive without her. And so he stood there, swallowing bile, and forcing his face to remain neutral behind the mask of indifference he had long ago perfected, all the while willing her to hang on.

There had been a flicker in Hermione’s eyes when Bellatrix had paused to call for the Goblin, that had shown Draco her resolve. Her usually soft expressive, eyes that reminded him of the warmth and comfort of hot chocolate after a day playing in the snow were now reticent but unafraid. The familiar brown now an uncharacteristic shade of hardened tree bark. Red-rimmed, Impenetrable, deep and bitter even with tears spilling forth and pain radiating from her.

Draco had known then that Hermione would survive her torture even if he would not.

To this day, they were the eyes of his nightmares. AT of all the things he had seen and done in the war, her eyes that day were what haunted him most. And though he stared into them now, the shape prodigiously splendid, swirling with concern and intelligence, he could still see the redness and hardened earth from that day in their depths. However, at this moment, while his own eyes swirled with pain, Draco felt he could drown in the warmth he saw in hers - the brown of her eyes feeling like a soft blanket or the perfect cup of coffee that comforted the soul after a sleepless night. Draco would confess every sin and tell her every secret of his life in exchange for the heated glaze of golden fire he occasionally saw when she stared at him with combined with the comforting warmth swimming in her eyes now.

Instead, he told her a story, of a young boy and his friend playing in the part of the forest at Malfoy Manor, they had no business being in. Of coming across two of his father’s beloved white peacocks, viciously mauled to death and an injured unicorn and being too dumb to be afraid of what could have possibly done it. Of climbing a tree, and his friend slipping, of something grabbing his ankle, and of the pain of his arm popping out of the socket as he tried desperately to hold on to his friend, and his friend on to him. Of calling for every house elf he could think of, and the relief when one arrived and spirited his friend away, and the grief when one died protecting Draco as he dangled by his legs, his arm so out of his socket that later he would learn that they had considered amputation. Draco spoke in hushed tones, and distressed whispers, his emotions as exposed as a raw nerve thanks to the pain potions and long-suppressed memories.

Hermione had sat with rapt attention and bated breath, listening to Draco speak. Whatever story she thought he would tell her, this tale had not been it, and she could not quell the tears that spilled down her cheeks at his narrative. Every fiber of her being longed to curl against Draco and comfort him to lay his head on her chest and run her fingers through his hair as their tears fell together. The beauty and pain in his words. In the grief, he carried over the loss of his elf, Tinky, of the quiet respect he gave to all the Malfoy house elves, despite the treatment of Dobby by his father. That Draco felt as if he owed his life to a bunch of house elves, touched her in a way, she could never have expected.

Unbeknownst to either of them, Draco’s house elf, Winky, stood in the doorway silently crying, listening to the tale of her master. Tinky had been Winky’s older brother, and Winky had never forgotten the way the young boy had laid his head on the kitchen table and cried over the loss of the elf. The Master of the Manor had beaten the boy nearly senseless for his foolish actions, and for costing them a house elf, but it wasn’t why the lad sat at the table and cried, nor for the pain in his arm. No, Draco sat at the table crying over the loss of his first friend, the only one he had as a toddler. Draco cried for the creature that comforted him when he had nightmares and healed him when his father beat him. Winky had no idea that Master Draco still blamed himself for her brother’s death, or that he didn’t complain about his shoulder because he felt like he deserved it. When her feelings got to be too much, she threw herself to her Master’s bedside, startling both healer and patient, with her tears.

Draco patted her on the head, telling her he was so so sorry before the delayed effects of the sleeping draught Hermione had slipped into the pain potions kicked in, and he drifted off to sleep, one arm in a sling, and his opposite hand resting on his elf’s head.

It was a juxtaposition of realities for Hermione, and she found herself needing to escape Draco’s house as quickly as possible. She didn’t know what to do with this Draco. One who felt deeply, and loved his house elf enough to grieve for his loss almost two decades later. A man who had freed his current elf, and gave her a salary and even in his pain was comforting her. A snarky, mean, bully form of Draco, Hermione was comfortable with. Hermione knew him. But this Draco, the one who brought her sweets to celebrate being Weasel-free, flirted with her, encouraged her to remember just what she was capable of, had the body of a Greek God and showed kindness to house elves. This Draco was an overwhelming, outrageously attractive enigma that Hermione felt unprepared to handle.

Clearing her throat, she gave Winky clear instructions to stay by Draco’s side and what to look for as his bones healed, before excusing herself. “I’ll be back tomorrow to check on him,” she told the little house elf with tear-filled eyes, and with a fleeting glance to the peaceful man slumbering between them, she went home to change and then head out to go check on her other patient.

Chapter Text

Sexual Healing

An hour later, Hermione returned to her home, choosing to walk instead of apparate due to her emotional state and overwhelming use of magic. The last thing she needed was to splinch herself. Walking up from the back of her house near the pond, she was startled to hear a voice ask her if it had been a long day.

Turning her gaze to the swing on porch, she was surprised to see Blaise, sitting upon it, a mug of something steaming his hand. He patted the seat next to him as she mounted the steps.

“I’m still mad at you,” she grumbled sitting down next to him.

“I know,” he replied wrapping an arm around her shoulders and tucking her into him. He handed her his cup, “But let’s put a pin in that for now.”

Hermione nodded, accepting the cup gratefully. Taking a long sip, she let the warmth of the hot chocolate laced with Bailey’s and firewhiskey permeate her body. “How did you know?” she asked.

“I went to check on Draco and Winky told me that he told you about that day.”

Something in his tone, made her turn her head to him. There was a seriousness in Blaise’s jaw that she didn’t often see. “It was you,” she breathed at last. “You were his friend. The one that he saved that day.”

Blaise nodded. His face solemn. Hermione leaned against him. She was still mad at him, but it didn’t seem to matter at the moment. She let the day’s emotions roll over.

Reminiscing with George. Missing Fred. Taunting Blaise. Draco’s wager. Chasting Harry. Seeing Viktor again. The boys’ getting injured.

Seeing Draco in a different light.

Again.

“Blaise?”

“Yeah, love?”

“Where’s Ginny?”

“She stayed at her parents. Something about spending time with her brothers.”

Hermione nodded absently, downing the rest of the steaming liquid, allowing it to her warm from the inside. “Have you eaten?” she asked standing up.

“No,” he replied, looking at her.

“Come on, then,” she told him, offering her hand. “I think we need food and something to drink.”

“Is that all we need?” he asked her, accepting her hand.

Hermione gave him a smirk that would’ve made Malfoy proud. “No,” she replied, pressing her body against his. Standing on her tiptoes she pressed a kiss to his lips.

“What else do we need?” he asked returning her kiss.

“What do YOU need?” she asked, turning the question around on him.

Now it was Blaise who smirked. “You gonna help me forget, Cara Mia?”

“Is that what you need?”

“Gods yes,” he replied wrapping his arms around her and pulling her close. Hermione gave a little giggle as his lips traveled to her jaw.

“Inside, Blaise. We have to go inside.”

“Hmmmmm I love to be inside, Mia.”

Hermione groaned at the obvious line but gave him a little giggle as she took his hand to lead him into her house.

His mouth was on hers the moment they crossed the threshold.

“Oh please tell me,” he began walking her backwards towards her bedroom. “That I’m the first one to christen your new house.”

“And who else would you imagine, I’ve been snogging?”

“Well I do recall you and Gin beng closer than you’ve let on.”

“hmmmm, that’s right,” she replied, kissing him deeply, “I forgot you were there for all those games of spin the bottle.”

Blaise chuckled against her neck, as his hands sliding under her shirt. “How could you forget that? I’m pretty sure that’s when we confirmed you were bi.”

Hermione hummed as his hands caressed her breasts.

It wasn’t the first time they had had this conversation. Blaise had been the catalyst to her sexual awakening after all. And yes, that sexual awakening had included women. Hermione had always appreciated women’s bodies more than men’s growing up. Penises in her opinion weren’t at all attractive, but a woman’s body, the curve of her breasts especially, the softness of the stomach into the swell of a hip, had always been something that had left a stirring in the pit of her stomach.

And quite frankly, she appreciated a fine ass – it didn’t matter if it was the finely chiseled hardness of a man’s or a soft taught bubble of a woman’s. Hermione appreciated them all and had thought the longing and desire she had to touch them regardless of a gender had made her a freak.

The same way she was drawn to lips.

The first time she had kissed a girl had been while she was home in the muggle world. Hermione couldn’t even begin to tell you how it had happened, but when her oldest friend in the muggle world had spent the night and their lips had found each other’s, Hermione had felt electricity course through her veins. Kissing Asia had been completely different than kissing Fred. Hermione wasn’t sure if it was the taste of her cherry chapstick or just the difference of her soft moans and body pressed against hers. But Hermione had liked it. A lot. She had spent the summer kissing and touching her friend, and when it was time to return to the Magical world, Hermione had been even sadder to leave her muggle best friend.

But then there was her life in the Magical world. Ron still being a jerk. Harry was still in danger. George was still a prankster, and there was Fred stealing occasional kisses even though they weren’t officially back together after their summer break. Just the memory of nearly being caught (a dozen or more times) as Fred pushed her against walls in the Burrow or alcoves and secret passageways at Hogwarts, made her weak in the knees and her panties damp.

And that was all before Viktor had shown his interest, and Hermione had felt so much confusion at her feelings and emotions and the hormones that left her aching with desire and longing. It was something her logical brain hated and no amount of reading had ever seemed to make it sense.

Kissing Viktor was different than kissing Asia and still left her feeling tingly and her panties moist. His strong hands so sure on her body, his desire to keep himself reigned in, the way he explained the urges he had, his desire for control in one thing when he felt as if he had so little control in almost every other area of his life. The way she found freedom in not thinking, in not being the one who needed to make decisions or be smart. It had been so freeing. And then Fred would be there, his kisses just as sure but far more tender. His hands softer on her body, his jokes and pranks making her feel things in entirely different ways than Asia or Viktor.

Hermione’s mind had been left reeling as she tried to understand the differences and why she craved them all equally, and if snogging one man while allowing another to put his hands on her body in another way while longing for the soft lips of a woman made her the biggest type of slag there was then so be it.

 

Then there had been Blaise, who years later, showed her it was all okay. Who gave her permission to accept the feelings of pleasure for what they were and not to worry about the source. He had reminded her of the wisdom her parents had shared that love was love. Their more liberal points of view on marriage and relationships had never been echoed in the halls of Hogwarts to her before, and she had nearly cried in joy to know that she wasn’t more of a freak for her confusion and desires.

Blaise had confessed his own "confusions and desires" as she had put it. Never telling her the who, but telling her of his own adventures and dabllings with both sexes. When he had told her that he was bi- and several others in Slytherin were also bi- or gay, Hermione had been shocked, and had never felt more whole in her life.

She had confessed it to Ginny one night not long after, and Ginny, curious as she was, had asked Hermione to kiss her. Hermione had never considered her friend sexually before than, but had kissed her anyways – to see if it was all women she was attracted to or if Asia had merely been an exception. It turns out Asia, was NOT the exception it turned out, and kissing Ginny, while not quite as thrilling as kissing Blaise or Asia, was just as good as kissing Fred.

Blaise had joked about being the catalyst to this new discovery and the images of the two girls he was most attracted to kissing each other and being intimate with each other had became his personal torture. His dreams and longings to walk in on them were abated by watching them make out during games of spin the bottle or hearing them giggle in the common room when they thought he had gone to bed. He had wanked to the image of the two of them together in his bed more times than he could count. While he had been falling in love with Ginny and becoming good friends with Hermione, those desires had intensified and while he knew there would never be anything between the three of them, it never stopped him from thinking about it.

Occasionally confessing his desires to Hermione during their interludes, something he continued once he discovered what telling her his desires did to her libido. The woman was a minx on a bad day, but using his words to describe in great detail the way he desired to take her while she licked her best girl friend would make her squirm and drip and beg for more. Always more.

Hermione would return the favor on occasion, climbing on to the dark skinned wizard, and lowering herself down slowly upon his hardened member leaning forward to whisper about visions of the beautiful pale redhead writhing above his face while she continued to ride him. Sending him plunging deeper into her with an agonized moan of desire as he begged her for more.

Or the way Hermione would make eye contact with him as she kissed Ginny, or Ginny’s lips would slip to her neck and Hermione would look Blaise directly in the eyes and moan, knowing that it would make him hard. He would wait until Ginny would leave or fall asleep to punish Hermione for her cruelty, fucking her as hard as he could as she moaned and groaned against his lips.

Idly Hermione wondered what Ginny would say if she knew that she had been a ghost in their fantasies for years. If she knew how Blaise longed to bury himself in her tight quim as she ground against Hermione, alternating between kissing her lips and sucking her nipples. Hermione shivered, as Blaise’s lips found her breast, and she was soon confessing where her thoughts had wondered to, none too surprised when Blaise groaned into her neck as his hands dipped into her pants, finding her so wet and ready.

“Tell me what you want Cara,” he growled pressing his length against her. She shivered under his touch, their desires crashing against one another.

Fleeting thoughts of Fred, of Viktor, of Asia and Ginny dancing through her mind before an image of Draco, his body wet from the pond, his gray eyes molten with desire, his face lit up in laughter came crashing over her. She bucked against Blaise’s hand, feeling her body tightening and quickening with desire as he slid a finger inside her, curling it just so to make the stirring in her belly double.

“You,” she replied, shoving the sudden image of Draco’s lips upon her neck, his hands ghosting against her flesh away. “Just you.”

Blaise wisely said nothing, instead adding a second finger into her wet heat and sucking softly on the junction of her neck and shoulder, curling and scissoring his fingers just so until he felt her flutter and tighten around his digits. “That’s right Cara. Come for me, Mia. Let go.”

Hermione clutched at his back, feeling her nails digging in as she felt her body respond to his words. The feeling in her belly tightening and magnifying before suddenly exploding under his touch. She didn’t hold back or shrink back from the sound that escaped her lips, and she tightened her hold on him as he continued to stroke her through her orgasm.

Clothing was quickly discarded after that, and the fell into a heap on to her bed in a mix of limbs and kisses, bodies glistening with sex as words of desire and longing poured out of their lips.

Hermione knew at some point that Blaise no longer saw her tan skin beneath him, and said nothing when the name that poured from his lips wasn’t her own. It was something he rarely did, unless she pushed him, demanding he use her to have what he most desired. He usually balked, but when she would paint the picture of pale creamy skin, silken straight strands of strawberry blonde, and sapphire blue eyes that were completely different from her own, he would cave, whispering the name of the woman he loved and desired more than anything. It would fill him with shame later, but Hermione never judged.

Ginny had chosen who she wanted and Blaise had respected it. He had never persued her, tried to convince her that she was making a mistake. He had cried and mourned and lamented about the fucking Chosen One getting everything without having to do a damn thing, but he had never interfered. And Hermione had respected him all the more for it, happily taking the pleasure he wished he could give to someone else without judgement and rewarding him with fervor and praise for how good he was.

Thinking briefly on it now, Hermione supposed it was probably a bit twisted and not normal, but she didn’t care. They lived in a world where magic was real. She had fought and won a war. Her parents were gone, and Asia was too. She had become a doctor and healer in less time than it took to become a doctor in the muggle world. She had ridden a dragon, touched a unicorn, had a house elf, and made her living in a world where people flew on broom’s at unimaginable speed for fun. If she was really going to judge her life in the terms of not normal, than it would take more than a few sexual fantasies.

Closing her eyes, she moaned in delight, as Blaise angled her hips to push deeper. Clutching at his forearms, she begged for more, as she willed her brain to shut off. Allowing herself to be swept up in the diversion of the gorgeous man between her thighs.

“Harder,” she begged meeting the thrust of his hips with her own. Her next moan was swallowed by his lips devouring hers, and she felt her mind finally let go, as the pressure in her belly built up again.

“Fuck, Mia,” Blaise ground out feeling her flutter around him again. “That’s it, Mia. Let go.”

Hermione, bit down on his shoulder as he tweaked her nipple between his thumb and forefinger and she felt the pressure building to it’s crescendo, release triggering his own. The lay together, gasping for breath, covered in sweat.

“One of these days witch, you will be the absolute death of me.”

"I know but at least I can heal you if I do."

"Does sexual healing actually count, Mia ?"

"Hmmmmm," she replied trailing an hand absently over his chest. "I'm not sure. Maybe we need to have some actual food to help us decide."

"You mean eating you first doesn't count as dinner?"

Hermione gave a chuckle telling him that devouring each other most certainly didn't count as food. Though she didn't argue when he slid down her body with a "challenge accepted." His mouth and tongue already finding their way to her center and lapping none too gently at her entrance begging for more.

Chapter Text

Chudley vs Montrose

The last Saturday in October dawned cold and clear. It was the perfect day for a Quidditch match, and the Magpies were playing at home today. Draco and Ian had healed well from their injuries at the Burrow, and the entire team had been playing well all week. As expected, Hermione was asked to sit on the panel before the game. While Hermione was informed she was there was to discuss injuries, she knew it was really because they were playing the Cannons, and everyone wanted to know how she felt about it – including to Hermione’s annoyance, Rita Skeeter, who sat front and center a myriad of questions falling from her lips.

Rita, purring and quickly taking control of the press conference after a few game related questions were posed to the entire panel: Miss Granger, any plans on seeing your ex-Ronald Weasley today?

Hermione, with a natural smile: I’m sure I’ll see him, as I will all the players, while he’s on the field today, but I have no plans outside of that.

Rita, digging: Anything to the rumors about you causing the split between Mr. Weasley and his current girlfriend, Bianca Bellingham?

Hermione, continuing to be unbothered: I haven’t seen or spoken to Ronald since the Phoenix Charity Gala last month. If you have a question about his relationship, you should ask him about it.

Rita, her tone a combination of scandal and concern: And why haven’t you spoken to him, Miss Granger? Aren’t you two friends? Is there trouble in the Golden Trio?

Hermione, eyes narrowing: In case it’s missed your notice, Ms. Skeeter, we are in the midst of our Quidditch season which means a lot of traveling and work, for both Ronald and myself, and with two new teams, might I add. I’m sure my colleagues would agree that our focus has, and rightly should be, on our respective teams at the moment.

Rita, smugly: And does that focus include Blaise Zabini? You were his plus one to last month’s gala. Are you two an item now?

Hermione, with a genuine smile, knowing what was coming next: Blaise is a dear friend, and we are not a couple.

Rita, leaning forward for the kill: Speaking of balls, should we expect to see you at tomorrow’s Black Out Ball with Mr. Zabini?

And there it is, thought Hermione. Her answer already ready: I will be attending but not with Blaise. He’ll be far too busy, I’m sure showing his support for his sister company, and one of our favorite charities.

Rita, undeterred: and who would you be going with?

Hermione, a smirk pasted in place: You’ll see tomorrow.

Rita, concerned and tutting: Oh dear, I hope you’re not going alone. How embarrassing. Perhaps you’ll be attending with Mr. Malfoy, your new captain here though he was your childhood enemy so that may be awkward.

Hermione, her eyes flashing in annoyance while her smile stayed in place: I didn’t hear a question in there Ms. Skeeter, but as I said last month, people grow up and change. I’ve had a front-row seat to the expansive growth Draco, and his companies have had over the last few years thanks to my close friendships with several of his employees. Both Malfoy Apothecary and Black Wineries have done excellent work in our community, and I will continue to support that.

Rita, her lips twitching: So you’re going tomorrow night to support Draco

The use of his first name and the emphasis Rita placed on it was unmistakable to all. Draco’s eyes flashed at the woman’s implication, but his face remained a blank mask. Hermione’s meanwhile turned predatory as she began to reply to the woman she so despised.

Hermione, her voice sounding like she was lecturing a small child: I’m going to the Black Out Ball to support the cause. Going to Hogwarts is the only choice any of us in Britain have if we want to continue our magical education, and that education doesn’t come cheap. Many students, especially orphans of the war, struggle at the sudden and unexpected costs that come from seven years at a private school here in Scotland. I suppose as an alternative, we could force children into smaller environments, keep them in a jar, so to speak, but the funds raised by Black Winery provide scholarships and materials to offset those costs. I believe that is a worthy cause everyone in our community should be supporting, don’t you?

Rita, grumbling a response, and shifts uncomfortably at the mention of the jar, which Hermione notes with satisfaction.

Hermione, to the rest of the room: If there are no other questions for me, I’d like to return to my duties and prepare for today’s match.

Miss Barry, clearing her throat: One last question Miss Granger.

Hermione, holding back a sigh and the deep desire to roll her eyes: Yes, Miss Barry?

Miss Barry: Who will win today? The Magpies or the Cannons?

Hermione, with a smirk: The Magpies, of course.

Miss Barry: Are you willing to wager on that?

Hermione, now sighing as she rose to her feet: Your one question is up, Miss Barry, but I’ll be generous. I’ll happily dance with the individual responsible for the game-winning point tomorrow night. Regardless of the team. Happy?

Miss Barry was nodding as she scribbled furiously.

Hermione: Good. (turning to the panel, and Emily) If you’ll excuse me.

 

oOo oOo oOo

The game was hard fought, with the Magpies drawing foul after foul and using penalties to their advantage early in the game. Ron had several good saves, but the Cannons played a bit sloppily on the whole, which the Magpies were quick to take advantage of. In the end, the Cannon seeker had caught the snitch, but not soon enough. The Magpies had scored five goals in quick succession in the last 10 minutes of play, and even with the Cannons catching the snitch, they still lost by 30 points.

Hermione did not stop to congratulate or console anyone, or to see Ron (a photo op the press was waiting for) as the Magpies were declared the winner. Draco had taken a bludger to the chest in the moments before the snitch was caught and the game won, and Hermione and her team were on full hands on deck mode.

Kristine had marveled how Draco had managed to stay on his broom after such a hit, and Hermione had answered for him with a quip about his sheer stubbornness which had sent those around them into a fit of laughter. Draco it seemed was the only significant injury this go-round, and while her team tended to the exams, and started mending cuts, sorting bumps and bruises and resetting the usually jammed fingers, she escorted Draco into her central medical bay. Vanishing his shirt, just as Coach Barnes walked in. Hermione ran her diagnostics quietly while Draco and the coached discussed some of the finer points of the game and things that had happened on the field. The conversation was briefer than Coach Barnes intended initially, but it was clear that Draco was winded from the direct hit from the bludger. The Coach paused to confer with Hermione, ensuring that he could tell the press that Draco hadn’t suffered any traumatic injuries. She confirmed other than a bruised ego and massive complex about his hair; he was relatively unscathed

“The Bludger could’ve done a lot more damage,” she offered, knowing that the biggest worry had been a few cracked ribs, which he did have, and a punctured lung, which he managed to avoid. Squeezing her shoulder, Coach Barnes thanked her for taking such good care of the team before leaving the room.

Draco lay back on the exam table, shirtless, and left arm extended from his body, held aloft by a charm, as Hermione bustled about the room grabbing potion vials, bruise cream, and gauze.

“You played well today,” she informed him, as she began to reset some of his ribs.

“Thanks, Granger.” He winced. “Though I still managed to see you.“

Hermione snorted. “That's what happens when you take a bludger to the chest.“

“Better than the face,” he murmured, allowing her to tip two vials to his lips.

“Doubtful,“ jested Hermione, wisely waiting until he had finished swallowing, so he didn’t spit the potions back out at her.

“Hey!“ he replied, annoyance crossing his face. Hermione giggled at his reaction. Vanishing the potion vials as she turned her attention back to running diagnostics.

Draco watched her for several minutes, his face turning solemn before he spoke, “You did well at the press conference today. “

Hermione glanced up at his tone. Noting the serious set to his jaw. “I just hate that they care so much about my love life! “

“You're popular.” Draco declared, just as Hermione snorted. “What? You are!” He eyed her thoughtfully as she continued to examine him and attend to his injuries as he listed off other things about the curly-haired witch. “Decorated War Heroine.”

She scoffed mumbling something about there being no heroes in a war that you had to fight before you graduated high school.

“Hogwarts Golden girl. Gryffindor Princess. Brains of the golden trio.” Hermione scoffed and mumbled irritatingly under her breath as he continued ticking off labels she had been given and was just about to threaten to hex him when he added “Harry Potter's muggleborn best friend.”

“Ok well. I'll give them that one.”

Draco smirked at her, as she examined the leg he had injured the previous week. “And you were dating another member of the Golden trio and one of the sacred 28.” Casting his eyes to the ceiling in annoyance thinking of her and Weaselbee kissing and smiling together in all the papers. “You were like a bloody fairy tale.“

“Ugh! Not you too.“ she sneered, abandoning her position at the end of his bed.

Her outburst surprised him, and he raised an eyebrow at her as she approached his head.“What? Don't look at me like that I'm not here for weasel bee. “

Hermione was scoffing again. “What? No fairy tales for you then? “

“Do I look like the type of guy that would get a happy ending? Right now I’d be happy not to die tragically in the second act.”

Hermione laughed at that, appreciating his Shakespeare reference. She ran her hand, absently over the perfect circle on Draco's abdomen. He had been so lucky that the bludger hadn't hit him higher. The impact alone had cracked four ribs, and he was lucky they hadn’t punctured his lungs. Or worse, if it had hit any higher, it could've impacted his heart. If I had a heart, he sneered when she had scolded him.

“You're never satisfied, Granger. The one time I don't dislocate my shoulder during a game and your mad cause I took a bludger. What’s it gonna take to make you happy? “

“You not getting injured during a game would be a nice start,” Hermione deadpanned, rolling her eyes at him.

“And deprive you of the chance to get my shirt off? Not likely, Granger.” he ended the statement with a wink and was quickly in pain as she smacked him right on the bruised flesh of his abdomen. “Dammit witch,” he groaned. “I thought we talked about the hitting.”

“Well I didn't hear you say apples,“ she replied coyly reaching for the bruise paste.

“Apples,” he conceded a moment later as the cold paste touched his skin.

“I didn't even hit you that time prat,” she admonished rubbing the cream into the bludger size bruise.

“It's cold,” he grumbled, sucking in his breath as she applied a fresh batch.

“Oh! Sorry” she muttered quickly casting a warming charm. “sorry I'm warm, and I didn't think about it.”

“Staring at my chest got you all hot under the collar doctor healer granger” he wiggled his eyebrows at her and was rewarded with a flush across her face. Glancing down, he noticed her hands running over a crisscross of scars just below his heart. Her eyes drifted across his torso, and she ran her hand over another longer scar and then another and another.

“Why have I never noticed these?”

“I usually keep them covered with a glamour,“ he replied with a shrug.

“Why?"

“Easier than answering questions. No one likes hearing that the chosen one gave these to me.”

“These are from Harry?”

“The one and only,” he confirmed, his eyes focusing on a spot on the ceiling once again.

Hermione’s jaw gaped. “These are from the bathroom? 6th year?”

Draco merely nodded as her hands continued to trace scar after scar across his chest. His focus remained on the ceiling as he willed his body not to react to the tender caress of her fingers against his chest. At least he could blame the unevenness of his breath to the pain of his cracked ribs healing.

“Merlin, Draco, this many scars,” she marveled, her voice revealing her shock, “He almost killed you.”

“That he did. “

“I'm so SORRY, Draco,” she whispered, a tear absently falling from her eye and landing on his skin.
Draco ignored the shiver that ran over his spine as her tear slide down his chest and to his side.“Why are you sorry? You didn't do it... Besides, at the time I would've welcomed it at the time.”

“Welcomed what?” she asked her brow furrowing.

He shrugged, not looking at her. “The end of it all.”

“You were so miserable that year,” she sighed, returning to applying the bruise cream to his torso.

“Yeah well… “ his voice drifted off. They had spoken a lot about all this during 8th year, and Draco had no desire to go through that torture again. Clearing his throat, he glanced down to where her hands had returned to trailing against a scar. He took a deep breath, trying to study his voice before he continued, “Yes, well, only Snape and I, and now you, know how bad it really was.”

“I told him not to use that bloody book,” Hermione grumbled finally removing her hands from Draco's scars. “he still has guilt over it. Even nightmares on occasion.”

“I'd be lying if said that doesn't make me happy. “

Hermione smacked his arm, bruise cream leaving a white mess where her fingers had been

“What? I’m not saying I didn't deserve it and that at some point I hadn't wished for it all to end, but It's nice to know Saint Potter is flawed too.”

“He is, “ she replied, sincerely meeting his eyes, “We all are.”

Draco caught himself being pulled in by her soothing tone and sincere face. “That we are,“ he confirmed absently tucking a loose curl behind her ear with his good arm.

Feeling the shift at the moment, Hermione took a step back and cleared her throat. “So you need to drink these,“ she ordered handing him several more vials, which he quickly swallowed down.
“You should be good to go by the ball tomorrow night.” She confirmed removing the charm from his other arm and taking the empty vials back.

“Good,” he replied, stretching slightly. “I've got a witch to impress tomorrow night. “

“Oh hot date? “ mused Hermione, none too happily shoving a twinge of jealousy.

“No, she's going with someone else.” He gave her a nod of thanks as she handed him a shirt to put on since she had vanished his other one.

“And how are you going to impress her?” she queried confused by his words.

“Well she owes me a dance, “ Draco insisted standing up

Hermione giggled “Does she know that?"

“I would hope so, “ he replied, heading for the door to head to the locker room for a soak in one of the medicinal tubs, “it was her idea.”

"And you're sure she knows this?" she asked with a snicker.

“Well I did toss the winning shot Granger, and I'm fairly certain she won't go back on her word.”

Chapter Text

#Theville

Hermione didn't bat an eye when Ginny asked her to be her date for the Black Out Ball hosted by Black Wineries on Halloween. She had said yes and asked what she should wear. Ginny had gotten that look on her face, the kind that usually ended up with Hermione drunk and participating in a slew of things she fought to keep hidden from everyone but a chosen few. That look often led to lots of drinks, swearing, and escaping to the muggle world, where they'd usually end up dancing in muggle clubs until the wee hours of the morning before tumbling home together, sometimes making out, sometimes more or less.

Still, Hermione had said yes. They were both single now, and she did feel personally responsible for Harry's split with Ginny - though really all parties involved knew it was for the best. Hermione had already accepted her invitation to the Ball, as had Ginny, and it was nothing to shoot over a message to Daphne requesting they be sat together as each other plus one. Blaise would be mad, Hermione just knew he already had a dress for her, but she was still mad at him for the last gala. BUT she'd always be there. Still keep the money hungry groupies at bay if need be, still run her fingers along his back and down his arm in their unique code to calm him. She would mingle and drum up support for Daphne, and she'd drink plenty of delicious wine while flirting with whoever she wanted, without the worry of offending her date.

Of course, she had had to make Ginny swear she wouldn't go home with anyone else, and that she'd be on her best behavior after the debacle with her brother at the last Gala. Hermione had cast her a half-hearted glare when Ginny had asked her to define best behavior, but the redhead had acquiesced after a brief pout. There would be enough speculation and rumors when she turned up to the Ball on Hermione’s arm and without Harry. They'd had agreed to stand together and smile and let the gossips run wild especially since Hermione had learned that Neville and Theo would be walking the red carpet into the Ball together, as a couple, for the first time in their history together.

It was a big deal.

The Wizarding World could still be cruel. So quite a few of them would rally together to walk the red carpet with them. It was what friends were supposed to do.

Daphne and Susan would walk together. Though they were married, many still didn't realize that they were a couple. Ginny and Hermione would be there, and if asked, they would both confirm that they were bi. Everyone knew Blaise was bi, even if it wasn't discussed, and no one knew what Malfoy would say if they went together. Alissa Beird and Gwenhog Jones from the Harpies were going to be in attendance for the first time as a couple as were Lavender Brown with Pavarati Patel, and Michelle (formerly Michael) Corner with Anthony Goldstein. Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnegan would also be there. (Their romance being the longest in the group, second only to Millie (now Everett) Bulstrode and Tracey Davis) . Pansy Parkinson had said she was coming as well, but no one knew who she would be coming with that night. Hermione secretly hoped it was Angelina Johnson. Knowing both women were also bi- and had dated each other occasionally, as she and George weren't exclusive by any means.

It was a sign, Hermione thought, of how far they had come against prejudices as a class that so many of her former schoolmates were openly out and proud, and that Michelle and Everett had both had the courage to stand firm in the gender they both identified with. Many within the higher echelons of Wizarding Society continued to turn a blind eye to the sexual orientations of this next generation. The rumors were that there had been many gay and transgender Witches and Wizards in the past, but like Triads, they had been erased from many history books within the last three generations or so as the Sacred 28 came to be and the focus shifted to blood purity. Hermione remembered having a conversation with Theo in particular about how many pureblood histories had been rewritten to focus more on blood purity than anything else. Sexuality and marriage restrictions were more concerned with breeding and business transactions than who you loved or had sex with, but with the eradication of prejudice against blood purity, having fought and lost an entire war around it, the focus on sexuality was back in the spotlight – and not in a good way.

Hermione had joked with Daphne and Susan over lunch that week that the Black Out Ball was turning into quite a different theme then they had intended. Susan had laughed, but Daphne had looked contemplative. The two women were both from Sacred 28 families, like Neville and Theo, and both knew the obstacles they would face from their society first hand. It had taken a lot to convince Daphne to stand up for herself and her love for Susan, and in the end, it had been her father trying to put her into an arranged marriage which had spurned her to action.

Theo had agreed to be patient and never pushed Neville at any juncture, even when Neville broke his heart in 8th year. Theo, heartbroken as he was, had understood Neville’s pain. Theo had always known he was attracted to boys and had known being out in Slytherin, during the reign of Voldemort was a death sentence waiting to happen. By then, Theo’s father, imprisoned for life for his crimes and loyal service to Voldemort, and Theo was the Head of the House of Nott at 17. It afforded him freedom; the freedom he knew Neville didn't have yet.

Neville, for his part, was working on trying and understanding the feelings he had been suppressing and the shame and guilt his Nan had packed on to him. Neville was pegged as the fool, the failure, the outcast for years. His triumph at the Battle of Hogwarts had finally shown that he was a man capable of more than anyone thought, and he knew that being into Blokes, and loving a Slytherin at that, would cast his back into a light he had just escaped from. It made his heart hurt, and his confusion over what he was expected to do – like the soon to be Head of the House of Longbottom in particular. After he had ended whatever he and Theo had, he had thrown himself into dating. By the time they had graduated and eventually moved into Blaise flat post-Hogwarts, Neville had kissed and dated a slew of women.

When Ginny had moved out, and he asked to move in, he had gone to Theo and asked him for forgiveness. “I tried to be who they wanted me to be, and I couldn't do it. I couldn't live with myself or look myself in the mirror. I know I broke your heart, and I'm sorry. But I wanted you to know you opened my eyes to who I was meant to be, and I'll always love you for that.”
Theo had merely nodded and welcomed him to the flat. Hermione had cried. He knew how difficult it had been for Neville to admit.

Blaise was still caught up in his heartache and buried so deeply in his recovery and Draco's plan to save his companies that he hadn't noticed, but he offered Neville a job and brought him into the company, thrusting him into Theo’s day to day life without even realizing what was going on between them. (Though Draco did, and had asked Theo if it was OK before Blaise did it. “I don't want you torturing yourself by having to see the person you love every single day without end,” Draco told his second oldest friend. “Why? “ Nott replied. “You do it.”)

