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Table of Contents:
(Updated as new chapters are added; first chapter below.)

Multi-chaptered Series

5 | Bachelorette, Pt. I of V, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
7 | Bachelorette, Pt. II of V, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
9 | Bachelorette, Pt. III of V, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
12 | Bachelorette, Pt. IV of V, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
13 | Bachelorette, Pt. V of V, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
21 | Reunion, Pt. I of IV, Ensemble Pairings (Dramione, Ronsy, Blinny, Nottgrass, Pottgood)
24 | Reunion, Pt. II of IV, Ensemble Pairings (Dramione, Ronsy, Blinny, Nottgrass, Pottgood)
25 | Reunion, Pt. III of IV, Ensemble Pairings (Dramione, Ronsy, Blinny, Nottgrass, Pottgood)
73 | Reunion, Pt. IV of IV, Ensemble Pairings (Dramione, Ronsy, Blinny, Nottgrass, Pottgood)
18 | Marauders Doing Everyday Things, Ep. I (Marauders)
20 | Drunk Epilogue Rewrite (Canon pairings)
29 | Drunk Rewrite, Pt II: The Forest Again (Canon pairings)
35 - 59 | The Real World: Hogwarts, Ensemble Pairings
65 | Drunk History: The Voldemort Wars, Part I (No pairing)
68 | Drunk History: The Voldemort Wars, Part II (No pairing)
76 - 95 | The Real World: Ministry of Magic, Ensemble Pairings
108 - 131 | Felicitous Tidings from the Nouveau Riche, Ensemble Pairings

Dramione one shots

2 | Mousetrap, Pt. I of II, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
3 | Mousetrap, Pt. II of II, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
4 | Reparations, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
11 | Wedding Dates, [background pairing] Pottgrass / Ronsy (Harry x Daphne, Ron x Pansy)
19 | Below the Surface, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
27 | How to Lose Her, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
28 | Ride or Die*, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
60 | Correspondence, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
63 | Pirate Queen, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
64 | Better If You Run [background pairing] (Theo x Harry)
66 | Paradox¹, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
69 | Rook [background pairing] (Theo x Daphne)
72 | Valour, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
96 | A Gentleman's Guide to Incandescence, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
100 | The Commoner's Guide to Bedding a Royal², Dramione(Draco x Hermione)
101 | Reverie, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
107 | A Hive of Scum and Villainy, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
132 | A Matter of Practicality, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
146 | Dearly Departed, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
148 | A Little Twisted, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
151 | Never Tell Me the Odds, Dramione (Draco x Hermione), Nottpott (Theo x Harry)
152 | The New Royal's Guide to Bearing Princes, Dramione (Draco x Hermione), Nottgrass (Theo x Daphne), Hansy (Harry x Pansy)
154 | Disenchanted, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
156 | The Pretense of Civility, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
160 | In Harmonia Progressio, Dramione (Draco x Hermione), Nottpott (Theo x Harry)
162 | Masters of Ink, Dramione (Draco x Hermione), Nottpott (Theo x Harry)
167 | Forget to Forget, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
169 | Once Upon a Dream, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
170 | Run the Gauntlet, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)

Mixed Pairing one shots

6 | Toothbrush, Hinny (Harry x Ginny)
11 | Wedding Dates, Pottgrass / Ronsy (Harry x Daphne, Ron x Pansy)
16 | American Boys, Theomione (Theo x Hermione)
14 | Locker Room, Viktevra (Ginny x Krum)
22 | Chaotic Good**, Hansy (Harry x Pansy)
23 | Happenstance, Tomione (Tom x Hermione)
26 | Chimera, Sevmione (Severus x Hermione)
32 | Three Wishes, Krumione (Viktor x Hermione)
33 | Better, Parkweasel (Percy x Pansy)
34 | The Fairer Sex, Hidden Pairing
61 | Movements, Black Pansy (Sirius x Pansy)
62 | The List, Pottgrass (Harry x Daphne)
64 | Better If You Run, Nottpott (Theo x Harry)
67 | Battle of the Bands, Lucissa (Lucius x Narcissa), Mulcibery (Darian x Caleb), Wolfstar (Sirius x Remus), Jily (James x Lily), Tedromeda (Ted x Andromeda)
69 | Rook, Nottgrass (Theo x Daphne)
70 | Wonderland, Tomcissa (Tom x Narcissa)
71 | Beast, Jily (James x Lily), Wolfstar (Sirius x Remus)
74 | S.P.E.W., Themione friendship (platonic Theo x Hermione)
75 | Vive le Tour, Mulcibery (Darian x Caleb), Nottpott (Theo x Harry)
97 | Survival Techniques, Parkweasel (Pansy x Percy), Nottgrass (Theo x Daphne)
98 | Things About You, Nottgrass (Theo x Daphne)
99 | Death Wish, Nottpott (Theo x Harry)
102 | Convenient Ways to Kill a Man, hidden pairing
103 | Primo, Nottpott (Theo x Harry)
104-106 | Rebel North, Jily (James x Lily)
133 | Black Jeans and Daphne Blue, Nottgrass (Theo x Daphne)
145 | Le Vélo Pour Deux, Mulcibery (Darian x Caleb), Nottpott (Theo x Harry)
147 | It Could Burn Out, Nottpott (Theo x Harry)
149 | Work Out, Parkweasel (Pansy x Percy)
150 | Something Big, Dransy (Draco x Pansy)
151 | Never Tell Me the Odds, Dramione (Draco x Hermione), Nottpott (Theo x Harry)
152 | The New Royal's Guide to Bearing Princes, Dramione (Draco x Hermione), Nottgrass (Theo x Daphne), Hansy (Harry x Pansy)
153 | Sweet Talk, Nottgrass (Theo x Daphne)
155 | Forgive Me, Father, Parkweasel (Pansy x Percy)
157 | Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life, Blaise x Parvati
158 | Prophecy, Nottpott (Theo x Harry)
159 | With Love and Admiration, Ronsy (Ron x Pansy)
160 | In Harmonia Progressio, Dramione (Draco x Hermione), Nottpott (Theo x Harry)
161 | Where You At, Parkgrass (Pansy x Daphne)
162 | Masters of Ink, Dramione (Draco x Hermione), Nottpott (Theo x Harry)
163 | I'll Tell You How the Sun Rose (Blaise x Neville)
164 | Maniac, Hansy (Harry x Pansy)
165 | Could've Been Worse, Bill x Hermione
166 | The Bromance Book Club, Flintwood (Marcus x Oliver)
168 | Ready, Aim, Fire, Nottpott (Theo x Harry)

This World or Any Other Storyverse (Clean/Marked/Youth)

1 | Moves, Nottgrass (Theo x Daphne)
8 | The Story, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
10 | Epilogue, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)

Stories that have been moved to Draught of Living Death:

15 | Not With a Bang (hidden pairing)
17 | 100 Days, Dramione (Draco x Hermione)
30 | Perchance to Dream, Pottgrass (Harry x Daphne)
31 | Birds, Regulene (Regulus x Marlene)

* Now a complete multi-chaptered fic: Ride or Die
** Now a complete multi-chaptered fic: Nobility
¹ Now a complete multi-chaptered fic: Paradox
² Now a complete multi-chaptered fic: The Commoner's Guide to Bedding a Royal


Pairing: Nottgrass (Theo x Daphne)

Universe: This World or Any Other storyverse (Clean/Marked)

Rating: M for sexual content, language

Summary: Daphne Greengrass is tired of being put on a pedestal. Enter Theo Nott.

This was not the best party Daphne had ever been to. Not the worst, either, but certainly leaning more towards that end of the spectrum. She had fervently hoped that coming of age and entering the social scene would be a little more exciting, but really, it was more of the same. The only difference was that now, she had to be there, smiling politely while her parents discussed her pedigree, offering her up to the rich and inbred like she was some kind of prized livestock. It was exhausting.

Top of her house, you know.

Not true. Pansy's grades were better.

She would have been a shoo-in for prefect if not for ridiculous politics.

If you consider "having less merit than other possible options" to be politics, then yes.

Comes from beautiful stock, as you can see.

She half expected her father to strip her naked and gesture enthusiastically to her breasts and thighs. It was only a matter of time.

She sighed, growing bored with her surroundings. It was still fairly early in the night, so she had a considerably long time to waste; unfortunately, Pansy wasn't there, and Astoria was still too young for these things, so Daphne was left to her own devices.

She looked around the room, admiring the ceiling of Narcissa Malfoy's charmed ballroom. It was a beautiful home. Unlikely to be hers, of course; not that she was all that unhappy about it. She'd held tight to her virginity until curiosity had gotten the better of her, and she thought she'd chosen well in Draco. They were highly compatible in looks, for one. There was no denying he was exceedingly handsome, and he was only improving over time. He would have been an ideal match in every way her parents considered important - wealthy, well-bred, well-mannered - and not exactly a worst case scenario as far as Daphne was concerned. Smart, attractive - and the sex hadn't been unpleasant, per se. She just wanted someone who was going to be a little more in love with her than they were with themselves.

So Draco was out.

They agreed to keep their single tryst between them, and she hadn't done anything with anyone else since then. Not that she'd really felt that compelled, if she were being honest. Her other options weren't exactly ideal, and she figured she could manage to wait until someone interesting came along. Everyone she knew at this point was either a moron, an outright snob, or they were constantly putting her on a pedestal. Either they advised her that she should bed them because of how impressive they were, or they insisted that she should love them without question because of their mindless devotion.

She wanted neither.

Was it so hard to just be genuine?

She looked around the room. Draco was there, but busy. Elsewhere. She didn't particularly care. Marcus Flint was there - again. Giving her eyes, of course.

She shifted away. No thank you.

She heard a small cough behind her, and then someone sidled up next to her.

"These things are fucking murder, aren't they?"

Daphne looked over to make eye contact with Theo Nott, whom she hadn't even noticed was at the party. Not that anyone ever seemed to notice Theo Nott. Certainly not Daphne. He wasn't particularly . . . well, notable, was he?

Well dressed, at least, she remarked internally, biting her lip appreciatively at his elegantly cut dress robes.

A shame he was so . . . what was a nice way to say it? Slender, she supposed.

"Could be better," she allowed, giving him a disinterested shrug.

"Here," he said, handing her a small flask.

"What's this?" she asked, wrinkling her nose.

"Firewhiskey," he replied. "You look like you need it. I nearly always do."

She pursed her lips, flashing him a look of haughty skepticism. "Really?" she asked drily. "So you're, what - a bad boy?"

"That's Draco's move," he corrected her, bringing the flask to his lips and tossing it back. "I'm actually wonderful."

"Draco's move, hm?" she murmured, fighting a smile. "Okay. So what's yours?"

"I don't need moves," he told her, giving her an impertinent smirk.

She let her eyes travel deliberately up and down his lithe frame, lingering on his narrow chest as he stretched out languidly, leaning casually against the wall.

"Actually, you kind of do," she said, lightly admonishing him in her most aristocratic tone.

To her surprise, he laughed.

"I might need them," he admitted. "But I suspect you've seen all the moves already, haven't you?"

"A few." She sighed, putting her hand out. "Fine. I'll have a drink."

"There you go," he said jovially, putting the flask in her hand and grinning at her as she took a sip, grimacing as it went down. "Daphne Greengrass, witch gone wild."

"Don't," she threatened, giving him a look. "This doesn't mean I like you."

"Oh, I know that," he agreed. "I mean, you do like me, but I would hardly consider this my primary evidence."

"I didn't realize you were collecting evidence," she remarked faintly, unimpressed.

Okay. A little impressed.

He looked around. "Walk with me," he suggested.


"You don't like to sit still," he said, shrugging.

She raised a perfectly arched brow. "Me specifically?" she asked dubiously. "I hardly think you'd know."

"Walk with me," he said again, more a recommendation than a request, "and I'll tell you how I know."

She rolled her eyes. "Fine," she conceded. "But only because there's nothing else to do."

"I can't imagine there would be a better reason," he said solemnly, moving to exit the ballroom. "Gardens?"

"This isn't some romantic walk," she warned, though she moved to follow. "Don't think you're going to get anywhere with me."

"It is already not a romantic walk by virtue of me being present," he informed her. "I'm not here for romance. Thoughtful intellectualism, though." He gestured wildly. "Boatloads."

"Sarcasm, you mean," she corrected him, feeling the breeze rustle through her auburn hair as they stepped outside. "Not a particularly high form of wit."

"You injure, Greengrass, really," he replied loftily.

Well. She could do worse for entertainment than sparring with Theo Nott, she supposed.

"So," she said. "What do you know about me?"

"Did you only come outside with me to talk about yourself?" he asked, taking another swig from his flask. "I thought you were raised better than that."

She glared at him. "Don't," she said again.

"How about a trade," he offered. "I'll tell you something that I know about you, and in return, you can tell me something you know about me."

"I don't know anything about you," she said, sniffing.

He nudged her slightly. "Same, then," he told her, adopting her arrogant tone.

"Fine." She stopped, turning to face him. "I know you're a too-clever prick with no moves."

"Ouch," he said, grinning again despite the slight. She was almost taken aback by how thick-skinned he was. "Okay. And you, Daphne Greengrass," he said, making good on his promise, "you have your best grades in the classes where we move around a lot. Herbology, Care of Magical Creatures - you know, that ilk. You don't like theory, because like I mentioned before, you don't like to sit still."

She felt her jaw drop - how did he know that? - but recovered quickly.

"Stalk much?" she managed arrogantly, pivoting to continue their walk. They were well into Narcissa's gardens now, and she could smell the gardenias.

"Your turn," he said with a shrug, and she looked at him in disbelief.

"Seriously?" she asked, and he gave her a curt nod. "Fine."

She paused for a moment, thinking about what she knew about him. Not much, really.

"Is it true your mother died when you were born?" she asked, and she saw him flinch.

"Ouch," he said again. "Heavy."

She offered him a half-hearted head tilt of apology. "I told you I don't know much," she reminded him.

"Fair," he pronounced. "Yes, that's true. And my very aged father, who saw nothing in me but the ghost of his beautiful dead wife" - his tone utterly reeked of bitterness and Daphne could tell this was a sensitive area for him - "never forgave me for it."

"Well, it's not like it was your fault," she said, slightly appalled.

Theo shrugged. "I'm not sure he would agree."

He'd been right. Too heavy.

"Your turn," she reminded him, and he exhaled slowly, nodding with relief.

"You bite your nails and then charm them to look like you don't," he said, and she instinctively reached out and grabbed his shoulder.

"How did you know that?" she demanded, fixing him with a sullen glare.

"You bite them in class when you're thinking, but obviously they're charmed," he said, grabbing her hand from his shoulder and waving it around in front of her. "This can't be what they really look like."

She ripped her hand from his grasp, hiding it behind her back. "Do you just stare at me all day?" she asked, indignant.

"I notice things," he replied evasively. "Your turn."

"You are extremely creepy," she said, pouting.

"Opinion, not fact," he said, shrugging dismissively. "Try again."

She huffed a little. "You - " she paused. "You swear a lot."

"A lot?" he echoed, feigning confusion. "Fuck, I hadn't noticed."

"Hilarious," she said, grimacing.

He smiled. He was sort of handsome when he smiled. His eyes were so green.

"I suppose that one can stand," he said, humming with thought as he considered his next observation. "Let's see." He perked up, thinking of something. "You never eat dessert at school, but you do have a stash of Fizzing Whizbees."

"Don't tell me you've been in my room!" she exclaimed, aghast.

"No, no," he said quickly. "Your mum sends them to you every month, and sometimes you have them in your schoolbag."

"They're really good!" she insisted, feeling her cheeks flush. "Better than treacle tart, in my opinion."

"They are good," he agreed. "I'm not judging you."

She squinted at him. He really wasn't, was he?

"Good," she said, nodding firmly.

Okay. He was more than sort of handsome, she supposed, looking at him again. Maybe it was just the moonlight or something.

"Your turn again," he said casually.

"Your eyes are green," she offered, trying to sound aloof and failing tragically. Her stomach flipped a little when he let his tongue trace over the smile on his lips.

"That's true," he said, sparing her the trauma of a sarcastic response.

"Your turn," she said, coughing a little as she ducked to hide her face. How embarrassing. She didn't know what had come over her.

"You're the most beautiful girl I've ever seen," he told her, not breaking eye contact.

Well, she'd certainly heard that one before. Many times. Because, of course, she was beautiful, and not in a subjective way, either. She was classically, proportionally, artistically beautiful; the architecture of her face was flawless. But there was something about the way it sounded when it was Theo Nott who said it. It was effortless. Factual. Not a trace of irony or ulterior motives. Just a small thing, some little observation that he'd thought about before. An easy, passing remark, like he knew she knew it - the same way he knew she liked Fizzing Whizbees - but wanted to tell her anyway.

"You've been wanting to tell me that all night," she said, hazarding a rather safe guess.

He shrugged. "Six years if we're doing the math, but who's counting?"

She smiled. It was her first real smile all night.

"You won't be able to trick me into anything with flattery, you know," she said, playfully tapping his arm.

"I don't have to," he said loftily. "Want to hear something else about you?"

"Sure," she said, suddenly conscious of his proximity to her. They had stopped walking several minutes ago and now stood face to face, alone in the garden.

His mouth twitched into a smirk. "You want to kiss me," he informed her.

"Big words from someone who hasn't even tried," she mocked, lifting her chin defiantly. She didn't want to give him the satisfaction of being right.

Though he was. Stupid Theo Nott.

"And deprive you of the honor?" he asked, catching her chin in his hand and running his thumb across her lower lip. "Never."

She could hear her blood rushing in her ears, felt her heart pounding in her chest. Stupid Theo Nott.

"Only if you want to," he whispered.

Strange, she thought. He meant it. He wasn't going to pressure her. That much was obvious, as she watched him swallow with difficulty.

Oh, hell. Why not.

She tentatively lifted her chin, touching her lips to his. It was gentle, soft, experimental - almost not a kiss at all. Almost nothing more than him being the air she breathed, her just beingthere, next to him, with him, touching him - a brush of curiosity, and then she pulled away.

"Is it my turn again?" she asked, dazed.

"I have no fucking idea," he mumbled incoherently, closing his eyes and touching his forehead to hers.

"Kiss me instead," she suggested, and he didn't hesitate.

His lips were soft but commanding and she could taste the firewhiskey on his breath, the spice of it filling her mouth in a way that stirred excitement she'd never felt before. His kiss was dizzying in the best of ways and when he let the tip of his tongue trace across her lip, she slid her tongue along his, inviting him. Coaxing him. His hands were on her waist and she slid them up along her gown, taking his hands and placing them over her breasts. He inhaled sharply against her mouth and she smiled in spite of herself.

Not always so confident, are we, Theo Nott?

"Come on," she whispered, pulling him a little bit further and stepping into the gazebo in the garden. She'd been here often enough to know her way around the Manor's manicured grounds, and while there was no chance of being seen among the gardenias, there was no reason to disregard romance entirely. This place was beautiful.

He pressed her against a pillar, moving to kiss her neck and she slid her hand against his stomach, starting to unbutton his shirt. He wasn't as muscular as Draco or some of her other suitors but he was firm and sturdy under her touch, and she felt his abs contract as she brought her fingers to the waistband of his trousers.

A little clever maneuvering from her quick fingers and she had his full length in her hand.

"Daphne," he hissed, gasping a little as she slid her palm against it. "Are you - "

"I'm sure," she told him, and she was. Quite sure.

He pulled her towards him, wrestling with her gown to bring his hands to her thighs, running them along her legs and then gently putting her against the low fencing, propping her up. She wrapped her long legs around him, giggling a little at his haste, tugging the hair at the back of his head to catch a glimpse of his green eyes, darkened with longing.

"Slow down," she told him, kissing him slowly, languorously. "Take your time."

He was a quick learner. He brought his hands up to the top of her gown, letting his thumbs trace the outline of her neckline and slipping them under the fabric, teasing her nipples as he bent to kiss her neck.

"Better?" he asked, and she nodded.

He let his mouth travel lower until he'd peeled the dress away from the top of her breast, taking her nipple in his mouth and flicking his tongue over it. She moaned a little at that, leaning back and pulling him towards her, returning her attention to her ministrations along his hardened length. In response, he bit down a little, sucking against her skin.

Who knew he had it in him?

His hands slipped back under her gown, pushing aside the lace of her underwear as he let his index finger circle her opening, teasing her. Torturing her.

"Faster than that," she gasped, leaning into his touch.

He grinned, taking her clit between his fingers and waiting for her tell-tale whimper.

"As the lady wishes," he murmured, lifting her gown up to her thighs and dropping to his knees.

His breath on her inner thighs brought her a mystifying elation that she'd never known and she gladly parted her legs, reaching down to take a tight handful of his thick, dark hair. He sunk his teeth into her thigh and she gasped, stumbling back against the railing as he roughly pushed her knees further apart, simultaneously bringing his mouth to her clit and slipping his finger inside her.

She let her head fall back, limp at the feel of his tongue against her, knowing her legs were shaking and wondering how much longer she could stand. There was a pulsing inside her that she hadn't known could exist; a tiny, mystifying ball of agonizing pleasure that nagged at her for escape.

"Theo," she said, raking her fingers through his hair. "Theo, I - "

He abruptly came to his feet, turning her around and keeping his hand against her, slipping his fingers inside her and then bringing them back to rub against her clit, his movements crude and rapid and anything but gentle.

"Yes," she managed. "There - like that - "

She leaned back into his chest, enjoying it. She wasn't a delicate flower, after all. She found she was quite enjoying him being a little rough with her.

"Your cock, Theo," she said, turning to mutter in his ear. "I want your cock."

"I'm not the only one with a filthy mouth," he mused, complying. Some readjustment on his part and then he was inside her, buried into her in a single thrust, his hand still relentless against her clit and she was speechless, so close to the edge she thought she might explode.

Was this how it was supposed to feel? She didn't know. She didn't care. Whatever this was, it was bliss. It was savage and wild and untamed bliss.

"There, yes - yes, yes - Theo, yes - "

He brought his free hand to her mouth and she bit down hard as she came, every muscle in her body suddenly finding release, shaking as she heard him stifle a groan into her hair, twitching against her and staggering forward, bracing them both with one arm against the pillar.

It took almost a full minute for even a partial recovery.

"We can't date, you know," she panted, still relying on him to remain upright.

"Oh I don't want to date," he said, gasping for breath. "Can you imagine, if I had to date you? Flowers and makeup sex and all that? Exhausting."

"Too much," she agreed, tipping her head back against him.

He kissed her slowly, sweetly.

"I realized there is one thing I don't know about you," he commented when they broke apart.

"I find that hard to believe," she remarked, rolling her eyes.

He chuckled against her skin. "Just one thing," he said, and she smiled.

"Go ahead," she murmured.

He shifted, wrapping his arms around her. "I don't know your move," he said regretfully.

"I don't need moves," she told him, and he laughed.

"No," he agreed, pressing his lips to her shoulder. "No, you certainly don't."

Chapter Text

Mousetrap, Part I

Pairing: Dramione (Draco x Hermione)

Universe: Post-Hogwarts, EWE

Rating: M for language, implied sex, implied masturbation

Summary: Based loosely on the plot of the movie "Sleeping With Other People." Hermione is dealing with her "love addiction" (read: pining) for Ron, who's long since moved on; Draco is sleeping with everything that moves. When they run into each other 6 years after the war, they both manage to find a little healing.

"Are you fucking kidding me, Draco?" Astoria shrieked, pointing her wand at him. "Affligo!"

He ducked her spell, lunging around a pillar. "Would you stop for a second, please?" he panted. "Just let me talk to you."

"What can you possibly say this time, Draco?" she said angrily, tossing another hex his way. "My best friend? My best friend?"

"I'd like to remind you once again that you agreed to this arrangement," he shouted, peeking around to see if she was listening and then narrowly missing a particularly vicious stinging jinx. "I told you I wasn't looking for a relationship, and you agreed - "

"Yeah, three months ago!" she yelled, blasting off a chunk of the pillar he hid behind. "I thought - "

"You thought what? That I'd change my mind?" he asked drily, darting away as the pillar started to crack and then leaping to duck behind a table. "Astoria, listen to me. I know you agreed to it because you thought it would make you sound, I don't know - hip and appealing - "

"Fuck you, Draco!"

" - but seriously, either you were never interested in a relationship to begin with and you just think we should be in one because of, I don't know, society, which is ridiculous - "


" - or, or, you thought I would change my mind, which makes you totally unrealistic," he concluded, putting his hands up. "Would you please just listen to me?" he begged. "You know, have an adult conversation with me?"

"Fine," she spat, and he poked his head out from behind the table, hands still raised.

"I'm sorry," he told her, and he was. Sort of. "But to be fair, I didn't know she was your best friend - "

Astoria raised her wand again. "What the fuck - "

"Stop, stop," he said hastily, motioning his desperate surrender. "Stop, just listen to me, would you?" At her silence, he frantically continued. "I didn't break any rules here, okay? I mean, I know you're unhappy that it was Tracey - "

"Don't say her fucking name," she snarled, her fingers white where she gripped her wand.

"Fine," he said hurriedly. "Fine. I know you're unhappy about who it was, but come on, Astoria. Be real for a minute. You were never serious about me," he reminded her. "You wanted to have fun and we are having fun. Lots of fun. You can't just change the rules just because you're upset."

"I didn't realize you'd need to have fun with other witches, too!" she exclaimed, her chest heaving.

"Look, the opportunity presented itself, and I went with it," he said, semi-regretfully. "I'm sorry, really, but listen. Don't pretend this is more than what it is, okay?" He looked meaningfully at her. "But regardless of our arrangement, you don't hold a candle to her, Astoria. She's got nothing on you."

Astoria sighed heavily, slowly calming down.

"I mean it," he said gently, beginning to crack a smile as he watched her lower her wand. "But look at it this way," he suggested. "Isn't this an excellent opportunity for you to, I don't know" - he shrugged, feigning innocence - "slip out of that dress and let me show you how sorry I am?"

A slow smile started to spread across her face and he relaxed, letting his arms fall to his side.

"Fuck you, Draco," she said sweetly, right before she hit him with a wrathful swarm of conjured bees.

"You look beautiful, Hermione," Cormac said fondly, reaching out to touch her wrist. "I can't believe it's already been three months."

"Yes," she said, shifting uncomfortably. "I can hardly believe it myself," she added faintly.

"Sorry, I interrupted you," he said jovially, turning briefly to gesture to the waiter. "Firewhiskey, please?"

"Right," she said hesitantly, once she'd regained his attention. "Yes, well. There's - " she bit her lip. "There's something I need to tell you."

"Something good, I hope," he said, flashing her his too-charming grin. "Worthy of the occasion?"

"Er," Hermione said, nervously letting her tongue drag across her lip. "Um. Maybe if you just let me get it out, all in one go?"

"Certainly," he said, reaching out for her hand. "Go ahead."

"We probably shouldn't, you know, hold hands," she said anxiously. "Just - just let me get through this."

He seemed to finally register that something was wrong.

"What is it?" he asked, his tone suspicious.

"Well," Hermione said, taking a deep breath. "It's been pointed out to me that I've been - well. Less than admirable," she confessed, struggling to get through the statement. "I think perhaps I need to tell you - " She paused.

"Tell me what?" he demanded, leaning forward. "What is it?"

"I'm so sorry, Cormac," she said, her cheeks flushing. "It's just that - it's just that I slept with someone else."

"Firewhiskey?" the waiter asked, suddenly appearing and setting a glass down in front of each of them. "Anything else?"

"You cheated on me?" Cormac repeated, and the waiter's face went pale.

"Nothing then, okay," he said, hastily exiting the conversation.

"Yes, and I'm so sorry," Hermione said, cringing. To be honest, she was rather relieved to have it out in the open. "Cormac, really, I mean it - I never meant to hurt you - "

"How many times?" he asked.

An odd question, in her estimation.

"Sixteen?" she hazarded, tilting her head to think. "More than a dozen, but less than twenty. I think," she added.

He gaped at her. "Sixteen people? Merlin, Hermione - "

"No, no," she said frantically. "Just - just one person, but, you know, sixteen times - "

"Who?" he demanded, bringing his fists down in a loud bang against the unsteady table. "Who was it?"

"Nobody," she said, biting her lip again. She couldn't name him. It would be in the papers if she did.

"Hermione - "

"I'm sorry!" she cried. "It's - it's like an addiction, okay? I'm trying to fix it - I'm trying to come clean to you so that I can do something about it - "

"An addiction?" he echoed, sneering. "Fuck, Hermione."

"It's real!" she squeaked. "I - I talked to a muggle therapist, and it's - it's called a love addiction, but - I think there's something to be done about it - "

"Oh fuck that, Hermione," he growled, throwing his napkin on the table in disgust. "You're not an addict."

She faltered. "But - "

"You're not an addict," he repeated, giving her a last look of revulsion. "You're just a whore."

He disapparated on the spot and she bent her head over her plate, sniffing quietly.

She pulled the galleon out of her pocket, tapping it with her wand.

"Hi," she wrote, though she didn't expect a response.

The coin glowed within a minute.

"Where are you?"

She let out a ragged exhalation, feeling the rush she always did when she heard from him. Every once in a blue moon.

"Come get me, Ron."

She waited.

"I'm with her right now. I'll be by your place after midnight."

She sighed shakily. Good enough.

Ginny slammed the small glass of firewhiskey on the table, making a face that was equal parts utter disgust and boundless ecstasy.

"I'm so glad you were able to come out tonight," she said, coughing and nudging Hermione. "I love that tiny baby but I swear, he's already a little shit - "

"How is James?" Hermione asked, daintily sipping her wine.

"He cries, he shits, he's the miracle of life," Ginny proclaimed, gesturing to the barkeep. "Another, please!"

"Slow down," Hermione said, laughing. "We have all night."

"Not true," Ginny grunted, sighing. "Harry's not exactly confident with handling James. He could send his stupid deer-faced Patronus in here at any moment - 'Ginny, he's crying, what now?'" she mimicked, and Hermione had to admit, it was a very solid impression.

"Could be worse," Hermione suggested, shrugging. "You could still be sleeping with your engaged ex-boyfriend."

"Hermione," Ginny said, aghast. "Not Ron again - "

"Just the one time," Hermione said, hanging her head. "But then I heard about the engagement, so, you know," she trailed off lamely.

"You know, he's my brother and I love him," Ginny reminded her, "but he's a real shit, and I'm getting pretty tired of keeping your secrets. I like Lavender," she added. "I mean, I'm sorry things didn't work out between you two, obviously, but - "

"It wasn't meant to be," Hermione concluded. "I know. I'm coming to terms with it."

"Are you?" Ginny asked skeptically, picking up the firewhiskey as it was set down in front of her. "Hold on." She vigorously knocked it back, then hiccuped. "What was I saying?"

"You were doubting me," Hermione said primly.

"Right," Ginny proclaimed. "I mean, have you tried getting back out there?"

"I'm not really into the idea of dating," Hermione said, wrinkling her nose. "Cormac calling me a whore was kind of a downer."

"I didn't say dating," Ginny corrected her. "What you should be doing is fucking."

"Ginny!" Hermione exclaimed.

"Oh, hush," Ginny said, frowning. She looked around the tavern. "Maybe there's someone in here you can fuck."

Hermione buried her face in her hands. "Ginevra Weasley Potter, will you please not do this right now - "

She looked up at the sound of Ginny's gasp.

"Look," Ginny said, pointing. "Look who it is! Perfect."

Hermione looked up to catch a glimpse of silvery blond hair, a bent head that was so pale it could almost be white from a distance.

"No," she grumbled, immediately turning away. "Absolutely not."

"It's Malfoy!" Ginny exclaimed, giggling. "Hermione. Hermione." She nudged the horrified brunette. "You should fuck him."

"Please stop," Hermione begged. "Please. I will do anything."

"Fuck him and I'll stop," Ginny said, grinning maniacally. "Please." She dramatically clasped her hands together, begging Hermione. "It would make my night, seriously - "

"He hates me," Hermione reminded her. "And you're drunk."

"Oh, too true," she agreed. "The drunk part. But we're older now," she said pointedly. "He's already spoken publicly about his change of heart about blood status, remember? And to be honest, I doubt he ever really hated you."

"He did," Hermione said grimly, frowning into her glass. "And more importantly, I hate him."

"Only your brain does," Ginny told her. "And your brain doesn't really need to be involved."


"Look at him, Hermione!" Ginny said longingly, practically drooling onto the bar. "I love Harry more than life itself but Merlin, what I would do to see what's under those robes, I swear - "

"I'm leaving," Hermione said abruptly, standing. "I can't be here, this is ridiculous - "

"That you, Granger?"

Oh, hell.

He was coming towards them, Theo Nott strutting smugly at his side.

"Well, well," Malfoy said, grinning at her. "Look who's out of the library."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "We're not at Hogwarts anymore, Malfoy," she said irritably. "And I was just leaving."

"You should stay," Theo advised. "Have a drink."

"Agreed," Ginny said, an obnoxious smile slapped across her face. "You need to stay. I can't entertain these two all by myself, you know," she added, lifting her left hand. "Seeing as I'm all wifed up."

"Same!" Theo exclaimed, lifting his own left hand. "Who?"

"Harry," Ginny said. "Of the Potter variety. You?"

"Daphne," Theo returned. "Of the Greengrass ilk."


"Yes, in fact. Twins. You?"

"Yes! Baby, just the one, but feels more like twelve - "

They were babbling together while Hermione pointedly avoided Malfoy's glance.

"Let me buy you a drink, Granger," he suggested, uncharacteristically polite.

"I can buy my own drinks, Malfoy," she insisted stubbornly.

"Fine," he pronounced. "Buy yourself a drink, Granger, and let's catch up."

"Since when do you want to 'catch up'?" she asked suspiciously, narrowing her eyes at him.

"Since my friend here started talking to your friend, and I've got nowhere else to be," he said, his stormy grey eyes dancing a little as he looked at her. "Come on. I won't bite."

"Maybe you should," Ginny interjected loudly, and she and Theo snorted with laughter.

Hermione sighed. "Fine," she conceded, taking a seat. "A drink. But no biting," she said firmly, and Ginny and Theo howled even louder.

"She hasn't changed a bit, has she?" Theo asked, and Ginny shook her head dramatically.

"Oh, a bit," she said. "Still pretty rigid, though."

"A shame," Theo proclaimed. He was clearly also very drunk.

Hermione rolled her eyes. What was it about new parents already trying to escape their spouses and children?

To her surprise, Malfoy also sighed impatiently. "Ignore him," he said briskly. "Come on. Let's sit over here."

"But - " Hermione sputtered. "I mean, I came here with Ginny - "

"She's in safer hands than you think," Malfoy told her. "Theo is madly in love with his wife, and just wants someone to go wild with him, I think." He grimaced. "Which won't be me."

"Why not?" Hermione asked, following him as he gestured to an open table. "Not interested in going wild?"

"I have work to do in the morning, Granger," Malfoy said irritably. "Important businessman and all that. Can't just frolic all the time."

"I'd heard that," she commented. "The businessman part. And other things about you," she added evasively.

"Good things?" he asked, his eyes laughing as he tipped his still relatively full tankard against his lips.

She shrugged. "Depends," she said impassively.

"On?" he prompted.

"Whether or not you consider the notches on your bedpost to be a good thing," she said, and he choked a little on his mead.

"Damn, Granger," he said, coughing. "Tough critic."

"Not going to deny it?" she asked pointedly, raising her brow.

"I'm sure some of it is overstated," he insisted innocently.

She smirked at him. "Some of it?"

"I mean, statistically speaking, there's got to be a margin of error," he said, flashing her the arrogant smile she remembered from her school days.

Funny. She didn't remember it affecting her this way before, she thought, shifting uncomfortably.

"Good for you, Malfoy," she managed faintly, taking a sip of her drink.

"What's new with you?" he asked. "Sex or otherwise."

"Otherwise," she determined. "I work for the ministry. Legal department."

"I'd heard," he commented. "Doing well."

Sort of.

"For the most part," she agreed, not really interested in sharing.

"Such a shame that things didn't work out with Weasley," Malfoy drawled, and she could see the laughter in his eyes that told her he was mocking her.

"Don't," she warned.

"Sorry, sorry," he said quickly, putting his hands up in mock surrender. "Seriously," he added, and he did look quite serious. "I'm glad you didn't end up with that twat. He was never good enough for you."

She put her glass down, stunned. "What?"

"Well he was a dumb little shit, wasn't he?" Malfoy said, smirking. "He'd have never been able to keep up with you."

"Not that that was the problem," she grumbled.

Malfoy seemed to catch something in either her tone or her expression.

"Not over it?" Malfoy asked gently.

The question was surprisingly inoffensive.

"It's not quite as over as you might think," she said quietly, and then immediately frowned, wondering what had possessed her to share that information with him.

This was Draco Malfoy, arsehole extraordinaire. She hadn't told anyone in the world besides Ginny about what had been going on with Ron. What on earth had come over her?

He was looking at her with blank confusion.

"He's engaged, isn't he?" he asked.

She grimaced. "His moral fiber is not quite as durable as you might think," she said glumly. "And neither is mine, as it turns out."

"Prick," Malfoy declared. "Idiot, too, if you ask me. I'd pick you over Lavender Brown any day of the week."

She didn't know whether to be suspicious of that statement or not.

"What?" she asked, blinking.

"Granger, don't overthink it," he advised, pushing her glass towards her. "Just have another drink."

With more ease than she would have expected, she unexpectedly complied.

"Are we friends now?" she asked, taking another bite of her salad.

"This is, what, the second weekday lunch?" he asked, thinking. "I assume so."

"If anyone asks, it happened against my will," she said, and he smiled.

"This is the thanks I get for letting you tell Weaslette that we made hot, passionate love to each other all night?" he asked her, his tone deceptively innocent.

"While I appreciate that very, very miniscule favor, I think my debt has been paid," she said, gesturing to the meal before them.

Draco had been doing his damndest to spend more time on quality relationships. Specifically, the non-sexual kind. He hadn't recovered all that well from the episode with Astoria - from a healing standpoint, that is; she was a very talented witch - and really, he couldn't afford to be stung by any more conjured bees, so sex was really off the table. And since his male friends were married and his female friends didn't exist, that didn't leave him a lot of options.

As it turned out, Granger's company wasn't half bad. They'd realized at the pub that as fully matured adults, they ended up having a fair amount in common, and he was more pleased than surprised when she'd invited him out for coffee. It seemed her friends, too, were not as available as she would have liked.

Marriage, babies. They were the only ones left without any obvious prospects, and even though it was largely by choice, it was still difficult to be the only ones falling behind. He made a point to never mock her for needing company.

"Maybe we should just have sex," he suggested, and she choked a little on her overlarge forkful of lettuce. "What could it hurt, really?"

"Haven't we already determined that we just ruin any relationship we have once it turns sexual?" she asked pointedly. "No. Thank you, but no."

"Harsh, Granger," he said, but he smiled. "Tough, though, you know. You've really pulled it together," he added, gesturing across the table at her overall appearance.

She rolled her eyes. "Stop."

"I mean it," he said. "Look at you. You look great."

Much to his disappointment, she remained regretfully unaffected by his flattery.

"You do too, but that's hardly the point," she reminded him, her tone so chastely academic that he couldn't even enjoy the compliment. "Don't even think about it."

"Don't think about sex?" he echoed, aghast. "Granger. I don't think you understand how impossible that is."

"Maybe we should come up with a code word," she suggested, taking a sip of gilly water. "You know. For if you're getting too . . . "

"Aroused?" he supplied, grinning.

She grimaced. "Yeah," she said, wrinkling her nose.

"Would you use it too?" he asked, genuinely curious. "The code word?"

She shrugged. "Maybe," she said indifferently. "Never know."

He smirked at her, feeling triumphant. "Like what you see, Granger?"

"You're exhausting," she retorted, rolling her eyes.

"See? There's innuendo there," he said, gesturing. "It's arousing. I'm aroused."

"Stop saying aroused, first of all," she pronounced bossily. "And secondly, we can think of a code word. Like, I don't know." She shrugged. "Treacle tart."

"Oof," he said, making a face. "All sweet and sticky? That's sexy. Too sexy."

She pretended to gag, and he laughed. "Fine," she said. "Devil's snare."

"Whoa!" he half-shouted, sitting back in his chair. "Sex. That has sex implied all over it."

"You're impossible," she said indignantly. "What do you suggest?"

"I don't know. Everything is sexy."

"Ugh." She paused. "Dick in a mousetrap."

"What?" he asked, alarmed. "What the fuck is a mousetrap?"

"It's a muggle contraption," she explained, putting her fork down and placing her hands together to mimic a snapping gesture. "To catch mice."

He pictured his dick in it and winced. "Fuck!" he exclaimed. "That is dark, Granger."

"Perfect," she declared. "You hate it, so mousetrap it is."

"You're really fucked up," he told her.

She smiled at him.

"Mousetrap," she said, shrugging, and then took an excessively large bite.

"I miss him," she admitted.

"Weasley?" Malfoy asked, scowling. "Gross."

"Stop!" she said, kicking him. They were having a drink at her house, sprawled out on her living room floor. "You're supposed to be understanding."

"Fine," he said, sighing dramatically. He sat up, looking at her curiously. "Why don't you just . . . I don't know." He shrugged. "Try telling me all the things you would say to him."

She made a face. "You won't like it."

"We're friends, right?" he said pointedly, and she bit her lip, considering. He caught the gesture. "Oi! Mousetrap."

"Ugh," she said, rolling her eyes.

"Just try it."

"Fine," she conceded. She looked at his grey eyes, picturing Ron's blue ones. "I miss you."

"Okay," he said. "Not exactly earth-shattering. What else?"

She had to close her eyes for this one. "I miss your cock."

"Mousetrap," he grumbled. "Okay."

She opened one eye, glaring at him. "You said - "

"No, no, you're right. Keep going."

"I miss your cock. I miss the feel of your hands on my breasts. I miss the way your mouth feels on my - "

"Fucking hell, Granger, what is this?" he asked, and she laughed.

"You suggested it."

"I didn't realize you were going to be so . . . un-Granger," he told her. "I mean, doesn't it feel strange for you to say those things?" At her blank look, he made a face. "Feels so out of character for you."

She sighed wistfully. "He likes me to say those things," she admitted.

"Do you?" he asked pointedly, and she frowned.

"I don't know," she admitted. "But I do like the sex. And I miss it."

"How long has it been?"

She shrugged. "Months."

"When was your last orgasm?"

"Um." She looked down. "Well, since I can only have them with him - "

"No," he declared, jaw falling open. "You mean, you haven't - "

"Malfoy, you know perfectly well I'm not having sex right now - "

"Still!" he shouted, sitting upright. "You're not - you know. Masturbating?"

"Eh," she said, shrugging. "Doesn't feel as good. Feels . . . I don't know. Weird."

"You're probably doing it wrong," he decided. "I'll teach you."

"Whoa!" she exclaimed. "Mousetrap!"

"Calm down, Granger," he said quickly, scanning her living room. "Ah. Here."

He picked up a small jar and crawled over to sit next to her.

"So, for the purposes of this demonstration, this is your vagina," he said, gesturing to the jar. "Say hi."

"No thanks," she said, and he shrugged.

"Your loss," he said indifferently. "Okay, so first, take a finger" - he lifted his index finger, wiggling it in the air - "and put it inside you. You know, think of something sexy first. Whatever."

"Mousetrap," she sighed, but he ignored her.

"See how I'm curling my finger up, right here?" he asked, gesturing. "That spot, right here, it's your g-spot."

"Okay," she said, curious in spite of herself. "And then?"

"Then you want to kind of - feel around the squishy part back there. You'll tap the roof" - he tapped the jar's imaginary g-spot - "and kind of circle the opening back here. Don't know what it's called."

"Masterful," she said carefully, swallowing.

"Anyway, you'll start to get wet at this point. Or at least, if I were doing it, you would," he said, smirking, and he interrupted her before she opened her mouth. "I know, I know. Mousetrap."

"Definitely mousetrap," she warned.

"Anyway, at this point, you know, you'll want to sort of" - he slid his fingers out, rubbing them aggressively against the lip of the jar - "like this, you know? Against the clitoris."

"Mm," she managed. Mousetrap. Mousetrap.

"You can be rude to it, you know," he informed her. "The clitoris, that is. Don't need to be a lady." He grinned at her. "Personally, I am never a gentleman to the clitoris."

"I believe you," she said, wondering how flushed her cheeks were.

"So, you know," he said, continuing to rub against the jar. "Just sort of . . . " he trailed off, still rubbing.

She met his darkened grey eyes.

"Mousetrap," they both said, and he leapt up.

"Bye," he said awkwardly, disapparating with a loud crack.

Chapter Text

Mousetrap, Part II

Pairing: Dramione (Draco x Hermione)

Universe: Post-Hogwarts, EWE

Rating: M for language, implied sex

Summary: Continuation of Mousetrap, Part I.

She walked into her living room wrapped only in a towel and screeched abruptly at the unexpected presence.

"Malfoy!" she exclaimed, pulling the towel tight around her.

"Let me start by saying that this is your fault," he said quickly, immediately clapping his hands over his eyes. "You're the one who changed your wards to let me in here any time."

She scoffed loudly. "My mistake," she said grumpily. "Anything else you'd like to say?"

"Yes," he mumbled. "Mousetrap."

She shook her head, sighing. "Why are you in my house?" she demanded. "It's Saturday morning, Malfoy, I was going to have a bath and relax - "

"Mousetrap, mousetrap to all of this," he said, blindly waving one hand in her direction while the other remained over his eyes. "No, Granger, seriously. I need a favor. Please. Take pity on me."

"What is it?" she snapped indignantly. "And you can put your hand down, I'm covered."

"Barely," he said, though he obediently lowered his hand. "I need you to come with me to Theo's house."

She flashed him a highly dubious smirk.

"No," she said tightly. "Get out of my house."

"Please, Granger, please, I promise you, I'll do anything you want," he said, lunging forward and falling to his knees. "Anything." He took her hand in his, giving her a piteous look of utter devotion.

"Mousetrap," she groaned, and he smiled triumphantly. "Why can't you go alone?"

"It's the twins' birthday party and I'm their godfather," he explained.

"And?" she prompted wearily.

"Astoria's their godmother," he said, wincing.

Hermione shook her head. "You're an idiot."

"I'm your idiot." He kissed her hand soundly. "Please, Granger. Please don't make me do this alone."

"I doubt she's going to hex you at a children's birthday party," she told him, privately enjoying the groveling. "I hardly think you need a human shield."

"I thought she was going to be out of town, but Theo owled me this morning to warn me," Malfoy explained. "Apparently she's still rather . . . put out."

"As she should be!" Hermione exclaimed. "Bore me with the technicalities all you want, but if you had just kept it in your pants - "

He cocked his head at her, smirking. "I'm not sure we've been properly introduced," he said airily. "Pot, is it? I'm kettle."

She huffed. "Touché."

He grunted in discomfort, still groveling at her feet. "Can I stand, please?"

She shrugged. "I think I prefer you on your knees."


"Fine," she permitted, yanking him up. "Fine."

"So you'll come with me?" he asked, flashing her his most obnoxiously handsome smile.

"When is it?" she asked, pretending to consult her schedule.


She gave him a look of supreme displeasure, the kind she normally saved for Harry and - at one time - for Ron. "You owe me."

"Ah!" he cried, pulling her into his arms. "Thank you, thank you." He planted a loud, dramatic kiss on her that landed somewhere near her ear. "You're a goddess, Hermione Granger. An absolute goddess."

"Let me get dressed," she said, sighing dramatically and dragging her way through her flat.

"Um," he said, hurrying forward. "Can I maybe take a look at your closet, you know, just to, er, see - "

She glared at him. "Are you suggesting I don't know how to dress myself?"

"No, no," he assured her tentatively. "I'm sure whatever you have will be suitable" - he trailed off a bit, starting to mutter regretfully to himself - "for a garden party at Nott Manor, thrown by the woman with the world's highest standards - "

"Fine," she said, crossing her arms in exasperation. "Go ahead."

"Goddess, you are," he told her apologetically, rushing ahead of her and racing to her room.

He picked out a tasteful summer dress for the occasion - one that she was surprised to find he appreciated, as it had always been a favorite of hers - while she battled her hair, taming it into something resembling submission and then getting yanked into the Floo the moment she set down her mascara.

"Why are you so nervous?" she hissed, knocking into him as they hurriedly stepped out of the fireplace at Nott Manor.

"I just hate these things," he muttered. "The twins are fine, Theo's great, but the whole thing is sure to be stuffy and" - he cut himself off, seeing the hostess. "Daphne!"

"Oh, hi Draco," she said, shifting the little girl in her arms to her hip. "Hermione," she said, surprised, then turned back to the pale blond wizard beside her. "Draco, please tell me you didn't bring her here to rub it in Astoria's face - "

"No, no," Malfoy said quickly. "Granger and I are just friends - she's just here to, you know - " he faltered. "Keep things . . . calm," he decided, settling on a phrase. "And free of conjured bees."

"Oh please," Daphne scoffed. "You are such a baby," she added, smirking.

Hermione could see now why Malfoy had been concerned with her apparel; Daphne Greengrass - Daphne Nott, now, she supposed - was flawless, her auburn chignon perfectly in place and her dress both clearly expensive and almost unnaturally clean, considering the armful of toddler. Hermione had never seen Ginny be this pulled together since having James - and didn't this woman have twins?

"I'm so sorry, Hermione," Daphne said suddenly, interrupting her reverie. "I don't mean to be rude, it really is lovely to have you - "

"Granger!" Theo exclaimed, strutting over to them with his son tossed over his shoulder. "What a surprise!" He glanced at Malfoy and regarded him warily, his eyes darting pointedly between the two of them. "You two aren't - "

"No," Malfoy said, sighing. "We're just friends. Will you kindly refrain from your blind accusations?" He sniffed. "They offend."

"Fine, fine," Theo relented, smiling casually. "Well let's get the lady a drink, Daph, what do you think?"

"Will you please not toss our son around like he's a sack of potatoes?" Daphne said crossly, following after him and turning to call out to Hermione. "Wait here, Hermione, give me a moment - "

Hermione realized she was smiling. Something about Theo and Daphne was very relaxed - despite their obvious refinement - and the lump of dread that had formed in her stomach at the thought of being in the metaphorical den of snakes slowly loosened.

"The kids are cute," Hermione commented, watching as Daphne handed Theo his daughter. The moment his wife's back was turned, Theo promptly flipped the little girl upside down, letting her giggle shrilly as she dangled above the floor. "What are their names?"

"Alessia and Milo," Malfoy replied, and then grinned fondly at them, watching them cling to their father's legs as Daphne spun around, admonishing her husband at once to put them down, Theo, for heaven's sake!"They're good kids."

"Draco Malfoy," Hermione said, feigning shock. "I never took you for the type to enjoy spending time with children."

He shot her a sideways glance, brow arched. "I could say the same."

"What!" she exclaimed, her forehead creasing. "I'm great with kids! James loves me."

"Not a convincing sample size," he joked, and she rolled her eyes.

"I feel like I am very maternal," she insisted, and he chuckled a little.

"That's true," he allowed, nodding. "I can just see it now - you with a baby on your hip, transfiguring things and filing legal briefs while you read your little frizzy mini-Granger a chapter on Ancient Runes . . . "

"Whereas your mini-Malfoy would be born with a permanent smirk and its nose in the air," she said, and he laughed.

"Enjoying yourself, are you, Draco?"

A very stunning Astoria Greengrass sidled up next to him and he jumped about a foot in the air.

"Ah, Astoria," he said, a little too brightly. "Good to see you! You look - "

"Save it," she snapped.

"Right," he said meekly. "I have to, um - " he glanced apologetically at Hermione before darting away. "Have to help Daphne with the drinks!"

Hermione sighed, and Astoria shook her head.

"Smooth," Hermione commented, and Astoria grimaced.

"Are you sleeping with him?" she asked tightly.

"No," Hermione proclaimed loudly, a derisive snort nearly escaping her. "No. Definitely not."

"Good," Astoria replied, her lips pressed together in a thin, impatient line. "Don't."

Upon reaching Daphne and Theo, Malfoy bent to open his arms to his godchildren and they squealed in delight, wrapping their arms around his neck and giggling in his ears.

"They're such happy kids," Hermione remarked.

Astoria nodded. "It helps that their father isn't a monumental twat," she said primly, still staring at Malfoy.

Malfoy held out his hand to tiny, adorable Alessia and kissed it politely, offering her a low, dramatic bow. The little girl - a perfect miniature of her mother - smiled up at him, her large eyes shining with adoration, and Hermione could tell Malfoy was enraptured.

"Mousetrap," she muttered under her breath.

"What was that?" Astoria asked, taking a sip of her beverage.

"Nothing," Hermione said vaguely.

"This hardly seems like a fair trade, Granger," Draco grumbled in her ear, placing a hand on her back to steer her towards an empty seat. "Everyone here hates me."

"I fended off your ex-girlfriend and hung out with a bunch of Slytherins for you," she reminded him. "How is that not a fair trade?"

"Well for one thing, neither of us wants to be here," he said irritably, taking a seat beside her. "Or are you going to pretend you're enjoying this?"

"I have to be here," she reminded him. "He's my best friend. I can't not go."

"I'm your best friend," Draco corrected her. "He's your ex, and a shitty one at that."

"Hush," she snapped, looking around. "You know I couldn't be here alone."

"I don't know why you couldn't have just skipped this altogether and settled for sending them a very mediocre gift," he muttered, orating an imaginary card. "Dear Ron and Lavender, have a happy fucking life together, here's a goddamn set of tea cups."

"Malfoy!" she scolded him, smacking his chest. "Don't be difficult." She sighed. "Please," she added.

He softened, adjusting to put his arm around her. "Fine," he said in her ear. "If it helps, you look fucking gorgeous." He leaned back to nod approvingly at her, grinning triumphantly. "Eat your heart out, Weasley."

She smiled weakly. "Mousetrap."

"Fuck yeah, mousetrap," he sniffed, smiling to himself as he settled back against the chair.

The wedding was tacky and unpleasant, though Draco had decided that it would be long before he'd even showed up. He'd already hated Weasley more than enough when they were younger, and now the simmering revulsion was practically unbridled on Granger's behalf.

Lavender soon-to-be Weasley's gown was horrific, too. Draco snuck a look at Granger, whose tasteful red dress was perfect. She would surely never wear such a cupcake monstrosity.

Mousetrap, he scolded himself.

Draco was only barely able to hear Lavender's vows; she sobbed through the whole thing, making them utterly incomprehensible.

"Lav-lav," Weasley began, and Draco nearly gagged. "Over the last few years, we have come a long, long way together - "

Draco looked surreptitiously at Granger; she seemed . . . a tinge green.

" - I promise to love and cherish you for the rest of our lives, to be faithful to you, and to always put you above all others - "

What a twat, Draco thought, fuming on Granger's behalf, and then looked over to realize she was struggling to breathe, doubled over in her seat.

" - I stand here today with you, the love of my life, to tell you with absolute confidence that you are the only woman I have ever loved - "

Granger did not look good.

"Up, get up," he urged her, pushing her and then half-lifting her in his attempt to unseat her from her chair, hurrying her along the side of the large tent and getting her out of sight.

The moment they'd gotten around to the other side of the Burrow she promptly threw up, coughing and sputtering as he stroked her exposed back in small circles.

"It's okay, Granger, it's okay," he coaxed her, tucking a loose curl behind her ear. "You're okay. I've got you."

"Did you hear him?" she asked bitterly. "Did you hear him say she was the only woman he ever loved?"

"Fuck him," Draco spat, scowling. "He's even dumber than I thought."

"I shouldn't have left the ceremony," she said, sighing as she dragged the back of her hand across her mouth. "Now people will talk."

"Let them talk!" Draco insisted, taking her face between his palms and then smoothing his hands over her shoulders and down her arms. "Fuck Weasley, fuck Brown, fuck everyone. He was never good enough for you," Draco added. "Never."

She blinked back tears, and he realized they were holding hands.

"Are we in love with each other?" she asked him.

It probably should have been a more startling realization than it was, but the truth was that he'd already known that for quite some time.

"I think so," he informed her sadly.

She sighed. "But I'm a mess right now."

He nodded. "That's fine." He lifted her chin to get the full benefit of her overlarge brown eyes. "I've always been a mess."

"So . . . should we do nothing?" she asked, biting her lip.

"Probably best," he agreed, nodding. "For now."

She cocked her head at him. "You'll still dance with me at the reception, right?"

"We're staying?" he asked, throwing his head back in disbelief. "Fuck me, Granger."

She grinned at him. "Mousetrap."

"Hermione, I need you to come up to the aurors' offices, right now."

Hermione smirked a little, remembering Ginny's reference to Harry's ill-timed "deer-faced Patronus." Sure, Harry, of course she'd be right there, she wasn't busy at all, she could just come right up, couldn't she?

She sighed, collecting the papers on her desk, tucking them under her arm, and slowly making her way to the Ministry elevator. She figured she might as well finish up her work from home if she was going to be interrupted this late in the day.

"What is it, Harry?" she sighed indignantly, opening the door to his office and striding in without a second glance. "Wait - "

Malfoy was there and so was Ron, who must have only just gotten back from his month long trip with Lavender; it took Hermione a moment to realize that Ron had a black eye and a broken nose, and Malfoy sported a deep gash across his cheek.

"What is this?" Hermione demanded, putting her hands on her hips. "What on earth - "

"I told you not to call her," Malfoy mumbled, crossing his arms over his chest and addressing Harry. "I take full responsibility, okay? I don't need her to bail me out - "

She shook her head, half-laughing. "What did you do now, Malfoy?"

"Bloody git just attacked me!" Ron said, wincing as his swollen, cut lip brushed against his teeth. "No reason whatsoever - "

"Yeah, no reason," Malfoy snarled. "Not because you're worthless piece of rubbish, certainly not that - "

Harry sidled over to Hermione, speaking directly in her ear as Malfoy and Ron continued to goad each other, restrained magically in their respective chairs.

"When I pulled them apart, Malfoy kept saying 'you hurt my girl'," Harry said, a slight tone of amusement reaching his voice. "You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?"

"What happened?" Hermione asked, dazed. Malfoy was fuming silently now, his arms still crossed angrily over his chest. He seemed to have gotten quite a few hits in before Harry had separated them; Ron was certainly worse for wear.

"They ran into each other in the hallway," Harry explained. "Malfoy's here for a permit or something, and I guess he, um," Harry paused, running his hand through his hair and laughing a little. "Felt the need for a little vigilante justice."

Vigilante justice. Hm.

Hermione narrowed her eyes, looking questioningly at Harry. "Do you know something?"

"I know I'm definitely not planning on writing Malfoy up for anything," Harry said casually, offering her an ambivalent shrug. "Can't really blame him for losing his temper. But," he added, grinning mercilessly, "I alsocouldn't pass up a chance to watch him sweat a little."

She rolled her eyes. "Fine," she said faintly, looking at her hands. "Why didn't you tell me you knew about Ron?"

Harry shrugged. "He's my best friend, and you hadn't told me about it," he said. "It wasn't my place to intervene."

"It's over," Hermione insisted quickly. "Long, long over."

"Oh, I know," Harry assured her, nodding. "Still." He offered her a crooked smile. "Can't say I'm too upset that someone got a punch in, even if it had to be Malfoy."

She sighed, patting Harry's knee gratefully, before walking over to where Malfoy sat, crouching a little to make eye contact with him.

"Is he good to go, Harry?" she called over her shoulder, and Harry nodded.

"What?" Ron sputtered. "But - but he just attacked me, out of bloody nowhere - "

"Before I set you loose," Hermione warned loudly, not taking her eyes off Malfoy's face, "I need to ask you a question."

He sighed, looking down sheepishly as though he expected a lecture. "Go for it, Granger."

"Draco," she said, and at that, he looked up in surprise. "Um - " she bit her lip.

"Mousetrap," he cautioned, and she smiled.

"Marry me," she demanded bluntly, and across the room, Ron let out a strangled gasp.

Malfoy blinked. "I'm . . . not totally sure that counts as a question, Granger," he said slowly, a small smile creeping over his face.

"Hermione," she corrected. "And fine. Will you marry me?"

He grinned at her. "Yes," he told her, nodding vigorously. "Yes, Hermione. Fuck yes."

"Good," she said, smiling, and then she flicked her wand, allowing him to gather her in his arms and sweep her off her feet, her toes dangling above his shoes as he swung her around Harry's office.

"This is a really, really big mousetrap," he told her, finally stopping and hugging her so tightly she thought she might burst. "The worst possible mousetrap."

"Hermione!" Ron exclaimed, though she wasn't listening. "You can't marry him - he's - he's awful - "

"Shut up, Ron," Harry cut him off dreamily, smiling at her from where he leaned against his desk.

"Holy fucking shit, mousetrap," Draco gasped, walking into what would soon be their bedroom.

She grinned at him. "You like?" she asked, gesturing to her new lingerie. "I got it for after the wedding."

"I just - I can't even - " he gaped at her, his mouth opening and closing vacantly. "Just - fucking mousetrap."

"You don't have to say that anymore," she told him, sauntering over to him and kissing him chastely on the cheek. "In a few hours, you'll be married to me, and then you can have all the sex."

"All of it," he agreed. "I hope I don't disappoint you," he added, smirking at her. "Though I'm absurdly proud of us for waiting."

"Well, we'd already come so far," she said primly, though she smiled rather lasciviously when he put his hands on her waist.

Merlin, her tiny, perfect waist and all that lace -

"Um, Granger," he said, coughing. "I think I just need to - "

She grinned at him, pulling him forward and kissing him soundly.

"Yes?" she asked, still smiling at him when they broke apart.

He shook his head. "I love you," he said, a preface.

The truest thing he'd ever said. A thing he'd say every day. Forever.

"I love you too," she told him, and she had never been more beautiful, her face alit with pleasure.

Fuck it.

"Tell Harry we'll be late," he instructed gruffly, picking her up and tossing her on the bed.

"I already did," she told him, eagerly yanking him on top of her. He groaned appreciatively in response.

"Fucking mousetrap, Granger," he said again, dipping to kiss her neck.

"I think you mean Malfoy," she reminded him, and he smiled against her skin.


Yes, he did.

Chapter Text


Pairing: Dramione (Draco x Hermione)

Universe: AU, canon-compliant up to Battle of Hogwarts

Rating: T for some implied violence, some graphic images

Summary: Voldemort won the war and after five years, the Order of the Phoenix is reduced to a chaotic band of troublemakers, struggling to survive without money or resources. Draco is sent to the Malfoy Manor vault to check on a mysterious presence, and what he sees will make him question everything.

"Draco." His mother stopped, throwing her hand out and reaching for him. "Did you feel that?"

He stopped, stiffening. "The vaults?" he asked, sensing the shift in presence. "Where's Father?"

"Out," Narcissa replied, frowning. She glanced warily at him. "Who else is in the house?"

"Nobody," he said, thinking. "Though I could be wrong." He shrugged. "Want me to take a look, Mother?"

She nodded regally. "If you wouldn't mind, darling," she said airily, patting his shoulder.

He gave her a curt nod and pivoted quickly, heading for the stairs to the vault. He could have apparated there, certainly, as he was given to do when he didn't feel like traversing the expansive, palatial estate that was Malfoy Manor - but life as a Death Eater had taught him it was generally safer to open a door and prepare a defense than to materialize in the midst of a trap.

His feet tapped against the stone as his long legs carried him down the stairs, following the winding and darkened path to the place where the Malfoys stored their treasures.

Draco paused abruptly, holding his breath as he jerked to a sudden halt. The door to the vault was open.

How was that possible?

His father was with the Dark Lord, he knew that; there was a mission of sorts happening. Whoever was here, they weren't welcome.

He edged closer to the door, peeking inside; a very small, petite form was quickly sorting through the gold, tossing handfuls of it into a tiny beaded bag - altered with an undetectable extension charm, Draco guessed - and then taking care to rearrange the piles, making the absence indiscernible.

That hair . . . but it couldn't be.

Could it?

"Granger?" Draco croaked, his heart thudding wildly in his chest.

She whipped around, gasping, and pointed her wand straight at his chest.

"Malfoy?" she echoed, free hand still grasping the open bag. She coughed loudly, tucking it behind her. "How are you, er - doing?"

He couldn't seem to find the words to speak. "How are you not dead?" he asked bluntly, finally settling on the only coherent thing that came to mind.

She paused, thinking. "Oh, I'm dead," she said seriously. "This is a fantasy. I'm not actually here."

He smirked at her. "You certainly give yourself a lot of credit, Granger," he declared loftily. "Sorry, but you're not really one of my fantasies."

"Ah, well," she said, shrugging. "I tried."

She'd changed. There was a lightness about her, even in the midst of the dystopia that was the Dark Lord's new world. Or maybe Draco was just consumed by darkness, and she had always been the light.

"How are you not dead?" he repeated. "And how did you get in my house?"

"You know, you purebloods think you're so smart," she said musically, taunting him a little with a twist of her pretty mouth. "Blood wards and all that. But you know how easy it is to fool a blood ward?"

She flashed him the inside of her wrist, which was gorily cut and smeared. "A little blood from Harry, a little from Ron, a little from Lavender - and oh, you know. Others here and there," she said casually, listing the sources of her grotesque concoction with a carelessness that nearly made Draco's stomach turn. "You're all related, you know," she said, tsking. "A little clever mixing and voilà - I'm a Malfoy."

She was grinning mercilessly at him. "Ironic, isn't it?" she asked him, her eyes flashing. "You always mocked me for my blood. And yet if I set a blood ward, I'd be perfectly safe."

"Why are you telling me this?" he asked her, a little dazed by her response.

"Because you're not going to catch me," she told him. "And if you come any closer, I'll just disapparate."


"You're alive," he said again, still unable to process it. "And the others - they're alive?"

"Any information that you think you have, it's only because it's what I wanted you to think," she told him - rather smugly, in his opinion. "Funny how much easier it is being dead," she added, giving him a mocking bow and gesturing to the bag she'd filled with his family's gold.

"How long have you been stealing from us?" he asked, still partially in shock.

"Years," she said tightly. "Though not just you. That would be unfair," she added, flashing him an impish smile.

His jaw dropped. "You've been stealing from purebloods for years?"

"Yes," she replied, her chin raised haughtily as though she dared him to try and insult her. "I'm dead, remember? Everyone's dead. So the Ministry has control of all of our vaults and assets." She shrugged again. "We need to survive, you know."

"Everyone," Draco echoed. "So the Order - does it still exist?"

"Of course it exists," she said, shaking her head exasperatedly. "You really think it would be that easy? That You-Know-Who would just win and we'd all . . . go away?"

Well, yes.

"I thought that's exactly what happened," Draco replied, frowning. "But you're alive."

"And interestingly, I'm still alive," she said, pointing to his wand where he fingered it loosely in his hand.

He realized he had never even pointed it at her.

Hardly seemed any point in doing so now.

"How did you get caught?" he asked. "This isn't exactly careful. My mother felt you in the wards."

"You weren't supposed to be here," she pointed out. "Everyone was supposed to be out of the house."

"How did you know that?" he asked suspiciously, furrowing his brow.

"Well, as a reminder, I didn't," she said, gesturing to him again. "But don't you find it odd that an anonymous tip finds its way to you all every - oh, month or so?"

He shook his head slowly, laughing. "You draw us out of our homes and steal our gold," he said, nodding with understanding. "Wow."

She curtsied, ducking her head with a devilish grin.

"You certainly are different, aren't you?" he asked, looking at her. She was more confident somehow; fearless. Undaunted. Brassy and gritty, and stunning somehow in her conceit.

Perhaps a life of crime suited her sensibilities more than a life of virtuous martyrdom.

"So are you," she told him. She finally lowered her wand and brought her hands into view, and he caught a glimpse of the scar on her wrist.


"Not different enough," he said softly, feeling sick at the reminder of what he'd allowed to happen to her in his house.

She caught his glance and stiffened, tugging her sleeve down. "So why are you here, anyway?" she asked loudly, cutting through the tension.

"My mother isn't well," he told her. "I try to stay back with her when I can." He swallowed uncomfortably. "I'm not exactly a favorite of the Dark Lord," he added. "I don't quite have the stomach for . . . what he requires."

She hummed softly, nodding. "I thought as much," she said, biting her lip. She flashed him a brilliant smile. "I'm glad I wasn't wrong about you."

The words went straight to the core of his soul.

He opened his mouth to answer, but stopped when he felt a shift in the wards.

"Someone's here," he said, his heart thudding loudly. He looked intently at her for a minute, considering his options.

"Obliviate me if you need to," he said, choosing a side.


Her face, which had been bordering on smug throughout the entire conversation, suddenly went pale, and he realized she was struggling with indecision.

"Do it," he said quickly, turning over his shoulder. "Someone's coming."

She lifted her wand and pointed it at his face; he closed his eyes.

"Nevermind," he heard her say, and he opened one eye to see her hesitate. "You won't catch me, anyway."

Then a soft crack, and she was gone.



It was his father.

"Draco, your mother said you were down here," Lucius said, looking around. "Was someone here?"

"I think so," Draco managed faintly. "We should . . . probably change the wards."

Lucius shrugged. "By all means," he said, and left Draco to ponder what exactly had just happened.

She was alive. All this time he thought she'd been dead. He thought they'd all been dead - not that it mattered. Potter and Weasley and the others. Not that they mattered. She was alive.

He had never forgotten her face. He'd lied to her, about the fantasies. He'd thought for a moment that that was precisely what she was.

She was alive. That changed everything. That meant there was hope, somewhere, a life different from this. Someone else could still win. Someone else could still triumph.

She was alive.

She changes everything.

It took him almost three months before he found the Order's hideout. Or at least, the hideout belonging to what now seemed more like the Disorder of the Phoenix.

Her eyes were wide when he knocked on the door.

"How did you find me?" she snarled. "How?"

"Relax," he said, holding up a large bag of galleons and food. "Brought you something."

She snatched it out of his hands. "Why?" she asked, holding it protectively to her chest. He imagined she hadn't been eating much; she looked thinner than the last time he'd seen her, and he figured the last batch that she'd stolen had likely run out.

"You need it," he said, shrugging.

"How did you find me?" she repeated, not letting him in. He could see that there were people behind her; he assumed there were at least two other wands trained on him from somewhere he couldn't see.

"I know you," he reminded her. "You said I wouldn't be able to catch you. But I didn't want to catch you," he said. "And you obviously know that, or I'd already be dead."

It was true. She could have easily killed him by now.

She frowned. "What do you mean?"

"You set this place up like the Room of Requirement," he said airily. "The same way you did it in our fifth year, when you set up Dumbledore's Army. Only people who know what they're looking for can get in." He grinned at her. "Right?"

"Clearly not," she said bluntly, gesturing to where he stood in the doorway.

"There's an exception, of course, as I knew there would be," he informed her. "I was looking for you, but not to catch you," he explained, "which was a clever loophole in your wards." He nodded appreciatively at her. "Your idea, I presume."

"What makes you say that?" she asked stiffly, though he could tell by the look on her face that he'd been right.

"I know you, Granger," he repeated. "You wouldn't want to close off a sanctuary from people in need. You've still got that hero complex," he told her, then flashed her his arrogant smirk.

She growled a little. "You say that like it's a bad thing," she said grumpily.

He shook his head. "It's not."

They looked at each other for a long time.

"I'm sorry about your mother," she said softly.

He swallowed. The pain was still fresh.

"Shall I come back next week?" he asked, and she gave him a tentative nod. He turned slowly, beginning to walk away.

"Bring some chocolate, would you?" she called after him. "Any kind. I'm not picky."

He chuckled. "Sure," he said, smiling at her over his shoulder.

"You're sure?" Potter said, his green eyes flashing. "You're sure this will work?"

"Of course I'm sure," Draco replied, irritated. "I don't make a habit of rushing into things."

"It could work, Harry," Granger said, looking over Draco's notes. "If we can draw most of his forces here - "

She started motioning over Draco's hand drawn plans and he watched her, eyeing the way that even while she hesitantly bit her lip in thought, her gestures were firm and confident. Whatever had happened to her while she'd gone underground, it had managed to make her a leader. It made her self-assured and strong, comfortable in her skin in a way she'd never been at school.

She was beautiful, too. But then again, she always was.

"All I know is that he'll be there," Draco said. "His defenses will be down. He won't be traveling with as many Death Eaters."

"It makes sense," Granger commented, nodding slowly. "He's been taking so few precautions lately."

"He's gotten comfortable," Draco agreed. "You'll have a shot at him, and - " he glanced at Granger. "If you trust me, I'll have a shot at the snake."

Granger's eyes glittered as they met his. "I trust you," she said, and he lay awake that night replaying those precious words, clearing his mind of any thought but the sound of her voice in his ears.

More than one way to skin a snake. Draco did it with a sword.

He met Potter's eyes across the room. Both their faces were bloodied and bruised.

"Do it," he shouted.

Green eyes, a spell, and a flash of green light. Howling and cheering. Pain and celebration. Granger running towards him, his arms finally around her. A breath. A deep breath. A second breath, because he could take them now. As many as he wanted. As many as he could.

His arms finally around her.

She changes everything.

"This is so unfair," Granger huffed, straightening and brushing a curl out of her eyes. "You shouldn't have to do this."

"Reparations, Granger," Draco muttered, bending to toss a rather terrifying shrunken head onto the 'to remove' pile. "Someone's got to pay the formerly dead Order members back after losing everything in their vaults to the Ministry."

"Then the Ministry should pay them back, not you!" Granger shouted, stomping her foot. "This - this is just - " she was fumbling for words. "This is just stealing."

"Interesting that you would say that," Draco drawled, smiling at her. "I didn't realize you were suddenly so opposed to thievery."

She scowled at him. "That was different!" she insisted. "The purebloods had more than enough, and we - we were trying to survive - "

"I still have more than enough," he assured her. "I don't need all of this," he added, gesturing around him to everything in the vault. "And with Potter offering me a job with the aurors, I don't need a stockpile of gold. I can actually work for a living."

"You're really just going to get rid of everything?" she asked, pouting a little. "I don't think it's fair, I mean - we couldn't have won without you - "

"I have everything I need," he assured her, stepping in close and bending to kiss her.

She changes everything.

"That's sweet," she breathed, her eyes closed. "But I'm still upset."

He laughed. "Well, I am planning on keeping one thing," he said, walking over to the part of the vault he'd intentionally left for last. "If you think I should."

She looked up, following him. "What is it?"

He picked up the small item, holding it out for her to see. "I don't know whether or not this is to your taste," he said carefully. "But it was my mother's, and I think I should keep it." He corrected himself. "I think youshould keep it."

She took the ring from him, her mouth falling open. "Malfoy, is this what I think it is?"

He shrugged. "If you want," he said quietly, taking it back from her and slipping it onto her finger.

A perfect fit.

"Looks like you did catch me after all," she said softly, and they both smiled.

She changes everything.

Chapter Text

Bachelorette, Part I

Pairing: Dramione (Draco x Hermione)

Universe: Post-Hogwarts, EWE

Rating: T for now, though that will likely change.

Summary: Part of what will likely be a lengthy series of drabbles based on the reality show "The Bachelorette," wherein eligible men in the wizarding world compete for Hermione Granger's affections five years after the war.

[Camera pans from a large, stately manor house to where Lee Jordan is holding a microphone, adjusting his suit.]

"Hello witches and wizards, and welcome to the post-war edition of the Bachelorette!"

[Studio applause; Lee starts walking]

"With You-Know-Who finally bested, it's time to focus on the things that really matter - life, love, and the pursuit of a beautiful witch!"

[Editor's cut:

Lee, reading a script and looking confused: "You really want me to say this?"

(Muttered response.)

Lee: "Okay. It's just, you know. Really stupid."]

"Let's meet our newest Bachelorette, shall we?"

[Lee joins Hermione, who is wearing a floor length red gown and looks both extremely beautiful and exceedingly uncomfortable.]

"Hermione Granger is widely regarded as the brightest witch of her age, and has recently been part of the tour de force that finally dethroned He Who Must Not Be Named. A close friend of Harry Potter, the infamous Boy Who Lived, Hermione enjoys curling up with a good book, long walks on the beach, and spending time with friends."

[Lee turns to Hermione.]

"So, Hermione, tell us - how do you feel?"

[She glares at him, her subsequent tone dripping with sarcasm.]

"Great. I'm living the dream."

[Lee turns nervously to the camera.]

"You heard her, folks! And now, let's meet a few of our contestants, shall we?"

"Kingsley. You can't be serious," Hermione said roughly, pausing to scoff. "You want me to be on a reality show in which men compete for my attention?"

"Look, it seems ridiculous, I know," Kingsley rumbled. "But test audiences show that the Ministry isn't exactly favored since it was - "

" - taken over by an Imperiused Minister and a psychopathic undersecretary?" Hermione interrupted, feigning surprise. "Color me astonished, sir."

Kingsley had the decency to flush slightly. "In any case, Miss Granger, the important thing here is that we need a trusted face to put before the public, and ideally, one that supports the Ministry."

"Don't you think I'm a little young to have people compete for my hand in marriage?" Hermione asked drily. "I mean, among the many other problems with this idea."

"It's entertainment, Miss Granger," Kingsley insisted, unswayed. "You won't be held to any obligations upon completion of filming."

"This seems very bread-and-circus to me, sir," Hermione said bitterly. "How stupid do you think the general public is, exactly, that watching a dating show about me will distract them from the multitude of political problems?"

Kingsley hesitated. "Well, I would hardly say a multitude - "

Hermione pursed her lips primly, raising her hand to enumerate the factors on her slender, unpolished fingers. "There's the fact that the former Death Eaters are still being publicly shamed in the midst of their prosecution, there's the many families struggling from losses from the war, there's the fact that nobody trusts the Ministry - "

"Fine," Kingsley conceded. "A multitude."

"I think this is fruitless," Hermione insisted loftily. "I'm not interested in being part of this . . . sham."

She turned swiftly to exit the room.

"Mr. Weasley and Mr. Potter have agreed to participate as competitors," Kingsley called after her, and she pivoted slowly to face him.

"What?" she exclaimed, aghast. "No. They didn't."

"They did," Kingsley replied evenly. "As have many other eligible wizards from your class at Hogwarts."

"What?" Hermione screeched. "Like who?"

Kingsley's smile stretched slowly across his face.

"I thought you didn't want any part of it?" he asked demurely, flashing her an irritating smirk.

She sighed, taking a seat and allowing her ankle to dance agitatedly as she fidgeted, legs crossed.

"Who?" she repeated tightly, an unspoken concession.

[Camera focuses on Lee.]

"Our first contestant, who is undoubtedly the most famous person to ever be featured on the show, is none other than Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived!"

[Harry appears, straightening his dress robes and smiling amicably at the host.]

"Hi Lee! Good to see you."

[They shake hands - camera cuts to interview segment.]

Interviewer (off-screen): "So, Harry, why did you decide to submit yourself as a candidate on The Bachelorette?"

Harry, fidgeting and laughing nervously: "Well, it was a few things, really. Things hadn't really been working out too well with my love life lately. My life in general, if I'm being quite honest."

[Screen fills with slow motion images of Harry looking downtrodden, staring at the ocean and skipping rocks from a high, rocky cliff.]

Harry voiceover: "It's not easy being the Boy Who Lived, you know. I can't exactly live a normal life, and neither can the person I'm with."

[Images of Harry and his ex-girlfriend Ginny Weasley during happier times flash across the screen in a montage.]

Harry voiceover: "My last relationship ended rather terribly, you know - well." [laughs] "Everybody knows. Another fun aspect of being such a public figure."

[Close up shot of Harry looking somber.]

Harry voiceover: "In a way, that's what makes me want to consider this. I mean, if anyone is going to understand what it's like for me, it's Hermione. We've been close for years, and maybe there's something there that I overlooked."

[Hopeful music plays.]

Harry voiceover: "I'm looking forward to giving it a chance. Who knows?" [shrugs] "Maybe it will be . . . magical."

[Camera returns to Lee and Harry.]

Lee: "Well, Harry, I know we all want what's best for you." [Clasps shoulder] "Are you ready to say hello to Hermione?"

Harry, looking relaxed and chipper: "Ready as I'll ever be!"

Lee: "Excellent. Well, you head on in, and we'll check back with you after we meet the rest of our contestants!"

Harry: "Thanks, Lee." [Nods encouragingly] "Wish me luck!"

Lee, to camera: "What a rascal - like he needs luck!" [Shakes head] "Odds-on favorite for sure."

[Camera pans to door, which reveals next contestant, a nervous and slightly askew Ron Weasley.]

Lee: "Next up: Ron Weasley!"

[Lee holds his hand out; Ron shakes it vigorously.]

Lee, suddenly very serious: "Now, Ron, you and Hermione have a history together."

Ron, nodding: "Yes. That's true."

Lee: "You were casually dating after the Battle of Hogwarts, but things have cooled for you recently, correct?"

Ron, embarrassed: "Yes. That's true."

Lee, grinning mercilessly: "So this should be quite fun to watch, then! Let's see what Ron has to say."

[Camera cuts to interview segment.]

Ron: "Hermione and I have a bit of a . . . rocky history."

[Screen fills with images of them from school; in some, Hermione is glaring impatiently at Ron. In others, she is eyeing him with adoration. The overall effect is both ambiguous and dizzying.]

Ron voiceover: "You know, I don't think the timing was ever great, and after she decided to go back to Hogwarts and I went into the Auror program at the Ministry, we didn't see as much of each other."

[Images of Hermione in her Head Girl badge, Ron at Auror training with Harry.]

Ron: "I'm interested to see how things will turn out, once she's forced to focus a little bit more on her personal life."

Interviewer (off-screen): "Do you have any thoughts on what it will be like to compete with your best friend for her affections?"

Ron, noticeably uncomfortable: "Of course I have some reservations, but Harry and I are mates, and it's all in good fun."

[Screen fills with a montage of Ron eyeing Harry with suspicion while Harry obliviously does other things; in class, on the quidditch pitch, at family occasions.]

Ron, smugly: "Whoever Hermione's meant to be with will probably become clear early on."

[Camera cuts back to where Lee and Ron are standing.]

Lee, enthusiastically: "Well, it sounds like you see yourself in the running for the First Impression Rose!"

Ron, shrugging but clearly quite confident: "I think I have a fair chance. There was always something between us, after all."

Lee: "Of course." [grins] "Better head in then, and we'll check in with you later!"

[Ron nods, appearing more confident than when he first walked in, and strides comfortably to the door. Lee turns back to the camera.]

"Let's see who else will be joining us on this season of the Bachelorette! Will the one to win Hermione's heart be the lovable Irishman with arsonist tendencies?"

[Seamus Finnigan appears on the screen, crossing his arms and grinning widely.]

"Will it be the witty Slytherin with the heart of gold?"

[A shot of Theo Nott, obviously trying to be cool but abruptly laughing at something from behind the camera.]

"Or perhaps the handsome charmer with the silver tongue?"

[Blaise Zabini offers the camera a smoldering pout.]

"And coming up after the break - is there someone from Hermione's past that could throw a wrench in her happy ending?"

[Ominous music plays; a clip of a pale hand reaches to open a door.]

Lee, animatedly: "See who it is - and more - coming up next on The Bachelorette!"

"When you say this is compulsory for me," Draco said through his teeth, "I can only assume you are misremembering the definition of the word compulsory."

"I am not," Narcissa snapped loftily. "Draco. You will participate."

"You understand that this is Hermione Granger, correct?" Draco snapped, thrusting his shoulders back. "The muggle-born?"

"That's not what's important anymore," Narcissa scolded him. "Draco. You know perfectly well what has happened to us since the end of the war - "

" - yes, and?"

" - and this is our ticket back into the public's good graces!" Narcissa insisted. "If you can manage to appear likable for one single cocktail party - "

"That's giving me an awful lot of credit," Draco grumbled.

" - that would make a considerable difference for us!" she continued, ignoring him.

Narcissa reached for her son, placing her hands coolly on either side of his face.

"Listen to me, Draco, I want what's best for you," she reminded him. "Trust me. If you can just show up, be a gentleman, play the game for a bit - "

Draco feigned an elaborate, dramatic series of gagging motions.

" - I really think that would open up a world of opportunity for you," she concluded wearily. "Who knows? Maybe she'll take to you." She stroked his hair fondly. "You are quite wonderful when you allow yourself to be, you know."

