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Room Available - Diagon Alley

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RA-DA

There was no way — no way — he could have predicted who was going to open the door to his inquiry about a posting for an available room in a flat located near Diagon Alley.

And likewise there was no way — absolutely no way — he could have predicted that mere months later he’d be waking up with said flatmate asleep in his bed. 

But alas, here he was; eyes blinking open, a mess of brown curls filling his vision, and emerald sheets tucked under his arm; an arm that was draped lazily around the waist of his morning companion who was breathing steadily, clearly still oblivious to their new predicament. A predicament highlighted by his very prominent arousal that rested against her very bare backside.

He tried to rewind the events that had transpired, begging his mind to locate the point at which this particular situation became a very real reality.

O-o-o-o-o-o-o

“Finding anything of interest?” Blaise asked as he sunk down into a sleek white leather sofa he’d just purchased for the Zabini’s family sitting room; not an heirloom of old money, but a statement piece of new money; new money obtained through curated investments and endless market research over his parents’ lifetime, and now six years of his adult life. They’d been comfortable in their wealth for some time now and had learned to show it off like their pureblood legacy friends did. It would never amount to the same kind of accumulation as a Sacred-28 vault, but it was a respectable start, even by Sacred-28 standards.

Draco lowered the Daily Prophet that covered his face; an issue that featured that same face on the cover, no less, “Hardly,” he sighed, “Only a few listings today and they’re all on the other side of town. But I’m reading them nonetheless.”

“I’m not kicking you out, old friend,” Blaise grinned over at him, Magical Markets Today perched on his knee while he skimmed it, as he did every morning, “Merely curious how it’s going.”

“Unfavorable,” Draco pulled the Prophet back in front of him, quill returning to his pursed lips as he read each potential listing advertising an open room. He was lounging on a complimentary black leather sofa across from Blaise, an ornate marble and gold coffee table between them housing their morning breakfast and tea as delivered by the butler of the house; another reminder of new money versus old.

“There was a posting at the Ministry,” Blaise said nonchalantly, “Someone seeking a more professional flatmate who didn’t want to open their advertisement to the larger wizarding community.”

“Oh?” Draco sat up in mild interest; that would be preferable for him as well. As much as he just needed someone, anyone, who would even consider a Malfoy as a flatmate, the idea of someone professional, and likely younger, was a prospect he’d entertain.

“Theo mentioned it,” Blaise flipped the page of his financial journal.

“Care to give any more details?” Draco huffed when Blaise didn’t elaborate.

“Theo will be over soon with the listing,” Blaise glanced up at him again, “That’s all he told me.”

Draco sighed in annoyance, setting down the Prophet and reaching for his toast — cold now since he’d ignored it — and his tea, which he’d at least thought to cast a warming charm on earlier in the morning.

Theo had finally graced them with his presence another hour later, strutting into the room and dangling a parchment in front of him, “Bow down Draco, I’ve found your flat.”

“Blaise already told me,” Draco wiped his hands of crumbs and made space on the couch as Theo plopped down beside him with a glare in Blaise’s direction, who only smirked back.

“Ruining my entrance,” he held the parchment out to Draco, but as Draco went to take it from his hand, Theo pulled it back, eyes returning to him, “What are you willing to do for it? It’s supposed to be Ministry-only applicants,” a devious look settled on his features.

“For fuck’s sake, Nott, give me the damn listing.”

“Get on your knees and beg for it, Malfoy.”

A groan from Blaise across the coffee table took their attention as Draco stared daggers at Theo, “Give him the fucking listing, Theo, you’re being a prick. Poor bloke is already homeless and poor.”

Theo rolled his eyes as he put the parchment back into Draco’s reach to be plucked from his fingers.

“I’m not poor, I’m just… not rich anymore. I can afford a damn flat. I just need to find a flatmate who can stand the sight of me.”

“Good luck, we barely stand the sight of you — ouch!” Theo laughed as Draco punched him harder than necessary in the shoulder, “You’re in a fucking mood today.”

“Fuck off,” Draco said passively, turning to the listing as he draped an arm over the back of the couch:

Room Available- Diagon Alley: Young professional Ministry worker seeking quiet, respectful young professional flatmate to share a two-bedroom flat adjacent to Diagon Alley. 150 galleons/mo. Please owl if interested. Serious inquiries only.

“Seems too good to be true,” Draco reread it before looking over at Theo, “Any idea who this is?”

“Not a clue,” he said with a shrug, waving his wand as a teacup flew into his hand and the teapot zoomed over to fill it, “Just saw the flyer hanging on the Ministry bulletin board. I took the whole thing so you’ll have a better chance; less competition.”

Draco grinned at Theo, the fucking prat and wonderful friend that he was, thumping him on the back a few times, “You scoundrel,” he said endearingly. 

“Best send an owl before they realize the listing’s gone.”

In agreement, Draco excused himself, scrawling a quick message to request an inquiry visit the following day at lunch. He purposefully left off his name and led with mentioning he was also a young professional with interest in the flat as he figured it might at least get him in the door to explain his situation, even if they turned him away later. He sent it off with one of Blaise’s owls and returned to the sitting room where Theo and Blaise were engrossed in a debate over what kind of corner statue would best suit the vibe of the room.

“Just owl Pansy, Merlin knows you’re going to get her opinion either way,” Draco took to the armchair off to the side, draping a leg over the arm and leaning back, tuning them out and trying to envision himself finally having his own space again. Not that he didn’t appreciate the hospitality of the Zabini’s or the camaraderie of having his closest friends around all the time, but he was craving a place to call his own again.

Near the end of the day, after some light Sunday drinking that included a few rounds of shots and some questionable illicit potions, an owl tapped on the window. It was a tawny brown and looked almost suspiciously at Draco as he approached the window, opening it and taking the parchment from the bird’s leg, “Sorry, I don’t have any treats,” he shooed the disgruntled bird away before closing the window and returning to the couch to read the response.

Thank you for your message. Tomorrow at lunch works just fine, please come at noon. See the address below.

Draco set the parchment aside and let out a long breath through his lips that had been permanently stuck in a grin since he’d downed more Draught of Peace than recommended earlier. Maybe things were starting to turn around.

O-o-o-o-o-o-o

Draco made it through his morning at work the next day in a constant state of checking the clock. But finally, noon approached and he excused himself for lunch, enjoying the prospect of walking to his potential new home from work, if all went well.

He straightened his tie as he walked the steps to the flat, double checking the number on the building before he lifted the gold knocker and knocked thrice.

Footsteps shuffled inside and a female voice called, “Coming!”

It was familiar. He couldn’t place it, but that voice was very famili—

The door opened and the woman on the other side of it blinked back at him in surprise, eyes darting to the parchment in her own hands as though trying to determine if she’d missed something glaringly important before returning to him.

Though he was in his own state of shock, he hid it much better. He simply stared, waiting for her to say something as he tried to uncoil the knot that had dropped in his stomach.

“You’re my noon inquiry… for the open room?”

He sighed what would be construed as a perturbed sigh, inwardly cursing Theo, “Well spotted, Granger. Is the room still available?” He wouldn’t be the one backing down from this confrontation.

“Did you… did you know this was my flat?” She looked confused more than anything else.

“Of course I didn’t. You didn’t state it anywhere in the listing,” he pulled it from his pocket, unfolding it and holding it out towards her as though evidencing her omission.

“How did you get the listing,” she stared at it and then back at him as he folded it and returned it to his pocket, “You don’t work at the Ministry, do you?”

Another sigh, “No, Theo Nott saw it and brought it to me. He works in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.”

“Yes I know, I’ve worked with him on magical creatures legislature drafts in the past.” Not important, but something to add to the conversation. 

He nodded, continuing, “I’ve been looking at flats and the young professional request caught my attention on yours.”

