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Sex and Occlumency

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“Have you gone completely nutters?” 

Hermione felt a blush begin to creep up her neck as her fiancé stared at her in absolute horror. She had known this was going to be an uncomfortable conversation, which is why she’d taken a courage potion  before offering Ron a cup of tea and springing it on him. She still squirmed under his scrutiny, however.

“No way. There is no bloody way, Hermione. I can’t believe you want me to…to…do that.”

“Ronald, let’s not overreact.” While she was trying to remain calm in the face of his response, she was slightly alarmed at the level of his horror. She hadn’t expected this to be an easy conversation but the difficulties she’d anticipated were more about her struggling to ask for what she wanted, not her fiancé losing his mind. 

“Overreact? This is…unacceptable!”

“It’s a perfectly common fantasy. A number of women share it and – “

“A number of crazy women, maybe. It’s completely twisted.” Ron continued to look at her as though she’d just declared her loyalty to Voldemort. The dam on her anger broke. She’d struggled over this for weeks and now he was accusing her of being mentally unstable?

“I’ve never once said no to something you’ve wanted to try!”

“Yeah, but,” his voiced reached the high pitch it usually only hit when he saw a spider or a Death-Eater. “All I’ve asked for is a blow-job at the breakfast table while I ate bangers and blood pudding!  This is – Hermione, you’re  asking me to pretend to…to…bloody hell, I can’t even say it!”

Hermione swallowed and looked down at her cup of tea. This conversation was going worse than she’d imagined the worst-case scenario could go.

She wasn’t entirely sure when it had started, but in the five years since the end of the war, her  sexual fantasies had taken a turn towards the dark. Her time spent under Bellatrix Lestrange’s wand continued to haunt her, nightmares strangling her awake multiple times a week. Ron had been there by her side consistently, willing to provide comfort when she woke up in the form of soft touches and gentle lovemaking. But as the nightmares persisted, Hermione had come to learn that being treated with kid gloves was not what she needed in those moments. For whatever reason, she began to require more and more intensity of sensation in order to clear her mind of the dreams.

Ron had always tended to be gentle and sweet with her, and while she appreciated his intent, it wasn’t enough to rid her of the memories. A brief orgasm and a quick kiss on the cheek didn’t drown out the sounds of the crazed cackling or ease the ghostly sensation of being broken in two. It simply wasn’t enough.

She needed more.

The first time she’d asked Ron to spank her, she  thought he’d have an apoplexy. He’d participated, begrudgingly, and the added physicality of the experience was a revelation. It had given Hermione a sense of calm that regular missionary sex hadn’t been able to provide, had planted the seed of an idea in her mind that she hadn’t been able to ignore.

Per her usual habit, she threw herself into research, reading everything she could about sex, sexual fantasy, and female sexuality.  As her research deepened, she began to speak more candidly with Ron about things she wanted to try. He’d been reticent, almost to the point of unwilling, about much of what she wanted to experiment with. In an effort to keep things even, she’d asked him to share his fantasies with her. Aside from some oddly specific Quidditch scenarios, however, he really hadn’t had a lot of demands.

Certainly nothing like her.

Nothing like this.

She tried to come at it from a different angle.

“A lot of people like the idea of giving their power up to their partner – “ she cut herself off at the violent shaking of his head.

“I can’t talk about this. It’s…sick. I don’t – “, he pushed away from the table, knocking over the chair and scrubbing his face with his hands. He stared down at her with a look in his eyes she’d never seen before. It made shame burn  through her and she felt her blush deepen.

“Ron…”

“No, Hermione. No. This is too much. I’ve tried, I really have. I can’t believe you’d ask me to do this. I can’t believe you want me to do this. Are you completely mental? This is abnormal. No one who actually cares about you could - .” He cut himself off. “I…I have to go. I’m meeting Harry at the pub anyway and I just…I have to go.”

Hermione felt a burning in her throat and tears prickling in the corner of her eyes. “Ron, please.”

He didn’t respond, however, instead fleeing to their bedroom where she heard him slamming drawers and cursing. There was a brief lull in sound, followed by the sharp crack of him disapparating shortly thereafter. When she wiped her eyes and investigated, she discovered he’d packed his clothes and taken almost everything.

He’d left her. She’d asked for what she wanted, what she needed, and he’d left her.

She collapsed on the floor of their once shared room and cried.

 

******************** 

 

Three months later

 

Hermione re-read the owl she’d received earlier in the evening for what had to be the tenth time. Her weeks of research and careful correspondence had paid off and she had finally found what she had been looking for. Her heart was racing, and she wasn’t sure if it was because she was terrified or excited. Perhaps it was a combination of both. Under the circumstances, that seemed the most likely.

After her disastrous break-up with Ron, Hermione had spent several weeks wallowing. His response to her request had filled her with shame, and she had begun to second guess everything she had read about power fantasies. Not to mention the accompanying suspicion regarding her own feelings and wants. Maybe she was sick, or damaged, or too ruined by the events of the war to be considered normal. Her worry had plagued her, and it had been heightened by the fear that Ron was going to tell someone, expose her to the world for ridicule and further humiliation.

So far, he hadn’t.

No, apparently Ronald Weasley didn’t want anyone know his fiancé, ex-fiancé now, had asked him to fulfill her rape fantasy.

She was grateful for his discretion when she wasn’t cursing him for making her feel like a deviant for her completely acceptable curiosity. They hadn’t spoken much since the split. Their friends had been astounded to hear that they’d called off the wedding and had hounded her for days once she’d made the change known. Harry had been frantic when Hermione refused to go into details, unwilling to accept her answer of “irreconcilable differences” until she threatened to stop talking to him completely. It was at that point that he conceded that Ron had just turned red in the face and stomped off, also refusing to speak about it except to confirm that it was really over.

Better to have learned about his resistance now, she supposed. Heaven forbid she marry a man who spent the next twenty years refusing to allow her a healthy range of sexual desires. It still hurt to have him reject her so completely, even if she knew, logically, that she wasn’t a deviant or a pervert or broken. Ron had been her friend for so long before they began dating it had never occurred to her that she  couldn’t trust him with this. But clearly her faith had been misplaced, because he had judged her and dismissed her before she even really knew what was happening.

Setting aside her lingering feelings about Ron, Hermione refocused on the letter in front of her.

Dear Madame,

If you wish to partake, please respond with a simple token of your desire.

When deemed acceptable, a survey will be sent to you anonymously, which you will be required to complete in its entirety.

In Confidence,

  - Q

Unsure exactly what constituted a token of her desire, Hermione chewed on her lip and made a face at the owl.

 “I don’t suppose you know exactly what this token needs to be, do you?” The light brown bird simply blinked before quickly turning its head to groom the feathers on its shoulder. Hermione sighed. “You’re no help.”

As she considered what the possible options were, Hermione focused on the way the request was worded.

A token of your desire.

Contemplating what that could mean, she cataloged possible responses in her head. Her desire was to fulfill her rape fantasy, but how could one represent that? She quickly dismissed the more obvious items, such as lingerie or something explicitly sexual. Over the course of the correspondence with this service, she had come to realize that this was more than simply sex for hire. There was a level of anonymity, security, even elegance in each of the letters she’d received after she had initiated communication with the mysterious Q.

No, this wasn’t some escort service that would accept a pair of dirty knickers.

Standing, Hermione perused her living room and study, eyeing the books and knick-knacks  she had spread throughout her library. Glancing over the old textbooks from her Hogwarts days and the numerous scholarly tomes she’d collected since, she found one which stood out. It was a small, leather bound copy of the story of Medusa .

Hermione had always appreciated this particular translation of Medusa’s tale as it focused on her assault at the hands of Poseidon and subsequent transformation into the powerful woman who had been endowed with the ability to kill and redeem those who looked upon her. She’d always been intrigued by the beautiful woman who fell victim to the lust of the gods only to have her beauty traded for horrifying power. Pulling the slender book from the shelf she returned to the owl who was now looking at her curiously.

“Here you are. Hopefully this will suffice.” The well-trained bird held out a talon for her to secure the token. Once she was convinced it wouldn’t fall midflight, she gave the bird a quick scratch and watched it hop out the window and take flight.

Now there was nothing to do but wait.

 

******************** 

 

Draco  observed his reflection in the mirror as he worked to secure the silver cuff-links at his wrists. His trousers were crisply pressed, dragon-hide shoes glinting in the light beneath the hems, and the pale green silk shirt shimmered as he moved. The cuff-links added a glint of metal that matched his signet ring, and as he dragged the tie around his neck, it’s color so dark green as to be almost black, he turned his lips up in a cynical smile. If his appointment today would be swayed by appearances, he was all but guaranteed success.

“Moppy has Master Draco’s favorite robes.”

Draco finished tying the tie and reached out a hand, taking the last garment needed to complete his ensemble.

“Does Master need anything else?”

“No, that will be all. You can go…do whatever it is you enjoy doing.”

The small elf bobbed her head and smiled, showing off an alarming number of teeth and causing a slight look of disgust to cross Draco’s countenance before disappearing with a pop. House-elves really were appallingly ugly little creatures.

Adjusting the skirts and belt of his robes, Draco took one last look in the mirror and focused on exuding confidence.  The course of his life for the past few years had been much more winding and fraught with trials than he would ever have been able to anticipate in his youth, at least before his future was completely derailed by the advent of the war and his family’s fall from grace. He’d spent five years attempting to dig the Malfoy name out of the cesspit his father had carelessly flung them into. This proposal he’d submitted to the Ministry would be the icing on the cake of his accomplishments. Now all he needed to do was guarantee it was approved so he could finally move forward.

Plastering his signature smirk on his face, he turned towards the Floo and disappeared in a green flame.

The large lobby of the Ministry of Magic was a busy place at ten in the morning, and Draco took a deep breath before stepping out of the fireplace and into the sea of wizardry. Most people ignored him, but there were several individuals who took one look at his platinum blond locks and turned tail, scurrying in the other direction. It was laughable, really, that people still feared him. One wrong move would land him in front of the Wizengamot faster than he could expelliarmus  a toddler.

He moved through the crowd towards the elevator, his strut more pronounced than usual, and sneered at the group of interns that huddled in the corner of the lift as they were transported to the third floor where his meeting was scheduled. As he pushed his way out of the lift, a small squeal escaped the nearest of the group and Draco couldn’t help but enjoy the misplaced alarm. At the very least, the residual fear was entertaining.

As he strode up to the reception area, the bespectacled blond sitting at the desk raised her head with a smile, only to narrow her gaze once she recognized who was approaching. Draco slowed, straightening his spine, and plastered what he hoped was a polite smile and not a look of disgust on his face.

“Draco Malfoy here to meet with the Trading Bodies committee.”

“Yes, of course. They’re waiting for you Mr. Malfoy.”

Draco’s lips twitched in annoyance before he could stop them, and he worked to sequester his irritation as he moved towards the large oak door. He had worked to ensure he’d be early, but somehow the committee had still managed to set it up to appear as though they’d been made to wait. Taking a deep breath, he straightened his shoulders, controlling his thoughts and schooling his features before opening the door.

“Mr. Malfoy,” the male voice was impersonal at best and when he took in the panel of representatives from the Department of International Magical cooperation and the Trading Standards Body, as well as the Magical  Creatures Division, he recognized only one member of the group. Unfortunately, the familiarity didn’t bode particularly well for him.

“Have a seat.”

Draco moved to pull out a chair but was interrupted.

“Actually, that won’t be necessary.” The melodic voice belonged to the only individual before him whom he had recognized. “I’ll be turning down the proposal, Mr. Malfoy.”

There was a ripple of hushed whispers throughout the rest of the panel and Draco narrowed his gaze at the woman in front of him.

“May I ask why, Ms. Granger?”

She looked up at him with an expression of annoyed surprise.

“Unicorns? The answer is no.”

“You haven’t even heard my presentation.” His jaw clenched and he hated that his voice came out with a growl.

“Honestly, Malfoy. Even someone of your ilk knows murdering unicorns for the purpose of harvesting potion ingredients is unacceptable. It’s a sin.”

Draco looked at her in shock.

“Murd – did you even read my proposal?” His hand gripped the back of the chair until his knuckles turned white. “I studied muggle animal husbandry techniques for Merlin’s sake.”

The wizard who had initially invited him to sit leaned sideways and whispered in Granger’s ear. If Draco didn’t know better, he’d have sworn he heard him ask her if she’d read it. She flushed slightly before shaking her head.

“Unbelievable.” He ground his teeth together. “You didn’t even bother to read it did you?” Her blush deepened and he knew. She’d taken one look at the name on the submission and dismissed him. Several of the other panel members raised their eyebrows and the mood of the room became slightly less professional as multiple hushed conversations commenced.

Granger glared daggers at him. Whether it was because he had exposed her ineptitude or simply because he was standing before her was unclear.

“It’s possible some key points were overlooked, Mr. Malfoy. Perhaps we can do a further review and reconvene in three weeks?”

Muttered agreements came from the rest of the seated wizards, obviously happy to have their afternoon suddenly free. Having no other choice, Draco nodded his assent as well and released his death grip on the chair before he turned and left the conference room. The blond secretary looked at him with raised eyebrows and he glared at her before he began pacing in front of her desk. It was several more minutes before the door to the conference room opened again, the panel of wizards spilling out in twos and threes. She, of course, was the last one to exit.

The witch was distracted, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear as she awkwardly flipped through the parchments in her hand. Draco felt the familiar sneer cross his lips. It was like being transported back to fifth year at Hogwarts; Granger unsuspecting, falling unwittingly into his traps. He walked quickly over to intercept her, grabbing her by the elbow and redirecting her into the empty office before she knew what had hit her. 

“What the hell was that, Granger? You were going to deny my proposal without even reading it?”

The brunette witch blinked up at him once before the more familiar look of angry disappointment settled onto her features. The anger he could handle, the disappointment simply stoked his ire. What right did she have to be disappointed in him? She was the one who hadn’t done her bloody job.

“Let go of me, Malfoy.”

“Or what? Is this you playing the long game?” He looked her over with distaste. “Trying to keep the Malfoy name down in the mud with your kind?”

She yanked her arm out of his grip.

“Three weeks, Malfoy. I have three weeks. Do try to remain out of Azkaban until the next meeting.” She moved to slip past him, but he grabbed her again and lowered his mouth to her ear. 

“Endeavor to read the proposal next time, Granger.”

The glare he received from her made the entire thing almost worth it.

 

********************

 

Hermione jerked her arm away from the annoying blond wizard for the second time before removing herself from the room she’d practically been dragged into. Nodding quickly at the receptionist, she made her way back to her office and dumped the stack of parchment on her desk with an irritated sigh. Leave it to Draco Malfoy to embarrass her in front of an entire room of her colleagues. Of course she should have read the proposal, of course it was an oversight, but really she had seen the phrase “Unicorn harvesting”, caught the author’s name, and assumed the worst. 

It wasn’t like her to be intentionally biased, but since Ron left her she’d been less focused at work and if she were being honest with herself she was cutting corners. When she’d seen the Malfoy proposal, she’d demoted it to the bottom of her pile and it had just…sat there. The meeting this morning, and his fury at the fact that he’d been dismissed, not to mention their encounter in the empty office, had her feeling some unpleasantly familiar feelings. She rubbed her forehead.

Draco Malfoy. Childhood bully. Ex Death-Eater.

It was complicated. He was complicated. Hermione hadn’t even seen him since the war ended. She hadn’t thought of him since the war ended. The boy who almost killed Dumbledore. The boy who watched her be tortured. The boy, the boy, the boy.  

He was no longer a boy, though, was he? She’d recognized him when he entered the conference room, but he had changed. Matured. It had surprised her, though she wasn’t sure why. It had been five years since she’d seen more than a glance of him.

Although, the fact that he still managed to corner her and spew insults indicated he may not have changed that much.

Regardless, he had been right about one thing. She had erred, and she needed to fix it. To that end, she pulled the proposal out of the stack of documents and reviewed the title: “Unicorn Harvesting using Domestication Techniques”. She recalled that he had mentioned “muggle animal husbandry techniques” in the meeting. Intrigued, Hermione settled in to read. Before too long, she found herself flipping through the pages with enthusiasm, impressed by the arguments and detailed plans laid out.

Who would have thought Draco Malfoy would have such an eye for detail? Hermione leaned back and settled in to read the proposal, slightly dismayed that she had nearly denied it without cause. More than an hour passed before she knew it, and as she stretched, she noted that it was past time for her to be leaving the office. Deciding she wanted to continue her perusal of it at home, she gathered the proposal as well as the rest of her personal items and locked up. The atrium of the Ministry was still bustling, and she smiled her goodbyes to several people before disappearing to her home in a burst of flame.

Wiping the dust from her skirts, she bent to greet Crookshanks before wandering to her kitchen to put on the kettle. She dumped her work on the kitchen table and grabbed an apple, taking a bite out of the fruit as she pulled down a mug and her tea bags. As she waited in the kitchen for the kettle to boil, she heard a tapping on her window, announcing the arrival of an owl. When the kettle whistled she poured herself a quick cup before opening the window for her winged messenger. The owl was familiar at this point, and Hermione felt a buzz of anticipation as the bird landed on the table.

It was from Q.

Pulling the scroll from the leg of the elegant animal, she sat with her cup of tea and unrolled the missive.

Your token of esteem has been accepted.

If you wish to continue down this path, answer the questions enclosed. Your responses will be duplicated on a paired parchment, ensuring your anonymity. These responses create your experience. Be honest. Be fearless. Be bold.

     - Q

There was a second piece of parchment attached which had a series of questions. Hermione read through them, the nervous excitement growing as she realized that this made the entire thing real. Taking a quill from her desk, she settled in with her tea and began to contemplate her answers. The first question set the tone for the entire questionnaire.

                Why are you doing this?

Hermione took in a stuttering breath, overwhelmed by the question.

Why was she doing this? She supposed in part it was due to the fact that Ron had left her because she’d asked him to act out this fantasy. Something inside her had made this need powerful enough to justify ruining her relationship over it. If she failed to follow through, to try it, then that meant her break up with Ronald was over nothing. If Hermione allowed for that possibility, then it also meant she’d have to acknowledge that there were, in fact, other reasons for their split. Reasons that had nothing to do with sexual fantasies, and everything to do with their lives moving in different directions. And she would have to face the truth of the matter, which was that they were growing apart anyway.

Her asking him to act out a rape fantasy may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, but it was not the only thing wrong with their relationship. Things had been difficult between her and Ron for the year leading up to his violent rejection of her. They had both clung to each other after the war, taking solace in the familiar. But Hermione had struggled with nightmares since her experience in Malfoy Manor and Ron hadn’t known how to comfort her. Additionally, she had not been able to let go of his abandonment of her and Harry at a critical moment , and it colored everything between them since she secretly feared he’d eventually leave again. And ultimately, he had.

No, it had been, and still was, easier to blame this. This sexual incompatibility. And this was not something she could just go on remaining ignorant of. If it was important enough to end her relationship over, then it was important enough to risk trying.

The main problem was that Hermione had developed a need to control everything after her experience with Bellatrix Lestrange. The abject terror she suffered under the mad woman’s wand had led to her maintaining a white knuckled grip on everything in her life. The only time she ever let the death grip loosen was during sex. The more control she could surrender to her partner, the emptier her mind became and the less the nightmares affected her. Ron had never understood; her desire to be dominated was something he had always questioned and looked at with confusion and, in this case, horror.

                Why are you doing this?

Her response came more easily than she’d imagined

                Because it allows me permission to give up all of my control.

Hermione watched as the ink slowly faced, followed by a brief twinkle of magic which she assumed meant the answer had been recorded on the matching parchment, wherever that might be.

The rest of the questionnaire went relatively quickly, with her occasionally pausing to take stock of the variety of questions. Everything from her preferred sexual position and her pain tolerance to her favorite scent. She did as Q had requested and answered the questions as honestly as she could. She developed a rhythm and moved through the questionnaire fairly quickly, until she got to the final question.

                Please include any special requests that may allow us to customize your experience.

She huddled over her tea and pulled her cardigan tighter as she contemplated whether or not she had any special requests, only to feel something tickling her neck. Brushing her hand over the sensitized skin, her fingers found the source of the irritation.

A stray hair had embedded itself in the shoulder of her sweater.

A stray, platinum blonde, hair.

It was certainly not hers. There was only one person she knew who had hair that color. As she recalled her brief and unusual conversation with Malfoy earlier in the afternoon, she realized without a doubt it must be his. As she considered it, her mind began to wander down a rather surprising path.

Draco Malfoy had always seemed to her to be someone who was very much in control. She recalled her experiences with him in school, how his need for respect and authority always seeming to take precedence to things such as genuine friendship and intimacy. His cold personality and his renowned dislike of her appeared to remain intact, if their interaction this afternoon was any clue.

Hermione stared at the hair and was suddenly struck with an idea.

 

Chapter Text

After having completed the questionnaire the previous evening, the reality of what she was doing had hit Hermione hard. And by ten the following morning she was wondering if perhaps she hadn’t completely lost her mind.  In an effort to distract herself from the self-induced anxiety, she buried herself in the continuation of the proposal on unicorn harvesting. The further she read, the less she believed that Malfoy could have possibly been responsible for it. It was remarkably cohesive. There were fail safes for the fail safes. Plans for the veterinary care in the event of injury.

If Malfoy had written this, he was brilliant.

This made Hermione incredibly uncomfortable. Draco Malfoy wasn’t supposed to be intelligent. Thoughtful. Creative.

He was cruel. Cowardly. Conniving.

Irritated with the direction of her thoughts, she stood and walked towards the small tea trolley in the reception area. As she prepared a cup of tea, toying with the bag as she let it steep, she heard a familiar voice in the hall and looked up with a smile.

“Harry, to what do I owe the pleasure?”

The dark haired Auror approached her with a soft smile and began to work on preparing a cup of tea for himself.

“It’s been a few days since we spoke. I wanted to see how you were doing.”

Hermione took a sip of tea and stared into the cup before she answered. How was she doing? Aside from the mild existential crisis she was experiencing as a result of Draco bloody Malfoy, she was fine.

“I’m well, thank you.” Her friend smiled and took a drink of his own tea and Hermione immediately pressed her lips into a line. “What do you need, Harry?”

“I…what makes you think I need something?”

“Honestly, Harry, you do realize I’ve known you for over ten years, don’t you?”

His expression changed to one of embarrassment, at least, indicating to her that he had the good sense to feel bad about trying to come at this sideways.

“It’s Ginny’s birthday this weekend. I wanted to know if you and Ron could be in the same room with each other without exchanging words. Or hexes.”

Hermione chewed on her bottom lip and shifted uncomfortably. She and Ron hadn’t spoken in months. In the first few weeks following their argument, Hermione had tried to reach out, but he’d never been open to discussion. In fact, he had completely ignored her, not even speaking with her to confirm he was moving out before doing just that.

The aftermath of their blow out had resulted in him returning to her flat while she was at work and emptying the space of everything he’d owned. Her home had felt oddly hollow when she’d returned from work on that Thursday afternoon. Coming to terms with the fact that it was really over, she’d pulled Crookshanks into her lap and cried, the termination of their relationship so much more real with the absence of his tea mugs and Quidditch magazines.

Hermione shook off her memories when she realized Harry was staring at her in concern.

“I can behave if Ronald can.”

“And if he can’t?”

“Are any of the curse-breakers from your department coming?”

Harry grinned and Hermione rolled her eyes, a smile flirting about her lips.

“I’ll send an owl for you, then.” He raised tea mug in a salute and sauntered back towards his offices.

Hermione waved anemically, suddenly not looking forward to her weekend. She knew she’d be able to behave, but that didn’t really take into consideration her complete lack of desire to be in the same room as Ronald Weasley.

 

*******************

 

Draco was sitting in his study, sipping amber liquid from a tumbler, his long fingers holding a book. He was enjoying a quiet night at home when his solitude was interrupted by the noise of the Floo. Lowering the text he was reading, he greeted the visitor with raised eyebrows and a sneer.

“Hello, Pansy. What a bizarre surprise.”

Pansy smiled as she approached and sat in the chair opposite him.

“Draco, darling. I do enjoy throwing you off.”

“Indeed.” He watched as she helped herself to his tumbler of fire whiskey. “Does your husband know you’re here?”

“Don’t be crass. Theodore knows better than to question me.”

“I’m sure he does.” He muttered.

“Now, now, Draco. Don’t be so snide. I’ve come bearing gifts.”

“Have you, now?”

Pansy smiled at him briefly, before a look of concern passed over her expression. She always had been easy to read.

“Before I disclose the nature of my gift, I have to ask you for your vow that you won’t share what I’m about to tell you with anyone. Ever.”

Intrigued, Draco leaned back and studied her. He loved secrets. Secrets equaled power and he lived for power. Especially now in this post war world where the power he’d taken for granted as a child had been ripped from the Malfoy name. He’d spent years working to strip down and rebuild the architecture of authority his family house had lost under the leadership of his father.

“Sounds absolutely titillating, Pans. Do go on.”

“I’m quite serious, Draco.” Glaring, she continued. “The consequences would be devastating.”

“Always were a bit of a drama queen, weren’t you? Very well, you have my word – for what it’s worth.”

The dark-haired witch cleared her throat. “As you know, my family suffered some financial mishaps post war.”

“That’s an understatement if I’ve ever heard one.”

“Yes, well, I managed to make some investments that have helped immensely.”

“I’m sure Theo will be pleased to know he’s a sound investment.”

“Theodore was only one of many,” she quirked an eyebrow, “and I can guarantee he is quite pleased with what he receives in return.”

Draco snorted.

“However, Theodore has nothing to do with this specific business venture and I’d like to keep it that way.” His sneer deepened at the thought of carrying a secret from Pansy’s husband. “How much do you know about the sex business?”

“Salazar, Pansy, have you become a madame?”

She colored slightly. “Not exactly. I trade in fantasy, not flesh. Well, not entirely.”

“I’m afraid you’ll need to elaborate. I can’t possibly imagine what that means.”

“What’s the most risqué request you’ve had from a woman, Draco?”

“I don’t kiss and tell, Pans.”

“Oh please, I’ve known you for too long.”

“Very well,” he leaned his head back and stared at the ceiling in an effort to come up with something Pansy would deem acceptable. “I once had a witch ask me to slap her and call her a whore.”

“And did you?”

The smile on his lips was absolutely wicked. “You underestimate me if you think I’d give up an opportunity like that.”

“Yes, yes, Slytherin sex god and all that.” Pansy waved her hand, dismissing him. “Not all men are as…accommodating.”

“I always have endeavored to outperform my peers.”

“Fortunately for me, one man alone can’t see to everyone and therefore women are obligated to seek me out.”

“So you provide these lonely witches with men who’ll call them whores? How deliciously scandalous.”

Pansy adjusted herself in her seat. “It gets quite a bit more scandalous than that. Women pay to have all variety of fantasies fulfilled.”

“Spit it out, Pansy, you’re stalling.”

“Fine.” She cleared her throat again. “Women pay me to provide them with their rapists.”

Draco stilled and decided she couldn’t possibly have said what he heard.

“I’m sorry, I swore you just said women pay you so as to be assaulted.”

“Stop being a judgmental git.”

He narrowed his gaze, setting aside the nature of her successful sex business, and focusing on the real question at hand.

“What does any of this have to do with me?”

“Well this is where things get interesting. Each client completes a questionnaire so as to provide the safest possible experience – “

“Safe?”

“Women don’t actually want to be assaulted, Draco. Not really. It’s a fantasy. A terribly risky fantasy, even with a trusted partner. Safety is the primary concern and in order to ensure the safety of all my clients, they have to complete a comprehensive questionnaire.”

He held up his hand. “Hold on Pans, how is it that you haven’t been dragged before the Wizengamot for peddling…whatever it is that you’re peddling?”

“I vet all my clients extensively. And my service is anonymous and safe.”

“Again, I have to ask, what does this have to do with me?”

She reached into her robes again and pulled out a small glass vial, palming it briefly before holding it out to him. He took it, bringing it close to the light so he could ascertain its contents while she continued her explanation.

“Part of the questionnaire contains a space for the client to communicate special requests.”

Draco continued to peruse the glass vial, not making eye contact with Pansy as he cocked his head. “Such as?”

“Certain phrases, such as your partner asking to be called a whore for example. Or, in this case…that.”

“This,” he held it up to her, “is a hair.”

“Yes. I suspect it’s yours.”

His jaw clenched. “And the request?”

“The request was for you. Or,” Pansy gestured to the hair, “someone polymorphed to look like you.”

Draco clenched the vial in his hand. “No.”

“Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t have said anything. But – “

“Someone is setting me up.”

“Possibly.”

“Possibly? What other explanation is there, Pansy? They couldn’t have known that this service was being provided by a close personal friend of mine. No doubt they were counting on your continued desire for secrecy.” He looked at her, silver gaze boring into her. “Who is it?”

“Draco, before I tell you – “

“Who. Is it.”

“Please don’t overreact.”

“Pansy, I swear on my mother-”

“Hermione Granger.”

Draco’s mouth fell open.

“You can’t be serious.” She shrugged, clearly uncomfortable having disclosed the name of her client. “The same Hermione Granger that turned down my unicorn proposal without reading it?”

“I didn’t know that.” A frown wrinkled the otherwise smoother brow of his friend.

“No, of course not.” He spat out. “And now she’s special ordered me? To assault her. It’s absolutely daft, the woman hates me.” Shaking the vial in his hand. “Are you sure this is mine?”

“She referred to you by name.”

“Splendid.” He clenched his jaw so hard he heard his teeth crack. “There is no other explanation. She’s trying to get me thrown in Azkaban. She accused me of murdering unicorns.” Something in her expression gave him pause. “You can’t possibly go through with this.”

“Hear me out.”

“Why on earth would I do that?”

Pansy pulled another item from her robes. This time a parchment scroll was passed to Draco and he grabbed it, impatient with her unwillingness to concede he was right about Granger. Fucking Hermione Granger. Wonder witch and bossy swot. And either a sexual deviant or a diabolical, underhanded, entrapper. Of the two, the latter seemed much more likely. It had been his long-held opinion the frizzy haired witch was frigid.

He opened the scroll and began to read. It was a questionnaire designed to gain insight into an individual’s sexual preferences. Pansy had been right. The thing was thorough. As he read, he discovered that Granger, or whatever fake alter ego she’d created for the purpose of plotting his destruction, preferred being choked to slapped, didn’t mind having her clothing ripped, and had a hard limit against cutting.

The latter didn’t surprise him nearly as much as the rest of it. 

Pansy observed him silently as he went through the remainder of the questionnaire, until he reached the last question. The special request outlined within was shocking in its brevity as much as its content. He almost dropped the parchment when he read through it.

“No bloody way.”

Pansy shrugged. “I try not to judge my clients, Draco.”

He shook the damning document at her. “You can’t possibly allow this.”

“Honestly, of all the things people have asked this is relatively mild.” She huffed out a laugh. “I mean, really. It’s just a word.”

He swallowed. Pansy didn’t know. He wondered briefly how many people did.

“Not for her.”

A black, well-trimmed eyebrow raised in disbelief. “And how would you know?”

“None of your bloody business.” He rubbed his forehead. The difficulty he was experiencing processing all of the new information he now possessed was making his brain hurt. Having to reconcile the idea of The Brightest Witch of her Age constructing her ideal sexual fantasy to include him was difficult enough, but the additional detail was proving to be nigh impossible to understand. Pansy interrupted his musing.

“Typically, once I’ve received a completed questionnaire, I arrange for everything to occur within a week.”

“Just give me a sodding minute, Pans. I’ve received quite a shock.” She smirked in disbelief.

“Poor Draco, darling, it must be devastating to have the Golden Witch harbor secret feelings for you.”

“She doesn’t have feelings for me, you cow. I told you, this is a trap.”

“What would you like to do about it?”

Draco tapped the parchment against his thigh and contemplated Pansy’s question. His experiences since being acquitted of all wrongdoing inclined him to believe this was an elaborate trap to get him thrown in Azkaban. She had made a point of telling him he needed to try to stay a free man before the meeting to re-evaluate his proposal. If he were smart, he'd convince Pansy to call the whole thing off.

On the other hand, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“What I’d like is to avoid incarceration.” A slow smile turned his lips up. “The only way to guarantee that is, of course, to avoid getting caught.”

Pansy narrowed her gaze at him in suspicion. “What, exactly, are you plotting?”

“Granger has needs, Pansy.” His lips twisted into a sneer. “I fully intend to give her what she’s asked for.”

Chapter Text

 

Hermione spent the remainder of her week preparing mentally for seeing Ron. She certainly wasn’t pining for him at this point, she’d ceased that nearly two months ago. There was no part of her that wanted to make up and beg him to return. As a practical woman, she knew she needed to be mature about it and maintain civility since there was no question that he and Harry would continue to be friendly. At this point she didn’t even harbor any residual ill will towards him. But that didn’t mean that she was prepared to be subjected to his judgement and disappointment for the entirety of his sister’s birthday party.

She blew an errant hair out of her face and tried to focus on the document in front of her.

As part of the Trade office for International Magical Cooperation, she was obligated to review a heavy number of proposals and requests. Anything magical, from potion ingredients to magical creatures, cursed objects and even minor enchantments, needed to be reviewed by her department. International trade in these items required contracts and regulation and she was primarily responsible for establishing permissions for new requests.

At times her job was exhausting, and as it was nearly five on a Friday afternoon, she was ready to leave. Due to a mix up, she’d been forced to read the German Consul’s entire proposed rule change regarding dragon registration and transport in less than two days. In an effort to get through everything she needed to complete before the weekend, she’d not set foot outside of her office once. 

The week had been particularly anxiety inducing even without work. In addition to the stress of having to prepare to make nice with the man who had, as muggles said, “slut shamed” her, Hermione was also obsessing over the owl she’d received the night before. The mysterious ‘Q’ had replied to her and given her explicit instructions to provide her schedule for the following week, which she had done with a shaky hand. This was all necessary, of course, because at some point in the next seven days, her fantasy would be fulfilled.

Ever since she had made the incredibly reckless decision to add a personal touch to this entire experiment, she had been second guessing herself. The anticipation was killing her, knowing that the event was nigh inevitable. And she couldn’t even begin to think about how she’d manage to face him at the scheduled meeting in two weeks. For what was probably the hundredth time since embarking on this mad journey, she collapsed her head into her hands, wishing she had someone she could talk to.

Snapping out of her ruminations, Hermione stood and gathered her robes and her bag. She said good night to her secretary and made her way to the lifts that would take her up to the atrium and the Ministry Floo network, where she planned to run home and change before going out again. She’d agreed to meet Harry at a pub for a drink that evening and was looking forward to having a few pints and taking the edge off her week. He’d claimed he wanted to catch up, but Hermione was fairly positive he had simply wanted to check in with her about the reunion that was to take place at Ginny’s birthday.

She knew he meant well, and to an extent she appreciated the sentiment, but she wasn’t sure her nerves could take an interrogation at this point.

Giving Crookshanks a quick pet after arriving home, she offloaded her work bag, changed into her casual clothes, and pulled her hair back into a ponytail. She and Harry had started meeting at a cozy pub in muggle London shortly after the end of the war. For a while, the meetings had been weekly, a desperate attempt to create a sense of normalcy and predictability after the chaos of the war. Since Harry and Ginny had gotten married, their meetings had become less frequent, and this would be the first time they would be going out since her split with Ron.

“Be good, Crooks.” The orange cat blinked slowly and Hermione disapparated from her living room with a crack.

The alleyway behind the pub was empty, as usual, so no one witnessed Hermione’s arrival. She stepped out onto the sidewalk before opening the door and moving into the warmth of the pub. She peered over the crowd to see Harry waving at her from the corner booth and smiled, making her way through the mass of people to slide into the leather bench opposite her friend.

“I got us the first round.” Harry gestured to the cider and Hermione grabbed it enthusiastically, lifting it in a salute to her companion before taking a long draw from the glass.

“Rough day?”

She rolled her eyes. 

“Rough week.”

Three rounds later, Hermione found herself giggling at a story Harry was telling about a particularly ridiculous argument he’d had with Ginny. She was pleasantly buzzed and found herself much more relaxed than she had been all week.

“Anyway,” Harry continued, “Ginny told me I wasn’t allowed to do the shopping anymore and to be completely honest I think we’re both happier.”

“Honestly, Harry, who mistakes tinned cat food for tuna?” She giggled again and drained her pint. “Another round? I think it’s my turn.”

“I should probably get home. Ginny’s party is tomorrow night, and I don’t really want to be horribly hungover just to get completely snookered again.”

“Understood.”

They said their goodbyes and Hermione waved as Harry left, comfortably buzzed and feeling significantly more at ease than she had when she’d left work. Gathering her purse, she decided to take the opportunity to use the loo and weaved her way into the back hallway of the pub. The four pints of cider had left her warm and slightly loose, but her bladder was screaming at her and since she was too far gone to apparate home safely, she was looking forward to a twenty-minute tube ride to get back to her part of London.

The loo was blessedly vacant, and she hurried to the toilet, dropping her purse on the counter next to the sink. Once she had taken care of business, she washed her hands and ran her damp fingers through her hair, attempting to tame the frizz of her ponytail and giving herself a good once over before turning away from her reflection. As she reached for the door, she jumped back as it nearly hit her, a startled squeak escaping her as she did so. Before she could say anything, apologize, offer an ‘excuse me’, something, she was shoved back into the bathroom, stumbling and hitting her hip on the vanity. A hand whipped out and snagged her arm, turning her, before another covered her mouth and pulled her up against a male chest.

Lips touched her ear as she squirmed, wriggling in an uncoordinated effort to escape.

“Hello, mudblood.”

Hermione stilled immediately, heart racing as her system flooded with adrenaline.

It was him. This was happening. Here. Now.

Her purse was ripped out of her hand and flung into the corner before he made a show of patting her down with his free hand, long fingers squeezing her breasts over her shirt before his hand slid down her stomach and ran over her pockets. When he found her wand, he palmed it before it even occurred to her to fight back.

“Filthy little mudblood,” he began pushing her towards the counter, his hand still covering her mouth. “What do you say to showing me just how filthy you can get?”

