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Equals In The Game

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Hermione Granger used to love Hogwarts. Used to. 

Once upon a time, she had been happy at the British Wizarding School. Harry and Ron were there, it was relatively close to home, and her favourite professors were there. Of course, that had been a while ago.

When her parents decided it was time for them to move to France to take care of her Great Aunt Adele, Hogwarts wasn’t where she was happy anymore. Professor McGonagall had ensured that Hermione would be able to enroll at Beauxbatons upon her arrival, and once all of the paperwork had been completed, she had been happy here. She still is happy here. 

Especially happy now that she gets to spread her wings a bit. 

The TriWizard Tournament, occurring this year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, has been drilled into their minds as the event of their lives. Madame Maxine has repeatedly emphasized the importance of the event and how imperative it is that Beauxbatons puts their best foot forward. 

In preparation for the event and traveling across the Channel, Madame Maxine established a connection between Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, the other school traveling to Hogwarts for the Tournament. By her reasoning, since the two schools are going somewhere far from home, the least they can do is establish relationships before the fact, in hopes that when they arrive, they’ll already be comfortable with each other.

Hermione has been writing with her pen-pal for weeks now. 

She never expected that a Durmstrang student could be so eloquent. Not to be rude, or anything, but that school is known for one thing, and it’s not academics. 

Never in her life has she been more excited to do anything other than meet her pen-pal. They’ve been under strict instructions to not divulge their identities, and she’s desperate to know who it is that is capable of making her feel such things.

His words have powers over her that she never thought a person would be able to possess. Hermione is not a weak witch, that much is true, but his words have her knees trembling and her legs ready to give out. 

She needs to meet him. Never has she felt more connected to a person. A person who she’s never even met before. A person who doesn’t know who she is. 

And to think… she’s going to meet him soon. 

But, that’s not the point of the Tournament. Reminding herself of that, she shrugs on her uniform and leaves her room, determined to make the most of her visit to Scotland.

-*-

Why Hermione thought that Hogwarts would be different, she doesn’t know. It is exactly the same as it was when she left all those years ago. The halls are the same, the teachings are the same, and the faces, for the most part, are the same. She’s noticed a few differences, but they’re all so minute that they don’t have much of an impact. 

The main difference is the Great Hall. It’s been changed, reworked so that all of the students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang can have places to sit and eat. And of course, the placement of the Goblet of Fire at the center of the hall has made an impact. 

The Goblet looms over them menacingly, as if it is the master of the strings of fate. 

Hermione was the second person to put her name in from her school. Originally, she hadn’t wanted to, had decided that it didn’t make sense to put herself in harm’s way all for the chance at theoretical glory. But Madame Maxine had spoken to her the night before the Goblet was opened and told her what good her tenure as a champion would bring.

The Muggleborn. Brightest Witch of Your Age. A Gryffindor not representing Hogwarts. 

It would show them the way the world could be, Miss Granger. 

She didn’t care about winning— doesn’t care about winning, but something about being able to change the still-very-prejudiced Wizarding World set something alight in her soul. Not to mention, at the very least, participating in the Tournament would provide her with a new sense of education that she wouldn’t be able to attain by simply reading about the Tournament or observing it otherwise. 

Does she want to be selected as the champion for Beauxbatons? No, not particularly. Fear still has a bit of a stronghold on her mind. Would she turn down the opportunity if she is chosen? Absolutely not. She may have fear in her mind but her heart is filled with courage. 

A Gryffindor at heart. Once one, always one. 

Today, though, she is not a Gryffindor anymore. Not as she stands outside of the Great Hall, preparing to make her entrance with her school. They always go everywhere as groups, especially surrounding important events. Important events such as the choosing of the champions, which is set to occur in ten minutes, if her watch is accurate. 

Suddenly, Madame Maxine steps to the front of the girls in blue, her face set into an expression of confident arrogance, one of determination. At that, Hermione knows it is time for them to once again grace the hall that used to house laughter and joy amongst her former housemates. Their fate is in the hands of the Goblet of Fire. 

Her mind lingers on that thought, on the existence of her fate in the hands of the chalice until the doors to the hall open again, a swath of individuals in red fur cloaks. 

