Silenced by oppressive gloom, their chests heaved with desperate breaths in the engulfing cold of winter’s evening air. Green moss and flowers and years of grime helped keep out the draught, but nothing dulled the chill of ancient paving in Azkaban’s Interview Room One, and their teeth chattered as fingers knotted with lank hair and filthy nails scraped ownership into flesh.
“Fuck you,” he whispered through clenched teeth as he shoved her backward. “Fuck you, Granger. Let someone else take it—anyone else.”
Dropping a steadying hand to the rickety table behind her, Hermione Granger, devout and lauded Wizengamot prosecutor, flinched as though he’d hurled something at her. “It’s Weasley. You know what—nevermind. What’s your problem, Malfoy?” she demanded, straightening her wrinkled jacket and arranging a stack of papers to her right. “You know this is my job, it’s nothing person—”
“Nothing personal? Fuck me, Granger, if this isn’t personal, I don’t know what is!”
Twelve years into a twenty-five-year sentence for Death Eater crimes, Draco Malfoy had finally been granted the appeal he’d been waiting for. He’d owled her about it personally—using the only correspondence he was permitted for an entire month—and waited impatiently for her to come to him. She’d been championing the idea since they were just teenagers—he cowed in a holding cell and she revelling in the throws of rejoice and reform.
Things changed over time, even things that should stay the same.
She watched him shrink against the wall and caught a glimpse of the frightened boy of old in the unkempt beard against his face and the way his ragged robes dripped from prominent bones. His gaze was lethal, shrouded in red and ringed with exhausted black, and she felt a surge in her heart.
“I’ve never turned down a case, Draco,” she said, entwining their fingers and ignoring his clenching jaw when her rings rubbed against his knuckle. “I’ve never turned down a case, and I’ve never—”
“Never lost a case, yes, I know.” He drew a deep breath and traced the outline of her jaw with calloused fingertips. “I know your career’s important to you, Granger—”
“Weasley,” she interrupted. “It’s Weasley, and you’re right. I’ve worked for years to bring justice to Wizarding England. And it doesn’t—it doesn’t matter what I think or how I feel or that I lo—that we have history! Don’t you see? It has to be me. I’ve never lost a case, but not even I’ll be able to keep you in Azkaban—it’s not right—and then no one can—”
His lips met hers in a rush and she could taste his need in the blood and dirt on her tongue. The heat and familiarity and gut-wrenching heart in his kiss enchanted the space, her magical gardenias sprouting from weeds and momentarily filling the room with a bright and fragrant hope.
“I love you too, Granger,” he muttered. “I hope like hell you’re not wrong.”