Neville and Theo had made a tentative friendship after that. One that grew into something more profound and stronger as they worked together. They kept their relationship a secret, successfully shielding it from most people, until after they moved in together. At which point, Hermione had had enough. “I've tried to respect your boundaries guys, “ she had told them over dinner the previous week, “but you need to tell us the truth. How can we support you if you're not honest with us? “

“And will you support us?” Neville had asked nervously.

Hermione smiled brightly at him. “You were my first friend at Hogwarts, Neville. We've been through so much together through the years. I adore you. I adore Theo. And if you two make each other happy than all the better.”

“Even if he's a snake? “

“Do I look like Ron?” she quipped back, sending both boys into a fit of laughter. “Also not sure if you've heard this, but I'm surrounded by snakes myself these days.”

Theo had given her a knowing look and asked how Malfoy was. Hermione had narrowed her eyes at him, “My neighbor is fine. Though he keeps dislocating that damn shoulder of his and I'm over it.”

Laughing, Theo told her it would keep happening, and only raised an eyebrow when she said to him that she was well aware of the story of how it all happened.

“You mean it, though, Hermione? You'll stand with us? “

Hermione gave Neville a sympathetic smile before coming around the table to hug him. “Of course, I will. I'm so happy for you. Happy for you both.”

Neville had held her tightly, and Hermione burst into a fit of laughter as Theo pulled, her into his lap for a hug as well. Which had led to a flirtatious round of conversation as Hermione admired his muscles and smile, making them both blush as she made innuendos about happily being between them anytime. “It's like a reverse Oreo, “ Hermione had mused at one time as they both hugged her and she hadn't been able to hold back the little moan of attraction when they had kissed each other deeply of her shoulder with her still pressed between them. She had stomped her foot and told them it wasn't nice to tease and was shocked when the two men had exchanged looks. Theo bent his head, his blue eyes twinkling with mischief, and kissed Hermione senseless before turning her to Neville and having him repeat the process.

“You two are evil, horrible blast-ended skrewts and I hate both of you,” she had told them with a pout afterward, as she struggled to catch her breath. And they had all laughed.
When dinner finally ended, she gave each of them a chaste kiss on the lips before flooing to Blaise’s. She had still been mad at him, but she was also sexually frustrated and turned on way more than she should've been by Neville and Theo’s antics.

Blaise had fucked her into the mattress and then the headboard and told her he was sending a goodie basket to #Theville (the new nickname he had given them) to say thank you for riling her up. Hermione had come 4x and made sure to tell him she was still mad at him as she floo’d home at 5 am in just her underthings. Her hair mussed and her body sore, and Blaise’s laughter and pouty face still lingering in her mind.

And that Italian jerkwad had sent #Theville a fruit basket and they, in turn, had sent her a grapefruit with a dirty note and thanks for her support. Those bastards.

Chapter Text

Oh, Oh It's Magic

The Black Out Ball was held annually on All Hallow’s Eve since it’s inception just after Daphne had taken over Black Wineries. It had been one of the most well-accepted galas held during the social season, and the charities that they benefitted almost exclusively benefitted Hogwarts in some way or other. This year’s celebration supported the Prince Foundation, created in honor of Severus Snape with the funds left to Draco in his Godfather’s will. Severus had explicitly decreed that if anything be done in his name, that his name NOT be used, and so Draco had thought himself clever in naming the foundation after Severus’ mother, Eileen Prince. A foundation named after a Pureblood Witch who married a muggle for love, gave a nod to Draco’s own family while honoring the legacy of his Godfather without tainting the foundation with yet another Death Eater’s heritage. That the money raised always went back to Hogwarts gave more credibility to Black Wineries as well.

While the theme each year changed, the one thing that remained consistent was the dress code – it wasn’t just formal like most galas, but each year the celebration employed an all-black dress code. The décor changed every single year to highlight the all-black attire of its guests. There were always those that flirted on the edge of the dress code, and Hermione had known that trying to figure out what to wear would be a bit more of a challenge without Blaise’s help. Though in a moment of brilliance, Hermione had recalled that Ginny had told her (jokingly) to wear a suit and not expect her to put out on the first date. So Hermione had called up Daphne, and the two had gone shopping in Paris to find Hermione a very sexy Black suit. She figured if Daph okayed her wearing a suit that she wasn’t violating the dress code, and when they saw an expensive muggle designer suit that fit her without tailoring, they knew they had found the right look.

On the day of, Hermione had chosen to skip the blouse they had purchased and opted instead for a gold mesh bralette Halter she had bought in Paris on a whim. The gold body chain blended quite nicely into her skin, and you had to be somewhat close or wait for the light to hit it just right to see it. The bralette shimmered and sparkled against her skin as she moved, and made her feel sexier than she had ever felt in her life – especially once she slipped on her new custom faux snakeskin heels.

Hermione had gone for understated with her hair and makeup to not overwhelm the overall look, taming her usually unruly curls into smooth large barrel curls that she wore pushed over one shoulder. Her makeup had been minimal as usual, but instead of her typical soft lip she wore a bold matte cherry lip, and she had chosen to paint her nails in the same matte red for an added pop. Her cheeks glowed with a hint of bronze and the natural flush that came from such a risqué outfit.

Standing in her bedroom, looking at her reflection, Hermione was overwhelmed. Was it vain to think she looked sexy? Or was this what other people felt like all the time? Was this what Daphne felt like when she got ready in the morning? Poised. Polished. Confident. It felt so new to Hermione, and she wasn't sure if she wore it well. But tonight wasn't about her. It was about supporting her friends and the cause. And she was at least guaranteed a hot date, to add a few new images to the boys spank bank and not have to worry about guilt, shame or drama from either Harry or Ron. (Neither of which would attend an event connected directly to Draco Malfoy.)

Steeling her resolve, Hermione left her bedroom and headed for the kitchen to down a couple of shots of Chambord while she waited for Ginny to come downstairs. It was as good a plan as any she supposed. After all, Hermione couldn’t change her mind now, not when there had been such a massive buildup with the press and with the boys about her going without Blaise. She would need to hold fast to her Gryffindor courage tonight, that’s all. Hermione could do that, she reasoned. She had faced down a dark lord, what was the press and some bigoted humans when compared to that.

Hermione had felt her breath catch when Ginny had come down the stairs 15 minutes later. She also had decided on pants, though her velvet cigarette pants, hugged her lower body like a second skin and were partially hidden by three meters of tulle that was beautifully embroidered and flounced around her as she walked. The top was also velvet with a low sweetheart neckline and thin straps that sat low across her shoulders. The look was finished with a corset back, the ties disappearing into the embroidered flowers and leaves of the tulle skirt. Her strawberry blonde hair was in loose waves down her back, ending just at the top of her corset back, and she wore long earrings that sparkled in the light. Her sunkissed peaches and cream complexion enhanced with a bit of peach highlight, and her blues eyes stood out thanks to a bold cat eye. Her lips softly glossed, and if Hermione was honest, looked utterly kissable. And she told Ginny just that as her friend stopped in front of her and gave her a twirl, asking how she looked.

A small squeak had escaped Hermione’s lips as Ginny had decided to show her pleasure in just that manner. Kissing Hermione softly, and moaning as Hermione’s hands slipped into her hair to angle her head to deepen the kiss. “There,” said Hermione stepping back to take in Ginny’s slightly poufy lips and the added volume to her hair. “Not you have that just fucked look you love.”

Ginny had given her a wicked grin as she absently ran a hand up her side and into her hair. The effect was reminding Hermione of the sexy pinup actresses of the 50s and 60s. “Keep it up,” she teased, gently brushing away a bit of the smeared lipgloss on her friend’s face, “And I’ll skip this gala just to stay home and fuck you myself.”

The soft blush that spread across Ginny’s face made Hermione laugh, but Ginny recovered quickly, telling her she did not spend all the time getting ready and money on her outfit to have it just end up on the floor before anyone had seen it. Hermione bit back every retort that came to her mind, instead choosing to give her friend a pointed look. “Oh shut up,” replied Ginny, noting the way Hermione was looking at her. “It’s time to go.”

“Yes, let’s go give those boys something to talk about, shall we?” agreed Hermione, offering Ginny her arm.

“Well, in that ensemble, it’ll be hard not to. How the hell did you get your tits to look so good without a bra?”

“Hello? Brightest Witch of our age here. I think I can handle a little spell to keep my boobs perky and my jacket closed.”

Ginny reached over and flicked the button on Hermione’s jacket to test it just as they stepped into the floo, noting that it stayed closed. “See,” Hermione said, wrapping her arm around her friend’s waist as she stepped into the floo to join her. “Magic.” And with that, she dropped the floo powder in her hand and called out their destination for Black Out Ball.

Chapter Text

Black Out Ball, Part 1

A couple of hours later, after everyone had returned to their own tables for dinner, and Daphne and Astoria had both given lovely speeches, the dancing began as people were invited to participate in the wine pull and buy raffle tickets to place into different Jars for the various wine experiences available. The winners would be announced by Draco Malfoy himself later that evening, but for now, everyone was left to mingle. The table Hermione and Ginny had been seated at had been a lively mix with Theo and Neville to Hermione’s left and Michelle Corner and Anthony Goldstein on Ginny’s right. Across from them sat Padma Patil and her date Roger Davies.

Hermione had planned to see what experiences were on offer when a voice at the table cut into her thoughts.

“So what we want to know dear Miss Granger is how on earth did Blaise convince you to wear that risque little number and how can we convince you to continue this trend?“

Hermione found herself giggling into her napkin at the words from across the table and had to smile brightly. “What makes you think Blaise had anything to do with this outfit? “

From Roger with a shrug: “Previous experience.“

From Ginny, next to her: “Doesn't he normally pick out your clothes?”

Michelle, in agreement: “He is quite the fashionista.”

Neville thoughtfully: “And he does enjoy playing dress up with her”

Theo, with a conspiratory wink: “It's the boobs.”

Anthony, to the table: “Well, she does have great boobs. Don't you think?”

Neville, as everyone else nods: “I mean I'm not into boobs, personally, but I've always thought Hermione’s were lovely.”

Hermione, preening: “Thank you, Neville.”

Neville, gazing at her affectionately: “Your welcome love.”

Hermione, noting Theo’s Cheshire cat grin: “Don't think this lets you two off the hook for that damn grapefruit though.”

Theo feigning innocence as Neville chokes on his drink: “Why, darling, whatever do you mean?”

Hermione, narrowing her eyes at him: “Don't play coy with me, Theodore, I know it was you.”

Theo, continuing to act innocent: “What makes you say that? “

Hermione, picking up her drink: “I adore Neville, but only one of you would dare say those things to me, and I know he wouldn't have the audacity to do it. No offense, Neville.”

Neville, holding up his hands: “None taken.”

Roger, determined to bring the conversation back: “I think we've gotten off track-”

Anthony, nodding: “Quite right. What does that have to do with Hermione boobs? “

Michelle, studying Hermione thoughtfully for a moment: “Are we comparing them to grapefruits?”

Ginny was also studying Hermione’s breast thoughtfully before placing a hand under one as if to weight it: “I think Hermione is more a nice Honeydew than a grapefruit if I'm honest.”

Hermione, moving Ginny’s wineglass from in front of her: “Ok Peach, you've had enough.”

Ginny, grabbing her own breast indignantly: “Peach! I'm at least a large orange.”

Hermione, patting her shoulder: “Ok honey. You're a large Orange.”

Ginny, with a broad smile: “Thank you.”

Anthony: “Now back to Hermione’s Melons-”

Theo, leaning over Neville: “Yes, any chance you can pop open that button and let us have a gander.”

Hermione smacking his hand away: “Not on your life; it's staying closed, thank you.”

Padma, in wonder: “Are you seriously not wearing a scrap of fabric under that jacket? “

Hermione with a smirk: “Not a stitch.”

Roger placing his head in his hands, as Padma pats his back in sympathy: “How could Blaise be so cruel?”

Blaise joining them: “What have I done now?”

Theo, raising his glass to his friend: “You've turned our Mia into a bonafide sex kitten, and we want to know how you managed it. I mean she's got no shirt on under that jacket!”

Hermione blushing, as a few people from nearby tables turn to look at them: “Ahhhh! Merlin Theo, I don't think table 12 heard you.”

Theo, making to stand up as everyone laughs: “I mean I could announce it.”

Hermione, to Neville: “Gods sit down. Neville reign him in a bit yeah? We haven't even gotten to the wine pull yet.”

Blaise setting his glass down on the table then clapping his hands together: “Right stand up, Cara. Let's see what all this fuss is about then.”

Hermione sighs, tossing her napkin on to her empty dinner plate, stands for Blaise to see. Rolling her eyes as he spun his finger in the air, obviously indicated she should do a twirl. Sighing again, she smoothed her hands down her sides before finally doing a slow twirl for Blaise. Only to stop and realize that Draco was now standing beside him, his gaze flitting across her body in appreciation.

Blaise, in shock: “Merlin Cara is that McQueen??”

Hermione smiling brightly” “Do you like it?”

Theo, in surprise: “Wait, Blaise, don't you know?”

Anthony, chiming in: “Didn't you pick this out for her?”

Blaise was shaking his head: “I only wish I could take credit for this. I'm honestly just as stunned as you lot. Though wildly impressed. The red lip is a nice touch.”

Draco speaking for the first time: “That's what drew your attention?”

Blaise turning to his friend with an eyebrow raised: “Yes. Why did you see something else.”

Draco, with a smirk: “Yes.”

Blaise, with a nod of his head: “Well?”

Draco reached past his friend and gently tugged Hermione’s hand, so she stepped forward a bit, and angled her body slightly until one of the chandeliers caught her halter just right, the gold glinting and sparkling against her skin. Blaise groaned at the site, as Draco's eyes twinkled with mischief and something…far more sinful. Casually raising his glass to his lips, he winked over the rim at her, smiling faintly at the blush that spread across her cheeks and down her neck.

Blaise, grasping her hips and turning her this way and that to watch the light bounce off the halter: “Merlin woman! Where did you get that and can I buy you a dozen more?”

Draco with a roguish grin: “I think that means he likes it.”

Hermione coyly to Malfoy: “And what about you Malfoy? Do you like it?”

Leaning forward slightly Draco dropped his voice so only she could hear it: “I'll tell you after I've had the chance to see the rest.” He smirked at the blush that once again spread across her cheeks, noticing with pride that it traveled down to her chest.

Padma, now determined to get to the bottom of this: “Wait, so if Blaise didn't pick that out who did?”

Hermione, turning her attention back to the table: “Daphne helped me. Ginny told me I had to wear a suit,”

Ginny, with a laugh: “I also told you, you weren't getting any tonight, but even I've changed my mind after seeing you in that sexy number.”

Hermione, giving her a wink: “Oh, stop it, you'll turn a girls head.”

Blaise, his eyes still fixated: “I know Daph didn't let you not buy a blouse for that.”

Hermione, exasperated: “Of course, she didn't. I bought a blouse. A beautiful silk number in stunning rich coal, but then I remembered I had this and decided it would look better.”

“Oh, and it does.”

“Besides it's not even the most risque outfit here tonight,” Hermione began startled when she was pulled down into a lap. “Oh hello,” she giggled at Theo before catching her bearings. “Not your shenanigans again!” She quickly switched to Neville lap, noticing that Blaise had taken her seat.

Theo, with a laugh: “What’s the matter, Love? Don’t want any more fruit?”

Blaise excitedly: “Oh, you got my fruit basket!”

Hermione mumbling as she reached for her wine glass: “Yep, and then those fuckers sent me a piece.“

Blaise intrigued: “Oh, what did they send?”

Hermione, refusing to make eye contact: “A grapefruit.”

Blaise burst into laughter, and Draco's eyebrows were clear into his hairline as Hermione once again turned a spectacular shade of red.

From Padma: “I don't get it.”

Blaise was wiping away tears as he offered an explanation that included the words pink, moist, sweet, and tangy. And even Draco was chuckling as Hermione continued to shake her head in mortification, as Theo tried not to fall out of his chair, and Neville rubbed her back, chuckling softly and apologizing for his other half.

“And you wonder why I'm sitting in your lap,” she replied, glancing over her shoulder at Neville.

“You could sit on my lap,” offered Blaise patting his lap with a couple of large smacks.

“Well if you insist,“ replied Draco sitting down faintly on his friend’s lap.

The entire table broke into another fit of laughter as Blaise wrapped his arms under Draco’s waist and teasingly snuggled into his back.

A few minutes later, Hermione managed to excuse herself, claiming her civic duty to participate in the charity portion. She purchased a dozen raffle tickets (at a staggering 100 galleons) and was contemplating which jar to put them in when Draco approached her.

“See anything you like?” she tried not to swoon at the proximity of his body to hers or of the feeling of his breath against the shell of her ear.

Taking a deep breath, she nodded. “The chef's table sounds wonderful.”

“What you don't want to name a seasonal liqueur? We could name it 'Golden Girl,'” he teased gently.

Hermione gave him a very unladylike snort in response. “Trust me no one wants me naming things. Or don't you remember my cat?”

Now it was Draco who snorted. He did indeed remember that giant ball of orange fluff. Bugger slept on his chest or in his bed nearly every night during 8th year. “How is old Crookshanks?”

“Oh, he never forgave me from leaving the loft for Grimmauld place," she replied as they continued to walk along the wall looking at the options available.

“Well can't say that I blame him. The loft was far homier than that place,” he stated casually, keeping pace with her. Pausing when she did, before continuing on and back again as she tried to narrow her selection down.

“Just about every place is homier than Grimmauld place.”

“Less screaming portraits.”

“it figures that a relative of yours would use a permanent sticking spell.”

“Is that the only thing with a permanent sticking spell?” mused Draco, his gaze purposely traveling down Hermione chest suit jacket to the single button holding it closed.

“As if I would risk it with you lot around,” she replied haughtily, finally decided to split her 12 tickets between 3 Jars.

“Wise choice,” Draco told her approvingly.

“Oh!” she exclaimed, “Is your girl here?”

Draco wrinkled his brow, “What girl?”

“The one you mentioned yesterday - the one you wanted to impress. Is she here? Have you seen her?”

Draco felt a smile tug at the corner of his lips. “Yes. She's here.”

“How does she look?”

“Breathtaking,” he sighed, without thinking. Hermione raised an eyebrow at him and felt that genuine pang of jealousy in her abdomen.

“Have you had the chance to impress her yet?”

Draco's eyes danced with amusement, and a roguish grin spread across his face. “It's unclear at the moment.”

“Why is that?" she demanded. "Has she been wrapped up in her date all evening? Have you even gotten to talk to her?”

“Yes, I have.”

“Well?” her bossy-know-it-all lecturer voice in full affect.

“Well, what?” he countered with amusement.

“Merlin. Draco! You said she owes you a dance - go collect!”

“You think it's just that easy?” he asked, genuinely curious now.

“Yes, of course," affirmed Hermione without hesitation. She didn't care that her belly was swimming with butterflies and pangs of jealousy thinking about him flirting and charming some other woman. This wasn't about her, and whatever she was feeling, she told herself. "If she's a woman of honor, she'll say yes. You look handsome tonight, she'd be a fool to tell you no.”

“Why thank you,” he replied preening slightly for her causing her to giggle.

Hermione hadn’t meant to tell him that he looked handsome, but in truth, he did. There had been a time when she was used to seeing him dress in all black, and while he tended to wear darker and more neutral colors still, it was rare that he still wore all black outside of an event. Unlike many of the other men present, including Blaise, Draco had stuck to the all black dress code, without any metallic embellishments. While some had relied on embroidery or contrasting materials, his suit and tie combination stood out strikingly due to the tonal differences in the black he wore. His shoes and belt were polished to a high shine giving additional contrast, and Hermione had felt her breath catch, yet again when she had seen him approach the table.

Realizing she had been staring, she quickly averted her eyes. “Your welcome. Now seriously go find her.”

Draco found himself genuinely intrigued by her advice, and tucked away that this brilliant witch may finally have one area where she wasn't quite as bright. “And what do I say to her, oh smart one?”

Hermione ignored the dig before squaring her shoulders and looking deep into his gray eyes. She felt her stomach flip flop when he gave her a wink and a soft smile of encouragement. “You walk up to her and say ‘I’ve been waiting all night, and I'm afraid if I don't act soon I'll miss my chance. You look stunning tonight, and if it's alright with you, I've come to collect my dance.’”

Draco’s smile grew, and Hermione noted yet again that he had that dimple just there in his cheek and his gray eyes were twinkling like the brightest stars on the darkest nights. She cursed her stomach as it flopped again, and she had to duck her head, suddenly overwhelmed by the intensity of his gaze. Her head snapped up a moment later when Hermione felt his fingers deftly tucking a wayward curl behind her ear. Merlin, it was unfair for a man to be this handsome, she thought as her eyes returned to his.

“Granger, I've been waiting all night,” he began, his face at once serious and unsure, his voice low, and sensual, and pitched just for her ears to hear. “I’m afraid if I don't act soon, I'll miss my chance. You look stunning tonight, and if it's alright with you, I'd like to collect my dance.”

Hermione's eyes grew large as he repeated her words back at her. His pitch and facial expressions were making it seem far more intimate and less authoritative than when she had said it moments ago. She heard herself stammer me, and wondered who this disembodied voice she heard belonged to as she flummoxed on his meaning and desires.

“Well you did promise to dance with the person who scored the game-winning shot, did you not?”

Hermione opened and closed her mouth, thinking back to the press conference just the morning before as she nodded. “Well yes, I guess I did.”

“Well that person was me.” he waited patiently watching her intently. “You don't have to of course -”

“No,” she said suddenly her hand coming out to land on his arm. “No,” she said again, more softly her hand resting on his forearm. Clearing her throat, she met his eyes directly once again, ignoring the way the tingle of electricity from where her hand was touching him. “No, I said it, and I meant. I'd be honored to have this dance with you Draco.”

Draco felt a flush of color rush across his face. He had had a moment of panic when she paused, afraid of how she would react. Instead, she had shown her Gryffindor courage and said yes. Whether she meant it or not, and now with her hand still on his forearm, he was leading her to the dance floor, making their way on to the floor weaving in between a few others just as a new song came on. Draco caught the familiar beat of the Waltz and was surprised when Hermione's hands automatically positioned themselves, one hand on his shoulder and the other in his hand. He slipped his opposite hand across her waist and settled it at the small of her back. Feeling her body melt into his as he did so.

“Are you ready?” he asked just as the count was about to change indicating the start of the dance.

This time it was Draco's breath that caught in his throat as Hermione gave him a flirtatious smile, her voice barely above a purr as she responded, "Only if you are."

Chapter Text

Black Out Ball, Part 2

Draco tried to hide his surprise at her words, expecting that she'd have something smart to say but found all rational thought leaving his mind, as their bodies began to move in time to the music, marveling at the way she followed his lead as he twirled and spun her around the dance floor. They paused to clap when the song ended and when the next song began he was surprised when her hand slipped into his.

“Care to go again?” she asked. Draco nodded, pulling her close again as the music once again picked up.

“You dance well,” he commented as he spun her around.

“I ought to after all the years of lessons my mother insisted in.”

Draco chuckled understanding the feeling. “How long?” he asked.

“I started at five.”

“I was four.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really. The only thing I started younger than that was the piano.”

“Ugh, I hated my piano lessons.”

“Me too. Had to have the talent to pimp out during dinner parties, though.”

Hermione giggled. “Do you still play?”

“Yes. You?”

“Not in years.”

“I have a piano upstairs in the loft if the mood were ever to strike you.”

“First a DVD player and now a piano. Anything else you want to invite me over to use?”

Draco gave a soft chuckle. “You sure you want to ask that?”

Hermione started to ask and then felt herself blush crimson, causing Draco to tilt his head back and laugh merrily. His laughter drew the attention of several others as they danced together, but Hermione paid them no mind. Her focus was firmly on the man in front of her, and the delightful way his face transformed when he laughed. The little dimple in his cheek, giving him a boyish charm he had never had when they were in school while the musicality of his laugh did funny things to her stomach.

“You're so handsome when you laugh like that,” she said her mouth repeating the words of her mind before she had a chance to stop it. She felt herself flush crimson down to her navel, as his eyes opened and he gazed down at her.

“I love seeing you blush like that,” he answered softly in reply. His words were catching her so off guard that she almost missed a step in her dance. Draco gave her a sincere smile as her body stiffened and gave a silent whoop as he felt her relax back into his arms. He had been worried that she wouldn't understand his words, but there had been something in the way she had spoken of his laugh. As if it was a confession of her soul rather than a piece of the conversation, and Draco had hoped she would take his words in kind.

The way she relaxed in his arms told Draco that she had and he silently congratulated himself. Enjoying the way they moved together. It was another three songs before they finally made their way off the dance floor and to the bar for a glass of water followed by a glass of wine. They’re conversation never halting as they drifted out a set of French doors to a balcony.

The balcony was tastefully decorated for Hallows Eve as was the tradition with the Black Out Ball, and the area set at the right temperature due to warming charms. Daphne using the holiday to highlight the theme and add a hint of spooky mixed with tradition and elegance always hit the right balance of modern and traditional. It had been one of her more excellent ideas, Draco thought as he cast his eyes around before they settled again on Hermione. She was smiling at something inside, her face flush and countenance breathless. He turned to glance over his shoulder for a moment, looking to see what had her attention and found himself smiling to see his second closest friend, Theo, dancing with the love of his life. Theo and Neville danced together as if no one else were in the room, their eyes solely for each other as the glided around as if on a cloud. The image hit Draco with a combination of pride and longing. Casting his eyes towards Hermione again, he noted a sort of wistful expression on her face and found himself wondering if she was feeling the same thing.

“You continue to surprise me,” he confessed, watching her for a moment.

She turned to him. “How so?”

“All those dance lessons and still so clumsy.” He teased, lifting his glass to his lips. Thankful to feel whatever spell was flowing between them temporarily broken.

Hermione gave him a swat to the chest, grateful too that the spell had been broken between the two of them. “Prat.”

“What? You can hardly blame me for being surprised.” Draco mused with a wink. “Was it ballet and ballroom or just the one?”

“How did you know about ballet?”

Draco smirked. Leaning and retaking her hand, he pulled her forward before spinning her as gaze purposely gazing down her body. “You don't spin. You pirouette.”

“I'm not even going to address the fact that you know what a pirouette is,” she countered breathlessly, as he spun her once more before stopping.

Draco’s smirk only grew, “Hi. Pureblood rich bastard. Of course, I know what a pirouette is.”

“Have you ever actually been to a ballet?” she asked, her voice showcasing her doubt and own snobbery.

“Yes.”

The one-word answer surprising Hermione, causing her response to waver slightly in her confusion, “And you like it?”

Draco’s smugness faltered for a moment. He leaned in as if ready to share a great secret with her, “Honestly?”

She nodded thinking he was going to confess that he hated the ballet and was surprised when Draco leaned in further still, his nose mere inches from hers, his eye contact never wavering as he whispered: “I adore the ballet.”

Hermione gasped, smacking him again. “You do not!” she declared.

He brought his drink back to his lips with a shrug, “Seeing the Nutcracker every year is my favorite yule tradition.”

Hermione gaped at him, “The Nutcracker? Seriously! But that's a muggle performance.“

Draco gave her an incredulous look, “Sure it is Granger. And Shakespeare was a common Muggle.”

“He was!”

Draco almost choked on his drink. “The Baird? He most certainly was not! He was an amazing wizard, albeit one who preferred the pen to his wand. Have you never questioned why his works contained fairies and witches?”

Hermione shook her head, slightly disappointed with herself for never putting the pieces together before now, “And I suppose you are going to tell me that Hoffman and Tchaikovsky were both wizards.”
Draco raised an eyebrow at her and laughed to himself as she mumbled something about her life being a lie. “Tell me, Granger, have you never been to a magical ballet?”

“MAGICAL BALLET?” she shouted at him, almost dropping her glass in the process.

Draco chuckled at her excitement, closing the gap that her loud exclamation had left between them. “So what you're saying is, we gotta go.”

“Yes!” she replied emphatically, placing a hand upon his chest as she nodded enthusiastically. Draco felt a sincere smile cross across his face as he thought about all the evenings they could spend together at the ballet or concerts. He was sure given her dance experience and history of piano lessons, and love of art that they had discussed as they walked that there was an entire world within the Magical community she knew nothing about. Visions of her in beautiful dresses, her expressive eyes giving away all the emotions a genuinely excellent performance could bring. He was surprised Blaise had yet to introduce her to these things, but at the same time, he remembered that going out on dates was not what they did. As he gazed into her eyes, noting the fire and excitement that danced there, he began to wonder if Blaise hadn’t done him a huge favor but not actually dating the object of his affection all these years. Draco hid his smirk as he watched her gaze flick from his eyes to his lips, and almost groaned at the way she licked her cherry red lips in anticipation. He knew at that moment she wanted him to kiss her, and as her eyes began to flutter closed, he rubbed the tip of his nose against hers gently. Gods, he had waited forever to taste her.

His lips were mere millimeters from her when he heard it.

“And what are you two doing out here on the balcony?”

Hermione took a step back, suddenly realizing that she had been pressed against Draco in her excitement. Her body almost flush with his and her face so close that their noses had touched. She had almost let him kiss her. Wanted him to kiss her. Merlin’s beard what was she thinking! She hastily took a step back, allowing herself a long sip of her wine as she gathered her thoughts unaware that Draco was looking past her to give his best friend an expression that clearly said are you fucking kidding me right now?

Blaise had the decency to look sorry for a moment before Hermione smacked him hard on the arm. “There's magical ballet!!”

“Ouch. Fuck witch. Did he tell you about ABC or something?”

“ABC?” she asked Draco.

“Alicorn Ballet Company,” Draco supplied with a shrug.

“Alicorn!” she gasped.

“Yeah, they do a lot of aerial work and incorporate puppetry and magical creatures. His mother was also one of the principal dancers before she had this idiot.”

Hermione hit Blaise again as she scolded him for not telling her. “Fucking hell woman!”Blaise exclaimed dodging her hits again.

“Should've told her your safeword,” mused Draco watching her beat his friend before sliding a hand around her waist and pulling her to him to calm her down. “Ok. Ok. Ok. That’s enough now. There is press here, and you’ll draw a crowd.”

Hermione glared at Blaise and almost stomped on Draco’s foot with her heel as she stomped her foot in irritation.

“So,” Draco began, not letting her go, “we need to take Hermione to the ballet. Got it. Anything else?”

“What’s this we shit?” Hermione asked, looking affronted.

“Well I could just let you go with him,” Draco said nodding his head towards Blaise, who stood absently rubbing his chest form her tirade mumbling to himself about feisty witches that couldn’t keep their hands to themselves — pausing to straighten his impeccable black suit with its gold accents in the form of a tie tack and belt buckle and embroidered handkerchief square.

“Or I could go by myself,” she declared trying not to notice the way she was enjoying being snuggled into Draco’s side. The warmth from Draco’s body was permeating hers where he held her firmly anchored to his side, and the feeling was at once comforting and overwhelming to her.

“Or you could go with me.” It was a statement and not a question she realized, which caused her eyes to narrow automatically.

“And why would I do that?” she asked, turning slightly to gaze into his face. It wasn’t often she felt small with a man, and she enjoyed that though she was still several inches taller than most of her friends, she still felt tucked into his side and had to look up at him slightly. It was refreshing and made her feel more feminine than she usually did – even in her pantsuit.

Draco, merely shrugged his shoulders as he lifted his wine glass to his lips, “Cause I have box seats.”

Hermione pursed her lips. Of course, the fucker had box seats to the damn ballet “I’ll think about it,” she replied, trying her best to keep her voice even. Her eyes narrowing slightly at the you do that look he gave her.

“Think about what?” asked Ginny joining them with several champagnes glasses levitating beside her.

“Oh thank you,” replied Hermione happily taking a fresh glass.

“Anything for my hot date,” Ginny replied, giving her a wink.

“Ohhhhh, in that case, where are my manners?” teased Hermione leaning in to give Ginny a chaste on the lips “Thank you.”

Next to Ginny, Blaise groaned, “Can you two not?”

“What’s the matter, Blaise? Pants getting too tight?” taunted Draco, his grip not loosening on Hermione’s waist.

Blaise scoffed at him, “Like yours aren’t.”

Draco merely shrugged, “I was smart enough to wear looser pants than your dumb ass.”

“It’s called Fashion Malfoy,” countered Blaise, subtly adjusting himself as the girls gave each other another slightly longer kiss just to antagonize the Italian. “Cor! You two! Stop teasing!” Leaving the two girls to giggle as he shifted his legs to adjust himself again. Blaise placed his free hand on the railing behind him, leaning slightly as he did so hoping to distance himself from the beautiful redhead that had somehow inserted herself between he and Hermione. She tossed her hair slightly over her shoulder, and Blaise was immediately overwhelmed with the smell of fresh coffee, vanilla, bourbon, and something flowery that he never could place. Always the same, he grumbled to himself recalling what his Amortentia potion had smelled all those years ago.

“Excuse me,” countered Draco interrupting his reverie, “I have it on good authority that I look very handsome tonight.”

“And who told you that?” scoffed Blaise “Your mother doesn’t count, you know.”

“Only when she’s kissing yours.” Draco laughed as Blaise began to choke on his wine, having timed his response just right to elicit such a reaction. Between them, the two girls were torn between laughter and shock at his words, imagining Draco was merely teasing.

“What?” asked Blaise incredulously.

Draco lifted his eyebrows “What?” he countered sweetly.

Blaise groaned. “Oh Salazar, tell me they didn’t.”

“Wait,” Hermione said, her gaze looking between the two men, “What did we miss?”

Draco turned to give her his full attention, a dazzling lop-sided grin plastered to his face as he dipped his head to loudly whisper to her, “Oh nothing, just our mothers making their debut into society as a couple.”

“THEY DID NOT!” exclaimed Hermione her attention quickly darting to Blaise.

“Shut. Up,” Blaise told Draco.

“That’s fucking awesome!” added Ginny excitedly.

“It is not awesome,” lamented Blaise, hanging his head.

“Seriously, Blaise, you have a problem with this?” asked Hermione in complete disbelief. She was shocked that her out and proud friend who had been so supportive of her own choices would be so upset about his mother making such a bold statement.

“You know I don’t have that kind of problem with it,” replied Blaise shifting uncomfortably.

“Then what is it?” demanded Ginny, her Weasely temper beginning to rise as she turned to face the Italian. She refused to allow how good he looked, or how well he filled out his suit distract him. Nor the memories of what his hands had felt like all those years ago, as she willed herself to focus on the matter at hand. Mad at Blaise. Mad at Blaise. Mad at Blaise. She chanted to herself as the smell of soft leather and sandalwood filled her nose.

“He’s mad cause it means I win the bet” supplied Draco, a Cheshire cat grin plastered on his face.

Ginny whipping her head around to Draco: “What bet?”

Draco, musing aloud willing looking up: “The one I made when we were what? 12?”

Blaise, correcting him, and stepping back a pace from the distracting redhead: “11. first year at Hogwarts.”

Hermione to Draco impatiently: “What bet?”