Her eyes immediately catch on an individual who is eerily familiar.

Hermione Granger hasn’t seen Draco Malfoy since second year. Since the last day of second year, to be precise.

It was her last day at Hogwarts. Apparently, it may also have been his as well. For now, he’s walking down the center aisle of the Great Hall, his blond head held high and his pointy nose in the air, his red cloak flowing behind him and almost drowning him in the sea of other students. 

She had no idea that he had left Hogwarts. Had almost forgotten about him, honestly.

But seeing him now, for some reason, the thought of him sticks in her mind, an inkling of something that she can’t let go of. 

The sight of him sticks in the back of her brain even as the Headmasters begin to speak before pulling from the Goblet. Hermione can’t say who is chosen as the Hogwarts Champion. Honestly, she isn’t quite sure that it matters. She doesn’t even hear as Madame Maxine speaks before drawing a blue piece of parchment and exclaiming a name. 

Until there are hands on her arms and the ringing sound of applause in her ears, she doesn’t know what has happened. Once she realizes, though, she stands, drawing her eyes from the red cloaks she’s been unable to look away from as she crosses towards the room where the Champions are sent. 

The Champions.

She’s a Champion.

A Muggleborn TriWizard Champion. 

Her shock at seeing Malfoy has to fade to the back burner. She has to prioritize herself and her safety, needs to start planning. She should probably go to the library—

Once more, her thoughts are interrupted as a booming baritone voice shudders through her. 

“And the Durmstrang Champion is… Draco Malfoy!

All Hermione can do is keep her head up as she crosses into the Champion Room.

-*-

Madame Maxine is standing behind her. Igor Karkaroff is standing behind him. Dumbledore is standing behind the Hogwarts Champion, a Hufflepuff boy who Hermione has never seen before. She doesn’t even know his name.

“This won’t bode well with the public,” Barty Crouch Jr. quickly blurts, pacing around the room. “They’ll think the Goblet was interfered with, what with choosing three champions who all attended Hogwarts at one time or another. The other Ministries will accuse the British Ministry of illegal activity.”

Dumbledore steps forward and crosses to the Ministry representative as Professor Sprout takes his place behind the Hufflepuff boy. “Everyone in this room knows there was no foul play involved in the choosing of these champions, Barty. And besides, just because Mr Malfoy and Miss Granger were once Hogwarts students doesn’t mean they still are. I’m sure that they would both take offense to you reducing them to nothing other than their first two years of magical schooling.”

“Couldn’t zwe just pull again from ze Goblet if it is so much of an issue?” the French Headmistress suggests, squeezing Hermione’s shoulder in reassurance. 

Karkaroff’s eyes and snarl are on Hermione’s mentor not a second later. “The Goblet has decided,” he barks, menace dripping from his tone. “If you were to change it now, you’d be breaking international Wizarding Law.”

“You’ve never had a problem with zhat, Igor,” Madame Maxine fights back, squaring her shoulders at the man. 

It’s unintentional, but Hermione finds that she has turned towards him too. Not just him, though. He’s still standing behind— behind— behind… his Champion, which means turning towards Karkaroff means also turning towards…

Striking grey eyes are on hers almost immediately. As if burned by a flame, the former-Gryffindor turns away, focusing her gaze back on the two men in front of them.

“Igor’s right, Maxine,” Dumbledore appeases. “We’ll just have to continue as it is. Barty, we can discuss later what to do about the backlash. The Champions need their time.”

Their… time?

The speed at which the Ministry official leaves the room, followed shortly thereafter by Dumbledore and the other mentors, is astonishing. But Hermione doesn’t want her Headmistress to leave. Because, from the looks of it, they’re leaving them alone. She doesn’t want to be left alone with Malfoy and no-name Hufflepuff boy— she can’t be left alone with them.

Ah yes, Malfoy. We haven’t seen each other since we were thirteen. When you wanted me paralyzed by the basilisk. 

An average, normal conversation. 

“Madame,” Hermione hushes, grabbing her mentor’s arm and stopping her in her tracks. “Où est-ce que tu vas?

