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Sugar and Spice

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“It’s not too late, you know.”

Hermione paused, setting her folded jumper aside. “What’s not too late?”

Arms crossed, Ron nudged one of the packed boxes with the toe of his boot. “Plenty of things. You could still change your name, enter the protected person’s service, move to…I don’t know, Guam?”

“Guam?” she asked, lips twitching. “Why in heaven’s sake would I move to Guam, Ron?”

Ron groaned. “It’s Malfoy Manor. Anything beats that.”

She tsked. “Stop it. I’ll have you know, Narcissa did a lovely job—”

“Redecorating, yes, you’ve said.” He wrinkled his nose. “Doesn’t mean I’m keen on visiting you there.”

“Too bad.” Setting a stack of jumpers in the trunk, she shut the lid and triple checked the closet. That was the last of her clothing, the last of…all of it. “You promised.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Ron scratched the back of his neck and shrugged. “Just want to make sure you’re sure. You are sure, aren’t you?”

More than anything. “I am. I swear.”

Ron sighed and nodded his head at her trunk. “That the last of it?”

She wasn’t bringing much, didn’t have much to bring that she hadn’t already dropped off straight from Hogwarts. Just some clothing, a few keepsakes that fit in two boxes, and her books. All her books, granted, but together, they’d be able to haul it all through the Floo in one trip. It was so little that it wasn’t even worth it to shrink it down. A good thing, seeing as they were all achy and exhausted from hauling Ginny’s many belongings through to Grimmauld all morning. Unlike Hermione, moving her things had taken multiple trips, and Molly had only gotten more distraught with each box and trunk took through the fireplace. Uncomfortable was putting it lightly, uncomfortable in more ways than one. Poor Neville was laid up in the spare bedroom, sleeping off a pain draught after pulling a muscle in his back from overdoing it.

“That’s it.” She nodded. With a flick of her wand, the trunk lifted and floated through the door and down the stairs ahead of them.

“—and so fairies like blonds?” Harry’s head was cocked to the side as he goggled at Luna who simply nodded.

Across the room, Theo—who’d learned better—shook his head and made an abrupt gesture in front of his throat, mouthing the words, “Cut it out.”

“Oh yes. Changelings are nearly always fair-haired,” Luna replied, none the wiser to Theo’s actions.

Harry opened his mouth, shut it, and tried again. “Luna, no offense then but do ever wonder—”

“All finished!” Hermione interrupted. “How are things down here? Everyone’s getting along?”

From the far end of the sofa, with one ankle crossed casually over his knee, Draco snorted. “No one’s been maimed if that’s what you’re asking.”

“Yet,” Harry added, smirking slightly. “No one’s been maimed yet.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “You talk a big talk, Potter, but don’t act like you didn’t invite me to play pick-up Quidditch.”

“The Department of Mysteries’ seeker disappeared,” Harry protested. “If they don’t have a substitute next week, our game’s forfeit.”

“Doesn’t negate the fact that you needed a seeker and you came to me. I’m doing you a favor.”

Harry scoffed. “It’s not a favor. If anything I’m doing you one by inviting you to play. Did you stop to think I invited you because I know I’m better than you?”

“Interesting. Let me get this straight, either you’re afraid of a challenge, or you need me.” Draco smiled. “It’s one or the other, take your pick.”

“Afraid of a challenge?” Harry stared, open-mouthed, green eyes wide with disbelief. “Did you forget who you’re speaking with?”

Draco shrugged. “Methinks thou doth protest too much, Potter.”

Methinks,” Ron repeated. “Who says that?”

“It’s called culture, Weasley,” Draco said, brushing invisible dust from his trousers. “That thing you get from opening a book and—”

“Excuse me,” she interjected. “An Unspeakable is missing and you’re arguing over Quidditch?”

And Shakespearean English, apparently.

Harry, Ron, and Ginny stared as if it were completely normal.

Ron shook his head. “No, we know where the bloke went, we just can’t get him back.”

Harry coughed and glared at Ron. “But you didn’t hear that from us.”

“Oh, come on, Harry.” Ron groaned. “No one here’s going to the Prophet.” He cut his eyes in Draco’s direction. “Right?”

Draco scoffed. “As if I’d need to sell a story to the Prophet. Please.”

“Out of curiosity”—Theo leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees—“where did this poor bastard end up?”

Harry’s lips twisted. “When, not where. When did he end up.”

“Time turner incident gone awry.” Ron grimaced.

“And no one’s doing anything?” she asked. Merlin, the poor wizard was stuck in time and they were concerned with replacing his Quidditch position? Already?

Harry and Ron shared a look and Ron shrugged. “That’s…classified?”

When Harry nodded, she rolled her eyes. Classified, her arse. “Oh, please. And the Ministry is doing what exactly? You are doing something, aren’t you?”

Ron frowned. “Not much for us to do exactly. Not the DMLE, at least. Hasn’t been a crime committed.”

“Sure you don’t want to join the DoM?” Harry joked. “Whip them into shape?”

Draco and Theo spoke at the same time, “No.”

Their concern was sweet, but she had zero interest working for the Ministry, especially after that sales pitch. “Thank you, but as I’ve already told Kingsley a million times, no.” She paused. “Honestly? Hell no.”

Harry chuckled. “All right, Headmistress Granger. Everything packed? We can always move you out tomorrow if you’d rather wait.”

“What’s the rush, really?” Ron nodded.

Draco pulled a face. “And be forced to make small talk with you two days in a row? I think not.”

 She laughed, flicking her wand. “I’m sure we can manage it if you’d rather stay behind, Ron.”

Ron sighed. “No, no. I’ll…help.”

He looked as if he’d been offered a bogey-flavored Bertie’s Bott’s Every Flavored Bean, part offended, but mostly just ill at the thought of stepping foot back inside the Manor.

“I’ll come,” Luna offered, standing and smoothing down her skirt. “I can show you where best to plant the yarrow, Draco.”

“Sure, Luna.” He smiled tightly. “That sounds…nice.”

Luna hummed. “Does it?”

Draco looked at her askance. “Yes?”

“Oh, good.” Luna smiled and nodded. “I wasn’t sure if you were just being kind.”

Ron snorted indelicately. “Malfoy? Kind?”

“Now, I haven’t said a single disparaging word about your hair or your general, bumbling disposition.” The set of Draco’s jaw was harsh, but his eyes danced. “I’ve shown kindness in spades, Weasley.”

“Tosser,” Ron grumbled, rolling his eyes.

Theo unfolded himself from the couch and stretched, his shirt rising and revealing an inch of smooth, pale skin that made her bite her lip. Gods, it had been a long day and it was over yet. Theo cracked his neck and smirked. “Quit flirting with my boyfriend, Weasley.”

Ron turned an unnatural shade of red to rival his hair, his freckles disappearing altogether as he gaped. “I’m—what the—I wasn’t—no. Not if he was the last bloke on Earth.”

“Interesting”—Ginny hummed—“that you said if he was the last bloke in the world and not the last person. Something you’d like to share with the class, Ron?”

