In the end, it was the forgotten anniversary that was the last straw. He tried to cover it up by offering to take her out to the Leaky Cauldron for drinks. Drinks. At the Leaky Cauldron. Like they were some sort of horny seventh-years on their second date.
“Ronald Weasley. You are an idiot and I am DONE.”
Hermione strode around the house picking up belongings and stuffing them into her beaded bag, enumerating his most recent sins along with a few that had been simmering for years. Ron stood uselessly in the middle of the living room, gaping.
She stopped in front of the bookshelf, pulled out her wand, and did a little bit of complex spellwork, shrinking the shelf and books together into a little bundle that fit into the palm of her hand.
“I'll be at Harry's indefinitely, and do not owl me.” All she heard as she slammed the door was some inarticulate whimpers coming from Ron's direction. It was almost enough to make her feel sorry for him.
It was rather depressing to be sleeping on your best friend's couch at 40 years old, Hermione decided. She would have to start looking for a flat to rent soon. But that could take awhile. She needed a bit of perking up. Pronto.
I guess this is what one keeps girlfriends around for, she thought ruefully. Must have forgotten to do that in between work and reading and keeping Ron's head on straight. She couldn't exactly ask Ginny to be her wingman on a rebound from her own brother. It was awkward enough living with her.
Good thing I've never been afraid to go it alone. She examined her appearance in the mirror. Her skin seemed pale. Even her hair was somehow lacking in its usual panache.
I need to get laid, she decided.
New shoes. New shoes would be just the thing. She had already bought the little black dress—a sleeveless number with princess seams and a sweetheart neckline, tighter and shorter than she would usually wear—and some lacy black underthings to go with it.
She tried on pair after pair, finally landing on a set of 4 inch stiletto heels with a strap across the toes and a strap above the ankle, anchored to the shoe behind her heel. They were black, the straps sheer and edged with solid velvet.
They were terribly impractical.
Her shopping done, she headed to the spa and treated herself to the full package: mani-pedi, facial, sauna, and full body massage. It came with a complimentary bottle of Chardonnay.
It was so freeing to be in muggle London, where no one knew her, where she could air her grievances about Ron to the girls and hear nothing but sympathetic clucks and tsk-tsks.
By the end she felt like a new woman. No, it wasn't depressing at all to be starting over at 40 years old, she decided. 40 is the new 18, she thought, and giggled. Now she could have all the fun she should have been having years ago, instead of saving the world, losing her parents, and coping with the trauma by settling down with one of the only people who knew what she'd been through.
How many men can I sleep with in a week? she wondered. Of course, I'll have to get them to take me back to their place. Can't exactly fuck on The Chosen One's couch. Even if they ARE Muggles. She giggled again. Damn, this Chardonnay is delicious. She considered the last golden inch in the glass, swirled it dramatically, and drained it with a flourish.
She hated to take off the fluffy white terry robe. It was so soft. And white. And fluffy. I need to get one of these, too. Suddenly she had an inspiration. Instead of putting her jeans back on, she reached for her shopping bags. Tonight's the night.
It wasn't until she was walking down the street in the late afternoon sunlight that Hermione realized that it was a bit too early for clubbing. Like, by a few hours. Also that she had never been clubbing in her life.
No matter, she still had her buzz. And she was hungry. She would just find a classy place to sit at the bar, get some food, and maybe someone to buy her a drink.
Hermione focused on taking short, careful steps in the new heels. After a block or two she heard a loud whistle from across the street. She was lifting her hand to give her customary middle-finger when she found her head turning and her fingers moving to her lips seemingly of their own accord. She was just in the middle of winking and blowing a kiss when a few things happened all at once.
Her right ankle buckled, lurching her forward into a tall, lean chest. Correspondingly strong hands steadied her around the waist. And a cool, familiar voice—like something out of a dream—drawled, “Watch it, Granger.”
Hermione's somewhat blurry gaze lifted slowly over a Gainsboro gray linen waistcoat with mother-of-pearl buttons, to the open collar of a crisp white Oxford shirt, over a graceful neck, angled jaw, small set mouth, and straight nose, into a pair of piercing silver eyes beneath a tousled platinum fringe.
She bolted upright, brushed off her dress, lifted her chin, and cleared her throat. “Malfoy,” she nodded, keeping her voice as business-like as possible. After a pause during which he simply looked at her, she added, “What are you doing here?”
“I might ask you the same question. Although, clearly, 'walking' is not one of the possible answers.”
“Why shouldn't I be here?” she demanded, ignoring the jab about her fall. “After all, I am a muggle-born and perfectly fond of muggles, unlike some people I know.”
Again, he said nothing and just looked at her. It was quite unlike Malfoy to be left without any witty riposte, and it was beginning to unnerve her.