She tried to respond, but it came out as a muffled sort of moan. He released her mouth to spin her around with both hands and she finally saw his face, surprised even though she had known to expect him.

“Mal-Malfoy?”

His fingers wrapped around her neck as she watched his signature sneer grace his lips. She struggled to breath, and as his eyes moved over her, his grip tightened. Hermione brought her hands up to his wrist  in an effort to dislodge him, but he was physically too strong to move. Their gazes remain locked as he worked on the fly of her jeans and Hermione was horrified to realize she was already wet.

With absolutely no gentleness, he shoved his hand into her knickers, pushing his fingers into her folds roughly, and toying with her clit. She felt a jolt of electricity run up her spine as he played with her and when he roughly shoved a finger into her, she let out a scratchy moan.

“Oh this is going to be fun. You’re fucking dripping.” He pulled his hand out of her pants and released her throat, causing her to take a deep breath of air. Before she could do more than gasp, he spun her back around, pushing her chest down over the counter top and yanking her trousers over her hips exposing her black cotton panties to his gaze.

“What are you going to do?” Her curiosity couldn’t be contained and now that she could talk, she was desperate to know how this was going to play out. A resounding smack rang out as he slapped her ass hard and she lurched forward before he took a handful of her hair in a fist and yanked her head back. The stinging pain of both only added to her excitement and she felt a flutter in her abdomen with each sensation.

“I’m in charge here, mudblood. Stay quiet for your superiors.” He tugged hard again on her hair causing her to wince and their gaze met in the mirror. “You’re going to take my Pureblood cock like a little whore, understood?”

Hermione thought she saw a gleam of something familiar in his eyes but quickly dismissed it when he ripped her underwear down and shoved two fingers into her, causing her to grunt. It was just this side of painful, but she was so wet there was no resistance to his invasion. He held her gaze in the mirror while he fingered her roughly, twisting his wrist with each thrust until she felt herself pushing back against him in tempo. He immediately stopped and looked at her with disgust.

“This isn’t about your pleasure, slut. You’re just a sub-par receptacle.”

She thought at that point that something must actually be wrong with her because those words started a heat in her belly that made her whine. He released her hair and she heard the distinctive sound of a belt buckle before he gripped her hips, kicking her feet apart to step between them. He made a show of spitting on his hand and stroking himself a few times while Hermione remained still. It occurred to her that she could stop this now, if she wanted. Catching his gaze once more, she found herself vibrating in anticipation with absolutely no intention of ending it. They held eye contact for a profound moment before he pushed into her forcefully, sinking almost to the hilt. There was a burning stretch at the shock of his entrance, and she tried to get away because it really was uncomfortable, but all her wriggling did was get her more firmly pinned between his hips and the hard edge of the vanity top.

“Say ‘thank you’, whore.”

He withdrew and pushed into her again. The sting was gone and this time all she felt was friction and a glorious fullness. She could feel his cock twitch inside her while he awaited her response. When she didn’t answer fast enough, he once again yanked her head back with a fistful of hair, pinching her cheeks between the fingers of the other hand. She could smell herself on his hand and almost against her will, her tongue darted out in an effort to taste herself.

“I gave you an order, mudblood.” He squeezed her face nearly hard enough to bruise when she still didn’t respond.

“Thank you.” She gasped, reveling in the role play, and his gaze narrowed as he pressed two fingers into her mouth. Hermione closed her eyes before they rolled back into her head. He began to fuck her roughly then, slamming her hips into the edge of the vanity hard enough so that she knew she’d be black and blue. The fist in her hair kept her back arched and the fingers in her mouth were so far down her throat she was nearly gagging. She couldn’t move, trapped by his grip, invaded by him.

It was the most liberating thing she’d ever felt; not being able to fight it and just…surrendering.

And oh, Merlin, the feel of him inside her. He was long, and thick, and at this angle he hit that spot inside her repeatedly, until she realized she was whining with each thrust. The fingers in her mouth pushed into her tongue, his hand holding her jaw open. She didn’t care that she was drooling, she just wanted him to keep doing that thing. Every time he pulled out, he lowered his hips so that when he rammed back into her he pushed her up.

When he let go of her hair, she barely noticed, until she heard a rip. He’d torn her shirt open and was palming her breast, pinching her nipple painfully hard.

“You love this, don’t you? Little mudblood cunt has never been so full. You fucking slag, letting me fuck you in a bathroom.” He pulled his fingers out of her mouth and released her breast, pushing her down until her tits lay flat against the cold countertop. She felt his hand on the globe of her ass and his pace slowed as he used his palms to spread her wide. Hermione felt completely exposed to his gaze and she placed her cheek against the cold vinyl of the countertop in an effort to cool down the blush she was sure had her face flaming.

When she felt a finger slide over the bud of her asshole she jerked. This wasn’t on her list.

“Stop moving, slut. Lie still and take it.”

“That wasn’t-“

He spanked her hard and thrust into her again. “Quiet, Granger.”

Before she could wonder at how he’d known about the real Malfoy’s use of her surname, she felt his thumb pushing into her ass. She went still as he breached her entrance, the foreign sensation not entirely unpleasant. He lingered for a minute as she adjusted and soon her breath came in short little puffs as her clit throbbed, the pressure of his dick continuing to stimulate her even though he was remaining still. As his hips started to move again, he slammed his cock into her with precision and soon she was moaning and writhing beneath him, pushing back into him, desperately trying to grip the slippery countertop in an effort to hold onto something while he fucked her into mindlessness.

It wasn’t long before the feelings overwhelmed her completely. The spiral that had been growing as he pounded into her moved up her spine and she arched her back and raised up on her toes as her orgasm consumed her. She barely felt him remove his finger from her rear entrance before he gripped her hips and pounded into her limp form a handful more times before he came with a strained shout. A final shudder moved through him, and he kneaded the globe of her arse roughly before slowly pulling out of her.

Hermione felt the warmth of his come trickle down her leg and heard him give a low whistle before his hands moved up her back and tugged on her hair, forcing her spine to arch as he leaned down to whisper in her ear.

“I like the look of my come all over you.”

He released her and she glanced over her shoulder in time to see him close up his trousers and belt before he ran a finger over her swollen pussy, causing her to shiver. He caught her gaze and smirked before pulling her wand out of his pocket and placing it next to her on the counter-top.

“See you around, Granger.”

Hermione watched him leave in the mirror, her brain sluggishly trying to process the fact that she was half naked, and leaking come in a public bathroom. Between the mind-shattering orgasm and the alcohol she wasn’t at her best. What would she do if someone came to use the loo?

She straightened at the thought of someone walking in on her in such a state and cast a quick scourgify before pulling up her knickers and trousers. She thanked Merlin she was on muggle birth control, so she didn’t have to worry about the prophylactic charms. The shirt she had to reparo since he’d ripped off several buttons, but once that was done, she looked much more put together. Her hair was still a disaster, sticking up everywhere. As she pulled the elastic out of her messy locks and combed her fingers through it in an effort to get it tidy, she noticed her hands were shaking.

The adrenaline high from the orgasm was dispersing, but it was as though the intensity of the experience had broken through some wall she’d been rigidly clinging to. Almost as if a dam had burst, a sob escaped her as the feelings she had set aside and compartmentalized for so long flooded through her system. She collapsed, a single hand resting on the edge of the counter, as the tears came so hard she nearly doubled over.

She wasn’t entirely clear what she was crying about. Whether it was her split with Ron, her inability to sleep because of Bellatrix, the horrors of the war; it was irrelevant.

It was irrelevant because it was cathartic. A release. Something she hadn’t done in years. The few times she had cried since Ron had left were nothing like this. Those were tears of frustration and self pity, but this? This was gut deep and agonizing.

After ten minutes on the floor of a muggle pub, crying so hard she thought she might vomit, Hermione realized with a shock that she hadn’t cried like that since the war because she hadn’t been able to. Her nightmares haunted her, and her memories plagued her, but she’d always been detached from them. She’d forced herself to see them as something separate from herself, something observable from afar, almost like a memory in a Pensieve. Because if she hadn’t kept those experiences at arm’s lengths, she’d never have been able to survive them. But now? Distance and time and a hard fuck from a man wearing the mask of her childhood bully and her walls crumbled.

She didn’t know whether to be furious with or thankful for the Malfoy doppelganger.

Hermione wiped her eyes and pulled herself to standing as she recalled the look in the silver eyes of her anonymous shag for hire and was struck with a thought. He’d called her Granger there, at the end. She tried to recall whether she had mentioned on her questionnaire that Draco Malfoy consistently called her by her last name.

She was almost entirely sure she hadn’t, and she had absolutely no idea what to do with that bit of information.

 

********************

 

Draco waited outside the pub, hoping to catch a glimpse of the frizzy headed witch as she departed. He was still expecting to hear the crack of apparition foretelling the arrival of a full Auror contingent, summoned to escort him to Azkaban, but it never came. While he waited in the shadows, he replayed the last twenty minutes in his head repeatedly and found that he was oddly unsettled by what had just happened.

His original plan was to arrive at the least predictable spot on her schedule and demand some answers. He had expected to have to threaten blackmail, prepared to pull no punches, in order to get her to confess to the reasons behind the set up. But then she’d melted into him and arched into his hands and fucking whimpered and he’d changed tactics. About halfway through, he’d realized there was no set up. Hermione fucking Granger had genuinely been enjoying herself while he assaulted her roughly in the loo.

He couldn’t decide if the idea made him nauseous or feel like the luckiest Wizard in England.

Straightening, he saw her exit the pub and begin walking towards him. He shrank back into the shadows, pulling his cloak up over his platinum locks in an effort to remain hidden. As he watched her, he tried to ascertain exactly what, if anything, she was going to do. Because of his focused attention, he didn’t fail to see her swipe her hand across her eyes before wiping her nose on her sleeve.

Bloody hell, she was crying.

He clenched his jaw and watched her walk away. Something was going on with the Golden Girl and he wasn’t about to stand around and let her use him without telling him why.

Chapter Text

 

Ginny’s party was being held at the flat she and Harry shared and though Hermione had been there on multiple occasions she found herself overcome by nerves as she stepped out of the Floo. She’d managed to make it home the night before without further incident and had slipped easily into bed, exhausted and still slightly inebriated. When she woke, she’d downed a few potions, popped her birth control pill with more enthusiasm than normal, and had a cup of tea while staring out the window and ruminating over the events of the night before.

She’d sat there for hours, just looking out the window while she tried to understand her violently emotional response. The sex had been incredible, she’d reached a state of mindlessness that she’d never managed before, and it had been liberating and so validating to know that she had been right about what she needed in order to get out of her head. The aftermath, however, had been less than ideal and she really couldn’t say whether it was because of the intensity of the experience or something else.

In the end she had to concede that while she couldn’t be entirely sure of the reason, the results had been enlightening. And terrifying.

“’Mione!” The birthday girl enveloped her into a warm hug, pulling her out of her thoughts. “You look amazing!” Ginny stepped back and her eyes widened. “You had a shag didn’t you?”

“Ginny!” Hermione hissed the name, astonished at the younger woman’s perceptive capabilities.

Her friend absolutely cackled. “Hermione Granger, you dirty witch.” She leaned in conspiratorially. “Who was it?”

“No one you know. And do not tell Ronald.”

“You’re no fun. And of course I won’t tell him. He’d lose his mind.”

Hermione sighed and let the birthday girl lead her into the living room where a chorus of greetings welcomed them. Ron gave her a look and turned his back, returning to a conversation with Neville. Hermione flipped her hair over her shoulder and smiled quickly at Ginny as she was abandoned to navigate the party on her own. Luna Lovegood was sitting alone on the loveseat, so Hermione joined her and was soon embroiled in a rather animated conversation about Nargles and ginger biscuits. If someone had asked her to explain how they were related, Hermione wouldn’t have been able to, but Luna was making a very strong argument for something.

“Don’t you agree Ron?”

Hermione looked up in surprise to see that Ron was standing in front of Luna and her, and he appeared to be waiting to say something.

“Yeah, sure. Loads of sense, Luna. Do you mind if I steal Hermione for a moment?”

The airy blond stood and patted Ron on the shoulder. “Mind the wrackspurts, Ron.”

“Right. Will do.” He frowned down at Hermione. “Can we speak in private?”

Unwilling to be pulled into an empty room and have her ex-fiancé explain to her how she needed to check into St. Mungo’s for a mental health evaluation, Hermione frowned and braced herself for an argument.

“I’m not overly keen on having a re-do of our previous conversations.”

His face reddened, and she knew her instincts had been correct.

“I’d rather not discuss this particular topic in public.”

Hermione stood. His statement was a dead giveaway for what he wanted to discuss, and she was absolutely not interested.

“We’re no longer together, Ron. Any thoughts you have on my private activities can be kept to yourself.”

“’Mione – “

“Sod off, Ronald.” She slipped past him and moved towards the other side of the room before he grabbed her wrist.

“I’m sorry.”

That stopped her. When she turned back around, he wasn’t looking at her, was instead staring into his drink, but he had a familiar look on his face.

“You’re sorry.”

“I shouldn’t have said those things. I still think you’re mad -” he paused to swallow and lifted his head to look at her before releasing her. “Anyway, I’m sorry. I wanted you to know that.”

Typical Ron, putting his foot in his mouth even when he was attempting to apologize for putting his foot in his mouth. Hermione put her hands on her hips.

“I appreciate the apology, but honestly, Ronald, you need to work on your delivery.”

He opened his mouth to say something, or possibly insert another foot, before Harry intervened.

“It’s time for cake and Ginny sent me over here to keep you two from killing each other.”

Hermione dropped her hands and sighed.

“No one is killing anyone, Harry.” She brushed past the two men she had once considered ‘her boys’ and plastered another fake smile on her face before hugging the birthday girl and accepting a piece of cake. She could feel Ron’s eyes on her back, but she ignored him and tried to remain cheerful for Ginny. It was in that moment, while she was smiling stiffly and listening to Ginny gush about the gift Harry had bought her, that she realized how much she hated being relied upon to be completely unflappable.

 

********************

 

Her week at work began normally enough. The emotional chaos of her weekend had lingered into Monday morning until she was bombarded with proposals and rule reviews, at which point her brain switched on and she was once again successfully compartmentalized.

The series of epiphanies she’d had as a result of sex with Malfoy’s doppelganger required much further examination, but Hermione was reticent about diving into whatever unexplored trauma lay under the surface. She knew the scar on her arm wasn’t the only reminder of her terrifying ordeal during the war, but it was the only one she was forced to look at daily. In her rush to return to normal post-war, she’d shoved every awful, terrifying, sad thing off into a tidy box that she’d then placed into the corner of her brain and ignored. Repeatedly. Until it had overflowed in a screeching, screaming mess in the bathroom of a muggle pub. And now that it had escaped, she was unconvinced of her ability to shove it all back in there.

Which was why she was ignoring that mess and working on a physical one. She was currently organizing her office and re-cataloguing all of her previously assigned regulations so that instead of being alphabetized by author they were alphabetized by creature. Frankly she was mildly appalled she hadn’t thought of it earlier. She stood, hip leaning against her desk, as she flicked her wand casually, file folders flying through the air, and settled the treatise on Dragon Bone Trading on the shelf.

Hermione stopped, blowing a lock of hair out of her face. This was hardly a productive way to spend her lunch hour, regardless of whether or not it was distracting her from the memories bubbling up like mud in a cauldron. Pocketing her wand, she decided to go to the Ministry dining hall for a cup of tea and some biscuits. Maybe caffeine and sugar would keep her from imploding.

She left her office, closing and locking the door behind her, with a book clutched firmly to her chest. Holding her chosen reading selection tight, she waited for the lift, smiling slightly at the young man next to her. He looked vaguely familiar, but she knew he wasn’t in her department, so she felt no obligation to strike up a conversation with him only to have him gush about the Golden Trio as people were wont to do. As the doors opened, she made her way to the back corner, avoiding conversation as much as possible while she waited to be taken to the floor containing the dining hall.

Once there, she found an isolated table in the far corner near a small planter containing a variety of magical plants that almost made her feel as though she was outside in a park. The tea and biscuits she ordered appeared once she’d sat down, and she opened her book to her marked spot while idly toying with the tea bag.

She was quickly sucked in to her book, and it was for that reason that she failed to notice when someone joined her at her small table. She was so engrossed, that when a long finger ran across the page she was reading and tilted it away, it took her a moment to register the invasion. When she finally looked up to see who had joined her, she nearly spat out her tea in shock.

“Patterns of Sexual Behavior? Naughty.”

Her entire body blushed, and it took her several moments to compose herself enough to speak. Only by reminding herself that this was not the man she’d shagged in a bathroom was she able to form words. It just looked and sounded like him.

“It’s research, Mr. Malfoy.”

A platinum eyebrow raised, and his lip pulled up. “We’re being awfully formal, Ms. Granger.”

“Would you prefer I call you ferret?”

“Would you prefer I call you mudblood?” He leaned over the table and gave her a look that made her swallow.

She snapped the book shut on his finger and he leaned back with a sneer, shaking the injured digit.

“Formality it is then.”

“You’re despicable.” Hermione stood.

“Did you read my proposal?”

Hermione felt a wave of embarrassment, similar to the one she’d felt during the initial proposal meeting (but quite different from the first blush today when she’d momentarily thought she was facing her fantasy lover) and hesitated in her departure.

“I did.”

“And?” His relaxed posture didn’t change but imperceptibly, his sprawl being impacted by the slightest straightening of the spine. Not enough for him to appear rigidly upright, but enough to indicate he was anticipating her response.

“I can’t actually discuss it before the meeting next week, Malfoy. Anything I say might sway your presentation and then I’d be potentially responsible for interfering with the process.”

He snorted in disbelief. “Please, as if anyone would accuse you of trying to help me.”

“I help everyone.” She snapped, oddly resentful. Because that was it, wasn’t it? She helped everyone constantly. Except herself. She was suddenly exhausted and sat back down with a graceless slump. “If It’s all the same to you, I’d like to get back to my reading. I only have a few minutes left of my lunch hour.” She opened her book again, prepared to ignore him.

“Are you planning an international orgy? What kind of research does the head of the International Magic Cooperation Trading Commission do that involves sexual behavior?”

“If you must know, its unrelated to work, which is why I want to read it on my lunch.”

“Shocking behavior from The Brightest Witch of Her Age.” She could hear the capitalization in his voice, and it irritated her.

“Everyone has sex, Malfoy.” She blushed again, wondering what on earth was compelling her to speak so candidly. “Even me.” He didn’t respond, and as the silence stretched on, she looked up at him from under her lashes, wondering if perhaps he had left.

He hadn’t. In fact, he was looking right at her.

The smile that graced his lips was absolutely wicked. She was immediately suspicious.

“Why are you here?”

The smile slipped and was replaced by a more familiar sneer.

“Making sure you aren’t shirking your responsibilities.”

“I don’t need a keeper, Malfoy.”

“Are you sure about that, Granger?” He looked her over as if he was critiquing her person. The way he studied her was both overtly sexual and highly critical, and she felt her ire rise. He rested his chin in his hand as though coming to a decision. “Maybe you’d enjoy having someone keep you in line.”

“How dare you.” She hissed.

He dropped his hand and she caught the glint of his family ring when he leaned back into his chair, his lip curling in an expression of something. Disgust, frustration, annoyance. She couldn’t be sure.

“How is the weasel, anyway?”

Hermione looked down at her book. “I wouldn’t know.”

“Trouble in paradise?”

“Why do you care?” She muttered this into her book, unwilling to make eye contact with him again.

“Who says I do? Maybe I just like knowing everyone’s secrets.”

Hermione blushed again. “I don’t have any secrets.”

“Liar. Everyone has secrets, Granger.” As he stood to leave, he leaned over and tapped her book. “Enjoy your research.”

Hermione glared at him as he left. The absolute nerve of the man. Not only had he interrupted her lunch to harass her about her work, but then he’d gone so far as to imply that she needed a keeper.

“Horrible man.” Hermione chewed her bottom lip as her eyes followed his form out of the large dining hall. He didn’t wear robes, instead preferring something very similar to a muggle bespoke suit in an unyielding black. The contrast with his platinum hair was visually shocking and Hermione pressed her lips together in annoyance.

Her spontaneous decision to include him in her fantasy hadn’t been solely related to the sense of powerlessness she’d felt at the hands of his family off and on for years. Nor the subsequent desire to get some sort of handle on it by introducing it into her controlled experiment. No, she could admit there was something cruelly attractive about his appearance, all angles and sharp lines; harsh and shocking in its cold beauty.

Annoyed and discombobulated, she stood and snatched her book off the table before stomping out of the dining hall. She wasn’t chasing him, exactly, but she was not going to let him get the last words in.

His black clad form was waiting in front of the lifts, hands clasped behind his back like the arrogant prat he was. Hermione approached him and poked his shoulder, causing him to turn abruptly and glare down at her.

“What are you playing at, Malfoy?”

“Me? You’re the one who just physically assaulted me.” He rubbed his shoulder as though to make a point.

“Stay away from me.”

“Again, Granger, you assaulted me. I was simply here to ensure that my business proposal was being treated fairly as is proper, and not being ignored so you can exercise some grudge you’ve been holding.”

“I’m not that petty, you twit.”

He sneered at her and turned to face her fully. “Is that so Ms. I didn’t read your proposal because I thought you were murdering unicorns?”

Unfortunately, he had a point.

“Oh sod off!”

“Happily.” The door to the lift opened and he stepped inside, looking back at her with a smirk. “Coming, Granger?”

“Not with you.”

He raised an eyebrow and she blushed at the double entendre. As the doors to the lift closed, she saw him purse his lips and bring his finger to brush across his mouth. It was only after he’d disappeared that she let her temper show, stomping her foot in annoyance.

“Honestly.” She huffed. No one else had the ability to get under her skin quite like Malfoy.

Chapter Text

 

Hermione woke up screaming. The dream had been more vivid than usual, her entire body shivering with the ghost of the cruciatus curse as she pressed shaky hands to her eyes.

It hadn’t always been like this, even right after the war she’d managed to be able to sleep through the night more often than not. But over the years her nightmares had gotten worse. They’d started off vague and unformed, more sensations and feelings rather than actual images. But as time passed, they’d gotten more detailed and realistic. When she and Ron were still together and she’d wake up shaking, he would be there ready to treat her like glass, afraid that she’d break.

She had come to hate it. The softness made her skin crawl. The concerned looks made her want to scream. In the end she had stopped talking to him about her nightmares, simply suffering in insomniac silence.

Shaking off her thoughts of Ron, she sat up and reached for her wand, casting a quick lumos so she didn’t have to sit in the dark. Her heart was racing, and her camisole was sticking to her. The lingering sense of being tortured was bad enough, but somehow this time Malfoy had made his way into her dreams. She knew he’d been there when his psychotic aunt had her writhing on the floor of his family home, but never before had her dreams included him.

She didn’t like it.

It felt like a betrayal, even though she knew it was her own brain that had invited him in. She didn’t want him there, didn’t like that her subconscious had conjured up his wraith to hover in the periphery while she relived the most horrific thing that had ever happened to her. He didn’t deserve to be there; he deserved neither the privilege nor the censure of reliving her lowest moment with her.

Hermione stood and walked into the living room of her flat, yawning as she moved towards the kettle. Crookshanks wound his way around her ankles in a figure eight and she bent down to pet him sleepily. As she waited for the kettle to boil, hip leaning against the kitchen counter, she recalled her nightmare in an effort to understand it.

It started as it always did, Bellatrix Lestrange holding her by the hair and threatening her with a knife while she panicked and struggled, knowing what was coming next in that way only dreams allowed. Suddenly on the floor, Hermione had been hit with the curse, collapsing in the dream and bracing herself for more. Only instead of continuing as it usually did, with the screaming and the kicking and the crying, Malfoy had appeared in the periphery and watched her writhe in agony. She had begged him to help her, making the dream somehow more disturbing as a result.

But then he had. He’d stopped his aunt before she’d gone after her with the knife, and Hermione had sobbed in gratitude. Only to end up with Malfoy kneeling over her, brandishing the same dagger before licking a stripe up her cheek while stabbing the weapon into her forearm.

It had been that image that had her screaming herself awake.

The kettle whistled, and Hermione poured the boiling water over her tea bag, wondering if maybe she’d opened a pandora’s box with her little experiment. Mostly, however, she was worried she might not be able to close it all back up before it ruined her.

 

********************

 

The following morning, she reviewed a report detailing a dragon accident in central Portugal. The report had detailed the gruesome manner of the handler’s last moments and it had left her feeling nauseous enough that she skipped lunch. All she could see for the rest of the afternoon were the bodies of the dead amongst the ruins of Hogwarts during the last battle.

That night she dreamt of Voldemort.

On Wednesday, she was late to work, having overslept, and spent most of the day seeing the long form of Nagini out of the corner of her eye. She was jumpy and agitated all day, snapping at her secretary and coworkers more than usual. The normally calming afternoon cup of tea didn’t settle her nerves as much as she had hoped, and when she got home that evening, she skipped dinner and drank a bottle of wine.

The wine made her dream of her parents.

Thursday was a disaster. The dreams of her parents were never unpleasant in and of themselves, but her feelings upon waking hit her like a bludger. Being hungover didn’t help, and she spent the entire day in a depressive haze, struggling to focus in meetings and finding herself staring off into space while in her office. She accomplished nothing, went home early, and took a sleeping draught at seven in the evening, determined to find comfort in oblivion.

It almost worked.

Instead of having clear and targeted nightmares, she dreamt of being chased. When she woke up at four in the morning, panting and out of breath, she threw a temper tantrum in her bed, kicking and pounding her fists like a child until she collapsed with a sob. Her efforts to shove her memories back in the box they were previously in were becoming less and less successful, and her frustration at her failure was reaching a new high.

By the time she was due for her second meeting with Malfoy and the rest of the committee, she was a nervous wreck. The dreams were bombarding her, almost as though they had been weaponized. She had been living off caffeine and anxiety, and that afternoon she was so tense she was grinding her teeth.

Taking a seat at the conference table, Hermione arranged her quill and parchment for note taking as well as laid out the copy of the proposal for unicorn harvesting so she could refer to the tabbed pages during the question and answer portion of the presentation. She hadn’t seen Malfoy since the beginning of the week when he’d seemingly set off, yet again, another emotional whirlwind. To say she was dreading a repeat experience was an understatement. She wasn’t sure how much more of this emotional rollercoaster she’d be able to handle before she checked herself in to St. Mungo’s. Sometimes she thought the only thing keeping her from doing that would be the fact that it would prove Ron right.

The rest of the committee began to trickle in, pulling her from her thoughts, and Hermione plastered a tight smile on her face for each of them as they greeted her and took the remaining seats. The wizard next to her, an older man from the Magical Creatures Division by the name of Pansly, startled her when his booming voice broke the relative silence.

“Mr. Malfoy, thank you so much for coming.”

Hermione jerked her head up and watched as he entered the room. Clad in another suit of muggle design, her eyes followed Malfoy as he sauntered confidently into the conference room. He quirked an eyebrow at her before moving his gaze to glance at each individual member of the committee.

“Thank you, Mr. Pansly. I appreciate your willingness to reconsider my proposal.” 

Malfoy turned back to her after his greeting and gave her a smirk before she quickly turned her attention to her notes. As he began his presentation, she strived to stay attentive, even if her mind and ears were attuned to the slight movements and noises made by the rest of the review panel. Her hand twitched when one of her companions coughed. Her knee jerked and almost bumped the table when Malfoy slid his supporting documents to each of them and her copy of the packet hit her hand. She’d seen his eyes narrow at her startle, but he’d not lost his momentum and had continued on with the presentation.

When he was finished, Hermione had extensive notes and found herself actually quite intrigued by his idea. There was a known unicorn presence on Malfoy lands, something which she admitted shocked her given the family’s history of being attached to dark magic. Malfoy’s plan was to semi-domesticate them to the point where the harvesting of unicorn hair for the purpose of potion making would be made easier and wizards and witches would no longer have to traipse through the forest, hoping to stumble across a clump on a random tree.

His plan also included a corralling system, managed by freed house elves of all things, that would in turn be tasked with feeding and grooming the skittish beasts when they were corralled. The methods he had recommended for getting the unicorns to agree to the enclosure were quite elaborate, some based on muggle techniques for managing cattle. She was, once again, begrudgingly impressed by his creativity and intelligence, and a quick look around the conference room seemed to indicate that her fellow panel members were as well.

“Lovely presentation, Mr. Malfoy! We do have a few questions, though.” One of her colleagues from International Magic Cooperation had multiple follow-up questions about the resources that would be needed in order to attempt the undertaking and what Malfoy’s plans were if anything went wrong. The platinum blond wizard answered eloquently and appeared to have considered a multitude of scenarios, satisfying the questioner.

Before too long the panel had exhausted their follow-ups and looked to her. She raised her gaze and met his silver eyes.

“Thank you, Malfoy. You have provided us with a lot to think about.”

“And you do so love to think, Granger.”

Hermione glared, and there were several instances of uncomfortable laughter from the rest of the Ministry wizards.

“Indeed. That will be all. We’ll provide you with a final determination, with possible recommendations, within two weeks.” She nodded and stood, the rest of the panel following suit, and Malfoy bowed shallowly before storming out the door. She knew she’d been rude but so had he and she was not in the mood to fight with him.

Saying her goodbyes to the various colleagues who passed her on their way out of the conference room, Hermione contemplated whether or not she should take a detour to the Ministry cafeteria for a cup of tea. She needed something to relax her.

As she was gathering her parchments and notes, she heard it.

A cackle, coming from the waiting area outside the conference room.

Chills went up her spine and the logical part of her brain knew it couldn’t be who it sounded like, but the part of her brain that was responsible for moving disagreed. The other wizards milled about and moved out of the large meeting room without concern, but Hermione felt as though she was under a sticking curse, feet immobilized. She was frozen, like a rabbit, tense and waiting for some sign that the danger had passed. When the room was entirely empty save her, she craned her neck to look out the door, expecting to see the wild hair and insane grin that haunted her nightmares. But there was no one.

Hands shaking, she moved to pull her parchments together once more, taking a deep breath as she did so. But then it happened again, the shrill laugh catching her off guard, her stack of parchments sliding to the floor as she palmed her wand and extended it in front of her. The door slammed with her silent casting and she stood there, wand at the ready, staring at the closed door for what felt like hours, expecting an attack.

It was as though the memories had taken over and Hermione was no longer in the Ministry conference room, but instead had been transported back to the darkest parts of her psyche. When Malfoy waltzed back into the room, frown on his harsh features and stomping about like he owned the place, Hermione panicked. Brandishing her wand, some part of her knowing she was hysterical, she raised it, prepared to defend herself. He saw her immediately and stopped, eyes widening slightly before raising his hands in the air.

“Granger.”

“Stay away from me.” Her voice shook and she raised her wand higher, barely noticing the tear that fell down her cheek. He didn’t listen to her, of course, instead choosing to approach her slowly. “I said back off Malfoy.”

“What’s got you in such a tizzy?”

“Your – “, she felt her throat close up and tried to swallow, but the panic was nearly crippling at this point.

“My what?” He continued to stalk towards her, her wand nearly touching him. Hermione’s breath was coming in gasps and she felt like she was going to vomit.

“Aunt.” She whispered. “Your aunt.” The sob that broke free from her throat sounded almost inhuman, and Hermione folded in on herself, unaware that Malfoy was continuing to approach her.

He lunged at her and grabbed the wrist holding her wand, forcing her back against the wall as she struggled with him before he successfully disarmed her. She cried out and he put a hand over her mouth, pressing his body against her. The pressure was oddly welcome, but the source wasn’t the least bit comforting.

“I swear on Salazar’s balls, if you scream and bring the entire Auror contingent in here to have me arrested I can’t promise not to have you murdered from Azkaban.”

Hermione’s eyes widened, and she clutched at the lapels of his suit before shaking her head in the negative. His eyes roved over her for a moment before his free hand brushed over her hip.

“Relax, Granger, you’re having a panic attack.”

Hermione didn’t need Malfoy to tell her that. She’d figured that part out when she’d started hyperventilating. He leaned into her, palm still covering her mouth and forearm braced against her shoulder, before pressing one of his legs between hers, effectively pinning her to the wall. He smelled familiar, and he was warm, and his proximity would have been comforting had it been anyone else. But it was Malfoy.

This wasn’t happening. There was no possible way, was there? The hand on her hip gave her a squeeze and his platinum hair brushed against her cheek as he whispered in her ear. A part of her wanted to sink into him and accept the physical comfort being offered, but her brain couldn’t seem to give her the command to relax, and she felt obligated to struggle.

“Shhh. Breath.”

Hermione closed her eyes, wanting to do what he said while she felt him shift the thigh between her legs. The hand on her hip began to slowly pull up the fabric of her skirt and she whined, not entirely sure she was okay with him touching her in that way. He shifted his legs momentarily in order to lift her skirt even higher, and she took the opportunity to struggle to get out of his grip with no success. The hand on her hip was now gripping her upper thigh, warm against her flesh. He pulled his head back and looked at her, the molten silver of his eyes boring into her as she took in a stuttering breath around the warmth of his palm.

Without breaking eye contact, the hand on her thigh gave her a tight squeeze before she felt it move up her flesh until his entire palm spanned her hip, his thumb brushing the edge of her panties. Another involuntary sound escaped her, and she pushed weakly against his chest in another effort to escape. He was immovable, however, and a part of her was relieved that she’d been unable to dislodge him.

“You’re not going anywhere, Mudblood.”

Hermione’s eyes flashed, anger pushing anxiety aside, and she growled into his hand, pushing against his chest again with more force, slapping at him as well as she could in the limited space between their bodies. She continued to fight and struggle until she was abruptly reminded of his other hand when he cupped her core, pressing into her mons with his palm, effectively freezing her in place.

He dipped his head again, warm breath brushing over her ear before she felt his tongue run over the curve of it. The fingers of his hand began stroking her gently over her underwear, running up her slit and seeking out her clit through the dampening fabric. Struggle forgotten, her eyes fluttered closed before she could help herself and she whimpered when his fingers snuck under the edge of her panties to circle her entrance.

“That’s it.”

His arrogant praise had her grabbing his suit jacket, her struggles ceasing entirely as he continued to dip his finger just inside her before withdrawing and swirling around her moist lips. He repeated the motion a few more times before, finally, pressing his finger inside her. Hermione almost sobbed, in relief or horror she couldn’t be sure, completely overwhelmed by what was happening. She felt oddly like he was holding her up by her sex, the heel of his palm pressed into her clit as he stroked her inner walls.

Hermione turned her head towards his slightly, unsure if her intent was to get closer to him or not, but the hand over her mouth tightened and he pressed her head into the wall before pulling away to look at her angrily. Her eyes widened a bit before she pulled on his clothes again, not sure if she was trying to pull him closer or push him away. As a result, she ended up just twisting her fists in the fabric of his jacket, wrinkling the expensive fabric.

He pressed another finger into her while locking her in place with his gaze. Hermione whimpered as she tried to process what was happening. She shouldn’t be enjoying this. The man in front of her was the actual Draco Malfoy, not some polymorphed version of him. Shouldn’t she be putting up more of a fight?

“Where’s that Gryffindor courage? Let go.

She stared at him for a moment, his fingers inside her, unmoving. She felt herself pulse around him and he smirked, obviously having felt the same. He flicked her clit once with his thumb and she felt the zing rush up her spine. A platinum eyebrow raised, and he did it again, causing her to body to twitch in its efforts to get him to move.

“Just surrender, witch.”

She knew he was expecting her to fight him. But a part of her felt like by fighting him she’d actually be letting him win. That resisting what he was offering would somehow be conceding victory to him in whatever bizarre struggle they were engaged in. On some level, she knew that the only way to win, to prove to him that she wasn’t afraid, wasn’t weak, wasn’t whatever it was he was about to accuse her of, was to do what he asked. To show him he couldn’t intimidate her.

To prove that she could take what she needed from him, even if it appeared that he was the one doing the taking.

Hermione took a deep breath, canting her hips towards his hand, before she closed her eyes and did just that. In that moment, her whole body melted and once again she found herself completely surrendering to Draco Malfoy. Apparently, he caught on to her changed demeanor because he began to thrust his fingers into her while his thumb renewed its attack on her clit.

“Good girl.”

Hermione whimpered as Malfoy praised her, equally as annoyed as she was aroused. She tugged him towards her again and this time he allowed himself to be moved. His body heat enveloped her as his hand continued its movements, and Hermione began moving her hips to match him. His fingers curled with each thrust, dragging against the sensitive flesh inside her while his thumb continued to press into her nub, shooting sensation through her entire being. The tension of the week began to melt away as all of her focus remained on the long fingers currently fucking into her.

“You’re lovely in submission, Granger.” The soft praise was whispered against her ear and goose bumps erupted across her scalp.

A part of her preened at his praise and by this point she was so far gone she couldn’t even find it in her to be horrified by her response. She didn’t know if it was because she was so wound up from the anxiety attack, or if he was just that good, but it only took a few more moments of him roughly pumping into her before she shattered, moaning against his hand and twitching, nearly collapsing as her muscles turned to jelly. She no doubt would have slid down to the floor, boneless, had he not been pressed against her entire length, pinning her to the wall.

They remained there, motionless, for a few moments, Hermione’s breath puffing around his hand, his fingers still inside her. When she opened her eyes, he was giving her a look she couldn’t quite decipher and he held her gaze as he slipped his fingers out of her, tugging her skirt down with his free hand.

Hermione blinked and watched in astonishment as he brought his fingers up to his lips and sucked her essence off them. She’d never seen anything quite like it, and he smirked at her before pulling them out of his mouth. He removed his other hand slowly and backed away from her, adjusting his lapels before lowering his hands to adjust his trousers.

“Well, Granger, that was…enlightening.” He held her wand out to her and she snapped out of whatever haze she was in before snatching it and aiming it at him. The removal of his person from hers seemed to snap her back into reality and out of whatever bizarre fantasy realm she’d been transported to.

“What the bloody hell was that, Malfoy?”

He stilled but his smirk remained. “You were having an anxiety attack. I helped.”