Draco, in response: “That we would end up brothers.”

Ginny to Blaise in disbelief: “That’s why you’re mad?”

Hermione, teasing: “It’s cause he can’t kiss you anymore, isn’t it?”

Draco, chiming in: “Well, I have heard incest is best.”

Hermione, looking disgusted: “And that’s why there are so many squibs in the pureblood circle.”

Ginny still confused: “So why is he mad now?”

Blaise, in resignation: “Cause we made a new bet.”

Draco, happily: “That he still lost.”

Blaise, in annoyance: “They were supposed to wait until after Christmas.”

Hermione, glancing from one man to the other: “Why after Christmas?”

Draco, his mouth close to her ear: “What did I tell you about yule?”

Hermione, suppressing a shiver: “The Nutcracker. Really?”

Draco: “Blaise was sure they’d wait until then.”

Hermione: “And you weren’t?”

Draco, with a shrug as he continued to sip his champagne: “Too many good opportunities between now and then.”

Ginny, looking for clarification: “So did you bet on tonight exactly?”

Draco, shaking his head: “I bet they’d do it at one of the galas before Yule.”

Blaise: “And I bet they’d do it after yule – likely at the masquerade on New Year’s Eve.”

Hermione: “Fuck. I forgot about that. Do I have to go to that too??”

All In unison: “YES.”

Hermione, eyeing them all: “Well, that was just rude.”

Draco, chuckling: “Personally, I’m hoping whatever you wear then will be more along these lines.”

Hermione, tossing her hair: “I’m sure you are.”

Draco with a smirk: “What? You can’t blame me. It’s a nice view.”

Ginny, eyeing Hermione’s chest up: “You can’t see anything.”

Draco, gazing down at Hermione’s chest before turning his attention to Ginny: “Maybe you can’t Red, but I’m taller than you are.”

Ginny: “Whatever you say Ferret.”

Hermione, checking her button was still done: “You can’t see anything, Malfoy.”

Draco, with an admiring glance: “Maybe I can’t see what you’re looking for, but I see other things.”

Hermione with a huff: “Such as?”

Draco, squeezing her closer before his thumb resumed brushing lazy circles on her hip: “Want me to go into it in front of the present company?”

Hermione was giving him a dubious look: “On second thought.”

Her words caused the trio around her to burst into laughter. Their laughter was drowning out her voice as she called them all jerks.

“Um excuse me? May I take a picture of you?”

They turned their attention to where a young man standing in front of them. Hermione felt herself smile at the familiar face. “Of course, you can Dennis,” she replied, looping her arm around Ginny’s waist, as Blaise did the same and Ginny slipped her arms around them both. Draco vanished their drinks, grumbling that it was “inappropriate in photos for the Prophet.”

“Oh, I’m not with the Prophet,” replied Dennis taking several photos of them.

“He’s with me.”

“Luna!” exclaimed Ginny and Hermione breaking out of their little group to rush over and hug their friend.

Meanwhile, Blaise walked over to have a small chat with Dennis before stuffing something in his pocket and giving the kid a clap on the back while whispering something to him. Hermione caught the interaction out of the corner of her eye and was about to call him out on his suspect behavior. Every thought of what Blaise was swept out of her mind, by the sight of Luna giving Draco a large hug, which he returned, before he greets her in the proper pureblood family double kiss upon her cheek manner that she’s so rarely seen anyone give to Luna. Just when she’s about to ask what that was all about, Blaise approached and greeted Luna in the same manner.

”You lost the bet you know,” she says to Blaise instead of Hello.

Blaise hangs his head: “Yes, so I heard.”

Ginny to Luna: "You knew?"

Luna: "Of course."

Draco, enthusiastically: “Did you happen to get a picture?”

Luna nodding softly: “I did. I’ve asked Dennis to get one more and one of the four of you together if you don’t mind.”

Draco, slipping a hand into his pocket: “Of course not.”

Luna all smiles: “Thank you, Cousin.”

Draco, with a courtesy nod of his head: “Your welcome cousin.”

Hermione and Ginny in shock: “COUSIN?!”

Luna, nonpulsed: “Didn’t you know that?”

Hermione and Ginny again in unison: “NO!”

Draco amused: “Seriously, the brightest witch of our age, and you never put it together?”

Hermione, annoyed: “No. how would I?”

Blaise: “How many other platinum blondes did you see running around Hogwarts besides these two?”

Hermione, blinking suddenly as she thought, “Well none. Actually.”

Ginny, still unconvinced: “But not every ginger was related to me.”

Draco: “How many gingers with just that shade of red with freckles did you see at Hogwarts with us exactly?”

Ginny: “Well, us.”

Hermione, interjecting: “And Susan Bones.”

Ginny, with a grimace: “Who is related to us.”

Draco with a smug smile: “Thank you for proving my point.”

Blaise: “You forget Bella, that most of the purebloods – especially the sacred 28 – have all been intermarried at one point or another.”

Hermione, slightly annoyed: “Ok, I know that, but I thought Tonks was your cousin.”

Draco, feeling that familiar pang whenever the cousin he never knew was mentioned: “She was. On my mother’s side.”

Luna, spinning merrily: “We’re cousins on his father’s side.”

Ginny looking like she swallowed something sour: “You mean Lucius?”

Luna, nodding: “Yes, Uncle Lucy.”

Narcissa, approaching the group: “You know how much he hated that name, Luna dear.”

Luna, smiling sweetly at the older witch: “Hello Aunt Cissa.”

Narcissa, giving Luna the double kiss pureblood greeting: “Hello darling girl. My don’t you look lovely. Always on the daring side of fashion, dear girl. Just like your mother.”

“Yes mother would’ve liked this dress I think,” replied Luna spinning slightly to show off her off the shoulder velvet ballgown. It was off the shoulder with a sweetheart neckline and floor sweeping skirt layered with sheer flamenco inspired ruffled tiers that moved when she did.

Arabella, joining the group: “Oh, leave her Cissa. It’s nice to see Luna remaining true to herself.”

Luna, kissing the other woman on both cheeks: “Hello, Tante.”

Arabella, looking just as pleased to see her: “Hello, little moonbeam.”

Hermione took a moment to consider both women in as they greeted their sons. Both women still carried themselves like the Pureblood royalty they were, but their more modern appearances were bound to set tongues wagging. Neither of them was dressed inappropriately; both were dressed elegantly, perfectly skewing the traditional Victorian styled robes of yesterday for the more modern fashions sweeping the Magical world in the new-post war era. Narcissa had even shunned the conservative Pureblood dress code which demanded the covering of everything from shoulders to collarbones to knees and ankles. Her sexy v-neck sat off-the-shoulder with a mermaid silhouette. It hugged her figure without appearing like a second skin, and the black velvet that composed her dress seemed to be soft and inviting. A slit ran from her floor-length dress to just above her knee, showing off legs that were still shapely and perfectly ensconced in heels that Hermione would never dare to walk in.

Arabella’s dress, meanwhile, was an elegant column-style gown with cap sleeves. It was beaded heavily with crystals which emphasized her curves from her shoulders to her bust and down to her waist. The back of her dress was sheer from the top of her shoulders down to the curve of her waist, with the heavy crystal embroidery continuing in a beautiful brocade pattern over the sheer material. It was a fabulous way to be modern and daring and show off the ample wealth she had collected not just from her several dead husbands, but also her previous life as a model, and if Draco was to believed a Prima Ballerina.

Both women wore their hair loose, another dig at pureblood customs which demanded women’s hair always be worn up, and their makeup was flawless. Arabella wore a bracelet and ring of black opals and Narcissa wore a matching black pearl necklace and teardrop earrings. It would appear as if they were from the set, and the two had split it up to show it off between the two of them. It was an easy way, Hermione decided, to show they were together, without making it blatantly obvious.

When it was her turn, she greeted both women with a smile and a kiss as was expected and waited to see if anyone would bring up the elephant in the room – er balcony. Instead, Dennis seemed to materialize out of nowhere and asked if now would be a good time to take a picture of the new couple.

“Oh, could you get one with all of us in it Dennis? It would make a nice family portrait.”

Dennis nodded as Hermione, and Ginny looked at each other, mouthing the words “Family portrait.” Narcissa and Arabella joined them each moving to stand on the outside of their respective sons, as Ginny and Hermione were shuffled back to their previous positions in between the two men, with Luna standing between them.

They took several more pictures with Luna, Hermione, and Ginny finally stepping away so Arabella and Narcissa could move in between their sons.

“Did I cost you a lot of money tonight, son?” asked Arabella sweetly in between pictures making Blaise wince as Draco laughed heartily.

“You weren’t supposed to know about that,” he mumbled in response his face still smiling towards Dennis.

“Oh, we’re not supposed to know a lot of things I’m sure.”

“Though as your mothers, you must know, we know everything,” added Narcissa giving Draco a purposeful look.

Draco continued to smile, also ignoring his mother. “I know better than to respond to that Mum.”

“Ohhhh, Mum. I did hit a nerve.”

“Or perhaps I thought it fitting of your new chapter,” he commented back, barely sparing her a glance.

“Always so charming my dragon,” she replied, giving him a soft smile and a tender kiss on the cheek.

The women in between switched places briefly, and as they did so, they maintained a sparkling banter that made Hermione’s head spin. She had to admit, though. They made a striking family unit, and both women seemed exceedingly proud of their sons as well as quite happy together. Their hands finding each other as they stood side by side with the other’s son standing protectively on her outside.
It would make quite the statement the next day, especially as Hermione suddenly had the idea to gather all the other out and proud couples. She sent Ginny off to gather their friends as she shared a quick word with Luna about her plan before finally asking again about her relation to Draco.

“Mother was Uncle Lucy’s younger sister. The family wasn’t happy when she fell in love with daddy, and she chose disinheritance over unhappiness.” It was the most direct response Hermione had heard from Luna in quite some time.

Hermione’s gaze turned to Draco, who seemed to know exactly what they were speaking of. He gave her a curt nod in confirmation, and she found herself awestruck. “None of my research into the sacred 28 when I was with the order indicated that Lucius had a sister.”

“Come on now, Granger,” replied Draco approaching them. “You know what the Black family tradition is when you marry outside of the family’s desires.” Hermione nodded, she did know at that, having seen the scorch marks on the Black Family tapestry first-hand. Andromeda had been disowned for marrying Ted, and Draco had never known his cousin Nymphadora as a result. Though she also knew he had been quietly spending time with her son, his second cousin, Teddy as a way to make amends.

Hermione, still perplexed: “But when did you know?”

Draco, with a shrug: “We’ve always known.”

Blaise, joining them once again: “Why do you think we didn’t pick on her at school?”

Hermoine flabbergasted: “But- but – but the dungeons….”

Luna, smiling: “That’s why I was there in the first place. Uncle Lucy didn’t harm me. He was blood bound not to, but that didn’t mean the Snatchers couldn’t.”

Hermione, remembering the way Luna had looked when they had escaped: “Oh Luna, I’m so sorry.”

Luna, giving her a strange look: “Whatever for. It wasn’t your fault, and Cousin Draco brought me food and made sure I was unhurt when he could.”

Hermione, gaping: “You did what?”

Draco, looking sheepish at the unexpected attention: “She was family. I couldn’t put her in harm's way by doing anything crazy, but I tried to make sure she was ok.”

Luna, patting his arm: “You were very kind cousin.”

Draco, scratching absently at the mark where his dark mark was: “I’m not sure that I’d call it that Luna, but I’m still glad you’re ok.”

Hermione felt her eyes grow as large as saucers as she saw him willingly give the smaller girl another hug.

“Hey Hermione,” greeted Neville making his way out into the balcony before spotting Luna in Draco’s arms, “Luna, it’s good to see you.”

“And you Neville. You are looking fit. Your aura is much brighter now that you and Theo are out. And all the Nargles seemed to have left you alone.”

Neville blushed slightly as he stammered a thank you to his first female love as Theo slipped his arms around him, hugging him from behind.

“We were hoping to get a picture of all of us together,” Hermione told him. “A good sign of how far we’ve come since the War, and being united-“ she was cut off by a chorus of voices speaking at once, and she rolled her eyes as Michelle, Roger, Padma, Anthony, Everett and more joined in the conversation.

“Yadda yadda yadda.”

“Come on Goodie Granger; you can’t talk like that while you look like that.”

“I mean she could if she had a snake on her arm.”

“Or two.”

“Are you saying I need to kiss Pansy now?” Hermione asked, crossing her arms across her chest.

“Ugh. It is not happening Granger, no matter how hot you look in that suit. McQueen?” inquired Pansy coming to a stop in front of her.

Hermione nodded as Pansy sniffed her head and gave her a curt nod. It was, Hermione knew from experience, the closest, she would ever get to a compliment from the girl.

Pansy was one of the women who had worn something even more risque than Hermione. Her black velvet dress with long gothic sleeves slit open at the elbows, seemed safe enough. However, the bodice stretched and emphasized her chest perfectly with a more than a dozen strands of sparkling diamonds, pearls, opals and other stones in creams and white and silver that stemmed from an ornate center design. The ropes of jewels extended across her breasts, rolling and emphasizing the shape, before moving around her shoulders and repeating across her back. It was a marvelous way to show off her wealth, her couture connections, and remain in the all black fabric theme of the evening and doing so in quite the opposite way that Arabella did.

Rolling her eyes, Hermione turned to Angie, who was holding Pansy’s hand and looking every bit as sophisticated and risqué as Hermione. Angie gave her a broad smile and asked Dennis to snap a quick pic of the two of them.

“Apparently the Black girls got the same memo tonight,” teased Blaise coming between them and kissing them both on the cheeks. Each girl smacked his chest, and Hermione knew that there would be an excellent picture of that along with their wide grins. “What I’m just here to soak up all that Black Girl Magic,” added Blaise as they smacked at him again before he disappeared into the crowd.

Angie was the only other woman like Hermione in a pair of well-tailored pants, although Angie's were cropped at the ankle versus floor length like Hermione's. Over them, Angie wore a short-sleeved kimono style jacket with black fringe that was adorned with black jewels and diamonds in a tribal design that winked and sparkled when she moved. The design entirely covered her breasts, and the jacket sat open, accentuating her chest in a long v before it clasped just above her waist. She wore a series of cowrie shells and alchemy elements, in various chain lengths down the V. Hermione, knew they were a nod to her Island heritage, and spoke to the protection spells of her Grandmother, having met and introduced the woman to her Grandmother during one of their summer breaks. The two women had been peas in a pod and had remained close until their deaths. Where Hermione had worn her hair down, Angie’s was in thin braids piled high upon her head stacked one above the other in a style much like a Nigerian Gele.

“I meant to tell you,” began Angie as the others started to arrive. “We’re playing against Togo soon, and Grandfather’s family is still there. I sent them a letter, and they knew your grandmother!”

“What! Angie, are you sure?”

The other woman nodded emphatically, “Yes! So, if you want while we’re there we can go see where your grandmother was raised, two of her nieces are still in the same village.”

Hermione felt her breath hitch. Her grandmother had often told her of her childhood in Togo and of the life she lived there before she had run away with her Grandfather to escape her arranged marriage. “Do you think there’s any bad blood there, Angie? Grandmother didn’t leave on the best terms.”

“I think everyone is content to let the past stay there, and no one is going to hold it against you. I’m sure they’d just be happy to meet you.” Hermione nodded, asking her friend if she could think about it. She felt someone staring at her and met Draco’s grey eyes across the balcony, the look of concern on his face unmistakable. She offered him a timid smile and mouthed later feeling a mixture of emotions that he was one of the few people that knew of her Grandmother’s history.

Finally, they were ready to take the picture, and Hermione allowed herself to be moved into the gathered crowd. They stood together, their group of more than 20, with Daphne and Susan front and center, flanked by the other members of the Black Wineries on one side and Malfoy Apothecaries. Hermione found herself wedged between Ginny and Draco again, with Blaise standing next to Ginny. The group was loud and laughing good-naturedly. They were a mix of backgrounds, houses, and blood purity. They were members of the DA, the order of the Phoenix, Death Eaters and Death Eater sympathizers.
They were straight, bi, gay, and transgender. And they did indeed represent the new face of the Magical World.

Hermione was right. Naturally. But nobody needed to bring it up. Instead, they took several pictures, many of which would end up in the Quibbler, and a few that would end up framed in the homes of those in the picture. A memento of new beginnings, and an all-out great time in the name of a great cause.

Hermione could raise a glass to that. And she did.

Chapter Text

Foolish Games

During the summer between the war and the start of their 8th year, Hermione had surprised the rebuilding crew on the grounds of Hogwarts with muggle food – pizzas, burgers with fries, tacos and things like Chinese and Thai takeaway regularly. She hadn’t been surprised when the food had been devoured and even less so when she was able to duplicate many of their favorites in their little kitchenette in their 8th-year dorm. Hermione had then taught Blaise and Draco, who had taken to cooking like a duck to water. The two Slytherins had not only excelled but been able to outdo her with their culinary abilities, had led to many a night of them in the kitchen cooking for everyone when they were drinking or in need of what they dubbed the “muggle hungover cure” – greasy food or heavy carbs. This had lead Hermione to introduce them all to street food and the markets in London when they had moved into their flat together post-graduation. While that year had been tough for Blaise, being in the kitchen experimenting with Draco or shopping the markets for ingredients and new dishes with Hermione and Theo and then Neville, had always been a sure fire way to lift his mood. Hermione had even joked once that if all else failed the two could open a restaurant in the muggle or magical world and be successful – an idea that horrified both men on the surface (while secretly pleasing them both with the sheer magnitude of the complement within.)

So when Hermione, Blaise, Ginny, and Draco had all somehow ended up back at her house within Montrose Estate after the Black Out Ball, in good moods and more than a little drunk, she had dismissed the House Elves (all three had shown up when they had somehow stumbled out of the floo together in a heap laughing.) Forcing the four of them towards the kitchen, Hermione demanded the boys cook for them the way they used to. Of course, both men had objected, but not so vehemently to actually be sincere, just enough to seem like they were put out, and Hermione astutely didn’t mention that they had already shucked their jackets, and were rolling their sleeves up as they randomly opened both her pantry and fridge in search of ingredients.

“Alright, ladies, what’ll it be? Burgers and fries or pizza?”

“BURGERS!” both girls had chorused much to the dismay of the boys who had secretly been hoping for pizza, but neither voiced their opinions and quickly fell into step together, chopping, prepping and preparing, which thanks to Hermione’s well-stocked kitchen, and the use of magic, was far more accessible and faster than the traditional muggle preparation. The girls each headed off to change quickly. Ginny heading to the room she was staying in upstairs while Hermione headed towards the master suite, but only after pointing out that she couldn’t just take off her jacket the way the boys had - though everyone had quickly argued that she could, leaving her blushing and cursing at them simultaneously before she escaped to her room.

Hermione had, in a moment of brazen courage, decided to leave on her gold halter, giving herself a nod of approval at the way it looked under the coral tank top she had slipped on to replace her jacket. She had debated between floral leggings and coral striped shorts before deciding that her favorite cropped grey sweatpants were the safest bet – sitting formally between comfortable and slouch, and covering just enough of her legs without being too tight or restricting. There would be no worries about the way the leggings emphasized her legs or worrying about her bum hanging out of her shorts tonight! She had slipped on her house shoes and brushed out her hair before piling it atop her head. Removing the remnants of the cherry red lipstick from her lips had been more about not feeling like a hussy, and she had left the rest of her makeup as it was, adding a bit of chapstick back to her lips for softness. She had paused again, slipping her hands into the pockets(!!) of her sweatpants, and thought she looked relaxed and confident. Something most people surely couldn’t say about their pj’s/loungewear, and thus would be appropriate in her mixed company.

When she emerged from her room, Hermione was pleased to see that Ginny had chosen a similar outfit choosing her favorite yoga pants – stolen of course from Hermione when she was a bit thinner, and the long cardigan Hermione had given her for Christmas several years ago. The cashmere cardigan she knew offering her both softness and warmth. Hermione absently realized she should’ve probably brought out a jumper for herself, but her blood felt like fire in her veins as she watched the boys move with ease and skill in the kitchen. Hermione could, of course, try and blame it on the shot of whatever it was that Ginny had just handed her and she had drunk without thought, but the truth of the matter was, there were two devilishly handsome men in her kitchen blissfully unaware of the aura of sex appeal and confidence that was radiating off them in waves.

While the girls had gone to change, they had made subtle changes to the suits they had been wearing. They had forgone their other layers, leaving them in the dress shirts and slacks. Each had untucked their shirt, removed their ties, and undone a few of their top buttons. It was their forearms though that had Hermione’s attention (such a stupid thing to find attractive, she had thought more than once in the past.) There was something about the way they had both meticulously folded back the cuffs of their shirts, rolling them up to their elbows, that denoted both a seriousness and a casual air that screamed sexy to her. Draco and Blaise had also removed their socks and shoes, a sign of extreme comfort for Purebloods deeply entrenched in social propriety and etiquette as they were, and Hermione found herself understanding for the first time why men waxed poetic about a woman barefoot (and pregnant) in the kitchen. The ease at the moved around the kitchen, bantering and discussing what options they had for toppings and condiments, left her breathless as they seemed completely unaware of the effect they were having on the two girls seated just on the other side of the breakfast bar.

Hermione had introduced Draco to the world of triple cooked chips, and he had mastered the technique with the use of spells and his potion techniques. The results of which were every bit as a good as the restaurant they had first sampled them from, and he was working attentively on them now, as Blaise was working on the burgers themselves. Hermione noted that they had some toppings for the burgers already prepped and bacon and mushrooms (Draco’s toppings of choice) were already sizzling in a pan, while Blaise was also caramelizing onions and peppers for Ginny (who joked that the spice helped keep her hair red). Ginny had finally alerted the boys to her presence when she levitated drinks towards them, and neither had paused for more than a moment to take the shot she sent their way, before each tossing a wink and thanks over the shoulder as they continued.

The process repeated, though Hermione wisely turned the next round Ginny poured into water – “for now!” she exclaimed as her friends booed her.

She said nothing as they moved to the dining room, levitating plates piled high with burgers and fries, their drinks and a bottle of both wine and firewhiskey that had materialized suspiciously on the counter. Draco set down her burger with a wink – and a perfectly runny egg set atop, causing Hermione to wrinkle her brow and wonder just when he had learned that was her preferred combination when drinking without connecting that she too had known exactly how he liked his burger.

The conversation lulled as they tucked in, and both girls gave involuntary moans of delight as they bit into their burgers. Their cries of delight stroking the egos, and other things, of both boys almost as much as their words of praise, and the meal passed without incident and Blaise opted to begin refilling glasses as the food disappeared and the conversation once again turned light and flirtatious. Hermione offered to make milkshakes while Blaise suggested they play a game.

“Like what?”

“Truth or dare.”

“Spin the bottle!”

“Blaise, we’re not 14 anymore!”

“Or 17!” added Ginny with a giggle.

“Killjoys!” Blaise had replied, dipping another fry in ketchup.

Hermione suggested they play a board game and Blaise immediately suggested strip poker.

“Strip poker isn’t a board game,” huffed Hermione.

“Also, yes,” added Draco with a wink.

“No.” stated Hermione firmly.

Blaise had fixed her with puppy dog eyes, which rarely worked on her from him and asked her why not. “It’s not like you haven’t made out with everyone in this room.”

“I’m not you, Blaise,” she had countered with a knowing smirk strangely reminiscent of Draco.

“I haven’t made out with…” Blaise’s voice dropped as he looked her around her table before he shrugged, “Ok. Yeah. Yeah. I have.”

Hermione gloated from across the table with her wine glass in hand, “As I said.”

“Ok, but we could fix that!”

“Really easily,” added Ginny with a giggle.

“What?” asked Hermione, shocked at her friend. This behavior she was sure was acceptable when they were in 8th year, but surely not as adults in their mid-20s. “No.”

Draco had taken Blaise to task though, asking his friend directly if he really wanted to play that way. Blaise had given him a wink, and Draco had followed it up with, “You really want me to kiss Red, Mate?”
Blaise’s eyes had flickered to the feisty redhead sitting across the table from him, who had also seemed keenly interested in his response, but Blaise merely shrugged.

“Liar.”

“Shut up,” mumbled Blaise as he took another drink from his glass.

“Wait,” began Ginny, suddenly catching up to something that had been said earlier “When did you two make out?” she asked leaning forward and pointing at both of the boys across from her.

Draco and Blaise considered each other for a moment before Draco wrinkled his nose in thought. “Ummm 5th year?”

“4th, I think,” replied Blaise with yet another shrug.

“And 6th,” added Draco with a knowing look.

Blaise smiled, “And 6th year.”

Draco paused for a moment longer, “And 8th.”

Blaise gave him a knowing smirk, tapping his glass to his friends, “Good times.”

“Yeah, they were,” replied Draco without shame.

Ginny turned to Hermione with her mouth open, “Is it wrong how turned on I am right now?”

Hermione couldn’t help but snort, “Probably.”

“Naw,” replied Blaise leaning back with a Cheshire cat grin on his fan.

“Not at all,” agreed Draco with a shrug of his own. The two men high fived, and Hermione couldn’t help but ask if they didn’t want to go ahead and offer them a demonstration for a change.

“Pervert,” teased Blaise. “You could always lead the way though,” he mused his finger spinning in front of him indicating the two girls could go ahead and take up the challenge.

“Running out of material for your spank bank, Blaise,” mused Ginny, crossing her arms in a very Hermione-like fashion.

“Never. But the real thing is always hotter than anything I’ve ever imagined.”

“Anything?” challenged Hermione thinking back to the sex they had just a few days prior.

“Ok. Well maybe not anything,” acquiesced Blaise.

“You’ve fantasized about this?” Ginny inquired, indicating herself and Hermione. Blaise, knowing Hermione herself was well aware of this and that Draco likely shared his naughty thoughts, nodded unashamedly. “Really?” she breathed her fascination peaked.

“What?” blurted Draco, noting that Ginny’s wide-eyed look had turned to him.

“What about you, Blondie?”

“What about me?” insisted Draco, daring her to ask outright.

“Have you fantasized about Hermione and me?” pressed Ginny.

Draco gave her a knowing smirk, “I plead the fifth.”

Hermione leaned forward aghast, “First of all, I can’t believe you know that phrase; secondly, seriously?”

Draco refused to understand what the problem was and asked what again like he had no idea what they were talking about.

“But-but-but,” stammered Hermione, “I’m a Mudblood, and she’s a bloodtraitor!” Draco and Blaise both flinched at the apparent slur that neither had used in many years, with Draco asking Hermione what her point was. “Doesn’t that make us… I don’t know! Forbidden?!”

Draco set his glass down before staring at her, intently, “You mean to tell me you’ve never fantasized about anything forbidden Granger.” He noted with satisfaction the way she ducked her head and redness spread across her cheeks and neck. Draco chuckled. “I rest my case.”

“What’s your excuse?” Ginny asked Blaise, her tone accusing and intrigued.

Blaise gave her a look as if to say she had grown a third eye, “Ummm, you’re both smoking hot, passionate, and more interesting than any woman I’ve ever met.” Draco gave him a here, here and the two once again tapped their glasses.

“Wow. Blaise that’s quite the compliment,” simpered Ginny, taking a stray hair behind her ear and gazing at him from under lowered lashes.

“Did it make you want to kiss me?” he countered, leaning towards her.

“Annnd you ruined it,” she retorted, leaning back and reaching for her glass.

“He’s good at that,” confirmed Hermione shaking her head in mock pity.

Blaise appeared appalled at their words, “Of all the things I’ve ever been accused of!” he began, his hands moving to tick of his traits on his fingers, “Suave, charming-“

“Egotistical,” interjected Hermione.

“Overly pretty,” added Draco giving his friend a critical once over.

“Vain.” Conceded Ginny.

“Shallow?” mused Hermione.

Draco nodded, “Conceited.”

Hermione bubbled excitedly at her seat, adding “Fashion obsessed.” Which Blaise quickly countered with Fashion conscious before telling them that was enough. “Thank you.” Blaise sarcastically added glaring at the three of them. “Anyways. Out of everything I’ve ever been accused of,” he paused to make sure none of them interrupted him “'mood killer’” he emphasized using his fingers to articulate the two offensive words, “is NOT one of them.”

They all nod thoughtfully for a moment, contemplating his words silently.

“Besides you’re forgetting,” he protested, raising his glass once again to his lips, “we’ve seen you two make out.”

“Countless times,” reiterated Draco, supporting Blaise’s point.

“Merlin bless 8th year,” Blaise said, leaning over to his friend.

“Those dorm parties though,” confirmed Draco in a total out of character proclamation.

“And Granger’s foray into her sexuality-“

“Have I ever thanked you for helping her accept being Bi?” pondered Draco, his tone serious as he considered his friend.

“Noooo.”

“I really should,” avowed Draco.

“Send me a fruit basket?” suggested Blaise, both now purposely looking at each other and not across the table at an ever reddening Hermione.

“Would you prefer cucumbers or grapefruits?”

“Peaches, I think,” speculated Blaise glancing now in Ginny’s direction.

“Large oranges if I remember correctly,” theorized Draco taking the hint and also glancing casually at Ginny.

“Are you two done yet?” exclaimed Ginny.

“What did you two put into the burgers, clown?”

The boys looked at each other seriously for a moment.

“Both?”

“Both.”

“Both is good,” Blaise concluded with a nod a smile much to the girls' chagrin. “Ok we’re done now,” added Draco with a chuckle at the mirror looks of disinclination both girls wore.

“Merlin,” sighed Ginny, refilling her wine glass.

“I’m still not making out with Ginny for your spank bank,” declared Hermione. The so there in her tone left unsaid.

“Well, I could just recall one of the dozens of memories I already have.”

“We really need a pensive,” Draco stressed.

“Oh, a portable one would be ideal!”

“Quite right.”

They heard rather than saw the frustration coming from across the table, and Blaise chuckled as he tried to dodge the napkin Hermione threw at him with a laugh. “Besides Bella, no one said you had to do it for me.”

Hermione, heard herself gasp, “Excuse me?”

“You could do it because you want to.”

“He has a point.”

She turned to Ginny for help, since it was apparent Draco was going to be of zero assistance to her, “Seriously?”

Ginny though, was now in a fit of giggles of her own, “Let’s face it, Mia – oh, you’re right that is so much better than Mione!”

“Thank you!” exclaimed Draco from across the table, the remnants of a conversation they must have previously shared settled at her proclamation.

“And Herms,” goaded Ginny with a giggle as she repeated the name over and over again in different voices and pitches before Hermione clapped a hand over her friend’s mouth in exasperation, “Which we’ve agreed the next time you dared to call me that would result in a hexing.”

“As it should,” replied Draco with a look of abject horror across his ordinarily impassive face, “Herms is terrible.”

“Agreed.”

Ginny patted Hermione’s hands from her face, before composing herself, an air of faux haughtiness slipping across her face, “As I was saying, MIA. I am your safest bet to make out with right now.”

She stared at her friend in disbelief for a moment, before slowly closing her eyes and rubbing her temples, “Who says I want to make out with ANYONE right now?” The entire table burst into laughter at her words. They alternated patting the table, and holding their sides as if she had told the most hilarious joke they had ever heard. “You people are impossible. I’m going to make milkshakes.”

Hermione rose from the table with a huff and stomped away. The merriment at the table died suddenly. Blaise and Ginny exchanged worried glances, but it was Draco that followed her from the room. He discreetly erected a privacy bubble for them at the edge of the kitchen, as there wasn’t much space between the kitchen and dining room where the other two were still seated before setting his wand on the counter. Draco leaned casually against the counter, slightly out of view of the table and watched as she stomped to the fridge and freezer and cabinets grumbling as she does so.

“You know we’re just teasing, right?” he asked softly, his voice gentle.

Hermione paused and looked at him “Yes. I know. It’s just…” she shook her head and fell into silence.

Draco continued to lean against the counter, casually grabbing his wand to add a stasis and cooling charm nonverbally at the ice cream to prevent it from melting on the bench as Hermione nibbles her bottom lip in contemplation. His Slytherin skills know that if you give people enough space, they’ll eventually begin to share. He waits patiently, hands in his pockets, carefully observing her without staring. The gold halter glitters against her skin, and he decides that he likes it even more with her tank top than he did under her suit. The look is casual and seductive, and he is helpless against the way it sends the blood rushing through his body.

Hermione seems frozen to the spot. She refuses to look at him. She can’t really. She knows that if she does, she’ll crumble on the spot. Draco is just too good looking. Too perfect, and lately he’s been too sweet. All their conversations have ended with flirtatious encounters of some kind, and it’s starting to mess with her mind – which is already clouded by words from Blaise and Ginny and Arabella over the last few weeks. Plus, all the actions and ways, he’d been supportive since she joined the team, and then tonight. Dancing in his arms. It had felt so right. She had never felt so comfortable dancing with a partner before. They just seemed to fit together. Draco made her feel beautiful, and when he held her to his side on the balcony, she had felt cherished and protected. It left her feeling… confused.

Hermione was a strong independent woman. Yes, she had known love, and she had found her prowess and understand pleasure and love and romance, but everything with Draco just felt so different.
Sighing, heavily she leaned against the opposite counter, the ice cream she had taken out for milkshakes forgotten. “I just don’t want our first kiss to be like this,” she said at least.

Whatever Draco thought she was going to say in the silence that had followed, his face clearly showed that wasn’t it. “Our first kiss?” he breathed, making sure he had heard her correctly across the kitchen.

The words were a whisper really, and if Hermione hadn’t lifted her head to see the confused look on his face, she might’ve thought she imagined them.

“That’s what all this is leading to, isn’t it?” she asked at last. “This game we’ve been playing.”

Draco didn’t know what to say. It was true, of course, He wanted to kiss her. There was no way he could deny it. Draco had envisioned doing so many times. Many, many times through the years. Countless times if he was honest. True most of those fantasies had involved something more romantic, but not all of them. Not most of them if he was candid with himself. There were the quick kisses, hidden away, taking advantage of a moment here or there. In a darkened hallway at Hogwarts while they roamed on Prefect duties. In the library. At the secluded table, she always sat at. In the stacks. Outside of a classroom. In an abandoned classroom. In the astronomy tower, before that place had ruined for him forever.

He had hundreds, if not thousands, of dreams about kissing her. He had wandered a thousand times about what her lips felt like, what she tasted like. Would she respond or push him away? Would she moan? Press her body against his? Would she hit him and run away? Would she blush later when she saw him in the Great Hall?

Later, when she lived in Blaise’s flat, he had thought about kissing her on the couch, in the hallways, in the study, against the counter in the kitchen or bathroom.

As her body changed, he had agonized over the softness of her skin, the way her flesh filled everything out, and he had shaved his hands in his pockets dozens of times to control the urge to touch her. To know what she felt like. It was the one thing he’d always been jealous about with Blaise.

Blaise knew all the answers to his questions. Knew how her body responded. What she liked or didn’t like. What turned her on. What drove her mad. Did she like her clit played with? Her nipples? Did she like them pinched or rolled, her clit rubbed in circles or up and down or maybe note at all? It frustrated him to see her naked, her skin flush and glowing with post orgasmic pleasure, and that his best friend had been responsible somehow for the thing he wanted. It was amazing it had not destroyed their friendship

Through the years, Blaise had told him that the one thing he would never know was what it was like to make love to her.