“And you still want to see the room? Even though I’m on the other side of this door?”

Too proud for his own good he stood a little taller, “Clearly. I’m still here. And you haven’t slammed the door in my face, so shall we call it a draw and continue on to the tour?”

“I… I guess so,” she stepped aside almost in shock as he entered, taking in the airy entryway with a contented nod. Hermione cleared her throat slightly to ease her tension, “So why are you looking for a flat? Don’t you have a… you know, manor?”

“You don’t read the Prophet much, do you?” He responded rhetorically as she led him down the wide hallway to the main part of the flat. There was no way she’d rent him a room in her flat so this was all just for show at this point. And for pride, maybe.

“I try to avoid it when I can. Not very reliable in my opinion.”

“Or you just don’t like seeing your face in it every other day.”

“That as well.”

“I understand the sentiment.”

“So this is the living room. My bedroom is at the back of the room,” she pointed, “And the open room is off the side over here, she directed him into an adequately sized bedroom with an ensuite bath. It had an atrociously subpar bed and a lone dresser, and was decorated in a fashion that would make Pansy Parkinson shriek in disgust. “It was just a guest room before,” she said in the silence.

He hummed in agreement as he began walking the room. It was… quite nice outside of the furniture.

“So, not to pry, but again, why are you looking for a flat?”

“I disowned my parents,” he said the words as he had so many times at this point, and it almost didn’t tear his heart from his chest this time.

“You… disowned… them?”

“You are on a roll today with your hearing,” Draco peeked his head into the bathroom.

“Sorry, but why?”

“Personal questions are my least favorite type of question, but I’ll give you the short story for the sake of you understanding why I’d be interested in your flat, and no more. I disowned my parents because they refuse to challenge the beliefs they’ve held, and so graciously passed on to me, that landed all of us on the wrong side of the war. I grew from it; I changed; I learned and I am putting in the work to be better. They did none of it. And I won’t associate with their ignorance anymore. Family or not. We do not see eye to eye. So now when people ask, they are Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy, I am Draco Malfoy; no relation. In disowning them, I disowned every part of being a Malfoy in that regard: the manor, the money, the inheritance, all of it. So, I am looking for a flat at a reasonable price.”

Hermione opened her mouth and then closed it a few different times until he was in front of her again, done with his inspection of the room.

“That must have been terribly difficult—”

“I’ve been staying with Blaise Zabini for two months now,” he continued as though she hadn’t spoken, “And as appreciative as I am of their hospitality, I’m ready to get back a bit of my privacy. Somewhere I can study and read and relax without distraction. I assume you want the same.”

She found herself nodding without meaning to, but none of this was anything she could have predicted walking through her door today.

“Lovely. On to the kitchen?”

She nodded numbly again and led him to the kitchen, where he similarly inspected the appliances and layout of the room. And as much as this whole tour was just for show, he found himself annoyingly fond of the flat and the amenities.

“150 galleons per month?” He asked as he leaned against the counter, arms crossed.

“Yes,” she stood a bit awkwardly in the middle of the room, “And what is it you do now, Malfoy? You mentioned you were a professional, but I’m afraid I don’t know in what."

“Finance. I work at Gringotts in inheritance and heirloom valuation and distribution. I’ve been inundated with it all my life; came naturally. I dabble in investments as well, which is what I’m studying. I apprentice part time with our investments group and my mastery exams are ten months away so I can add that to my resume and extend myself a bit more.”

“Oh that’s… really interesting,” and she meant it more than she thought she would. She didn’t know much about finance but it was another subject she could learn; ask about; maybe even study in tandem, if he did move in with her. The prospect of continued learning fogged her brain as she began weighing her options, walking him back towards the door while she tried to relay anything else of note, “Fireplace is hooked up to the Floo of course, though I’m sure you wouldn’t need that with Gringotts around the corner.”

“I’d want it hooked up to the Zabini House and Parkinson and Nott Estates,” Draco stated; non-negotiable. Another deal breaker, he assumed.

“Well that would round out the hookup to the Potter and Weasley estates,” she said smartly as they reached the door, and to her surprise, he grinned.

“So, would you rent me this room?” Of course she would not.

“Would you want this room?”

Their eyes locked for a moment as though calculating the other before Draco said, quite definitively, “Yes.” He was not going to be the one to back down. Especially since the flat really was quite perfect. Besides, there was no way she would ever allow it.

Hermione nodded, her brain reaching its conclusion, swayed by blind intrigue, potential learning opportunities and an unsubstantiated gut feeling, “Then yes.”

Draco felt his body freeze, he must have misheard her— had she just— did she just offer him the room? Without missing a beat he responded, “Wonderful. You can owl the paperwork and I’ll have it returned timely.”

“You can move in whenever you’d like.”

“This weekend, then,” his hands found his pockets, trying to keep his cool demeanor as his mind reeled from what they were both committing to. 

“This weekend,” she confirmed, “I’ll owl the contracts.”

He stepped outside, descending the staircase before he stopped mid-step, turning back to her as she shut the door, “Hey Granger,” he called, the shock wearing off as he realized the momentous chance she’d just take on him for gods knew what reason, even after his brash attitude during the tour — feathers ruffled and waiting for what felt like an indisputable rejection. But she had not rejected him. She popped her head back out inquisitively, and he tried to find adequate words, “Thanks.” The statement was sincere and defined, his tone ensuring it this time. He didn’t elaborate, but she didn’t need him to.

“See you next week,” she gave him a small smile and pulled her head back in the door to close it lightly.

O-o-o-o-o-o-o

“I’m sorry, you’re moving in with Hermione Granger ?” Pansy looked up from her perfectly lacquered nails that were being shaped by an expertly charmed filing board.

“It appears that way,” he almost laughed at the absurdity of it, “I thought there was no way she’d offer it to me so I just went through the tour to show face after she opened the door but… the flat was actually nice: updated, new appliances, large bedroom. And she sorely underpriced it. Honestly, it’s a steal, not that I’ll be telling her that. So when she actually did offer it I... accepted it. It all happened very quickly. We were both caught off guard. I’m sure she regrets it.”

“A journalist should move in with you so someone can be there to document the historic disaster to come,” she looked back at her nails with a wicked grin.

“We’re coming over on night one,” Theo announced, “I have to witness it. Maybe fuck with Granger a little.”

“How about you all help me move,” he suggested nonchalantly.

Pansy wrinkled her nose, “No thank you.”

“You’re only allowed over if you help me move,” Draco clarified.

Eyes rolled under thick lashes, “Fine. I’ll meet you there and help you organize. I’m not doing manual labor.”

Draco considered the offer, “Alright. You’re in.” He looked over at Theo and Blaise who were weighing their options.

“Fine,” they conceded.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o

Draco stepped through the Floo from Blaise’s house to Hermione’s — his — flat at precisely ten in the morning the following Saturday, as discussed via owl the week before.

Hermione was waiting in the living room, Harry sitting on the couch with a few files scattered on the coffee table — backup, Draco assumed.

“Malfoy,” she said in greeting.

“Granger,” he nodded, stepping aside as Theo, Blaise and Pansy stepped through in turn, each carrying a small box.

“Ah — hello,” Hermione cleared her throat a little, apparently he’d forgotten to mention they would be helping with the move.

“Granger, what a pleasure,” Pansy gave her a coy grin as her eyes roamed to Harry, “And we’re graced with the presence of The Chosen One, what an occasion.”

Harry, who had clearly been hoping to just get some work done as he completed his best friend duties, looked up with a sigh, “Good morning—” though as his eyes landed on Pansy, they involuntarily raked over her appearance — perfectly put together with her hair in a chic bob and donning a casual tight black dress, black tights and black boots. Gone was the pug-faced Slytherin of years past and in front of him was an impeccable looking woman, “Er… do you need help with those boxes?” A silly question, the boxes were easily manageable due to shrinking charms.