Untangling her arm from the girl’s grasp, Madame Maxine places her hand on Hermione’s shoulder. “To give you time to get to know the other champions, ma chérie. 

“But—“

Hermione’s fight dies on her tongue, the Headmistress quickly gliding from the room and closing the door with a thud. She knows what will come next, knows that she should turn around and just get it over with, but she can’t.

Because she knows that, behind her, Draco Malfoy exists. In the same room. In Durmstrang robes, no less. 

She never thought she’d see him in red. 

Taking a deep breath in and working up the courage, she turns around, exhaling as she takes in the sight of Malfoy and the Hufflepuff boy, both still sitting in their chairs.

“Well…” she hesitantly begins, crossing her arms over her chest, “we’re supposed to use this time to—“

“To get to know each other,” Malfoy rebuts, standing to sneer at her. “Yes, Granger, we know. We heard your Headmistress.”

She wasn’t quite able to get a good look at him in the dining hall, but from up close it is apparent: Malfoy is no longer the gangly thirteen-year-old she last saw him existing as. He’s tall now, so tall that he towers over her, and draped in swaths of red, he’s imposing.

She has half a mind to be frightened.

But then she remembers where they are. What has happened. They’re both TriWizard Champions. Equals in this game. 

She’s not frightened of him.

“I’m Hermione Granger,” she decides to say, turning to the Hufflepuff boy— also now standing— and offering him her hand. “Seventh-year Beauxbatons student. And you are?”

“I know who you are, Hermione,” the boy sheepishly replies, his face redder than a tomato. “It’s me, Ernie Macmillan. We went to school together before you moved.”

Embarrassment floods through her, but she has the common sense to not let it show. She can’t give Malfoy something to use on her. 

“I’m sorry, Ernie. I don’t remember much about my time here.”

A tsk from behind her startles her. Turning to the person she knows it emanated from, tension fills her body. How dare he tsk her? Was it not enough to have tormented her for the only two years they spent together? Must he continue to do so now, all these years later?

If he really wanted to one-up you, he would do it in the Tournament. Where it matters.

“Is there an issue, Malfoy?” she asks, allowing the slightest bit of animosity to slip into her tone as her hands cross her chest once more. “Something you’d like to share with us, perhaps?”

Shaking his head ever-so-elegantly, the devious smirk upon his lips is enough to make her want to slap it off of him. “No issue and nothing to share, Granger. I appreciate your concern, though.”

Oh the bastard—

As if the universe is out to spite her, her thoughts are once again interrupted by the sight of Ernie walking past them on what seems to be a path towards the door. 

Stepping towards him, Hermione fills with confusion. “Ernie, where are you going?”

He stops and turns to look at the other Champions. “Professor Sprout told me that we only were required to spend five minutes together. It’s been five minutes so I’m leaving.”

At that, he turns and strides out of the room, not stopping for anything, even as Hermione stands there and splutters. She doubts this is what’s supposed to happen, knows that Madame Maxine—

Her eyes widen as she takes in Malfoy, who is doing much of the same.

“And where do you think you’re going?” she shrieks, her voice the most shrill she’s heard it in years. 

Catching the roll of his eyes as he turns back to her he fixes her with a look of disgust before turning it into a mocking smile. “As much as I’d love to spend the rest of my evening with you, Granger, I have things to do. If Macmillan’s gone, so am I.”

“The Headmasters are going to be cross with us!”

“Does it look like I care?”

No, it does not look like he cares. It looks like he’s an obnoxious prick whose personality hasn’t changed once in five years and who still thinks that he’s the center—

He’s gone. The bastard.

Resigning herself to her fate, Hermione realizes there’s not much else she can do now. Except for study.

She’s determined to crush him.

-*-

Hermione has come to the conclusion that the glamorization of the Tournament is disgusting. Not only is it a task in which she and the other Champions could lose their lives, but it’s also extremely overrated. Three schools coming together when they have nothing in common other than the fact that they’re located in Europe and they teach magic to young witches and wizards? What could go wrong!

When she finds herself too stressed out by her research for the first task, she looks back on the letters from her mysterious Durmstrang pen-pal. Last night, she took the time before bed to imbibe some spiked pumpkin juice that one of the other girls in her year created while looking at them.