“That’s not my job or my place. Yes. I fuck her. I love to, and I know that eats you up, but you want something I’ll never have or know.”

Draco had been confused, raising his eyebrow at him in question.

“Her heart.”

Draco had tried to argue, to deny it, but Blaise would hear none of it, effectively cutting off his spluttering argument. “Don’t bother, Drake. I know better. You don’t have to tell me, or even admit it to yourself right now, but someday, you’ll have the chance, to tell the truth – not to me, but her. When that moment comes, I hope you won’t deny it. You deserve to be happy. You both do.”

It had been hard to hear, especially seeing the way telling the truth had destroyed Blaise, but if his best friend was offering that advice – despite his own heartache, maybe he knew something Draco didn’t.

Staring at Hermione’s heart-shaped face, Draco idly wondered if this was that moment that Blaise had spoken of all those years ago. Would a kiss lead to that or ruin a chance for that moment? There were many emotions all over her beautiful face. Her deeply bronzed skin flushed in the way that made his pulse race. She was nibbling on her full bottom lip, the way she did when she was thinking seriously about something. Her brown eyes were pools of chocolate, surrounded by a ring of hazel with flecks of gold. He could see the questions in her eyes. The confusion and desire swirled together in her wide eyes.

He imagined his own eyes were clouded with emotion. Draco’s mask was good, but not with her anymore. Rarely it seemed with her anymore. It was a desire he realized - a deep desire for her to see him, to see the real him clearly, and to find him worthy. Though, really, he would never be worthy of her.

Draco wanted to tell her it didn’t matter where their first kiss happened or when for that matter. Only that when it happened, not if, but when, because he knew just as he suspected that she did, that when they kissed for the first time, it would be their LAST first kiss. There would never be another first kiss with anyone else. No one would compare for him. Not ever. She was already the standard that he held every other witch to, and kissing her, making love to her, his name falling off her lips. No one else would ever compare for him. It was foolish perhaps to have it so built up in his mind, but he had learned from the last few weeks of being near her constantly, that they were more and more right for each other than he had ever hoped for in the past. He wanted a relationship with her.

With that thought in his mind, he stepped closer to her slowly. Her eyes showed a flicker of panic, but she didn’t flinch or step back from him, not that she could’ve since she was already against a counter herself. He gave her credit for being so unmovable.

“Does it matter,” he began softly, “If our first kiss is tonight or next week or next month?” He had slowly placed a hand on each side of her on the counter, effectively boxing her in. Her own hands remained on the bench, just inside his own, and she continued to stand firmly, the only sign she was being affected by his proximity showing in the hitch of her breath as his face drew nearer hers.
“Wouldn’t you agree that whenever it happens, it’s long overdue.”

Hermione licked her lips tentatively. Her mind was reeling, ears pounding from the blood racing through her veins. Her eyes flickered from his lips to his eyes, and she wondered when he had gotten so close. “How overdue?” she asked hesitantly, her breath mingling with his as he once again absently rubbed the tip of his nose against hers. The act so intimate and promising that she felt her breath hitch, and a pool of desire settled in her abdomen.

A smile played at the corner of his lips. A boyish lopsided grin overtaking his face making Hermione's traitorous stomach flutter so many times she was sure it had taken up acrobatics at this point. Still. She forced her eyes to hold on to his. The mercurial pools were pulling her in with their desire and longing. “Years,” he whispered, his face moving slightly, his cheek brushing gently against hers, as her eyes fluttered closed just as lips brushed the shell of her ear, “Years, and years my dear Granger.”

Hermione felt her body shiver from head to toe as he pulled back slowly, his eyes traveling gently from her eyes to her lips, and across her face. His eyes were seeming to trace her face, memorizing her at this moment, as she stared at him, her own eyes forcing her mind to see him in an entirely new light.

Chapter Text

It Was Only a Kiss

Hermione heard a throat clear and turned her head to see Ginny setting her wand on the counter, her spell having canceled out the spell Draco had previously cast. "You two are ridiculous."

"I'm setting up for the kill here."

"Like that's necessary to just kiss someone."

"And you think it's that easy?"

"Yes!"

"Let's see it then."

Ginny walked over as if she was going to kiss Draco before turning to Hermione and crushing her lips to hers. Hermione wa momentarily caught off guard before responding with vigor.

"Merlin that's hot."

"It really is."

The girls broke apart. Ginny eyed Draco "Does that make you want to do anything?"

Draco contemplated her for a moment then nodded, "It does."

He turned, closing the distance between them and kissed Blaise. Blaise was also caught off guard but he realized quickly the game that Draco was playing. They are best friends after all and Slytherins. Blaise knew exactly what turned Hermione on and he knew that just as she knew how kissing Ginny made him hard and horny, that the sight of him kissing Draco would do her head in. Draco meanwhile knew that kissing Blaise will lead to kissing Ginny and eventually kissing Hermione. He hoped. He knew that at the very least, it'll chip away at her defenses, and, while it won't be the tender romantic moment she wanted, it'll take some of her nerves away for next time.

Because there will be a next time.

Draco and Blaise had been kissing each other for years and while it had been a while since the last time their lips met, it was kinda like riding a bicycle. They both knew what the other liked and how their lips fit together. There was no awkwardness of where to put hands and what was allowed or not allowed: they both just knew.

Behind them they heard a whimper and out of the corner of their eyes they saw Ginny leaning against Hermione. The redhead's eyes were transfixed on the men before her but her hands were buried in Hermione’s hair as Hermione nibbled on her neck and ear, whispering to her as her hands gently kneaded and pressed Ginny’s breasts over her shirt.

"Don't stop," Ginny moaned as the men broke their kiss to see just what they were up to. Hermione they realized had been whispering seductive words in her friend's ear. Encouraging her to watch the show in front of her as she kneaded her breasts over her shirt. Ginny moaned and arched her back pressing her breasts further into Hermione's hands as she plucked and pulled at her nipples which had hardened under her touch.

"Don't stop," the redhead whispered again, her voice breathy with desire.

Hermione's voice reached their ears, "who you talking to gorgeous? You talking to them or me? Because I know we've all turned you on. I know your hot and wet and horny. Do you need to come Gin?"

"Yes," Ginny replied biting her lips as her eyes flicked to where Draco was subtly shifting his body, moving to stand behind Blaise in a position that mimicked Hermione’s. His lips fell to Blaise’s ear and then his neck. His tongue darting out to taste skin before nipping him in the same spot. Draco's hands also shifted pulling Blaise’s body flush to his own. His erection pressing against Blaise’s firm ass. Draco slid one hand up under his friends untucked shirt. Blaise hissed in pleasure at the feel of his roughened hands against his abdomen, sliding to tweak his nipple in a way that Draco knew drove the other man mad. Blaise placed one hand on the counter behind him, and guided Draco's other hand over the obvious bulge in his pants.

Hermione wasn't sure which man growled as their hands slid over Blaise’s cock but it was a sound that made her knickers damp. Blaise’s eyes were transfixed on Ginny, watching her as she turned her head to kiss Hermione deeply before turning back towards him, moaning again as she watched the way the two men touched. She grabbed Hermione's hand and slid it down her body towards her waist, forcing their joined hands under the waistband towards her wet center.

Her breath hitched as Hermione’s hand grazed against her sensitive skin. Ginny’s eyes met Blaise’s, watching as his hand sped up at the sight.

"Fuck that's hot."

"You can say that again."

"Fuck. That's hot."

A giggle could be heard escaping Hermione’s lips before a moan escaped Ginny’s. Ginny was standing on her tiptoes, her body arching and pushing against Hermione her eyes fluttering closed as Hermione voice slid over her. "You're so wet Gin. Are those boys turning you on?"

"Yes ," moaned Ginny her eyes fluttering back open to meet Blaise’s and then Draco's.

"Shall we ask them to keep going?"

Ginny nodded enthusiastically, her eyes darting back down to where their hands continued to rub at Blaise’s cock. Over her shoulder, Hermione lifted her eyes to meet Draco's. He winked at her, satisfied that despite the way she was still touching her friend, she was looking at him and blushing prettily at his response.

Draco whispered something into Blaise’s ear, the other man nodded, his eyes never leaving the redhead in front of him. Draco glanced up, ensuring they had both women's attention before sliding both of his hands to the top of Blaise’s trousers. He slowly undid the button, before sliding the zipper down and reaching over his pants to rub the length of his cock. Blaise eased his member out of the opening, and sucked in a breath as Draco's hand wrapped around the hardened tip, his thumb rubbing in the precum there.

Across from them, the whimper Ginny made was a sure sign of the affect the were having on her. When Hermione nudged her forward, Ginny didn't resist and only whined slightly at the loss of contact when they stopped within inches of the guys. Her whimper was replaced with a moan as Hermione’s hand reached around her body, her fingers slick from Ginny’s pussy to rub one finger against Blaise’s bottom lip. He grabbed her hand, maintaining eye contact with Ginny as he slid Hermione’s finger into his mouth. His tongue twirling around it as he tasted Ginny's juices.

Hermione wasn't surprised when Blaise pulled them closer, his hand directing hers towards Draco's lips, as his other hand pressed into Ginny’s hip. Hermione tried to keep her eyes on Draco's as his tongue darted out to lick her finger, but the feeling of his tongue on her hand and Blaise’s hand grazing her hip had her eyes fluttering closed with a moan.

Blaise lips drifted to Ginny's lips and then her neck before they grazed Hermione's neck and jaw line .

"This is it, Hermione," he whispered against her ear, "This is your moment."

Hermione's eyes fluttered towards Draco's and the trail of kisses he was dropping on her fingertips and hand upwards.

"It's up to you, Granger " he said softly meeting her eyes as Blaise tugged Ginny closer into his body and away from theirs. "Shall we kiss now or later?"

And Hermione couldn't resist him any longer. She leaned forward to kiss him moaning into his mouth, feeling his body wrap around hers, and losing herself completely to the way his lips felt against hers, the way he tasted of something salty and sweet and the way his hands are moving all over her body, pulling her into the taught frame of his body. She tryied to catch her breath when she heard him whisper that they have an audience and turned around to see Blaise and Ginny smirking before they're prompted to do the same.

Hermione was vaguely aware of Draco asking if she found it hot. If she's turned on. If he can touch her and of her responding yes, yes, all the Gods yes. Her brain was in a fog of pleasure and sensations and she could care less about anything other than the lips on her skin, the hands on her body and the moans surrounding them.

Then Ginny turned back to her and kissed her as both boys ground their erections against their asses, hands wandering, and moans and groans being swallowed as one stops and another starts.

Draco's voice was in her ear, telling her he's wanted to worship her for so long. And Ginny’s there suggesting they all should. Hermione felt Blaise’s lips on her stomach as Ginny continued to kiss her. And for a moment she was unsure of who's who, but then she didn't really care as she lost herself again. In the sensation of being wanted and desired and, dare she say it, worshipped. Someone was pinching her nipples and she felt a finger slide into her hot center as Blaise’s tongue lapped at her. She felt Draco's breath against the shell of her ear as he nipped and sucked at the tender flesh there and on that sensitive spot just behind her ear. His words made her come as he told her that this time he's sharing but next time she's all his. His lips kissed her deeply one moment followed by Ginny’s lips on his and Blaise was turning and kissing Ginny’s pussy through her pants as she and he continue to finger Hermione.

Somehow they made their way from the kitchen to the living room trading leaning against the hard counters and floor for the softer couch and rug. Ginny and Hermione were facing each other on the couch on their hands and knees, their lips and tongues a tangle of sighs and moans as they nipped and sucked at each other's mouths and breasts, their clothes having been vanished somewhere along the way.

Blaise was behind Ginny and Draco was behind Hermione; their cocks buried deeply inside their pussies pounding them relentlessly. Ginny was whining and begging for more from Blaise and Hermione was giggling watching Blaise struggle to hold it together.

Draco asked her what's so funny and she told him that she knew having her and Ginny together was Blaise’s fantasy.

"Just the two of you, are you sure?" Draco countered.

"Do you know something I don't?" Hermione asked chancing a look over her shoulder at him.

"Most definitely," he growled, pulling her body up against his, the angle causing them both to hiss and moan in pleasure as his hips continued to snap.

"And what's that then?" Hermione can feel herself fluttering around him. So close to tumbling over the edge.

Draco locked his arm around her waist, and he slide one arm up to tweak her nipple as her hand reached back to the nape of his neck. His grip tightened, the angle driving him mad.

"If you come on my cock I'll tell you," he whispered into her ear. His teeth grazing the soft flesh followed by a lash of his tongue to soothe.

"Tell me and I'll come," she countered, trying to hold off, but then he was pinching her nipple taking her to that mountain crest of pleasure and pain. His other hand dug into that spot on her hip and she felt herself clenching around him as she fell over the edge. His name tumbling out of her mouth with a slew of obscenities. Draco chuckled knowing that she was probably more mad that he won that round.

He kissed her neck. "How does Blaise want the two of you?" Draco asked softly as she came back to herself, his pace slowing only slightly as her orgasm subsided.

"He wants to fuck her while I watch," Hermione replied gasping for breath. Her thighs quivering and her insides still fluttering.

"He's doing that now."

Hermione shook her head, "He wants me to watch while I'm riding her face."

Across from them Ginny moaned, "Gods yes, please. I'd fucking love that."

"And what about me then?"

"Oi. You know just where I want you," replied Blaise.

"That I do my friend… Do you know where he wants me, Granger ?" Draco rocked inside her. His pace now slow and languid, as he enjoyed every stroke into her tight wet heat.

"No," Hermione whispered. His words and the heated glaze in both Ginny and Blaise’s eyes making her feel wanton and hot. The quivering in her thighs qas being washed away by the slow building in her belly, thr fluttering around his cock growing stronger as she considered the possibilities of the situation.

"He wants me behind him. Pounding his ass while he fucks her and she eats you." Draco's words were confident and seductive tinged with something she can't identify but so desperately wants and all Hermione can do is whimper

"Do you like that idea, Granger ?"

"Yes," she breathed.

"Do you want me to fill his ass with my cum?"

"No," her voice was quiet but firm.

"And where should I cum, beautiful?"

"In me," she whispered.

Behind her Draco groaned. He was so ready to fill her. Ready to give her anything she asked for, but there was a look on her face, something in her body language that made him press further. "And what happens once I do that?"

"Ginny will lick me clean."

Ginny and Blaise both groaned at her words.

"Fuck that's hot," muttered Ginny flicking her own clit.

Hermione mewed in response.

"You feel so fucking good Granger ."

"Better than Ginny?"

"No idea."

"You should find out."

Draco paused mid stroke, unsure he'd heard her clearly, "You want me to fuck Red?"

Hermione nodded, "Yes."

"Why?"

"Because it'll make him jealous."

Draco chuckled, resuming his pace as he tweaked her nipple again, hard, "And why would I want to do that?"

"So he knows how it feels to watch his best friend fuck what he wants most."

"Fuck Mia," growled Blaise pounding harder into Ginny at her words, sending the redhead headlong into her own orgasm on his cock.

"That sounds like a plan," Ginny replied pushing back slightly on Blaise who slipped out of her none too happily.

Ginny kissed and caressed Hermione for a few moments, asking if she was sure. "It's only fair," replied Hermione in between kisses.

"Before this night is over," replied Draco, dropping his voice so only Hermione could hear, "I'm going to fill your pussy with my come and mark you as mine."

His words sent Hermione over the edge and she came on his cock with a scream, muffled by Ginny’s mouth upon her own. Draco didn't allow her to ride out the waves of pleasure this time instead tearing himself out of her with a grunt and sitting back on the couch.

"That's two," he tells her as she switched positions with Ginny while he stroked his cock.

"You ready, Blondie?" Ginny teased, her mouth nipping at his lips for a moment before she turned, sitting on him in reverse cowgirl. Her eyes drifted closed for a moment before opening to stare at Blaise as she moaned.

"So good," she breathed, leaning back against Draco as he wrapped his arms around her and squeezed her breasts.

"Show me what you got, Red, " replied Draco, pounding into her and feeling her tighten around him. "Fuck already? Should've known jealousy would get you off."

Ginny let loose with something between a giggle and moan in response as he continued to thrust into her, drawing out her orgasm.

"I hate you a little bit right now," muttered Blaise, his cock in his hand.

"I know love but it's only fair," Hermione told him matter of factly. One hand joining his on his cock.

"Fair is me fucking you right now," he grumbled.

"But you've had me Blaise - countless times, and he knows it. "

"They both know it," Blaise replied watching Ginny come down from her release. "You should go clean that up."

"You just want her back on your dick."

"Fuck right I do!"

Hermione giggled as he swatted her ass and was about to drop to her knees in front of Draco when he grabbed her and spun her to sit on Ginny’s face - as she now lay on her back on the couch Blaise between her legs.

"I have to go apologize now," Draco told Hermione, kissing her deeply.

"And torture me more," she mused with a smile.

"That too," he smirked in response.

She felt Ginny’s tongue licking and lapping at her folds but Hermione's eyes were on Draco. On the lubrication spell he was casting and the way he was whispering in Blaise’s ear as he stood behind him. She watched Blaise’s face as Draco's hands moved and when she saw one pale hand clasp Blaise’s dark hip she knew what was about to happen. She squeezed her breasts in anticipation and felt her body shudder with pleasure as a look of bliss flitted across Blaise’s features. Hermione noted the way Blaise’s body leaned forward a bit more as every snap of his hips was echoed and driven by the blonde behind him. And she squirmed as Ginny moaned into her, her pleasure heightened by the extra force now driving Blaise.

Hermione tried to close her eyes and focus on herself but couldn't tear her eyes away from the image in front of her. She wasn't sure she'd seen anything hotter in her life.

She met Draco's eyes over Blaise’s shoulder and felt herself come undonde under the weight of his gaze and the moan of her name over and over again.

"Hermione."

"Hermione."

" Hermione "

Hermione's eyes opened with a snap and she felt herself tinge purple as she met Draco's grey eyes.

"Hey sleepy head, wake up."

Chapter Text

Nobody Likes a Cockblock

Last time on L+Q:
Hermione tried to close her eyes and focus on herself but couldn't tear her eyes away from the image in front of her. She wasn't sure she'd seen anything hotter in her life.
She met Draco's eyes over Blaise’s shoulder and felt herself come undone under the weight of his gaze and the moan of her name over and over again.

"Hermione."

"Hermione."

" Hermione "

Hermione's eyes opened with a snap, and she felt herself tinge purple as she met Draco's grey eyes.

"Hey sleepyhead, wake up."

Hermione groaned and felt her eyes flutter shut. Her body ached, and her panties were ruined, she was sure.

“Fucking hell.”

“Good dream?”

She felt herself flush even further. “Shut up.”

“Oh, I'm definitely gonna make you tell me. Later. In the meantime,” Draco handed Hermione two vials. “Pepper up and nutrient potion. Thomas said you'd need them.”

Hermione groaned as the actual events of the night came swirling back into her mind, and she tipped the two vials into her mouth with a grumbled thanks. She vanished both bottles and sat up groggily, rubbing her eyes with her hands. “Has he woken up yet?”

“No idea. I'm only concerned about one Gryffindor at the moment.”

Hermione felt herself blush under his careful inspection. This sweet Draco continued to unnerve her and make her see things she wasn’t sure about. Her body gave an involuntary shudder as he tucked a wayward curl behind her ear, her mind went unbidden to how close he had been last night. The way his body had warmed hers, and hers thrummed in anticipation of him being so close. Flashes of her dream returned to her mind in force, and she hastily shoved her hands into her hair, absently forcing it back into a haphazard pile upon her head.

“I'm fine,” she replied, stifling a yawn before standing up her body protesting at the uncomfortable bed she had fallen into. “Fuck I hate these beds,” she grumbled stretching, her back and neck popping suddenly.

Draco raised a brow at her, “Hard as rocks?”

Hermione nodded, “And then some. How long was I out?”

“Couple hours,” responded Draco, shrugging as he did so. He observed her body language, opting to give her a bit of distance. He hadn’t forgotten the way she smelled or the way she felt, and he knew if he stayed too close, he was likely to continue the conversation they had had last night.

Hermione grumbled to herself, continuing to adjust and readjust her hair, before gratefully accepting a glass of water he held to her. Draco felt electricity course along his veins as his fingers brushed hers, and found himself cursing in his head. Now was not the time for anything he wanted to do, even if his body disagreed with him.

“I gotta get back to Red. Thomas is waiting for you in the room,” Draco walked towards the door, more eager to put distance between the alluring woman in front of him than get back to the temperamental redhead waiting down the hall.

Hermione nodded. “Draco?”

He paused at the door. The softness of Hermione's voice and his name on her tongue was doing something to his insides. He turned to her, his face carefully neutral.

“Thank you,” she told him sincerely. Her smile kind, despite her flustered appearance.

“Anything for you, Doc,” he replied teasingly. His wink made her blush furiously as he walked out the door with a grin upon his face.

“Fucking prat,” she grumbled, staring at the empty doorway for another moment before she quickly headed to the adjoining bathroom to attend to her body’s needs.

A few minutes later, Hermione walked out into the hallway of St Mungos. It felt like forever since she had last been there and longer since she had stolen a nap in one of the residency beds. For all the magic they had, they still couldn't manage to make them comfortable or restorative; something she found both perplexing and annoying.

Hermione ignored the pointed looks and whispers as she walked past several members of staff and visitors of the ICU before greeting the two Aurors that stood outside room 5711 with a nod and a smile that she hoped was reassuring. Stepping inside, she greeted Dean Thomas, who looked as tired as she felt.

“Any progress?” she asked by way of greeting taking the chart he offered.

Beside her Dean sighed, his eyes traveling to the bed, where Harry Potter lay. “He's stable. Blood pressure and heart rate finally leveled out. Have to keep him to see if there's any infection, paralysis or short term memory loss but for now,” he sighed again, “he looks as good as can be expected given the circumstances.”

Hermione nodded. “Let's keep him in the coma for a little while longer. We can check on the paralysis with a few tests and then confirm them when he wakes up. I didn't see any trauma to the brain, so hopefully no memory issues.”

“I know everyone is eager for him to wake up so he can tell us what the hell happened.”

“You mean besides the obvious: get himself shot, stabbed and broken?”

“Yeah, besides that,” replied Dean with a snort. “It's a good thing he came to you.”

“He should've gone to a damn ER,” she groused.

“What, your house doesn't count as an ER at 3 am?” he asked with a chuckle.
She snorted, “hardly.”

“Good thing you were up.”

“Yeah, a good thing,” She drew a shaky hand through her hair. “I appreciate you coming in to help me, Dean. You didn’t have to.”

“Hey, Harry’s my friend too.”

“I know but pulling you away from Sea in the middle of the night and your practice-”

“Hey, I'm just a GP. There's nothing that can't be handled without me for a couple of days. Besides, it was nice to work with you again.”

“Yeah too bad we keep having to have emergencies to make that happen.”

“Well let's try not to top this one.”

“I don't think we ever could,” she replied sincerely.

Both of their eyes flickered to the bed before Hermione suggested Dean go floo call Seamus and then take a break himself. The other man nodded. Giving her a hug and squeezing her hand in reassurance. “He's gonna be fine, Hermione. He has you in his corner.”

Hermione gave him a watery smile and watched him leave before turning her attention back to the bed in front of her where her best friend, Harry Potter, lay in a medically induced coma.

“Does it matter,” he began softly, “If our first kiss is tonight or next week or next month?” He had slowly placed a hand on each side of her on the counter, effectively boxing her in. Her own hands remained on the bench, just inside his own, and she continued to stand firmly, the only sign she was being affected by his proximity showing in the hitch of her breath as his face drew nearer hers.

“Wouldn’t you agree that whenever it happens, it’s long overdue.”

Hermione licked her lips tentatively. Her mind was reeling, ears pounding from the blood racing through her veins. Her eyes flickered from his lips to his eyes, and she wondered when he had gotten so close. “How overdue?” she asked hesitantly, her breath mingling with his as he once again absently rubbed the tip of his nose against hers. The act so intimate and promising that she felt her breath hitch, and a pool of desire settled in her abdomen.

A smile played at the corner of his lips. A boyish lopsided grin overtaking his face, making Hermione's traitorous stomach flutter so many times she was sure it had taken up acrobatics at this point. Still. She forced her eyes to hold on to his. The mercurial pools were pulling her in with their desire and longing. “Years,” he whispered, his face moving slightly, his cheek brushing gently against hers, as her eyes fluttered closed just as lips brushed the shell of her ear, “Years, and years, my dear Granger.”

Hermione felt her body shiver from head to toe as he pulled back slowly, his eyes traveling gently from her eyes to her lips, and across her face. His eyes seemed to trace her face, memorizing her at this moment, as she stared at him, her own eyes forcing her mind to see him in an entirely new light.

She felt the pull to kiss him. She wanted to kiss him. Desperately so. Yes, they'd been drinking, and she didn't necessarily know if this was the right moment, the one she hadn’t know she was waiting for. True, the alcohol had given them some liquid courage and opened their minds, allowing their mouths to speak freer. Hermione had so many questions for Draco about “years and years” and what exactly that meant. He continued to nuzzle her nose with his own, and she knew if she just closed her eyes and leaned forward…

Hermione had started to do just that, giving in to the moment, living in it, as everyone was always reminding her she needed to when she suddenly heard a distinctive pop and saw Kreacher standing in her living room with a bloody Harry Potter.

There had been a flutter of activity and words pouring one over another as Blaise and Ginny came running into the room as Hermione and Draco sprinted from the kitchen. Hermione was calling for her wand and her medical kit as Blaise called for the house elves and Draco transfigured Hermione's rug into a clean stretcher.

Hermione barely made out the words “ambush,” “raid,” and “gun” before Harry passed out and she was barking orders to Ginny to contact Kingsley and find out where the hell Harry had been while telling Blaise to send one of the elves to go get Dean Thomas. Draco sent Po to the medical bay for supplies and his Elf to rouse any of the other team healers. Hermione had forced a pain potion and sleeping draught into Harry to keep him from waking up and had set her wand to run diagnostics as she yelled at Draco to hold a transfigured cloth to Harry’s body to try and stop the bleeding.

Within 10 minutes, she had Dean, Noah, and Kristie in her living room, which they had transformed into a makeshift hospital room.

Blaise had to take Ginny outside and force a calming draught down her throat once she’d gotten ahold of Kingsley, who had told her the mission was “need to know,” and she had cussed out the minister of magic. That had caused a snort from Blaise, and an eyebrow raise from Draco over Hermione’s shoulder. Blaise had been forced to step in and tell Kingsley to check on his people since Harry fucking Potter was currently bleeding out in Hermione's living room.

Hermione had Dean send a Patronus to St. Mungo’s to tell them they would be coming in hot and needed a private operating room ready to go. Though she had refused to leave at that moment - stating she absolutely would not budge until they could get Harry somewhat more stable. The risk of splinching either of them if they tried to go at that moment was high, and they wouldn’t be able to move them by floo or portkey without serious repercussions.

Harry had been shot twice. The one bullet was a through and through. The other lodged in his lung and he was drowning in his own blood.

It was the longest 16 minutes of Hermione's life.

By the time she looked up from Harry, she had found that a small army of people were waiting on her porch - kept out somehow by Blaise and Ginny and all three House-elves. When Hermione gave the word, six Aurors, and a dozen transport specialists from St Mungos apparated them into a specialized emergency room ward, and Hermione had quickly shoved aside the waiting healers to continue to work on saving Harry Potter.

“He came to me!” she screamed at one of the healers who was grousing in the corner. “Because I am a doctor AND a healer. You have no idea how to handle a bullet wound. Now shut up and get out.”

Kingsley and Healer Fitzroy, the head of St Mungos, had backed her up and forced everyone but a minute few from the room. Kristie gave a list of potions needed to an attending mediwitch to set aside while Noah began transcribing everything Harry had already been given and what he'd seen Hermione do thus far to an elf as a healer set up equipment to monitor Harry's vitals quietly around Hermione and Dean as the two continued to work on the man on the table.

It was a tense crowd that watched from the other side of the window a floor above them as Hermione worked to save her best friend and the savior of the Wizarding world. She would have quite the bone to pick with him and Kings when she was done, but first, she had to make sure he'd live.

It was 36 hours later before Hermione determined Harry's coma could be lifted and another 4 hours before she looked into the emerald green eyes of her best friend. "'Mione?"

"Welcome back, Harry. You had us worried."

"What happened?"

"I was hoping you'd tell me. You showed up in my living room with Kreacher, bleeding all over my floor at 3 am."

"Oh, fuck."

"Uh-huh."

"Were you awake?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

Images of Draco leaning against her body in her kitchen, his nose nuzzling hers came unbidden to her mind, and Hermione shook her head to clear her thoughts, choosing to focus instead on the gala.

"Oh, fuck, I'm sorry. I didn't interrupt anything, did I?" Harry gave her a knowing smirk, and she had to refrain from slapping him. Choosing instead to point the finger at him in disapproval. “Nobody likes a cock block, Harry."

Harry gave a soft chuckle and then winced. "How's the pain?" asked Hermione running a few diagnostics, happy to let the conversation drop lest she has to explain that she almost snogged her neighbor.

"Not as bad as I'm sure it could've been."

"Well, it's not every day you got shot-" she watched his eyes widened into saucers, "twice."

"Oh, fuck."

"Oh, fuck is right."

"How long have I been out?"

She tipped a pain potion to his lips, refusing to answer until he drank the vial completely, “Two days.”

“Two days! Fuck, ‘Mione, my team!”

“All present and accounted for. Stevens and Hawkins had to spend a night in the hospital as well, but you seemed to take the brunt of it.”

In the bed, Harry visibly sagged with relief, “Good. That's good.”

“No, Harry, that's not good. The war is over. I'm not supposed to be patching you up at 3 am anymore!”

Harry gave a soft chuckle and reached for her hand. He had the sense to look a bit sheepish as he stroked her hand with his thumb, "I'm OK ‘Mione."

"Yeah, no thanks to me!"

"Why do you think I came to you?"

"Because you're an idiot."

Harry gave a quiet snort. "Thanks for saving my life -"

"Again."

"Again, Mione. I don't know what I'd do without you."

“And I don't either, but we're going to be traveling again soon, so if you could refrain from needing any more of my medical services, I'm sure my boss would appreciate it."

Harry laughed, "Noted."

"You fucking scared me, Harry," Hermione told her best friend, matter-of-factly.

"Yeah. Me too."

Hermione sat down next to his bed and held his hand, each drawing comfort from the other. It was another hour before she told anyone he was awake, and Harry explained what happened before Kingsley, and his team arrived and asked Hermione to leave so they could debrief him. She told Harry and Kingsley they both owed her, and she promised to check back in with Harry in a bit.

Hermione sought out Healer Fitzroy and gave him all her paperwork and charts on Harry. The older man promised to personally monitor Harry himself in her absence before offering her a job. The irony of the moment wasn’t lost on Hermione. She gave the older man, who had been one of her mentors during her tenure and residency, a hug and thanked him for the opportunity before politely declining. "It's not at all what I imagined, but I'm really quite happy in my current job." Healer Fitzroy had told her he understood, of course, but told her the offer was there all the same before ushering her to his office to use his private floo back to her house.

She was surprised to find Blaise waiting in her living room when she came through, and she sank against him in relief as the past several days' events washed over her.

“Never a dull moment with you, Mia,” he had told her with a chuckle, and she had forced herself to agree.

Chapter Text

Aftermath

The days after the Black Ball and Harry’s sudden hospitalization were some of the more stressful and confusing of Hermione’s life. Blaise had been there when she got home, but something had been off with him. When she had asked about Ginny, he had grown visibly upset before sliding a mask of indifference into place. It was a very Draco thing to do, she thought, watching him as he shut down. Blaise would say nothing about what had transpired, only that there was a note in the kitchen for her.

Hermione was shocked to read that Ginny had decided to move back into Grimmauld Place in anticipation of Harry being released. Stating that he had no one to care for him and ensure that he was okay other than Kreacher, and if she didn’t go to take care of him her mother surely would – and nothing good would come from that she was sure.

The note left Hermione feeling conflicted. On the one hand, she understood the need to be there for Harry to protect him and take care of him. It was something she had already been discussing with Dean and Emily. She never in her wildest dreams considered that Ginny would do it – especially with her training schedule for the Harpies and the National team to consider.

Hermione had cast a long glance at Blaise after she had read the note, knowing that he must feel a deep betrayal that Ginny had chosen Harry over him.

Again.

She knew Blaise would take into consideration that, of course, Harry was injured – Blaise wasn’t that heartless – but that she would drop everything to rush to his side when he was still in the hospital? Hermione’s shoulders sagged as she returned to the couch to sit next to her friend. Feeling as overwhelmed and confused as she sure he must have.

She returned to the hospital daily to check on Harry with Mr. Baggins blessing, and while she hadn’t seen Ginny while she was there, the feelings Hermione had compounded the more she talked to Harry about the presence of his ex-girlfriend in his home waiting for his return. It appeared he was as confused as she was about the whole situation and he had rubbed his neck, one of his many tells, feeling awkward and unsure. He was grateful for the offer but unwilling to hurt her feelings by telling her no. Not to mention, he had no desire to be cared for by Molly, as much as he loved her.

On his final day at the hospital, Hermione sat in Harry's room laughing with him and Dean, a plan forming perhaps to have Harry stay with Dean and Seamus or vice versa formulating in her mind. It would eliminate the need for Ginny to give up her practices and not hurt her ability to train, and it would take away the uncomfortable feeling Harry had over the whole thing. Hermione was about to tell Harry her idea when a loud ruckus was heard in the hallway.

Harry and Hermione’s eyes had immediately met as they heard a familiar voice, swearing loudly and quite angrily. She had heaved a deep sigh as she opened the door, immediately spotting a very drunk and angry Ron Weasley fighting with the two Aurors in the hall.

It seemed Ron had been incensed to read about Harry’s injuries in the Prophet and was demanding entrance into the room as was his right as "his best mate."

“If you’ve been so concerned, where exactly have you been for the past few days?” Hermione scoffed. “Aside from the bottom of the bottle, apparently,” she added, waving her hand as if to ward off the whiskey fumes.

“Oi! We’re not together anymore ‘Mione, so you don’t get to take that tone with me!” hiccuped Ron, struggling to stand at his full height.

“Trust me, I haven’t forgotten that part, but I will damn well take any tone with you that I damn well please when you are standing in a hospital, drunk as a skunk, slurring, and causing a scene in front of MY patient’s door!”

Ron scowled at her, “Don’t be acting all high and mighty with me. You’re just healer, ‘Mione.”

Hermione’s body begin to shake with rage, “I am not JUST a healer, Ronald. I am a DOCTOR and a HEALER. I’ve worked hard to get where I am, and I am one of the best damn healers in this entire country!” she seethed with resentment and was vaguely aware of a few people pausing to clap at her words, cheering her on. “That’s why MY best friend arrived at MY home covered in blood in the middle of the night looking for help instead of going to yours.”

“‘s not true! He-he couldn’t find me.”