“Well then. Good day. Thank you for—for your assistance,” Hermione offered politely and made to walk away.
“Wait,” he said.
“Are you sure you should be about town alone in your...condition?”
“Granger, I know a cheap Chardonnay when I smell one.”
Now it was Hermione's turn to be speechless. “I'll have you know—” She faltered. “I'm not drunk,” she began again. “I simply got...dehydrated.”
“If you don't mind,” she said and attempted to walk past him again, faster and more determined this time. Her ankle wobbled. Damn these shoes. Malfoy reached for her elbow to steady her just as she caught herself. She looked at him. He raised an eyebrow.
“Fine,” she said. “You may buy me a drink.”
“I shall certainly do no such thing,” he said, with a note of—was it—cheerfulness? “But I happen to know a little bistro around the corner, and was just fancying a good repast.”
Malfoy held out his arm. Hermione put her hand in the crook of his elbow and let him lead her down the sidewalk.
Hermione was sobering up swiftly and beginning to wonder how in the world she found herself walking down the street arm-in-arm with Draco Malfoy on the way to—a date? Was it a date? No. Just dinner. Dinner is not always a date, she reasoned. At least none of these people will recognize us.
“Where is your esteemed husband, the Weasel King?” Malfoy asked, startling her out of her anxious thoughts. “He must be even more of a wanker than I thought, to let you out of his sight in this ravishing outfit.”
“I'm not a child, I go where I please!” she said, indignant. “But it's none of your business,” she added with a little less conviction, though his glance at her bare left ring finger curled around his bicep did not escape her notice.
They arrived at the restaurant, which Hermione immediately realized was no little “bistro around the corner,” but rather an upscale French restaurant full of rich-looking patrons in suits and demure cocktail dresses. She felt a bit cheap in her slinky outfit—even though it had been anything but. At least it's black, she reassured herself, subconsciously tugging at the hem. Why does Malfoy always insist on finding a way to make me feel inferior and out of place? she wondered, with a flash of anger.
He was surveying his menu with an air of confidence. “Care for an hors d'oeuvre? The escargot here is excellent.”
“I'm not much of a mollusk...fan,” she said lamely. This was a terrible idea. Maybe I could feign sudden illness. Or nip off to the loo and never come back.
“Duck pâté en croûte it is,” he said, signaling the waiter. He ordered a bottle of Pinot Gris along with the appetizer.
“Changed your mind then, have you?”
“Oh, no, of course not. I wish to remain free of any charge that I tried to get you drunk. Well, drunker than you already are,” he added, with a severe look. “I shall drink what I like and simply have them cork the rest to take home.”
“Surely you don't need to take home the dregs of a restaurant bottle. You must have hundreds of aged wines of rare vintage in the Manor cellars.”
“Thousands, actually. But if you're trying to talk me into sharing with you, it won't work. I'm quite stubborn, you know.”
“Yes, I am aware.”
They lapsed into an uncomfortable silence. Well, at least, Hermione was uncomfortable. Malfoy seemed to be quite happy with himself. Smug prick.
The waiter brought the wine and presented it to Malfoy, who made a show of inspecting the label before nodding. It was uncorked with a satisfying pop and poured with a little glug-glug-glug that made Hermione's mouth water. Is there a better sound in the whole world? Malfoy swirled it in his glass, inspecting the legs, wafted it toward his nose, and took a sip, washing it delicately over the inside of his mouth.
Hermione watched miserably. This was beginning to feel humiliating. “Excellent,” he pronounced with a smirk, and the waiter went away. The silence lingered as he continued to drink casually. The pâté arrived. He slid his fork through the delicate crust and soft filling, slowly brought it to his mouth, tasted it, and smiled. Hermione had quite lost her appetite. When he saw that she did not partake, he cut a slice, put it on a plate, and held it out to her indulgently.
“Look, Malfoy,” she burst, the dam inside her suddenly breaking open. “I don't know why you invited me here, I don't know why I came, and I definitely don't know why you rudely insist on drinking your wine in front of me without sharing, but if we are going to continue with this charade”—she said it with a deliberately affected air, shah-RAHD—“we might as well go all the way and at least pretend to enjoy each other's company.”
He paused for a second, as if waiting to see if she was quite done. “You'd like to go all the way with me, Granger?”
She blushed furiously. “You know what I meant.”
“Very well then. Though you wound me, Granger, to suggest I would have to pretend,” he said with mock offense. “I have been enjoying your company quite well. Haven't you been enjoying mine?”
“No,” she insisted.
“Hmm.” He met her eyes and they held one another's gaze for a long moment. Hermione could not quite read what she saw there. There was arrogance on the surface, a sarcastic, dismissive look—that she expected. That was the Malfoy she knew. But beneath that there was something else, something slightly uncertain and—vulnerable?—that surprised her. He seemed to be trying to hide it. She decided to go on the offensive.