His ears were purple, he was that flushed. “As in, I’d take all the girls first and if push came to shove, the rest of the guys before him. Not that I meant I like—you know what, Ginny? Watch it, or I’ll tell Mum all about the times I covered for you and said I was staying here when I wasn’t.”

She yawned and stretched out against the cushion Theo had abandoned. “That ship has sailed, brother. You think Mum honestly believes I’m sleeping in a spare room?”

Ron wrinkled his nose. “I’d like to think you’re sleeping in a spare room, thanks.”

Hermione sighed. “This is nice and all…whatever this is, but would you all mind? I’d like to unpack before it gets too late.”

“That eager to be rid of us?” Harry joked.

As if that deserved a proper response.

Rolling her eyes, she grabbed the box of books beside her feet and called over her shoulder, “Someone toss the powder for me, will you?”

Stumbling from the Floo, she waited for the others to join her on the other side. First came Theo, then Harry, Ron, Luna, and finally Draco stepped from the fireplace.

“Merlin,” Ron muttered. “This is—”

“Nice,” Harry blurted, head tilted back as he took in the mural covering the ceiling. “Really nice. Erm, brighter than I remember.”

Luna smiled. “You’ve gotten rid of the Nargles since the last time I visited.”

Draco grimaced at her mention of their last visit and adjusted the box in his hands. He jerked his chin at the doorway. “This way. Please.”

Ron and Harry whispered as they brought up the rear of their ragtag group, the bunch of them winding their way out of the room and up the stairs. Luna prattled on to Draco about the doorways they should line with onion juice to keep away something she referred to as gulping plimpies, and only the occasional furrowing of his brow belied his discomfort as he otherwise nodded and hummed at the appropriate intervals.

Theo sidled up beside her and nudged her with his elbow, his hands otherwise full. “Look at us all playing nice. Before you know it we’ll be having dinner parties and organizing play groups.”

“Play groups?” She arched brow. “Don’t get ahead of yourself.”

He chuckled. “I haven’t the slightest clue what you’re insinuating, but I was talking about Draco and Harry.”

Theo.” She bit her lip, laughing.

“All I’m saying is I about had to pinch myself when Potter invited him to the game next week.” He shook his head, blue eyes wide with exaggerated disbelief. “Thought I was hearing things.”

She nodded. “I’m surprised Draco agreed.”

“Eh.” Theo shrugged. “He’s probably looking forward to the opportunity to best him once more.”

“Misses it, does he?”

“Old habits.” Theo shrugged. “Whatever makes him happy.”

“Whatever’s harmless that makes him happy,” she corrected. “It’s all fun and games until someone falls off a broom from a mile in the air and breaks a neck.”

She pursed her lips. An outrageous sport, one she thought she’d put behind her once and for all seeing as Draco was talented, certainly, but a professional career wasn’t quite in the cards for him, not that he’d ever expressed a desire to pursue one. But no, Harry had to go and be nice. Not that they were any better off—or safer—as enemies, but Quidditch? Honestly? Why couldn’t they bond over something safe, like a Muggle sport? Like…golf? She huffed.

Theo nudged her once more. “Okay?”

“Just a bit tense, I suppose. Long day.” She rolled her neck from side to side, stretching.

Between hauling boxes and dealing with Molly’s—well, Molly in general, not to mention the general overwhelm of having all her friends together, plus Draco and Theo, she was ready to call it a day.

Theo’s lips curved in a sinful little smirk that made her flush tip to toe. “As soon as everyone’s gone, I’ll help you work out your kinks, yeah?”

Behind them, Ron groaned. “Blegh. Top of the list of things I don’t need to know.”

“Don’t listen then, Weasley,” Draco said, rounding the corner and stepping inside their room.

“As if I wanted to overhear that,” Ron muttered, making her cheeks burn.

“You can just set those down anywhere.” She lowered her own box to the floor and straightened, smiling. “Thank you all for your help.”

“’course.” Harry nodded and slid his glasses up the bridge of his nose. His gaze bounced around the room, carefully drifting over the bed before he refocused on her. “You need a hand unpacking?”

She shook her head. “No, it shouldn’t take too terribly long. But thank you.”

“Sure.”

For a moment, they all stood awkwardly in the center of the room eyeing one another, no one making a move other than to shift their weight from one foot to the other or tuck their hands inside their pockets.

“This is bizarre,” Ron blurted.

Harry shot him a look of exasperation. “What Ron means is, you living here will take some getting used to.”

Ron shook his head. “Sure, Harry.”

“I’ll visit and you’re welcome here whenever you’d like,” she said.

Draco tucked his hands inside the pockets of his trousers and coughed. “Within reason. And only if you owl ahead first. Don’t think you can just wander through the Floo at any hour of the day and night and put your feet up whenever you please.”

Theo pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. “What he means is, we’d like to be ready for guests. Tilly would be cross if she weren’t adequately prepared for entertaining.”

Draco’s lip curled. “Thank you, Theo. That’s exactly what I meant.”

“You know”—Luna swung her arms at her sides—“it would be much easier if everyone said what they meant and meant what they said. Or, if obfuscation is your intention, maybe try speaking in a different language altogether. Might I suggest Akkadian? No one speaks Akkadian anymore.”

Draco blinked as if Luna were already speaking in a foreign tongue. “I’ll take it under advisement.”

Luna smiled serenely and continued to flounce the hem of her dress—that Hermione was ninety-nine percent sure was inside out—each time she brushed it with her swinging fingers.

Harry shifted his weight from his left foot to the right. “Right, well…we should…we should go, I suppose.”

Suddenly it was all very real, her moving out of Grimmauld, moving in here. She’d spent the last months in Scotland, but returning and seeing her friends during holidays was always a given. Seeing Harry and Ron would be less of an inevitability now, more of something they’d have to make certain they didn’t slouch on, plan for regularly in a way that would fit with the demands of everyone’s busy schedules. It wasn’t sad, not like losing someone, but it was another chapter closing.

Unable to restrain herself, she flung her arms around Harry and Ron both, pressing up on her tiptoes so that she could grip them around the necks and tug them closer to her height. Harry chuckled, but they both wrapped her up, returning the hug.

“If you both don’t write to me at least once a week, so help me…” she threatened.

Ron huffed but squeezed tighter. “We’ll set up a weekly thing, okay?”

Harry’s chin bumped the top of her head when he nodded. “We can meet up at the Leaky or somewhere.”

She sniffed hard. She would not cry, because if she cried Harry and Ron would think she didn’t really want to move here. They’d start a spat and Draco and Theo would both be upset thinking she was upset and just—no. She took a step back and nodded briskly. “Sounds like a plan. Now get out of the here, the both of you. I need to unpack and I can’t do it with you hovering.”

Theo cleared his throat. “I’ll walk you out.”

Harry squeezed her shoulder and Ron smiled before turning and stepping out into the hall after Theo.

Luna stepped forward and took her hand, squeezing her fingers lightly before depositing a bundle of—what was that? Was that…bread? Yes, apparently it was. A crust of brown bread and a sprinkle of pink salt rested in her palm.