It all started amicably enough. 

Questions about school. What classes she liked. If she was looking forward to the Tournament. If she’s ever been to the UK before.

For weeks, it went on like this, small talk upon small talk upon small talk. They’d catch each other up on situations they talked about in their previous correspondences. They’d write inches upon inches of parchment about books they liked. 

But one day, she had received a letter from him when she wasn’t supposed to. Madame Maxine and Headmaster Karkaroff had established a schedule for the letters. Every Friday, they’d receive a new one, and had until Monday night to pen their response. So when she received a letter on a Wednesday night, she knew something was awry.

I have a feeling they read our letters, he had begun. 

That’s why I’m sending this now. They don’t get to read this. This is for you and you only, ma cherié. Yes, that’s right, I’m showing off my French.

Why do I feel as if there’s something lying underneath the surface of our letters? Why can I write to you for hours and hours on end yet barely write what I need to in order to pass my classes? You effervescently occupy my thoughts. 

I hate that we read the same books. I hate that we know them well enough to argue about them for inches and inches of parchment. Yet, I don’t hate it at all. In all honesty, it’s quite comforting.

I need to meet you. There’s no universe in which a witch can enchant my mind like this and I can’t meet her. 

When we finally get to meet in Scotland, I’d like to take you to a bookstore. There’s one just outside of the grounds— I found it in one of my visits there. There are a few titles I’m dying for you to read. They’ll be on me, my treat. Of course, that will only happen after we venture to the best tea shoppe in the entirety of Europe. 

I’m sorry to write you out of the blue, but I knew that if I didn’t write this when I did, I never would. I want to read with you. And other things, if you’d be amicable. 

You’re written in the pages of my story, I just know it.

Until we meet again x

She hadn’t known how to respond at the time, and wasn’t sure if she would get in trouble for doing so, so all she could muster was one line, a simple:

I would love to see this bookstore you speak of.

Of course, she hadn’t said it in her response, but she knew what establishments he was referencing. Tomes and Scrolls is the bookstore in Hogsmeade, which must have been the area he was referencing. As for tea, Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shoppe was always the talk of the town when she was at Hogwarts. Upper-level students would always take others there on dates. 

By this logic, her anonymous pen-pal was asking her on a date. 

Their correspondences became ever more flirtatious as time went on. She had never met the wizard and yet he made her feel such a whirlwind of emotions with his words. If her life was a romance novel, she would say with full certainty that she had fallen for this mystery man.

When she had returned to the letters again last night, she had read the ones where he had complimented her. He told her how brilliant her mind was, how powerful of a witch he knows she is. When she had felt like the world was crumbling around her, she drew strength from his words, accepting them as truth.

Today, she’s supposed to meet him. She knew this day would come, that it was the whole reason the program was put into place at all, but now that the day is here, she finds herself filled with anxiety. This man has been praising her as more than the Queen of England for weeks on end. 

What if he doesn’t like her? What if they’re not as compatible as their letters have made them seem to be? What if he thinks she’s ugly or that she talks too much or that she’s too much of a swot?

Taking a deep breath, Hermione reminds herself who she is. She’s not just a nobody. She is Hermione fucking Granger, TriWizard Champion, representing l’Académie de Magie Beauxbâtons, former Gryffindor, and Brightest Witch of Her Age. Yeah, she might talk about books a lot, and she might be a bit of a swot, but that doesn’t take away from everything else she has to offer. And those two things, plus all of her “flaws” are what she has to offer. They are her.

And if he wants to fancy her, then he’ll have to fancy all of her. 

Madame Maxine has essentially commandeered the entire castle for the event of revealing their pen-pals. It’s why Hermione is currently in her old Transfiguration classroom, standing in front of Professor McGonagall’s desk and anxiously playing with her fingers as her eyes stayed glued to the door. Her Headmistress assigned each of them to a different room in the castle and instructed them to wait ten minutes until their pen-pals would join them. 

It’s already been ten minutes. Hermione’s heart is beating like rapid-fire in her chest. Her palms are sweaty, her breathing is shallow, and her mind just won’t shut up. It’s suggesting the most offhand things, simultaneously telling her that the wizard she’s about to meet hates her guts but that he’ll kiss her by the end of their time together today.