“You assaulted me! How is that helpful?”

His expression hardened and his smirk turned into a sneer. “For one, did you honestly think you couldn’t get away? That if you hadn’t fought a little harder, I’d not have taken the hint? Brightest Witch of her Age my arse.” Hermione glared at him, but he didn’t stop. “And how is that panic attack treating you, by the way? Still completely hysterical?”

“No, you prat, I’m too busy being angry at you.”

“Then I helped.” He leaned over and picked up the folder he’d obviously left behind. “Now say ‘thank you Draco’ and I’ll be on my way.”

Before Hermione could curse him, the laughter that had set all of this in motion once again filtered into the conference room and she stiffened.

“It’s not her, you know.” He looked over his shoulder before turning back to her. “Sounds like her, but it’s not. I checked.”

“Why?”

“She’s hardly my favorite aunt.”

It was absurd, really. The entire situation. A burst of strangled laughter escaped her mouth and Malfoy quirked an eyebrow at her.

“Can I leave or are you still planning on hexing my balls off?”

His casual delivery took the fight right out of her and she lowered her wand.

“If you tell a soul –

“Come now, Granger, these types of secrets are what blackmail is made for.”

Hermione stared in horror as he strutted out of the room.

Chapter Text

 

Draco stormed into Pansy’s sitting room and flounced into an armchair, letting out a sigh as he leaned his head back and closed his eyes.

“Always lovely to see you, Draco.” He smirked at her tone, knowing she was too well bred to yell at him for the intrusion. “Dare I ask what has you in such a huff?”

“Rough day at the office.” He opened his eyes and dropped his head down to level. Pansy was drinking tea and watching him with a face that gave nothing away.

“I need to know if Granger’s written to you again.”

“She did send a note.” Pansy pursed her lips and put her tea down, while Draco kept from reacting outwardly, not wanting to play his hand any more than he already had. She rose and walked across the room to a small but elegant desk and rifled through a stack of parchment before pulling out a rather plain envelope. Her hand held it out to him as she moved back to her tea, and he took it trying not to act too eager.

Pressing his lips together in anticipation, he opened the missive.

 

Dear Q-

Your services have exceeded expectations. I do wonder how you were able to provide such an accurate portrayal of my special request. Perhaps it was some unknown magic.

Please know that I shall happily recommend your services in the event anyone I know ever has need of them.

                - H

 

“How incredibly unhelpful.” Pansy raised an eyebrow at him and sipped her tea while he sneered at the letter. He looked up and shook it at her. “This says absolutely nothing.”

“What did you expect it to say?”

“Brilliant shag. Let’s do it again. Next time include a kidnapping.” Draco threw the missive down on the side table and stood to pace before running his hand through his hair. “Just…owl me if you get anything else, yeah?”

“Do you still think she’s setting you up?”

Draco stopped and turned towards her, remembering his actions in the conference room. There was something decidedly delicious about having Hermione Granger completely at his mercy. It wasn’t about fear. He didn’t want her afraid of him. But watching her let him take over when he knew what a bloody control freak she was made his blood sing.

“If she were, I’d be in Azkaban by now. No, there’s something else going on with the Golden Gryffindor.” He resumed his pacing. “She’s likely to approve the unicorn project as well. Maybe she’s lulling me into a sense of complacency so she can sick Potter and the weasel on me later.”

“You really do think the world revolves around you, don’t you?” she murmured.

“It’s my world we’re discussing, Pans, of course it bloody revolves around me.”

 

********************

 

Draco stormed into the Ministry office and threw the note down onto the large mahogany desk that took up the majority of the small room.

“What the bloody hell is this?”

Hermione Granger looked up from her desk, eyes slightly wide and expression masked, before she quietly closed the door and cast a variety of privacy spells.

“Have a seat Malfoy.”

He placed his palms on her desk and leaned over until his face was level with hers.

“What. The bloody hell. Is this. About.”

When he’d read the note delivered by the owl he’d been floored. He knew the witch had some nerve, but demanding he submit to a complete inspection of both his grounds and his home prior to approval of his proposal was going too far. Unfortunately, as usual, the witch didn’t seem to be the least bit intimidated by his proximity and simply watched him as he sneered at her.

Draco looked down at her desk, meaning to step back and give her room, but his eyes landed on a stack of books and when he began reading the titles, he felt his lips turn up in the start of a smirk. Muggle Sexuality, My Secret Garden, and the one he remembered her reading earlier, Patterns of Sexual Behavior.

“Well, well,” he prodded the stack with his finger and she immediately colored. “And what might this be you little deviant?”

“My, um, research.” She was lying. He just knew it.

“For your personal project?” He flicked a lock of her hair before straightening, her narrowed gaze following him as he smirked down at her.

“I agree to your terms. A complete inspection of the Malfoy grounds and Manor by a ministry representative.”

“That was too easy.” She muttered.

“That’s because I expect you to conduct the inspection.”

She paled and Draco wondered if he’d pushed too far. Her hysteria the other day when she thought she’d heard his Aunt Bellatrix in the hallway had been unexpected. A terrified Hermione Granger was not something he’d thought he’d ever see again. He disliked it immensely.

“That’s not my job, Malfoy.”

“It is this time.” He ran a finger across the edge of her desk before sitting in the guest chair and making himself comfortable. Adjusting his jacket, he quirked a brow at her. “I suppose I could tell the Minister you wouldn’t be objective, given our history.”

“And exactly what history are you referring to? The time you wished I’d die loud enough for the entire school to hear or the time I slapped you so hard you saw stars?” 

“I was actually thinking about the time I was knuckle deep in that sweet cunt of yours . I like the way you taste, Granger.”

“You – that – “she sputtered, and he was content to sit there and watch her. He could practically see her indignation in the magic crackling around her. It was glorious.

“Fine. I’ll be at the Manor at eight sharp on Tuesday next. I expect full access to the entire house,” her voice cracked almost imperceptibly, “and a complete tour of the surrounding properties. With a focus on the known unicorn habitats.”

“I’m glad we understand each other.”

“You can’t blackmail me forever, Malfoy.”

He just hummed as he watched her squirm under his gaze, before she flipped her hair over her shoulder and crossed her arms over her chest. Elbow on the arm of the chair, he cupped his chin with his palm and let his eyes rove over her. The bushy hair of her youth remained just this side of unkempt, her robes were ill fitting and decidedly utilitarian, but all of that paled in comparison to the memory of her face as she came under his hand. 

“Well? Shouldn’t you be leaving while, I don’t know, rubbing your hands together in diabolical glee?”

“I could put my hands to much better use, you know.”

“Most men in your position wouldn’t continuously bring up the assault they perpetrated to the victim.”

“Is that what you are? My victim?” He picked up one of the books he’d noticed earlier and flipped it open, skimming over the pages. “Something tells me there’s more to it than that, Granger.”

She reached across the desk and ripped the book out of his hands.

“You don’t know anything about me.”

“Au contraire, mon petite putain. I know plenty.” Standing, he pursed his lips at the blush on her face. “See you Tuesday next. I’ll make sure the Floos  are open.”

He smiled to himself as he strode out of her office, ignoring the murmured grumbling that followed him. Who knew reacquainting himself with Hermione Granger would turn out to be so much fun?

 

********************

 

Hermione watched him leave and cursed herself under her breath. He’d called her his little slut and it had made her nipples hard. What was wrong with her?

“Honestly.” Muttering to herself under her breath, she stood up and resisted the full body shiver she’d been holding in since Malfoy had mentioned having his hands inside her. The entire conversation had been a confusing mix of sexual frustration, annoyance and sheer terror at the idea of stepping foot in Malfoy Manor. Shutting her office door, she turned to her secretary.

“Josephine, I’ll be back shortly. Please let any visitors know they should schedule an appointment and not just walk into my office as though they own the building.”

“Yes, Miss Granger. Sorry, Miss Granger. He just walked past me! And he was, well used to be, a you know, and I don’t even know how he got in here.”

Hermione simply rolled her eyes. If Draco Malfoy was as terrifying as the public believed him to be, she was in serious trouble. Luckily for her, he’d never scared her before, and he didn’t now.

No, what scared her was the idea of walking into his home of her own free will and waltzing through his drawing room as though nothing had happened. As though she hadn’t been nearly undone on the floor, kicking, screaming, biting her tongue until it bled, pissing herself. She took a deep breath before shrugging the memories off and attempting to lock them in a box. She succeeded at shoving them messily into a slightly crushed bag instead.

Directing the lift to the Auror level of the Ministry, Hermione greeted the receptionist and inquired as to whether Harry was available. They’d scheduled a lunch today and even though she was early, it  was rare that Harry turned down the opportunity to eat. Tapping her foot and trying not to remember how a certain pair of silver eyes darkened while playing her like a fiddle, Hermione failed to notice Ron exiting the lift.

“’Mione?”

She spun in surprise and winced at the look of discomfort on his face.

“Ronald. What are you doing here?”

“Harry invited me to lunch.”

That scheming bastard.

“Oh. Ron. You’re here. I thought I told you to meet me at the café?” Hermione spun back around and saw Harry, a slightly embarrassed expression on his face, hovering near the door to his office.

“Blimey, Harry, I have no idea where the café is.” The redhead shuffled his feet and looked between Harry and herself. “Did you invite Hermione to join us?”

“No, Ron, Harry invited you to join us.”

“Hermione – “

“Honestly, Harry, what is wrong with you? ”

He pushed away from the doorway and approached her. “I think the two of you need to talk. It’s time.”

Hermione was suddenly furious. She whipped her head back around to stare at Ron, who was looking at his feet, before spinning back to Harry again.

“You have no right, Harry. No right. You aren’t entitled to know anything, or to fix anything, or do anything.” Harry reached out to her, but she slapped his hand away. “You have no idea what happened.”

“I don’t care!” He finally lost his temper, voice raised enough to make the receptionist sitting a short distance away suddenly look very busy. “You two are acting like children! You’re friends, and this needs to stop.”

Ron opened his mouth, but Hermione cut him off.

“No, Harry. We’re exes.” He looked at her in shock and she deflated, saddened by his inability to understand the situation. “You know, I’m suddenly not hungry. Enjoy your lunch.”

Shoving past Ron, Hermione began moving towards the lift before she heard Harry whisper something to Ron that sounded distinctly like ‘just tell me what happened’. She stiffened, but luckily Ron kept his mouth shut and just mumbled something about irreconcilable differences. The last thing she needed was two of the people she had trusted the most thinking she was certifiable because of a sexual fantasy.

Although given that the realization of said fantasy had crumbled her defenses and left her oddly vulnerable to a particular ex-Death Eater , maybe they had the right of it after all. She rubbed her temples. She should just have Malfoy arrested and move on with her day. But then he’d retaliate, and suddenly everyone would know that Hermione Granger, Golden Trio member, Brightest Witch of her Age, let a man who had been on the wrong side of the war bring her to orgasm in a conference room while insulting her lineage. It would only be a matter of time before the rest of it came to light. The thoughts of what public opinion would do to her in the, admittedly conservative, wizarding world was too much to bear. If Ron had broken things off with her, judged her, abandoned her; Ron, who had loved her for years; then there was no telling what the consequences might be if word got out.

 

********************

 

The morning Hermione was scheduled to visit Malfoy Manor she woke up at three am in a cold sweat. She hadn’t even had another nightmare, it was just the anxiety that had been building over the course of the week leading up to the event. Instead of going back to sleep, she rolled out of bed and slid her feet into her slippers before groggily making her way to the bathroom, where she took a long look at herself in the mirror.

The same face stared back at her as it always had. For some reason, she  was expecting her external appearance to be as unrecognizable to her as her internal landscape. Sighing she turned on the shower and let it run for a minute before slipping into the warm water and trying to wash away her tension.

By the time she had showered, made a cup of tea and some breakfast, and gotten dressed, the sun was coming up over the horizon. She sat on the window seat of her flat and watched it rise while she ruminated on the events of the past few weeks. There were no conclusions to be had, as far as she could tell. Her exploration of her less conventional sexual appetites hadn’t given her any answers. All it had done was devastate the walls she’d built since the war and left her more emotionally raw than she’d been in years.

If she were being honest with herself, she wasn’t convinced that was a bad thing. It was fairly obvious to her at this point that she’d never really faced what had happened. She’d been content to simply lock it up and refuse to think about it anymore. Rubbing her hand self-consciously over her forearm, she contemplated her next steps.

Maybe it was time to face her fears.

 

Chapter Text

 

Hermione stepped into a rather formal entryway and was greeted by a house elf wearing what appeared to be a sweater vest. The clothing indicated the elf was probably freed, and she wondered briefly what kind of relationship Malfoy managed to have with his help.

“Moppy is to escort Ms. Granger to the study.”

“Thank you, Moppy.”

“Master Malfoy has asked Moppy to tell you that, excuse me, he bloody well pays his elves.”

Hermione looked down at the house elf escorting her and realized she was blushing at having used profanity.

“Thank you, Moppy. And does Master Malfoy treat you well?”

“Yes, Ms. Granger. Master Malfoy told Moppy you would ask that question as well.”

Hermione frowned. “Did he tell you what to say?”

The house elf stopped in front of a large wooden door and frowned up at her.

“Moppy is a free elf, Ms. Granger.” She opened the door and then bowed, disapparating with a pop and leaving Hermione to enter or not as she chose.

As she walked into the study, she was struck by how much lighter this room felt than the rest of the house. There were floor to ceiling windows that allowed the natural light to enter and the décor was much more modern and less severe than the entrance she had accessed via Floo. The rugs were light colors and the furniture was refined and more elegant. On top of that, all four walls of the room were lined with books. Her eyes were so drawn to the opulence of the library that she didn’t notice Malfoy had all but snuck up on her.

“Granger.”

She spun to find him standing less than a foot away from her, dressed impeccably as always in another three-piece suit. He was toying with a cufflink, the light glinting off his hair so as to give him the illusion that he was glowing.

“Malfoy.”

“Did you interrogate my elf?”

“I would hardly consider it an interrogation.” She could feel herself blushing and noticed a smirk playing on his lips. It was incredibly frustrating that he found her so predictable.

“But would Moppy?”

Hermione crossed her arms and glared at him, while he smirked at her, obviously taking her lack of response as agreement.

“Let’s begin the inspection, Malfoy.”

“Very well.” He bent his arm at the elbow and offered it to her, which had her staring at him like he’d grown a second head.

“For the side-along, you bint. You can’t very well apparate to somewhere you’ve never been. Not to mention that the anti-apparition wards on the Manor would have you splinched as they’re designed for Malfoys only.” He gestured with his arm again and she hesitated a moment longer before stepping closer to him and slipping her hand through his elbow. “Hold tight.”

The familiar tug of apparition pulled at her, snapping back abruptly as they landed in the middle of a green space. Hermione pulled her arm from Malfoy’s the minute she had her footing and stepped away from him.

She heard his snort of amusement behind her but elected to ignore it as she took in her environment. They were in a clear meadow and when she looked about, she wasn’t able to see the Manor in any direction. She’d known the Malfoys were wealthy but the fact that they were still on the grounds of the estate and she couldn’t even see the house made their wealth that much more obvious.

“So, where are we?”

Malfoy proceeded to explain the location, and as they walked through the acreage, she noted that he was incredibly forthcoming with details about the landscape. Hermione had prepared a number of questions and the enchanted quill she had brought along took copious notes while floating beside her, allowing her to keep her hands free.

He’d taken her on several more side-alongs throughout the morning and each time he held out his arm, she’d hesitated less. She’d questioned it, how quickly it became easy to touch him. It felt normal. Familiar.

It probably should have bothered her more than it did.

By noon, she and Malfoy had visited ten different sites and he’d explained his elaborate plan in detail at each location they’d inspected.

They were finished up at the last location, but she was hesitant to leave. Hermione chewed on her bottom lip and looked around her while he leaned against a tree with his arms crossed over his chest. She didn’t have any more questions and he didn’t have anything more to offer in way of explanations, which meant they would be going back to the Manor. Her lack of desire to do so was significant, and by the way he was watching her from under his lashes she was fairly certain he knew. Not wanting to appear any more reticent than she already had, she straightened and turned to face him fully.

“I think we can continue to the house now.”

“It’s about time, I’m famished.” He approached her and held out his arm again. “Shall we?”

“Wards?” When he’d mentioned the anti-apparition wards around the manor, she’d assumed they worked both ways. Him offering his arm merely confirmed it.

“Don’t want you splinched. Besides, I know you like touching me.”

“I do not,” she said, even as her actions belied that statement, her arm sliding over his.

“Liar.”

The tug and pull of disapparating was worse this time because she was hungry, but while the arrival was just as smooth as the previous side-alongs, she stumbled as they landed in the hallway of the manor. Recovering, she straightened her spine and tried to mentally prepare herself for a tour of the house in which she’d been tortured.

A tour of the room in which she’d been tortured.

Abruptly, she made a decision.

“I want to see it.”

“Isn’t that the point of your visit? To see the house?”

She spun and faced him, fists clenched at her sides.

“Don’t play dumb, Malfoy. I want to see it.”

He watched her, a wary expression on his face.

“That seems ill-advised, Granger.”

“I’m here to inspect the house on behalf of the Ministry. Are you refusing to provide me access to a room I’ve requested to see?” She raised her chin, wondering if he’d call her bluff.

“Fine.” It came out as a sneer and Hermione gestured for him to lead the way.

As they walked down the hallway, Malfoy slightly ahead of her, Hermione wiped her palms on the outside of her skirt and focused on breathing. When he stopped abruptly in front of a set of double doors, she almost ran into him.

“Last chance, Granger.”

“Just do it.”

He leaned down and gripped the handles before pushing them open and then stepping aside, giving her access to the drawing room that haunted her nightmares.

She stepped into the room, taking in the fact that all the furniture was covered in dust. The chandelier still lay in a broken mess in the center of the floor, and as she walked hesitantly across the hardwood it occurred to her that this room had been entirely unused, untouched possibly, since the war. She didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about why that might be, since her attention was drawn elsewhere. Moving almost against her will, her feet took her further until she looked down at the spot.

The memories hit her harder than she’d thought they would.

She wasn’t aware of the sharp pain in her kneecaps when she fell to her knees, nor did she notice that she was hyperventilating. All she could remember was the pain, the desperation to keep her secrets, the terror that it would never end. Every time she tried to get a handle on the images that bombarded her another one swept her away and she lost her focus, distracted by agony and fear. She thought she heard someone calling her name, but she couldn’t find it, couldn’t connect to it through the bloody haze of memory.

“Granger, damnit, stand up!”

Hermione felt a pair of strong arms pull her up to standing. Her body was as responsive as a rag doll, and she felt completely unable to control herself. A sob escaped her before the now familiar tug in her abdomen indicated she was disapparating.

They landed with a stumble in another room and Hermione struggled to extricate herself from the arms wrapped around her. She took a gulping breath of air and stumbled out of his embrace, nearly tripping in her disorientation. Closing her eyes, she wrapped her arms around her stomach, while the back of her mind reminded her that she was having a complete meltdown in front of Draco Malfoy.

Again.

At the moment, that seemed so much less important than everything else. She couldn’t breathe, her throat closing up like someone was choking her. Dry heaves wracked her body, and she heard herself whimpering but was so disconnected from the sound she couldn’t manage to control it. Her entire brain felt wrapped up in a haze of panic and no matter what she did it wasn’t enough to extricate herself from it.

She felt someone move behind her before long fingers curled around her throat and pulled her back.

“Pathetic.” She jerked at the venom in his tone. “Poor little mudblood can’t keep her wits about her.”

Confusion seeped through the mire that was her brain.

“Let’s give you something to focus on.” He squeezed her throat and stepped around her to stand in front of her. “Strip, pet.”

Hermione blinked as she felt his thumb stroke her jaw. He was staring at her, waiting for her to do something. Looking up into his silver gaze, she tried to anchor herself there, but she still didn’t fully understand why he was looking at her so expectantly. What had he said? Strip?

“What?”

His eyes searched hers as he frowned down at her.

“Were my instructions confusing? This is hardly even acceptable, swot. I thought you enjoyed getting high marks.”

He stepped away and began removing his suit jacket. Hermione was frozen, her breathing was still too rapid, and the terror remained overwhelming, but she was trying desperately to claw her way out of the stupor. Her confusion was warring with her hysteria and she latched onto his command, using it as a thread to pull herself out of the morass that was her brain. When he spoke again the thread vibrated.

“Have you gone deaf as well as dumb?” She watched as he tossed his jacket onto a chair. “I gave you a task pet. Take off your shirt. Focus.”

Yes, focus. She needed to focus. Hermione began unbuttoning her shirt, noticed that her hands were shaking, and clenched them into fists. She started again, trying to focus on the simple act of slipping the buttons from their holes. As she concentrated on the simple movements, she found it easier to continue.

Feeling more in control she slid the crisp linen off her shoulders and dropped it on the floor.

“Good girl. I knew you had it in you.”

Of course she did. She was Hermione Granger. She lifted her chin and watched him slip his feet out of his shoes. He nodded at her.

“And the rest, now, witch.”

Hermione resumed removing her clothing, unzipping the skirt and sliding it down her legs before stepping out of it. The process was almost relaxing in its familiarity. It was something she could do. Something she wasn’t afraid to do. Stripping in front of Draco Malfoy was something she was brave enough to accomplish. He didn’t scare her. He never had.

She stepped out of her heels before reaching around to undo the clasp of her bra. As she slid the straps off, she saw the scar on her arm and a small noise escaped her when she remembered where she was.

“You’re almost done. Focus.”

Taking a deep breath, because she was not about to fail, not in front of him, Hermione tossed the bra to the floor before pulling her panties down and stepping out of them. It was cold, and she wrapped her arms around herself, but her brain ceased its incessant buzzing and she felt a sense of accomplishment. She’d completed her task successfully.

“Outstanding, Granger. Now get on the bed.”

Hermione looked behind her and realized for the first time that they were in his chambers. The large four poster canopy bed was elegant and dark, covered in black and emerald. She turned back to him, watching as he removed a silver cufflink and rolled up his sleeve, before forcing her feet to move.

“Lie down.”

Taking a breath, she crawled onto the bed and lay on her back, hands resting on her stomach as she stared at the canopy above her. It was enchanted with a half dozen silver embroidered dragons flying through a night sky. Hermione watched them, watched their tiny wings carry them over the space of the tapestry. Occasionally one would fly near the edge of the fabric and spit fire before changing direction. She wondered if they were trapped, if they felt trapped. Her breath quickened and she felt the panic threaten to overwhelm her again before her vision of the canopy was suddenly blocked by the blond hair and harsh features of Malfoy.

Hermione blinked up at him, a tear falling from the corner of her eye, and watched as he unwound the cravat from his neck. He’d straddled her and was looking down with a frown.

“Give me your hands.”

She held her hands up to him and sucked in her breath as he wrapped the cravat around her wrists. The silk fabric felt cool against her skin, and he tightened the knot with a gentle tug before pulling her arms over her head. His chest hovered over her face as he twisted to tie her hands to the headboard. Hermione focused on the pearl button directly in front of her before he leaned back on his heels and looked down at her again.

“You do what I tell you, understand?”

She nodded.

“Close your eyes.”

Hermione did, feeling him crawl off her, the bed rebounding slightly as he slid off it. She strained her ears to try to figure out where he was. She couldn’t tell, his stocking clad feet making no noise. He’d told her to close her eyes and she’d be damned if she gave him the chance to reprimand her for not following instructions.

“Malfoy?”

“Be quiet.” She felt a tap on her hip and relaxed, relieved he hadn’t just left her. “There are rules.”

Hermione liked rules. She could follow rules. Rules gave her control.

“Okay.”

She felt his hand lightly slap the side of her breast and she inhaled sharply.

“First rule, no talking without permission. If you speak out of turn, I stop. If you say ‘red’ I stop and don’t start again.”

Hermione nodded. No talking. She could do that.

“Second rule, keep your eyes closed.”

Another nod.

“Third rule. Stop thinking.”

Hermione jerked as she felt something hit her stomach with a slap. The sensation wasn’t unpleasant and after the initial sting she felt whatever it was slide across her skin. It felt like leather, soft leather, and as it left her abdomen, she tried to figure out what it was.

“I said no thinking.” It came down again on her breast, harder this time, hitting her nipple sharply enough to pull a gasp from her. The many pieces of it fell down over the globe of her breast, caressing her as he slid it down her side. When it came down on her other breast Hermione was surprised to feel herself getting wet. He brought it down on her repeatedly, never enough to genuinely hurt, but the sting, followed by the caress, slowly wound her up until she was writhing, trying to anticipate the next hit. He moved it over her entire body, her breasts, hips, stomach, thighs. With each sting of the flogger, she felt her consciousness slip further away from that awful place and into something more comfortable, almost like she was sinking into a warm bath.

By the time he stopped, Hermione was gasping, her mind languid and relaxed, her body wound up to the point where she was aware of every sensation. The silk wrapped around her wrists, the pillow under her head, the redness and heat of her flesh where he’d flogged her, the tautness of her nipples, all of it was drowning out her thoughts and she felt her brain release its death grip on her consciousness, as though her entire being was enveloped in a cushion of protection.

“Spread your legs, pet.”

Hermione whimpered in anticipation and did what he asked, opening herself without thought or shame. The flogger was brought down on her swollen flesh and she nearly bucked off the bed, back arching and hands pulling against the silk.

He did it again and again, until she was crying out, nearly sobbing in her need, the flicks of each strip of leather hitting her clit and both her entrances until she almost begged him to touch her before remembering the rules about not talking. She clamped down on her lips so hard she nearly drew blood.

When he finally stopped, she gasped, collapsing back on the bed in a gelatinous mess, so close to the edge of orgasm she was barely conscious. Her entire being was thrumming in time with her heartbeat, warmth infusing everything.

She felt him crawl between her legs, his arms scooping underneath her knees as he wrapped his hands around her hips and lifted her off the silken covers. Hermione tensed in anticipation, unsure of what he intended, until his warm breath hit her overly sensitive flesh.

“Pet.” The puff of warm air against her had her twisting in frustration. “You have permission to talk.”

And then his tongue licked slowly up her slit, pressing into her clit at the end. She screamed before dissolving into gibberish.

“Oh Merlin, please, Malfoy, please let me – “she gasped as he swirled her sensitive nub before thrusting into her with his tongue. “Please let me come, gods.”

She felt the orgasm build as he lapped at her, the heightened sensitivity making it impossible to stop the waves of pleasure from cascading over her. She arched up, heels digging into his back, hands fisted around the silken restraints as she had the strongest orgasm of her life. Her consciousness winked out, her brain overwhelmed by the sensation, and when she came too, Malfoy was no longer between her legs, but hovering over her, his breath on her cheek.

“Such a good little mudblood pet.” She felt her bindings loosen and soon the silk was unwound from her hands, his thumbs rubbing over her wrists, massaging out the sore spots. Unable to move, she allowed him to run his hands up her arms and pull them down to her sides.

“You can open your eyes.” Hermione did, blinking up at him as he quirked a brow. “Welcome back, Granger.”

“Did I go somewhere?”

He smiled down at her which had her blinking again. She’d never seen his smile.

“Subspace, witch. Seemed preferable to where you were earlier.”

Where she was earlier? She stared up at him as he watched her until it came back to with a rush. The panic, the hysteria, the sensation of drowning in her own memories. His gaze narrowed.

“Don’t go back there, Granger.”

Hermione took in a deep breath and tried desperately to focus, like he’d asked her earlier.

“You can get off me now, Malfoy.”

“Can I?” If she didn’t know better she’d think he was concerned, but that was incredibly unlikely. Nodding she struggled to get up from underneath him, deciding it was much too late to be self conscious about the fact that she was nude and he was still wearing most of his clothing. He rolled off her and stood by the side of the bed before offering her a hand.

She looked at it like it was a snake.

“Not much for aftercare, are you?”

“What?” she snapped. The return to self-awareness had her twitchy and off balance and the fact that she didn’t know what he meant only added to her irritation.

“Fine, have it your way.” He pinched his lips together and dropped his hand before walking over to the dressing table where he’d laid his jacket and vest earlier. He sat in the chair and proceeded to put his shoes on while she dressed self-consciously in front of him.

Hermione looked away, resisting the urge to keep watching him, and tried desperately to compartmentalize what had just happened. Not just the sex, or whatever it was they’d done, but the experience downstairs. The messy remains of her torture continued to be strewn about her head like a Hogwarts students’ laundry. As she stepped into her underwear and pulled on her bra, she tried to pick up the explosion of memories and put them in a box. It was exhausting.

“Granger?”

Hermione turned as she zipped up her skirt. “What?”

“What are you doing?”

She frowned. “I’m getting dressed. What does it look like I’m doing?”

His eyes narrowed and his jaw twitched. “Nothing. Carry on.”

Hermione turned her back on him, not wanting to return to their antagonistic relationship just yet. The thought of fighting with him again had her on the verge of tears. As she buttoned up her shirt, she tried to refocus her attention away from the strange emotions she was feeling and made a mental note to read up on subspace and aftercare. She’d heard the terms before, but she clearly wasn’t as familiar with them as she should be, especially if she made a habit of this.

Her fingers froze. Habit? Was this going to be a habit? Her, having an emotional meltdown only to have Malfoy redirect her into sex?

His arms came around her at that moment and finished buttoning her shirt, his lips brushing her ear.

“You should eat something.”

Hermione slapped his hands away and stepped out of his embrace before spinning around.

“Stop it.” She pulled her wand out of her skirt pocket and pointed it at him. His face paled slightly before it morphed into a sneer. “I don’t need you to bloody feed me, Malfoy. I need you to stop forcing yourself on me when I’m vulnerable.”

“Oh, that’s rich. I gave you a bloody safe word. You never used it.” He stepped towards her and grabbed her by the jaw, forcing her to look up at him.

“A – what? You gave me a what?”

“Red, you stupid bint.”

Hermione stilled as she remembered.

If you say ‘red’ I stop and don’t start again.

“Oh.”

He released her with a look of disgust. “Clearly you need to do more research.”

“That doesn’t negate the fact that you used my obvious vulnerability to – “

“To what? To pull you out of the hellscape you’d allowed yourself to fall into? Don’t be an idiot, it’s a bad look for you.” He flicked something off the breast of his jacket, drawing attention to the fact that his shirt remained unbuttoned. Hermione was decidedly not distracted by it.

“You’re an arrogant prick.”

“And you’re a bossy swot.”

Hermione growled and stomped her foot. “Damnit, Malfoy.”

“Are you done having your little Gryffindor tantrum?”

“My Gryffindor – what does my house have to do with anything?”

“You’re awfully easy to rile up.”

“This never used to happen.” Hermione rubbed her head.

“Yes, I’m aware. In the past you’ve typically retaliated by punching or hexing me rather than dropping your knickers.”

“Oh, bugger off, that’s not what I meant.” Hermione slipped on her shoes, grabbing the post of the bed for balance. She felt his eyes on her and lifted her head. “I meant the panic attacks. Nightmares, yes, but this immobilizing fear is new.”

“Since when?” He stilled, the curiosity obvious in his tone.

“Since – “. Hermione abruptly cut herself and colored. It would not improve her position to disclose exactly when her defenses had shattered. “None of your business. In fact, I have no idea why I’m telling you this. You’re blackmailing me as it is.”

He snorted.

“If you think twisting your words to convince you to complete this inspection is blackmail, you need to spend more time around Slytherins.”

“And why would I want to do that?” Hermione snapped, watching as his expression hardened.

“You have to concede we have our uses.” His gaze tracked over her lasciviously and Hermione’s hackles rose at his implication. With a toss of her hair she stomped towards the door.

“If you don’t mind, I’d like Moppy to escort me back to the Floo. The grounds have passed inspection. I’ll send someone back to complete the inspection of the manor.”

“Fine.”

“Good!”

He slammed the door behind her, leaving her in the hall alone until a pop announced the arrival of her escort.

“Moppy will take Ms. Granger to the Floo now?”

“Yes, Merlin, get me out of this house.”

**

Draco stared at the door to his chambers well after he heard Moppy take Granger back downstairs, trying to reconcile his feelings about what had just happened. When he’d brought her up here initially, he’d meant only to shock her out of whatever bizarre fugue state she’d fallen into. He’d failed to anticipate her compliance, much less his own response to what they’d done. He felt unsettled and irritable and was furious she’d just left.

Taking a calming breath, he smoothed his jacket and straightened his spine before opening the door to the hallway. Pursing his lips as he made his way down to his study, Draco ran a finger across his mouth. When he’d told her strip, she’d lifted her chin and done just that, as though proving something to both of them. He’d expected her to argue and threaten and pull herself together; he certainly hadn’t expected her to follow any of his instructions. But she’d done what he’d asked, as though daring him to give her a task she wasn’t up to.

That was the fearless witch he remembered.

Not that he was complaining, exactly.

Most surprising of all, however, had been watching her after. He definitely hadn’t expected her to attempt what had been the most pathetic excuse for occlumency he’d ever seen. Even though his legilimency had been subtle, he’d caught her unsuccessful attempts to hide away her memories and was rather astounded at her ineptitude.

Apparently the Golden Witch wasn’t good at everything, after all.

Chapter Text

 

Hermione Floo’d directly from Malfoy Manor to her office, determined to continue working and ignore the events of the morning. As a result, her afternoon back at the Ministry was completely enervating, and by the time she made it to her flat she wanted nothing more than a warm bath and her bed. Her day had been overwhelming in its emotional strain, and as she’d powered through the rest of her work day after her abrupt departure from Malfoy Manor, she knew that she’d suffer for it later.

It was officially later.

As she slipped out of her pumps, she flashed back to her last few minutes with Malfoy. The look on his face as he’d watched her dress, his restrained attempts at taking care of her. An unexpected sadness took her by surprise. She chalked it up to fatigue and the general sense of being overwhelmed and tried to ignore it.

Crookshanks followed her as she made her way into the bathroom, her intention being that of enjoying a hot soak before bed. She felt raw, like the smallest thing would bring her to tears. Her fight with Malfoy, while predictable and even familiar, had upset her in a way his words had never impacted her before. As she sat on the edge of the tub and ran her hand under the water to test the temperature, she thought on his comments regarding aftercare and wondered if she was missing something.

Something aside from the fact that she had now had two intensely sexual interactions with her childhood bully, who also happened to be an ex-Death Eater. Three if she included the fantasy version of the blonde wizard.

Maybe instead of a warm bath she needed a drink.

Accio wine.” The bottle of red clanged into the bathroom, knocking the doorframe slightly before coming to stop in her outstretched hand. She placed it on the vanity before getting undressed. As she slipped into the bath, she spelled the bottle open and proceeded to drink straight from the source. Eyes closed and head resting on the back of the tub, Hermione tried to figure out exactly what had happened earlier and why she wasn’t completely hysterical.

She barely recalled the visit to the Malfoy drawing room. All she remembered was going in there, being overcome by memories, and ending up in Malfoy’s chambers. What happened after was a bit of a blur, but she remembered he’d made her angry, and she’d wanted to prove to him that she wasn’t afraid.

And somehow that had resulted in her being completely starkers, tied to his bed.

What happened after that she recalled with vivid clarity.

“Bloody fucking hell.” She took another large gulp of the Merlot. What had started as an impulsive addition to a controlled fantasy experience appeared to have ballooned into something a bit harder to write off as a passing fancy. There was something there, something about him in particular that made her feel unbreakable.

Not to mention the orgasms.

Maybe she should make a list. Slipping slightly on the enamel tub, Hermione put the wine bottle down on the ground.

Grabbing her wand, she accio’d her handless note taker. The hovering quill and parchment floated into the bathroom and Crookshanks gave a small meow as the feather brushed the top of his head, before it stalled above Hermione’s shoulder.

“Reasons why shagging Malfoy is a terrible idea.” The quill scribbled away, and her pet gave her a look of, if she didn’t know better, shock and horror. “He hates me and always has.”

She rested her forearms on the edge of the bathtub.

“Well that’s pretty damning, isn’t it Crooks?” The orange tabby just blinked at her. “Ronald would die of shock. That might actually be a positive.” Hermione reached over the edge of the tub and lifted the Merlot bottle to her lips, taking another drink. “Three of the best orgasms I’ve ever had. Definitely a positive.”

Resting her jaw on the arm not holding the bottle of wine, Hermione stared off into space.

“He wanted to feed me.” Her voice sounded almost wistful and she shook herself mentally. “Oh, bugger it.”

 

********************

 

Hermione didn’t see Malfoy the following day, or the next, and by Friday morning she was seriously considering owling him. Unfortunately, she couldn’t come up with a single reason to do so. Refraining from creating a reason that would be obviously fake to both of them, she focused on work. Currently she was reviewing the information provided to her on the inspection of the Malfoy grounds and the designated sites for his unicorn experiment.

As promised, she had assigned on of the junior representatives in her department to complete the tour of the manor. The witch had returned after only a few hours with very little information aside from an insistence that the Lord of the Manor (Hermione had cringed when she’d said that) had expressly forbidden her from viewing a whole wing of the house.

Given what had happened when Hermione had been there earlier in the week, she had a fairly good idea which wing her subordinate had been banned from.

It was nearly tea time when Hermione heard a small ruckus in the lobby for her department. When she lifted her head, Draco Malfoy was walking briskly into her office, helping himself to a chair and closing the door before she had the opportunity to inform him that he hadn’t been invited.

“Why does my secretary keep letting you in here?”

“She’s terrified of me. Being an ex-Death Eater has its perks.” He sneered at her before his gaze lowered to her desk. “Is that my proposal?”

Hermione slid the documents under a folder to hide them from his gaze.

“As a matter of fact, yes. Why didn’t you let Marissa into the east wing of the house?”

“I don’t let anybody in that part of the house.”

“You let me in there.”

There was a pregnant pause before he spoke again.

“Why am I not in Azkaban?”

“Really, Malfoy, are you daft? Harry and I both testified on your behalf and you were pardoned.”

“I’m aware, you twit, I was actually at the hearing. I meant why haven’t I been recently arrested?”

“Beg pardon?”

“You keep accusing me of assault.” Hermione flushed and forced herself to look him in the eye.