Luna smiled. “Bread so your house may never know hunger and salt so your life will always have flavor.”

“That’s…lovely, Luna. Thank you.” Was she supposed to—supposed to eat it?

“You’re very welcome, Hermione,” she said, staring, not blinking, not moving, not leaving.

The food was symbolic, right? She wasn’t really supposed to eat it, was she? Gods, Luna…

“I’ll owl you next week so we can arrange a time to discuss our plans going forward,” she said, still holding this piece of what looked like rye bread and coarse salt. “We can meet for tea.”

Luna walked backward on her toes. “Enjoy your new home, Hermione. Goodbye, Draco.”

“Bye, Luna.” Draco inclined his head.

As soon as she was out the door, Hermione rounded on Draco, shaking her hand. “What am I supposed to do with this?”

Draco scooped the bread and salt from her palm and set it on top of one of the boxes. “At least Lovegood had the decency to bring a housewarming gift. Theo and I left a bottle of firewhisky in the kitchen at Grimmauld for Weaslette. It’s called having manners, something Potter and Weasley could do with more of.”

“It was kind, if not a bit strange,” she conceded. “Is it awful that I wish you’d have kept the firewhisky, though?”

“Long day?” Setting his hands on her hips, Draco pulled her nearer.

She dropped her forehead to his chest and sighed. “I need to unpack.”

“Leave it for tomorrow.” His hands slid from her hips, stroking her back.

With a groan, she straightened and shook her head. “I shouldn’t procrastinate. Not like it’s that much, but all my books…”

Draco tangled his fingers with her and tugged her across the room to where three floor-to-ceiling bookshelves covered the wall. “Speaking of, I had some of the books from these shelves transferred to the library. I thought you might want at least some of your collection closer by.”

He’d cleared out at least half the books, leaving plenty of room for hers.

Closets and dresser drawers were one thing, but that he’d given her bookshelves? She dropped his hand and threw her arms around his shoulders, breathing him in. Gods, he smelled good. “Thank you.”

Draco wrapped his arms around her and tucked his chin over her head, humming softly. “Why are you thanking me? It’s your home now, too.” He cleared his throat and pulled away enough to look her in the eye. “I want you to be happy, be happy here. I’m rather invested in your happiness at this point.”

“I am happy,” she promised. “Bookshelves or not.”

Draco cocked his head, brow arching and lips twitching. “You’re only saying that because of the library.”

“And the bathtub,” she teased.

“Bathtub?” Theo stepped inside the room and shut the door with his foot, his hands full. In one hand he carried a bottle of wine and in the other three glasses by their stems. “What’s this about our bathtub?”

Ours. She liked that.

“Are you certain we can’t convince you to unpack later?” Draco asked. “We could wait, enjoy a little wine—”

“Relax in the bath,” Theo added.

There would be no relaxing if they got in that bathtub.

“Nice try,” she said, shaking her head. “I want to unpack now, get it over with, and then later we can…unwind.”

Theo shrugged and uncorked the bottle, filling each glass with a generous pour. “You can sip and unpack, can’t you?”

With three sets of hands, unpacking went quicker than she imagined. The boxes and trunks dwindled until…

“Hold on.” Draco was staring down into one of the boxes filled with keepsakes, a look of undisguised glee brightening his eyes and pinking his cheeks. “Are these…plushies?”

Cheeks warm, she slapped her hands down on the flaps of the box, but she was too slow. Theo slipped around her and snatched the lightweight box, carrying it across the room while Draco held her back, arms banded around her waist.

“They’re Beanie Babies,” she argued. “My mum used to buy them for me. They’re very popular Muggle collectibles.”

Theo grinned down at the box and sifted through them, tossing them one by one on the bed. “Collectibles? They’re soft toys, love.”

“Some people think they’re going to be worth a lot of money one day. They’re practically a financial investment.” Not that she necessarily believed in their eventual worth, but some people did. It sounded better than admitting she was nearly twenty and still owned plushies.

Draco cackled. “Real estate is a financial investment. Gold, silver, rare potions ingredients…”

“Books,” Theo added. He snatched one of the Beanie Babies from the bed and held it up. “Is this a snake?”

“A plushie snake?” Draco pinched his lips together. “Granger.”

Merlin. “Yes, okay? It’s a snake. A plushie snake. What of it?”

Theo’s shoulders shook with poorly restrained laughter. “Gods, Draco, listen to this. Curled and coiled and ready to play, he waits for you patiently every day. He'll keep his best friend, but not his skin. And stay with you through thick and thin!” Theo lifted his hand to his mouth and bit down on his fist. “He comes with a poem?”

“A little rudimentary, but not awful,” Draco mused.

Theo waggled his brows. “Curled and coiled and ready to play? I really want to make an innuendo but it feels extra dirty to joke like that while holding a plushie.”

Her face was on fire. “I don’t cuddle the damn things. They used to sit on my shelf and then they went in a box and now they’re here and you can—you can throw the whole thing in a closet. See if I care.”

“Granger, calm yourself,” Draco tutted and leaned down, kissing her cheek. Her face was so hot that even his lips felt cool. “We’re having a laugh.”

“At my expense.”

“His name is Hissy according to this precious little heart-shaped tag,” Theo said as if that gave him free rein to tease. “It’s too perfect not to joke.” He froze, jaw dropping as he reached across the bed. “You have a lion, too?”

“Of course she does,” Draco said. “What’s his name?”

Theo sputtered, peeling open the tag. “Roary. Oh sweet Salazar, listen. Deep in the jungle they crowned him king, but being brave is not his thing. A cowardly lion some may say. He hears his roar and runs away!”

Draco’s arms dropped from around her waist as he collapsed to his bum on the floor in one of those rare displays of emotion that never failed to humble her. She was lucky enough to see them, those moments of unrestrained laughter and joy and even the unfortunate moments of sadness, see him drop his guard and let loose, even if he was poking fun at her. “No, it bloody does not say that.”

She bit the inside of her cheek. She had always hated Roary’s poem, just a bit. “Keep digging and you’ll find my favorite of the bunch.”

Theo cut his eyes and then, with a single-minded focus, checked each and every plushie until he… “No. It isn’t.”

She nodded. “Mhmm. His name’s Runner.”

Draco stood, brushing off his trousers even though the floor was spotless. “Is that…?”

Theo cleared his throat. “A ferret, mongoose, weasel or mink. What am I...what do you think? Find a book, look and see, I'm whatever you want me to be!” Theo pinched his lips so tight they turned white at the close. He turned the tag over and snorted. “That was the nice version. The mean one goes, I'm not so mean, I'm really shy, but every cobra has to die. I grab them by their little head. And whack them till they're stone cold dead! Bloody hell, that’s violent.”

Draco wrinkled his nose. “One, that ferret isn’t even white, so don’t even, Theo. And two, these are children’s toys?”

“They are collectibles. Collectibles my mother purchased.”