“I think we’re all set,” her lip curled up, returning his blatant stare as her eyes moved slowly over him. Perhaps a challenge? Or just a fun game?

Theo didn’t even try to hide his laughter, “Give me the box, Pansy. Looks like you’ll be on another mission today.”

“Looks like it,” she handed the box over without moving her gaze and wandered around the coffee table to take a seat on the couch next to Harry.

“What are you working on over here, Potter?”

“So, your room is through here,” Hermione tried to redirect the weird energy that had overtaken the room with Harry and Pansy’s interaction, “Of course you already know that,” she was talking quickly, but she’d been anxious about this all week, “If you need anything, just let me know, I guess.” 

“Thanks,” Draco couldn’t help the smirk that crept onto his lips at her nerves, “Some tea would be nice, wouldn’t it?” He turned to Theo and Blaise who nodded admirably.

“Tea, yes, great for moving,” Theo said as his eyes finally scrutinized the room, “Very organized in here, isn’t it. Shockingly, lots of books.”

“I’m an organized person, and I hope it stays that way,” Hermione crossed her arms over her chest as Draco walked past her towards the bedroom with the first box of personal items.

“Draco’s annoyingly organized as well, you’ll be wonderful flatmates,” the sarcasm dripped like honey from his tongue as Blaise took off down the hall after Draco, and Theo eventually followed with a grin in her direction. 

Hermione took a deep breath and retreated for the kitchen, immediately regretting her offer of assistance, and leaving Harry and Pansy to whatever overt flirtation they were now engaged in.

The move had taken the majority of the day between packing, shrinking boxes, physically moving things, unshrinking and unpacking while Pansy, who had finally joined them all in Draco’s bedroom, directed the placement of each item. Hermione had removed the old guest bed and dresser so with a clean slate, the room came together quite well by the early evening.

“I don’t even have the energy to stay for the first awkward evening together,” Theo dropped down onto the neatly made four poster bed they’d finally gotten placed and returned to its natural size.

“How about drinks back at my place?” Blaise suggested, raising an eyebrow to the group.

“I’m in,” Theo agreed.

“Can I invite Potter?” Pansy wiggled her eyebrows, “I think he could be fun.”

“You want to invite Harry Potter to my house?”

She pouted her plump lips at him and Blaise sighed, “Fine,” he turned back to Draco, “Are you coming?”

“I’m going to stay here tonight,” all three of his friends looked at him with concern, “What? I want to get settled in and finish unpacking the little things that Pansy couldn't find an acceptable place for.”

“Throw them out if they don’t have a place,” Pansy said as though it were obvious.

“I’m not throwing anything out. I hand chose every single item I kept from the manor and I will find a place for them.”

“Suit yourself,” she walked over, placing a swift kiss on his cheek and running her hand through his hair to smooth it from a day of moving, “Good luck, Draco. Hope you two don’t kill each other.”

She returned to the others, looping her arm through Blaise’s as she looked around the room to admire her design work.

“If you are going to hex each other though, just Floo in quick to let us know so we can come back for the show,” Theo winked at him.

“Come on, you prick,” Blaise pushed him back through Draco’s bedroom door and the three Slytherin’s took their leave to the Floo.

“Potter, Blaise’s house at eight. Drinks. Debauchery. You’re coming. Just take the Floo from here,” without waiting for an answer, she stepped into the fire, already burning a bright shade of green from Theo and Blaise’s departure.

Draco stood in the doorway, watching as Harry sputtered before turning to Hermione, who was sitting beside him with a cup of tea, still staring at where Pansy had just been.

“What — what am I supposed to wear?”

Draco snorted from behind them and they both turned.

“Sorry, but that’s your worry? Plenty of other things that should concern you about spending a night with Pansy,” he said in the most loving way only a best friend could, “Wear something you don’t mind having ripped off.”

Harry gulped, looking back at Hermione who had zero advice for him before he turned back to Draco, “Is she… always like that?”

“Yes,” a simple answer.

“Hermione, great to see you, I’ve got to run home. I’ll be back around eight to use your Floo,” he stood, packing his files together and loading them into his messenger bag on the floor by the couch.

Hermione couldn’t help her laugh which had a bit of a hysterical undertone to it, “This is crazy, Harry.”

“I seem to find myself not at all caring how crazy it is,” Harry said introspectively, “Lock me in a room with three Slytherins and a stock of alcohol and let it happen. No way I’m passing up a chance with her. Did you see her, Hermione? I could barely pull my eyes from her lips… but Merlin, that body—”

“Oh I do not need to hear this, Harry. Go, have fun, be careful.”

“They’re not going to fuck with him,” Draco chuckled, “Not too badly, anyway.”

And then in another crackle of green flames, Draco and Hermione were alone in their shared home for the first time.

“Well, I’m going to make dinner,” Hermione closed the book on her lap, replacing it on the book shelf in the appropriate open space.

“I’ll be in here… still unpacking.”

And with an awkward nod they took to their separate rooms.

Chapter Text

The first few weeks were tense as they tried to avoid each other as best they could, Draco learning Hermione’s schedule early on — always a safe assumption that before eight o’clock in the evening she’d be at the Ministry and he’d have free reign of the living room and kitchen. When the fire would roar to life, he’d retreat back to his room with the door cracked. He didn’t know why he cracked the door, it just felt less… cold. And then he’d hear her cooking her own dinner, followed some time later by the sound of someone flopping onto the couch. Sometimes the intermittent scratching of a quill against paper or quiet humming, and sometimes complete silence for hours as she sat reading. Much later than he’d have guessed Hermione Granger went to sleep, he’d hear her bedroom door click shut, and it would all start again in the morning.

Unfortunately, they were both early risers and couldn't always avoid coinciding breakfast times. Though he made himself a full breakfast which he would sit down at the table to eat as he read the morning Prophet, and she only stayed long enough to make a pot of tea and grab a croissant before she Flooed to the Ministry. After she left, he’d help himself to the remaining tea in the pot before his walk to Gringotts.

The weekends were a toss up. They both had haphazard plans and friends that wanted to stop by, so it was a push and pull of who got the living room and who withdrew in defeat to their room. Theo had a track record of moving around items while he was visiting; something little that he thought would really annoy Granger. Although one particularly long afternoon he spent at their flat he’d completely rearranged all the books on the bookshelf to color code them instead of the very precise order she usually kept them in. The next day had been the first time Hermione had lost her cool on Draco.

“Of course your friends are welcome here but they are not to touch my things,” she seethed, “Nott messed up my entire system. I can’t find anything. It’s going to take me a whole weekend to get these back in order.”

Draco had tried —  he’d really tried — not to smirk… but he had not succeeded and she’d slapped him in the arm with a decently heavy book before she huffed and stormed off into her bedroom with a slam of the door. All in all, it had been more amusing than anything else, but he had mentioned to Theo on his next stop over to Blaise’s to lay off for the sake of not having to hear it again.

Harry and Pansy complicated things further as they had been all but attached at the lips since their first evening of reintroductions. Harry had shown up the next morning to tell Hermione, who still did not want to hear about it, every juicy detail that Draco heard loud and clear from his bedroom. Pansy was a wild one and it seemed she had not held back even on her first night with The Boy Who Lived.

Harry and Pansy in their house together tended to include both he and Hermione being stuck in the same space, unable to avoid it. On the bright side, Harry and Pansy were decently incapable of staying anywhere for more than an hour or so before they would hastily excuse themselves to go back to one house or another.