"She hates me," Draco muttered. "And it's mutual."

"Doesn't matter," Narcissa declared. "Love and hate can look eerily similar."

"Love is quite a stretch, Mother," Draco argued, making a face. "Besides, there's no way she'd want to keep me around. I doubt she trusts me in the slightest."

"Fine," Narcissa said, shrugging daintily. "But if you can make a good impression at the start, I really do think that would be helpful for all of us." She looked pointedly at her son. "Are we in agreement?"

Draco sighed. His mother was an exceedingly skilled tactician, and she made an excellent point. He would very much like to be able to enter a wizard establishment again without facing an instant haze of distrustful silence, or be able to further his own business pursuits without having doors slammed in his face.

"Yes," he grumbled, feeling an instant plummeting in his gut. "Fine. I'll do it."

"That's my charming son," Narcissa said affectionately, kissing his cheek.

[Camera pans to Lee, who is now waiting for the final contestant to arrive.]

"And now, ladies and gentlemen, the moment you've all been waiting for - this season's resident bad boy, Draco Malfoy!"

[Editor's cut:

Draco, making a face of pure revulsion: "Do you really need to call me the 'resident bad boy'?"

(Muttered reply.)

Draco: "Seems . . . gratuitous."

(More mutters.)

Draco, sighing: "I know I signed a contract, but still - " ]

Lee, gesturing: "Come on out, Draco!"

[Camera shows Draco walking through door, forcing a smile.]

Draco, gallantly: "Hi, Lee."

Lee: "Good to see you, Draco!" [They shake hands.] "Are you ready for this?"

Draco, fighting a grimace: "Absolutely."

[Camera cuts to interview.]

Interviewer, off-screen: "So. Draco. Everyone is pretty aware of your somewhat dark and prejudicial past."

Draco, looking exceptionally handsome in a fitted dark wool jumper: "Yes, but hopefully people are also aware that it's just that - my past. I'm hoping that Gr- er, Hermione will be able to see that I've come a long way from who I once was."

[Dramatic piano music plays.]

Draco: "I've clearly made a lot of mistakes in my past, and I had the wrong idea about a lot of things."

[Camera cuts to Draco looking broodily out the window while the camera conspicuously focuses on his left wrist.]

Draco: "But I'm willing to admit that I was wrong, and I've put that behind me. And I'm just - I'm really looking forward to seeing Hermione again." [His sincerity is questionable.]

Interviewer: "When was the last time you spoke to her?"

Draco, swallowing uncomfortably: "Um. Not any time that I imagine she looks back on fondly." [He shifts in his seat.] "But I really am here to start over, and I hope she feels the same way."

"What do you mean Draco Malfoy is going to be on the show?" Hermione insisted. "Surely he knows he's going to be one of the first to go," she muttered, scowling.

"Actually, we'd prefer you kept him on for a while," Kingsley informed her smoothly. "It would help with easing the tension on former Death Eaters, and we think it would make for a compelling story."

"Kingsley!" Hermione snapped, whirling to face him where he sat. "I agreed to do this when I thought I was just going to - I don't know," she fumbled lamely, fully aware she was whining like a child, "Just - hang out with people who don't openly despise me."

She started pacing the room. "But now you want me to pretend to be interested in Draco Malfoy?" She was sputtering in anger. "You know what he calls me, right?"

"Times have changed, Miss Granger," Kingsley told her solemnly. "He doesn't need to be your final selection. We would just prefer that you not eliminate him immediately."

She clenched her fists tightly in agitation. "But - "

"Early test audiences indicate that he might be very successful for the show," Kingsley added. "And the more popular it is, the better job you're doing, I might add."

Hermione huffed. "I don't care about the show," she insisted stubbornly. "But I do care about my integrity!"

"Fine," Kingsley said, unmoved. "You can employ your integrity."

"Thank you," she said, sniffing.

Kingsley smirked. "After the first episode," he concluded.

[Camera shows clips of Hermione mingling with her guests, smiling politely. She seems happiest to see Harry, whom she greets with a warm embrace, and slightly less comfortable about seeing Ron. He pulls her aside, and the camera follows.]

Ron: "How are you?"

Hermione, not making eye contact: "Fine. And you?"

Ron: "It's good to see you."

[His eyes flick nervously to the camera.]

Hermione, awkwardly: "Right. Sure."

[Camera cuts to interview with Hermione.]

Hermione: "What's the deal with Ron? Well, it's really not that interesting a story." [She blushes.] "We have some romantic history."

Interviewer, off-screen: "Was there some fallout from the breakup?"

Hermione, hastily: "Oh no! Nothing like that." [She shrugs.] "We just sort of . . . faded away after a bit. We were focusing on other things in our lives, I think." [She pauses, looking thoughtful.] "We never even technically broke up. I hope I'm not cheating!" [She laughs.] "Oh god." [She stops, startled.] "I maybe should have checked on that."

[Camera cuts back to her and Ron.]

Hermione: "Well, I guess I should . . . you know. Mingle."

Ron, openly disappointed: "Right."

[They wander off separately. Camera cuts back to interview with Hermione.]

Hermione: "Am I planning to kiss someone tonight?" [Laughs.] "I hardly think I would plan on that. I don't know. If the moment demands it, I suppose."

[Camera pans to Ron looking longingly at Hermione as she attempts to talk to Seamus, who is drunk and has removed his shirt.]

Hermione slipped into the kitchen of the mansion they were using for filming, pausing to take a much needed bite of food. She took a bite of a canape and closed her eyes, savoring it. She had been too nervous prior to the events of the night to actually manage to eat much.

There was a cough from her left. "That's the most aroused you've looked all night."

She choked a little, turning to glare angrily at the interruption. "Malfoy!" she exclaimed. "Could you not . . . skulk around?"

"I'm not skulking," he replied evenly, pulling out a kitchen stool next to hers and sitting down. "I was here first."

"Still," she insisted warily. "You could have - I don't know. Announced your presence."

He shrugged. "Why not let bygones be bygones," he suggested, smirking a little.

She let her eyes travel over his dress robes, trying not to note the way he pleasantly filled out his perfectly tasteful attire.

"Is that an apology?" she asked pointedly.

"Oh, come on, Granger," he retorted. "Read between the lines. You're smart enough."

"I am," she agreed. "But I'd rather hear the words."

She watched his tongue drag lightly over his lips.

"I'll save it for the cameras, then, if you want a show," he said, his entire countenance aloof and disinterested.

He looked good. She hated to admit it, but he really did.

"It's probably best we're running into each other this way," she countered loftily, shoving aside her observation of his physicality. "I've just spoken to Ron and it was a bit of a mess."

"Best to air our issues out now, don't you think?" Malfoy agreed. "Put on a convincing show."

She wrinkled her nose. "So you've been told to act too, then?"

"Of course," Malfoy replied, rolling his eyes. "You can't possibly think this was my first choice of activity."

"I hear they're calling you the 'resident bad boy,'" she said, giggling a little. "You wear it well, Malfoy."

His nose wrinkled distastefully at that, though he chose to overlook it. "You should probably call me Draco," he corrected her. "Better for both of us, I think, if we just agree we're both miserable and put on a convincing show."

"Kind of you," she said wryly, grabbing a carrot and biting down daintily. "Man of my dreams, you are."

"Just you wait," he said, and she thought he saw the corner of his mouth twitch upwards in a smile.

One of the staff assistants poked their head in. "Hermione, ready to come back out?"

"Yes," she sighed, popping a cherry tomato in her mouth and heading out. "See you out there?" she asked, pausing to turn to Draco.

He was looking at her strangely, as though an idea had just occurred to him.

"See you soon," he said, and now he was definitely smirking at her.

It gave her an odd flutter in her chest that she quickly and violently suppressed.

"Indeed," she said formally, turning and strutting out of the room.

[Camera focuses on Hermione, who is talking to Blaise and fighting a yawn. Behind her, Draco enters the room.]

Draco, to Blaise: "Excuse me." [Nods politely at Blaise.] "Do you mind giving me a moment with the lady?"

Blaise, nodding: "Sure. Nice talking to you, Hermione." [He leans in to kiss her cheek and she allows it, coolly turning towards him.]

Hermione, to Blaise: "Of course."

[Blaise leaves; Draco offers Hermione his arm.]

Draco: "Let's talk privately, shall we? I think I have some things I need to tell you."

Hermione, hesitantly: "Sure." [She takes his arm.] "I think the garden is available."

Draco, nodding: "The garden it is."

[They walk out together; everyone else has noticed, and all conversation stops as the other contestants gather around a window, watching.]

Hermione: "So."

Draco, unnaturally calm: "So."

Hermione: "You had some things to tell me?"

Draco: "I did." [He nods.] "But there's something I want to do first."

Hermione, nervously biting her lip: "Yes?"

[Draco halts abruptly and yanks her toward him by the waist, kissing her firmly. She gasps slightly against his mouth but slowly relaxes in his grip, putting her hands on his upper arms and letting him support her. The kiss goes on for a surprisingly long time. An unreasonably long time, all things considered.]

Hermione, breaking away: "What the hell was that?"

Draco, murmuring to her: "Listen, I've done a lot of terrible things in my life, and one of those things was pretending I didn't care for you all these years. I'm not going to let another moment go by without letting you know how I feel." [He kisses her again and she seems to melt in spite of herself.] "I owe you a thousand apologies, and I'm going to start making it up to you now."

Hermione, stunned: "Um - "

[She looks at the camera, panic in her eyes. Camera cuts to interview with Hermione.]

Hermione: "Is he being sincere? I don't know. Of course I don't know." [She shakes her head.] "I can't possibly know what's going on his head after that."

Interviewer, off-screen: "You didn't know he had feelings for you in the past?"

Hermione: "No, no, of course not." [She raises a hand to her lips, looking dazed.]

Interviewer: "Did you enjoy it?"

Hermione: [Is silent.]

Interviewer: "Hermione?"

Hermione looks up, startled: "Hm? Did you say something?"

[Camera cuts back to Hermione and Draco.]

Hermione, whispering: "What do you want from me?"

Draco: "Nothing." [Kisses her again, and this time Hermione is visibly receptive, putting her arms around his neck.]

[Camera pans to the window where the other contestants are watching; Hermione seems to notice this and she straightens, pulling away from Draco.]

Hermione, stuttering: "We - um. We should go back."

Draco, no less confident: "If that's what you want."

[Hermione nods silently, starting to walk away. Draco grabs her by the arm and yanks her to him one last time, brushing a chaste kiss against her cheek.]

Draco: "Have a good night, Hermione."

Hermione: "I - you - "

[She fumbles to form words, and camera cuts to Lee.]

"Ladies and gentlemen, the evening is now coming to a close! Who will get the First Impression Rose? Who will not be returning to the mansion? Find out next on The Bachelorette!"

"Owls are flying in like crazy," Mafalda said breathlessly. "People are raving about the kiss."

"Is it as we expected?" Kingsley asked, looking up from his desk.

"Audiences were fairly typical from the start," Mafalda admitted. "But as soon as Draco kissed Hermione, people have been writing in like mad!"

"Hm," Kingsley muttered to himself, then quickly started scrawling on a scrap of paper. "Get this to Lee as soon as possible," he said, finishing the note with a flourish and handing it to his assistant.

"What do you mean, I have to give it to Ron or Draco?" Hermione said, stomping her tired foot. It was well into the middle of the night.

Lee shrugged. "Look, those are just my instructions," he said wearily. "You have to cut two people and you have to give Ron or Draco the rose."

"But - " she stammered in her exhaustion. "But I really enjoyed talking to Theo, you know, and - and Terry Boot is quite interesting - "

"Hermione," Lee said, sighing. "Just pick one and let's go home."

She groaned, aiming a swift kick at a nearby table leg.

"Fine," she snapped. "Let's go."

[Camera pans to where all of the contestants have now gathered and are standing together, waiting for Hermione. There are ten rose boutonnieres on a small table, and Lee steps into view.]

"Gentlemen, there are ten roses available and twelve of you. Two of you must go home today, while the others will continue to stay in the mansion and battle it out for Hermione's heart."

[A pregnant pause. Hermione steps into view, looking nervous and exhausted.]

Lee: "Hermione. Are you ready?"

Hermione, tentatively: "Yes."

Lee: "The first rose is the First Impression Rose, which will go to the contestant that you had the strongest connection with tonight. That contestant will be safe from elimination tonight and for one additional week. Have you decided who that is?"

Hermione: [exhales shakily] "Yes." [She picks up the rose and looks up, her eyes scanning the crowd.]

[Intense orchestral music plays. The moment drags on for much too long.]

Lee: "Hermione?"

Hermione: [Looks instantly regretful.] "Draco."

[A gasp escapes the crowd. Draco smirks, stepping forward to stand entirely too close to Hermione's face. The sexual tension is palpable.]

Hermione, sounding very rehearsed: "Draco. Do you accept this rose?"

Draco: "I do."

[He leans towards her and her eyes widen in anticipation, but he gives her a brief embrace and quickly saunters back to the group.]

Lee: "Okay, Hermione. Are you ready to give out the other nine roses?"

Hermione: [nods] "Yes."

[She picks the roses up and distributes them one by one. The final rose sits on the table, with Ernie MacMillan, Justin Finch-Fletchley, and Michael Corner remaining.]

Hermione: [takes a deep breath] "Michael."

[Michael looks relieved; Ernie and Justin are clearly disappointed. Hermione hugs them both but looks rather relieved to have it all done with. She and Draco lock eyes and quickly look away.]

Lee: "Congratulations, gentlemen, on being Hermione's choice!" [Turns to camera] "And now, a look at some scenes from later this season on the Bachelorette!"

[Clips of Hermione laughing with the various candidates.]

Ron voiceover: "I don't know, I thought we had something, but I'm not sure." [Camera cuts to him looking bitter.] "I hope it's not too late to change things."

Seamus voiceover: "I definitely thought it would be an easy win for Ron, but that might not be the case."

[Clip of Hermione holding hands with Theo, smiling.]

Theo: "Sure, she's having fun." [He shrugs.] "But so am I."

[Camera cuts to Draco interview. He is openly frustrated.]

Draco: "Did I get the first impression rose? Sure. But am I thrilled she kissed Potter? No. No, of course not."

[Clip of Hermione laughing as Harry picks her up, honeymoon-style, and carries her inside the mansion.]

Harry: [shrugs innocently] "Hey, it's about Hermione, isn't it? That's who I'm here for." [He shakes his head.] None of these other jokers."

[Camera returns to Lee, who is grinning.]

"All of that and more this season, on . . . The Bachelorette!"

[Editor's cut:

Lee: "Are we done now? Please tell me we're done now."

(Muttered response.)

Lee: [tears microphone off collar, throws it on the ground] "Merlin's tits, what a long fucking day - "

Exits screen view.]

Chapter Text


Pairing: Hinny (Harry x Ginny)

Universe: Potterverse, canon-compliant

Rating: T

Summary: Honestly, this isn't really about anything. Pairing requested by UnicornMist.

"Harry," Ginny mumbled, stumbling past him into the bathroom. "I'm so late - I really need you to move - "

Harry reluctantly obliged, his eyes drawn to the flick of her red hair as she tossed it over her shoulder, his t-shirt barely covering the top of her legs. Her lips were still swollen, her feet still bare, her entire countenance flushed and frantic.

She was beautiful.

"Mum's going to kill me," she muttered, shoving him aside to gain access to the sink. "Not to mention Ron, if he catches me downstairs," she added, splashing water on her face and then reaching out a hand, wordlessly demanding a towel.

"It's not like this would be a surprise to him," Harry reminded her, turning to grab one and then placing it lightly in her waiting palm.

"Still," she said, roughly patting her face dry and flipping her hair, tousling it to undo the kinks from her usual restless, sheet-dominating sleep. "I'm not sure he'd be thrilled to know this is where I go every night,particularly considering he lives here." She scowled. "I wish you'd chosen Hermione as a roommate," she added, flashing Harry an impertinent glare. "She's much more reasonable."

Harry shrugged, his eyes on the curve of her arse that was now visible as she pulled her hair up into a ponytail. "She wanted her own flat," he murmured by way of explanation. "I guess privacy is important to some people," he added, grinning knowingly as she made a face.

It was, after all, her idea to keep things quiet between them now that she had finished at Hogwarts. She was set to join the Harpies for the season and, to her credit, she didn't want her relationship with Harry to be "a distraction."

So instead, it was . . . not a secret, exactly, as there were no secrets when it came to the Chosen One, the Boy Who Lived, the hero who saved the wizarding world from the Dark Lord, etcetera - but she had seen fit to keep things light between them. Ginny Weasley was not in a hurry for marriage or commitment; she was not particularly in a hurry for much, really, except a quaffle in her hands and a World Cup title. Harry understood that.

And yet it was a week out from her N.E.W.T.s, and she had yet to spend a single night at the Burrow. Not that anyone knew that, of course.

Privacy. It was the principle of the thing.

"Don't," she instructed, pursing her lips. She looked around the bathroom, brow furrowed as she strained to remember something.

Her still unworn pants, possibly; not that Harry was in a hurry to remedy the situation.

"I got you something," he said, remembering. He reached into a drawer, pulling out the innocuous item he'd thrown in as an afterthought. "Here," he said, offering her the toothbrush.

She took it from him, scowling with skepticism. "What's this?"

"A horcrux," he said, shrugging.

She smacked him, hard, directly across the shoulder. "Harry!"

"Ouch!" he insisted, pouting. "It's a toothbrush, you - "

She glared at him.

" - you beautiful, lovely, kind-hearted witch," he finished helplessly, raising his hands in defeat.

"Why?" she demanded, putting her hands on her hips.

He gaped at her, unable to fathom the source of her fiercely adverse reaction.

"It's for oral hygiene, see - "

"Harry!" she smacked him again. "Answer the question!"

He sighed, always imprisoned by his own need to satisfy the fiery sprite that he'd chosen. "I just thought you'd want one," he said, somewhat defeatedly. "You know, to leave here," he explained weakly, waving his hand at the generally sparse bathroom counter.

"Why?" she snapped again, hands on her diminutive hips. "I don't need to leave a toothbrush behind, Harry, I'm a witch. Watch - "

She picked up her wand from the counter, raising it and tapping the bar of soap that sat on the lip of the sink. "Toothbrush," she said, gesturing to the now transfigured item.

She waved her wand at the towel that lay draped across the faucet. "Toothbrush," she said pointedly, flashing him a look. One of those truly Ginny looks, the kind that always stopped him in his tracks, his breath caught in his throat just from her unholy mix of utter loveliness and supreme, unfailing stubbornness.

She grabbed his wrist, gesturing to his watch. "Toothbrush - "

"That's enough," he said hastily, yanking his hand out of her grasp. "Honestly, Gin," he sighed resignedly. "I was just trying to be helpful - "

"But why?" she repeated firmly, her withering gaze questioning.

Harry could not, for the life of him, understand the absurdity of her reaction. But, he reminded himself with a grimace, she would not be Ginny Weasley, Girl Almighty, if she did not spend the majority of his time driving him to a state of complete insanity and impenetrable confusion.

"Well," he said slowly, "I figure if you're going to be around a lot, you know, then . . . I thought I'd just try to give you the things that you need."

Which was true, of course. He was perfectly fine with waiting for her to be ready to be with him; after all, she'd certainly done plenty of waiting for him, hadn't she? The lying to her mother, the sneaking around behind his best friend's back - that was all fine. He could be patient.

The toothbrush was just an offering. Perhaps she would want the toothbrush. Perhaps not. But either way, wasn't it best that she knew it was available?

More than available, really. Wasn't it best that she knew it was hers?

She opened her mouth to respond and then stopped abruptly, her eyes narrowing as she considered him.

"Is this a toothbrush, Harry?" she asked, her voice uncharacteristically hesitant. "Or is it a metaphor?"

"It's a toothbrush," he assured her. "I think," he qualified, suddenly confused.

She paused for a moment, her eyes wide as she considered his answer.

And then she suddenly knocked his hands aside, tossing the multitude of toothbrushes he was now holding onto the floor and careening into his arms, filling his nose with the smell of her hair as her lips gently grazed the side of his neck.

"You're an idiot," she told him, turning to kiss him firmly on the cheek.

"Um," he grunted in bewilderment, his eyes following her as she bounded away into his bedroom. "So - do you want it?"

"Sure," she called, her voice muffled as she tore his shirt over her shoulders and slipped quickly into her own clothes. Harry, in turn, watched with regretful disappointment as the freckles that dusted her shoulders, the ones he made a point to memorize each night that she was in his bed, disappeared under the soft material of her shirt. "Leave it in the bathroom for me, will you?"

She appeared in the doorway, her smile radiant. "I'll need it tonight," she said softly.

He smiled.

It seemed, for once, he'd managed to do something right.

Chapter Text

Bachelorette, Part II

Pairing: Dramione (Draco x Hermione)

Universe: Post-Hogwarts, EWE

Rating: M for language, possible smut later

Summary: Part II of the drabble series based on the reality show "The Bachelorette," wherein eligible men in the wizarding world compete for Hermione Granger's affections. (Part I is Chapter 5)

[Black screen; Lee voiceover.]

"Last week on . . . The Bachelorette!"

[Screen cuts to various images of Draco and Hermione kissing.]

Draco voiceover: "I've done a lot of terrible things in my life, and one of those things was pretending I didn't care for you all these years. I'm not going to let another moment go by without letting you know how I feel."

[Gratuitous close-up of Draco's hand as it slips conspicuously from Hermione's waist to her lower back.]

Theo voiceover: "Hey, I mean . . . he's Draco." [His tone is casual, possibly even smug.] "I'm not really surprised."

[Cuts to interview with Ron]

Ron: "It's ridiculous." [Crosses arms tightly.] "She can't possibly think Draco Malfoy is the right person for her."

[Camera pans unsteadily as Ron, Dean, and Seamus are talking together in a low voice, alone in the kitchen; they clearly do not know they're being filmed.]

Seamus: "Who d'you reckon is the biggest competition, mate?"

Dean, drinking a beer and shrugging: "Obvious, in't it?"

Ron: [Looks startled.] "You think Malfoy's got a shot?"

Dean: "No." [Looks confused.] "It's got to be Potter - right?"

[Shot of Harry and Hermione laughing, she reaches forward to touch his arm as he tells a story, and it's all very charming and adorable.]

Harry voiceover: "Hermione's always been so important to me, and I don't know. I guess I've never looked at her this way, but maybe I should have."

[Cuts to Hermione at the most recent rose ceremony, looking glum.]

Hermione: "This is so difficult. I've established such a lovely connection with all of you." [It is pretty clear that she is lying, though she seems genuinely distressed.] "But this last rose is for Blaise."

[Blaise looks relieved; Neville looks crestfallen.]

Hermione voiceover: "It's just so hard. I hate having to disappoint people." [She sniffs audibly.] "I can't even imagine how I'm going to have to keep sending people home."

[Camera pans to Lee, who is once again standing in front of the elaborate manor home.]

Lee: "And tonight - with nine suitors remaining, who will Hermione choose? Will she rekindle her romance with a former flame?"

[A shot of Ron and Hermione sharing a private joke.]

Lee voiceover: "Will she find love in the arms of her former nemesis?"

[Draco and Hermione kiss as fireworks go off in the distance.]

Lee voicover: "Or will she discover something new with an old friend?"

[Harry has an eyelash on his cheek; Hermione brushes it away and they both blush like they've gotten away with murder.]

Lee voiceover: "All that and more, coming up on the Bachelorette!"

"You're going to need to cut either Terry or Michael this week," Lee said, squinting at the note in his hand. "People don't care for them, and they can't tell them apart."

"Why, because they're both Ravenclaws who are capable of making intelligent conversation?" Hermione grunted, putting her feet up on the coffee table. "Great."

Lee gave her a withering look. "It's not like you particularly care for them, either," he remarked, recalling the vacuous look she usually adopted when speaking to either contestant.

She lifted an eyebrow. "Are you invested in my imaginary romance now, too?" she asked quizzically. "You know this isn't real, right?"

"Well I have to watch, don't I?" he sniped back, though he instantly looked regretful. "Sorry," he muttered, rubbing his eyes. "Tired."

"Of course you're tired," she replied in a low murmur. "It's after midnight and I'm finding it horribly difficult to muster any interest in this whatsoever."

"Oh, that's hardly accurate," Lee scoffed, rolling his eyes. "You're really going to tell me you don't legitimately like any of these blokes?"

"Well that's not the point, is it?" she asked primly, sitting up to glare at him. "And anyway, what exactly are you saying?"

"Oh please," he said, making a face. "Don't pretend like you didn't fully enjoy snogging Draco."

"It's a charade and you know it," she retorted, though he noted that she didn't meet his eye. "And anyway, he took me completely by surprise," she added defensively.

"The first time," Lee said pointedly, fighting a laugh. "But exactly how many times did he pull you aside this time? Three times?"

"Twice," she corrected, then flinched. "Fine," she conceded, sighing. "I see your point."

"Right," he agreed, nodding.

"It's for the cameras," she reminded him firmly. "You're the one who told me I had to give him the First Impression rose, anyway."

"Actually, I said you could give it to him or Ron," Lee said pointedly. "You could easily have given it to, you know . . . the person you actually like."

"Well, Ron wouldn't have been at all convincing!" she argued, crossing her arms. "You were there. You saw." She shook her head. "The lack of chemistry was laughable."

Lee smirked. "I thought you didn't care about the show?"

He guessed she was reaching for a particularly disgruntled look, though she seemed too exhausted to muster it.

"I'm going to have a life after this, you know," she admonished him wearily. "I can at least not try to not ruin my own reputation in the process."

"And Draco Malfoy is good for your reputation?" Lee barked, throwing his head back with a laugh. "Sure."

"He's really not that bad," she murmured, closing her eyes. "Though don't tell him I said that."

[Camera focuses first on Harry, who is chatting happily with Ron, Dean, Seamus, and Theo; then pans out the window to Draco, who is sitting alone outside and reading.]

Interviewer voiceover: "So how is your relationship with the others in the house?"

[Cuts to Draco interview]

Draco: "It's fine." [He shrugs.] "I'm not actually that concerned what they think of me."

Interviewer, off-screen: "Do you have friends in the house?"

Draco: "Of course. Blaise and Theo are here." [He makes a careless hand gesture.] "But this isn't really about friendship, is it?"

Interviewer, off-screen: "What's it about?"

Draco: "Hermione, obviously." [He seems momentarily distracted, as though something has just crossed his mind.] "Obviously."

Interviewer, off-screen: "It doesn't bother you that the other candidates have been forming alliances among themselves?"

Draco: "No." [The statement rings with falsehood.] "I don't need an alliance. After all, only one of us can win." [He shrugs.]

"Hey," Granger said, taking a seat beside him.

He instantly leapt to his feet, moving to take her in his arms. "Hey," he replied, taking care to growl sensually as he burrowed his face into her neck.

She laughed at him, shoving him away playfully. "There's no cameras."

"Oh." He released her quickly, sitting back down and picking up the book he'd hastily discarded. "Fucking hell, Granger, you've made me lose my page."

"Ah, young love," she remarked. "Budge over, would you?"

"Fine," he agreed courteously, making room for her on the patio furniture. She took a deep breath and sighed, closing her eyes and enjoying the sun on her face.

"This is nice," she said softly.

"It was nice," he pointed out, and she opened one eye to glare at him. "Before you so rudely interrupted my solitude."

"Oh please, Malfoy," she said, waving her hand irritably. "Aren't you sick of being by yourself?"

"What is this, an interview segment?" he countered, carefully avoiding the question. "And what are you doing here, anyway? Aren't you supposed to be . . . I don't know," he guessed. "Elsewhere?"

"I'm bored," she said, her tone abnormally petulant. "I'm not allowed to see anyone else."

"You're not allowed to see me, either," he said pointedly. "Seems like you're not actually that constricted by the rules."

"Oh, you won't tell," she said carelessly, smirking as she closed her eyes again. "You're always by yourself."

"It's that or chance being filmed with the lot of them," he sniffed, gesturing inside the house where he was sure the cameras were catching Seamus make his fourth sandwich of the day, or interviewing Weasley as he mooned over Granger.

"You know, if you're trying to rehabilitate your image, this isn't the best way to do it," she said, her pretty mouth twisting into a little frown as she admonished him. "You should - I don't know." She shrugged, shading her eyes with the flat of her hand. "Make friends?"

"Why do people keep saying that?" he said exasperatedly, tossing the book onto the side table. Obviously reading was now hopeless. "I have friends."

"Yeah, but not the right ones," she reminded him. "Theo and Blaise are great, but they're not exactly influential."

"You're saying to make friends with Potter," he grunted, then made a face. "No."

"Oh come on," she laughed, nudging him. "You've made friends with me."

"Not sure this counts as friendship," he muttered back. "Seeing as I'll have to snog you the instant the cameras show up."

"Speaking of that." She sat up slightly, her expression prim. "You should consider grabbing my arse next time," she suggested. "The kissing is fine, you know, but you have to keep it interesting."

"Fucking hell Granger," he groaned. "Is this for the show, or for you?"

"Oh rats," she said, leaping off the chaise and ducking behind it. "Cover me, would you?"

He looked over, catching the camera lens as it focused on them from inside the house.

"Fine," he grumbled, though he smiled a little as he picked up his book and continued pretending to read.

[Camera pans around living room, where the various candidates are sitting around in casual clothing, looking generally haggard and scruffy. Harry enters.]

Harry, holding an envelope: "Guys, owl's just arrived." [He flips the envelope over, looking at it.] "It's a date card."

Theo, taking it from him: "Date card?" [Looks up.] "Someone get Draco, would you?"

[Blaise nods, stepping outside and then returning.]

Harry, taking it back from Theo: "Looks like a group date."

[Editor's cut:

Hermione: "What is it you need me to write on the card?"

Muttered response.

Hermione, scoffing: "A poem? No. I'm not writing a poem."]

Harry, reading: "Before you catch my heart, let's see you catch a quaffle."

Blaise: "Who's on the date?"

Harry: [Flips note over.] "Dean, Seamus, Ron, Draco, Theo, Michael, Terry, and Blaise." [He frowns.] "What about me?"

Seamus: "I think that means you get the first one-on-one, mate!" [Claps Harry on the shoulder. The others look at him with deep confusion.] "What?" [Shrugs] "Me mum loves this show."

Harry, confused: "One-on-one?"

Ron: "Does that mean it's just you and Mione?" [Glares sulkily.]

Seamus: "Yeah." [Nods eagerly.] "You get to be the first one to go on a date alone with Hermione."

Harry, brightly: "Oh!" [Looks pleased.]

[Camera pans to Draco, whose lips are pressed together tightly as he stares at the ground.]

Ron approached Harry in their shared bathroom, casually reaching over him for a towel.

"So," he said evenly. "A date with Hermione."

"Yeah," Harry said, shrugging. "Seems weird to think of it that way."

"But that's what it is," Ron said pointedly.

Harry paused, giving him a scrutinizing look. "We talked about this," he said slowly. "I thought you were okay with it?"

I was when I thought she was going to choose me, Ron thought vigorously.

"No, of course," he said, shaking his head. "It's fine."

"Good," Harry breathed, relieved. "It's just a date, anyway." He shrugged again. "It's stupid, and you know Hermione's not taking this seriously."

"Right," Ron said faintly, lagging behind as Harry ambled out into the hall.

[Dean, Seamus, Ron, Draco, Theo, Michael, Terry, and Blaise are waiting in the living room, all looking impeccably groomed compared to how they'd been dressed that morning. Lee enters, looking chipper.]

Lee: "Ready for your group date, gents?"

[All nod; camera focuses on Dean and Seamus, whose gazes are flicking nervously to each other.]

Lee: "You'll be meeting Hermione out on the pitch." [Gestures.] "Come on, then."

[Camera cuts to Blaise interview]

Blaise, looking bored: "We're going to play quidditch with her? Call me crazy, but that can't have been her idea."

[Editor's cut:

Hermione: "You want me to play quidditch with them?"

Muttered response.

Hermione: "Oh, that's funny. That's hysterical."


Hermione: "Oh, I hate you."]

[Cuts to Draco interview]

Draco: "We all know Granger isn't exactly the most adept at flying." [Looks at fingernails, shrugging.] "Then again, we all know I am, particularly with Potter not coming."

Interviewer, off-screen: "How do you feel about Harry getting the first one-on-one date?"

[Editor's cut:

Draco: "She picked Potter? Oh that's excellent. That is absolutely excellent. I can't wait to see the look on Weasley's face."]

Draco: "I'm devastated, of course." [There is a mischievous twinkle in his eye that indicates otherwise.] "But if there is a rose to be gained on this date, I suspect she'll find it difficult to give to anyone else."

[Camera pans to Hermione, who is walking onto the quidditch pitch looking rather surly.]

Lee: "Hi Hermione!" [kisses her cheek.] "Ready for this group date?"

[Editor's cut:

Lee: "Is it possible for you to look slightly less miserable?"

Hermione: "No."

Lee: "Cool, cool, just checking."]

Hermione: "Can't wait." [Her lie could not be more obvious; she looks over Lee's shoulder to the contestants.] "Hello."

[One by one they give her a hug; the camera zooms in as Draco reaches her last.]

Draco, murmuring in her ear: "Hi, stranger." [He yanks her in quickly and her eyes widen, but he only grips her momentarily. She appears vaguely disappointed.]

Hermione: "Hi." [She is breathless; she turns to the other candidates, who are glaring at Draco.] "So. As you may know, I'm not the best at flying."

Theo: [dashes forward gallantly] "Here." [He holds up the broom for her.] "Let me help you."

[Camera cuts to Draco interview]

Draco, smirking: "The fact that Theo would attempt to teach Hermione to fly is honestly quite hilarious."

[Cuts to Blaise interview]

Blaise: "All I could think in that moment was just - Theo is truly terrible on a broom. I was honestly thinking 'I have to do something or she might die'."

[Camera returns to group date; Blaise has rushed forward to help and Hermione is now glancing awkwardly between him and Theo.]

Hermione: "Um."

Draco: [Steps forward smoothly, interrupting.] "Perhaps something a little different?" [He looks smug.] "Maybe we should play a little four-a-side, and the winning team can earn some extra time with Hermione?"

Hermione, looking relieved: "Yes." [She promptly drops the broom.] "Maybe Draco, Ron, Terry, and Dean, versus Seamus, Theo, Michael, and Blaise?"

[The men glare at each other, though Hermione looks pleased with herself.]

Ron: "Fine."

[They take to their brooms, splitting up. The game is filled with egos; Draco and Ron find it difficult to play together, each becoming more showy with the quaffle, until Theo manages to score the winning point.]

Theo: "Point us!" [He lands on the pitch and scoops up Hermione; she giggles in spite of herself.] "A kiss for the winner, m'lady?"

Hermione, blushing: "Alright." [She kisses Theo's cheek and he promptly turns his head, surprising her by kissing her soundly on the lips.] "Oh!"

Ron: [Mimicking her to Seamus] "Oh!" [He sees the camera and turns away, embarrassed.]

[Lee walks onto the pitch]

Lee: "So, Hermione. Are you ready to give out the group date rose?"

Hermione: "Sure." [She is still winded from surprise, and Theo regretfully releases her.] "I guess . . . " [She looks around.] "I guess it'll have to go to Theo."

Theo: [Smirks at her] "Guess so."

[Camera cuts to Theo interview]

Theo, grinning: "Nailed it." [Offers to bump fists with interviewer, who grudgingly accepts.]

Draco wandered over to where Granger was chatting with Seamus, offering her his hand.

"My turn?" he asked pleasantly.

"Sure," she agreed, standing. "Thanks, Seamus!"

He gave her a cheerful salute and she took Draco's hand, leaning in to whisper in his ear. "Cameras," she said pointedly, gesturing.

As soon as they were out of the room, he shoved her against the wall, bending his head to whisper in her ear. "Are they still filming?" he asked, careful to keep his voice low.

She nodded, stretching out against him. "Yep."

He brought his hand to her waist, grasping it tightly. "How are things with Theo?" he muttered, and she wriggled under his grip, fighting to block the visual of her mouth moving.

"They're good," she murmured back, letting her hips sway towards him. "He's fun."

"He is fun," Draco agreed, giving her another teasing shove backwards and kissing her roughly. "Careful."

"Why?" she gasped, putting her hands on either side of his face.

Draco flipped her around, letting his mouth linger at the nape of her neck. "He likes to have his fun," he said softly. "So does Blaise."

She leaned back to talk into his ear, disguising the movement with a kiss against his neck. "Blaise isn't going to work out," she said. "He likes himself more than me."

"Don't get rid of Blaise," Draco protested, flipping her back to the wall and tucking her hair behind her ear. "I'll be so outnumbered," he whispered, and she let out a purposeful feminine sigh.

"I'm going to keep Theo," she said, and he kissed her again, slipping his tongue into her mouth for emphasis. "I like him."

"I can tell," he chuckled, thinking of how he'd caught her kissing Theo only moments earlier. "Hey," he warned, as she let her hands slip indiscreetly to his belt loops. "Careful."

"Cameras," she reminded him sternly. "It's called a convincing show, Malfoy."

"I can only control my dick so much," he grunted, removing her hands and lacing his fingers in hers to distract her.

"Careful, or you might actually fall in love with me," she laughed.

"Shut up," he retorted, shoving her back against the wall.

[Lee voiceover as the camera shows Harry getting ready]

Lee: "Are you ready for this?"

Harry voiceover: "I think so."

[He looks quite nervous; camera cuts to Harry interview]

Harry: "I mean, obviously I've spent a lot of time with Hermione, I mean - we were alone together in a tent for months." [He laughs a little.] "At the time I'm not sure I was seeing her properly."

Interviewer, off-screen: "What do you mean by that?"

Harry: "Er." [Scratches his head, thinking; as a result, his untamed hair becomes even more unkempt.] "I was occupied with other things at the time, and she was just there, you know? Just my best friend Hermione."

Interviewer, off-screen: "Has anything changed?"

Harry: [looks pensive] "She's always been beautiful, and kind. And smart, of course." [Smiles to himself] "But I think we needed each other as friends before. Anything more than that would have been too much at the time."

Interviewer, off-screen: "And now?"

Harry: [Bows his head, thinking about something.] "You know, she really is beautiful, isn't she?" [He looks up at the camera, smiling widely.]

There was a flutter in her chest as he approached; they hadn't been alone for several months, and even then, it hadn't been anything like this.

"What made you choose him?" Lee said, leaning over to speak in her ear while the cameras were still on Harry.

"He's my best friend," she returned easily. "No pressure." She shrugged. "If there's nothing between us, it's still a full day hanging out with one of the people I love most."

"And if there is?" Lee asked, grinning.

She felt her lips twist up in a smirk. "None of your business," she said loftily, raising her chin and squaring her shoulders.

Mafalda burst into Kingsley's office. "Sir!"

He looked up, his spectacles slipping down his nose. "Yes?"

"Harry and Hermione are hitting it off beautifully," she gushed. "Conversation is flowing, they keep having these - these moments where they look at each other, and it's just - " she paused, stammering. "It's just magical - "

"Mafalda," Kingsley cut her off swiftly. "This show is not meant to distract you from your work."

"Right," she acknowledged hastily, realizing her mistake and starting to back out of his office. "Right you are, sir, apologies - "

But Kingsley smiled to himself, rubbing his temple. "Turn it on in here, would you?"

She made a tiny squeak of agreement. "Yes, sir," she managed, fumbling for her wand.

[Camera focuses on Hermione and Harry, who are having dinner alone together.]

Harry: " - and then she just says 'have a biscuit, Potter,' and it was the most amazing plot twist." [Looks up to see if Hermione is laughing; she is.]

Hermione: "I can't believe you never told me that!" [She is clutching her side with laughter.] "Oh, that is too good." [She takes a sip of wine, still smiling.]

Harry: [Looks at her for a moment.] "I had a really great time today, Hermione."

Hermione: "Me too." [She seems surprised, but genuine.] "I mean, I knew I would, but - "

Harry: "I know." [They smile at each other.] "It makes me wonder if maybe we've been missing something all this time." [He sets his glass down near her hand; the opportunity is there for him to take hold of hers, and he does.]

Hermione: [Looks down at where Harry is holding her hand, and brushes her thumb lightly across his knuckles.] "Can I be honest?"

Harry, looking surprised: "Of course."

Hermione: [hesitates] "I actually used to wonder that a lot, about us. If we were missing something" [She shifts uncomfortably.] "I mean, do you remember that time - "

Harry: "Yes." [He looks very serious.] "I almost kissed you."

Hermione: [Quickly, as though she is nervous about his reaction.] "I mean, I know we were both sad, and stressed - "

Harry: [Shakes his head.] "It was more than that." [He stares at her.] "There was more to it than that."

Hermione: [Looks relieved.] "I'm glad I wasn't wrong." [She sighs, looking down at the rose by her hand as though she has just remembered it exists.] "Okay, so, if I give you this rose - "

Harry: [Jumps out of his seat, pulling her into his arms and kissing her, cutting her off mid-sentence.]

[Hermione puts her hands on his chest, kissing him back slowly before they both pull away, eyes closed.]

Hermione: "Um, so." [She clears her throat and he slides his nose gently along hers, nuzzling her. The gesture is very intimate.] "The rose."

Harry, eyes still closed: "Just give me the damn rose, Hermione."

Hermione: [Laughs, putting her arms around his neck.] "Alright. If you insist."

[Editor's cut:

Lee: [Is sniffling, holding himself tightly.]

Muttered response.

Lee: "Oh please." [Looks irritated] "Don't pretend you don't think this is fucking beautiful."

More mutters.

Lee: "They're best friends! And now they're - " [Breaks off, overcome with emotion.] "If you don't think this is beautiful, you're a monster."]

"Have you gotten ahold of yourself?" Hermione asked Lee, smirking at him as she adjusted her gown.

"Yes," he replied irritably, wiping his eyes furiously. "You ready?"

"Of course I'm ready," she retorted, gesturing again to her gown and emphasizing her perfect chignon. "What are my instructions today?"

"Keep Harry," he said instantly, and she rolled her eyes.

"Anything else?"

"Viewers still love Draco," he said, checking his latest owl. "They like Theo, too - "

"I'm not cutting Theo," Hermione interrupted, and Lee raised his hands innocently.

"Okay, okay," he said quickly. "Fine, Theo stays." He grinned at her. "Maybe you're finding a little too much love on this show."

"Don't be ridiculous," she snapped, placing her hands on her hips with a prim tsk-ing sound. "It's not love. I just like him." She paused, thinking. "And Harry." She sighed. "Fine, and Draco."

"Mm," Lee said, winking. "True love indeed."

[Camera pans to Hermione, who is holding the final rose.]

Hermione: [Takes a deep breath] "The final rose tonight is for . . . " [She trails off.]

[Editor's cut:

Hermione: "Do I really need to pause for 30 seconds every time?"

Muttered response.

Hermione, stomping her foot in irritation: "Oh, for Godric's sake."]

[Camera pans between Terry and Ron, who are the only two remaining.]

Hermione: "Ron."

[Ron sighs with relief while Terry looks disappointed; she hugs him warmly after pinning the rose on him. Lee steps into camera view.]

Lee: "Thank you, gentlemen." [Turns to camera.] "And now, scenes from later this season on The Bachelorette!"

[Camera cuts to montage of Seamus and Dean; in every shot, both men are shirtless.]

Hermione, in interview: "Am I crazy, or are Dean and Seamus not really that interested in me?"

[Camera cuts to her and Theo; she is sitting in his lap and laughing as he tells a story.]

Theo voiceover: "Are things moving too quickly with Hermione? I certainly wouldn't say that." [Cuts to interview; Theo is smirking relentlessly.] "Personally, I rather like the pace."

[Clips of Hermione with Harry, holding hands as they talk animatedly.]

Ron voiceover: "No, I'm not jealous." [His voice is very stiff.] "I'm not jealous at all."

[Scene of Ron and Hermione sitting at a date, looking awkward.]

Hermione, in interview: "Chemistry is a bit uneven, I would say. It's definitely . . . more tangible with some than with others."

[Clips of Hermione and Draco making eyes at each other from across the room as she gives Blaise a dispassionate hug.]

Draco: "Who's going to be the first to say I love you? I don't know." [Shrugs] "Won't be me."

[Cut to Hermione and Draco dancing; he dips her dramatically, clearly unable to take his eyes off her as she laughs.]

Draco voiceover: "I love you, Hermione. I'm falling in love with you, and it's terrifying. I'm terrified."

Hermione voiceover: "Draco, I - "

[Cuts abruptly to Lee.]

Lee, grinning: "All that and more coming up on . . . The Bachelorette!"

[Editor's cut:

Lee: "Seriously, am I the only one that's Team Harry here? Come on. Team Harry, right?"

Muttered response.

Lee: "Oh, we're still rolling? Fuck me."]

Chapter Text

The Story

Pairing: Dramione (Draco x Hermione)

Universe: This World or Any Other Storyverse (Clean/Marked)

Rating: T

Summary: This was previously posted as a standalone one-shot about two months ago but I decided I wanted to move it in here. If you have read Clean, this is an expanded one-shot from Day 4 of Chapter 14: The Seven, in which Draco and Hermione are working on their potion together. If not, it can be read separately.

Thanks to Dr. Sally for naming the Clean/Marked/Youth series: This World or Any Other.

Hermione Granger, exceptional student though she was, had found it difficult to concentrate for most of that day. Her seat next to Draco Malfoy in Defense Against the Dark Arts was particularly distracting, considering the unexpected pleasantness that had somehow developed between them over the duration of their heavily time-consuming potion assignment. She found that the thought of having only four days left, after a full moon cycle of being left alone with Malfoy, night after night, had left her dizzied with confusion - not to mention without a proper outlet for the troubling thoughts she was so unaccustomed to having.

They were exceedingly troubling thoughts. Thoughts like the oddly fascinating color of Malfoy's eyes - the precise shade of grey, like the eye of an impending storm. Thoughts like the distinct bow of his lips. The sharp curve of his jaw. The way she caught him looking at her every now and then, and the startling leap of her heart right before she pretended not to notice.

Thoughts like the way his eyes changed when he was thinking about something, the stormy greys flashing under his artfully furrowed brow. The way a tingle raced up the back of her neck when she felt his eyes on her, following her fingers as she tucked a curl behind her ear or the hem of her skirt as she crossed her legs under her desk.

Thoughts like the sharp outline of his collarbone when his shirt gapped ever so slightly, the smooth protrusion of his chest evident when he wearily rid himself of his uniform details as he met her after dark. The way he pulled his tie roughly over his head and tossed it aside, increasingly comfortable in her presence. The way he nonchalantly freed his top buttons, unconcerned where her darkened eyes fell. The way he stood over their potion, his trim hips shifting gracefully to angle him towards her, wherever she was in the room. The way he ran his hand through his pale blond hair, enviously blind to the way her chest rose and fell as she recalled their previous breathless indiscretions. All his thoughtless, careless practices that had become her nightly staples, haunting her with those thoughts.

Thoughts like the way his lips had captured hers once before - directing them, caressing them. Possessing them.

She shivered, watching him smooth his hair back and lean casually onto his elbows from where he perched on the desk across the room. Did he have any idea, even an inkling, what he was doing to her?

"Tell me a story," she suggested, breaking the silence as they watched the potion simmer. It would be a while, at least an hour, before the remainder of the evening's incantations would be required.

He tossed her an impatient scowl. "No."

"Malfoy!" she exclaimed, crossing her arms. "Come on. Entertain me."

He seemed to be toying with her now, purposely eyeing his fingernails with a brush of mild indifference dancing across his faintly pouted lips. "Why?" he asked coolly, and she rolled her eyes.

"Because we're going to be here for hours," she said matter-of-factly. "And if you don't talk to me, I'll have to find some other way to amuse myself." She hopped off the desk, pretending to keep a wary eye on their simmering potion. "Maybe I'll just read my notes out loud."

He sighed loudly. "You'll have to be more specific," he said crisply, and she smiled. His ongoing attempts at pretense had become increasingly transparent with each day they were forced to work together.

"About what?" she asked innocently. "Which notes to read?"

"No," he said, raising an eyebrow. "Which story to tell."

She bit her lip, concealing her grin of satisfaction. "Fine," she conceded, pausing to think for a moment. "Tell me about your favorite place you've traveled."

"My family has villas all over Europe," he said impatiently, frowning as his eyes wandered listlessly up to the ceiling. "None of them are interesting."

She fought back a skeptical eye roll. "Fine," she said again, her voice clipped. "What about - I don't know. Hobbies? Activities? Things you like to do?"

"Quidditch," he replied curtly. "End of story."

She growled a little. "Malfoy - "

"Don't take that tone with me, Granger," he said shortly, though she caught a lilt of amusement in his voice. "If you want to hear an interesting story, you'll have to think of an interesting prompt."

She huffed irritably. "You're impossible," she said, making a face. "You know that, right?"

He tilted his chin slightly to look down his nose at her from where he sat. "I disagree, Granger," he sniffed. "As I understand it, I'm really quite a treasure."

She pressed her fingers to her temple. "I don't even know what to say to that," she groaned, and she watched his grey eyes dance as he grinned mercilessly at her, swinging his long legs back and forth and waiting for her next move. She couldn't help but feel that talking to him was a bit like a game; it somehow felt as though there were rules, and she only vaguely understood them.

No, she realized, correcting herself. Not like a game. It was more like an artfully choreographed dance.

Hermione took a deep breath, a thought coming to her. "Tell me . . . tell me about the first time you did magic."

She watched as the corner of his mouth twitched.

"Ah," she said brightly. "Finally. I've piqued your interest."

"Don't get carried away, Granger," he said briskly.

She arched her brow carefully. "Well?" she asked, prodding him.

He slid forward forward on the desk before planting both of his feet on the floor, and she had to make a concerted effort not to let her eyes follow the trail of his hips.

"I lit my grandfather on fire," he pronounced flatly, and she blinked twice.

"You did what?" she asked, her eyes wide.

"I lit him on fire," he repeated, shrugging. "Well, his robes, anyway. I was not thrilled with his decision not to give me his wand."


"What?" he said, raising his hands and offering her a beatific smile. "I was a child."

"Still," she said, laughing in spite of herself. "You really were painfully spoiled, weren't you?"

"I'm offended," he announced, drawing himself up to his full height. "And I certainly wasn't as bad as I could have been."

She let a delicate snort escape her. "That doesn't make it okay."

"I promise," he said solemnly. "Theo was much worse."

"Impossible," she replied, scoffing in disbelief. "There's no way Theo Nott was worse than you. You were a pompous arse before you even set foot in this castle!"

"Once again, I am injured by your hasty presumptions," he informed her, and she hoped he didn't notice her sharp inhalation as he suddenly moved in her direction.

He took a calculated step into her personal space, making a somewhat more convincing show than she had done of glancing at their potion. "You judge me so harshly, Granger," he said quietly, and she felt a strange jolt in her chest at finding herself intimately aware of the precise location of his mouth - more specifically, that it was within inches of hers.

"I - I don't," she sputtered, taking a hasty step back before steeling herself. "You have to admit," she admonished him, reminding herself to breathe as he fixed his grey eyes on hers, "you weren't exactly a walk in the park."

He flashed her an arrogant smirk. "Parks are for people without private gardens, Granger."

To her horror, she found herself starting to giggle shrilly. "Malfoy," she managed after a moment, squinting at him while he watched with amusement, "you sound ridiculous."

She didn't know what she expected his reaction to be, but found herself pleasantly surprised when he broke into a broad smile.

"Don't laugh, Granger," he scolded her, and somehow his tone set her off again. "Granger! I'm telling you. I could have been much worse."

"I don't see how," she said honestly, biting her lip to fight her laughter.

What was happening to her? To her, the logical, brilliant, brightest-witch-of-her-age Hermione Granger, who seemed to be inexplicably dissolving into a fit of girlish tittering? It was rather late; perhaps she was just tired.

"You did just admit to setting your grandfather on fire," she reminded him.

"I've already told you," he said indignantly, though even she could tell that his already fractured formality was beginning to deteriorate. "Theo was much worse. Theo was worse to my own grandfather, even."

Something about the urgency surrounding his ongoing effort to convince her that he was really not so bad was contributing to her overall amusement. "Oh?"

"Yes, oh," he repeated, and she laughed again as he made a face. "I'll have you know that Theo Nott was a prolific thief as a child."

"No!" she said, bringing a hand to her mouth dramatically.

He bit back a laugh. "Oh yes," he said, nodding conspiratorially as he leaned towards her. "There was one time in particular. My grandfather was at my house, and so was Theo - it was one of the usual Malfoy dinner parties - "

"Usual dinner parties?" she echoed, smiling. "Tell me, Malfoy, exactly how many sets of dress robes do you own?"

"Don't interrupt, Granger," he chided her quickly, and the absurdly impatient look that flashed over his features launched her into a renewed fit of smothered laughter. "Anyway - Theo was at my house and we were - I don't know, ten years old, maybe - "

"You were ten years old at a dinner party?" she asked, bewildered at the thought.

"Well yes - it was my birthday party," he said, a brief moment of confusion etched into his face as though he expected this would be obvious.

They looked at each other for a few seconds before she suddenly burst out laughing.

"Your birthday party?" she asked. "Your tenth birthday party? You're joking. You're joking."

"What else would I have done?" he protested, watching her with utter bemusement.

"I don't know," she asked helplessly. "Had a party with your friends?"

"Theo was there," he insisted defensively. "Are you even listening - "

"But maybe you could have done something that - I don't know, that children like to do?" she suggested, and the blank look on his face seemed somehow even more entertaining than before. "Nevermind. Carry on."

"Fine," he said suspiciously, though he seemed keen to continue. "Anyway - my grandfather fell asleep in our sitting room after his digestif - "

" - did you actually know the term 'digestif' when you were ten years old?"

"Granger, what did I tell you about interrupting?" he scolded, and she placed her hand innocently over her lips, smiling. "Theo and I didn't have wands yet, but obviously we already knew we were wizards - "

" - obviously - "

" - so Theo decided we should have a contest, to see which of us could get my grandfather's eyeglasses off of his face." He frowned slightly, his hand motions suddenly becoming very frantic. "You have to understand - my grandfather is one of those old, distinguished types, and his glasses" - here Malfoy stopped, bringing his hands to his face in large circles as to indicate the size of the lenses - "were so large - "

He looked so unspeakably ridiculous holding his makeshift glasses to his face that she couldn't help but laugh at his earnestness, bringing her hand to her chest. "That's - " she said, struggling, "That's such a good look for you, Malfoy - "

He started to laugh too, seeming to realize how he must have looked to her. "I just want you to understand," he pressed, dropping one hand to reach out and grip her wrist, "it is imperative to the story that you understand the true nature of these spectacles - "

" - I get it, Malfoy - "

" - do you, though, are you sure - "

" - put your hands down, Malfoy, I can't take you seriously - "

"Anyway," he erupted loudly, struggling through his attempt to regain a vaguely dignified solemnity, "Theo tried to levitate the glasses off my grandfather's face, but at first they sort of - they slipped - "

"They slipped?" she asked, her hand coming anxiously to her mouth. "Did he wake up?"

"No!" he exclaimed, and at that point, even Malfoy couldn't prevent a smile from slipping across his face. "He was still just sitting there snoring, totally oblivious - "

"Where were your parents?" she exclaimed, pressing her hands to her face. Her cheeks felt rather tingly and warm, presumably a combination of her ongoing fit of laughter and her unnerving proximity to Malfoy as he spoke. The normally standoffish Slytherin was suddenly engaging with her in a way he never had before, and she found it was making her a bit lightheaded.

"I don't know - busy," he said, making a careless shooing motion with his hand as though to redirect her attention. He seemed to grow increasingly at ease as the story continued, his voice and hand motions becoming more and more animated as he continued to talk. "So Theo manages to levitate them ever so slightly, and he runs over and snatches them out of the air, and we - we just take off, running for our lives - "

"So that's it? He just stole your grandfather's glasses off his face?"

Malfoy's eyes got wide, as though he was suddenly remembering something. "No," he realized, bringing his hand to his forehead. "No - I'd forgotten - Theo actually started to wear them around."

"What?!" Theo Nott had always been oddly tall and slender; she recalled suddenly her initial impression of him in their first year, and his distinct resemblance to a series of paper clips. "He wore them?"

"Yes," he said, and finally the last traces of inhibition started to crack as laughter reached his flashing grey eyes. "Yes, and my grandfather was so stubborn - he just refused to get another pair, he wouldn't admit to losing them - so for weeks, Theo would show up at my house wearing the glasses while my grandfather just stumbled around, blaming house elves for rearranging the furniture whenever he tripped over something - "

"He blamed the house elves?"

"I don't think you understand, Granger," he told her, and she caught for the first time a mischievous glint in his eye that would have rivaled Ron's or Harry's. "I'm a Malfoy. We are eternally without fault."

She gave him such a stark look of naked skepticism that they were silent for less than a moment before simultaneously erupting in laughter. It was utter ludicrous, and he knew it.

"Did he ever find them?" she asked, rubbing her eyes where moisture had started to pool in the corners.

"Well," he rasped, his eyes bright with the memory. "My mother held another dinner, not too long after, and of course, Theo was supposed to come - "

"No," she gasped. "Don't tell me he - "

"Shush Granger, you're impossible," he snapped indignantly, his tone of haughty self-importance setting her off yet again. "Stop laughing - "

Tears of laughter were streaming down her face, and he was gasping for air, too out of breath to finish the story. The strange flirtation, the building tension had been unexpected enough - but was it now possible that she was actually having fun with Draco Malfoy?

"You stop laughing!"

"Shush," he repeated, though his face reddened with the significant effort it took to continue the story. "So then, Theo shows up" – he paused as she let out another preemptive peal of laughter – "and he's wearing my grandfather Abraxas's spectacles" – another pause, this time accommodating his own braying interruption – "and he's – "

She cut him off. "Does Theo" – laughter – "even wear glasses?"

"No!" – laughter – "and he comes into my grandfather's study, ten years old wearing a ninety year old man's oversized bifocals" – extended laughter, lasting at least two minutes – "and my grandfather says, 'Son, are those my glasses?'"

"He didn't!" she howled. "Ouch, my stomach – "

"He did, and Theo says" – pause while he choked out a wheezing cough – "Hold on, I can't breathe – "

"My face actually hurts – "

"Theo says 'Sir, these are obviously my glasses – are you blind?'"

It took at least ten minutes for them to be able to sit up straight without clutching their sides from laughter; she was wiping tears from her cheeks while he kept pulling at his mouth, trying to relax his overtired smile.

"I can't believe he did that," she said, still grinning.

"Theo and I were constantly up to no good," he said, running his hands through his hair, smiling at the memory. "We both got away with so much, too. For a while, anyway."

"It's hard to think of Theodore Nott as good-humored," she commented, smirking.

"Theo is actually quite charming," he assured her. "But – the circumstances were never right for you to know that."

"Why did you always spend all your time with Crabbe and Goyle, then?" she asked, wrinkling her nose.

He shrugged. "Foolish youth," he said simply. "They made me feel important, I suppose. Theo wouldn't have put up with it."

"I'm surprised anybody could," she said, giggling. "You were such a prat."

"Well, I appreciate the past tense, Granger," he said, tipping an imaginary hat to her.

She sighed. "Could you have been like this, always?"

"Like what?"

"Like you are now, with me," she said, gifting him with a charming smile. "Maybe we all could have been friends – "

"Who, you and me?"

"Well, yes," she said. "Yes, of course, but I meant all of us – Harry, Ron, Theo – "

"Well, if you recall," he said quickly, correcting her. "Potter is the reason we're not friends, not me."

"You were so rude to Ron!"

"So? Weasley was rude to you, at first!" he retorted quickly. "He was awful to you, and you decided it was best to just go ahead and fall in love with him."

"Oh, stop, that was different," she insisted. "You were such a snob already – "

"Yeah, well I was also eleven years old," he said, rubbing the back of his neck. "With no siblings or cousins or anything. I just assumed he'd want to be my friend. And then – he didn't. And I didn't understand."

Despite his admission, she smiled at him. "Little Malfoy not used to being rejected, hmm?" she teased. "Poor little rich boy."

He shoved her playfully. "The point is, I don't think we were meant to be friends, Granger."

"Just as well," she said, shrugging. "I'm not sure you and Ron were meant to get along under any circumstances."

"I take that as a compliment," he sniffed.

He turned back to their potion and she bit her lip, hiding a smile. Was it really so easy, letting her guard down around Draco Malfoy? She found she hardly recognized him. She barely recognized herself, she realized, pressing her hands to her cheeks. She was flushed and breathless. When had she last laughed like this?

She let her eyes follow his movements as he raised his wand, smiling absentmindedly to himself as he gave their potion a testing stir. She couldn't help but experience a moment of blissful satisfaction, colored only by a faint curiosity; she wondered whether he, too, experienced the same troubling flood of foreign thoughts - about her. About her eyes. Her hands. Her mouth.

She couldn't have known, of course, though perhaps she'd have found some solace - some comfort - in knowing that unlike her, Draco Malfoy's normally feverish mind had actually calmed. In fact, it pulsed with a only a single, consuming, and inexplicably motivating thought.

The thought that for once - for a single, gratifying moment - he felt freer; the thought that the restricting chains that bound his heart had loosened, somehow, by having been the one to make Hermione Granger laugh, and the strangely liberating realization that suddenly, he couldn't stand to go another day without it. Without her.

"Counterclockwise?" she prompted, gesturing to the potion.

"Counterclockwise," he confirmed, nodding, and she smiled.

That was the beginning.

Chapter Text

Bachelorette, Part III

Pairing: Dramione (Draco x Hermione)

Universe: Post-Hogwarts, EWE

Rating: M for language, definite smut later

Summary: Part III of the drabble series based on the reality show "The Bachelorette," wherein eligible men in the wizarding world compete for Hermione Granger's affections.

Additional note: Bachelorette/Bachelor seasons follow a pattern once they get down to the final four. The final four episode is called Hometowns, wherein the Bachelorette visits the homes of each contestant and meets their parents. The final three is called Fantasy Suites and is a real thing where the Bachelorette gets to have a night in a hotel suite with each of them with no cameras allowed. (Yeah. And you think this is ridiculous?)

This portion of the drabble encompasses the previous weeks as well as Hometowns. Fantasy Suites and the final decision will be Part IV.

[Black screen; Lee voiceover.]

"Here's what you missed on . . . The Bachelorette!"

[Dean and Seamus are sitting together in an interview, holding hands.]

Dean: "It's stupid, frankly."

Seamus: [nods] "It really is. I can't believe we didn't see it coming."

Dean: "I think it caught everyone by surprise, honestly."

[Cuts to Ron interview.]

Ron: [Staring at the camera.] "Are you serious?" [Shakes head.] "I have never been less surprised in probably my entire life."

[Cuts to Harry interview.]

Harry: "I mean, I lived with them." [Shrugs] "I've seen stuff."

[Cut to scene of them informing Hermione at one of the cocktail parties.]

Dean: "It's nothing to do with you, of course."

Seamus: "Well, your lack of dick, potentially."

Hermione, faintly: "Right."

[Cuts to Hermione interview.]

Hermione: "I'm happy for them, really!" [She seems sincere after having recovered from her initial confusion.] "It absolutely thrills me that I'm not the only one finding love on this show!"

[Lee voiceover as shots of Hermione and the other contestants fill the screen.]

Lee: "Hermione and Theo heat up on their first one-on-one date."

[Cuts to scenes of their date; they explore a folksy farmer's market, and Theo lays out an elaborate picnic for her; he picks her up, throws her over his shoulder, and when she playfully screams to be put down he lays her carefully on the ground, stretching out against her and giving her a slow, intense kiss.]

Hermione voiceover: "Theo is . . . he's . . . "

[Shots of Theo and Hermione as they attempt to throw grapes into each other's mouths; Theo cheers as Hermione finally makes one.]

Hermione voiceover: "I don't know. He's fun. I'm very relaxed."

[Clip of them wandering the streets, holding hands.]

Hermione voiceover: "It's just very easy to be comfortable with Theo."

[Cut to Theo interview.]

Theo, enthusiastically: "I like her." [Grins widely.] "I like her quite a bit."

[Cuts to scenes from group date; she and Ron have a moment as he offers her a piece of cake, getting frosting on her lip and using it as an excuse to kiss her. She kisses him back, though her eyes stray warily to Harry, who is watching.]

Hermione voiceover: "Things with Harry are definitely more passionate than I expected."

[Cut to Harry and Hermione kissing as they sit with their feet in a swimming pool; she leans against him, and he rests his chin fondly on top of her head.]

Harry voiceover: "There is definitely something between us."

[Harry interview.]

Interviewer, off-screen: "Are you finding yourself at odds with any of the other candidates?"

Harry: "Er." [Shifts uneasily.] "Ron and I aren't doing so well."

[Clips of Harry and Ron occasionally bumping shoulders as they pass, glaring at each other as Hermione casually chats with other people.]

Harry: "Ron, could you pass the - "

Ron: [Throws salt shaker at him.]

Harry, teeth gritted: "Thanks."

[Cuts back to Harry interview.]

Harry: "What's been really unexpected is that with things being shaky with Ron, I've actually been hanging out with Malfoy a bit more."

[Harry and Draco are alone in the manor house's library, reading in silence together; Draco glances over at Harry.]

Draco: "Drink?"

Harry: [Looks up, surprised.] "Sure."

[Back to Harry interview.]

Harry: "I mean, it's not much, but it's . . . something, I guess." [He suddenly becomes very animated.] "And it's weird, really, because if there's anyone Hermione's getting close to that might be skeptical of me, shouldn't it be Draco?"

[Cuts to Blaise reading a date card.]

Blaise, reading Hermione's note: "Blaise and Draco." [He pauses.] "What? Two of us?"

[Cuts to Lee explaining.]

Lee: "Gentlemen, a two-on-one is simple. You both go on a date with Hermione, but." [Pauses, grinning mercilessly.] "One of you will be sent home immediately, while the other will receive the rose that keeps them safe from elimination."

[Scenes from the date follow on the screen; Hermione can't stop looking at Draco, and when he pulls her aside for a moment alone, she sighs with relief. Scene then cuts to the end of the date; Hermione is sitting at a table with Draco and Blaise.]

Hermione: "I hate having to do this, as I've gotten so close to both of you . . . " [Pauses, letting her eyes flick to Draco.] "But this rose is for Draco."

Blaise voiceover: "It was pretty obvious. I'm not too terribly upset, though she is a lovely girl."

[Cuts to scene of Hermione and Draco talking alone in a dimly lit corner during the date; they do not appear to know they are being filmed from afar.]

Hermione: [Indistinct whispering.]

Draco: "I know." [Lifts her chin to kiss her softly.] "It's okay."

Hermione: [Whispers something; at his nod of reassurance, she wraps her arms around his neck.]

[Cuts to Draco interview.]

Draco: "We . . . get each other." [Shrugs.] "I don't know how else to explain it."

[Cuts to Lee, who is again standing in front of the manor house.]

Lee: "And on tonight's episode - Hometowns!"

[A montage of the various candidates' family homes cut across the screen.]

Lee: "How will Hermione fare after spending a day in each remaining contestant's hometown? Will she feel right at home at the Burrow?"

[Cuts to scene of her walking in the front door, being accosted by a starstruck Molly Weasley.]

Lee: "Will she be traumatized by her visit to Malfoy Manor?"

[Narcissa Malfoy embraces Hermione coolly as the younger witch's eyes dart around in desperation.]

Lee: "What surprises await at Nott Manor?"

[Theo is covering Hermione's eyes as he nudges her in the door; camera shows her face as she gasps in delight.]

Lee: "All that and more when we return on . . . The Bachelorette!"

"Ladies - ladies, what is happening?" Minerva exclaimed, rushing over to the corner of the Great Hall where the two fourth years were arguing, their fists clenched tightly around their wands.

"She's being crazy - "

"I am not crazy, you're blind!"

Minerva looked up, gesturing across the room to the girls' Heads of House. "Professor Sprout, Professor Flitwick," she said frantically. "Please get your house members under control - "

"What's the problem?" Filius squeaked, rushing over to stand beside the young Ravenclaw as Pomona hurried in his wake.

"My mum's just owled me the results of last week's Bachelorette," the Hufflepuff explained, huffing. "Which, by the way, we only missed because she insisted the rest of us had to wait for her - "

"I had quidditch!" the Ravenclaw replied angrily, glaring. "And she thinks it's going to be Harry that Hermione chooses, which is absolute rubbish - "

"Like you would know!" the Hufflepuff squawked gracelessly, needing to be restrained by a very flustered Pomona. "You're Team Theo, which doesn't even make sense - "

"This is about that ridiculous Bachelorette competition?" Minerva exclaimed, aghast. "Ladies, this is a school - you should be focusing on your studies - "

They each shuffled under her disappointment, loath to meet her eyes. "Yes, Headmistress," they groaned in unison, shooting each other angry glares.

"Ten points each from Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff," Minerva declared, crossing her arms. "Now run off and forget all this nonsense."

They both nodded quickly, pausing to offer apologetic nods to their respective Heads of House before scurrying away, appearing to mutter quietly to each other as the argument continued.

Minerva sighed. "This Bachelorette nonsense has to stop," she proclaimed wearily. "This is the fourth time this week I've had to listen to them go on about that insipid farce."

"Oh, I don't know, Minerva," Filius said kindly. "I mean, Miss Davenport did have a point - Miss Granger does seem quite likely to choose Potter - "

"What?" Pomona exclaimed, affronted. "Filius, have you gone mad?"

Filius crossed his arms, a quiet challenge. "Don't tell me you really think Nott will be Miss Granger's choice?" he scoffed. "After teaching them both?"

"No," Pomona retorted quickly, defensive in her disagreement. "I am quite sure it will be Weasley; there's history there, you know, and they were so obvious while they were in school." She turned to Minerva, who rubbed her temples in exhaustion. "Surely you agree, Minerva!"

"I do not," Minerva snapped. "I think this is a waste of energy to consider," she said, raising her chin haughtily, "and don't think I haven't heard about the faculty pool you're all part of!"

They looked away guiltily, but Minerva pressed on. "Frankly, you could both do with a reminder that you have a much higher purpose than expending any effort guessing who Miss Granger may or may not choose to marry within the confines of a superficial competition!"

Both Filius and Pomona looked sheepish, giving her the same look the young fourth years had only just tossed her way.

"Besides," Minerva added, squaring her shoulders and starting to walk away. "Seeing as I was Miss Granger's Head of House, I am quite confident that you're both incorrect."

She paused just before exiting the hall.

"Put me down for five galleons on Mr. Malfoy," she instructed briskly, brushing some nonexistent dust off her robes before she swept out of the room.


His voice was a low growl as he followed her down the hall and she turned to face him, startled.

"Draco," she said, bringing her hand to her chest to slow her thudding pulse. "You scared me."

"How dare you?" he said bluntly, standing too close to her and looking down from his rather intimidating height. "How fucking dare you?"

"Malfoy!" she hissed warningly, looking around. There were no cameras, but they could arrive at any given moment; she yanked him into the bathroom behind her.

"What is this about?" she snapped, adjusting the straps of her gold evening gown as the door shut behind them. "What on earth has gotten into you?"

"A two-on-one?" he demanded, his grey eyes flashing. "You picked me for a two-on-one?"

"You knew I wasn't going to eliminate you!" she exclaimed, still not clear on the source of his apparent frustration. "I was always going to choose you - "

"I don't care, Granger!" he half-shouted, his arms motioning widely. "You'll be alone with Potter and Theo, but not with me?"

She gaped at him. "Are you - jealous?" she sputtered, completely bewildered by his sudden fiery response. "Draco, I - you - " she paused, stumbling. "You can't be serious."

"I'm not jealous," he spat unconvincingly, beginning to pace the master bath. "It's not jealousy - but I don't understand it," he admitted, his lips pursed tightly. "Why not me?"

His voice had softened and now he was looking at her with a sincerity stripped so bare she felt an incomprehensible shiver thunder up her spine.

"Why not me?" he asked again, his chest rising and falling as he struggled against his more impervious nature.

"Draco." She took a step towards him, taking hold of his suit lapel and shaking him playfully. "Draco, I didn't need to waste a one-on-one to know for sure I want to keep you here." She shook her head, finding herself surprised at the candidness of her own response. "I didn't know about Harry, or Theo, so I had to spend time alone with them - but you - I know exactly where I stand with you, you can't really think there was a question - "

He was shaking his head, looking down in a humbling mix of humiliation and relief.

"And for Hometowns I get a whole day with you," she reminded him softly, nudging his chin up with her hand to meet his grey eyes. "A whole day."

"Right," he croaked, nodding. "Right." He sighed, taking a step away from her. "I'd forgotten."

They were quiet for a moment, until the absurdity of the situation finally hit her.

"Did you really say 'how dare you'?" she asked, smirking at him. "So dramatic, Malfoy."

He opened his mouth to respond and she lifted her chin defiantly as she waited, anticipating a "Shut up, Granger," or even "You give yourself too much credit" - but instead, he picked her up roughly and sat her against the lip of the sink, kissing her fiercely, his breath ragged in her mouth.

"Fine," he said finally, pulling away. "Wear the black dress to meet my mother," he added briskly, stepping out of her reach and slipping quickly out of the room.

He left her staring at the door, her hand held numbly against her lips for almost five full minutes after he walked away.

[Camera pans to Lee, who is standing outside of the Burrow.]

Lee: "Welcome to the Burrow, the family home of Ron Weasley! In an unprecedented move, Harry and Ron will both be using the Burrow for this very unique episode of Hometowns."

[Cuts to interview with Harry.]

Harry: "Well, I grew up with muggles, but I certainly wouldn't subject Hermione to any time with them." [Shrugs.] "And really, the Burrow feels more like home anyway."

[Ron interview; Ron has his arms crossed tightly and looks more than a little upset.]

Ron: "This is bloody ridiculous."

[Cuts back to Lee, who is standing at the front door with Hermione.]

Lee: "Ready to meet your potential future in-laws?"

[Editor's cut:

Hermione: "You know that I know them, like, really well. Right?"

Muttered response.

Hermione: "I feel like you haven't really thought this through, if I'm being honest."


Hermione: "Okay great, so we're on the same page."]

Hermione: [Sighs deeply] "Yes, let's do it."

[Lee knocks and the door opens, revealing a very enthusiastic Molly Weasley.]

Molly: "Hermione!" [Embraces the young witch warmly, her eyes straying to the camera.]

[Cuts to Hermione interview.]

Hermione: "Am I surprised by her reaction? A bit." [She bites her lip nervously.] "She didn't react well at all to the rumors about me being with Harry during the Triwizard Tournament, so I didn't think she'd be happy to see me."

Interviewer, off-screen: "Were you worried about her reaction?"

Hermione: "Definitely. To be honest, I'm not even sure whether she would prefer I choose Harry or Ron."

[Cuts to Molly interview.]

Molly: [Preening a bit for the camera.] "Honestly, I'm torn. Obviously Ron is my son, but . . . " [She hesitates.] "She does look quite good with Harry, doesn't she?"

[Cuts back to Hermione hugging Molly.]

Hermione: "Hi, Mrs. Weasley." [Looks up to see Arthur.] "Hi Mr. Weasley!"

Arthur: "Hello, Hermione." [Hugs her warmly.] "To what do we owe the pleasure?"

Molly, aghast: "Arthur!" [She glances nervously to the camera.] "It's for the show, remember? For Harry and Ron?"

Arthur, bemused: "Ah." [Shrugs, walking back into the house and calling over his shoulder.] "Carry on, then. I'll be in the garage if you need me!"

Hermione stood uncomfortably in the kitchen of the Burrow; she could only guess at the number of household cleaning charms Mrs. Weasley had had to use, considering she'd never seen the place so clean - not even for Bill and Fleur's wedding. Hermione supposed having all her children out of the nest might have been part of it, but still, Molly Weasley had always been a bit of a hoarder of sorts. At least half of the house's possessions were likely stored elsewhere; the garage, Hermione could only guess. Arthur made exceptions for undetectable extension charms when it came to the happiness of his wife.

Not a bad thing to have learned from a father, she reminded herself, eyeing Ron where he was gazing rather sulkily into space. Beside him, Harry also stood rigid with discomfort, and Hermione wondered yet again what had possessed them to decide to share ownership of this particular family and dwelling. It seemed The Bachelorette had driven them all to inarguable madness.

"So," she ventured uncomfortably, fidgeting in front of the camera. "Any plans?"

Ron and Harry opened their mouths at the same time to answer, and then only glared at each other.

"Ah," Hermione said, fighting the impulse to rub her temple wearily.

That was only the beginning, of course. Molly had prepared a vast spread - far more than she would normally have done, even with her generally ample cooking - but it was difficult to appreciate her enormous effort. The food was difficult to taste over the stiff tension between her two best friends.

"How's it going?" Lee whispered in a low voice, pulling her aside.

"Not well at all," she replied, which was obvious. Lee grimaced.

"I just got instructions for this week's elimination," he said regretfully, and Hermione sighed, knowing what was coming. She lifted her chin, gesturing to a quieter spot in the house.

"I have to cut either Ron or Harry, don't I?" she whispered, her face falling once they were safely out of earshot.

"Yes," he said, anxiously picking at his fingernails. "I'm so sorry, Hermione."

"It's really better for all of us," she remarked, trying to be logical about it. "We're supposed to be best friends, and I know they'll get over this eventually, they always do, but - " she sighed. "It can't go on like this."

"Well, you know my thoughts on the matter," Lee said wryly. "I have my favorites."

"I saw you tear up last week," she reminded him. "I'm perfectly aware."

"I'm very invested," he insisted, shrugging.

"What if I just walked away now and didn't pick anyone?" Hermione said hopefully. "Dean and Seamus had the right idea." She paused, then looked up at Lee with a start. "There's no chance you want to marry me, is there?"

He glared at her.

"Fair enough," she sighed, turning to rejoin her hosts.

[Camera pans across the stately facade of Malfoy Manor; Lee steps into view.]

Lee: "Welcome to Malfoy Manor, the elegant home of the Malfoy family." [He gestures to Hermione, who joins him. She is wearing a tasteful and elegant black dress.] "Hermione, as we all know, there are some bad memories here."

[Editor's cut:

Hermione: "'Bad memories'? That's what you're going with?"

Muttered response.

Hermione: "It doesn't strike you as, I don't know - the understatement of the century?"]

Hermione: "Yes." [Her voice is strained and she has never looked more nervous.] "A long time ago, of course. Practically a different world."

Lee: "Certainly." [Forges ahead awkwardly.] "Do you have any reservations about this day?"

[Editor's cut:

Hermione, in interview: "Do I have reservations? DO I HAVE RESERVATIONS?"]

Hermione: "I'm sure everything will be fine." [Her knees buckle slightly and she has the distinct look of someone who may take off running at any given moment.] "It's Draco. It'll be fine."

[The door opens, revealing an elegantly garbed Narcissa Malfoy and an unusually relaxed Draco, whose attire is uncharacteristically casual; he is wearing a soft sweater, dark trousers, and his hair is swept back as though he has recently been flying.]

Narcissa: "Miss Granger." [She opens her arms and Hermione enters, giving her what is perhaps the world's most awkward embrace.] "Such a pleasure to meet you."

Hermione, coolly despite her frantic expression: "Likewise." [She turns to Draco, looking relieved to see him.] "Draco."

Draco: "Hermione." [He pulls her in and kisses her softly; Hermione is surprised, her glance drifting immediately to Narcissa, but Narcissa has a surprising look of contentment on her face.]

Hermione, breathlessly: "Hi." [Draco tucks a stray hair behind her ear and Hermione finally seems to relax a bit at the contact.] "Shall we go inside?" [She is still somewhat hesitant.]

Narcissa: "Actually, I thought the garden would be better."

[Cuts to Narcissa interview.]

Narcissa: "I may never forgive myself for what happened to that poor girl in my house. She hardly needs a tour." [She shivers.] "And why keep up the gardenias if nobody sees them?"

Tea with Narcissa seemed to put Granger vaguely at ease, Draco noted, keeping an eye on her and watching the weight slowly lift from her shoulders as time went on. He reached for her hand on occasion, lightly massaging her knuckles with his thumb as he considered his mother's advice.

"I understand what you have to do," Narcissa had reminded him. "You have to woo her, Draco." She squared her shoulders as they waited for Lee's knock, ever the aristocrat. "Be sure to kiss her, darling. Women want affection."

"In front of you?" he'd asked, startled. "Doesn't that seem . . . disrespectful?"

"You think I am that easily disrespected?" she countered, giving him a look. "Please do me the kindness of not underestimating me, Draco. It offends."

"But - "

"Woo her," Narcissa commanded again, sweeping over to the entry table to rearrange some freshly cut lilies. "I trust you've not forgotten the purpose to all this."

"No," he'd permitted glumly, watching her fuss over a nonexistent mess. "She's really not so bad, though," he admitted, the words tumbling out of his mouth before he could stop himself. "I don't think you need to worry so much."

At that, Narcissa had promptly straightened, turning sharply to glance at him over her shoulder.

"Draco," she'd said slowly. "Is there something I should know?"

"Hide the house elves," Draco grunted. "Seriously. It's a thing with her."

"No," Narcissa chided him, waving her hand as though to shoo away his unsatisfactory response. "Is there something I should know about you?"

He'd been silent, not wanting to give her the answer she was looking for. Feeding Narcissa information was always a gamble; she was a master manipulator, after all, a consummate Slytherin. She was not unkind, but she certainly had no shortage of agenda.

But despite his best efforts, she was still his mother, and it was difficult not to confess.

"She's not that bad," he grumbled, looking at the floor.

"Do not mumble to yourself, Draco," she scolded, and he fought his childish protestations. "If you like the girl, just say so." She softened, coming over to rest her hands warmly on his shoulders. "Women do enjoy being liked, you know," she assured him. "This one is surely no exception."

"It's Granger," he argued, eyeing her with unconcealed skepticism. "Are you really telling me you've no qualms about that?"

"Darling, I am not so one-dimensional that I cannot evolve with the times," she returned stiffly. "What's important to me is you, Draco, and only you." She paused. "And shoes. I care a great deal about shoes."

"You're not bothered by her birth?" he echoed, vaguely amused.

"Don't get carried away, darling," she sniffed, fussing with a speck of dust on her bodice. "Her birth may not be an issue, but there are a great many other things I could be bothered by." She looked up, thinking. "Her manners, perhaps; or the noise level of her chewing - "

"I think all of that will be fine, Mother," Draco interrupted, unable to prevent a covert eye roll. "She's not a barbarian."

"Then I expect we'll get along swimmingly," she declared, and in typical Narcissa fashion, that was that.

Draco turned to Granger now, his own lips twisting into a smile as she laughed at a story from Draco's youth. He would normally have been embarrassed by his mother's choice of story, but there was something slightly wonderful about the way Granger leaned forward, hanging on every word as though she wished to lay claim to the memory itself.

"Darling," Narcissa said after a while, her eyes traveling knowingly to Draco's. "Perhaps you might show her the ballroom?"

A woman likes to be courted, Draco.

Of course she wanted him to dance.

Granger was a surprisingly decent dancer, he determined, though perhaps he shouldn't have been surprised. He was a particularly well trained lead - all Narcissa's doing, of course - and Granger was almost shockingly coordinated. The music in the ballroom, which was charmed to change with the dancers' steps, prompted a particularly beautiful melody, and he felt a renewed surge of confidence as he watched Granger's eyes glimmer appreciatively.

"Cameras," she whispered to him, and he dipped her carefully, his eyes helplessly following the line of her neck as she slowly allowed herself to be brought back to his level.

"And my mother's not watching," he muttered back in her ear, pulling her into his chest.

A knowing smile spread across her lips and he lifted her up, his hands tangled in her hair as she wrapped her legs tightly around his waist.

"Convincing show," she murmured, and he pulled her lips to his.

[Camera pans the front of Nott Manor, which is very similar to Malfoy Manor in extravagance and age. Lee once again steps into view, Hermione on his arm.]

Lee: "Welcome to the final Hometown destination - Nott Manor." [He turns to Hermione.] "How are you feeling?"

[Editor's Cut:

Hermione: "Seriously, stop asking how I'm feeling."