“So you've been enjoying my company then?” she asked, trying for flirtatious. It came out sounding rather pained. His face turned to stone. “That's quite interesting. Off-brand for a Malfoy, isn't it, to willingly associate with a mudblood?”
“Hush!” He looked around nervously.
“What? Mudblood?” She said it again, a little louder. “Don't worry, Malfoy, there is no one here who will know that word. I'm surprised to hear you of all people take such offense at it, honestly.”
“Granger, you know that my family contributed heavily towards reparations after the war.”
“And that we publicly issued statements disavowing blood prejudice.”
“And that I work at the Ministry alongside many muggle-born witches and wizards.”
“Indeed, but that's not the same as fraternizing with them. On purpose. Inviting them out to... what is this, anyway, Malfoy? Are we on a date?”
“Hardly!” he scoffed. “Granger, if I were taking you on a date, you would know it.”
And I thought he was humiliating me before! “How would I know, pray tell?” she asked in her most innocent voice.
“Well, to begin with, I would ask you ahead of time, as I believe is standard with most dates”—she rolled her eyes severely—”instead of you literally running into me on the street. If I liked you enough, I would probably give you a silk scarf or bit of jewelry to wear for the occasion.” If he liked me enough? Where does he get off?! “Then I would meet you at your place of residence and escort you personally to our first stop for drinks at a garden or rooftop bar.”
“You would let me drink?” she exclaimed with mock astonishment.
“Then we would repair to a restaurant with a quieter atmosphere and private booths, for a bit more intimate conversation.” He smirked at her expression. “After that would be the opera or a play, and finally a bit of dessert or a nightcap, if you so desired, before I delivered you back safely home.”
“That sounds incredibly romantic, Malfoy. Tell me, though,” she leaned in for the kill, summoning her most sarcastic tone, “would there be any more intimate conversation, after that?”
“That depends entirely on you,” he said, his eyes suddenly growing dark. Hermione felt the gravity of the room shift but tried to keep her balance.
“Hmm. Well, I suppose if I liked you enough...”
Malfoy placed his napkin on the table. “Pâté is so overrated, don't you think?” He stood up, threw a bill on the table, and held his hand out to her.
Hermione hesitated, then took it before she could talk herself out of it. It was warm, almost hot.
Malfoy strode toward the exit with long paces. Hermione kept up as best she could in her absurd heels.
As soon as they were out the door, he swung to face her, backing her into the brick wall. He was still holding her hand and pinned it above her head as his other hand gripped her lower back, pulling her hips tight against his.
Hermione could feel his erection pressing into her belly as his mouth sank to her neck, lips and tongue and teeth seemingly all at once exploring under her jaw and behind her ear, running down the sensitive skin to her collar bone and back up.
Her breath was coming in quick pants now. With the warmth of his body so near, she was intensely aware of all her exposed skin, and of the way her breasts rose above her neckline with each in-breath.
“Tell me to stop,” he whispered in her ear, sending a shiver down her side. She moaned. His hand on her backside slid lower. “Tell me I'm a horrid, snobby, elitist Death Eater who has no business coming near the wizarding world's Golden Girl.” He released her and then buried his hands in her hair, tilting her chin up towards him. Their eyes met. “Tell me how much you hate me for every taunt, every jeer, every slur, for everything I ever did to you and your friends, for everything my family did to you during the war.”
He attacked her neck on the other side, nipping and sucking more fiercely now as Hermione gasped, her mind blank of anything resembling words. She couldn't understand how it was possible to be this wet.
“I don't hate you, Malfoy,” she breathed, finally, and before her mouth could close again he caught it with his. He kissed her fiercely, pressing his tongue deep into her as he pressed her into the wall. His hands slid down from her neck over the swell of her breasts, dragging the top of her dress down slightly as they went.
Then he gripped her shoulders, turned her around to face the wall, and tangled his hands in her hair again as he thrust against the cleft of her arse. He reached down with one hand, sliding up her leg to brush against the front of her knickers, while the other traced over her collar bone and down inside her bra.
Just as she thought she was about to be fucked in the middle of an alley by Draco Malfoy, she felt the world spin and the brick disappeared with a crack.
They landed unsteadily in a room full of deep green and mohagany at the edge of a large bed, and tumbled down onto it. Draco's weight pressed her into the soft coverings. Well, that solves the couch problem.
He kissed her again, squeezing her breasts through her dress, then pulled back to look at her. She arched her back, already missing his touch on her nipples.
“Well, look at you,” he said, smirking. “Aren't you thirsty. You look like a woman who hasn't had a drink in months.”
“Please, Malfoy,” she whispered, cheeks burning.
“Take off your dress,” he commanded, sitting up on the edge of the bed to watch. “Leave the heels.”