About a month into their living arrangement, they found themselves in a Sunday standoff. Draco had been pleasantly lounging on the couch, feet up, book in one hand and an apple in the other, when Hermione had walked in, sitting herself in the adjacent armchair and popping it into a reclining position. His eyes flicked to her as though expecting her to realize he was there and find somewhere else to be, but instead, her eyes lifted over her book to meet his and she simply raised an eyebrow. He’d sighed and refocused on his book and they’d sat there in an uncomfortable silence for another hour before he heard her book close and settle on the coffee table, meaning she wasn’t leaving the room yet. His eyes lifted again and she was looking at him.

“Yes?” he enunciated.

“What are you reading?” she asked curiously.

“A newly released analysis on emerging market trends in the Southern Hemisphere,” he tilted his head at her, waiting for the disinterest to arrive to her features, but it never did.

“What are the big trends?” her tone was conversational and Draco was unsure what was happening.

“It’s a four hundred page book and I’m on seventy-three. I’ll let you know next weekend.”

She hummed and nodded, “What interests you about investments?”

“I like things that are unpredictable and instinctual. In a word, it's ever-changing. Understanding the overall concepts of investing and the different markets helps of course, and then you can study historical trends, and books like this about emerging trends, but day-to-day it’s a lot of gut-feelings and impulsive, calculated decision-making. Some days it’s chaotic and some days everything goes as you expected.”

“So it’s an adrenaline rush,” she said with a small smile playing at her lips.

He shrugged, “It can be. My day-to-day right now in inheritance and heirloom valuation and distribution, it’s predictable. Everything I determine I already know is one hundred percent correct without a margin of error. When I’m doing my extra hours at the apprenticeship, it’s a very different experience. Gets my intuition flowing and my blood rushing trying to figure out how to essentially play with a large sum of someone else’s money. I could grow it, or I could lose it all. There's a lot riding on every individual and unique decision. I like that feeling.”

Their eyes were locked as he talked and if he looked closely, it almost looked like Hermione was flushed as she pulled a deep breath in through her nose.

“What? Did I say something—”

She blinked a few times, “Hm? No, sorry. Just, very interesting. You seem passionate about your job. It’s —  nice.”

He searched her face, trying to decode what was going on in her head.

She cleared her throat a little, “Well, I should be off to bed, shouldn’t I,” she retracted the footstool back into the chair and stood, gathering her book from the coffee table and replacing it on the bookshelf, “Would you mind if I read that book, when you’re done with it?” she asked in too casual of a voice that it sounded forced.

“By all means,” he said trying to hide a little smirk, “I’ll file it into the bookshelf now that I’ve decoded your system.”

“Wonderful,” with a nod, she disappeared into her bedroom.

Did I just turn on Hermione Granger talking about work? He chuckled. It was almost… unsurprising. Of course work ethic and new fields of study would be her turn on. What a discovery.

O-o-o-o-o-o-o

Another month passed and Sunday had somehow turned into their unspoken day to sit in the living room together, usually with Draco studying and Hermione reading. Eventually she’d discard her book and strike up a conversation about one thing or another, and in a train of events he couldn't quite recall, it felt comfortable after a while. She was insanely smart. Not that he hadn’t already known that, but now it was constantly staring him in the face and forcing him to sneak books from her shelf to brush up on a subject if something was broached that he didn’t feel adequately learned in.

And she was feisty; easily annoyed; argumentative when their conversations devolved into debates. And if work ethic was her thing, ruffling her feathers seemed to be his. Her huffs were addicting and he wanted them across his lips, and the roll of her eyes made him want to make them roll back in a very different way. Two months of living with Hermione Granger and he was fantasizing about another use for her talkative mouth already, this was not safe. And he kept it quite to himself.

It likely didn’t help that he hadn’t invited any other witches back to their flat, not yet ready to breach that territory and having met no other witch that interested him in more than an evening drink after work and perhaps a snog against the side of a building.

Was it because he’d think about coming home and annoying Hermione until she bit some sassy retort back at him? Of course not.

And then a Sunday came where he was the first one to set his book aside and engage in conversation.

“So what made you get a two bedroom flat you couldn’t afford?” He asked as he settled back into the couch, the pillow forming to his body as his hands rested behind his head.

Hermione rolled her eyes, and already his lip pulled like it was a small win, “Ron and I rented this flat a couple of years ago and had no problem affording it,” she said matter-of-factly as she proceeded to set her book aside as well, “However we broke up seven or eight months ago now and once the place was just mine, it wasn’t quite as easy on my own. Not in this part of town.”

“You and Weasley? Should have been obvious I guess, I haven’t even considered that he hasn’t been around since I moved in.”

“We dated for five years and some change,” she nodded, “But it didn’t work out. He stayed a few extra months to get himself set up and then found his own flat closer to his family.”

“You broke up… and let him stay here a few months?”

“It’s not unheard of,” she defended, “We’re still cordial.”

“Did he leave you, then?”

“No,” she said, annoyed now, “I broke it off with him.”

“Why?”

“Well, you’ve met Ron, haven’t you? And you’ve met me? We don’t exactly compliment each other. He’s a good man but we drove each other a bit crazy and not in a passionate way, in a very frustrating I’d-rather-be-anywhere-else way.” Sitting here talking about Ron with Draco Malfoy was high on the list of the most ludicrous experiences she’d likely ever had.

He was inspecting her again, “He’s not smart enough for you.” It was a simple statement and one that cut quite cleanly down to one of their biggest issues. Ron didn’t care about reading and learning and theorizing and debating. He cared about quidditch magazines and Daily Prophet article features and talking about the joke shop. And when they fought, it wasn’t an intellectual fight because he tended not to understand, or care, why they were fighting at all.

“Ron’s smart in his own way,” she finally said, averting her eyes from his prying gaze.

“You’re the type who needs an intellectual challenge,” he shrugged, “It’s fine to be okay with that.”

“Alright, I do,” she said, raising her eyebrows at him, “I need a challenge and I wasn’t being presented with one.”

“Good. Glad we figured that out. So you let him stay a few months and then he moved out and you… what? Covered this place until you couldn’t because of your pride?”

She rolled her eyes again, “You make a lot of assumptions.”

“Most of them are right,” his lip was still quirked in an entirely frustrating way.

“I covered this flat alright until I had everything in order to list it. Ron had moved into the spare room after we broke up and I needed to go through and clean it out of the things he left and the things we’d stored away in there when we first moved in. It just took time. And I needed to be alone for a while. But I’m ready to have someone else around now and the extra money for rent is nice.”

“I’m glad you listed it when you did,” sincerity wasn’t a comfortable area for him, but being friendly with your flatmate wasn’t a crime. “I was ready to get out of Blaise’s when Theo showed it to me. I think I needed to be with them for a couple of months after leaving my parents as well. Things take time.”

She nodded, looking unsure how to tread new territory, “So you said you disowned them because of their beliefs,” her eyes had moved from his and were fixed on a picture of an orange ball of fur that sat on the mantel, “What are your beliefs now?”

An unavoidable conversation.

He considered her, “That you and I are no different.”

Her eyes returned to his, now searching as his did so often, “Care to elaborate?”

Draco felt the knot in his stomach that had introduced itself when she’d first opened the door to the flat two months ago. It was time. It was past time. So past time, in fact, that he didn’t know why he hadn’t done it before now. Likely because he was still the same coward he’d always been and refused to acknowledge.

“You and I… the idea of difference in blood… it’s nothing. It’s less than nothing. And I’m sorry,” it was clear how uncomfortable this was, but it didn’t make it any less important, “My parents raised me to believe in blood purity. To know it and live it. And I did. And it was completely and irrevocably wrong. I apologize for not realizing that a long time ago. And for what I called you in school. And for not doing anything at the manor—”

Her breath hitched.

“—I regret my inaction. You deserved better. In general, but also from me. I’m sorry for what my Aunt did.”

“I need to get to bed,” the words stumbled out of her mouth.

“What? Now?” he sat up, looking alarmed and a bit indignant. He was finally saying everything he should have months ago and she didn’t even want to hear it?