Lee: "But - "

Hermione: "It's not good, Lee. It's never good."

Lee: "But - "

Hermione: "If you ask me too many times I'll have to start being honest, and I swear, if I tell the truth, you'll be out of a job."

Lee, resignedly: "Fair enough."]

Hermione: "I'm great." [Looks at Lee as though she may very well strangle him.]

Lee, appearing to sense danger: "Okay, let's just go in then, shall we - "

[Theo opens the front door a crack and darts out, rushing towards them.]

Theo: "Hi, hi, apologies." [He is breathless.] "Have a bit of a surprise for you."

Hermione: "Oh?" [She looks startled.] "What - "

Theo: "Come on." [He gestures for her to come towards him; Lee tosses the camera a helpless 'what can you do' look, and Hermione hesitantly joins Theo.] "It'll be fun, I promise."

[Cuts to Hermione interview.]

Hermione: "Not sure how I feel about surprises at an estate that once belonged to a notorious Death Eater." [She looks queasy.] "I don't even like surprises much to begin with, but this seems particularly questionable. 'Fun' would not be my terminology of choice."

[Cuts back to Theo, who is holding his hands over her eyes.]

Theo, gleefully: "Ready?"

Hermione, the opposite of gleefully: "Sure."

[Theo nudges the door open and pushes her inside; the camera pans first to Hermione's look of complete surprise, and then to the interior of the house. The entry hall is filled with brightly colored balloons and a large banner that is blurred for explicit content but very clearly reads 'Fuck parents.']

Theo: "My parents are dead!" [He is practically shouting with unbridled enthusiasm, and Hermione can barely contain her entertainment.] "It's just you and me!"

[Cuts to Hermione in an interview segment, who is practically crying with relief.]

Hermione: "I had a wonderful time at Malfoy Manor and at the Burrow, but frankly, this is just what I needed."

[Camera cuts back to Theo and Hermione; Theo has grabbed Hermione and is kissing her, his arms wrapped around her waist.]

Lee: "Uh, so." [He looks uncomfortably at the camera.] "This - um."

[Editor's cut:

Lee: "Honestly, am I just supposed to watch them snog all over this house?"

Muttered response.

Lee: "Okay, but have you seen how big this house is?"]

Kingsley stared at the scroll before him, determined to finish the paperwork that littered his desk despite his unrelenting headache.

"Mafalda," he called, but to no response. He frowned, rising to his feet. It was possible she had gone home, as it was well after work hours, but she normally stayed behind when he did, and he was surprised she did not scurry in at his beckoning.

He walked out of his office to the location of her desk, discovering that at least four other members of the department were crouched around her workspace, with Mafalda herself at their center. He entered the fray quietly, glancing over their shoulders; The Bachelorette was playing on a tiny, charmed screen, and they all seemed to be enraptured, unconcerned by his presence.

Kingsley squinted at the scene that was playing, nearly leaping back in shock as he caught a close-up of the Nott boy's hands on Hermione's upper thigh.

"That's a bit gratuitous, don't you think?" he rumbled softly, a little scandalized. The other ministry workers jumped about a foot in the air, hastily stepping away and eyeing their feet as they returned to their desks.

"I have to say, Theo's grown on me," Mafalda remarked, unaware of what had happened behind her. "I dare say if things don't work out with Hermione, I can always make myself available - "

"Mafalda," Kingsley exclaimed in alarm, and she turned slowly, her face nearly purple.

"Sir," she managed, her voice inhumanly high.

He bit back a grin. "He does seem to know what he's doing," Kingsley conceded, pivoting quickly to re-enter his office.

[Camera pans across the remaining four contestants and then down to the three roses that have been placed beside Hermione; she is wearing a long navy gown, and her hands are shaking as she picks up the roses.]

Hermione: "Draco."

[Draco steps forward and she seems to cling to him nervously; he holds her a beat longer than he should, but then returns to the others.]

Hermione: [Swallows and looks terrified.] "Harry."

[Harry looks relieved and gives her a comforting squeeze; she nods once and sighs, as though reassured by her choice. Harry rejoins the other candidates and chooses to stand beside Draco, who gives him a curt nod. The interaction is surprisingly amicable.]

[The music becomes dramatic and intense as the camera zooms in on the only remaining rose.]

Hermione: "This is the hardest rose so far, and I hope you'll forgive me." [She starts rubbing anxiously at her clavicle as though she is struggling to breathe.] "This rose is for . . . "

[She trails off and the music is excessively dramatic.]

Hermione: [Takes a deep breath.] "This rose is for Theo."

[Theo grins rather knowingly at her and she sags a little in his arms; he kisses her cheek and joins Harry and Draco, leaving her to face Ron.]

Hermione: "I'm so sorry." [She is whispering and a tear slips down her cheek.] "I'm so, so sorry."

Ron: [Looks a bit shell-shocked, but nods.] "I just want you to be happy."

Hermione: [sobs] "I want that for you, too."

[Cuts to Ron interview.]

Ron: "Look, I'm upset, but I think I know as well as she does that we weren't going to work out." [He gazes out the window; slow, soft violin music plays.] "We tried it before and it didn't work then, so it's okay if it doesn't work now. She's great, you know." [He manages a smile with difficulty.] "Any of these guys will be lucky to have her."

Interviewer, off-screen: "Do you have any particular preference for who she might choose of the remaining contestants?"

Ron: [chuckles.] "Well, as weird as it is for me to say this, Harry really is the best guy there." [He shrugs somewhat cheerfully; he seems to be much happier now that he has been eliminated.] "I'm always going to be on his team."

[Cuts back to a shot of the manor as Lee steps into view.]

Lee: "And next week on The Bachelorette . . . Fantasy Suites!"

[Cuts to scenes of an elaborate tropical hotel.]

Hermione voiceover: "Fantasy Suites is the first time I get to be alone with these guys and, I don't know. I'm quite nervous."

[Cuts to Draco interview.]

Draco: "Of course I'm not in love with her." [He does not look like he believes this.] "How could I be? It's only been a couple of months!" [He buries his head in his hands, sighing as though he knows he is losing this battle.]

[Cuts to Harry interview.]

Harry: "Do I love Hermione? I've always loved Hermione." [He looks startled.] "Dear god, do I love Hermione?" [He doubles over, mumbling to himself.] "Oh no. Oh no. What is happening."

[Cuts to Theo interview.]

Theo: "Sure, I love her." [He shrugs.] "What's not to love?"

[Cuts back to a smiling Lee.]

Lee: "All that and more coming up next time on . . . The Bachelorette! And don't forget to stay tuned for our new series, 'Newlyweds: Dean and Seamus Take on the Wizarding World.'"

[Editor's Cut:

Lee: "Oh, I've got an owl from my mum, hold on."

[He opens it and makes a face.]

Lee: "She doesn't even ask how I am. She just wants to know if I have any insider information for her book club pool." [He shakes his head.] "Godric's teeth, do I not exist?"

Muttered response.

Lee, yelling: "HAVE I DIED OR SOMETHING?"]

Chapter Text

a/n: DO NOT READ unless you have first read and completed Marked. Coming later this weekend: A Ronsy / PottGrass drabble and Bachelorette: the finale, in that order.


Pairing: Dramione (Draco x Hermione)

Universe: This World or Any Other storyverse (Clean and Marked)

Rating: M for language, though mostly just because Marked is M

Summary: This is the drabble that will serve as an epilogue for Marked. I am not generally a believer in epilogues (Joanne Rowling taught me that a terrible epilogue can ruin a story) and as far as I am concerned, that story is complete as it was written. That being said, for those of you who wondered what happened to the other characters, or who want a glimpse of what Draco and Hermione's life is like together, this drabble is my gift to you.

It wasn't long before they began to piece things back together, fixing each other like they were playing with a puzzle of pieces they couldn't see. He started with her.

"Granger," he said, watching her stare at nothing. "For fuck's sake."

"Mm?" she replied, startled, fixing him with a hasty look of innocence. "What?"

"You haven't moved in several minutes," he informed her, setting down his quill and crossing their office to take a seat at her desk. "What is it?"

"Oh," she said, running the tip of her quill across her lips. "Nothing, really."

It had only been a few months but he knew better than to accept that as an answer. He knew her gaps and rhythms like he knew his own pulse.

"What kind of nothing?" he asked, kicking his feet out in front of him and nudging her under the desk.

She sighed. "It's my parents' anniversary," she said quietly.

He already knew where they were: Australia. Knew what happened to them: she couldn't undo the memory charm. He knew there was almost nothing he could do to fix it for her, but he also knew something about himself: he'd watch the world burn before he gave up trying.

"Get up," he instructed, walking around the desk to take her by the hand and pull her along behind him. "We've been in the office too long anyway."

"Where are we going?" she squawked helplessly, dragging her feet behind him.

"Australia," he replied curtly, tossing her things in her bag and rummaging through his desk for his own necessities.

"But - "

He looked up, catching the startled glimmer in her golden brown eyes.

"I'd like to meet them, Granger," he explained stiffly. "They don't need to know why."

Her lip trembled, but he had not yet progressed to the point of knowing whether that was a good or bad sign.

"But," she said, choking out her reservations. "But they're, they're - " she bit her lip. "They're m- "

Muggles. He was still having to teach her that such things no longer mattered to him; only she did, in the end.

"Don't dawdle, Granger," he instructed, tucking an arm around her waist and leading her out of the office. "We have places to be."

Wendell and Monica Wilkins had been going on long jogs on Saturday mornings for as long as memory served; though, in all fairness, memory did not serve them particularly well. It was a common joke among their friends, that neither of them seemed to be able to recall things from their distant past; though everything was clear enough from the last three-odd years.

Better diet, Monica supposed. After all, everyone was saying such things about gluten.

"Hurry up," she called over her shoulder to Wendell, who appeared a little dazed. "Is everything quite alright?"

"Um," he said, reaching back to feel the back of his head. "I - "

"What is it?" she asked, circling back to jog alongside him. "Something wrong?"

"I just thought I felt something," he said, frowning, bringing his hand forward as though examining it for damage. "I think I'm fine, though - "

"Excuse me," a young man called, waving to them from a short ways behind. He was accompanied by a rather petite girl with wild brown hair, and Monica, normally quite serious with her exercise, came to a sudden stop at the sight of a nervous glimmer in the girl's warm brown eyes, a sparkle that was somehow both slightly familiar and hauntingly distant.

"Hi," the young man said, a little breathless as he caught up to them. He had an exceedingly posh British accent and startlingly pale hair; quite handsome overall, though perhaps in his mid-twenties. "So sorry to bother you, but my, er - " he looked down at the girl, whose eyes were wide with indecision - "my wife and I are here on holiday, and we're a bit lost - "

"Draco," Monica said suddenly, and then clapped her hand over her mouth, startled by the violent hurtling of a memory she couldn't explain.

She knew him, this boy - he had been younger, she was quite sure, and in her kitchen - but not her kitchen at all, was it? A conversation about pasta - which she didn't even eat -

"What?" he asked, rattled, his face paling in shock. Beside him, his partner's mouth had fallen open, and Monica turned to find Wendell was looking at her much the same way.

"I - I'm so sorry," Monica said, her voice shaking as she tried to clear her head. "I don't know what's come over me, but - " she squinted at the young man. "We have met before, haven't we?"

"I - " he hesitated, looking down at his lovely young wife, who seemed familiar to Monica as well, though there was some kind of obstruction in the way; a blockage of sorts, and the more she strained for recognition, the less she could identify the feeling. "I am Draco, yes, but - "

"I'm quite sure we've never met," the girl cut in slowly, her fingers tightening around his arm. "After all," she asserted, straightening. "This is our first time in Australia."

The blow of the girl's particular shade of brown eyes nearly sent Monica reeling. "Not Australia," she said faintly, though she couldn't imagine why. She had never remembered living anywhere else, despite the mockery she received for her distinct London accent -

"Nevermind," Monica declared, shaking her head as Wendell moved to pat her shoulder comfortingly.

"Everything alright?" he murmured to her, though she could see there was something odd in his expression as well.

"So sorry," the young man - Draco - said kindly, extending his hand with the kind of formality normally afforded to Victorian society, or so Monica imagined. "I'm Draco, and this" - he looked at her, offering a reassuring smile - "this is Hermione."

"Hermione," Wendell said, and there was a throaty humming sound to his voice, a vibration that poured into the name like honey. "Daughter of Helen." He smiled. "Beautiful."

The girl looked as though she might cry. "Thank you," she whispered, offering him a shaky hand.

"Wendell," he said quickly, taking her proffered grip and appearing to realize with a start that he'd entirely abandoned proper manners. "And my wife, Monica," he added, placing a hand on her shoulder as the four of them exchanged greetings.

"Lovely to meet you both," Draco said, his tone taking on a caress of warmth that Monica guessed did not come easily to him. He had a certain coolness to him, a glacial impassivity of sorts that she couldn't quite identify, but she attributed something to him; a comfort, perhaps. Something like that.

"You said you're lost?" Monica recalled, looking around. They must have gone pretty far out of their way to end up here.

"We tried to, you know, get off the map a bit," Draco suggested airily, shrugging his arm across his wife's shoulders. "But if you could help us - "

"How about a coffee?" Wendell suggested, gesturing to a place he and Monica usually passed, just up the road. He nudged his wife with a grin. "If this one is willing to forego the rest of the run, of course."

"I suppose," Monica permitted, leaning into his touch. "Yes," she decided, nodding slowly at first, and then resolutely. "Yes. Let's stop and have a chat," she determined firmly. "We're quite good hosts, after all, aren't we?"

Wendell nodded, ever the pleasant extrovert.

"Excellent," Draco said firmly, a smile secured on his face. He looked down at his wife, who looked joyfully relieved even as she tentatively nipped at her lip.

"Thank you," the girl said softly, and they all began to walk.

"You're a lovely couple," Wendell added, turning over his shoulder to address them before nudging Monica, stepping ahead to lead them up the road.

Monica walked quietly beside Wendell, finding it difficult not to repeatedly sneak looks behind her at the girl, Hermione. There was something about her; her eyes, mostly. The familiarity in them was startling. And her hair was quite like Wendell's had been, once - when he was much younger, of course. Monica remembered the way it felt under her fingers, how it had been scratchy against her face the moment she woke in their first apartment; how it had been so helplessly askew and the rest of him not much better, still wearing the clothes they'd fallen asleep in the night before, the whole place badly lit and horribly decorated -

Monica stopped mid-stride. She had never remembered that far back before.

"Everything okay?" Hermione asked gently, and Monica felt herself smile even as her heart continued to pound.

"Fine," she said quickly, taking in the hopeful expression on the young girl's face. "I think everything's going to be fine."

"I'm surprised you wanted to come to this," Draco said quietly in her ear, brushing a kiss against her cheek as he gestured for her to sit. "I'm happy you did, of course - "

"It's only fair," Hermione assured him, though she felt considerably less confident than she sounded. "You've met my parents, after all, and it is her birthday - "

"She'll love you," Draco cut in smoothly, tucking a stray curl behind her ear.

Hermione sighed. If only she and Narcissa could have had the great fortune of being able to meet as strangers the way her parents and Draco had; if only Hermione didn't still feel so small, so insignificant in this world that she knew without question would never have welcomed her. It was a strange, paradoxical reversal of how she normally felt at work. In the stately gardens of the very vigorously - vigorously - renovated Malfoy Manor, seated among the very people she was so often called on to defend, she only felt trapped in their bubble of propriety, dwarfed by the eminence of their venerable old ways.

Hermione let her gaze flick nervously to the stunning older witch where she stood only a few feet away, wondering what the two of them might ever have in common. Narcissa Malfoy was the picture of elegance, the pinnacle of poise, and by comparison, Hermione felt like a strange, nonsensical afterthought; she was grateful Draco had not left her side.

Had not left her side yet, in any case, though she should have known it was coming.

"Darling," Narcissa said, calling to Draco as she approached. "I wonder if you might say hello to your Aunt Andromeda," she suggested, gesturing to a woman across the gardens that nearly gave Hermione a disturbing start; Andromeda Tonks, while decidedly not Bellatrix Lestrange, certainly carried a strong resemblance, alike in nearly every way aside from the general aura of being entirely unhinged.

Initial shock aside, Hermione was surprised to hear that such a reconciliation between severed sisters had been attempted, though by the look on Draco's face - a nod of placid understanding, in stark contrast to her own startled gaping - it was not entirely out of character for Narcissa. Hermione felt a sudden leap in her chest, a wild hope that clanged around inside her at the thought; perhaps things were not as bad as she had expected.

Perhaps Narcissa was not at all what she had expected.

"I've tried to convince her to join the fray, but she's a bit hesitant," Narcissa added, her tone taking on a steady, somewhat facetious musing, like the idea had just occurred to her and was not, as was much more likely, a broader manipulation. "I thought you might make her feel welcome."

Narcissa was smiling fondly at her son, but Hermione could see with alarming certainty that this was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a request with the option of denial.

"Yes, Mother," Draco said, dutifully rising to his feet and gesturing for Hermione to join him, offering her his arm. She reached up to take it, but Narcissa made a gentle cough of disagreement.

"Perhaps Miss Granger might prefer to remain in the shade with me," Narcissa ventured, though this, too, was no request. "Andromeda and I have only recently reconciled, you know, and it's perhaps best not to overwhelm her."

Likely not entirely true, though not necessarily disingenuous, either, Hermione noted. Narcissa's expression was delicately guarded, artfully dispassionate; there was no territorialism there, no skepticism. In short, nothing Hermione might have expected from the courtly Lady Malfoy, and as much as her first instinct was to question the other witch's intentions, she felt a strange sense of calm.

Some sense of unspoken assurance, some unsubstantial figment in her mind, whispered to her that this would be okay.

"I'm intrigued, Mother," Draco noted, not unkindly, though he was hesitant to leave Hermione's side. "Surely you don't mean to tell me that you initiated the relationship."

"She's my sister," Narcissa insisted firmly, glancing quickly at where Andromeda stood apart from the other guests. Hermione thought she could sense something in Narcissa's tone, a subtle veneration that served to indicate that perhaps the older witch had longed for the reunion for a considerably long time. "And," Narcissa added, lifting her chin as she made her point, "times have changed."

It was a challenge, Hermione realized, watching Narcissa's stance as she straightened. Times have changed, Narcissa had said, but what she meant was I have changed - and let no one question my choices.

Hermione found herself rather impressed.

"They certainly have," Draco replied, his voice colored with amusement.

He bent to kiss Hermione, stroking his thumb against her jaw with a slow, easy reverence; it was a surprisingly intimate gesture, particularly given the audience, and Hermione couldn't help a glance at Narcissa, giving in to a nervous impulse to see if she was bothered by Draco's show of affection. Hermione stiffened in preparation for a look of haughty disapproval, but found she needn't have bothered. Instead, she was surprised to find a faint smile on the lovely witch's face.

Don't be ashamed of the savagery with which you love, or the fierceness of your heart.

She heard the whisper in her mind, familiar and out of reach, and she felt herself relax, the breaths coming a little bit easier.

"I've learned that forgiveness comes easily enough if you only make the effort to ask for it," Narcissa said once Draco took a step towards her, reaching up to touch the pale blond strands of his hair. "I had an excellent role model for that," she added, her eyes straying to Hermione's.

Even that statement, as confessionary as it was, as vulnerable as it might have been, sounded like a fact that was not to be questioned when delivered with Narcissa's inarguable poise, and Hermione met her gaze easily. There was a sincerity to the statement, an essence of truth, and it struck Hermione as trustworthy. A truce, of sorts.

Slowly, Hermione's doubts seemed to ebb, left only with a trace of curiosity as to who she really was, the enigma wrapped in elegance that was Narcissa Malfoy.

Draco nodded once, his glance following his mother's to Hermione - are you okay? he seemed to ask; I'm fine, she assured him - before he turned away, beginning to cross through the gardens.

"He's softer than he seems, you know," Narcissa murmured once he'd gone, taking a seat beside Hermione and letting her eyes follow her son's long strides. "More loving than he reveals to others." She straightened, clearing her throat as though ridding herself of her pesky sentimentality. "He looks and behaves quite like his father, of course, but his inner nature is far more like mine, I'm afraid."

Hermione couldn't help a tentative smile, watching as Draco smoothed his hair back absentmindedly, preparing to tap his unsuspecting aunt on the shoulder. "Is that such a bad thing?"

"Ah, well, he's secretly a romantic," Narcissa assured her. "And it must be my doing." Her lovely face became somehow even lovelier, the affection for her son catching the light and blossoming in her features. "I used to tell him this foolish story - Lucius would always get so angry with me." She shook her head, laughing a little at the memory. "Said it would make him soft."

"What was the story?" Hermione asked, leaning forward with a smile.

Narcissa opened her mouth, but then, to Hermione's disappointment, clamped it shut again, resolute in her stoic aristocracy. "It's foolish," she repeated unconvincingly, and she moved to turn away.

"Please," Hermione said, and before she realized what she was doing, she'd reached out to rest her palm against the older witch's arm, stopping her in her tracks. "I'd love to hear it."

The motion, as unexpected as it was, had a vague sense of familiarity to it that they both seemed to recognize at the same time. For a moment, Narcissa looked as though she might protest, but at Hermione's touch, she softened.

Promise me.

Hermione drew her hand away, but the lingering comfort remained.

I promise.

"It's not really a story," Narcissa amended. "Just something my mother used to say."

Hermione waited. If Draco was as similar to Narcissa as she claimed, it was best to allow space for her thoughts; she was rewarded for her patience when Narcissa spoke again.

"My mother wasn't particularly warm," Narcissa ventured, and there was something girlish in her voice that Hermione recognized; a yearning of some kind, a lonely kind of craving that Hermione herself had once known quite well.

"Andromeda was mother to us all, mostly, though Mother did have one thing," Narcissa said carefully. "One thing she always said."

Hermione nodded, feeling the caress of a cool breeze, content with waiting. Narcissa, after a moment of pause, let her hand rest beside Hermione's, cutting the space between them.

"My mother used to tell us about an invisible red thread of fate," she explained softly, and Hermione could see it was a story she'd never shared outside of her son; a hidden lining of sorts, concealed by her polished exterior. "I don't know how the thread was both red and invisible, of course - "

"Of course," Hermione agreed, smiling.

" - but she told me that the thread bound two people from birth. Soulmates, you know," Narcissa added wistfully.

"It was a beautiful thought," Narcissa went on, looking at Hermione as though to beg forgiveness for her whimsy. "That the thread could twist and wind and pull but never break, so that regardless of time or place or circumstance, those who were connected by the thread would find each other."

This life or any other.

"I think I've heard that story before," Hermione whispered, and Narcissa squeezed her hand tightly.

Across the garden, Andromeda pulled Draco into an embrace, and all the worlds collided.

Their friends had been different, of course, and both easier and more difficult.

Harry had been first, as it was hard to avoid him; he seemed to prowl Grimmauld Place at all hours of the day and night, and the very first morning that Draco and Hermione had stumbled into the kitchen, sleep-deprived and satiated, he had been there, coffee in hand.

"Oh," Draco said, and Harry lifted an eyebrow.

"You two are not very covert," Harry noted, glancing between them and then letting his eyes travel first from the empty wine glasses on the table to the coats that lay in a crumpled heap on the floor.

"Lack of auror training, I expect," Hermione attempted faintly, and Harry snorted softly in response, removing a mug from the cupboard and handing it to her.

"Give us a minute, would you?" Harry suggested, not taking his eyes off Draco.

Hermione emitted a muted squeak of protest, but Draco's expression never wavered.

"We're fine, Granger," he said tersely, crossing his arms.

She sighed. "No curses," she warned them, but she quietly backed away.

As it was Harry's house, Draco was gallant enough to give him the first blow, jutting his chin in challenge.

"Go ahead," he said simply.

Harry poured a cup of coffee, handing it to him; Draco accepted it, though he couldn't help sniffing it preemptively.

"I'm not poisoning you, Malfoy," Harry said, smirking. "Have some coffee."

"Shall I make myself comfortable, then?" Draco asked drily, taking a conciliatory sip.

"First," Harry said, taking a sip of his own, "tell me why you love her."

Draco sensed that had this been another time, or perhaps some other life, he might have done nothing more than scoff at the question; at the ridiculous notion that such a question could be answered, firstly, and then a secondary scoff at the idea that Potter merited an answer. As it was, however, Draco was a little exhausted at the thought of pretense; he'd hidden enough things in his lifetime to know that Hermione Granger needn't be one, and so the answer came easily.

"How could I not?" he offered weakly, shrugging in defeat.

To his surprise, Harry seemed to accept this explanation, nodding slowly in response.

"I suspect that if the circumstances were any different, I might put up more of a fight," Harry proposed, and Draco fought a smile at the harmonious parallelism of their respective reactions. "But she's different now, you know," Harry noted. "Happier."

Draco sensed something in the sentiment - something that rattled around in the timbre of the bespectacled wizard's voice, unable to stay hidden despite his best efforts. If Draco had been any less skeptical, he might have guessed it was gratitude.

"I'm not going to get in the way of that," Harry concluded after a moment, and then there was no mistaking the white flag.

Still, Draco never liked a quick surrender. He let a fair amount of silence pass between them, taking several sips before he responded.

"Good," he replied simply, and Harry cracked a smile.

"Now you can make yourself comfortable," the dark-haired wizard pronounced, and Draco rolled his eyes.

"Friends now, are we?" he drawled, taking another audible sip.

"Unfortunately," Harry replied, his voice resigned and grim.

From just outside the door, Hermione ducked her head to cover a smile.

"Hermione and Draco are dating," Harry said casually, and Ron looked up from his dinner.

"Oh," said Ron, managing a swallow with difficulty. "Hm."

He squinted into nothing for a moment.

"Feels sort of normal," he grunted, his brow furrowed. "Sort of like I already knew that."

Harry nodded, and they both returned to their meal.

"So," Draco said, settling himself down beside Theo. "What do you think?"

"I like her more than you already," Theo replied.

In truth, there had always been something strange about Granger; not necessarily about her, per se, but something that surrounded her. When Draco had first brought it up - casually, and slipping it into conversation as though he were asking Theo to pass the salt - he had felt some kind of settling in his brain, some unidentifiable sense of ah yes, that's right, a sigh of recognition that had soothed him as much as it startled him. Like a piece of him could finally rest.

He wasn't sure he could explain it, and there were even more strange occurrences over time. Like, for example, the time Theo just happened to know that Hermione preferred Earl Grey in the afternoons, and that she liked it taken with lemon; he swore up and down that she must have told him that at one point, but she insisted it had never come up. There was the time, too, that Hermione seemed to know that a room in Nott Manor had once been a library before his father's death, though Theo knew for certain she had never been there. And of course there was no overlooking the very strange time that Draco asked for Theo's help in choosing Hermione's birthday gift; inexplicably, his first thought was to suggest transfiguring Draco's signet ring to a pendant, and the moment the words were out of his mouth, he realized the idea had just been lounging in his brain, waiting to be invited out for conversation. Once she started wearing it, Theo realized he couldn't imagine her without it.

And she called him Lancelot, once. It seemed innocent enough, though he had still looked accusingly to Draco; not even Daphne knew about that. The other man only shrugged, insisting he'd never said anything, and for whatever reason, Theo was inclined to believe him. There were certainly a number of very strange things about Granger.

Though, mostly, it was how quickly she felt like family.

"Ah," Draco said, entering the kitchen at Grimmauld Place and nodding. "You're up."

"Always," Harry replied, grinning. "Going to be weird when I'm the only one."

"You should consider sleep potion," Draco suggested loftily, taking a seat across from him. "You need your beauty sleep, Potter."

"I do pretty well without it," Harry countered and Draco chuckled. "Besides, it's really only like this when Ginny's with the team." He looked up, giving Draco a knowing glance. "You, on the other hand, are nocturnal all the time."

Not exactly true. In reality, Draco had grown quite comfortable with the late night chats in the kitchen, and it had felt like a habit long before it had actually been habit; he suspected that without the option of Harry's company, he would sleep just fine in their new flat, though he would likely never admit it.

He shrugged.

"What's this?" Draco asked, eyeing the parchment in front of Harry.

"Guest list," Harry said tersely, frowning. "Ginny needs me to decide who I want to invite." He rolled his eyes. "And apparently it needs to be done tonight."

"Hardly fair to blame her," Draco pointed out, thinking of the witch's positively violent opposition to wedding planning. "That's got Molly written all over it."

"True," Harry conceded, making a face. "I hate this."

"Oh, don't act like it's so difficult, Potter," Draco said, feigning irritation. "Besides me, Theo, and the Weasel clan, who do you even know?"

"You should really stop calling them that," Harry admonished him, though Draco could see he was fighting a smile. "You're just still upset Molly forced you into a jumper last Christmas."

"As if I can be expected to participate in matching jumpers," Draco grumbled, still not fully recovered from the horrifying ordeal. "And in Gryffindor colors, honestly?"

"I thought you looked lovely," Harry said, his face reddening with contained laughter.

"I did," Draco sniffed. "But that's hardly the point."

Harry's festering laughter continued. "Honestly, I'm not sure anything beats your mum's reaction to it - "

"She has truly never looked so revolted in her entire life, I'm sure," Draco agreed, picturing the blanched look on Narcissa's face. "I think she might have had Granger obliviate her after seeing me in it."

"You should get her to join in this year instead of splitting the holiday," Harry pointed out. "I'm sure Molly can make one more - "

"Don't you dare threaten my saint of a mother with one of those monstrosities," Draco warned stiffly, and Harry's laughter erupted in peals. "I think she might've burned mine - "

"I just hope Ron gets Pansy in one this year," Harry choked out. "Can you imagine?"

"Fuck, that would be ideal," Draco agreed, picturing the look on her face and mimicking her. "Weasley, you twat, I'll kill myself and you before I let you put that on me - "

Harry was practically convulsing with laughter, and Draco smothered a chuckle, pleased with him himself.

"Anyway," Draco said, once Harry regained his ability to breathe. "What's the issue with the guest list?"

"Well," Harry said, removing his glasses to wipe the mirthful tears from his eyes. "I'm not sure whether I should invite my cousin."

"The muggle one?" Draco asked, feeling a faint tug in his mind at the thought. "What was his name?"

"Dudley," said Harry, and a hazy image formed in Draco's mind.

"I think you should," Draco pronounced slowly. "Just a feeling."

"My, my, Draco Malfoy," Harry drawled mockingly. "How very progressive of you."

"Just a feeling," Draco grunted back, but Harry seemed pleased with his answer.

"Dudley it is," he murmured, scribbling the name on the parchment.

"Merlin's bollocks, that's illegible," Draco exclaimed, snatching the list and the quill from him. "You dictate, Potter," he instructed. "I'll write."

"Godmother?" Hermione echoed. "Really?"

Daphne opened her mouth to answer, but Theo cut her off.

"Fucking obviously, Granger," Theo said, shaking his head.

"I'd have gone for something more like 'of course,' or, 'who else would be better,' but that works just as well, I suppose," Daphne murmured, shaking her head in amusement.

"Draco is obviously godfather," Theo pointed out, jutting out his chin to reference him.

"Obviously," Draco drawled, eyeing his fingernails, and Theo turned back to Hermione.

"And you're, you know - " Theo faltered helplessly.

Draco was his best friend, of course, had always been; but Hermione was something to him too, and of her own accord. Theo had quite enjoyed being independently wealthy for a time, but found that ultimately there were too many demons to wrangle and far too much free time. It had been Hermione who'd convinced him to start writing, to comment one day that his thoughts merited recording, and in a bizarre twist of successfully taking someone else's advice, Theo had complied.

It was Hermione who had patiently read his drafts, listened to his thoughts, encouraged his madness. Draco had saved his life but it had been Hermione who helped him learn how to live it, who'd recognized something in him and trusted it, believed in it with a confidence that Theo would never understand. She seemed to know things about him that nobody else had ever comprehended; she was the one to convince him that even his dark thoughts, twisted and abhorrent as they were, were still somehow beautiful.

The way it feels to hurt someone, he told her, nervous at first. It's -

Like your soul is ripping, she finished for him, a strange glimmer appearing in her eye.

She was the one to teach him that everyone had light and dark, and he had only to choose the brush with which he painted.

Hermione coughed quietly, looking expectantly at him. "I'm what?" she prodded.

"You're my lawyer," Theo declared, finally settling on a term as his wife rolled her eyes.

"You're important to us," Daphne supplied kindly, reaching out to pat her husband's knee.

Hermione smiled, leaning in as Draco kissed her temple. "I can't wait to meet to meet our godchild," she said, radiant at the thought.

Theo and Daphne exchanged glances.

"Actually," Theo corrected. "Make that godchildren."

Dudley Dursley saw the owl approaching and felt a stirring in his chest; it had been such a long time, he thought, wondering what had happened to his cousin Harry's owl. He thought about the stack of Daily Prophets that he kept in a box in the back of the linen closet and considered digging them out, wondering whether it was worth going back for another read.

Well, not read, exactly, he thought, recalling his fascination with the pictures.

"Stepping outside for a minute," he called to Gabrielle, attempting to intercept the owl before she saw it. He wondered if it might startle her; he hadn't told her about the circumstances of his cousin - hadn't told anyone, of course, for who would even believe him? - and he certainly wasn't about to start now.

"Here," he muttered to the owl, waving it down awkwardly as he stepped onto the balcony of his flat. The owl, a brown one he'd never seen before, landed gracefully on the railing, a letter tied to its leg.

"Thanks," Dudley muttered, giving it an awkward pat. "Can you, er - wait?"

Either the owl nodded at him, or Dudley was going mad; he chose to believe the former.

"Thanks," he said again, tearing open the envelope and scanning it quickly.

You are cordially invited to attend the wedding of Mr. Harry James Potter and Miss Ginevra Molly Weasley -


He spun around quickly, hiding the letter behind his back. "Yes?" he asked sheepishly, reticent to meet the dark blue eyes of his stunningly beautiful girlfriend.

"Dudley," she said again, her eyes wide with disbelief. "Is zat - "

"Nothing, nothing," he mumbled incoherently, shuffling his feet. "Just an, um - " he swallowed, looking to the owl, who was no help at all.

"But you are not - " Gabrielle herself seemed to be at a loss for words. "You are not a wizard, are you?"

Dudley gaped at her. "Not me," he managed weakly, and she stepped forward, holding her hand out in her very commanding way.

"Show me," she instructed. "Show me zis."

He sighed; he was never really able to resist her. He handed her the invitation, watching as her eyes went wide.

"'Arry!" she exclaimed, nearly squealing with excitement. "'Arry Potter? You know 'im?"

"Do you?" Dudley asked incredulously, squinting at her.

"Yes, yes!" she seemed ecstatic, her accent thickening. "Oui, I know 'im!" She faltered. "But, you - you are not - "

"No," Dudley cut in sadly. Just a muggle, he reminded himself, sighing. "Harry's my cousin but I'm . . . not." He stepped forward, taking Gabrielle's small hands in his. "But - you?"

"I am a witch," Gabrielle confirmed slowly, giving him a tentative smile.

Before he could stop himself, Dudley burst into a line of manic questioning. "You can do magic?" he said excitedly, and she blessed him with her tinkling laugh. "Can you make things fly? Do you have an owl? Did you go to Hogwarts, too?"

"Yes, yes, yes, and non," she said, her pretty lips curled in an utterly bewitching smile. "Not 'ogwarts, I attended Beauxbatons - "

"There's another school?" he interrupted happily, grasping her face in his hands and kissing her soundly. "Tell me everything," he insisted, and she let out another deliciously enticing laugh.

"They've offered me a seat on the Wizengamot," Hermione said breathlessly, her eyes the size of saucers as she scanned the letter. "I'd be the youngest member in at least a century - "

"Take it," Draco said simply, eyeing her from across the room. "Accept. Right now."

She frowned. "But - "

"Take it," he repeated, giving her one of his silencing glares.

"But why me?" she insisted, standing up to pace their office. "You should be on it - "

"Take it," he said again, his tone bored as he bent to flip the pages of the case law before him.

"But - "

"Take it."

" - I've no experience, and really, I - "

"Take it."

" - can't imagine this is a good idea - "

"Take it."

" - you know how I hate politics - "

"Well you'd better get used to them," Draco interrupted, abandoning his work with an audible sigh and crossing the room to put his hands on her shoulders. "I fully expect to live a comfortable life as the husband of the Minister for Magic someday, you know - "

"You'd better find someone qualified to marry, then," Hermione teased, putting her arms around his neck and nuzzling into his chest.

"Funny you should say that," Draco commented wryly, and she pulled back to look at him. "I mean, considering that I've been carrying a very heavy engagement ring around in my pocket for several weeks now."

Hermione seemed like her first instinct was to laugh, but she cut herself off abruptly as she caught the seriousness of his expression.

"What?" she said blankly, blinking at him. "Really?"

"Yes," he replied, tightening his grip around her waist with one arm as he reached into his pocket with the other. "Haven't found the right time to ask," he explained, holding the small box in front of her.

The look on her face was torturously entertaining, but he managed to fight back a laugh.

"And" - Hermione swallowed, her throat seemingly quite dry - "you decided this was the right time?"

"Well, I'd hoped to use it as an opportunity to steal someone else's thunder out from under them," he replied airily. "The birth of Theo's twins was my first thought - "

"Oh Draco - "

"Harry and Ginny's wedding was my next idea - I was thinking mid-ceremony - "


"Well, I didn't, did I?" he insisted pointedly, grinning devilishly at her. "So, now that I've found a natural segue - "

"And to think your mother considers you a romantic," Hermione grumbled, shaking her head as she mimicked his dispassionate expression. "Natural segue - "

"I'm not not romantic," Draco murmured, kissing her cheek. "You know what today is?"

"Thursday?" she guessed, and he flashed her a disapproving glare.

"Today marks two years from the moment I knew I loved you," he informed her, and at her softened expression, he broke out in a triumphant smirk. "Bet you feel like a real dickhead now," he added snottily. "Don't you, Granger?"

"Two years ago was our first day here," she remembered, ignoring his snarky comment as a smile flitted its way across her lips. "Did you really know even then?"

"Didn't you?" he prompted.

Her eyes gave him the answer. He heard her voice in his soul.


"So," he managed hoarsely, after a minute or two of silently taking in the way her golden brown eyes caught the light. "What do you think, Granger?"

This life or any other.

"Not to be indelicate," Hermione replied, fighting a smile. "But I think I'm going to marry the fuck out of you."

Chapter Text

Wedding Dates

Pairing: PottGrass (Harry Potter x Daphne Greengrass) and Ronsy (Ron Weasley x Pansy Parkinson)

Universe: Post-Hogwarts, EWE

Rating: M for language, sexual references

Summary: Based VERY loosely on the film "Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates" (only in premise; the events/plot are not even remotely the same). When Hermione tells Harry and Ron they need to find dates to her upcoming wedding, they decide to hedge their bets and place an ad in the Daily Prophet. They get a little more than they bargained for when Daphne and Pansy answer the call. A little OOC, but, as always, try to have fun with it.

"So," Hermione said primly, fixing each of them with a stern glare. "Considering how poorly each of the last large social gatherings have been - "

"Don't know what you're talking about," Ron mumbled, and Draco glared at him.

"Sure you do," he replied coolly, removing his arm from around Hermione's shoulders to enumerate the events on his fingers. "I'd say it starts with the time Potter, here, broke up with Ginny via screaming match in the middle of my mother's birthday party - "

" - on a table, no less," Hermione interrupted, her teeth clenched.

" - and then when Weasley got caught having sex in a coat closet during the Ministry gala we hosted at the Manor - "

"I don't remember that," Ron cut in.

"We know," Hermione sniffed coolly, shooting daggers at him.

"Then, of course," Draco continued, "there was the vacation we all tried to take in Aruba - "

"Well, wait," Harry interjected weakly. "I didn't know that the Wildfire Whiz-bangs were going to go off like that - "

"Yeah," Ron agreed, puffing his chest out defensively. "That was hardly our fault - "

"Ah, yes, of course not," Draco agreed facetiously, frowning. "And yet I was the one who had to obliviate the muggle Minister for Eco-Tourism - "

"Enough," Hermione snapped wearily, and Draco tucked her protectively under his arm. "Listen," she said, her eyes darting between her two best friends. "I can't have our wedding fall apart like all those other times, okay? I just can't - "

She let out a tearful squeak and buried her face in Draco's chest.

"Look what you've already done!" Draco accused, jabbing a finger in the air at both of them. "This is the deal, you prats. You're bringing dates to the wedding," he declared, his darkened grey eyes daring them to argue. "Nice girls, too," he clarified stiffly. "Find someone who'll keep you both in line."

"But that's Mione's job," Ron suggested weakly, and Hermione let out a frustrated wail.

"She'll be quite busy, I think," Draco snapped, clutching her. "Getting married and all that - "

"Fine," Harry interrupted, coming forward to rest his hand gently against Hermione's shoulder as the petite witch sniffed a little, eyes wide. "It's fine, Hermione," he said again, giving Ron a meaningful look. "We'll find dates, won't we, Ron?"

"Yes," Ron agreed, sighing. "If that's what you want, Mione."

"It is," she said, biting her lip and looking up at Draco. "I just really want our wedding to be perfect, you know?"

"They know," Draco assured her, turning to glare at them. "You do know that," he seethed, "right, arseholes?"

"Right," Harry agreed sheepishly, and Ron felt his shoulders droop in resignation.

"Anything for you, Mione," he sighed.

"So," Ron said, tossing the quaffle in the air and playing a rather sad game of catch with himself. "Who do we know that we can take to the Granger-Malfoy Wedding Extravaganza?"

"No one," Harry muttered, collapsing against the sofa. "We're fucked. Everyone's either married or we've already fucked it up with them - "

"I presume you're talking about Ginny again," Ron said tightly, "and friend to friend, I wish you would stop."

"Ginny aside," Harry said loudly, flinching at her name, "there's nobody else. Luna's married, both Patils are married, Lavender's engaged - "

"Ridiculous," Ron declared, rolling his eyes. "And here we are, a couple of dashing, unattached war heroes, bossed around by our tiny friend and her ferret fiance - "

"Who wouldn't want us?" Harry lamented in jest, smirking as he sat up. "It should be so much easier than this."

"Maybe it is," Ron suggested, letting the quaffle fall to the ground with a loud thud. "Why don't we just - I don't know, place an ad in the paper or something?"

"Isn't that kind of desperate?" Harry said hesitantly, his face blanching at the thought. "It feels very sad and pathetic."

"Not if we make it a contest," Ron pointed out. "I mean, the wedding is in France, we could pass it off as, I don't know, some kind of prize - "

"That's not a bad idea," Harry said, frowning in consideration. "Even better if we make it seem somehow charitable - "

"We make a donation to their charity of choice on behalf of Hermione and Malfoy," Ron suggested excitedly. "Then we look like fucking philanthropists!"

Harry snapped his fingers. "Brilliant," he trilled. "Grab a quill, Ron. We're owling Rita for a favor."

"Daph," Pansy shouted, running through their flat. "Daph, fucking - " she looked around. "Where the fuck are you?"

Daphne popped up from the couch, her auburn hair splayed around her shoulders as she poked her head out from under a massive pile of clothes.

"What?" she murmured sleepily, and Pansy sighed.

"I see you finally did laundry," Pansy said carefully, noting the mess. "And then you decided to take a little nap, did you?"

"No," Daphne said faintly, though she looked away. "I was folding the laundry and then I found the underwear Blaise bought me for our anniversary, and then I - "

She stopped, her large hazel eyes filling with tears. "And - and then I - "

"No!" Pansy roared, crossing the room and yanking Daphne up from the cushions. "Not this again, Daphne, it's been three months - "

"I can't help it," she sobbed, burying her face in Pansy's shoulder. "I thought he was going to propose, Pans, and then he just - "

"I know, I know," Pansy cooed, running her fingers through her best friend's silky - albeit horribly tangled and unwashed - hair. "Well, listen. This makes what I was going to tell you even better."

"What is it?" Daphne sniffed, rubbing her red-rimmed eyes.

"This," Pansy said triumphantly, holding up the Daily Prophet. "Fucking Weasley and Potter are looking for dates to Draco's wedding in France - "

"So?" Daphne asked.

"So!" Pansy exclaimed, reaching out to shake Daphne. "So, we should be their dates!" At Daphne's instant look of pain, Pansy shook her head. "No, listen, Daph, what you need is a vacation - something to help get" - she coughed, not wanting to bring him up again - "to get him off your mind - "

"A wedding, though?" Daphne asked, hiccuping. "Do you really think it's best for me to be surrounded by - " she stopped, stammering. "By people, and - and love - "

"It's in France, Daphne, you'll hardly notice it's a wedding!" Pansy insisted.

"But why would they even take us?" Daphne protested. "We're Slytherins - they hate us - "

"I'll tell you why," Pansy replied primly, flipping to one of the social pages of the paper. "This is why."

Daphne grabbed the page from her, her eyes scanning the words.

Harpies star Ginny Weasley's unexpected romance heats up with local Casanova, Blaise Zabini. The pair were spotted traipsing about Diagon Alley, arm in arm, many sources report -

"Ginny Weasley," she seethed, and Pansy nodded.

"Fucking Ginny Weasley," she declared triumphantly.

"I haven't totally worked it out yet," Ron said slowly, his eyes narrowed as he took in the unpleasantness of Pansy's exceedingly forced smile. "But I have the distinct feeling that we're somehow being tricked."

"No trick," Pansy said sweetly, her teeth gritted slightly from effort. "We just want to offer our services, you know, as nice, well-bred ladies - "

"Cut the crap, Parkinson," Harry interrupted loudly, crossing his arms. "What's your angle?"

Pansy rolled her eyes. "Fine," she said, her expression changing drastically as she dropped her act of goodwill, allowing her signature haughty smirk to return to her features.

"I now feel both safer and much more in danger," Ron noted, leaning over to mutter in Harry's ear.

"Look, here's the deal," Pansy said stiffly. "We want to go on vacation, and this is a convenient time." She shrugged. "We'll look and act the part of proper wedding dates and all that, of course," she assured him, though she didn't bother to sound anything less than bored. "So don't worry about that."

"What would possibly possess you to think we would agree to this?" Harry countered, his mouth agape. "This is ridiculous, you once fucking tried to turn me over to Voldemort - "

"Well, I wouldn't be your date," Pansy said, batting her eyelashes in mock coquettishness. "You'd go with Daphne."

Ron let out a startled squeak.

"Harry," he whispered. "Harry, I'm frightened - "

Harry ignored him. "Why?" he said again, unmoved.

"Because the guy who's fucking your ex just fucked over Daphne," Pansy said bluntly, coolly inspecting her perfectly manicured fingernails. "And if you show up with Daphne, people might finally remember you're the Boy Who Lived and stop talking about how you're the Boy Who Got Brutally Dumped and Publicly Humiliated - "

"That's enough," Harry cut her off, swallowing uncomfortably. "I think I get where you're going with that."

"I just want to point out that this is my sister you're talking about," Ron broached, raising a finger.

"Shut up," Pansy snapped, and Ron nodded weakly.

"Sure, sure," he muttered, glancing nervously at Harry. "Sounds delightful, Harry, can't wait."

"So you'll do it?" Pansy said brightly, smirking again, and Ron glared at her.

"Fuck no - "

"Yes," Harry cut in, grimacing as he nodded. "Yes. Fine. We'll do it."

"What?" Ron squawked, throwing his hands in the air. "Harry, she'll - she'll try to, I don't know, poison me, or - "

"Put you on a spit and serve you at a barbecue," Pansy supplied, grinning.

Ron made an incoherent squeak, gesturing wildly. "That!" he exclaimed, and Harry sighed.

"Listen," he said, pulling Ron aside. "She's right, Daphne really is my best bet for this - " he sighed. "She's really, really hot, Ron, I need Ginny to see me with her - "

Ron buried his face in his hands. "I should never have given you two my blessing," he grumbled. "My sister is ruining my life - "

Harry looked over at Pansy. "Tell Daphne we're in," he announced, and Ron let out a wail.

"Did you say Ginny would be there?" Pansy asked, startled. "So - Blaise would be, too?"

"I thought that was the point," Harry said slowly, his forehead wrinkling as he considered her sudden hesitation. "Is there a problem?"

Pansy grimaced. "No," she replied faintly. "Nothing I can't fix."

"Okay," Pansy said merrily, dropping her two large bags on the floor of their flat and startling Daphne out of her reverie. "I've got everything we need."

"For what?" Daphne asked, looking inside the bags and enumerating the items. "Ice cream, chocolate frosting, crisps, firewhiskey - " she frowned. "Is this a birthday cake?"

"First we're going to get you cleaned up," Pansy said, removing a piece of lettuce from Daphne's hair, "and then we're going to light things on fire and eat everything in these bags."

"Why?" Daphne asked blankly, giving Pansy her baby deer look of utter confusion.

"Because we're going to have to get you over Zabini a lot faster than I thought," Pansy sighed. She made an effort not to look too distressed, hoping that Daphne would not pick up on her concern.

"So," Pansy pronounced, forcing yet another smile. "Let's get to work."

"Do I look okay?" Daphne fretted, fussing over her dress.

"Daph, you look amazing," Pansy whispered to her. "That's what happens, you know, when you actually shower - "

"Hey girls," Harry said, reaching them.

"Hey!" Daphne said, her voice several octaves too high. "Hey," she amended, coughing.

"Hi," Ron muttered, his ears red.

"Hey," Pansy said, winking at him. He shuddered in response.

They each shifted in the awkward silence.

"Well," Harry said, running his hands through his messy black hair. "This'll be fun," he said hesitantly, glancing over at Ron, who clearly disagreed.

Daphne looked nervously to Pansy. "Am I smiling?" she whispered, trying not to move her mouth.

"Yes," Pansy replied, brows furrowed in confusion.

"Oh good," Daphne said, anxiously smoothing the pleat of her dress for the hundredth time. "Just checking."

"Wait," Draco said slowly. "So what you're saying is, we told them to bring nice girls to our wedding, and they took that to mean Pansy Parkinson and Daphne Greengrass?"

"Yes," Hermione said tightly, fidgeting with her engagement ring.

"Wonderful," Draco said, throwing his hands in the air. "I'll just owl the French Minister for Magic now, then, shall I?" he suggested. "To warn him in advance of the chance of mass environmental damage - "

"Draco," Hermione said soothingly, patting him on the shoulder. "I'm sure it will be fine."

Draco sighed. "Maybe," he conceded, and then brightened. "Maybe we'll get lucky, and Pansy will murder Weasley!"

Hermione glared at him.

"Or maim or injure, I'm not choosy," Draco amended, and she sighed.

"We should have sex," she decided, throwing herself back on the bed and heaving another dramatic sigh.

"Brightest witch of your age," Draco agreed, dropping their bags and joining her.

"So," Harry said, settled into the room he was sharing with Daphne. "How is . . . everything?"

"It's lovely," Daphne said, daintily clearing her throat. "Thank you for everything," she added. She tucked a lock of auburn hair behind her ear and Harry watched, stunned, wondering how a face could be so magnificently . . . symmetrical.

"I don't know what Pansy's told you," Daphne began, and Harry cut her off.

"I could say the same," he intoned glumly, moving to sit beside her. "I mean, I know neither of us have, um," he paused, thinking. "The purest of intentions - "

"I really want to fuck you and make sure Blaise knows about it," Daphne said apologetically, her long lashes fluttering as she looked up at him. "Just being honest."

"No, no, that's fine," Harry said quickly, nodding. "I really want to fuck you, too," he added, though he seemed a bit uncomfortable with the sentiment. "In front of Ginny would be ideal, of course, but I'll settle for her just knowing about it."

Daphne leaned her head against his shoulder, sighing.

"They really messed us up, didn't they?" she said sadly, and Harry nodded.

"She broke my heart," he said simply. "And it breaks again every time I have to hear about her."

Daphne nodded, and they sat several more minutes in silence.

"Want to have sex now?" she suggested hopefully, turning to look at him.

Harry swallowed. "Um," he said, coughing. "Well, I mean, it might ease the tension?"

Daphne came to her feet, slipping the dress she'd been so careful not to wrinkle before dinner off of her shoulders and letting it fall to the floor in a heap, her pink lace panties - decidedly not the ones Blaise had given her - the only remaining garments on her slender form.

"Consider the tension eased," she said smoothly, and Harry gulped almost comically before yanking her into his arms.

"Don't touch me," Pansy snapped.

Ron turned around, glaring over his shoulder at her. "I'm across the room from you," he half shouted, gesturing to where he was unpacking his dress robes for the wedding.

"Pre-emptive strike," Pansy said, shrugging, and Ron sighed.

"Do I look okay?" Daphne asked, using her fingers to tousle her long waves into submission.

"Yes," Harry said fervently, nodding as he tucked his shirt back into his trousers. "Do I?"

"Yes," Daphne said, her gaze flicking appreciatively over him.

"Okay," he sighed, stepping forward to put his hands on her shoulders. "Are you ready for this?"

She thought about lying. She considered telling him that all she wanted was the sweet revenge of seeing Blaise look hungrily at her, to long for her the way he once did, to see the hint of arousal in his eye that used to be reserved just for her. She thought about telling Harry that she wanted Blaise to hurt the way she had hurt, that she wanted him to feel the absence she had felt, to reduce him to a crying, non-showering mess who could barely manage to take care of himself because that's exactly what he'd done to her. She thought about saying yes, yes, of course she was ready, she was more beautiful than she'd ever been and she was better off without him, she was on the arm of a better man (true, probably) with a more impressive cock (false, but he certainly knew how to use it better) and a bigger stockpile of gold (in all likelihood a wash) and thus no longer needed him; but Harry's earnest green eyes made lying quite impossible.

"I might cry," she told him, and his mouth twitched into a half smile.

Was it pity? She squinted at him.

"I won't let you cry," he promised her. "At least not where he can see."

No, she realized, not pity. Just kindness.

"I think I might like you," said Daphne, a little bit in awe.

"Bad news, that," Harry warned, her hand firmly in his. "I'm a mess."

She smiled at him. "Come on," she said, pulling him to the door. "Let's go make Ginny Weasley cry."

"Dragons, really?" Pansy giggled, squeezing her arms next to her ribcage so as to prop up her jauntily framed cleavage. "How brave - "

"Excuse me," Ron said, grabbing her arm and gritting his teeth as he tore her away from his brother Charlie. "Could you potentially not?"

"Let go of me," Pansy seethed, stomping her stiletto heel against the marble floor of the rehearsal dinner venue. "What do you think you're doing?"

"What do you think you're doing?" Ron demanded. "That's my fucking brother, Pansy, and you're supposed to be here with me - "

"He's hot," Pansy sniffed defensively. "I don't see why you're carrying on like this."

"Well, spoiler, I don't exactly need your help looking pathetic compared to Charlie," Ron said tightly. "So if you could just keep it in your pants for two days - "

She scoffed, moving to turn away. "Oh, shut up - "

"No," Ron said firmly, taking hold of her shoulders. "Listen. You're here with me, Pansy, so you have to be here with me."

Her eyes flashed angrily. "You don't own me, Weasley!"

"You agreed to this," he reminded her tersely, though he leaned in, lowering his voice. "Look, I get that you did this for Daphne, alright?" he said, his voice quiet. "I respect that you did this for your friend. But," he continued, flashing her a warning look, "I'm not okay with you disrespecting me. This is hard enough for me as it is," he reminded her, letting his eyes flick intentionally to where Hermione stood with Draco, laughing with her hand on his arm.

"Oh," Pansy said, following his gaze. She shifted uncomfortably. "I'd forgotten."

"Of course you did," Ron said stiffly, crossing his arms. "You're Pansy Parkinson, and after six years of school with you, I might have just assumed that the only thing you cared about was yourself."

She glared at him. "Hey!"

"Well, I was wrong, wasn't I?" Ron noted pointedly. "You care about your friend, too." He shrugged. "So maybe if you can just pretend to be my friend and care about me to the very base level of not trying to fuck my brother at my ex-girlfriend's wedding - "

"Got it," Pansy cut in softly, and Ron thought he saw a flicker of understanding in her dark eyes.

"Thanks," he replied coolly, though he felt considerably more grateful to her than he let on.

She nodded.

"Still not going to touch you, though," she warned, and he rolled his eyes.

"Still not trying to," he reminded her, raising both hands. She gave him a haughty look of approval.

"You know," she ventured, "Draco's my ex, too." The look she gave him was the first he'd seen from her that wasn't masked with bravado. "We're kind of in the same boat."

Ron sighed. "This wedding is all kinds of fucked up," he decided, his eyes traveling to where Ginny and Blaise seemed to be having a competition with Harry and Daphne as to who could look more in love.

"Cheers," Pansy agreed, and they solemnly clinked glasses.

"Wine tasting," Pansy said the next day, surveying the many swaying people around her. "Because what we needed was more alcohol."

"When in France," Ron said grimly, toasting her.

Pansy looked over at where Harry and Daphne were giggling in a corner. "I don't think they've taken their hands off each other since we arrived," Pansy noted, a little proud of her best friend in spite of herself. "If this is a show, it's very convincing."

"I'm sensing it's not," Ron mused. "He had a rough time after Ginny, but this doesn't look fake to me."

"Not to me either," Pansy said, frowning. "Daphne looks sort of human again."

Across the room, Harry and Daphne sat down together at a table, smiling as they settled themselves beside each other.

"They're cute," Pansy announced, and Ron nodded. They each took casual sips of their wine, observing their two best friends as they relaxed in the sun, enjoying the pre-wedding festivities.

She wasn't so bad, Ron thought, sneaking a look at Pansy. Since he'd confronted her at the rehearsal dinner, she'd been much less . . . Pansy-esque. And she was pretty, too; he'd never really taken the time to notice before.

Her dark eyes flicked to his face and Ron looked away quickly, returning his gaze to where Daphne and Harry were sitting together.

"Oh," Ron said, and they watched as Daphne's hand traveled to Harry's lap, the dark-haired wizard's face going euphorically blank as the pretty witch's hand slipped out of sight. "Uh oh."

"Oh no," Pansy tsked, shaking her head. Harry let his head loll back as Daphne, whose face was radiant with mischief, used her free hand to reach for a dainty sip of her wine. "Oh boy."

"I can't look away," Ron said, knocking his full glass of wine back and making a face as it went down. "Bloody hell," he swore, catching the tell-tale signs that Daphne was picking up speed. "Make it stop."

"It's like, mesmerizing," Pansy commented, taking a slow, languid sip from her glass and watching Harry's chest rise and fall as he struggled not to pant openly at Daphne's touch. "How fucked up are we?"

Harry doubled over, choking, and Ron sighed.

"Really fucked up," he pronounced grimly, motioning to the server. "More wine, please," he said. "Like, a lot."

Pansy cleared her throat delicately, drawing Ron's attention.

"Or," she suggested, pursing her lips. "Maybe we could get a drink somewhere else?"

"Somewhere besides the vineyard that's being paid for by the Malfoy estate?" Ron asked skeptically, offering her an indignant snort. "Where exactly did you have in mind?"

"I was thinking maybe our hotel room," Pansy suggested, taking another ladylike sip.

Ron blinked at her.

"Yeah, okay," he said quickly, and she barely managed to set down her wine glass before he disapparated them out with a loud crack.

"I think I might like you," Harry said, when he could finally catch his breath.

Daphne smirked at him, and for the first time in months, she wasn't thinking about Blaise at all.

"I have to shower before the ceremony," she said primly, rising to her feet. "Maybe you'd consider liking me in there?"

"Oh, I think I will," Harry said smoothly. "I might even like you more than once."

"I can't believe they were just doing that out in the open," Ginny snarled, pacing their hotel room. "That's - I mean, that's just - "

"You didn't seem to care very much about that when you went down on me in the restaurant bathroom last night," Blaise noted, lazily flipping the pages of an Italian magazine.

"It's not the same!" Ginny exclaimed, glaring at him. "This has got to be Daphne's influence," she added. "Harry's not like this at all - I mean, he's - "

"Boring," Blaise reminded her. "That is why you left him, isn't it?"

"He's not boring," Ginny snapped. "And anyway, don't talk about him like that!"

"Why not?" Blaise asked snidely, sitting up on the bed. "You say things like that about him all the time," he admonished her. "Harry was so uptight, not like you, Blaise, you're so free," he said, mimicking her.

"Well I can talk about him if I want to, can't I?" she said. "And what about you? Daphne was so dramatic, she was so needy - "

"Leave her out of it," Blaise growled.

"Why?" Ginny demanded, tears reaching her eyes. "Do you still love her, Blaise? Do you?"

"Are you fucking jealous right now?" Blaise demanded, throwing the magazine he'd been reading on the bed and coming to his feet. "Are you fucking serious?"

"Don't fucking yell at me!"

"Did you hear that?" Ron asked, turning his head to squint breathlessly at Pansy. "Is someone yelling?"

"Honestly, don't even talk to me right now," Pansy said, eyes closed, still relishing the aftershock of what had been the most stunningly electric sex of her life. "I am really busy."

"Was that yelling?" Daphne asked, pulling the sheet up to cover her breasts as she sat up in bed.

"I think it was Ginny's voice," Harry said, frowning. "Sounds like she and Blaise are fighting."

"Oh," Daphne said, biting her lip as she turned to look at him. "Do - " she paused. "Do you want to go see if she's okay?"

Harry's green eyes scanned Daphne's face, and she hoped he couldn't sense her fear.

"No," he said simply, pulling her to him and rolling over her. "I want to make you yell."

"So let me get this straight," Hermione said slowly. "Our parents had too much wine and are sleeping it off, the Weasleys are busy comforting Ginny, your friends had to take Blaise to the hospital after Ginny hexed him, and then Harry, Ron, Daphne, and Pansy are - "

"Missing," Draco said grimly. "Presumably fucking."

"Oh," Hermione said, dazed. "Interesting."

She looked beautiful; it was a shame Draco was the only one there to see it.

Though, now that he thought about it . . .

"You know," Draco said slowly, and Hermione looked up at him, eyes wide. "I really don't like anyone but you."

She tilted her head, considering him. "Same, I think," she said, sighing.

He offered her his arm. "Shall we get married?" he suggested, and she let her eyes sweep over the empty chapel.

"Let's," she decided, slipping her hand in the crook of his arm.

It really was the perfect wedding.

Chapter Text

Bachelorette, Part IV

Pairing: Dramione (Draco x Hermione)

Universe: Post-Hogwarts, EWE

Rating: M for language, sex (yes, actual sex)

Summary: Part IV of the drabble series based on the reality show "The Bachelorette," wherein eligible men in the wizarding world compete for Hermione Granger's affections.

[Black screen; Lee voiceover.]

"Here's what you missed on . . . The Bachelorette!"

[Camera shows Hermione saying goodbye to Ron; Theo and Draco exchange glances. Cuts to Theo interview.]

Theo: "It is interesting that Draco and I would both be in the final three."

Interviewer, off screen: "Do you see Draco as a threat?"

Theo: "I think anyone who has been paying attention should see Draco as a threat, but at the same time, I almost worry more about Potter being the standout."

[Cuts to Draco interview.]

Draco: "Yes, well, Theo and I do share many characteristics." [Waves this fact away like it is bothersome fly.] "But maybe that's just more indicative of what she's looking for."

Interviewer, off screen: "What do you mean by that?"

Draco: "Nothing, really." [Flashes the camera a distinctly Malfoy-esque smirk.] "Just that maybe she's tired of heroes."

[Clips of Harry and Hermione laughing together; cuts to Harry interview.]

Harry: "We have something together that nobody else has."

Interviewer, off screen: "You're not worried about anyone else?"

[Cuts to clip of Harry watching as Draco tucks a curl behind Hermione's ear.]

Harry, lying: "Nope."

[Lee steps into view, smiling at the audience.]

Lee: "And coming up tonight - Fantasy Suites!"

[Cuts to Hermione and Theo; Theo pulls her into the bedroom, kissing her, and shuts the door behind him.]

Lee: "Things get sultry between Hermione and Theo!"

[Scenes of Harry and Hermione holding hands on their date; a considerably less explicit scene, but she leans her head against his arm, looking adoringly at him.]

Lee: "Harry and Hermione find love in an old friendship!"

[Cuts to Draco and Hermione at dinner, holding hands.]

Draco: "The truth is that I love you, Hermione. I'm falling in love with you, and it's terrifying. I'm terrified."

Hermione: "Draco, I - "

[Cuts mid-sentence to Hermione interview; she looks panicked.]

Hermione: "How am I supposed to be able to make this decision?" [She starts fanning herself, slightly hysterical.] "Is this real? Am I really supposed to choose?"

[Clip of Hermione racing away from the manor, dressed in a stunning emerald green gown; she is barefoot and her polished updo is coming undone as she looks over her shoulder, running away.]

Lee: "All that and more coming up next on . . . the Bachelorette!"

"Fantasy Suites?" Minerva repeated, unable to believe her ears. "And this is for something that is not only permitted, but vetted by the Ministry?"

"Yes," Pomona confirmed, wincing.

Minerva sat still for a moment, considering her options.

"Someone had better make sure we double check the wards on the students' dorm rooms," she suggested wearily, leaning back in her chair. "Best that nobody get any ideas."

"So," Lee said, eyeing Hermione to make sure she was paying attention. "Here's the deal - "

"I get it," she said, closing her eyes and sliding down in her chair. "Don't cut Harry or you'll cry for a thousand years - "

"No, not that," Lee said quickly, reaching down to swat at her feet with his cue cards. "This is the 'I love you' episode."

She looked up, frowning at him. "What?"

"This is the episode that the contestants usually decide to say 'I love you,'" Lee repeated, grimacing slightly. "I mean, it'll be very touching, I'm sure - "

"But also strategic," Hermione deduced. "I get it."

"Okay, here's the thing," Lee said quickly. "You absolutely cannot say it back, no matter who says it to you."

"I won't," Hermione replied tiredly, curling up in the chair to rest her chin on her folded arms. "It's only been a few weeks, anyway. I obviously don't love anyone."

"You sure?" Lee posed, grinning. "I mean, sure, you don't right now, but think of the possibilities - " he knelt next to her chair, trying to paint the scene. "Candles, music, the Fantasy Suite - "

"What's the deal with Fantasy Suites, anyway?" she insisted, turning to frown at him. "Are people really supposed to assume I've slept with three different men?"

"Yes," Lee said firmly. "And don't you dare give them any reason to believe otherwise," he added, glaring at her as though she'd already had the inexcusable nerve to do so.

She rolled her eyes at Lee's particular brand of melodrama.

"Isn't that distinctly, I don't know - gross?" Hermione asked, frowning. "I'm supposed to have sex with three different people and then choose one of them to marry next week?"

"Funny how you only take the marriage bit of this show seriously when it's convenient for you," Lee noted, giving her an obnoxious smirk.

"Well, it's not like I invented this!" Hermione exclaimed defensively, giving Lee a little shove.

"Just give the people what they want, would you?" Lee begged. "Just . . . leave some clothes lying on the floor, or something." He shrugged. "Leave some wine glasses out."

Hermione made a distinct gagging sound. "You want me to fake my own seduction?" she asked, making a face. "For the actual sake of fuck, Lee."

"I mean, you don't have to," he assured her. "You can always just call me a few minutes earlier and I'd be happy to do it for you." He looked at her, tilting his head as though he were brainstorming. "I could do something to make sure you had, you know, the appropriate post-coital look to you - "

"For the love of god, please stop," Hermione groaned, reaching out to shove his face away. "Literally never speak to me again."

"Okay, so, to recap," Lee said weakly, coming to his feet. "No 'I love yous' - "

"Yes, yes," she muttered impatiently. "You can leave now, Lee," she added, fixing him with her most severe glare. "Seriously."

"Okay," he agreed, tiptoeing toward the door. "Oh, and Hermione?"

"What?" she asked, pursing her lips primly.

"Team Harry," he said, grinning, before he hurriedly slipped out the door, just missing the impact of the fruit basket Hermione had flung in his direction.

[Camera pans the fancy manor house to show Theo stepping out, ready to meet Hermione for their date.]

Lee voiceover: "First up for the Fantasy Suites date is Theo."

[Cuts to Theo interview.]

Interviewer, off screen: "So, Theo. Could you explain for the audience what Fantasy Suites is?"

[Editor's cut:

Theo: "Just out of curiosity, what am I not allowed to say on this show?"

Muttered response.

Theo: "So you probably wouldn't be cool with me saying it's my chance to Slytherin to Granger, then?"


Theo: "And as far as explicit language - "

More mutters.

Theo: "You should really consider asking someone else to answer this question." [Shrugs.] "I'm just saying."]

Theo: "It's . . . " [Pauses, thinking.] "It's our first chance to be alone without cameras."

[Editor's cut:

Theo: "I should get some kind of award for that level of restraint. You're all fucking lucky I'm so goddamn refined."]

Interviewer, off screen: "Are you looking forward to it?"

[Editor's cut:

Theo: "I'd like to be excluded from this line of questioning. It strikes me as somewhat . . . idiotic."]

Theo: "Sure. For . . . appropriate reasons, of course." [Interviewer coughs loudly and Theo grins.]

[A montage of date clips flash across the screen; Hermione and Theo spend their day at dinner, watching fireworks, and conclude by holding hands and walking through a garden at sunset, the conclusion of their evening.]

Theo: "So." [He pauses, considering what he should say.] "I wanted to talk to you about something."

Hermione: "Sure." [She looks a little hesitant, like she might know what's coming.] "What's up?"

Theo: [Stops walking as they are almost to her hotel suite, taking both her hands in his.] "Listen. I know this has all been a little fast - "

Hermione, laughing: "Definitely."

Theo: [Grins at her, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear.] "But I want you to know that I've definitely gotten swept up in it."

Hermione: [is a little breathless] "Oh." [Pauses] "And?"

Theo: "And." [He smiles at her.] "I just wanted you to know that I'm falling for you, Hermione." [He pulls her in close, kissing her cheek.] "I'm falling in love with you."

[Cuts to Theo interview.]

Theo: "How do I know I'm in love with Hermione?" [He shrugs.] "What's not to love?"

[Cuts back to Hermione and Theo; she looks like she wants to say something, but stops herself just in time.]

Hermione: "Thank you for telling me." [She pauses as though she's remembered something, glancing towards the door of the hotel suite as they arrive.] "Theo - "

Theo: [Bends to kiss her so fiercely she stumbles backwards, clinging to him.]

Hermione: "Do - do you" [tries to speak between kisses, reaching for the doorknob] "do you - want to - "

Theo: "Yes." [Kisses her again.] "Yes. I do."

[Cuts to them stumbling into the suite, the door falling shut just as Theo sweeps Hermione in his arms, pressing her against a wall.]

[Editor's cut:

Lee: "So . . . am I supposed to just wait here, or . . . what?"

Muttered response.

Lee: "Yeah, cool. Cool. See you guys in the morning, then."]

Theo was kissing her so fervently that she could barely draw breath; she felt a flutter in her stomach, wondering if she should just give in.

It was Fantasy Suites, after all, Hermione reminded herself. If everyone already assumed she was having sex, didn't that mean she could give in just once?

Would it be just once? Probably. She could hardly see it happening with Harry like this; she was certainly open to the relationship - more than open, really - but it seemed somehow out of place in their dynamic for them to sleep together for the first time this way. Harry was a bit more sentimental than that, for one thing, and he clearly liked to take his time, considering. And as for Draco - well. It was never easy to predict what was going through Draco's mind, but she felt comfortably assured that he would contentedly make an elaborate show of seducing her only to abandon the facade behind closed doors. He seemed likely to be put off by the spectacle.

But now Theo was tugging the straps of her gown and this felt real and she felt wanted - he was falling for her, after all - she could see the darkened glimmer of hunger in his green eyes and she was close to pulsing with need. His hands slipped to her breasts and she let out an inadvertent whimper, realizing her body, now pressed tightly against his, may have made the decision for her.

"Fuck," Theo hissed through his teeth, letting his head loll back as she began unbuttoning his shirt, letting her fingers scrape lightly against his chest. "Hermione - "

"Yes?" she mused, sucking lightly on his throat as she let her lips move from his jaw to his neck to his chest.

"Hold on," he grunted, pushing her away and turning her, unzipping her gown and letting it fall to the floor. He stepped away, letting his gaze linger over her, his green eyes taking her in as he nodded appreciatively.

"Sorry," he said, grinning. "Been wondering about this for a few weeks now."

"About what?" she ventured, startled at the timidity in her voice. Despite the reassuring look of longing on his face, she had never been this exposed in front of anyone but Ron, and she felt ludicrously insecure standing before him in her silly, impractical lingerie, feeling awkward in the flimsy black pieces that she'd barely had the courage to purchase for herself.

Careful, she heard Draco say in her mind, feeling an unexpected leap at the calming timbre of his voice. Theo likes to have his fun.

"About you," Theo replied simply, his voice seeming throatier the longer he looked at her. He seemed to catch her hesitation, though, and his eyes flicked to hers. "Are you okay?" he asked, stepping forward to put his hands on her waist.

"Yeah," she said quickly, reaching up to wrap her arms around her neck. "Yeah, of course." He kissed her once, roughly, pressing her against the wall; then again, slower. Sweeter.

"Yeah," she said again, eyes closed. "I'm fine."

She felt him smile against her cheek and he moved his head to her neck, beginning to trace his way down, his lips brushing against the tingling skin of her chest as his fingers pressed into her hips.

"This is normal, right?" she whispered faintly. "Not a big deal."

"No," he replied, making his way down her abdomen to lower himself to his knees, his breath hot against her thighs.

"It's fine," she said again, her breath starting to catch as she grew more conscious of his mouth on her skin. "I mean, people do this, right? People who are dating?"

"Right," he assured her smoothly, tucking his hands under the thin fabric of her underwear, letting his mouth linger near her clit.

"I mean, we could be engaged next week," she said, attempting to allow a casual laugh; at the sobering thought, however, she suddenly opened her eyes. "I mean, that's what this is for, right?"

Her heart was pounding as she processed the truth of that statement. "Right?" she repeated weakly, reaching down to run her fingers against his scalp.

Theo paused his movements, looking up at her. "Engaged for the show, you mean?"

"Well, yes, that," she replied tentatively, and she could feel the beginnings of what was surely going to be a babbling stream of word vomit and nerves.

"I mean, if I have sex with you, that means I should probably choose you," she began frantically, "and if I were to choose you, I mean, that means I could really see myself marrying you - "

She choked a little, and the absurd thought crossed her mind that she quite wished she could ask Draco what he thought; he had an enviably cooler head, and she, by contrast, felt more than a little bit panicked. "I mean that's the point of this, isn't it?"

The mood was rather dampened and Theo chose to rise slowly to his feet, taking her hand to lead her to the bed and sitting her down gently, pressing his hands into her shoulders as he took a seat beside her on the bed.

"Hermione," he said, coughing as he attempted to manage the placement of his now inconvenient erection. "I thought you had always been pretty adamant that this show wasn't - " he paused, trying to be diplomatic. "Real."

"It's not," Hermione said quickly. "I mean, the being here for marriage and all that," she assured him, and Theo looked relieved. "But," she added tentatively, "the fallout is real, you know?"

He frowned. "What do you mean?"

"If I choose you," she began slowly, "I basically cut off any chance I have with anyone else," she explained, realizing that this thought, as obvious as it felt in that moment, was occurring to her for the first time. "Which would be fine, of course," she assured him, "assuming that this would . . . go somewhere."

Theo's face seemed to take on a strange, glassy appearance.

"I hadn't thought about that," he admitted, frowning. He looked intently at her, searching her expression for the proper way to respond. "Would sex tonight have to mean marriage next week?"

"Well, no," she said hastily, though that did seem to be the argument she was making, she realized. "I just - "

"Is marriage something you actually want?" Theo asked, tilting her chin up to look her in the eye. "I guess I'd just assumed it wasn't, you know," he said pointedly, "since you seem to really hate this show." He paused. "Like, a lot."

"I do," she insisted, grabbing a pillow and covering herself with it as she suddenly realized she was half-naked and somewhat chilly. "I do hate the show, but - "

She hesitated. "I mean, I do kind of like the idea of settling down," she confessed, biting her lip as she realized the veracity of that statement. "I think I might actually want all that" - she waved her hand around - "marriage and commitment stuff," she joked.

It was a joke, but it wasn't. She just hadn't realized it until this moment; and what an inconvenient moment it was.

"Well," Theo said carefully, leaning back on his elbows. "I do have feelings for you."

She eyed him closely. "Do you?"

"Yes," he replied, though she wasn't sure that he really looked convinced. "I mean, you're smart, you're funny, you're" - he paused, his eyes traveling over her again - "incredibly sexy - "

"But," she interrupted, feeling her cheeks flush. "There's a 'but' somewhere in there, isn't there?"

"But marriage," Theo determined grimly, reaching up to rake his fingers through his hair. "I don't know."

"I didn't think I did, either," she said slowly, and he reached for her, pulling her into the circle of his arms as they both lay on the bed. "And I really, really want to do this."

"But," he cut in, grinning.

"But," she agreed. "But," she decided, sighing with finality, "I think I kind of want a future."

He nodded slowly, and she had the distinct impression that he was processing her thoughts for her; it was helpful, somehow, and she felt encouraged that he was taking her seriously.

"You can see one with Harry," Theo noted. "A future?"

She nodded.

"Yes," she sighed. "I can."

Theo was quiet for a moment, his lips pressed against her hair.

"And with Draco?"

She didn't know what possessed her to say it. "Yes," she replied, thinking of the undeniable sense of relief she felt whenever she met his grey eyes, and the pull she felt at the thought of him.

"There's a good chance they both want what you want," Theo commented, and she felt him nod a little to himself, resting his chin on the top of her head. "You should pick one of them," he decided. "They're probably better for you."

She sighed in a mix of disappointment and relief, turning to look up at him. "I wish I would be able to have sex with you without thinking about the consequences," she proposed, and he gave her a smug little Theo smirk.

"Not everyone can be so singularly gifted," he sniffed, pulling her in tighter.

[Show cuts to Harry in interview.]

Harry: "So, today is my date with Hermione before Fantasy Suites."

Interviewer, off screen: "And how are you feeling about it?"

Harry: "I'm - um - "

[Editor's cut:

Harry: "Am I supposed to - "

Muttered response.

Harry: "Really? You want me to talk about sex?"


Harry: [indignantly] "What do you mean I'm the least sexy?"]

Harry: "Obviously Hermione and I have the strongest connection of anyone left on the show." [He appears a little nervous, and is speaking slower than normal, like he's taking care to think about his answer.] "But - we also have the least physical relationship, comparatively."

[Camera cuts to shots of Hermione and Theo snogging with his hand on her arse, then to Hermione with her legs around Draco's waist.]

Interviewer, off screen: "Would you say that will be important to establish tonight?"

Harry: "Yeah, I think so." [He swallows, looking nervous.]

Interviewer, off screen: "Is there anything else?"

[Editor's cut:

Harry: "What is it you're wanting me to say?"

Muttered response.

Harry: "Love? No. Love? Really?"


Harry: "Love? Wait. No. Love. No! Wait - "]

Harry: "I mean, I love Hermione."

Interviewer, off screen: "Do you?"

Harry: "Do I love Hermione?" [He sounds a little robotic at this point, as though he is unable to work his feelings out in words.] "I've always loved Hermione." [He looks startled.] "Dear god, do I love Hermione?" [He doubles over, mumbling to himself.] "Oh no."

[Editor's cut:

Interviewer: "Are you okay?"

Harry: [is still muttering to himself]

Interviewer, looking around: "Is he okay?"

Lee, yelling from off screen: "He's fine, you prat - keep going!"]

"Oh, poor Harry," Molly cooed, turning to her son. "Look, he's so nervous!"

"He's fine, Mum," Ron muttered, getting up and wandering into the kitchen. Had he looked like this much of a twat on the show? He sincerely hoped not. He was, if possible, twice as relieved now that he was no longer in the running for Hermione's heart. Particularly since the fan mail had started pouring in -

I'll make it better, Ron!

Ron, I'm still available!

Let me be your bachelorette!

All in all, it had been a worthwhile experience, he thought, grinning to himself.

"Ron!" Molly yelled, and he stumbled into the living room, startled.

"What?" he demanded.

"He told her he loves her!" Molly said, sighing, as she clutched one of her decorative pillows. "They're in love, Ron!"

"Bloody hell," Ron grunted, rolling his eyes as he trudged up the stairs and away from the madness.

It would have to be Harry.

Wouldn't it?

Hermione watched him as he wandered throughout the room, lighting candles, playing music - making things special, the way only Harry thought to do. He knew what she was looking for. He knew with absolute clarity what she was looking for; though perhaps he really should. He'd certainly known her long enough.

"Want to dance?" he suggested, holding his hand out to her.

She smiled.

"Sure," she agreed, stepping into the circle of his arms and resting her chin on his shoulder.

The friendship part would always be comfortable. That piece would always be there, and she'd walk to the ends of the earth for him. She always had. Love would be easy, then. Wouldn't it?

He spun her around the room slowly. "Remember when we did this?" he asked quietly. "That night when we were - "

"I remember," she murmured back, thinking how their minds had been so occupied, all those months of hunting Voldemort in solitude, alone together. "Of course."

Had it been a waste of a perfect opportunity?

"There's something so comforting about you," Harry told her, and she nodded her agreement, taking in the familiar smell of him. Her Harry.

He leaned away to look at her, and her lips met his without hesitation.

It was different, of course, kissing Harry. Not like Theo, who made her feel she couldn't breathe for the crushing need to explore him, to be laid bare in his grasp. Not like Draco, whose kiss stayed with her even after he was gone.

Comfortable. Reassuring. Isn't that what she'd told Theo she wanted? Someone to spend her tomorrows with. To have a future with. If there was one person she knew without a doubt that she could love for the rest of her life, it was Harry Potter.

She felt him smile against her cheek.

"What is it?" she asked, pulling away to smile at him. "What are you thinking about?"

"I was just thinking," he ventured, laughing a little, "do you remember our first flying lesson?"

"Oh, how could I forget!" Hermione exclaimed, launching her head into his shoulder with a frustrated groan. "Still the only thing you can lord over me - "

"That and my superiority in Potions," he countered, grinning, and at that she moved to pull away in mock indignation.

"You were cheating and you know it," she admonished him, and he pushed her a little, knocking her back against the bed.

"Was not," he insisted, and then they curled around each other, having the same argument they'd been having since they were sixteen years old.

"You're so full of it, Harry James Potter," she snapped playfully, and he grinned at her.

She thought about kissing him again; she considered the possibility of slipping her hand against the zipper of his trousers, testing the waters.

But she was so comfortable, she decided, burrowing herself in his arms. And by then he had already brought up another story, and they were already laughing.

They talked until the sun came up, and by the time Lee knocked on the door in the morning, she was still in her dress from last night.

Kingsley walked out of his office, eyes on the paperwork in his hands as he opened his mouth to call for Mafalda.

" - oh Hermione and Harry are just so cute together - "

" - I know! They are my favorite - "

Upon hearing the conversation, Kingsley quickly doubled back, deciding with a solemn grimace he would be better off sealed in his office.

"So," Theo said, sipping coffee in the manor. "You're next."

"I am," Draco said warily, not wanting to disclose too much.

They sat in a slightly uncomfortable silence until Draco noticed that Theo's green eyes were laughing at him, and he realized he was being toyed with.

"What?" Draco snapped, and Theo finally broke into an open smirk.

"She's going to choose you," Theo said. "What she's looking for . . . " he shook his head. "I can't give it to her."

Draco raised an eyebrow. "That's gallant of you," he remarked, careful not to reveal the extent of his relief.

"So," Theo said, taking another sip of his coffee. "Are you going to tell her how you feel?"

"It's just a show, Theo," Draco said, rolling his eyes.

"You know, you two are so similar," Theo commented, giving Draco a haughty, superior sniff. "You both pretend you're not taking this seriously until all of a sudden, you are."

"Oh, shove off, Nott," Draco replied, scowling.

Theo sighed, setting down his mug and putting his hands on his best friend's shoulders. "Tell her how you feel," he advised, giving Draco a last pointed look before turning to exit the kitchen.

"Oh," he added, stepping back to face Draco one more time. "And sorry about all the times I've snogged her, mate."

Draco made a face. "But you didn't - "

"Nah," Theo said, his eyes dancing. "Though certainly not for lack of trying."