“You took advantage.”

“Yes, so you’ve said. Yet here I sit, a free man.”

Hermione glared at him and he quirked an eyebrow until she broke eye contact and blew her hair out of her face.

“So, what is it then?” he continued. “Are you a victim? Or a participant?”

The words too closely echoed what she’d been thinking all week. She hadn’t exactly come to any conclusions, but she had been thinking about it. Apparently, she’d been thinking about it for too long, because Malfoy’s sneer deepened.

“Or perhaps you’re just a coward.”

The accusation immediately raised her hackles.

“Please, Malfoy, you’ve never dished out anything I couldn’t handle.”

“Prove it.”

That prick.

“I’m not your victim.”

He smirked, obviously happy with her response.

“I never actually said you were. But if you want me to tie you up and shag you senseless, you’re going to have to ask.”

It was her turn to raise an eyebrow.

“And who says I want you to?”

“No one.” He made a show of shrugging casually. “You’ve made a point of telling me how coerced you’ve been each time. But I know better.”

Hermione chewed on her lip while she stared at him. Her list making endeavor at the beginning of the week had given her a surprising number of positives. However, the one, glaring, negative was the fact that he hated her.

“I’m offering you a service, witch.” His eyes roved around her office, giving him an air of nonchalance. “Take it or leave it.”

“A service. You mean sex?”

“Yes.”

What an incredibly bizarre conversation.

“Why?”

“I enjoy collecting secrets. And it’s obvious you’re keeping this a secret, or I’d be surrounded by Aurors right now.” His eyes landed on her face and she was slightly taken aback by the intensity of his gaze. “I suppose I could ask you why as well.”

“It’s nobody’s business what I want to do with my sex life.”

“Except mine?”

“Purely by accident, I assure you.”

“Ah, Granger, what a tangled web you weave.”

“Quoting muggle authors now? Who are you and what did you do with Draco Malfoy?”

He rose, adjusting his jacket as he did so. She got a good look at the incredible tailoring and the black silk cravat that was held together by a silver serpent pin before she refocused on his smirking face.

“I’ll leave the Floo open for you, just in case.”

“Oh bugger off.”

He left with a chuckle, a sound she swore she’d never heard before. When Hermione was certain he was gone, she banged her head into the desk.

“I am an absolute idiot.”

“We both know that’s not true.”

Hermione’s head shot up at the new voice.

“Oh. Hello, Harry.”

Her friend entered sheepishly, an apologetic look on his face. For a brief moment she wondered why he appeared so reticent to approach her, and then she remembered his presumptuous lunch idea from earlier in the week and immediately stiffened.

“Do you have a minute?”

“I suppose.” She said, coldly.

He closed the door and sat in the chair Malfoy had just vacated. If he had seen the blonde wizard leave, he hadn’t mentioned it yet. A part of her was hoping he would ask her about it just so she could respond in a vague and unconvincing manner.

“I owe you an apology. For surprising you with Ron the other day.”

“Yes, you do. That was awfully presumptuous of you.”

Harry took a moment to look at her and Hermione stared back at him, arms crossed over her chest.

“Was that all? I do have work to do Harry.”

“Ron was pretty upset.” Hermione’s glare intensified, and Harry rushed to correct himself. “I meant to say, are you okay?”

“Yes. I think.” She relaxed her arms and shrugged. “Honestly, Harry, I shared something very personal with him and he treated me like –“, she paused as a thought occurred to her. “Like Malfoy used to.”

“Used to?”

Of course he’d pick up on that.

“Yes.” She cleared her throat. “Anyway, my point is that I trusted Ron with something very personal, and he left me because of it.”

“I won’t try to get the two of you to talk again. But Hermione, you and I are still friends. If you need to talk about that, or anything else, I’m here.”

“Thanks, Harry.” And she meant it. It had been hard losing Ron and having Harry move in with Ginny. The two events had happened in close proximity to one another and for a while, Hermione had felt as though she was untethered and alone.

Oddly, though, she’d been feeling that way less over the last few days.

Ignoring that thought, she redirected the conversation with Harry into different things, and enjoyed quite a long chat with him before he left to return to his duties.

Hermione waved at him as he departed, mostly having forgiven him for being a complete nob, then finished up her work for the week, staying late in order to do so. By the time she gathered up her things and left her office, the Ministry was mostly quiet. She had the lift to herself and when she got to the Floos in the atrium the large space was empty save for a pair of Aurors and a single Unspeakable. Pursing her lips, she made her way towards the large fireplace, her indecision forcing her to walk more slowly than normal. When she got to the brick monstrosity, she stared into it for a brief moment before abruptly making a decision.

Landing in a spiral of green, she stepped out of the fireplace and into a familiar entry hall. She wondered if there were wards or alarms that would alert him of a visitor. So involved was she in debating whether she should simply wander about the Manor, that she startled when she heard the small pop of apparition.

“Miss Granger! Would miss like Moppy to escort her to Master Malfoy?”

“Yes, Moppy, thank you. He’s not expecting me.”

“Oh, miss, yes he is. Otherwise miss would have been trapped in the fireplace.”

Well that sounded unpleasant.

“I see.”

Hermione followed the elf, wondering at Malfoy’s confidence considering even she hadn’t been sure that she’d come by.

“Here you be, miss.” Moppy opened the large heavy door, and with another pop the house elf disapparated, leaving Hermione facing a small parlor which held a single fireplace, currently lit, and Draco Malfoy. He was sitting in an overstuffed armchair, and it was obvious he’d been reading as he had a book in his hand, finger holding his place between the pages.

“Well, well, well. Look who’s come to visit.” A small smirk played about his lips as Hermione walked towards him. There was a matching armchair flanking the other side of the hearth where she tossed her coat. Instead of responding to him, she slipped off her shoes and helped herself to the rest of the amber liquid in the tumbler on the small table next to him.

“More?” He gestured to the decanter as she set the now empty glass down.

“No, I’d like to be fully aware of my actions this evening so I can properly self-flagellate later.”

“Self-flagellation is so much less entertaining than the other kind, though, isn’t it?”

She flushed, recalling the sensation of the flogger he had wielded with such precision.

“Where did you learn to do that?”

He reached out and grabbed her hand, tugging her closer until she stood in between his legs. He answered as he pulled her jumper out of her skirt.

“My family’s library is a veritable treasure trove of information.”

Hermione shivered as his knuckles grazed the skin of her abdomen. “You learned that in a book?”

He smirked up at her. “It had amazing illustrations.”

“I’ve been reading the wrong books.”

His hands slid up her ribs and he tugged her marginally closer.

“Tell me why you’re here, pet.”

Hermione was too distracted by the circles his fingers were rubbing into her skin to comment on the endearment, if that's what it was. She reached out and braced herself on his shoulders before closing her eyes to answer his question.

“I want to forget.”

“Forget what?”

“Everything.” Opening her eyes, she looked down at him, molten silver staring back at her. “I want you to take me back where I was before. Subspace, I believe you called it?”

He stared up at her for a minute, his expression completely unreadable as she grew increasingly self-conscious. Just when she was beginning to seriously question whether this had been a terrible idea, he pushed her away from him slightly and then stood. Her hands slipped from his shoulders and she let them hang awkwardly at her sides as he released her and brought his fingers to his lips. His silver eyes traveled over her again before his hand moved from his lips to hers, running over her mouth and then moving to wrap around her throat. Her breath hitched as he squeezed, and she saw his lips turn up slightly.

“Now, tell me pet, anything you don’t want?” As he looked down at her he titled her jaw up slightly and Hermione was suddenly struck by the need for caution.

“No kissing.”

His jaw clenched and his hand tightened imperceptibly, forcing her chin up higher.

“Do you remember the rules?”

Hermione blinked slowly as he walked around her, fingers dragging over her throat, before nodding her assent.

“Do you remember your safe word?”

She nodded again, and he pulled her against him with the hand around her neck until she was flush up against his chest. He was surprisingly warm, and Hermione felt her heart beat kick up, whether in anticipation or fear she wasn’t entirely sure.

“I’ve always wanted a little mudblood slut to play with.” The shivers caused by his warm breath against her ear had her body relaxing even though his words stoked her fury and brought out the desire to prove herself to him. His free hand patted her down, running over her until he found her wand and removed it from her pocket, tucking it away somewhere she couldn’t see. “I’ll be holding onto this.”

His hand returned to rove over her, sliding across her stomach, caressing her hips, teasing the sides of her breasts. All the while, the hand at her throat kept her trapped against him, just tight enough to make her uncomfortable.

“You have too many clothes on.” The sound of her zipper followed, and she felt her skirt slide down her legs to fall on the floor. He raked his nails up her thigh and squeezed a handful of her ass. “Step out, pet.”

Hermione followed his instruction, her anticipation building, and felt her breath hitch when he released her throat to run down her arm. His hands slipped under the hem of her v-neck jumper  and she lifted her arms without being prompted.

“Good girl.” The temporary blindness gave her another small rush of adrenaline and she cocked her head to the side to allow him to pull the sweater free before he tossed it away.

“I refuse to be suffocated by this rat’s nest you call hair.” Hermione’s head was jerked back roughly, Malfoy having grabbed a fistful of her hair to make his point. She looked up at him and shivered at the dark promise in his eyes and the sneer on his lips. “Tame your bushy fucking mane next time.”

Next time? Hermione searched his eyes, not sure what she was looking for, before nodding slightly. His sneer deepened, and she jumped when his hand came down hard on her ass.

“Close your eyes.”

With one last glance into his silver gaze, Hermione did as he requested. He released his hold on her and she felt the swirl of magic around her as he cast unknown silent spells. Whatever he was doing, it involved silk fabric being wound around her eyes, her hair, and her wrists. Arms pulled behind her back by the magic, she felt the fabric trap her forearms together so that her palms faced one another. It wasn’t entirely comfortable, and as the ribbons of silk secured her limbs, she felt pressure to lift them, resulting in her standing slightly hunched over, arms raised above her back like wings.

She felt Malfoy run his hands over her, testing the silk wraps, and brushing hair from her face before he moved to stand in front of her.

“Wiggle your fingers.”

With a roll of her eyes which he couldn’t see, she did as he requested, surprised by the ease with which she could move them.

“Anything hurt?”

Hermione shook her head, finding herself annoyed by his concern. He wasn’t supposed to care if he hurt her. That was the whole point, wasn’t it?

Before she could think more about why his concern bothered her, he tugged her bra down, exposing her breasts, before walking away. Hermione stood, swaying slightly on her feet, partially suspended by the magic of his spell, as she tested the resistance of her ties. The anticipation was killing her, knowing he was there, guessing what he would do. She felt moisture pool in her knickers and pressed her thighs together while she tried to control her breathing.

Her only warning of what was to come was the slight whistling sound before a stinging pain landed on her arse.

“This is a riding crop.” Another slap landed on the other cheek and Hermione let out a hiss. “It’s supposed to be used on livestock.” The next hit was at the top of her thighs. “And now on you.” The next thwack came perilously close to her slit and Hermione whined. His hand cupped her jaw and his lips ghosted over her ear. “On my little mudblood pet.” He bit her earlobe before landing another blow on her upper thigh and she let out a gasping breath. Hermione felt a gush of wetness as he yanked her panties down her thighs and rubbed the riding crop over the swollen lips of her pussy.

“Spread your legs.” His command was accentuated with a slap against her upper thigh, and she complied as gracefully as she could. She felt the crop brush against her clit before it disappeared and came back down on her sensitive lips with less force than when he’d used it on her arse, but still enough to surprise her. He continued his assault and Hermione felt her brain slowly turn off as her entire focus zoomed and crystalized until the only thing she felt was the slap of the crop on her sex, the stinging pain slowly morphing into a warmth that flooded her entire being.

As Hermione relaxed into her bindings, her head fell forward, and her hips canted up. The crop continued to tease and torment her, and she desperately wanted more. More feeling, to be touched, to be full. A whimper escaped her when he stopped his assault, only to turn into a moan as he grabbed her by the hip with one hand and slid the fingers of the other into her tight cunt.

She immediately backed into the penetration, pawing uselessly at the air with her hands in an effort to pull him closer. When he leaned over her slightly hunched form and began pumping his fingers into her, she grabbed a handful of the fabric of his shirt and tugged, desperate for full body contact.

His head came down onto her shoulder and he began whispering filth in her ear as he continued to fuck her with his hand, thumb toying with her overly sensitive clit as she rose on her tiptoes desperate to take him deeper. The hand on her hip moved up to her breasts and cupped one globe, pulling her against him. Hermione felt the orgasm building, and as he toyed with her nipple, pinching and pulling at the now rock-hard bud, she let herself give into the sensation only to shatter a few moments later in a blinding white light.

She was only vaguely aware of the disappearance of her silken bindings and failed entirely to register when he lifted her up and carried her over to the chair he’d been reading in earlier.

When she blinked back to full consciousness, she was sitting on his lap. One of his arms was wrapped around her waist, and the other held a book. Looking down she realized she was still mostly nude, although her bra had been adjusted back up to cover her breasts and her knickers were in place.

She was curled up on Draco Malfoy like a kitten, and he was rubbing her ribcage with his thumb while contentedly reading a book. The scene was so bizarrely domestic she couldn’t process it. It was mind boggling and terrified her significantly more than anything he’d done to her earlier. He must have felt her shift, because he closed his book and set it aside before looking down at her.

A platinum brow quirked, and she stared up at him for a moment before pushing herself off his chest in a slight panic and standing. A brief frown registered on his face before he covered it, resting his chin in his hand while he watched her pull her clothes on.

“You do realize I’m not kicking you out. You could stay and have some tea. Or cakes. I was raised to be a gracious host, after all.”

Hermione froze at the words and turned back towards him as she zipped up her skirt.

“Why are you being nice to me, Malfoy?”

“Why are you letting me fuck you like a whore, Granger?”

She opened her mouth to answer and then closed it again, pulling her jumper over her head in an effort to regain her equilibrium.

“We haven’t actually had sex.” As she slipped on her shoes, she realized he still had her wand, and held out her hand. “My wand, please.”

“Details.” He slipped her wand from his pocket and looked it over for a moment before holding it out to her.

As she took the wand, she contemplated his question.

“Sometimes I need to forget. I have nightmares. This helps.”

“Why me?”

That had been the question that had been plaguing her for a week. In the face of his request her resistance simply crumbled.

“You’re the only person who hates me enough to treat me like this.”

Not wanting to see his reaction to that statement, Hermione grabbed her jacket and stormed out of the parlor, feeling more exposed by her confession than anything she’d felt when she’d been naked.

Chapter Text

Hermione spent most of her Saturday actively ignoring the fact that she regretted her abrupt departure from Malfoy Manor the night before.

When she had come out of her dreamy, post orgasm state to find herself curled up on Malfoy’s lap, his strong arm around her, she’d wanted to stay there. He’d been warm, and smelled good, and a large part of her had wanted to simply bury her head in his shoulder and fall blissfully asleep. But then, she had abruptly remembered exactly whose arm it was that was that was holding her so gently and she’d panicked. Her history with Malfoy was too contentious and her desire to remain in his embrace had her questioning things she didn’t want to explore.

Hermione didn’t quite understand why it unnerved her how nice Malfoy kept being after their interactions. But she did know that constantly having to remind herself that they shared a mutual dislike, combined with the fact that she kept forgetting what a monumental prick he had always been, was beginning to bother her. His concern for her, his determination to act as caretaker, added a layer to their time together that had her feeling things. And she did not want to feel things about Draco Malfoy. It was bad enough that he’d impressed her intellectually with his proposal, but feelings? She was beyond unprepared to deal with those.

And while she knew firsthand that he tried to do the right thing eventually, and believed he deserved a second chance, she had never anticipated the possibility of actually liking him.

Hermione Granger was not supposed to like Draco Malfoy. It was setting her entire world view on a tilt.

In an effort to regain her equilibrium in the face of these uncomfortable revelations, she’d reverted to convincing herself of his dislike of her. She had been serious when she’d answered his question before fleeing the scene of their…whatever it was. Her assurance of his hatred of her was the emotional armor she needed to continue to ask for what she wanted from him without being ashamed of her reasons for wanting it. Experience had taught her that treating it as anything else would put an abrupt halt to their trysts, and she was oddly attached to the idea of continuing their bizarre sex-capades.

By Sunday she’d managed to set aside most of her musings and was looking forward to meeting up with Ginny and some other girlfriends of hers in a post-birthday, ladies only celebration. They’d planned on going to the Leaky Cauldron and after she’d fortified herself with some pasta, Hermione apparated to Diagon Alley and made her way into the pub.

Ginny and a few other women Hermione recognized as being from Ginny’s quidditch circle sat at a table in the corner and were already drinking. Hermione smiled and joined them as Ginny slid a pint of butterbeer across the sticky tabletop to her.

“Hermione, you need to catch up. We’re already on round two.”

“Am I late?”

“No, we just started early.” Ginny raised her glass in a salute and Hermione returned the gesture, taking a large drink of the butterbeer. Within a few minutes she was settled into the conversation, laughing along with the stories being shared by the other women at the table. Before long, the subject of boyfriends and men came up and the group of young women became considerably rowdier.

“Now there’s a fellow I’d like to shag senseless. I mean look at those clothes!” The friend of Ginny’s from quidditch gestured sloppily to the door behind Hermione. She was about to turn around to take a look at the man who’d caught the other witch’s eye, when Ginny said something that had her abruptly still.

“Merlin, Cassie, that’s Draco Malfoy. He’s probably the least shaggable wizard I’ve ever met.”

The dark-haired witch choked on her drink and turned to Ginny.

That is Draco Malfoy? Well he’s the prettiest murderer I’ve ever seen.”

“He’s not a murderer.” Hermione snapped, getting some odd looks from the table before she realized how defensive she’d sounded. “He’s not!”

“Might as well have been.” Ginny muttered.

“He was pardoned. Thanks in part to testimony by your husband. Not to mention my own statements to the Wizengamot.”

Ginny looked at her and Hermione held her gaze, daring her to say something. For reasons she declined to evaluate in that moment, it was very important to her that her defense of Malfoy was taken to heart by her friend.

“Fine, but he’s not shaggable.”

“Maybe if you like tall, blonde and bitchy he is.” Cassie grinned and elbowed Ginny in the ribs, causing the redhead to nearly spill her drink.

“I do wish he’d stop staring at us. Do you think he heard?”

Hermione looked over her shoulder and her eyes landed immediately on the subject of their conversation. He was leaning against one of the tall tables, toying with a glass of amber liquid and staring directly at her. His companions were talking amongst themselves and he was completely ignoring them.

Hermione raised an eyebrow and saw a slight smirk grace his lips before he turned back to his friends, allowing her to do the same.

Ginny and her quidditch friends laughed and one of them suggested maybe he wasn’t that terrifying after all, before the subject returned to something less controversial.

As the minutes passed, Hermione felt someone watching her again and knew without having to turn that a pair of silver eyes were trying to bore a hole into the back of her head. It made her feel very exposed, convinced his attention wouldn’t go unnoticed for long, and frankly she was tired of it. Hermione squirmed under his perusal for another minute or two before she was overcome with the urge to confront him and force him to stop staring. To that end, she decided she’d make a point of going to the loo where, if he were as smart as she thought he was, he would follow, and she’d be able to give him a piece of her mind. Excusing herself from her friends she got up, she made blatant eye contact with Malfoy, before turning towards the toilets located at the back of the pub.

Waiting in the far end of the hallway near the ladies’ room, she heard him before she saw him and crossed her arms over her chest as he sauntered towards her, a smirk on his face.

“Granger.” He had her backed up against the wall before she could react, hands on her hips, lips nibbling at her ear.

“Stop.” She pushed at him and he lifted his head. “Someone might see.”

 He stiffened slightly and stepped away, dropping his hands and putting distance between them.

“Yes, that would be awful. Then you’d have to actually explain me.”

Hermione elected to ignore the implications of his statement.

“It wouldn’t be an issue if you’d stop staring at me.”

“It just so unusual that I see you fully clothed, I’m finding it hard to come to terms with it.”

“How dare you – “

“Oh, stop with the feigned protests. I’m teasing you, you twit.” He smirked at her while he toyed with the hem of her top. “Now, did you hard stare me back here for a reason, or should I return to the ever-scintillating company of Theodore Nott?”

Muffled voices grew closer and Hermione looked over his shoulder to see if she could ascertain whether or not they were about to be discovered. He took advantage of her distraction and pushed her into the ladies’ room before casting a locking spell on the door and grabbing her wrists. Hermione reacted gracelessly, nearly tripping, as he pinned her arms behind her back, his lips attacking the exposed flesh of her neck. As he walked her backwards towards the vanity, he pulled her wand from her trousers, pocketing it per his usual behavior. Once her arse hit the edge of the counter, he wrapped an arm around her and lifted her up before stepping in between her legs.

He tugged her hair back to expose more of her neck to his attentions and Hermione shivered as he ran his nose up the exposed flesh, huffing warm breath against her until he hit her ear. Squirming, his hand tightened on her wrist and he pulled her closer to the edge of the counter, towards him.

“Are you going to let me shag you in here Granger?”

Was she? The thought of shagging him had occurred to her multiple times in the last two days, but she couldn’t dispel the concern that this was somehow different from their previous encounters. Before she could think more on that, he found a particularly sensitive spot on her neck and her eyes rolled back into her head.

“H-hate sex in a bathroom, Malfoy?”

He bit her neck roughly before running his tongue over it to soothe.

“I never said it was hate sex. I just want to fuck you.”

He continued to run his lips and teeth over her neck while she contemplated whether or not she was going to give in.

“Hurry.” She whispered.

Apparently, she was.

He wasted no time, releasing her to undo the buttons on her trousers. She lifted herself up so he could slide her pants and knickers down to her ankles and when he slid a finger over her now exposed cunt she hissed. He toyed with her clit while sliding his fingers through the dampness that was rapidly accumulating.

“How long have you been wet for me, pet?” Hermione grabbed his shoulders as he pressed a finger into her.

“Since I turned around and saw you.”

“Lovely fucking witch.” Hermione pressed her hips into his hand only to whine when he released her to work on his own trousers. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him towards her while he tugged on her hips to slide her closer to the edge of the vanity. He caught her gaze and kept his eyes locked on hers as he gripped his cock and rubbed it through her folds, coating it in her dampness before slowly pressing into her.

The only sound was her rapid breathing as he pushed in to the hilt, and as Hermione pulled him closer, she dropped her head to his shoulder. The hands on her hips were gripping tight enough to bruise, but when she turned to nuzzle his neck, one of his palms came up to cup the back of her head and press her face into his shoulder.

As he pulled out, the slide of his cock against her inner walls had her biting down on his exposed flesh and with a hiss, he pushed back into her, lifting her slightly to tilt her hips towards him. When he settled into a rhythm, Hermione clung to him, running her hands through his hair and pressing her face further into his neck.

“You feel so bloody good, Granger.” Hermione gasped as he pulled out almost entirely before slowly sliding back into her, like he was relishing the experience. He repeated his slow thrusting until she began to squirm and seek him out at each withdrawal.

“Malfoy-“ she drew out his name with a whine. Long fingers combed through her hair and she shivered at the combination of his gentle petting and slow thrusts.

“Tell me what you want.” The low timbre of his voice against her ear seemed to resonate through her entire being.

She swallowed her embarrassment before scooting closer to him and lifting her lips to his ear. This man had seen her naked and tied up at her request, she had no reason to be shy.

“Harder.” Her voice was breathy.

“Beg.”

The command was dripping with arrogance and Hermione almost lost her nerve. But the slow pace was driving her mad so instead she gripped his hair and growled in his ear.

Please, Malfoy.”

“Please what, pet?”

“Please, fuck me harder.”

He fisted her hair and slammed into her, immediately picking up his pace as he pulled her head back slightly. Hermione kept her grip on his hair and clung to him as their breaths mingled, foreheads barely touching. The desire to kiss him was nearly overwhelming, but Hermione resisted, knowing that if she gave in to the craving, she’d be crossing a line she probably wouldn’t be able to come back from. Instead they stared at each other, mouths open and panting, eyes glazing as their shagging spiraled up into a fevered pitch.

For the first time ever, Hermione felt the crackle of magic in the air around them. He released her hip to pull up a thigh, providing a deeper angle for his hurried thrusting. He must have felt the magical aura as well, because his eyes fluttered closed.

“Fuck, Granger.” The puff of his whispered words over her lips was like the softest of kisses and her heart skipped a beat causing her breath to hitch. The tension that had been building in her lower abdomen began to run up her spine, and the gentle throbbing at the point where they were intimately connected became insistent. The orgasm surprised her in its intensity, and as she went over the edge, she tightened her grip on Malfoy until their chests were pressed up against each other, hips jerking against him.

He released his grip on her hip and wrapped his arm around her waist, thrusting into her a handful more times before he pressed his face into her neck and came with a muffled grunt. The aftermath of their shagging had gotten them so close to one another they were nearly indistinguishable. Each had a death grip on the other, and Hermione for one was terrified of letting go for fear of seeing his expression. 

Nothing in her years with Ron prepared her for the intensity and terrifying intimacy of the sex she’d just had with Draco Malfoy. The thought of looking in his eyes and seeing indifference, or worse hatred, reflected back at her, had her nearly in tears.

She felt him nuzzling her neck, lips brushing against her skin until he reached her ear.

“Who taught you occlumency?”

It was so not what she expected, she jerked back in surprise, catching his amused gaze.

“What?”

“Occlumency, Granger. Who taught you?”

“I – no one.”

“Well, you’re absolute rubbish at it.”

Hermione wrinkled her brow in confusion and was about to ask him what exactly had given him the idea she was an occlumens when there was a rather aggressive pounding on the bathroom door.

“Hermione? Are you alright? You’ve been in there twenty minutes.”

The smirk on Malfoy’s face was absolutely diabolical by this point and Hermione glared at him before answering Ginny.

“Yes, fine. I was, um, distracted.”

“In the toilet?”

Hermione flushed and Malfoy’s smirk grew.

“Yes?”

“Okay well, if it’s because you’re afraid of talking to Malfoy, I’m pretty certain the git’s left.”

“I am not afraid of Malfoy.” The blond in question raised a platinum brow at her before opening his mouth. Hermione slapped a hand over it before he could speak, and he glared at her. “I’ll be out in a minute, Gin.”

“Okay. Don’t fall in!”

Hermione stared at the door for a few moments to assure herself that Ginny was gone before removing her hand from Malfoy’s mouth.

“The weaselette thinks you’re afraid of me?” his voice was hushed as he pulled out of her, causing them both to hiss and making Hermione cringe internally as she realized she’d talked to Ginny while still intimately connected to the man. His muttered scourgify cleaned up the majority of the messiness of their sex. 

“She also thinks you’re a murderer, so quite a few of her ideas are completely bonkers.”

Since she was watching him pull up her trousers and her knickers when she said this, she saw the nearly imperceptible stiffening of his posture. For some reason his discomfort with being thought a murderer shocked her. It made her want to reassure him, and for the first time she realized that for all his joking about the benefits of people like her secretary fearing him, it had to be unpleasant to constantly have people thinking the worst of you.

Instead of reaching out, however, she changed the subject.

“What do you know about occlumency?”

He answered her as his hands gripped her hips and slid her off the counter so he could finish redressing her. Deft fingers fastened her trousers before he lifted his gaze to hers, and she was struck by the seriousness of his countenance.

“I had the Dark Lord living in my home for two years, Granger. You don’t think I learned a little something about keeping my thoughts to myself?”

He hitched up his own slacks and stared at his reflection in the mirror, running his hands over his hair and admiring his reflection. Hermione knew the narcissism was feigned somehow, that it was being used as a defense mechanism in the moment, but she had absolutely no idea what to do with that information. Before she could decide how she wanted to proceed he redirected his focus back onto her.

“That great big nest of hair of yours never ceases to amaze me. It’s as if you have an animal attached to your head.” The fact that he tucked a lock of it behind her ear contradicted his statement, undermining the bite of his insult and completely disarming her. “Do you even own a comb?”

Hermione slapped his hand away, unsure whether he was teasing or insulting her. She didn’t like being this emotionally imbalanced around him.

“Why are you always such a prat?”

“Tsk, just yesterday you were accusing me of being nice to you.” He shuddered dramatically and she just stared at him.

“What are you playing at?” The exasperation was apparent in her voice and his amused smirk fell.

“Everything’s a game to me, is that it? You leave first.” He shoved her towards the door, pressing her wand into her hand. “Your secret’s safe with me. Until it isn’t.”

The crack of disapparation startled her and when she glanced behind her for confirmation, she realized he’d gone. 

When she walked out into the pub Ginny and her quidditch friends were hunched over their drinks giggling about something. A brief glance at the table Malfoy had been at earlier showed that Theodore Nott was drinking steadily with an unknown gentleman, but the blond wizard was nowhere to be found. Ginny raised her head as she sat and chuckled at her.

“Welcome back, ‘Mione.”

A round of chuckles followed Ginny’s greeting.

“Oh sod off, Gin.” The red head pushed a fresh drink at her, and Hermione took a large swig.

“Bugger, that blonde git came back.”

Hermione almost choked as she looked over her shoulder to see Malfoy re-enter the pub from the front and stroll over to re-join his friends. He completely ignored her, and with another brief glance at him she turned back to Ginny and her friends.

Harry’s wife was staring at her with a curious expression and Hermione concluded only one thing.

That couldn’t bode well.

Chapter Text

 

It was on Tuesday that Hermione fully processed what Malfoy had said to her in the loo, and if she had been watching herself objectively, she might have found what happened next rather funny. As it was, however, she was in the middle of reading another trade bill, when suddenly she dropped the parchment in a panic, almost fell off her chair in her haste grab her wand, and nearly tripped running out of her office on her way to the Ministry lobby.

Your secret’s safe with me. Until it isn’t.

Disappearing in a burst of green flame, Hermione found herself stumbling into the now familiar marble reception area a few anxiety-ridden moments later.

“Malfoy!” Hermione stomped in the direction of his study, ignoring the pop of the Moppy apparating next to her.

“Miss Granger? Can Moppy help miss?”

“Yes, where is Malfoy?”

“Master is out on business, Moppy will get him. Moppy will find Master Malfoy for Miss Granger.”

The poor creature sounded panicked and Hermione spun to reassure her only to discover she’d disappeared. Her impetuous visit suddenly seemed incredibly ill advised, as she now found herself alone. In Malfoy Manor. Her panic response kicked in and she started pacing in an effort to keep from hyperventilating. Logically she knew there was no real danger, but that didn’t keep her heart rate from increasing, nor did it stop the startled yelp that came out of her mouth when she heard the crack of apparition behind her.

“You’re awfully skittish for someone who just invaded my home.”

Hermione spun, staring at his open expression and soft smirk. The blond prat looked happy to see her.

“Cat got your tongue, Granger?” He stopped in front of her and pursed his lips as he ran his hand over her tight braid, giving it a tug. “Tamed your wild mane today, I see. Did you finally decide you wanted to take me up on my offer of snacks?”

Hermione looked up as he took another step closer and watched his eyes darken from a soft grey to a molten silver.

“Why do you keep trying to feed me?”

“Maybe the idea of shagging you senseless, sitting you in my lap, and hand feeding you scones has its appeal.”

“But that makes no sense.”

“Why not?”

Hermione threw up her hands in frustration.

“Because you’re Draco sodding Malfoy. This is not who you are.” His expression tightened, but Hermione didn’t notice.

“Well, well, well. The Gryffindor’s true colors come out,” he sneered. “Poor little swot, can’t figure out why the big bad death eater is being nice to her.”

“You threatened to out me.”

“To out you? Or to out me?”

Hermione looked up at his hard expression and remembered what he’d said at the pub, about having to explain him. He was absolutely right. She would have to explain him, and she had no idea how she’d do that.

“No one would understand, Malfoy. Especially with you.”

“’Especially with me’, she says.” He leaned over her and glared. “And just what does that mean, pet?”

“You’re supposed to hate me. You’ve hated me since we were children!” Hermione rubbed her hand over her eyes, exasperated and confused, before looking back at him. “You took the bloody Dark Mark. You almost killed Dumbledore for Merlin’s sake! You’re confusing me and I hate it! Why can’t you just go back to being awful all the time?”

Hermione clapped her hand over her mouth, but the damage had been done.

“How pathetic.” She flinched at the venom in his voice. “Maybe I need to remind you of who I truly am, hmm? Would that help?” he spat. “Accio Granger’s wand.”

Hermione jumped as her wand flew out of her robes and into his hand.

“Should we play a new game, mudblood?” His wand touched her throat and tipped up her chin, forcing her to meet his angry glare. She could see the anger crackling around him, and she was so startled by the display she completely overlooked his use of the slur. “Wouldn’t want poor little Hermione Granger to think Draco Malfoy had gone soft.” He sneered and her eyes widened at the pure fury on his face. “If I were you, Granger, I’d run.”

“What?”

“You said it yourself. I’m supposed to hate you.” He lowered the hand holding his wand and stepped close enough so that his chest brushed against the front of her robes, before casually casting at one of the many busts that lined the hallway. “Confringo.”

The thing exploded into thousands of pieces.

“Run, Granger,” he sneered, “this will be fun.”

Hermione hesitated a second more, long enough for his brow to quirk menacingly, before she shoved past him and took off in the direction of the floo. She had no idea what kind of beast she’d just unleashed, but he was clearly furious and about to take it out on her. Her destination felt so much further away than it had when she’d arrived, the hallways seeming to expand with her anxiety. Just when she thought she’d reached the exit the loud crack of apparition sounded before she slammed into a warm body.

“Tsk, tsk, so inconvenient not to be able to apparate, isn’t it? Luckily I don’t have that problem.” Before she knew what he was about, he lifted her up by the waist and tossed her over his shoulder. The sudden sensation of being upside down was nothing compared to the feeling of disapparating while suspended from such a height. When they winked back into existence, she saw enough to recognize his chambers before being thrown bodily on his bed, her dizziness slowing her movements slightly as she scrambled to get upright.

“Such a shame, really,” he said as he grabbed her ankle, prohibiting her from crawling away as he hovered over her. “Here I thought we’d come to an understanding.”

He slid his hands up her legs and she tried kicking him away, but his grip was too tight.

“Malfoy, stop.”

Leaning over her, he ran his hand over her hips before pouncing, causing her to yelp.

“Are you scared, Granger?” He grabbed her wrists and pinned them over her head before sitting on her thighs, as she struggled to escape.

“Get off me!”

“Is this enough of a reminder of who I’m supposed to be?”

“Let go of me!”

“If you insist.” He released her wrists only to grab her robes and violently rip them open. Hermione pushed against his hands and tried to buck him off, but without success. Before she could protest, he had grabbed fistfuls of her blouse and with a quick movement had torn her shirt open exposing her bra to his gaze, before pinning her hands above her head again.

“Stop! Malfoy, please!” The last came out as a sob, and as she looked up into the now familiar blond face hovering over her, she tried one last time to express her complete lack of desire for things to continue.

“Red.” Her whispered plea was accompanied by a single tear, and to her shock his countenance immediately changed. He released her wrists and cupped her cheek. His eyes scanned her face and the realization that she was hysterical seemed to dawn abruptly. The anger left him, and worry took over.

“Damnit, Granger, are you okay?”

Hermione immediately started sobbing, and he crawled off her, tugging her into his lap before wrapping his arms around her.

“Fuck, I’m sorry. Stop crying.” He whispered into her hair and she allowed him to comfort her for several moments before remembering he was the reason she was crying and immediately began hitting his chest.

“Why did you do that? What the bloody hell is the matter with you?”

“I –“

“Let go of me!” He immediately released her, and she clutched her shirt together as she sobbed, scooting away from him.

“I thought you –“

“You thought I what? Enjoy being chased, and called mudblood, and having someone force themselves on me and rip my clothes?”

He glared at her.

“You’re the one who keeps coming back here, Granger. And don’t you dare blame me for using that word.”

“Oh right,” Hermione snapped while she raised up on her knees, “because I deserve to be called that I suppose? Because I’m so much less than you are? Because I’m somehow dirty because of who my parents are?”

“No, because you bloody well asked me to!” He roared at her.

“I have never once – “ Hermione cut herself off and went completely still. There was no way. No possible way that he could know about her fantasy, or her special request. Was there? She looked at him and watched as the color slowly drained from his already pale face, confirming her suspicions. She was immediately sick with all that it implied. He’d known. Oh Merlin, he knew everything.

“You-” nearly choking on the words, she swallowed and sat back on her heels. “How?”

“Pansy.” The tightness of his voice would have, under other circumstances, been worth investigating, but as it was, Hermione was too horrified by his confession to grasp the implications.

“Parkinson?” She choked out. “She’s Q?”

He nodded.

“And in the muggle pub?” She looked up at him and he looked away, confirming her suspicions. She’d convinced herself that she must be wrong. Convinced herself that there was no way that the real Draco Malfoy had been the one to perpetuate her assault. Her fake assault. “That was you.”

“Yes.”

“I’m going to vomit.” She leaned over and took some deep breaths, not having exaggerated her nausea. Her reality shifted and she was suddenly faced with the knowledge that her consensual non-consensual fantasy had been perpetrated by someone she had not agreed to. It wasn’t supposed to be him. Not really.

Good lord, she’d arranged to have Draco Malfoy violate her and now, for the first time since all of this began, she actually felt violated.

Her head was spinning.

“Oh, come off it.” His dismissive tone snapped her out of her nausea and sparked a fury within in her that was barely contained.

“Come off it?” Hermione crawled off the bed and stood before him. “Come off it?” Hermione recalled all the nightmares and the memories that had been flooding her since they’d enacted her rape fantasy in the muggle pub. The anxiety attacks and the terror that had been hounding her for weeks. Not to mention her current state of mind as a result of this revelation.

“You broke me!”

He sneered down at her.

“I broke you? Please, it would take more than that to break you. I told you, you’re rubbish at occlumency.” He swiped his hand through the hair. “Besides, you requested me like something off a menu! Some imaginary version of me that you’ve been sitting on? Malfoy the rapist, is that right? Did you honestly believe I would allow some half-baked facsimile to walk into what was very likely a trap? Yes, let’s get the ex-Death Eater thrown in Azkaban once and for all!”