“Yes, bed. Sorry. Goodnight,” and she was in her room with the door closed before he could even respond.

O-o-o-o-o-o-o

She avoided him dutifully for the next week. She was quiet as a house elf and if she wasn’t at work, she was in her room with seemingly no transition. He’d found himself outside her bedroom door a few different times, but had never had the courage to knock. A coward, still.

The following Sunday, she joined him again in the living room. He hadn’t even known she was home when her door opened and she walked out, no book in hand, and took a seat in the armchair.

“I’ve been avoiding you.”

“I’m aware,” he closed his book, setting it on the table. He’d reread the same sentence six times as his eyes had drifted to her closed door and back to his book the last few minutes anyway.

“That night isn’t easy for me to talk about. And to hear you talk about it… I needed to step away and reconcile that.”

“I understand that in your eyes I don’t have the right to talk about that night,” he said, also now having a week to reflect on how the conversation had played out, “but to not apologize for it would have been a bigger mistake in my opinion. So I don’t regret it.”

“I appreciate your apology. And I accept your apology. I never blamed you for any of it, so it was unexpected. You didn’t curse me. And she’d have killed me if you’d interfered. It’s always been Bellatrix in my mind. You just seemed… lost in it. Harry and I… we wouldn’t have testified at your trial if we thought any different.”

He nodded, biting his tongue lightly so he didn’t go numb at the memories, “Thanks — for that as well. I never did get to say that. You know, before they marked my neck with runes I’ll have for the rest of my life and hauled me back to Azkaban for six months.”

“Better than the five years recommended by the arresting Auror before the trials.”

“Six months was bad enough,” the words were quiet and Hermione shivered as they hit her. Six months of dementors swimming overhead, pulling forward every dark, sickening memory of the war. Six months of feeling cold and drained; sleeping on stone; eating stale food; drinking water that never tasted quite right. Six months of reflecting on every bad decision and promising himself — swearing to himself — not to let it be in vain. To be better. To learn. To show he was worthy of their forgiveness even if he wasn't sure himself; To figure out how he'd gotten where he was and to drag himself up from the depths to which he'd fallen. 

“But you made it through. And here you are now, working professionally and making a new name for yourself.”

“There’s no getting rid of the Malfoy name,” the lift to his lip was different than his normal; sad and internally condescending.

“Publicly disowning them is a good start,” Hermione said softly, “I finally read the article — the one where you talked to Rita; told her why you'd left and what you planned to do as you set out on your own; The one I assume you were referring to when you came to see the flat and I asked why you were looking.”

He nodded, gathering his thoughts, “It had been a long time coming. Lucius and I had a rather public disagreement on our views a few months after his release from Azkaban last year and after another few months trying to reconcile; trying to convince him to reconsider the beliefs he held so dear and realizing how far apart we’d grown, that public disagreement rehashed just as publicly. My mother — Narcissa —” he corrected himself, “she’d never waver from taking his side, as much as she would die for me, she would kill for him.”

“Did she hold strong to those beliefs even after you challenged them?”

“I don’t think so, but she wouldn’t verbally agree with me either. She was going to stick by his side no matter what. But anyway, Rita got word I was moving out soon after that second argument and camped out outside the manor for weeks as I started preparing for my move. Finally, I figured if it was going to leak, I wanted to be the one to leak my own story; own my own choices for once. So I left out the front gates with boxes in hand and my Mother calling to me from the pathway. A bit dramatic, if you ask me, but effective. Rita caught it all and published a big article. She's been posting weekly articles since then — conspiracy theories and baseless assumptions as to what I'm up to and if I've self-destructed yet. So I sat down with her two months ago to give a very brief version of my side of the story and to set the record straight on my outlook for the rest of my life.”

“Was it difficult to leave?”

“Family was all I’ve ever known as a reason for anything. It’s all that’s ever made sense. So yes. As much as it was my decision and one I’d never change, it wasn’t easy walking away from them.”

“And your inheritance and the comforts of life as the heir to a Sacred-28 estate,” Hermione prodded.

“I know you likely assume money is everything to me, but as much as it has defined my life, I don’t miss it and I don’t crave it in that regard. I make good respectable money at Gringotts and I’ll build my own wealth. It will just take time.”

“So if you make good money, why look for a flatmate, why not get your own place?”

“You don’t become independently wealthy by being irresponsible with your money,” he shrugged, “If I have a flatmate for a while, then I’ll be able to save and invest more now and let that money grow and those gains compound over time.”

“I understand the concept,” she gave him a small smile, “I’ve read a few of your investing books at this point.”

“Sneak,” he grinned back.

“Well, I think you should know I’m proud of you — for leaving to stay true to your new beliefs. It’s admirable.”

He groaned, “Don’t call me admirable. I’m not a damn Gryffindor. We were just at a crossroads and I had ended up on a different path than my parents and it was time for us to diverge and to cut the ties between us. It was maddening to have the same disagreements over dinner every night. Unbearable to be around someone who can believe such fundamentally dangerous things. It was a choice between being passive to their bigotry or making one feeble statement by leaving.”

“It wasn’t feeble,” her brows creased, “The statement you made, it was heard. By the entire wizarding community through the Prophet. By muggleborns and halfbloods. By purebloods and half-breeds. You decreed that times are changing without even using the words. It was bold. And it was appreciated.”

Her eyes were drowning him in compassion and he drank it in, “I’m glad it meant something.”

“You know, I actually left my parents too, in a different way, but not entirely.”

His head tilted, “You disowned them?”

“In a matter of speaking,” she sighed, “Not out of anger, but fear. I obliviated them, summer after sixth year before Harry, Ron and I went on the run. I thought they’d be targets and I needed them to leave England and to forget to be concerned about me. I sent them to Australia with new identities and without the memory of having a daughter. If I died, I didn’t want them to feel that loss.”

Words were stuck in his throat, “But after the war…”

“I can’t undo the memory charms,” a sad smile crossed her face, “I tried. I found them, but the charms were too strong and undoing them is significantly more complex. I spent months trying before I went back for my unofficial seventh year at Hogwarts.”

“I’m sorry you had to do that,” he forced out. The Grangers had been targets. He’d heard the orders given to Macnair to find them, though he never had. Clearly, since they’d been hiding in Australia completely dissociated from Hermione. He swallowed hard, “You did the right thing. If it helps. They would have found them if you hadn’t.”

Hermione nodded, finding the unspoken words of the danger they had been in, and her smile pulled a little higher, “Thank you for telling me, it does kind of help. They’re happy now, too. Joined an adult beach volleyball league in Sydney. I watch their games sometimes, when I can get a weekend portkey to Australia. I pretend I’m just a local bystander who enjoys the game. We chat sometimes.”

“I’m guessing volleyball is a sport? Like quidditch?”

“It’s a sport,” a soft laugh, “Nothing like quidditch.”

They shared a look of mutual understanding for a moment before he spoke again, “Can I ask you something?” 

She nodded and he searched her again as he thought how to pose his question, “Why let me live here?”

She looked thoughtful for a moment and then a small smile landed, “When I spoke at your trial I think I wanted to believe that your actions; how you treated others; what you became a part of, that they were all a product of your environment; beliefs pounded into you every day for eighteen years. And I think I hoped that maybe if someone approached you with maturity and compassion, that maybe you’d start to question things; that maybe you’d want to be better. And then you show up here six years later, clearly unaware you were walking into my home, and you stated that you were looking for a flat because you’d disowned your parents due to their beliefs and I just… I felt a little vindicated. And it made me want to know the Draco Malfoy that would walk away from it all.”

“And have I let you down terribly yet?” A playful tone, but another very real question he needed the answer to.

“No,” the compassion consumed him again and he nodded.

“Good.”

They’d split ways again that evening entering another new stage of their… acquaintanceship? Friendship? Whatever it was, it was new territory again. And it was nice.