“Call them whatever you’d like,” Theo said. “But we’re keeping these.”

“They have a certain…charm,” Draco conceded. “Mostly because they’re yours and the thought of you being so frivolous is…”

“Adorable?” Theo offered.

Draco nodded. “Adorable, Granger.”

She snatched her wine off the dresser and finished the last swill in the bottom. “I’m not sure if I should thank you or hex you, but I’m in a good mood so we’ll call it a draw.”

“Where should I put these?” Theo nodded at the dozen or so plushies strewn across the bed.

She studied the room, worrying the edge of her lip. Her books had been neatly organized—alphabetically by author’s surname, naturally—and her photos—some magical and a few Muggle—had been dotted around on the room on various surfaces. It wasn’t that she couldn’t find somewhere to store her collectibles, but the whole room was so clean, so classy, decked out in shades of dark wood and green fabrics, mature, that her childhood plushies didn’t really fit anywhere.

Not that she minded. Even though the room was meant to be as much as hers as Draco’s and Theo’s, she didn’t want to change it, not more than she already had, softening the drapes from the heavy velvet curtains to a gauzy fabric that let a little more light in. “Is there somewhere I can store them? A spare room or attic, perhaps?”

Draco shrugged. “If that’s what you want. You could set them all around the room and I wouldn’t—” He paused. “Okay, I’d mind a bit because that sounds terribly tacky.”

Theo snorted. “Points for trying. You want me to box them back up?”

She nodded.

And that was…Merlin, that was everything. She had officially moved in. “That’s all of it, I suppose.”

Draco cleared his throat. When she turned, he was staring at Theo, brows raised.

Theo set the box of plushies aside and stared right back at Draco, brow furrowed until clarity washed over his face, his eyes widening before his expression smoothed, going carefully blank. “No, there’s this other box over here you forgot about.”

On the other side of the bed? She’d unpacked her books on that side of the room, but…she didn’t own so much that she could simply forget a whole box of possessions. “Are you sure it’s mine?”

Theo had long ago moved into the Manor, but he’d kept a few items in storage at Gringotts in addition to a several odds and ends left behind at Nott Manor that he’d slowly been moving over the last week. She’d offered to help, he was helping her so it was only fair, but he’d put his foot down; he didn’t want her setting foot inside his old home, at least not until it had been looked over by a team of curse breakers and even then, he’d seemed wary at the idea of her ever seeing the place.

So maybe the box was his and he was mistaken? That had to be it.

Only, Theo shook his head. “It’s definitely yours.”

How odd.

Draco ushered her across the room, his hand on her hip. When they reached the foot of the bed, he took a seat and tugged her down beside him.

Theo rubbed his palms against his thighs and lifted a shoebox-sized box that definitely wasn’t hers from beside the bed. He ran his hand over the top, stroking the surface before drumming his fingers against the lid. His broad shoulders rose and fell on a deep breath before he looked up, blue eyes dreadfully serious. Her stomach flipped as his jaw slid forward and back before clenching tight.

“Here.” He thrust the box out at her.

“That isn’t mine.” She shook her head.

Draco plucked her left hand from where it was resting on her thigh and twined their fingers together. “Just take the box, Granger,” he urged.

Why was she so nervous? Probably because Theo was acting nervous and Draco wasn’t helping, his thigh jiggling gently against hers.

What was in the damn box that was not hers no matter what Theo said? She wouldn’t know until she opened it…

Grabbing the box in one hand, she set it down atop her thighs. Immediately, Theo took a seat beside her, wedging her in between the two of them. Usually, she could draw on them for support, but right now? That wasn’t working, not they were brimming with anxious energy.

Sparing one last curious glance at Theo, she slipped the lid from the box and—“What.”

There was another box inside of that shoebox, this one smaller, very small in fact. So small, jewelry box small. Ring box small.

Her throat was the size of a swizzle stick and swallowing almost hurt. “Theo?” He was staring at the box just as intently as she had been, refusing to meet her eye. She turned her head. Draco was watching her with an encouraging smile on his face, the left side of his mouth ever so slightly higher than the right. “Draco?”

He nodded at the box. “Go on, then. It’s not going to open itself.”

Draco squeezed her fingers and released her hand, making it possible for her to reach within the larger box and fish out the smaller one nestled inside.

Was this—was this what she thought it was? And if it was…well, did she want it to be?

Okay, yes, shock had been the overwhelming first reaction, but now…well, they had talked about it, the eventuality of their relationship becoming—not official, because they already were that, but permanent. Bonding. Magical marriage.

They had talked about it and she wanted it, she did, she just hadn’t been anticipating it now, right now, right after moving in together. But the longer she held the soft, velvet box in her hands, the more ready she felt to take one more step closer to forever.

Deep breath, in, out, all she had to do was open the box. The hinge creaked as she pried it open and—

It wasn’t a ring.

It was a key. A beautiful, antique-looking, silver, miniature skeleton key, but a key nonetheless.

She cleared her throat. “It’s lovely, don’t get me wrong, but I’m confused.”

“It’s a key.” Theo’s voice was tight, gravely, thick with emotion and—why?

She nodded. “I see that, but a key to what? A little too late to ask me to move in with you both.” She laughed, playing it off. It was either that or stew in the confusion, the disappointment that she had no business feeling. “And besides, there are no keys to the Manor, only wards, correct?”

Draco nodded. “Right. It’s not a key to the Manor.”

“Not this Manor,” Theo said, sighing. He took the box from her hands, set it back inside the shoe box and set the whole thing on the bedside table before turning and cradling her hand in his. “It’s a—it’s symbolic. It doesn’t actually unlock anything, but I didn’t know how to give you this, so the key was Draco’s idea. He’s better at gestures than I am.

This? “Theo?”

Theo’s tongue darted out, wetting his bottom lip. His lashes fluttered as he seemed to search for the right words, a skill he usually possessed. “I was thinking about how you—we—need a location for the orphanage and the school and it needs a lot of space, obviously. Classrooms, bedrooms, playrooms, offices, a lot of space.” Theo blew out his breath, brow pinching. “I’m—I have no interest in living there, Nott Manor, not ever again, but it’s just sitting there gathering dust and there’s so much room, so many rooms it’s ludicrous. I was thinking, rather than sell the place and make money I don’t need, why not repurpose it?”

Theo gripped her hand in his left, but lifted his right hand to his face and scratched his jaw. “I’m not…I’m not proud of my family, my father, I mean. Most of the memories I have of that place are of boredom at best, abuse at worst. Part of me wanted to raze the whole thing, light it on fucking fire and watch it go up in smoke, but Draco made sure I didn’t do something rash. A good thing, now, because this”—he squeezed her hand—“this could be good, couldn’t it? We could make it something good, something better. For the children.”

Her eyes stung, throat thick. “This is too much.”

Theo reached out, tracing her chin, her jaw. “Good thing I want to give you everything then.”