[Scene opens to where Hermione and Draco are on their date, eating dinner together. He seems a little stiffer than usual.]

Hermione: "Draco, can I be honest?" [She looks imploringly at him.]

Draco: [glances up] "Of course." [his tone is particularly silky, like it might be an affectation from nerves.]

Hermione: [puts her fork down, resting her chin on the heel of her hand.] "I feel like you seem a little bit distant." [She searches his face nervously for a reaction, which he does not give.] "Is everything okay?"

Draco: [hesitates.] "Yes."

Hermione: [looks saddened.] "Oh." [She picks up her fork, returning to her meal.] "Just my imagination, I suppose."

[Hermione is now picking listlessly at her food; Draco, by contrast, looks distressed.]

Draco: "Alright!" [His voice is several decibles too loud and Hermione is startled, letting her fork drop against her plate with a clatter.] "Fine. FINE."

Hermione, shocked: "Draco!"

Draco: "I love you, Hermione. I'm falling in love with you, and it's terrifying." [His face is paler than usual, and the words ring true.] "I'm terrified."

[Cuts to Hermione in interview.]

Hermione: "Over the last week, three different men have told me they loved me." [Shakes her head.] "But this . . . hearing it from Draco . . . "

Interviewer, off screen: "Is this different?"

Hermione: [pauses, biting her lip.] "Yes." [She takes a deep breath.] "Something about this feels different."

[Cuts back to Hermione and Draco at dinner.]

Hermione: "Draco, I - "

Draco: [cuts her off.] "Don't." [He shrugs.] "it's okay. You don't have to say anything. I just wanted you to know."

[She is looking at him intently, like she is seeing something for the first time.]

Hermione: [reaches for his hand across the table.] "Draco." [Pauses to smile at him.] "Would you like to spend the night with me?"

Draco: [Leans over the table to kiss her; fireworks erupt in the background.]

[Editor's cut:

Lee: "Did he say yes?"

Muttered response.

Lee: "I was just asking! Fuck, you Team Draco people are the worst."]

Once the doors had shut behind them, Draco released Hermione, taking a stroll around the suite.

"This is nice, Granger," he commented, eyeing the chilled bottle of champagne and the expansive bathroom. "Look at you."

"Feel free to enjoy," she told him, wandering in behind him. "That was a pretty good show back there," she added, giving his shoulder a mischievous nudge. "I almost believed you."

He fought a grimace. "You always have such low expectations for me," he told her, throwing himself back onto the bed and resting his head against his hands. "You should just know to be impressed."

"Still," she said daintily, slipping her feet out of her shoes and stretching the exhaustion from her arches. "You never cease to amaze."

He shrugged. "Born performer, I guess."

"Something like that," she agreed. She wandered into the bathroom as though checking for something, then returned to his line of sight.

"I'm thinking a shower," she announced, leaning over to rub her feet again. "I could use one."

"Go for it," Draco replied nonchalantly. "I'll open the champagne, if you're interested in having some."

"Sure," Hermione said, nodding a little. "We deserve some, don't you think?"

There was a faint pop as Draco worked the bottle open.

"We certainly do," he agreed, and she walked toward him for a glass.

Hermione woke the next morning with a start, squinting in the brightness. Her head was pounding but she felt unnaturally relaxed; the two came hand in hand, she supposed, looking down.

There was no real way to tell what she noticed first. She might have first discovered she was naked, though the realization that the arm around her belonged to an equally naked Draco Malfoy was surely a close second and third, respectively.

Slow down, she told herself, squeezing her eyes shut. What happened?

Things started flooding her memory piece by piece, like someone was playing with a dial in her mind and forcibly bringing things in and out of clarity.

I meant it, you idiot, I'm in love with you -

She heard herself giggle; had she even made it to the shower after the champagne?

Oh god, she realized, clapping her hand over her mouth. Yes, and not alone.

They must have gotten drunk, that had to have been the only explanation; she had been so set on a quiet night in his company, perhaps chatting a little, but mostly enjoying the solitude and the rare gift of being away from the cameras.

Who had made the first move? Not that it even mattered, really, she reminded herself. The kisses and touches had begun to feel second-nature after spending so many weeks doing it for purposes of show. What had initially been a purposeful demonstration had become instinct and -

Maybe it had been her, she realized with a start, remembering that she had been watching the way the drink touched his lips, captivated by the way his fingers looked as he held the thin stem of the glass.

Yes, she recalled, her stomach flipping a little. She had definitely been watching.

He had carried her to the shower, though; he'd certainly been involved. More than involved, she assured herself, remembering the flash of their reflection she'd caught in the mirror, his hands on her breasts the moment he'd undressed her, his lips on the back of her neck and traveling slowly down her spine.

She whimpered a little at the memory, but beside her, he didn't budge; he was beautiful when he slept, she realized, forcing herself to look away.

What next? Ah, yes, in the shower - he'd licked the falling droplets from her skin, revered her with his tongue, his lips, his hands - she came so hard the first time, his fingers inside her and his mouth on her clit and she could only press herself back against the tiles, one leg tossed over his shoulder as brought her right up to the edge and then sent her careening over it. She'd said his name, hadn't she?

Draco -

And more.

I love you, I love you too -

She inhaled sharply at the thought. Had she - ?

But then it was coming back to her, more, more, deeper, harder - yes, yes, there -

Her chest pressed first against the tiles, his hand on her clit, and then he'd turned her and she'd bit down on his bicep as he lowered her onto his cock, her legs wrapped around his hips as he thrust into her, one arm against the shower wall and the other sinfully around her waist, holding her securely -

Don't lie to me.

His voice was gruff in her ear.

Don't lie to me.

It's not a lie -

Then say it again.

I love you -

Again -

I - oh, Draco -

Say it -

I love you - oh, yes, there - Draco - yes -

I love you -

I love you - I love you -


The shiver she'd felt, it was unending.

Even now, it was relentless, and every hair stood on end.

How many more times? At least one - her hair was still damp, and she remembered her hands against his chest, her fingernails digging into his back as he brought her there again, again -


She looked at him, eyes wide.

He swallowed carefully, squinting a little in the morning light.

"Are you upset?" he asked quietly, and she felt an overwhelming rush of something - affection, maybe, at the knowledge that Draco Malfoy had never looked so concerned.

"No," she murmured back, touching his face. "I just . . . "

The muscle in his jaw seemed to tense. "Yes?" he prompted.

"I want to do it again," she whispered, and the ravenous look in his eyes nearly stopped her heart.

[Camera pans the room where Hermione is wearing a long red gown, standing next to the two remaining roses.]

Lee: "Are you ready, Hermione?"

Hermione: [takes a deep breath] "Yes."

[She looks up; there is something different about the chemistry in the room.]

Hermione: "Harry."

[Harry comes forward, smiling, and she looks comforted to see him; she holds him tightly after pinning the rose on his lapel, and he seems encouraged.]

Hermione: "And this rose is for . . . "

[Music becomes dramatic and full of intrigue as the camera pans rapidly between Draco and Theo.]

Hermione: "Draco."

[Draco steps close to her and there is definitely something different about their interaction; each touch seems somehow twice as deliberate. He holds her for a moment and she almost imperceptibly leans into him as he pulls away, instantly becoming sheepish as she has to face Theo.]

Hermione: "Theo, I'm so sorry."

[Cut to Theo interview]

Theo: "Oh, it's alright." [He is somewhat cheery.] "We didn't want the same things, but I'll be fine, and she's in good hands."

[Cuts back to Theo, who is giving Draco a hug; Draco appears to say 'thank you' in his ear. Lee steps into view.]

Lee: "And next week on the final episode of . . . the Bachelorette!"

[Scenes of Hermione with both Harry and Draco enjoying each other's company]

Hermione, voiceover: "I don't know." [She is sobbing.] "I don't know who to choose, I don't know what to do - "

[Cuts to Harry interview]

Harry: "I know what I want, and it's her. What we have can't be replicated. The bond we have is too strong."

[Cuts to Draco interview]

Draco: [is staring straight forward] "I can't do this right now." [He takes the microphone off his sweater, coming to his feet and exiting camera view.]

[Black screen; Hermione is heard whispering, as though she doesn't know she's being filmed.]

Hermione voiceover: "I love you, but is that enough?"

[Cuts to the shot from the opening previews, in which she is running away from the manor.]

Lee voiceover: "Don't forget to stay tuned for all that and more on the finale of . . . the Bachelorette!"

[Editor's cut:

Lee: "I can't believe this shit is still going on."

Muttered response.


Chapter Text

Bachelorette, Part V: The Finale

Pairing: Dramione (Draco x Hermione)

Universe: Post-Hogwarts, EWE

Rating: M for language, references to sex

Summary: The final installation of the drabble series based on the reality show "The Bachelorette," wherein eligible men in the wizarding world compete for Hermione Granger's affections.

[Camera pans the now familiar Manor house as Lee steps into view.]

Lee: "Tonight on the finale of . . . The Bachelorette!"

[Montage of Harry and Draco getting ready for their respective final dates; Harry looks openly nervous and fidgety, while Draco's face looks placid and calm, but upon closer inspection, his fingers are shaking as he buttons his shirt.]

Lee voiceover: "Tension is at an all time high as Hermione prepares to make her final choice."

[Cuts to Hermione interview.]

Hermione: "I could be marrying one of these men." [She is relentlessly chewing her lip and she looks vaguely tired and unsettled, as though she hasn't slept well.] "The concept of forever just feels so . . . foreboding."

Interviewer, off screen: "Foreboding?"

Hermione: "Well, maybe that's not the right word." [She softens, thinking.] "I think forever with either of them might actually be kind of - " [she pauses.] "Wonderful."

[Clips of her softer moments with both contestants is paired immediately with dramatic music and scenes of her alone and pacing.]

Hermione voiceover: "I don't know . . . I just don't know . . . "

[Cuts to Draco interview.]

Draco: "I've told her I love her, and that's all I can do."

[Cuts to Harry interview.]

Harry: "It's really up to her now, isn't it?"

[Black screen; Hermione voiceover.]

Hermione: "I love you, but is that enough?"

[Once again, the scene of Hermione running away from the mansion appears on the screen.]

Lee: "Who will Hermione choose? Will she find love in the arms of her closest friend, or with her former nemesis? Find out tonight on . . . The Bachelorette!"

"Lee, get out of the way."

He had barricaded the door with the entirety of his limbs and was refusing to budge. Hermione sighed heavily, trying to rub the exhaustion from her eyes that she knew even makeup might not successfully cover.

"Lee, I'm serious," she said, reaching out to push past him and then glaring as he swatted her away. "I need to talk to them, okay?" At his refusal, she grimaced. "At least one of them?" she attempted. "I need to - "

"You can't!" he barked, giving her the most petulant version she'd ever seen of his normally jubilant face. "That's against the rules, Hermione, you'll have to decide on your own - "

"This is ridiculous!" she snapped, stomping her foot on the ground and pivoting angrily away, pacing the room. "You can't expect me to get engaged in a couple of days without being able to even talk to the person I'm planning to marry!"

"Oh, really?" Lee asked, crossing his arms. "Because it seems like if you can decide which one you want to talk to, you probably know which one you want to marry."

Hermione paused mid-stride, glaring at him over her shoulder. "Fine," she conceded tightly. "You're right." She lifted her chin appealingly, giving him a prim look of satisfaction. "I know which one I'm going to choose."

"You do?" he asked eagerly, stepping forward. "Which one?"

At his abandonment of his post, she catapulted herself forward, attempting to muscle her way through the door; she'd timed it poorly, though, and he caught her around the waist, holding tight as she clawed at his arms.

"Lee," she hissed, struggling. For a relatively slender man, he possessed a surprisingly impenetrable grip. "Let - me - go - "

"No," he grunted back, "and you should know that I'm not fucking thrilled about this escape plan - "

"This is crazy!" Hermione shrieked, spinning around to smack the upper part of his arm with the flat of her hand. "You don't have to tell anyone, Lee," she added, switching techniques and attempting to make her gaze soft and imploring. "It can just be between us - "

"Are you bargaining with me now?" he countered, giving her a look of disgust. "You are losing it, Hermione."

"I'm - I'm not - " She sagged a little in his arms, realizing he was right. "I just can't - "

"Look," Lee said, gently nudging her to a chair and pressing her down into it. "Maybe we can just chat about this?" He looked at her hopefully. "Make a pros and cons list, or something?"

"Haven't you watched any sitcoms?" Hermione groaned, tipping her head back and sighing. "Those only lead to trouble."

Lee wrinkled his nose in confusion. "Any what?"

"Nevermind," she grumbled, kicking off her shoes and slouching further against the chair. "The point is, those don't work for decisions this big - "

"Oh, you're just blowing this out of proportion," Lee muttered. "Marriage is like" - he paused, waving his hand around carelessly - "nothing, now! Everyone's doing it," he added, looking at her with an absurd expression of optimism. "It's just a piece of paper, you know?" He shrugged. "No big deal."

"Oh yeah?" Hermione asked, opening one eye to regard him with skepticism. "And why aren't you married then, Lee?"

"Oh, I haven't found the right person," he said instantly, "I mean, I can't just - "

At her 'I told you so' glare he cut himself off, looking sheepishly at his shoes. "Nevermind," he finished, trailing off.

"Nevermind is right," Hermione said irritably.

"You're the one who said this was just a game!" Lee insisted, sitting down opposite her.

She grimaced. "I know I said that, but - "

"You were never planning to really go through with this, were you?" he interrupted, eyeing her carefully.

"Well, no," she admitted, "but - "

"Then why make a big deal of it now?"

"Because - because I slept with Draco!" Hermione blurted out, clapping her hand over her mouth.

Lee let out a dramatic gasp of horror, clutching at his chest.

"You did what?" he exclaimed, his voice shrill with panic.

"I know!" Hermione cried, launching herself to her feet and starting to pace the room. "And I told him I loved him - "

"You didn't," Lee said, starting to fan himself. "Hermione, I specifically told you - "

"I didn't say it on camera!" she insisted, turning pleadingly to him. "I - I only said it when - " she hesitated, loath to meet his eyes. "When I was - "

"Merlin's tits, did you say it while you were fucking him?" Lee shouted, and Hermione let out a loud wail of frustration.

"Would you keep your voice down?" she begged, throwing herself back into the chair and cringing. "Obviously now you see the predicament I'm in - "

Lee nodded soberly, seemingly unable to speak. They sat in silence for several moments as Hermione waited, her heart railing against her chest.

"Well," Lee finally croaked, bringing his hands to his forehead wearily. "I'm sure Harry will forgive you - "

Hermione let out an entirely incoherent sound that was part shrill squeak, part agitated groan. "That is not really the issue here, Lee!" she growled, swatting lazily at him from her chair. "But - I mean," she paused, straining for an appropriate metaphor, "it's like comparing apples and oranges now - "

"You mean comparing visual, accessible dick to imaginary, unexplored dick?" Lee mumbled. "I can see the dilemma."

Hermione's eyes widened in dismay. "Lee!"

"Look," Lee said, leaning forward to rest his chin on his hands. "It's not that hard, okay?" He looked at her beseechingly. "I mean, is there a reason you slept with Draco and not Harry?"

"Well - " Hermione cut herself off.

She wanted to say alcohol, but that didn't seem sufficient. She wanted to say maybe the timing had been better, but that didn't sound right either.

"I don't know," she said, after several moments had passed.

Lee sighed. "Lucky contesticles," he muttered, sinking down into the chair.

[Camera cuts to Harry interview.]

Interviewer, off screen: "So, how are you feeling now that it's down to the final two?"

Harry: "Fine, I guess." [He does seem fine.] "I mean, I'm anxious to find out Hermione's decision, but I feel confident it'll be the right one." [At that, he can't help a slightly smug smile.]

Interviewer, off screen: "And how have things been between you and Draco?"

Harry: "They're quite good, actually."

[Camera shows scenes of Harry and Draco throughout the season; Draco genially tosses Harry his broom as they go outside for a game, Harry pours an extra drink and offers it to Draco, Draco offers a rare grin as Harry tells a story.]

[Cuts back to interview.]

Harry: "Anything I want for me and Hermione has nothing to do with Draco losing." [He shrugs.] "He's not who he used to be, and I have no issues with him."

[Editor's cut:

Harry: "What do you mean you want something more interesting than that?"

Muttered response.

Harry: [is shocked and appalled] "I am not going to call him that! My - " [he pauses, correcting himself] "Ron's mum watches this show!"


Harry: "Well I don't care what your mum wants!"]

His hands were all over her, his fingers twisting into her wreck of curls and pulling her head back, his lips on her neck, his teeth against her skin.

Draco - I love you -

Don't lie to me.

It's not a lie -

Then say it again.

He'd had plenty of sex but none like this. There was sex, and then there was this. There was sex, there was fucking, and then there was Hermione Granger, who was in a league of her own. Every touch had an aftershock. Every ounce of pressure seemed like it could leave a mark.

Even her hand on his Dark Mark - her fingers brushed across it, and it was like he was somehow healed.

He jolted forward in bed, abandoning the thought of attempting more sleep. At this point, he was practically begging his brain to give him some release from that night. He was relentlessly vacillating between a pulsing numbness and a thudding panic, and he could get no relief.

The letter from his mother had done little to help, of course.

Remember, Draco, you've done what you went there to do. Even if she doesn't choose you, you've repaired your relationship with the rest of the world; even Harry Potter has been clear that he no longer harbors ill will towards you. Take a breath, darling. It's not for nothing.

Easy for her to say. She hadn't fallen in love with a muggleborn.

Not that that even mattered to him anymore, he reminded himself, shaking his head vigorously. She clearly didn't think of him as a Death Eater. The least he could do was see her for what she was, and he'd finally learned to do that.

He hoped she'd noticed.

He padded softly into the kitchen, not bothering to throw on shoes or a shirt. Now that it was just down to him and Potter, he'd gotten quite comfortable in the stuffy, largely tacky manor house. He was, after all, quite familiar with stuffy manor houses.

"Hey," Harry said, nodding at him. He was seated at the table, also shirtless, reading a newspaper.

"Hey," Draco returned, grabbing a cup of coffee and pulling a chair out across from the dark-haired wizard. "Anything interesting?" he asked, gesturing to the Daily Prophet in Harry's hands.

"Depends what you find interesting," Harry replied with a grin, lifting the front page to reveal a images of the two of them below the caption WHO WILL HERMIONE CHOOSE?

"Not bad," Draco said, nodding stiffly at the pictures. "Your hair looks shit, though," he commented, smirking into his coffee.

Harry rolled his eyes but said nothing; they sat in semi-comfortable silence for a few minutes, each relishing the solitude. The calm before the storm, as it were, Draco thought whimsically.

"So," Harry said, shifting in his chair. "Should we have the man-to-man talk?"

Draco looked up from his mug, flashing Harry his signature look of aristocratic skepticism. "Which one is that?"

"You know," Harry said amiably, shrugging. "Where I say 'if she picks you, be good to her or else,' and then you say - "

"Potter, I will do precisely what I please," Draco supplied, but Harry only scowled.

"Fine," he replied, rising to his feet and beginning to amble out of the room.

Draco sighed, staring at the other man's back. "Hold on," he called, and Harry slowly turned around.

"I know that if she chooses you, you'll be good to her," Draco said, somewhat sternly. "I don't need to tell you that."

Harry's mouth twitched into a smile.

"And," Draco continued loftily, "I care about her," he said, not wanting to reveal too much, but recognizing the moment was significant. "So you shouldn't worry about me," he concluded, looking for understanding in the other wizard's green eyes.

He found it as Harry nodded.

"I know," Harry agreed. "But thanks for saying that anyway."

Draco nodded.

All was well.

[Camera pans the manor house and rests on Lee, who is standing outside with Hermione.]

Lee, to Hermione: "This is your last date with Draco! How are you - "

Hermione: [glares at him]

Lee: [hastily clears throat] "Nevermind. Oh look, there he is."

[Draco steps out of the manor house and smiles at her; she brightens considerably.]

Draco: "Hi." [Kisses her.] "Missed you." [He says this with a certain rare sincerity and Hermione softens.]

Hermione: [in a whisper] "Me too."

[She glances at the camera; Draco notices this and takes her chin in his hand, kissing her cheek.]

Draco: "It's okay." [He turns to murmur in her ear.] "It's just me."

[Hermione seems to relax in his arms.]

Lee: [Clears his throat; Hermione and Draco jump, as though they have forgotten he is there.] "Okay, so, um . . . date time."

[Editor's cut:

Lee: [gesturing to Hermione and Draco kissing] "For fuck's sake, why am I always just left standing here?"

Murmured response.

Lee: "Wh- seriously? Well I think you're a useless prat!"]

Draco's head was nearly spinning by the time he sat down for his last interview segment. The date had gone well, of course - they always did - and since the camera had been relentless, they hadn't had the chance to talk about anything of substance. He supposed it was in her hands at this point.

He settled himself in the chair, adjusting his collar and waiting for the interviewer to finish with a quick makeup touch-up. It seemed a little mad, really, how many he'd done of these, and that this was to be his last. Questions about Hermione, about how he felt, about whether or not Harry was an abominable menace or a threat; he'd heard it all and he knew it was going to be edited, spliced and re-cut to make the show more interesting.

How exhausting. It had been one thing when the show was a contrived farce that he'd had no investment in. He'd come here to repair his reputation, and by all accounts, he'd done it. His job here was finished. Or would have been, of course, had he not actually fallen in love with Hermione Granger.

Though - his job was still finished, wasn't it? He wouldn't see her again until the final rose ceremony (wherein he would either be sent home or be proposing) and at that point, he wouldn't very well have the time to convince her. By the time he saw her next, her mind would be made up. It all seemed so utterly pointless, then.

"Ready, Draco?"

He looked up at the interviewer.

[Camera cuts to Draco interview.]

Interviewer, off screen: "So, Draco - "

Draco: "Sorry, but - " [Sighs.] "Can I just say something?"

Interviewer, off screen: "Of course."

[Editor's cut:

Lee: [whispering loudly off screen] "What's happening?"

Muttered response.

Lee: [roaring back] "YOU shut up, you garbage-faced twat canoe!"


Lee: [sighs resignedly] "You're right. I took that to a weird place. I apologize."]

Draco: "The thing is, I love Hermione, and I don't want to say anything here that will reflect badly on her, whatever choice she makes. I want her to be happy." [He swallows uncomfortably, as though this is hitting home.] "I just don't think there's anything else to say other than that, and I - " [Stares ahead blankly.] "I can't do this right now." [He takes the microphone off his sweater, coming to his feet and exiting camera view.]

[Editor's cut:

Interviewer: "Uh, so - "

Lee: [Storms into camera view] "Are you kidding me? He goes gallant right as things actually get interesting?"

Muttered response.

Lee: [Realizes he is on camera] "Oh, for the love of fuck."]

Ron turned to the others in the room.

"Wow," he commented blankly.

"You can say that again," Dean said, and Seamus nodded his vehement agreement.

"That seemed . . . out of character for Malfoy," Ron noted, frowning a little. "Is it just me, or did that make it seem like he genuinely loves her?"

"Oh, don't be so surprised," Theo retorted, rolling his eyes. "He's loved her forever. He just didn't know it."

Ron's brow furrowed. "But you did?"

Blaise and Theo exchanged glances.

"Trust me," Blaise assured them, his tone silky and bored. "You do not want to know the extent of what we went through for seven years."

Theo let out a barking laugh. "Granger did this, Granger did that," he mimicked. "Did you see Granger today - "

" - do you think Granger noticed my hair?" Blaise supplied, and they both snickered joyfully at their best friend's expense.

"You mean he was telling the truth?" Ron demanded, waiting for them to stop their conspiratorial chortling. "That first night, when he told her he'd always had feelings for her - was that true?"

"Oh no, as far as he knew, that was a lie," Blaise corrected, shaking his head. "A pretty fucking blatant one, really," he added, though he looked slightly pleased.

"We're just smarter than he is," Theo added with a smirk, and Ron rolled his eyes.

"Whatever," Ron sighed, turning back to the screen. "Back to the viewing party, I guess."

Theo lifted a glass. "Cheers to that," he suggested heartily.

They all raised their glasses in salute.

[Camera shows Harry and Hermione, who are already well into their date.]

Hermione: [leans in, whispering something.]

Harry: [Looks confused, then nods.]

[Editor's cut:

Lee: "What the fuck is going on?"

Muttered response.

Lee: [pointing feverishly] "Oh for fuck's sake, she's doing it again - "]

Hermione: [grabs Harry's hand and takes off.]

[The footage is extremely bumpy as the camera follows them; they slip into an empty room and slam the door shut, but their audio is still heard.]

Harry: "What's going on?"

Hermione: "I need to talk to you. Alone."

Harry: "I see that, but - "

Hermione: "I have to know if you see this going somewhere, Harry." [She can be heard to take a deep breath.] "I have to know if you see this as being, I don't know - "

Harry: "I love you, Hermione. I'm sure of that."

Hermione: "And I love you, but is that enough?" [She lowers her voice to a whisper.] "Do you feel a little too . . . comfortable?"

Harry: "What do you mean?"

Hermione: "I mean, don't you wonder if we're meant to have something more passionate? Something more - "

Harry: "Like that you have with Draco?"

Hermione: [Says nothing.]

[There is a shuffling behind the door, like Harry has stepped towards her.]

Harry: [quietly] "Is he the one, Hermione?"

Hermione: "I don't know." [She sniffs.] "I love you, I do, and I know we could be happy together, but - "

Harry: "But?"

Hermione: "But I sometimes think I want more than contentedness, you know? I almost like that he pushes me. I almost enjoy arguing with him."

Harry: [chuckles a little] "Which is good, considering that's a good portion of what you'll do."

Hermione: "But I just don't know if it's worth diving into, you know? Not when I could have a chance of something real with you - "

Harry: [interrupts] "Hermione, I think you're smart enough to realize that if you've wanted him around this long, you have a chance of something real with him, too." [Pauses.] "You just have to decide if it's the 'something real' that you want."

Hermione: "How can I know?"

Harry: "Well, did you - "

Hermione: [Cuts him off.] "Yes."

Harry: "Oh." [Pause] "Well, that's definitely something. And did you - "

Hermione: "Yes. A lot."

Harry: "Hmm." [Another pause] "Well, why do you think we - "

Hermione: "I just don't know if the chemistry between us is the same." [Adds hastily] "Don't get me wrong, it's definitely there, but - " [She trails off uncertainly.]

[A moment passes.]

Harry: "Is it possible we have our types of love confused?"

Hermione: [Sighs deeply] "Maybe." [Pause] "I've never been very smart at this sort of thing."

[Another moment.]

Harry: "Do you love him?"

Hermione: [Pause] "Yes. I do."

Harry: [Long pause.] "Then I think you should choose him."

[Editor's cut:


"Really?" Hermione asked breathlessly, wiping a tear from her eye. "But what if - "

"No buts," Harry said fervently, shaking his head. "Maybe you're right, Hermione. Maybe what we have isn't the same kind of love."

"But - "

"And to be honest with you," he added, cupping her cheek affectionately. "Maybe I want that kind of passion, too."

She managed a weak smile. "It's pretty great," she admitted, still getting a flutter of excitement of the thought of Draco's skin against hers, of his spectacular wit and his unerring surliness, which he seemed to suspend only for her.

"I know." Harry seemed a little saddened, but not overtly downtrodden. "I had a love like that before," he told her, and Hermione knew he meant Ginny. "And I think maybe I was so hurt by how that ended that I - " he broke off, looking sheepish. "Maybe I was just looking for something . . . easy."

The moment he said it, she knew he was right.

"We deserve better than easy," Hermione told him, looking up through tear-sprinkled lashes. "Right?"

Harry pulled her into his embrace, tucking her into his arms and resting his chin on top of her head. "I think so," he whispered, swaying her a little.

For a moment it was like they were dancing again, alone in their tent; he'd been right that whatever they had couldn't be replicated.

But then again, neither could Draco.

"Thank you," she murmured, leaning up to kiss his cheek. "I would have been happy, you know," she added. She pressed her fingers into his arm, wanting him to understand.

"Me too," Harry assured her, and she was comforted by the thought. "You'll always have me, Hermione." He paused, a smile forming on his face. "And he's really not so bad, either."

She grinned at him. "I kind of love him," she confessed. "Kind of . . . a lot more than I expected."

Harry pulled her in again, tighter this time.

"Just do me a favor?" he muttered in her ear.

She nodded.

"Spare me the rose ceremony, okay?" Harry said. "Just fucking marry the prick, would you?"

Hermione laughed. "Will do."

[Camera pans the front of the mansion; Lee and Hermione are standing outside, waiting for Draco.]

Lee: "Well, Hermione, obviously things have taken a turn for the criminally insane."

Hermione: [Flashes him a look of indignation.]

Lee: [Hurriedly] "By that I mean to say that this is not at all protocol." [He gestures to where she is standing, wearing the stunning green evening gown.] "Usually these rose ceremonies are not a total surprise to the participants - "

[Editor's cut:

Off screen mutters.

Lee: "Listen, I don't care if my narration has gone to shit, let's just get this done, shall we?"]

Hermione: [Interrupts] "Is he here yet?" [She looks around nervously.] "Where is he?"

Lee: [Sighs] "I think he's - "

[At this point Hermione has spotted him where he is arriving from a leisurely broom ride; Draco coasts slowly to the ground and lands several feet away.]

Hermione: "Okay - " [She takes off at a clumsy sprint; the now tiresome scene in which she runs away from the manor finally plays on the screen.]

Lee: [Calls after her] "Herm- ah, whatever, I don't even care." [Throws his cue cards over his shoulder and walks away, then stops, sighs, and turns back around.] "Just kidding. I want to watch this." [He picks up the cards and runs after her; the camera follows.]

[Hermione runs to Draco and he opens his arms to her, his face alit with surprise.]

Draco: "Granger, what are you - " [he gets abruptly interrupted as she throws herself into his arms.] "Is everything - "

Hermione: "I need you to do something for me."

Draco: [Looks no less confused.] "Okay - "

Hermione: [breathlessly] "Marry me." [She is flushed and almost panting.] "Please. I mean, only if you want to - " [she trails off nervously, suddenly seeming to remember her vulnerable state and appearing to shrink a little in his grasp.]

[Draco is silent for a moment, as though he is having difficulty processing; then he picks her up by the waist, spinning her about and setting her back on her feet, only to kiss her so fervently she stumbles backwards.]

Draco: "Oh, I want to." [Kisses her again.] "Believe me, I plan to."

Lee: [Awkwardly steps into view] "So, um, there's one thing left to do - "

Hermione: [snatches the final rose out of his hand] "Draco, will you accept this rose?"

Draco: "Fuck. Yes." [He takes it from her and kisses her again.]

[Editor's cut:


[Draco gets down on one knee and proposes; Hermione cries. There are tears shed by all, particularly by Lee, who steps sniffling into view.]

Lee: "Well, there you have it folks." [Wipes at his eyes.]

[Editor's cut:

Lee: "Just . . . I don't know. Play some of that horrible Dean and Seamus show or something. I'm so done with this. I'm done. I'm dying. I'm dead."

Muttered response.

Lee: [lays down in the grass, clutching his heart.] "I'M DEAD."]

He got her out of the gown so quickly she might have thought it was magic if she didn't hear the seam rip.

"Slow down!" she giggled, tumbling into the bed with him. Her bed, finally.

No cameras. No contestants. Just them.

Just him.

"We have a lot of time for this," she reminded him, and he withdrew his face from her neck to look serenely at her.

"All our lives, one might say," he managed gruffly, and she smiled.

They stared at each other for a long time, the cool grey taking in the warm golden-brown. There was so much to say, so much to talk about; so much to plan.

She frowned.

All of that could wait, of course. Priorities.

"Faster than this," she told him, gesturing to where he now lay still on top of her.

He gave a fascinatingly urgent growl and she laughed again, tangling her fingers in his hair as he roughly kissed his way down her torso.

Minerva looked up at the sound in the doorway; Filius stood there sheepishly.

"Minerva," he began, "I - "

She pointed wordlessly to the pile of galleons on the right-hand corner of her desk.

"No need to make a show of it, Filius," she pronounced primly, returning to her work.

He didn't catch the little smile that traipsed across her lips.

"Minister!" He could hear Mafalda's footsteps echoing through the hall to his office. "Minister!"

"Yes?" he asked, his lips curling into a smile. "What is it?"

"The latest owls are in," she said breathlessly. "Everyone's saying it's a sign of the times, sir, a pureblood and a muggleborn - " she broke off, positively radiant with elation. "People are saying wonderfully positive things about the Ministry, and there've been significantly fewer complaints about unfair treatment of former or suspected Death Eaters - though who would, really," she added, her eyes lighting up with mischief. "I mean honestly, that Theo Nott - "

"That's enough, Mafalda," Kingsley cut in, trying to hide his amusement as she reddened significantly.

"Yes, yes, right you are, sir - "

She turned to back slowly out of his office.

"Though, one more thing," he called after her, and she turned.


"Rome wasn't built in a day, you know," he rumbled thoughtfully.

She frowned. "Sir?"

Kingsley smiled. "Send Harry Potter in here, would you?"


[Camera pans the large, stately manor house to where Lee Jordan is holding a microphone, adjusting his suit.]

"Hello witches and wizards, and welcome to the new season of . . . the Bachelor!"

[Studio applause; Lee starts walking.]

"Last season, we all celebrated along with Hermione as she found love in the arms of Draco Malfoy."

[Flashes of their dates and proposal cut across the screen, followed by images of their wedding.]

"Hermione and Draco are living in newly wedded bliss, but not everyone was able to find love on last season's Bachelorette."

[Camera cuts to scene of Harry leaving the manor, and Harry where he stood as a groomsman at Hermione's wedding.]

"This season's Bachelor is perhaps the most famous we've ever had, and certainly the most eligible. Widely known as the Boy Who Lived and famous for his defeat of He Who Must Not Be Named, our favorite former Bachelorette contestant has returned to find his own happy ending!"

[Cuts to Harry interview.]

Harry: "I have to say, I'm very excited." [He does seem quite chipper and optimistic.] "Obviously things didn't go so well for me last season, but I think it was quite clear that Hermione and Draco were meant for each other, and now I'm looking forward to it being my turn."

[Camera cuts back to Lee.]

Lee: "Who will be the lucky lady who wins the Chosen One's heart? Will it be a beautiful Slytherin?"

[Camera shows clip of Daphne Greengrass blowing a kiss at the camera.]

Lee: "An exotic Gryffindor?

[Parvati Patil flashes a reserved smirk at the camera.]

Lee: "Or will Harry, too, fall for his own former nemesis?"

[Pansy Parkinson's confident smirk appears on the screen.]

Lee: "All this and more coming up this season on . . . The Bachelor!"

[Editor's cut:

Lee: "I'm telling myself I won't get invested this time. I can't take the pain again, I just can't."

Muttered response.

Lee: "Team Pansy?! [Stammers] Have you - do you even - are you - "


Lee: "I don't care if you won last season, you're still a twat canoe!"]

Chapter Text

Locker Room

Pairing: Viktevra? (Ginny Weasley x Viktor Krum)

Universe: Post-Hogwarts, EWE

Rating: M for language, sex

Summary: There was a Hot Viktor Krum-type bro in my TRX class today, and this is what happened. Plot here is minimal.

"Nice one, Weasley!"

Oliver Wood gave a loud whoop as she deftly knocked the quaffle into the hoop.

"Now, if the rest of you could kindly remove your head from your sphincters - "

Ginny emitted a prim little cough, her version of a subtle reminder for Wood to avoid being entirely unmanageable, and he collected himself soberly.

"Right, right," he muttered, waving them in. "Sorry. Huddle up, folks, please - "

The others gathered around her, many of them altogether too close. The hazards of being the first woman on the All-Star International Series, she supposed. The other chasers, two Irishmen that she regularly confused for each other, seemed uncomfortably starved for attention, and eyed her like she might be their next meal.

She flipped her long ponytail over her shoulder, smirking. You wish.

"Right - so," Wood started, facing his team. "As you all know, you're essentially rubbish - "

Ginny cleared her throat loudly, but by then, Wood had already picked up steam.

" - except, maybe - maybe - we have one and a half good chasers - "

She and one of the blonds (the better one) exchanged smug glances.

" - and of course, we do have the world's greatest seeker - nothing against you, Krum - "

Ginny looked up, squinting for him. Viktor Krum had yet to speak a word to her, or acknowledge her existence, for all she could tell; he was constantly lingering in the air above them, perched in his proverbial crow's nest. She might have expected it was a seeker's proclivity for heights, except that Harry had always been good about joining the team for little meetings like this, and so she suspected this behavior was unique to Krum. He was perhaps the quietest and least social person she'd ever encountered, and seemed content to engage as little as possible with anyone.

Which wouldn't be a problem, really, as they had no need to speak; except that he had managed to become bloody smoking since the last time she'd seen him, all arms and back and chiseled jaw and other unsettling distractions. Ginny had come to think of all seekers as having Harry's narrow, linear build, or even Draco's lean, muscled height (that being the full extent of what Hermione permitted her to consider), but Krum was herculean, powerfully built; he had grown into his professional athletic career nicely, and reached a level of fame where he was expected to let his dark waves fall broodingly into his eyes and wear custom jerseys that were designed to the specifications of his chest.

Her attraction to him was undeniable, and incredibly distressing. She had come so far to get to this point; to be the only girl on the team, and to be treated fairly for her talent - having Wood as the coach didn't hurt, which made her suspect that Kingsley, the host Minister, might have called in a favor - that she wasn't about to waste it on anything silly. She had promised herself that involvement with anyone was off limits, and couldn't afford the distraction of a silly little crush.

Which she had to remind herself now, watching Krum cross his arms over his appealingly muscular chest. Stop it, Ginevra, she scolded herself. Be mature about this.

But then she removed her helmet, smoothing her ponytail over her shoulder and pursing her lips in false interest, hoping he was watching.

He wasn't. Arsehole.

" - anyway," Wood continued. "Hit the showers, we'll be at it again early - "

She was brought back to reality as the other men around her swooped to the ground to make their way to the locker room; she hung back, dragging her feet as they all made their way in. She was always last to shower, of course; apparently the Ministry hadn't felt one woman was worth building a second "world class athletic facility" for - to be fair, the massage area was quite amazing - and so it was easiest just to wait for the sweaty men to go first.

Krum landed from his broom a few steps ahead of her, but didn't look back. Not even when she made a point to remove her jersey with a loud sigh of feigned exhaustion, leaving her in her riding trousers and sports bra.

She looked over surreptitiously; nothing.


She quite needed some attention, if she were being honest. She and Harry had broken up before the start of the season (timing wasn't good; he wanted to settle down, and she wanted to continue her professional career) and she felt as though she hadn't been touched in months. It was starting to drive her a bit mad, she thought, biting her lip as she wandered into the locker room, her breath catching as Krum removed his jersey.

Godric, he was lickable. It took everything she possessed not to let out a whimper at the thought.

Sighing again, she tossed her jersey into her locker and kicked off her shoes, resting her broom against the wall. The men were normally quick to get in and out; they had tried, at first, to strut around in towels, peacocking for her benefit, but noticed right away that she was not receptive, and opted instead to hit the pubs after practice. Quidditch groupies were not difficult to locate (or shag) and were considerably less effort than Ginny; the rest of the team were all at least smart enough to pick up on that.

She waited, hands on her hips, still watching Krum as he slowly and methodically arranged his things, his tawny chest gleaming under the sweat of Wood's unyielding practice drills. He was so carved and smooth that she sometimes wondered if he were even real, or just a statue come to life.

He hadn't even looked her way. He was infuriating.

After several minutes the rest of the team, including the two blond chasers, finally exited the locker room, nodding at her and Krum and chattering to each other. And then they were the only two remaining; Ginny tapped her foot impatiently, eager to get on with her day.

"Are you going to get in the shower?" she prompted, flashing him what Ron had always called her terrifying glare - 'even scarier than Mione's, I'm telling you' - and placing her hands on her hips in stern frustration.

Sexual frustration, probably, but she wasn't intellectual enough to care to make the distinction.

He looked up and let his eyes settle on hers, his heavy brow furrowed in confusion.

"Yeah, I'm kind of waiting here," she reminded him snidely, gesturing to her as-yet unshowered form. "If you could sort of, you know, get on with it, that would be great." At his blank look, she regrettably continued babbling. "I'm sure you aren't aware I'm waiting, of course, since you obviously don't seem to have any concept I exist - "

He grimaced at that.

"Well, you can give me that look all you want, but it's obviously true," Ginny remarked brusquely. "You can't seem to spare a single moment of your time to notice me, so, fine - do what you want, but I could really use a shower, so if you could just - "

"I haff noticed you," Krum interrupted, his voice prompting an instant leap in her lower belly.

She gaped at him, realizing he had never spoken to her before.

"Oh," she said finally, swallowing. "Well. Fine."

They stared at each other for a moment, and Krum's forehead creased as he continued to consider her.

"Well," Ginny attempted, trying to regain some semblance of dignity, "Like I said, if you could just - um, get on with it - "

He came to his feet, ambling his way towards her; she nearly shrank against her locker before forcibly reminding herself that she was Ginny fucking Weasley, who was never nervous or unsettled, and convinced herself to square her shoulders, not backing down.

"I haff noticed you," Krum said again, stopping just inches away from her.

Was he flirting with her?

Her heart was racing and she wondered if he could tell; even she was conscious of the way her chest seemed to rise and fall with undeterred longing, and the tremor of her breath as she took in the shape of his shoulders, the sharp curves of his stomach.

"What's your deal?" she asked suspiciously, translating her vulnerability into agitation. "You never look at me, you always ignore me - "

But the way his eyes settled on hers was distracting, and she lost track of her thoughts.

"Is it - is it because of Harry?" she ventured. "Because, I mean, we broke up, so - "

Now his darkened glance lingered on her lips, and she started fidgeting with her hands.

"Because, you know, if you're - " she paused, hesitating. "If you're interested, I - I could - "

Fucking hell, her game was entirely disrupted.

"Sorry," she whispered, realizing there was no digging herself out of this hole of humiliation. "I'll - I'll just go ahead and - "

She moved to step around him and he stepped quickly into her path, blocking her. She looked up, startled, realizing with a pang just how much taller he was, and how much she desperately wanted to untie the laces of his trousers - just to see -

And then suddenly his lips were on hers and his arms, the ones she'd been staring at for weeks, were around her, pulling her into his chest. He reached up, pulling the elastic from her ponytail to take hold of her thick red hair, tugging her head back to give him access to her neck.

"Oh," she managed, letting her hands grip onto the muscled expanse of his abs, digging her fingers into his skin. He seemed to chuckle a little - the first indication of amusement she'd ever heard from him - and even that tiny sound trilled through her, thrilled her, until she struggled to bring her arms around his neck, sighing into his mouth as he effortlessly picked her up.

"Shower?" she proposed, and he nodded very seriously, as though she had suggested a new play out on the pitch. He took instruction well, she noted, giggling as he tossed her higher, adjusting her legs over his hips, and made his way to the showers.

He set her down lightly, gently, and then in a stunning juxtaposition of moods he tore her sports bra over her head, lowering his mouth to her chest and seeming to savor the salt of her skin, letting his tongue trace around her nipple and then grazing his teeth over the underside of her breast. She gasped in response, tangling her fingers in his hair and then remembering that she, too, could contribute to the chaos, nudging his head up and fumbling for the top of his trousers. At her insistent tugging he gave her a subtle half-smile and took a step back, peeling them from his legs and kicking them to the side.

She gaped at him for a moment - bloody perfect, he was; she almost wanted to slap him for having the nerve to look like that - but he seemed as urgent as she was. He reached for her, grabbing her around the waist with one arm and tugging her trousers down with the other, and she, then, twisted in his arms, eager to remove them. By the time they were both undressed she was desperate and burning and she crashed back to him, shoving him into the shower and reaching blindly to start the water.

The pearls of water that began to form on his skin were, if anything, a unique form of torment; part of her wanted to slow down, to savor him, to store all of him for later (just in case) but the other piece of her could not wait and he, slicking his hair back and reaching forcefully for her, licking the droplets from his lips, seemed to agree; he had her pinned against the wall in seconds, his cock hard against the flat of her stomach.

She reached for him and he impatiently nudged her hand away, gripping her hips for a moment before moving his hand to her clit, sliding two fingers against it and smirking at her strangled moan.

It really had been much too long, she thought wearily, letting her head fall back against the tile of the shower stall.

He didn't let her get comfortable; she gasped as he spun her around, pressing her back against his chest and palming her breasts before letting his fingers drift back down, slipping them inside her slit. He entered her easily and she realized with a pang how badly she wanted him; the burning at her core seemed to pulse around his fingers and she pressed herself against him, reaching around behind him to run her hands over the firm smoothness of his arse. It might be nicer than hers, she thought faintly, but then he had picked her up and shut off the water, lifting her like her weight accounted for nothing at all.

He brought her to the massage tables - really, state of the art facility, she thought again, panting - and he pressed her forward onto her hands and knees, kissing down her spine as he continued to rub against her clit. His lips traveled smoothly over her skin until he nudged her knees apart, slipping his tongue inside her from behind.

She let out a loud gasp, feeling his tongue repeatedly alternate between licking against her clit and entering her, and hastily pushed him away, flipping onto her back. She wanted to see him; she wanted to catch the glimmer of want in his eye as he lowered his head back to her slit, sucking lightly on her clit as he drove two fingers into her and left her crying out, her legs shaking around his head as she came.

She might have thought she needed a minute to recover but then he had climbed onto the table and joined her and she reached desperately for his cock, wantonly lifting her hips; he slipped inside her and she cried out again, pulling him against her and wrapping her legs around him.

His stamina is impressive, she thought vaguely, as he lifted her arms over her head and braced himself against them. Top notch endurance, she added as she came a second time, biting down on his lip.

World's greatest athlete, she decided, as he yanked her from the table and shoved her against a wall, settling her legs around his hips and biting into his shoulder this time as she came again, her clit humming in satisfaction from the friction he created.

By the time he jerked against her, sated and exhausted, they were on the floor, panting and sweating and in entirely worse shape than they'd been when they started.

"Well," she said, turning to face him after several minutes of silence. "Your English has really improved."

He, predictably, only gave her a punishingly arousing half smile, reaching for her hand and brushing his lips against it.

She sighed contentedly. "Shower?" she asked, and he leapt to his feet.

World's greatest athlete, she thought again, as he picked her up and tossed her over his shoulder.

Chapter Text

Due to its darker content, this story has been moved to the story collection Draught of Living Death and can be found as Chapter 7: Not With a Bang.

Chapter Text

American Boys

Pairing: Theomione (Theo Nott x Hermione Granger)

Universe: Modern Muggle AU

Rating: M for language, sex

Summary: Inspired by a lyric from the song "English Girls" by the Maine. Hermione is a foreign exchange student attending Harvard in the US. Enter American Theo Nott.

The blonde girl across from Hermione giggled.

"Say it again," she said, her eyes glinting with enthusiasm.

Hermione sighed.

"Water," she said, struggling to keep her tone even.

The three girls across from Hermione collapsed in a fit of tipsy laughter.

"Water!" the blonde girl exclaimed, imitating Hermione's accent. "It's so good. It's so posh. Right?" She looked eagerly at Hermione. "You say posh, don't you?"

"At times," Hermione permitted, clearing her throat delicately.

"Another word!" one of the other girls cheered, leaning forward. "What about - "

"What about tequila?" Ginny interrupted, finally arriving at their table with her hands filled with shot glasses. "Far better than water, I'm sure."

"True," the blonde proclaimed regally, taking a glass and knocking it back. She winced as it went down, and the other girls followed suit, Ginny included.

"Come on, Hermione," Ginny pleaded, nudging the glass towards her. "Have a drink."

"Drink it, bitch!" the blonde declared, her words starting to slur after the third round.

"Yes," Ginny agreed. "Indeed. Drink it, bitch."

Ginny grinned wolfishly, but Hermione only managed a grimace.

"Last one," she grumbled, picking up the proffered shot.

"Sure!" Ginny agreed, while the other girls giggled conspiratorially.

Hermione lifted the glass to her lips, dreading the all-too-familiar taste of tequila and terrible decisions; she could be studying, after all. It was only a matter of days until the fall semester finals, and she was anxious to go home. A few weeks without being forcibly dragged to bars and clubs and parties by Ginny and her intolerable sorority sisters would be a welcome change of pace.

Hermione caught a whiff of the alcohol and flinched, her stomach flipping.

"Come on!" Ginny urged again, her brown eyes wide. "Take the shot, Hermione!"

"Take the shot," the blonde chanted, her brunette friend joining in. "Take - the - shot, take - the - shot - "

Hermione rolled her eyes and tossed it back, shivering in disgust as the tequila slithered ungraciously down her throat. She held her hand out for a lime, eyes squeezed shut in revulsion, and felt rather than heard things fall silent around her as the wedge was placed lightly in her palm.

"Here you are," a deep male voice said, and she could hear a smile in his voice.

"Blech," she managed incoherently, shoving the lime wedge in her mouth. "Thanks," she added, the word blocked by the citrus obstruction in her mouth.

"No problem," he returned, and when Hermione finally opened her eyes, she could see the other girls were gaping at him.

"Oh," Hermione said lamely, surveying him. "Hi."

"Hi yourself," he remarked, offering his hand. "Theo."

She took it. "Hermione," she said, licking the lingering acidity from her lips. "We're kind of having a girl's night, though, so if you wouldn't mind - "

"You're a long way from home," Theo commented, interrupting.

Hermione hated to be interrupted.

"I live just on campus," she replied loftily, being intentionally obtuse.

"He meant the accent," the blonde girl interjected.

Hermione glared at her. I know what he meant.

"Accent?" Theo joked. "I hadn't noticed."

Sure you hadn't.

"Like I said," Hermione said smoothly, attempting to brush him off. "It's sort of a girl's night."

"Hen party," Ginny contributed, raising a brow and grinning challengingly. "No cocks allowed."

Theo turned to give her a knowing smirk. "These," he said, stepping aside to gesture to a table nearby, "are my friends. Cocks, if you prefer," he added.

"Oh," Ginny replied, her eyes widening. The other girls seemed to become stiff and silent as well, their gazes falling on the attractive men at the next table.

"One for each, if I'm doing the math right," Theo determined lazily, letting his finger travel over them as though he'd been counting. "And I am," he clarified, grinning. "Harvard and all that."

Hermione narrowed her eyes, taking him in. He was strangely appealing, though not gratuitously handsome; his narrow build was outfitted nicely in a casual chambray shirt, cuffed to the elbows to feature the lean, muscled construct of his forearms, and he was wearing the hell out of some slim fit gray jeans. He had the distinct look of someone who was always laughing, but in a quiet, somewhat mocking way, as if only he understood the joke.

She irrationally bristled at that. She was Hermione Granger. Surely she would understand the joke. Why was she not also entrusted with it?

"No need to boast," Ginny said pointedly, admonishing him lightly. "We go there too, you know."

"Ah, excellent," Theo declared, his eyes flicking back to Hermione as he took a sip of his beer. "Same sorority?" he asked, gesturing to the letters on the blonde girl's keys.

"We are," the blonde explained, gesturing to herself, the two brunettes, and Ginny.

"Not you?" Theo questioned, raising an eyebrow at Hermione.

She smiled tightly, though it likely debuted as a grimace. "No," she said, reaching over to take a sip of Ginny's beer. She felt she needed to do something with her hands; this Theo person had a somewhat unrelenting stare, and it made her agitated. "Bit of a loner, I suppose."

Theo grinned. "Hey Blaise," he called leisurely, turning over his shoulder. At that, an exceedingly attractive dark-skinned boy stood, making his way toward them. This one - Blaise, or so it seemed - was gratuitously handsome. Hermione felt she should have been charged a fee just for looking.

"Blaise," Theo said again, throwing an arm over his friend's shoulder and gesturing to the girls. "What do you think: sorority, or non-sorority?"

"In terms of general preference?" Blaise asked silkily, a smile curling over his lips. "Sorority, I think."

The other girls cheered, and Theo thumped him on the back. "Why?"

"Devotion to a higher purpose," Blaise declared loftily, and Theo winked at Hermione.

"He means blow jobs," he mouthed, and Hermione stifled a laugh.

At her expression of amusement, Theo smoothly stepped behind him, shifting to stand next to where Hermione was perched atop a high stool. Ginny, who had been momentarily breathless on account of handsome Blaise's proximity to her, caught the motion.

"Careful," Ginny teased, her eyes flashing wickedly as she taunted Theo. "You know English girls just like sex, don't you?"

Hermione blushed and opened her mouth to argue, but Theo was quicker.

"I've got news for you," he cut in smoothly, letting his gaze settle mockingly on Ginny before flicking his eyes back to Hermione. "American boys do too."

Hermione felt her jaw drop slightly, just as Ginny let out a disbelieving laugh.

"Smooth," Ginny commented.

"I've been told," Theo replied, though he didn't take his eyes off Hermione. There was something insistent about his stance now; the pretense was suddenly gone.

You have my attention, he was telling her.

"She doesn't mean it," Hermione said, clearing her throat. "She's just - well." Hermione shrugged. "If you're looking for a hookup, you'll want to turn that way," she finished, gesturing to the other girls, who had wandered over to the table of Theo's friends.

"I'm here for you," Theo said, shrugging. "Whether you're committed to a higher purpose or not," he added, and she felt it again, the sway of silent laughter in his eyes that made her desperately want to latch on, to see the world the way he saw it.

I'm here for you. He was alarmingly direct.

She shifted uncomfortably on her stool. "I'm really not interested," she attempted, taking a quick, deep breath to steady her nerves.

"Aren't you?" Theo countered, leaning forward to rest his elbows on the table, his collar gaping just slightly so that she could see the jut of his collarbone under his shirt.

She coughed.

"I'm really not," she said, more convincingly this time. "It's really not convenient timing," she added. "I should really go home and study."

"Three shots in?" Theo asked, surveying the table and calculating the glasses. "Seems unwise, even for you."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Hermione asked indignantly. "I seem unwise?"

"You're still talking to me," Theo reminded her, grinning and taking a sip from his beer. "So yeah. I'd say so."

"I'm very wise," Hermione mumbled back, commandeering Ginny's beer once and for all and letting the tip of her tongue linger at the lip of the glass bottle. "Wisest of my age, one might say."

Was she flirting with him? Christ.

He seemed deliciously unswayed.

"You'll want to finish that," Theo advised her, his eyes falling on her lips.

"Why?" Hermione asked, scoffing. "Are you imposing rules?"

"No," Theo replied. "But we'll be leaving soon."

Her heart seemed to flip in her chest.

"We?" she asked, breathless.

"Yes," Theo said, inclining his head slightly. "You and me."

She huffed loudly, crossing one leg over the other and shifting, trying to ignore the heinously unrelenting appeal of this stranger - yes, she reminded herself, this complete and total stranger that you have no obligation to entertain - before her.

"What makes you think I'm going anywhere with you?" she asked, letting her naturally swotty tone bleed into the statement.

"Naturally clairvoyant," he declared cheerily, shrugging. "That, or your curiously dilated pupils," he deduced, squinting at her. "Or the fact that you can't stop looking at me."

He was smiling knowingly at her. Dick.

"I can," she informed him, shifting herself away. "And I will."

"Suit yourself," Theo remarked, though she instantly felt the need to look at him, and was thus infuriated with herself.

She waited for him to wander away - as any normal man might have done upon rejection - but he didn't. Figured.

"Going home for the holiday?" he prompted, and she sighed.

"Why are you still here?" she demanded, turning back to face him.

"I like you," he said. The response came quickly to him. Easily.

"You don't know me," she reminded him.

"No," he corrected. "You don't know me. But I know you."

"That," she remarked carefully, "is an exceedingly creepy thing to say."

He shrugged. "My specialty. Spec-i-ality, as you might say."

She gave him a look of skepticism.

Her speciality.

"Seems unlikely," she prodded.

"Eh, you're right," he agreed. "More like there's not too many English girls in my comparative lit class, so yeah, I know you." He eyed her closely. "Though if there are, I've probably been a bit too distracted by you to notice."

She narrowed her eyes; she hadn't yet deduced if he was extremely smooth, or just startlingly honest.

"You're not in that class," she said, though she wasn't sure. It was at eight in the morning, after all, and she made a point not to let her eyes linger from anything other than the distance between the professor's powerpoint, her keyboard, and the lid of her travel mug.

"I am," he said, sighing. "I sit behind you. Regrettably," he added, "as your hair can be quite an obstruction in the early morning."

She smoothed a hand through it, suddenly self-conscious. It was straightened now, in an effort to keep up with Ginny and her friends, but he was right; it was normally an unruly halo of curls in the morning.

"Hey," she said, reddening. "That's - "

"No," he cut in quickly, looking sheepish for the first time in their exchange. "I mean - I like it. It's nice," he explained. "It works for you."

She took another sip of her beer. There was maybe a quarter of the bottle left, she realized, wondering now what she would do when she reached the bottom.

"That's a bit patronizing, don't you think?" she asked. "I haven't told you that your" - she paused, waving a hand over him - "slenderness works for you, or something."

"It does, though, doesn't it?" he chuckled.

It seemed it was nearly impossible to ruffle his feathers, she realized, sighing.

She frowned at him.

"Stop it," she announced.

He smiled beatifically at her. "Stop what?"

"All of it," she said. "This. Game, or whatever."

"Game." He laughed. "You think I have game?"

"Not what I said," she grumbled, but the corners of his eyes were crinkled with silent amusement.

"Listen," he told her, setting his beer down on the table. "I'm not trying to accost you. I'm a feminist," he added, winking at her.

"Ugh, stop - "

"Right, right." He laughed again. "No, seriously. If you're not interested?" He shrugged. "Just say so."

She looked up and met his green eyes, feeling her stomach flip at the earnestness in them.

"If you want me to go," he murmured, letting his eyes flick over her face, "I'll go."

She swallowed, lifting the bottle to her lips to give her a moment of pause.




He noticed the state of the bottle when she did, and he seemed to be holding his breath. She, on the other hand, noticed the way his shirt clung entrancingly to the broad angles of his shoulders. He was so striking, and his effortlessness so deliciously appealing.


She set the bottle down on the table, and he exhaled.

"If you want me to go - "

"I want to go with you," she decided, her heart pounding. "Let's - let's go."

A terrible decision, probably. But ah, well.

She generally made so few of them.

Besides, maybe it's not that bad an idea, she thought hazily, tasting the bitter IPA on his tongue and marveling at how easily it gave way to sweetness, lazily pressing her fingers against the jut of his hips as he leaned against his car.

By the time he had her pressed against the door of her apartment, laughing breathlessly in her ear as she fumbled for her keys in her purse, his hand edging up her bare thigh, she was rethinking the whole terrible decision thing altogether.

"This might be the best night I've had all year," she murmured, tripping over the couch as they stumbled inside, his hands deftly unclasping her bra as she sighed against his mouth.

"Hold that thought," he whispered gruffly, spinning her around and kissing the back of her neck. "Roommates?" he prompted, his breath warm as it tickled her ear.

"No," she gasped, fighting a whimper at his hands under her skirt. She felt him smile as he kissed her shoulder and turned her again, lowering himself to his knees and licking his way up her inner thigh, biting down justhard enough that she knew she'd see it in the morning, and she smiled, knowing it would take her back to this moment, when she knew she'd smile again.

By the time she came the first time, biting her lip to keep from screaming his name, she was pretty positive she'd made a reasonably sound investment with her time. By the second time, bracing herself on the headboard as she lifted her hips, moaning this time - a totally reasonable moan, a fluid, controlled yes, Theo, yes - nothing to be ashamed of - she was thoroughly convinced.

Best decision ever.

"Well," Theo said later, catching his breath. "Remind me never to disparage English girls and sex ever again."

She smiled.

"Set an alarm, would you?" Hermione remarked casually, rolling over to face him.

At his telling smirk, she smoothly straddled his hips, leaning over to brush her lips against his ear. "By the way, I've got news for you," she added, and he instinctively gripped her waist at the low murmur of her voice. "American boys are pretty good too."

Chapter Text

Due to its darker content, this story has been moved to the story collection Draught of Living Death and can be found as Chapter 2: A Hundred Days.

Chapter Text

Marauders Doing Everyday Things, Episode I

Pairing: None

Universe: Hogwarts, Marauders Era

Rating: M for language

Summary: Literally just Marauders doing everyday things. In this episode: they choose a band name.

"I've got it," James announced, letting his books fall on the table with a loud, resounding bang that echoed through the Great Hall. "We should start a band."

"In," Peter said instantly.

"Great," James chirped, clasping Remus's shoulder. "Moony?"

"A band," Remus echoed skeptically. "For the purpose of . . . ?"

"Prongs's amusement," Sirius said, flipping the page of an intriguing muggle magazine that featured bikini-clad women on motorbikes. "Obviously."

"Naturally, Padfoot is in," James determined for him. "If anyone is meant to be in a band, it's Padfoot."

"Right," Remus agreed. "Otherwise, what has he been collecting leather jackets for?"

"Can't," Sirius drawled lazily, pretending to read. "I'm busy."

"With what?" James snapped petulantly, crossing his arms. "Brooding?"

"Yes," Sirius said, looking pointedly at James as he primly licked his forefinger, making a show of flipping the page.

"It really does exhaust him," Remus noted, smiling in his quietly mocking way.

"Fine, Prongs and I will be in a band," Peter determined. "What shall we call it?"

James sighed. "We can't have a band without Padfoot," he grumbled.

"Or me," Remus said. "I never said I didn't want in."

"Oh, so you do?" James asked, his voice pitching higher as he felt the idea gaining steam.

"Well, no," Remus amended. "But I'd like to participate in the name discussion."

"Thinly Veiled Death Threat," Sirius suggested, propping his feet on the table just as Professor McGonagall made to whoosh past them in her purposeful, hurried way.

"Mr. Black, this is not your personal sitting room," she sniffed, pausing. "Feet on the floor where they belong."

"But Professor, he's exhausted," James said, barely bothering to fight a smug grin at his friend's expense.

McGonagall made a distinctly dubious scoffing sound. "Brooding should not exhaust you, Mr. Black, not when it comes so easily," she said briskly, brushing past them.

Remus chuckled. "Pity she didn't also take stock of your reading material."

"I think she likes me," Sirius said, looking impressed with himself. "And anyway, this has some very stimulating articles," he added, gesturing to a page that contained no text.

"Yes, she practically gave you ten points for breathing," James muttered, rolling his eyes. "And the use of tits are incredibly poignant."

"Did you say thinly veiled death threat earlier?" Remus asked. "As in, you're making one?"

"As in a band name," Sirius corrected. "Thinly Veiled Death Threat."

"I like it," Peter declared, unsurprisingly.

James made a faint sound of protestation. "Well, now, wait a minute - "

"Therapeutic Arson," Sirius proposed, flipping another page.

"Ooh," Peter said. "Nice."

"I actually had some thoughts on the matter," James insisted loudly. "And seeing as this was my idea, I should think - "

"Unapologetic Erection," Sirius interrupted.

Remus snapped his fingers. "There it is," he determined. "That's the one."

"What!" James exclaimed, rounding on Sirius. "I thought you didn't want to be in the band!"

"I don't," Sirius said. "I want no part of Unapologetic Erection."

"Damn, it's even better in context," Remus commented, nodding his approval.

"Fuck, it really is," James swore under his breath.

"So, perfect, then," Peter said, leaning forward. "Prongs will sing, Padfoot can be on lead guitar - "

"I'm not in the band," Sirius said again, flipping another page.

" - Moony on bass, and I'll do drums," Peter finished. "Sound good?"

"Can you sing?" Sirius asked James.

"He cannot," Remus announced decisively.

James huffed. "I am astounded that you all feel you can treat me thusly," he pronounced emphatically. "I am wounded."

They ignored him.

"Can you play drums, Wormtail?" Remus asked Peter.

"Not yet," Peter replied hopefully. "Bass, Moony?"

"Nope," Remus said, grinning merrily.

"For the holy sake of fuck," Sirius sighed. "Can anyone play any musical instruments?"

They looked at each other.

"New idea," James said, snapping his fingers. "Frisbee team."

"Can't," Sirius said. "Busy."

Chapter Text

Below the Surface

Pairing: Dramione (Draco x Hermione)

Universe: HBP (Year 6) AU

Rating: T

Summary: Inspired by Little Chmura's art on Tumblr, "Goodbye Below the Surface." You must see this artwork - it is stunning. The prompt for her art was "A goodbye below The Black Lake surface before the battle of Hogwarts. No one ever knew about them, no one ever noticed. Or maybe it happened in a different universe." This is my take on that prompt, based on her art, in a beautiful cycle of fangirling.

I should warn you, parts of this turned out quite sad and dark, and I think that's partially due to the haunting quality of Little Chmura's work. BUT! There is definitely a happy ending.

A goodbye below the Black Lake surface, before the battle of Hogwarts. No one ever knew about them, no one ever noticed. Except me, of course. But then, people really don't care to lend their thoughts to me, do they?

I'm a bit of a romantic, really. I'm sure that will come as a surprise to you - I'm constantly underestimated that way, if I'm being honest - but I am, really, and I'm sure my retelling of their romance will be much more fanciful than it was in reality.

It was probably simple, now that I think about it, that goodbye. That's how they were.

There was probably very little fanfare; she probably fought tears, held her hands behind her back, trying not to reach for him. And he - well. He probably did something similar. He had this way of going cold, you know, when he needed to feel, and I'd be willing to bet he kicked himself for that a thousand times. At least a thousand times.

But with everything that's happened since then, I like to imagine they dove under, you know? Reaching for each other. Begging me to take them then and there rather than separate them - I know; I told you, I'm a romantic, and a narcissistic one, at that - but now that you ask, I don't think that's how it happened.

Hold on. Let me get my bearings.

It's a little difficult to remember, really, after all the things I've seen. It's surprising that I even remember this, honestly, but I took to them, I think. There was something very intriguing about them, about how quietly they fell in love. Like I said - I'm quite certain nobody else ever knew. I appreciate that, you know. Considering all the love stories. Well - you certainly know, don't you? You've heard them all. Written some of them, too. So you know. You understand. A quiet love story has a certain dignity to it, a sense of grace. A beautiful possession between two people, instead of a show laid out on a stage for people to watch and stomp all over. No, I'm quite sure nobody ever knew, and I'm glad of it, difficult as it must have been for them.

Ah, right, I digress. As I was saying - I initially came for Dumbledore. You know him, don't you? Heard of him? Sort of famous, even in these circles. Took a while with him. I thought it'd be fast but that potionmaster of his does some stunning work. You know, normally I would have been quite put out by the interruption - I have a lot of places to be at any given time, obviously, so I didn't appreciate the premature arrival - but I could almost feel that something was happening. Or going to happen.

Yes, I know you'll tell it differently, but let me have a shot, won't you? Just let me tell it, please.

Right. So I came for Dumbledore, it wasn't his time - yet, of course - and then I stuck around for a bit. I like the castle. Not a lot of reasons to visit. Ah, well, I guess I can't say that anymore, can I? Anyway, I like it. Cozy, but also possessing this murky grandeur, don't you think?

I happened to stumble in when she found him. I was gravitating towards him. Sometimes I wonder if he was calling me. Wishing for me, a little bit. Not fully, of course, but there was some sense of hopelessness there, a touch of exhaustion. Some resignation. Okay, a lot of resignation - poor thing. Young still. I see young ones all the time, but they still make me sad. He made me sad, but only for a moment, because then she came in. That's how she found him, bent over a bathroom sink, half calling me, half wishing I didn't exist.

I think she suspected something. She was angry at first. Well, not angry, that's not right - she was accusatory. The little thing was so combative, she was a ball of fight, and then she looked in his eyes and it just -

Time stopped, I swear it.

I know that sounds ridiculous, coming from me, but I choose to cement that in my truths, that time stopped when they looked at each other. She gave him a moment of peace.

He didn't give her anything at all, at first. Not a lot to give, I imagine. People don't usually have much left once I start hanging around; though, again, I was never there for him. It was Dumbledore, but the old bugger really took his time, so I kept tabs on the situation. Not for any particular reason. I think I was rooting for them, a bit. Because like I said, he didn't give her anything at first. Called her by her last name, though I suppose that was a relief from calling her other names. Bad names, though he didn't seem to mean them. I think she noticed when he stopped saying them altogether. She looked at him differently.

She didn't ask for anything from him. She's intriguing. He caught my interest but she's why I stayed. I kept wondering what she saw in him, you know, why she would always look at him across the room, when he wasn't giving her anything - and then I saw the way he looked at her, and I realized he had been giving her something all along.


Only it wasn't much, so I didn't notice at first. But she did. She noticed, and she saw him, and I wonder how quickly she loved him. I think she loved him first. Though, I think that might be because she has the greater capacity to love. And anyway, it was a close call.

A very close call, really. Actually, it did cross my mind that maybe he had always loved her. It was always hard to tell with him, since he had that tendency to go cold when he meant to feel. But maybe. Maybe.

I told you it was quiet, and it really, really was. It was just looks at first, just stolen glances. I almost got bored, if I'm being honest. I sort of flitted in and out for a while, checking on Dumbledore, but I had other places to be, too. A bad sign, that. That I was so busy, I mean. Never a good sign. Happened with Grindelwald, the first time with Riddle, and then again right around then. I chart them. Hazards of the job. But there was never anything I could do about it. I'm tasked, you know, but not particularly gifted. No real power to intervene.


They met in secret, by the lake. She liked the outdoors. He liked to be with her.

The first time it might have been an accident. I don't think they arranged it on purpose. Either that, or he simply knew she liked that spot. She was sort of predictable. Not as a person, of course, but she had certain habits. Earl Grey in the afternoons, that sort of thing. Spot by the lake she liked to go. She liked the outdoors.

They met there in the late afternoon, and it was a little breezy, and she shivered, and he reached out and touched her wrist. It seemed like an experiment, from my vantage point. Like he was testing the boundaries of what was or wasn't okay. I wasn't close because he didn't want me there - he really, really didn't want me there, though he kept thinking about the possibility I'd show up, which was irritating. She touched his wrist then, too, and he drew his hand back - that's how I figured it out about the Mark - but she didn't let him leave, didn't let him go.

Which was fine. He didn't want to. He clearly didn't want to. He kissed her for the first time that day, slowly, with so much uncertainty. He looked enraptured. Sort of like how people look when they find religion, like pieces of things that seemed broken were finally making sense. Like people who look their purpose in the eye and take their first breath of meaning. It struck me as monumental. But, again, I'm a romantic.

She kissed him back and for her it was like how people look when they do something terrifying for the first time, like jumping out of those muggle things - airplanes, I think - but then - no, wait, not that look. No. It was the look after they've done it, when they've survived, when their feet are on the ground and they press their breathless lips to the blessed earth and they yell that was amazing, that was the most amazing I've ever felt - you know what I mean? Exhilarated, that's the word.

He was enraptured, she was exhilarated. I can't believe nobody knew. I can't believe nobody else felt it.

They met there every day, even when it was cold. She's handy with a warming spell. He's not not handy, but she liked taking care of him, I think, so he let her. I wasn't there every day, but after a while I sort of relished the idea that they were. They talked, mostly, about everything sometimes, though sometimes about nothing. Brilliant minds, both of them. Brilliant at evading their feelings, too - especially him. I wonder if he regretted it.

Maybe not. Maybe he knew she had to go. She made him a lot less selfish over time, so maybe he understood.

He didn't want her to get close but she did. He only half-heartedly fought it, in the end. In fact, I'm not sure if he was really fighting it, or if he just didn't know how. When she told him she loved him I thought he might just faint, just spontaneously disappear into the depths of his worries - because truly, he could not stop thinking about me - but she held his face in her hands and she looked him in the eye until he started breathing properly, and then he said it back.

But I heard what they were really saying. I love you, yes, I love you too, but it was really goodbye. She said it first.

I was surprised at what happened with Dumbledore. His time was getting close but it was sort of a mess; the poor boy, too, that poor Chosen One, he really didn't seem to grasp the situation, which was a real pity. I'm soft, I know, but I never liked that he didn't know the whole story. Felt wrong. I thought she might figure it out, honestly, she was certainly smart enough - but I think they had other things to think about.

And she missed him, she so obviously missed him, and he missed her too, quietly. I can't believe nobody else saw the ache, the melancholy. It shocks me still. It was a long time apart for such a short period together and still they ached.

I wanted to check on them but I was really busy by then, which I did not appreciate. For several reasons, obviously; this really isn't a pleasurable experience for me, I hate the looks on everyone else's faces - or worse, the ones I take while they're alone, with nobody to make the sad faces and say the prayers or whatever it is they do - and Riddle got so bold about it, too. My only consolation was his obsession with me.

Obsessions are unhealthy. I knew he'd slip up.

They were apart. I don't know who had the worst of it. I do know that he begged for me, the day she was tortured in his house. Absolutely begged for me, because he thought I might take her, and he wanted to be the one instead. I was sort of furious with him, though now, in retrospect, I can see that he never quite understood me. He thought Riddle's control over me was quite a bit more unyielding than it was. Feared for his family. For everyone. I'm less angry about it now, though I still wish he'd intervened - but I can see why he didn't. Not happily, of course. But if I'm being fair, knowing what I know about them, I can see why.

She never blamed him. She knew. She always understood him. What he took to be his own cowardice she seemed to see as pragmatism, as caution, and she was astoundingly kind to him. She knew he suffered. He cried for her and I could see her mouth his name even in the depths of her torment, still careful not to say it out loud, so careful to make sure nobody knew, even then. It was dangerous for them. I think that day he really understood how dangerous it was, and something died in him.

I know, an interesting choice of words, coming from me, but it did. I thought I saw a little glimmer of hope extinguish. He gave up so easily without her.

He changed after that; he was always pretty far gone without her but he just broke after that. They were torturing kids at the school, you remember? Horrible. Horrifying. He wouldn't do it, and they punished him for it, and he just took it. They stopped after a while - he was lucky, having the name that he did; they couldn't kill him, couldn't hurt him in a way that would show, and so they eventually left him alone - but for a time, I think that was his penance. I think he wanted to hurt, but then it was worse - it was hopeless when he felt nothing.

She tried to move on. She couldn't.

When she came back to the castle he went straight for their spot by the lake, waited there for a few hours, staring at the sky. I don't know if he expected her to come. I was feeling really uneasy by that point. I could tell something was about to happen elsewhere in the castle, but I stayed to watch him for a bit.

She came, of course. I think that's every love story in a nutshell. That's love, isn't it? I wouldn't know personally, I've only watched from afar. But I'm given to understand that love means you always show up. Someone waits and someone else shows up. Right? Maybe not always, but it seems a common theme.

I wondered if he kicked himself for not rushing into her arms, for not digging his fingers into her skin and her soul and refusing to let go - for not just grabbing hold of her and running, honestly. Really, I half expected him to. He wanted to. He was tired of seeing her in pain, of thinking about her pain. But no.

Like I said earlier, I have two separate recollections of this, their little tryst before the battle. In one version they grabbed hands, jumping into the lake, holding each other under the surface, something really devastatingly beautiful - where the beauty is in the devastation, you know, something you just want to sob over, because it's just too heartbreaking, there's too much feeling. The kind of thing where words could never do it justice, and I'm epically wasting both our time.

I'm not sure if I imagined that, or maybe it happened in a different universe, or if it was just what he wished for and so, by extension, I couldn't unsee it. Or maybe it really did happen, but it was too agonizing to be real, and so I convinced myself it was something else entirely.

Though, truly, the whole thing was too beautiful to be real. The two of them. The world kept telling them it was wrong and they believed what they were told, but still they clung to it quietly by themselves, to their abhorrent truths, and didn't realize the whole time that it was stunning in its imperfections; that they were the perfect broken pieces who made each other whole.

Which is why I think what really happened was they said the words again - I love you and I will always love you and I will love you until the day I die, but really it was goodbye, again - and fought all their instincts, two people trying not to fall apart and failing horribly. I never hated Riddle more.

I know that sounds terrible, because I saw the destruction he brought, and they - these two - they were perhaps the least of it. But it wasn't so much them as what they represented. They should have just been two people. They should have just been a cocky little swine of a boy and a prim little swot of a girl who fell in love because they made each other better, made each other happy.

But no. No, because of Riddle, they were wrong, they were a gruesome mutilation of what was right, and I hated him for it, for bringing pain to this world that should never have existed. I loathed him in a way I never thought possible, and I've seen evil. Oh, I've seen evil, and felt the pain of what it touches, and still, it was that moment when I knew that there was something incurably festering in me. I knew that I was going to hound him mercilessly until he was mine, haunt him until he faced me.

I didn't have long to wait, unsurprisingly.

I really don't know what happened to the two of them while I was watching Riddle. I think by that time I was a little blinded in my fury and couldn't look away. They were - they both narrowly escaped me at one point, I was there for one of his awful friends. The fiendfyre - yes, that one. But again, I was distracted. I was there for Riddle.

I thought they'd run to each other when it was over, when Riddle was finally gone. I was holding my breath. They didn't, if you can believe it. I think they thought their goodbye was really goodbye.

Fools. Because like I said, someone always waits, and someone else always shows up.

They both came back to finish school, which says a lot about them, because they hardly needed to. The first day they both gravitated to that spot, and then, because they are fools, they both seemed surprised to see the other.

I stopped watching after that. I was pretty certain they were going to be fine. They'd survived the worst of it, and I think by then they were either stronger than any of their obstacles, or they were too exhausted by the whole ordeal to fight it any longer. Funny how different those things are, and how both could still easily be true. Maybe it really is both. Individually they were exhausted, but together they were strong.

Oh, look at me! Going soft. Weddings, I tell you. They make me so unbearable. Thanks for coming to this, by the way. You owe me, of course, for the mess you made with that Three Brothers nonsense. You made me look like an idiot, and I don't appreciate it at all, so I hope you do better with this one. Did you get everything?

Oh, hush. Vows.

Ah, that was lovely. I do enjoy that he still calls her by her last name. In his wedding vows, no less.

But look at them. I knew they'd eventually be fine. I'm hardly clairvoyant, but I comfort myself with some certainties. I have some truths. Love is one of them.

Hm? Oh, yes, sorry. No, I wasn't invited. Funny that. No, I'm here for that one, the portly one over there. I'll wait until after the reception, but it's his time. Outlived them all, you know. All his students, even Riddle. I wonder if he thinks about that. He's not the most selfless, you know, that Slughorn fellow, but he means well. He'll go peacefully, I promise.

No, I don't want you to write his story. I only said he means well, not that he's fodder for the imagination. It's them I want you to write. Can't you tell?

Why that story? I don't know, Beedle, I like it.

I like it. I'm sentimental. Leave me be.

Chapter Text

Drunk Epilogue Rewrite

Pairing: Canon pairings (lol sort of, I'm trash)

Universe: Canon

Rating: M for language, loads of swears

Summary: UnicornShenanigans once suggested I could have written a better epilogue than Joanne even if I'd been drunk, so that led to this: me, quite drunk (QUITE drunk), rewriting the epilogue to Harry Potter. I did not change the events, only the wording (this is not an AU or anything). It was live on Tumblr last night, and I'm posting it now because DrSallySparrow said so.

I should warn you: it is mad.


(turn the page for drama)

Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year.

"Fucking, autumn? What the fuck," said Ginny.

The morning of the first of September was crisp and golden as an apple, which is a weird thing to say considering the Draco apple subtext, but let's not get carried away - and as the little family bobbed across the rumbling road toward the great sooty station instead of fucking BROOMING like Harry suggested in the first place - "better for their lungs, don't you CARE?" "Harry you twat just get in the car" - the fumes of the car exhausts and the breath of pedestrians sparkled like cobwebs in the cold air. Two large cages rattled on top of the laden trolleys the parents were pushing - "OH, SO YOU'RE OLD ENOUGH TO DEMAND BRAND NEW ROBES LIKE I NEVER HAD BUT NOT OLD ENOUGH TO PUSH YOUR OWN TROLLEY" "omg mum please stop shouting" - the owls inside them hooted indignantly, and the redheaded girl - "I'm so sorry," Ginny had cried, "you'll never be able to wear pink properly, or if you do people will mock you mERCILESSLY" "omg mum please stop crying" - trailed tearfully behind her brothers, clutching her father's arm.

"It won't be long, and you'll be going too, and then I'll have loads more sex," Harry told her. "That's the dream, kid."

"Two years," sniffed Lily. "I want to go now!"

"I bet you do, you little shit," Harry said affectionately, patting her head.

The fucking muggle ass commuters stared curiously at the owls as the family wove its way toward the barrier between platforms nine and ten. Albus's voice drifted back to Harry over the surrounding clamor; his sons had resumed the argument they had started in the car - if they had fucking used any other manner of transport, this would not have been an issue.

"I won't! I won't be in Slytherin!"

"James, you merciless little fuck, shut your gaping pie hole," said Ginny.

"I only said he might be, Mother, it's like you never fucking listen," said James, grinning at his younger brother. "I beg your fucking pardon, Mother, seeing as there's nothing wrong with a fucking hypothetical - "

But James caught his mother's eye and fell silent. The five Potters approached the barrier. With a look over his shoulder at his younger brother belying the cocky little shit he was, James took the trolley from his mother and broke into a run. He slammed against the barrier because little shits like that deserve to get smacked in the face once in a while.

Just kidding, he vanished, because magic, you fools!

"You'll write to me, won't you?" Albus asked his parents immediately, taking advantage of his brother's absence to be a whiny little shit.

"What the fuck? I thought we were done parenting," Ginny said at a shout, rounding on Harry. "When you talked me into this you said I only had eleven years!"

"Well, fuck if I know," Harry said, shrugging. "I'm an orphan."

"Oh, fuck you, don't play the orphan card right now," Ginny admonished him. "I hate the orphan card!"

"Hello?" said Albus. "Remember me? Your son?"

"Only faintly," Ginny replied, but she sighed dramatically, patting his shoulder. "Fine, we'll write."

"Every day?"

"For the actual sake of fuck," Harry groaned. "Fucking? Why?"

"I'm joking," Albus assured him. "Don't write me every day or I'll get the shit kicked out of me, don't even."

"We wrote to James three times a week last year," said Ginny. "He's a cocky little fucker but he's my favorite."

"Ginny!" Harry exclaimed.

"What?" she squawked. "Oh, is that not okay?"

"Not okay," he said sternly.

"Fuck," she sighed.

"Hello?" said Albus.

"You don't want to believe everything he tells you about Hogwarts," Harry put in. "He likes a laugh, your brother."

"That's why he's mum's favorite," Lily piped in.

"Yes!" Ginny exclaimed. "This little fuck gets it," she added, kissing her daughter soundly.

Side by side, they pushed the second trolley forward, gathering speed, looking like fools. As they reached the barrier, Albus winced - "oh stop it, you giant baby," Ginny tsked - but no collision came.

"LOL we are wizards!" Harry yelped.

The family emerged onto platform nine and three-quarters, which was obscured by thick white steam that was pouring from the scarlet Hogwarts Express. Indistinct figures were swarming through the mist, into which James - that little shit, Ginny thought fondly - had already disappeared.

"Where are they?" asked Albus anxiously.

"Who is they?" Ginny asked. "We know fucking shit tons of they, Albus, we're famous as fuck, don't make us sound like losers."

But the vapor was dense, and it was difficult to make out anybody's faces.

"Hey," Harry said loudly. "Is that Percy discoursing loudly on broomstick regulations?"

"Fucking duh," Ginny replied.

"Let's not say hello," Harry said hurriedly.

"Oh THANK GODRIC I MARRIED YOU," Ginny declared. "To think, I might have ended up with someone who didn't have such BRILLIANT IDEAS - "

"If you sass me one more time I will literally bend you over this bench," Harry informed her curtly.

"Do it, Potter, you haven't got the nerve - "


"Ah, fuck, there's one more," Ginny sighed, remembering her daughter. "Balls."

She looked up just in time to see a group of four people emerge from the mist, standing alongside the last carriage. Their faces only came into focus when Harry, Ginny, Lily, and Albus had drawn right up to them.

"Hi," said Albus, sounding immensely relieved. "But like - a super platonic hi, because I'm gay as fuck lol."

"I know," Rose said snottily. She was already wearing her brand new Hogwarts robe. "Because I know everything."