“Oh really? And why is that I wonder? Because you weren’t at home? Was he supposed to go checking every bar or hotel room in Chudley trying to find you while bleeding out? And what would have happened when he found you, Ronald? Would you have been sober enough to get him to the hospital without splinching him? Or would you have just run away when things got hard like you always do?”

Behind Hermione, Harry visibly winced at the dig. He knew Hermione still struggled with Ron’s leaving them during the war, but she usually kept that part tucked away - especially in public.

The subsequent tirade of drunken slurs that poured out of Ron's mouth left more than one person stopping dead in their tracks with a gasp. His words seemed to run together in a jumble of incoherence, the angrier he got. Hermione struggled to understand half the things that were coming out of his mouth but was instantly sure she would never forgive him for the things he was currently saying regardless.

Seeing that his words didn't have his desired effect, Ron shoved one of the Aurors into the wall, jinxing the other and was just about to attack Hermoine, when he was suddenly met with a wall of flesh – in the shape of one Draco Malfoy, who had seemingly appeared from nowhere. That battle of wits was short-lived - even when sober, Ron couldn’t keep up in a verbal battle with Draco - and just when it was clear Draco had the upper hand, Ron shouted at Hermione, “You’re just a Death Eater’s whore, willing to lift her skirts for any snake if he’s rich enough.”

Draco’s normal reserved manner and mask of aloof indifference slipped immediately. Before Hermione could react, Draco punched Ron in the face, sending the redhead stumbling backward a couple of feet.

Hermione gasped, “Draco! That’s not going to help anything!” As the other Auror cast the counter curse at his partner, Ron reacted, hitting Hermione with a hex meant for Draco as Dean tried to move her out of the way. The cry of pain she let loose snapped something in Draco’s mind, and he lunged for Ron again, pummeling him multiple times before one of the Aurors decided to intervene and pulled the fuming blonde off the still-slurring redhead.

Harry had also emerged during the scuffle and was assisting Dean with Hermione. “ENOUGH!” he bellowed, effectively ending Draco’s assault on Ron’s face while silencing the entire hall and everyone who had gathered to watch the situation unfold – including a gleeful reporter who Hermione recognized with a groan as Miss Barry from Witch Weekly.

Several mediwitches rushed to Hermione’s aid, many of them former coworkers and friends, while Harry demanded Ron be taken into custody for drunk and disorderly conduct. The moment the words left his mouth, Ron began screaming that he wanted to press charges against Draco for assault, eliciting snorts of derision from many in attendance.

When a reluctant mediwitch approached Ron to begin to heal his various bruises, he called her a few choice names, resulting in her casting a silencing charm and a sticking charm to force him into a chair. “I may be JUST a healer, Mr. Weasley,” she said fixing the enraged man with a stern look far too severe for her young age, “but I am none of those things you have called me, and I refuse to be belittled by a drunkard.”

Spinning on her heel, she turned her back on him to attend to Draco instead, who apologized profusely for causing her extra work. “I’m really sorry about that. I’m not sure what came over me,” he told her in hushed tones, as she tended to the various cuts and scrapes on his hands.

“Well, I am,” the mediwitch replied with a softness that had not been in her tone moments before. “We all know Doctor Healer Granger can take care of herself, especially amongst the likes of him, but there’s not a soul on this floor who blames you for doing exactly what we all wanted to for the horrible things he was saying to her. And to think, he said he loved her and was supposed to be her friend.”

Draco winced, not from the pain in his knuckles but instead at the crestfallen look that swept over Hermione’s face at hearing the mediwitch's words.

Dean, meanwhile, had tended quickly to the two Aurors, resetting a jammed shoulder and cracked rib for the Auror Ron had shoved, and requesting pain potions and pepper up potions from one of the mediwitches for both Aurors as well.

In the interim, two of the other mediwitches ensured Hermione was okay. One of them cast the counter hex while the other insured she had no other injuries from the altercation. She thanked the women for their help, apologizing as well for the scene, before ensuring the Aurors and Draco were all okay.

Still stuck to his seat, Ron was being tended by a mediwizard, who wisely chose to leave both charms in place while he worked. Ron cast a look of pure disdain at the mediwizard’s back as he requested bruise cream, a pain potion and sober up potion from another staff member who returned, albeit reluctantly, with both. When he temporarily lifted the silencing charm to see if Ron had any other injuries, Ron tore into the man, “You call yourself a healer! That was the most painful bone reset I’ve ever had. You’ve messed up my nose! I can see it’s still not straight-”

His words were promptly cut off, as Hermione recast the silencing spell upon him, causing him to turn purple from anger. Hermione quietly explained to Ron that he was lucky the mediwizard was tending to him at all. “Healers have a sworn oath to heal anyone, regardless of their personal feelings about them. But you’ve insulted not just me, but all healers present with your offensive words. I’m sure many who overheard your vicious tongue wouldn’t heal you if given a choice. So do us all a favor and give it a rest while the man does HIS job.”

Ron scoffed before his eyes caught the nodding motion of many people around them, agreeing with Hermione’s words.

As things settled down, the Aurors spoke briefly with Harry before apologizing to Draco. “I’m sorry, Mr. Malfoy, but we’ll have to ask you to accompany us to the Ministry for questioning.” Draco nodded, thanking the mediwitch that healed his hands again before standing up to join the two men. His eyes met Hermione’s as she gave him a sad smile and a nod of her head. Quietly thanking him for defending her. “Even though I didn’t need it,” she added quickly.

“Just stepping in for the Boy-Who-Never-Seems-To-Die,” replied Draco with a teasing smirk and even Harry gave a soft chuckle before offering his hand in thanks to his childhood rival.

Draco’s eyes momentarily went wide before he took the offered hand. With a furtive glance at Hermione, Draco followed a still silenced and bound Ronald to the lifts alongside the two Aurors.

Hermione let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding as she allowed Dean and Harry to move her back into room 5711 and away from prying eyes.

Draco was released after questioning – the statements of everyone who had witnessed Ron’s behavior and provocation agreeing that he was as much of a victim as Hermione and the Aurors were. Ron was held for a lengthier period. His head fuzzy from the firewhiskey even after the sobering potion.

Of course, the incident still made the Prophet the next day, the headline blaring its exclusive eyewitness report by Miss Barry - with more details and photos promised in that week's Witch Weekly.

And due to the very public display, Draco and Ron were brought in front of the BIQL the following day for a hearing on “behavior unbefitting of a Professional Quidditch Player.”

After reviewing the information, including the report as given by the DMGS on behalf of the Ministry and the wonderfully salacious article from the front page of the Prophet, a verdict was made in record time. Draco was fined and suspended for the next two games - starting with the Harpies game the same week. He was also told he’d be stripped of his role as Captain for "unbecoming behavior.” However, Mr. Baggins quite disagreed; he provided a statement to the Prophet on the matter, the Club Owner stated emphatically, “There is no love lost by anyone on the Montrose Magpies for Mr. Weasley. We all would’ve done exactly as Draco did, or more, to defend our favorite healer. We are gravely sorry for the needless stress this has caused Doctor Healer Granger as she works tirelessly and selflessly on behalf of our team and her friends. We will miss Mr. Malfoy over the next two games, but his position both as Lead Chaser and Captain of the Montrose Magpies is not in jeopardy in any way due to this unfortunate incident incited by Mr. Weasley. We can only hope that his club gets him the help he needs for his obvious drinking problem while he carries out his suspension.”

Draco thanked Mr. Baggins profusely for standing up for him so publicly after the article came out, only for the Scotsman to hand him a costly bottle of Firewhiskey for not allowing that rude git to continue to insult their Doctor Healer with a wink and a note that all his fines to the BIQL had been paid in full.

Ron was not as lucky. His charges were wide and varied from both the Ministry and BIQL. He escaped without jail time as no one agreed to press charges, but he was fined heavily by both the Ministry and the BIQL. The BIQL also suspended Ron without pay for the next six games – essentially benching him for the remainder of the physical year. Ron was given a guarantee his position was secure for the second half of the season contingent on his performance and rehabilitation.

Subsequently, his reputation took a beating in every magazine and paper; even the Cannon fan base was against him, with many fans sending in letters with ripped up trading cards and tickets. And it wasn’t just his reputation as a Quidditch player that took a hammering, but after the article in Witch Weekly hit newsstands, his reputation as a war hero and part of the Golden Trio took a massive hit. Casting him entirely in the role of the anti-hero and drunken leech to Harry’s Hero and Hermione’s Brains.

Draco took the suspensions in stride, still standing on the sidelines in his uniform, minus his extra protection and kit, cheering his teammates on and assisting with strategies as they played both the Harpies and the Vulstra Vultures.

Ron refused to be on the field during any of the games initially, his poor attitude spreading like the firewhiskey he was constantly consuming. After his first week of missing practices, he was charged another fine by the Cannons and told that if he didn’t show up and start practicing like he was supposed to that he’d be in breach of contract - which would come with another fine.

Of course, Molly took it all about as well as to be expected, sending Howlers to everyone mentioned in the Prophet articles – including Miss Barry, which resulted in Harry politely asking Ginny to return to the Harpies compound lest her mother use her presence in his house to visit and deliver her Howler in person. Something he'd keenly like to avoid, thank you.

The Magpies game against the Harpies had minimal injuries, thankfully, and Draco used the press conference before the game to offer his sincere apologies to the Staff of St. Mungos for his behavior and commended the Aurors for their professionalism under pressure. It was witty and light and came off as sincere and earnest.

Hermione refused to sit in on the press conference before or after the match, unsure if she could trust herself not to react if Miss Barry or Rita made a dig too many at her. She provided a statement to Emily to read if need be, saying she was at St. Mungo’s on the day in question, as a result of an injury to her best friend, Harry Potter. It continued to say that she was thankful for the quick work and actions of her fellow healers at St Mungos and the Aurors. She had no comment on the behaviors of Ron or Draco, and she wisely ignored anyone who called her name after the Harpies match.

Ron, however, continued to run his mouth while drinking, and was finally placed on house arrest by his General Manager, much to the entire team’s embarrassment.

It was enough to drive Hermione bonkers and resort to having her mail sorted by Po for any potential threats and dangers. She should've learned from dating Viktor that Quidditch fans can be malicious and ruthless. At least, when she got her howler from Molly, it wasn't in the middle of the Great Hall at Hogwarts. Hermione decided she'd count that as a win, and after the past few days, she really needed a win.

Chapter Text

Voice of Reason

The week’s events had left Hermione feeling emotionally raw and confused. Work had thankfully kept her busy for the most part, but things between she and Draco seemed more strained than usual - well normal for them at least.

At first, Hermione had tried to quell all the feelings in her head with sex, but Blaise had let her know he couldn’t do it. Well, after the first two days, where he had angry fucked her multiple times and she had enjoyed the angst and bruises and the deliberate use and manipulation of both of their feelings, he couldn't do it. She had been thankful, though, for that first couple of days.

The soreness was what she needed. The sting to her ass from the slaps Blaise had given her while pounding her from behind helped her. It wasn’t something she was sure she could convey to anyone else, because who would really understand that Hermione wanted or needed the pain or that Blaise needed the release as much as she did?

She had groaned happily as he twisted her hair into his hand as he bent her over the arm of the sofa, tugging her hair as he arched her back, pounding her deeply and without mercy. The bruises on her hips made her smile, and she didn’t begrudge either of them the need to forget.

These thoughts naturally led to Draco, and when she had asked for something softer and slower, Blaise had refused her. “That’s not my job, Cara Mia. You know that. I adore you, I do, but that’s a line we can’t cross.” She had known he was right, of course, which brought another level of guilt. It was never a line they had crossed. They were friends with benefits for sure, but making love wasn’t what they did. That was for passionate love and romance and relationships.

The feelings of guilt only grew as she worried that she had crossed a boundary in their relationship, only for Blaise to floo over the next afternoon. A bottle of her favorite wine in one hand, and the unexpected addition of his mother just behind him.

Hermione squealed when she saw Arabella and rushed to hug her. Arabella held her tightly, understanding suddenly why Blaise had insisted she join him for lunch at Hermione’s. Her daughter in all but blood was not sleeping well, as the bags under her eyes proved. The condition of her hair was any indication of her mental state; she was confused and neglecting her self-care. Hermione burst into tears in the comforting embrace of the only parent she had left, Molly’s howler proving that she was yet again a disappointment to the Weasley Matriarch, and Arabella moved them away from the fireplace and towards the sofa so she could comfort the young witch properly.

Blaise, having witnessed his mother’s healing magic of being present at work on his friends on more than one occasion, took the opportunity to call Po and Lala. He quickly explained that Mia would need lunch but also needed to take some time to take care of herself. Lala, knowing that it would be Po’s first time seeing Missy Mia in this state, set about showing the younger house elf what comfort foods she loved and how to draw a bath, filled with the oils Hermione liked, and which products she would need to revive her beautiful curls. Blaise laid out a new scarf for Hermione’s hair for after her bath, and an outfit he knew she always felt comfortable in. He may not be in a romantic relationship with the witch, but he still cared deeply for his friend and worried about her.

Arabella waited until Hermione’s cries had subsided to random sniffles and the occasional hiccup before she rubbed her hands up and down the younger woman’s arms. “Now, then my love. You need a nice soak in the tub and a glass of something delicious. How about you take some time for both and a hair and face mask. It’s Selfcare Sunday after all. We’ll talk when you get out and see if we can’t sort all this out together.”

Hermione hiccuped and nodded, knowing that as much as she thought it might be rude to take a bath, that Arabella wasn’t so much suggesting that she go clean herself up as nicely ordering her to. Hermione scratched her scalp absently, realizing it had been several days since she had worn her scarf to sleep and that her curls were once again dry and frizzy from neglect. Not to mention the way her scalp itched from product build-up. Wizarding charms just weren’t meant for Ethnic hair she thought to herself yet again as she left the room to head to her bathroom and clean herself up.

Emerging nearly an hour later, Hermione felt more like herself. Her skin glowed and smelled of the shea butter and jasmine she loved. Hermione wrapped her damp hair in the beautifully patterned scarf Blaise had left on her bed, her tresses feeling silky once more after being properly cleansed and moisturized through Arabella’s tried and true curly girl method. The reds, golds, browns, and creams in her scarf perfectly complemented the outfit she was wearing. The long sleeve shirt was a deep burgundy with golden tan elbow patches, and a curved hem was always a favorite, and Hermione had had these black skinny jeans for so long that there was a tear in the knee that would no longer stay closed even with a reparo or a thread. She remained barefoot and kissed Blaise on the cheek for her new scarf when she entered the kitchen to refill her wine glass.

Blaise smiled, “I saw it and thought of your silly Gryffindor shirt.” His eyes were indicating the shirt she was currently wearing.

“Hey, I love this shirt! And it's only kind of Gryffindor.”

“Uh-huh. Maman’s on the porch swing.”

Hermione nodded, heading out to the back porch to join Arabella. The older witch smiled brightly at Hermione, lifting the blanket from her lap to allow Hermione to join her on the swing, covering them both with the tartan throw to stave off the chill of the crisp November day. “You look much better, Cheri.”

“Merci, Maman. I feel better.”

Arabella gave her nod, casting her eyes out towards the pond, wandlessly setting the swing to move gently back and forth as they sat together. “So, shall we discuss what is on your mind, Cheri?”

“Oh, Maman! I feel like everything is such a mess. My head and my heart just don’t know what to do anymore.”

Arabella smiled. Hermione was a brilliant witch, the smartest of her generation, it was true, but nothing, absolutely nothing, undid her like matters of the heart. Arabella, having been married multiple times, understood more about love and marriage, sex and relationships in general than most.

“And what is that is bothering you?”

“I feel so guilty!”

“About what?”

Hermione sighed deeply, drawing a long pull from her wine glass before starting, “I keep thinking about Ronald and all the terrible things he said. How I didn’t love him as I ought to, and then I find myself wondering what life would be like if Fred hadn’t been the one that died during the battle and Ron had instead. I mean, how terrible is that! What kind of person wishes someone she loved that kind of ill will?”

“An honest one,” Arbella replied with a shrug, garnering a shocked look from Hermione. “What? Given all that I know of Ronald, and all you have shared about Fred, and his brother George, I’m not surprised to hear you saw that. I certainly have no love lost for that horrible git Ronald, and I know neither of my sons does either.”

Hermione snorted, muttering, “That’s an understatement,” under her breath.

“You know that I was married to two brothers as well.”

“You were?”

Arabella nodded. “Blaise’s father was a twin.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“Oh, yes. Well, we must go back. I attended Beauxbutons first. My mother determined I would be a proper young woman, and to her, that meant French and only French. I met a boy there. Oh, but he was lovely. We were in the same ballet company together.”

“Alicorn Ballet Company, right?”

“Oui. I had been dancing since I was a small child, and took lessons from tutors and was always there for the camps. We met one summer, and he was my first crush and my first kiss. He was Italian. So muscular and strong and his accent..” her tone took on a wistfulness, "I adored Étienne so much."

“The Christmas of my fifth year, my mother died, and my father did not want me to continue in France. He brought me home as soon as the school year ended. I was devastated - no Etienne, no ballet, and my mother were gone. My father was still grieving and unsure about how to handle an emotional teenage girl. I was refined but not prepared for British society in the way he wanted, so he sent me to spend the summer with some friends - the Blacks.”

“Narcissa’s family?”

“Oui. Narcissa and I hit it off immediately. She took me under her wing and helped me see what it was to be a proper British Belle. Our friendship though was far deeper than any realized by the time we made it to Hogwarts.”

“You fell in love with her.”

“She fell in love with me,” replied Arabella with pride. “She was a great comfort to me during that time, and I could see the way she looked at me. Cissa was very easy to like and even easier to fall in love with. When I went to Hogwarts that fall, I asked the hat to put me in Slytherin so that we could stay together, and for over a year, we were delighted together.”

“What happened?”

“Bellatrix.” Hermione gave an involuntary shudder at the eldest Black sister’s name. “Andromeda had just run off to marry Ted, and Cissa was devastated. She loved both her sisters but Dromeda was who she was closest too. Andromeda had left her a note telling her to follow her heart and not accept an arranged marriage the way Bella had. I was comforting her when Bella discovered us.”

“Oh, no! What happened?”

“Let’s just say Cissa and I both understand the pain you felt at Bella’s hands.” Hermoine gasped, understanding instantly that Bellatrix had used an unforgivable on her sister and friend. Arabella took a drink from her forgotten wine glass, her hands shaking steadily. “I was sent back to France for the rest of the summer to Alicorn, but Etienne had become betrothed while I was gone, and when I returned Narcissa and Lucius were betrothed. No one could prevent us from being in the same dorm or classes, and we took what comfort from each other when we could. We remained secretive and stalwart in our friendship in public, and when we graduated, she was immediately married to Lucius, and my father found a business associate to marry me off too. I was 17, and he was 45.”

Hermione choked on her wine. “You’re joking!”

“I wish I was. Rene was kind to me and thankfully looked nothing close to that age. He also had a secret.”

“A secret?”

Arabella’s eyes twinkled as she leaned closer to whisper in a scandalized tone, “He liked men.”

“NO!”

“Oh, yes. Rene was a widower with deep pockets and the right connections. My father was proud of the match, but the joke was really on him - Rene didn’t want a traditional wife, he wanted a cover so he could continue to enjoy his liaisons but have the perfect society wife to take to parties and things that mattered. It was a role that I was uniquely suited to, and I asked Rene only for one thing in exchange.”

“What was that?”

“To let me go back to France and dance with ABC.”

“Did he agree?”

Arabella nodded, her eyes distant. “He was proud to see me dance. He donated large sums to the theater and the company and then sent my pictures to friends. One of them asked Rene if I could model. So that’s how I spent the first five years of marriage - dancing with ABC and modeling throughout Europe. On my 5th wedding anniversary, one of his former lovers murdered him - incensed that he had broken it off years earlier. He thought Rene had broken up with him because of me and wanted to hurt me, but he poisoned the wrong goblet at the dinner party.”

“Oh, Maman! I’m so sorry.”

“Aw well thank you, Cheri. Rene was a friend. I did adore him, but I was not in love with him. I was 22 and widowed and set to become the Prima Ballerina at ABC. I was content to have my career and nothing else. My father had no control over me any longer because I was of age, and Rene left me everything.”

“Were you happy?”

“I thought so for a time, but then I ran into Etienne after a performance one night. His wife had died two years prior during childbirth, and their son had followed shortly afterward. When we were together, I suddenly realized that my life had been missing something, and when he proposed only a couple months later, I said yes.”

“That’s romantic.”

“That was Etienne," she replied with a shrug. " His lifestyle was grand, and everything he did or said always sounded romantic. He was an Italian that split his time between Paris and Venice. He used to say romance was in his blood. Born out the language of love and grounded in the City of love. ” Arabella giggled. “He proposed to me after one of our performances - we were dying a revival of Anthony and Cleopatra one of the first Shakespearean ballet pieces from the early 18th century. I was taking a bow as Cleopatra when suddenly he was on the stage dressed as Shakespeare himself.”

“Oh! Did he quote one of the Sonnets?”

“Worse! Hamlet!” the two women erupted into laughter. “It was so sweet and romantic, though, and the entire audience cheered.”

“You had to say yes.”

“Of course! We married within the year. I was touring as the Prima Ballerina for ABC when I fell pregnant with Blaise a few months later. Etienne insisted we move to Venice then. I wasn’t keen to give up my career, but the Dark Lord was in the midst of his first war, and his followers were moving across the borders. We were young and rich and purebloods.”

“The perfect targets.”

Arabella nodded. “We wanted nothing to do with the lies that man was spouting and so I agreed to move to Venice. It was far removed from the fight, and we would be protected in Italy. My pregnancy with Blaise was wonderful, and Etienne was incredible. He wanted nothing more than for me to get very fat and to spend his days feeding me and rubbing my feet and my belly. He was worried though that like his first wife I would pass during childbirth and he spared no expense to have midwives and healers there with us. His family elves never left me alone, and one of the family elves that was bonded specifically to the family magic slept in our room.”

“That must’ve been scary.”

“I was content to be spoiled, and to do anything to keep my wizard happy,” Arabella replied with a shrug. “I gave birth to Blaise that August and Etienne was overjoyed! Blaise was healthy and beautiful, and everything seemed so perfect.”

“What happened Maman?” asked Hermione tentatively. She knew that Blaise’s father had passed before his first birthday, though neither he nor Arabella had ever said how.

“Narcissa was due with Draco the year after Blaise was born and I wanted to see her. We hadn’t seen each other since we graduated, but we continued to write to each other weekly. Our friendship had never faltered in that regard. She had so much difficulty conceiving and had lost two children before Draco, so when her due date was approaching, I wanted to be there for my best friend. Etienne went ahead to secure a home in England for us. He didn’t want us to continually have to floo back and forth with Blaise being so young, and an international portkey wasn’t available due to Blaise being under 5. I knew at that time that Abraxas Malfoy, Lucius father, and my father were very heavily invested in the Dark Lord so staying with either of them was out, but I hadn’t thought to mention it to Etienne. He accepted a dinner invitation with my father and some others, only for Abraxas to arrive with the Dark Lord.”

“Death eaters killed Blaise's father?” gasped Hermione.

“No one knows for sure,” said Blaise stepping out of a shadow that he had been standing in, letting his presence on the porch be known for the first time.

“My father, Etienne and several others were killed that night. Abraxas was heavily injured but was jinxed so that he was unable to discuss the evening’s events with anyone else.”

“That’s terrible!” remarked Hermione glancing from mother to son and back again.

“I was devastated. Etienne’s brother, Jean-Paul, went to England to claim his brother. He would not allow me to go. When he returned, we read Etienne’s will and discovered that he wanted to ensure that I was taken care of in every way.”

“That was nice of him,” said Hermione softly. Blaise snorted, earning him a glare from his mother. “Uh-oh, that wasn’t nice of him?”

Arabella sighed. “Etienne was afraid that I would be too heartbroken to care for Blaise if I was left alone, and his will stated that for Blaise to inherit, I must remarry immediately.”

“Well that’s presumptuous,” scoffed Hermione, causing Blaise to snort again. “Sorry,” he muttered to his mother as she once again glared at him.

“Who did you have to marry?”

“Jean-Paul.”

“His brother?!”

Arabella nodded, “His twin, oui.”

“Well, that doesn’t sound awkward at all.” Blaise started to snort but wisely turned it into a cough at his mother’s look.

“It was… unexpected. Jean-Paul and Etienne physically looked the same, but they were as different as your Ronald and his brothers. Etienne was romance and monogamy, and grand gestures and Jean-Paul was hot-headed and angry and happy to sleep with anyone and anything that would allow it.”

“Sounds like someone else I know,” replied Hermione with a pointed look at Blaise, who had conjured a wing back chair to sit in facing the two women.

“Hey! I resemble that remark.”

Hermione giggled at Blaise, happy that despite everything he still retained his sense of humor.

“Jean-Paul was happy to marry me. I was bred to be a society wife. I was beautiful, fluent at that point in three languages, and eager to return to the spotlight in either modeling or ballet. But whereas Etienne and Rene both encouraged my dreams and were happy to see me perform, Jean-Paul was terribly jealous of all the attention I received. No one else should be able to look upon his wife so publicly.”

“That sounds familiar. Fred was always really proud of how smart I was. He thought it was great that I always knew the answers and that I loved to research. Research and development is the heart of any new products, and it gave us common ground. The fact that I loved to help him and was happy to be secretive were all good things to him. He never understood why Ron would get so angry at me for the simplest of things! And Ron hated how diligent I was, what a bookworm I was. I didn’t like chess or quidditch, and those were all things against me to him, but Fred never made me feel like I was less than for those things. He embraced them.”

Arabella nodded. “I became very resentful of Jean-Paul, wishing that he was the one that had gone to England instead of Etienne. I missed the man who made me feel special and doted on our son.”

“Kind of how I feel about Ron being the one that survived.”

“Very much so. I would feel waves of guilt for wishing Jean-Paul harm when he was nice, and then would silent wish that he had been the one to die when he was cruel.”

Hermione sighed, “So you’re saying the sweeping feelings of guilt that I have for being unfeeling and unkind, however brief, don’t make me a terrible person?”

“No, Cheri, they do not.”

“That’s not to say that if Fred had lived, you probably wouldn't have dated Ron at all, and then you’d never have had to deal with his jealousy. You’d probably be happily married to Fred without having to deal with all this guilt and drama Ron caused,” added Blaise thoughtfully, “Then again, you also probably wouldn’t have come home with me 8th year and then where would you be? A Weasley and stuck with Manipulative Molly instead of this lovely lady.”

Hermione smacked Blaise’s arm and called him a prat as his mother smiled and called him a shameless flatterer. “But what happened with Jean-Paul?”

Hermione looked between the two again before Arabella quietly told her that he went to avenge his brother’s death, only to threaten the wrong people and end up in a duel that he did not win. “Thankfully I had seen the idea coming, so I called our solicitor to ensure that Jean-Paul’s will included Blaise and me as heirs should anything happen to him. When he died, I decided to return to France with Blaise. The Dark Lord was gone, and Venice held too many memories.”

“How old were you?”

“I was almost 27 when I returned to France with Blaise.”

“You were widowed three times by 26!”

Arabella shrugged. “Such is life, Ma chérie.”

The trio sat in silence for several minutes drinking their wine before Blaise suggested they head inside to eat. The meal was delicious and conversation light, but Hermione remained quiet and seemed distracted.

"What's the matter, Bella?" asked Blaise, observing her.

"I'm… it's just… what I…" Hermione felt her face flushing from embarrassment as she tripped over her words. Her emotions were bubbling so close to the surface. Slowly tears began to run down her face as the words left her mouth, "What if I've missed my chance? What if it's too late? What if I'm not good at a relationship and that's why I just continue to fuck Blaise?" across the table. Blaise choked on his wine as his mother glared at him, but Hermione seemed to pay them no mind as she continued to cry and babble. Her words poured out like a giant run-on sentence. "I don't know what I'm doing anymore or where I'm going. I'm a doctor AND a healer. I work for a quidditch team for Merlin's sake. I hate quidditch. I hate to fly. I hate to see people I love get hurt. My longest relationship was with an absolute git, who routinely proved that he was insensitive and unobservant and never satisfied me in bed. And yet I stayed. I didn't listen to my gut, and I continued to stay. And the only two people I ever thought I loved both died. And I miss them both so much, and I wish one of them were here so I could just choose them, and be with them because it would all be so much easier. But that makes me feel guilty, and Viktor is coming, and I wonder if this is another chance with him, and that makes me feel guilty because Draco is right next door and we're dancing around each other, and you two are hinting pretty deeply, and Ginny is just being Ginny and now they're friends again and he's dancing with me and touching me in these ways that are so much more than a friend would be but look like nothing more than a friend would do. I mean I hold hands with Harry for goodness sake, but every time he's near me I feel like I can't breathe, and sometimes when he touches me it feels like electricity is coursing through my body and standing next to him sometimes just feels so right, but we're coworkers! You and co-workers shouldn't dip from the company pond because I mean if I was going to I could take my pick basically, because God knows I've had enough offers and some of them are just so damn sexy but if I say yes to one and not another what will that do what kind of trouble will that cause and what if we try and it's terrible? Like JJ is gorgeous, but what if he kisses funny or he slurps when he eats. I mean I've already dated one idiot without table manners-"

"Hermione." Hermione's eyes flew to Blaise’s across the table. "Take a breath, love."

Hermione felt herself blush clear back to her hairline and down her chest, but Arabella took her hand, giving it a slight squeeze of comfort along with a soft smile. "It's OK Hermione"

"Is it? Is it normal to feel this way? I mean I almost crossed a well-established boundary with Blaise this week, and that's just not like me."

Blaise chuckled, "No, it's not, but nothing this week, hell this month has been normal. And with all that swirling in your head, it's not surprising that you're feeling unsure. How do you cope every day with all that on your shoulders?"

"I don't. Obviously." Blaise snorted at the nod to their former Potions Master.

Arabella gave a small chuckle. "Mia, love, relationships, even life, do not always go as we planned. You are a passionate woman. You feel deeply," Hermione ducked her head at her words. Arabella placed a finger under Hermione's chin and tilted her head back up, "These are not things to be ashamed of Mia. Your passion is a strength. It's one of the things that draws others to you."

"Like who?"

"Viktor I'm sure, and Draco."

"Draco?"

"Surely you've figured out by now, Bella, that sometimes he riles you up just to see the fire in your eyes ignite," added Blaise casually from across the table. Hermione shook her head no. "Merlin, witch, are you that blind to his affections?"

Hermione opened her mouth to respond but promptly closed it again. Was she blind to it? They had been flirting, dancing around each other for weeks. She had even told him so the night Harry got shot. He had told her he wanted to kiss her for years and years, but was that it? Did he just want to kiss her? To sample what his best friend already had? Did he like her? Care for her? Would he be willing to take the step Blaise wouldn't and make love to her? Could this, dare she think, be love? And if it wasn't, could it grow to be that?

Hermione groaned and put her head in her hands.

"Now what?"

"What about Viktor?"

"What about Viktor?"

"He's coming this week. Tomorrow. He'll be here for the whole week before the game for various events and press conferences and goodwill promotions."

"Okay. And?"

"And he's staying here?"

Blaise’s eyebrows rose into his hairline. That would not go over well with Draco he was sure. Even if they weren't exclusive or even dating, his jealousy would be through the roof "HERE?!"

Hermione's face shifted as she realized the implications of her words, " No not here here, as in my house, but here as in the Magpie Estate."

Blaise let out a breath he didn't know he was holding and a glance of his eyes towards his mother confirmed she was just as relieved as he was with Hermione's answer.

"Are you planning on anything happening with Viktor, Ma Chérie ?" asked Arabella softly.

Hermione opened her mouth and then promptly closed it again. Mulling the answer in her head for a moment before answering. "I-I… I don't know. We've talked about getting together for dinner to catch up, and he knows that I'm single again, and he was - he was excited about that, I think."

"And were you excited about it?"

Hermione hesitantly nodded. "A little, I think. But-"

"But?"

"That was before."

"Before what?"

"Before Draco! Before he got under my skin and into my head. Before he started intriguing me and showing me who he was. How gentle and kind, considerate, and thoughtful. And not at all biased and so - so - so-"

"So?"

"NICE!" she exclaimed, pounding her fist on the table. "He's been so bloody nice and genuine and just bloody perfect. Flirting with me and teasing me and giving me just enough to entice and confuse me!"

Blaise stared at her wide-eyed for a moment before he started to chuckle. Arabella, too, was laughing softly into her napkin though she was trying to be far more discreet than her son.

"It's not funny, Blaise!"

"I know. I know but, Merlin, Mia. You're so flushed and upset because you what? Just realized the Tin Man has a heart?"

Hermione once again groaned into her hands "Why do I introduce you to muggle things?" she lamented as Blaise continued to chuckle.

"You have to admit it. It is a perfect way to describe him.

"And what does that make me hmm? Dorothy looking for the wizard? "

"I was thinking more like the cowardly lion."

Hermione narrowed her eyes at her friend. "You take that back!" she hissed through her teeth.

Arabella laughed softly before placing her hand, reassuringly on Hermione's arm. "You have to admit Chéri, that you lack a bit of courage right now."

"Ugh not you too, Maman!"

Taking her hand into her own, Arabella turned Hermione body gently toward her, "Do you know why I've been married so many times?"

"Because you're a glutton for punishment," supplied Blaise, who suddenly found his wine glass fascinating as both women leveled him with a glare.

"No, Maman, I do not know, but I have always wondered."

"Not all were my choice, as you now know, but some of them were. I wanted to be in a relationship. I wanted to be loved and loved in return, and when the opportunity presented itself, I didn't question, I didn't think, I just lept."

"With disastrous results."

"Son, if you cannot refrain from commenting on things you do not understand, I will silence you."

Blaise held his hands up in supplication, indicating between the two women for his mother to continue. Arabella nodded at him. "Thank you." Returning her attention to Hermione, she continued, "I have not been lucky in love it's true. I have been widowed four times, divorced twice and had one annulment -" she paused, glancing at her son, daring him to comment. Blaise, for his part, wisely mimed zipping his lip and throwing a key. "I am lucky to finally be allowed to love the one my heart longed for. There are no longer walls and barriers in our way. There are still those who would shun and shame my choice because the world can still be a cruel place filled with narrow-minded idiots, but it doesn't matter to me any longer. I have paid my dues and done what was asked of me. And now it's my turn to live - not for them, but for me. Do you understand Ma chérie?"

Hermione nodded slowly, taking in Arabella's words, allowing them to sink into her heart as she mulled them over in her mind.

"So what do I do?"

Arabella's smile was radiant, as she stroked the cheek of the woman she called daughter, "You follow your heart, Ma Chérie. And you pick the person that gives you courage and strength to fly free."

Chapter Text

Here come the Bulgarians

Draco sat on the sidelines, watching the Vratsa Vultures play against his team. The game was one of the few conference games in their season that counted towards the European World Cup and the Magpies needed to win. Being benched during this game hurt more than being benched during the Harpies game. Though, if he was honest, not all of it was due to Quidditch. Draco felt a scowl cross his face as he glanced up in the sky and spotted the reason for his annoyance.

Viktor bloody Krum.