Gods, she couldn’t not kiss him, not when he said something like that, was looking at her like that, practically begging to be kissed. It took next to zero effort to close the distance between them, to press her lips to his and breathe him in, bite his bottom lip the way he loved. His chest swelled with his breath, pressing against hers as his arm wrapped around her waist, drawing her closer, hauling her onto his lap where she straddled one of his thighs.

He broke away, panting. His lips were red and wet and smiling and her chest ached, this time for all the right reasons. “Draco deserves some credit. Not only did he keep me from committing arson, but he also convinced me this wasn’t a shite idea.”

She turned, looking at Draco who was staring at Theo, eyes soft and fond. “I told Theo if you were willing to move past the Gods awful memories you have of this place and make it your home, it would be worth it to turn Nott Manor into something redeemable.” He dropped his gaze and scratched his forearm. “I told him you’d at least be on board to try.”

“I am.” She nodded, eyes flitting between them. “This is amazing. Thank you. Thank you both.”

She leaned to the side and kissed the corner of Draco’s mouth, a gentle brush that deepened when Draco turned his head. His tongue swept at the seam of her lips and, at the same time, Theo’s grip on her waist tightened, drawing her closer, pressing her against his lap where he was already half-hard between her thighs.

“I’ve been dying to touch you all day, but your friends are the worst cock blocks, I hope you know. Each time I so much as touched your waist, I thought Weasley was going to Avada me with his eyes.” Theo’s voice was strained. “Please tell me we can celebrate now?”

Rather than answer, answer in words at least, she grabbed Draco by the collar of his shirt and tugged him toward Theo. Picking up on the less-than-subtle suggestion, Theo snagged Draco by the back of the neck and closed the scant distance between their mouths. Their lips brushed but didn’t seal, the tangle of their tongues visible in a display so erotic she couldn’t help but rock down on Theo’s lap. Pressure, friction, she wanted something.

Theo smirked against Draco’s lips and rolled his hips upward, meeting her halfway, drawing a gasp from her lips.

“Maybe”—Theo’s breath was labored—“we should all be wearing less clothing. Scratch that, we should definitely be wearing less clothing.”

Making the first move, Draco shifted, standing from the bed and moving behind her where he grabbed the bottom of her shirt, lifting it over her head. Her bra came next, his slightly cool fingers deftly unfastening the back closure before sliding the straps down her shoulders. Theo hummed and dropped his head, mouth closing around a nipple.

“Oh my God,” she muttered, hands tangling in his hair.

It was distracting, each tug of his teeth sending a pleasant shock of heat between her legs. So distracting that she didn’t notice Draco had unbuttoned and lowered the zipper on her jeans until his hand was wiggling under the band of her knickers and cupping her mound.

“You’re soaked, Granger,” Draco whispered, breath hot and damp against the shell of her ear, his fingers sliding through her folds. “Have you been like this all day? What would your friends think if they knew you were all hot and bothered thinking about this while we were packing your things?”

She let her head fall back against him and whimpered when he slid two fingers inside her cunt, crooking them against the spot that made her see stars. “N—no. I wasn’t…”

Theo released her nipple with an audible pop and stared at her from beneath his dark lashes. “She likes to watch us, remember? That’s what got her hot.” Theo blew a stream of cool air against her breast, her nipple tightening almost painfully. “A bit of a voyeur, aren’t you, love?”

She moaned in answer, but he’d wanted to hear her say it, want the words, not just the sounds. “Yes.”

She did like watching them, loved watching them, had in some way or another, even back when they hadn’t yet been hers and she’d caught them snogging in the library.

Dancing his fingers up her arms, her shoulders, the sides of her neck, Theo finally tangled a hand in her hair and tugged hard, her back bowing and neck arching, muscles straining ever so slightly in a delicious stretch. She clenched down around Draco’s fingers, her vision crossing at the pressure that built. “Go on, that’s it. Your skin turns the prettiest shade of pink when you’re about to come, you know that? It’s become my favorite color.”

“I thought my eyes were your favorite color,” Draco teased. His fingers curled harder, his thumb brushing her clit within the snug confines of her jeans, and she tumbled over the edge, whimpering through her climax.

Theo hummed. “So fucking beautiful.”

Draco kissed the side of her neck and slipped his fingers from her cunt. Lips brushing her throat, he withdrew his hand from her knickers, fingers shining with wetness. Her face was already flushed, had to be based on how hot she was, but the proof of her arousal on his fingers? A fresh wave of heat wrapped around her throat, climbing up her jaw.

“You want a taste?” he offered Theo.

“Fuck yes. And for the record, I do love your eyes.” Circling Draco’s wrist with his hand, Theo brought Draco’s fingers to his mouth, tongue laving each digit and space in between. He then closed his lips around Draco’s fingers and sucked, humming softly, lids fluttering shut. Draco hissed through his teeth and rocked his hips, his cock hard against her back.

Theo drew back and licked his lips. “Sweeter than sugar quills, love.” His eyes were so dark his pupils swallowed up most of his irises, making his blue eyes look nearly black in the hazy, late afternoon light streaming through the window. “Clothes off, Draco. I need you both naked yesterday.”

Draco huffed out a laugh, but stepped back, stripping off his navy shirt before reaching for the placket of his trousers. “Maybe Hermione still has that time turner.”

“Excuse me,” she said, still catching her breath. “Did we not hear a very real story about the perils of time travel hours ago?”

There was eager and then there was extra eager, and using a time turner to expedite one’s pleasure was beyond the pale.

Theo cupped her face, lips smiling slightly, eyes shining with mock solemnity. “I love you, so fucking much, swottiness and all, but less lecturing while I’m trying to fuck you, please?”

She dropped her eyes pointedly to her jeans. “I’m still wearing pants. Perhaps you need to try a little harder.”

Theo’s answering growl was nearly drowned out by Draco’s laughter, and hers for that matter. Though, her laughter broke off rather quickly when Theo seized her around the waist and tossed her on to the mattress where she landed against her back, bouncing.

Prowling on his hands and knees, all long limbs and tall, lean body, Theo straddled her hips, pinning her to the bed with his weight. He grabbed her left wrist, then the right, and yanked them both over her head, drawing her torso taut.

“You’re in trouble now,” Draco teased, stepping out of his trousers.

Holding her wrists securely in one hand, Theo reached across the bed and snatched his wand. Suddenly, her wrists were bound by something soft and silky that offered just enough give to mind her circulation, but not enough that she could free herself without a struggle.

Bondage, had in theory, aroused her, but it was his silent spell-casting that really turned her on. Not that she’d admit it, not then, not when he was already looking smug.

Theo tossed his wand against the nightstand and grinned, so obviously pleased with himself. “Comfy?”

She cut her eyes and clenched her fingers into fists. “I’m fine.”

He tutted. “Now, don’t pout.” He lightly pinched her bottom lip, grinning. He released it and crawled off the bed. Stripping off his own shirt, Theo then shucked off his trousers before turning and reaching for the band of Draco’s shorts. He tossed a smirk over his shoulder. “I was under the impression you liked to watch?”

Futile as it was, she twisted her wrists and huffed. Merlin, her fingers were twitching, itching with the desire to touch them.