And then things… evolved. And it happened in a way that was more noticeable than the small changes in their… acquaintanceship… up until then. Every day seemed to bring another genuine smile, another deep discussion, and more time willingly spent in the others’ presence. It brought the brush of a hand when passing the milk; the playful smack on the arm during banter; and challenging stares that had somehow turned electric.

She’d abandoned the armchair and took to the opposite side of the couch from Draco, his feet occasionally ending up on her lap, “What? I’m tall and you want to sit on the couch. There are consequences.”

They’d pass books back and forth, “You’ll enjoy this one, no, really Draco, you will. Try it.” And yes, somehow they’d come to mostly first name basis terms. Unless the use of a last name fit better into their ongoing banter. It wasn’t off limits.

Then, one night in what Draco may consider the turning point, Hermione had walked into the kitchen at two in the morning clad only in a t-shirt and panties. She’d tiptoed to the refrigerator for a glass of water completely oblivious to Draco’s presence at the table until he’d looked up from the review notes he’d been reading by wandlight and exclaimed quite loudly: “Merlin Granger, where are your pants?!” Why he decided to be annoyed by her lack of pants, he’d never really know, they were just the first words that ran through his brain as his eyes, against his better judgment, raked over her backside.

She’d jumped with a yelp, spilling water all over the place before she’d hid her lower half behind the island in the middle of the room and let out an embarrassed laugh, “What in the world are you doing skulking around the kitchen at two in the morning?!”

“I’m not skulking, I couldn't sleep so I’m studying! And I was trying to be polite so I kept the lights out.”

“It’s not polite, it’s weird. Turn the damn lights on so I know when I can and can’t walk around my own flat without pants on.”

“You do this often ?!”

“When it’s two in the morning, I do! Close your eyes if you’re so offended by my lack of pants and I’ll go back to bed.”

He’d averted his eyes, cursing her under his breath for a couple of reasons. First for scaring the shit out of him, and second, for causing a completely unnecessary erection to catch his attention under the table. Had he deprived himself so much in the last few months that all it took was one look at a wonderfully grabbable — no, no — at his flatmate’s arse to send his body into chaos?

After that night there were a few times, truly just a few times, that he’d had very vivid dreams of hot kisses and soft moans; wandering hands and naked bodies instigated after a long night of sparring with the brilliant witch on the other side of the couch. Dreams that would leave him staying in bed a few extra minutes in the morning to allow the dream to finish in his waking mind.

Chapter Text

He’d tried to put their late night encounter from his mind as they’d fallen back into their Sunday ritual, but she’d been getting more comfortable with him in ways that made it hard not to want to push their whatever it was into even newer territory.

She’d come home earlier some nights and make dinner, claiming to have made too much and walk into the living room with two plates. He’d stay in the living room until she came home even when she worked late now and she’d open a bottle of wine for them as they relaxed on the couch together. She’d move from her spot on the couch right up next to him if there was something in a book she wanted to talk about; close enough that they could both read the same passage. And those were the hardest moments: looking over her shoulder reading fine print as she talked from that brilliant brain of hers about one thing or another and then she’d look up at him waiting for whatever response she was waiting for. And his traitorous eyes would steal glances. At her lips, down her shirt accidentally once or twice, at a loose curl straying wildly from the pack that he wanted to tuck back in. 

But he kept his hands to himself, never forgetting to focus on her words to adequately give her the response she’d been looking for. And then she’d triumphantly return to her normal seat and he’d stare at the same page in his book for the next five minutes. Hermione Granger did not want him having these thoughts about her. That much he was sure. Because why would she? Him of all people? No, she wouldn't want that.

Fast forward another few weeks of a growing sexual tension that was at least one-sided, if not two, and Harry and Pansy had returned, just as lip-locked as they had been the last time and inferring, in the least inconspicuous detail, many things about their sex life. Luckily, or perhaps not so, Blaise and Theo had been there as well so Draco’s ability not to immediately picture himself in similarly precarious situations with Hermione was tapered and they were able to laugh about their hopelessly lovestruck friends. Blaise had taught them all a casual drinking game that involved some winner-decides-the-punishment-for-the-loser rules that were heavily abused by the end of the evening, Draco losing his shirt and being forced to don just slacks and a tie for the remainder of the game. He thought maybe he’d caught Hermione glancing over at one point, but he couldn’t be sure. 

Theo’s punishment in one close round had been determined by Hermione — “Replace everything you’ve moved around the living room tonight.” There had been a groan and then they’d lost Theo to the game for a good half an hour as he tried to remember everything he’d tried to sneakily misplace.

Blaise had been punished to kiss Hermione on the cheek by Theo when he finally returned, a rotten punishment by Draco’s standards as something inside him coiled in a dark way watching his friend put his lips on a laughing Hermione, though he’d returned to his seat muttering, “Don’t you dare tell Daphne about that. She’ll have my head on the wall next to the dead Greengrass house elves.”

Harry had somehow ended up covered in lipstick kisses — a punishment from Pansy to Harry but no one really knew if it was a punishment or not. Pansy, somehow, had never lost a round and Draco was decently positive she was cheating. Though he didn’t know how and he couldn’t prove it.

The game had ended when Pansy fixed Hermione with the punishment of naming one appealing part of Draco’s body. The vixen she was.

Hermione had gone beat red and done her best to not answer the question before an onslaught of pestering made her call out, rather loudly, “Fine, Merlin, his hair is nice.”

Pansy tutted, “Body, Granger, not appearance.”

Another groan, “Gosh I don’t know.”

More pestering came from the audience, Draco staring sparks at her as he waited patiently for an answer with a devious grin.

She ran her hands down her face, just as pleasantly drunk as everyone else, “You’re vile,” she shot at Pansy without any real animosity behind the words, “His— his— that , I guess,” she gestured generically in his direction.

“Just, all of it?” he said in a low, teasing tone, leaning back against the couch casually, playing with the tie around his neck.

There was another loud howl of laughter from the group.

Hermione ignored his gaze and his comment as she looked back at Pansy, “Oh come on, I mean look at him,” she said as though the question itself had such an easy answer that it was offensive to even ask, “You're the one that made him take his shirt off, Pansy.”

“You’re welcome then, I guess,” she was positively beaming at the admittance.

“Great game,” she shot a glare at Blaise who doubled over all over again.

“I think we’re going to call it a night on that perfect ending, Granger,” Pansy cooed as she and Harry stood from their shared seat in the armchair, her hand slipping into his.

Hermione gave a bit of an awkward bow with her hands as though accepting the embarrassment of the words that had come out of her mouth and trying to move past it even as she continued to avoid Draco’s gaze.

“We’ll be a bit… tied up,” Pansy winked over at Harry as he ginned with a furious blush, “Next weekend, but maybe weekend after that we can do this again.”

“Merlin Pansy have some fucking tact,” Draco huffed as Theo laughed raucously beside him and Blaise wolf-whistled from his other side. He chanced a glance at Hermione, who had decided on a nice cushioned pillow on the ground by the coffee table, her face was cooling as the attention was taken off of her and she was trying to stifle a grin at Pansy’s innuendo. Unexpected.

“Would you prefer to hear it from me, Malfoy?” Harry quipped, “We’ve got plans with some ties and cuffs next weekend, very personal plans that also involve a bed and no clothes, and sex. A lot of sex. Maybe some other props, as well. So the weekend after would be better.”

“Get laid, Draco,” Pansy blew him a kiss and pulled Harry through the Floo as they waved their goodbyes, Theo all but crying, clutching his stomach and beating his feet into the couch.

Once they’d calmed down again, Blaise and Theo had left soon after, but not before committing Draco to brunch plans the following day.

And then they were alone again as the green embers fizzled back to a cool red.