“You weren’t supposed to know!” Hermione began shaking. “No one was supposed to know!”

“Too ashamed of your desire, is that it Granger? How do you think I feel? You turned me into some distorted prop for your fantasy.” He looked down at her and for a moment his face twisted with pain before his expression blanked and he suddenly became eerily calm.

“Merlin, you can’t even bring yourself to admit you want me unless it’s against your will.” He studied her and she watched as his eyes shuttered. “Perhaps you don’t, after all. You were just exorcising your demons, is that it?”

Hermione clutched her shirt together and glared up at him in disgust.

“Well whatever I was doing I’m definitely not doing it anymore.”

He reached into his pocket and pulled out her wand, holding it out to her silently.

Overwhelmed by everything that had just happened, Hermione didn’t even think to question the oddity of him voluntarily arming her. Instead she cast a silent reparo on her clothing and pushed past him to walk out the door, vowing to herself not to return.

********************

Draco’s mood remained foul until Friday, at which time it was officially downgraded to absolutely hellish. The owl that arrived from the Ministry had been expected, anticipated even, as he was due to receive the final confirmation and approval of the unicorn project.

When it arrived at three in the afternoon and contained, instead, a very brief but succinct denial of his plans, he concluded the only way to handle it was to get absolutely sluiced. The unicorn proposal had been the capstone on his efforts to reinvigorate the Malfoy name, his coup de grace, his fresh start.

And now it was just another abysmal failure.

The denial of his proposal made more sense the longer he applied his powers of thought to it. Granger was on the panel, and he’d done irreparable harm to whatever bizarre relationship they’d begun to enjoy. Correction; he’d begun to enjoy it. She clearly loathed him and had obviously been using him in order to further her research. He’d thought when she’d come to him the other night and then shagged him in the Leaky Cauldron that he’d been making progress. But then he’d gone and fucked it up like everything else.

As far as he was concerned, it made perfect sense that her retaliation for his betrayal would be to deny his project.

His only recourse, then, was to drown his sorrows in firewhiskey, an endeavor he threw himself into with all the enthusiasm he could muster.

By Saturday evening he was in complete disarray. Sitting in his parlor, half empty bottle next to him, staring into the fire, he heard Moppy in the hallway speaking with someone who sounded decidedly female. For a brief moment, he thought it would be the Gryffindor. When Pansy came in, he lifted his glass in greeting, smirking to hide his disappointment.

He should have known she’d not return.

“Hello, Pans.”

“Draco.” She took one look at him and rolled her eyes. “You’re drunk.”

“Excellent observation skills. Ten points to Sytherlin.” He frowned at the slur in his speech and tried again. “Slytherin.”  

“Hermione Granger sent me a note today.”

“Lovely.” He sneered into his glass before emptying it. “When is the trial? Should I owl my father and request a shared cell?”

“Dare I ask what happened?”

“I reminded her of who I truly was, and she remembered to hate me.”

“Draco, what did you do?”

“I got comfortable.” The bitterness in his voice didn’t surprise him at this point. Instead of elaborating, he poured himself more of the amber liquid and turned towards his visitor. She was seated in the other armchair and looked surprisingly unconcerned for a woman bound for Azkaban.

“You got comfortable. Around Hermione Granger?”

“I never said I wasn’t an idiot. The little lion had her claws in me for her own reasons.” He looked her over. “You’re awfully well dressed for a woman anticipating incarceration.”

“Firewhiskey makes you stupid, Draco. You’re obviously in no condition to use logic.”

“When has logic ever helped me? Cold logic got me to this point. Maybe I should use those deplorable feelings I was always taught to ignore in order to navigate my life from now on. Noble, disgusting, feelings.”

Pansy sighed.

“You’re clearly not up for having a visitor.”

“But I’m such an excellent host. Perhaps you’d like tea and cake?” The cynical laugh that followed had the witch blinking in confusion. She didn’t understand and he was in no mood to explain it.

“Bugger off and go home, Pans. Discuss my insanity with Theo and leave me out of it.”

Chapter Text

 

Hermione had not returned to work after her horrifying revelation. Instead she elected to go home where she had owled in sick, taken a hot shower, made a cup of tea, and gotten increasingly angry at Malfoy and his manipulations. As she thought back over their interactions, it occurred to her that he had possibly been given access to her entire questionnaire and had used the information she’d provided anonymously to Q in order to accomplish his goal via seduction, if you could call it that.

What that goal had been, precisely, she couldn’t say. He had never asked her for anything, except for her to conduct the inspection of the Malfoy properties in person. She’d approved his proposal on its own merits, not because she had been coerced. In fact, the longer she thought about what, exactly, he’d been working towards the fewer ideas she came up with.

Unfortunately, the one, glaringly obvious theory was that he was simply biding his time and would announce an effort to blackmail her when she had dropped her guard.

The only part of their entire argument that had her questioning her conclusions was the look on his face at the end when he accused her of using him as a prop. But then she would remember that he’d been lying to her the whole time, and recalled the fact that her secret, safe and anonymous fantasy had been enacted by him without her knowledge, and immediately returned to being furious. 

It took several more days for her fury to redirect onto Q, the mysterious purveyor of her fantasy who she now knew was none other than Pansy bloody Parkinson. Hermione’s blood ran cold at the idea of that woman holding the details to hundreds of witch’s secret sexual fantasies. Who knew what kind of damage could be done to the wizarding world if that information got out? In an effort to eliminate the threat, Hermione drafted a letter over the weekend and had it sent off by owl, demanding a face to face meeting. She’d informed Pansy that she knew who she was and who had told her, providing no other details, and ended it with the expectation that she would be seeing her Monday morning.

Which is why Hermione was not surprised when her secretary announced that she had a visitor, and the slender form of Pansy Parkinson entered her office, tightly gripping a purse. The door was shut behind her when she entered and Hermione watched as she sat stiffly at the edge of her chair, glaring across the desk.

“You summoned me for a reason, I presume?”

“You outed me. You’re lucky all I did was summon you.” The black-haired witch squirmed. Hermione had no sympathy for her, however, and leaned across her desk menacingly. “How dare you. You promised anonymity! And instead you told Draco bloody Malfoy?”

“Draco happens to be a friend of mine. And under the circumstances, it seemed necessary to inform him.”

“What circumstances?” Hermione ground out.

“I suspected it was a trap. Another attempt to get Draco thrown in Azkaban with his father.”

Hermione blinked at the way the other woman casually derailed her ire.

“What do you mean, another?”

Pansy managed to look her nose down at Hermione without moving an inch.

“Of course, you have no idea what I’m talking about. You and your little Gryffindor friends have been too busy enjoying the spoils of war to pay any attention to what the rest of us went through.”

“People have tried to have Malfoy sent to Azkaban?” Hermione ignored the other woman’s insulting tone and focused on the meat of the conversation. This new piece of information cast the conversation she’d had with Malfoy regarding his concerns over being arrested for assault in a very new light, and she felt a wave of guilt wash over her. Which she quickly squashed because he did assault her.

At her request.

She needed to focus.

“At least three times. The first attempt was very soon after the war. He was accused of casting imperius on someone’s daughter.” Hermione gasped in shock and Pansy simply pursed her lips. “It was, of course, not true. The young woman’s family agreed to questioning with veritaserum and the truth came out, but the damage was done and for months afterwards people refused to work with him.”

“I didn’t know.” Hermione shook her head and blinked while she tried to process the information.

“Why would you?” Pansy spat. “It wasn’t in the papers, although I have no idea how Draco managed that. The other attempts were equally as vile. We all experienced some unpleasantness, but of course he shouldered most of it. The boy who took the Dark Mark was an easy target.” Pansy looked into her lap briefly, before lifting her head again. “I was trying to protect him.”

“By exposing me.”

The other woman waved her hand dismissively.

“I have my loyalties. Draco’s interests supersede those of my business. Besides, he gave me his word he’d tell no one.” 

“And you believed him?”

“Of course, why wouldn’t I?” She sounded genuinely confused and Hermione filed that away for future use before she answered with the obvious.

“Because he told me?”

Pansy studied her for a moment.

“For the brightest witch of her age you’re a bit dim, aren’t you?” Hermione raised her eyebrows. “This isn’t the only appointment I have today. It would be awfully convenient if you could state your terms so I could be on my way.”

“My terms?”

“I assume you’re going to demand something of me in exchange for your silence? Force me to shut down my service?”

“I’m not going to blackmail you. Honestly, what is with you Slytherins?” Hermione toyed with her quill. “I just needed some answers.”

“And do you have them?”

Hermione contemplated the question long after Pansy Nott, nee Parkinson left her office. Did she have her answers?

Good heavens, her brain was so overfull these days it was hard to say what she even knew anymore. Her fury at Malfoy’s manipulation was only partially due to the fact that his actions had tainted her well planned fake assault with the subtle hint of actual assault. The whole point of having it be controlled by her had been undone when he’d elected to insert himself into her fantasy about him without her knowledge.

On top of that, he was now in possession of, or had at least seen, her deepest, darkest, sexual desires and clearly had been using them against her. Or perhaps for her? She didn’t know which it was, and it bothered her no end. What had been the point of all of it? He had said the first time that he was helping her, but she struggled to believe it. A part of her insisted he was using her for something nefarious, but then the other part of her brain recalled Pansy’s story and his odd behavior towards her after each encounter.

She couldn’t make the two versions of Draco Malfoy align in her head.

Her brain hurt. There were too many winding threads for her to use logic to decipher whether or not he deserved her anger or what may have been the original source. It was simply there, and she felt completely justified in her annoyance.

It was the other things she was feeling that were driving her nutters.

As the days passed, Hermione’s nightmares returned. She woke in the mornings, attempted to shove the memories into the messy boxes, bags, cupboards, wardrobes and even vaults of her mind only to have them spill out overnight in the form of her dreams, undoing all of her hard work and forcing her to repeat it the following day. As if that weren’t enough to completely exhaust her, her subconscious was torturing her in more insidious ways by subjecting her to dreams that were far from unpleasant.

Those featuring Malfoy were almost worse than the nightmares. She woke from both types of dreams sweating and panting, but the ones that featured him included the additional sensation of her pulsing, throbbing core, clit aching to be touched, and the desire to be fucked into the mattress. At least the nightmares made sense.

In addition to the nightmares, and the anger, Hermione had felt compelled to set aside her reading on female sexuality in favor of delving into the art of occlumency. Malfoy seemed to think she was attempting it, and failing at it, with regularity. As she researched further, she realized, with a shock, that he was correct. The compulsion to rush off and demand answers from him was nearly overwhelming, but she managed to refrain, instead throwing herself further into her research.

Apparently, her effort to compartmentalize her experiences from the war was actually an occlumency technique. The explanation for why her memories had exploded from the box she’d shoved them in, on the other hand, was much harder to wrap her mind around. Much of what was written indicated that the inability to control one’s emotions was the primary culprit for failed occlumency, but Hermione wasn’t convinced there wasn’t more to it. If emotional control was all that she was missing, it said something very alarming about the significance of the experience that had actually shattered her box of memories.

Any conclusions that led to her first encounter with Malfoy in the muggle pub having an emotional element made her incredibly uncomfortable. Mostly because she couldn’t immediately laugh it off as absurd.

After another week of reading and researching, she finally exhausted the limited texts she already owned on the subject. Which is how she found herself, on a Saturday afternoon two weeks after storming out of Malfoy Manor, browsing the shelves of Flourish and Botts, looking for additional reading material and once again resisting the desire to demand answers from a certain blond-haired wizard.

The owner of the shop had gasped in glee when he’d recognized her as Hermione Granger, witch of the Golden Trio and notorious bookworm. He’d been hovering around her ever since her arrival nearly a half hour ago, offering to get books from the back, making suggestions and asking not so subtle questions about the Boy Who Lived. So, when she heard footsteps coming around the corner of where she was standing, she snapped in annoyance.

“I said I don’t need anything else.”

“Yes, Granger, you’ve made that abundantly clear.”

Her head whipped around, and she came face to face with an incredibly surly looking Draco Malfoy.

“Malfoy. Hello.” He narrowed his gaze in suspicion, and she felt compelled to elaborate. “I thought you were the shopkeep. He’s not left me alone since I came in.”

Crossing his arms over his chest, he leaned against the shelving and sneered down at her.

“Of course he hasn’t. You’re the most famous bookworm in England.” As though making an abrupt decision, he reached out and yanked the book she had been looking at out of her hand, flipping it over to read the cover. His sneer dropped and he looked up at her with surprise. “Occlumency?”

“Yes.” She tossed her hair and lifted her chin. “Someone told me I was rubbish at it.”

His eye ticked, but his mouth didn’t relax, and she sighed, wondering why it mattered that he hadn’t found her jibe amusing.

“How is your unicorn project progressing?”

His sneer returned, deeper than before.

“I never pegged you for having a cruel streak, Granger.” He shoved her book roughly back into her hands, causing her to nearly drop it in her surprise. “Enjoy your failure.”

He turned on his heels and she watched in shock for a moment before she put the book back and hurried after him. When she caught up, she grabbed his arm and yanked, forcing him to stop and acknowledge her.

“What do you mean? What cruel streak?”

He jerked out of her grip.

“And now feigned ignorance? You must truly be bored.”

“Is - ”, she swallowed, her confusion beginning to war with concern as she saw the underlying hurt in his expression. “Is it not going well?”

“It’s going splendidly in my imagination.” He spat out. “Unfortunately for those of us existing in reality, it was summarily denied, as you well know.”

She blinked at him, then frowned when she realized he was deadly serious.

“What? That’s – I approved it. It was – brilliant. I don’t understand. When did you hear?”

Her obvious confusion mellowed the tightness around his eyes, but his sneer remained firmly in place.

“Several days after you stormed out of my house. I assumed the two were related.”

“You thought I denied your proposal in retaliation for you lying to me?” The volume of her voice had increased as she spoke, and by the time she was finished more than one set of eyes was looking at them in fascination.

“Careful, Granger, people are staring.”

Hermione looked around and glared at the onlookers, forcing most of them to return their attention to their own shopping.

“Come with me.” She grabbed his arm again and before he could protest, began to drag him bodily from the bookstore and headed to the apparition point, ignoring the sly glances from the passersby.

“If your goal was to make a complete spectacle of yourself while dragging me down with you, I think you’ve succeeded.” He yanked his arm out of her grip for the second time, brushing his sleeve in an effort to work out the wrinkles in the fine fabric.

“Oh shut it, Malfoy, we need to get to the bottom of this.”

His bark of dark laughter startled her.

“It’s quite obvious, isn’t it?” His expression was grim. “If it wasn’t you, there are any number of people in the Ministry who would be more than happy to see me rot.”

“But your proposal was good.”

“Yes, but I am not.

Hermione frowned at the certainty of his words.

“That’s incredibly unfair.”

“Is it?”

Hermione recalled the story Pansy had told her and wondered just how many times something like this had happened to him. He didn’t seem resigned so much as unsurprised. It bothered her more than it should have, so instead she focused on the necessity of getting the decision about his proposal overturned.

“Yes, and I for one, won’t stand for it.”

“Of course you won’t. Bleeding heart of a lion and all that nonsense. Even for the less deserving, am I right?”

“Oh sod off, Malfoy, I’m trying to help you.”

“Yes, you help everyone. If I recall you didn’t seem overly thrilled about that fact.”

“In this instance I’m happy to do it. No one notified me of the fact that my decision was overturned, so I’m taking this personally. As far as you are concerned, that is my only motivation.”

“Good. I refuse to owe you any favors.”

She glared at his cutting tone before something clicked into place at his mention of favors. All her questions about occlumency could be answered by him. Having made some discreet inquires over the last few weeks, Hermione had learned he was reputed to be a skilled Occlumens and she’d been resisting running to him with questions this whole time. But this was a perfect opportunity. All her restraint suddenly seemed foolish when he was staring her in the face. Why hadn’t she gone to him with her questions?

As she stared up at him, she came to an abrupt decision.

“You do have something I want, however.” He quirked an eyebrow before looking her up and down, causing her to blush. “Not that.” A voice in her head called her a liar and she ignored it. “Occlumency. Teach me.”

The expression on his face was a combination of surprise and wariness.

“You want me to teach you occlumency?”

“Yes.”

He looked at her as though trying to find a crack in her armor. Whatever he found had his face relaxing and Hermione wondered what he’d seen.

“Fine. But we do it on my terms. You are the student, and I know more than you.”

“For now.”

“For now.” He conceded before moving closer to her. She became acutely aware of the fact that they were outside, in broad daylight, in Diagon Alley. On a Saturday. Shopping day. Struggling to ignore the tension that took over as he came closer, she stared up at him, unwilling to back away from his intimidation.

“And when do we begin your education, Granger?” He stood with his toes nearly touching hers as he leaned over her, hands in his suit pockets, blond hair falling across his forehead. Suddenly all the dreams she’d had of him over the course of the last two week rushed to the forefront of her mind and she felt her thighs tighten with his proximity.

“I’ll owl you?” She didn’t mean for it to come out as a question.

“Yes, you will.” He said smugly. “On Tuesday.”

“Fine.”

“Excellent.”

“I have to go now.”

“You really should, yes.”

“People are staring.”

“Mmmhmm.”

They looked at each other for a moment before Hermione got a grip. Huffing in annoyance she spun around and stomped to the apparition point before returning to her flat with a crack.

Tuesday seemed very far away.

 

********************

 

On Monday morning, Hermione spent the better part of an hour drafting memos for delivery requesting a full explanation of the decision made regarding the Malfoy Unicorn Harvesting proposal. By ten she had received enough responses to know who had been responsible for the denial. Armed with a fairly strong sense of righteous indignation, she made her way down to the Magical Creature Division and requested an immediate audience with the current head.

Leopold Fernsworthy was, as far as Hermione knew, a kind and reasonable wizard. Why he had summarily denied Malfoy’s proposal remained a bit of a mystery, but she was certain it had to be a misunderstanding. They’d always had a good working relationship, so when he opened the door to his office with a smile, Hermione felt a boost to her confidence and was quietly assured that it had all been a mistake.

“Ms. Granger! What a pleasant surprise. Would you like a cup of tea?”

Hermione allowed him to pull out her chair and took a seat before answering.

“No, thank you Mr. Fernsworthy. I’m hoping this won’t take very long, you see. I’m afraid there has been a misunderstanding.”

The older gentleman settled himself in his chair and smiled somewhat paternalistically at her.

“Oh heavens, that sounds ominous. Do go on.”

“It’s recently come to my attention that a proposal I approved was eventually overturned and denied by your division.”

“Oh dear.” He put on his glasses and leaned over his desk, rifling through a large stack of parchment. “And which proposal was this?”

“The unicorn harvesting proposal submitted by Mr. Malfoy.”

He immediately stopped his search and looked at her over the rim of his spectacles.

“Surely you’re joking, Ms. Granger.”

“I am not.”

He sputtered briefly before sitting back and regaining his equilibrium.

“Mr. Malfoy is a Death Eater. The Magical Creatures Division has no intention of allowing a man who should be in Azkaban to work so closely with a protected species. Not to mention it’s my understanding he refused to cooperate with the inspection.”

Hermione clenched her jaw.

“Mr. Malfoy took the Dark Mark under duress, it’s true. However he was also responsible in part for Voldemort’s defeat. Harry Potter himself testified at his hearing, Mr. Fernsworthy. Draco Malfoy is no more a Death Eater than you or I.”

“I beg to differ, Ms. Granger.”

She tried a different tactic.

“Regardless of what may have happened when he was merely a child, he submitted to the inspection. I should know. I completed it.”

The wizard raised his brow and pursed his lip before reaching out once more to the stack of parchment on his desk. A few moments later he pulled out a document and held it out to her.

“According to this, you failed to complete the inspection and when someone was sent to finish it, they were denied access to an entire wing of the Manor. The report says it all.”

Hermione glared at him before reviewing the document he had handed her. As he stated, the report contained a detailed review of the entire house before concluding that the failure to provide access to the east wing was a willful refusal to comply with the Ministry.

“This is ridiculous.”

“I beg your pardon – “

Hermione cut him off.

“Why on earth would you decide that a safe and well thought out proposal designed to decrease the cost of a rare ingredient, while at the same time ensuring the elimination of potential poaching incidents, would be a bad idea?”

“No one poaches unicorns.” He said in a horrified whisper.

“You refused the proposal out of prejudice and suspicion.”

“The Malfoy family has been embroiled in the dark arts for years, Ms. Granger. It’s clear that the wool has been pulled over your eyes regarding the youngest Malfoy’s attempts at redemption.”

“Bollocks.”

The older wizard’s eyes widened at her language.

“I demand the proposal be brought before the Minister for his personal review and evaluation, complete with a written statement from your department defending your decision to deny Mr. Malfoy’s request.”

“You can’t be serious.”

Hermione stood.

“I am. I refuse to sit by and once again watch ignorant prejudice destroy Wizarding Britain.”

Enjoying the look of shock on the older man’s face, Hermione flounced out of his office.

Her adrenaline high carried her through tea time, at which point she received a memo from the Minister’s office, establishing a meeting time for her to present her argument. It was scheduled for Thursday morning which gave her a little over two days to get her notes in order and prepare her case. To that end, she pulled out a copy of Malfoy’s proposal and began to jot down important items. It was nearly seven in the evening before Hermione lifted her head from her parchment and realized she was hungry.

Gathering her things, she locked up and left her office, exiting onto the streets of London. The idea of getting a takeaway had wormed its way into her brain and she was craving a curry, so she stopped at one of the local muggle establishments tucked away next the tube stop. Order in hand, she made her way back to her flat before pouring a glass of wine and settling in with another book on Occlumency.

As she read and ate, she made a list of questions and techniques she wanted to discuss with Malfoy during their lessons. A part of her was nervous about spending time with him again, given what had happened between them the last time she visited his home. In hindsight she’d begun to wonder if he’d accosted her in such a terrifying manner thinking that she’d enjoy the chase. He had been given access to her questionnaire, Pansy had confirmed that, and there was mention of a kidnapping fantasy in one of the questions. His abrupt change to normal when she’d whispered their safe word supported this theory.

It didn’t excuse his terrifying behavior or the fact that he’d initiated some fantasy scene without her permission, but it explained it. Besides, she’d told him once she was no victim, and regardless of his manipulative tendencies and somewhat astonishing ability to flip the switch on his cruelty, she still felt that way.

No, the only thing that scared Hermione about Draco Malfoy was how much she was anticipating seeing him again.

 

********************

The following morning Hermione began her day with a visit to the Ministry owlery. The note she sent off to Malfoy was innocuous and said nothing more than that she would be available at any time past six in the evening. The rest of her day was spent perfecting her argument in support of his proposal, re-reading and wondering about how he had come up with such a brilliant idea in the first place. Had someone told her three months ago that she would be spending so much time thinking about Draco Malfoy she would have laughed and made sure they had a private escort to St. Mungo’s.

It was infuriating, really.

When she received the return owl carrying his response, she convinced herself that the increase in her heart rate was due to the third cup of tea she’d just finished. It was short, and in a similar vein to her original note, purposely vague. He simply stated half six would be ideal. There was no signature, nothing at all personal or titillating in any way.

Which was as it should be. She was absolutely not disappointed.

Hermione squirmed in her desk chair and returned to making notes.

When the chimes on the clock struck six, she gathered her things and made her way slowly to the Floo hall. She didn’t want to be early, or at least not freakishly early, so she paced herself. By the time she reached the atrium, she felt reasonably confident she could make her way to the Manor without seeming overly eager. She was about to step into one of the large fireplaces when she heard someone call out to her and paused.

“’Mione! I’m so glad I caught you.” Harry jogged over to her, easily navigating the crowds of wizards and witches attempting to return home for the evening.

“Yes, I was just about to leave.” She smiled tightly. “Excellent timing.”

“Great, I’ll join you.”

 “What? No.” Harry looked nonplussed by her abrupt refusal.

“Sorry. I just assumed – “

“I’m expected somewhere.”

“You are?”

“Yes, Harry, I do have a life outside of work and you, you know.”

“Right.” He looked at her. “A life of what?”

“Of crime, obviously.” She shifted her bags to one side and put her hand on her hip. “Honestly, why are you being so nosy?”

“I didn’t realize I was. I assumed – “

“Yes, you’ve mentioned that.” She snapped.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. I’m late. I’m annoyed with you for making so many assumptions and really have to be off.”

“Okay.”

Hermione realized he wasn’t leaving.

“Harry are you going to stand here and watch me Floo home?”

“Well...” He still didn’t move, and Hermione rolled her eyes before stepping into the fireplace and calling out her address, watching him shimmer away in a green haze as she was pulled into the floo network to her own living room.

“Bloody hell.” Crookshanks meowed at her as she stepped into her living room. “I suppose since I’m here I might as well change, eh Crooks?” Hermione elected to change out of her work clothes, throwing on a pair of blue jeans and a t-shirt. She pulled her hair back into a messy ponytail and grabbed a sweater before finally setting off to meet Malfoy. By the time she arrived at the Manor, she was late.

“You’re late.”

He hadn’t looked up when she entered, remaining hunched over the desk in the familiar parlor.

“I was unavoidably detained.”

“By whom?”

“Harry.” She approached his desk and sat in the chair across from him. “He assumed I wasn’t busy and nearly joined me.”

He looked up and smirked at her.

“Did he know where you were going?”

“No.”

“Shocking.” He looked back down at his desk and continued to scratch with his quill. Hermione wasn’t entirely sure what to do but continuing to be ignored wasn’t helping her learn anything.

“I haven’t eaten.”

He snorted.

“I haven’t offered to feed you.”

“Are you going to?”

He finally put his quill down and leaned back in his chair.

“Hadn’t planned on it.”

“Oh.” Hermione ran her finger over the decorative scroll work on the desktop, avoiding looking at him. He always offered to feed her.

“Right. Let’s get started.”

“Malfoy – “ she hesitated but he quirked an eyebrow at her and she changed her mind about what she was going to say. “You know what? Never mind. You can figure it out yourself while you teach me how to do this.”

“Intriguing.” He stood and came around to her side of the desk before offering her a hand. “Come on, we’re going to be here for a while, and I own more comfortable chairs than these.”

Hermione took his offered hand and allowed him to walk her over to the stuffed armchairs in front of the fireplace. He made quick work of moving them with a few spells so they faced each other, and only released her hand when she sat. Situated across from her, he leaned forward so his elbows were on his knees and steepled his fingers.

“Spill it, Granger. What are you trying to hide and from whom?”

In the face of his direct question, Hermione was suddenly struck by the realization that whatever else might come of this arrangement, she was about to have absolutely no secrets from the man sitting across from her. The thought should have made her more uncomfortable than it did.

“After the war, I managed to shove a lot of the horrible things aside for a time. Recently they’ve all come back, and I can’t make them go away. So, I suppose I’m trying to hide my memories from myself.”

“How did you manage it before?”

“I don’t know.” She adjusted herself in the chair, tucking her feet under her. “I remember after being tortured I sort of watched myself from a distance, almost like someone else was doing it.” She glanced at him. “It seemed easy to just…put it in a box and keep moving. I didn’t have time for much else and the horror was so overwhelming I think I dissociated.”

“That makes sense.” His voice sounded tight and Hermione’s hackles immediately raised.

“I’m sorry, is the discussion of my torture at the hands of your family bothering you?”

“Of course it fucking is.” He swept his hands through his hair. “Do you think I sit around fondly remembering the sounds of your screams?” Hermione opened her mouth to reply but he cut her off. “Back to the memories. When did they return?”

“I’d been having nightmares for years, but the dam finally broke after – “ she paused, unsure what words to use. “After the encounter in the pub. The first one. With you.”

“Bloody brilliant.” He muttered.

“This is feeling a lot more like therapy than occlumency lessons, Malfoy. Can we just get on with it?”

“Fine.” He snapped. “The key to occlumency is to ignore your feelings. Set them aside, focus on your logic and your goal, and refrain from letting the emotions take over.”

“Sounds easy enough.”

“Says the witch who’s failed miserably every time she’s tried.”

Hermione crossed her hands over her chest and glared at him.

“Let’s start with something easy. Have you ever had a Legilimens cast on you?”

“No.”

“It’s not exactly comfortable.”

“I can handle it.”

“I’m well aware of what you can handle, Granger, I just wanted to inform you.”

“Consider me informed.”

“You’re incredibly annoying when you’re not naked.”

Hermione’s mouth dropped open with a gasp.

“Good, now you’re angry. Try to keep whatever murderous thoughts are going through your head right now away from my prying eyes. Put them in a box, build a wall, do what you need to do. Ready?”

“Just do it you prat.”

Legilimens.”

Hermione immediately felt a pressure in her head, like someone was squeezing it, and while it wasn’t painful it was decidedly unpleasant. She was overcome by the desire to smack the wand out of his hand, but she did as he asked and imagined that thought behind the safety of a wall.

“Valiant effort, but you’re as easy to read as a child’s primer.”

“Oh sod off. Try again.”

They continued in the same vein for another quarter of an hour before he lowered his wand and shook his head.

“Focus, Granger. Stop letting yourself be so bloody angry at me.”

“It’s impossible when you’re existing.”

“You have to ignore it.”

“I’d rather ignore you.”

“I’m hard to ignore. Now try again. Legilimens.”

Hermione took a breath and ignored the sensation of pressure in her head. She ignored how annoying he was. Ignored how his shirtsleeves exposed the muscles of his forearms due to being rolled up. Ignored the lock of hair over his eyes. Ignored the slight tingling sensation that was developing at her core.

“Merlin, we’re never going to get anything done if you keep thinking like that.”

“Shit.” Hermione realized that in her efforts to ignore her anger at him, she’d just given him an excellent peak into how attractive she found him.

“I know I’m pretty, but you need to focus.”

“At least I was able to ignore how angry I was.”

“Replacing anger with unbridled lust isn’t exactly what I asked you to do.”

“It’s not unbridled.” She snapped. “This argument is making no sense.”

“Maybe I should have fed you. You seem exceptionally irritable.”

Hermione literally growled before she pushed herself out of her chair and began pacing.

“Why did you do it?”

He quirked a blond brow at her as he followed her with his eyes.

“Do what?”

Hermione stopped right in front of him, hands on her hips, and glared down at him.

“Why didn’t you let Pansy use the hair? Why did you have to insert yourself? Was it all just to have something on me? Were you planning on sitting in your parlour, drinking expensive firewhiskey, enjoying the fact that you’d fucked me? Reveling in the knowledge that I was none the wiser? How could you!” Her voice had continued to rise and by the end she was shrieking at him, although she couldn’t be bothered to care.

He was looking up at her with a frown. “Granger – “

“Just answer the bloody question!”

“I’m trying!” She huffed and crossed her arms over her chest. “Your dislike of me is hardly a secret. To say it was a bizarre request is the understatement of the century. I assumed it was a plot to have me arrested, especially after you challenged me to stay out of Azkaban for three weeks.”

Hermione cringed at the memory but didn’t let it deter her.

“But you didn’t have to go through with it.”

“No, I didn’t.” His hand reached out and touched her hip and she jerked, causing him to drop it back into his lap. “I wasn’t going to, at first.” He sounded almost petulant. “But then – I never expected you to want me.”

She had wanted him. She still did, even though she was loathe to admit it. Hermione recalled the thrill of liberation that had run through her during that first time in the muggle pub. The strange sense of power she felt at doing something just for her. Clearing her throat slightly, she looked back down at his frowning face.

“An apology would be appropriate at this point, Malfoy.”

“What’s the point?” He sneered before turned away from her. “Unless it makes you despise me less it seems unnecessary since I can’t bring myself to regret a minute of it.”

“I don’t despise you.” He looked back at her with a quirked brow and she struggled to explain herself. “I’m furious with you, but I don’t despise you. You’re the one who’s hated me for years.”

“Yes, I frequently offer to assist people I hate.” He rolled his eyes.

“You’re only helping me because I agreed to get your proposal re-evaluated.” She studied him. “Aren’t you?”

He gazed up at her, an unreadable expression on his face. “Am I?”

“Can’t you Slytherins just answer a question directly?”

“Do you remember what happened when you insisted I show you into the drawing room?”

Hermione crossed her arms over her chest and looked away.

“Vaguely.”

He pointed at her. “That is why I am helping you. Merlin, Granger, you went comatose for a quarter hour. I was literally screaming your name before I elected to bodily remove you.”

“So, this is pity? I don’t believe you. If I recall, you cackled with glee at the idea of me being murdered when the Chamber of Secrets opened, why should this bother you?”

“I was eleven!” He stood abruptly and Hermione backed up, but not before he leaned over and stuck a finger in her face. “People change you annoying little cow.” He strode away from her before spinning and turning back. “Maybe I want to make up for what I did, has that thought occurred to you? Or is your enormous brain too busy admiring my arse while hating my guts to use deductive reasoning?”

“You do have a very nice arse.” He stared at her in what she could only describe as disbelief and she found herself resisting the urge to laugh inappropriately. The realization that she was finding some part this argument amusing had her re-evaluating a great many things. “Maybe we should just agree that neither of us hates the other and get back to the occlumency business.”

He studied her with his unreadable expression for a moment.

“What about all the sex?”

“I – “, she paused. “I’m not sure I’m prepared for that conversation.”

“Then stop thinking about it while I’m reading your mind.”

“Can’t you teach me without reading my mind?”

“Of course, but we’d never know if it was working, now would we?”

The stared at each other for a moment and Hermione threw up her hands, unable to argue with his logic.

“Fine.”

“Are we starting again, then?”

Instead of answering him she returned to sit in the chair and simply raised her eyebrows as she waited for him to join her. After studying her for a moment, he walked back over and picked up his wand before pointing it at her with a smirk.

Legilimens.”

Chapter Text

 

“Harry, do you remember Snape trying to teach you Occlumency?”

“Unfortunately.”

Hermione toyed with her teabag as the two sat at a table in the Ministry cafeteria.

“What was it like?”

“Unpleasant.” He took a sip of his own tea before pushing his glasses up his nose. “Having someone root around in your head while mocking you verbally is an experience I’d like not to repeat. Why do you ask?”

“I’m trying to learn it.”

His green eyes grew wide with surprise. “Really? That’s…great?” He cleared his throat at her look. “I mean, it’s a handy skill I suppose. Do you need help? I’m a shit Legilimens, but I could try.”

“No, I was just wondering. Did it hurt? What Snape did?”

“Not exactly, but it was bloody uncomfortable. Knowing he could see everything. Like having a slippery eel worming around inside my head, digging through my memories, seeing all the things that made me who I am. It felt like an invasion. And then, when I did manage to build any sort of wall to keep him out, he’d blast it apart as forcefully as he could.”

Hermione sipped her tea while she tried to reconcile what Harry was telling her with what Malfoy had done the previous evening and finding it very difficult. They’d tried for another half hour after their spat, until he finally sent her home and told her to eat something. Another session had been scheduled for this evening and Hermione had asked Harry to lunch specifically to inquire whether her experiences were the same as his.

They clearly were not. While she had felt a slight pressure each time Malfoy had cast on her, it had never been uncomfortable, and she certainly hadn’t felt as though he’d been invading her mind like an eel. For the first time it occurred to her that maybe Malfoy was the one doing things wrong.

“Well that sounds awful.”

“Not sure how else you’d learn though.”

“I have books. Loads of books.”

Harry simply nodded, used to her performing miracles with the power of reading, and changed the topic.

“Have you spoken to Ron recently?”

“No.”

“He’s kind of…dating someone.” Harry said it as though he expected her to become hysterical. She certainly wasn’t completely unmoved, but his overly cautious presentation was probably unnecessary. Especially considering what she’d been up to.

“Who?” she inquired mildly, not wanting to give Harry the impression she was invested in his answer.

“Lavender Brown.”

Hermione choked on her tea, and Harry passed her a napkin without making eye contact while she cleaned up the mess she had made.

“That woman is a horrible gossip.”

“I’m not sure how that’s related to anything?”

Hermione opened her mouth and then shut it again before rethinking her approach. “I just don’t want her carrying tales about the break up.”

Harry nodded in understanding before chugging the rest of his tea.

“Hate to cut this short, but I have a meeting. Drinks Friday?”

“Sure, that would be lovely. See you then.”

He leaned over and kissed her cheek. “Bye ‘Mione.”

Bye the time Hermione Floo’d to the Manor for her appointment with Malfoy, she had spent the better part of the afternoon panicking about whether or not Ron had disclosed to Lavender the reason for his leaving her. She could only hope his embarrassment would be enough to keep his mouth shut, because she had absolutely no delusions that his new girlfriend would keep something that juicy to herself.

Her distraction was obvious because when she entered the parlour and threw her coat carelessly into the chair, she narrowly avoided knocking an entire platter of food onto the floor with an errant sleeve.

“Not a fan of tea sandwiches? Do they offend you somehow with their benign flavors?”

“What?” she glanced down and realized there was a number of different trays of snacks out, the one bearing finger sandwiches slightly askew. Further observation indicated there was cream cheese on the sleeve of her coat.

“Rough day at the office?”

Hermione collapsed into the chair holding her jacket, wincing slightly at the placement of a button, before looking up at her host. He was in his shirtsleeves again, but this time his entire outfit was in unrelenting black. It made him appear nearly ethereal.

“Yes. Sort of.” She picked up a sandwich, but failed to elaborate, a detail which did not go unnoticed.

“I supposed I’ll have to pry it out of you later.”

Hermione swallowed and accepted the glass of what appeared to be wine that he held out to her.

“I spoke with Harry. About his occlumency lessons with Snape.”

“And?”

“I think you’re doing it wrong.”

He sat and crossed his legs, placing his ankle on his knee before pursing his lips together.

“Do tell.”

Hermione shifted in the armchair, making herself more comfortable, before taking another sip of her wine.

“I think you’re being too nice.”

He glared at her. “What is with you and me being nice?”

“I mean to say, Harry told me that his lessons with Snape were decidedly uncomfortable. I didn’t feel that way.” He visibly relaxed. “Anyway, I think you must be doing it wrong.”