"Good girl," Hermione said, offering her a firm handshake.

"Parked all right, then?" Ron asked Harry, forgetting for the fucking one thousandth time that Harry is an excellent driver and part muggle. "I did. Hermione didn't believe I could pass a muggle driving test because she has literally no faith in my abilities."

"That's true," Hermione confirmed, looking around. "I don't."

"She thought I'd have to Confund the examiner!" Ron exclaimed.

"No I didn't," Hermione said loudly, but she leaned in to whisper to Harry's ear. "He fucking 100% confunded the examiner," she murmured. "He's sweet, but he's a dumb little fuck," she added fondly.

"As a matter of fact, I did Confund him," Ron whispered to Harry as Hermione winked, and together they lifted Albus's trunk and owl onto the train. "Because I'm a fucking crafty ass wizard, so fuck examiners."

"Totally," Harry said solemnly, wondering why the fuck his son could not load his own trunk and owl onto the goddamn train.

Back on the platform, they found Lily and Hugo, Rose's younger brother who sometimes didn't exist - entirely dependent on convenience, etc - having an animated discussion about which House they would be sorted into when they finally went to Hogwarts - "And not a moment too soon!" Ginny wailed, completely adrift as to how she'd agreed to three entire children.

"If you're not in Gryffindor, we'll disinherit you," said Ron, "but no pressure."

"Don't listen to him," Hermione said, patting her son's head. "I've got loads of money stowed away." She cast a skeptical glance at her husband. "I mean, who actually thinks this will last?"

"Not me," Hugo ventured.

"True fucking story," Hermione agreed, still looking around vacantly.

Albus and Rose looked solemn.

"Cheer up, you fucks," Ginny said spiritedly, but Ron was no longer paying attention. Catching Harry's eye, he nodded to a point some fifty yards away. The steam, that for some reason the magical train needed - "thanks a lot, you wizarding shits!" shouted the Earth - had thinned for a moment, and three people stood in sharp relief against the shifting mist.

"Look who it is," said Ron.

"I'm fucking looking, Ron," Harry snapped.

Draco fucking Malfoy was standing there with his wife and son, a classy ass dark coat buttoned up to his throat. His hair was FUCKING FANTASTIC which emphasized how STRANGELY ATTRACTIVE he was. The new boy resembled Draco as much as Albus resembled Harry, aka it was the face that launched a thousand fan fictions. Draco caught sight of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny staring at him, nodded curtly like the courtly ass gentleman he was, and turned away again, though he snuck a look over his shoulder to give Hermione a thorough once over.

"So that's little Scorpius," said Ron under his breath, having spent all day researching Draco Malfoy's son so as to recognize him and judge whether his wife was still staring longingly at the other man's ass, which she definitely was. "Make sure you beat him in every test, Rosie. Thank God you inherited your mother's brains."

"I could not agree more," Rose said adamantly. "Can you imagine? Your hair AND your brain? Fuck me," she sighed.

"Ron, for heaven's sake," Hermione said, stumbling a little as she stared after Draco. "Don't try to turn them against each other before they've even started school!"

She leaned down. "But don't fuck Scorpius," she warned her daughter. "That will make things real weird when I leave your father for Draco."

"Girl, I got you," said Rose, offering her mother a solemn fist bump.

"You're right, sorry," said Ron, "but don't get too friendly with him - "

"Dad, I've fucking got this," Rose snapped. "Look at me. I'm good."


James reappeared; he had divested himself of his trunk, owl, and trolley - "FUCKING LOOK AT THIS," Harry declared. "One of my sons is capable of independence!" - and was evidently bursting with news.

"Teddy's back there," he said breathlessly, pointing over his shoulder. "He's snogging Victoire!"

"I honestly could not be prouder of that kid," Harry said, nodding. "Victoire. Honestly, top marks. Well done."

James gaped in disbelief. "Our Teddy! Teddy Lupin - "

"We know who he is," Ginny said briskly. "Calm your fucking tits, James, honestly, you're supposed to be my favorite, and French ass Victoire is hot as shit."

"Fuck," James murmured. "You're right."

"Oh, it would be lovely if they got married!" whispered Lily ecstatically. "Teddy would really be part of the family then!"

Ginny threw her hands up. "I can't," she exclaimed, but at Harry's pained expression, she groaned and knelt to talk to her daughter.

"Lily," she said. "Lils. Listen to me. Teddy's got to fuck, like - " she looked up. "What, like four people?"

"Like five, I think," Harry said, nodding.

"Right," Ginny agreed, turning back to Lily. "Like five people before we discuss marriage. Okay?"

"Wait," Lily said. "Does Victoire have to fuck five people too?"

"Have you seen her? She needs to fuck more," Ginny said, sighing. "But lie about it, because #sexism."

"Got it," Lily said, nodding.

"Teddy already comes round for dinner about four times a week," said Harry, and then instantly felt like a massive shit when he remembered Teddy's a fucking orphan. "Why don't we just invite him to live with us and have it done with?"

"Yeah!" said James enthusiastically, because James, a character of fiction, is so good and pure and wonderful and part fucking Weasley, so sure. "I don't mind sharing with Al - Teddy could have my room!"

"NO!" everyone shouted, being totally clear on what a shitshow that would be.

"You and Al will share a room only when I want the house demolished," Harry said firmly, checking his old ass watch. "it's nearly eleven, you'd better fuck off."

"Don't forget to give Neville our love!" Ginny told James as she hugged him.

"Mum! I can't give a professor love!"

"I gave him a hell of a lot more than that," Ginny said wistfully. "I mean, with Harry gone, I gave him probably thirty thousand blow j-"

"OKAY," Harry roared casually, as James rolled his eyes, venting his feelings by aiming a kick at Albus.

"See you later, Al. Watch out for the thestrals," he said, winning a contest with himself to determine what the weakest, least discouraging threat he could concoct might be.

"I thought they were invisible? You said they were invisible!"

"Is it possible we shouldn't have had children?" Ginny asked her husband. "Because I sense they are incurable morons."

"I mean, anything's possible," Harry shrugged. He nudged Hermione. "Hey, are you with us?"

"Fuck you," Hermione whispered, still making eyes at Draco. He, too, was eyeing her hungrily across the platform.

James, though, merely laughed, permitting Ginny to kiss him, giving his father a fleeting hug, and then leaping onto the train.

Albus, the little fucker, still looked nervous, so Harry made a begrudging attempt to console him.

"Thestrals are nothing to worry about, considering I fucking murdered a genocidal maniac," Harry said soothingly. "They're gentle things, not like the shit that nearly killed me a thousand times, so don't get your panties in a twist. Anyway, you'll be going in the boats, and statistically those are much more dangerous. Seriously. Look it up."

"I have," said Rose. "Twice."

"Fuck you," said Ginny.

Ginny kissed Albus goodbye.

"See you at Christmas," she sighed, remembering he would have to come back and she would have to continue to raise him.

"Bye, Al," said Harry, as his son hugged him. "Don't forget to have tea with Hagrid, it's weird as fuck and everyone will judge the hell out of you, but he might carry your fake dead body somewhere someday, so, you know, don't burn bridges. And don't mess with Peeves, he's a real fucker, and don't duel anyone til you've learned how - I'm a dumb twat, been there, just trust me - and don't let James wind you up. Lucky your biggest nemesis is your fucking brother, by the way, right Hermione?"

He nudged her, but she was mouthing something to Draco across the platform.

Tonight, he said back, and she bit her lip, smiling.

"Uh," Harry said, but his asshole son interrupted.

"What if I'm in Slytherin?"

The whisper was for his father alone, as Albus knew he'd take shit for years if he said anything to Ginny, resident Cool Girl. Harry, understanding, crouched down so that Albus's face was slightly above his own. Alone of Harry's three children, Albus had inherited his mother's eyes, WHICH WAS A REAL FUCKING SHAME.

"Albus Severus," Harry said quietly, and then laughed again as he remembered what a fucking travesty that name was. "Fuck, I'm sorry - I'm really sorry about your name."

"it's fine," Albus said tersely. "Continue."

"Right," Harry wheezed. "Albus Severus, like a drunk threesome - anyway." He coughed. "You were named for two headmasters of Hogwarts - " he exploded in another peal of laughter. "Hold on," he said, choking on his ill-timed laughter. "It's just - such ludicrous - "

"I'm pretty clear on that," Albus assured him. "Get your shit together."

"Okay so - one of them was a Slytherin -"

Harry doubled over laughing again, and Albus sighed, tapping his foot in impatience.

"Look," Harry managed. "See that shit over there that Aunt Hermione keeps looking at?"

"Yes," Albus said tightly.

"He's a Slytherin," Harry said. "And fucking Gryffindors are shits sometimes, so, really, just fuck it all."

"Really?" Albus remarked skeptically. "That's your advice, father? 'Fuck it all'?"

"This," Harry snapped irritably, "this is why you're not our favorite."

"But - "

"Look," Harry said, letting his head fall back in utter exasperation. "If this shit matters to you, you can choose Gryffindor over Slytherin. It worked for me."

He'd never told any of his children that before, because they were normal human beings who didn't need constant reassurance, but he saw the wonder in Albus's face when he said it. But then the doors were slamming shut on the train, parents were swarming forward for final kisses - "no thanks," huffed Ginny - and last-minute reminders.

Albus jumped into the carriage and Ginny gleefully closed the door behind him.

"Done!" she exclaimed.

"Mum?" Lily asked, looking up at her,

"FUCK," shouted Ginny. "It's like these fuckers are multiplying!"

"Why are they all staring?" demanded Albus, as he and Rose craned around to look at the other students.

"Because," Ginny said sweetly, "they've never seen fuckery quite like a son who won't just go make friends on the god damn train and leave his saintly parents in peace."

"It's me," Ron said, in his best line ever. "I'm extremely famous."

Rose laughed, "Oh Dad," she cooed. "You epic twat."

"I know," Hermione agreed, smiling at her daughter. "Find someone who makes more sense, okay?"

"I will," Rose chirped.

"And not - "

"Not Scorpius," Rose repeated. "I've got it, Mum."

"I mean, be friends," Hermione suggested.

"Mum. I've got this," Rose said coolly, winking at Theodore Nott's son.

"God, I love that bitch," Hermione sighed.

The train began to move, and Harry walked alongside it, watching his son's thin face, already ablaze with excitement. Harry kept smiling and waving, even though it was like a little bereavement, watching his son glide away from him …

"Ah, that little shit," Harry said affectionately. "I bet he's going to fuck shit up real soon."

"Oh, no doubt," Ginny agreed, leaning against his shoulder. "Hey," she added. "Want to fuck in the backseat?"

"Lily," he reminded her, his gaze flicking down to their daughter.

"Ah, fuck me," Ginny sighed.

As Harry looked at her, he lowered his head absentmindedly and touched the lightning scar on his forehead.

The scar had not pained him for nineteen years.

"Ron," Hermione murmured. "I'm fucking Draco."

All was well.

a/n: I also apparently wrote this for clausumcormeum while still drunk -

"Hi," Hermione said, practically at a whisper as she inadvertently edged up to Draco, the two of them colliding on the platform as she made to follow Ron.

"Hi yourself," he said curtly, though he seemed a certain level of breathless himself. They were trapped together, forcibly lodged by the madding crowd, and she found herself distracted, forgetting everything about her life except the sound of his voice in her ear.

"I know you said tonight," she murmured, wondering what had come over her. "But if you could just - "

She cut off in a gasp, the remainder of the sentence - whatever it was, or would have been - vanishing against his lips as he pulled her behind a pillar, pressing her against it.

"I'm free now," he suggested casually, his hand nudging aside her collar, resting on her heart.

"You're killing me," she groaned, feeling the stinging truth of the statement.

He nudged her legs apart. "Just wait," he murmured, and she wrapped her arms around his neck.

So yeah, I'm Dramione garbage, nothing's new.

Chapter Text


Pairing: See description

Universe: Post-Hogwarts, EWE

Rating: M for language, high probability of future sexual scenes

Summary: Hogwarts Class of 1998 meets up for their five year reunion, but is all as well as it seems?

Originally requested by clausumcormeum. Pairings and plotlines inspired by songs submitted on Tumblr:

Pottgood (Harry x Luna) - "11:11" - Arkells / "Jinx" - DNCE
Blinny (Blaise x Ginny) - "Maps" - Maroon 5 / "Goodbye Forever" - Us The Duo
Dramione (Draco x Hermione) - "This is What You Came For" - Calvin Harris ft. Rihanna / "Pompeii" - Bastille
Nottgrass (Theo x Daphne) - "I Found" - Amber Run / "Sky Full of Stars" - Coldplay
Ronsy (Ron x Pansy) - "Is There Somewhere" - Halsey / "Glad You Came" - The Wanted

Luna lay her fingers lightly on Neville's arm, letting her eyes stray to the portraits that lined the walls of the recently renovated castle. She could tell he was tense - she had attempted to soothe his nerves about seeing Hannah Abbott again for the first time in five years with a lively discussion of Gaulish objets d'art, but to her bafflement, he seemed disinclined to comment - and she drummed her fingers gently on his forearm, attempting to be soothing.

"This will be fun," she promised him brightly, though he barely spared her a glance.

No matter, she thought to herself, humming in contentment. It was nice enough to have been invited, considering this wasn't her class. After all, despite her position as a disposable distraction, at least Neville's insecurity meant that she would be able to see -

"Harry," Neville called jubilantly, and Luna felt a slow smile melt across her face as she saw him approaching.

"Hi Neville," Harry said pleasantly, and then his eyes lit up as he spotted her. "Luna!"

"Hi Harry," she said softly, her smile faltering slightly as she noticed Ginny looking around nervously beside him. There was a strange energy between the two of them, Luna noted; despite the way Ginny's hand was clamped firmly around Harry's arm, they seemed to be pulling away from each other.

Luna had heard about this; tangled auras.

Likely nargles.

"Luna," Ginny permitted, though she was stiff and tense as she moved to offer a hug; Luna frowned momentarily as she watched Harry's posture relax a fraction of a degree in response to his girlfriend's absence.

Unusual, she thought, though she quickly brushed the feeling aside.

"Hello, Ginny," Luna said cheerfully, glancing up over the redheaded witch's shoulder in time to catch the couple who had arrived in their wake.

Ron and Hermione followed closely behind Harry and Ginny, and if the other two were being held hostage by the effects of a nargle infestation, Ron and Hermione had surely been visited by exploding snabberwitches. Unlike the first couple, Ron and Hermione were very determinedly not touching; Hermione's arms were crossed tightly over her chest, her beautifully made up face pulled into a devastatingly flimsy mask of polite buoyancy, and Ron was scowling, his shoulders hunched over in poorly disguised fury.

Luna sighed sadly. Hermione in particular was prone to bouts of malaligned humours - rather like a kodama who'd been cut down, Luna thought whimsically, watching as the lovely Gryffindor reached over to give Neville a somewhat unenthusiastic hug - and Ron, whose agitation attracted swarms of blibbering humdingers, was not always the most complementary spirit for hers.

Everything was so out of place, Luna realized, trying to identify the strange, booming echo of discontentment that seemed to emanate from everyone; for as much as they insisted they were happy - "so lovely to see you!" "so glad you could come!" - they seemed, quite obviously, to be lying.

Suddenly, it dawned on her; she was being quite rude. It seemed that once again, they were all just waiting for her to set them at ease; like usual, of course, she realized, laughing at herself for her own obtuseness.

"Oh," Luna remarked, tilting her head appealingly and offering her friends a warm, reassuring smile. "When did you all break up?"

There was a loud crash behind them and Luna and the others whipped around, catching sight of Blaise Zabini and Draco Malfoy, who were standing nearby; Draco had dropped his glass and was reddening slightly at the chaos he'd prompted, while Blaise, in contrast, had let his lips curl into a wide grin of merciless satisfaction.

"Apologies," Draco mumbled, inclining his head as he quickly dropped his gaze to the floor.

"Well," Luna heard Blaise murmur to Draco. "Let the games begin."

Ginny grabbed Hermione's arm and forcibly dragged her into the Great Hall, desperate to get away from the situation. She knew Harry was going to look around sheepishly, doing his Harry Potter - who me? Boy Who Lived? Aw, shucks - amiable, oblivious, totally infuriating shifting from foot to foot that would make her want to slap him, and having already been found out that she didn't even belong there, she was going to have to mend the situation immediately with a drink. She paid no attention to the decorations or the beautiful enchantment of the ceiling, which Luna began chattering behind her was intended on this evening to look like the Northern Lights; she was desperate to get away, and nothing - nothing - was going to stop her.

"Come on," she growled to Hermione, careful not to look at where she knew Blaise was watching her, still smirking wickedly from where he, Draco, and now Theodore Nott had clustered, conveniently permitting them a front row seat for the Luna Sees Too Bloody Much For Her Own Good show.

"I'm coming," Hermione sighed as she stumbled along after her, tripping slightly over her gown as she was dragged in Ginny's wake. "Luna would say something like that out loud," she added, muttering under her breath.

"Is she right?" Ginny asked, grabbing a glass of elf-wine from a tray levitating around the room and taking a huge swallow before passing one to Hermione, who sighed again. "Did you and Ron break up?"

"Two weeks ago," Hermione admitted tightly, her eyes flicking around nervously as she took a sip of her wine. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you," she added, grimacing.

"Don't be," Ginny muttered, knocking back another solid gulp. "I didn't tell you, either."

"So she's right?" Hermione asked faintly. "You and Harry - "

"It's done this time. For real," Ginny said, grimacing. "The first two breakups were just practice," she added, trying to smile jokingly. She could see that she had failed tragically in that endeavor when Hermione made a terrible face of pity, prompting Ginny to reach for another glass, scowling. "You don't have to look at me like that, Hermione."

"I - I'm not," the other woman said hesitantly, but at Ginny's searching glare, she bit her lip, nodding. "Right. Sorry."

"I should have hidden it better," Ginny mumbled weakly, beginning to feel the thud of pain in her chest, the tightening that reminded her they'd broken up, for real this time, it's over, and Hermione touched the inside of her wrist.

"Hey," she said softly. "What happened? Last I heard - "

"We were doing better?" Ginny supplied grimly. "We've been lying about it for a while." She took another sip of wine. "It was over between us about two months ago, if we're being honest."

"Oh," Hermione said sadly. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be," Ginny snapped, catching sight of Blaise's handsome face as he laughed, the familiar, musical sound carrying through the hall and reaching her ears, a blessed reprieve from the noise of her disjointed life.

If only she didn't thoroughly hate him.

If only she could stop thinking about him.

If only she'd never fucked him to begin with.

"Don't be sorry," Ginny said again, making the effort to soften her edges as she reached out to grip Hermione's hand; surely she would need a friend tonight. "Just be here with me."

Draco tried desperately not to look at where Granger and the she-Weasley were standing in a corner of the Great Hall, sipping wine and glorifying in their obvious tension; but naturally, he failed quite spectacularly. Granger, who avoided most of the Ministry galas that he'd hoped to see her at, was wearing a long ivory gown with a sheer gold overlay, and it was as dainty and soft as it was regal and stunning, and it was agonizingly difficult to look away.

"Draco," Theo said, snapping his fingers in front of his face. "Are you with us?"

"Yes," Draco said coolly, twitching his shoulders as though he might rid himself of his fascination with Hermione Granger, the witch who happened to need his signature once or twice a week - nothing more, nothing less - if he could only physically shake the thought of her.

"If you stare that hard, she might catch fire," Theo warned, and Draco gave him a sharp, indignant glare, frowning.

"I'm not - "

"Whatever," Theo interjected, waving his hand carelessly to indicate his disinterest. "Far be it from me to comment." Blaise, on his right, gave an irritatingly knowing laugh.

"Excuse me - Theodore?"

The three of them pivoted abruptly at the soft, feminine interruption to find a pretty Ravenclaw whose name Draco didn't remember - and at a glance from the other two, he could see that neither did Theo and Blaise - who was excitedly pulling something out of her purse.

"Call me Theo," the dark haired wizard corrected her, a grin spreading across his face. "Theodore was my brute of a father."

"Right," she said faintly, then blinked, remembering what she was there for. "Could you sign this?" she asked, and Draco suppressed a groan as she produced a copy of Theo's book, A Sky Full of Stars.

"Not this again," Draco muttered under his breath, and Blaise let out another artful laugh.

"Of course," Theo assured her merrily, pulling a quill from the inner pocket of his dress robes - "of course he has one ready," Blaise murmured to Draco, who snickered - and taking the book from her. "Who is it for?"

"Well, there's one for me," she said, blushing, "and if you have time, I have another, for my sister - "

"Of course I have time," Theo informed her, and she looked as though she might fall headfirst into his arms; Draco made a face, and Blaise took hold of his arm, leading him to a tray of wine glasses.

"Here," Blaise said, handing him one. "To replace the one that broke under the weight of you learning that a certain Gryffindor princess is now available for the taking."

"Don't know what you're talking about," Draco mumbled, smoothing his hair back self-consciously. "I'm only here because you forced me. And Pansy," he added, looking around and wondering where she'd gotten to.

"Relax," Blaise said smoothly. "I'm not here to judge." Draco watched the other man's dark eyes settle hungrily on Weasley where she stood with Granger, his glance subtly flicking over the redheaded witch's form under her long navy gown. "I'm certainly not here to judge," he repeated, and Draco took a silent sip of wine, resolute in his lack of comment.

Theo wandered over to them, still grinning as he reached out to take a glass of wine. "Sorry about that," he offered, shrugging. "Occupational hazard."

"Still can't believe you did so well," Blaise commented, smirking. "Bestseller twenty weeks running, isn't it?"

"It is," Theo confirmed, giving him a curt nod and barely hiding a look of supreme self-satisfaction.

Draco knew this, of course; Theo was his best friend, after all. This wasn't the first time he'd seen Theo get inundated with requests for autographs - or get stopped to listen to someone's immense emotional connection to his work - and it certainly wouldn't be the last, so it was easy enough to drift away from the conversation.

He tuned the other two out, his eyes traveling hopelessly to Granger - to the cut of the fabric against her waist, the light glinting off her gown; the pinkness of her tongue where it slid momentarily against her lip, the strike of lightning in her stance; the glimmer of gold in her eyes as they traveled across the room to settle on his -

At the inadvertent eye contact he ducked his head quickly, carefully eyeing the floor; but curiosity got the better of him, and he looked up again, his heart pounding in his chest.

He couldn't take his eyes off her, and he was sure it would be a problem all night; worse, he could tell he wasn't the only one. Nearly every set of eyes in the room had fallen on her, or on Weaslette beside her, ever since the moment that Loony Lovegood had made the bizarre announcement that she, Granger - beloved war heroine, entitled know-it-all, famous counterpart to Auror Weasley and one half of the Wizarding World's premiere golden couple - was finally single.

Draco couldn't take his eyes off her, the witch who came into his office once or twice a week needing his signature. Nothing more, nothing less, he reminded himself, repeating it like a mantra. He was looking at her, yes; so was everyone else, so he could hardly be blamed.

But she -

This was the thing.

She was looking at him.

"Well, fuck," Ron declared, shrugging as he and Harry parted ways with Neville and strode into the hall. "That went well."

"I guess we shouldn't be surprised," Harry said, grimacing. "Ginny and I fought on the way over."

"So did we," Ron sighed.

He and Hermione always used to fight. It was a constant in their youth, and for a time it was adorable; at first it was playful and it was banter and it was oh, look at them, young love! - until one day it was exhausting. And then it was mean. And then it was sharp and hostile and barbed with real, festering anger, until it progressed and became something somehow worse - because then it was dull, and it was tiresome, and it was making them thoroughly miserable.

The argument on the way over was a perfect example. It was about nothing, and there was no heat to it, no real effort. Just a constant shoving of one strong will against the other, until they both wished the other would just -

- fucking leave.

"Maybe Luna did us a favor," Ron admitted glumly, trying to shake the thought from his tired mind.

Harry shrugged. "I guess," he said.

Ron surveyed the remainder of the population in the hall as he reached for a glass of wine, handing one to Harry and then taking one for himself. There had been a violent explosion of whispers at Luna's announcement of their respective relationship states, and now he could see that people were staring, which for a moment made him want to throw drinks in all their faces and take off at a run.

It was only upon second glance, though, that he realized they were not looking at him with scorn or derision; in fact, of the many eyes that met his, they all seemed to be glinting with the same greedy interest.

"Harry," Ron whispered, nudging him in the ribs. "What are the chances that we are desirable to the general public?"

"Slim to none," Harry determined instantly, frowning. "Right? We are fools," he said bluntly, taking a long drink from his glass.

"Right, right," Ron agreed, nodding. "But - and hear me out - what if they don't know we are fools?"

Harry looked up at that, his green eyes narrowed slightly as he paused to survey the room.

"Is it just me," Harry ventured carefully, "or are there quite a lot of women staring?"

Upon Harry's observation, Ron let his gaze travel slowly around the room. He quickly caught the eye of Padma Patil, who emitted a tiny, exhilarated squeak and quickly averted her eyes, cheeks flushed as she turned to whisper to her companions; upon receiving the same response from Susan Bones, he nodded with a renewed surge of certainty.

"Well done, Harry," Ron concluded, clapping his best friend firmly on the back. "It looks like Luna definitely did do us a favor."

"What does that mean?" asked Harry, still seemingly unaffected by what Ron had so cleverly established.

"It means," Ron said, throwing an arm over Harry's shoulder, "that we, my friend, are about to have a very interesting evening."

"Hey," Pansy said, casually clipping Theo with her elbow to open their circle to her and Daphne. "Sorry we're late."

"As long as you're here," Draco said gruffly. "Otherwise, I don't see the point in me being here."

"Oh, really?" Theo drawled, pointedly lifting an eyebrow. "You don't see any point to - "

"You missed it," Blaise interrupted, his tongue flicking over his teeth as he smiled mischievously at Pansy. "Lovegood just made a delightful announcement."

"Which was?" Pansy prompted, already bored.

She wasn't sure why she had been so set on coming to this. Well, fuck, that was a lie, she reminded herself, fighting a twinge of impatience with her own inability to face facts.

Fact one: Pansy's stock had fallen considerably since the war.

Fact two: nobody had any interest in a girl whose family had lost its fortune to reparations, lost its good name to their own unwise alliances, and lost its bargaining power when the other two things flew out the window.

Fact three: her last hope for not ending up tragically alone was probably standing somewhere in this godforsaken hall.

"That the war's favorite Gryffindors have all been romantically splintered," Blaise said gleefully, interrupting her thoughts as she fidgeted under the weight of them. "Potter and Gin-" he coughed. "Potter and Weasley broke up, and so did Weasley and Granger."

Pansy felt Daphne stiffen beside her. "Potter's available?" Daphne asked, biting her lip.

"So are we, Greengrass," Theo drawled. "So thoughtless of you not to have noticed."

"When did they break up?" Pansy asked, frowning. Her mind was already beginning to tick with possibilities; Potter and Weasley were both the perfect option for renewing her fallen social status. Even dating for a short time would put her back in the public's good graces - especially if it were Potter.

"Don't know," Blaise admitted, and Draco shook his head to indicate his agreement.

"No idea," he said, and Pansy narrowed her eyes, watching his gaze travel over her shoulder to where she'd already ascertained Granger was standing.

Pansy had already noted that the frizziest Gryffindor had once again managed to pull something respectable together a la Yule Ball of their fourth year, which was always a bit jarring. Pansy had to assume that the mousy brunette's appeal lay embedded in her shock value; surely Pansy, with her smooth, raven hair pulled back into an elegant french twist, was objectively the more striking between the two of them, wasn't she?

Unfortunately, Granger always wielded the element of surprise, and it was so annoyingly Draco's style to be blindly captivated by it. Even the she-Weasley looked better, Pansy noted, feeling a twinge of envy at the girl's attractive navy dress, which was cut perfectly for her figure; and then, of course, there was Daphne, exquisite in her dainty blue gown that seemed to whisper intimately around her curves, which Pansy could admit - begrudgingly, of course, but she could still admit it - made her easily the most beautiful girl in the room.

So yeah, Pansy thought, bristling. It wasn't like Granger was anything special, however good she looked.

Or, Pansy noted with a grimace, however much she was letting her gaze flick repeatedly back to Draco.

"Damn it," Pansy seethed, letting out a hiss of infuriated impatience between clenched teeth as Daphne roughly yanked her aside. "What?"

"Pans," Daphne begged, smoothing her skirt and pleading desperately with her wide hazel eyes. "You have to help me."

"You look fine," Pansy said instantly, a reflex born of lifelong friendship. "You look beautiful."

"No - not that," Daphne said, making a face as she brushed the statement aside. "No, Pans - I - " she paused. "It's just that - "

"Spit it out, Daph," Pansy sniffed.

Daphne sighed, fidgeting with the delicate beading on her bodice. "Potter," she whispered. "Harry Potter is available, Pansy, this could be - " she stopped, hesitating again. "This could be huge for me - "

They were in the same boat; Pansy couldn't be more sympathetic. Daphne had Astoria to think of - her own marriage would invariably help make her sister more valuable - and despite the brief moment Pansy had had of thinking to snag Potter for herself, she instantly softened, recognizing Daphne's need was greater.

"I don't see what I could do for you that you aren't already accomplishing on your own," Pansy pointed out, gesturing to the inviting curves that were heightened by Daphne's gown.

Daphne blushed. "Thanks," she mumbled, "but I'm still going to need to get him . . . alone."

A loud, clanging surge of revulsion went off in Pansy's head as she sorted out the implication and looked up in alarm, seeking out Potter amidst the crowd. He stood alone with one other figure, precisely as she'd feared; a tall, lanky, redheaded -

"No," Pansy said instantly, recognizing Weasley's loping stance and shaking her head. "Absolutely not - "

"War hero," Daphne reminded her, her tone bordering on pleading. "War hero, beloved by the public, unattached for the first time in five years - he could really turn things around, Pans - "

"It's Weasley," Pansy hissed, staring after him. "He's just so - "

She'd initially paused because she couldn't pick a word - she was waffling between prattish and gangly and lame - but then felt her priorities shift abruptly as she caught a shared glance between Weasley and Granger; it was a look of such open detest that Pansy, from a distance, delighted in the candor of it.

"Well," she said, cutting herself off mid-protest. "Who knows. Maybe his taste has finally improved."

"What do you think they're talking about?" Theo asked, frowning over at where Daphne had pulled Pansy aside.

Blaise took another sip of his wine, his eyes casually flicking over to where Ginny stood talking to Granger, having a similar secret female conversation. "No idea," he murmured, catching the minute stiffening of Ginny's shoulders as she caught his eyes on her.

He knew her mannerisms. He knew he was making her uncomfortable.

And he reveled in it.

"Seems weird, doesn't it?" Theo asked, his brows knitted together in his lofty, refined confusion. "That you'd bring up Potter and Weasley and then she'd - "


Susan Bones had approached them in her quiet way and Blaise laughed a little to himself as Draco made a small cough of frustration.

"Not used to someone else being the center of attention, are you?" Blaise muttered in his ear, grinning as he elbowed Draco's ribs.

"I'm fine," Draco replied tightly, watching as Theo carefully dragged his attention away from Daphne to smile and sign Susan's copy of his book. "It's fine."

"You can admit that it's tiresome," Blaise pointed out, taking another sip. "Theo does all the time."

"Of course he can admit that," Draco groaned. "A loner all his life and now it's like everybody wants to suck his - "

"Not everyone," Theo reminded him curtly, a slight scowl coming over his face as he returned to their side, watching as Daphne and Pansy seemed to whisper ever more intently, both girls deeply unsubtle in their blatant ogling of Potter and Weasley.

"You'd think all this fame would do something for your confidence," Draco reminded him, giving him a patented Malfoy smirk that Blaise knew to be equal parts affection and derision. "Maybe you'll finally abandon this very careful dance you've had going for, I don't know, both your entire lives - "

"I play a long game," Theo said loudly, making a show of tipping his glass against Draco's and then taking a sip. "Some things are complicated, Draco. Some things take time."

"They certainly do," Blaise agreed, seeking out Ginny in the crowd. She was stunning, of course, as always; the dress itself was understated, but that only meant that she, with her gilded copper hair and her flawless, creamy skin, could not be outdone by something as foolish as fabric.

He missed her, of course; had been waiting impatiently for her to come back to her senses, to come back to him; to realize that the times she'd come to him had not been weakness, they'd been fate, and it was going back to Potter each time that had been the error. He'd been patient, hadn't he? And selfless? Given her space? Difficult, of course; exceedingly difficult, as Blaise was a man who knew what he wanted. And fuck him if it wasn't Ginevra Weasley.

And fuck her if she thought he would forget.

She turned her back on him resolutely, but he saw the flush in her cheeks and knew she was remembering what it felt like to have him pressed against her, his lips on her neck, his teeth sinking into her shoulder. And if she wasn't thinking about that - which she definitely was - then she wouldn't be able to stop thinking about the rest of the night in his arms, her fears bared for him with her lips against his pillow, her thoughts floating in the air between them, her desires kept safe in his bed.

Harry's the one, she'd said stubbornly, I'm sure he is, he has to be, or else why would I - ? Why would he have - ? But sometimes, sometimes, I swear -

Blaise had said nothing, done nothing but kiss her, and she'd kissed him back and he'd been waiting for this day, when what he knew - what he'd known since that first night - would finally catch up with her: that she was never meant for Harry Potter.

No. Blaise was a man who knew things; and fuck him if he didn't know Ginevra Weasley belonged to him.

"Excuse me," he rumbled primly, handing his glass to Draco, who looked bewildered at being used like a house elf. "I have somewhere I need to be."

"So you'll do it?" Daphne whispered excitedly, gripping Pansy's wrist. "You'll help?"

"Yes, yes, fine," Pansy said, rolling her eyes. "Fine. I will take Weasley," she conceded, her face contorting into a vaguely repulsed grimace.

"Maybe practice not making that face when you say his name?" Daphne offered, fighting a laugh. "Just a thought."

"Full of demands tonight, aren't you?" Pansy said, offering her a wicked smirk. "You're lucky you're my only friend, Daph, or I'd be forced to murder you if this goes badly."

"You wouldn't," Daphne reminded her, letting her hand slip to take hold of her best friend's slender fingers. "You adore me."

"That, or you've drugged me," Pansy agreed, and Daphne felt a thrill of excitement run up her spine, reminded of the prospects of the evening.

"It'll be just like it was at school," Daphne whispered gleefully. "Back when we were still - "

" - worth something?" Pansy supplied grimly.

"Oh, don't be sulky," Daphne chided her, fondly tapping her nose. "This'll be fun. We used to be great at this."

"Used to being the operative term," Pansy returned.

But Daphne would not let Pansy's cynicism get to her; not tonight. It had been ages since she'd gotten to dress up again - there weren't exactly grand parties anymore; or at least, if there were, she wasn't invited to them - and she was marvelling in her own beauty, in all her youthful charisma, and what she knew had once been her unfailing charm.

You should be married by now, her mother regularly lamented, always making a show of her fall from grace. There should be men banging down our door. That blasted war.

War's over, Mother, Daphne would say, trying to be helpful. It's a better world.

She had a job, after all; she wasn't destitute. She was doing fine. She was providing for her family; her father had passed away at the end of the war and her mother had never worked a day in her life, so that left Daphne, and she'd risen to the challenge.

It's a better world, Mother.

Not for you, her mother would wail. Prospects dried up, nobody for you, nobody for Astoria - who will take care of Astoria?

Astoria, her mother's darling. Daphne's darling too, really, for all her lively wit and humor; but primarily the pride and joy and undeniable mirror image of their mother.

I will, Daphne sighed, catching her sister's form as she ducked out of sight, pretending not to be eavesdropping.

And she did. She got by on her own, much as her mother hated it. She had started working as an interior designer when Narcissa Malfoy had required what she called "a tastefully trained eye" for the renovation of Malfoy Manor, affording Daphne the opportunity to make a living from it; thankfully - and tactfully - gracing her with a means by which to support her family. Not that it had done much for her prospects, as her mother repeatedly reminded her; as much as pureblood families needed a designer with her impeccable taste, they also judged her harshly for it. As they reluctantly dropped their galleons in her hands, she knew they were also crossing her name off their lists for their sons - and Astoria's, too.

So in the end, beautiful Daphne Greengrass, for all her lovely features and her admirable birth and her bloody impeccable taste, had run herself right out of prospects.

She stiffened momentarily at the thought, but suppressed it; if this was her last chance, then she was going down swinging. Harry Potter, she reminded herself. Auror Potter, the Boy Who Lived; the Chosen One. 

She warmed at the thought. Let them sneer at Daphne Potter, she thought, picturing their faces. Let them try.

"Come on," Daphne said, artfully brightening her face with a coquettish smile and pulling Pansy along behind her. "Let's do this before anyone else has the same idea."

Theo held back a laugh at the look on Draco's face as Blaise took off, straightening his tie and proceeding straight for the table with Granger and Weasley. "Where did he - "

"Has business to attend to, it seems," Theo noted, though the smile on his face quickly vanished as he watched Pansy and Daphne proceed in the opposite direction, taking a direct route to where Potter and Weasley were standing in the corner.

"Ah," Draco mused, catching the sullen look on Theo's face. "Suddenly not so funny, is it?"

Theo swallowed, his throat suddenly quite dry. "No," he murmured, watching Daphne adjust her bodice - "How are they?" she mouthed to Pansy, gesturing to her cleavage; Perfect, Theo imagined assuring her, vehemently wanting to die - and confidently moving to tap Potter on the shoulder.

"You could try saying something," Draco suggested. "You know. In case the many years of hoping she'd learn mind reading is becoming tiresome."

"You're becoming tiresome," Theo snapped, seeing Potter's eyes widen as he took in the concept that Daphne Greengrass, goddess among women, had actually - willingly, consciously, and, as unhappily as Theo found it to acknowledge, enthusiastically - chosen to speak to him.

Theo, perversely, was happy to see that Potter was at least aware of the magnitude of the situation, though his desire to see Potter burst into flames was at least equally as intense.

"I love when you get frustrated," Draco remarked, smirking. "You become infinitely less clever, and it really evens the playing field."

"Shut up," Theo snapped testily, as Daphne let out a dainty, melodic laugh at whatever inanity Potter had supplied her with.

Maybe I should laugh too, Theo thought moodily, his entire countenance darkening at the hilarious concept that he might now lose Daphne, whom he had lost time after time to a variety of pureblood heirs, over and over throughout their schooling. Hysterical, really, that the night he thought he'd finally get his chance, she'd be running straight for Potter, who wouldn't have been fit to tie her shoes while they were in school and certainly wasn't fit to now. Fuck, the hilarity of it! 

"Does she know about the book?" Draco asked.

Ah, and to add to the comedy - the fucking book. The one that every other woman in the castle - McGonagall included, though she'd been much quieter about it, choosing to send him a highly discreet owl of congratulations and a light suggestion that he send her a signed copy - couldn't stop shoving in his face, begging for his attention. That fucking book? The one he'd spent the last two years writing, the one he'd achieved sudden acclaim for, after so much obscurity? That was hailed all over the Wizarding World as the finest literary work in a generation? That was lauded for its brilliance, praised for its poignancy, worshipped for its craftsmanship?

"I don't think she read it," Theo muttered.

Fucking hysterical, wasn't it?

Absolutely, without a doubt, the most uproariously funny, the most riotously, heartwrenchingly entertaining joke he'd ever had the displeasure of experiencing.

It was so funny he could sob.

"Well," Draco broached tentatively, vacationing from his usual smug arseholery to comfortingly grip Theo's shoulder, "I'm sure that if she - "

Theo tuned him out, feeling his chest burn at the way Daphne's delicate fingers rested gently on Potter's forearm.

"You know what?" Theo said suddenly, squaring his shoulders and clenching his vacant fist, "I think I have to go do something."

He shoved his glass against Draco's chest and took off; certain, for once, that he was not going to be the punchline of this joke.

Hermione nudged Ginny, feeling her face shift in confusion at the oncoming Blaise Zabini, who was approaching them in the most purposeful way she had ever witnessed a man walk.

"Hey," Hermione murmured, gesturing over Ginny's shoulder, "is there a reason that - "

"Good evening, Ginevra," Zabini said coolly, coming to rest between them.

Hermione was not fantastic with gauging social interactions, but even she could tell there was something to this one; the low, languid cadence of Ginny's name on Zabini's lips was startlingly intimate, and Hermione suffered a distinctly uneasy feeling at the sound.

"Blaise," Ginny said stiffly, the muscles tense around her jaw.

"How are you?" Zabini asked, and despite the innocuous content of the conversation, Hermione couldn't help feeling incredibly nonsensical and awkward - as if she were sitting between them during late night pillow talk instead of at a very public event, in a very crowded hall.

"Don't," Ginny warned, her eyes flashing, and Hermione hesitantly took a step back.

"Um," she ventured, "I'll just - "

"Don't what?" Zabini asked, his voice husky and warm as he stepped closer to Ginny. Hermione instinctively took several steps back, resolving to find another glass of wine, or several glasses of wine, or someone else entirely.

In her haste to escape, she knocked directly into Theodore Nott, who seemed intent on reaching someone else across the room. "Sorry," she said quickly, but he had already taken hold of her shoulders and nudged her gently aside, striding past her without stopping.

"Okay then," she said quietly, biting her lip.

She had never felt like a more ridiculous afterthought. She didn't know why she had wanted to come; she'd insisted on it, really, and she'd prepared for it for weeks, and she told everyone it was because it was important that they honor their alma mater, that they celebrate how far they had come - but then, was that really a reason to buy a new dress, to spend all day on her hair? To pretend to still be with Ron, just to not have to come alone?

She sighed, straightening as she prepared to press on, and then paused, catching a flash of a pale, silvery head and feeling inexplicably relieved at the sight.

Hermione looked over and was forced to suppress a giggle at the way that Malfoy was clumsily maintaining a grip on three wine glasses, his own in addition to those of his two companions, who she realized must have recently abandoned him. He looked around, gaping helplessly, and she ducked her head, covering her mouth to ensure he hadn't seen her smile; but when she looked up, bound by curiosity, he was smirking at her.

No, not smirking.


"Laughing at me, Granger?" he called, and she, caught in the act, reluctantly moved towards him.

"You look a bit burdened," she commented, reaching out to take one of the glasses. Their fingers brushed momentarily as she took it, and her chest gave a strange, incomprehensible flutter, compelled forward by some invisible, cruelly merciless force.

It happened to her on occasion with him. Sometimes she handed him a quill and he, lost in conversation, would let the tip of it brush against his lips, forgetting it was hers. Sometimes he would hand her back the form with his signature and his grey eyes would settle on her face, sometimes hovering on her lips; and each time, she would think please. Please stop.

She had her career to think about; she didn't need his pretty face distracting her. Stop.

She had things to do; she didn't have the time for mindless flirtation. Stop.

She had a history with him, an unpleasant one; she didn't wish to be made a fool, and especially not by him. Stop.

And then, the biggest reason of all: she wasn't free. She had Ron. Stop.

Please, please stop.

"Burdened indeed," he agreed, nodding. "Deliver me?" he suggested, and she watched his smile fade as he swallowed carefully, his breath suspended as he waited.

Please, please stop.

But she didn't have Ron anymore, did she?

"Let's walk," she offered softly.

Harry had never been particularly good with women, as both Ginny and Hermione, the only women in his life, chose to remind him on a regular basis. Especially Ginny, who had become particularly adamant about pointing out his flaws in the last year.

You never notice anything, she repeatedly railed against him, her cheeks flushed as she roared her displeasure. You barely notice me!

I notice you, he would say, puzzled. How could I not -

I have needs, Harry! she would continue, and he would think I know that, of course I know you have needs; what did I do this time?

But she had stopped wanting to tell him, stopped being patient with his idiocy, and after the last two breakups, there was nothing left to fix.

Or so she told him. And he usually listened to the things she told him.

"Harry?" Daphne asked, his name so devastatingly sweet on her tongue. "You were saying?"

"Oh," he said, realizing he had been talking. He flailed momentarily, having forgotten the topic of conversation; Daphne Greengrass's beauty was intimidating. Distracting. "I, er - "

"Evening," Theodore Nott said smoothly, easing his lanky frame between them. "How is everyone?" he asked, his eyes glinting with something Harry judged to be mischief.

"Fine," Harry said, watching Daphne's cheeks flush appealingly.

"Excuse me, Theo," she said sweetly, giving him a look that Harry guessed was her particular variation of Hermione's withering glare. "Harry and I are talking."

"You still are," Nott assured her, tilting his head somewhat mockingly. "I've just joined in." He glanced over at Harry. "Post-war benefits, eh? Inter-house unity and all that?"

"Sure," Harry permitted, nodding vacantly.

"Theo." Daphne's pretty smile faded, replaced with a fiery disapproval. Not that that was any less attractive, Harry noted, still shaking his head as to why Daphne Greengrass had felt compelled to talk to him, or why Pansy Parkinson was beside him, appearing to take an unusual interest in Ron's biceps. "Theo, I'm not exactly - "

"So, Potter," Theo said loudly, cutting her off. "What are your thoughts on the post-war economy?"

"Theo!" Daphne snapped, slamming her glass on a nearby table. "What the f- "

"Hi Harry," he heard a voice say behind him, and he sighed in relief at the sound of her voice.

"Hi Luna," he said, turning to face her.

"I wouldn't answer that question if I were you," she said sagely, nodding her reassurance. "He doesn't really care to hear the answer at the moment."

"Because of Daphne?" Harry guessed, stepping away from where Nott and Daphne were now arguing to join Luna where she stood against the back wall. She was wearing her long blonde hair in a shimmering sheath down her back, and her dress, a soft, airy white gown that reminded him of a fairy princess from a muggle storybook, had a series of glittering birds sewn in around the shoulders.

Birds are nice, he thought.

"That, or nargles," she quipped, smiling. "Either way, you'll have to talk commerce another time, I'm afraid."

"How unfortunate." Harry smiled, relaxing in her presence. "How are you, Luna?"

"I'm quite excellent, actually," Luna told him, and she looked like she meant it. "I'm having a lovely time. Thank you for asking me," she added.

He felt his brow stitch together quickly, always finding Luna to be strangely disarming. "Of course," he said. "I wanted to know."

"I know you did," she replied. "And that's what's so lovely about it."

Harry opened his mouth to speak, but then closed it. He didn't know what to say, but he knew that would be okay with Luna.

They stood in silence for a moment as they watched the others around the hall; if it were Ginny beside him, Harry would probably have had to ask something - to make sure she was entertained, or at least not overtly bored in his presence. Ginny would be chatting with the people around them, always so social; it came so naturally to her.

Nothing really came naturally to him anymore. Work, he supposed, where things still made sense; but he was so used to having to save things, or save people, or save himself, that the concept of just getting by on a daily basis was frightfully mundane, and at the same time, overly complicated. Knowing how to go about his life, or how to behave when people wanted to talk to him on the street, or how to keep his girlfriend happy . . .

Ex-girlfriend, he reminded himself grimly. I have needs, Harry -

"Harry," Luna interrupted quietly, reaching up to brush his unruly hair away from his face. "You have an awful lot of Wrackspurts floating around."

The tips of her fingers briefly brushed against his jaw as she brought her hand down, frowning. "Are you quite alright?" she asked, and he felt, inexplicably, a jolt at the silvery brightness of her eyes, paired with a strange, thrilling sense of calm, like he was floating in them.

"I think," he started, his voice breaking momentarily. He paused, clearing his throat. "I think," he said again, "I am, actually."

Her smile was radiant. "Good," she murmured, and for once, he felt his smile come easily.

"So," he ventured after a moment. "What are Wrackspurts again?"

"Nothing you have to worry about with me," she whispered.

Chapter Text

Chaotic Good

Pairing: Hansy (Harry x Pansy)

Universe: muggle AU, Britain, 16th century (think Plantagenet/Tudor period)

Rating: M for sexual references

Summary: Pansy Parkinson is a pawn in Tom's game of thrones, unloved by her husband and left to suffer quietly as he wreaks havoc over his kingdom. What will she do when she crosses paths with her husband's enemy?

Lady Pansy Parkinson fought every instinct born of pride, every fiber of her being that told her to hold her chin high - a Parkinson, after all, of noble birth, of peerless virtue - to lower her eyes to the ground, her hands clasped as she walked, knowing all eyes were on her.

Her shoes tapped against the stone of the castle and she fought a brief shiver of nerves, hearing her father's voice - finally, some use for you; finally, someone has need of you - and his unsubtle reminder not to destroy her family's chance to rocket into prestige. Her secret fears - what if I don't love him; what if I don't even like him? - were of little to no concern. They'd yanked her into her corset without a care to how they broke her, and oh, did she look fine.

Her skirts rustled appealingly as she breezed through the door, the light hitting her eyes as she reached the Great Hall; she knew without looking up that he was there, the king himself, with her father beside him. She knew if not for her, her father would not find himself in such proximity; and yet she knew better - in her noble birth, her peerless virtue - than to expect gratitude. She kept her eyes on the ground; saw the king's boots first, the gilded base of his throne; his face would have to wait. She would need permission first.

"Your Majesty," she breathed, sinking into a low curtsy before him.

Silence. A rustle. He was shifting in his seat; no doubt looking over her, gauging the value of his purchase.

"Up," he said, his voice low, and she rose, a puppet on his strings, her eyes demurely cast at his feet until she saw him stand; and then her breath caught as he approached her.

She knew, impeccably trained as she had been, that she was bound to acknowledge her father; to bow nearly as low to him as she had to the king; but her attention was elsewhere. The man before her - the man who was to take ownership of her - was far too distracting.

They whispered about him all over the country; so, of course, she'd heard her fair share of tales. She'd heard that he had claimed the throne in cold blood, a conqueror-king; that he had placed himself atop a throne that only noblemen had previously dared to reach for; that he muted any voice that opposed him; that he, of little name and even lower fortune, had stolen his title, made off with it by the blood-stained tip of his sword. What they had failed to mention, though, had been the stunning arrangement of his face; the rich paleness of his skin; the ebony sheen of his hair; the keen cleverness of his gaze - the velvety richness of the blue which appraised her sharply, traveling up and down the fabric of her gown, made for this occasion.

She shuddered, feeling naked before him despite the finery they draped her in.

"Slender," he noted, his gaze flicking to her father. "Taller than I expected," he added, and Pansy saw the twist of mockery in his gaze, an acknowledgement of her father's known insecurity. The king reached out, lifting her chin, his blue eyes searching hers.

"Lovely," he concluded, and as much as she wished to hate him, as much as she felt her stomach lurch in fear, she longed for his approval.

"Your Majesty," she said again, her voice barely a whisper. If the first time had been a greeting, this one was a promise. My king.

"So formal," he murmured. "That won't do, if you're to be my wife." He stepped closer and she thought for a moment he meant to kiss her, and she wondered if he would dare; here, before his lords, before her own father - did he dare?

He didn't. She cursed the distance between his lips and hers.

"Tom," he offered coolly, and she cursed herself this time, for finding it a blessing. "Tom will do."

She had ladies now, and jewels, and the favor of everyone at court; she was queen, after all. Tom's royal seal now bore her signature flower, intertwined with a snake that made her shiver; as did he. It was a shiver born of half revulsion. Half desire.

Her ladies were numerous and as well bred as she, save one; Lady Hermione Granger - the lady being, of course, a questionable addition - who was of ambiguously lower origins, who arrived one day in Pansy's entourage without fanfare. Or warning.

"Who is she?" Pansy asked, turning in her seat to murmur into the ear of her favorite, Lady Daphne.

"No one of importance," Daphne assured her. "Said to be brilliant, though," she permitted, and her pretty face instantly fell at the knowledge she'd accidentally revealed.

"Said by whom?" Pansy pressed, catching the slip in the other woman's expression.

No answer. In these times, that was as much an admission as any, and Pansy felt the air in her lungs turn cold. "Whose choice was she?" she pressed.

Daphne's hazel eyes dropped demurely to the floor. The king's, of course.

Pansy felt a tingling numbness at that, at the way her heart lurched, and she distracted herself by letting her eyes travel around the room, fighting a yawn; she was expected to remain awake for as long as Tom did, and he was deep in conversation with a man Pansy recognized as a Lord called Mulciber. The man was not an advisor, per se, as her husband did not care for the concept of requiring advice; nor a companion, as Tom rejected that concept too. But certainly something along those lines.

There was a boisterous intrusion at the entrance to the room and Pansy momentarily forgot herself, nearly leaping at the sound. Two men had burst riotously through the doors of the Great Hall, laughing and carrying on merrily, garnering glares from Tom and Lord Mulciber, where the two heads had been bent in conspiracy.

She ought to have looked away, and after a moment she managed it, but she felt her gaze snag slightly; it seemed her powers of sight were briefly caught on one of them, whose jewel-toned eyes danced with mischief.

"Who is he?" Pansy asked, gesturing.

"Ronald Weasley," Daphne replied, "the redhead, on the right. A would-be earl, though we've nearly all forgotten, considering how many Weasley sons there are." She made a face. "Too many."

"Not him," Pansy corrected quickly, then blushed.

"Ah," Daphne said sagely, fighting a smile. "Yes. Henry Potter," she explained. "Duke of Clarence. Called Harry," she added. "A people's prince, as it were." She turned scarlet. "Though not truly a prince, of course - God save the King," she murmured, a last minute reparation.

Pansy watched across the room as Henry-called-Harry threw himself at a table, digging into his food. He was lively and spirited, his expression bright and kind; his manners utterly atrocious.

"He looks like a knave," Pansy sniffed.

"He is," Daphne confirmed, her lips curling up in a smile. "Keep your distance."

Pansy nodded. She'd heard of him, this Henry-called-Harry, and Daphne's slip in referring to him as a prince had been dangerous indeed. Tom would not like it. Though, in fairness, Tom did not like much.

She let her eyes slip to her husband, let her mind wander to the memory of him bursting into her chambers, barking for her ladies to leave them; of the way he pressed her back against the bed, not bothering to undress, and left quickly. There, he muttered. Have it.

Tom was a man who did not care for threats, and Harry's presence was nothing but. Tom was a harsh monarch, the despotism of his reign unpopular, and there were many who preferred an England with young Harry at its helm. To make it worse, the younger man's claim to the throne was legitimate for those who valued - as Tom had not - the established line of hierarchy for inheritance to the throne.

Pansy suppressed the thought quickly, fighting a shiver; she knew better. She knew the thought alone could get her killed.

She watched her husband's eyes, intense as always, as they wandered to the table of her ladies; to the petite figure with chestnut brown curls, the bent head that Pansy could not prevent a venomous stir of loathing for. Pansy watched from afar as Hermione Granger looked up, the only woman on earth with the gall - or lack of breeding, as was more likely - to meet Tom's eyes. His gaze was searching and hungry.

Hermione smiled at him, a smile full of secrets; and Pansy, across the room, felt her heart sink.

"You shame me," Pansy called desperately, appealing to his sense of propriety, to the empathy she knew he lacked. "You dishonor me, my Lord - "

"Lady wife," Tom cut in, spitting the word out as though the taste of it were too bitter to stomach, "you dishonor yourself."

She had been a fool; she'd overplayed her hand. But a woman cast aside was a fool indeed, she thought, sulking.

Her husband's eyes flicked to the side; to Hermione, who curtsied deeply and, after a moment of hesitation, stepped forward to lay her fingers delicately on his arm. Pansy knew it was she, Hermione, that her husband turned to; it was her mind that he coveted, and by the looks of it, her body, too.

At the reassurance of Hermione's touch, Tom turned back to Pansy, glaring.

"You think I wanted you? For your beauty, or for your wit?" He laughed; a callous, terrible laugh, so incongruous with the moment that she shrank back from it, from the mania of it. "Your family guards the border lands and we have trouble with the Scots. Our marriage is only a matter of geography - so if you find yourself displeased, I suggest you not cling so naively to your romanticisms," he sneered, mocking her with every line of his cruelly handsome face, "or to your foolish perceptions of love."

That word, too, he spat like it was poison. She wondered, then, what happiness Hermione could possibly find with her husband; until Pansy remembered the glitter in her eyes, the woman's captivating cunning. Perhaps Hermione, like Tom, looked disdainfully on something as flimsy as love.

Which was, as it turned out, something Pansy now doubted she would ever find.

At her silence, Tom nodded his rare approval and swept out of the room, a king with his chosen queen, the two of them the very portrait of power and authority. He left Pansy behind to sink to the floor, drowning in her sorrows, and neither he nor Hermione looked back.

Pansy closed her eyes, feeling the wind as it drifted between her fingertips, where it slapped color into her pale face and stung her bloodshot eyes, reminding her how wretched she was. It spoke in her ear, alternating between whispers and bellows. Wouldn't it be nice to feel nothing?

To be nothing?

Some rubble came loose and fell to the ground below; she was so high up she could not hear it fall. Good.

At this point, would she even make a sound? Did she even exist? Tom would be glad of her absence, she knew. Perhaps ultimately it could be considered a wifely duty, to spare him her presence.

Just a step, she told herself; one step, a fall, and then -

She felt the wind knocked out of her as steady arms wrapped around her ribcage, yanking her to the side.

"Wh- unhand me!" she yelped, fighting her captor. "What have you - "

A voice, throaty and deep, laughed in her ear. "I don't make a habit of sitting idly by as young maidens take to their deaths," he informed her.

She'd heard his laugh carry through the Hall enough times to recognize it, much as she regretted the discovery of having committed it to memory. It was Henry-called-Harry, the knave himself, and she was tightly in his grip.

"Codified somewhere in your handbook of roguery, is it?" she snarled, twisting out of his grasp.

"Nothing quite so limiting, but general theories apply," he said drily, releasing her.

She turned to face him, speechless with rage, sputtering in his face. "You - how - how dare - "

"How dare I?" he countered. "How dare you?" He stepped closer, forgetting himself, his nose inches from her face.

"How dare you let him win?" he asked quietly; so quietly that even if they were in the company of others, only she would hear. "How dare you admit defeat?"

"You can't speak to me like that," she told him, though the statement lacked her intended venom. "I'm the queen," she added haughtily, lifting her chin.

To her displeasure, he softened.

"Thanks to me, you still are," he reminded her. "Lucky I knew you'd be so gracious," he added, a glimmer of mischief returning to his laughing green eyes.

"You mock me," she said flatly. "I don't care for it."

"My roguery," he supplied, shrugging, as though that were explanation enough. "You understand."

"I don't," she snapped. "I don't condone it, either."

"Apologies, then," he murmured. "I shall have to settle for being the second most upsetting man in your life."

She drew her shoulders back furiously, summoning her aristocracy. "You overstep," she accused, feeling a hollow ache in her soul at the transparency of her abandonment.

"As is my practice," he admitted. "But I would be remiss if I did not inform you that your husband is a fool," he continued grimly. "A tyrant, and a fool; and if I let you walk away from here less than certain that you know it, then I will be the one to suffer for it."

There was no laughter in his eyes now; only a glitter of something.


"What is it you wish to take from me?" Pansy asked, careful not to betray the dryness of her throat, or the tight flutter in her chest. "Am I a tool to the throne, then? A mechanism for revenge? A path to your rightful place?"

"Why must you be anything but you?" he returned, and he raised a hand, smoothing an errant curl away from her face.

A lie, she thought, panicked. His words, his glance, it all had to be a lie - what had men done but lie to her?

"Don't touch me," she cautioned, swallowing.

He moved to let his fingers hover over her face; he let them trace the air over her cheek, let them float across her lips.

"I wouldn't," he assured her. "I won't."

She couldn't be rid of him. When she moved to dismount her horse, Harry was there, his hands firmly gripping her waist as she slid down, pressed against his chest, his fingers tracing the curve of her spine in the moment before he released her.

"Don't," she whispered.

When she looked up over her dinner, at her place beside Tom - Pansy on his right hand, as tradition dictated, but Hermione on his left - Harry was watching her, his eyes on her lips. Don't.

When she traveled through the castle, he watched her hips sway. Don't.

When she sought out solace in the gardens, he joined her, though he didn't say a word. He didn't need to. Don't.

"You favor Lord Potter," Daphne noted. A warning.

"I don't," Pansy whispered. "I swear it."

When she slept. When she dreamt. When she breathed. His face, his voice; his hands, his arms. Don't.

"You're avoiding me," Harry told her.

She had her head bent in prayer - please, please, please don't - but he'd found her in the alcove, her sanctuary. It was quiet; she needed the solitude.

"I'm not," she said, choking on the lie. Don't.

"You insult my powers of observation," he joked.

"What is it you observe?" she challenged.

She tried not to watch his tongue drag across his lower lip. She failed.

"Poise," he told her, reaching for her fingers. She put her hand palm up and he did the same, leaving a sliver of air that kept them from touching. "Fire. Grace. Spirit. Heartbreak," he added, watching her, but she said nothing. "Pain."

"Beauty," he murmured, and she wondered if he could see her fingers shaking.

She felt faint and inadvertently swayed forward, her hand coming to rest against his; at the contact, he gripped her fingers and pulled her against his chest, his hands on her waist as he kissed her.

She slapped him.

No, she thought about slapping him. She kissed him instead, gave in; ground her hips against his and let him reach behind her head, tugging her hair loose and burying his fingers in it, letting his mouth travel to her neck, to the tops of her breasts.

"Don't stop," she gasped, and he yanked her to her feet, pressing her back to the cold, stone wall, his hands fidgeting with her skirt. He kissed her until she felt feverish, touched her until she thought she might burn.

"I won't fail you," he promised her. "I will never fail you."

"Fail me or don't, just don't stop," she said, and he grinned, his fingers tracing the inside of her thigh as he nudged her legs apart, his other hand pressed to her back, holding her tight against him.

Clever rogue that he was, he made easy work of finding his way to her chambers every night; fool that she was, she let him.

"Tom's days are numbered," Harry muttered against the creamy skin of her shoulder. "Ron's got his men ready, I've been - "

"You'd make me a traitor as well as a whore?" she interrupted, reaching impatiently for him. "One crime at a time, please."

"Like I'd put you at risk," he said, tracing his fingers over her neck. "Never."

"You already are," she reminded him, shivering at his touch. She'd die, surely. For something. For disloyalty, for treason. For want of him.

He gently pressed her back, laying her against the bed, running his hand between her breasts and down her torso. "Should I stop?" he asked, his fingers twitching at the words. "Should I leave, and save your life again?"

"I was dead when you found me," she reminded him, gasping as he began to replace the trail of his hands with his lips, kissing the flat of her belly, making his way to her thighs. "At this point, I'm on borrowed time."

He said nothing, though she watched his shoulders stiffen; he sighed, his breath ghosting across her skin, and then he looked up, dragging himself up against her to brush his lips across hers.

"I won't fail you," he whispered, the promise melting sweetly in her mouth. She slipped her tongue against his; he slid inside her, and she sighed.

"Be sure that you don't," she warned him, but then she closed her eyes, enraptured.

"He's dead," Tom raged, stabbing his dagger into the wooden table in frustration. "I'll wring his neck myself - I'll tear him to pieces with my own hands, nobility be damned - consider him finished - "

"Breathe," Hermione said sharply, and Pansy glanced at her. The petite brunette's frame was rigid, her eyes cold. "Control your temper."

There was a twitch between Tom's shoulder blades, a slight quirk in his mouth, and then his demeanor miraculously cooled.

She's a witch, Pansy thought in awe, swallowing. No wonder he wants her.

"Find him," Tom instructed his guards; Mulciber, Nott, Avery. "Find him. Now."

They pivoted instantly, and Hermione came to his side.

"He has allies," she murmured to Tom, her hand smoothing across his shoulder as she leaned toward him, whispering in his ear. "You would be wise to uncover them."

Tom stiffened. "Allies?"

"He must."

Pansy watched Hermione's lips move, her tone purposeful and firm. "He must have allies. He must have someone whom he trusts." As you do, Hermione did not add, though Tom knew her intent well enough.

His blue eyes darkened, turning glacially cold.

When they fell on Pansy, she felt a shudder in her soul.

For disloyalty, for treason. For want of him.

"My Lord?" she whispered, and her fear turned her blood to ice.

She knew when he'd be there. She'd come to expect him, after so many nights in his arms.

"He's there," she croaked, wanting to sob. "He's there. Someone grab him."

Mulciber and Avery dragged him away.

She ran through the castle, barefoot, holding her breath so as to not make a sound.

"I'm here," she whispered. "Where are you?"

She nearly gasped at the relief of hearing his voice. "Here."

Pansy made her way to his cell, her hands shaking as she clumsily struggled to unlock the door. The latch mercifully clicked and she exhaled sharply, her heart frozen in her chest and her feet numb against the cold stone floor.

"Go," she whispered, and at a sound behind her, she let out a fearful gasp. "Go, now, they're coming - "

Harry grabbed her face in his hands, kissing her; he bit her lip in his haste and she tasted her own blood. She would spill it all for him.

"Go," she said again, and he moved to run, but stopped.

"Come with me," he said breathlessly, and the chaos grew louder behind them. "Come with me, Pansy, please - "

"I can't," she panted, her chest straining. "I - I can't - "

"Are you with me?" he asked, nearly having to shout over the growing clamor. "I won't go without you." He held his hand out, his green eyes flashing. "Are you with me?"

I was dead when you found me. I'm living on borrowed time.

"I'm with you," she said, placing her hand in his and feeling a surge of certainty in her veins. "I won't fail you."

He never dropped her hand.

Chapter Text


Pairing: Tomione (Hermione Granger x Tom Riddle)

Universe: Muggle AU

Rating: M, language and sex

Summary: Who exactly is Tom, and more importantly, why does he keep showing up?

She was thirteen years old, crying under her favorite tree. Ron had teased her again, the insufferable twit, and yet she was the one crying, wondering when she'd stop being so sensitive.

Probably never.

She tugged at the hem of her skirt, willing herself to care less. You're so brilliant, her mother cooed. Who cares what the other kids think?

I care, she thought sulkily. I do.

Her downfall, probably. Caring. It'd be so much easier not to, and yet -

"Hello, Hermione."

She looked up, startled. There was a man there - a man, and a tall one; she squinted at him.

"Who are you?" she asked, wiping vigorously at the corners of her eyes.

"I'm Tom," he said, stepping closer and taking a seat beside her. He lowered himself carefully, elegantly, and made a charming face of displeasure, as though he found himself quite above sitting on the grass, but felt it somehow necessary to do so.

She gaped at his face; even at her age, she could recognize it as perfection. His eyes were a rich, dark blue, his hair smooth in thick, dark waves, his cheekbones, his jaw, his mouth - he's handsome, she thought, frowning. Yes, that's the word. Handsome.

People weren't handsome anymore; boys her age. They weren't handsome. Tom was handsome. She knew it right away.

"What's wrong?" he asked, and she made a face.

"Nothing," she said quietly.

He lifted an eyebrow, his mouth twisting into a dubious smirk. "You know," he began, somewhat gently, "you shouldn't worry about other people." He straightened slightly, taking a deep breath. "I can tell you with certainty that other people are terrible," he remarked, "and jealous of you. Of your mind," he added. "And your talent."

She frowned at him. "What do you know about my talent?"

"I'm an excellent judge of character," he said curtly. "And candidly, you reek of it."

She didn't relish the idea of reeking of anything, really, but she rarely got compliments, so she decided to accept them where they came.

"I'd rather fit in," she informed him, flinching a little at the sadness in her voice.

He stood then, brushing his trousers off. "You won't," he informed her. "You never will. Nor should you," he said sternly. "Don't debase yourself with the effort of becoming generic."

She sighed. "But wouldn't it be nice?" she said wistfully. "To feel like I belong?"

"You can try, if you like," he sniffed. "But I think you'll find it unsatisfactory."

"Do you?" she asked.

"Find it unsatisfactory?" he prompted. "Yes."

"No," she corrected. "Do you belong?"

He paused for a moment, thinking.

"In a way," he permitted. He squinted at her. "Don't let them get to you," he said firmly. "I won't have it."

She felt herself smile. "Okay," she agreed, and he turned.

She made a little noise of dissatisfaction - "Are you leaving?"

He turned. "Yes," he replied. "For now."

"Oh." She bit her lip, disappointed. "Who are you?" she asked.

"I told you," he reminded her. "I'm Tom."

And then he walked away, and she stared after him.

She was sixteen years old, sighing with boredom. Ron was paying her no attention, as always. She wondered if she was growing tired of him; she knew she wasn't, really. But she fervently hoped she would.

"I see you settled on trying to fit in," a voice said in her ear, and she jumped. "Pity."

"Oh," she said, clutching her chest in shock. "My god, Tom - "

He grinned at her, taking a seat across from her. He was as handsome as she remembered.

"I thought I dreamed you," she told him, surprising herself with her own honesty. "I was so sure it was a dream."

"You're awake," he assured her, as though such a statement were assurance enough.

"What are you doing here?" she asked, frowning. "What is it that you even do?" she added curiously.

"I'm here for the same reason you are," he said, holding up a book. "Purchasing."

The Age of Reason. Sartre.

"Ah," she said softly. "How . . . enlightened."

"I consider myself the enlightened type," he agreed. "Replacing a copy, as it were."

"Ah," she said again, then remembered his opening comments. "What was that you said? About me 'settling on' fitting in?"

"Yes," he sighed. "Disappointing, if I'm being honest."

She bristled. "And why should your disappointment affect me?"

"It shouldn't," he said. "Nobody's should." He reached out, tapping his long, elegant fingers against the table. "You are beholden to nobody."

"Well - " she paused, swallowing. He was difficult to talk to; and so easy, at the same time. "I don't understand," she admitted.

"You're young still," he conceded, shrugging. "When you're older, you'll see what I mean." He rose to his feet, and she felt an unexpected pang of longing.

"You're leaving again?" she asked, actively trying to fight the strain in her voice.

"Yes," he said, and looked thoughtful. "I could come back."

She was elated. "Yes," she breathed, her chest tightening at the thought.

She was eighteen years old, frowning with displeasure; outside the party, out on the street. Ron was flirting with another girl, the bastard. She was sick of him. She wanted him.

She couldn't quite figure it out.

"A bit late to be out here, don't you think?"

She was startled, as usual, and then relieved.

"Tom," she said, reaching for him. She was a little drunk, if she were being honest. It was the result of all that 'trying to fit in' that he was so opposed to. She put her hand on his chest, looking up into the blue depths of his eyes. "Tom."

She watched something in his gaze flicker. "You've been drinking," he noted.

"You disapprove, I'm sure," she scoffed. "Bossing me about, as always."

"You don't seem to mind," he reminded her. "Always so disappointed when I leave," he added, curling his fingers to brush the back of his hand fondly against her cheek.

She closed her eyes, leaning into his touch. "I do mind," she murmured. "It's cruel, what you're doing to me," she added boldly, leaning forward. "Don't you want me, Tom?"

He laughed, and she drew back, humiliated. "Don't laugh!" she shouted, smacking his chest with her hand, and then curling a fist, thinking about punching him in the stomach. It would be so rewarding, she thought, making him hurt.

He reached out, loosening her fist and threading his fingers through hers. "Hush," he told her. "You've been drinking."

"You've been patronizing," she shot back, distantly aware that the parallelism was a bit off. She wasn't at her sharpest. "Who even are you, Tom?"

"No one at all," he assured her, lifting her chin to look at her. "Certainly nothing to be so aggressive about."

She stared at him. "Kiss me," she demanded, jabbing a finger into his chest. "I think you want to," she added, "you keep showing up, and if you - "

He bent his head, his finger still under her chin; he pressed his lips to hers and she gasped into his mouth, pressing herself against him. He wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her, the taste of something manly and mature - scotch, she thought fancifully, or bourbon, though she wasn't familiar with either - on his tongue, which he used to nudge her lips open and slide against hers. His kiss was fiery and thunderous and she clung to him, wondering how she could possibly go back to kissing foolish, boyish Ron after she'd had him.

He pulled away and she cursed his existence.

"I should - "

"Don't you dare go," she growled, letting her eyes flutter open to admonish him properly. "Don't you leave me, Tom - "

He laughed, and she hated him.

"Another time, Hermione," he said, his lips curling into a smile.

She was twenty years old and sitting in the library, attempting to spend some time on her thesis, which she'd already grown quite bored with. Tom was right; philosophy was hardly productive in the scheme of things, and yet she'd insisted on it. It's important, she'd said, angry again that he was telling her what to do, furious he wasn't kissing her. It's fundamentally the foundation of human existence -

Hush, he said, and she fumed quietly, resolving to ignore him, promptly leaving to fuck Ron. To great disappointment, of course, as always, but it was nice to be touched. To feel wanted.

But now, of course, bored to tears, she wished she'd listened to him.

"How's it coming?"

"Fuck," she swore under her breath, dropping her pen. "Tom, you've got to stop sneaking up on me."

"Hardly sneaking," he said loftily. "You act as though I am not also compelled to visit the stacks when the opportunity permits."

"Why?" she demanded.

"Academia, as you well know," he reminded her. "Duty, on occasion, calls."

He held up a handful of books. She pretended not to care what they were.

"What do you even teach?" she asked. "You're always so mysterious." At the painful, girlish curiosity in her voice, she grimaced. "It's irksome," she added, hoping to salvage her pride.

"Physics," he replied. "My work is in physics."

"Oh." She was a little confused at that. "You seem more, I don't know," she shrugged, "the literature type. Or art history. Something snobbish," she added, flashing him an impertinent smirk.

"I make an effort to provide ample snobbery, I think," he said coolly, unaffected. "I wouldn't want to disappoint you, after all."

Ugh, she thought, go away.

Stay, she begged, a moment later, watching the flex in his arm as he reached for something over her head. Never leave me.

"Why do you always find me?" she asked, swallowing. He was close to her; too close.

"Happenstance, I suppose," he replied, unfazed. "Should I leave?"

Her heart thudded in her chest. "No," she confessed quietly, and he smiled.

"How are things with the boyfriend?" he asked, and she promptly hated him again.

"Fine," she said, then instantly straightened, amending the statement. "Great," she said brightly. "The sex is fantastic," she added, watching for his reaction.

His face flamed momentarily, and she reveled in it.

"Good," he said, recovering quickly, "I'm glad to hear it. Good sex is a blessing," he continued. "I'd hate to think you were somehow . . . unfulfilled."

God, she burned for him.

"It is great," she said again, licking her dry lips. "Particularly," she added, feeling bold, "since you don't seem to find yourself compelled to - "

She blushed. Her boldness had a quota, it seemed.

He looked down at her. "You want me to?"

"Um," she said. Fuck, god, I want you. "I - it's more an observation," she offered lamely. "You're always here, you seem to hate him" - she couldn't say Ron's name, not now, not to Tom - "and yet you never - " she faltered again. "You don't - "

"Hermione." He stepped in closer and she turned her head away, knowing that if she looked him in the eye all he would see was her mad desire for him, her gruesomely unrelenting greed for him. "If you want me, just say so."

He's asking me to lose, she thought angrily. I'll say it, he'll laugh, and then he'll leave -

But oh god, yes, "I want you," she managed roughly, turning to look him in the eye. They were blue, so fucking blue. Fuck. Fuck -

"Fuck me," she demanded, gritting her teeth in her need.

She fought a gasp as he slammed her against the bookcase, effortlessly tossing her up, propping her legs over his hips. He kissed her and it felt just like the first time, just as fiery and desperate, and his lips burned over her throat and down to her chest as his fingers traveled under her skirt, gripping her arse and slipping under the lace of her underwear.

He slipped a finger into her with ease and she sighed breathlessly into his shoulder, arching her back to encourage him.

"Fuck you," he mused, panting a little in her ear, "that's what you want?"

She could feel the hardness of his cock pressing against her and she bit down on his shoulder, mumbling yes into his skin as she moved to fumble with his zipper, yanking it down and taking him in her hand. Yes, yes, yes.

She slid her palm against his length and he hissed his satisfaction, filling her with a thrilling taste of power, finally giving her a taste of triumph over him, even in the blinding haze of her need. He slipped inside her and every thrust was like a victory - she finally had him, finally -

"Tom," she gasped, and he yanked her head back by her ponytail, hungrily watching her face as she came.

She was twenty-three and restless, sitting at her favorite spot in the park, wondering what to do next. Done with research. Not exactly desperate to move on to another academic pursuit. Fucking sick as fuck of Ron.

"Hello Hermione," Tom said, sliding gracefully beside her on the bench.

"You're back," she said dully. Fuck me into oblivion once a year. Wonderful to see you. "What's new?" she spat.

"You're upset," he noted. "A shame, that."

She glared at him. "We're outdoors this time," she noted. "You could have at least picked something less public."

"Ah," he said, uncomfortably. "I'm not here for that."

That concept, if anything, made her more furious. "Then what do you want?" she snapped harshly, staring at him. "We're just going to chat?"

"Sort of," he replied, shrugging. "Yes and no."

She clung to the 'and no,' despite her better judgment.

"Fine," she said evasively, waving her hand. "Chat."

He grimaced momentarily, but seemed intent on continuing.

"You've asked me many times who I am," he reminded her, after a moment. "I'm Tom Riddle."

She paused, feeling something different in the exchange. A shift in power.

"Okay," she said slowly, turning towards him, letting her curiosity get the better of her. "And?"

"I'm Tom Riddle," he repeated, "and I can travel in time."

She blinked.

"What?" she asked vacantly. "You - "

She thought about it, about his face, about the way he hadn't changed, even while she'd aged ten years. He was as handsome as he had always been, identical in every version of her memory.

"Explain that," she said flatly, waiting.

"I'm a professor of physics," he reminded her. "I discovered I could travel in time when I was twenty-six years old, and have spent two years refining my ability."

"You're - " she looked at him. "You're twenty-eight?"

"I am," he said. "I have been, the last ten years." He coughed, correcting himself. "Your last ten years, I should say."

"Oh," she said, then tilted her head thoughtfully. "I should argue with you, I think - "

"You don't have to," he assured her. "You, after all, are the reason I was able to refine it."

She felt her mouth open slightly. "How - "

"Look over there," he said, nudging her; she noticed a dark head of hair, bent over a book, sitting peacefully on a bench across the way. "Do you see him?"

"That's you," she realized, her heart beginning to pound. He did look a bit younger, a bit more carelessly dressed; easily just as handsome. "Isn't it?"

"It is," he said, nodding. "He's about to meet someone very important."

She felt dizzy.

"Wait," she said, her head spinning, "but - wait - I have - "

"You'll have to break up with that boyfriend of yours," he muttered, grimacing. "It's about time, anyway. I assure you," he added, tucking some loose strands of hair behind her ear, "you won't look back once you meet him." He laughed. "Me, I mean."

"But," she insisted, "I don't know anything about time travel, or about anything at all, really - "

"I am currently a graduate student in physics," he explained. "I will grow to grasp the complexity of the mechanisms involved. You, though, have the final piece of the puzzle." He leaned over, whispering in her ear; she nodded, realizing he was right. She did have the final piece of the puzzle.

"That's it, then," she said, feeling her mind whir with possibility. "That's it?"

"Essentially," he agreed. "I'll see you again in a couple of years. Though, I should make a point to encourage you to try not to be upset if I disappear from time to time," he added, smiling slyly. "It's just that there's someone that I'll have to visit, or she gets quite put out." He laughed again at that. "She has quite a temper."

She stared at him.

"I hate you," she decided firmly, feeling herself frown.

"You'll come to love me," he assured her, tangling his fingers in her hair and turning her face towards his. He kissed her, brushing his lips against hers, and sighed.

"How I envy him," he murmured into her mouth.

She shoved him away and stood, not looking back.

It was a lovely day, wasn't it? she thought, feeling the sun on her face. She did always love when a puzzle began to take shape. Fitting pieces together; she really did have a talent for it.

"Excuse me," she said brightly, tapping the shoulder of the handsome young man on the opposite bench. He turned, startled, and looked at her vacantly.

"Hi Tom," she said, smiling. "I'm Hermione."

Chapter Text

Reunion, Pt. II

Pairing: Dramione (Draco x Hermione), Ronsy (Ron x Pansy), Nottgrass (Theo x Daphne), Blinny (Blaise x Ginny), Pottgood (Harry x Luna)

Universe: Post-Hogwarts, EWE

Rating: M for language, sexual scenes

Summary: Continuation of chapter 21, Reunion, Pt. I. The class of 1998 meets up for their 5 year reunion, and all is decidedly not as well as it seems.

"No," Ron said quickly. "Absolutely not."

Pansy's falsely pleasant expression flickered momentarily. "Why Ron, I simply can't imagine what you mean - "

"Oh shove it, Parkinson," he retorted, ripping his arm from her grasp. "You and I both know why you're doing this and I bloody well don't enjoy being played."

At that, she dropped the facade altogether, her expression melting into an irritating smirk. "Well, good news, Weasley," she sniffed. "You're still a twat, but you're at least not a dumb one anymore."

"Bloody hell," he muttered to himself, glaring at her. "How long were you expecting to get away with this?"

"Oh please. Get away with it," she scoffed, rolling her eyes. "If you weren't so paranoid - "

"Do you know how many times Harry's almost gotten me killed?" Ron countered, feeling distinctly less than pleased with the unflattering imitation. "If I weren't paranoid, I'd be ten different kinds of dead!"

"Ugh." She had fully abandoned pretense now, snatching his wine out of his hand and downing the remainder of glass. "Honestly, Weasley, I don't know what I was thinking - "

"Hey!" he grunted, making a grab for his drink; Pansy, who had failed to notice his indignation, moodily replaced the now empty glass in his hand, her gaze traveling elsewhere. "I certainly can't help you," he informed her, scowling. "Thanks for this," he added sarcastically, setting the glass down with a thud.

"You're welcome," she murmured, unfazed. "I'll take another, by the way."

"Godric, you are infuriating," he mumbled. "Do you really think you can just wander around demanding things?"

"I do not demand things, Weasley," she corrected loftily, pausing to glare at him. "Normally, people are much more compelled to give them to me." She eyed him critically. "Imagine my surprise that you're not much of a gentleman."

"Imagine my lack of surprise that you're not much of a lady," he retorted. Another levitating tray came around and he grabbed a single glass, pointedly stepping between it and her.

"You are an insufferable prat," she seethed, reaching behind him and stomping her foot as he knocked her arm aside, impeding her grasp. "Hey!"

"Say please, Parkinson," he instructed, grinning as she huffed in frustration.

"Please," she hissed, her teeth gritted; he obligingly stepped aside, flashing her an impish grin as he permitted her to reach for a drink.

"Oh, but you didn't let me finish," she informed him sweetly, in the kind of voice that made him want to instantly take cover. "Please run off and die, Ronald," she purred, snatching a glass off the tray.

"You are a menace," he informed her. "Truly."

She snorted delicately. "Please," she said again, rolling her eyes. "I wear it well."

"At least you've grown into your nose," he snapped.

He felt an instant pang of remorse as she instinctively angled her face downwards; her eyes, normally narrow with snobbish dismay, now widened at him in artless horror, and he could tell immediately that he had delivered far too low a blow.

"Sorry," he offered sheepishly, alternately hearing his mother - Ronald Weasley, how dare you insult the poor girl? - and Hermione - for heaven's sake, Ronald, have you absolutely no tact? - as their voices resonated shrilly inside his head. "I, er, I just meant that - "

"Shut up," Pansy snarled, her moment of self-consciousness abandoned as she set her jaw and glared angrily at him. "I should have known better than to try to talk to you," she added, lifting her chin. "Like Potter's pathetic sidekick was really going to get me anywhere - "

"Hey," he interjected, frowning. "I know I upset you, but you don't need to be a dick about it."

"I'm not upset!" she insisted, clearly deeply upset. "I'm merely stating facts, Weasley," she added haughtily, "and you - "

"Stop," he interrupted, setting his glass down and ignoring her squeak of protest as he lightly took hold of her shoulders. "Let's just start over, okay? I - " he paused, hesitating. "I was rude. I'm sorry."

She pursed her lips and eyed him dubiously, but seemed resolute in her desire to say nothing.

"So," he started, taking a deep breath. "How are things, er - " he waffled between using her first and last name, deciding at the last minute to be generous. "Pansy?"

She made a face for a moment, but seemed to have grasped the sincerity of his intent; he fought an audible sigh of relief as she mercifully offered him a conciliatory grimace.