“So,” Draco’s eyes followed her as she stood and started replacing pillows and blankets to their appropriate places, “That was fun.”

“It was,” she said matter-of-factly, refusing to show any more signs of embarrassment, “Theo and Blaise, they’re a riot.”

“And Pansy?”

“Truly a menace, but I’m starting to enjoy it.”

He chuckled, “That’s basically how one would describe Pansy in a nutshell.”

“And Harry?” she lifted an eyebrow at him to pose the question his way.

“Shockingly hilarious.” He’d been surprisingly impressed with the sass that came out of Potter’s mouth on a regular basis and it almost, almost , starting making sense of Pansy’s connection with him. They were an awkward sexual mess together. It was very entertaining.

“So should I start going shirtless around the flat more often?” he couldn’t help himself. Really, he couldn't.

“I don’t know, you wouldn’t let me go pantless,” she shot him a smart look as she continued tidying, waving her wand as glasses and bottles started making their way back to the kitchen.

A challenge. Accepted.

“I’ll make you a deal, you can go pantless if I can go shirtless.”

Hermione turned back to him, pausing for a moment before her hands moved to the button on her jeans, slipping them through the fabric and pushing them off, stepping out effortlessly and continuing on to the snack bowl as she grabbed it and walked to the kitchen without a backwards glance.

Draco sat, stunned, still staring at the place she’d been standing. And then his brain turned on again and he stood, setting his half-drunk glass of firewhiskey on the coffee table and following her purposefully.

She was replacing the bottles of alcohol back in their respective places on the shelf of the small bar in the corner as he walked in and leaned himself against the end of the island not more than a couple steps behind her.

“You look much more comfortable.”

She turned back to him, “I am, thank you.”

She was either playing hard to get very fucking well or he was very fucking friendzoned.

“I would have had a similar response to the question, had Pansy posed it to me,” he said, calculating each word.

She replaced the last bottle, turning to him and leaning back against the bar counter, “That you think your entire body is magnificent?”

“You think it’s magnificent ?” his lip curled up and her eyes rolled. The temptation.

“I was just assuming what you would say.”

“I meant if she posed the question to me about you,” he clarified, doing a generic wave of his hand in her direction.

“You think my body is magnificent then?”

“I think it’s alluring. In every way.”

That seemed to finally catch her as her mouth closed and she regrouped quickly, “So what are you going to do about it?” the words were breathy and quiet this time.

He pushed off the counter, closing the few steps between them and let a hand find her waist as the other fulfilled its multi-months-long dream of losing itself in her hair. Her chin tilted up to him with a slight pull to her lips and a paralyzing fire in her eyes, “This,” he said barely audibly as he leaned down to her, heart jumping out of his chest as his lips brushed hers, soft hands slipping around his back and pulling him closer.

He pressed his lips back to hers more firmly and a sigh ghosted them as they broke apart again. His eyes met hers as they opened; heavy but ablaze, and a groan rumbled in his throat as he kissed her more fiercely this time, his tongue finding hers with a parting of lips. It felt like silk against his own and elicited the slightest moan from her that he’d do anything to hear again.

He found the back of her thighs and lifted her onto the counter as her arms locked around his neck and his hands found their way under her shirt. He may have uttered a few curses between kisses, his growing arousal making itself known as she dragged a hand down his chest.

“Draco? Where are you?” came Theo’s voice from the living room and Draco jumped back, leaning in what he hoped was a casual way against the refrigerator and readjusting himself as Hermione jumped off the counter to hide her bottom half behind the island, just in time for Theo to walk through the doorway, “Oh perfect, I left a reserve bottle of firewhiskey. My father will literally murder me —  not an exaggeration —  if he thinks I took it so I was going to sneak what’s left of it back into the bar. Did you move it? I thought I’d left it on the mantel.”

“Sorry, I cleaned up when everyone left,” Hermione’s voice was a little airy but didn’t raise alarm, “Draco, do you want to grab it from the shelf?” she requested, clearly trying not to make it obvious that she didn’t have pants on.

“Right,” he pushed off the refrigerator, turning to the bar and scanning until he found the right one, pulling it from its place and walking over to hand it off to Theo, “There you go. Hope you don’t get murdered.”

“Cheers,” he lifted the bottle to them with a grin before disappearing back to the Floo.

Draco and Hermione looked at each other with a wry smile until Theo’s voice carried from the living room again.

“By the way, Granger, your jeans are in here so I look forward to hearing this story soon!” and then there was a crackle of flames and silence.

“Oh god,” Hermione leaned on the counter with her head in her hands, exhaling a light laugh.

“Leave it to Theo,” Draco muttered.

“I should go to bed,” Hermione looked up at him. He scanned her face for regret but only found amusement and a bit of a drunk haze.

“Might want to grab your pants on the way,” he winked.

She laughed, walking from the room with a showy swish to her hips, “Goodnight Draco.”

“Goodnight,” he called after her, left in the kitchen with nothing but the memory of her lips on his.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o 

He’d relayed the story to Theo and Blaise at brunch the next morning, leaving out the more private details, as Blaise clapped him on the back, “You’re into Hermione Granger, what a twist.”

“Well he’s not into her yet,” Theo wagged his eyebrows.

“Fuck off," Draco pushed his arm in annoyance.

“Oh he really likes her,” Theo’s grin deepened.

Draco brushed his tongue along his teeth with a sigh of defeat, “I’m fucked, aren’t I.”

“Entirely,” Blaise raised a mug of coffee towards him and the conversation moved on.

The next couple of weeks had been a push and pull of trying to remain neutral and friendly, and trying to determine if there was more between them than a one-time drunken make-out. A very hot, mind-blowing one-time drunken make-out. But she was hard to read. Sometimes she’d flirt and it would be obvious, and sometimes she’d sit on the couch as they read in a comfortable silence without the slightest hint at attraction.

After two weeks of it, the suspense was killing him. He couldn’t stop thinking about that night. About her. About the very real and palpable spark that coursed between them in that short moment. With one kiss she’d wormed her way into his thoughts and there was nothing he could do about it. Other witches be damned at this point. There was no other witch he wanted. And that fact was highlighted by everything she did. A light sigh while reading made his mouth dry. Her laugh made him dizzy. And their debates left him feeling as heated as the discussion. Everything about her had become electrifying. And he wanted more of it. He had to know if it was mutual.

Throwing caution to the wind, he took to the living room on a Friday evening in a comfortable pair of pajama pants and no shirt. He hadn’t brought up anything from that night since, which included not going shirtless in the flat around her. It felt like a respectful thing to do, to let it all blow over; if she wanted to pretend it never happened, he should let her have that. They were flatmates after all and they had a certain friendship to maintain. But it had been some time now and there was nothing inappropriate about being shirtless. It was harmless and if she alluded to it he could just mention he was warm after a hot shower and trying to cool down. Really not a big deal.

He settled himself on the couch with a book in hand, propping a leg up on the couch and letting the other dangle contentedly off the side. Her door had opened a little while later and she’d stared at him, his eyes lifting her hers, eyebrows raising as though questioning her pause, and then her door closed again. His eyes returned to his book although his heart rate spiked and his stomach clenched thinking he may have downplayed her discomfort at a reminder of that particular evening.

And then her door opened again and his eyes flew back to her: standing there in a cropped black t-shirt and black lace panties. His book fell from his hands and she walked forward, eyes locked on his as she took a seat on the opposite end of the couch, turning towards him and lifting her legs onto the couch to cross in between his. His mouth fell open as he took in the length of her deliciously tanned legs. She grabbed her book from the coffee table as his eyes returned to hers and then she opened it, her gaze moving to the book.

Once his brain caught up with real time, twice now she’d done this to him, he moved from his seat, crawling over her and pulling the book from her hands and throwing it onto the recliner, their gaze meeting again.