“Granger, Snape hated Potter and was probably being intentionally aggressive. Besides, what does my Legilimency have to do with your Occlumency? Regardless of how I wield it, you’re either successfully blocking me or you aren’t.”

“But – “

“No buts.”

She put her wine down.

“Then let’s get on with it.”

“One tiny sandwich and a sip of wine? No wonder you’re tiny. Legilimens.”

Hermione felt the pressure in her head again and once more attempted to remove herself from her thoughts enough to put them in a box.

“Think of something you don’t want me to know.”

She snorted. “That’s hardly fair. If I’m unsuccessful, then you’ll know it.”

“Outsmarted again. Should I go hunting for something then?” Hermione felt the sensation of a ghost skimming over her thoughts while she tried to construct a wall around her conversation with Harry from earlier in the day. As she tried to compartmentalize her feelings about Ron’s new girlfriend, the pressure in her head increased.

“Lavender Brown? The weasel really downgraded, didn’t he?”

The mention of Lavender reminded her of her earlier anxiety, and she worked to set her concerns aside. The last thing she needed was for Malfoy to learn why Ron left her. She ground her teeth and took a deep breath before imagining a steel trap slamming down around her thoughts.

“Better. But not quite good enough.” His voice wandered off before he startled and dropped his wand. “You have got to be kidding me.” Hermione glared at him, furious with herself for not being able to stop her train of thought. “He left you over that?”

“I don’t think I want to do this anymore.”

“Salazar’s bollocks, the weasel really is the biggest nob in Britain, isn’t he?”

“That was all very creative, but I’d rather not discuss this.” Hermione stood and grabbed her jacket.

“Granger – “

“I’m leaving, Malfoy.” She strode past him

“Oh come on, where’s that Gryffindor courage? One little errant thought has you running?” Hermione paused and turned back around to see him hanging over the edge of his chair, smirking at her.

“I’m not running.”

“Liar. Look at you. Jacket in arms, and nearly at the door. I’d say that’s running.”

“I’m choosing to leave.” Hermione glared at him. “Unlike the time you commanded me to run and then attacked me.”

His smirk fell and he glared at her.

“In fact,” she continued as she moved back towards the recently vacated armchair, “let’s discuss that. It seems only fair that we’re both squirming uncomfortably.”

“I was angry at you.”

“So you elected to assault me?”

“I’m sorry, isn’t that your kink?”

Hermione gasped at his audacity.

“That’s a low blow, even for you.”

“Forgive me for doing exactly what was expected of me.” He bit out.

“Expected of you? What on earth are you talking about?”

“Why did you order me?”

“I don’t – “. He stood and took a step towards her before cutting her off.

“No, damnit, answer the question.”

“No.” Hermione turned to leave once more, but Malfoy was quick, and she felt her forward momentum halt when he grabbed her arm and spun her around.

“Why me?”

Hermione studied him, his face a blank mask.

“It was a spur of the moment addition. I found a…stray hair. In my sweater.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“You don’t believe me?”

He shook his head at her. “What if it had been Potter’s hair? Or Nott’s?”

“Theodore Nott?”

“Mmmhmm.”

“Absolutely not.”

“No pun intended, right Granger?” He tugged her closer. “You could have just plucked it from your sweater and ignited it.”

“I suppose.” Hermione looked up at him.

“So why didn’t you? Truth this time.”

“You were…familiar. You hated me and nothing I wanted could make you think less of me because you already thought the worst. It made me feel safer because I assumed there would be no consequences. No damage done.” He pulled the coat from her hands and tossed it aside.

“Safer. What a bizarre choice of words.”

“Sod off.”

“I don’t think so.” His free hand grabbed her hip and tugged her to him, before wrapping his arm around her waist. “Tell me more.”

“No. You went and ruined it by being a prat.” She shoved at his chest, but he didn’t let go, instead wrapping his other arm around her waist in an embrace.

“You like it when I’m a prat.”

“That’s beside the point.” His eyes widened, obviously not expecting her to admit it. “You lied to me. I don’t trust you.”

“Hermione, you don’t trust me when I’m nice to you. I think you have trust issues.”

She stilled at his use of her first name, trying to recall if that had ever happened before now.

“Did you just call me Hermione?”

“Focus, pet.”

“Don’t call me that.”

“Why not?”

“It’s inaccurate.”

“Is it?”

Hemione’s back hit the wall and she startled, wondering how she had failed to realize he’d been backing her up this whole time.

“Let go of me.”

“No.” His face dipped towards her neck and she shivered as his teeth scraped up her flesh.

“Malfoy, we can’t keep doing this.” Even though at that very moment her hands were reaching for his hair and her head was lolling back to allow him better access.

“I disagree. I love doing this.”

“You don’t even like me.”

“I like you just fine.” His hands moved towards the front of her shirt and tugged it out of her trousers. “You’re annoyingly smart.” Fingers grazed over the flesh of her belly. “Voracious in your search for knowledge.” Lips grazed across her jawline. “Fucking gorgeous naked.”

Hermione tugged on his hair and he lifted his head up, looking at her with an eyebrow quirked while his hands continued their exploration of her ribs.

“I’m muggle born.”

“Don’t care.”

“You used to.”

“Need I repeat the part about being eleven?”

“That’s it? You’ve just…changed?”

He frowned down at her, but there was still a softness around his eyes and when he spoke it was still playful.

“I’m adding tenacious to the list of negatives, by the way.”

“I don’t understand.” She searched his face, desperate to make sense of this new information. “Ron made it seem like anyone who would…indulge in my request had to hate me.”

“The weasel is an idiot.” Malfoy cupped her cheeks and looked at her. “Granger, if the man left you for being vulnerable and asking him to indulge a fantasy, that says a lot more about him than it does about you. There is nothing abnormal about being submissive in bed.”

“I’m not submissive.”

“Do you know what that word means?” He deadpanned.

Flushing, she realized how ridiculous she sounded.

“I just need someone to take over sometimes. I’m always in control and it’s exhausting.”

“We can argue semantics later.” He released her face and stepped away. “Should we go back to Occlumency lessons or do you want to review the rules of our other game?”

Hermione contemplated his question while he stared at her, seemingly willing to wait as long as it took her to answer. If she agreed to re-initiate their sexual relationship, what did that say about her? She’d told him at the beginning she wasn’t his victim, but his lies had made her one, if only briefly.

More importantly, however, was the question of whether or not she trusted him. Whether or not she wanted him was no longer up for debate; she’d reconciled herself to that fact when she’d finally succumbed and brought herself to orgasm after another decidedly explicit dream starring his mouth. But could she trust him? Watching him wait for her, unmoving and with seemingly no expectations about her choice, it became obvious that the answer to her questions was that she certainly wanted to.

Fortifying herself, she took a deep breath.

“I remember the rules.”

His body language immediately relaxed and when he held out his hand, she accepted it, allowing him to lead her over to the arm chairs they had been sitting in earlier. He situated her so that she was standing in front of his chair before he sat, releasing her hand.

“Strip, pet.”

Hermione did as he asked, tugging her shirt over her head and tossing it at him. His lips twitched and he set it aside while she continued to disrobe, throwing each article of clothing into his lap until she was completely naked before him.

“Are you warm enough?”

Hermione nodded, even as her nipples pebbled under the heat of his gaze. 

“Come closer.”

As Hermione stepped between his knees, she stared down into his face and found herself smiling at the look in his eyes.

“Something amusing?”

She shook her head, enjoying his annoyance. There was a wicked gleam in his eye, and she watched as he grabbed his wand and waved it over her person, silently casting something akin to a body bind curse. Her arms were stretched behind her, wrists pressed together by his spell while her thighs were pressed together in a similar manner. As she tested the invisible bonds, she realized she wouldn’t be able to walk and lost her smile.

Malfoy grabbed her hips and spun her, holding her tight enough that she didn’t stumble. The smack on her arse wasn’t completely unexpected, but she still jerked.

“You shouldn’t laugh at me, pet.” Another loud crack echoed through the room as he brought his hand down on her other cheek. “I’d have you count, but you’re not allowed to talk. How does four more sound?” Hermione nodded her agreement and pressed her lips together to avoid yelping as he meted out her punishment. By the time he was done, her cunt was throbbing, and she was pressing her thighs together.

“Did that get you wet?”

Hermione nodded again as his hands cupped the bottom of her arse, massaging her cheeks.

“Show me. Bend over.” She looked over her shoulder at him and he quirked a brow at her. “You heard me.”

Knowing she’d be exposing herself completely, she felt her skin heat with a blush, but followed his direction, refusing to let him win. Her balance was still slightly precarious, but his hands on her hips helped steady her. When she was nearly folded in half, hands resting on her lower back, he interlaced the fingers of one hand with hers and gave her a squeeze before releasing her.

“Gorgeous plump pussy. You’re absolutely glistening.” She jerked when he ran his finger over the seam of her outer lips before she felt him spread her open for his perusal. One of his digits brushed over her entrance and she couldn’t help but whine.

“Patience, pet, let me look at you.”

 Hermione felt her core pulse, could feel the liquid of her arousal leak out of her. Two fingers slowly pressed into her and she pushed against his hand as he fucked into her, twisting his wrist to hit the soft spot inside her.

“Greedy little cunt, aching to be filled.” She felt his words ghost over her flesh and realized how close his face must be to her. His fingers left her before his lips sucked her clit into his mouth. Gasping, she focused on keeping her balance while he held her in place with a strong hand on each thigh, thumbs placed to hold her spread open for him. He ate her out with enthusiasm, licking and nibbling and sucking until she was quivering. His tongue invaded her, and she keened in pleasure as he thrust into her shallowly. When she was on the brink of coming, he stopped, wiping his face on the back of her thigh.

“Stand up.”

Hermione straightened, legs shaking and slightly light headed. Malfoy wrapped an arm around her waist to keep her from falling, and she leaned into his hold, willing the sparks behind her eyes to dissipate with rapid blinking. The noises behind her indicated that he was removing his trousers and she closed her eyes in anticipation.

“Sit.” With his help directing her, Hermione lowered herself onto his cock, gasping at the sensation of being impaled on his hardness. The fact that her thighs were still bound together increased the feeling of friction and fullness and she gasped as he thrust up into her, ensuring he was in her to the hilt. His one arm remained around her waist while the other wrapped around her throat, pulling her back against his chest as he squeezed.

“I’m going to fuck you, and choke you, and come inside you. Do you know why, pet?”

Hermione shook her head, eyes fluttering closed as the grip on her throat tightened slightly. She had been so close to orgasm from his mouth that the sense of being filled, even though he wasn’t moving, was almost enough to push her over the edge.

“Because you’re mine to fuck, and choke, and come inside. Do you understand?”

She nodded as he shifted his grip on her waist, holding her in place. His cock twitched inside her, and she whimpered when he pressed up into her.

“This is where you belong. Naked, no decisions to make, nothing to think about except how well you submit to whatever I want to do with you.”

Her eyes rolled into the back of her head as he released his grip on her waist and grabbed her breast, thumbing her nipple. The hand around her throat tightened slightly, causing her to tilt her head back. Her air wasn’t cut off, but the pressure on her neck was creating a wonderful sense of lightheadedness. Combined with his hard dick sheathed and pulsing inside her, the stimulation of her nipple had Hermione quickly tensing with release, her orgasm overpowering her so that she jerked under his grip.

“So pretty when you come.” He pushed her to sit upright and she struggled to comply, muscles like jelly. Hermione felt the magical bonds dissipate as he reached between her legs and spread her wide, sliding his fingers over where they were still connected. The soft touch after her orgasm had her twitching and she heard him chuckle behind her.

“Too sensitive? You can speak.”

“Yes. I want to see you.”

“Turn around.” He tapped her arse, indicating she should stand. The slide of him disconnecting gave her goosebumps as she maneuvered herself until she was once again on his lap, facing him. Steadying herself on his shoulders as she knelt over him, Hermione allowed him to line himself up at her entrance before pressing her hips down until they were once again fully connected. Looking into his silvery gaze, she felt something within her unravel and relax, as if a tension she’d been holding onto had finally released.

Taking a moment to truly look at him, she realized there was no hatred in his eyes. In fact, what she saw was a depth of feeling she suspected was mirrored in her own chocolate orbs. She was tired of pretending she hadn’t fallen hard for the pureblood git underneath her.

Moving her hand from his shoulders to wrap around his neck, Hermione leaned forward and with another quick look into his eyes, angled her head before nipping at his lips with her own. He stilled under her, and she pressed her advantage, sliding her tongue over the seam of his lips until he opened for her. One of his hands slipped into her hair and pressed her mouth to his before Hermione lost control of the kiss completely. He took over, devouring her mouth, their tongues tangling as he explored her, tasting her and nipping at her lips before plunging back in again. When he raised his head, she was breathless and as he pulled away from her, his eyes searched hers.

“That’s new.”

Hermione ran her fingers over his lips and gasped when he pulled a digit into his mouth. His hands gripped her hips, lifting her up and pulling her back down. She got the hint and began rocking, reveling in the feel of his cock pressing deep inside her. Using her thighs to control her movements, she focused on squeezing the length of him with her inner walls as she rocked up and down. He released her finger with a pop before lowering his head to her breast, pulling a taught nipple into his mouth and forcing a groan out of her throat.

Quickening her pace, Hermione let her head loll back on her shoulders as he lavished attention on her breasts, holding her hips and thrusting up to meet her. She began to grunt with each thrust, losing her focus and Malfoy took over, holding her waist firmly in his grip as he fucked up into her. As she allowed herself to let go, she felt it again; the magic swirling around them. When she opened her eyes, she could see it, the air around them glowing and pulsing with energy.

“You feel so good.” He bit her neck hard and she shuddered, clutching his hair. “You like that? Me marking you?”

Hermione lifted her head to look at him and nodded, causing him to groan and latch onto her neck. The soft suction had her bucking and when he used his teeth she moaned and pulled him close. His thrusts became stronger, and Hermione clenched her thighs as the tension in her belly began to build for a second time. As he nibbled and sucked on her neck, he slipped a hand between them and pressed down on her clit. She tensed and the heat suffused through her. Malfoy lifted his head as she began to jerk under his hand.

“Come for me, pet. I want to see your face.”

A few more flicks and Hermione shattered for the second time that evening, mouth opening in a silent scream as she clenched her fists in his hair, arching her back and pressing her breasts into the fabric of his shirt. Sparks flew through the air, but she barely registered it, too wrapped up in sensation to wonder about them.

“That’s it. Fuck, you’re gorgeous.” He stood suddenly, arms wrapped around her waist, before taking two steps to the couch and throwing her down in a messy pile of limbs. “Turn over.”

Hermione rolled over onto her stomach, muscles barely responding to her commands. When he grabbed her hips and pulled her up so she was on her knees before him, she closed her eyes and arched her spine, inviting him with her posture. He entered her in a single stroke, and she groaned at the feel of him filling her. This angle got him much deeper, and as he pounded into her, she relaxed into the sensation of being used for his pleasure, mind drifting through space. The roughness of his thrusts and the intensity of the sensation had Hermione biting her hand.

“Such a good pet, taking so much.” One hand stroked down her spine, pressing into the lower part of her back so she arched her hips up even higher, before circling her neck with the fingers of the other. Hermione arched her neck as he used her for leverage, slamming into her roughly as his fingers bit into her throat.

“That’s it. Good girl.” She recognized the signs of his impending orgasm from the rough tone of his voice, and knew he was close. In her blissed-out state, she still had the presence of mind to tighten her inner muscles and grip him as he moved inside her. It was obvious he felt it, as his rhythm stuttered and with a groan he came, releasing her throat as he collapsed on top of her.

“Fuck, Hermione. I think you’ve murdered me.” He adjusted them so she wasn’t face down in the cushions, but didn’t get off her, and she couldn’t find it in herself to complain. His weight felt comforting and they were still intimately connected, leaving her feeling oddly warm and protected.

“You called me Hermione again.” She wasn’t sure if he had heard her since it was a few beats before he answered, but when he did it was accompanied by a tightening of his embrace.

“I did.”

“Does that mean I’m to call you Draco now?”

“Draco, master, god of sex. All acceptable.” He shifted so they were laying on their sides and Hermione snuggled back against his chest, even as she took issue with his list of potential titles.

“Master?”

“Every pet needs a master. I’d buy you a lovely collar, emblazoned with an ‘M’.” His fingers stroked over her neck, but Hermione stilled.

“What would the ‘M’ be for?”

“Don’t be daft, you suspicious little thing. ‘M’ is for Malfoy. Nothing else.” He pressed his lips to her ear. “I only ever called you the other because – well you know why.”

“That wasn’t always true.”

“I know.” His fingers stroked up the column of her throat. “Apologies seem so trite. Worthless even. They don’t undo what was done.”

“But they do show that you feel remorse.”

His fingers stilled.

“You don’t think I feel remorse?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Do you think that?”

Hermione rolled over, ignoring the thrill that the feel of his semi hard cock slipping out of her gave her, and looked him in the eye.

“Are you sorry?”

He grabbed her wrist and ran his thumb over her scar. “Yes.” His breath hitched and he looked away. “I made all the wrong choices.”

Hermione shook her head, overcome by the feelings his soft touch evoked.

“No. Don’t do that. Draco, when it counted you made the right ones.”

He looked at her briefly before his lips turned up in a soft version of his usual sneer.

“Yes, that’s why you assumed I was murdering unicorns and dismissed my brilliant proposal with prejudice.”

Hermione flushed. “I’m fixing that.”

“Mmm.”

“I am. I’m meeting with the Minister tomorrow.”

“I know. I’ve been invited.”

Hermione sat up, ignoring the fact that her breasts were level with his face as she did so. “What?”

He licked her nipple with a smirk before she leaned back out of his reach and covered herself with her hand.

“Why did they invite you?”

“Summoned me, more’s like.” He rolled over and stretched out his hand, grabbing a folded piece of parchment from the small table next to the arm of the couch they’d ended up on. “Read it.”

 Mr. Malfoy,

The office of the Minister of Magic requires your appearance before his self promptly at ten in the morning on Friday, the 24th of May. Failure to attend will be seen as a willful dismissal of the Office of the Minister of Magic.”

“Good heavens, is that a threat?” Hermione looked down at him and took in his expression. “Draco, this is ridiculous.”

He shrugged.

“Fairly typical, actually.” Hermione huffed and opened her mouth before he yanked the missive out of her hands. “The Minister has to keep the Death Eaters in line, don’t you know? Not worth getting your Gryffindor knickers in a knot.”

“But this is unfair!”

“I prefer to think of it as politics.”

“I probably shouldn’t tell you what I think of it.” She grumbled. They sat in silence for a few moments, Hermione contemplating what the obvious prejudice of the office of the Minister meant for her argument tomorrow, when she was pulled from her thoughts.

“Granger.”

“What?”

“You broke your own rule.”

She looked down at him. He’d rolled onto his back and was lying with his hands under his head, staring up at her with an unreadable expression.

“My own rule?”

“You kissed me. You said no kissing.”

Hermione knew the implications of having kissed him, knew that she’d crossed a line and that it was going to have consequences, but she wasn’t prepared to discuss them, especially now, having just learned of his Ministry summons. Instead of answering his question, she extricated herself from his limbs and walked over to the pile of clothing next to the overstuffed arm chair.

“Right.” He said, almost sighing the word. “Back to Occlumency lessons, then?”

Hermione finished putting her bra on and shook her head.

“I have to review my arguments for tomorrow. I’m concerned, now. I thought this would be an easy win but given that letter I suspect the situation is more complicated than I originally believed.”

She felt a feather light touch run down her back and turned to see him staring at her with a frown.

“You could stay.”

Hermione’s breath caught in her throat. The jumble of thoughts in her head at that statement nearly undid her. The desire to stay with him, her shock at the desire to stay with him. Not to mention the horror at the idea of spending the night in Malfoy Manor, and her complete surprise at the offer. All of them swirled together to result in her answer

“I can’t.” She turned her back on him and finished dressing in silence. When she heard the clink of crystal, she looked up to see him pouring himself a drink, a sullen expression on his face.

“Draco.” He turned at his name, eyebrow raised. “I really do need to prepare.”

“Of course.”

She hesitated a moment before opening the door to leave.

“I’ll see you in the morning.”

Chapter Text

 

When Hermione entered the offices of the Minister of Magic, she was informed that her meeting was to be held not in one of the small conference rooms but rather in one of the judicial chambers. Her blood ran cold with the information and she walked stiffly to the assigned room. This was supposed to be a review and discussion, not a trial.

When she entered the chambers, she was somewhat astounded by the number of people already waiting. The room was a miniature of the Wizengamot, a small podium at one end, seating along each wall, and then a large table with chairs that faced the podium.

The Minister was already there, speaking in low tones with his secretary. Mr. Fernsworthy was also seated, giving her a smug smile when she settled next to him at the conference table. One of the clerical witches was in attendance to create the formal record, and there were a handful of people from the joint committee who had attended the presentation and reviewed the proposal.

As Hermione sat, another person entered the room and she looked up to see the tall form of Draco Malfoy. He was dressed in formal robes, something she hadn’t seen him in since he first came to present his idea. Her eyes tracked him as he walked to sit alone in the gallery to her left. His movements were graceful as he sat, placing his ankle on his opposite knee, before leaning his head in his hand. When he looked at her his face didn’t change, and Hermione suddenly felt very self-conscious for staring.

Minister Shacklebolt arrived and walked over to stand behind the podium, banging the gavel to get everyone’s attention.

“Wizards and Witches, we have convened here today to discuss the possibility of overturning the decision made on Mr. Malfoy’s Unicorn Harvesting proposal.” The murmurs quieted and Hermione sat at attention, avoiding the silver eyed stare she knew was directed at her. “I have asked Mr. Malfoy to attend today’s hearing in order to answer any questions – “

Hermione stood, interrupting the Minister. “With all due respect, sir. This is not a hearing. This is simply a review of Mr. Malfoy’s presentation, is it not?”

“Ms. Granger, I apologize if you were not informed, however Mr. Fernsworthy has requested a full hearing on the matter, hence the formality of today’s meeting.”

“I see.” She ground out, glaring down at the man next to her before resuming her seat. Sneaking a quick glance at Malfoy, she saw the grim set of his features and felt something in her chest twinge. Suddenly it was very important to her that the previous denial be overthrown.

“Let us begin. Mr. Fernsworthy, please present your reasons for overturning the approval of the International Trade committee.”

Hermione sat and listened as the man went on about risks and safety concerns, while inwardly seething. He had all but admitted to her that the proposal was denied due to prejudice and a desire to punish Draco for his actions during the war. Of course, none of that was mentioned in his long-winded explanation. As she took notes so as to create her counter argument, she once again felt the weight of Draco’s gaze on her and rolled her shoulders in an effort to remain focused.

After nearly fifteen minutes of justifications and excuses, Mr. Fernsworthy completed his speech and once again sat.

“Ms. Granger, I believe, unless you have any questions or clarifications, that you may present your argument.”

“Thank you, sir.” Hermione rose and began her counter argument, touching on each one of the points brought up by Fernsworthy and providing citations and explanations for each one. Minister Shacklebolt nodded occasionally, increasing her confidence as she spoke.

“And to sum up, Minister, the ideas presented in the proposal for harvesting could potentially, if successful, allow the International Trade commission to apply these methods to a variety of matters in Magical Creature management. Thank you.”

Hermione sat, and Shacklebolt smiled at her briefly before turning to Fernsworthy.

“Do you have any questions for Ms. Granger?”

“Indeed I do. Tell me, Ms. Granger, if you are so supportive of this plan why then did you initially deny it?”

Hermione stiffened and sent a quick glance at Draco before answering. His expression wasn’t particularly reassuring.

“My original denial was based on a failure to fully review the proposal. This was a failure on my part, Mr. Fernsworthy, not Mr. Malfoy’s.”

“Yes, indeed, however you also failed to complete the inspection of Malfoy Manor for the purpose of determining the state of his facilities, is that correct?”

“We were interrupted, yes.”

“And did he not then refuse access to the next member of your staff that arrived to complete it?”

Hermione shifted in her chair, trying to explain Draco’s actions without giving away too much.

“As you are probably aware, Mr. Fernsworthy, Malfoy Manor was commandeered by Voldemort’s army – “

“Yes, and wasn’t Mr. Malfoy’s father one of the members of said army? Did not Mr. Malfoy himself take on the Dark Mark and join the ranks of the Death Eater’s living in his home?”

Hermione opened her mouth but Fernsworthy rounded on her in a surprising display of aggression.

“Did you not suffer at the hands of Mr. Malfoy’s family, in his home, as he watched on and did nothing?”

Hermione slapped the table and stood, pointing her finger at the angry wizard standing next to her. How dare he bring that up?

“What would you have had him do? He was surrounded by dark Wizards, and I can tell you I was in no position to assist with my own rescue.”

She turned to face the Minister as she tried to control her shaking.

“Sir, this is not a trial to revisit the alleged crimes for which Mr. Malfoy has already been acquitted! The war is over, and I refuse to allow the pettiness of the likes of Mr. Fernsworthy to poison our community once more. He has admitted to prejudice and has displayed the extent of his personal dislike for Mr. Malfoy here in this room. I implore you to overturn the decision that he made. Mr. Malfoy’s plan is a good plan, sir.”

“Indeed, Ms. Granger, I am inclined to believe you. Mr. Fernsworthy you should be aware that this level of prejudice will not be tolerated in the head of any division while I am Minister.” He turned back to Hermione while she tried to control her breathing and present an image of calm. “In an effort to ensure that Mr. Malfoy’s plan is neither sabotaged nor otherwise compromised, I am requesting that you, Ms. Granger, be responsible for oversight and Ministry management of the contract as outlined in the original proposal.”

Hermione blinked and felt as though the floor had fallen out from under her.

“Will that be acceptable, Ms. Granger?”

“I –“, she looked briefly at Draco and wondered if he knew just what kind of impact this would have. There would be no more occlumency lessons or any of the activities that went along with it. Not if she was tasked with overseeing this project. The overwhelming sense of disappointment and loss she felt at the thought of being obligated to distance herself from him surprised her in its intensity. Swallowing, she turned back to the Minister, trying to find a diplomatic way to tell him she wanted no part of this. “I don’t -”

“If I may.” Malfoy’s smooth tone interrupted her stuttering. “Ms. Granger has made her discomfort with the Manor clear.”

“You were not asked, Mr. Malfoy.” The harsh voice of Minister Shacklebolt interjected. “However, your concern for Ms. Granger is noted.”

Hermione resisted looking at Draco, instead focusing on the Minister.

“Sir, might I suggest that my division be responsible for oversight, rather than me in particular?”

“Is there any particular reason you wish to abstain, Ms. Granger?”

“I fear it would be a conflict of interest, sir.” The room filled with murmers and mutterings, but Hermione remained focused on the Minister and attempted to block them out while she presented her argument. “Mr. Malfoy and I have known each other since we were children.”

“Are you saying you wouldn’t be capable of being objective?”

“I am saying that this project is brilliant and deserves to be judged on its own merits and not on whether or not Mr. Malfoy submits to being babysat by an old school rival.”

The minister contemplated her for a moment before nodding.

“Very well, Ms. Granger. Your department will be responsible for quarterly review in cooperation with the Magical Creatures Division as outlined in the proposal and no more.” The Minister turned to address Fernswothy. “As for you, Mr. Fernsworthy, you have demonstrated a decided lack of objectivity and a willingness to cling to the past that I find concerning.”

The older wizard deflated next to her and Hermione couldn’t help but feel a twinge of compassion for the man, being dressed down by the Minister in public.

“To that end, I am officially overturning the decision on the Malfoy Proposal. Mr. Malfoy, you can commence with the first phase of your project as soon as you are contacted by the joint oversight committee. In the meantime, you are dismissed.”

Hermione turned, making eye contact briefly with Malfoy before he rose and bowed gracefully, taking his leave of the proceedings. Hermione watched him go from the corner of her eye, wishing she could be assured of his willingness to wait for her dismissal. The next quarter hour was spent finalizing the Minister’s decision, and when Hermione took her leave, she looked around to see if Draco was still hovering about, however there was no one about save for the receptionist.

When she returned to her office, her secretary tried to get her attention, but she just waved her off. While ultimately the meeting had gone well, Hermione found herself dissatisfied with the results regardless, wondering if there wasn’t more that she needed to do in order to guarantee that Draco would no longer be subjected to such obvious and unyielding prejudice. She would have preferred to see him, get his impressions of the proceedings, but she’d been unsuccessful in her search.

As she shut the heavy wooden door to her office with a soft click, she nearly tripped over her feet to see the object of her thoughts sitting behind her desk, toying with her quill.

“I thought you’d left?”

“Granger.” He dropped the quill and leaned back in her chair. “I didn’t want to leave without thanking you.”

“Dra – Malfoy, you don’t have to thank me.”

“Back to Malfoy, am I?”

Hermione crossed her arms over her chest.

“Back to Granger, am I?”

The look he gave her was unreadable, and she found herself focusing instead on the slight curve of his lips. They hadn’t discussed the kiss, but Hermione had concluded, without much effort, that any pretense of remaining unattached was simply that. A pretense. Dropping her arms, she rounded the desk and, before she could lose her nerve, crawled into his lap. He looked surprised, but she felt his arms wrap around her hips as she straddled his thighs, settling somewhat uncomfortably on top of him.

“Grang – “

“Hermione.”

His lips twitched.

“Fine. Hermione. You appear to have crawled into my lap.”

“I like your lap.” Giving into the temptation, she reached up and brushed a lock of platinum hair off his forehead, running her finger across his eyebrow. She continued her exploration of his features until she got to his lips. “I like you, actually.” The mouth under her fingers smirked and she looked up into his silvery gaze.

“You sound astonished.”

“Well I wasn’t expecting it.”

“Yes, the very idea of the two of us getting along? Shocking.”

“Don’t be a prat.”

 He squeezed her hips before running a hand up her spine and tugging on her hair.

"Fernsworthy is a right bastard for bringing up what happened at the manor." His silver gaze studied her. "All's well?"

Hermione couldn't describe the feeling in her chest that bloomed at his question. Even if it the question about her welfare was delivered haphazardly, his concern was obvious.

"Yes. I'm fine."

“Good. Are you going to kiss me again Hermione?”

With only the smallest hesitation, she leaned forward and pressed her mouth to his before running her tongue over the seam of his lips. He opened for her immediately, the hand on her hair cupping the back of her skull and pressing her closer. Hermione sighed into his mouth, stroking her tongue against his, tasting him and reveling in the feel of him. Pressed against him, she could feel how warm he was through the layers of robes and clothing underneath. Wanting to get closer, she wriggled, his lean form adjusted to make room for her as she did so. The chair and her own robes were making it difficult, but between the two of them they managed to situate her so that she was comfortably straddling him.

As he deepened the kiss, he pressed his hips into hers, fisting her hair with just enough strength to make it hard for her to move. Their tongues tangled and Hermione wrapped her arms around his neck, wanted to get close enough to crawl inside him. When he released her to nip at her chin, she sighed before speaking.

“We shouldn’t do this here.”

Draco rubbed his hand through her hair, scratching her scalp in a way that made her want to purr in pleasure, before pressing his lips to her ear.

“You don’t want me to bend you over your desk as a thank you? My very own savior, come to rescue me? You deserve a reward, pet.”

“Not at work. I need to stay in control here and I – you,” she swallowed as he bit her neck. “You’re very good at making me lose it.”

“I love watching you give in.” He scraped his teeth along her jaw and her eyes fluttered shut. “Come to the manor tonight. Let me shag you senseless and feed you.”

“I can’t.” Her voice sounded suspiciously like a whine. “Harry and I are supposed to have drinks.”

“Can’t Potter spend time with the weaselette?”

“He does.” Hermione chuckled and pulled away from his disgruntled expression before removing herself from his lap. He let her go with an overly dramatic show of reluctance and as she stood, he grabbed the front of her robes over her abdomen, unwilling to release her.

“Tomorrow then.” He delivered it as a command, but Hermione saw the vulnerability in his eyes and fought off the desire to crawl back into his lap.

“Yes.” Risking being entrapped in his embrace once more, she leaned in and kissed him, growling slightly when he bit her bottom lip before he released her with an annoyed sigh. As she straightened, he stood and walked out from behind her desk, exiting her office without a backward glance.

Chapter Text

 

Hermione found herself pushing through the crowd at the Leaky Cauldron where she had agreed to meet Harry for drinks shortly after eight in the evening. When she arrived at the table, she realized Harry had company.

“Hello Gin, what a lovely surprise!” The redhead stood and they embraced quickly before both taking a seat.

“I’m sorry to crash your night out with Harry, but I missed him, and he can’t say no to me.”

Hermione laughed and waved her off.

“It’s absolutely fine. The more the merrier, right?”

The three of them got a round of drinks and spent nearly an hour discussing their weeks. Hermione refrained from sharing much, even hesitating to include the news about the unicorn proposal. She had told no one about her interactions with Draco and didn’t really feel like this would be the appropriate setting to drop that particular bomb.

“I have to go to the loo, can you get me another cider?”

Harry nodded before responding.

“Sure ‘Mione.”

“Try not to get ‘distracted’ this time.” The other woman said with a snicker.

“Bugger off, Gin.”

As Hermione made her way to the bathrooms, she heard Ginny tell Harry about the twenty minutes she got distracted in the bathroom the last time the two went out for drinks. Harry chuckled, whereas Hermione couldn’t help but remember exactly who and what had distracted her.

The trip to the toilet didn’t take quite twenty minutes, but between the crowds and the line it took a good fifteen, and when Hermione returned to the table, she discovered that Ginny and Harry had been joined by two additional people. The messy red hair of the man made it fairly obvious who had crashed their party.

“You’re in my chair, Ronald.”

Four sets of eyes swung around to look at her and Hermione clenched her jaw in an effort to keep herself from sticking her tongue out at the newcomers.

“Oh. Sorry ‘Mione.” He looked around for a moment before she sighed, realizing he had no intention of vacating her seat. Typical Ronald Weasley. Draco had the right of it, he really was the biggest nob in England. Hermione smirked to herself as she pulled another chair up to the table from the recently vacated one next to them. Harry gave her a look before the conversation started up again, clearly worried about her response. Not wanting to let this ruin her night she waved him off and took a sip of her cider.

During a brief lull in conversation about five minutes later, Lavender took the opportunity to lean over and smile in a saccharine manner.

“So, Hermione, seeing anyone special these days?”

The entire focus of the table was suddenly on her and Hermione looked between the faces, cataloguing the various responses. Harry looked bored, like he already knew the answer. Ron looked like he’d swallowed his tongue, and Lavender of course looked like a cat that had got the cream. When Hermione glanced briefly at Ginny, however, she was surprised by the look of intense curiosity on her face.

“Actually,” her eyes connected with Ginny’s and she saw the other woman’s widen, “I am somewhat involved at the moment.”

The response of the table was almost laughable. Harry’s head snapped to attention suddenly as he was clearly not expecting that answer. Lavender looked like she wanted to choke, and Ron had the same panicked expression on his face as when he’d seen a spider. Ginny, on the other hand, whooped in a celebratory manner and punched Hermione good-naturedly in the arm.

“Who is he? Is it the same bloke from my birthday?”

“Your birthday?” Ron squeaked before Lavender kicked him under the table.

“Where did you meet him?” Harry asked, his shocked expression having mellowed into intensely curious.

Hermione opened her mouth and closed it again, looking at her friends. She realized, rather grimly, that none of them would be happy to hear that she was in a sex and occlumency relationship with Draco Malfoy. In fact, as Hermione remembered Ginny’s sentiments regarding the blonde wizard, they would probably be decidedly unhappy to hear that she was sleeping with Draco.

“Yes, Hermione, where did you meet this wizard?” Lavender was back to looking as though she’d won a prize.

“Was it at work?” Harry asked her, appearing to be cataloguing the possible male partners from the Ministry in his head.

“Honestly, we aren’t even that serious.” The minute she said it, her brain began obsessing over the accuracy of her statement.

“Oh, just a little shag session then?”

“Lavender!” Ron looked horrified and the other woman just shrugged, but Hermione had had enough.

“I actually turned down an invitation from him this evening, but I think I’ve had enough of being the fifth wheel for tonight.” Hermione grabbed her handbag and stood. “Have a good night Harry, Ginny.” She turned to the other couple. “Ronald, Lavender.”

Mustering her dignity as well as she could, she tried not to pay attention to the whispered conversation that followed her out the door of the muggle pub. Without allowing herself to overthink, she quickly apparated home from the empty alleyway before grabbing a handful of Floo powder and muttering a now familiar destination.

When she stepped out into the marble entryway of Malfoy Manor, it occurred to her that Draco could be out, or entertaining, so when Moppy arrived with a crack she looked somewhat sheepish when faced with the house elf’s twitching ears.

“Miss Hermione, is Miss okay?”

“Yes, Moppy, thank you. Is Master Malfoy here?”

“Moppy will take you to him, Miss.”

As Hermione followed the little elf through the house, she realized Moppy was taking her to a much different part of the Manor than she’d been before. When she was guided down a stone staircase Hermione panicked, thinking maybe they were going down to the dungeons she knew the Malfoy home had from Harry and Ron’s experience in them, however Moppy took a brief turn at a landing and opened a somewhat plain door. When Hermione stepped inside the room she gasped, causing the blond wizard to turn abruptly from his work.

“Granger? What are you doing here? I thought you had a date.”

“No,” she said, distracted by what was before her, “not a date. Just drinks with Harry.”

Hermione stepped further into the room in awe. It was a potion maker’s dream. Ingredients lining the walls, cauldrons and vials organized in three different workstations; she was astounded. As she walked around the perimeter, running her hands over the tidy shelves and perfectly organized jars, a pair of silver eyes followed her.

“Then why are you here?”

She turned away from perusing the rare ingredients Draco had stored on a special shelf and faced him.

“Drinks with Harry turned into drinks with Harry and Ginny, and then it turned into drinks with Harry and Ginny and Ron and Lavender. They asked about you.”

Platinum eyebrows shot up.

“They asked about me?”

“Well, not you specifically.” She approached his workstation and peaked into the cauldron to see what he was brewing. “They asked if I was seeing someone.”