"I'm great," she said sulkily. "I'm absolutely grand. I've been completely cast out by society, for one thing," she added, in an alarming half shout, "my family's vault is practically drained; I have to pay my father's debts and I'm drowning in his mismanaged accounts - and then on top of that, of course, I have absolutely no prospects - "

"Whoa, whoa," Ron cut in quickly, sensing a rising hysteria. "Shit, Parkinson, that's bleak - "

"I fucking know that," she snapped, crossing her arms over her chest. "So forgive me," she continued, letting out a completely unhinged bark of laughter, "if I was momentarily foolish enough to deign to talk to you, Weasley, as I'm not exactly in an ideal state of mind to think sensibly!"

"You certainly aren't," he agreed, letting out a low whistle and completely disregarding the insult. "That sounds bloody horrible. I really had no idea," he added, attempting to be sympathetic.

He looked earnestly at her, hoping she would recognize the effort; she softened a bit, seemingly appreciative of his intent. He relaxed a little.

"Yeah, well," she shrugged. "Why would you know that? It's not like I really endeared myself to your crowd of heroes."

He made a face. "Don't call us that," he mumbled, letting his gaze drift to the floor as he shuffled his feet uncomfortably.

"The rest of the world calls you that," she reminded him, then stopped, tossing in a derisive laugh. "Well, really, the world gives Potter most of the credit, which isn't exactly fair," she amended, and Ron looked up, startled.

"I - what?" he asked, wondering if he was being insulted.

"Well, Potter's the one who gets all the glory," she sniffed. "He always was, even though the rest of us knew perfectly well he'd have died a thousand times if not for you - " she paused. "And Granger," she conceded, making a face. "But still," she sighed. "He gets too much credit, I think."

He stared at her; she looked away, taking a long sip of wine and refusing to meet his eyes.

"Parkinson," he managed. "I - " he hesitated, wondering what to say. "Thank you," he offered weakly, and she gave him a look of such intense irritation that he almost laughed.

"Don't thank me," she told him, tsking impatiently. "Help me find someone else," she decided. "Since I presume you're not - "

He made himself shudder dramatically. "I'm definitely not," he said bluntly, though he wondered if he was as adamant about that as he had been at the beginning of the exchange.

She nodded. "Good," she declared, then straightened. "Then eyes open, Weasley, I've got a society-approved boyfriend to snare" - she paused, glaring at him as he groaned - "and you're going to help me find him."

"So," Harry ventured, listening to the sound his shoes made as he walked the courtyard with Luna, "are you and Neville" - he shrugged, hoping that was sufficiently telling - "you know? Together?"

"Oh, no," she said dreamily, giving him a little smile. "He was nervous about seeing Hannah again, so he brought me along for moral support. People have a tendency to do that," she noted, frowning slightly, "though once the opportunity for support arises, I find they're not really paying much attention to me."

"That's a shame," Harry said tentatively, wondering if he should comfort her. Ginny would expect to be comforted, he suspected, but Luna . . . he hadn't quite worked her out.

"Is it?" she asked, looking thoughtful, and he paused.

"Ye-es," he said slowly, trying to decide. "I mean, I'm sure you'll find someone," he told her kindly.

Her normally vacant eyes became startlingly sharp as she stared at him. "Harry Potter," she said, and he gulped comically in alarm, "do you think that I'm not involved with anyone because nobody wants me?"

"Uh." He turned sheepishly, looking intently at the ground. "Well, I mean, nothing quite so harsh, really, but I'd just thought - "

"Harry," she said, sparing him a little sigh of affectionate exasperation - the way Molly might sigh fondly at Arthur, for example - before placing her hands on her hips. "Do you even know where I've been for the past five years?"

"Um," he offered apologetically, realizing he hadn't the faintest idea. "I don't, but - "

"You've been busy, of course," she said gently, "so you might not have thought to ask, but I've been traveling around the world," she informed him. "Research, mostly, and writing for my father; but in the process of traveling," she continued, "I've had my fair share of intercourse."

"Intercourse," Harry repeated, finding himself displeased with the knowledge.

"Oh, sorry, I was being opaque," she said, pausing. "I'm referring to congress." She glanced at him, searching for recognition. "Sexual congress," she offered, in case the subject were still in question.

"I know what you meant," he said quickly.

"Alright then," she said, smiling. "It's just that you normally need me to explain myself."

He chuckled. "Yeah, I guess that's true," he agreed, stretching a hand up to pass it through his hair. "I didn't just mean sex, though," he clarified. "I mean, unless that's all you wanted. Er, not all," he amended hastily, a little horrified with himself, "I just - "

"It's quite alright, Harry," she interrupted cheerfully, and he sighed in relief. "I know you've been in a very meaningful relationship. I'm sure you want that for me, because we're friends." She looked at him. "Does that sound right?"

"It does," he confirmed, feeling a little silly, but also unexpectedly relaxed. "I mean, yeah. That's all I meant."

"I haven't really been interested in much more than that at the moment," she told him, looking a little bit lost in her thoughts. "I suppose I've just been waiting for someone to come around who will . . . " she trailed off, tilting her head as she stared off into nothing.

"Who will what?" Harry prompted, surprising himself with his own immense curiosity.

"Well," she said, frowning a little. "Someone who will measure up, I suppose."

"To what?" Harry asked. "To who?"

Her pale grey eyes slid to his, a delicate smile spreading over her face. "To whom, Hermione would say, I think," she said, and he laughed.

"To whom, then," he agreed.

"Well," she said again, and her smile faded slightly. "To you, I suppose."

"I'm surprised to see you here," Hermione said tentatively, attempting conversation as they walked.

"I could say the same," Draco agreed. "Or I would, anyway," he amended, "if you hadn't been so instrumental in planning everything."

"How did you know that?" she asked, glancing sideways at him. She usually made a point not to claim too much credit; she was far more comfortable in the background.

"McGonagall," he supplied, shrugging. "She mentioned it."

"You talked to Professor McGonagall?" she asked. About me? she didn't add, knowing her eagerness would inevitably color her tone.

"She had approached me for some assistance," he admitted, coughing uncomfortably. He furiously looked away as she eyed him, entertained by his unexpected coquettishness.

"Financial assistance, you mean?" she asked, then laughed, gripping his arm. "Stop hiding!"

He turned to her with a smile, leaning into her grip; she noticed what she was doing and retracted her hands, blushing.

"Yes, Granger," he said, his smile fading just slightly as she brought her hands back to her sides. "Financial assistance, as you've so crudely made a point to emphasize."

"You're being so coy about it," she noted, enjoying his obvious discomfort. "Why?"

"Well, Granger, if you must know," he sniffed. "Not every pureblood family was able to come out of the war with their fortunes intact," he explained stiffly, and she felt her teasing smile fade. "Luckily we weren't destroyed by reparations, but plenty of other families were. The Parkinsons, the Goyles, the Greengrass family - "

"Right," she said softly, biting her lip. "I'm sorry, I was being . . . thoughtless."

"I doubt you've ever had a moment without thought," he countered dubiously, though not unkindly. "But regardless, I don't blame you. It's certainly not your job to concern yourself with the losing side."

He scuffed his foot against the stone castle floor at that, and she felt the immensity of his situation suddenly weigh heavily on her.

"I guess I just assumed you were doing well," she ventured nervously, twisting her hands in her agitation. "I mean, you obviously have good standing in the Ministry - "

"Thanks in large part to McGonagall interceding on my behalf," he supplied. "And I make a rather concerted effort to donate where possible," he added, "hence the conversation about this event."

"Oh," Hermione said. "Well - "

"Granger." He paused, pulling her aside; he let his hands float over her shoulders and around her upper arms, like he wasn't sure he trusted them to land. "You really don't need to worry about me. Despite your tendency to fuss over anyone who doesn't particularly need your help," he added, and she rolled her eyes at that.

"You'll never stop teasing me about that, will you?" she sighed, though she couldn't help a smile. "I'm sure you were terribly inconvenienced by the house elf march S.P.E.W. organized, but - "

"Oh, I wasn't," he said quickly, and promptly turned scarlet.

"You weren't?" she prompted. "Why not?"

He hesitated. "I, er," he coughed, swallowing, before murmuring something entirely incoherent.

"You what?" she asked, squinting at him. "Didn't quite catch that, Malfoy."

He sighed, holding his hands up in resignation. "Fine, Granger," he barked, and she jumped. "I don't fucking have any house elves, okay?" he continued, practically at a shout. "I got rid of them after the war!"

"Why," she opened curiously, "on earth are you yelling?"

"I don't need you to mock me," he insisted, still unreasonably loud. "I hardly need to hear you laugh in my face about how you of all people convinced me to free them - despite the absolute monstrosity of a temper tantrum I anticipated from my mother, which she definitely lived up to - "

Hermione gaped at him. "Draco - "

" - and I certainly do not need to watch you give me that smug look you have, the one you always give Potter when you're snottily outsmarting him - "

"Draco!" she exclaimed, grabbing his wrists as he waved his hands about in agitation. "Draco, it's okay," she continued, her cheeks flushed with pleasure. "Draco, I promise, I'm not going to mock you."

He sighed loudly, still hesitant to meet her eyes. "You should," he muttered. "You reduced me to an absolute buffoon, you know."

"What, just now?" she asked, biting her lip to fight a broad smile. "I think that was all you, really."

"No," he said, and then his breath caught as he eyed a strand of hair that had come loose around her face as she'd reached for him. "I - before that," he explained, sighing. "I've been a buffoon for quite some time, I'm afraid."

She held her breath - and held his gaze - as he slowly reached to tuck the hair in place behind her ear, his hand slightly shaking. "I couldn't really stand the thought of having them, you know," he told her quietly. "Knowing you were working so hard, I mean. It was hard to stomach having them around, knowing how much work you put into it."

She realized now why he'd been shouting. She realized also that what he had just said was perhaps the most meaningful thing she could remember anyone having said to her; she tried to think of the last thoughtful thing Ron had done, or the last time she'd really felt valued, and she found herself coming up short when compared to the concept that Draco Malfoy had set his house elves free, and all because he couldn't stand to see her effort wasted.

"Well," she broached carefully, feeling a threatening creak in her voice, "I think I would have preferred it if you'd freed them for their sake. But," she continued, "short of that - "

"They were not overly thrilled about being freed," he informed her, raising an eyebrow. "I actually had to give them money. Last I heard they'd pooled their funds and are living somewhere in some kind of shire," he added, shrugging.

Oh, for heaven's sake, she thought, feeling her innards turn to mush. He checked in with them.

"Ah," she managed, clearing her throat. "Well then," she determined, squaring her shoulders, "I suppose your intentions were infallible," she offered, tossing in a gratuitously Malfoy-esque smirk, "and I owe you an apology."

I should kiss him, she thought, watching his mouth quirk up in a smile.

"Well, Granger," he replied, his voice husky and wam. "I would certainly agree that you do."

I am definitely going to kiss him, she thought resignedly, before deciding she was quite looking forward to it.

Ginny wasn't looking at him; Blaise decided that was an excellent sign.

"I don't want to talk to you," she said bluntly, crossing her arms over her narrow chest. "I have absolutely nothing to say to you."

"Selfish, Ginevra," Blaise sighed. "As always."

At that she glared at him, and he had to fight a smile. Irritated Ginny was only a breath away from Fiery Ginny, and Fiery Ginny would eventually find her way to his arms.

"Goodbye, Blaise," she said loudly, turning to stomp away from him. She tripped slightly on her gown but carried on, never wavering in her retreat.

Ah, she was infuriating. He loved it.

"Ginny," he called after her, catching her easily as she struggled in her formalwear, "did it occur to you that, perhaps, I might have something to say to you?"

"It did not," she snapped. "Nor will it."

"Pity, then, that you'll have to hear me out," he purred in her ear. "Only fair, really, considering how many times I've granted you favors."

She stopped abruptly, coming to a halt in the corridor. "Was fucking me the favor you think you did me?" she asked, her brown eyes narrowing.

He scoffed. "Charming," he told her, lifting an eyebrow, "but no. I was thinking more along the lines of being at your disposal," he reminded her. "Waiting for your late night owls, being at your beck and call every time you fought with Potter - "

"And then fucking me," she supplied, scowling. "One might think you should consider yourself aptly rewarded."

He found she was testing his not inconsiderable patience. "Ginny," he said, turning her to face him. "I was there for you in your darkest nights. I was there for you, every time you needed me. Was I not?" he prompted.

"You were," she permitted curtly, without a hint of remorse. "Though not without - "

"And where were you, Ginevra?" he pressed. "Where were you when I needed you? When I was waiting to hear from you?"

She hesitated, and he relished her silence, took pleasure in his triumph. "Where were you when I was at my worst?" he pressed.

"With my boyfriend," she reminded him coldly. "Where I should have been," she added. "Since you know as well as I do that I should never have come to you." She looked saddened at that, and he hated it.

"We didn't do anything wrong," he reminded her firmly. "You came to me when you broke up. You were fully broken up, there was no cheating - "

"Yes there - " she cut herself off, cursing under her breath. He watched her, waiting for her to speak.

"No, there wasn't cheating," she sighed eventually. "But - it was still wrong."

"How?" he urged. "Why?"

"Because sometimes - " she stopped, half-choking on a tiny sob of frustration, "sometimes I would look forward to a fight because of you." Her voice was quiet; just above a whisper. "Sometimes I wished he'd break it off again, because then it meant - " she cut off again, and he curled a hand under her chin, lifting it to look her in the eye.

"Say it," he murmured, and she blinked, tears forming in the corners of her eyes.

"Because it meant I could go back to you," she whispered.

"Oh, Ginevra." He pulled her into an alcove, wrapping her in his arms, tangling his fingers in her long red hair. "Why didn't you come to me?"

She sniffed into his robes. "How could I?" she asked, and the fury had made its way to her voice again. "I hadn't heard from you at all, I didn't want to just be your - your conquest, or something, your fucking prize - "

"I was trying to be considerate," he said sharply. "You had a boyfriend. It wasn't my place to force myself on you."

"But you did that just fine before!" she said, shoving him away. "You practically hounded me when you started working with the team, didn't you?"

"It was my job," he reminded her, teeth gritted slightly at her pushing him away. "I'm a publicist, Ginny, the team was a client, and you are fucking impossible to track down - "

"Oh, that's a laugh," she spat. "Like you weren't watching me? Staring at me?"

"And you weren't staring back," he countered. "Is that what you're trying to tell me?"

"I wasn't," she insisted angrily. "I couldn't, I was with - "

"I fucking know who you were with!" he shouted. "I am hugely fucking aware that you were with Potter, considering that I had to see you with him in every newspaper, every magazine, as every topic of goddamn conversation - "

"Stop yelling," she told him, though a look of desperation crossed her face, "please stop - "

"It didn't matter to you that every road you took came back to me," he told her, not bothering to feel ashamed of the pain in his voice. "It never fucking mattered to you what you did to me, when things were hard for me and I - " he broke off, struggling. "I had no one - "

"You lost your mother," she interrupted, cupping her hand around the jut of his cheek as her eyes filled with sorrow. "I know. I know how much she meant to you," she said softly. "I couldn't stop thinking about you when I heard."

"You knew," he agreed, feeling a stinging pain at the words. "But you weren't there."

"I wasn't," she murmured, but lifted her chin. "I couldn't," she said again, and he sighed, taking a step back from her.

He thought about leaving. About walking away from her, washing his hands of her. It would be the best thing, really; what was he expecting from her? She'd never really known what she wanted. She wasn't naturally very selfless, which he knew quite well - he'd always admired her for her flaming sense of self, her stunning confidence, her relentless pursuit of her own desires. He couldn't ask more from her than she could give; it wasn't right.

He moved to exit the alcove, hanging his head. "I'm sorry I yelled," he sighed. "And - "

"I should have been there for you," she cut in suddenly, and he paused mid-stride. "I wanted things to work with Harry, I didn't want to hurt him, but - "

He pivoted, looking back at her. "But?" he prompted, swallowing with difficulty, barely daring to breathe.

"But I thought of you," she confessed. "I thought of you every waking moment, I swear, I dreamt you every night - I missed you and I hated you, hated you for not writing to me, or coming to see me, for not taking me away from everything - "

"I'm here now," he interrupted, teeming with want as he stepped towards her, pressing her back against the wall. "I'm here now."

"Don't let me go," she said breathlessly, and he let out a growl as he bent to press his lips to hers.

"Theo," Daphne seethed, "what are you thinking? What are you doing?"

"Trying to indulge in a little thoughtful conversation," he said obnoxiously, and she, fidgeting in her anger, considered whether she was capable of throwing a punch that would land.

Undignified, she concluded after a moment, figuring it wouldn't do much for her image.

"Theo," she said again, attempting to simulate patience, "have you perhaps suffered a head injury? Is it possible," she added, "that you may have lost your fucking mind?"

"You know, in the immensity of my experience, I find it best not to rule out any possibilities," he replied, and she felt her hand clench in a fist.

"You know I need this," she warned. "You know how important this is to me."

"Potter?" he asked, scoffing. "You've only just discovered he's even an option," he said skeptically. "How am I to know he's suddenly important to you?"

"Not him!" she snapped. "You know - "

She stopped, realizing they had attracted attention; she grabbed Theo's arm, pulling him into the corridor. "You know I need to find someone," she hissed. "I'm worried about Astoria; my mother never lets her out of the house, and she ought to have some prospects by now - "

"Salazar's balls, what a romance," Theo drawled. "What stunning poetry, the pairing that is you and Potter; what spectacular enchantment - "

"You can mock me all you want, Theo," Daphne said furiously, nudging her skirt back to step towards him and jabbing her finger into his chest. "I don't mind it, you know, I can take it - "

"I know you can," he assured her, and she raised her finger to point it in his face.

"You might think I'm some stupid pureblood snob who needs a husband," she started, then paused. Pureblood? Check. Snob? Check. In need of a husband?

"Oh fuck," she muttered, bringing her hand to her mouth. "That's - fuck. That's precisely what I am, isn't it?"

She looked up, catching his eyes as they grew large with concern. "Theo, I'm just an idiot pureblood who needs to marry rich, aren't I?" she gasped. "Oh no, oh no - "

"No, no," he interrupted hastily, gripping her arms. "No, Daphne, not at all - "

"Oh no," she wailed. "I thought I had the right intentions - do I not?" she gasped, thinking of how she'd been prepared to throw herself at Harry Potter's feet, all so that - what? So that she could trick him into marrying her? Just to make her life a little easier? So that people she didn't even care about wouldn't look down on her?

"Whoa, hold on," Theo said urgently, bending slightly to look her in the eye. "Breathe, Daph, come on - you're okay, you're fine - "

What had she been thinking? And now, of course -

"Oh, and now I can't even do that!" she yelled, turning back to him as she remembered who she was really angry with. "I was about to do something stupid and selfish and I didn't even accomplish it because you had to interfere! And - "

The rest of the sentence, whatever it was going to be, escaped into his mouth. She blinked for a moment before she realized he was kissing her, his hands cupping her face and then moving into her hair; it took another moment before she realized she was actually enjoying his kiss. Melting in it, really; and as his tongue slipped against hers she felt herself sigh into his mouth, drooping helplessly against him until -

"Wait," she gasped, shoving him away. "Theo, what - "

"Sorry," he said instantly, his face turning red. "I was only - "

"I'm not here for you to play games with," she snapped, bringing a hand to her swollen lips. "Theo, someone could have seen that - I would have been humiliated - "

"Why?" he insisted, his eyes flashing. "I'm humiliating?"

"I'm not one of your stupid" - she stammered, trying to think of an appropriately hurtful term - "book groupies, Theo! I'm not going to suck your 'bad boy' dick just because every other woman in the world is bizarrely captivated by your firsthand account of the dark side of the war," she spat nonsensically, "or whatever that thing is about - "

"My 'bad boy' dick?" he echoed, his face helplessly pained. "Dark side of the - " he stopped, shaking his head. "You really didn't fucking read it, did you?" He barked out a sharply unpleasant laugh. "Not even the back cover, did you?"

"What, your book?" she asked, scoffing. "Of course not, Theo, I'm not exactly in a hurry to read your vanity project about - "

"Vanity project?"

She felt her breath catch as his green eyes went wide with disbelief. "Well," she muttered, stumbling a little, "I meant - "

"You," he interrupted furiously, "can fuck right off, Daphne Greengrass."

He turned away, took five steps, and then paused, swiveling to look back at her. He pulled at his mouth for a moment, his expression tense as he considered her.

"I wrote that book for you," he intoned flatly, and it shot like an arrow through her chest. "You might as well know that now, seeing as everyone else does." He laughed a little; a jarring, maniacal laugh. "Fuck me, right?"

She stepped forward, knowing she'd done something awful. "Theo," she begged.

He shook his head. "No," he told her firmly. "No."

With a final pained grimace, he pivoted back around, striding angrily into the hall and leaving Daphne behind, her heart still pounding from his kiss.

Draco noted with pleasure that Granger was looking repeatedly at his mouth; he considered it a victory, and one that was made considerably more crucial by the fact that he'd nearly humiliated himself over the whole elf debacle. Fuck, he was an utter fool. Thank fucking Merlin she seemed not to mind.

He glanced at her again, fighting a smile as their gazes locked.

I'm so fucking glad you finally broke up with Weasley, he imagined telling her. Do you know how long I've waited? How long I've wanted -

"Oh," she murmured, a jittery look of nerves passing over her face as she bit her lip. "Sorry, I didn't really realize where I'd been walking," she said hesitantly, glancing at him. "Is this - "

She trailed off, and he realized with a jolt what her concern had been. They were heading up to the Astronomy Tower.

"Oh," he echoed faintly. "I haven't been here since - "

"I thought as much," she admitted, looking sheepishly at her feet. "We can go somewhere else, if you'd rather," she assured him. "It's a big castle," she added, the warmth of a playful smile blossoming in her cheeks.

Nah. Let her see. "It's okay," he told her. "The view from up there is pretty spectacular, and anyway, it's" - he paused, inhaling sharply - "it's been long enough, I think."

She nodded. If anyone was going to understand, it was probably going to be her. They took the steps in silence, but she occasionally let her eyes drop to his hand, as though she considered she might take it in hers; he wished she would. He knew she would not.

The night air was cool on his face, and Draco found himself surprised by how little he actually remembered of the fateful night in the tower. Perhaps he'd pushed it out; perhaps she'd done it for him.

"It really is beautiful up here," she said, and he nodded, standing beside her as they looked over the castle grounds.

"It is," he agreed. "This whole castle is beautiful," he added, holding his hand up and letting the wind brush his fingertips. "It's home."

They stood together for a moment in silence; a comfortable silence. A rarity in his life. He found himself grateful to her for it.

"It's so strange being back here," she confessed. "I've been back before, of course, but now, with everything sort of" - she hesitated - "put back together, you know - "

"It almost feels like nothing's changed at all," he supplied, and she nodded.

"Yes," she sighed. "Almost like none of it happened." Her lips dipped into a thoughtful frown. "I can't decide if that's a good or bad thing."

"Well, it definitely did happen," he reminded her. "Some of us have to live with that every day," he added grimly, and her eyes traveled slowly to his.

"What was it like?" she whispered. "How did you - "

"Where do I begin," he joked. "The rubble, or my sins?"

The look she gave him was soft; almost tender.

"I was caught up in the dust settling around me," he offered, thinking she deserved the truth. "Lost in my vices. My prejudices. And by the time I knew I was wrong - "

She nodded. She understood.

"Would you do it differently?" she asked. "If you could do it over?"

They were facing each other now; she was the view.

"It depends," he confessed. "It's hard to go back, you know, without knowing what I know now. But maybe if - "

He trailed off. Maybe if you'd been there, I could have done it differently.

"Sometimes I feel like I can just go back," she whispered. "Like if I closed my eyes, it would almost feel like I've been here before."

He closed his eyes, feeling the need to oblige her in her moment of whimsy; he thought for a moment he had gone back, back to being young and thoughtless -

He inhaled sharply as the smell of her, the faint scent of vanilla and gardenias, suddenly breezed around him and she touched her lips to his, her hands braced gently on his chest as she leaned towards him, reminding him why he was glad to have suffered as he did. He kissed her back but kept his hands at his side, letting her be the one to direct him; she reached up to caress his jaw and he leaned into her touch, shivering as she traced her tongue across his lower lip. It was a ghost of a kiss, really, but it was entirely her; as warm and inviting as it was strange and enigmatic.

She pulled away and he felt her vacancy like a punch to the gut; he sighed, keeping his eyes closed, willing himself to maintain some semblance of cool.

"Granger," he said hoarsely, letting his eyes flutter open. "I - "

He frowned. "Granger?" he asked, looking around.

Nothing. She was gone.

"DAMN IT, GRANGER!" he swore, peevishly crossing his arms over his chest.

"What about Dean?" Pansy asked, jutting her chin out to reference him.

"Gay," Weasley said bluntly. "Or have you not heard his more common moniker? Dean, as in Dean 'and Seamus'?"

"Ah, rats," she said, pouting. "I thought this would be easier."

"You're bloody telling me," he muttered. "Believe me, I'm not overly thrilled about being single either."

Pansy made a distinctly unpleasant gagging sound. "Don't tell me you're pining over Granger," she said, making a face. "If you are, I'm leaving."

He gave her a weary look of impatience. "I'm not pining," he said, "but I'm not thrilled about my options. I would have been relieved to be done with the whole thing," he added, waving his arm wildly. Pansy giggled.

"It is pretty sad," she admitted. "Pickings are slim."

"Slim is an understatement," he scoffed. "Who's even left?" he asked, his blue eyes scanning the remaining women in the room.

"Excuse me," she sniffed, bristling at the motion, "but we have to pick someone for me before I spend any of my valuable time on you."

"You generous angel," he drawled, lifting his glass for a drink. "You charming pixie."

"I am both those things," she agreed. "Good on you for noticing."

"I'm surprised you didn't try your hand at Harry," Weasley remarked. "Or did you rightfully suspect that 'he's there, grab him' is not the love story of the century?"

Pansy felt her cheeks redden and scowled, less than appreciative of the reminder. "I could have won him over," she sniffed, "but Daphne - "

She felt herself blush again and ducked her head, taking a sip of wine. Weasley, however, was still looking intently at her.

"Daphne what?" he prodded, in his crude, direct sort of way.

She sighed. "Don't tell anyone, okay?" she asked, not sure why she was revealing anything to him, but resolving to continue at his nod. "She's sort of in the same position I am. You know, needing someone," she explained, and he nodded a second time. "But it's worse for her, since she supports her family, and she has her sister, and - "

She cut off, realizing he was smiling at her. "What?" she snapped. "You have a stupid look on your face," she informed him, raising her glass to her lips. "I don't care for it."

"Sorry," he said, chuckling. "It's just - I didn't realize."

"Realize what?" she asked sharply, not insignificantly put out by his laughter.

"That you're so," he paused, thinking. "Soft, I guess."

She gaped at him. "Soft?" she echoed, her eyes wide. "Oh, fuck you, Weasley."

"What?" he said, still laughing. "Come on, Parkinson. You care about your friend. It's cute."

"Cute?" she repeated, realizing her hand was clutching her chest as though he'd insulted her mother's pedigree. "I - I can't - "

He was laughing harder now, and she was stunned; feeling herself out of options, she reached out on instinct, abruptly slapping him across the face.

"Bloody hell!" he exclaimed, doubling over. "What the - "

"Oh stop," she said breathlessly, though she couldn't quite identify where the impulse had come from. "You're fine."

"I know I'm fine," he snapped, glaring at her. "That doesn't mean you need to violate my face."

"Violate your - " she cut off, realizing she was giggling now, and even he looked entertained, his cheeks red from both her hand and his fit of laughter.

"That should teach you to call me cute," she informed him steadily, but she was pleased to see he had taken it quite well, rubbing his face and shaking his head.

"Consider myself taught," he rumbled, his eyes flicking to hers as he fought a smile. "Fuck, Parkinson. Your future husband is a lucky man," he drawled sarcastically, taking a very loud sip of wine.

"I'm aware," she replied drily, then dragged her gaze away from his face - which was really not so bad, once you got past the whole Weasley thing; he was at least better looking than his brothers - to analyze the room. "What about him?" she asked, motioning to Justin Finch-Fletchley.

Weasley raised an eyebrow. "Really?" he asked.

She made a face. "No," she agreed. "Terry?"

He made a face this time. "I guess," he sniffed. "If you're in the market for a total prat, I suppose."

"I opened with you," she reminded him. "My defenses are down."

"Stop, I'm blushing," he remarked into his glass, rolling his eyes.

"Oh," she said, catching sight of Michael Corner; she backhanded Weasley in the stomach, prompting him to cough up his swallow of wine. "Him?"

"Fuck, Parkinson," he choked, "you're not safe to be around - "

"What do you think?" she asked. "Corner could work, right?"

"Um," he said, clearing his throat and emitting a single, throat-vacating cough, "sure."

She looked warily at him. "No?"

"I mean, sure," he said again, shrugging. "He's got a good family, he's done pretty well for himself after the war, he's at least interested in women - "

She took a deep breath, trying to steady herself. "Okay," she said, fidgeting with her fingernails. "Good then." She glanced back at Weasley. "Do I look okay?"

She heard it; the insecurity in her voice. She heard it slip, and she knew he heard it too, and she hated herself for a moment, furious with her own vulnerability; she realized her hand had risen to her nose and she cursed herself again, wishing she didn't think about it so much.

"Hey," he said hastily, pulling her hand from her face. "Look, I was a dick earlier, but you look really pretty, okay?"

She nodded dumbly, wishing she could slap him again. Was there cause? Was cause necessary?

"You're clever, and you're funny, and if he has quick reflexes, then he's a lucky guy," Weasley added, and she realized she was smiling at him, and he was smiling at her, and they were smiling at each other.

Like idiots.

She wiped her face clear of emotion.

"Bye," she said impassively, but he was still smiling, his eyes on her lips.

"Bye," he said, and she turned and walked away, wondering if he was still watching.

The moment Blaise's lips met hers, Ginny was met with a vigorous flashback of herself. At that bar. That horrid bar, where she was just trying to have a goddamn drink, and forget for five seconds about her breakup with Harry.

The first one.

They were fighting about how much she was on the road with the team, or something. She barely remembered that part. You'd think she would; you would think it would matter, what she and the supposed love of her life had fought about, but fuck if she knew. All she remembered was having to turn around and get back on the road, and she and the girls were at that fuckinghorrid bar, somewhere in Spain, and Blaise was there.

Fucking Blaise was there.

He was right; it was his job. He wasn't there for her. She knew it, and the rest of the team knew it, and they were crawling all over him, and she hated it. They were trying to sweet talk him into shots and he was smiling, happy with the attention, his handsome face alit with pleasure as they practically groped him. Fucking Harpies.

Ginny was on her fourth drink - or fifth? - by the time she'd had enough. Losing Harry was one thing, but didn't those bitches know Blaise was hers? He wasn't some team mascot; it was her he always looked at.

She had been drunk and sad and watching his perfect smile and perfect eyes and thinking for the first time that he should be hers.

Hey, she'd said, grabbing him by the collar. I need to talk to you.

He'd politely obliged, rising to his feet and making vaguely coaxing apologies to the other girls as he followed her outside; she knew he would follow and so she wandered into the alley, looking for privacy and finding it.

What is it? he asked, with a smile so perfect that it nearly split open her chest.

I want you to kiss me, she told him. I want you to kiss me like I'm the only fucking girl in this bar. I want you to kiss me so that I don't think about anything else, or anyone. I want you to kiss me so that I forget my name, or who I am -

That, he interrupted firmly, is the only way I would ever think to kiss you.

And he did, and she did a lot more than kiss him.

And they did it a lot more than once.

And now it was just like then only better, only with more heat and more spark and more longing; he whispered a few charms to keep people away and then he was on his knees, her gown pushed up to her hips, his breath hot on the inside of her thigh as he trailed his tongue along her clit. Just how she liked it.

Just how he knew she liked it.

She saw sparks behind her eyelids and then he was on his feet, his trousers unzipped and then he was fucking her in the alcove, in her stupidly expensive dress, with her friends and ex-boyfriend just a few feet away; and she was whispering his name in his ear, over and over, thinking about the first time.

Don't make this complicated, she'd said.

I wouldn't, he replied, smiling. The smug bastard.

You're cool, but I'm cooler, she informed him between kisses. You're pretty, but I'm cuter.

And smarter, he generously agreed, his hands tearing open her blouse.

They managed one of those miraculous simultaneous climaxes and collapsed against each other, their foreheads pressed together as he sank to the floor, her legs still wrapped around his hips and his cock still inside her.

"That," she said hoarsely, "was perfect."

He nodded, still breathless.

"The perfect goodbye," she whispered, pressing her lips against his still-closed eyelids.

He leaned back sharply, yanking her head back by her hair.

"What the fuck do you mean goodbye?" he demanded, his eyes flashing with fury.

Theo marched straight to Draco, who was breathless as he raced into the hall.

"Have you seen her?" Draco asked frantically, panting. "Is she - "

"She didn't read the book!" Theo shouted. "She thinks it's about the war!"

There was a clatter around them as people noisily shuffled around, trying to identify the source of the yelling; Draco grabbed Theo's shoulder, pulling him into the corridor and heading for the courtyard.

"You're a famous author now," Draco reminded him sternly, muttering in his ear. "You can't just go around yelling about things now that people are aware you're not one of the tapestries."

"She didn't read it," he repeated, at an only slightly lower volume because fuck you, Draco!

"Well, that's a real jab to the gut, isn't it?" Draco sighed, coming to a reluctant stop outside. "Sorry, mate."

"The jab to the gut is the idea that she could have somehow failed to notice my existence for over twenty years," Theo scowled. "Her failure to read the book, on the other hand, is a fucking twist of the knife."

They didn't say anything for a moment, both marinating silently in Theo's suffering. Arsehole though he generally was, Draco was still Theo's best friend, and he knew the catastrophic depths of Theo's disappointment without having to be told.

"You could have tried a more direct way of getting her attention," Draco suggested hesitantly, not meeting Theo's eyes.

"What, like calling her a mudblood for six years?" Theo countered, and Draco rightfully turned pale.

"Maybe not that," Draco permitted, coolly overlooking the slight. "But I'm not sure the book was an entirely practical plan."

"The book wasn't just to get her attention," Theo mumbled, and Draco eyed him expectantly.

"Then what was it for, if not that?" Draco prodded, nudging him. "Was it just your muse revealing itself for the first time, then?"

"It was - " Theo cut himself off, fearing impending judgment.

"Oh, fucking say it," Draco snapped, and Theo glared at him.

"It was to bring me back into the public's good graces, okay?" he said tightly. "My father was shitty and then everyone assumed I was shitty and I wanted to prove I wasn't, and I did it so that someday, she might consider me - " he paused, sighing again. Draco stood quietly, waiting for him to finish his thought.

"I wanted the book to do well so that someday she might consider me a real option," Theo confessed. "Which," he added, looking up to glare at Draco, "I'm aware makes me out to be a giant fucking fool."

Draco let out a lengthy exhale, smoothing his hair back in thought. "I'm not going to lie to you," he said, after about a minute of silence. "That is what one might call an overly complex plan."

"I know," Theo agreed, grimacing.

"Like, far too complex, honestly - "

"I'm fucking aware!" Theo exclaimed, glaring at him. "It has already been brought to my attention that I'm a dumb twat, I'm perfectly clear on that," he snapped. "And I know you think it's stupid - "

"What, the book?" Draco asked, furrowing his brow.

"Yes, fucking yes, the book," Theo spat irritably, shaking his head. "You certainly made that clear, since you complain about it constantly - "

"It's a good fucking book," Draco interrupted, shrugging.

Theo gaped at him, confused. "It is?"

"It's my favorite fucking book, you silly cunt," Draco sighed, throwing an arm over his shoulder. "I can't believe you didn't know that."

"Of course I didn't fucking know that," Theo grumbled. "I don't think you bothered to actually tell me."

"Funny what misconceptions a person can have when not explicitly told things," Draco mused, nudging him again. "Isn't it?"

"Hilarious," Theo agreed, pouting.

He felt a little bit better, but in some ways, ten times worse; there was nothing more infuriating, after all, than Draco managing to make an elegantly argued point.

"Me," Harry repeated. "Me?"

Luna tilted her head, trying to make sense of his confusion. "Yes," she said, waiting. Perhaps he just needed time to sort it out.

"I don't understand," Harry said slowly, and Luna smiled. She had never met anyone else so willing to admit their own confusion; it was one of the things she quite enjoyed about him.

"Which part?" she asked patiently.

"I guess all of it," he admitted, then stopped. "No, wait. I guess my question is - " he paused again, squinting at her. "Are you trying to tell me you have feelings for me?"

"I have a wide variety of feelings for you," she confirmed, nodding. "Fondness, primarily, though a great deal of admiration - "

"No, sorry," he said quickly. "I mean," he amended, "do you like me?"

"I like you a great deal," she supplied, nodding. "It's definitely one of the feelings."

"No," he said again, though he laughed this time. "Sorry, I hadn't realized how so much of the things people say is really just dodging the point."

She nodded, trying to coax him with a smile. "Take your time," she said.

He took a deep breath. "Okay," he sighed, smiling as he exhaled. "What I want to ask you," he began uncertainly, and she nodded her encouragement, "is whether you are trying to tell me that you are interested in me. For dating," he suggested. "Or, I suppose, for - "

He trailed off.

"Sex," she supplied. "Is that the word you're looking for?"

"It is," he confirmed, nodding, and then laughed at himself again. "Sorry, I really thought I had it that time."

"You don't need to be sorry," she said. "I suppose I may not have made that clear before, which is my fault. Oh!" she exclaimed, feeling the weight of something settle in her chest. "I think I'm just realizing that I should have told you sooner." She smiled. "It's so nice to put a name to the feeling. Really lessens the risk of nargles," she added, looking around to make sure there were none in sight.

Her eyes lowered to rest on Harry, whose head was bent; he looked lost in thought, and she reached out, touching his wrist. "Harry?" she asked.

When he looked up at her, there was something new in his green eyes; something she hadn't seen before, though she'd seen it before in other people. It was warm, and yet it made her shiver a little.

"Why me?" he asked her, and she thought he sounded a little bit afraid; it made her reach out for him, and he took her hand, slipping his fingers between hers.

"You're kind," she told him, stepping in closer. He seemed to want her there. "You fight for people that you love," she added, "and you never let anyone stop you."

"Ah," he said, and then her hands were on his waist, and his were resting lightly on her ribs. "Ginny always hated that about me."

"Ginny is a flower," Luna explained softly. "And you're a flower, too."

He frowned, a little half-laughing frown, as his hands moved to join behind her back. "Are you saying I'm not very manly?"

"No!" Luna exclaimed, feeling her cheeks warm as he pulled her into the circle of his arms. "No, but a flower needs a gardener. Someone to help it bloom, help it grow."

"So two flowers," he mused. "Not good?"

"Beautiful," she said. "Flowers are beautiful, and everyone wants a flower."

"But?" he prompted, smiling at her. "Are you a flower?"

"Me? No," she laughed. "I'm a gardener. Well," she said, pausing. "For you, anyway. For you, I'm a gardener."

"You are, aren't you?" he murmured, and she rested her head against his chest, her heart beginning to pound as he leaned down to speak into her ear.

"I think," she said quietly, tilting her head up to look at him, "that I was correct. I have been looking for someone to measure up to you," she decided, nodding. "Someone just like you," she repeated quietly.

"Is there any chance," Harry said, and then cleared his throat. "Is there a possibility, I mean, that maybe what you were looking for is actually . . . me?"

She felt a rush of something then; the Harry feeling. She had only ever felt it with him, and she'd never really known what it was, but she was content to call it the Harry feeling, and let that be that. Seemed overly tiresome to question it, but she was glad to be feeling it again.

"Harry," she said suddenly, feeling something sneaky in her bones, "what time is it?"

He shifted her in his arms, checking his watch. "11:11," he said, and then smiled. "Muggles have a tradition for that, you know."

She smiled too. "I know it," she agreed, briefly shutting her eyes.

Please, let it be Harry.

Chapter Text

Reunion, Pt. III

Pairing: Dramione (Draco x Hermione), Ronsy (Ron x Pansy), Nottgrass (Theo x Daphne), Blinny (Blaise x Ginny), Pottgood (Harry x Luna)

Universe: Post-Hogwarts, EWE

Rating: M for language, sexual scenes

Summary: Continuation of chapter 21, Reunion, Pt. I. The class of 1998 meets up for their 5 year reunion, and all's well that ends well.

Daphne wandered blindly through the castle, wondering whether to be furious or devastated.

Was she really so out of line? she thought morosely, making a face at her dress as it glittered in the dim lighting of the corridor. It had been so lovely and full of promise when she'd put it on, and now it just seemed gaudy and gratuitous. Like you, she told herself fiercely. All sparkle and no substance.

She was turning the corner, fighting tears, when she was suddenly hit by a tiny, sprinting figure in an equally blinding shimmer, causing Daphne to stumble and their dresses to become hopelessly tangled.

"Stupid gown," the other woman growled, looking up, and Daphne swallowed a gasp.

"Oh," Daphne said, wiping at her eyes. "Sorry, Gr- er. Hermione."

"Oh," Granger said nervously, "I'm sorry, I um - " she continued fidgeting, trying to unhook the snagged beading, "I'm so sorry, I didn't see you coming - "

"It's just as much my fault," Daphne muttered apologetically, marveling at how lovely Granger had gotten since they'd last seen each other. Not that she could ever admit such a thing out loud, being Pansy's best friend. "This is hardly the worst thing to happen to me this evening," she added, biting her trembling lip.

Granger looked up at that, pausing. "Oh," she said quietly, and her overlarge brown eyes softened. "Is everything alright?"

"Yes, yes, everything is magnificent," Daphne sniffed, raising her arm so that Granger might have better access to the snag on her bodice. "I've only been completely horrible to someone who means a great deal to me, and have insulted his book, of course, which I didn't read, because I'm an illiterate degenerate who apparently has no heart - "

At that, Granger finally managed to unhook the snagged fabric and sighed. "You don't mean Theo Nott, do you?"

Daphne let out a frustrated wail, sinking to the floor. "He was right," she sobbed, fanning her skirts out and letting her head lean back against the wall, covering her face with her hands. "Everyone knew, except me!" She let her hands fall, suddenly exhausted. "Stupid me."

Granger hesitated for a moment, but then settled herself carefully beside Daphne on the floor. "Well," she said delicately, "I don't really know if everyone knew."

"You knew," Daphne sniffed, crossing her arms over her chest. "You read it?"

"I did," Granger said slowly. "I was, um." She paused, her face reddening.

"You're witnessing the entire collapse of my psyche here, Granger," Daphne said desperately. "You could at least have mercy on me and share."

"Right, right," Granger said nervously, toying with her fingernails and sighing loudly. "I suppose that's fair."

She looked away for a moment, and Daphne, in her impatience, cleared her throat.

"Right, sorry," Granger said instantly, blushing again. "Well, fine. The truth is, I bought Theo's book because I thought that someone else might, um, make an appearance in it." She stared resolutely at a spot on the floor, not acknowledging Daphne's curious grin. "A friend of his."

"Ah," Daphne said, unable to prevent a tiny chuckle of amusement.

"Anyway," Granger said quickly, "I was expecting it to be about his life or something. Theo's, I mean. A memoir of some sort, I guess - "

"Right?!" Daphne exclaimed, straightening. "Sorry, go on."

" - but it wasn't," Granger continued, looking a bit professorial in her assertion. "It was actually this very lovely, very sensitive study on love," she admitted, and Daphne felt her heart sink in her chest. "It was quite moving, if I'm being honest." Granger looked up, meeting Daphne's eye. "It makes a lot of sense to me that it would be about you."

"I wish I had read it," Daphne said, sighing desperately. "I feel just terrible now, and I - "

"Well," Granger said slowly, "I do have a copy." She picked up her small beaded bag and opened it, reaching so far inside that her arm nearly disappeared.

"Don't you work for the Ministry?" Daphne commented, puzzled. "Isn't that - "

"Do you want the book or not?" Granger interrupted curtly, pulling her arm out and offering it to her. The cover was the same as the many copies Daphne had seen in shop windows; the same plain navy cover with the gold embossed print. A Sky Full of Stars by Theodore Nott.

"Yes," Daphne grumbled, holding a hand out, and Granger placed it in her waiting palm.

She felt a little flutter in her chest at the prospect of holding it and turned eagerly to one of the pages that Granger had dog-eared, holding her breath.

He envied the sun on her face. He envied the fabric on her skin, the words on her lips. He envied more than anything the men who had learned how to make her moan; whose names had escaped, breathless, traipsing off her tongue. Whether many or few, he envied them. He envied their closeness, envied the air they breathed, the lives they led, that they had been there to capture it; the sound of her, of yes, yes, more, harder, deeper - for how many times had he longed to run his tongue along her

"Oh," Granger said, her cheeks tinted pink. "Sorry. That's for something else." She took the book back from Daphne and sought out a different page, handing it back to her. "Try this."

Daphne, who could not fight a smirk at that, nodded silently and bent her head to read the passage.

Love is truly the most humbling force in the world, he learned, bowing his head below the sky full of stars. You imagine there is someone out there whose heart was crafted for yours, whose body was designed to tuck itself into the acuteness of your angles. And then you realize you are wrong - you are so very, very wrong - for how could you be the one for her? How could you be the one for her, when you are so crude, so flawed? And then you learn, in love, that you are destined for pain; for however bright her eyes shine, you and your flaws - and the many ways in which you are a fool - can only be dull in them.

Daphne looked up in alarm. "Oh," she said softly, bringing a hand to her lips.

"What is it?" Granger asked, but Daphne closed her eyes.

You talk about that Nott boy too much, her mother scolded. I don't want you hanging around with him.

Why not? Daphne pleaded. Theo's my friend, Mother, and he -

His family is nothing but worthless, arrogant tyrants, her mother replied angrily. His father is a monster and he will be too. Just watch.

No! Daphne cried, horrified. Not him, Mother, I swear, you don't know him, you don't know what he's like with me -

I know the apple never falls far from the tree, and I know he and his father are well on their way to ruin, her mother warned. Believe me, dear, she cooed, twisting one of Daphne's dark auburn waves around her finger,you don't want a boy like that.

Daphne reached up, finding that Granger's arms were around her and that she was crying, remembering the way she used to feel; the way she might have felt, if she hadn't been so concerned with following the guidelines her name and family had determined for her.

"He's always been my friend," she whispered, resting her forehead on Granger's shoulder. "I didn't think I could let myself - "

"I know the feeling," Granger murmured, nodding. "But things are different now, aren't they?"

"They are," Daphne said, pulling away. She waited for a moment, seeing the genuine look of encouragement on Granger's face, before wiping her eyes dry and smiling.

"Thank you," she said quietly, reaching out to grip one of Granger's hands. "I really appreciate you being so nice to me."

"Oh, no," Granger said, shrugging and looking away. She really was infuriatingly humble, considering. "It's really nothing, I just - "

"Do you know why Pansy hated you so much in school?" Daphne interrupted, deciding to give back a little. It was only right, really, even if Pansy hated her for it. She would get over it.

Granger, not unpredictably, made a face. "Because I was a hopeless little swot," she sighed, "and incurably bossy."

Daphne laughed, rising to her feet and offering Granger a hand, which she accepted. "No," Daphne corrected primly, squeezing her fingers once before releasing them. "Not at all, actually."

"Oh no, something worse?" Granger joked, rolling her eyes.

Daphne laughed again and leaned in, turning to speak directly into her ear. "It's because Draco wouldn't stop staring at you," she whispered, then offered her a wink and strode away, ready to make amends with her new favorite author.

Hermione stood alone in the corridor for a moment, smiling after Daphne, before it occurred to her that she was wasting valuable time.

She was still buzzing from the knowledge that she had finally done it. She had finally kissed Draco Malfoy after years of curiosity, of countless awkward too-long stares and constant thrills of panic when they accidentally touched; after so long of no, don't do it, don't think about it, it had finally happened, and it had been breathtaking and perfect and she had yet to recover - not that running down the stairs had helped in that.

But of course the moment it happened, the moment she realized that kiss was what she had been waiting for - that it was one reason among many that Ron had been . . . not quite right - was the same moment she felt a paralyzing pang of guilt, recognizing vaguely that before she kissed him again - or more than that, as more was surely coming - she had some logistics to sort out. She had to regain her capacity to think straight, and surely there was no way she could do that in the presence of Draco Malfoy, whose lips and face and hands were, with certainty, going to prove distracting.

She shook her head quickly, resolving to recover her ability to process. Did abandoning him in the tower now seem highly illogical? Yes. Did she desperately need the time to think that running around the castle had permitted her? Yes. Should she stop standing pointlessly in this corridor and sort herself out?

Resounding yes.

She took off for the Great Hall and caught the subject of her attention, yanking him to the side.

"Hey!" Ron grunted, scowling. "What is with the women of Hogwarts deciding to manhandle me tonight?"

"Do me a favor and don't explain what that means," Hermione sniffed impatiently. "I just need to tell you something, as I think it's best if I deliver it myself rather than you hearing through the rumor mill that - "

"Yes, go ahead, date Malfoy," Ron cut in with a grumble, rolling his eyes.

"I - what?" Hermione squawked, gaping at him. "Where on earth," she added, "did you come up with such a grossly miscalculated, totally far-fetched - "

"Mione," Ron said, gripping her hands and giving her an exceedingly stern look that, really, she might have given him. "I have known you for thirteen years."

"Yes," she replied, pursing her lips. "And?"

"And I have had the great benefit of learning your little ticks," he continued, patting the top of her head, "and the great misfortune of watching you stare at him for the last couple of years. Combined with my not inconsiderable ability to put two and two together - "

"I never stared at him!" she insisted, drawing her hand defensively to her chest. "I was nothing but completely faithful to you, Ronald - "

"I know that," he interrupted gently, a rare tone of affection returning to his voice for the first time in months. "I know you were, and I know you loved me."

She withered a little, sighing. "I did," she said softly. "I really did."

"And I loved you," he said adamantly, lifting her chin to look her in the eye. "And I still love you as my best friend, Mione, and I always will. I just - " he paused, a slow, languid grin spreading over his lips. "I look forward to being with someone who actually lets me make them happy."

She smiled at that; a sad smile, at the somewhat deflating idea that they were never going to be Ron and Hermione again, but a smile nonetheless.

"I want that for you," she told him. "I really do."

"And I want you to be with someone who can keep up with you," Ron said, shrugging. "Who wants to keep up with you, I guess I should say," he amended thoughtfully, before looking intently at her. "If that's Malfoy, then fine. He seems to have gotten his overall twatting under control in recent years."

"Ron," Hermione groaned. "Really?"

"His general fuckery has been greatly diminished," Ron said loudly, and she brought her hand to her face, massaging her temple.

"Fine," she said curtly, sensing they'd reached their limit of purposeful discourse. "As long as you're not totally destroyed over it - "

"Broken," Ron said dramatically, feigning a stab to the chest. "Bleeding all over the floor - "

"Then I'm going to go for it," she cut in, lifting her chin. "Give me that," she added, gesturing to his glass, and he relinquished it with a scowl. "I need this."

"I need it more," he grumbled, his eyes straying across the room.

"Why?" Hermione said suspiciously, furrowing her brow as she watched him. "What's going on with you?"

"Nothing," he muttered, clearly lying.

"Ronald," she said warningly, glaring at him.

"Let me just say, I am not going to miss that ball-shriveling look of yours," he said, but at her stomp of impatience, he sighed. "Fine. I just - " he looked at the floor. "I had a thing. Maybe a thing. I don't know."

"What kind of thing?" Hermione asked, nudging him. "Are we talking a crush, or an ulcer?"

"Honestly, both," Ron said, making a face. "Pansy Parkinson," he finally said, scuffing his foot guiltily against the floor.

"Oh," Hermione said, surprised; but upon further reflection, she began nodding slowly. "She is your type," she said slowly. "Controlling and shrill."

"Look what you did to me," Ron sighed in agreement. "I'm ruined."

"Honestly, I think your mother did that," Hermione told him, grimacing. "Well," she sighed, "if I'm going to try something with Draco, I don't see why you wouldn't try something with Pansy." The words sank in and she looked up at him, her expression pained. "Are we insane? Are we terrible masochists?"

"I definitely am," Ron assured her grimly. "I sent Parkinson after some other bloke and now I'm here, talking to you about it."

"Yikes," Hermione said, taking a long sip of wine and letting it linger on her tongue before swallowing. "Well," she said, deciding to be practical, "who was it?"

"Corner," Ron said, gesturing to where he was talking to Pansy. "I don't know why I didn't stop her," he added glumly.

Hermione squinted at where Pansy and Michael were talking. "Oh Ron," Hermione said, shaking her head. "She looks horribly bored." She patted his shoulder, giving him back his glass. "I changed my mind. You probablydo need this."

"You think?" he asked distractedly, taking a sip and staring. "That she's bored, I mean."

"Even if she isn't, I assure you, you're the better option," Hermione said, giving him what she hoped was a reassuring smile. "You're a good man, Ronald Weasley."

He chuckled at that. "You're a good woman, Hermione Granger," he replied. "I'm just glad we're done trying to live together."

"Oh god, definitely," she agreed, and nudged him forward. "Go get her."

"Fine," he said, patting her head again. "Have a good night, Mione. Don't do anything I wouldn't do."

"Please leave," she sighed, and he obliged, taking a last sip of wine and replacing the glass on an empty tray before setting off to where Pansy had been standing.

"And now," Hermione said out loud to nobody in particular, "I think I'll go find myself my own entitled Slytherin."

"Mhmm," Pansy mumbled indistinctly, listening to Michael Corner go on at length about some sort of real estate investment in Diagon Alley and feeling a bit of fury rise up in her bones at seeing Granger's hand tighten affectionately around Weasley's arm.

Not that Pansy cared, obviously. Not that it mattered. Not that she had spent the last ten minutes with Corner thinking about how curious she was about whether Weasley had actually filled out quite a bit around the shoulders and chest or if it was just her foolish, overactive imagination. She certainly had not been wondering if Weasley would have laughed at her jokes (Corner did not seem to grasp them), or if he had meant what he said about her being pretty. She was quite certain that none of that had happened, was happening, or was ever going to happen.

"Pans," Daphne said breathlessly, suddenly materializing at her side, "have you seen - "

"Oh, Daphne, let me help you!" Pansy cried frantically, grabbing Daphne's arm and turning over her shoulder to call back to Corner. "Sorry, so sorry, friend in need - "

"I'm perfectly fine," Daphne said once they were out of earshot, frowning as she pulled her arm out of Pansy's tight grasp. "What's this?"

"Needed an escape," Pansy sighed. "He's not exactly the thrill of the century," she added, jerking her head to reference Corner.

"Ah, a shame," Daphne said, smirking. "I have to go though, Pans," she said, like she'd just remembered something. "I, um. I just had a very crucial realization, and I - "

"What?" Pansy asked, squinting at her. "Is everything okay?"

"I think so," Daphne said slowly. "Or at least, it will be. It's just - "

"Yes?" Pansy prompted, nudging her. "What is it?"

"I think I'm in love with Theo," Daphne said thoughtfully.

"You are," Pansy agreed, nodding. "I thought you knew that."

"I didn't!" Daphne insisted, shocked. "What do you mean you thought I knew that?"

"I don't know, it seemed obvious," Pansy said, shrugging. "Is that all?"

"I mean, I guess so," Daphne muttered uncertainly. "I guess I didn't think I'd find love somewhere it wasn't supposed to be," she grumbled. "Specifically, right in front of me."

"I know the feeling," Pansy agreed, grimacing, "considering I think I might be interested in Weasley, but only figured that out after I left him to talk to someone else."

If Daphne was startled by the admission, she wisely did not show it.

"At least you didn't first fail to realize he wrote a book for you, and then proceed to insult it to his face," Daphne ventured tentatively.

"I didn't do that, no," Pansy replied. "Though, to be fair, I did violate his face."

"Violate it more," Daphne offered, shrugging. "Like, with your mouth."

"What?" Pansy exclaimed.

"To be totally honest, I'm not sure what I was specifically trying to accomplish with my phrasing, but my intent remains," Daphne mused pleasantly. "Why not just go for it?"

"Oh, I don't know," Pansy began, "maybe because I truly did not intend to fall in love with anyone tonight, and I'm very adamant about not letting him complete me?"

"That . . . seems a bit much for the first night," Daphne sighed. "I really just meant sex."

"Oh," Pansy said, relieved. "That I can probably manage."

She opened her mouth to say more, but felt her stomach lurch as Daphne's eyes widened at something over her shoulder.

"He's coming," Daphne whispered, squealing a little and leaning in to kiss Pansy's cheek. "Good luck."

Pansy, true to form, panicked. "I - Daph, wait - "

"Hi," Weasley said, sidling up to her as Daphne quietly slipped away. "I, um. I may have done something stupid."

"Don't blame yourself, Weasley," Pansy said instantly, falling back on her chronic acerbity. "It's not your fault you were born colorblind," she offered, gesturing to his terrible dress robes.

"I happen to know for a fact that this is a great color on me," he insisted, pouting.

"Did your mother tell you that?" Pansy countered breathlessly. "She lied."

"Okay, what is with - you know what? Nevermind," he sighed, shaking his head. "Glossing over the continuous slights on my mother - "

"What did you do?" Pansy asked quietly. "The stupid thing, I mean. Other than this haircut," she added, reaching up to fuss with a particularly mussed up section.

He seemed to be holding his breath as her fingers brushed over his hair. "I may have," he began, clearing his throat, "failed to have stopped you from talking to Corner. Which may or may not have been stupid," he added, as she brought her hand back to her side, fidgeting in her unexpected struggle not to reach for him, "considering that I would have preferred that you continue talking to me."

"I can talk now," she offered, looking at the floor. "I mean, I'm obviously very busy," she amended quickly, "but if it means you'd be willing to consider a serious conversation about your fashion sense - "

"Stop," he said quietly, reaching out to brush his thumb across her lower lip. "I want to talk to you," he offered, "or not talk. Whatever you want. But I don't want to pretend with you." He took another step towards her and she felt something terrifying course through her veins; she clutched his arms like stairway railings, trying not to fall.

"Obviously I have some kind of severe head trauma," he murmured, "but I don't care. I like you. I want to understand you. I want to learn the things you like, because I bet they're bloody weird and interesting."

"They are," she agreed, swallowing.

"I don't particularly want you to hit me again, but I do want to make you laugh. I want to make you feel beautiful," he added, his eyes scanning her face, "and I want you to believe me when I say it."

"And if I don't?" she asked, struggling to find her voice.

"Then you don't," he said softly, "and I'll try again tomorrow."

"I'm not good at tomorrows," she warned him. "I don't trust them."

"I'm pretty shit at them too," he replied, shrugging. "But I've done scarier things before. Followed a trail of spiders once," he said with a shudder. "Did not care for it."

She hesitated for a moment. The last thing she wanted was for this to go badly; to be humiliated by Ron Weasley would be a disaster to outdo all possible romantic disasters. It would be mortification and tragedy all rolled up in one, and she couldn't bear the thought of him knowing how much he had eased her ailing, or the chance that he might see through all the pieces of herself she had carefully constructed to keep people out.

But then, she was equally afraid that if she didn't take a chance now, she might never rid herself of her thoughts of him. She might never feel his lips on her skin, and that, out of everything, just seemed too impossible to fathom.

She didn't want to let him go.

"Is there somewhere you can meet me?" she asked, and a smile slowly stole across his face.

"What the fuck do you mean goodbye?" Blaise asked again, releasing her to pull away, leaping to his feet and angrily zipping his trousers. "You can't be serious, Ginevra - "

"Stop calling me that!" she exclaimed, struggling to her feet and haughtily lifting her chin. "I don't know why you do it - "

"Ginny is a child's name, and sometimes I want you to behave like an adult," he snapped, crossing his arms. "Is that so hard to believe?"

"Would you please stop being so patronizing?" she huffed back. "You can't fuck me and then call me a child. It's intolerable."

"Explain yourself," Blaise pressed again, trying to bite back his rising temper. It was utterly impossible to have a conversation with her that didn't make him want to shake her or kiss her, and it was particularly unbearable when he couldn't distinguish between the two.

"I can't be with you," she said stubbornly, staring him down from her diminutive height. "I can't. It doesn't make sense."

"What doesn't make sense?" he asked, letting his head drop in exasperation. He was embarrassed by the pleading in his voice, but far too exhausted to hide it. "How can we not make sense to you, Ginny?"

"That's - that's not it," she said quietly, sobering a little at his obvious pain. "It's not you, Blaise, it's - "

"Don't," he warned, thinking he would spontaneously combust if she said what he thought she would. "Don't do it."

"I just ended a long relationship," she sighed. "I can't invest in something right now. I just can't." She looked down, looking vulnerable and beautiful and pulling effortlessly at his heart. "We need to be apart."

"I don't want to be apart," Blaise said mechanically. "I've been away from you long enough."

"Blaise, I - "

"No," he said, and she winced at his volume. "No. Don't I get a say? Don't my feelings count?"

"You're yelling," she said stiffly, grabbing his arm and yanking him into one of the classrooms on the first floor. She cast a quick muffliato before turning back to him, placing her hands on his shoulders. "You need to calm down," she told him, which only served to infuriate him further.

"How can I possibly calm down?" he countered, taking advantage of the silencing spell to shout to his heart's content. "I'm tired of being in love with you, Ginevra, I'm fucking sick of waiting for you - "

"Love?" she repeated, dumbfounded. "Did you - "

"Yes, I said love!" he spat bitterly, looking everywhere but at her. "I've been in love with you for months. Fuck, I've been in love with you for years. Not that that seems to matter to you in any conceivable way," he added, glowering at her.

"Well - I, that's not - " she sputtered, stumbling backwards. "You - I wasn't - "

"You, Ginevra Weasley, are beautiful, and intelligent, and violent and quick-tempered and alive," he said, advancing on her. "I would be blind and stupid not to love you."

"You shouldn't," she said nervously, tearing at her lip with her teeth. "I'm - I don't know if I -"

"What?" he demanded, taking another step towards her.

"Stop that," she said instantly, brandishing her wand at him. "Don't come any closer."

"Or what?" he scoffed, though he paused in his progression. "You'll hit me with another bat-bogey hex?"

"I might," she snarled. "I've improved them."

"Just tell me the truth, Ginevra," he begged. "Just tell me what you're feeling because I promise - " he took one tentative step. "I promise I won't leave you if you do."

"I don't like this," she said, teeth gritted. "I feel too exposed."

"I was inside you earlier," he reminded her, in case she'd forgotten; though the covetous look on her face told him she had not.

"I'm just afraid," she said slowly, "that if we try to start something right now - if we were in an actual relationship - "

She looked up at him, terrified, and he took another step towards her, nodding reassuringly.

"Go on," he said, and she sighed.

"I'm just afraid you won't like me if you have me all the time," she whispered.

"Ginevra," he sighed, reaching out to trace the line of her jaw. "You fool."

At that, her eyes widened in frustration. "I'm trying to be honest with you!" she sputtered, swatting his hand away. "You asked me to tell you the truth, and I am - "

"I know that, and I'm telling you that you're a fool!" he snapped. "Aren't you listening to me? I'm in love with you - "

"How can you know that?" she pressed. "You've never lived with me - you've never been there when I've left the dishes in the sink for three days in a row, or decided not to fold the laundry, or forgotten to wash my hair - "

"So I'll learn," he retorted impatiently. "I'll learn to love those parts of you because I am so fucking captivated by the rest." He paused to glare at her for good measure. "Why is it so hard for you to accept that I might love you?"

"Because - because you're you!" she insisted, smacking his chest. "You're bloody perfect, and I couldn't ever measure up - "

"You're insane," he said tightly. "Would you like to see my flaws? I have a temper, for one thing," he seethed. "And for another, I process most of my emotions through my dick."

She stared at him.

"You're going to fuck me on this desk, aren't you?" Ginny demanded, backing into it as she finally ran out of room to escape him.

"Probably!" Blaise shouted back, scowling.

"Either I'm in love with you, or I'm going to murder you later," Ginny determined, glaring at him as he picked her up, depositing her roughly on the desk behind her.

"Fine by me," he growled, making good on his promise.

Luna was fully in his arms now and Harry was beginning to realize that he wished he'd tried it sooner.

"Did you make a wish?" he asked, and she looked up, smiling.

"I did," she said, and he wondered how it had not occurred to him to look at her this closely before. In the castle's dim lighting she was practically glowing in the dark, and he found it breathtaking. "Did you?"

"Um," he said, pausing. "No, actually."

She tilted her head thoughtfully. "Why not?"

"I - " he paused, thinking it through. "I guess because I can't think of anything else I want," he realized, the clarity suddenly dawning on him; the unspeakable rarity of the fulfillment he currently had. He'd been dreading this night, had been so sure it would be awkward and uncomfortable, and instead, this was the most relaxed he'd been in months. "Besides," he said, trying to shake the immensity of that recognition from his mind as he realized she was waiting for an answer, "you're really not supposed to say your wish out loud, anyway."

Luna gave a little giggle. "Oh Harry," she said, giving him a look. "You know muggle jinxes aren't real."

"I - what?" he asked, laughing. "You mean, like wrackspurts?"

"Oh no, wrackspurts are definitely real," she said solemnly. "They look sort of like - "

He wasn't sure what came over him but he couldn't wait any longer to kiss her, and so he didn't. Her lips were soft and full and tasted like strawberries and she was so pliant in his arms; he felt a pang of something, some sharp opposition to the idea that she had gotten all done up for someone who wasn't him, and he held on tighter, pulling her closer, tangling his fingers in her dirty blonde hair. She kissed him back with the kind of breathless desperation that he felt he'd been waiting his whole life for, and when they broke apart, he couldn't help but hate himself for missing it for so long.

"Like I was saying," she managed, "they look a bit like nargles, only the wings are - "

"You are so full of hot nonsense," he gasped appreciatively, and she laughed, bringing her lips back to his as his hands found their way to her hips, pulling her against him.

To his surprise, her hands found the button of his trousers, making quick work of the zipper and taking him in her hand.

"Oh," he said, startled. "Are you sure that you, um - "

"You don't want to?" she asked innocently, sliding her palm against him in a slow, languid stroke. "Would you prefer to wait?"

"I - " he swallowed, trying not to cry out as she brushed her thumb against the tip. "I mean, I suppose I'm not particularly busy at the moment - "

"I suspect it's always been you for me, Harry Potter," she mused absently, her grey eyes wide with sincerity as she looked at him. "Personally, I think it's been you from the beginning."

Oh god, oh god, oh god - "I think you're right," he said, and once he said it, he realized he meant it. "It was you from the beginning," he repeated, stunned. "I mean, I was hoping you'd be here, I didn't even realize - "

She smiled. "If there's one thing I know about you," she said, taking his hand and bringing it to the neckline of her gown, "it's that you eventually figure it out."

"Draco," Granger breathed in relief, appearing out of nowhere and panting, like she'd run there. "There you are."

"There I am?" Draco echoed in disbelief, and Theo fought a laugh at his expression, which was nearly identical to Narcissa's look of indignation. "Granger, I was sitting here composing your eulogy," he sniffed. "I was starting to think you might have fucking fallen off the tower - "

"Theo," Daphne said breathlessly, emerging from the opposite side of the courtyard, "I have to - Oh," she exclaimed in surprise, catching sight of Granger and smiling. "Oh, good for you."

"Oh, hi," Granger said, her cheeks flushing slightly. "Yes, um - same, I guess."

"You know, I had a dream like this once," Theo remarked, smirking as he let his eyes flick between the two witches.

"Tell me I wasn't there," Draco said, making a face.

"No, you were definitely there," Theo said, shrugging. "And you liked it."

"Please don't give me any reason to regret anything I say before I even say it," Daphne sighed, and Granger ducked her head to hide a laugh, reaching out a hand for Draco.

"Come on," she said softly. "Let me explain?"

Draco flashed Theo an impish grin and winked before dramatically accepting. "Fine," he said, feigning misery. "Though this had better be good, Granger."

She rolled her eyes and gripped his hand, pulling him towards the castle.

"I like her," Theo said aloud, nodding.

"Me too, actually," Daphne noted, watching Draco and Granger disappear.

"Don't tell Pansy," they said at once, and then both looked down shyly, realizing they were alone again.

"So," Daphne said, clasping her hands and looking down at them. "There are some things I need to say to you."

"Same," Theo said, wincing preemptively. "I wasn't entirely fair, I think - "

"Oh no," Daphne interrupted, looking up. "No, Theo, this one's on me - "

" - there's a lot I didn't tell you, and I can't have expected - "

" - I'm the one who didn't read your book, which was so stupid, but now I've - "

" - you shouldn't have to guess my feelings, Daph, I was being ridiculous - "

" - finally looked at it, and I had this realization, but Theo - "

" - the thing is, Daphne, I just - "

" - I'm in love with you," they said in unison, and then they promptly forgot how to breathe.

"What?" they both said. "You go first," they added in chorus, and Theo made a motion to his lips, promising silence and gesturing for her to go ahead.

"Theo," she said quietly, "why didn't you tell me?"

"Because I'm a fucking fool," he asserted, but at her pleading glance, he sighed. "Because I didn't want to hear you tell me you didn't feel the same way," he confessed. "I've just spent so much of my life being in love with you that I thought - stupidly, of course," he said, and she nodded, "that maybe if I could just show you in some hugely significant way, then maybe you might feel the same." He shook his head. "Believe me, the error of my ways has been made clear to me in several different forms today, your rejection included."

"Rejection," she echoed, and smiled. "No, Theo." She came towards him, placing her hands on his hips. "Not at all."

Well, he thought, that sounds bewilderingly like a good thing.

"I'm going to need you to explain that," Theo said slowly. "Possibly over-explain. Imagine you're speaking to a simpleton," he added. "Or even someone just slightly thicker, like Draco."

"Theo," she said, smiling up at him. "Hush."

He nodded.

"The thing is," she began hesitantly, "I think you know as well as I do that my family's expectations are . . . rigid," she determined, and he nodded again. "I was told a long time ago that you were never going to be an option for me, and I think I heard it so much that I started to believe it."

"I'm sorry," he mumbled helplessly, and she reached up, taking his face in her hands.

"No, you shouldn't be," she said, and her hazel eyes took on the fiery, blazing glimmer that he had always loved. "Because the reason I couldn't see what was right in front of me is the same reason I'm ashamed of the fact that I managed to build a life for myself. That old pureblood garbage," she said, waving her hand like she wished to shove it away from her. "All it did was keep me from seeing what was so obvious, and it keeps me from being proud of myself now. But I love you," she said, her eyes wide, and he wondered for a moment if he might just collapse in her hands. "You've always been there for me, you're the person I want to tell when good things happen to me, you're the only one who makes me better when I'm sad - "

"You're the same, for me," he murmured, and she nodded fiercely.

"There was a moment when you walked away that I thought I might never have you back in my life," she admitted miserably. "And I swear, I missed you more in those few minutes than I've ever missed anyone in my entire life."

He swallowed hard, still wondering if any of this could possibly be real.

"We belong together, Theo Nott, and to hell with my mother," Daphne said, a tear slipping from the corner of her eye. "I'll get Astoria out from her house and help her make a life of her own, I'm going to stop worrying about what all the fucking purebloods think, and I'm - " she stopped, her voice breaking as she started to cry. "And I want to be with you, Theo, if you want me - "

"Are you kidding?" he gasped, pulling her into his arms. "Daphne Greengrass, are you fucking insane? I want you," he said firmly, bending to kiss her cheeks, her nose, her eyes, her lips. "Of course I want you - I wrote a fucking book for you - "

"I read a bit of it," Daphne admitted, sniffling. "It's beautiful, Theo - "

"Fuck the book," he said loudly, pulling away to look her in the eye. "It doesn't mean anything if I can't just tell you that I love you. That I've loved you since the moment I saw you," he said, shouting it for everyone else to hear, and she laughed, wiping a stray tear from her cheek, before he lowered his lips to her ear. "And I will love you for the rest of my life," he promised her, bending to press a kiss to her shoulder.

"Is this what happens at the end of your book?" she asked hopefully, then grimaced. "I'm sorry I haven't read it yet," she sighed, "but I will, I promise - "

"This is for you," he recited, knowing the end by heart. "I don't care if it fails; go on and tear me apart. Because for me, you light up the dark; whether you want it or not, my heart is yours. And if I die in your arms," he finished, pulling back and lifting her chin to look in her eyes, "you'll be my sky, you'll be my stars."

He took a deep breath, letting his fingers travel the beautiful curve of her cheek. "And what a heavenly view," he finished as she raised herself onto her toes, bringing her lips to his.

"That was so beautiful," she whispered, before hanging her head slightly. "And now I feel bad, because I know I should say something equally beautiful," she admitted sheepishly, "but all I really want to do at this point is have sex with you - "

"Oh, fuck, poetry to my ears," he said, grabbing her hand. "Let's go."

"So," Draco drawled, suddenly quite grateful to have a reasonable show of indignation with which to hide behind. "What happened?"

"Sit, please," Granger said, patting the spot on the bench next to her.

"I don't know if that's a good idea for you," he sighed, taking a seat. "Easier for you to run away if we're standing."

"That," she said carefully, "was a one time thing. I promise."

"Well, I don't know about you," he sniffed, "but I think that I deserve - mphmph"

He was abruptly cut off as she grabbed his face, pulling him towards her and kissing him with the kind of vigor he wouldn't have previously assumed she possessed. "Shut up," she gasped, and then she was kissing him again and he promptly abandoned his charade, gripping her hair with one hand and her waist with the other, pulling her impossibly close until she was almost sitting in his lap, the skirt of her gown spread over his legs.

"There is a chance," she began slowly, pulling away with her eyes still closed, "that I did not handle the situation quite as well as I might have done if I were thinking straight."

"I forgive you," he said at once, reaching hungrily for her again, but she stopped him with a laugh.

"No, I owe you an explanation," she said, and he growled in frustration.

"Granger, you're pushing me to insanity," he muttered. "But fine, by all means, explain - I'll just sit here and suffer - "

"I'll fix it later," she promised, and he huffed his agreement. "Just - listen?"

"Listening," he confirmed gruffly, shifting his grip around her so that she was now indeed sitting on his lap, perched there like she had always been meant to curl inside his arms.

"I only broke up with Ron a couple of weeks ago," she said, and he made a face at Weasley's name. "No, don't make that face - it's just that it wasn't that long ago, and I was very, very alarmed by how much I enjoyed kissing you. Which I did," she repeated adamantly. "Enjoy it, I mean. A lot."

"And plan to do more of," he offered, prompting a nod.

"Definitely," she agreed. "But you have to understand, it was scary," she said tentatively, and he buried his face in her shoulder, content to let her get her thoughts out. "I don't think I realized quite how long I've - " she stopped, biting her lip. "How long I've had feelings for you, I guess."

"You guess?" he prodded, hoping for certainty.

"Well, I know," she said, looking a little sulky at having to admit it even as he silently boasted his triumph. "I have feelings for you, which was made very clear to me when I kissed you. Which is what I need to bring up now, because I'm sorry," she added, twisting around to look at him. "If that's not what you want - feelings, I mean - "

"If all I want is sex?" he clarified, frowning.

"Yes. If that's all you want, I don't think I can do it," she determined grimly, staring fixedly at her lap. "Because the truth is, I've really started to make up reasons to go to your office," she confessed, looking at him regretfully. "I mean, you can't possibly think I need your signature on that many things."

"I had wondered," he admitted, chuckling.

"And I'm finally admitting to myself why that is," she said firmly. "So," she sighed, giving him a pointed look, "in conclusion, either you want me, and we do this thing for real, or - "

"Hermione Granger, if you can't see how wholly infatuated I am with you, then you are hardly the witch I thought you were," he informed her, squaring his shoulders and holding her closer in the same motion. "I want you to be mine immediately. I want you to be mine yesterday. I want to go back in time, steal you from under Weasley's nose, and have woken up with you this morning - "

"How about tomorrow morning?" she cut in breathlessly, and he let out a loud groan, pulling her towards him.

"I hope that's a promise," he muttered, resting his forehead against hers. "Because hell if I'm letting you go now."

He felt her smile, and a warm contentment settled itself in his chest.

"Oh," Granger said after a moment, nudging him. "Look."

Theo and Daphne emerged from the courtyard holding hands, half-running back through the castle.

"Hey," Draco called out to them, "where are you - "

"Going to catch the portkey," Theo supplied, not slowing down. "Very important business to take care of immediately."

"Let's do lunch tomorrow!" Daphne called brightly - "I'm going to marry this girl," Theo mouthed to Draco, pointing gleefully at Daphne's head - and Granger nodded back, smiling.

"What did he mean, catch the portkey?" Draco asked after they'd disappeared inside the castle, turning to look at Granger.

"In the literal sense? I think he meant the portkey to the Three Broomsticks," Granger said. "We set up a few in case people were interested in staying the night. Rather than drinking and apparating, you know, and risking splinching."

"And in the metaphorical sense?" Draco prompted, smirking.

"Ah, sex, I think," Granger supplied, her cheeks reddening deliciously. "I imagine, anyway."

"Hm," Draco said, clearing his throat. "I don't suppose you would find that portkey interesting, would you?"

"Well, there's another one in thirty minutes," Granger supplied primly, letting her hand drift confusingly to the band of his trousers.

"And until then?" Draco asked, deflating slightly. "Shall we talk more about our feelings?"

"Oh, no," Granger said, laughing. "I'm pretty sold on you, Draco Malfoy."

He couldn't fight a triumphant smirk at that.

"Actually," she continued, "I was thinking we could revisit the Astronomy Tower. The view, you know," she explained, shrugging, and he felt a slow smile spread across his face. "I have a proclivity for heights and, um," she coughed delicately, letting her finger linger on the zipper of his pants. "Recreation."

"Don't be so coy, Granger," he murmured in her ear. "If you want me to fuck you in the tower, all you have to do is ask."

"Please," she purred in his ear, and he leapt to his feet, thinking he'd never heard anything more wonderful than her laughter as it filled the corridor.

"Okay," Ginny sighed, sitting up from where she'd been laying across the desk. "Fine. Let's date."

"Well, please," Blaise drawled snobbily, "don't smother me with your enthusiasm."

"No fuckery, do you hear me?" she told him, sternly pointing a finger in his face. "No flirting with other witches. No being stupidly handsome all the time and running off with someone better."

"Finding someone better? Impossible," he said, smirking. "Someone more sane, possibly, but why would I want that? So boring," he murmured, kissing her neck.

"Don't toy with me," she warned him. "This is what you get, okay? Insanity." She waved her hand around aimlessly. "Unbridled madness."

"Ginevra," he murmured in her ear, and she shivered, furious with his effect on her, desperate to have it forever. "I want you. Only you," he added, kissing the other side of her neck, "and all of you."

"You're cool, but I'm cooler," she reminded him. "You're pretty, but I'm cuter."

"And smarter," he offered. "And mine," he concluded emphatically, taking her in his arms to accentuate the point.

"And yours," she said, feigning a resigned sigh and smiling when she knew he couldn't see.

He held her hand as they walked back to the Great Hall and she let him, deciding it wasn't so bad, really. Being loved. Being loved by him, specifically. Her love with Harry was always rooted in a frustrating inequity, in the owing of her life to him, and in her childish obsession. It had stretched and waned as they aged, and then it didn't fit her anymore, like a jumper she'd adored but outgrown.

But Blaise was different, she realized, sneaking a glimpse at him. There were no exhausted concessions to please her. There was no letting her unreasonable expectations get the better of him. They fought, yes, but there was some understanding, for her, that he was eternally on her side. That he understood her, for all her gaps and rhythms.

As if he knew what she was thinking, he squeezed her hand tightly, and she smiled.

"Shall we take the portkey?" he asked. "I mean, I'm aware we've already - "

"Let's," she determined with a nod.

"You're insatiable, Ginevra," he said, shaking his head, and Ginny turned at a loud gagging sound.

"Sorry," Pansy sniffed falsely. "Something in my throat."

"Heading to the Three Broomsticks, Pans?" Blaise asked smoothly, tucking an arm around Ginny. "Alone?" he added, his face expressionless.

"Yes and yes," she said pompously, just as they caught up with Theo Nott and Daphne Greengrass.

"Oh, for fuck's sake," Blaise pronounced, eyeing them. "Did this finally happen?"

"It did," Nott declared, bowing. Daphne backhanded him in the stomach, sighing loudly.

"Oh, look how sad all the other girls are," Pansy said, smirking wickedly and gesturing. They were, indeed, quite crestfallen, Ginny noted with an inward laugh. She didn't know Blaise's friends well, but had some concept of their dynamic - and there was, of course, no getting around the obvious fame of Theo Nott's book.

Ginny had read it, of course, and devoured it. It wasn't erotica, per se, but if she concentrated hard enough -

"So this is a thing?" Daphne asked, smiling between Ginny and Blaise. "I like it, I think."

"As do I," Blaise nodded, and he nudged Ginny forward, offering her access to the portkey. "Just a few seconds, right? Is it midnight on the nose?"

Ginny heard someone confirm the time for him but was distracted by Pansy, who was eyeing something in her hand; it was a note of some kind, and the thin, spindly handwriting looked oddly familiar.

"Hey," Ginny said loudly, blinking in disbelief and pointing to Pansy's note with her free hand, "is that from my - "

"Oops, off we go!" Pansy said loudly, turning bright red as they were all sucked through the air with an uncomfortable slurp.

Ron started to fidget while he waited, wondering if she had changed her mind. They'd agreed it was best not to disappear together - too many questions, obviously, and they were in such a fragile state of only just barely not hating each other anymore - but he wished he hadn't been the one to leave first. He'd mildly enjoyed the walk to Hogsmeade, as it had given him plenty of time to think, of course; not that he'd done much thinking about anything other than loosening Pansy's dark hair from its complicated twist, letting it fall around her bare shoulders, reaching down to her breasts -

He coughed, trying not to delve any further. Wouldn't do for her to walk in on him already at attention.

He stood, pacing the room. This would be terrible for him if she didn't show up, he thought with a grimace, just as a key turned in the lock and she slipped in the door.

"Sorry," she said, pressing the door shut behind her and backing against it. "I, um, had a bit of an encounter with your sister."

Ron blinked. "Please don't bring her up ever again," he said, now trying to clear the image of Ginny from the room he hoped to have sex in.

Pansy grinned, and the pure wickedness of it was enough to put any other thoughts aside. Ron cleared his throat, eyeing her.

"I'm glad you came," he said hoarsely, stepping towards her.

He expected a snotty remark, but she flushed brilliantly, accepting the hand that he offered her and gesturing for him to put it around her waist.

"I guess I decided you look well on me," she returned, and a smile sparked across her face.

"Funny," he commented. "I'm hoping to see how you look on me."

"Oh, wordplay," she noted silkily. "Nice."

"I thought you might like it," he said, realizing as her eyes glittered in the low light of the room that this, for her, was foreplay. "The wordplay. Seems up your alley."

"It's a lifestyle, Weasley, not a party game," she said breathlessly as he reached around, slowly dragging the zipper down her spine.

"Ron," he corrected her, leaning forward to speak in her ear. "I'm going to want you to say my name," he explained, feeling a rush of something inexplicable as he watched her shoulders tense at his voice.

She slipped the dress off her shoulders, letting it fall to the floor with an audible drop, and he felt his jaw go with it.

"Damn, Parkinson," he gasped, and she bit back a laugh, pulling him by his tie.

"It's Pansy," she told him, falling back onto the bed and pulling him on top of her. "I'm going to want you to say my name," she whispered, and he murmured it against her skin well into the night.

There was no doubt about it. Harry Potter was exceptionally skilled with his penis. Though he did not seem comfortable with that information when she offered it to him, and Luna could not fathom why.

"Really," she said breathlessly, as she loosened her legs from around his hips and he pressed her one last time against the wall, cutting her off with a kiss. "That was quite inspired, Harry. I'm remarkably satisfied."

"I'm glad, I think," he replied uncomfortably, though he did look relieved on some level.

"I worry I'm not accurately expressing myself," she mused, closing her eyes as aftershocks continued to flood through her. "I think in the interest of accuracy, I should lean towards ecstatic, really, but the connotation there isn't quite spot on, or so I'm given to understand - "

"Luna," Harry interrupted, yanking her to him and kissing her slowly, biting down softly on her lip before pulling away to smile at her. "You can just say the sex was good."