Hermione shuffled off the bed awkwardly, meeting his gaze as she reached behind her back and slowly pulled the zipper down her spine. When it stopped, she crossed her arms over her chest to pull each strap over her shoulders and drag them down her arms. She shimmied the dress over her hips. When it landed on the floor around her feet, she stopped and waited.
Draco's eyes raked over her body, but he didn't move.
“And your bra.”
She unclasped it and dropped on the bed, taking a deep breath as she felt her ribs expand freely and her skin pucker in the cool air.
“Now come here.”
Hermione stepped towards him until their bodies were just inches apart.
Malfoy's head dipped down as he took one breast in his mouth, flicking the nipple with his tongue. He thrust his fingers under her knickers, dragging them through her slit.
“Not so parched, after all,” he said. “Look what I do to you.” He held his fingers up in front of her face. She could see them glistening. He swiped them across her mouth slowly. She pulled her lips between her teeth, tasting a mix of her skin and his. He watched, fascinated. He definitely wasn't expecting that.
Hermione saw her opportunity. Damn if I'm gonna stand here being the only one naked a minute longer. She reached for his buttons, first the waistcoat, then the shirt. She shoved them down his arms together, pinning his elbows in place at his sides, then traced the line of his Sectumsempra scar down from his collar bones to his navel.
She unbuckled his belt, opened his pants roughly, and pulled his cock out, running her thumb over the soft skin at the head. She heard his breath catch as she sank down to her knees in front of him.
“What are you doing?” he asked. Is he nervous about this? Good. Let him squirm. It's about time.
“Thirsty,” she smirked, throwing his words back at him before devouring him.
She didn't waste any time teasing but immediately set a brutal pace, sucking as hard as she could, sinking down as close to the base as possible before pulling nearly completely off. She wasn't going to last long this way, but then, she hoped, neither would he.
“Merlin, Hermione!” he gasped, gripping her shoulders, although if he was trying to stop her, it was hard to tell.
“What did you just say?” She pulled off, staring at him.
He stared back. At a loss for words again, are we? she gloated, until he suddenly stood up, ripping his shirt off, and threw her on the bed. She squeaked involuntarily, finding herself on all fours with her feet hanging off the edge and her arse in the air.
Malfoy knocked her knees further apart and gripped the tops of her thighs with both hands, pulling her knickers out of the way and spreading her open. There was a pause that seemed to last forever. Then she felt his mouth against her cunt, hot and wet, matching her own pace and intensity from just a moment before. He fucked her with his tongue and sucked on her clit with brutal precision. She remembered the way he had swallowed that wine.
Hermione groaned. She could feel that she was starting to lose control.
“Tell me to stop,” Malfoy said again, darker this time. “This is your last chance.”
“Don't stop.” She could barely keep the desperation out of her voice.
“Put those heels to use,” Malfoy demanded and yanked her legs off the bed so that her chest was against the mattress, her back arched and hips angled just so. “This is what you got them for, isn't it—” his cock nudged her entrance, then pushed in all at once “—so you could get fucked, just like this.” Hermione bit down on the blankets, muffling the yelp that he elicited. “This is what you wanted.”
His thrusts came faster and faster. She could feel them in her whole body, pushing her into the edge of the mattress, sending a shock up her spine. Ron had never been able to make her come in this position.
Malfoy twisted his hand in her hair, turning her face toward him, and leaned down, resting his weight along her back. He was in her and on her and all she could smell and taste was him. “Hermione Granger, so beautiful, arse up just for me,” he whispered in her ear as he reached for her clit with his other hand. “Come,” he said.
He followed soon after, his grip on her hair and her cunt tightening as he released a series of breathy groans. He pulled out immediately and cast a quick spell. Hermione was just beginning to panic about what to do now when he appeared next to her on the bed, pulling her up to sit next to him.
They just looked at each other for a second. He trailed a finger down her throat, over her breast and across her belly. He seemed so hesitant, after what they had just done, that Hermione laughed.
“What?” he said. He looked hurt.
“I suppose you want to get going.” His face was stone again. I shouldn't overstay my welcome. Hermione gathered her things and began putting them back on. I guess this is casual sex. This is what I wanted, isn't it? She was beginning to feel a little sick to her stomach. It's just the wine. Wine and no dinner.
Speaking of. “I just have one question, Malfoy.”
“Why didn't you want to let me have a drink?”
He blushed. That's a first. He looked to the side. “I wanted this. I...wanted to know that you wanted it too. Really wanted it.” He met her eyes again. Whatever the vulnerability she had seen before was back on full display.
Hermione found herself stepping toward him. She stood between his knees and put her fingers under his chin. “You wanted this?”
“Interesting.” She couldn't help herself. That look on Malfoy's face was way too delicious to waste. Let him wait. “Me too, Draco,” she said finally, with a smirk.