When she looked back up at him, he was staring at her with a completely unreadable expression.

“You’re doing it, aren’t you?”

“Doing what?”

“Occlumency.” She waved her hand over his face. “When your expression blanks out like that.”

“Granger, what is your point?”

“When they asked me if I was seeing anyone, I thought of you. And then it occurred to me that I had no idea if that was true, because occlumency lessons and sex doesn’t mean we’re seeing each other. And then I realized that if I told them I was seeing you, even just for occlumency lessons and sex that they’d probably think the worst and then I started thinking about the fact that we technically have a professional relationship, but I don’t think that’s what Lavender meant when she asked and – “

Malfoy’s hand shot out, slapping over her mouth making continuing her rant nearly impossible.

“You’re babbling, witch.” Hermione shrugged, unconcerned by the fact that he’d rendered her mute. She could see the question in his eyes, and she was more than willing to watch him work it out on his own. Stereotypical “Gryffindor courage” didn’t really cover asking your Slytherin ex Death Eater lover-slash-occlumency instructor whether or not the two of you were dating. In fact, Hermione was fairly certain asking Draco Malfoy if they were dating would be a massive oversimplification of anything that might be happening between the two of them.

Teenage wizards and witches who liked the same kind of candy dated.

Women and men who had seen the other tortured and nearly killed one another did not ‘date’.

“So, you thought of me?” She nodded.

“When they asked if you were seeing someone?” She nodded again.

“And did you tell them about me?” Hermione slowly shook her head and watched his expression go blank again.

“Don’t want Potter and the weasel to know you’re slumming it, eh Granger?”

Hermione glared at him as he stepped around the table to stand directly in front of her.

“Or did you just not know what to say?” Nodding slowly, Hermione reached out and grabbed a handful of his robes, tugging him towards her.

“Very well, then.” He smirked at her as his free hand snaked around her waist. “Next time Potter asks, tell him we’re involved. Feel free to highlight my sexual prowess and obscene wealth. In fact, I want to be there when you tell them. I want to see Potter’s face when he realizes I’ve been fucking his Golden Witch.” He quirked a brow when he said it, throwing out the challenge completely thoughtlessly.

It hit her like a bucket of cold water.

All of her concerns about why he’d pursued her, all of her ruminations and her attempts to use logic to come to any conclusions about why he’d done what he’d done suddenly coalesced in the worst possible way. She wanted to be furious, to be able to point at him and say that she’d known all along that he had been using her for something nefarious but all she could do was stare up at him and try to contain the hollow feeling in her chest. She pushed his hand off her mouth.

“Is that what this has been about? One-upping Harry?” Releasing his robes and pulling away from him Hermione backed up, trying to put distance between herself and the source of her confusion.

“It’s a perk, Granger.” He looked at her with a frown. “What’s going on in that bushy head of yours?”

“A perk?” she laughed uncomfortably. “That’s brilliant, Malfoy, really. Knowing the biggest perk of sex with me is Harry fucking Potter having an aneurysm.” Wiping her palms on her thighs, she tried to shake off the emotions that were threatening to overwhelm her.

“I never said it was the biggest perk you silly bint.” Draco moved towards her, closing the gap she’d created. “But I’m not going to lie to you and tell you the idea of snatching the Golden Witch out from under Potter’s nose doesn’t fill me with satisfaction.”

“I’m not the bloody snitch! Don’t treat me like a prize.”

“But you are absolutely a prize.” He pointed at her to emphasize his words. “Hermione Granger, Brightest Witch of her Age, member of the Golden Trio? You’re fucking titled, Granger. Don’t get your knickers in a knot because I’m enjoying my spoils.”

Hermione narrowed her eyes when he pushed her hair off his face before running a finger down her ear.

“You like me, you said so.” He frowned down at her. “You can’t take it back because I want to rub the fact of it in Potter’s face.” When she didn’t respond right away, his lips twisted into a sneer and he stepped back. “Or maybe you can.”

He returned to the potion he was brewing, floating the cauldron off the flame and preparing a number of vials for storage. Hermione watched, trying to apply logical thought to what had just happened and failing miserably.

“Draco?”

“Back to Draco, now am I?”

“Give me a number.”

“Nine hundred and forty.”

“That’s not what I meant. I meant…how important is rubbing this in Harry’s face?”

Draco finished up the last of his potion bottling and turned back to her, sneer still hovering about his lips.

“On a scale of one to ten or out of one hundred?”

“Out of one hundred.”

“Thirty-two. No, that’s too high. Twenty-four and a half.”

“So, a – a quarter of the reason you’re sleeping with me is to dangle it in front of Harry?”

“Merlin, no. Is that what you meant by a number? In that case it’s an eight, maybe a nine if I’m feeling particularly smug. Final answer.”

“And the other 91 or 92 percent?”

Draco crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the edge of his work station.

“We’ve had this conversation three different ways, Granger.”

“But you’re calling me Granger again.”

“I’m mad at you.”

“That doesn’t make sense.” Hermione placed her hands on her hips and cocked her head at him. “I should be mad at you. You called me a prize and told me you were looking forward to gloating about having shagged me.”

“You immediately assumed that meant I’ve been using you for some underhanded master plan.” He looked down. “Bloody hell, when will I stop being the villain in your little tale?”

“I – “

“Just…figure it out, witch.” With a swish of his wand, the vials of potion flew to the shelves, whizzing past her head, and Hermione watched as he made quick work of cleaning up, removing his robes and setting them on a hook before moving towards the door.

“Are you coming, or do you want to be trapped down here?”

“I do not want to be trapped down here.” Stomping over to him, she poked him in the chest hard with her finger.

“What was that for?”

“I don’t know, I just find you incredibly frustrating!”

He slammed the door behind them and began walking down the hall, forcing her to catch up.

“The feeling is mutual.” He snapped over his shoulder.

“Give me a number.”

He stopped so abruptly she slammed into his back, and when he turned around, she was surprised by the fire in his eyes.

“I find you twelve percent frustrating.” He looked her over before running his fingers over his mouth. “You’re also seven percent unbearably stubborn, twenty three percent argumentative, thirty seven percent brilliant, and thirteen percent ridiculously good looking.”

Hermione blinked and did the calculations in her head, vowing to come back to the part about being argumentative at a later date. “That’s only 92 percent.”

“You forgot the eight percent where I’m using you to gloat.”

Their gazes were locked and after a few moments, Hermione relented.

“I’m being ridiculous, aren’t I?”

“A bit.”

“If I invite you to have drinks with Harry and Ginny, how long will the gloating last?”

“Seventeen minutes.”

She snorted.

“That seems excessive.”

“I can cut it down by ten if you agree to snog me in front of them.”

She saw a glimmer of amusement in his eyes and felt her lips twitch.

“Okay but you can’t just attack me, it has to flow naturally during the course of the evening.” He nodded once, quickly, in agreement before crossing him arms over his chest.

“Also, if wands are drawn, I demand you be on my side.”

“Harry wouldn’t do that.”

“Even if I snog you enthusiastically?” She considered his question, chewing on her lip before responding.

“Well he definitely wouldn’t go at you in public.”

“Good to know. I’ll refrain from spending any time alone with the ponce in that case. If he pulls me aside to have a conversation about your virtue, I’ll have my wand at the ready.”

Hermione grabbed his forearm and he stiffened.

“He doesn’t know, Draco. About why Ron and I split.”

“Well I certainly won’t enlighten him, Hermione.” He slid his forearm out of her grip and laced his fingers with hers instead. “Public snogging aside, what happens between you and me is nobody’s bloody business.”

“I apologize for overreacting. It makes an odd sort of sense that you’d want to gloat.”

His lips twisted. “I’m not sure whether to accept your apology or be offended.”

“I didn’t come here to argue.” She took a fortifying breath. “I came here because I wanted to know if I could tell people about you.”

“I’m fairly certain you’re the only one between the two of us with reasons to keep this secret.”

Hermione flipped her hair and huffed out a breath.

“Not any longer. And my reasons for not wanting to disclose it weren’t related to you, exactly.”

“Mmm.”

“That sounds like you don’t believe me.”

“When exactly will we be meeting Potter and the weaselette for drinks?”

“I don’t know.”

“I’ll believe you when you give me a date and time, then.” He quirked an eyebrow at her. “Should I offer to feed you now?”

“Can’t I just…be here? Without us having to have a reason for it? I’d like to just be here.”

His face grew serious before a small smile graced his lips. It was amazing how it softened his features, changing the rather harsh planes into something else entirely and Hermione couldn’t help but smile back.

“Come on then, I want to show you something.”

He apparated them to the library. Not the small personal library in his study, but the Malfoy Library, capitalization included. If Hermione had been awestruck by the lovely potion room, she was nearly undone by the library. Two stories of books were before her and a part of her wanted to weep at how beautiful it was. She brought a hand to her throat and looked up at Draco who was smirking down at her.

“Why have you never brought me here? This is amazing!”

“I wanted to make sure you weren’t using me for my library. I knew once you saw this place, I’d never be rid of you.”

She slapped his arm in mock annoyance before stepping away from him and walking quickly towards the shelves. Running her fingers over the titles, she recognized several rare books that she’d only ever seen at Hogwarts.

“Come explain to me how it’s organized before I get lost and you have to send Moppy to come find me.”

Draco joined her and began to explain how the library was sorted, pointing out the parts of the collection that required special handling or caution. After he was sure she understood the potential dangers, he basically gave her free reign and settled himself into an overstuffed chair to read a book he’d obviously been working on for some time while she wandered the stacks. Occasionally an excited squeal would reverberate through the room, indicating she’d found something particularly exciting, and Draco would call out to inquire what it was.

They carried on the stilted, mostly shouted conversation for several hours, during which time the books Hermione was particularly thrilled about settled into a neat pile next to Draco’s chair, as he accio’d each one to him based on her responses to his shouted questions. It was past midnight when she poked her head around a corner, eyes bright and hair somewhat crazed.

“I could stay here for days, but I should probably pace myself.”

He closed his book and placed it on the small table next to him.

Now should I feed you?”

“Actually,” she approached him and looked down at the books stacked near his foot, “I really want to crawl into bed and read one of those until my eyes won’t stay open anymore.”

He studied her for a moment.

“I have a bed.”

Hermione lifted her gaze to his and saw the vulnerability in his expression. Her response to his invitation this time was quite unlike the last time he asked. Not only was her surprise lessened, but so were her conflicting emotions.

“Are you inviting me to stay? I’m serious about reading. Won’t I keep you up?”

“I’ll survive.”

Hermione contemplated him for a moment and asked herself seriously would it be like to say yes. To spend the night in his home and his bed. She had come to see him in order to define, for herself, what they were doing. Her need to have their interactions validated, to know that what was happening between them wasn’t just a passing physical or chemical attachment, had been growing over the last week. Her time with him had certainly felt differently since their argument. If she truly thought about it, there had never been anything casual about their interactions, even before the sex. There was simply too much weight to their past to make what had been happening between them not significant.

There were, of course, lingering concerns about her discomfort with a certain wing of his house, but she didn’t think that was enough to prohibit her from spending the night with him.

And of most importance was the fact that she wanted to stay.

“If you really don’t mind, that sounds lovely.”

His demeanor instantly relaxed, and a small smile played about his mouth.

“The only caveat being you can’t wear any clothes. I have a strict no clothes policy in my bed. It ruins the sheets.”

“Clothes ruin the sheets?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have any idea how ridiculous that sounds?”

“The sheets are charmed, Granger. They literally burst into flames if clothes touch them.”

“You’re lying.” She chuckled as he stood.

“Is it worth the risk to find out?”

“I suppose not.” She grabbed her reading selection from the pile after Draco promised he’d make sure they weren’t returned to the shelves, and then took his arm for the side along to his room.

When they arrived with a crack, Hermione made short work of placing the book on one of the side tables and removing her jacket and shoes. As she sat down on the bed and began to disrobe further, she heard an amused chuckle which caused her to look over her shoulder.

“What?”

“You’re clearly very excited to read that book. I’ve never seen you disrobe with so much efficiency.”

Flushing slightly, she stood and stepped out of the jeans she was wearing.

“I’ve never seen this title before. I’ve heard about it but there isn’t a copy at Hogwarts and so I wasn’t –“

“Hermione, stop. I’d expect nothing less from the biggest bookworm in England. Enjoy your reading. I’ll join you in a moment.” She watched as he stepped into the attached bathroom, quickly removing the rest of her clothing before slipping between the sheets and settling into the pillows with her book. There was a brief moment of utter disbelief when she considered that she’d just crawled naked into Draco Malfoy’s bed without a second thought, but she set it aside. It was thoughts like these, she knew, that had made it easy for her to assume he’d only been after her as a way to get to Harry.

It was high time she started acting like this was her new normal because, despite her initial misgivings, she was enjoying herself with him.

Within mere moments of starting the book she’d found on magical charms during the Elizabethan era, Hermione was enthralled enough that she didn’t hear Draco return, nor did she acknowledge it when he slipped into the large bed beside her. His silver stare, however, did register with her after a minute or two, and with a small sigh of annoyance she closed the book, marking her place with a finger, and turned to him.

“Yes?”

“Just taking in the fact that you’re here with me and appear to have no concerns about being murdered in your sleep. It’s rather refreshing.”

“If we’re being fair, I have never been concerned about you murdering me in my sleep.”

“I wasn’t actually referring to you, but good to know.”

Frowning, Hermione tried to follow.

“Are you saying you’ve had lovers who genuinely worried you’d murder them?”

“It had certainly occurred to one or two.” He sneered and settled back to look at the tapestry above them. “Legilimency comes in handy in a variety of situations. One simply had anxiety about being smothered with a pillow. The other had an elaborate fantasy that involved my house elf.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“Either way,” his gaze slid over to her, “I appreciate your lack of concern.”

Shrugging, she attempted to make light of the situation, even though a part of her was horrified on his behalf.

“Of course. Besides, if you tried to murder me, I’d hex you into next Sunday.” She opened her book again, signaling the conversation was over and ignored the huff of laughter from the man next to her.

 

********************

 

The nightmare surprised him.

Draco woke up to the woman next to him thrashing and screaming. At first, he was convinced she was being attacked, but he realized as his brain came fully awake, that she was simply in the throws of a violent dream.

“Hermione?”

She whined and he winced as a tear rolled down her face. What kind of nightmares made a woman cry in her sleep? When her back arched in a way he was horribly familiar with from his own hidden memories, he knew that she was dreaming of her torture.

“Granger wake up.” He shook her and her eyes popped open abruptly, wide and terrified. He hated it. She panted and tried to sit up but he pushed her back down, worried she’d flee. There was no way he was letting her run amok in the manor in this state.

“Let me up, I’m fine. “

“No bloody way, witch, you’re acting like a caged animal.” She tried to shove him off, but he refused to move. “Let me help.”

“Nothing helps.” Her eyes were shuttered, and he knew she was lying.

“Liar. Let me help you.”

She looked up at him with an expression of half panic and half curiosity before nodding.

“Good girl. What helps?”

“Sometimes…touch. Pressure.” She blinked up at him. “Sex.”

He ripped the sheets off her and settled between her legs before grabbing her hands and pressing her wrists into the pillow next to her head. She looked up at him briefly before raising her head to capture his lips in an aggressive kiss. Refusing to let her gain control he pushed his tongue into her mouth and strengthened his grip on her wrists. She responded by wrapping her legs around his hips, digging her heels into the backs of his knees and pulling him closer.

There was something about sex with her that made him feel like he was fighting a battle and the thrill of winning was a surprise every time. She whined and writhed under him when he moved away from her mouth to scrape his teeth down her neck, biting at her collarbone before settling in to pull a nipple into his mouth. She hissed as he bit down gently before running his tongue over her pebbling flesh. He loved that she didn’t shy away from his aggression, her soft form arching into him the harder he pushed her.

He’d always known she was strong and brilliant, he just wished it hadn’t taken so much for him to learn to appreciate those traits instead of loath them. But appreciating them he was; the warmth of her cunt cradling his cock, the soft skin of her abdomen brushing against his, and her tits, Merlin.

“You have beautiful tits, pet.”

“Draco, stop teasing and fuck me, please? I can’t…I need…please don’t treat me like glass. I won’t break.”

He looked up at her, wondering if this was thing she’d always asked of the weasel and he’d never been able to give her. The thought of being able to provide her what she needed while at the same time thoroughly obliterating any lasting memories of the redhead motivated him to give her exactly what she was asking for. To that end he pushed her hands above her head, grasping both her wrists in one hand, before sliding the other one over her throat.

“Does my unbreakable little Gryffindor need to be shagged into the mattress then?” She opened her mouth to talk but he pressed down on her throat just enough to keep her from doing so, resulting in a slight nod coming from her instead. Slipping his hand off her neck, he ran it down her chest, over her belly, until he hit her hot center. Running his fingers through her folds, he smirked at how wet he found her before spreading it all over himself and lining up at her entrance.

With a single thrust he pushed into her, seating himself to the hilt while she arched up against him. The warm heat of her surrounding him had his eyes rolling back in his head, and her squirming underneath him, brushing her soft skin against his, made him want to fuck her until she stilled, just so he could gain back a semblance of control.

Snapping his hips, he began to pump into her, and while her wrists were still gripped in one hand, he used the other to press her leg up into her chest, holding her open for him so he could pound into her mindlessly, chasing his own pleasure. Her enjoyment was obvious, the mewling sounds and muttered words of encouragement spilling out of her mouth reassuring him that she was a willing participant in her ruination.

As she arched her back and pushed her breasts into his chest, he gripped her hair and pressed his lips against her mouth, biting her bottom lip and running his tongue across her teeth. He felt his entire being respond when she retaliated with her own teeth, nipping at his mouth, her legs wrapping around him, knees nearly under his arms as she opened herself completely to him.

Draco looked down at the face of the woman below her, immediately snagged in her chocolate gaze. He was awed by how beautiful she was and how their magic sang when they were together. Knowing that he was able to give her this had him feeling things that were best left unsaid, but as their eyes stayed locked on each other he was fairly certain he was doing a shit job of hiding it.

Needing a distraction, he wrapped his fingers around her throat to hold her still, focusing on the feeling of her walls around his cock and less on the feeling in his chest. As he neared his peak, he felt her tighten around him and as he went over the edge, pressing into her roughly and biting at her neck, they cried out in unison. He registered the sparks of magic showering over him but was too sated to give it any mind.

“Fuck.” She puffed out against his ear in a voice that gave him pause. When he lifted his head, she was crying. He’d been too harsh and careless with her, again, and now she was crying.

“Hermione?”

When she looked at him, he felt something in his chest crack and immediately put his feelings behind a wall. But she knew, he could tell, especially when she brushed a finger over his lips.

“Thank you. I – “ she bit her lip as a tear slipped out of her eye. “I needed that. I’ve needed that for a very long time.”

Draco had no idea what to say, so he kissed her and felt some of his walls slip when she kissed him back and wrapped her arms around him. When he broke the kiss and slipped out of her, she followed him with a smile, snuggling up against his chest when he rolled onto his side, and throwing a leg over him for good measure.

“Goodnight, Draco.”

“Goodnight, Hermione.”

When he looked down at the frizzy haired witch, curled into him like she belonged there, he knew.

He was absolutely gone for the woman.

Chapter Text

When Hermione woke up the following morning, there was a heavy weight across her back and soft snoring coming from the male body sprawled across her. Rolling over to face him without disentangling herself from his limbs, she was struck by how young he looked in sleep. She let her eyes rove over him, realizing that this was the first time she’d actually seen him completely naked. Of course, she’d looked at him last night, but she’d been distracted by her reading and then afterwards by her post nightmare haze.

Then they’d immediately started in on the sex, so she’d hardly had an opportunity to examine his form.

Now, however, in the light of day she drank him in. His pale skin didn’t leave a lot of room for flaws but as Hermione let her eyes wander over him, she realized with a bit of annoyance that he didn’t have any. Unless you counted the scars on his chest and the faded tattoo on his forearm as flaws, which she didn’t. They were his history, the same as hers.

Since she was thinking about it, she reached her hand out and ran her thumb over the faded Dark Mark. His arm twitched under the light touch, so Hermione pressed her thumb into it, rubbing up the snake’s tail to the mouth of the skull.

“What are you doing?” His silver gaze locked on hers and she got the sense he had frozen under her touch.

“Exploring.” She kept her hand on his tattoo and rubbed her thumb across the skull a few times.

“Finding anything of interest?” He rolled onto his back and Hermione clung to him like a monkey, refusing to let go of his arm. As a result, she ended up sprawled across his chest looking up at his stubble while he stroked his free hand down her spine.

“I’ve never seen you without a shirt on before now.” She gestured to his tattoo with her chin. “Is this why?”

“Amongst other things.”

Hermione looked down at the silvery scars criss-crossing his chest.

“I suppose that explains your desire to one-up Harry.”

“Oh, she thinks she’s funny.”

Hermione released his arm and propped herself up on his chest to stare down at him.

“I’ll have you know I’m hilarious.”

“Sure, swot.” His response was accompanied with a sharp spank and she squeaked in surprise. “Now get off me so I can get us fed.” Hermione complied with his request and watched him roll out of bed before shrugging into a pair of trousers.

“I know it’s been discussed, but you really do have a lovely arse.”

“Get that enormous brain out of the gutter, Granger.” He turned back around and ran his fingers through his hair with a whistle. “Don’t you make a pretty picture.”

She grinned slyly and stretched out on the sheets.

“Bugger it.” He muttered. “Tea can wait.”

Hermione’s laughter was loud enough to echo into the hallway when he leapt back into bed with her.

 

********************

 

When she returned home much later Saturday evening, her arms were laden with her selections from Malfoy’s library and her mood was upbeat. It was due, in part, to the sex. However, a much larger portion was due entirely to the fact that she’d had an absolutely amazing morning. Draco was fun. He was an egotistical prat, but he was clever and witty and argued with her without taking it personally. And he didn’t mind if she wanted to read and ignore him for hours on end because he was perfectly capable of entertaining himself.

Crookshanks greeted her with a curious meow and Hermione set her stack of books on the table before bending over to scoop up her familiar.

“Are you hungry, Crooks? Sorry for not feeding you, I – “

The roar of the Floo interrupted her, startling the orange tabby as well as herself.

“There you are! I’ve been worried sick.”

Hermione frowned at the intruder.

“Harry, what on earth are you talking about?”

“You left last night so abruptly. I tried to Floo you about an hour later and realized you weren’t here and tried again this morning and then, well,” he scratched his head sheepishly, “I may have panicked after that, honestly.”

Hermione crossed her arms over her chest and pursed her lips at him. “How many times did you Floo here?”

“Eight.”

“Honestly, Harry.” She shook her head and moved towards the kitchen. “Do you want some tea?”

“Sure, thanks.”

He followed her into the kitchen and Hermione began counting in her head, wondering how long it would take for him to ask the question she knew was coming.

“So, who is he?”

Ten seconds. Wonderful.

“I would tell you but then I’d have to kill you.”

“You’re keeping him a secret, then?”

It too closely echoed Draco’s concerns so she rushed to correct him.

“No, not at all. In fact, I’d like you to meet him. Over drinks.” She braced herself internally. “Next Friday?”

“Oh, sure. I’ll check with Ginny and see – “

“Actually, let’s start with just you.”

He frowned at her and blinked a few times behind his glasses.

“Any particular reason why?”

She turned to grab two teacups so he wouldn’t see her face. Ginny’s enthusiasm at the pub the night before aside, she had concerns about the younger woman being able to reconcile Hermione shagging a man who she thought of as being nearly the same as a murderer.

“You’ve been my friend longer than Ginny and I think you’ll need to approve before anyone else can meet him.”

“Oh. Of course.”

“Tell me about the rest of your evening.”

Tea in hand, she and Harry chatted for nearly an hour to make up for the lack of time together the night before. He didn’t mention the sudden appearance of Ron and Lavender until she asked, but it turned out they thought they’d been invited because Ginny had mentioned something to her brother about drinks. Hermione reassured Harry that it really wasn’t a massive problem, she had just felt like the fifth wheel.

Secretly, though, she couldn’t help but wonder what would have occurred if she had simply invited Draco along. It was doubtful they would have been as understanding. She was fairly certain the addition of Malfoy to their happy group would throw the entire thing into so much disarray that getting upset about Ron’s new girlfriend would seem ridiculous in comparison.

“I should get back. Ginny told me I was being obnoxious, so I probably have to grovel a bit before supper.”

Hermione laughed and floated his empty tea cup to the sink before escorting him out. Impulsively, she wrapped him in a hug, surprising him.

“Thank you for being a good friend, Harry.”

“Sure.” He studied her. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yes. I just wanted you to know that I appreciate you.”

“Right. I’m off, then.”

She waved as he stepped into the floo, before crossing her arms over her chest. Merlin, she hoped he didn’t kill anyone come Friday.

 

********************

 

Work was relatively predictable the next week, and nothing exceptionally thrilling came across her desk. She did have to sign off on the schedule and review plan for Malfoy’s project, but otherwise she was completely hands off his new endeavor, which eased her stress immensely. Unfortunately, her nightmares kept her awake for much of Tuesday evening. She was becoming used to the new more vivid versions, but it was making sleep hard and as a result, she was dragging on Wednesday morning.

When she left her office to make a cup of tea at barely half ten, she was still only mostly awake. As she stared sleepily into the tea cup while letting it steep, a yawn so powerful overtook her that she was forced to cover her face with her hands.

“Staying up late pining over me again?”

Her eyes popped open and she found herself looking directly at Draco.

“Where did you come from?”

“Well, Granger, when a wizard and a witch love one another – “

She smacked his shoulder and he smirked at her.

“I meant why are you here?”

“Signatures for the unicorn project.” He put his hands in his pockets and looked at her from under hooded lids and platinum lashes. “I have a proposition for you as well.”

“Oh?” Hermione continued to stir her tea while coyly looking about to see if anyone was eavesdropping, prepared to hear him describe some unheard-of sexual position in broad daylight.

“Come to the manor tonight. I’ve made some progress on your occlumency project.”

“Really?” Her brain perked up at the idea.

“Yes. I found a book. And no, I am not telling you the title.”

“Well that’s rude.”

“All’s fair, Granger.” He tweaked her nose before turning on his heel and sauntering away.

Hermione smiled at him as he left and turned to go back to her office only to slam into Marissa, the junior worker she’d sent to finish up her inspection of Malfoy Manor several weeks earlier. She was immediately grateful that she’d managed not to spill her tea down the front of her robes, but the look on the other woman’s face had her elation waning.

“Now I know why you didn’t want to be directly responsible for overseeing his unicorn project.” The younger witch grinned, and Hermione could feel her face turning a wonderful shade of pink.

“It’s – well – we weren’t –“, Hermione finally sighed and gave up. “Are you going to tell anyone?”

The other woman shrugged. “Not if you don’t want me to. Are you two not serious?”

“It’s not that. We just have a lot of history.”

“Oh. Right! Of course. Mum’s the word.” Marissa made a motion of locking her lips and throwing away the key.

“Thanks.”

 

********************

 

When she Floo’d to the manor that evening after work, she was surprised to find Moppy waiting for her.

“Master is waiting for Miss Granger but wanted Moppy to ask if Miss was hungry?”

“Thank you Moppy, but I’ve eaten.”

The house elf grinned, and her ears twitched happily.

“Master will be pleased. Miss should follow Moppy.”

Hermione did so, and after a moment realized she was being taken to the second floor and up to Draco’s rooms.

Occlumency lessons, my arse.

If she were being completely honest with herself, his manipulative tendencies were beginning to entertain her, especially when they were so obviously transparent.

“Here you are, Miss.” Moppy opened the door to Draco’s chambers and Hermione stepped into the room to find Draco sitting at a small desk, reading. The noise of the door clicking shut got his attention and he stood, book in hand, before he strolled over to her.

“Hello, pet.” The hand not holding the book reached out, and he ran his fingers over her lips as a way of greeting her.

“If you wanted this to be a sex date you could have just asked me.”

“How annoyingly forward of you. I like it.” He smirked and pulled her bottom lip down before releasing it. “But I did actually have an idea related to Occlumency.”

He handed her the book and she took it, eyebrows raising at the title.

“’Secrets of Sexual Magick’?” The volume was incredibly old, bound in leather that had some questionable stains on the spine, but when she opened it to a random page the ink was vibrant and the illustrations were – “Good heavens, is that physically possible?”

He looked over her shoulder. “Maybe if you had less hair.”

“Bugger off.”

He rested his chin on her shoulder and wrapped his arms around her waist while she flipped through the pages. One illustration looked familiar and she read the details of the spell.

“You used this on me, didn’t you?”

“I told you, the Malfoy library is a veritable font of information.”

“This book is entirely dedicated to sexual spells.” Hermione was fascinated, having never seen anything like it.

“The author was some infamous libertine, apparently. During the court of King George. Spent his entire life experimenting. But, as much as I’d love to try that one out,” he pointed to a particularly elaborate bondage spell, “that’s not why you’re here.”

Hermione twisted until she was looking at him.

“And why exactly am I here?”

“Go to page five hundred eighty-seven.”

Hermione returned her gaze to the book and flipped to the page he gave her.

“’Mindlessness and Submission’? Should I be offended?”

“Do you trust me?”

“Yes, of course.” She said it without thinking and they both stilled, each of them processing the implications of that simple response. Draco recovered first, exhaling a warm breath on her ear.

“Good.” His arm snaked its way up so he could point at a section of text. “Read this part.”

Hermione did, quickly realizing what he intended.

“You think that if you get me into – “ she referred to the text, “ ‘the hypnotic state of the submissive’, I’ll be able to remain emotionally removed from the memories long enough to successfully box them back up?”

“That’s the basic thought process, yes. Lock them up, look at them, whatever you need to do in order to keep them…away.”

She continued to read and winced when she got to the end.

“There is a spell to put your partner in subspace? That feels like cheating.”

“Hence the question about trust. I won’t use this if you don’t want me to. It seems rather like a modified imperius.”

Hermione hummed and turned the page, continuing to read. A few minutes passed with Draco looking over her shoulder before he cleared his throat and she realized she’d read six more pages and had moved into a new section of the text. With a grimace, she closed the book and allowed him to pull it from her hands.

“I’m going to want to read that later.”

“I can’t wait. In the meantime,” he licked the edge of her ear and she shivered. “Spell or no spell?”

Hermione tilted her head to the side to give him better access before responded.

“No spells. And it’s not because I don’t trust you. I want to make sure whatever we do works, and I don’t trust the efficacy of an unknown spell.”

“Where’s that Gryffindor spirit?”

“Did you – “ Hermione swallowed as his teeth hit a particularly sensitive part of her neck. “Did you want me to be ensorcelled?”

“No, love, I prefer you with your wits about you. Keeps things interesting.” His hands slid up her abdomen. “But it means we need to get you there with good old-fashioned hard work.”

“I think I’m okay with that.”

Draco made quick work of her clothing, piling her things neatly on the bed until she was in her bra and knickers. He’d run his hands over her every chance he got, and his mouth had never left her skin, so by the time he’d stripped her down to her skivvies she was already panting and ready to do whatever he asked.

With a flick of his wrist, his wand appeared in his hand and Hermione watched, mouth dry in anticipation, as he levitated a single throw pillow in front of the chair at the desk before seating himself in it.

“Come here.” As she approached, he made room for her between his thighs. “Kneel, facing away from me.”

Hermione moved to do as he requested, situating herself on the cushion he’d prepared for her. When his hand ran up her neck and dragged over her scalp she shuddered and shifted so she was closer to him.

“That feels nice.”

“I like making you purr.”

Closing her eyes, she leaned into his hands as he continued to stroke her. It felt delicious and relaxing, but after several more minutes of being pet like a cat, she had to ask the obvious question.

“Are we not going to have sex?”

“I dislike the idea of you associating whatever memories we’re going to be working to sequester with shagging me if things go wrong. I plan to continue having excellent sex with you, so I’d prefer to get your brain relaxed another way, If I may?”

She caught a glimpse of his wand as he placed it on the desk.

“No spells?”

“No spells.” He whispered as he ran his finger over her shoulder blade.

“I trust you.” The second time around the admission wasn’t as shocking to either of them.

He kissed her neck and returned to his rhythmic stroking of her scalp. As he did, Hermione slowly synchronized her breathing to his petting, inhaling and exhaling in time with the drag of his hands over head. After a few minutes she was completely relaxed, mind curiously open and hazy. Some distant part of her brain recognized that he’d hypnotized her.

“Okay, love, I need you to do something for me.”

“Mmm?”

“Remember your nightmare?”

Hermione took a deep breath and nodded, the images from her most recent nightmare coming back to her.

“Relax, pet.” The stroking again and her breathing came back into rhythm. “Try to look at it.”

“I don’t want to.” Her voice sounded like it was coming from very far away.

“Try anyway.”

Hermione squirmed as she imagined herself watching her memory instead of reliving it.

“Good girl.” He dropped another kiss on her shoulder as she ran through the horrors of her torture as though she was watching in a Pensieve. When the memory got to the second cruciatus curse her breath caught and she realized she was crying.

“I can’t do this.”

“Yes, you can.”

Hermione shook her head.

“You can, Granger. Buck up.”

It was annoying, his absolute conviction that she was capable of this.

Because she was annoyed, it took more than a few strokes of her hair for her breathing to re-sync with his petting, but when she finally did, she returned to being just as relaxed as before. She picked up the memory where she’d left off and tried to remain impassive and detached from the scene playing out before her. Distantly, she felt Draco grab her hand and lace his fingers though hers. She wasn’t sure if it was in her strange Occlumency created world or the real one, but it gave her a rush of confidence regardless.

When she turned her attention back to the memory, she gripped the ghostly hand tighter and attempted to remain in control as the images before her rolled onward. She watched herself kick and scream, finally swallowing around the pit in her throat when the fourth casting of the Unforgiveable made her lose control of her bladder in her memories. With a gasping breath she spoke.

“I need to stop.”

Draco leaned down and pressed his head to hers, whispering in her ear.

“It’s not real. You’re safe.” He combed his fingers through her hair. “Do you feel that?” She nodded. “I’m not going to let anything happen to you.” He pressed his thighs against her arms, caging her in. “You’re the strongest witch I know. You lived through this already. It has no power over you. Don’t let it win now.”

Something in his goading speech moved Hermione enough to rally, even through the tears streaking down her cheeks.

“Tell me what to do.”

“Put it away. A box, a bottomless pit, blow it away in a puff of magic dust. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re in control.”

Her confidence boosted by his faith in her, Hermione stepped towards the memory and with a sudden thought, froze it. She looked at it for a few minutes, inspecting it, cataloguing the way Bellatrix’s lips twisted, before she wrapped the whole thing in ice and broke it into a million pieces. It was there, before her, on the floor of the Malfoy drawing room, shattered like she had been.

A shuddering breath moved through her, as though her body recognized the shift.

Watching the memory, the nightmare, melt away, creating puddles on the parquet flooring, was like having a weight removed from her chest. Her consciousness slowly came back, and with it a sense of lightness of spirit that she hadn’t had in a very long time. Before she could say anything, wonder about it or share it, Draco spoke.

“Are you okay?”

Hermione looked over her shoulder and saw him staring at her with a pained expression. She remembered the ghostly feeling of his hand in hers and wondered how much of what she’d just been through had been shared.

“Are we done?” she asked softly.

“Yes.” He swallowed. “We’re done.”

Using his thighs to brace herself, she stood and quickly crawled into his lap, before wrapping her arms around him and resting her head on his chest. His arms came around her immediately and pulled her against him. She could hear the sound of his heart beating rapidly and stroked her fingers through his hair.

“I think it worked. I feel…less heavy.”

“Good.” His voice sounded strained and when Hermione looked up at his face, she saw his eyes glistening from more than just the natural silver.

“Draco?”

“I – “ he swallowed before looking down at her. “I saw a lot of awful things, Hermione. But that – “ silver eyes looked away. “I realized then that I’d never hated you. Not really. You were someone I went to school with, someone I grew up with, and then suddenly you –.” He looked back at her. “There were worse things than dying and – “

Hermione watched him struggle for a moment before kissing him, pressing into him so that her chest was flattened against his. When his arms tightened around her waist to pull her closer, she lifted her lips from his and ran her finger over the wrinkles of his brow.

They sat that way in silence for several minutes, Hermione’s fingers tracing the lines of his face as he slowly relaxed. Eyes closed, head leaning back against the chair they were in, he spoke.

“Do you know why our magics spark?”

Sitting up a little, she considered his question.

“No, actually. I was planning on doing research in your library the next time you let me roam free in there. I have a theory, but I’m – “

He opened his eyes and stopped her with a finger over her lips.

“You’re babbling again.” She quieted and waited for him to continue. The frown lines had returned, and he looked away. “There is a whole chapter on it in that book.”

“The magical sex secrets book?”

“Secrets of Sexual Magick. You should read it and get back to me.” It was said with a sense of finality she wasn’t sure how to interpret.

“Okay.” Hermione drew her hands away from his face and rested her head on his shoulder. “But not now. Honestly, I’m exhausted.”

Draco adjusted her on his lap before standing up, pulling a small squeak out of her when he picked her up and walked her over to the bed.

“You’re trapped here, you know.” He whispered in her ear. “I’ve hidden all the Floo powder and refuse to disapparate with you.”

“I’m sure if I weren’t so tired, I’d be terribly upset.”

“Don’t get smart.” He dropped her on the mattress, and she bounced once before pulling the blankets back and crawling underneath them, curling up on her side as he undressed. Her lids were heavy when he slid in next to her, but she was awake enough to scoot close and snuggle into his heat. The weight of the emotions she’d just processed had her seeking out physical contact more than any desire to be warm. For whatever reason, Draco appeared to have been similarly affected, because he wrapped his arms around her immediately and slid his leg over her calves.

“Here’s to sweet dreams, Granger.”

“Mmmm.”

Several moments passed, and she was nearly asleep, but she heard the whispered words she suspected he hadn’t wanted her to hear.

“I’m so bloody sorry, Hermione.”