“So you don’t regret it?” the words held the implication of a hundred different questions.

“No,” she said simply, a smile playing at her lips in a tantalizing way, "I've just been waiting for you to make another move."

He captured those mesmerizing lips without hesitation and her hands slid into his hair, displacing his perfectly placed blond locks and shattering every bit of his self-control in one swipe.

“You are,” he kissed the corner of her mouth, “So fucking,” his lips moved across her jawline, “Beautiful,” he growled in her ear. Her breath was hot against his cheek and he continued on to her neck as his teeth grazed gently down the soft skin. She moaned, igniting every part of his body as his hand gripped her waist, a finger playing with the seam of her lace panties.

His lips found hers again as he kissed her deeply, her fingers pulling at his hair in the most appealing way.

“Your room is bigger,” she whispered between kisses and he pulled back, eyes moving between hers, loving the innocent blush on her cheeks as he grinned, standing from the couch and holding his hand out for her as she took it and followed him to his bedroom, the door closing behind them with a deafening click that solidified the very real decision they were making as two very capable adults.

His room was perfectly in order —  items placed very particularly by Pansy, sheets tucked and pillows fluffed. And if Pansy could have foreseen the destruction that would take place to all of her hard work, she’d have shrieked.

Draco lifted Hermione into his arms as her legs wrapped around him and he pressed her back to the door, his hands immediately finding their way beneath her shirt and running down the curves of her back thinking how they would look displayed in front of him.

He pulled her from the door and swept his hand across his dresser as a slew of personal grooming supplies fell forgotten to the floor and Hermione’s very grabbable backside took their place. He inched her shirt up as they kissed and her arms lifted, pulling back just long enough for him to slide it off and discard it on the floor. He took a well-earned moment to fix his eyes on her bare chest before his lips replaced his gaze, tracing the curve of her breast as she gripped his shoulder, leaning back to steady herself on the dresser. 

After an adequate introduction to a new part of her body, she breathed, “Bed?

He lifted her from the dresser and reattached to her lips as he cleared the distance to the bed, setting her on the edge and following her as she crawled back to the pillows.

“What do you want?” he spoke into her neck as he nipped lightly at the exposed skin.

“All of it,” she said heavily, “This. With you.”

He sucked harder on her neck and she hissed involuntarily, nails finding the skin on his back. He smirked against her as he ran a line of kisses down her body, heat blushing across each area of skin as he went.

She tensed slightly as his lips traced her pantyline. His eyes flicked up to hers, looking back at him with a burning need he would murder a man to be on the other side of. His finger slipped past the fabric and she tilted her head in the slightest nod as he pulled them down her legs and discarded them. His kisses moved to her inner thigh as his hands began to explore new territory again, coaxed by soft moans and breathy sighs from above.

He didn’t deserve a single second of this; a single brush of kisses against her radiating skin; the eruption of goosebumps as her fingers devoured his hair; the taste of her on his lips. Hermione Granger needed to be savored. To be appreciated and respected. Because he didn’t deserve any bit of this heaven or any ounce of her affection. So as much as he wanted to take her; ravish her; have her, he pushed it all from his mind and focused on taking it slow; enjoying every touch and logging each beautiful sound into his memory until she was quite literally begging him for more.

“Draco, please …”

His kisses worked their way back to her lips as she pushed at the top of his pants, which were quickly delivered to the floor with the rest of it. Her hand wrapped around his length and she pulled his face back to hers, kissing him with a renewed tenacity that he matched with fervor.

“Gods I want you, Hermione,” he barely got the words out before her teeth softly caught his bottom lip again and his thoughts evaporated.

Please,” she said again, directing him between her legs.

He took her hand and lifted it over her head with a look that melted her inside, positioning himself more fully against her as he kissed her again; a promise. To make it worth it; to make it right; to try to be deserving of her.

He pressed into her as she inhaled sharply, her free hand wrapping around his bicep. His kisses were soft as he slowly worked his way in, pausing as he filled her.

Draco,” she breathed, a leg wrapping around him to pull him in deeper. 

He retreated just as slow before pushing into her a little harder, met with more sounds of encouragement as he began moving more steadily inside of her, her back arching into him as his eyes fluttered closed, memorizing every feeling; every sigh; every caress of nails against skin. She made everything that came before completely inadequate and he knew nothing after besides her would ever feel this good again.

Her forefinger ran rune-for-rune against the Azkaban number on the side of his neck as he groaned and then she found the back of his head and pulled his face to her, filling his mouth with hot kisses and indiscernible moans that he hoped would fill his head for the rest of his life; burned there; branded there; the only mark he’d never want to get rid of was the mark she was leaving in his memory of their bodies completely and unequivocally connected just as they were in that moment.

His hand slid down between their bodies and her pants came heavier; words less cohesive before she lost herself to him, her body shaking against him, head thrown back in bliss as he watched her greedily. And it was all he needed: watching her eyes flutter, taking in every curl spread over his pillow case, feeling her nails curl against his arm, and he followed her over the edge, head falling to the crook of her neck and curses muffled by hair.

And when he opened his eyes, everything felt new; felt fresh; felt light.

He’d kissed her once, twice, twenty times, he couldn’t remember, but eventually he’d fallen to the side and pulled her to him, exhausted and exhilarated, and she’d smiled and laughed as they’d done their best to make cohesive pillow talk and it had felt so fucking good to lay there with her before they’d both drifted to sleep.

O-o-o-o-o-o-o

RA-DA 2

And now he lay in his very own bed the next morning with Hermione Granger pressed against him, still sleeping, looking more relaxed than he thought she was capable of in her normal day-to-day life. She’d regret it. He knew she would. Draco Malfoy was an ideology. He was an ex-Death Eater. He was dangerous and misunderstood and all that garbage. He was the type that girls liked to be with once or twice for the thrill of it. Maybe Hermione had needed that experience. And now she would realize her mistake, or the itch would be sufficiently scratched, and things would return to some slightly more awkward version of the friendship they’d had before.

He let a long breath out of his nose, committing to memory once more the feeling of his face buried in her hair and her bare skin against his, before he slipped from the sheets, grabbing his boxer briefs and pants and heading quietly for the door.

“You can’t very well sneak out of your own room, Malfoy,” came Hermione’s voice sleepily as she stretched and turned over towards the door, resting on her elbow.

“I wasn’t… sneaking out,” he faltered and she laughed, eyebrows raised in challenge.

“Where are you off to on your tip-toes with your clothes in your hands then?”

He subconsciously lowered back down onto the heels of his feet, “Well I just — look I don’t know how we ended up like this and I was just trying to make it less awkward.”

“You don’t… know how we ended up like this? I remember quite clearly.”

“I mean I know how, just more theoretically,” he straightened with a huff, “I assumed you’d rather wake alone.”

“That actually wouldn't have been my preference,” she shrugged, eyes flickering against his, “This doesn’t have to be awkward.”

“And how do you suggest we make it less so?” the condescending tone couldn’t be helped.

“Well how about you drop your clothes and that bite in your tone and get back in bed where I think I can make some very compelling recommendations.”

He gulped. And it was audible. Hermione Granger was trying to seduce him back into bed. He was not a regrettable mistake to her. And she wanted more of him.

His clothes hit the ground and their eyes never left each other as he made his way back to the bed, “As a favor to you, I’ll hear your ideas,” he said as he slipped back into his new favorite emerald sheets, her hands finding his chest like a moth to flame and his lips silencing any other cheeky retort that might have been. 

In three months time his life had been turned upside down. And if he played his cards right, maybe with some more time, he could become the kind of man that could deserve Hermione Granger; could deserve her kiss and her touch and deserve lazy early mornings wrapped in the sheets sharing forbidden moments and unspoken promises. Only time would tell.

O-o-o-o-o-o-o

The End

o-o-o-o-o-o-o