She’s about ready to give up and leave the classroom when she spots the handle turning from across the room.

He’s here. She’s finally going to be able to discover who it is that makes her feel so godlike, so worthy of everything good.

When her amber eyes meet striking grey ones, she almost hurls. When those grey eyes are surrounded by a red cloak and bright blond hair, she almost passes out.

No. This is not possible.

Surely the world isn’t cruel enough to make both of them Champions and now… this. Surely he has the wrong room, or maybe she does, or—

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”

He says it before she can, the door handle still covered by his palm. His face is soured, his eyebrows are furrowed in anger, and his lips are pressed into the sneer that she’s practically memorized thanks to how often she saw it all those years ago.

While she wants nothing more than to get out of this room and as far away from him as possible, she stalls, an idea alighting her mind in possibility. Retribution.

“What’s wrong, Malfoy?” she demurely purrs. “Surprised that you insinuated you wanted to go on a date with a mudblood? Afraid of what Mummy and Daddy are going to say?”

“Fuck you, Granger.”

With a smirk, she pushes further. “That would be what you alluded to doing in all of your letters. 

Malfoy does something she doesn’t expect him to do just then. He closes the door, the anger in his eyes replacing itself with something akin to cunning. When he takes a step towards her, she has the common sense to take a step backwards, but instead, she finds herself taking a step towards him. 

She’s teased enough. It’s high time she gets out of here and gets back to her research for the first task.

“What do you think you’re doing, Granger?” he lilts, prompting her to stop in her tracks and turn to take him in. “You think that you can just leave now that you’ve started this?”

Crossing her arms over her chest, she regards him. “There’s no this to have started, Malfoy. You and I both know what’s going to happen next.”

With a devious smirk, he tuts. “And what would that be? I’m afraid I’m still in the dark a bit on this agenda you seemed to have forgotten to inform me of.”

Hermione sighs loudly. “You and I both know that I’m going to walk out of this room and go off to finish my research for the first task. You’re going to go off and find your mates or whoever and probably get pissed. We will both never acknowledge this or the letters we sent as part of our Headmasters’ oh-so brilliant program and go on to compete against each other in the Tournament.”

A look akin to panic flashes through his eyes. The witch can’t help but be curious about it as she watches him hide it. 

“Are you sure about that?” he questions, his snarky tone returning and shoving all thoughts of his panic from the ex-Gryffindor’s mind. “I’m pretty sure I asked you to go to Madam Puddifoot’s with me.”

She laughs outright. “You’re mad if you think I’m going to Madam Puddifoot’s with you.”

And then he’s closing the space between them, pushing her back up against the door, his large frame overshadowing hers. “What happened to everything you wrote in those letters? Nobody has ever made me feel like this before. What did you put in these words you use? I swear they’re enchanting me. You can’t tell me you’re willing to just give that up, are you, Granger?”

She didn’t think her taunting would actually end up with them here, in this situation. Hermione knows she should run, knows she shouldn’t want this, but for some reason, she’s curious. She wonders. 

If fate has pushed them together this many times, maybe there’s a reason for it. 

She knows what she felt from their correspondences. She knows the words he used for her. She knows that whatever was shared between them in their letters is real, even if it’s shrouded underneath layers of rivalry and hatred.

Without giving it a second thought, she grinds down on the knee in between her own and captures his lips with hers. 

Her eyes may be closed, but Hermione sees his reaction in her mind. As she feels his hands grip her waist and pull her down onto his thigh, she can see his expression in her mind, his body melting into hers as they both make the decision to ignore their consciences and do something they shouldn’t.

Hands in his hair, she breaks from his lips to gasp, the tiniest of sounds emanating from her throat as her clit brushes against the seam of his trousers. His lips attach themselves to her neck, peppering kisses up and down her throat and painting her skin with bruises until he eventually captures her lips again.

When his tongue slides into her mouth and begins to create the most beautiful dance with her own, she allows her hands to slide down to his cloak and begin to undo it.

Before they can get much further, his voice is in her ear, breathy, full of need. “What the fuck are we doing, Granger?”