Draco bit his lower lip, laughing lightly. “I think she likes it better when she can touch.”

“Touch us? Or touch herself?” Theo slipped his hand inside Draco’s boxer briefs and withdrew his cock, sliding a palm up Draco’s length. “Is that what you want, love? I bet you’re aching right about now, hmm? Your clit’s throbbing isn’t it? You’ve drenched your knickers, haven’t you?”

Torture, this was bloody torture and Theo knew it, knew it and loved every second of it.

Draco hissed through his teeth and steadied himself, hand gripping Theo’s bicep as his hips rocked, thrusting into Theo’s fist. “Fuck, Theo.”

Apparently, she wasn’t the only one affected by Theo’s words.

“I’d rather you touch me,” she confessed, back arching in a way that pressed the seam of her jeans against her clit—and Theo was right, she was throbbing—just so, just enough to provide a smidge of friction but not enough. “I’d rather you both touch me.”

Her face flamed at the confession, but it had nothing on the heat emanating from both Theo and Draco’s eyes as they turned, watching from beneath heavy lids as she squirmed against the mattress,

“You have something particular in mind?” Theo’s thumb continued to brush just under the head of Draco’s weeping cock, almost absently. Draco clenched his jaw, nostrils flaring.

She did, she really did. “I want—”

No, she couldn’t say it.

With a shrug, Theo resumed stroking Draco off. “Guess you’re content to watch.”

Draco tangled his fingers in the short strands at the nape of Theo’s neck and drew him in, slotting their mouths together, muffling the moan that slipped from between his lips as Theo twisted his wrist.

Fuck. “I want…” she tried again. “I want you both.”

Why couldn’t he figure out what she wasn’t saying? He had to know, had to know what she wanted, what she meant.

It was Draco who took mercy on her, stepping away from Theo with a faint grimace. He crawled up on the bed beside her, wiggling until they were face to face, eye to eye, and moved a curl away from her cheek before it could fall into her vision. “You have us both.”

His lips twitched, those grey eyes of his gleaming. Oh, he knew exactly what he was doing, that insufferable man. So much for mercy.

“I want you both to fuck me,” she said, finally scrounging up the gumption.

Theo grabbed her jeans at the ankle and tugged hard, yanking them down her legs, leaving her in just her knickers, knickers that had slipped part way down her hips revealing the curls between her thighs. “Don’t we often?” he asked, feigning confusion.

Draco rested his palm on her ribs, thumb brushing the underside of her breast back and forth, the all-too-gentle caress making her want to scream. “Are you not satisfied?”

With a heavily put-upon look of sympathy, Theo tutted and shook his head. “Have we left you wanting?”

She twisted her hands, barely able to move unless she wanted to thrash her legs. Not that that would accomplish much besides making her look desperate, even though that’s exactly she was. “I loathe you. I loathe both of you.”

Pressing one kiss to the inside of her knee and then another slightly higher, Theo worked his mouth up her thigh until he rested between her legs on his stomach. His dimples shone in full force as he shifted her knickers to the side and slipped a finger inside her.

When she bit her lip, trying not to make a sound, he grinned. “You loathe us, do you? Means you probably want me to stop, hmm?”

She pinched her lips together.

“Means you definitely don’t want me to put my mouth on you, huh?” He nosed her clit, breathing her in. “Don’t want me to taste this pretty little cunt?”

Fuck, fuck, fuck. “Theo.”

He hummed, breath hot against her core. “Yes?”

She clenched her eyes shut. Winning was overrated. “Please.”

He didn’t hold back. Swiping his tongue up through her folds, Theo lapped at her, his finger crooking occasionally in little pulsing bends that made her gasp and twitch.

When she pried open her eyes, Draco was watching her, his eyes occasionally glancing down to where Theo had his head buried between her thighs. He smiled and trailed his hand from her side to the back of Theo’s head, raking his fingers through Theo’s hair, whether just to touch or to encourage, who knew.

Good didn’t begin to cut it. Mouth fastened to her clit, Theo slipped his finger from her cunt and shifted it lower, pressing against her arse, circling her rim before breaching her.

“I’m close,” she whispered to Draco. If he kissed her, it would be perfect. It would be—

Draco tugged on Theo’s hair, and all at once, Theo stopped, lifting his head and licking his lips, his blue eyes dark and dilated as he blinked slowly.

Draco.” She could scream, she was that frustrated.

He moved his hand and brushed her lower lip with the pad of his thumb. “Say the word and I’m sure Theo will gladly continue, but I was under the impression you wanted something else, Granger.”

The something more was silent but heavily implied.

Theo rested his chin beneath her belly button, he and Draco waiting patiently despite the fact that both had to be going mad. She certainly was, and Draco’s hardness was unmistakable, pressed against her hip. Merlin, the tip of his cock was weeping, trailing wetness against her skin. The fact that he and Theo could make sentences right now was…well, she didn’t have even those words.

Impressive, that was it.

She wet her lips. “Will you both please just fuck me already?” She huffed and met Theo’s stare. “You know what I want. I want what you showed me in that—that fantasy of yours, the one from that day in the library when you let me in your head. That’s what I want. I want you both, together.”

Draco rolled over, staring up at the ceiling. He covered his face with his arm and groaned. “Fuck me.”

Theo chuckled. “I think that’s what the lady wants.” He shifted the finger inside her arse a little deeper and licked his lips, studying her carefully. “You think you can handle it?”

Yes. She was aching, empty. Funny how she didn’t usually think of herself as empty until it hit her just how badly she wanted to be filled. Mostly what she wanted was to be as close as humanly possible to them both until their breaths became hers, until she couldn’t say with any certainty where she ended and they began.

She nodded, fingers clenching and unclenching around nothing. “Can I have my hands free first?”

Theo did something that felt stupidly good, his finger pressing against the wall that separated her arse and cunt, and nodded. “Of course.”

Draco grabbed his wand and vanished the bindings from her wrists, massaging her skin gently even though she was perfectly fine. More aroused than she could ever remember being, but fine. Constriction wasn’t much to worry about when most of the blood in her body was between her legs, anyway.

“Toss me the lube while you’re over there,” Theo requested. He grinned when Draco threw the bottle his way. “Thanks.”

Despite the wonderful, lovely—Merlin—gasp-inducing things Theo was doing with his fingers, her mind raced, visions of what Theo had shown her flitting through her head. For all that she wanted it, for all that she’d promised she was sure and she was, logistically speaking…

“Hey.” Draco’s finger smoothed her brow. She’d been frowning and hadn’t even realized it. “We don’t have to—”

She smashed her mouth against his, kissing him quiet.

Of course they didn’t have to. It wasn’t like—Gods, even thinking the words made her flush—double penetration was some pinnacle of togetherness, something to put on a pedestal as the be all, end all of being with them both, loving them both. Everything else they did was very much as real as this, but she did want it, wanted it so terribly her chest ached.