"Good?" she echoed dubiously, letting herself sway towards him. "Are you sure, Harry? That seems underwhelming."

"Colloquially, you could say the sex was fucking fantastic," he amended. "Which it was," he added, looking a little hungry at the statement.

She paused, thinking.

"The sex was fucking fantastic," she determined with a nod, smiling as he threw his head back with laughter.

"Come on," he said, pulling her under his arm and leading her back toward the Great Hall. "Let's go see what's left of this reunion."

Luna couldn't help noting how comfortable it was to walk with him, fitted snugly under his arm like a puzzle piece; she was also relieved to see that he was free of any wrackspurts or nargles, and the smile on his face was both handsome and gratifying.

She decided she would have to tuck away the muggle wishing concept. Evidently time symmetry was indeed quite crucial to good fortune.

"Oh, Mr Potter," Professor McGonagall said, approaching swiftly, Lee Jordan at her heels. "I had hoped you would be around for closing remarks, but - "

"Where is everyone?" Harry asked, looking around in confusion. The Great Hall was completely emptied, despite the room being littered with empty wine glasses and vacant floating trays.

"Gone, it appears," McGonagall replied with an audible sigh. "I am unsure whether to determine this event a success or failure, to be quite frank - "

"Success," Harry said instantly, and Luna caught a flicker of a smile. "Definitely a success."

"Mm," McGonagall said, suddenly eyeing the two of them with suspicion.

"What are you doing here, Lee?" Harry asked curiously, turning to him. "Wasn't your reunion - "

"Oh, McGona-girl here thought she might need a host," Lee replied jovially, nudging her with an impish grin. "It appears she may have overestimated her ability to throw a party."

"Oh, I don't think that's the problem," Luna informed him, surveying the room and recalling the very interesting energy that had tingled between the guests at the beginning of the night. "I imagine you've simply lost them all to congress."

"Congress?" McGonagall echoed, blinking vacantly. "Whatever do you - "

"Hermione!" Harry said loudly, catching her oncoming form and waving his arms manically. "Good, you're still here."

"Hi Harry," she said breathlessly, pulling Draco Malfoy in her wake. They both seemed consummately tousled, Luna thought, tilting her head in amusement as she eyed the pretty brunette and her uncharacteristically relaxed companion. About time, Luna thought with pleasure, thoroughly relieved to see that Hermione had finally been rid of her stray snabberwitches.

"Speaking of congress," Luna exclaimed in delight, and Harry immediately wrapped her in a very tight hug, entirely eliminating her capacity for speech.

"Well, I suppose we should all head out for the evening," McGonagall said stiffly, eyeing the messy hall. "The elves have all been promised double wages for this, so might as well leave them to their work."

"Oh, lovely," Hermione said brightly. "It really was a wonderful evening, Professor," she added, flush with happiness. "Very special."

McGonagall's gaze flicked skeptically between Hermione and Draco. "I'm going to leave," she sniffed, "before I find out anything I don't want to know."

"That's probably best," Draco agreed, smirking, and McGonagall promptly disappeared, Lee following at her heels.

"Huh," Hermione said, staring after them. "Is it just me, or did that seem like - "

"Congress," Harry supplied, and Luna giggled in his arms.

"Was the sex fucking fantastic?" she asked them, and though Hermione reddened considerably, Draco seemed glad of the question.

"It was," he declared. "Life-alteringly fantastic. Explosively, uninhibitedly, unadulteratedly - "

"We should leave," Hermione cut in instantly, and Harry nodded.

"Let's go," he said, sighing, though he seemed secretly quite pleased. He wove his fingers between Luna's, squeezing them gently.

She smiled.

All was well.

Chapter Text


Pairing: Sevmione (Severus Snape x Hermione Granger)

Universe: EXTREMELY AU. So AU, in fact, that I do not have an explanation for where it takes place.

Rating: M for language, sex

Summary: Hermione Granger was a grad student until she woke up in some other world, where a handsome man and his eerily persuasive mother have taken her under their wing. She can't remember who she is or how she got there, but she does know that the surly stranger with a high place in court is not to be trusted . . . probably.

A gift for my friend oblivionbaby, both for being the thousandth review on Clean (!) and for being an overall delight. Plot heavily influenced by the book The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker.

Chimera | noun, \kī-ˈmir-ə, kə-\

Def: a horrible or unreal creature of the imagination; a vain or idle fancy;
i.e., he is far different from the chimera your fears have made of him.

"What's this?" Merope asked impishly, nudging the thing's foot. "Did you put this here?"

"Of course not, Mother," Tom said smoothly, chuckling fondly at her foolishness. "Why would I?"

"A girl, is it?" Merope said primly, her hands on her hips. "What kind?"

"A human kind, I presume," Tom supplied with a sigh, bending to look at her. "Sort of pretty, I suppose." He stood. "Or will be, once you've finished."

"Too much hair," Merope sniffed in displeasure. "Good size, though."

"I think she'll be interesting for a time, don't you?" Tom asked whimsically. "You've been so bored lately, anyway."

"True," Merope agreed, sneaking a sharp kick at the girl's leg to see if she'd notice. "When will she wake?"

"Soon, I'm sure," Tom said indifferently, tiring of the conversation. "I've got to run, Mother, but you'll take care of her, won't you?"

"I suppose if I'm to be so tasked," she permitted, letting him kiss her cheek before he strode forward, his boots echoing through the vast, cavernous corridors of the castle.

"Now then," she said, bending again to look at her. "Yuck," Merope said to nobody in particular, making a face. "Far too much hair," she mumbled, brushing her skirts aside as she started her work.

There are two ways to wake, as far as Hermione Granger is concerned. One is slow and comfortable, wherein one opens one's eyes to find one is in the precise location one would expect to be. The bedroom in which one falls asleep, for example. Such is the preferred waking.

The other, of course, is with a start, like a cannon explosion, wherein one is entirely disoriented, and forcefully bolts upright. That, of course, was how Hermione awoke to her new life.

"What happened?" she gasped, frantically trying to wiggle her way out of a set of tightly tucked silk sheets. "Why am I - "

There was a small tsk from the corner of the room and Hermione looked up to find a beautiful woman she had never seen before; her skin was startlingly pale and her eyes, the most distinctive and alluring Hermione had ever seen, were dark and slightly unfocused.

"Too loud," the woman said impatiently, making a childish face of disapproval. She perched herself lightly on the bed - impossibly lightly, Hermione thought, wondering how she did not feel the shift of weight beside her - and reached over, placing her hands on either side of Hermione's face.

"Um," Hermione said, swallowing with discomfort, "what exactly are you - "

"Quiet," the woman instructed briskly. "You will be quiet, yes?"

"Yes?" Hermione offered, and the woman shook her head unhappily.

"Say it," she demanded. "Say, 'I will be quiet.'"

"I will be quiet," Hermione repeated, and she was startled to find that her tone had suddenly deepened in timbre, her voice taking on the kind of soothing, melodic strum she'd always secretly envied in other women. "Oh," she said, and the other woman nodded with satisfaction, removing her hands.

"Good," she said, suddenly clapping her hands with glee. "Excellent."

"Sorry," Hermione said slowly, "but could you tell me who you are, please?"

"Merope," the woman said, "and we have to get you ready."

"Ready?" Hermione echoed blankly. "For . . . what?"

"The ball!" Merope declared jubilantly, rising to her feet. "We have ever so much work to do."

"A ball?" Hermione repeated.

"The ball," Merope corrected, pausing to rest a hand on Hermione's head. "Listen better."

"Okay," Hermione replied numbly, wondering why she was now seeming to hang on Merope's every word, as though her body urgently ached to hear the other woman speak. "The ball?"

"Yes," Merope said curtly. "The ball where you'll meet my son."

"Your son?" Hermione asked, her voice shaky with confusion. "Is he very young?"

As far as Hermione could tell, Merope looked scarcely older than she was.

"Oh no, my son is a man," Merope said quickly. "A human man," she added, as though that were in question. Somehow, Hermione didn't think it safe to ask. "I think," Merope added slowly, "if I do a good enough job - which I will," she amended confidently, "then perhaps you should marry my son."

Hermione made a low, strangled noise of protest. "But," she sputtered, and then Merope's hand was on her head again, soothing her.

"Don't fuss," Merope said with a sigh, narrowing her eyes in displeasure. "It's tiresome."

"Okay," Hermione agreed, feeling dizzy as Merope withdrew her hand and set about the room, which Hermione realized was a vast, elegant bedroom lined with floor to ceiling windows, each of which overlooked a stunning, palatial garden. "But does your son want to marry me?"

Merope, who had been opening the grandest wardrobe Hermione had ever seen, paused at that. "Hmm," she said, her oddly-shaped eyes widening. "What did you say your name was?"

"Hermione," she supplied. "Hermione Granger."

"Is that a name?" Merope asked in confusion, frowning into space. "Ah, well, I suppose," she decided after a moment, giving a pert little shrug. "Hermione, was it?"

Hermione nodded, finding that both her mind and body seemed frozen, awaiting Merope's instruction.

"Let's do something about your hair, Hermione," Merope mused, perching again on the bed to curl a ringlet around her finger; Hermione was surprised to see the curl, which had until that moment been its usual mess of frizz, bounce upwards in a golden-tinged ringlet. "And then we can set about concerning ourselves with whether Tom wants to marry you."

She hummed a little as she wandered through the room, returning to the wardrobe. "I think this will be just the thing," Merope said, pulling out a floor length satin gown. "Don't you?"

There's no way I'll look good in that, Hermione opened her mouth to say, but as she looked down at herself, she realized that wasn't true. She was suddenly quite reassured that her body would, in fact, be flatteringly framed by the flimsiest fabric she'd ever seen, and though she heard a faint voice in her head - Jesus Christ, Hermione, you'll spill something on that thing! - she found it pleasantly easy to ignore.

"Yes," she said happily, taking Merope's proffered hand and moving primly to sit, placid and doll-like, at the crystal vanity. Merope happily went to work on her hair and makeup, transforming Hermione's already petite features into the kind of breathless, delicate prettiness that she would have associated with a Hollywood starlet. It was a lengthy process but a fruitful one; Hermione wondered how she could have ever thought herself plain, eyeing her reflection. Was her skin not perfectly fair? Her hair not stunningly blonde? Her lashes not sensationally coquettish?

"Ah, perfect," Merope pronounced after zipping her up. "Oh, except one thing," she said apologetically, giving Hermione's breasts a quick fondle. "There," she said, smiling as Hermione's cleavage swelled appealingly. "What more could he want!"

"You must be Hermione," a handsome man said, bowing low. "I'm Tom."

"Tom," Hermione said breathlessly, finding it difficult not to stare into his cornflower blue eyes. "Merope said - "

"Ah yes, you've spent the day with my mother," Tom said with a smile. "Did you take to each other?"

"I think we did," Merope supplied, materializing out of nowhere. "Didn't we, Hermione?"

"Yes, certainly!" Hermione said, ducking her head coyly. "A pleasure."

"You are stunning," Tom noted appreciatively, his eyes traveling hungrily over her. Hermione, who would normally have found such behavior repulsive, was instead pleased with his attention. "Was it difficult, Mother?"

"Only a little," Merope said brightly. "Overall, quite good, I think."

"Oh, absolutely," Tom agreed. "Quite pleasing. May I?" he asked, offering Hermione his arm.

"Of course," she returned exuberantly, giving Merope a broad smile as she took his arm. He swept them out of the ballroom, walking her to a balcony that overlooked a vast, mirror-like lake.

"Hermione," he said, her name dripping like honey from his tongue. "Are you happy here?"

"Yes," she breathed, leaning into his touch as he lifted her chin, his breath dancing across her lips. "Yes, Tom, I - "

There was a cool breeze from somewhere - inside the castle, she wondered in confusion - and she shivered, catching sight of a dark figure amidst the crowd.

A tall man stood there, at least as tall as Tom, though nowhere near as handsome; he was dressed in a long black cloak, his dark hair swept out of his face, and he was staring relentlessly at her.

"Who's that?" Hermione asked, blinking.

Tom turned. "Oh," he said, clearly irritated with the interruption. "That's Severus, my advisor."

"He looks terrible," Hermione said, bringing a scandalized hand to her chest, and Tom laughed - a lively, exuberant laugh that made Hermione want to never hear another sound for the remainder of her life.

"Oh, he is," Tom assured her. "Killed his wife, you know."

"No!" Hermione exclaimed, aghast. "And yet you let him advise you?"

"His wife was . . . unsatisfactory," Tom said darkly, a flicker of something appearing in his narrowed blue eyes. "I agreed with his decision."

Hermione frowned. "But - "

"Hermione," Tom interrupted. "Do you wish me to kiss you?"

"Yes," she realized, entirely consumed by him once more. "Yes, oh Tom - "

And then his lips were on hers, and she tasted euphoria.

"So," she heard a voice say behind her. "Are you enjoying the party?"

She turned from where she'd been watching Tom converse with his friends to face the man Tom had called Severus, who was, indeed, quite severe.

"I am," she cooed happily. "Isn't he wonderful?"

She waited for Severus to agree, but his mouth twisted strangely into something she guessed was disapproval.

"Well," Severus said moodily, "that is most unfortunate."

"What is?" Hermione asked, wishing the man would cheer up; his sulkiness was dampening her mood.

"How long have you been here?" Severus asked brusquely. "Do you know?"

"Of course I know," Hermione said, shaking her head at his consummate silliness. "I arrived earlier today, and Merope helped me get ready, and now I'm at the ball." She turned back to Tom, sighing dreamily. "Merope says I can marry him," she added, smiling broadly. "Aren't I lucky?"

"Oh, for fuck's sake," Severus grumbled, taking her by the shoulders and turning her.

"Ouch!" Hermione protested, startled by the jostling. "Excuse me, I - "

"You've been here for three weeks," Severus told her urgently. "You arrived at the first ball three weeks ago."

"That's impossible," Hermione assured him sweetly. "I saw you for the first time just about an hour ago - "

"Three weeks ago," Severus repeated emphatically, gripping her arms tightly. "Listen to me - "

"No," Hermione said stubbornly, tossing in a pout of displeasure. "I shouldn't be talking to you anyway," she added, a little distressed at the thought, "seeing as Tom might need me - "

She was cut off abruptly as Severus dragged her behind a tapestry, ducking them both out of sight.

"They've covered you in so many enchantments I'm surprised you even know your own name, much less who you are," he said, grimacing.

"Excuse me!" she snapped furiously. "I'm trying to - "

"Here," Severus muttered gruffly, placing his hands over her eyes; she fought him for a moment, then drew a ragged breath. "Now can you see them clearly?"

She thought she'd been standing in a castle; she was wrong. She could see now that they were in a dilapidated manor house, like something out of a dystopian novel from her studies - ah yes, she thought, remembering,I was working on my thesis, and then I found something in the library -

She was distracted as she realized that in place of Tom there was a thin, skeletal man, his skin a pale, chalky white, his face skull-like in construction, and with snake-like slits for nostrils; his blue eyes, which had charmed her to her very soul, were red and flashing and his fingers, which had held her chin only minutes before, were unnaturally long, more claws than hands.

"No," Hermione whispered, "no, no, this can't be happening - "

Beside Tom, a woman who should have been Merope was stooped at his side. Her eyes were slanted, seeming to face in separate directions, and she bore a heavy, miserable expression that could only have been described as grotesque; the rest of their friends, who had been so beautiful only a moment before, were masked and heavily cloaked.

"What did you do to them?" Hermione asked, panicked. "What is this? Where am I? Who are all of these - "

Severus clapped a free hand over her mouth. "Quiet," he warned; she realized that he, unlike the others, looked the same. There was a coldness to him, something that resonated in his eyes; but she, in her panic, clung to him.

"Who are you?" he asked. "How did you get here?"

"I'm Hermione Granger," she said desperately, struggling to remember. "I'm a graduate student studying literature - I'm from London, I was in the library - I found a book - "

She started to hyperventilate and he cautiously sunk to the floor, still holding one hand to her eyes. She ducked her head awkwardly between her knees, trying to breathe.

"Books," Severus sighed. "Dangerous things, at times."

"I - " she managed, struggling to speak. "I - I don't - "

"Breathe," Severus instructed, his voice low. He patterned his breath to set a cadence for hers. "In and out."

She nodded, slowly regaining her capacity to speak. "Why can't I see them like this?" she asked fearfully. "Why am I - "

"Merope is a very powerful witch," Severus told her. "A deeply unhinged one, as well," he added. "Very questionable handle on reality, though" - he paused, emitting a sharp burst of mirthless laughter - "the same could be said for everyone here."

"A witch?" Hermione repeated, horrified. "This - this can't be real, none of it is real, I must have been drugged - "

"It is real," Severus said curtly. "Unfortunately for you, it's all too real, and the moment I release you," he added, gesturing to his hands, "you will return to what you've been the last few weeks."

"Which is?" Hermione prompted, fighting back tears.

"A toy for Merope, and an object of desire for Tom," Severus told her. "Needless to say, I would caution you against marrying him," he added darkly. "Marriage vows are especially binding when there is magic attached."

"You can't let me go on like this," Hermione said fearfully. "You have to help me, you have to clear the enchantments - " she paused, hearing the ludicrousness of the sentence, "or whatever this is - "

"I can't just clear them," Severus pronounced flatly, with a finality that nearly broke something in Hermione. "They'll notice."

"So what if they do?" Hermione asked frantically. "So what if - "

"Tom will kill you," Severus said. "Or Merope," he added, thinking. "But more likely Tom."

"Surely," Hermione begged, "surely there is something - "

He looked scrutinizingly at her. "It would take days to unravel all of this," he deduced, sounding annoyed by the prospect. "Weeks, more likely."

She nudged her face up, trying to see him from under the visor of his hand; his eyes were dark and guarded but not cruel, she decided, and he seemed to soften even more at the sight of her expression.

"Hermione," Merope croaked from a distance, and she flinched violently, nearly upending Severus's hand from her face.

"Please," Hermione whispered desperately. "Please, I'm begging you - "

"Come find me," he muttered to her. "When I remove my hand, the enchantments will return. In the castle, I live in the dungeons."

"What are they really?" she asked hesitantly, and he grimaced.

"Nothing good," he assured her, and she jumped as Merope called her name again.

"What if I don't remember?" she insisted apprehensively. "What if the enchantments are too strong?"

"Stronger than you?" he countered, a flicker of a smirk tugging at his lips. "Doubtful."

He released her, nudging her forward, and she breathed in the warm, comfortable air of the castle, her gown restored and the pleasantness of her surroundings resurrected.

"Hermione," Merope said impatiently, her stunning eyes narrowed with suspicion. "Did you not hear me calling you?"

"I did," Hermione said apologetically, "I came as fast as I could, but something - "

She frowned. What had she just been doing?

"Come now," Merope said, reaching for her hand. "Tom is looking for you."

"Tom," Hermione said pleasantly, thinking eagerly of his jewel-toned eyes and following happily. "Oh, I hope he's not too upset!"

There was a cool rush of air behind her and she turned, catching sight of the man Tom had called Severus; Merope followed her gaze, hissing with disapproval.

"You weren't speaking with Severus, were you?" Merope asked venomously. "I don't know why Tom trusts him. Killed his wife, you know," she said pointedly, nodding at Hermione as though this information were encouraging.

"I don't know him," Hermione said with confusion. "Do I?"

"No," Merope said, brushing her thumb roughly against Hermione's cheek. "No, my dear, you don't."

She woke with a strange, pulsing need to visit the dungeons; it struck her with a jolt, and she realized it was the first time she had remembered waking since her first morning - which was itself only very hazy in her mind, and accompanied by loud, imaginary cannon fire - something she did not know what to do with at the time. A strange curiosity coursed through her and she, unaccustomed to the feeling, decided to pursue it, happily rifling through her wardrobe of silky evening gowns and selecting a cheerful turquoise to match her mood.

The castle was empty and Hermione hummed to herself as she walked, following her inexplicable urge for exploration. There was a tiny piece of her that whispered for her to be careful, to be quiet, but she ignored it.

Merope and Tom would want her to be happy, wouldn't they? Charming people that they were.

She made her way down a narrow, curving staircase, feeling a slight chill in the air that struck her as familiar, if not a bit unwelcome. It was drafty and eerie, and she wondered for a moment why she'd come; she paused at the foot of the stairs, considering whether she should turn back.

"I see you found your way," a voice said, coaxing her forward.

"Hello?" she called, squinting into the darkness. "Tom?" she asked hopefully, brightening at the prospect.

"Ah, not entirely present then," Severus commented gruffly, appearing in a doorway to her right.

"Why am I here?" she asked, and he sighed.

"Come on," he said, gesturing for her to follow. "Clearly" - he said the word with a slight lean, a weighty enunciation - "we have a lot of work to do."

He offered her a small vial of liquid, which she drank; he waited patiently until she blinked in confusion, feeling the heaviness of panic settle itself in her chest.

"Oh god," she said, looking around at the dingy walls and barely standing furniture. She was in a tiny sitting room which had the feeling of a dark, padded cell; the walls were completely covered in books, and she sat beside a rickety table that stood in a pool of dim light. "What is this?"

"Do you remember the conversation you had with me?" he prompted, searching her expression for comprehension.

"I do," she said, frowning. "Am I fixed now?" she asked hopefully, and he laughed.

"Not even remotely," he pronounced with a grimace. "I've merely administered a draught that will allow me an hour to sort through the enchantments on you. Easier," he explained, holding up his hands to gesture to their mobility. "Better than having to cover your eyes the whole time."

"An hour," Hermione sighed sadly. "That's it?"

He seemed uncomfortable with her disappointment and chose not to answer; instead he sat down in front of her, eyeing her like she was a puzzle to be solved.

"I'm going to have to leave your appearance the way it is," he informed her, his tone intently clinical. "I will also have to leave the thread that's blocking most of your memory. Though, to be fair," he added after a moment, "that is really for the best."

Hermione scoffed at that. "For the best? Really?"

"Ignorance is bliss," he muttered, taking hold of her face to look at something she was sure she'd never be able to see. "Best you not be forced to see Tom for what he is, given your circumstances."

She shuddered, resolving not to think about it.

"What do you see?" she asked, and he shrugged.

"It is my lot in life to see things for what they are," he provided ambivalently. "It is why Tom values me, I imagine."

He reached up, loosening something, and she felt a spring fall into place somewhere in her chest. She reached up in surprise, her fingers resting instinctively on her throat.

"Your voice," he explained. "It seems Merope didn't care for it."

"You think that's funny," Hermione noted sullenly, catching a glimmer of amusement in his eye.

"I think what she turned you into is funny," Severus replied easily. "The hair, the eyes. The breasts," he added, his lips quirking up at the corners.

"Like a Barbie doll," Hermione sighed, and he shrugged.

"If you say so," he returned, clearly not recognizing the reference.

She watched him for a moment, intrigued by the concentration on his face. He seemed entirely consumed by his task, his coldness abandoned as he focused, an artist set to work at his craft. He was strangely delicate, oddly elegant; she followed the movements of his fingers, a little entranced against her will.

"You work for him, then?" she asked, clearing her throat as she struggled to speak.

"I advise him," Severus confirmed, not looking up.

"But you're helping me," Hermione said, biting her lip.

"Ah," Severus warned, brushing a finger warningly against her mouth. "Don't do that."

"What?" she asked, puzzled. She brought her own hand up, replacing the spot where his touch had been. "Why?"

"A bad habit that Merope made a point to erase," he noted, glancing at what she imagined to be an intricate, invisible halo of magic floating around her head.

She sighed. "How much did she change about me?"

"More than you want to know," he assured her. "Though you survived it, which says quite a bit about you."

"Survived it?" Hermione repeated, alarmed. "Was there a chance I wouldn't?"

"More than simply a chance," Severus scoffed, shaking his head at her ignorance. "Many before you have not."

"Have you helped them as well?" she asked, trying not to think about how many might have come before.

He swallowed uncomfortably. "No."

She blinked. "Then why - "

He smoothed a hand around her face, tucking a curl behind her ear. "You ask too many questions," he noted, his dark eyes slowly settling on hers.

Her breath caught in her throat.

"Not to worry," he said smoothly, giving her a wry smile. "Merope took care of that."

"Are you enjoying yourself?" Tom asked, offering her his arm.

"Oh, of course," Hermione said brightly, accepting. "Merope's gotten me a new dress," she added, reaching down to run her fingers against the fabric. "Do you like it?"

"I love it," Tom said, his eyes sparkling with wolf-like hunger as he ran his fingers along the curve of her waist. "It suits you."

"Merope knows best," Hermione said with a smile, feeling a cool breeze nearby and shivering as a dark cloak came into view.

"What are my clothes really?" Hermione asked, leaning back in the chair and sighing. "All the silk gowns she has me wear, what are they?"

"Rags," Severus replied evenly. "Essentially."

Hermione frowned. "But why do I - "

"She's a very gifted witch," Severus said, shrugging. "Illusion is her specialty."

"What's Tom's?" she asked, and Severus's dark eyes flashed.

"Control," he said tightly, and she watched the muscle tense around his jaw.

"Who are all your friends?" she asked Tom, pouting a little at not having been introduced. "Why haven't I met them?"

Tom gave her a weary look. "Jealousy," he noted with a grunt. "Mother overlooked something."

"I'm not jealous," Hermione said, a little hurt by his displeasure. "I only asked."

Tom sighed, letting his hand slip to her lower back. "I'll fix it later," he muttered. "For now, suffice it to say you would not find my friends interesting."

"But I find you so fascinating!" Hermione argued hopefully, batting her lashes as she looked up at him. "How could I not love them as well?"

"As well?" Tom echoed, flashing his teeth as he smiled. "Do you mean to tell me that you love me?"

"Of course," Hermione insisted breathlessly. "Surely you must know!"

Tom frowned, reaching around her face before finding what he was looking for. "Ah, Mother," he determined with a smirk. "Very well," he said, patting her head. "I love you too, Hermione."

"Oh Tom," she sighed, radiant with pleasure.

"I feel sick," Hermione mumbled, fighting bile in her throat.

"Had a rough day yesterday," Severus noted. "You have a bit of Tom's magic on you now, too."

"It's like one step forward, two steps back," Hermione sighed morosely, wishing she could permit herself the luxury of sobs. "Am I ever going to get out of here?"

"I never said I could help you get out," Severus erupted sharply, letting his hand fall. For the first time, he seemed distracted from his work. "I specifically never said that."

There was something lonely and forlorn in his glance, and she remembered a little tickle of something in her brain; a word of caution.

"They say you killed your wife," Hermione commented, holding her breath as she waited for his answer.

"I did not kill my wife," he retorted sharply. "She died, and it was my fault. There's a difference."

"How - "

"She did not please Tom," Severus said curtly, drawing his shoulders back as he set to resume his work. "And as I mentioned," he murmured, his voice low in her ear, "I specifically never said I could get anyone out."

"What was her name?" Hermione whispered.

"Lily," he replied. "And if you ever mention her again, I will no longer be at your disposal."

Hermione nodded. Neither spoke another word.

"You've made it so far, Hermione," Tom crooned in her ear. "I'm so proud of you."

"Have I?" she asked, a little breathless.

"Further than anyone," Tom assured her, nuzzling her neck. "You've pleased me immensely."

"Oh," Hermione said, feeling a little shiver at a coolness somewhere nearby.

Tom leaned back abruptly, his eyes flashing. "Oh?" he repeated angrily. "That's it?"

"Oh, but I'm speechless," she amended quickly. "What words would possibly do my pleasure justice?"

He nodded his approval, his eyes still slightly narrowed. Over his shoulder, Hermione saw a faint smile on Severus's face.

"Tell me the truth," Hermione demanded. "Why are you helping me?"

"Aggressive today," Severus commented simply in response.

She glared at him.

"Maybe I'm getting a little sick of being Merope's puppet," she growled. "And maybe I just want to know one thing that's real."

"Maybe," Severus agreed, frustratingly ambivalent.

She stood, tired of sitting in the goddamn chair; tired of being two goddamn people. Sick as fuck of having two different intuitions. Funny that it was this one she didn't trust, she thought, eyeing him from across the room.

Funny that it was this one she was afraid of.

"Tell me," she begged, and he stared at her.

"You reminded me of her," he said, and she knew he meant Lily. "The way you don't belong. The way you stand out."

"I stand out because of what Merope did to me," she grumbled, but he cut her off.

"No, not that," he said impatiently, moving to stand in front of her. "I told you, I can see things for what they are. I can see you," he explained, his gaze traveling from her eyes to her nose to the curve of her cheek, coming to rest on her lips. "I see you."

For a moment, she held her breath, hardly daring to trust it.

"I'm not her," Hermione warned him, her voice barely above a whisper. He was so close; if she reached out, she could touch him. If she were even a little bit braver, her hips could meet his.

"You're not her," he agreed. "You're you." He drifted towards her and she leaned into him, wondering whose nerve would fill the space between them.

"You're you," he told her, "and you are spectacular."

She shut her eyes, letting his words be the thing to fill her mind for once.

"I want something real," she whispered to him. It was a question, a request, and a demand. Give me something real.

He yanked her chest against his and she braced herself against him, breathless as he lowered his lips to hers; he kissed truth into her soul and she licked the cool flames of him, tasting him, frosty on her tongue.

"More," she pleaded, and he lifted her up, tucking her legs around him as he pressed her roughly against his bookshelf.

She bucked against him, rocking her hips against his, and he lowered his head to her neck, grazing his teeth against her skin as she moaned in his ear, shivering at his touch.

"More?" he asked her, and she whimpered as he nudged her dress aside, running his palm up her thigh and cupping her arse, sighing his satisfaction as she fumbled for his trousers, discarding his heavy cloak and rejoicing in the feel of his skin on hers.

She let her head fall back against the shelf as he slid inside her, tightening her legs around his hips as she closed her eyes, feeling at once the foreign pleasure of his touch and the soothing comfort of being in her own mind.

I want you, she thought, feeling the distinct blow of the I and the want and the you.

"I want you," she said, gasping as his mouth found her breasts.

"I'm yours," he murmured, and she felt herself unravel around him.

"Instead of a party tonight, perhaps a wedding?" Tom asked, his gaze flicking to Merope. "Don't you think she's ready, Mother?"

"What do you think, Hermione?" Merope asked, her voice puckish and testing.

"Oh," Hermione declared, clasping her hands in delight. "A wedding for me? For us?"

"Indeed," Tom confirmed, his narrowed gaze relaxing a fraction of a degree as he made a note of her elation. "You're pleased?"

"Pleased?" Hermione repeated in disbelief, her voice melodic with joy. "Oh Tom, I'm so honored!"

"A wedding it is," Merope determined, viciously pinching Hermione's cheek.

"Oh," Hermione said, seeing the dark cloak out of the corner of her eye. "Hello."

"Hello," Severus said smoothly, giving her a curt nod. "Tom has requested I escort you into your chambers."

"Oh, isn't he just wonderful?" Hermione asked, sighing. "He's so thoughtful."

"He is," Severus determined, offering her an impassive half-smile. "I wish you both a fruitful wedding night."

"Kind of you," she said, flashing him a bright, exultant smile. "He's so lucky to have such good friends."

She stepped forward, ready to head to what was to be her bedroom, when he reached out, gripping her wrist.

"My best wishes for you, Hermione," Severus said softly, closing her fingers around a narrow metallic hilt. She deftly buried it in the folds of her gown, offering him a small curtsy.

"Thank you," she purred, gripping the knife and smiling. "I'm so looking forward to the prospects of the night."

There were two kinds of ways to wake, Hermione reasoned. One was the unpleasant way; a start, like a cannon explosion, wherein one is entirely disoriented, and forcefully bolts upright. That was how Hermione had initially awoken to her new life.

The other, of course, is slow and comfortable, wherein one opens one's eyes to find one is in the precise location one would expect to be. The bedroom in which one falls asleep, for example, after having killed one's husband and fallen into the arms of one's lover, having had one's true self restored.

Such is the preferred waking, she thought, reaching over to press her lips to Severus's neck.

Chapter Text

How to Lose Her

Pairing: Dramione (Draco x Hermione)

Universe: Post-Hogwarts, EWE

Rating: M for language, sexual references

Summary: Based on a Dramione prompt from i-heart-hogwarts on tumblr (MereWhispers) based on the song We Don't Talk Anymore by Charlie Puth ft. Selena Gomez. As always, this is my interpretation, but check out the awesome edit on tumblr! Prompt: we don't talk anymore like we used to do.

Despite the title, a decidedly happy ending.


Step 1: Work in her office.

"What do you mean we'll be sharing an office?" Granger barked sharply at the retreating Ministry aid, not having noticed his arrival. Draco knocked politely on the doorframe.

"Granger," he said, knowing he bore his usual irritating smirk. "Lovely to see you're as shrill and unaccommodating as ever."

She stiffened, firm in her oppositional silence, and in the harsh lighting of the wretchedly institutional building he could see the curls coming loose around her face, the dark circles under her eyes.

"Fuck, Granger, you look shit," he commented distastefully. "Have you been sleeping here?"

She glared at him. "I will deal with you later," she snapped, before bounding past him; heading directly to Potter's office, no doubt, to demand a rearrangement.

No such luck. Potter had been the one to put him there.

Step 2: Be nicer than you used to be.

"Here," he said gruffly, placing the mug on her desk with a resounding thud. "Drink this."

"What is it?" she asked, sniffing it suspiciously. He sighed, settling himself at his desk across the room.

"It is coffee, Granger," he replied, aiming for indifference. "Drink it."

She looked momentarily stunned, squinting at him like he were some kind of animal in the wild. "Why?" she asked, and he threw his hands up in consummate frustration.

"You're exhausted," he informed her. "Your workload is ridiculous and since you don't seem to trust me with any of it, you might as well continue to stay awake, tragically wasting away - "

"Fine," she cut in curtly, carelessly levitating a series of folders toward him. "Here. Take these," she said, as though she didn't particularly care either way. "If you're so concerned about my workload."

"I never said I was concerned," he informed her stiffly, but she rolled her eyes, smiling into the mug as she took a sip.

"Mm," she murmured, closing her eyes and leaning back in her chair. "Good coffee."

He wouldn't know. He didn't drink it.

He'd made it for her.

Step 3: Attempt something chivalrous. Fail horribly.

"Oh, what are these?" she asked, delighted. "Ron sent flowers!"

"Granger," Draco said gruffly, "could you please - "

"I was so sure he'd forgotten," she sighed happily, bringing the gardenias to her nose and inhaling their scent with an uninhibited jubilance that made him want to vomit. "Ugh, I suppose I'll have to rethink the moody sulking I'd had planned for him tonight."

"Granger, once again, please do me the great honor of not including me in the details of your abhorrent love life," Draco grunted.

"Oh, hush," she said, swatting at him from afar. "Are you busy this weekend?" she added, still fussing over the bouquet. "Harry's throwing me a little get together, and while I would generally assume you would consider birthday parties to be stupid and utterly beneath you - "

"I do," he sniffed. "So plebeian."

" - I thought you might like to come. You know," she added quickly, "if you've nothing else planned."

He stiffened. "I'll think about it," he said, and she smiled at him, running a finger over the smooth petals of the flowers.

He looked at the dropped card on the floor and sighed.

Happy Birthday, Granger. It's not been entirely unpleasant working with you. You hardly even look homeless anymore. Hope you get everything you want. - DM

Oh well. He didn't like what he'd written, anyway.

So plebeian.

Step 4: Try again, only better.

"I'm so glad you could come," she slurred, stumbling a little.

"Here," he sighed, offering her his arm. "Hold on, would you? You look like a baby giraffe."

"You are a giraffe," she accused, squinting at him and instantly knocking into a bush. "Whoops," she said, bowing apologetically to the shrubbery, and Draco threw an arm around her waist, prompting her forward.

"I had no idea you were such an incredible lightweight," Draco informed her, nudging her closer as she nearly collided with a planter. "You're a fully functional adult, and yet you are completely incapable of motion after barely three glasses of wine?"

"'s my birthday," she said smugly, shrugging and grinning up at him.

"True," he conceded. "Though shouldn't your boyfriend be doing my job?"

She made a face. "Ronald Weasley?" she repeated. "Him? He is - " she stopped, waving her hand around carelessly. "Elsewhere."

"I would have expected him to be at your party," Draco noted carefully, and she let out a loud, uninhibited groan, turning to face him and putting her hands on his shoulders.

"Draco Mlalfoy," she said, tapping his nose with her finger, then stopped, frowning in concentration. "Mralfoy. Meow-lfoy."

"That's me, I think," he muttered, waiting.

"Why are you being so nice to me?" she asked, narrowing her eyes as she considered him. "You hate me," she asserted, nodding with certainty, as if she were answering a question in class.

"I don't hate you," he corrected her. "Why else would I walk you home?"

"Don't know," she mumbled. "Because you're a gentleman?"

"I assure you," he said, inexplicably infuriated by her assessment, "I am not a gentleman."

She giggled. "Okay," she said happily, before slumping in a heap at his feet, curling up on the pavement.

He picked her up, sighing, and muttered in her ear. "I don't hate you," he told her. "I like you."

She nuzzled her face into his chest, mewling contentedly, and he cradled her in his arms.

She was definitely asleep.

Step 5: Okay. Keep trying.

"All I'm asking, Ron, is for one night of your undivided attention, instead of having to continually share you with George, fussing over dungbombs or whatever it is that you - "

"Dungbombs? Hermione, you could have at least listened to me when I was telling you about our new products - dungbombs, Hermione? Bloody hell, what year do you think it is?"

"That is not the point, Ron!"

Draco could hear through the door that she was starting to cry; he raised a hand to knock but then stopped, feeling foolish. His parents had never fought. Not openly, anyway; his mother berated his father with cleverly veiled passive aggression.

You know, like civilized people.

"What do you want from me, Mione? I keep telling you, this is important - "

"More important than me?"

There was a pause, and even Draco knew that was a bad sign. Say something, he thought furiously, say something, you dumb twat -

"Get out," he heard her say coldly. "Get out of my office."

"Fine. We can talk later - "

"No. Get out of my office. Don't call me. We're done."

Draco drew a sharp breath, wondering whether to be sympathetic or elated.

The office door opened and Weasley shoved past him, not even bothering to look where he was going, and Draco stepped tentatively inside. She was leaning on her desk, her head bent, pretending to read a file. He, for his part, felt something low in the pit of his stomach - a feeling that he could only assume was indigestion - at her obvious sadness, her sniffles choked back as she put on an elaborate and thoroughly unconvincing show of ambivalence.

"Sorry about the noise," she said offhandedly, her voice muffled behind her hand.

He sighed, walking over to her and wrapping his arms around her.

"I'm sorry, Granger," he said, and she conceded to sob, her tears soaking through his Ministry robes. He patted her head. "It'll be okay," he said awkwardly, and she looked up, something defiant in her gaze.

"You know what?" she said. "It will be. You know why?"

His heart did something murderous in his chest. "Why?"

"Because I," she shouted, startling him with her volume, "am done with men. Done with them!" she added, brusquely shoving him away to turn to her desk and drop herself in her chair. "I will just focus on my work," she continued, aimlessly sorting through several piles of paper that he suspected were irrelevant, "on my many philanthropic endeavors that I have abandoned in my foolish attempts to be a good girlfriend, which were not even remotely reciprocated - "

She broke off at that, looking pained, and glanced up at him. "Thank you," she informed him. "From now on, I'm going to be like you. Cold," she explained. "Aloof. Thoroughly off-putting."

"Okay," he muttered.

"Totally closed off from society," she continued, "utterly incapable of meaningful human interaction - "

"That's enough," he told her, reaching a hand up to rub his temple in preemptive exhaustion.

Step 6: Abandon previous efforts. Kiss her.

"I don't understand what you're so upset about," he said, exasperated, and entirely at a loss. "You've been struggling with this case, so I thought I would - "

"I didn't mean for you to step in and - and just - take over!" she said, waving the parchment in his face. "Can you imagine how it felt, coming in here this morning and having found out my coworker thinks I needed him to do my work for me?" She stared down at the legal brief, sputtering her disbelief. "I mean, you would have had to stay over the weekend to get this done - "

He could not - for the life of him - understand what she was angry about.

"You've had a lot of things on your plate, Granger," he began slowly, testing the waters, "and I only thought that it would be helpful if I could just - "

"Helpful?" she scoffed. "Since when have you - "

"Oh, for fuck's sake," he yelled, throwing his hands up in the air. "Give me that," he added, wrenching the parchment from her hands and tossing it back on her desk.

"What are you doing?" she gasped. "Have you totally lost your - "

He took hold of her face and kissed her, pulling her into him, and he tried in that moment to tell her all the things he'd failed to say before - I like you, Granger, I like the face you make when you're concentrating, I like when I can do things for you, I like when you let me do things for you, I like when you ask me to make coffee because you want it the way I make it, I like when you laugh, I like when you smile, I even like when you cry because it means you might let me hold you -

She broke free of him, staring at him.

"Since when?" she demanded, and he glared at her.

"Brightest witch of your age, my arse," he grumbled, and her lips quirked up in a smile.

Step 7: Go much too fast, much too soon.

"Here?" he managed breathlessly, suddenly recalling that he had her against a wall in the storage room of their office, and perhaps now wasn't the right time to ask.

"Yes," she said, panting against his mouth, "and now."

"But - " he protested, but then her lips were on his neck and he shoved his conscience aside and yanked her skirt up, slipping inside her and biting his lip as she moaned his name, pausing momentarily in his utter euphoria to wish - like a child; like a fool - that he might never live another day without fucking her.

No, not fucking her.

Loving her.

Fuck, he thought, suddenly rigid with fear.

Step 8: Be an unbearable prat.

She was avoiding him. It was unimaginable torture.

She came in early, left late; if he stayed for lunch, she went out. If he left, she stayed in. She ran to Potter's office periodically throughout the day and he was plagued in her absence by the thought of what she might be saying - what was I thinking? how could I be so stupid? how could I have done that with him? - and it tore at the core of his being.

He thought about showing up at her house, knocking down her door, demanding an explanation - but he didn't. Instead he was sullen. Obnoxious.

He didn't blame her for not talking to him.

Step 9: Do something incomprehensibly petty.

"I want a transfer," Draco demanded. "As soon as possible."

"What?" Potter echoed, staring blankly at him. "But you and Hermione have the best case record out of anyone in the legal department."

"I know that," Draco replied testily, "but that does not serve to diminish the fact that I want a transfer, and I want one now."

"What happened?" Potter asked, and now his voice had an edge of concern to it. "Malfoy, if there's something wrong - "

"NOTHING HAPPENED," Draco roared, and Potter blinked.

"Okay then," he said. "I believe you, I guess."

Step 10: Miss her wildly. Miss her completely. Miss her so much you can't breathe.

Draco lay awake at night with the memory of her breath in his ear. Her perfume on his collar. Her fingers in his hair. After all this time, he still couldn't breathe at the thought of her. He couldn't stand to know what kind of dress she was wearing, or whether she was lying next to someone else. Whether there was a good reason she was gone, or if it just wasn't him; if it was someone else, someone who did things right, someone who knew what she wanted -

Fuck, he thought, loving her completely and hating every spare inch of himself.

Step 11: Say nothing at all.

" . . . which leaves step eleven," Draco said moodily, "which is to say nothing at all, and suffer in silence."

"Silence being optional, I take it," Theo replied. "Why didn't you bring this up sooner?"

"Because I'm writing a book," Draco retorted sullenly. "How to Lose Her, by Draco Fucking Malfoy."

"I'm glad you've summarized it so succinctly," Theo said, but seeing Draco's grim expression, he abandoned the would-be joke and sighed.

"We don't talk anymore," Draco offered simply. "I miss it. I miss her voice."

"She's not dead, mate," Theo said, patting his shoulder. "It's not over til it's over."

"But," Draco began, "if she really wanted - "

"Look," Theo cut in, "I know you're a Malfoy, and you're used to having the things you want handed to you. But unfortunately, you, along with the rest of us peasants - "

"Says the inheritor of the Nott fortune," Draco grumbled.

" - are sometimes required to put the pieces in motion," Theo continued. "And considering the utter stupidity you have exhibited thus far - "

Draco opened his mouth to argue, but at Theo's stern glare, shut it again.

"Continue," he said tenuously, and Theo nodded.

"Considering your stupidity," Theo repeated, "I think the obvious next step is to apologize - "

"Ugh, fuck me," Draco groaned petulantly.

" - and hope that she'll listen. And," Theo added, "maybe it might do you some good to ask her what went wrong."

"What is this, some kind of social experiment you are conducting on me?" Draco asked gruffly. "This sounds like some kind of new age psychological rubbish."

"It's called communication," Theo corrected, "and I am assured that it yields great success."

"Sounds like a trick," Draco muttered, but he decided he had nothing to lose.

He made his way to Granger's flat - he passed the hedge she'd had the drunken altercation with and barely suppressed a fond smile - and despite thinking about it for the entirety of his procession, arrived at her stoop with absolutely no concept of what to say.

Her eyes widened as she opened the door, then narrowed as he opened his mouth.

"Granger," he opened grandly, "the - " he coughed, still coming up empty. "The thing is - "

But she seemed shaken with nerves, and frantic with withheld speech, and he cut himself off, furrowing his brow as he waited.

"Where have you been?" she suddenly burst out, the words erupting from her lips.

"Um," he began, but he needn't have bothered.

"I was such an idiot," she told him, wringing her hands. "I don't know what came over me but I was just - I was scared," she confessed, and he, shocked into silence, merely stared.

"I realized that what I felt for you ran so much deeper than I thought," she admitted, her eyes cast down sheepishly, "and I didn't know what to do, and I had to analyze my every feeling to death, of course" - of course, he thought silently, and then shoved aside the mad affection that bubbled up in his chest - "which was stupid, and horrible - and then when I finally realized what an awful twat I was being - "

He opened his mouth to argue, but figuring it best to let her continue, closed it again.

" - you were transferred and I didn't know what to say or do; I was just so nervous that you hadn't felt the same way and I was an utter fool, Malfoy, but I can't stand it," she said, tearing at her lip in anxiety. "I can't stand another day like this, I can't stand not talking anymore - I miss you," she informed him, her eyes brimming with tears. "I was afraid you didn't want me, but now I'm just afraid I'll lose you. And I can't. I can't."

She gazed up at him and he down at her, and he realized there was one more step. One more thing to do; Step Twelve. Say something meaningful. Sweep her off her feet.

"Well," he opened stiffly. "For fuck's sake, Granger. You could have just said so."

Or not.

She smiled tearfully at him. "Is that all?"

"No it's not all," he sniffed indignantly. "I love you, Granger."

Her eyes widened.

"Don't make a scene," he warned.

She shook her head. "Oh Draco," she sighed.

"Well," Theo said, "that's incredibly sad news."

"I know," Draco agreed. "I really thought I had an excellent product on my hands."

"It truly is unfortunate that How to Lose Her is going to be such a colossal commercial failure," Theo lamented. "Particularly once they see how unsuccessful the author was in his endeavors."

"I know," Draco said. "Truly. It stings."

"It should," Theo determined, straightening his tie and patting Draco on the shoulder. "Ready, then?"

"Yes," Draco said, then stopped. "Of course, I could just change the title," he postulated. "Don't you think?"

"How to Marry Her," Theo said, then grinned. "Sounds like a bestseller."

They looked at each other.

"Nah," Draco said.

"It would literally never work twice," Theo agreed, erupting in laughter. "Can you imagine?"

"I cannot," Draco replied drily, waiting impatiently for him to collect himself.

"Okay," Theo said, wiping his eyes. "Right then. Let's go."

Chapter Text

Ride or Die

Pairing: Dramione (Draco x Hermione)

Universe: American muggle AU

Rating: M for sex, violence, and language

Summary: Agnl9 asked for a Dramione based on the song Secret Love Song by Little Mix, so the prompt is: We keep behind closed doors / Every time I see you, I die a little more / Stolen moments that we steal as the curtain falls / It'll never be enough.

The Death Eaters are an outlaw motorcycle club run by Tom Riddle, a notoriously ruthless leader who is gradually working the brotherhood into higher stakes criminal activity after their previous leader dies unexpectedly. Draco Malfoy is practically heir to the throne, but his life abruptly changes when a near fatal injury lands him in the hands of a surgical intern who is about to get in way over her head.

"This is fucking insane," Theo muttered, crossing his arms over his chest as he leaned against the wall. "Dumbledore never had us do shit like this."

"Relax," Draco told him, looking up as a car drove by. Not them. "Dumbledore didn't exactly pay out, either."

"I'm not going to fucking relax," Theo countered roughly, raking a hand through his hair. The tattoo on his wrist was stark against his pale skin. "This is bullshit, Draco. Who the fuck are we meeting?"

"Theo," Draco warned, giving him a cautionary glance. It went unnoticed.

"Riddle's a fucking lunatic," Theo continued, scowling. "This is not our game," he growled, slamming his hand on the trunk of the Impala they rarely used. "Fucking guns and shit," he muttered under his breath. "I didn't fucking sign up to die today."

"Theo," Draco said coolly, shading his eyes from the afternoon sun. "Shut the fuck up."

Theo grunted his opposition to this idea, but did as he was bade. Hierarchy demanded it.

Besides, Draco was fucking right.

"There," Draco said, jutting his chin out to reference the approaching car; it was an XLR that looked more than a little out of place pulling behind a warehouse. "Fuckers," he added under his breath, shaking his head. "Incognito apparently doesn't mean what it used to."

Theo said nothing, swallowing uneasily as the driver got out, strutting towards them. He was thoroughly bearded; fully overdressed. He offered a stiff nod, his grey hair slicked back from his face.

"Malfoy?" he called gruffly.

"Me," Draco replied, stepping forward. "Greyback?"

"Call me Fenrir," the other man said, bearing his teeth as he smiled. "My associates," he added, gesturing to the two heavily muscled men behind him. "Scabior," he said, nodding to the larger of the two, "and Smith."

"Pleasure," Draco offered smoothly, nodding to Theo. "This is Nott."

"Nott," Fenrir repeated, his eyes flashing. He glanced at Scabior, who made a face of unveiled skepticism. "Thought he was older."

"Nott Junior," Theo clarified. The muscle twitched around his jaw.

Fenrir raised an eyebrow, turning back to Draco. "I take it you are Malfoy Junior, then," he said, and Draco heard something in his tone; insult, he suspected.

"We're better company than our fathers," Draco supplied. "Tom did you a favor."

Fenrir considered him a moment, eyes narrowed; Draco refused to back down, staring back until the other man suddenly laughed, clapping his hands together in a bewildering expression of delight.

"Too true," Fenrir determined gravely. "So." He raised a hand, beckoning. "Show me what Tom has for me."

Draco glanced at Theo, who popped open the trunk.

"Take a look," Draco invited, stepping aside. "Sample only. Full shipment in a week, if you're interested."

"Naturally," Fenrir agreed, grinning wolfishly again. He sifted through the trunk's contents and picked up the M16, peering over the barrel.

"Hey, man," Theo muttered, garnering a stiff glance from Scabior and Smith. "Maybe don't fucking wave that shit around."

Fenrir glanced up, eyeing him. "This shit hot?" he asked suspiciously, turning to Draco. "This one looks scared," he added, using the rifle to gesture to Theo's stiff-shouldered form.

"That's just his face," Draco supplied indifferently, glaring at Theo the instant Fenrir turned back to the trunk. It was harder now to keep his cool; it hadn't occurred to him to ask Riddle if the guns they were selling happened to be stolen.

Theo was right. Dumbledore never had us do shit like this.

He should've asked.

Fenrir looked up, gesturing for his two companions. They crowded around him on either side, and Theo slowly inched towards Draco.

"This doesn't look good," Theo whispered.

"I fucking know that," Draco hissed. "Fucking calm down."

Theo's frown deepened. "Maybe we should get them to move," he suggested, gesturing to Smith and Scabior. "I don't like this."

"Sure, Theo, just fucking ask nicely," Draco suggested sarcastically, imitating him. "Please be so kind as to show us your goddamn hands - "

"Hey," Fenrir said, turning. He now held a pistol and was eyeing it closely; too closely. Draco heard the telling clicks from either side of him as Scabior and Smith drew their weapons. "You got rules on sampling the merchandise?"

Draco swallowed, trying to remain calm. "Could grab some targets," he offered, feigning ignorance. "Nothing if not hospitable," he added, reaching slowly for the Glock tucked into his waistband.

"Don't fucking move," Scabior grunted. "We already know these guns work."

"Love a knowledgeable customer," Theo offered weakly, before Draco shot him a silencing glare.

"Ask us how we know," Fenrir suggested, beckoning. "Go on. Ask."

Fuck, Draco thought. Fuck, fuck, fuck -

"How do you know?" he gritted out, struggling to breathe.

Fenrir aimed the Beretta at him. "These guns are fucking stolen," he said. "Tell Riddle I want his head," he added with a laugh, right before he pulled the trigger.

Hermione Granger stepped outside the emergency room and sank to the ground, feeling a thorough throb of exhaustion course through her. She thought medical school had been hardest thing she'd ever done; she'd been so, so tragically wrong. Her surgical internship was tougher than she'd ever imagined. She was used to being the smartest, the best in her class - but so were they. She'd never met anyone as intense and relentless as she was until she'd met the other interns, who seemed overjoyed to sacrifice food, sleep, and happiness in order to secure a residency.

She leaned her head against the wall, closing her eyes. Her shift was finally over, but she could barely bring herself to consider driving home. Just five minutes, she told herself, five minutes, and then you can get in your car and -

She heard the familiar loud screech of tires coming to a desperate halt, followed by a door being slammed. She cracked one eye, wondering where it was coming from.

"Excuse me," someone grunted, the male voice low and vaguely intimate. She looked up in alarm, her breath caught by a set of stunning grey eyes.

"Um," she managed, before her gaze traveled to the copious amount of blood seeping from his left shoulder. She could see he was clutching it and grimacing in pain. "Holy shit!"

She scrambled to her feet. "Come with me," she said instantly, reaching for him. "The ER is right this way, and - "

"No," he gritted out, clearly struggling through the injury. "No, I can't, I - " he looked around anxiously. "I need you to help me," he said, his voice still notably low. She couldn't quite work out how he was managing to be so calm; injuries like this usually came in with wailing and cursing.

"I can't," she said bluntly, blinking at him. "I'm not really a doctor," she added. "I'm - I'm only an intern - "

"You're surgery, though, right?" he asked, his knuckles white as he clutched his shoulder. "Green scrubs," he supplied, gesturing for explanation, and she looked down to check before kicking herself. Obviously, she fumed. Hermione, you idiot.

"I can't help you," she repeated apologetically, though her eyes slipped repeatedly between the blood seeping towards his chest and the piercing intensity of his eyes. "I'm sorry, but that's hospital policy. But the emergency room is right this way," she explained hopefully, trying to coax him, "and I'll help you with anything you need - "

"You don't understand," he told her, his face flushed; he was stunning, even covered in blood. Her eyes flicked momentarily over the tattoos that sloped over his neatly muscled arms. "I can't go in there."

"Why not?" she asked vacantly. "Insurance or something? Worry about that later," she advised,
"surely we can figure something out - "

His expression instantly contorted into such an intensive display of agony and frustration that it immediately silenced her.

"I've got a fucking bullet lodged in my shoulder," he growled, tearing at his lip in agitation. "And I can't have someone taking it out of me and putting it some kind of fucking police file - "

He cut off, swearing in pain. "Fuck - "

"Police file?" she repeated, stunned. "Who did this?"

He stared imploringly at her. "Just fucking trust me," he said, in a way that did not encourage any form of trust, "you really don't want to know - and it's either you help me," he added vehemently, "or I bleed out right fucking now - "

"You want me to break hospital policy and the law?" Hermione interrupted, aghast. "You can't be serious, I could lose my license, I'd - I'd never get a job - "

"I won't fucking tell anyone," he gasped, staggering forward to grip her arm. "Please, please - "

"You're insane," she insisted, trying not to pay attention to the way his skin was going sallow and pale, his color waning. "Even putting aside the trouble I could get in, I could - I could kill you, I could do something wrong - " she cut off frantically, flailing her hands in panic as he groaned loudly in pain. "I don't even have a sterile environment - "

"What's your name?" he interjected, his grasp on her arm uncomfortably tight.

"Hermione," she said, and then shook her head. "I mean Granger - Doctor Granger - "

"Granger, I'm fucking begging you," he pleaded, "take this fucking bullet out of my shoulder and end the worst fucking day of my life, or just inject me with something and put me out of my misery altogether - "

He broke off, squeezing his eyes shut and flinching, his shirt now soaked with blood.

"That's a little dramatic," she managed, appalled at the sound of her own whimper.

But she'd taken an oath, hadn't she? She'd gone to medical school to save lives, hadn't she? To do some good in the world? She shifted from foot to foot, inexplicably torn.

They were outside a hospital. She could just make him go to the ER. He was going to pass out any moment anyway, one yell would get an EMT out there; there was no reason she couldn't do things by the book, no matter what he said, or how desperate he looked - god, he really did look like it was a matter of life or death -

She bit her lip, trying to focus. Think of your career, Hermione, think of your life - you don't know what he's done -

Does it matter? she scolded herself. A life is a life, isn't it, Hermione?

Even if this is the moral thing to do, are you even awake enough? she countered internally. Fifteen hour shift and he wants you to slice open his shoulder -

There are a million reasons not to, she reminded herself. She looked at his face, at the naked desperation etched into it, and tried to convince herself not to listen to what his grey eyes were telling her, tried to ignore the nagging feeling in her gut. Don't do it, Hermione.

"Please," he whispered.

She sighed. "Let me grab some tools," she muttered, rubbing her eyes. "You stay here and pray I don't kill you."

Draco heard a car door slam outside his apartment and came curiously to the window; he saw the pretty doctor - Granger, she'd said her name was - get out of the same old Subaru that she'd stitched him up in, slinging a bag over her shoulder and tucking her hands into her well worn jeans. Her hair was pulled back in a loose braid; she looked like she must have recently got off work.

Fuck me, he swore, hoping there was a way he could pass off her visit without Riddle getting wind of it. Tom wasn't much for outsiders. He wouldn't take kindly to anything that appeared suspicious, and he was a man who found most things suspicious.

Draco rushed to the door, opening it before she could knock.

"How did you find me?" he demanded, glancing around. "Get in," he added, pulling her inside quickly.

"Um," she began hesitantly, stumbling through the doorway, "well, I see you're still alive."

"How did you find me?" he repeated, crossing his arms over his chest. She seemed vaguely put out by his hostility, though she didn't back down.

"Draco Malfoy isn't exactly a common name," she informed him, pursing her lips. "Wasn't that hard. And shockingly," she added, "surgery is slightly more complicated than a Google search."

"Why are you here?" he insisted, ignoring her comment and wondering if he should rush her out. Someone would have noticed her car by now.

"I have to remove your stitches," she said, teasing her shoulders back indignantly. She had a prim kind of stubbornness, a little taste of don't fuck with me that he should have known was dangerous. "I didn't exactly get my hands on the high quality dissolving kind when I was MacGyvering you back to life in my car."

"Oh," he muttered, instinctively bringing his hand to his shoulder. MacGyvered or not, she'd done a solid enough job; it would scar, obviously, but not badly. "Fine."

"If you're busy, I can come back later," she offered, but he shook his head.

"No," he said sharply. "You shouldn't come back here. Ever," he added emphatically, hoping she would find that sufficient.

"Okay," she sighed, with a hint of snotty displeasure. "Or I could just go," she added, giving him a taunting look. "If you'd rather I not be here."

He fought a frustrated groan; she was a little exasperating, and more than a little enticing, which was just as much a problem. "It's not you," he said quickly, "it's - "

He cut himself off. She waited.

"Nevermind," he determined slowly, eyeing her. She was watching him curiously, chewing her lip as she waited; he tried not to let his gaze linger too long on her mouth. "Just - do what you have to do, then."

"How gracious of you," she quipped sarcastically, but she put her bag on the kitchen table, pulling out a chair for him. "Sit," she instructed. "Shirt off," she added, her cheeks turning slightly pink.

"Are you sure this isn't a social visit?" he asked her, smirking as he dutifully removed the thin white t-shirt he wore. Her eyes went instantly to his chest, and she promptly reddened.

"Purely medical," she determined, recovering quickly. "So sit here, and - is that a knife?" she asked, sounding vaguely horrified as she eyed the handle that protruded from his waistband.

"It is," he confirmed indifferently, removing it and setting it on the table as he took a seat. "Can't be too careful."

"But you're in your house," she squeaked, her brow furrowed in confusion.

Ah, culture shock. Welcome to my world, Doc.

"Yeah," he agreed. "That's why it's a knife and not a Glock. Much more casual," he joked.

"Not a - " she trailed off, swallowing as she reached the word Glock. "Oh."

She stood still, suddenly uncertain. She looked small and lost, and for some reason, he almost smiled. Am I making you nervous? he wanted to ask.

He hoped so.

"This is what you came for, right?" he prompted, gesturing to his shoulder. The thick black stitches were stark against the yellowed bruising of the skin.

"Right," she agreed, suddenly snapping out of her temporary stupor and pulling up a chair next to him, rifling for things in her bag and getting to work. She seemed subdued by the prospect of something she understood; he recognized the compulsion. It was the moment of stillness and focus right before the engine roared to life. "How are you feeling?"

"Stressed," he replied. "With a touch of despondency. You?"

He watched her lips twitch into a small smile. "I meant the whole bullet wound thing," she clarified, her brown eyes briefly meeting his.

"Ah, that," he replied, trying not to shrug and disrupt her work as she unwillingly dragged her attention back to the stitches. "You do great work, Granger. I'm perfectly healed."

"Really?" she asked dubiously, glancing at him again. Her eyes, normally wide and earnest, were glimmering with delicate skepticism.

"No," he grumbled. "It fucking hurts, Granger, what do you want from me?" he asked, frowning. "Can't you just let me be a man?"

He was gratified to see her smile again. "Right," she said, nodding solemnly and ducking her head to hide a laugh. "Of course."

He watched her work, wondering if he wasn't secretly relieved to see her again. The first time had been tainted by the disaster of the day, of course; Fenrir knew what he was doing. He hadn't shot to kill. He'd shot to injure, to inconvenience, and by the time Theo had his gun cocked the other three had practically laughed their way out, tires squealing as they left Draco behind to bleed all over Theo's car and face a raging Tom Riddle; to deliver the disappointing news that his stolen artillery was going to need a new fucking buyer, and Riddle himself was going to need better security.

His father had looked murderous. Lucius was a loyalist when it came to Tom; he'd been rewarded well for it, and he was a man who liked rewards. Don't fuck up next time, Lucius had spat, leaving Draco behind to nurse his aching shoulder and wonder firstly whether he was still Tom's favorite, and secondly, whether or not that particular role was going to eventually get him killed.

The concept of Draco having a near death experience was lost on Lucius; his pride in his son was dependent on Draco continuing to be the golden boy, the assured leader of the next generation of Death Eaters. Not that Draco could blame him. It was a source of pride for Draco, too. Or it had been, in any case, though he didn't care much for bullet holes. The phrase don't shoot the messenger suddenly hit far too close to home.

But this is a different day, he reminded himself, chasing the thought away as Granger's brown eyes met his again; she couldn't seem to help herself, and he found he wasn't opposed. Today, the pretty doctor was in his house, and he was already fucked by her presence, and her fingers were a little too inviting on his skin . . . not that it wouldn't be stupid, obviously. Completely idiotic.

But maybe - just once -

"There," she said breathlessly, smoothing her hand over it; her touch was cool and captivating. "I can give you something for the scars, if you want - "

Fuck it.

He leaned forward, gripping the back of her head and pulling her lips to his, the kiss not rough enough to bruise but certainly firm enough for her to know he meant it. Enough to tell her what he wanted - I want you - and then he slipped his tongue along her bottom lip; a question. Do you?

She swayed toward him in a helpless way, like she was fighting it, but she kissed him back just as earnestly and then her hands were slipping down his stomach, resting tentatively on his hips; he wondered if she could feel the way he instinctively leaned in at her touch, the hairs rising on his arms as her fingers moved to linger on the waistband of his jeans. He pulled her head back, moving to scrape his teeth along her neck, feeling her shudder in response.

She pulled away, her eyes closed. "I really, really, really," she began slowly, "honestly came to fix your stitches."

"But?" he prompted, his voice husky. I want you.

She eyed him for a minute before speaking.

"I'm a surgical intern," she said, and he blinked, uncertain what direction she was taking. "I work terrible shifts and I barely have time for anything. Anything," she repeated adamantly, and he realized she was telling him something.

"You want me to fuck you," he supplied roughly, and though she seemed momentarily uncomfortable with the vulgarity of the phrasing, she nodded.

He fought a smirk. Fine by me.

He yanked her to him again and she instantly put her hands on his chest; he smiled as she sighed into his mouth, her hands traveling hungrily over his curves and angles to prove what he'd suspected all along - she'd been looking. He pulled her sweater over her head, sliding his fingers along the cups of her bra, and she stood, shimmying hurriedly out of her jeans and carefully straddling him on the chair.

He slid his hands up her spine, unclasping her bra and tossing it aside, running a thumb over the hardened bead of her nipple and then taking it in his mouth, enjoying the sound of her breathy whimper and the feel of her grinding against him, wondering momentarily if it had been worth getting shot.

She reached down, unbuttoning his jeans and taking his cock in her hand; he slipped a finger against her slit and she moaned, already slick and as desperate as he was. He pushed her practical white cotton thong aside and slid inside her, swallowing a heady fuck of satisfaction as he thrust up; he growled his frustration at the obstruction of the garment and reached for his knife, ignoring the panicked widening of her eyes as he slid the cool blade against the material and tore it away from her. She made an incoherent, strangled sound as he tossed the knife aside and shoved the items gracelessly off the table, lifting her up and laying her on top of it; the look of alarm that had crossed her face melted as he brought his hand to her clit, sliding his thumb against it as he drove into her, her back arched as she raised her hips to his.

As her face went blank with pleasure he knew for certain he was fucked. He closed his eyes as she called out his name, considering with vague amusement that the concept of just once had been one of his finest delusions.

Hermione walked into her apartment and threw her bag on the ground, exhausted.

But not too exhausted. She picked up her phone, typing in a text message.

Just got done at the hospital. Are you around?

Okay, so it wasn't the romance of her dreams. It wasn't not, either, but there were certainly concessions made on her part. He didn't like her coming over to his place, for one thing; he was extremely secretive, and she had no idea why, nor did she really have any idea what he did for a living. The bullet wound and the tattoos indicated that he was probably not an investment banker - sorry, Mom - but he was clearly intelligent, and certainly wealthy to at least some degree. From what she could see, anyway; they didn't go out much - or at all - but that worked for her. She only had enough time to have sex and sleep in between shifts, and he didn't mind. He seemed to prefer it.

He was also available during the random hours between leaving work and passing out completely before going back, so convenience-wise, it was about the best she could hope for.

In general, though, answers were a rarity. She'd asked about him getting shot; trust me, you don't want to know.

She'd asked about why he didn't want her at his house; am I married? Don't be fucking ridiculous. It's nothing like that.

Other than that, he didn't offer up much, and it wasn't until she'd finally learned what the tattoo on his wrist was - the snake inside the skull that she'd assumed he simply considered badass or something - that she even came close to putting a finger on what he did all day.

"Are you a Death Eater?" she asked, her head on his chest as he played with her hair. She had about ten minutes before she promptly fell asleep, so he was usually willing to entertain her questions.

He looked down, squinting at her in confusion. "You didn't know that?"

"No," she admitted. "I didn't know that even meant anything until someone came in today with the same tattoo." She traced her thumb along the outline of his wrist. "I asked one of the other interns."

"I forget you're not from around here," he commented, which she found to be somewhat evasive. "Who came in?"

"An older guy," she offered. "Last name Mulciber, I think." It was easier to think of the patients in terms of their medical charts. "Stab wound."

She felt a strange lurch as she said it, trying not to recall the image of Draco setting his knife on the table; she still wasn't entirely accustomed to him pulling out a knife or a gun from his waistband before he undressed. He was discreet about it - he obviously sensed she wasn't entirely comfortable with the arsenal of weapons he seemed to need to carry around - but still, there was always an unwilling catch in her breath when she watched him do it.

"Fuck," Draco muttered under his breath, shaking his head. "Shit is getting really - " he cut himself off, his grey eyes flashing as he caught her curious look of concern. "Nevermind," he offered gruffly, clearly venturing back into trust me, you don't want to know territory.

"What's the deal with the Death Eaters?" she asked instead, tracing the outline of the tattoo on his chest; my family crest, he'd told her. Sanctimonia Vincet Semper; Purity Always Conquers. "What do you do?"

A blank look went over his face; predictably, he didn't want to talk about it. Trust me, you don't want to know.

"It's a motorcycle club," he supplied slowly, and while she suspected that barely scratched the surface, she nodded, running her hand absentmindedly over his abs and grinning as his cock twitched receptively.

"I have just one more question," she ventured, and he smirked, inviting it. "What's the deal with the whole 'ride or die' thing?"

He chuckled, pulling her closer. "It's an old biker phrase," he offered, shrugging. "If you couldn't ride, you'd rather die. Means something a little different now. Ride together, or die trying." He kissed her forehead roughly. "Some Bonnie and Clyde shit."

"Huh," Hermione had remarked, having about a thousand more important questions she'd rather have asked, and deciding instead to be satisfied with receiving one true answer. "Good to know."

Her phone jerked her back to the present, buzzing in her hand.

I'll be there in ten minutes.

She smiled, about to set the phone down, when it went off again.

Be naked.

"Tell me there's a way out of this," Theo muttered, looking even more gaunt than usual.

"I'm thinking not," Draco sighed, rolling the exhaustion out his neck. "Though I am assured this time the artillery's legit."

"Assured by whom?" Theo scoffed. "Lucius?"


Draco said nothing.

"You'd think he'd know better," Theo grumbled, "but apparently one measly pipe bomb strapped to his bike isn't enough to scare Tom Riddle straight."

"You'd think Greyback would've tried harder," Draco added, a hint of bitterness working its way into his tone. "Severe lack of creativity, if you ask me."

Theo huffed his agreement. "Anyway, I didn't just mean this," he said, his voice low and conspiratorial. "Not just tonight."

Draco looked up warily.

"There's got to be a way out of all of this," Theo clarified, swallowing what Draco knew was a lifetime of fury.

"Not so long as Riddle's in charge," Draco muttered, hoping that would be that.

A pause passed between them; Draco could practically hear Theo's thoughts, but by the time Theo spoke the words out loud, he'd already forcefully shoved the possibility aside.

It was hushed, and rightfully so. "What if he weren't in charge?"

"Shut the fuck up," Draco said sharply, nodding to the approaching headlights. "They're coming."

She heard his motorcycle pull up and her eyes snapped open, checking her clock.

Three in the morning - that wasn't normal. She flew to the door, throwing it open as she heard his heavy footstep on the landing.

"Draco," she breathed, her chest tightening as his face came into the light. His eye was nearly swollen shut and his lip was bleeding, the purple bruising of new injuries already starting to show. "Draco, Jesus Christ, what happened?"

He didn't have to say anything. Trust me, you don't want to know.

She took his hand and drew him inside, letting the door shut behind him and wrapping her arms tightly around his neck; he pulled her in close and she stretched out against him, pressing every inch of her body against some spare piece of his.

He was shaking a little and she led him to the couch, collapsing with him. She agonized for a moment - she was a medical professional, she knew perfectly well that his face needed attention - but she couldn't let go, couldn't imagine being anywhere else but in his arms. She held him until his breathing slowed and his tremors subsided, stroking his hair and whispering in his ear.

She reached around for where she knew he'd be keeping something in his waistband, a pistol or a knife; but there was nothing, and she felt a chill run through her, her entire body going numb as her mind sorted through countless possibilities. If there had been a weapon there, had it been drawn? Had someone else fared worse tonight?

For a moment she tried to care, but quickly found that she couldn't; she rooted around in her conscience for morality and compassion but only found a selfish breath of gladness, of relief that he was here with her, whatever sacrifice that feat had taken.

"I'm sorry," she whispered, realizing she had been crying. "I can have sex in a minute, I just - "

She felt him swallow. "I didn't come for sex," he confessed, the anguish in his voice prompting a shiver up her spine. He burrowed his face in her shoulder, breathing in the smell of her hair.

"I just want to be with you," he told her, and she wondered how much it cost him to say it.

"What's her name?" Theo asked innocently, and Draco looked up, startled.

"What's whose name?" he asked, feeling his heart pound.

"Avery's been seeing your bike," Theo said slowly. "Not somewhere it should be."

"I - " Draco began, cursing himself for his carelessness. He'd been with her every night that she wasn't working. "It's not - "

"Be careful," Theo warned. "She's a citizen, isn't she?" Draco knew what he meant: she's not one of us.

Draco's mouth went dry. Theo wouldn't have brought it up unless he'd heard something dangerous. He didn't need to hear the words; Riddle won't like that.

But still, it was Theo.

"She's a fucking surgeon," Draco choked out, suddenly finding the concept absolutely absurd. She's a surgeon, and I'm a pawn on wheels.

"Fuuuuck," Theo exhaled slowly, taking a swig from his beer. "You'd think she'd know better than to get involved with trash like you."

They glanced at each other and grinned.

"Granger," Draco provided, savoring her name on his tongue as he reached for a sip of Theo's beer. "Dr. Hermione Granger," he enunciated slowly, feeling a strange surge of pride as he said it.

Theo nodded, taking the beer back and tossing back a long gulp.

"Don't get her killed," Theo muttered.

"Dr. Granger, we need you, there's nobody else - "

"What is it?" Hermione asked, turning to run after the orderly. She dodged a few other nurses and staff, chasing him through the ER as people continued to call out her name. It was a busy day; a large scale car crash had come in hours earlier, and the attendings were elsewhere -

"Dr. Granger, there you are - "

The nurses were scrambling around an unresponsive body; Hermione's heart lurched as a pale wrist came into view, a skull and a snake clearly visible as the hand draped over the side of the gurney.

It couldn't be -

"Dr. Granger?"

She looked at the nurse, forcing herself to focus and swallowing her immediate urge to vomit.

"What happened?" she asked breathlessly, rubbing her clavicle; her pulse was racing and her brain was screaming, blood rushing in her ears. "What happened to him?"

"GSW to the chest," the arriving EMT called, "through-and-through - "

"Let me see," Hermione said desperately, half-shoving people out of her way. "Let me see - "

She caught a glimpse of dark hair and felt a cruel moment of relief before remembering that this was her job, rushing forward to see the injury. The blood loss was staggering and he was so similar to Draco, his build and height, and the tattoos; he had some of the same ones Draco did. She reached out, checking for a pulse.

Someone called for a code behind her. "Dr. Granger - "


Her name had dribbled out of the Death Eater's mouth and she looked sharply at him, watching him try to slur something she thought she vaguely understood.

"Draco," he muttered. "Draco - "

She looked up frantically, gesturing to an orderly.

"Call Draco Malfoy," she begged. "Call him now, please - "

She turned back to the dark haired Death Eater. "You're going to make it," she told him fiercely, something wretched twisting in her chest as his eyes drooped shut, slipping back out of consciousness. "I don't know how, but I'm going to save your fucking life."

Draco ran through the halls of the hospital.

"Theo," he panted, throwing himself at someone who appeared capable of operating a computer. "I'm looking for Theo Nott - "


He turned, seeing her. "Granger," he sighed, yanking her into his arms. "Fuck, Granger, what happened? Where is he?"

"Post-op," she supplied. She looked exhausted and pale, and there were dark spatterings of blood on her scrubs. "He's okay, he's in one of the rooms but it's - " she looked down, suddenly hesitant. "It's family only right now - "

"Fuck that," Draco gritted out in frustration. "That's my fucking brother, Granger - "

She grabbed his hand, pulling him behind her with a surprising strength and dragging him into one of the on-call rooms. He followed, knowing better than to roar his displeasure, but wanting to anyway.

"Calm down," she told him, trying to coax him to sit on one of the cots. The patronizingly gentle tone of her voice was infuriating. "I know, I know how you must feel - "

"No you don't," he shouted back, raking a hand through his hair. "You have no fucking clue, Granger - how could you fucking know - "

"I know a half-dead Death Eater showed up in my ER and my heart nearly fucking stopped," she spat back, rising angrily to her feet. "I know that I was in your exact position and I thought I was going to lose my mind - "

"And what position was that, Granger?" Draco demanded. "What makes you think you fucking understand anything?"

"Because I thought someone I love was going to die, and for a minute, I wanted to, too!" she yelled, tears stinging mercilessly as she rounded on him. "Every time I see you, Draco, I swear, I die a little more, and this" - she passed a hand between them, gesturing to the space that suddenly seemed to fill the room - "this, keeping behind closed doors, it won't be enough - it can't be enough when I can never know if you're safe - "

"I'm never safe!" he erupted, stepping forward to grip her shoulders. "You don't understand, I'm not fucking safe - " he broke off, hearing his voice creak with unspoken torment. "I couldn't keep Theo safe, and you're not safe - "

"What is this?" she begged. "Tell me, please, just tell me - "

Don't, he wanted to beg her. Don't do this. Trust me, you don't want to know -

But he knew better. Nobody could live like that. He staggered forward, taking her face in his hands and feeling a toxic agony course through him.

"We can't do this," he told her, his voice breaking. "I can't - I'm not the one for you, you'll never fucking be safe with me - " he brought his hand to his temple, suffering a rush of self-loathing. "I can't give you the things you want - "

"I want you," she said tearfully, and she kissed him savagely, like she was daring the world to drag her away from him; for a moment he got lost in it - fuck it, I want you -

"It's never going to be a normal love," he said, breaking the kiss to look her in the eye and force himself to stick to his fucking guns. "I can't hold your hand in the street, I'll never - " he faltered, not knowing what normal people wanted. "I'll never fucking, I don't know, kiss you in public - "

"That's not what I need," she said, breathlessly pleading with him. "I want you, and whatever stolen moments you can give me, but I - " she started crying, and if he'd hated himself before, it was nothing like what he'd known in that moment. "I just want to know, I just need to know you're not going to - to come in bleeding on my operating table someday - "

"I can't promise you that," he cut in, brushing a loose curl away from her cheek and cupping her face in his hands. "I can't, Granger - "

"Tell me what you can," she begged him, her eyes wide. It was torture, and he couldn't stand it anymore; he couldn't see that look on her face anymore.

And so against all odds - over the volume of trust me, you don't want to know - he told her.

He told her about Dumbledore; how his death had been clumsy turmoil and it left them in shambles and Tom Riddle had picked up the pieces, Tom Riddle who treated them like pawns and trapped them in his cycle of violence and greed. He told her about how it wasn't what he came for, it wasn't what he wanted, but it was what he was fucking born for; nothing else but this.

After he said it, he thought for sure she would run; she was smart, he reasoned, and she would know a lost cause when she saw one. She would recognize a bad thing - a bad person - and she'd know how to leave. But instead her brown eyes had gone focused and clear - the moment of stillness and focus right before the engine roared to life - and she'd kissed him like she'd never kissed him before, taking the breath from his lungs and tearing the clothes from his back, more than hungry, more than wanting - a desperate, craving need -

His fingers shook as he hastily untied her scrubs, her nails scratching against the stubble on his jaw. Take it, he thought, take me, take everything -

She pulled him back onto the bed and wrapped her legs around his hips and he fucked her with the kind of yearning he'd never let himself feel before, suddenly determined to leave everything behind him; her fingers dug into his back and he hoped she drew blood, hoped that she was taking something from him as selfishly as he took from her.

I love you, he didn't say.

They'd both be dead if she ever knew.

Hermione slipped inside the administrative office; she'd said something about needing to look at an autopsy report from a surgery she'd assisted. It had been a particularly flimsy lie - I just wanted to see how procedure was recorded, sir, if you don't mind - but this wasn't a hospital that cared much about logistics; those reports are mostly for lawyers, she'd gotten in response, but fine, suit yourself.

She went straight for the file cabinet marked A-D and dug around at the back, hunting for Dumbledore, Albus. Something Draco had said had stuck out; something felt slightly off in her highly organized mind, and she had to see it for herself. She hadn't mentioned anything to him, but it had been nagging at her. He was in some kind of freak accident, Draco had said, the gun went off and he died in surgery.

She picked up the file and opened it; it was particularly sparse, considering that based on Draco's description of what happened, it would surely have led to all kinds of administrative headaches, including an M&M conference, which were not such common occurrences as to have escaped her attention. She read the EMT's notes first, glancing carefully over the scrawled handwriting.

GSW to the chest. DOA.

She blinked in confusion; if he'd died on arrival, how had -

She flipped to the coroner's notes; initially these seemed to match the EMT's assertion, but then the handwriting had changed, as if more had been added after the fact. The opening remarks were scribbled out, later replaced by a generic description of surgical error and a subsequent infection, signed and dated two days after the incident.

Impossible, she thought. This was fraud to the most inconceivable degree, or if not fraud, utter carelessness by administration -

Riddle is no one to toy with, Draco had told her, his voice low and edged with fear. He's got more power over people than I've ever understood; he's never once run into trouble.

She glanced at the report again. GSW to the chest. DOA.

Something wasn't right.

"You fucking killed him," Draco snarled, staring furiously into Riddle's remorseless blue eyes as he pointed the gun from across the room. "You fucking killed Dumbledore, and you really thought nobody would ever figure it out?"

"Did your pretty doctor figure that out for you?" Riddle offered blandly, shrugging with indifference. "That's easily sorted out, you know." He looked skeptically at Draco. "I'd put that down, if I were you," he added, unfazed.

Draco swallowed, stunned at the mention of Granger. "I - " he started. "I have no idea what you think you're talking about," he lied, though he pointedly refused to lower the gun.

"Sure you don't," Riddle agreed, feigning amicability. "But please," he added, with the air of someone who had never once felt threatened, "do continue."

"Nobody will fucking stand for this," Draco told him venomously, trying to shake the thought of Fenrir being found dead and fighting not to picture Granger's face where Greyback's had been, blank and lifeless. "Not even my father - "

"Are you so sure about that?" Riddle cut in, blinking innocently. "You sound more confident than I would advise you to be, personally."

"You can pretend all you want," Draco snapped, "but there's proof, and nobody will stand for it, not after knowing you were the one behind this - "

"Are you so willing to gamble your life on this?" Riddle asked nonchalantly, raising one arched brow. "Are you really this happy to paint a target on her back? Tell me, Draco," he added, rising from behind his desk and leaning forward in mock interest. "Did you check to make sure she was safe before this conversation began?"

Draco's heart thudded in his chest; he hadn't known Riddle knew about Granger. He cursed himself for his own idiocy, begging every unknown deity he could think of that she was at the hospital working, or at least not alone.

"You didn't, did you?" Riddle sighed, his lips curling up an a repulsive, heartless smile. "How truly unfortunate for both of you."

"Don't," Draco growled, "don't think you can fucking threaten her - "

"Ah, have you remembered her now?" Riddle commented. "Convenient. But alas," he continued, taking a step towards Draco, "it's not a threat. I think you'll find I've got quite a bit more loyalty than you realize, young Mr Malfoy," Riddle added, "and it's the kind of loyalty you're about to learn right now."

Draco's finger shook against the trigger of his Glock. "Don't," he repeated, his teeth gritted, but Riddle ignored him.

"Do you think Dumbledore is the first person I've killed?" At that, Riddle laughed; a jarring, maniacal laugh. "Or the last, for that matter?"

"Stay away from her," Draco muttered, jabbing the gun at Riddle a second time. Pull the trigger, Draco, do it -

"Oh, you can shoot me, if you want," Riddle offered generously. "If that would make you feel better. But," he added, and Draco felt a bead of sweat drip down his back, "if you do, then who will tell Avery to stop watching her house?" He leaned back against his desk, eyeing his fingers. "Or advise Rowle to leave the hospital?"

"You're fucking bluffing," Draco growled, though he wasn't at all convinced. "You're just saying that."

"Maybe," Riddle agreed, shrugging. "Why don't you shoot me," he suggested, laughing again as though such a thing would only bring him joy, "and we can see which one of us is right?"