The man was a Quidditch Icon. Arguably one of the most talented players of all times, and undoubtedly the best Seeker in a century. Draco also knew him as a TriWizard Champion and the man responsible for 95% of the Hogwarts student body, discovering that Hermione Granger was more than just a boring bookworm. Draco could still remember the way he felt that night upon seeing her dressed up for the first time. Hermione had looked radiant, and the smile she had given Viktor had stirred something so deep within him that he needed to excuse himself for a few minutes to compose himself.

If Draco’s memory served him right, Hermione and Viktor had dated briefly during 8th year, and for a bit right afterward. Blaise told him that Hermione was the one to end it. The long-distance and limelight of such a high profile relationship were too much for her. As far as Draco knew that had been the end of it. Then Potter had shown up at the Weasel-Off pick up game with Krum in tow, and Draco had seen red. The way the man held her, and she had looked up at him through her lashes, their body language clearly showing their attraction to each other was alive and well.

Typically, Draco wasn’t an avaricious wizard. It was something he prided himself on. Malfoys were notorious for getting what they wanted, but there was something about seeing them together that had ignited a flame of envy within his soul. It was the seed of doubt, he realized. That no matter how much he may want Hermione, she may never be his.

Draco could recognize now that that’s what he had felt when he had seen Hermione enter on Viktor’s arm during the Yule Ball all those years ago, and as he had seen them together more and more this week, he could state without a doubt that the green-eyed monster had moved into his heart and he didn’t like it one bit.

Every time Draco had gone to see Hermione that week, that Plonker had been there. It didn’t matter if it was at the pitch, in her office, the medical bay, even her own home. Anytime he tried to talk to her, there stood Viktor Krum. Sometimes they were sharing a meal or laughing in that intimate way two people did when they were sharing secrets. The worst was when Draco would walk in, and they would be touching. Nothing unprofessional, he conceded, but the way two people attracted to each other would show affection. The way Viktor would tuck a stray curl behind her ear, or that she would reach out to touch his arm as she laughed. It spoke of intimacy between the two of them that made Draco more than a little covetous.

And worst of all, he hadn’t gotten to speak to Hermione about what happened at her house after the Black Out Ball, their near kiss still playing in his mind before Potter had shown up bloody and near death. Draco longed to tell her how amazing she had been in that moment. The way she had kept her head as she worked tirelessly to save her friend. Draco knew that while Harry was her best friend, if anyone of them had turned up on her doorstep, Hermione would’ve done the exact same thing. It was just who she was.

Draco planned on telling Hermione how proud and impressed he was when he had gone in to wake her at the hospital. Then she had woken up so hot and bothered from that dream and all he had wanted at that moment was to read her mind and know what made her flush and shiver when she looked at him. Draco's ego inflated at the prospect of Hermione's dreams included him sexually. He had vowed to be patient, but it had been nagging at him, especially when his thoughts became plagued with what-ifs from that night. More than once, he had dreamt of closing the gap between them and pressing his lips to hers. Feeling her moan and move against him, stirred by her own desire to taste him. Draco had woken up hard and horny nearly every day for a week after that. He wanked off in the shower daily to thoughts of her. Images of her in that McQueen suit, with no shirt and that golden halter from the Black Our Ball. Of her bikini-clad body swimming in their pond. Even in her adorable pajamas. Every single image that flitted through his mind left him wanting more of her.

Draco had gone into her office Monday morning, planning on talking to her about everything. Secretly, he hoped he could lure her into another close moment. Her words reminding him that she was aware that they were dancing around each other.

The question was now when not if, and he was hoping it would be sooner rather than later.

Those thoughts ran out of Draco's head as he walked into Hermione's office and found that Wazzock leaning against her desk. The two of them obviously amid some discussion or other. Draco’s pureblood training kicked in immediately, and his mask had slipped into place. Viktor was a fellow Quidditch player, an international star and ambassador for the sport. No matter his feelings towards the man, or his current suspension, as the Team Captain, Draco owed him respect and courtesy. The pleasant exchange had nearly killed him. And sadly, it wasn’t even the last one he would have with the other man.

Draco had returned to his house after every encounter that week and poured himself three fingers of firewhiskey before losing himself in his piano. He proudly penned several swear word infused songs in honor of the Bulgarian during a few of those drunken sessions, playing them all for Blaise, who laughed hysterically at his ability to rhyme phrases like Numpty Bellend, Manky Arsehole, and Spunktrumpet.

One of the said songs, set to Fur Elise, was currently running through his head as he watched the Bulgarian overhead.

Watching the man fly, Draco was struck with one resounding thought: he hated Viktor Krum. It wasn’t personal. It was just… unavoidable. He was, after all, the current obstacle in moving his possible relationship with Hermione forward.

Krum. The famous Seeker who had once held the heart of the witch Draco fancied… and probably could again, if he didn’t already.

Krum. The only man who might possibly be worthy of Hermione. Certainly more worthy than Draco himself. Krum had never been a Death Eater. Had never been a pureblood supremacist. Had never called her names and made her cry. Much less for six years. Krum had looked past her swotty, bookworm exterior and had seen a beautiful flower just waiting to bloom. Krum had seen in her what no one else had until much, much later.

Krum. The fucknugget that had just caught the Golden Snitch and won the game for the Vultures after nearly four hours of gameplay.

Draco swore internally as he watched Viktor finish his victory lap and fly down to land, not on his sideline, but on the Magpies’ - directly in front of Hermione. Draco watched in abject horror as he approached Hermione with a genuine smile on his face, bowing over her hand while gracing her knuckles with his lips. Around him, Draco was vaguely aware of photographers taking pictures, and journalists’ quills rapidly scratching against parchment as more than one romantic sigh of longing was heard on the sidelines.

The roar of the crowd made it impossible to hear what they were saying, but the blush upon Hermione’s cheek as the Bulgarian leaned forward and whispered in her ear was unmistakable. Draco felt his stomach clench and wondered briefly if this was what heartbreak was as he watched, frozen, just feet away from the disgustingly romantic display happening beside the field.

Viktor placed the golden snitch into her open palms, and Hermione brought the snitch to her chest and closed her eyes. Draco felt his breath catch, as she leaned forward to kiss the other man on the cheek, a dazzling smile crossed her face as she stepped back and let the snitch dart off into the night. The crowd around them grew louder still at the romantic display, and Hermione laughed watching the snitch dart here and there before disappearing into the darkness.

It felt like a scene out of one of the muggle movies Hermione loved. It was sickening and beautiful, and Draco knew in his heart, that whatever dance they had been doing, was over now. It was clear the better man won that she chose, the worthier man, and while it hurt, Draco found he couldn’t begrudge her for picking Viktor. At least he was better than that fucktard Weasley.

Aware of the very public situation, and his already fragile status as Captain, despite the reassurance of his coach and team, Draco decided on a course of action. Making his way to where the two lovebirds stood, Draco offered Viktor his hand. All around them lightbulbs flashed as photographers rushed to capture the moment. Hermione gave him a look of confusion that he chose to ignore, instead opting to speak directly to Viktor, “Congratulations mate. Job well done.”

“Thank you, Malfoy,” replied Viktor, accepting his hand with a firm shake. “Was shame not play against you today. You are great player.”

Draco gave the other man a nod of thanks as he dropped his hand. “That may be true, but it’s clear the better man won today. I wish you the best.”

Viktor nodded in turn, and with a murmured, “Granger.” Draco departed the field for the locker rooms.

He kept his mask firmly in place, his occlumency shields allowing him to keep the traitorous feelings of his heart securely at bay. Draco spoke encouragingly to his team, complimented them on their gameplay, shook hands, and laughed with JJ and Ian. He pretended everything was normal, all the while counting down until he could leave to drink himself into oblivion.

“Hey, Draco. Doctor Healer Granger wants to see you.”

Draco’s brow furrowed. “For what? I didn’t even play today.”

Flip’s response was a shrug. “Healer’s orders?”

Draco sighed heavily and nodded, making his way smoothly out of the locker room and down to the medical bay. They had taken more injuries than average against the highly physical and defensive Bulgarian team, and he paused to check in with injured teammates as he made his way through. Draco was surprised Granger had time for her little show at the end, let alone to request to see him with all the injuries they had – though thankfully, none of them had appeared to be as deadly as usual. No bludgers to the chest, at any rate, he thought with a weary chuckle as he rapped his knuckles on the door he was directed to.

“You wanted to see me, Doctor Healer Granger?” he asked curtly when she bid him enter.

“Well, it’s not a match unless we see each other, Malfoy,” she replied good-naturedly.

“Don’t know if you’re aware Granger, but there’s really no way for me to get injured just standing on the sideline.” his tone was clipped and snippy.

“I’m aware.” She paused and cleared her throat, “We haven’t gotten to talk about that.”

“No,” he replied tersely, “a bit too busy with your boyfriend to fit that conversation in, I suppose.”

Hermione’s brow was crinkled. “Boyfriend? What boyfriend?”

Draco sighed impatiently. “The Bulgarian Bon Bon.”

“Don’t call him that.”

“My apologies. What name would you prefer I call your boyfriend?”

Recognition dawned on Hermoine’s face. “Draco. Viktor and I, we’re… we’re not together.”

He stared at her for a moment. “You sure about that? Cause you’ve looked a lot like a couple this week.”

“We’re just friends, Draco.”

“Friends?” he asked, weighing her words carefully. “Like you and Blaise are ‘friends’?”

Hermione's face paled. “What! No! Not like that. Not at all. Merlin, what kind of girl do you think I am, Draco?”

“What do you want me to think, Hermione? Every time I’ve seen you this week, he’s right beside you. Touching you. Looking at you like you hung the damn stars.”

“So I’m responsible for how he looks at me?” she snapped, crossing her arms over her chest and jutting her hip out.

“You’re the one trying to convince me that you’re just friends, and not ‘special’ friends.”

“We’re not!” she declared emphatically, her hands dropping to her sides as she stomped her foot at him. “I wouldn’t have that arrangement with more than one person! And if Viktor and I were together, then Blaise and I wouldn’t have that arrangement either. That’s not how we do things.”

Draco scoffed at her. “Fine. I apologize.”

“As you should.”

They glared at each other for several moments before she finally spoke again, “Dammit, Draco is that what you think of me? That I’m some sort of liar? That I would cheat, or sneak around behind my partner’s back?”

“No, of course not!”

“Then what the hell, Draco?”

“What do you want me to tell you, Hermione? I haven’t you seen outside of his sight all week long! In our medical bay. Your office. The pitch. Your house. Our pond.”

“So what? That means I’m sleeping with him! Merlin, Draco I see you all those places too!”

“Not remotely the same.”

“What does that even mean?” she groused.

“How many times did you have dinner with him this week?” he queried, crossing his arms on his chest.

“That’s what this is about? You’re jealous because I had dinner with him?” questioned Hermione.

“Hardly,” he sneered.

“You are! You’re fucking jealous! Jesus, Draco! If you wanted to have dinner with me, all you had to do was ask!” declared Hermione.

“Are you seriously this daft, witch?”

“I am not daft!” she hissed.

“And what was your little fairytale moment out there supposed to be about then, huh?” Draco inquired, his arms spreading in the direction of the pitch.

“Fairytale moment? With the snitch?” she asked as her brow wrinkled in confusion.

“Yes with the snitch! Salazar’s soggy nut, Granger! Everyone was eating up that sweet display with a spoon! It was like watching one of your fucking romantic movies.”

“What? No,” gasped Hermione, “Draco, that wasn’t a romantic moment.”

“You’re kidding, right? With the whispering and the blushing and the sighs all around me.” he mocked, letting out a ridiculously long sigh to prove his point.

“That was goodbye, you stupid idiot.” huffed Hermione.

“Goodbye? What the hell kind of goodbye was that?” Draco fumed.

“A bittersweet one!” she roared back. Draco watched as her shoulders sagged. She took a deep breath and began to pace slowly before continuing, “It was us acknowledging the missed opportunity we had. Yes, we’ve gone down that road once, and yes, I suppose we could’ve gone down it again if things weren’t so different this time. So we agreed to let it go – wishing each other freedom and the chance to be found by the right person in this lifetime and moment.”

Draco’s eyes narrowed at her words, “This lifetime?”

“It could’ve all turned out differently I supposed, but it didn’t.”

“Why are you quoting Mansfield Park at me?” he sneered.

Hermione rolled her eyes at him, as if the answer was as obvious as the nose on his face, “Because there are as many forms of love as there are moments in time...

Draco snorted. “Okay, Fanny Price.”

“Look, Viktor… Viktor wanted a future,” confessed Hermione.

“With you?” he drawled.

He saw her temper flare instantly as she stopped dead in her tracks. “Is that so hard to believe? That someone would want me?”

“Not at all. I want you.” The truth of his words slammed into them like a sledgehammer. Draco felt pale at his admission but watched her face grow even redder.

“Then fucking act like it, you Bawbag! How am I supposed to know what you want if you don’t talk to me? How can I make a choice if I don’t even know it’s available?” she demanded, her voice growing louder as she spoke.

Draco’s temper flared at her words. “Are you fucking kidding me? I stood in your kitchen almost two fucking weeks ago, nose to nose with you and told you that I’ve wanted you for years. YEARS, GRANGER. I stayed at the hospital with you after Potter was shot. Fuck, witch, I defended your honor against that Tosspot Weasel and got myself suspended for two weeks, and you didn’t even have the decency to say thank you!”

“I didn’t ask you to do that for me!”

“No shit woman.”

“That was your choice,” she pressed on.

“Because I bloody well like you, you crazy bint!” the words left his mouth in a roar. “What the fuck is it going to take for me to get through to you? Would you like me to get on my knees and grovel? Take out an ad in the Prophet? Fucking tell me, Granger, because obviously what I’ve been doing hasn’t been clear enough for you.”

Hermione blinked at him several times. Her eyes widen, and her mouth was opening and closing several times with no words or sounds coming out.

“Close your mouth Granger; you’re not a goldfish.” Draco sneered.

His words seemed to shake her out of her reverie, “But-but you hate me.”

“Are you fucking kidding me right now, Hermione?”

“I mean. I just. I just. I thought.” She stammered. Her words were coming out in a rush of incoherence.

Draco sighed as he rubbed his hands across his face. He usually loved to argue with her, to rile her up, but tonight it just left him exhausted. He leaned against the gurney, his hands gripping the edge. “You thought what, Hermione?”

Hermione stared at him for a moment. She was standing closer now than he realized. She opened her mouth to speak again, and he braced himself for whatever her brain was going to throw at him, only to watch her slowly lean into his body instead. Draco stiffened as he felt her body brush against his; she closed the gap between them just as her lips brushed against his. The kiss was soft, almost chaste, but it carried with it a million words and sensations.

Draco’s eyes widened as they met hers briefly. He noted the flecks of gold swirling in her vibrant chocolate eyes. He felt her breath, quick and unsteady on his lips, as her eyes drifted closed. Leaning forward, he pressed his lips to hers, slightly firmer than her initial kiss. He bit back a smile as her lips chased his as he pulled away the second time, and when her closed eyes sprang open a moment later, he felt his cheeks tinge pink.

A breath later, his lips were upon hers again, firmly, demanding; without thought, he was pushing off the gurney and moving her back against the nearest wall. His tongue traced her bottom lip, and she opened to him with a moan. He fit his body closer to hers, his leg slid between hers and pushed against her apex. His hands were everywhere, desperate to finally feel her. Hermione clung to his shirt, her hands furled and unfurled in the material as her hips rocked of their own accord against his leg, desperate for friction.

He tilted her head to deepen the kiss, surprised that their tongues weren’t battling for dominance. She was as responsive as he ever dreamed, her body reacting to his demands step for step. Draco pressed his arousal into her, and she moaned in response. One of his hands move down to her thigh; he lifted her leg as he pressed his body further against hers. His hand moved to cup her ass, squeezing it as he rutted against her. Hermione’s hand slipped into his hair, tugging the silky strands at the nape of his neck, making him moan against her mouth.

Draco was seriously contemplating taking her against the wall when they heard voices outside. The laughter was like a bucket of cold water thrown against them, and suddenly, she was pushing him away.

Her hands were on her lips, and instead of looking pleased, she appeared horrified.

“I have to go,” she mumbled suddenly, disappearing on the spot, leaving Draco confused and very horny. His eyes fixated at the place where she stood only moments ago.

Chapter Text

Why Are You Running Away?

Hermione returned to her home in a near-panic state. Dreams, fantasies, and years of yearning aside, she and Draco had finally crossed some kind of line. But now that they’d crossed it… now what?

In her current emotional state, Hermione hurried to the Floo determined to escape to the one place - the one person - who had always been her stable ground as much as she’d ever been his.

“12 Grimmauld Place.”

“Hermione?” Harry’s concerned voice spoke before she could even open her eyes as she stumbled from the hearth.

“Harry,” she choked out, reaching for him blindly.

“Shh… I’ve got you, sis,” he whispered as he caught her in his arms. A flick of his wand closed down the Floo, assuring them of privacy. “Want to talk about it?”

“I think I’d better,” she murmured, letting the comfort of his hold start to drain the tension from her body. “Ice cream?”

“Let’s go look. If we’re out, I can always send Kreacher for some,” Harry grinned.

It turned out they were out of ice cream, but it was nothing a quick trip into the nearby Muggle grocer couldn’t fix. It was something of a guilty pleasure between them - the ability to escape and blend in so effortlessly to the Muggle world when they needed to. It was just easier there sometimes. Easier to just be a brother and sister doing a quick shop for the weekend at Tescos. Filling their cart with their favorite comfort foods - everything they needed to make ice cream sundaes with Baileys and Oreos for Hermione, and everything they needed to make loaded nachos for Harry. They also grabbed their favorite crisps, and handfuls of gummy ropes and the swiss chocolates with nougat that they both loved. They left room in their cart for several bottles of cider that they both secretly preferred to butterbeer, and happily lied to the cashier when she asked if they were throwing a party or something.

Of course, all the junk food in the world and there was still nothing actually to eat, so Hermione let Harry get away with a trip to McDonald’s as a thank you for the cryfest she was sure to have later, and he made sure to grab a few takeout menus for pizza and Thai that they could order at midnight when he was sure they would be drunk and hungry and happy to sit outside in the fresh air while waiting for the delivery driver to arrive. At least, if previous experience was any indication of the situation, Harry was sure that’s what would happen.

It was hours later, ice cream sundaes in hand, and the two of them camped out in a specially warded room that allowed them to watch muggle movies on Harry’s 52” tv that he finally asked the big question.

“What happened, Hermione?”

Hermione’s eyes widened to saucers and then pooled with tears. Her sobs were coming out in little moans and whimpers of shame and confusion. Harry sat patiently. Their ice creams moved on to the coffee table with stasis charms to keep them frozen so he could wrap his arms around his sister as she cried. Harry tried to recall the last time he had seen her so broken up - she hadn’t even gotten this emotional over her breakup with Ron. Suddenly a name came to him. “Was it Viktor?”

The wail that left Hermione’s body made him wonder if he read the situation correctly or was horrifically off-base. Shoving down the urge to sigh and roll his eyes, Harry lovingly stroked her hair, whispering words of comfort while he waited for her sobs to taper.

“Oh, Harry, it’s just so fucking confusing, and I don’t know what to do!” she whinged finally lifting her head off his now soggy shirt.

“Can you tell me what happened? Or who it was? I mean you’ve been spending all week with Viktor.” Harry absently spelled his shirt dry as he spoke.

“Oh, not you too!”

“Not me too?”

“Draco said the same thing!”

Harry tilted his head, quietly wondering when exactly Malfoy had become Draco, to his sister. Clearing his throat, he decided to leave that alone for the moment and instead focused on what was said. “What exactly did he say, Hermione?”

“That everywhere he looked all week long, Viktor was there. At the house, at the pitch, in my office.”

“And was that not the case?” asked Harry cautiously.

“No, he was, but we’re just friends Harry!”

Harry snorted, “Does Viktor know that? Cause last time I saw him I didn’t get the impression that you two were just friends.”

Hermione smacked his chest. “We ARE just friends.”

“But he wanted something more.” It was a statement, not a question, and they both knew it.

Hermione nodded, nibbling on her bottom lip absently.

“And you didn’t?”

Rubbing her eyes, Hermione sighed. “Well, I did, and then I didn’t and then it was all so confusing and I just didn’t know whether I was coming or going but then he was there and in my space, and it was nice - really nice to have him there and talk to him and spend time with him. I liked it. I enjoyed having dinner with him again. He was always so easy to talk to, and it just felt like nothing had changed. But oh, Harry, everything has changed, hasn’t it! Apart of me just thought oh this is nice, so nice, but another part of me thought omg this is just so wrong and what will Draco say or think, and Viktor. Oh he was just so sweet and understanding and the more time passed, the more we both realized that we had just missed our chance, but we were friends - are friends. Still. Are friends. Yes. but-”

Harry put his hand on Hermione’s shoulder, stilling her, “Sis, you’re rambling.”

Hermione huffed in annoyance but nodded, knowing very well that she had barely taken a breath amid her tirade. “I just can’t help it, Harry. Why are boys so damn confusing?!”

Harry chuckled. “Well, I don’t know about that. I always thought we were pretty easy with basic needs you know, like a houseplant? Feed us, talk to us, make sure we have enough water, tell us we’re pretty and don’t leave us to our own devices for too long cause we’re liable to get into trouble if left unattended for too long!”

A wide grin crossed Hermione’s face at Harry’s horrible analogy. “A houseplant Harry? Really?”

“What! It’s true!” he defended with a smile.

“Ok, but that still leaves you as complicated lots. Cause you can leave a plant out in the middle of the wilderness, leave it to its own damn devices, and it can take whatever mother nature throws at it, can’t it? Like oh, this year we’re having a drought, better just reign it in a bit. Oh no, now we’re having a flood, might need to produce some more leaves and grow a few inches.”

“I didn’t mean for it to be that complicated of a comparison, Mia,” laughed Harry.

“Ok but see, that’s the thing. Leave the damn plant out in nature, and it’s fine, but bring the stupid thing indoors and water it on Sunday instead of Saturday and suddenly it’s just like, oh no you missed a day! Time to dry up and die from neglect!” Harry stared at her dumbfounded for a moment before chuckling.

“And just so we’re clear - who did you neglect to water on the correct day?”

“Draco! Obviously!”

“Oh yes, quite obvious that you were neglecting Draco,” replied Harry with a bit of a nudge of his elbow to her side. “And just when did he become Draco then? Before or after he pummeled Ron in the hospital?”

Hermione groaned. “Merlin! Don’t even get me started on that! I didn’t ask him to do that you know!”

“I know. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right thing to do,” he added, leaning forward to collect their ice creams.

“The right thing to do? You’re joking!”

Taking a bite of his ice cream, Harry shook his head no. “No, not at all. Dean would’ve done it, both my Aurors I know thought about it. Hell, I wanted to do it.”

“He was a bit of a prat.” Harry snorted. “Ok, he was a proper wanker, happy?”

“Immensely.”

Hermione took a bite of her ice cream, letting the Baileys slide down her throat with a satisfying sigh. “I kissed him.”

Harry’s head sprung up to meet hers. “Kissed who?”

“Dra- Malfoy,” replied Hermione dropping her eyes to her bowl as she corrected herself.

“What is that why you come through the floo all flustered and upset?” Hermione nodded. “I’ll kill him. I’ll fucking rip his balls off and shove them down his throat,” he proclaimed, setting his bowl down with a massive thud.

“No! No! Harry, it wasn’t like that!”

“It wasn’t like what? He forced himself on you and made you cry! I’ll wring his ferrety neck,” grumbled Harry.

“He didn’t. He didn’t force himself on me, Harry. I - I initiated the kiss.”

“You what? Why?” asked Harry, running his hands through his messy hair, making it even more disheveled.

“Because I wanted to,” she replied sheepishly.

“You wanted to kiss Ferret face?” Harry made a face as if he was trying not to swallow bile. Squeezing his eyes shut, he silently counted to ten in his head as he took several deep breaths. Harry rubbed his palms across his face and then met the soft chocolate brown eyes he knew so well. “So you decided to kiss Mal- Draco, and then what? You realized what you did and freaked out and came here?”

“More or less,” replied Hermione with a shrug.

“Was it that bad?” Hermione blushed, making Harry cringe. “On second thought,” he said, raising his hands, “I don’t wanna know.”

Hermione bite back a little giggle. “It wasn’t bad, Harry. It was- it was… orgasmic.”

Harry threw his hands in the air and jumped to his feet. “Didn’t I tell you I didn’t want to know?! Why would you say that to me! Merlin woman you’re like my bloody sister! I don’t want to hear about what you think is orgasmic - and I especially don’t want to hear about it when it involves that blonde twatwaffle.”

A full-bellied laugh escaped Hermione. “Oh, Harry, I’m sorry! It’s just I mean I know ok, that’s it’s Malfoy, but I don’t know. He’s just so different now! He’s so nice, and he’s been so kind, considerate and thoughtful to me ever since I joined the team. I mean he fucking blames himself for a house elf’s death and apologized to his other elf and cried. He CRIED, Harry. And he brought me all my favorite foods and movies for my one month anniversary of being single. And Gin says he likes me, and Blaise says he likes me and to be careful. And Arabella is telling me that Rome is built on fucking ruins and it’s still beautiful regardless, and then he’s in my kitchen, and he’s confessing that he’s been interested in me for YEARS. Years, Harry! He literally told me he’s been dreaming of kissing me for years and years! What the hell does that even mean?” she exclaimed suddenly.

“That he’s probably been wanking off in the shower to you since 4th year like most of the idiots that realized you were a girl that year.”

Hermione looked at him with pure confusion and disgust upon her face. “What I didn’t say I did that! I’m just saying you coming to the Yule Ball that year suddenly made the student body realize that you were, in fact, a gorgeous girl.”

“And I became fodder for the collective spank bank at the moment,” she shuddered at the mental image.

“More or less,” shrugged Harry sitting back down next to her.

“Ew. Now I feel dirty, and like I could use a shower. Boys are disgusting, you know.”

“Yes, love I do, but some girls are just as gross. Don’t forget; I lived in a tent with you for a year too. I know what you look like first thing in the morning - especially when you forget your scarf.”

Hermione stuck her tongue out at him. “At least a scarf helps with my hair. Maybe you should try it for the mop on your own head.”

Harry snorted, “Like a scrap of silk would really tame this beast.”

“Good point,” replied Hermione patting his hair down several times and watching it bounce back haplessly.

“Are you okay, Mia?”

“Does that feel weird for you to say? Cause it feels weird to hear it coming from your mouth,” she replied, wrinkled her nose at him.

“A bit,” he said with a chuckle, “but I know now how much you hate ‘Mione.”

“I really do.”

“So, Hermione or Mia it is?”

Hermione shrugged, “Suppose do. Though there’s also sis.”

Harry smiled, “Always.”

oOo

The rest of that evening passed in a haze of Baileys and movies. Hermione and Harry climbed into bed together without hesitation to snuggle as they had done so many times before. It was a rare moment of peace for both of them. The warmth and safety and comfort of someone that they could trust so wholly and without worrying about unnecessary sexual advances. They weren't plagued with the nightmares of their youth, and they enjoyed a nice lay in the next morning.

Their conversation from the previous night continued to pop up as the day progressed, and Hermione had huffed over her pad thai when Harry asked her if she was in love with Draco. “Of course not!”

“Is he in love with you?”

Hermione popped a piece of tofu in her mouth and chewed thoughtfully, “I don’t know. Maybe? I mean it’s Draco! I thought he hated me all this time and yesterday he’s asking if he needs to take out an ad in the bloody Prophet, so I’ll know that he’s serious about me!”

Harry looked at her, clearly gobsmacked. “See! And that’s the look I had on my face when he told me, I’m sure of it!”

“What did you say back to him?” sputtered Harry.

“Well, I kissed him.”

Harry blinked several times in confusion and then understanding. “Merlin Sis, no wonder you were upset and confused!”

“Thank you!” she exclaimed, inadvertently tossing a noodle in the air with her chopsticks in her frustration. “This is what I was trying to get you to understand.”

“Wait. What did Blaise say exactly?”

“We haven’t really talked this week, but last week, before Viktor arrived, he just, he asked me if I was so blind to Draco’s affections.”

“And are you?”

“I don’t know! Maybe” humphed Hermione. “I mean, I guess so if he’s been wanting to kiss me for years, and could tell me so, and I still thought he hated me.”

“Well, he does like to rile you up.”

“I KNOW! And Blaise said he sometimes does it on purpose. Something about the fire in my eyes.”

Harry smiled. “Yeah. I can imagine he does.”

“And what does that mean?” she demanded, pointing her chopsticks at him sharply.

“It means, negative attention is still attention.”

“That’s some boys will be boys bullshit rhetoric, Harry and you know it!” scoffed Hermione popping another piece of chicken in her mouth.

“True, but it doesn’t mean it’s wrong in this situation. You fight with Malfoy. You’ve always fought with Malfoy. Hell, even I noticed that sometimes he seemed to be the only one who could keep up with you! And your verbal sparring only got more intensive as you grew older.”

“Meaning?”

“Meaning you’re not some daft bint that’s all boobs and no brains. You’re not a vapid pureblood princess more interested in the size of his vaults. You challenge him, Hermione. And he challenges you. Don’t look at me like that, sis. It’s true, and you know it. Ron never kept up with you in a fight, but Draco always did.”

Hermione nodded absently, pondering his words. She did sometimes look forward to her tiffs with Draco - especially if she was in a bad mood. It was easier to go toe to toe with him verbally than it was to throw things or spew bitter diatribes at unsuspecting classmates who couldn’t tell bezoars from truffles. But was that the grounds for a relationship?

“People have based relationships on stupider things Hermione. You obviously have chemistry, and you’re both single and interested - don’t give me that look, if you weren’t interested in Draco sodding Malfoy, you’d have pursued whatever thing you had with Viktor without hesitation. But you hesitated. And when you could’ve kissed either of them - you choose the pale arse bawbag, instead of the Bulgarian Bon Bon.”

“Don’t call him that,” she hissed, “You know he hates it as much as you hate everyone always calling you the Boy-Who-Lived.”

Harry gave her a semi-apologetic shrug and continued to eat. Observing her out of the corner of his eye as he did so. There were times when Hermione needed the truth spelled out clearly in front of her and other times when she needed to do the legwork and come up with her conclusions. And Harry wisely decided to sit in silence and let her work through this bit herself.

oOo

 

“I’ve decided to step down from the Ministry,” declared Harry over dinner that night.

Hermione dropped her pizza. “I’m sorry, you’ve what?”

“On Monday, when I go into work, I’m giving Kingsley notice.”

“But why?”

“For the same reason you didn’t join the Aurors or the DMLE I imagine.”

“Tired of constantly being in danger and risking your life for the greater good.”

“Got it in one,” Harry replied, taking a large bite of his pizza.

It wasn’t a decision Hermione could fault him for really - especially not after his near death experience two weeks ago. Harry had joined the Aurors after the war because there was still work to do, Death Eaters on the loose, criminals to hunt down and find. Through the years though those needs had slimmed down considerably as more and more Death Eaters and their supporters were brought to justice. And then it became more about how the public felt safer with the Boy-Who-Lived running things, and less about the fact that Harry had little chance to plot his own course and worry about the greater good of only one person and not thousands of strangers.

“What will you do?” asked Hermione resuming to eat.

Harry shrugged. “I’m not sure honestly, but I was thinking about maybe going back to Hogwarts - to teach.”

Hermione’s eyes lit up. “DADA?”

Harry nodded. “Yeah, they’ve still never had a consistent instructor in that course.”

“I feel a but coming on.” Hermione gave her brother a knowing smile, “Go on then tell me the rest.”

“Buttttttttttt,” he began drawing the word out to both their amusement, “I was honestly thinking about Muggle Studies.”

Hermione sputtered as she took a sip of her drink. Nearly choking on her cider. “Muggle Studies? You’re joking!”

Harry shrugged again, picking up his cider. “No not really. You and I both know the curriculum is awful and they’ve never had anyone that wasn’t a pureblood teach it. Shouldn’t Muggle studies be taught by someone who knows and respects muggles? That knows that rubber ducks aren’t really that fascinating and can actually educate them on some of the breakthroughs muggles have had in lieu of magic?”

Hermione nodded along. The subject being one they had discussed and hashed out repeatedly throughout the years. “Like television, airplanes, sending a man to the moon!”

“Exactly! There are so many breakthroughs in science and technology alone that are never discussed.”

“Don’t forget literature and entertainment.”

“How can I? I mean portable music players? And electricity!”

Hermione laughed. “What you don’t like relying on candles?”

Harry scoffed, “Not hardly.” Cleaning off his hands he looked at her seriously for a moment, “There’s just so much about our heritage. Our legacies that no one really understands, and I love Arthur I really do, but if he’s a mugle expert, I’m an astrophysicist.” Hermione snorted and threw her napkin at him.

“How would you handle the tech though? Magic and technology don’t exactly mix.”

“I was thinking I’d do what I did here - have a Senior Unspeakable from the Department of Mysteries come out to specially ward the classroom so I could show off muggle tech and gear without interference.”

Hermione nodded. That Unspeakable had been a lifesaver about getting all of Harry’s muggle electronics to work in Grimmauld, despite the heavy charms and wards in place. It had taken him a day, and the results were limited solely to that room, but it was more than enough and in the right space, should be more than doable at the Castle. “Well I think it’s a wonderful idea Harry. You should send an owl to Headmistress McGonagall and see what she says. I bet she’d be happy to discuss it with you and help you get any NEWTs or certifications you would need to make it happen. You could study and take a much needed vacation and start in the fall.”

Nodding, Harry agreed. “I had thought next term, but perhaps you’re right. I haven’t had a vacation in years. There’s so much I’ve still never gotten to see or do.”

“And I know someone who could get you box seats to quidditch matches. Give you some time to indulge in your favorite sport.”

“But could you get me tickets to my other favorite sport?” he asked with a twinkle in his eyes.

“What, to footy matches?” Harry nodded. “You mean from Uncle David?” Harry nodded again. “Well of course, you prat! You know he’s always trying to get me to come see him play. I’m sure he’d be happy to set aside some tickets for us.”

“You should invite Malfoy you know.”

“Invite Malfoy to what?”

“To a footy match. To see David play.”

“And why would I do that?”

“So he could see a different side of you. Everyone thinks you hate sports, but you don’t.”

“I just dislike watching my friends get hurt all the time playing Quidditch.”

“Which of course makes total sense when you consider your career field,” teased Harry.

“Not my fault!” replied Hermione with a laugh washing down her last bit of greasy goodness. “Oh my god! But you just gave me the best idea of what to get you lot for Christmas!”

“I did?”

She nodded. “Oh yes. It’s so perfect. I can’t believe I’ve never thought ot if before now.”

“Are you going to tell me what it is?” he huffed.

“Not a chance.”

“Can you give me a hint?”

“It’s in the muggle world.”

Harry huffed again as he rolled his eyes. “Wait. Are you going to make us go together?”

Hermione smirked at him.

“What brought this on?” he asked eyeing her skeptically. “Is this so that when Draco proposes marriage he has someone to ask for your hand first?”