She pulls back from him immediately, ceasing her ministrations on his thigh as she finds his eyes. “Are you— do you not— Do you not want to do this?”

With a dark chuckle and a tinge of adoration in his gaze, he shakes his head. “I’m only making sure you want to.”

A whine escapes her mouth as his hands bring her down to his thigh again. Breathing heavily, she quickly makes her stance known. “Yes,” she breathily whispers, the sound of it barely audible. 

Placing a quick peck on her lips, he questions her. “What was that? I couldn’t quite hear you, mademoiselle.

“Fuck,” she mewls, her hips continuing their dance against him. “Yes, yes, please, yes.”

His tongue delves into her mouth once more as he shrugs off his cloak, his hands quickly fastening themselves to her robes to undo them as she rides his thigh without abandon. “You’re so fucking pretty like this, Granger. I wonder how much more beautiful you’ll be with my cock stuffed inside of you.”

A moan leaves her lips as a small swell of pleasure swirls through her body. Her lips slant themselves against his, quieting his questions as her hands fly to help his with undoing her robes. It isn’t long until her outer robe is on the floor, the blue hue of it stark against the red of his. 

Malfoy’s hands pick her up off of his thigh not a second later, his hips pressing up against her own, his desire pressed against her belly. While his hands work to tuck her skirt into its waistband, her hands fly to his trousers, palming him through the fabric before undoing them and pulling his cock free.

The warmth and weight of it in her hand is alluring as she begins to work him over. His forehead falls to her shoulders, a groan leaving his lips. 

“You’re good at this, Granger.”

“You’re not half bad yourself, Malfoy. Though I do have to say, there’s something else I’d much rather be doing right now than talking.”

With the smallest of growls, his hands migrate to her waist and pick her up. Her legs instinctively close around his hips as her lips find his again, her hands working through his hair. When she’s pressed back up against the wall once more, Malfoy reaches down between them, his thumb gently circling her clit as a finger dips within her.

Her walls clench down on him almost immediately.

When his fingers recede to align his cock at her center, grey eyes find amber ones once more. “Are you sure you want this, Granger?”

With a smirk, she adjusts her hips so that the tip of him is just seated inside. “If I didn’t, I would’ve hexed you by now.”

Connecting their lips again, they both allow a noise to erupt at the back of their throats as he fills her to the brim, fully seated inside of her for the first time

Hermione doesn’t believe in God, but in that moment, she does believe in something. There’s no way this can feel so right but not be what is supposed to happen in their lives.

Pulling out, he slowly pushes back in, his pelvis brushing just against her clit as he does so. She shudders at the contact, arching against him as his lips move against her ear, muttering things so filthy that she can’t help but shiver at them.

“Look at you taking my cock so well.

“You’re so fucking tight, Granger.

“Fuck, I never thought this would actually happen. Never thought you’d let me within five feet of you, let alone inside of you.

“I’m going to ruin you for anyone else. Merlin knows you’ve ruined me.

“I’m still going to take you to that bookstore, you know. Whether you like it or not, you agreed to a day in Hogsmeade with me.

Hermione’s head is thrown back against the door behind her at that last one, the implications of it setting her soul ablaze as he picks up speed, hitting just the right spot inside of her until—

She breaks into a million pieces, careening over the edge into unimaginable bliss as he tethers her to the present, holding her together. He follows her a few minutes later, stilling inside her, his face against her neck, his lips still painting the gentlest of kisses against her skin.

She knows it is wrong, but for some reason, she finds that she doesn’t want to leave this moment.

Until he pulls out and away from her, fixing her skirt and handing her her cloak. And the real world comes crashing back in.

With a flush on her face, she quickly fixes herself, casting a wandless and nonverbal contraception charm and fixing her hair. 

His voice breaks through her routine, stark against the otherwise silence of the room. 

“You sure you still don’t want to go to Madam Puddifoot’s with me, Granger?”

Oh fuck him. 

Well… she just had. 

Hermione won’t let him uneven the playing field as easy as that. They’re TriWizard Champions, whether they want to be or not. They’re equals in this game, no matter what has happened between them. She’s determined to remind him of that fact.

“In your dreams, Malfoy.”