“I want to,” she said, pressing her forehead against his, their noses bumping. “I’m just—”

“Thinking too much?” Draco smirked, pale lashes fluttering as he glanced down. His teeth sunk into his lower lip for just a brief second. “Just, focus on this, okay?”

He captured her lips in a kiss that would’ve made her knees weak had she not been lying down. As it was, her worries jumped ship, her focus zeroed in on the way Draco nipped her bottom lip, and how he traced his tongue against the roof of her mouth making her shiver. If kissing were an Olympic sport, he’d have been a gold medalist, a British national treasure. Not that she’d share him with anyone but Theo.

He was so bloody good at distracting her that it took a moment to realize Theo had stopped, had removed his fingers, and was sitting back on his heels, watching them while ever so slowly—nearly absently—stroking his cock. Gods, when had he lost his shorts?

“Well, don’t stop,” he teased.

Draco chuckled, just a soft sound through his nose, and skimmed his fingers down her side, her hip, her thigh, stopping to wrap his hand around the outside of her knee. “Do you want to roll over? Face me?”

Moving from her back to her side, she brushed her hair out of her face and wiggled, getting comfortable, an easy prospect in a bed this soft.

Hand still touching her knee, Draco tugged gently, urging her to wrap her leg around his waist. Then he leaned back in, resuming their kiss, sucking at her lower lip and teasing it gently between his teeth.

A hand brushed her hip, Theo sidling up behind her, his bare skin brushing hers. She shivered.

“Arch your back,” he requested. “Just a bit, just—perfect. You’re so fucking perfect.”

His fingers curled around her hip, his thumb pressing gently into the cheek of her bum. Lips brushing her shoulder, Theo nudged his cock into the cleft of her arse, shifting until he butted up right against her hole, lining himself up.

She squirmed, panting against Draco’s mouth. Theo was taking his sweet time, teasing her with the head of his already slicked cock, pressing and then pulling back, but never actually breaching her. “Theo.”

Breath hot against her shoulder blade as he chuckled, Theo pressed, this time—finally—entering her. It was a stretch, it was always a stretch, but the good kind, the kind that made her feel alive, hyperaware of the sensation, her entire brain narrowing down to the feel of skin on skin, hard flesh parting soft, pure feeling, this moment, here and now and nothing more.

“Good?” Theo asked, voice quiet and rough.

Impossibly good. She swallowed, nose bumping Draco’s gently when she nodded. “Yes.”

Draco’s fingers twitched against her thigh and he craned his neck back, staring down at her through his lashes. “Do you need a minute?”

She shook her head.

Swallowing audibly, Draco shifted, his legs tangling with hers, with Theo’s, their knees knocking lightly. Behind her, Theo snorted softly and she pinched her lips together to keep from laughing. Draco rolled his eyes. “Excuse me, but it’s rather a bit more crowded down here than usual.”

“Need a hand?” Theo asked, voice dry.

Draco arched a brow. “Are you offering?”

Theo laughed. “Always.”

Okay, that was it. She couldn’t help it, a giggle slipping out. “Do I need to move my leg? Or something?”

Her options were rather limited.

Draco shook his head and shifted a little further down the bed. “No, I don’t think so, I just need to find the proper”—his cock nudged her clit, making her gasp—“angle.”

“Here,” Theo said. He grabbed her thigh, lifting it slightly, opening her further, making her flush even though, honestly? The modesty ship had long since sailed, every inch of her having been explored, most of her tasted by this point.

“Thanks,” Draco muttered, tongue darting out to wet his lips.

Taking himself in hand, Draco ran his cock through her folds, slicking himself before pressing, hips tilting as the head of his cock—

Merlin, she’d never felt so stretched in her life and Draco was barely part way inside her.

She swallowed, muscles trembling, thighs quaking, trying to keep still. “Keep going. Please keep going.”

He had to keep moving. She was all but vibrating with both anticipation and need, her body tense, and the pressure in her chest squeezing so tight that, maybe it was stupid—it was highly illogical—but it felt like she’d expire if they quit now, if either of them stopped touching her.

Draco took a deep breath, almost as if bracing himself. He covered her mouth with his and tucked his hips, thrusting the rest of way inside all in one go. He swallowed the sound she made, a shocked, breathy noise because, Gods.

There wasn’t a proper word for how full she felt. Surrounded, she was entirely surrounded, drowning in them, inside and out, and she could barely move, not when she was teetering on the edge of absolute sensory overwhelm.

“Fuck,” Draco swore against her mouth under his breath.

“You need a minute?” Theo asked, voice gritty and tight like those four words were all he could manage.

Her lids fluttered. Was he speaking to her or—

“No, I’m—this is just…” Draco answered, voice low, just as tense as Theo’s.

“Yeah,” Theo seemed to agree.

Neither of them had really said anything, and yet she knew exactly what they meant.

She was hyperaware of every last breath and blessed shift of skin against skin and silky sheets, every drop of sweat sliding down her back and between her breasts.

“Will someone please do something?” she begged, biting back a whimper. She wasn’t exactly in the position to move save for resting an arm around Draco’s torso, her nails biting into the skin of his back, but she needed someone to move, someone to put her out of this delicious misery where everything was too much and not enough all at once. “Please.”

“Shhh, we’ve got you.” Theo slid his hand up her leg to where her skin met Draco’s, his finger’s brushing Draco’s flank in a gentle caress that watching alone made her shiver. “You want me to…and then you can…?”

Draco’s eyes were heavy-lidded, mostly pupil. “Sure.”

Setting the pace, Theo pulled back until only the head of his cock was inside her, and when he shifted deeper, Draco withdrew before thrusting, slowly. Maddening, it was, her toes curling, pinching nearly painfully from the pleasure, being stretched, filled, over and over again, never actually empty.

“Fucking perfect and so—fuck, tight,” Theo panted. “You’re doing so well, love.”

The sense of overwhelm only intensified when Theo slipped his hand between her thighs between Draco’s body and hers and flicked her clit.

There was no warning, no climb. She’d been hovering somewhere so close to the edge this entire time that it struck her fast and hard and unforgiving, a lightning bolt of pleasure zipping from where they were joined all the way to the ends of her hair.

A low moan spilled from Draco’s mouth as he went still, burying his face in her hair. Theo, too, had stopped moving, save for the rapid rise and fall of his chest.

If she couldn’t move before, she certainly couldn’t now. It felt like she’d been turned inside out, more like she’d been stripped of her outermost layer and now lay bare and exposed. With anyone else, she’d have been terrified, but snug between Draco and Theo, she felt safe. Happy. Loved.

And quite thoroughly shagged, too.

“Not to be entirely ineloquent,” Theo muttered. “But fuck.”

That just about summed it up.

“Does anyone else feel like they’re vibrating a bit?” Draco asked, chuckling in a way that sounded a touch nervous.

She hummed. “I feel like my hair is trembling.”

Theo and Draco both laughed.

“Kind of does have a life of its own,” Theo joked. “You never know.”

She reached back, smacking his leg, though the effect was a bit muted with how her hand kind of just…flopped. “Shush, you.”

“So,” Theo ignored her. “O for outstanding?”