Hermione smacked him, “Draco is not proposing and certainly not asking David for my hand!”

“Good, because I expect him to come grovel to me when the time comes,” he added with a satisfied smirk.

“Prat! No one is asking for my hand! Dammit IF I ever decide to get married the only person my intended better ask is me!” Harry smiled, quietly chucking at the irate look upon her face. He didn’t really care what she had to say in this instance, he knew that if Draco proposed, Pureblood protocol would dictate that he asked her closest family member for permission first. As her brother, and only family in the magical world, Harry knew that person was going to be him.

“Fuck,” he grumbled, as his thoughts continued to roam.

“What?” she asked placing her hand upon his arm gently. Her eyes searching his for the source of his sudden outburst.

“I’m going to have to be friends with that fucknugget, aren’t I?”

Hermione rolled her eyes, “If you’re talking about Draco, than yes, I suppose you will. Of course, after being friends with Ronald for years, it really shouldn’t be that big of a challenge.”

Harry chuckled lowly as she smacked his chest in annoyance. It wasn’t often he got her to talk negatively about Ronald, but as the Weasley rejects, as she had taken to calling them over the weekend, she no longer felt it necessary to watch her tongue - especially about her ex. Not that Harry could really blame her.

“Maybe he won’t be that bad.”

“I’m sure you’ll find out at the next ball.”

“Ugh do I have to?” whinged Harry.

“Yes you have to!” replied Hermione smacking his arm. “You promised last night that you’d be my plus one!”

“Merlin, did you always go to so many balls, woman?”

“You know I didn’t.”

Harry suddenly remembered why that was and scratched the back of his neck. “Yeah Ron hated to go to the ones where he would have to dance or donate any money, didn’t he?”

Hermione glared, “Yes, Madea forbid that he attend ones that made him look like a decent, giving human. But you know, he never seemed to miss the ones that honored him or had open bars.”

Harry winced at the memory of Ron’s totally unacceptable behavior at the Phoenix of Light Gala. He was surprised how long ago that felt. As if it had been years ago, and not merely a couple of months. Her words also triggered a thought in his mind. How long had it been since he had regularly attended the various galas and balls that he was invited to? It was annoying in his mind, the sheer volume that Wizarding Society held during the course of a calendar year, but the Wizarding Etiquette training Andromeda had quietly been giving him, suddenly made far more sense. He was a high profile persona in the Wizarding World. It didn't matter that he didn’t feel that way. His name and attendance carried a lot of weight. The Golden Trio was invited without fail to every single event held throughout the year.
Hermione often tried to explain how terrible it looked if they only attended some of the balls and not all of them - something Andromeda echoed time and time again. Ron had always scoffed, stating that they won the war and didn’t need to suck up to those rich purebloods, but now Harry could see the point the other two had been trying to make.

“Alright,” sighed Harry, “You’re right.”

“Of course, I am,” Hermione replied clearing their plates and refilling their drinks.

“So what’s the next thing then? This event I need to take you to.”

“The Storybook Christmas Ball.”

Harry groaned, knowing immediately who the ball was organized by, but asking anyways. “Is that the one held by the Preservation of Magical Society?”

“Yes, it alternates Manors every year, and the dress code is always black tie for men and ball gowns for women.”

“Merlin you’re going to look like one of those ridiculous children’s princesses aren’t you?”

Hermione wrinkled her nose, “Ugh I hope not.”

“You realize,” began Harry slowly taking a sip of his drink, “That this is the one ball that the Weasleys never miss. The will likely all be there.”

He watched as her shoulders stiffened. Ron hated going to all these events and would make excuses and avoid each and every single one. Hermione had always longed to be apart of P.M.S. and had long hoped to attend this ball. Singles were not allowed at this particular ball though, so she considered getting Harry to agree to take her the previous night to be a wonderful bit of luck. But the Weasleys, all the Weasleys. She’d have no problems with anyone other than Molly and Ronald, if he attended, but if he did attend. Oh the scene he could cause.

As if sensing her thoughts and hesitations, Harry suddenly spoke, “We’re going, Sis.” Hermione’s eyes turned to Harry’s. His voice had been firm and brokered no room for argument. “We can’t live our lives worried about what they’re going to say or how they’re going to behave. You and I have paid our dues to Wizarding Society a dozen times over. We belong here, and we deserve to find happiness with whoever we want - no matter what anyone says.”

Hermione swallowed the lump in her throat, “Even if who I want is a ridiculously spoiled pureblood spunktrumpet with a massive ego?”

Harry felt his lip twitch at her words, and he struggled to hide his smile as he replied as seriously as he could, “Even if you decide to date a blonde fucknugget with a massive ego and questionable tastes in Quidditch teams.”

Snickering, Hermione nodded before launching herself at Harry.

“It proves how much he’s changed you know. The way he’s putting himself out there - repeatedly - for you, you realize that right?”

“I think maybe, I am.”

“If he hurts you though, they’ll never find his body.”

Hermione rolled her eyes at him, “Har har, brother. Yes, fine. If he hurts me - worse than Ronald did - you have my permission you do destroy him. Satisfied?”

“Immensely.”

She gazed at him tenderly, grateful as she always was that he was in her corner. “Thank you, Harry.”

Smiling at her, he pulled her close, vowing as he always did when she was near him to be a better friend and brother to her, “Anything for my favorite sister.”

“Harry, I’m your only sister.”

“And don’t you forget,” he replied with a wink. “I just want you to be happy Hermione. No one deserves that more than you. I love you.”

She didn’t try and hide the tears that pooled in her eyes. “I love you too Harry.”

He nodded, kissing the top of her head. “So more ice cream?”

Hermione laughed despite her tears, “More ice cream.”

Chapter Text

It's a Date... or is it?

Hermione left Harry’s house, feeling infinitely better than when she arrived. She was still confused to a point about Draco and what they were doing, but she at least finally understood that yes, he did indeed have real feelings for her... Feelings that she may reciprocate. A little. Okay, a lot. The depth of those feelings still scared her. They weren’t like anything she had ever felt before. Not with Viktor. Not with Ron, she wasn’t even sure if she had felt it with Fred. Though if anyone was going to come close, it was Freddie.

Hermione heaved a heavy sigh, lamenting how complicated relationships seemed to be for no reason at all. It’s not that she wanted things to be easy, but Merlin did everything have to be such a complicated endeavor?

Not that any of that mattered, because now Hermione had a plan. Or rather the start of an idea. This week’s match in Togo had sadly been postponed due to severe weather that had impacted all of West Africa. A State of Emergency had been declared in many neighboring countries, and the entire Magical community was on notice to lend aid if necessary. The situation left the Magpies with an unexpected week off, as travel requests to the area, even to assist, were currently being denied across the board. Which, oddly enough left Hermione with the perfect opportunity to implement one of the things she and Harry had spoken of over the weekend.

Her Uncle David happened to have a match that weekend. And with the Magpies no longer playing, Hermione would be able to attend the game. And bring along a few friends. Harry was, of course, in, which only left Draco.

Hermione swallowed her nerves as she knocked on his door.

If Draco was surprised to open his front door and see her, he hid it well. Hermione tried not to focus on his mouth or how good he looked, and Merlin was he barefoot? Fuck. Why did he have to be barefoot? “Granger?”

Hermione blinked, realizing suddenly that not only had she been staring, but Draco had CAUGHT her staring. “Hi.”

Draco quirked one elegant eyebrow up as he gazed at her, his body shifting in the doorway, “Hi.”

Heat filled her cheeks as she blushed. Why did Draco affect her so? Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath, mentally berating herself while trying to calm her nerves lest she chicken out. Be Brave. Be Brave. Be Brave. she chanted to herself. Taking a deep breath, she steadied herself, “What are you doing on Saturday?”

Draco’s eyebrows wrinkled in confusion. “You mean besides NOT playing in Togo?” Hermione nodded. Draco gave her a casual shrug as he shoved his hands in his pockets. “Nothing at the moment. Why?”
“Good. You have plans now,” Hermione stated matter of factly. Her voice was more confident than she felt. She gave him a quick smile and spun on her heels, walking quickly across his porch and down the steps to his walk away.

“Excuse me?” he asked, stepping out of his house and onto the porch as she walked away.

“Nine a.m.,” she called over her shoulder. “Wear Muggle clothes.”

Draco watched with a hint of amusement as she disappeared from view before he turned around to walk back inside. He was confused as hell. Draco hadn’t heard a peep from Hermione since their kiss several days before now, and now she was making plans with him for Saturday. He smiled briefly to himself, wondering if it were a secret he could winkle out of her before then before deciding he would let it go. Draco wasn’t a fool; he had noticed how hard it had been for her to ask him. Hermione had been a combination of nervous, excited energy, and complete fear. It was adorable the way she had bounced upon her heels as she steadied herself. Draco had seen her speak to Snape more confidently than she had with him at that moment. No, he would let her keep this surprise - this time. And he wouldn’t fool himself that this was potentially a date, even if he secretly hoped that that’s just what it would be.

Saturday was only a few days away, after all. Suddenly he heard her voice in his head again, ‘Wear muggle clothes.’ Shit, he thought suddenly, just what was that girl up to?

 

oOo oOo oOo

 

The week dragged on and yet somehow flew by for Hermione. It felt like the tides ebbing and flowing. She secured tickets to see her Uncle David play on Saturday. Hermione was excited about the match as she was nervous about it. David, on the other hand, was thrilled, both about seeing her and about her bringing friends along. “It’s not often I get to spoil you anymore, Pages,” he told her on the phone when she called him, using the nickname he had given her as a toddler when she seemingly had her nose buried in a book every time he saw her.

Guilt had swept through her at his words. It wasn’t just that she was an adult now or that her schedule was as busy as he was. He was all the blood family she had left in this world. David had been beside himself when her parents died, more so when he couldn’t find any information on the daughter he knew they had. He had been confused, but never gave up that she was still alive and out there somewhere. Their reunion after the Wizarding War had been filled with a multitude of tears, and a sincere desire on Hermione's part to break the Statute of Secrecy and confess everything to him. It was something she still contemplated to this day. More so, when he made comments about how much he missed her and asked how she was. David had been nothing but supportive throughout her entire life, and the older she got, the more she hated lying to him.

Though that was neither here nor there at the moment. Not with the knocking at the door. A glance at Hermione's watch told her it was 8:55 a.m. Rushing to the door, she was surprised to find Draco on the opposite side.

“Sorry,” he said by way of greeting, “You didn’t tell me if you were coming to me or vice versa.”

Hermione flushed, “Oh, sorry. Yes, I guess I should’ve specified. But come in, I’m almost ready.”

Draco walked in behind her, waiting as she quietly shut the door. “Will I do?” he asked, glancing from her clothes to his own. She turned, taking in his dark blue jeans, navy blue sweater, camel coat, and brown boots. He was a case study in impeccable British fashion and carefully coordinated neutrals. There was a casualness to his style, she was mostly unfamiliar with, but like the suits she had seen him wear to galas as of late, there was a level of careful tailoring and sophistication that left her breathless. Casually she wondered if his clothes were Bespoke, and thought the coat on his arm, which looked remarkably like cashmere, cost more than her entire closet. But what did she expect? For him to pop round to Tescos as she and Harry did? Or for him to run into Marks and Spencers? An image of Draco Malfoy slipping into Primark flittered into her mind, and she had to bite back a laugh at how silly the image felt. There was certainly no way the man had ever heard of Primark let alone been in one. Perhaps he had done the imaginable and gone to a high street but really? It was doubtful. So, very, very doubtful.

“Yes, you’ll do,” she said, at last, resisting the urge to run her hands over the lines of the fitted blue sweater that emphasized the breadth of his shoulders in all the right ways. How was it that the man could make even jeans and a sweater look so fucking good she mused. Glancing down at her outfit, she felt suddenly frumpy and wondered if she should change.

“You look beautiful,” Draco told her, seeming to know where her thoughts were going.

Glancing up at him, she caught a sincere smile across his face and felt herself blush. “Thank you,” she replied, deciding that she’d do too. Even if her dark jeans and boots weren’t bespoke, they still fit her well and always made her feel fierce. Her grey sweater hid her Man U jersey underneath, and it was the softest thing she owned thanks to Blaise.

“So what are we up to today, Granger? You’ve got me up and dressed in muggle clothes at 9 am on my weekend off, you know.”

Hermione smiled brightly at him, thankful that he was taking it all in stride. “How do you feel about London Draco?”

“London?” he asked, raising an eyebrow at her.

“Yes. I thought we might play tourist for a bit. Check out the city, perhaps see the queens jewels or go to a museum, grab some food.”

“Well, I can’t say that I’ve ever gone gallivanting around muggle London Granger.”

“First time for everything,” she replied.

Draco smirked at her, “All right then, Cheeky Monkey. Lead on then.”

The smile she gave him was nothing short of dazzling, and he couldn’t help but return her infectious smile with a sincere smile of his own. Happily letting Hermione take his hand in hers as she pulled him to the floo and through to the Leaky Cauldron.

The gave Tom a quick wave as they exited the Leaky Cauldron, and Hermione made a concentrated effort to ignore any stares they received as they walked out the door and on to the street headed to muggle London - still hand in hand.

“So where to?” asked Draco after they had walked several blocks away.

Hermione smiled, wickedly at him. “How much do you trust me?”

“Probably more than I should,” he replied quickly. Hermione gave him a loud laugh, and Draco decided then and there he wanted to hear that melodic sound again and again. Neither of them commented that they were still holding hands, or let go for that matter, despite the early morning crowds that threatened to separate them.

“So what do you say?” Hermione asked as they stood on a corner, waiting for a light to change.

“About what?” Draco asked, dipping his head slightly so they could hear each other better.

“Tourist or Museum.”

“Both?” he countered, as the light changed and she stepped off the curb.

Hermione shook her head no. “We can’t do both. We have plans later tonight.”

“Oh, do we now?” he asked, a smile tugging at his cheeks. Hermione nodded at him, her bottom lip between her teeth. Draco inwardly groaned, longing to use his thumb, or better his lips, to pull it from between her teeth. He knew she had no idea how that little action affected him, but it did.

Draco barely glanced up as she pulled him through a door, a chime sounding over their heads as she led him to the counter of a small coffee shop. “Fancy a cuppa while we make a plan then?”

“What Hermione Granger doesn’t have a plan? What is the world coming to,” teased Draco his eyes traveling over the board of offerings above her head.

“Now who’s being cheeky,” she replied with a good-natured smack. “Know what you want?” she whispered as the woman behind the till called them forward with a “Can I help?”

Draco nodded, “Builders tea and two bacon baps, please.” Hermione turned to him wide-eyed,

“Eat in or take away?”

“Eat in, please.”

The woman behind the till nodded, “Same for you love?” Hermione merely nodded, her eyes growing even larger as she gave them a total and Draco whipped out his wallet to hand her a ten pound note.

“What?” he asked as he took their number and his change, all the while pushing Hermione gently toward a table in the corner, where she slumped down into the seat he pulled out for her without realizing.

“You. You.”

“Cat got your tongue there, Granger?” he asked in amusement sitting down across from her. She watched in stunned disbelief as he shrugged out of his coat, and casually glanced out the window.

“How did you know how to do that?” she asked at last.

Draco turned to her. His eyes were dancing merrily though his face seemed severe. “You didn’t honestly think I’d let you pay, now did you? I know you’re an independent woman, and this was all your idea, but if you’ve got something else planned, I presumed I might not get another chance to pay for something.”

Hermione opened and closed her mouth to respond but found herself speechless.

“Besides we’re equals right? So it’s only fair that I should pay for what I could now and since it sounds like you’ve got an entire day planned, maybe lunch or dinner later. How does that?” His smile was genuine, and she noted a hint of amusement in his eyes, and though her eyes narrowed at him, she found herself unable to argue with his logic.

Draco thanked the woman who brought over their tea and sandwiches and took their number away. Hermione continued to be mystified as Draco opened added one sugar to her tea, and two to his own.

“You’re staring,” Draco told her smugly as he took a large bite of his bap.

“How the fuck do you know what builders tea and a bacon bap is!” she hissed at him.

He chuckled lightly at her. “What? I love bacon baps. I mean how could you not love the simplicity of a sandwich that’s just bacon sandwiched in a soft roll? Muggles, I tell you.” Draco continued to chomp merrily on his sandwich, finishing it off in just four bites before picking up the second. He paused halfway through it, noting that Hermione hadn’t moved past holding her cup of tea in her hand. “You all right, love?”

Hermione double blinked at him. “You’ve just ruined my entire plan for the day.”

Draco’s eyes knit together in confusion. “How? By being able to order breakfast?”

She nodded, finally placing her teacup down and picking up one of her sandwiches. “Here I thought I’d surprise you with an adventure in the muggle world, and yet you already know all about it! You even have muggle money in your wallet!”

“Well, of course, I do,” Draco replied quickly, wiping his mouth with his napkin. “You told me to wear muggle clothes, so that meant going into the muggle world, and that meant needing muggle money.”

“But you know how to use it!”

“Merlin Hermione. I’m not a complete berk. I like spending time in the muggle world.”

Hermione was flabbergasted. “I thought you hated the muggle world.”

“Yes, well, you also thought I hated you, and we both know that’s not the case either.”

“Merlin. I’m sorry, Draco. I just. I didn’t expect this.” She took a bite of her sandwich as she contemplated the conversation, noting that Draco sipped on his tea while pretending to gaze out the window.“Can I - can I ask why?”

“Why what? Why do I like spending time in the muggle world?” Hermione gave him a decisive nod. “Merlin, witch. I thought that would be obvious. No one knows me here. No one sees me and thinks Death Eater.”

“No one thinks that in our world either, Draco. Not anymore.”

Draco snorted. “Is it nice in the fantasy world that you live in? Because over here in the real world, people still hate and despise not just the Malfoy name but me in particular.”

“That’s not true. Draco, you can’t believe that’s true.” The hard stare he gave her said that he certainly did believe it was still valid. “You’ve done so much Draco! The amount of good you’ve done for our community in the last few years has been astronomical! You’re a highly regarded quidditch player for Godric’s sake! One of the best in the league!”

“While I’m flattered that you think so highly of my Quidditch career Granger, it’s not that long ago that I wasn’t even drawing a salary from this team.” Hermione blinked at him again, and Draco ran an irritated hand through his hair. “Do you know why I play professional quidditch, Hermione?”

“Because you love it?”

Draco scoffed. “I do love it. I’ve always loved the game, but that’s not why I play.”

“Why do you play, Draco?” she asked, her voice serious as she placed her hands in her lap. Her full attention on the man before her.

“No one else would take me.”

“What?”

“Like it or not, guilty or not. I was a Death Eater. I still bear the mark. Nobody wanted to be associated with me. Not that I blame them. We even changed the direction of the companies to ensure that I was involved as little as possible to make people comfortable enough to continue to still do business with us. But it wasn’t enough.”

“You didn’t have to work, though.”

“No. No, I didn’t, but neither do you. Could you do that, though? Not work? Could you laze about all day with nothing to occupy your time?”

“Gods, no!”

“Neither could I. So I went to several Quidditch teams, and I asked if I could pay to play with them. Nothing serious - just scrimmages, anything. The only team that agreed was the Magpies.”

“You paid to play against them?”

“With them. I paid to play with them, Hermione.”

“For how long?”

“My first three years.”

For that second time that morning, Hermione felt her mouth fall open in shock. “You’re serious,” she whispered. Draco returned her gaze. His eyes hard and unflinching as he nodded.

“It’s not something anyone discusses, but that’s how I got my break into this career. I paid to be on the practice squad my first year, and the second year I paid them they pulled me in for a few games. My third year they made me a starter.”

“When did they start paying you?”

“When I made Captain.”

Hermione was thankful she hadn’t decided to take a sip of her tea just then because she was sure she’d have spit it out entirely on him at that comment. Draco had only been Captain of the Magpies for a few years. He was also on the National team. He was a skilled chaser, highly respected, and hard working. She’d never heard a bad word spoken against him in the locker room or amongst the staff. Even with his suspension, he was still a valued member of the team and a strong leader. Her thoughts snapped back to the present as he asked if she was going to eat her second sandwich. She shook her head no and held her plate up to him. Draco happily took the bacon bap off her plate and ate it casually.

“So needless to say, when I wasn’t working with Blaise or Daphne on the Malfoy companies, or trying to prove myself worthy as a quidditch player, I came to the muggle world. The anonymity was nice. Refreshing even. I could walk down the street without being jinxed and not have to worry about whether someone was going to spit into my tea.”

Her face twisted in disgust, a protest ready on her lips, but then she thought of Ron and the hatred he felt towards Draco and Slytherins alike. She felt like he was right, maybe she had been living in a fantasyland all this time. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, reaching her hand across the table to place upon his.

Draco glanced down at her hand upon his and smiled. Slowly twisting his hand slightly so he could rub his thumb against the back of her hand as he spoke. “I haven’t spent a lot of time in the muggle world in London, though. I’m more familiar with Edinburgh and Cambridge. Please don’t let me ruin your plans, though. I was looking forward to gallivanting with you.”

Hermione felt herself giggle. “Only you Draco Malfoy could make the word gallivanting sound so sexy.” She watched his cheeks went pink, and she found she quite liked the way the color looked on him.

"Would you prefer traipsing?" Hermione shook her head no. Clearing his throat, he met her eyes. The grey within swirling like a gathering storm upon a blue sea. “So what do you say than Granger? Still up for an adventure?”

Her smile was wide as she replied, “Yes, Draco. I think I am. On one condition.”

“And what’s that?”

“You take me somewhere in the city that you have been and loved.” The smirk he gave her made her shiver with anticipation.

“Dench.”

oOo oOo oOo

Hermione was surprised when Draco asked to go first, and even more surprised when the place he led her to was the Natural History Museum.

“Seriously?” she asked as they approached the museum.

Draco ducked his head and gave her a slight smile. “Surprised?”

“Blown away,” she replied honestly. “Why here?”

He shrugged as they joined the fast-moving queue. Dropping his head to whisper in her ear so they wouldn’t be overheard, “I love history. What Bins taught was such rubbish you know, but I had access to some of the best libraries in the world, so it wasn’t such a big deal for me. This is one of the first places I came to when I started exploring the muggle world. Seeing what Muggles have done - without magic, it really amazed me.”

Hermione nodded. “Museums are my favorite. My parents used to come into town every other Saturday so that we could visit one or the other.”

“What’s your favorite?” he asked, as they made a donation, and proceeded up the stairs and into the foyer.

“The Victoria & Albert Museum, I think. Maybe the Tate Museum. You?”

“Well here, obviously.”

“Obviously,” she replied with a giggle, acknowledging the way he drew the word out precisely as his Godfather used to.

“And the Queen’s galleries.”

“Really?”

“What I like the old girl. She has exquisite taste.”

Hermione felt herself giggle again at Draco’s reference to the Queen as “old girl.” Draco's comment set the mood for the rest of the morning, and Hermione was surprised at how fast the time drifted by them. They laughed and commented on everything they saw, sometimes lingering here or there as they went. Hermione felt like they had barely made a dent in the museum, which they hadn’t even come close to seeing everything before she was complaining that she was hungry and Draco was teasing her for not eating enough breakfast.

Draco let Hermione pick where to go for lunch, and was surprised when she chose an American style BBQ joint. He felt out of his depth, which he was sure was partly the point, but followed Hermione’s lead. The food was delicious, and they drank almost as much as they ate. Buzzed Hermione was Draco’s favorite. Her flirtatious nature became more prominent, and her wit was razor fast. Keeping up with her verbal repertoire kept him from getting too buzzed, and he was happy when the waiter slipped him the check when she wasn’t looking.

Leading her back outside, Draco paused as she struggled to button her trench coat. Turning to Hermione with a smile, Draco smacked her hands away to rebutton her jacket. While forcing himself to ignore the way her hands were drifting to his scarf. Her hand stroking it in a way that made his imagination run wild, and all the blood in his body move south. “Hermione, you’re killing me,” he quipped, closing his eyes for a moment.

Hermione looked at him under lowered lashes. “Why, whatever do you mean, Mr. Malfoy?”

“I wonder,” he replied, pulling his scarf from her hands and wrapping it around his neck. “Come on you. Where to next?”

“I’d like to go to a movie.”

“A movie?”

“Yes. A movie. In the theater.”

“But why?”

“Because it’s fun. And I haven’t been in quite some time.”

“Do you even know what’s playing? Do we have time for that?”

Hermione nodded emphatically. “Yes we have time, and all I need is a paper.”

“All right. I have someplace I want to go and then we’ll go see your movie.” Draco offered her his hand and walked her around the corner to an alley. With a glance around, Draco wrapped his arm around her waist and apparated them to another spot.

Hermione was surprised to open her eyes and find herself in a room. “Where are we?”

She heard the sound of a door opening and a bell ringing and glanced over her shoulder to see a well-appointed woman in her mid 50s pause in the door frame. “Oh, Mr. Malfoy, how nice to see you again.”

“Good afternoon, Deidre,” answered Draco quickly, tucking Hermione’s hand into his own as he offered the other woman a customary greeting of a kiss upon each cheek. “This is my friend Hermione Granger. Granger, this is Deidre.”

“Hello, Miss Granger. A pleasure to meet you.” greeted Deidre fondly.

“And you,” replied Hermione, still unsure of where exactly they were or who this Deidre person was. The room they were in was dull with little decoration, but it oozed sophistication and wealth despite its emptiness. Draco squeezed her hand as he followed Deidre out of the room, and into a small hallway and through another door. Hermione’s mouth dropped open as she suddenly found herself inside a small chocolate shop.

“Draco, where are we?” she hissed, unable to contain her curiosity anymore.

“Oh, my apologies Miss Granger. I didn’t realize you’d never been here before. Welcome to Charbonnel et Walker.”

“Aka the Queen’s Chocolatiers,” drawled Draco with a knowing smirk.

“The Queen’s Chocolatier?” she echoed.

“A common moniker,” brushed off Deidre, “Though we do have a standing order with the Royal Family and have served many of the Royal Family throughout the years.”

Hermione followed Deidre further into the little shop until they were separated only by the case full of chocolate and truffles. Hermione’s mouth watered at the options in front of her, and she found herself wishing to try it all. Draco’s face broke into a huge smile, watching her. Leaning into her ear, he encouraged her, “Get whatever you like. It’s all good.”

“I don’t even know what to say. What’s your favorite?”

“The dark sea salt caramel truffles.”

“Those sound awfully rich.”

“They’re decadent,” he breathed, smiling at the way she shivered at his proximity. “You can sample anything. Go ahead.” he encouraged nodding at one of the other clerks behind the till who stepped forward to offer assistance.

“Would you like some vanilla raspberries for your mother Mr. Malfoy?” queried Deidre.

“Yes please,” he replied quickly, pretending he was unaffected by the way Granger was moaning at the truffle she had just slipped into her mouth. “I’ll also need some drinking chocolate and truffles for Blaise and Arabella.”

Deidre nodded, filling a large box with whiskey truffles and pink champagne truffles. “Do you need a Boite today?” Draco paused for a moment, watching the way Hermione’s tongue darted out to lick a drop of chocolate off her lip before he nodded.

“Go ahead and put in a few different ones.”

“As you wish,” replied Deidre, a knowing smile on her lips as she watched him study his companion intently.

“Well, Granger. Find anything you like?”

“Oh Gods, Draco! It’s all so good!” admitted Hermione, a blush covering her cheek at the attention she must’ve drawn to herself as she tasted everything. “How do you even pick?”

Draco shrugged. “You don’t. You get a Boite - it has a little of everything for the chocolates, or ask for a sampler of the truffles.”

“How did you ever find this place?” she enthused watching as Deidre and her coworker loaded a bag with box after box.

“The Malfoys have been coming here almost as long as the doors have been open,” he stated matter of factly.

“Don’t let him play that story off on you, Miss Granger,” bubbled Deidre. “Mr. Malfoy has been personally coming here since he was a small child.”

Draco fixed the woman behind the counter with a quick glare, before confessing the truth to Hermione. “My favorite birthday gift from my grandparents and parents always came from here.”

“His sweet tooth is the thing of legends Miss Granger. If ever you have a problem with him, offer him a piece of good dark chocolate. It always sets his mood right.”

“Merlin I’m not sure I can afford the amount of chocolate it would take to fix your mood Draco,” chuckled Hermione, giving the woman a wink.

“Well dark chocolate Toblerone works just as well woman,” Draco told her with a huff, accepting the bag from the other woman, who merely laughed at their exchange.

“Far more practical. I’ll just pop over to Poundland and pick you up some.” Hermione cackled, noting the affronted look on Draco’s face at the mention of such a place.

Draco scowled as he signed the note to bill his account directly from Gringott’s and passed it back to Deidre. “See what you’ve done Deidre.”

“Yes, made a customer for life, Mr. Malfoy,” she replied gleefully.

Draco shook his head, knowing when he was beat. Bidding Deidre goodbye, he led Hermione back to the room they entered in, before pausing and telling Hermione to stay right there as he dashed back out the door. Returning a few moments later, he passed Hermione a paper. “For your movie,” he murmured, nuzzling her ear as he pulled her close, apparating them once again to another alley in London.

Chapter Text

Was it a Date??

“Thank you for a fun day Draco,” sighed Hermione as they slowly made their way from the from the resident only apparition point just within the Magpie Estate towards her house.

“Not sure why you're thanking me since it was all your idea, Granger,” he replied casually, placing his hand on the small of her back to guide her. Just as he had all day long.

“You know what I mean, prat,” she giggled, smacking his arm lightly.

Draco’s lips quirked upwards slightly, “I do.”

“Did you have fun today?” she queried as they approached her house.

“I did.”

They paused hesitantly outside her front door. Each looking awkwardly at the other for a moment, before glancing down at their feet or away from each other.

“Would you like to come inside for a nightcap?” Hermione asked at last. Her eyes darting from her door to his face.

“Depends. Are you offering me Chambord again?” there was an undertone of teasing to his words, and Hermione had to stop herself from shivering.

Hermione glanced at his face and wondering just what that glint in his eyes meant. Following his lead, she decided to reciprocate, “Developed a liking to it have you?”

“Perhaps.”

“Just perhaps?”

“You always tell me perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…”

Hermione paused. “Did you just quote a muggle musical at me?” she gasped.

Draco smirked, “Perhaps.”

The words to the song flitted through her mind ‘if you don’t make your mind up/ we’ll never get started/And I don't wanna wind up/ Being parted, broken-hearted/ So if you really love me, say yes/ But if you don't dear, confess/And please don't tell me/Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps’

Turning to Draco suddenly, she found her body moving before her brain could even consider what she was doing, and her lips sought him out crashing to his with gusto. If Draco was surprised, he hid it well hesitating for only a moment before pulling her body flush with his; one hand weaving into her hair as the other splayed across her lower back.

Hermione sighed as he tilted her head, changing the angle of the kiss, and his tongue slipped easily into her mouth. Draco groaned as he tasted her, and he fought every urge to apparate them directly into his bedroom and have his way with her.

“Hermione, is that you?”

Hermione groaned and she was sure she heard Draco growl as she pulled away slightly to look over her shoulder at where the voice had come from.

Standing in her doorway, looking sheepish and blushing was a stammering Ginny, “Oh. Sorry.”

“Ginny! Why are you doing in my house?” demanded Hermione.

“Uhm... Well…”

“Ginny…”

“I kinda needed your help and I've been waiting hours for you to get home,” rushed Ginny before suddenly bursting into tears.

Hermione tore herself reluctantly from Draco, noting the way his arms seemed to tighten for a moment before she fully left his embrace, and wrapped Ginny in a hug. She gave Draco an apologetic look over Ginny's head and felt her heart flutter as he smiled at her. ‘Sorry’ she mouthed as Ginny's cries turned into wails against her shoulder.

‘It's ok,’ he mouthed back. Stepping forward he kissed her temple, and after a moment’s hesitation gave Ginny one on the top of the head as well.

“Thanks for today Granger. Hope everything’s okay, Red.”

Hermione nodded, feeling her heart twist as she watched him turn and casually walk off her porch and towards his own house as Ginny sniffled loudly in her neck.

“Come on, Ginny; let's get you inside.”

Ginny continued to cry, but nodded, allowing her friend to lead her back into the house.
Hermione maneuvered them to the couch, pushing Ginny to sit before removing her coat to join her. “Now then, what's so important that you broke into my house and interrupted my goodnight kiss?”

“Oh, Merlin! Hermione were you on a date with Draco?”

Was it a date? Hermione asked herself. They had spent the entire day together. She had paid for breakfast, but Draco had paid for everything else - including lunch and dinner. After he introduced her to that fabulous little chocolate shop, she had convinced him to see the new adaptation of Pride and Prejudice at the movie theater. Then taken him to dinner at her favorite fish and chip shop before she had surprised him with VIP tickets to her Uncle's footy match.

Draco had been shocked by her love and knowledge of the sport, more so when she introduced him to her Uncle, who had, in turn, shocked them both by knowing exactly who Draco was. "I saw you play against Puddlemere United a few years ago. You’re wicked on a broom mate."

Hermione had gaped at her Uncle, who in turn looked at her with surprise. "How do you know Quidditch?" She demanded as he asked if she was a witch at the same time.

"Well, yes," Hermione replied, "but I couldn't tell you because of the statue of secrecy. Draco and I went to school together."

"Suddenly so many things about you make so much sense Pages," replied David, using his nickname for her.

“Pages?” asked Draco, earning himself a quick smack to the chest from Hermione as she pressed on to her Uncle.

"Now how do you know about Quidditch?"

"My partner, Benjamin. He's a wizard. He took me to a Quidditch match the day he told me. He figured it was the best way to get me to believe magic was real."

Draco laughed. "I suppose it is hard to dismiss people flying around on broomsticks in front of your face."

"Little bit, but I remember you. You were amazing."

"Thank you. You're a fantastic footballer. I don’t know how you can run around for so long."

David laughed in turn and just like that Hermione's life felt simpler.

"Hermione?"

Hermione snapped out of her reverie and back to the present, focusing again on Ginny's tear-stained face. "Sorry, what?"

"I asked if it was a date?"

"I'm not sure. I think it might've been."

"Well, it looked like it was going great," teased Ginny wiggling her eyebrows at her friend.

"Yeah, too bad I got cockblocked - again."

"Merlin! I'm so sorry, Hermione! I just didn’t know what else to do!" replied Ginny, remembering herself.

"It's okay. It's okay," Hermione comforted as Ginny burst into tears against her shoulder again. "Just tell me what's got you so worked up."

"I'm-I'm-I'm…" stammered Ginny.

"You're what honey?"

"Pregnant!"

Hermione felt her whole body stiffen as if she'd hit a wall at Ginny's words. Pulling back suddenly her eyes traveled over Ginny's body looking for changes. "Are you sure?"

Ginny nodded sadly. "I was late. I'm never late. Never."

"Did you do the spell to check?" Ginny nodded again. "May I?" Ginny nodded again and Hermione drew her wand from the pocket of her coat. She tried to give Ginny a reassuring smile before she waved her wand at her abdomen whispering the words.

Ginny’s stomach glowed bright yellow for several moments before fading, and she began to sob again in earnest as the spell confirmed again that she was pregnant. "You're at least 6 weeks," Hermione told her softly.