Chapter Text

 

Hermione woke up early the next morning. The sun was just starting to come in the windows, and she was surprised to realize that she’d slept solid through the night. It was the first time she’d had uninterrupted sleep in years. Even before the nightmares gained strength, it was rare that she didn’t wake up at least once a night. To have slept so solidly really was a testament to the fact that whatever she and Draco managed the night before appeared to have worked.

Stretching, she rolled over to stare down at the man lying next to her. He was on his back, one arm slung over his face and the other resting down by his hip. 

“You really are sickeningly handsome, you prat.”

“I knew I liked you for a reason.” The arm slung over his face moved down to his chest, uncovering a sleepy smirk. “Tell me more.”

“I think your head is quite swollen as it is.” Hermione flipped the covers off and moved to get out of bed only to have an arm wrap around her waist.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

“I have to be at work and I need to Floo  home first. I  didn’t bring a change of clothes with me.”

“But I want to hear more about how handsome you find me. What is it, exactly, that entices you so much? The hair? That’s frequently the answer.”

Hermione twisted and glared at him.

“Frequently? Just how many witches have you asked?”

“Does the Gryffindor get jealous? How delicious.”

“The Gryffindor does not.” She tried again to stand but he pulled her back towards him. “Draco, I really have to go.”

“Stop running away from me.” He muttered the complaint into her shoulder.

“I’m not.” She turned to face him and cupped his cheeks in her hand. “I asked Harry to meet us on Friday.”

“You did, did you?”

“Yes. I’m not running away from you.” He quirked an eyebrow.

“I wasn’t speaking metaphorically, you know. I just wanted a morning shag.”

“Hmm. If you say so.”

“Sod off, witch. Go to work.” He pushed her off the bed with a smack to her arse before rolling onto his back. Hermione felt him watching her get dressed and couldn’t help but smile at his attention. How odd to enjoy being ogled by Draco Malfoy. As she pulled her shirt over her head, she turned back around to face him.

“Does this ever strike you as surreal?”

He immediately understood her meaning and shrugged half-heartedly.

“Only if I think about it, which I endeavor not to.”

Hermione grimaced at him. “Wonderful.”

“I meant,” he said in a long-suffering voice, “that I don’t think about how surreal this is. Not that I don’t think about you. Clearly, since I spent the better part of last week reading an eight-hundred-page book on sex magic.”

“I have a hard time believing that was a chore.”

He smirked at her, giving her the only answer she needed.

“Pervert.”

He barked out a laugh, startling her as she put on her shoes.

“Pot and kettle, love.”

“Honestly, there is no need to point that out.”

“You pointed it out first.”

She stood at the end of the bed with her hands on her hips and tried to glare at him.

“I have to go to work.”

“Then go.” He rolled out of bed, unashamedly naked, and strode over to her. “I also have important things to do today.” Hermione attempted to keep her eyes on his, but it was a struggle when he stood right in front of her in all his glory. She felt her eyes drift lower while he brushed a messy curl off her face. He caught her wandering gaze and fisted her hair, pulling her head back so she was forced to meet his eyes. The arrogant smirk on his face made it clear he knew what she’d been distracted by.

“See something you like? You’re practically drooling.”

Hermione flushed, all thoughts of getting to her office evaporating as she watched his silver eyes dilate until they were almost black, before nodding slowly

“On your knees, Granger.”

Lowering herself to the ground, Hermione felt the grip on her hair tighten as Draco ran his other hand over her lips. When she looked up at him, she was taken aback by the amount of affection in his gaze, causing a smile to play about her mouth before he pressed his thumb into her bottom lip.

“Open up, pet.”

Obeying his command, she kept her eyes on his as she opened her mouth. His hand cupped her jaw and he lined himself up with her lips. She couldn’t resist licking at his tip, helping herself to a taste of what was to come. The thought of taking him into her mouth had her thighs clenching. Deciding the anticipation was too much, she reached up to grasp him in order to get started before a sharp tug at her hair had her pause.

“Ah-ah. Hands behind your back, witch.” His brow quirked at her look. “I decide how much of me you take. If I get to be too rough touch my thigh.” He waited until she nodded before continuing. “Now be a good girl or you’ll be late to work.”

Hermione clasped her hands together behind her back and tried to remain still while Draco ran his free hand down her chest, pulling her shirt open and tugging her bra up so that her breasts were on display.

“Beautiful.” His whisper of admiration only reinforced the intimacy of the moment and Hermione closed her eyes before her jaw was captured in his grip once more. “Eyes open, love.”

Following his instructions once again, she opened her eyes and held his stare as he pressed into her mouth. She felt the slide of his silken skin across her tongue and wrapped her lips around him as he used his grip on her hair to direct her to take more.

“Fucking hell, Granger.” His eyes closed and Hermione took a moment to lick up the underside of his cock as he pulled away before thrusting back in. He was big, and Hermione had to focus on keeping her jaw relaxed as he pushed back in until he hit the back of her throat. He held her there for a moment and she kept her eyes on his face, watching his expression of pleasure as his eyes rolled back, while concentrating on her breathing.

As he began to thrust, Hermione used her tongue to drag along the vein on the underside of his shaft, toying with his tip when he nearly pulled out, and hollowing her cheeks to keep him trapped in her warmth. As he quickened, she found herself pressing her thighs together, her own arousal matching his as he fucked her mouth.

She must have whimpered, because his eyes dropped to hers.

“You have my permission to touch yourself love.”

Unclasping her hands, Hermione shoved her skirt up before pressing her fingers into her knickers, finding herself slick with want. Draco continued his assault on her mouth while she stroked herself, her other hand moving to her breast to toy with her nipple.

“Fucking gorgeous.” Hermione felt a second hand tangle in her hair before his grip tightened and he pressed her face into his belly, forcing her to take his entire length. She stilled, focusing on her breathing before he pulled back, causing her to gasp for breath as he left her mouth with a pop. He pressed between her lips again, and she welcomed him, even as he forced her head to bob up and down, using her hair as leverage.

Hermione resumed her own ministrations, getting closer to the edge as she rapidly massaged her clit and pinched at her nipple. It wasn’t long before she heard a low growl come from his throat, signaling he was about to go over the edge.

“Fuck, Hermione.” He held her head still and she felt the hot liquid shoot into the back of her throat as he shattered. She swallowed as he pulled away from her, returning his hand to her jaw. “Did you come?” his voice shook slightly, the lingering intensity of his orgasm making itself known. Hermione shook her head in the negative and he quickly kneeled in front of her, grasping her face and kissing her deeply before replacing her hand with his. She leaned into him as he pressed two fingers into her wetness, making quick work of her orgasm. Whining, she came as she grabbed his biceps and pressed her face into his neck.

“That was a delightful little interlude.” Draco pulled away from her and cupped her cheek, forcing her to look at him. “Are you all right, love?”   

Hermione smiled at the endearment. “Perfect.”

Draco stood, helping her up before stepping forward and fixing her bra and shirt. Hermione focused on tugging down her skirt, but as she finished her straightening before he did, she let herself study his face as he buttoned her last button before smoothing the fabric over her shoulders and down her arms.

“What business did you have today?” He looked up at her question. “You mentioned plans.”

“Your minions are going to be here to supervise the beginning of construction.”

“I don’t actually have minions.”

“Shame, they’re great fun.” He leaned down to kiss her gently and she leaned into him.

“I really do have to go.” She murmured against his lips.

“Then go.”

Tearing herself away from him she gathered her robes and wand.

“Remember, drinks with Harry on Friday.”

“Will I see you before then?” When she turned back around to face him, he had on a pair of trousers and was shrugging into a button down.

“I have to feed Crooks,” she started, “and the book you lent me is at my flat.” Considering, she made a decision. “You could come over.”

“To your flat?” His tone was less than enthusiastic, and she immediately questioned her decision to extend the invitation. After what had just happened, his flat tone hurt.

“You don’t have to make it sound as though I’ve asked you to have tea with Ron.”

“If Weasley is still a fixture in your flat we need to have a serious conversation. ” He looked at her under his lashes as he finished buttoning his shirt. “I meant, I’ve never been there. Have no idea where it is. How do you expect me to ‘come over’?”

“Oh.” The obvious answer was to have him meet her at the Ministry because she suspected he wasn’t going to be overly successful finding her muggle address without some assistance, but she was hesitant to have him meet her there for fear of someone mentioning it to Harry.

“Still keeping me under wraps, are we?”

“Yes.” He glared at her. “I mean no. Not like that. I’ve told some people, but I don’t want someone to tell Harry unless it’s me and he works at the Ministry, and – “ she stopped, realizing his glare had hardened. “I don’t appreciate the look on your face.”

“What are you going to do when we meet Potter for drinks and the entire pub is whispering about us behind your back?” He tucked in his shirt and turned to his dressing table for something before looking back at her and working on his cuff. “Be honest, Granger, you’ll panic.”

“I will not.”

“You will. You can’t tell me you don’t care what people think.”

“I never cared what you thought.” She muttered, realizing she sounded petulant.

He sneered at her. “No one cares what an eleven-year old wrong-headed bully thinks, love. This is different.”

She crossed her arms over her chest and watched as he finished up the second cuff.

“I’m not ashamed of you, you know. I just…don’t know how to explain you. And Harry will ask, and whatever I tell him will have to be believable otherwise he’ll dig.”

“Feigned assault in a public toilet won’t go over well, then?”

“This isn’t funny.” Hermione stomped her foot in frustration and spun to leave only to have Draco appear in front of her.

“I’m not trying to be amusing. What are you so bloody ashamed of?” Hermione tried to leave, but he grabbed her upper arm and while his touch was gentle, she was still trapped. “Is it because Weasley put ridiculous ideas into your head?”

“No! Draco, it’s private. It’s bad enough that Pansy bloody Parkinson knows the extent of my fantasies. Good lord, the thought alone is enough to make me want to obliviate her.” She rubbed her head before looking at him and willing him to understand. “I don’t care if people change their opinion of me because of who I date. But I do care if the details of our sexual relationship are made public. I care if your proposal is brought into question again, and I care if Harry decides to make your life hell in an effort to protect me. You can’t honestly believe people would understand how this all started.”

He stared at her for a minute before releasing her arm.

“Then I suppose I’ll go along with whatever subterfuge is required in order to free you of your knickers in the privacy of your own home.”

“Subterfuge?”

“I can hardly come pick you up at your office and escort you to the Floo Network  if we’re being all cloak and dagger-y.” He wiggled his fingers and made a face at her that had her lips twitch.

“In that case, meet  me at the chip shop on the corner across from the Ministry building at half past six.”

“You do realize this is completely bonkers?”

“Quite.” She smiled before spinning on her heel and leaving him to finish getting dressed.

 

******************

 

Hermione had managed to Floo  home with enough time to spare to allow her to change and quickly get to the Ministry  before her first meeting of the morning. She also ran into Harry and confirmed the time and location of their plans for tomorrow. He tried again, not very subtly, to get her to disclose the identity of her mystery man but relented when she threatened to sic Ginny on him.

At quarter after six, she exited the Ministry on the street side and walked to the chippy on the corner, where Malfoy was waiting, a petulant frown on his face.

“Please tell me we’re not eating at this establishment.”

“Don’t be a snob, Draco.”

“It’s not snobbery. It’s  self-preservation.”

“Live a little. It’s  delicious.”

“It’s served in paper.”

“Every Flavour Beans  taste like vomit.” She raised her eyebrows and stared him down.

“Excellent point. You win.” He opened the door for her and gestured inside. “Lead on, swot .”

Hermione ordered for both of them, while Draco hovered arrogantly over her, lips curled up in a familiar sneer. When she handed him his packet of fish and chips, he took it with a beleaguered sigh.

“Let’s take our greasy, paper wrapped fried things to your flat, shall we?”

Hermione smiled and led him to the nearest apparition point.

“Hold on, Malfoy.”

With a crack they disapparated to her living room. Surprisingly nervous, she stepped away and walked to the kitchen for plates and silverware, not wanting to be near Malfoy while he quietly judged her home. She didn’t have people over much. Especially since Ron had moved out. The fame that came with the end of the fighting had made Hermione incredibly covetous of her privacy and as a result her home had become her refuge. And now that Draco was here she found herself desperate for him to approve of it.

“Where do you keep all your books?” He had snuck up behind her while she was in the kitchen and she jumped when his low voice sounded right behind her.

“Don’t sneak up on me, you rat.”

“I thought I was a ferret.” He smirked at her before plucking the plates from her hand and floating them over to the table.

“Weasel’s aren’t allowed in my flat, Malfoy.” The double meaning wasn’t lost on him.

“Good. Dragons devour weasels anyway. Now,” he said with a tug on her hair, “show me how to eat this disgusting Muggle  food.”

“It’s not disgusting.”

“I’ll be the judge of that. ”

Dinner was actually a rather hilarious affair, with Draco making faces solely for the sake of making her laugh. There had been something lighthearted about their interactions all day, especially compared to the heavy mood of the night before. Hermione let him feed her chips, even when he purposefully missed her mouth, and he accepted her retaliation when she threw some at him, frowning theatrically before standing and tossing aside his jacket.

“Well, its ruined now. Covered in fish grease.”

Hermione was chuckling up at him, feet tucked under her as she covered her mouth and chewed the last of the chip he’d fed her.

“You think that’s funny, do you Granger?”

“No, sir, Mister Malfoy.”

A platinum brow quirked and he crossed his arms over chest, picking up on her playful mood.

“Does my pet want to play?”

“Very much.”

In a flash he was on her, long fingers around her throat pulling her up out of the chair. 

“You ruined my jacket.”

He hissed the sentence into her ear, his tone changing enough to make his accusation feel real. Hermione didn’t respond because she was concentrating on her breathing, the warmth of his hand reassuring even while it was cutting off her air. She wrapped her hands around his wrist for balance as he dragged her out of her chair, trying to get steady on her feet.

“I think you deserve to be punished, slut.”

She flinched at the harshness of his voice, but she couldn’t help the rush of heat she felt in her core. He forced her back down onto the table, legs hanging over the edge and he squeezed her throat before yanking down her pants with his other hand.

“You’re always so fucking wet.” He pressed two fingers inside her and her eyes rolled back in her head with a muffled groan. When he leaned over her, his blond locks touched her cheeks and she took note of his smirk before he pulled his fingers out of her and drew his hand back to slap her clit hard. Gasping in shock, she wriggled underneath him only to have him do it again, harder the second time.

“Regular old spankings are so plebian , aren’t they love?”

With another loud smack, he slapped her cunt a third time and she arched up at the stimulation, her feet scrambling to find purchase  on his thighs and hips. His movements shifted briefly, and after a moment Hermione felt the silky head of his cock at her entrance. He pushed into her, sheathing himself entirely on a single stroke before pressing his lips to hers.

“I’ve been waiting for this all day, love.”

Hermione’s answer was swallowed by his mouth, but she felt entirely the same. Draco set a punishing pace and Hermione clung to him while his mouth grazed her lips, jaw and neck. The hand around her throat kept her from moving and so she took his kisses when he gave them, unable to seek out his mouth on her own. When they had begun this, she’d needed to refrain from giving in to her desire to kiss him. It had been necessary to maintain the distance she’d wanted when she thought he’d still hated her, still seen her as less than. But now, she was greedy for him, covetous of the softness of his lips and the taste of his breath.

The hand that wasn’t keeping her pinned to the table slipped in between their bodies to rub at her clit, and as his pace increased and the sounds of the table banging into the chairs became more rhythmic, Hermione let herself go, escaping to the mindless place she’d only been able to reach with Draco. The more her brain relaxed, the more wound up her body became, and she arched into him, digging her fingernails into his wrist as she came. It was followed by him murmuring her name and a brief spasm in the hand around her throat before he came with a groan, face dropping into the crook of her neck.

The two lay in a haze, his weight keeping her pinned to the table while she lazily ran her fingers through his hair.

“Are you going to make me leave, pet?” The question was presented in the monotone Hermione recognized as him feeling vulnerable and trying to hide it. In response, she wrapped her legs around his waist in a full body hug.

“Why would you say that?”

“I did just call you a slut without asking.”

“No, Draco.” Hermione smiled into his hair. “If you do something I don’t like, I’ll tell you.”

“Good. I rather like your flat.”

“You do?” Her concerns about him judging her space unworthy had mostly dissipated over dinner, but it was still nice to hear him say it aloud.

“It suits you.” He leaned up and looked down at her. “Although I do have to wonder where you’re hiding the rest of your books.”

She flushed and cleared her throat.

“There…is a hidden extension charm. In the bedroom closet .”

He chuckled. “Of course there is.”

He lifted himself off her and cast a scourgify before pulling her upright and embracing her once more as he looked around.

“Where is your enormous orange beast?”

“He’s probably hiding. Crooks isn’t a huge fan of guests.” He hummed into her hair

“Will you show me your library, Hermione?”

Smiling up at him she felt a sense of contentment wash over her.

“I’d love to.”

Chapter Text

 

Draco ended up staying the night and when they woke in the morning, he even helped her make toast, though they went through nearly half a loaf of bread before he had a perfect piece.

“I’m very picky about breakfast, Granger. It’s the most important meal of the day.”

She’d simply rolled her eyes and added bread to the grocery list while drinking her tea and watching him make a mess of her kitchen. When they parted ways, her going to work and him returning to the Manor, she reminded him of the time and place for drinks with Harry. He smiled softly and promised to be there before disappearing in a puff of green smoke.

Hermione spent the better part of her day at work worrying about the possible outcome of her plans for the evening. She ran through various fantasy conversations and arguments in her head while attempting to focus on her work. When she found herself imagining a particularly violent duel in the middle of the Leaky Cauldron, complete with screaming witnesses and a full Auror contingent, she decided she was probably overreacting and made up her mind to focus more on work and less on her anxiety.

Harry came by her office a little after lunch, by which time she had successfully refocused on the new wolfsbane trade tariff bill and was making notes on a large scroll.

“If you’re busy I can come back later.” Hermione held up a finger while she finished her sentence, then put down the quill and brushed her hair out of her face.

“You have – “ Harry gestured at her cheek and Hermione realized she had probably smeared ink on her face when she brushed her hair back. Since she wasn’t trying to impress Harry, she just shrugged and gestured towards the chair.

“I may have to cancel on you.”

“What?” She panicked and sat up straighter. Draco would not take this well. “Harry, you can’t. He’ll think – “ She cut herself off before she finished, but the thought continued in her head. He’ll think it meant I told you and you didn’t approve.

Unfortunately, Harry knew her well enough by now to figure out she’d left something significant unsaid.

“Hermione who is he?”

She shook her head.

“No, Harry. I – you promised. You have to come tonight. You have to. Bring Ginny if it makes it easier. Hell, bring Ronald if you have to, but you cannot cancel on me.”

“This is really important to you isn’t it? My approval?” He examined her from behind his glasses.

“Yes. And to him.” She made a face thinking of Draco’s desire to gloat and changed direction. “I mean, I don’t think he’ll actually care if you approve, but he’ll care that I tried. And if you don’t show he’ll assume it’s because I didn’t try hard enough, and I need him to not think that.”

“He sounds like a bit of a prat, to be honest.”

“Yes, well, he has some prattish tendencies, but don’t let that sway you.”

“Allright. I’ll speak with Shacklebolt and try to get my evening freed up. I’ll keep you posted on Ginny and Ron.”

She sincerely hoped he was joking about the last part. Sincerely. Merlin, if he wasn’t this was going to be a disaster.

**

Draco was in his study, arguing with Moppy about whether or not she should be put in charge of the Unicorn project completely, (really, she was organized but not that organized) when a Ministry owl flew into the room and hooted apathetically before holding out its talon. Taking the missive, he unrolled it and had to stifle a laugh at the completely erratic script on the parchment. The laugh turned into a groan as he read through the little lion’s note.

“Did Master get bad news?”

Moppy’s ears twitched in concern and Draco lifted his gaze from the letter.

“Not exactly. I’m meeting Granger this evening and now there is a bit of a risk the night will end with me either deceased or in Azkaban.”

The house elf visibly relaxed, ears deflating, and Draco quirked a brow.

“Master is making a joke. Miss Hermione wouldn’t let either of those things happen to Master.”

Draco wasn’t entirely convinced that was true, depending on the circumstances, but he was pleasantly surprised to hear his house elf had such confidence in the witch.

“You don’t think?”

“No sir, Miss Granger likes Master.”

Draco smiled. “Yes, she does, doesn’t she?”

 

********************

 

Hermione spent overly long standing in front of the mirror before leaving her flat that evening, especially considering that she was hardly concerned about making a good first impression with anyone who might be at the pub. Her stomach twisted at the thought of who “anyone” might encompass, and she patted the pocket that held her wand again just for good measure. She was probably overreacting.

Maybe.

“Oh, blast it.” Without another thought she apparated to Diagon Alley, where she walked briskly to the Leaky Cauldron and entered the pub while trying to project confidence. A glance around took in the busy Friday crowd, and Hermione straightened her spine before entering, seeking out the tell-tale platinum blond hair. When she found him, sitting alone at a table, she relaxed.

Approaching him, Hermione noticed the whispers Draco had warned her about and when she actually reached his table, she could have sworn the entire room took a collective breath, waiting to see what was going to happen. Looking her over, he leaned back slightly in his chair and stared up into her eyes, silver gaze meeting brown.

“Hello, love.”

His toneless delivery told her everything she needed to know, and a quick glance around them confirmed that almost every wizard or witch in the pub was staring rudely, seemingly not caring if they were caught ogling. Hermione turned back to Draco and made a show of leaning down and kissing him square on the mouth before walking around him and taking the chair directly to his left, pulling up close to him before leaning her head on his shoulder.

“That was incredibly Gryffindor of you.”

She shrugged and wrapped her arm around his, staring down the people who continued to gape at the shock of seeing the Golden Witch snuggling up against a Malfoy.

“Are you complaining?”

“Are you mad?” He had turned to murmur into her hair. “I’m half tempted to bend you over the table to reward your courage.”

“Not going to happen, Malfoy.”

“Later, then, without the audience.”

Hermione hummed her agreement.

“So is Potter really going to bring the weasel and the weaselette?”

The owl she had sent him earlier had been a decision that came from her panic, but she was glad that she’d prepared him for the possibility, knowing that he wouldn’t take well to having a pair of Weasleys sprung on him.

“If he does bring them, you can’t call them that.”

His retort was interrupted by the barkeep, who made his presence known by a loud clearing of this throat.

“Can I get you and, er, your companion anything Miss Granger?”

The advantage of her fame was that her face was universally recognized, so she wasn’t surprised by the barkeep’s use of it.

“Yes, thank you. I’ll have a butterbeer, and my – Draco would like a firewhiskey. Right?”

Silver eyes met hers, sparkling with humor and something else. “Quite right, love.”

The barkeep coughed and nodded before turning away.

“Why are you suddenly so smug?”

“I like the way that sounded. ‘My Draco’.”

“I stuttered!” Hermione slapped him playfully before he attacked her neck with his lips. She attempted to fight him off while laughing with little success.

“Hermione?”

The horrified whisper immediately sobered her up and had Malfoy pulling away from her. She straightened and pushed her hair out of her eyes before looking up at her friend.

“Hi Harry.”

“Is this – are you – “ he removed his glasses and rubbed his nose before returning them to his face and falling into his chair with a thunk. “I need a drink.”

“You’re in luck, Potter. We’re at a pub.” Draco raised his hand to get the barkeeps attention and pointed at the new arrival before mouthing ‘the boy who lived’. Hermione rolled her eyes and returned her gaze to her friend.

“Are you having an aneurysm?”

Harry’s head snapped up at Draco’s question. “What?”

“Granger and I had discussed whether or not this would give you an aneurysm.”

“Draco this isn’t really the time.”

“It’s a valid question.”

“I don’t think – “

“Both of you just stop talking.” Harry held up a hand and the two of them quieted. He looked at her and she smiled slightly in an effort to reassure him. They were briefly interrupted by the barkeep bringing them their drinks and asking what Harry wanted before being left alone again.

“How did this happen?” His look of utter disbelief was making her uncomfortable.

“It just sort of…did.”

“I blackmailed her until she acquiesced.” Hermione looked at Draco in horror and he smirked. “He already thinks the worst, love.”

“Is that true?” Harry sounded like he was choking, and Hermione glared at the platinum blonde once more before turning back to her friend.

“Of course not. There was barely any blackmail involved at all.” Realizing what she just said she turned pink. “That is to say, there was no actual blackmail.”

“This isn’t actually making me feel any better.” A pint of dark beer was plunked down in front of Harry and he thanked the barkeep before turning back to Hermione.

“I know the split with Ron was a shock, and I’m still not clear on what happened – “

“Harry, we’ve discussed this.”

“Yes, I know, but damn it Hermione, if whatever happened was bad enough to have you consider dating Malfoy then I feel like it deserves revisiting.”

“I can hear you, Potter.”

“Stay out of this.”

“Harry!” Hermione raised her voice enough to have several heads turn their way. She glared at their audience before turning back to Harry and lowering her voice. “I don’t expect the two of you to suddenly be chummy and go to Quidditch matches together, but I do expect you to be civil.”

“Are you sure he can be civil?”

Draco glared and sat up straight, but Hermione spoke before he could say something they’d all regret.

“Listen carefully Harry James Potter, this is not going to go away.” She looked at Draco and he relaxed slightly when she met his gaze before turning back to Harry. “I don’t have to explain myself to you, but I’d like to think you trust me enough to keep an open mind.” Hermione made a show of placing her hand on Draco’s wrist. “I happen to like Draco, and this is not just some fling to get back at Ronald.”

“Does that mean you’re going to keep me?”

She rolled her eyes at the blond.

“Can you be serious for moment?”

“I am serious.” Hermione looked at him and realized he was not, in fact, teasing her. She wasn’t sure what to do with that information and decided they’d have to explore it later. Blinking, she turned back to Harry who was watching the two of them intently.

“Ginny will take some convincing, you know. She’s been beside herself with excitement about your new man and this will come as a shock. And Ron will probably have an actual aneurysm. But, and this is a big but, if the prat is making you happy you have my support.” Still reeling from the idea that Draco wanted her to keep him, she almost fell out of her chair at Harry’s easy acceptance.

“Again, Potter, I can hear you.”

“And now you know I think you’re a prat.”

“And I think you’re a wanker.” Draco raised his glass in salute, and Harry did the same.

“Are you two done, now?”

“Almost.” Harry turned back to Draco. “If you hurt her – “

“Only when she asks.”

Hermione choked on her butterbeer and Draco casually patted her on the back.

“I didn’t need to know that. But my threat still stands.”

“Of course, wouldn’t expect anything less. Cheers, Potter.”

“Cheers, Malfoy.”

“You two are ridiculous.”

 

********************

 

“That went better than I thought it would.” Hermione murmured her statement into his warm skin, eyes still closed and brain slightly fuzzy from the recent orgasm.

“The sex or the drinks?”

“The drinks, prat.”

“Yes, I’m still a free man and no one was turned into a pile of goo.”

Hermione rested her chin on her hands and looked up at him from her spot on his chest. They were in his bed, having come home from the Leaky Cauldron an hour earlier, and Hermione was feeling especially chatty.

“I have some questions for you, Malfoy.”

He quirked an eyebrow and smirked down at her.

“This doesn’t bode well.”

“Did you mean it?”

“Yes, I’m exceedingly happy not to be a pile of goo.”

Her question had been serious, and she knew he knew what she was talking about. The fact that he purposefully misunderstood her made her immediately suspicious.

“I meant, did you mean what you said about me keeping you?”

He looked down at her, wariness all over his face before it was quickly erased, leaving his expression blank.

“You need to read chapter thirty-one of the ‘Secrets of Sexual Magick’ before we have this conversation.”

Hermione frowned up at him, not expecting that answer. “What does that have to do with anything?”

He swallowed and looked away, before squeezing her tightly.

“Read chapter thirty-one.”

Brows raised, she disentangled herself from his limbs and walked over to the dressing table where the book had remained since their hypnosis session from several days ago. Flipping through the pages, she returned to the bed. His eyes tracked her and as she slipped back under the sheets, he sat up.

“You’re going to read it now?” His voice sounded tight and she looked at him in confusion.

“Yes.”

Draco ran his fingers through his hair before jumping up rather abruptly. He paced a few times before grabbing his trousers from the floor.

“I can’t be in here while you do this. Just know – Salazar’s sack.” He hurriedly stepped into his pants before turning back to her. “I didn’t mean to, okay? I’m not even sure how - please believe me.” His odd confession was followed by a crack of disapparation, leaving Hermione confused, naked, and alone.

 

********************

 

An hour later she pulled his discarded shirt over her head before she made her way down to his study where he was sitting, a glass of amber liquid in his hand, staring into the fireplace. He was still only in his trousers and the silver scars on his chest seemed to glow against the orange light of the flames.

“Have you come to say goodbye?”

“Don’t be so melodramatic, Malfoy.”

He looked up at her and she almost winced at the emotion in his eyes.

“I’m not.”

She sighed and sat down next to him, gesturing to the book in her hands.

“This is quite the revelation.” She’d read the entire chapter through, letting the information sink in before she re-read the most relevant parts. It made sense that he’d react the way he was, but before she could offer up any type of reassurance, she needed him to answer some questions. “How long have you known?”

“Two weeks, give or take.”

Hermione studied him as he turned back to the flames and downed the tumbler in a single swallow.

“Why didn’t you say anything?”

“I wanted to finish the Occlumency lessons for you.”

Her heart swelled at his confession. She’d thought for some time that it was important to him to assist her with overcoming her nightmares and controlling her memories of the events he’d witnessed, but hearing his quiet affirmation of it solidified her feelings for him.

“But Draco, waiting just strengthened it.”

“Yes, however seeing as I’m the pureblood in the equation I decided it was worth it.” His lips lifted in a half smile as he looked at her.

“This still doesn’t impact just you, Draco.”

“I’m aware.” He shrugged before running his hand through his hair again, making him look a bit like a scarecrow.

Hermione opened the book to the place she’d marked and began to read aloud.

In rare circumstances, over the course of sexual intimacy, the magicks of two purebloods will mingle –“

“He obviously never shagged a muggle-born.” He said, voice dripping with irony.

“Perhaps not. Regardless, you do realize that means we don’t know if I’m susceptible to the side effects. It’s very possible they could impact me, same as you.”

He looked at her in horror for a moment before blanking his face again. “Shit.”

Hermione continued reading.

When the magicks unite, a bond is formed that cannot be broken without consequences.”

“I have actually read this, Granger.”

“Be quiet, I’m making a point.” He snorted and she continued. “Such a bond is the equivalent to the magick of marriage, joining the two together and binding their magicks. Much like the marriage rites, the partners are tied such that infidelity becomes agonizing.” She looked up at him. “I have my own theories, but why don’t you tell me exactly what this means?”

“You don’t already know?”

“I’m not overly familiar with pureblood marriage spells.”

He grunted and rubbed his forehead.

“Love magic always has a price, and the marriage rites of pureblood families bind the partners for life.” He stared into the fire. “If one of the pair strays, the other suffers. Actual physical pain that increases over time if the infidelity continues.” He looked at her sideways before turning back to the fire. “If it goes on too long the faithful partner can die.”

“That’s absolutely horrific.”

“It explains the complete lack of divorce amongst the sacred twenty-eight, though, doesn’t it?”

Hermione chewed on her lips and looked at him, studying his profile.

“Are you saying that if we stopped seeing each other and I dated other people that you could die?”

He rolled his eyes.

“Not dated, Granger, shagged. The spells were designed to guarantee paternity. At least the marriage rites were. Most pureblood marriages were arranged so they added as many failsafes as possible.” He sighed. “If feelings were involved it wouldn’t be in a book on sex magic, now would it?”

“Yes, because sex and feelings are so obviously separate.” She watched him as he sneered at her and returned his gaze to the fire. “Draco, answer the question. If this is true, and we’re somehow bound, would you…die?”

He shrugged and dropped his chin into his hand.

“I suppose it would depend on how active your sex life was.”

“With the imaginary man you imagine me dating after you.” He grunted. “Is that – “ she cleared her throat, “Is this why you asked me if I’d keep you?”

“What you said to Potter made me wonder.”

Hermione studied him and tried to catalogue everything that had happened between them over the course of the last few months. She’d known the sparks and magic auras that had built between them each time they’d had sex were significant in some way. When she thought about it, she had theorized that it had something to do with their magic being compatible or entwining somehow. Truth be told the information contained in the book hadn’t come as a complete shock to her. Perhaps it was more permanent than she’d been anticipating, but the basics had lined up fairly well with what she’d previously suspected.

What had surprised her was how little she cared about the possibility of being eternally bound to Draco Malfoy. It bothered her not in the least. But it was obvious he thought it would, given how he’d responded to her desire to understand and his reaction to her when she entered the room. He was clearly waiting for her to rip his heart out and stomp on it.

That was absolutely the last thing she wanted to do.

“Well,” she said briskly, “we’re basically married, so I suppose I have to keep you.”

His head spun to look at her and the expression on his face would have been comical had it been under any other circumstance.

“That’s not fucking funny, Granger. I don’t want you to feel stuck with me.”

Hermione got up and dropped the book in the chair before walking over to straddle Draco’s lap.

“Then you shouldn’t have shown me your library.” He glared at her, but she refused to be intimidated. She needed him to understand that nothing except her desire to be with him would keep her there.

“Draco Malfoy, do you honestly believe that I could be convinced to stay in a relationship by something as simple as a life-long bonding spell if I genuinely wanted to leave?”

“Is this a trick?” He searched her face with a glare. “If I agree with you then I’m basically admitting I think you’re capable of murder.”

Hermione grinned.

“He learns.”

“You’re bloody terrifying.” He muttered.

“Do you trust me?” She whispered as she looked directly into his silvery eyes, trying to convey her intent. She needed to know if her trusted her strength, if he trusted her choice.

He stared at her for a long time before finally speaking.

“Yes, Hermione.” He squeezed her hips. “I trust that you’ll only stay because you want to.”

“Good. Because I’m fairly certain I’m falling in love with you and I don’t want something as ridiculous as a magical bond to mess this up for me.”

His eyes searched hers and she watched him swallow several times before he spoke.

“I’m not good with feelings.”

“I know. It’s okay.”

He smiled softly up at her before she kissed him soundly.

“Now come back to bed.”

He smirked at her. “Don’t tell me what to do, pet.”

Draco stood before disapparating them back to his room, arms wrapped around Hermione as she clung to him. He pushed her up against the wall while Hermione pulled him towards her, attacking his mouth with her own. His hands gripped her ass and he groaned when he felt bare skin.

“You forgot your knickers, you bad, bad girl.” Hermione’s laugh turned into a gasp when he bit down on her neck, before pulling his pants down and pushing into her. Closing her eyes, she tightened her grip on his hips as he sank fully into her welcoming flesh, returning his hands to the backs of her thighs to hold her up.

He began to pump into her, her back hitting the wall with each of his violent thrusts. Hermione tightened her grip on his neck, wrapping her arms around him so tightly her arms were nearly doubled over themselves in her efforts to keep him close.

When he lifted his head up from her neck and pressed another savage, open mouthed kiss on her lips, she responded in kind, fully enthralled in the urgent, somewhat frantic coupling.

“Open your eyes.”

Following his command, she did, staring into his silver gaze before he looked up. Her eyes followed his and she saw the magic aura, sparks flying and purple mist swirling. He looked back at her, before kissing her again and soon Hermione was lost once more in the physical sensations. His pace quickened and Hermione felt the tension build.

“This means you’re mine, witch.”

Hermione felt a rush at those words, especially when it was accompanied by his mouth on that spot under her ear.

“Say it.” He slammed her up against the wall with a particularly hard thrust as he panted the command into her ear.

“I’m yours.” She groaned. “And you’re mine.” She gripped his hair hard as her lips grazed his earlobe. “And I’m keeping you.”

“Fuck, Granger.”

Hermione tensed, the tightness in her core reaching its breaking point and with one final thrust she cried out wordlessly before he followed her, pulsing inside her as he bit down on the flesh of her neck. A few panting breaths later, he stumbled backwards before sinking gracelessly to the floor, careful to keep her from slipping off his lap.

She opened her eyes and looked at him with a grin. He smiled back at her, the joy between the two of them pulsing just like their magic. Draco wrapped her in a hug, tickling her ribs, and the two of them fell backwards on the floor in a fit of giggles.

Chapter Text

 

Hermione pulled the robe around her to ward off the chill as she apparated, eyes adjusting to the dark as she looked around her. Even with the warming spell she’d cast before coming down here, there was something about being in this room that made her cold. She walked the perimeter, her bare feet hardly making a noise on the parquet floor, until she came to stand in the middle. Looking around, the dust motes sparkling in the moonlight, Hermione smiled softly when she heard the crack of apparition from behind her. Unmoving, she waited for him to join her.

Warm arms wrapped around her waist and a familiar blond head rested his chin on her shoulder.

“What are you doing down here, love? It’s the middle of the night.” He tightened his grip. “You didn’t have a nightmare, did you?”

Hermione shook her head. She hadn’t had nightmares about this room in nearly two years.

“I’m excited for the renovations to begin, but something in me wanted to see this place like this one last time.”

“You’re batty.”

“You love me anyway.”

“Yes, I do. It’s why I married you.”

Hermione smiled at the memories. The wedding had only been three months previous, but it had been a grandly elaborate affair with all of her friends present. Even Draco’s mother had shown, hovering in the back looking regal and disapproving. She’d come from France, electing to leave Draco’s father behind to everyone’s relief. His release from Azkaban had come with an edict of house arrest and it went without saying that no one missed him. Ginny had even agreed to be Hermione’s maid of honor. It had taken time, but Harry’s support and Draco’s obvious affection for her had removed any lingering doubt from the redhead’s mind.

“I thought you married me because of sex magic.”

“It’s why I married you officially. The sex magic is just a perk.” He tugged on her earlobe with his teeth and she laughed.

“Honestly, Draco.”

“Now come back to bed so I can prove my point.”

“What point?”

“That I love you, witch.”

She took one last look around the room where she had been broken all those years ago before turning back to the blond wizard who’d had a hand in putting her back together.

“Fair enough.” She smiled. “I love you too.”