“O for out of this world,” Draco muttered.

“Orgasm,” she whispered, more to herself than them, but apparently they heard it because Theo snorted.

“Obviously.” He paused. “You okay?”

She nodded. “Did you mean for that all to start with an o as well?”

“I’m happy to take credit for that clever coincidence, but no,” he said.

“I’m perfect,” she said. “I mean, I can’t feel my toes, but…”

They chuckled, shifting slightly, each pulling faces of discontent as their softening cocks slipped free. She couldn’t bring herself to move more than necessary, a shared problem, apparently, as they all three moved as little as possible, shuffling only until her head rested on Draco’s chest, Theo’s arm slung around her waist.

A comfortable silence blanketed the room. Drifting right on the edge of unconsciousness, torn between waking and sleep, her lips twitched into a frown when Draco squirmed.

“What is it?” Theo asked.

Draco frowned. “I’m not sure. There’s something poking my leg.”

Strange. “Maybe Theo missed one of my…collectibles.”

“Oh come on.” Theo dug his fingers into her ribs, tickling her. “Call them what they are. Soft toys, love.”

Stop.” She laughed, wrapping her arms Draco as if that would help. “Make him stop it.”

Draco shook his head. “I’m rather enjoying this.” His eyes flitted down briefly to where her breasts were smashed against his chest.

Theo finally cut it out. “If it’s not one of Hermione’s”—he snorted—“collectibles, what is it then?”

Draco reached beneath the covers they’d never bothered to pull back, rifling around. She shifted, sitting up, curious. “I don’t know. It feels like…ah, there we go.”

From under the sheet, Draco withdrew a—

A box.

Another box.

Another small, velvet covered box.

Her heart did something that couldn’t be healthy, practically stopping in its tracks before tripping all over itself in some desperate attempt to beat its way out of her chest.

Draco balanced the box on her bare thigh. Something had been poking his leg, her arse. He had to have known this was there, planned this, the both of them.

She swallowed. Apparently, if her heart couldn’t exit through her chest, it was going to try and claw its way up her throat. “I don’t suppose either of you has another manor somewhere, do you?”

Theo kissed the ball of her shoulder. “There’s a summer home or two, but no, no more manors.”

Something in her gut had told her this one wasn’t a key.

“Should I”—she glanced at Theo, then Draco. Both were watching her, Theo nibbling on the edge of his lip, Draco clenching and unclenching his jaw rhythmically, a muscle there jumping—“open it?”

“Please,” Draco croaked.

Theo nodded.

Fingers trembling, Hermione grasped the box in her left hand and pried the lid open with the other quickly, like ripping off a band-aid, but far, far more pleasant.

Nestled inside the box was, not just quite possibly, but without a fraction of a doubt, the most stunning ring she had ever set her eyes upon, a single marquise-cut diamond set in a silver—or white gold, maybe platinum, Gods, she didn’t know—band. She’d call it simple were it not for the fact that calling anything with a diamond that size simple seemed outrageous, egregious, even.

Elegant, that was it. It was elegant. Elegant and gorgeous and—

“Hermione?”

She shook her head. “Sorry, what?”

Theo coughed. “You’re, erm, awfully quiet.”

“Too quiet,” Draco muttered, staring down at the sheets.

Oh. “No! I’m just…”

“No?” Theo blinked, lips twitching downward.

Draco sighed. “Fuck.”

“No, not no. No as in, no, I’m not too quiet. I mean…” She huffed. “Ask.”

Draco lifted his head and swiped his fingers through his hair. “Ask?”

Her cheeks prickled. “No one’s asked me anything.”

“Oh.” Theo’s eyes widened. “Oh.”

She nodded.

Leaning around her, Theo and Draco appeared to communicate silently, brows arching, lips twisting, eyes narrowing. Finally, Draco nodded and cleared his throat. “Granger.” Theo snorted and Draco rolled his eyes, lips curving. “Hermione. You, you and Theo both, are my entire world and I count my lucky stars—”

“Constellations,” Theo whispered, chuckling.

“Wait your turn,” Draco chided. “I count my lucky stars for you every day.”

“Night.” Theo laughed. “Good luck counting stars in daylight.”

“You know what, go fuck yourself, Theo,” Draco said, but he was grinning. He sighed, shaking his head. “Maybe it’s not always easy—okay, it’s often not easy.” He shot Theo a mock-glare. “But it is as simple as the fact that I want, more than anything, to spend the rest of my life with you both.”

She was not going to be one of those girls and cry. She wasn’t. She refused. She wasn’t going to—oh, bugger.

She sniffed hard, pinching her lips together so they wouldn’t tremble.

Panic flickered over Draco’s face, his eyes widening. “Oh Gods, please don’t cry. I hate it when you cry.”

“I’m trying not to,” her voice cracked, a stupid traitorous tear slipping down her cheek.

Draco swallowed hard and blinked fast.

“Hermione,” Theo whispered and she shifted her gaze over to him. His blue eyes were soft, but there was an edge of determination within their depths that made him look so sure, certain. “Marry us.”

“That didn’t sound like a question.” She laughed through her tears, her vision blurring.

Theo chuckled. “It wasn’t one.”

It really wasn’t, was it?

Maybe it was soon, maybe it wasn’t. It didn’t really matter because she loved them and something in her gut, her soul, said she always would.

“Yes.”

“Yes?” Draco echoed.

She nodded.

“Thank fuck,” Theo muttered, snatching the box from the covers and grabbing out the ring. He stared at it for a moment, expression soft and vulnerable. “We debated getting you something new, didn’t much think you’d like a Nott, Malfoy, or Black family heirloom.” His lips twisted. “But this was my mother’s, my grandmother’s actually. Her mum, I mean, not my father’s mother. One of the only belongings of hers I have. I think she would’ve wanted you to have it. But if you don’t like it—”

“I love it,” she said, offering her hand.

Theo nodded, and trembling slightly, took her hand and slipped the ring on her finger. It fit itself to her finger magically, resizing for the perfect fit.

“Does anyone else need a drink?” Draco asked.

Smiling, she leaned over, kissing him soundly, pouring as much assurance into the kiss as she could muster with just her lips. It seemed to work, Draco’s shoulder’s relaxing, the furrow between his brows softening.

“You worry too much,” Theo teased.

“Like you weren’t about to have a fit over there,” Draco fired back. “You went white as a ghost.”

Just in case Theo was still worrying, she kissed him, too.

“I wasn’t kidding about that drink,” Draco said, moving to stand. “We can make it champagne if you’d like.”

She grabbed his arm. “Wait. Aren’t you both forgetting something?”

Draco frowned and Theo shook his head.

“Don’t you need to ask each other something?” she prompted.

Theo snorted. “Oh. Draco, would you like to get married? If you say no, I’ll never speak to you again.”

“A tempting prospect,” Draco joked.

She nudged him. “Draco.”

“Yes, I’ll marry you, Theodore,” he answered, grey eyes bright. He turned back to her. “Happy?”

Absolutely.