Ginny nodded.

"You have to tell Harry."

Ginny's eyes snapped to Hermione's and Hermione gasped suddenly as revelation dawned on her. "Is it Harry's?"

"I-I don't know," stammered Ginny, covering her face in horror as she sobbed again.

"Who else could it be?"

Ginny's eyes bore into Hermione's for a moment and the look of guilt she wore made Hermione gasp. "No, Gin. No! Tell me it's not Blaise's."

"I-I don't know! I had sex with both of them within a couple of days of each other and-and-"

"And what? You forgot the charm with BOTH of them?"

"If I wanted to be lectured, Hermione, I would've gone to my mother!" Ginny snapped, standing suddenly. "We can't all be perfect and remember everything all the time."

"I didn't say that Ginny! But, Merlin, I thought you were on the potion!"

"I am! I was! I'd been on it for my whole relationship with Harry and then when we broke up, I figured I wouldn't need it anymore."

"Gods, Ginny! Of course, you still needed it! Just cause you weren't with Harry anymore didn't mean you weren't still going to have sex!"

"I know that now!" Ginny dropped back to the couch in defeat. "Gods, Hermione what am I going to do?!"

Hermione sighed as she sunk down next to her friend. "You have to make some big decisions. You have to decide if you're keeping the baby-"

"Yes!" exclaimed Ginny, her arms wrapping instinctively around her abdomen. "Yes. I'm keeping the baby."

Smiling softly at her, Hermione patted Ginny's leg."Okay. That was easy."

"I couldn't - couldn't do anything else."

"I'm not here to judge, Gin. Having a baby is a big decision. The magical world doesn't exactly look kindly on single mothers, and you're in the prime of your career. If you didn't want to keep the baby I'd understand - especially given everything with Harry and Blaise." Ginny grimaced. "But I will support you either way. If you're keeping the baby, I'll be the best Auntie ever and spoil him or her rotten and be there for you every step of the way."

"Why do I feel a but coming."

"Because you know me so well?"

Ginny gave her a watery smile, "Go on then, what's your 'but'?"

"You have to find out the father and tell him."

"No!"

"Gin. No matter which man it is, he deserves to know."

"And what happens then? We get married because it's the right thing to do? Harry and I just ended our engagement because we realized we couldn't be together forever."

"And if it's Blaise?"

"I don't want him to think I was trapping him!"

"Oh, honey, that's not what Blaise would think. Not at all."

"What if it is? What if he hates me? What if they both hate me?"

"I don't think either of them could ever hate you, Ginny."

"Not even for this?"

"Not even for this."

Hermione stayed up talking with Ginny for another hour before the other girl decided to floo home to sleep. Her heart ached for her friend but Hermione knew she'd be okay once the shock wore off.

Chapter Text

Chapter 35: Sleepless in Montrose

Laying in bed, Hermione let her thoughts wander back through her day with Draco.

"Merlin, Granger, I can't believe you made me sit through that," grumbled Draco as they finally made their way out of the theater.

"What? It was wonderful," she countered, slipping on her coat.

"It was not. It was horrid. Truly."

Hermione gaped at him as he absently adjusted her coat. "It was not horrid! I can't believe you don't like Austen."

Draco glared down at her. His features pulled into the sneer she hadn't seen since school. "Excuse me, Granger, I never said I did not like Austen. Jane Austen is a marvel and a powerful novelist with a profound influence that left the world a far better place than she found it, but that," he indicated back towards where the theater stood behind them, "was trash."

Hermione continued to gape at him, finally grabbing his arm to move them out of the main walk way as others continued to make their way in and out of the theater. "You know Jane Austen?"

Draco blinked. "Yes. Didn't I just say that?"

"You are familiar with Jane Austen?"

Draco's head tilted as he took her in. "Yes."

"What is your favorite Jane Austen novel?" demanded Hermione suddenly, her arms moving across her chest as her hip jutted to one side. Her total disbelief was evident in her body language.

"Well, if you must know," began Draco glancing down at his hands, his voice taking on a bored, "I prefer Mansfield Park out of all her novels. I do like Northanger Abbey as well, and I've got a special fondness for the Dashwoods of Sense and Sensibility. I'm not terribly fond of Pride and Prejudice, but I realize it has captivated the masses as one of her most famous works. All those daughters, though," he added with a shudder, "I realize Mr. Bennet is quite enamored with his family, but it makes me think they were the Victorian equivalent of the Weasleys." He shuddered again as if to reiterate his point.

Hermione's arms dropped from her side in disbelief. "You like Mansfield Park?"

"Yes," he replied, meeting her eyes, "it's an interesting story that shows the dynamics of Society and family and how one decision, good or bad, can impact generations." Draco shrugged. "And I like Fanny Price. Her relationship with Edmund and their relationship as their world around them changes with the introduction of others. It’s difficult at times to see and understand it fully when things change, but I quite admire Fanny's brain and spirit. She's steadfast in her convictions and unmoved by pretty words or sentiments." He tilted his head again, a small smile playing at the corner of his lips, "She quite reminds me of you actually."

Hermione bristled. "I prefer to be compared to Elizabeth. thank you."

"Elizabeth Bennet drives me insane. Falling for the stupidity of Wickham, who just cast her aside for the pretty easy girl…" Draco's words drifted off. "My Gods."

"What?" asked Hermione straightening.

Draco studied for her a moment before shaking his head, "Nothing."

"What?" Hermione asked as he offered her his arm and began moving them away from the theater.

His steps didn’t slow, as they walked away. He kept his eyes straight ahead as he gathered his thoughts. "I've just…" his voice drifted again as he glanced at Hermione for a moment. "Elizabeth is your favorite, isn't she?"

Hermione nodded as they paused at a crosswalk. "She is. That's why I don't understand why you don't like her."

"Many reasons," he declared, dragging her across the street as the light changed, "the girl that plays her in this is not my type. She was too plain and didn't carry herself well enough. And the Mrs. Bennet in this was frighteningly close to Mrs. Weasley."

Hermione giggled. "She was at that."

"So you like Mr. Darcy, do you?" He asked, glancing at her again.

Hermione was aware of the goofy grin that spread across her face, "So much so."

"The snobby elitist who falls in love with the girl he shouldn't?"

"What?" she asked, snapping back to herself. "And why shouldn't he?"

"He tells her, doesn't he? All the reasons he shouldn't. Like a fucking sod standing in the rain." Draco rolled his eyes as if he could've prevented Mr. Darcy from behaving so much like a Hufflepuff.

"And you see where that got him," she replied, smacking his chest and pulling him into a fish and chip shop.

"What was he supposed to say?" he asked, their conversation continued as they slid into a corner table. "He got there, in the end, didn't he? Telling her the important part."

"The important part!" scoffed Hermione.

"Yes. How Darcy felt about Elizabeth."

"Oh, is that what we're calling it?" She replied, testily rolling her eyes.

"Merlin, witch! He literally tells her that he loves her! How much clearer can it be?" he demanded, pausing as the waitress dropped off the food they ordered at the counter. "Not that it mattered."

"Of course, it didn't matter," Hermione hissed, passing him the mark vinegar, "He insulted her!"

"He didn't mean to!" Draco countered using a fry to emphasize his point "He was trying to be honest!"

"Honest?"

"Yes!"

"Ha! That was not honesty," she mused, popping a chip with mayo into her mouth.

"Really, pouring out his heart wasn't honest? How so?"

"Sometimes, you don't need to tell someone the whole truth."

"So now you approve of glossing over your feelings and only saying nice sweet things?"

"That's not what I'm saying!"

"That's what it sounds like," he mused, taking a bite of his fish. "Oh, this is delightful."

Hermione nodded, taking a bite of her food. Promising herself that she'd dissect the image of Draco Malfoy, pureblood extraordinaire, complimenting the fish at a greasy spoon in muggle London while discussing a muggle film later. "Alright, then. Answer me this- what was your favorite part of the film? Let me guess when she's groveling."

Draco eyed her carefully before wiping his mouth with his napkin and settled it back into his lap with all the manners of a refined gentleman. "No. I quite liked the flurry of activity within the Bennet Parlor at the end, when they were at the door again. And then Bingham was pacing outside, collecting himself with Darcy looking on. Talking to himself about how bad it went." The look on his face was almost sad.

"What?" exclaimed Hermione. The surprise was evident in her face. "You did? But why?"

"I've been that person, you know?" replied Draco absently, returning to his meal. "It reminded me of when Blaise was ready to pour his heart out to Red. The similarities made me chuckle." Hermione nodded, remembering the right state Blaise had been in for hours before that moment. "Course, it ended better for Mr. Bingley then Blaise," he added.

Hermione nodded again. It had gone so poorly for Blaise that night. It was almost as bad as Mr. Darcy's proclamation to Elizabeth. Hermione’s heart was in her throat as she listened from the other room as Blaise poured his feelings out in a very un-Slytherin way. His soul laid bare before Ginny, and how in the end, it hadn't mattered.

"My favorite part, though?" he asked, pulling Hermione back into the present. She nodded again, turning her attention to him as she continued to munch on her chips. "When he hands her into the cart unexpectedly, and they had that close up of his hand flexing afterward."

Hermione gaped at him, "that was your favorite part?"

Draco nodded. "Their time is remarkably like ours, you know? Magicals I mean. And it wasn't that long ago that the only contact you got with the opposite sex was in moments like that. Putting someone into a carriage or dancing together at a ball. That one shot though, that one moment, for people like me who understand the time, it's just so powerful.”

"She should've been wearing gloves. They both probably should've. So that skin to skin contact," Draco began reaching across the table and tracing his thumb across her knuckles softly, "it would've been electric." Draco's eyes bore into her as he continued to stroke her knuckles. "I think that's what it was for him," he added, shifting their hands as he continued to speak. His fingers lightly caressed her open palm from heel to fingertip in soft languid strokes. "While it surprised her, for him, it was electric, touching the woman you're falling in love with, realizing how warm she is or how soft her skin is. Having her in front of you all the time and not being able to do a damn thing about it."

Draco shrugged as he pulled his hand away. Hermione tried not to whimper at the loss of his touch or think too hard about the way his touch had made her shiver with need. "I often felt like Darcy was misunderstood. Yes, he was a man of few words, but his mind must've been a constant string of feelings and conversations."

“"I was quiet, but I was not blind."”

Hermione's insides melted as Draco gave her a genuine smile. "Now, you're quoting Mansfield Park."

She shook her head, trying to regain her composure. "My God, you do love that book," mused Hermione grabbing her drink.

Draco was unapologetic, "I told you I did. People dismiss Fanny as a wallflower, but I find her insightful and wise beyond her years. She's intelligent, humble, kind, and constant. She knows who she is. At only 18, mind you. She wasn't rich. She wasn't born into the right family; she’s constantly told that she's not one of them, and she refuses to be swayed by their opinions of her. She refuses to settle. She stares back at her Uncle and refuses to be bullied into what he wants because her gut, her moral fiber, and very being, says that Crawford is a CAD."

"Well, he was," interjected Hermione.

"Exactly! She's right! Everyone's so surprised, but she knew, and she doesn't make anyone feel bad or lord it over them. There's no ‘I told you so,’ even though she could've rubbed their noses in it." Draco paused to take a drink and gather his thoughts. "She's just… an angel of grace that had the misfortune to be born to the wrong sister."

Hermione stared at him. Her mouth opening and closing like a fish. She never got to discuss muggle literature with anyone, and here she was with Draco sodding Malfoy of all people having an in-depth conversation about what was considered a less popular- slightly obscure book by her favorite muggle author. If Hermione wasn't experiencing it herself, she might never believe it happened.

"Now," he replied, taking a long sip of his beer, his mask of boredom slipping over his face as he gazed back at her, "What was your favorite part? Let me guess," he sneered, "when Elizabeth puts him in his place."

'There,' thought Hermione leaning back in her chair, raising her glass to her lips to take a drink. 'There's the Draco I went to school with,' but she found she didn't like seeing that side of him. He surprised her. Truly surprised her, with his passion for a Jane Austen character and arguably the least favorite and least well known of them all. Fanny wasn't feisty or precious or a gossip. She was soft, steady constant. Not at all like Hermione's brash Elizabeth, who had no problems ripping into someone and showing off her wit.

Hermione's gaze slide over Draco. He didn't look as bored now; in fact, Draco looked almost uncomfortable, like he had shared a part of himself he hadn't meant to, and he had lobbed the question of her favorite scene back to her to take the spotlight off himself.

"No, actually," began Hermione licking her lips, "I prefer when she rips into Lady Catherine."

"That was a good scene," he conceded. Some of the awkwardness that had slipped over him, melting away with his sneer. "Now that, woman is an incredible talent."

"The one that played Lady Catherine?"

"Yes. Dame Dench. I've seen her in a few things, and she's fantastic."

"I agree." She flashed him a quick wink as they agreed on something. "And for the record, that's not my favorite scene."

"Go on then."

"I like the dancing scene. When everything cuts away, and it was just like the Darcy and Elizabeth were the only ones in the room."

Draco's eyes flashed. "And have you experienced that?" he asked, brushing a stray hair from her forehead gently.

"What?"

He gave her a teasing smile, "Where the room just faded away, and the only thing you were aware of was your dance partner?"

Hermione blushed, her eyes dropping as she remembered dancing in Draco's arms at the Black Out Ball weeks prior, "maybe once or twice."

"Gods, tell me I was one of those ‘cause if you say, Weasley, I'll scream.”

Hermione laughed. Thankful for the way he seemed to break the tension between them, "I will neither confirm nor deny."

"Fine, fine, don’t soothe my ego."

"Excuse me, sir. Your ego is big enough on its own."

Draco waved a hand dismissively at her. "Not with you around. Like my own personal Lizzy to wound my pride."

Hermione tossed her hair behind her shoulder and sat up straighter. "Why, thank you. That might be the nicest thing you've ever said to me."

"Well, I'll take it as a compliment that you referred to me as Mr. Darcy then because everyone knows he's the gold standard that all women want their men to achieve."

"Oh, you're insufferable," she huffed.

"But not wrong."

"Next thing I know, you'll be saying you’re like Heathcliff."

Draco froze suddenly. Hermione gazed at him, the question on her lips when he blurted, "You take that back right now."

"What?"

"Take that back," he hissed.

Hermione's brows knitted together in confusion, "What?"

"You just compared me to a character in one of the foulest novels ever written. Why on earth anyone likes that novel is beyond me," he spat, tossing his napkin over his plate.

"You don't like Wuthering Heights?" Hermione queried cautiously.

"I fucking hate that stupid book, and the stupid movie is even worse."

Hermione smiled brightly, "Well, on that, we can agree."

"Thank Merlin for that. I was going to have to end this right here and now," he stated matter of factly.

"I'm impressed you know it and have read it."

"I'm more impressed that we agree on horrible it is."

"It is horrid," she agreed again.

"The Brontes were so talented, but that was just the worst."

Hermione's eyes went wide, "You're familiar with the Bronte Sisters?"

"Well, yes."

"Draco Malfoy, you never cease to surprise me," Hermione mused.

Draco gave her a soft smile and bowed his head at her words. "Why, thank you, madam. You're too kind."

Sitting up in her bed suddenly, Hermione called Po. "Is everything okay, Missy Mia?"

"Yes, I'm sorry to wake you up so late, Po, but…" her voice drifted off for a moment as she bit her lip, trying to decide if she was going to do this. Finally, taking a breath, she continued, "Is it possible for you to see if Draco is awake?"

Po's eyes widened slightly at the request before she nodded. Hermione heard a soft pop as the elf disappeared, and another pop as she reappeared a moment later. "Yes, Missy Mia, he be awake."

"Can you take me to him?" Po's eyes widened again before she nodded and offered Hermione her hand. Standing up, Hermione took the elf's hand, and before she could think of what she was doing, the pair was gone.

The first thing Hermione was aware of after they landed was soft piano music, turning her head softly she listened for a moment before thanking Po for bringing her. The little elf smiled sweetly at her and left with a soft pop.

Steeling herself, Hermione glanced around the room Po had brought her to, aware instantly that she hadn't brought her directly to the place where Draco was currently. Instead, Po had brought her to the loft on the first-floor landing. In front of Hermione, was a large leather couch, Persian rug and custom shelves that ran the length of one wall. Hermione's palms itched to see what books were mixed in with the various pictures and sculptures that lined the shelves. Hermione never considered Draco a knick-knack person and was sure what little odds and ends that were on display on the shelf were likely highly sentimental. Like the small telescope and globe, she could see glinting in the soft light. The room felt homey despite the very finished and polished look, and she wondered how much of that was due to Mrs. Price and how much of it was Draco’s actual taste.

Glancing around the room, Hermione half expected Draco to be sitting in front of her. She could picture him stretched across the leather couch, book in his hand, lost to the outside world thanks to the piano music coming from the other room. The intimate image made her flush.

Shaking her head to remove images of Draco's lithe form, Hermione decided to follow the music. She turned to her left, passing a closed-door before coming to an open one.

Instantly Hermione spied the source of the music - a baby grand piano sat just to the right of the doorway. Its music filled the space perfectly. The keys moved of their own accord, and Hermione guessed they must have been charmed to play whatever song Draco wished.

The room was warm despite a cool blue paint on the walls, and she couldn't stop her eyes from traveling across the room. There were more shelves along one wall, set above a tidy mahogany desk with a very comfortable looking leather chair behind it. Unlike the floor to ceiling shelves in the loft, there were only two shelves, spread at a far greater distance apart. There were still books upon the shelves, but they were intermingled not with knick-knacks but canvases of different sizes and shapes.

They appeared haphazardly set, but on closer inspection, Hermione realized they were grouped by subjects. One grouping held famous landmarks, as evident by Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, and the Sydney Opera House. There was another of various landscapes, mainly mountains and lakes, but there was a forest and a glimpse of a waterfall. A grouping of buildings sat on the lower shelf. Hermione recognized Hogwarts and Malfoy Manor, but there was a cottage, a series of row homes, and if she wasn't mistaken, a hobbit door. Her gaze traveled to the final grouping. This time of people. She instantly recognized Narcissa and another with Blaise, Draco, and Theo laughing. There was one of several Quidditch players flying in the sky. And a few others that she couldn't quite make out from where she stood leaning against the doorway.

Instead, Hermione tore her gaze away to take in the opposite side of the room, where two low bookcases sat framing a window. The tops of both were littered with cups and paints and brushes. In the center, illuminated by the moonlight coming in through the window and soft mage lights, was Draco. His naked back to her as his hands moved across a canvas on an easel in front of him.

Hermione glanced from him to the shelves full of canvases and instantly wondered if they were done by his hand. He was humming along to the piano, his hands and eyes engrossed in the painting in front of him. His body language was of someone completely at ease, not just with his body but within the space. She watched the muscles in his back as he moved. His strokes were fluid and precise.

She took a step into the room, surprised to see Draco in such a way. Hermione gasped as her eyes caught on the image on the canvas he was working on.

Her gasp filled the room as the piano paused briefly in its melody before it continued with the song. Draco turned suddenly, startled, his body language stiff at the intrusion only to relax slightly at seeing Hermione. A deep frown marred his features at the sight of her. Before she realized it, he dropped his paintbrush into a jar of water next to him. Instantly, he was on his feet and across the room to her in what felt like a heartbeat. His hands were on her arms as his grey eyes peered at her through a pair of horn-rimmed glasses.

"Hermione? Are you okay? Ginny?" Concern poured out from him as he studied her carefully.

Hermione shook her head, trying to put together everything she saw before she met his eyes again. "Fine, everything is fine." she stammered.

He studied her for a moment longer, searching her eyes and face before he nodded. "You’re sure?" She nodded. "So, what are you doing here in the middle of the night, then?"

She felt herself flush crimson. "I'm so sorry. I couldn't sleep, and I was thinking about our conversation after the movie, and I asked Po to see if you were awake and to bring me here so I could talk to you." Her words poured out, and she flushed again, thinking of how idiotic she sounded.

Draco snorted. "And you couldn't wait until tomorrow to ask me?"

Hermione felt her blush spread as she ducked her head. "I-I didn't think about it. I just…" she sighed impatiently at herself. "I just needed to know."

"Merlin forbid, Hermione Granger not know something," he teased. Hermione's eyes darted to his, expecting to see malice and was surprised to find only a glint of amusement in his eyes. The shape and color of the glasses on his face magnifying the intensity she saw in his already stormy eyes. Were his lashes always so lush? She found herself thinking momentarily distracted by the way he looked in the frames.

"I didn't know you wore glasses," she blurted out suddenly before clapping her hands over her mouth.

Draco tilted his head back and laughed. "Obviously, you don't know everything about me, Granger," he replied softly, crossing his arms over his naked chest. Hermione's eyes followed the movement before darting lower, taking in the dark blue cotton pajama pants that hung low on his hips, exposing his taut stomach, well defined Apollo's belt, and bare feet. Her eyes moved hungrily across his body, noting a fine layer of blonde hair that led below his waistband to where a soft bulge was visible through his pants.

"Like what you see, Granger?"

Hermione's eyes snapped back to his very amused ones, and she felt her cheeks radiate heat at being caught staring and so obviously checking him out. "I'm so sorry. This was a mistake. I shouldn't have come."

She made to turn and flee the room in her mortification, but felt his hand on her wrist, stopping her. "Uh ah ah. Not so fast, Miss Granger. You didn't ask me your question yet." she found herself grabbing his biceps to steady herself as he spun her back towards himself. Her fingers flexed without thought, her mind registering the hard muscle beneath her fingertips. She took a deep breath to steady herself and instantly regretted it as her brain registered the way he smelled — the combination of jasmine and sandalwood, and the hint of fall.

Suddenly Hermione was very aware of her state of undress as she felt her nipples harden through her thin cotton tank as her chest brushed his. Draco's hand trailed along her hip to the small of her back. Sliding under her shirt, his fingertips glided across her spine. His hand moved up and down her back, sending goosebumps alight across her flesh. Draco's other hand moved from her wrist up her arm, grazing her neck and cheek to tuck a stray curl behind her ear. His eyes remained steadfast upon hers as the same hand skimmed across her back and down to her bum, squeezing it briefly, before traveling to the bottom of the sleep shorts that barely covered her ass. His hand skimmed across the exposed skin on her thigh.

The sensation was enough to make Hermione swoon.

Quickly she closed her eyes, willing her breath to steady, to breathe deep but not so deep as to be overwhelmed by the very essence of the man in front of her. His hands continued to move, causing her body to shiver from his touch. All thought was lost to her as his hands continued to caress her. Her walls slowly being eroded by the overwhelming presence of the man who was wrapping himself around her.

"Better speak up, Mia," he whispered huskily, his words, the use of that name barely breaking through the fog she felt she was surrounded by, "I'd hate to distract you after all."

Hermione mumbled something, at least she thought she did, but that was before the sensation of his mouth upon her skin overtook her. His lips were nipping at the sensitive spot where her neck met her shoulder. "What was that, Mia?" he pressed on. His lips working from her neck up to her jaw. "Speak up, love, before I decide to do something else with those lips." The words caressed the shell of her ear as he spoke, his breath tickling the sensitive skin there.

She felt his nose, his hot breath burning into her as his face moved from her neck to her ear, across her jaw, until finally his nose skimmed against hers and she could take it no longer, tilting her head back to bring them closer. She felt his breath against her mouth, so close that she wasn't sure whose air was whose. Moving slightly, she pressed her body to his, her lips ghosting across his in a challenge. The growl in his throat made her eyes spring open.

His eyes connected with hers. A clear question lingered in his piercing grey eyes. Would Hermione give in this time? Was this what she really wanted? Hermione nodded almost imperceptibly, sliding her hands from his biceps towards the nape of his neck. She felt his hands tighten on her body as he lowered his head to hers and took her lips in a searing kiss.

Chapter Text

Chapter 36: Say. It.

 

Hermione groaned involuntarily as Draco's hands tightened around her body, crushing her soft curves to his hard lines. Draco's mouth moved against hers skillfully, his tongue running against the seam of her mouth, asking for entrance. Hermione opened for him and let herself succumb to the feeling of his tongue against hers, his mouth moving against hers, demanding more. Her hands slid to his hair, tugging gently, earning her a groan of her own.

 

Draco’s mouth moved to her neck, nipping at the sensitive skin there. "I need you to make a decision, Hermione," he whispered against her skin. He shifted a hand to her hair, wrapping the curls around his fingers as he tilted her head back, angling it just so as his lips continued to nip and suck at her tender flesh. "There's no one here to interrupt us this time. Nowhere for you to rush off too." Hermione's eyes fluttered as his teeth nipped at her ear lobe. "I'm not spending another night being wound up by you only to have to finish without you."

 

Draco shifted his hand in her hair again, craning her head back until they were nose to nose. "So what will it be, Hermione?"

 

Hermione blinked at him. Willing her mind to work. Her hands ran from his hair to the nape of his neck, down to his chest. Draco hissed as her fingertips grazed his nipples, and Hermione bit her lip. 

 

"I need you to say it, Granger."

 

"Say what, Draco?"

 

"I can’t take another round of this with you, witch. If you want me, you have to say so."

 

"And how do I know you want me?" Hermione asked, her head tilting sideways to take him in.

 

Draco growled in response. His hand was sliding to her ass and then down to her thighs. Hitching her leg up, he opened her body as he pulled her closer to him, pressing his hard length against her. Hermione gasped at the feel of him, so hard and strong against her sensitive skin. "It’s never been a question of my desire for you, witch. I want you. I've told you I want you."

 

"Are you fishing, Draco?"

 

Draco pulled her closer still. His hips were rocking forward as he ground himself into her. "I'm selfish, Hermione. You've been within my grasp several times now and always slipped through my fingers. I'm not willing to risk it tonight. So tell me what you want from me."

 

Hermione shivered at the authoritative tone in his voice. There was a hint of pleading, and yes, she heard the touch of vulnerability. Draco wasn't wrong. She had been overcome by emotion before with him. Her sense overwriting her desire, and her mind, much as it was now, became overwhelmed by everything she felt between them. Even her magic reacted differently to him. 

 

But this moment felt different. So, so different.

 

"Get out of your head, Granger."

 

Hermione's eyes snapped open to meet his, and she felt her knees weaken. Draco’s eyes were as gray as hardened steel, lust vivid in his blown pupils. Hermione noticed the flush to his skin and the way his tongue darted out to lick his lips. She leaned forward and took his bottom lip in her teeth, nibbling it gently as her hands moved down his abdomen towards his waistband.

 

Draco wrenched her hands from his body, wrapping them behind her back and holding them firmly. "Not until you say it."

 

Hermione heard herself whine as she rocked forward, suddenly desperate for his touch. "Please."

 

"Please, what, love? What do you want?"

 

"You," she breathed as his nose gently rubbed against hers. 

 

Draco felt his resolve weakening, but he didn't want there to be any confusion. Not this time.

 

"You already have me love, but what do you want from me?" 

 

Hermione closed her eyes, and Draco took her in. Her lips were swollen and pink from their kissing. Her cheeks tinted in that way that had been driving him crazy for months. His eyes followed it down, noting the way the color continued down her neck and across her chest, disappearing under the flimsy tank top that was leaving very little to his imagination. He felt her rock forward again, seeking friction, and he shifted slightly, replacing his hard cock with his thigh. Draco felt his patience failing as she moaned deeply. Her apex was pressing against his leg and the dampness of her core seeping through both their clothes. 

 

"Say. It." He ground out again. Draco willed her to use her words before the last thread of his patience snapped, and he took her against the wall.

 

Hermione rubbed her nose against his before sliding it along his cheek, her hips rocked against his thigh again and she moaned directly into his ear. "Please, Draco," she whined, her breath tickling his ear, "I want you inside me. I need you to fuck me."

 

Draco felt his body sag with relief at hearing her say the words he'd long dreamt of, and he promptly kissed her. Gripping her tightly to him, his lips never leaving hers, he apparated them to his bedroom, landing next to his bed. He pulled the shirt from her body before pushing her back onto the mattress. Tucking his fingers into her waistband Draco pulled her bottoms down, smiling to himself as she lifted her hips to help him.

 

Dropping to his knees, Draco pressed her legs open to get to her center. Her hands rushed to his hair, pulling him toward her, and he chuckled at her eagerness. Nipping at the soft skin of her inner thigh, he placed gentle kisses along her flesh as he moved closer and closer to her center. He was happy to note that she wasn't clean-shaven, the way that had become so popular in recent years, but instead, her pussy was framed by neatly trimmed curls. Draco ran his fingers reverently over the bed of dark curls in front of him, his thumb brushing the bud of nerves peeking from its hood, before dropping a finger to her folds. Hermione hissed as he grazed her sensitive skin and moaned loudly as his tongue darted out to taste her.

 

"Fuck, witch," he groaned as his tongue crept out again to lap at her. "You taste fucking divine."

 

"Draco, please," she begged, "stop teasing me."

 

"As you wish," he replied, burying his head in her center. His tongue lapping at her eagerly as his thumb sought out her bud again. Draco slid a finger inside her, using the digit in tandem with his tongue before adding a second. Hermione's body writhed on his bed as her hand tightened in his hair. Draco peered up at her body, noting that one of her hands was upon her breast, twisting at her nipple as she chanted "yes yes yes" in breathy gasps.

 

"So close, Draco."

 

Draco continued his ministrations, tilting his head and adjusting his fingers slightly for the bundle of nerves inside her. "Right there," she moaned, and Draco had enough experience to know that meant ‘ don’t you dare fucking stop doing exactly what you're doing right this instant,’ and continued as he was. Feeling her walls beginning to flutter, he licked hungrily at her folds, willing her to let go, to come. And he found himself telling her so, begging Hermione to come on his mouth and fingers so he could taste her fully. 

 

Hermione felt the pressure in her core building and closed her eyes. Draco was sending her higher faster than usual, and the painful pinch she was giving her nipple was only magnifying the pleasure he was giving her. She was thrilled that he understood ‘right there’ meant ‘don’t stop’ and continued doing exactly what was sending her up the mountain of pleasure.  His soft voice washed over her, his tone authoritative and demanding, sending her flying higher toward the precipes. As his words registered, she felt her orgasm crash against her, sweeping her over the edge of desire. White lights flashed behind her eyes, as Hemione’s whole body tingled with pleasure from the strength of her orgasm. 

 

Draco slowed his fingers only slightly but continued to work her over with his tongue as she came, allowing her to ride out her orgasm fully before slowly leaning back from her. He kept his fingers inside her, moving slowly back and forth as he kissed her thighs again. Standing up, his kisses moved up her body. His lips caressed the skin over her belly before moving to her breast. Draco took the nipple Hermione hadn't been pinching into his mouth. Rolling the deep caramel-colored nipple between his teeth, nipping gently in between licking and sucking, noting the way Hermione’s breath hitched with each action.

 

Reaching under his pillow, Draco grabbed his wand and paused his ministration against her breast just long enough to mutter the contraceptive charm. Seeing the faint glow as confirmation, he tossed his wand aside.

 

Finally, he removed his hand from her core and slipped his bottoms off, nudging her body further up the bed. "Good girl," he praised as he climbed back up her body. He noted with a smile the way her body shivered at the phrase. Leave it to Granger to be turned on by words, he thought with a smirk.

 

"Are you ready for me, love?" he asked, rubbing the head of his cock at her slick entrance. 

 

"Please, Draco," she replied, "I need you inside me."

 

Draco smirked at her words. His hand shifted slightly to rub at her clit as he continued to tease her with just the tip of his cock. "Please," she begged again, her hips beginning to rock in time with his. And Draco found he could no longer deny either of them what they wanted. Plunging into her in one thrust, they both moaned as he filled her completely. 

 

"Fuck," he ground out, feeling her wet heat stretch around him. She clenched around him, and Draco hissed. "Don't, love, or I will come in you so fast."

 

"Good," she replied, clenching again. "I want to feel you come in me."

 

"Give a man a chance, love," Draco hissed. "I'll fuck you six ways to Sunday, but Merlin, let me enjoy it for a second."

 

Hermione chuckled beneath him, and the action made her tighten around him even more. Draco groaned and braced himself on one elbow, supporting his weight. He felt her tighten around him, and he hissed. “You’re going to pay for that witch.”

 

“Gods, I hope so,” she replied cheekily, clenching around him again. Draco wrenched his cock from the tight heat of her body, and she moaned at the sudden feeling of emptiness. “Come back,” she begged.

“Be nice,” he replied sternly, slowly sliding himself back into her. 

 

“I’m always nice.”

 

“Be good,” he amended, moving out just as slowly. 

 

“I’m always good,” she countered with a smirk. Draco thrust into her suddenly, and she bit back a moan. “Draco, please.”

 

It was Draco’s turn to smirk as he watched her sink her teeth into her bottom lip; her hips rocked to meet his. He thrust slowly into her, taking his time, savoring the feeling of her tight pussy around his cock. Her whimpers of pleasure that accompanying his every thrust. The noises she was making as he made love to her were enough to drive him mad. 

 

"Fuck it," he grunted, pulling his hips back and snapping them forward. "I'll make love to you next time."

 

Hermione giggled against his words and then moaned as his other hand slid under her ass, lifting her slightly. Wrapping her legs around him, she locked her ankles, biting back another moan as his cock suddenly hit a different spot inside her. "Good girl," Draco breathed into her. "Such a good fucking girl for me." He felt her shiver at his words. "We’re going to explore more of that later," he stated matter of factly, and all Hermione could do was nod as he pounded into her.

 

Draco’s hips snapped at their own accord as Hermione's mouth found his, “more, harder, faster,” tumbling out of her lips between her eager kisses. Draco's hand tightened on her ass as he pistoned into her hungrily, keen to please the witch below him. 

 

"Oh gods," Hermione moaned. "I'm going to come again."

 

"Come with me. Come on my cock, Mia."

 

Hermione felt as if her entire body was tightening as Draco continued to pound her. His words washed over her once again, pushing her closer and closer as his cock filled her repeatedly. She screwed her eyes closed and dug her nails into his back, paying no attention to the hiss from the man above her. 

 

"Hermione, I'm going… to… hunh." She heard Draco’s strangled cry above her as his thrusts suddenly became erratic, and her entire body arched into him as her own release came crashing down. She felt Draco stiffen above her as his release swept over him, and he filled her with several more thrusts. 

 

Draco collapsed on her body, his forehead resting on hers as he fought to catch his breath. “Sorry, love," he mumbled, shifting to take his weight off her.

 

"No, no,” she replied, tightening her arms around him, "I don’t mind. Don’t go yet." He nodded against her shoulder, too tired to argue. 

 

"So good, love," he mumbled, kissing along her jaw and neck.

 

"You too," she replied sleepily.

 

Draco shifted slightly to find his wand in the bed and cast cleaning charms on them both as he finally moved off her. Tucking his wand back under his pillow, he laid down beside her, pulling her into his arms, he tucked her into his side. Hermione hummed in satiation, her body pleasantly relaxed after her orgasms. He pulled at the blanket at their feet. Draco carefully folded it around their bodies so as not to wake the witch that was drifting to sleep in his arms. 

 

"Goodnight, Mia," he whispered into her hair, kissing the top of her head gently.

 

She shifted slightly in his hold. Nestling closer to him still. "Goodnight, Draco."