Draco's breathing was ragged, his vision swimming as he processed the words; it was only a game to Riddle, a fucking joke, but this was Granger on the line, and Draco was dizzied by the choice, paralyzed with indecision.

It was only when he heard two loud shots ring out from behind him that he even realized there was someone else in the room.

"Sorry," Hermione said quietly, her ears ringing as she let the pistol fall to the ground with a loud clatter, the sound echoing in the room. "I, um - borrowed something."

Draco stared at her; she stared back at him, her breath caught by the feverish look in his grey eyes. She tried not to think about the particular puppet-like way that Tom Riddle had dropped limply to the ground, his blood quickly seeping into the gaudy carpet. She was a surgeon, after all, and an efficient one. She knew exactly where to aim, and she had very, very reliable hand-eye coordination.

The best in her class, or so she'd been told.

"How would you feel about disappearing for a little while with me?" Draco asked breathlessly, and he was suddenly right in front of her, his arms tight around her, his fingers tangled in her hair. She nearly laughed in spite of herself, leaning in as he bent to kiss her neck.

"I love you," he murmured in her ear.

There had been no question. He'd never had to say the words.

"Ride or die," she whispered back.

Chapter Text

Drunk Rewrite, Pt II: The Forest Again

Pairing: Canon pairings

Universe: Canon

Rating: M for language, loads of swears

Summary: This is going to serve as both Drunk Rewrite and a Marauders Doing Everyday Things, Episode II. If you missed the Drunk Epilogue Rewrite (Chapter 20), this is a thing I do because UnicornShenanigans once suggested I could have written a better epilogue than Joanne even if I'd been drunk, so that led to this sequence: me, quite drunk (QUITE drunk), rewriting the epilogue to Harry Potter, and then later, me rewriting the forest scene. I am posting now because it is already written and I owe you one, and also I just remembered it even exists thanks to lovely and hilarious user FlirtingWithDisaster on AO3.

It is an abridged version of the original Live Drunk Rewrite Pt. II, because the beginning was mostly intolerable rambling; for the rewrite in its entirety, find me on tumblr (olivieblake).

"I am about to die," Harry whispered, and the metal shell broke open.

There was confetti inside.

Just kidding! dead people.

They were neither ghost nor truly flesh, he could see that; but they were all much younger than they had been in the movies.

James was exactly the same height as Harry, which was probably why it took so long for Lily to take any interest in him. He was wearing the same clothes in which he died, and his hair was untidy and ruffled, bearing some fatherly markers despite being not even old enough to rent a car.

Sirius was tall and handsome. From afar, Hermione dampened slightly.

Lupin was younger too. Even Harry was sort of down, all things considered.

Lily's smile was widest of all.

"You've been so brave," she said. "My genes, I expect."

"Fucking - what did you say, Evans?" James squawked, turning to face her. "I thought we agreed you wouldn't say shit like that to my son."

"Potter, you unbearable swine!" she yelled. "I am trying to have a moment!"

"Um," Harry managed. "Mum?"

"Oh, yes, hello darling," she said, shoving James away. "Get away, Potter, I'm quite busy, or did you not notice - "

"I fucking noticed!" James shouted. "Anyway, it's my turn - "

He nudged her aside, blocking her from view as he attempted to speak to Harry.

"Nearly there, son," he said, before Lily elbowed him in the ribs. "Evans, you brute!"

"Brute?" she echoed in disbelief, elbowing him a second time. "Come here and say that to my face, Potter, I dare you - "

"I will!" he roared, staring her down. "Don't you toy with me, woman, I am five seconds from putting you up against that tree - "

"Yes, hi," Remus interrupted, stepping smoothly between them. "Just a thought - Harry has a question?"

Lily squinted at him. "Oh yes," she said, remembering. "Do ask."

"Does it hurt?" Harry asked childishly.

James scoffed loudly, stepping in front of Lily to face Harry. "Listen, son - "

"How about Padfoot takes this one?" Remus cut in, gesturing for Sirius. "Sirius, what do you think about this" - he paused, looking meaningfully at the other man - "very sensitive question?"

"I have thoughts," Sirius announced definitively, and Remus nodded.

"Good," he said apprehensively. "Good start."

"So, in terms of metaphysical being, no," Sirius began, "but pain, of course, is classified in a number of different states, which is to not even begin to address the fucking inconvenience, obviously - "

There was a loud, collective groan.

"What he's saying is no," Remus yelled casually. "He's saying no. It's fine. Super easy."

"What, dying?" Harry asked, confused, having lost track of the matter at hand.

"Yes," Remus assured him. "Totally fine. Very normal."

"Moony, you fuck," James interrupted, nudging him aside to look at Harry. "Dying's a real bitch, son."

"Oh, here we go," Lily announced, rolling her eyes. "James Potter, the fucking expert in everything - "

"Evans, you have no idea the kind of epic railing you are about to receive later," James warned, glaring at her. "And anyway - " he turned back to Harry. "What was it you wanted again?"

"Just like … advice would be cool," Harry ventured. "Like, any tips, you know?"

"Oh, for fuck's sake, is it too late to suggest you don't trust Dumbledore?" James offered, and Lily sighed loudly.

"Don't listen to him," she cooed reassuringly. "It's fine, darling."

"Easier than falling asleep," Sirius added, and Remus threw his hands in the air.

"Where was that five minutes ago?" he demanded crossly.

Sirius shrugged. "I don't know, it just came to me."

Remus sighed. "It seems like - "

"Art takes time, Remus!" Sirius barked, crossing his arms over his chest and pouting.

"I think," James said slowly, "we may have gotten slightly off track."

"Brilliant, Potter," Lily mumbled. "Discovery of the century."

"I tell you what, son, I'm going to fuck your mum later," James informed Harry, his voice low in his ear. "Honestly, fatherly advice: this is just foreplay."

"Okay, excellent," Harry agreed warily, wondering if he had been wrong to wish he'd had parents all those years, "but in the meantime - "

"Oh, right," James realized, straightening. "You wanted advice."

"Yes," Remus sighed emphatically. "Yes!"

"Okay, cool, well - here's the thing," James ventured. "You are - how old are you?"

"I'm seventeen," Harry reminded him. "Sort of a big deal."

"Yeah, totes," James agreed. "So, just for reference, I'm twenty one."

Harry burst out laughing. "No you aren't!"

"No, we definitely are," Lily agreed, making a face. "I know. It's ludicrous."

"So," Harry said hesitantly, "like, in terms of what to do in this particular instance … "

"Honestly? I have no fucking idea," James supplied, shrugging. "I mean, we barely made it further than you did."

"We did make it further in school," Lily said hopefully. "Do you need help with homework?"

"No I don't need help with homework!" Harry exclaimed in disbelief. "Mum!"

"Yeah, okay, so," Remus interrupted, attempting to be productive, "back to the question of dying being painful - "

"Easier than falling asleep!" Sirius declared, now quite impressed with his own assessment. "Poetic as fuck, that is."

"Right," Remus sighed, "and Voldemort will want it quick, of course, because this has lasted far too many books at this point."

"So you're saying not to drag it out?" Harry asked. "Avoid forcing an additional decade of web commentary from the author?"

"Well, let's not be too hasty," Remus amended quickly.

"I didn't want you to die," Harry said, suddenly unable to prevent the words. "Any of you. Especially not you," he added, turning to Lupin. "Right after you had your son - "

"You know, honestly, seeing this whole exchange has me questioning whether I was even father material to begin with," Remus said, frowning. "I can't even get these idiots in line."

"We can never be governed!" Sirius trumpeted.

"You see?" Remus offered, shrugging. "Anyway, I'm sorry I'll never know him, but maybe some other old dude can manipulate him in order to save the wizarding world. I mean, there's obviously a limited number of opportunities, but I think he could edge his way in."

"Oh, his personal statement will be fucking obliterating," Harry agreed. "Totally."

"I mean, not trying to get ahead of myself, obviously," Remus amended.

"Naturally," Harry said, nodding. "Understood."

"And anyway, I died for a reason." Remus looked around. "We all did. Right?"

"I'd like to remind everyone that I am twenty one and still an idiot," James announced. "In case there were some lingering questions."

"No, we've got it, Potter," Lily said briskly.

Harry, realizing that he had chosen perhaps the most ineffectual sources of advice he could have sought out - he watched his father eye fuck his mother and considered if even Snape would have been more helpful - determined that they would not tell him to go; it would have to be his decision.

"You'll stay with me?" he asked hopefully.

"Okay, did nobody explain this whole stone thing to him?" James asked loudly. "Moony, did Dumbledore not tell him - "

"Prongs," Remus sighed. "Please."

"FINE," James barked irritably. "Yes, sure, we'll be here."

"Are you sure?" Harry asked, frowning.

"Yes, yes, until the very end," James muttered. "Because again, that's how the fucking stone works, it's not like I can run off for tea while you've got me captive here, son - "

"And they won't be able to see you?" asked Harry.

Sirius and James exchanged a glance.

"Is he not listening, or- "

"No, no, it's a whole thing," Sirius assured him, shaking his head and patting his best friend's shoulder. "Don't take it personally."

Harry cleared his throat. "So - "

"Oh for the actual sake of fuck," James muttered. "You take this one, Pads."

"Again, in terms of the metaphysical - "

"PADFOOT!" Lily and Remus shouted in unison.

"Right," Sirius sighed. "We're, um. We are part of you," he informed Harry. "Invisible to anyone else."

Harry looked at his mother.

"They're idiots," she informed him gravely. "I'm aware."

"I'm just wondering," Harry broached carefully, "your taste in men - "

"Completely suspect," Lily agreed, nodding. "Solid hair genes, though."

"Right," Harry sighed. "So - "

"Hey man," James said, his voice oddly patient. "In terms of defeating evil wizards, you really have us beat."

"True," Sirius agreed. "Handily."

"I'm thinking you're probably best off taking your own advice," James continued, tilting his head in consideration. "Agreed, Moony?"

"Oh, agreed," Remus nodded. "Certainly. We are fools."

"Utter fools," Sirius said vehemently. "Moronic twats over here on the dead side."

"Oddly, that does help," Harry commented, nodding in surprise. "Thanks."

Sirius pumped a triumphant fist in the air. "Nailed it!"

"Any last minute advice?" James offered hopefully. "Transfiguration? I'm a fucking whiz at transfiguration."

"Um, maybe later," Harry agreed, before turning to his mother. "Stay close to me," he added quietly, his last request reserved for her.

Lily tossed her head back, sighing petulantly. "Fine," she agreed, glaring at James. "This is your fault, by the way."

James shrugged. "You forgot the contraception charm."

She made a face. "Fuck, that's right." She smiled fondly at Harry. "Ah, well. I've done worse things."

"Yeah," Sirius agreed. "Like James."

All was well.

Chapter Text

Due to its darker content, this story has been moved to the story collection Draught of Living Death and can be found as Chapter 4: Perchance to Dream.


Chapter Text

Due to its darker content, this story has been moved to the story collection Draught of Living Death and can be found as Chapter 6: Birds.

Chapter Text

Three Wishes

Pairing: Krumione (Viktor Krum x Hermione Granger)

Universe: Hogwarts/Post-Hogwarts AU, EWE

Rating: M for sexual content

Summary: Eidyia1 requested a light fourth year Krumione based on the quote "Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul," from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. This is that, and then some.

Three Wishes
Or, the Same Wish, Three Ways;
Or, Three Dances With Viktor.

Not even the mirror had made her feel as beautiful as Viktor did when he looked at her; and that was really saying something, as the mirror was enchanted to be supportive.

You look lovely dear, the mirror squeaked, and Hermione almost believed it, trying not to run her fingers too many times through the rarity of her silkily tamed curls. You are a breathtaking marvel.

Viktor's eyes though, they flamed; You look like how it feels to catch my breath, he might have been saying, though he was a man of remarkably few words.

"Hi," Hermione said, taking his arm. His lips turned up almost imperceptibly in greeting. Hi, he said back, with the way he brushed his comfortingly fingers across hers.

He never said much if he could help it. She read to him, mostly, and not even really because he liked to read - or be read to, for that matter, as far as she could tell - but because he didn't much care to chat, she suspected. She could see from her position on the outside that his life was full of noise, and that it relieved him to be silent.

He was a physical being, really, and as strange as that was to say - as strange as it was to even be around, because even if Harry and Ron rarely wanted to talk about things that interested her, they still constantly talked - she found right away that she liked spending time with someone who knew the value of a touch, or the meaning in a glance; or the particular fleeting enchantment of his hand meeting her waist, right before they took the first step.

They'd danced before this - and thank god, too, or she'd never have managed to stand in front of so many people without collapsing - on a particularly cool day, when he'd somehow led her outside to the lake. She'd heard one too many not-so-subtle coughs of quidditch groupie and fame-chasing swot and on that particular day, when Viktor's furrowed glare hadn't been silencing enough, she'd reluctantly followed when he offered her his hand, her cheeks flaming as the others stared.

She thought she would have been used to it by now, the meaningless name-calling and hollow accusations that she associated herself with boys who were so far above her; but there was still a throb of loneliness somewhere in her chest, a piece of her who would have traded Viktor's attention just to be invited when Lavender and Parvati went shopping in Hogsmeade or studied together, whispering little jokes that Hermione would never understand.

She wished she even liked quidditch; then, maybe, she could at least appreciate Viktor the way Ron and Harry did, and maybe she might have more to say - to all three of them.

Luckily, Viktor didn't seem to mind, and so she learned to value him instead; the breath she took of cool autumn air that day had been as soothing as his presence, and she relaxed, looking up into his solemn, dark eyes.

"What are you reading," he'd asked gruffly, pointing at her book; she showed him the cover: The Picture of Dorian Gray.

"Who?" he asked, his face betraying confusion, and she stifled a giggle.

"Here," she offered, "let me read you a page - "

And that's how it had begun.

"Lord Henry went out to the garden and found Dorian Gray burying his face in the great cool lilac-blossoms, feverishly drinking in their perfume as if it had been wine," she read, the wind nudging her wild hair from her shoulder. "He came close to him and put his hand upon his shoulder. 'You are quite right to do that,' he murmured. 'Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul - '"

"The senses," Viktor had interrupted, his brow furrowed. "Vat senses?"

"The senses," Hermione repeated. "Sight, sound, smell - "

"Touch?" he asked tentatively, leaning back, and his fingers brushed hers.

She reddened, looking away. "Yes," she replied, and he got to his feet, reaching his hand out for hers.

He was surprisingly coordinated; although, perhaps she shouldn't have been surprised - he was an athlete, after all, and she'd seen the Wonky-Faint thing he'd done at the World Cup - but there was a lightness to his step that she wouldn't have predicted from a glance. She, by contrast, had felt awkward and clunky, somehow, like her limbs wouldn't move as she wished them to, and he had seen the growl in her frustration, tilting her chin up.

"You vill dance vith me, yes?" he asked. "At this . . . ball. You vill, von't you?"

"Me?" she'd echoed, aghast. "But - but look at me, I'm - "

He'd spun her then, twirled her out, and despite how silly she'd felt she had laughed, the cool air bursting in her lungs and whipping color into her cheeks. He pulled her back in, coiling her into his chest, and then lifted her in the air -

And while she might have felt unsteady on a broom, she delighted in flying in his arms.

"You're qvite good," he assured her once he'd lowered her to the ground, and though she had to assume he was lying, she was too breathless to protest. "These are the senses, yes?"

The look in his eyes; the smell of him, freshly showered, clean and sharp; his voice, low and hopeful in her ear; his fingers gripping tightly to her waist.

"Yes," she had whispered back then, and for a moment, her soul had been cured.

"I'm nervous," she whispered to him now, her breath catching in her throat as she smoothed down the floaty chiffon of her periwinkle robes. He, normally not one to concern himself with his appearance, had clearly gone to some lengths, his hair neatly swept aside and his black robes impeccably pressed and fitted. He had a tendency to look a bit severe and while she might have guessed black robes would not have helped, he looked slightly relaxed; even glad.

"Not to vorry," he murmured back, covering her hand with his for a moment before sweeping her onto the brightly lit dance floor. "You are a vonderful dancer."

I'm not, she started to say, but then the music had started, and she considered to herself that maybe he was right, and maybe she was a wonderful dancer; the colors and smells of the feast whirled around her, and she, always having been burdened by troubles, suddenly felt herself float on air.

She might have thought to question the stares she was getting but Viktor had a way of capturing her attention; and when she saw the trace of a smile on his lips she realized that for all his fame, for all his skill, he was still seeking a moment of freedom, and if she could be that - if she could only let go - perhaps they might have a moment's reprieve from the demands of their lives.

"Some air," he'd suggested, taking her hand like he'd done once before, and led her outside. They walked the courtyard of the castle, catching their breaths, and he seemed to grow younger in the moonlight, his cheeks warmed by the glow that came from inside the castle.

"The senses," he said, and she shivered, though it wasn't from cold. "Sight, smell, sound, touch, and - "

"Taste," she supplied instantly, and her breath caught, his eyes moving curiously to her mouth.

"This is vat cures the soul?" he asked, lifting her chin to look at her.

"According to Oscar Wilde," she agreed, swallowing. "But I suppose he's just a muggle as far as I can tell, so - "

Mercifully, he lifted her chin, his dark eyes searching hers before he lowered his head, brushing his lips against hers and silencing her. With Viktor, it was always a peaceful silence, and she lost herself in it, unfurling in his touch and immersing herself in his taste.

She'd read the books, she thought, as the lingering sweetness of the butterbeer they'd drunk fizzed on her lips; she'd read with fascination as Juliet had sacrificed her lips of prayer to Romeo's breath of trespass - the tiny sips of piety from Lolita - the heart-quake of Byron, between Haidee and Juan - the perishable breath between Gatsby and Daisy -

And yet she'd never imagined it would feel like this; like comfort, like home - like excitement and like her knees would shake, but she'd be held up by the breath between them, propped up by something that fluttered in her chest and lifted her to her toes, pressing her against him.

It seemed to Hermione an appropriate moment for a wish; and so she thought, in the cool breath of their parting, that she would make one.

I wish, she thought, I could live this night over and over.

Three Years Later

"Ronald, for the last time," Hermione said, fussing one last time with her hair, "you'll have to stop comparing yourself to a house elf, it's deeply insensitive - "

"You're deeply insensitive," he muttered back, and she smirked at him.

"Clever," she said, rolling her eyes. "It's nearly three, there can't be much left for your mother to ask you to do - "

"If there is, I'm sure she'll find me," Ron grumbled, tousling his hair and pivoting to exit with an indignant grunt. "Anyway, Mione - "

"Yes?" she asked, turning to look at him. He paused, looking thoughtful, before walking over to join her, offering her free hand a squeeze.

"You look really nice," he offered, and she smiled, watching his eyes travel longingly to her lips.

Butterbeer, she thought, and peaceful silence.

"I'll see you out there," she said quickly, blinking away the memory to squeeze his hand and nudge him toward the door. "Go, won't you?"

He gave her a tiny grin before nodding, loping out the doorframe and disappearing. She sighed, fixing her makeup one last time before stepping out of the Burrow, heading for the orchard.

It was hard not to feel a bit lonely at the wedding; for all that Ginny and Molly were hard on Fleur, Hermione found she quite envied the lovely blonde witch. The time she'd spent at the Burrow had allowed her to watch the way Bill and Fleur occupied each other's space so effortlessly; they seemed to knit together by some unseeable force, always pulled towards each other, and Hermione had both admired and envied them their closeness.

It reminded her of something she'd once had - or nearly had, as the case had been. Unfortunately, letters were not quite a replacement; particularly not when so much of what they'd had together relied so heavily on the unsaid.

She shook the thought of Viktor away, trying to focus. Ginny and Harry had had their moments, and it appeared Ron was seeming to make an effort of some sort - though that hardly mattered, she reminded herself, reaching instinctively for her small beaded bag. They had to be ready, and she had to have her mind focused, and free of distraction - just in case.

Not that anything could have prepared her focus for when she caught sight of a certain dark head coming towards her; you look like how it feels to catch my breath, he seemed to tell her again, and she reveled in the look on his face, floating towards him - part dream, she thought, and part memory.

"Viktor," she said breathlessly, but was interrupted as Ron appeared at her elbow.

"Mione," he urged, his gaze flicking impatiently at Viktor, "come on - "

And then she was pulled away, the slow smile on Viktor's face serving as a promise for later.

She sought him out again as soon as she was able, but it was no easy feat with Ron's narrowed eyes on her. She stood alone, keeping her distance, until dancing began at the reception and Bill and Fleur took the floor, the easy rhythm reminding Hermione of something she'd once had.

A touch that had once been on her waist, a lingering stare at her lips, the sound of his voice; the smell of him, clean and sharp -

"Her-my-on-ee," he pronounced slowly, and she smiled, turning to face him.

"You learned," she ventured brightly, and his lips turned up in a blissful expression of warmth.

"I learned," he agreed, offering her his hand. "A dance?"

She took his hand, her fingers sighing contentedly at his touch. "I might have forgotten the steps since I last saw you," she confessed, though she quickly found that her body knew differently. Her feet had known just where to step, and the curve of her waist kissed his hand with ease, like no time had parted them.

"Things are different," he murmured observationally, and she grew uneasy for a moment, wondering if he meant the war - or if, perhaps, he had just meant the improvement in his English, and the ease with which he seemed to speak. "Though some things remain, don't they?"

"Some things," she whispered, a question; and he leaned down, placing his lips near her ear.

"Nothing can cure the soul but the senses," he said quietly in answer, and he looked down, reaching to nudge a curl behind her ear.

"The senses," she repeated, sliding a hand to his chest. Touch.

His eyes met hers, his tongue dragging slowly across his lip.

Taste, she thought, shivering.

He took her hand, pulling her out of reach from the marquee and the party, tucking her hand into the crook of his arm as they walked. She might have looked over her shoulder to see if Ron was watching - he was, she was quite sure - but there was something about Viktor's presence that always made her forget everything else.

Something that cured her soul, she thought, as he swept her into his arms, pulling her against his chest.

"I have missed you," he confessed, his eyes shutting as the admission left him; she reached up, running her fingers along the sharp angle of his jaw.

"I've missed you, too," she said, and he bent his head to hers.

It was different now, the kiss; there was an urgency now that hadn't been there before, back when the world had been ever so slightly simpler, and they thought they might have more time. His lips had been slow and gentle then, but now they were feverish, expressive, like he would tell her his secrets and pour out his truths into the waiting chasm of her breath. She, more lost this time - if such a thing were possible - and more fearful, clung to him in the darkness, rejoicing in a moment of escape.

He pressed her back against a large tree and she gasped, the kiss changing character; if it had started as I miss you it evolved into I want you, and she discovered with the softest of moans that perhaps she even meant I need you, and I need this, and deliver me, if only for a moment -

His fingers traveled slowly down the front of her lilac dress and she pressed her breasts against his hands, her heart pounding as he took her silent cue and ran his thumbs over her nipples, caressing her through the thin fabric.

"Viktor," she choked out, and he looked up, his chest rising and falling in earnest as he looked at her.

"Sight," he said, and she held her breath, "sound, smell, touch, and - "

"Taste," she whispered, and he lowered himself to his knees, his hands slipping under her dress.

She fumbled for her wand, casting a hasty disillusionment charm as he gently nudged her legs apart, letting his fingers travel from the curve of her inner thigh to her slit, slipping a finger inside her and tearing a shallow sigh of longing from her lips as she closed her eyes. She felt him swallow, her hands near the pulse of his neck, as he brought his mouth to her clit, dragging his tongue against her opening as his fingers continued exploring her, her head falling back with a gasp.

She lost herself, her breath and her sanity, and let go of the stress of her world for the length of a moment; only one thought remained, she realized, and it was a wish.

I wish, she thought, I could live this night over and over.

Three Years Later

"Congratulations," Hermione said, giving Ginny a hug. "You're the perfect bride."

"Oh, shut up," Ginny sighed, kissing her cheek. "Are you having fun?"

"Of course," Hermione said quickly, and Ginny gave her a look.

"Not too bothered about Lavender, are you?" Ginny asked quietly, and Hermione forced a smile.

"He's perfectly at liberty to move on, you know," she said, and Ginny made a face.

"This isn't Witch Weekly, Hermione," she sniffed. "I'm the bride, and I demand truth."

Hermione sighed, knowing a losing battle when she saw one.

"It's . . . not my favorite thing," she conceded, biting her lip as she saw Lavender throw her head back, laughing at one of Ron's jokes. "But, better this way," she managed chipperly, giving Ginny's waist a squeeze. "He was never much of a dancer, anyway."

"Too true," Ginny agreed vehemently, shaking her head. "It's a disaster to watch him try, truly, it's like watching him try to block all the hoops at once with just his feet - "

"I'm familiar," Hermione said with a smirk.

"I can't imagine the sex was much better," Ginny commented, and Hermione gave her a shove, promptly reddening.

"Ginny, for heaven's sake - "

"I'll take that as confirmation," Ginny trumpeted, as Harry suddenly materialized behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist.

"Alright, Hermione?" he said, planting a kiss at the nape of his new wife's neck and grinning as she giggled.

"Oh, go dance, you two," Hermione sighed, smiling fondly at them. They were still awfully young, she thought, but stranger things had happened. "No need to hang around with me."

"If you insist," Ginny agreed, taking Harry's hand and pulling him; he, however, paused, turning his head to mutter something in Hermione's ear.

"I do have one surprise for you," he said, and then gestured behind her.

Her heart flipped. "What did you - "

"Have a nice night, Hermione," Harry announced with a wink, and with that, he and Ginny were off, racing each other to the dance floor.

"They look happy," a voice behind her noted, and Hermione turned, coughing as she choked momentarily on a breath.

"Viktor," she managed, and he smiled at her, reaching out a hand for hers.

"Hermi-one," he said - nearly perfect, she thought, taking it as a sign - and before she realized she had slipped her hand in his, he was leading her away from the corner. "Dance with me."

Luna would say she had been rid of Nargles, Hermione imagined as she followed him; she'd regained the floaty weightlessness she associated with his presence, her feet always familiar with the steps. He would lead her out to the dance floor, give her a moment of contentment, lure her and tempt her and adore her, and then something would part them; she knew the routine. She'd grown fond of it, despite the nights she'd ended up alone.

She wondered what would drag them apart this time; whether a Dark Lord might appear from the depths, if only just to torment her.

He spun her around on the floor, the steps quicker than she was used to, until she was flustered and pink, her hair come loose around her face, and he was laughing - a rarity in itself. How was it always so easy? she marveled. Like no time had ever passed.

By the time he had led her away, after dance upon dance that ended, as it always did, with a walk, and his hand on her waist became a scream in her mind; by the time she found herself alone with him, the piece of her that longed for romance - for the enchantment of hearing Oscar Wilde on his lips - yielded gracelessly to the thudding in her chest, the racing of her pulse.

"Hermione," he began, and she cut him off -

"Taste," she begged, and she might have been embarrassed by the edge of pleading to her tone, but he - thankfully - lowered his mouth to hers with a growl, sparing her the anguish.

She scarcely knew how they made it to her room at the Three Broomsticks; all she knew was that this wasn't a time for muffliato in the dark - she wanted passion, she wanted freedom, she wanted liberation -

And she wanted space to move around, she thought hazily, as he unzipped her dress and nudged it to the floor, letting it pool victoriously at her feet before lifting her around the waist and throwing her back on the bed.

Was it the thrill of it? she thought as he tore his shirt over his head, athleticism gleaming from the lines of his chest. Was it the thrill of him? she corrected herself, wrapping her legs around his hips as he slid himself against her, pressing his lips to the base of her neck.

He was power uncoiled as he lifted her hands above her head, holding her wrists as he entered her; he was cool flames of control as he brought her to a first, breathless ripple of bliss, a crushing wave of delirium flooding her as her mind went luxuriously blank.

It's this, she realized, pausing to tangle her fingers in his hair; it was the feeling he gave her, the way he looked at her - you look like how it feels to catch my breath - and even amidst wild exhilaration, against the rhythm of gasps and moans, he still brought a peaceful silence to her life, and she surrendered her trials in his arms.

Nothing cures the soul but the senses -

The darkness of his hair, the artful craftsmanship of him; the smell, clean and sharp, with sweetness on his tongue - a second pulsing ache that had built inside her unfurled in a whorl of bitter rapture, leaving her lips in a breathless gasp -

Just as nothing cures the senses, she realized - pleasure and pain subsiding as he fell against her, his eyes full of nothing but her - but the soul.

It had been his soul she wanted all along.

I wish, she thought, I could live this night over and ov-

"Hermione," he said, silencing her thoughts as she caught her breath, "stay with me."

"This is my room," she whispered back playfully, and he caught her hand, pressing a kiss to her fingers.

"No," he murmured, with a shake of his head. "Stay with me."

It finally dawned on her, and she smiled.

I could live this night over and over, she realized, and she found euphoria in the thought.

"Yes," she whispered back. "I'll stay."

Chapter Text


Pairing: Parkweasel (Pansy Parkinson x Percy Weasley)

Universe: Post-War AU

Rating: M for language, sex

Summary: So, I had an idea for a one shot based on the song Heartbeat by Childish Gambino, and I knew it had to be Pansy Parkinson, but I hadn't decided who the pairing would be until I got an ask for Pansy x Percy and it dawned on me that he - strangely enough - was perfect. So here is this, based on this line: I wish we never fucked and I mean that. But not really - you say the nastiest shit in bed and it's fucking awesome.

There's a LOT more explicit language/dirty talk in this than normal; please skip if that's not your thing!

"Susan fucking Bones, have you lost your fucking mind?" Pansy demanded, letting her head fall back as he ripped open the buttons of her thin white oxford. "I thought the point of breaking up was to choose someone who was actually worth something - "

"Since when do you worry about my choices, Pansy?" he asked lazily, giving her a hard shove against the wall. "I thought the issue was that you were the one who wanted someone more" - he paused, thrusting her chin up to nip at her throat - "suitable."

"Is that what I said?" she asked, smirking, and at his mocking chuckle, she gave him a playful shove. "Well," she purred, "it would at least lend you some fucking legitimacy if you didn't go for such an incomprehensibly boring" - she broke off, gasping as he shoved her on top of his dresser and pushed her knees apart - "mousy swot of a - "

"Watch your language, Miss Parkinson," he murmured in her ear, reaching under her dress to yank her panties down her legs and over her knees before kicking them aside. "That's my girlfriend you're talking about."

Pansy's chest tightened.

"Not yet, she's not," she muttered, swallowing a possessive growl as she reached down, fumbling to remove his belt. "Believe me," she added, rooting around for her sense of cool as she nudged his trousers down over his hips, "you should find someone better."

He laughed, sliding her hips forward to nudge his tip at her entrance. "Better than Susan?" he whispered in her ear. "Or better than you?"

She felt her breath catch in her throat. "If you could do better than me," she said slowly, running a thumb over his tip, "I wouldn't be here, would I?"

"Funny," he remarked, reaching up to tangle his fingers in her hair. "You say that like you want to be here."

He wasn't wrong; not that she appreciated it.

"Shut up and fuck me, Weasley," she determined brusquely, pulling his hands from around her face and placing them on her breasts.

"Are you sure you want me to stop talking?" he asked, peeling back the lace of her bra to run his thumbs over her nipples. "I seem to recall that you like hearing my thoughts on your pussy, Pansy."

At the word pussy on his ever-so-proper, meticulously law-abiding, former-Head-Boy lips, she felt an instant rush of craving; she arched her back as he reached under her skirt, sliding a finger into her.

"Do I?" she prompted.

He, despite her prodding, merely smiled, biding his time. Oh, fuck me, she thought furiously, completely incapable of understanding how this narrow-hipped ginger menace had invaded her so completely.

"I love how wet you get for me," he murmured, turning his head to whisper into her ear as she shut her eyes, swallowing a whimper. "I love how fucking soaked you get for me. Have you been waiting all day, Pansy?" He gave her clit a slow, lazy circle with his thumb. "Tell me," he added, his blue eyes unfocused as he pulled back to look at her. "You know I want to hear you say it."

"I - " she began, closing her eyes as he slipped two fingers into her, rotating them slowly. "I just want your cock, you fuckstick," she managed, fighting a moan; he lowered his head to her nipple, laughing as he flicked his tongue over it.

"You're upset about Susan," he commented offhandedly, his fingers still stroking her clit, "and yet you haven't mentioned anything about McLaggen."

"It was just three dates and he's a boring twat," Pansy hissed, her fingers tightening around the back of his neck. "And don't talk about him right now," she added venomously, "and especially not about her."

Susan fucking Bones. Unbelievable, she thought with a grimace. It was enough to make her want to turn and walk out the door - only she couldn't possibly stop. He was too damn good to walk out on unsatisfied.

"I changed my wards for you, as you may recall," he reminded her before suddenly pulling her forward, picking her up. "I haven't for her," he said quietly, and Pansy instinctively tightened her legs around him.

He always knew what to say.

"Just fuck me, dickhead," she sighed in resignation, and he laughed, throwing her back on his bed and slipping out of his trousers. He was impossibly catlike, she realized, and while she might have thought herself drawn to someone more muscular, she'd come to appreciate that he had an undeniable elegance to him; a strange, entrancing aloofness to him that he must have developed after years of yes sirs and no ma'ams before he finally grasped at power for himself.

It was the same concentrated sureness that he used to whisper jolting impossibilities in her ear; the same incongruous control over her that he seemed to have, whether she wanted it or not.

"What do you want first?" he asked, his blue eyes traveling the length of her, skirt twisted around her waist and shirt torn open. "My mouth?" He crawled over her, nudging her chin back to scrape his teeth along her neck. "Should I lick your pretty cunt, Pansy?"

"Fuck," she muttered, reaching down to take his cock in her hand. "Yes - "

"Pretty Pansy," he whispered, sliding two fingers on either side of her clit. "You're so fucking wet," he said again, and she shuddered. "You always taste so fucking sweet, Pansy."

At her wordless groan he reached back to unzip her skirt, yanking it away from her before lowering himself to press his lips to the curve of her thigh.

"I'm going to make you come," he informed her casually, with the same ease that he might employ while laying out a presentation for the Wizengamot. "I'm going to make your pussy throb for me - "

She moaned. "Oh, fuck - "

"And then I'm going to fuck you," he added, dragging his tongue along her entrance, "up against that wall."

How does he manage this? she thought, writhing as he made good on his promise, ghosting a hot breath against her inner thigh as he closed his mouth around her clit, sucking lightly before reaching his hand between her legs to slide his fingers in and out. She'd had plenty of good head before - she silently gave Draco his credit, as he would be deeply upset to know he'd been upstaged by any Weasley, much less this particular one - but fuck, there was something about this straight-laced, slender know-it-all and the way he talked about her pussy like it was fucking art.

She came quickly; he knew what she liked. And when he'd let her ride out the convulsions, her hips lifting off the bed as she moaned her aching satisfaction, he yanked her up, carrying her again and angling himself at her slit as he pressed her against the wall.

"Tell me what you want," he said, panting now; he was impossibly hard, and however little his face betrayed, that much he could never quite hide. "Say it, Pansy - tell me what you want me to do to you - "

"I want you fuck me," she said breathlessly, "until I can't feel my legs - "

"Done," he said, sliding his tip inside her. His patience was extraordinary, she thought, squeezing her legs around him to lure him inside her, but he was far too calculated to allow her to break his concentration. "I'm going to fuck you until you scream my name," he added mercilessly, biting softly on her clavicle. "I want to hear you say it when you come."

"You have a fucking stupid name, Weasley," she argued, gritting her teeth. "I'm not doing it."

"Fine," he said, pulling out slightly, and she let out a frustrated groan, coiling her legs tighter around him.

"Fucking hell, I'll say whatever you want," she amended, nearly shouting in desperation, "just would you please - "

He, to her intense relief, chose that particular breath of exasperation to relieve her suffering, and the moment he slid his cock inside her she felt her mind go euphorically blank, knowing she really would say whatever he wanted; she doubted she'd even know what she was saying by the time he brought her there. He angled one leg higher, positioning himself against her clit as he thrusted into her, and she threw her head back, groaning.

"You feel so fucking good," he panted in her ear, "you're so wet for me, Pansy, your cunt's so fucking tight - "

Oh for fuck's sake, she thought, her heart thudding as he bent his head down to her breasts. How is he so good at this?

"Tell me you love this," he said. "Tell me how much you like my cock inside you - "

"Fuck, yes, I - I love it - your cock is fucking perfect - "

"Do you want to come, Pansy?" he asked gruffly, his voice muffled against her skin. "Say my name, Pansy - say my name when I make you come - "

"Oh fuck" - oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck - "Percy," she choked out, his name escaping like a sob as she felt the ache inside her build to oblivion, finally going limp in his arms.

He came as soon as she did, holding her up just long enough to ride out the pulsing of his cock inside her before lowering her to the floor, settling her head against his chest as they lay back against the cold wood, spent.

"Her aunt was the head of Magical Law Enforcement," he murmured eventually, stroking her hair. "Susan, I mean." He paused. "She's well connected."

Pansy swallowed, saying nothing.

"Cormac seems right up your alley," he continued, and she looked up, glaring at him. "Oh, you play coy, but I know you, Miss Parkinson," he reminded her, giving her a knowing smirk. "You forget, Pansy, that I know exactly what you like."

He really does, she thought murderously, digging her nails into his chest; mine, she thought helplessly, and she instantly regretted it.

"I hate your name," she burst out, as soon as she could speak.

He shook his head, chuckling. "You just don't like other people playing with your toys," he corrected, as though the two thoughts were somehow related.

"That's irrelevant," she snapped, but he pulled his arms around her, holding her closer.

"Fine," he conceded softly, pressing his lips to her forehead. "No Susan, then."

"No Susan," she agreed, slipping her leg between his. "Someone better. Someone else," she added. "Not me. But someone else."

He looked down at her, expressionless, before turning his head to the side, his heart skipping a beat below her ear.

"I should really get carpet installed in here," he remarked thoughtfully, closing his eyes and sighing.

She knew the moment that she laid eyes on him that Percy fucking Weasley was going to be a goddamn thorn in her side, though she had no idea then that it was going to be this out of hand; if she had, maybe she wouldn't have taken the job.

The event planning business that she and Daphne had started with Narcissa's help had been off to a slow start, so she liked to think she had simply been unusually vulnerable at the time; it was hard to break right into weddings and galas, so they'd had to settle for Ministry conferences at first - which was how she ended up speaking to the world's most unlikable man in the first place.

He was reserved, a rigid stickler for rules - for fuck's sake, she'd never had to do so much paperwork in her life - and looked like he'd never had a moment of relaxation during the course of his entire existence, much less at any point over the span of the three-day Wizengamot conference about Ministry procedures that she'd been hired to arrange for him. She didn't think him much of a threat - he'd somehow failed to notice that she referred to him exclusively on a rotating cycle of dipshit, fuckstick, and thundertwat behind his back, or so she'd thought - until she'd been alone with him the first time, setting up the coat check for the dinner that was to take place that evening.

They'd argued about something; some protocol detail she was sure nobody would care about - but, of course, he did - and then suddenly he had her on her back, her dress torn up the side as he fucked her into mindless confusion.

You certainly talk a big game, Miss Parkinson, he'd said, dripping with skepticism as he pressed her back against the wall, and for a girl who always had a clever retort, she was shocked to find she struggled to speak.

Watch out, she managed furiously, my bite's worse than my bark.

He'd leaned in, his breath teasing across the side of her nose, and threw out two effortless words that made her knees buckle: Prove it.

It had been euphoric - or, at least, as euphoric as floor sex could be, she supposed.

He'd had the last word afterwards, too - the arsehole. After dinner, he'd said, tucking his shirt back into his trousers, I'll spread you out on the donors' table and fuck you until you scream.

God, she'd thought, rolling her eyes, he's even got protocol for my orgasms - but it had been the best lay of her entire life, and she'd made sure to do it again - and again, and again - as many times as possible for the next three weeks; right up until realizing that she couldn't admit to Daphne who she was seeing.

Percy Weasley, she'd attempted to say, feeling instantly uneasy. Percy motherfucking Weasley. The worst family, and the least likable of the bunch; and so, rather than admit to her sins, she'd simply broken it off, sick to her stomach - though not before he made her come three times on all fours atop his desk.

That had been three months ago. And it had only happened twice - no, she thought with a sigh, three times - since then; so really, it could be worse.

She was looking for someone better; unfortunately the more she dated, the less she was sure what better actually meant. More socially acceptable, she supposed. Arm candy, she thought fancifully, for when she inevitably did start hosting galas for the privileged and moneyed. Which was surely any moment, she was convinced.

"Really, investment opportunities in the Wizarding World could not be better," Michael Corner was saying. It was their second date, and likely to be their last; Pansy, bored to tears, had said next to nothing the entire dinner, and they had already finished their entrees. "Commercial activity is at a generational high, I'm telling you."

"Mm," Pansy agreed faintly, glancing around. Ugh, she thought firmly, watching the hostess seat Hermione Granger at a table near the bar. She was alone; meeting someone, Pansy guessed, though she secretly hoped they wouldn't show.

"I keep telling everyone, Knockturn Alley will be the new Diagon Alley as soon as the Ministry approves our permits," Michael said, and Pansy couldn't fight a quiet scoff of disagreement.

"Unlikely," she remarked, taking a sip of wine and responding without much thought. "The Ministry's taken an anti-development stance since petty thefts increased in Diagon. Foolish, I think," she added, straightening, "since I don't think development is the problem - "

She stopped as Michael blinked in confusion.

"What?" he asked blankly. "Who told you that?"

"Who told me?" she asked, somewhat indignantly. "I'm an informed citizen - "

"You're a party planner," he corrected skeptically, and while the slight upturn of his lips indicated that he meant to be playful, she experienced a deep surge of loathing.

The truth was that she'd already had this conversation before, though not nearly so obnoxiously. Percy had drafted some of the early legislation on development permits in the Wizarding World's high street retail, and he'd invited her thoughts on the matter before fucking her twice in the shower. They'd disagreed, but in the end they came.

To an agreement, she corrected herself, giving herself an internal shake.

"I specialize in event planning, yes," she said, forcing patience as she took another sip, "but I consider myself fairly educated on local business issues."

"Well, you're wrong," he said crisply, as she fought the urge to kick him resolutely in the midpoint of his shin, "but I think my point will be proven once the contracts go through."

"Mm," she said again, fuming into her glass and banishing her gaze elsewhere, just in time to catch Granger's date arrive.

Pansy choked on her swallow of wine. She'd know that particular loping gait anywhere.

"That cocksucker!" she exclaimed, slamming a fist on the table, and Michael - along with several people seated at tables around her - jumped in alarm. "Sorry," she mumbled, catching Percy's eye as he sat down across from Granger, facing her.

He, unsurprisingly, did not react to her eye contact; he looked at her very intently, unblinking, for the span of a moment before returning his attention to Granger, smiling politely in greeting.

"That was . . . something," Michael remarked, pursing his lips in disapproval, and Pansy forced a laugh, reaching forward to place her hand on his forearm.

"Oh Michael, you're so funny," she exclaimed loudly, and at the sound of her voice, Percy glanced up again, smirking slightly and raising an eyebrow. Nice try, he seemed to say, and then turned back to Granger, his blue eyes fixed on her.

Fuck, Pansy swore, frowning; he knew her too well for that to work.

"What exactly is happening?" Michael asked, glancing over his shoulder. "What are you - "

"Nothing," Pansy sighed irritably, suddenly desiring to escape. "Bathroom," she offered by way of explanation, tossing a careless "be right back" over her shoulder before hurrying to the ladies' room, eager to break something, even if it was just her own heart.

She opened the door and fell back against it as it closed, leaning her head back.

What the fuck are you doing, she demanded from her reflection. He's not yours, and he's at perfect liberty to do whatever he likes -

There was a knock at the door and she groaned. "Occupied!" she shouted, shutting her eyes. "Give me a goddamn minute, would you?"

"Pansy," came the voice on the other side. "Open the door."

Fuck, he really knew her.

She turned, yanking the door open, and stepped back as Percy entered, leaning back against it as she had done moments before. She could see from the mirror that her eyes were wide and her makeup ever so slightly smeared from wiping furiously at them, but he only glanced slowly up and down the shape of her before giving her the world's most subtle smile.

"I like the dress," he commented. "You look pretty."

Pretty Pansy, she heard him say, and shivered.

"Prettier than Granger?" she asked hoarsely, and his smile broadened. On anyone else it might have been mocking, she knew, but he had a particular way of reading her.

"Colloportus," he muttered, locking the door, and she felt her heart wrench with longing, the twist of it seeping into her bones. "Do you want me to fuck you now," he asked, walking up to her and reaching out to caress her cheek, "or would you rather I simply be at the bar when your glass is empty?"

She swallowed. "Both," she whispered, and he laughed.

"Not Susan Bones, not Hermione Granger, not any of the women I've dated over the past three months," he mused offhandedly. "But not you, either, it seems."

"No," she said, shutting her eyes and trying to force some mettle into her tone. "Not me."

"Because you're ashamed of me, is it?" he asked, nudging her back and lifting her onto the lip of the sink. "Worried what your friends will think?" he pressed, sliding the back of his hand down the front of her cleavage, caressing the line of her clavicle.

"We don't make sense," she reminded him. "We're just - "

"Friends?" he prompted, slipping his hands under her dress. "Best friends," he added, a laughing glint in his eye as she widened the gap between her knees, pulling his hips towards her.

It was a joke - or his version of one - but she couldn't laugh. "We're just fucking," she whispered. "That's all."

"You could fuck Michael Corner if you wanted," he reminded her, slipping the straps of her dress from her shoulders to let the material slip from her breasts. "McLaggen was better looking than Corner," he remarked, and she wanted to hex him in the fucking face just for letting their horrifying inferiority touch his lips.

"I don't want them," she muttered indistinctly, and she knew it was a misstep when he looked her in the eye, a startling sense of triumph suddenly appearing on his face and filling her with the need to stomp furiously all over his heart.

"I wish we never fucked," she erupted bitterly, trying to save her pride even as she slid her hips towards him, digging her fingers into the shallow crevices of his ribs. "And I mean that."

"Do you?" he prompted, his lips against her neck. He let his hands travel covetously down the length of her thighs, his touch as light and inviting as ever, and despite her fervent wish to be cruel, she sighed.

"No," she confessed, hating herself and him in a stunning, breathless gasp of resignation. "You say the nastiest shit in bed and it's fucking aweso- "

He promptly cut her off, the words trapping against his lips as he kissed her, and brought his hands up to place them on either side of her face; he held her between his hands like he would worship her and she felt a strange sense of calm, washing over her like she might come clean. His tongue slipped along her lip and she sighed, an odd, girlish sigh of contentment - one that she might have ordinarily resented herself for - that made Percy kiss her more fervently, his fingers tangling themselves in her hair.

They broke apart and she was breathless, and for some odd reason, when she met his eyes, she thought she might cry.

A few deep breaths, she told herself, a matter of heartbeats; it'll pass.

It did not.

"I think we've been gone long enough," Percy commented eventually, clearing his throat as he glanced down at his watch, and for a moment Pansy experienced a lurch of fear. He seemed to catch it, bringing his thumb up to brush reassuringly against her cheek. "I'm just meeting Hermione as a friend, by the way," he added nonchalantly. "Ministry things to discuss."

"Oh," Pansy agreed, clearing her throat and letting out a breath of relief. "Not that you have to explain yourself to me. You know," she added weakly, "since we're not . . . anything."

He didn't smile this time; he didn't move.

"If you did want something," he began slowly, "I might have some relevant information for you to consider."

As it often happened with Percy Weasley, half of her wanted to grimace - he was always so fucking formal - and the other half fought the onslaught of a smile.

"What's that?" she invited, aiming for neutrality.

"I'm going to fuck you in about an hour," he told her, and she felt the familiar twist of longing that never failed. "When you've made your excuses to Corner and I've finished meeting with Hermione, I'll be at your house, and I will fuck you until you forget your name. And then," he continued, his tone never shifting from its cool objectivity, "I will love you."

That was new; she coughed suddenly, not sure what to do with the air she'd just inhaled.

"I will love you the same way I do everything that matters," he explained. "Fiercely, and with devotion. And you will let me," he added, "because being loved matters more to you than your fear of introducing me to your friends."

"Big words, Weasley," she managed roughly, and he lifted her chin, meeting her eye.

"There is no witch on this planet that you'd approve for me," he reminded her, "nor do I wish you with another wizard. Thus," he finished, "your foundational theory that someone better exists is inherently flawed."

It was, she knew; not that she was in any hurry to admit that, so instead she shook her head, sighing in feigned exasperation.

"This is precisely why I can't take you anywhere," she informed him primly, giving his shoulder a light shove. "You're an unbearable swot, not to mention - "

He leaned forward, kissing her quickly as he banished the end of her pointless sentence with a contented sigh against her lips. "Perhaps you should tell Mr Corner that you are otherwise occupied for the evening," he suggested softly, and she slumped forward in his arms, resting her cheek against his shoulder in resignation.

Fine, she thought, you win -

But really, she didn't feel much like a loser.

"I still hate your name," she reminded him, and he shook his head, chuckling. "But," she added, glancing up to meet his eye. "I will love you."

His gaze swept searchingly over her face. "You're certain?"

"Yes," she confirmed. "There's nobody better."

And besides, she thought, as he took her hand, I already do.

Chapter Text

The Fairer Sex

Pairing: I'll leave it a surprise for you. More fun that way.

Universe: Canon-ish

Rating: M for language, sexual situations

Summary: This was submitted to the Quills & Parchment Scandal One Shot Competition and was awarded Overall Winner, Judges' Favorite, Fan Favorite, Best Character Development, Best Relationship Development, Best Humor, and Best Stand Alone One Shot. I'm honored, of course - I didn't expect this pairing to be nearly as appreciated as it was! If at all, honestly. So this was a wonderful, truly pleasant surprise.

Thanks ever so much to the judges and all who voted, and special thanks to Mr. Oblivionbaby, who dared me to write this pairing (with great skepticism - as though I wouldn't make it work, she scoffs) and who receives a brief cameo in the story!

Without further ado . . .


"Ladies and gentleman, witches and wizards, it gives me great pleasure to be the one to present this year's Author of the Year award to what will surely be a familiar face to everyone in the room," Abraxas Malfoy proclaimed, gesturing to the table at his right. "Wizards wish to be him, witches wish to be with him, and we all count ourselves lucky to be in the presence of such a brilliant, captivating literary mind."

There was a rousing spattering of applause and Gilderoy smiled, pretending not to know that such effusive praise could not possibly apply to any other man in the room. He winked at Kennilworthy Whisp, raising his goblet in mock salute, and was filled with an unspeakable rush of satisfaction as the other man glowered sulkily, crossing his arms over his chest.

Better luck next year, you hulking buffoon, Gilderoy thought smugly, taking a hearty sip of mead from his monogrammed goblet. This is my year, and you know it.

Twat, Kennilworthy clearly mouthed back to him, but Gilderoy gleefully ignored him, fixing his gaze instead on the pretty witch holding the trophy that would soon grace the mantle of his London townhome. She smiled discreetly at him and he sat up slightly, recognizing promise in the pert curve of her lips. He watched curiously as the young brunette tossed her hair around her shoulders, emphasizing the window of silk that draped against her neatly framed breasts and asserting the kind of deliberation that Gilderoy was loath to disregard.

Ahh, he thought with certainty, downing the remainder of his glass as he watched the witch's face. He would be getting his cock sucked within - he paused, checking his watch - twenty minutes or less, he determined, the window of exactitude depending entirely on whether or not Abraxas, the owner of the Wizarding Press (among several other Malfoy commercial ventures) would fucking get on with it.

" . . . and so it is an honor and a pleasure to present this award to my most profitable writer," Abraxas continued, "the greatly esteemed, effortlessly charming, truly inimitable man about town - Gilderoy Lockhart!"

Gilderoy stood, letting his best who, me? expression paint itself gratuitously across his lips before tossing a smirk at Kennilworthy and rising to his feet, the deafening sound of applause ricocheting around the room. He strutted handsomely to the stage, shaking Abraxas' hand and noting a surreptitious slip of the witch's fingers, depositing something in his pocket as he accepted his trophy.

"Well," Gilderoy said, facing the crowd. "I'm not one for speeches of course - I'm a writer," he explained with a wink, "I let my quill do the magic - but in this instance, I must thank my publisher, Abraxas," he gestured, and Abraxas nodded his head, "and the many men here today who have helped further my career." He paused, jauntily raising an eyebrow as the crowd leaned in for the punchline. "Or else their wives," he added with a smirk, "who helped make it palatable."

"Oh Gilderoy, you dog!" Abraxas laughed heartily.

Gilderoy smiled, a gentleman's smile, and a thousand shutters clicked.

"Another round of applause for Gilderoy, please!" the announcer suggested, gesturing, and the men and women at every table rose, showering him with boisterous shouts of congratulations.

"Oh please," Gilderoy said humbly, gesturing for them to sit. "Nonsense, friends, I must protest."

Across the room, Kennilworthy threw his napkin down on the table and walked out, the double doors swinging shut behind him. Gilderoy cheerfully returned to his seat, unfolding the slip of parchment in his pocket to reveal the presenting witch's name and address. He looked up and smiled, a smile of satisfaction.

In that moment, all things considered, Gilderoy Lockhart might have confused himself for God.

Lucius Malfoy wandered through the halls of the manor home which his father Abraxas, thankfully, was finally vacating. Once his parents had settled themselves elsewhere, he assumed, Narcissa might finally consent to actually wed him rather than continue to drag her feet in purposeless hesitation.

Speaking of Narcissa, he thought, frowning as he eyed the clock, she's late.

Being her fiancé, Lucius reasoned that he would be permitted at least the right to collect her from her home, and so he approached the Floo, tucking his elbows in purposefully and enunciating the name of the Black family's northern estate. He stepped out, his heels sticking soddenly against the eroding wooden floors that had not seen renovation for centuries, seeking out his future bride.

"I don't know about this," she was saying, and he could hear the frown in her voice. "Lucius and I are only engaged, you know, and I'm not sure I'm really in a position to ask any favors of his family yet, considering the concessions they've made on my dowry - "

"Oh Narcissa, surely you've not forgotten," the other voice said, a mix of girlish sweetness and careful cunning that Lucius guessed was one of her friends from school, "that you owe me a favor? I'm referring, of course, to the time that Bellatrix and I caught you with your hands down the trousers of a certain - "

"Yes, yes, I remember," Narcissa said hurriedly, her poised, authoritarian voice squeaking slightly, and Lucius frowned, glancing down at his own trousers with disappointment. "I haven't forgotten that I owe you, of course - I'm merely questioning why this, of all things, would be the payment!"

"I want it," the other woman replied, her tone even. "What's it to you why I do?"

"A book, though," Narcissa remarked, sounding skeptical. "About - what, again?"

"It's called The Fairer Sex," the other woman supplied, "and it's important to me. A pet project." She paused, and there was a rustle of skirts as she must have stepped closer to Narcissa. "I believe there will be a great payout in its publication."

"Well," Narcissa ventured hesitantly, "I suppose I can vouch for your writing talent."

"You certainly can!" the other woman sniffed. "And surely you, with that face and that figure, should have no trouble getting whatever you wish out of Malfoy's father," she added, in a tone that struck Lucius as a challenge of sorts.

"I suppose," Narcissa confirmed, sighing. "Fine, then. I'll speak to him this afternoon after I meet Lucius at Malfoy Manor for tea."

"Oh, Cissy, darling," the woman proclaimed warmly, "you absolute treasure - "

"No promises," Narcissa warned quickly. "And I'm sure there will have to be some concessions on my part, which I do not thank you for."

"What kind of concessions?" the other woman asked curiously. A bit too curiously, in Lucius' mind. "Surely not - "

"No, not like that," Narcissa said hurriedly. "Just - I assume he'll want me to go forward with the wedding."

"Which you are planning already, are you not?"

"In pieces," Narcissa ambiguously agreed. "I suppose I'm not quite in a hurry to tie myself down, though I'm realizing that's probably foolish. What with an engagement and all that."

"Not foolish at all," the other woman cooed reassuringly. "Though it is inevitable, don't you think?"

"True," Narcissa conceded. "So if that will move things along for your book, then so be it. Oh," she added, as though something were just occurring to her, "are you publishing under your real name?"

"No, I plan to use a pseudonym," the other woman said. "No need to drag the details of my identity into my work, don't you think?"

"I suppose not," Narcissa agreed. "What name will you use, then?"

"I hadn't decided," the other woman said. "I had a lovely cat named Rita once. Had these adorable markings around her eyes, like spectacles. That's a bit charming, isn't it?"

"Rita," Narcissa replied thoughtfully. "Hmm. What about . . . Rita Skeeter?"

"That's an absolutely dreadful name," the other woman said with a violent shudder, then paused. "Narcissa, darling, it's just perfect."

There was a shuffle in the kitchen as the two women prepared to exit and Lucius tiptoed quickly back to the Floo, sending himself home and heading straight for Abraxas' office.

"Father," Lucius barked, bursting into the room. "Narcissa is going to ask you something, and you must agree to her request."

Abraxas looked up, a look of dubious boredom passing across his wrinkled features.

"Fine," he muttered, glancing back down at his newspaper.

 Six Months Later


"I'm so sorry," Anna - or Adeline? No, Aurora, he was quite certain it was Aurora - whimpered imploringly, hiccuping through her incoherent speech of apology. "Mr Lockhart, I'm so, so sorry, surely there is something I can do - "

He sighed in exasperation. "Aurora," he began, "you have to understand - "

"It's Marjorie," she wailed.

"Right, as I said, Marjorie," he continued, a bit perturbed by her cheek, "this is really one mistake that simply cannot be undone." He stepped forward, patting her shoulder. "Really, love, I don't think there's a need for all this fuss - "

"But Mr Lockhart," she sobbed, making him increasingly uncomfortable with her hysteria, "I really need this job, and I know you're very particular with your staff - "

"I am," he agreed. "And that, my dear Marlene, is why - "

"Marjorie," she sniffed, dabbing her eyes with her handkerchief.

"Yes, fine," he sighed, "that, my dear, is why I must let you go. I'm very choosy about my pomades, you know," he said, gesturing to his expertly coiffed hair. "My look is my brand, you see, and I can't have my brand being tainted by careless mistakes by my employees. You've very nearly destroyed me, Miranda, and I - "

"Please," she sputtered, reaching out to press herself against him. "Please, Mr Lockhart, if you would only just give me another chance - "

He glanced down at where her body was flush against his and willed himself not to give into the same mistakes he'd made the previous week. They were so hard to get rid of after he'd fucked them, and it was truly a burden to deal with an unending river of tears.

"I have to run, Aurora, you understand," he said, patting her head and pulling away. "Very important things to attend to, being who I am." He disentangled himself from her grasp, slipping out the door. "I wish you the best of luck, darling," he added, flashing her his most beatific smile. "Oh, and before you go" - he gestured around his office - "pick up a bit, won't you?"

She hiccuped again, nodding slowly.

"That's my girl," he said with a wink, and then slipped out the door, apparating to Malfoy Manor for Abraxas' latest to-do.

Fuck, what he wouldn't give for a decent shag, Gilderoy lamented, appearing within the front hall and striding purposefully through the foyer. The guests were mostly youthful and attractive women this evening, he noted immediately, pleased that this was clearly not another gathering to celebrate one of Kennilworthy's latest catastrophically dull homo-erotic quidditch narratives.

"Hello, gorgeous," Gilderoy said, slipping over to a woman in a set of alluringly fitted ivory robes and placing his hand amicably on her waist. "Have you seen - "

"Excuse me," she demanded, slapping his hand away. "How dare you?"

"Oh, come on, love," he tsked, bowing low. "Apologies if I've managed somehow to offend - "

"Managed to offend?" she repeated, scowling. "If your hands are so eager for a place to rest, I'd suggest you go home," she sniffed, "and put them on your - "

"Ah, Gilderoy!" Abraxas barked, suddenly materializing to grab him by the arm and pull him firmly away. "So lovely to see you!"

"And you," Gilderoy returned, slightly bemused. "That woman was not exactly - "

"Hush," Abraxas said instantly, clapping a hand over his mouth. "Did you read the book like I told you to?"

"Which book?" Gilderoy asked, frowning as he tried to remember. He smiled at a lovely witch in turquoise robes and she - quite rudely, in his estimation - made a point of turning her back on him and raising her nose in the air.

"The Fairer Sex," Abraxas reminded him. "You know, the book that this release party is for."

"Ah, right, that," Gilderoy said vacantly, offering a wink at a witch in marigold. She glared at him, crossing her arms over her chest. "Merlin's bollocks," he determined, feeling as though he had stepped through another dimension to a world where he was somehow less handsome. "Is my hair out of place or something?"

"You didn't read it, did you?" Abraxas hissed, yanking Gilderoy off to the side and fuming in his silent, slightly comical way.

"Don't be ridiculous, Abraxas," Gilderoy sniffed, grabbing a glass of elf-wine from a levitating tray. "People read my books, not the other way around."

"This is an exception," Abraxas snapped in agitation. "I specifically told you not to attend this party without having read it, did I not?"

"Abraxas," Gilderoy said, giving him a look, "I'm your most celebrated author. You can give me a synopsis." He took a sip of his wine, thinking. "The Fairer Sex, you said?" he recalled. "Is it some kind of silly romance novel?"

"Worse," Abraxas determined, lips pursed. "It's some kind of feminine empowerment manifesto."

Gilderoy laughed, a gentleman's laugh. "Oh, how kind of you to humor them," he said, shaking his head. "I'm sure it will still sell its twenty copies, whether or not I've read it."

"That's the problem," Abraxas growled. "Every woman at this party purchased an advanced copy. My wife bought a copy," he added, "and she loves it. She's promoted it to all her friends, to all my daughter-in-law's friends - and I tell you what," he sighed wearily, "it's been hell on earth since."

"Have you read it?" Gilderoy asked, feeling a sullen pout creep over what he knew to be his impeccable set of lips. "You can't possibly think - "

"I have," Abraxas confirmed, "and I have to say, the author is quite a skilled wordsmith. I'm hardly her demographic, of course - "

"Of course," Gilderoy snorted.

" - but I can't deny, she's got style."

"What is she, some fifty year old spinster?" Gilderoy asked, making a face. "All alone, and aiming to bring other women down with her?"

"Not quite that, Mr Lockhart," a pert, feminine voice said from behind him. "Aiming to bring other women up with me, as it were."

"Gilderoy," Abraxas said quickly, glaring at him, "this is the author, Ms Rita Skeeter."

Gilderoy stiffened, preparing himself to be revolted as he turned to face her. "Lovely to meet you," he said, with a forced, unpleasant sneer, "and I'm ever so - "

He paused, gaping at the witch before him. She was far younger than he would have ever expected, scarcely over some twenty years old, her extraordinarily lithe figure wrapped appealingly in stunning emerald robes that served to emphasize both the iridescent green of her eyes as well as the honey-blonde sheen of her hair. She lifted her hand, politely offering it to him, and he accepted, his eyes caught on the elegance of her crimson-polished nails.

"Ever so?" she prompted, her scarlet lips twisting into a mirthful smirk. "Have words managed to escape you, Mr Lockhart?"

"It appears so," he managed, making a questionable recovery from the blow of laying eyes on her. "A rarity indeed, Ms Skeeter."

She smiled. "Then I've certainly done a service for womankind."

"Oh, you hardly need to flatter me, Ms Skeeter, I - wait." He blinked, taking a moment to register the insult. "What?"

"Sorry, I'll have to limit my wit for present company, it seems," Rita determined, looking far more pleased than a woman should for not having his face between her legs. "I expect you've not sampled my work yet, then?"

"Haven't had the pleasure," Gilderoy mumbled, and then to his relief, he glanced up to catch a familiar eye, the same lovely blues of the witch who had presented his Author of the Year trophy six months prior. "Oh, excuse me, Ms Skeeter," he said, gesturing gallantly, "but I really must greet my friend, er" - he looked down at her, fighting to recall - "Amelia - "

"I believe you mean my assistant, Felicity?" Rita said, gesturing for the witch to join them. "She did mention that you two had met previously."

"More than met," Gilderoy purred, reaching for her hand and brushing his lips against it. "We had quite a memorable evening, didn't we, love?"

"Did you?" Rita said, cutting in before Felicity could speak. "Tell us, Mr Lockhart, whatever did you do?"

"Well," Gilderoy replied, stiffening in irritation, "we had a lovely dinner at one of my favorite chateaus," he began, guessing wildly, "and spent a long, pleasurable evening in my hotel suite." He smiled at her. "An evening I'll never forget."

Rita glanced sideways at her. "Well?" she prompted. "What does the book say?"

Felicity sighed, meeting Gilderoy's eyes with reluctance. "That I have to be honest with myself about my experiences and demand the respect I deserve," she said, appearing a bit sulky.

"And?" Rita prompted, in a way that simultaneously terrified Gilderoy and also prompted an ill-timed twitch of his cock.

"And the story Gild- Mr Lockhart just told was likely of some other conquest, and I must recognize my error and make a solemn promise to myself not to repeat my past indiscretions," Felicity sighed dutifully.

"Oh, come now, Felicia," Gilderoy said, reaching out to wrap an arm comfortingly around her waist. "I'm sure I was just describing our next date, seeing as our first one was so supremely satisfying."

Rita glanced dubiously at Felicity. "Was it?"

Felicity lifted her chin. "Not for me," she determined, and Gilderoy laughed.

"Surely you are mistaken, love," he informed her, his hand slipping to her lower back.

Rita, obnoxiously, raised one eyebrow, looking expectantly at her assistant; to his utter displeasure, Gilderoy shortly found himself covered in wine, having had the beverage tossed in his face by the rapidly retreating form of his last shaggable hope that evening.

"Good girl," Rita said, turning to follow her, and then paused, beaming over her shoulder at where Abraxas and Gilderoy stood, dumbfounded in disbelief. "Oh, and do enjoy the party, Mr Lockhart," she said softly, batting her lashes and then walking away, cursing them with the enticing sway of her hips.

"I hate her," Gilderoy determined, sputtering with loathing as he watched her disappear.

"Ah, I'm sure you won't have to see her again," Abraxas said, patting him reassuringly on the shoulder.

"What did you just say?" Gilderoy demanded, slamming a fist down on Abraxas' desk. "How many copies has she sold?"

"Well over ten thousand in her first month," Abraxas said, drumming his fingers listlessly. "Which means she's sold more copies than - "

"Don't say it!" Gilderoy shouted. "Don't you dare say it, Abraxas, for the ever-living sake of fuck - "

"More copies than you," Abraxas continued irritably. "Your last book sold perhaps a thousand fewer copies in the same time period and stagnated shortly after, which means I must now shift my focus to - "

"No!" Gilderoy yelped. "No, no, no - "

"To her," Abraxas sighed. "I'm a businessman, Gilderoy," he explained helplessly, leaning back in his chair. "I'd thought publication was my least profitable enterprise, but suddenly here she is, sending witches everywhere into an utter commercial frenzy - "

"I can do that, too!" Gilderoy exclaimed. "I am made of frenzy-whipping material, Abraxas, unless you've managed to forget - "

"Things have been different over the past few months, unless you've managed to forget," Abraxas reminded him. "Or are you going to dispute that?"

Gilderoy promptly shut his mouth. He was practically a social pariah, cast out of his favorite social clubs because the wives of his sponsors disapproved of his womanizing, disinvited to society events because Rita Skeeter and her hoard of harpies considered him damaging to their gender.

Ludicrous. As though he had ever been anything but a lover of women!

"Give me a new project," Gilderoy suggested, leaning forward. "Anything. A biography, even, some horrible tross you'd normally give to a waste of space like Kennilworthy - "

"She likes him, you know," Abraxas said, reclining in his chair. "Whisp. Reviewed his last piece as 'not terrible,' and now he's outselling you."

"Balls!" Gilderoy erupted.

"Those are out of fashion now," Abraxas quipped, looking pleased with his joke.

"Give me something," Gilderoy demanded breathlessly, pacing about the room. "You must, Abraxas, as surely you'd rather I succeed than that - " he paused, making a face, "that horrible shrew - "

"She has something at the moment that I suppose you can collaborate on," Abraxas remarked thoughtfully. "A piece on Armando Dippet that I'm sure would fantastically bore you."

"I'm bored just thinking about it!" Gilderoy groaned, throwing his hands in the air. "And you want me to collaborate with her?"

"I imagine it might help your reputation," Abraxas mused. "Perhaps you might win her over, don't you think? You're charming, Gilderoy. You're only a little" - he paused - "rough around the edges, I think, considering the sensitivity of the times."

"What if I don't want to win her over?" Gilderoy asked stiffly.

"Then you must consent to disappear into obscurity," Abraxas determined matter-of-factly. "Times only move forward, Gilderoy, not backwards, and you're a relic of a more antiquated past."

"But it's me!" Gilderoy reminded him pleadingly. "Gilderoy Lockhart, Man About Town!"

"You'll have to be a Man About something else," Abraxas sighed. "Perhaps prose?"

"You're a monster," Gilderoy growled, crossing his arms peevishly over his chest.

"Anything?" Gilderoy asked desperately. "She seems intent on destroying me, Tim; of lessening me to nothing." He slunk down in his chair, sulking. "Tell me you have something on her. "

"Unfortunately not, sir," his P.I. responded sullenly. "Rita Skeeter appears not to have even existed before a year ago, and nobody seems to know who she was before that."

"Balls!" Gilderoy shouted, launching himself up from his chair. "Testes, dicks, and balls!"

"Those are out of fashion now," Tim informed him apologetically, ducking as Gilderoy promptly threw a quill at his head.

She arrived in a set of lovely magenta robes, looking more like an angel than any woman he'd ever seen. He immediately choked on a compulsion to kiss her or light her on fire, either option seeming equally stimulating upon sight.

"Mr Lockhart," she said sweetly, placing her crocodile-skinned purse on his desk. "Would you prefer to start right away, or shall we get familiar first?"

"Get familiar?" he echoed, smirking. "Well, I'm certainly not opposed to - wait." He paused, frowning. "That's a trap, isn't it?"

"Ah, not as slow as you look," she determined with a smile. "Lovely."

"I hate you," he muttered under his breath. "You know," he added, louder, "if we're going to be working together this extensively, perhaps we should venture into informality. I'm Gilderoy," he offered. "And you are?"

"Rita," she said primly, "as you know."

"No nicknames?" he pressed curiously. "No pet names you might prefer? To add to your comfort, of course," he added, shoving desire from his bones as he eyed the cut of her robes. "My office is your office."

"Rita will do," she said, a knowing smirk twitching at her lips. "Shall we start?" she prompted, pulling a quill and parchment from her handbag and taking a seat across from him. "I thought it might be practical to begin by splitting up responsibility for the events of Dippet's life."

"Fine," Gilderoy sighed, falling into his chair. "You can do his early life, and all the other insufferable details. And I," he thought carefully, "can cover his political career, including his scandals before becoming Headmaster of Hogwarts - "

"Gilderoy, please, I would hardly entrust the task of writing scandal to you," Rita scoffed, pursing her crimson lips. "Surely we'd like to sell these books, wouldn't we?"

"Are you implying that I can't write a scandal?" Gilderoy demanded, letting his palm slap audibly against the wood of his desk. "How dare you, madam - "

"It is certainly not an implication, it is fact," she sniffed. "I, clearly, would be far better suited for covering his indiscretions. Consider, for example, his seduction of the French Minister for Magic's wife - "

"You dare offend me with skepticism at my ability to write a sex scandal?" Gilderoy asked, insulted to the very core of his being. "I assure you, Rita Skeeter, you have crossed a line!"

"Let's see then, shall we?" she said, a metallic glimmer flashing in her green eyes. "Get ready," she snapped at her charmed quill. "Armando Dippet was little more than twenty-six when he first encountered the lovely Gabrielle Moreau, as a special guest at her husband's home - "

Gilderoy waved his wand furiously, conjuring his quill and prompting it across the page. "Armando Dippet, whose roguish good looks at twenty-six years old drew the attention of the voluptuous temptress Gabrielle Moreau - "

"It is said that over dinner," Rita said loudly, "the two were never able to remove their gazes from one another, nor was Gabrielle ever said to leave Armando's line of sight all evening - "

"Gabrielle swung her hips lasciviously for the entirety of the state dinner at the French ministry, her lips plum-red and full, her figure set off impeccably by the haze of expensive champagne that both had drunk, their eyes locked in a battle of seduction - "

"The moment her husband's back was turned," Rita continued, her voice half a shout, "Gabrielle pursued Armando, drawing him into the dim light of her quarters and letting him run his hand along her bare thigh in the silvery gleam of moonlight, drawing him close to her breast - "

"Her breasts, which were full and heaving as she panted Armando's name," Gilderoy yelled, "glowed temptingly, her breathy moans filling Armando's ears as she brought her lips to his - "

" - their tongues dueling for dominance," Rita belted hoarsely, "tangled and tormenting, the carnal vibrations coursing through them as their hips ground in a synchronized dance of desire - "

" - he grasped the swelling piston of his manhood in his hand, springing free from his fashionably tight trousers and leaking his damnable craving, demanding its heady release - "

" - the explosive tingling of her thighs, the slick quivering of her quim as she lowered herself to her knees, hungering for a taste of his engorged, thirsting member - "

" - abandoning sanity in pursuit of the THROBBING PULSE OF HER SEX AGAINST HIM - "






He gasped, realizing he had somehow come across the desk, yanking Rita against him; their bodies were tangled together, their breaths short and panting, and he had backed her against a wall, both enchanted quills continuing to scribble along behind them as they stared at each other, a horrible realization striking him as he longed desperately to lower his head, to brush his lips against hers, to hold her against him -

"You write it," he managed after a moment, releasing her and backing to his desk, trying to cover his incredibly inconvenient and thoroughly unsurprising erection. "Just - write it and send me the pages, and then we can - "

"Collaborate later, yes, I agree," she said hurriedly, reaching behind her for the office door. "Yes, good plan Mr Gilderoy, Sir Lockhart, well spotted - "

When the door shut behind her, he unzipped his trousers, sighing with relief.

"Hello, old friend," he said, reaching a practiced hand to the swelling piston of his manhood and picturing the curve of her lips, her name traipsing off his tongue like a secret.

"Should we talk about yesterday?"

"No. Absolutely not."


"New pages?"

"Yes. 5,000 words on Dippet's trip to Liberia."

"Great. Excellent."



"How's it going?" Abraxas asked, glancing up at Gilderoy from his desk. "Has she grown on you?"

He swallowed. "A bit," he confessed, trying not to mention the way her curves begged every day to be touched, and he was growing weaker every minute to deny them; or worse - much worse, as it meant a single fucking couldn't suffice to satisfy his want - that even the most innocuous morsel of conversation with her had become the highlight of his day.

"She's a smart broad," Abraxas muttered gruffly. "Can't deny her that, unfortunately."

"She's - " Gilderoy licked his lips, trying to conjure moisture to the dryness of his mouth. Beautiful. Independent. Spirited. Feisty. Confident.


"She's fine," he offered evasively, wishing instantly to melt into the floorboards.

"Rita!" Gilderoy shouted, brushing dust from his shoulders as he stomped into her office. "Rita, I was expecting more pages today on Dippet's early Hogwarts years and you, irresponsibly, have shirked your duty to me, to our entire publication, to history itself - "

"Ah, Gilderoy," she sighed, appearing in the doorframe. "Apologies, but I was entertaining a guest." She gestured inside. "You know Kennilworthy, don't you?"

Gilderoy's eyes traveled slowly from the man who sat at her desk to the open bottle of elf-wine and the two glasses, one which featured a signature crimson stain.

"I do," Gilderoy said, narrowing his eyes. "Ken."

"You know I hate diminutives, Gil," Kennilworthy replied, nostrils flaring in distaste. "Looks like you'll have to come back."

"Like hell I will!" Gilderoy snarled. "Work comes first, Whisp, so scurry off and - "

"Rita wants me here, and you'd better - "

"Boys, boys," Rita said coolly, stepping between them. "While I do enjoy this devolution to your more primal selves, I'm afraid I'll have to side with Gilderoy on this one. I do have new pages to share, and I suppose we" - she leaned forward, kissing Kennilworthy on the cheek in a way that drove Gilderoy to madness - "will have to take a raincheck on this lovely bottle of wine." She smiled at him, a smile full of meaning. "You understand, don't you?"

Kennilworthy stood, glaring at Gilderoy. "Fine," he spat. "But you'll owl me tomorrow?"

"I'm sure I will," Rita said, gesturing to the Floo, and Kennilworthy stomped out. "Now," she said, turning to Gilderoy, "as for the new pages - "

"What is this?" Gilderoy demanded, gesturing to the glasses and the wine. "Is this some kind of . . . clandestine fraternization?"

"Ah, aren't you such a writer," Rita determined with a chuckle. "It's a date, Gilderoy. Call it what it is."

"It isn't," he informed her. "I won't let it."

"You won't let it be a date?" she repeated, quizzically lifting a pale brow. "My apologies, did I ask you for help with semantics?"

"No, you didn't, and don't think I'm thrilled about that either!" Gilderoy shouted, knowing he was being childish but determining that he didn't care. "You can't date him, Rita - "

"And why not?" Rita asked, perching daintily on her desk. "He's an attractive enough man, an excellent author, he treats women with respect - "

"I - " Gilderoy began, immediately floundering. "I'm attractive!"

"That you are," Rita agreed. "And you're also a terrible human being."

"So?" Gilderoy squawked. "You're a menace! And maybe I made mistakes in my past," he added, "but I can change, and I - "

He hesitated, not wanting to meet her eye.

"You what, Gilderoy?" she prompted.

"I would treat you with respect," he muttered. "I would treat you like the goddess that you are."

There was a pause as the implications settled around their shoulders, dusting them both in a regrettable sprinkle of his sincerity.

"Well aren't you poetry in prose," Rita mused eventually, crossing her legs at the ankles.

"Don't mock me," he snapped. "I may be terrible, but you don't have to be cruel."

He barely realized she had moved until she was standing before him, the smell of her perfume breezing gloriously through his senses.

"No," she agreed. "I don't. It's only that I'm so good at it."

"You are," he croaked. "You are, and I'm only - "

He cut off as she wrapped her arms around his neck, pressing her lips to his, the kiss better than he could have dreamt it, the taste of wine and victory joining up to slip euphorically into his lungs. She was fire on his tongue, scalding him to his soul, and he backed her against her desk, lifting her on top of it.

"You're a man who enjoys accolades, aren't you, Gilderoy?" she murmured hazily, nudging his chin up to press her scarlet lips to his throat. "Perhaps you'd like to earn one now?"

"I perform well with praise," he admitted, his heart thudding mercilessly against his chest.

"Good," she said, shoving his head down to her lap and smiling. "Be a good boy and make me come."


"I think I'm in love with you," he panted, shoving her back against the wall and thrusting firmly as she moaned, scraping her crimson nails against the bare skin of his back.

"I'm quite certain you are," she replied, before sinking her teeth into his shoulder, biting his name into muscle and bone.

"And you?" he asked, sweeping her desk clean and laying her on top of it, pushing her back to rub against her clit as he slammed into her. "Do you love me?"

There was a glimmer in her eye, and she opened her mouth to answer -

And then she was gasping his name as he fucked her to breathless satisfaction, and he saw stars as he came.


Rita Skeeter stepped through the Floo in her fireplace, colliding with her assistant within the span of three steps.

"Oh, sorry Felicity," Rita said, helping the other witch straighten. "Are you quite alright?"

"Mm," the other woman replied evasively, her eyes darting away.

"Felicity," Rita repeated, trying to catch her eye. "Is everything alright?"

Felicity sighed, a burdensome sigh, full of things unsaid.

"Tell me," Rita demanded, sitting her down; part mother, part employer, all brusque authority. "Whatever it is, tell me."

Felicity looked far away, dragging her mind back to the present. "Are you sleeping with Mr Lockhart?" she asked, tentatively biting her lip. "I know it's not any of my business," she added, though it was an empty gesture, as her eyes clearly called for an answer.

"I'm fucking Gilderoy, yes," Rita confirmed, choosing her words with utmost care. "As a utilitarian matter of efficiency and logistical ease."

"Do you think," Felicity began, then closed her mouth, thinking better of it.

"Out with it," Rita commanded, and Felicity sighed, relenting.

"I just wonder if it's really such a good idea," Felicity mused. "I thought you had something to prove."

"I do," Rita agreed, though Felicity could not have known the half of the matter. "His cock has nothing to do with what I showed up to prove."

"No, I suppose not," Felicity said thoughtfully. "But I thought better of you," she said, casting her eyes to the ground, and Rita felt a stirring of stinging remorse. "For all that you've done for women, I would have thought you might - "

"I might not choose a misogynistic fool?" Rita supplied, and the other witch nodded. "Yes, that is always the hope," she muttered in agreement. "I suppose I may have lost track of the broader scope of things when he changed his attitude about me personally."

"It's just that we - I - look up to you so much," Felicity said hopefully, lifting her chin. "I want to see you succeed, and not to share your success with anyone." She made a face. "Least of all him."

"He is better," Rita sighed. "But I do see your point."

"It's your year, you know," Felicity informed her, smiling wanly. "Author of the Year belongs to you, and I hate to see everything you worked for become a farce when held up to your romantic life."

Balls, Rita thought fiercely, acknowledging the salience of the other witch's point; though, truly, the phrase was well out of fashion now.

"You're right," Rita agreed, rising to her feet. "Owl him for me, will you?" she asked, straightening her lilac robes - his favorite color, she thought with a pang of guilt - and heading to her desk. "And then owl Abraxas." She paused, running her fingers over the manuscript that sat atop her desk. "Tell him I'll finish Dippet's biography on my own."

Felicity smiled her approval. "I'm proud of you, Rita."

Rita forced an endearing smile, a liar's smile, kicking one of Gilderoy's ties back under the desk. "This is what I live for, darling."


" . . . and so it is an honor and a pleasure to present this award to my most profitable writer," Abraxas continued, "the greatly esteemed, effortlessly charming, truly inimitable lady about town - Rita Skeeter!"

The room erupted in applause and she stood, bowing her head gracefully as she took the stage to shake Abraxas' hand and accept her trophy.

"Congratulations, Ms Skeeter," the young presenting witch told her brightly. "Because of you, I plan to be an author myself, if I can!"

"Good for you, dear," Rita said, smiling serenely and turning to the podium.

"Well," Rita began, "I'll make this quick. A thank you to those who failed to believe in me," she said, "because without you, I would never have written a book. And a thank you to those who didn't know who I was," she added, "because now, you'll always know my name." She glanced around the room, catching Gilderoy's eye. He looked sad but was smiling, a lost lover's smile, and when he met her gaze, he seemed sincere.

"To my publisher, of course," Rita added, glancing at Abraxas, "and most importantly, to us." She raised her trophy, blessing them all with her unfailing smile. "The fairer sex."

The applause was tumultuous. She'd always loved an accolade.

"So," Narcissa said, sipping her tea. "Are you satisfied?"

"It's the most successful book in a generation," Rita reminded her. "I'm a celebrated author."

"I know these things," Narcissa said, flashing her a look of patrician irritation. "I asked if you were satisfied."

"I suppose," Rita lied, stirring a little lemon into her cup.

"You never did tell me the purpose of the book," Narcissa reminded her. "Not that I mind," she added. "It was quite a good idea, marrying Lucius," she decided, tapping an expensive shoe against the rare marble of her floor, "and clearly your book was a success."

"It certainly was," Rita agreed. In nearly every way, as planned.

"Even the name is starting to suit you," Narcissa commented, taking another placid sip. "I've nearly forgotten you aren't a Rita."

"I have to get glasses soon," Rita informed her, making a face. "I'm becoming more Rita by the day, I'm afraid."

"Ah, well, nothing wrong with that, is there?" Narcissa countered, though she softened, warmed by the thought of their history. "Of course, I liked you just fine when you were - "

"Nobody," Rita supplied quickly. "But yes, you did, and for that I'm grateful."

Narcissa nodded, surveying the landscape of her elaborate manor home.

"So, one more time," she ventured, careful not to let her voice betray the telling curve of her lips. "Are you satisfied?"

Rita, who was not a Rita at all, sighed, a storyteller's sigh.

"Not like I thought," she replied, and Narcissa reached over, squeezing her hand.

There was a knock at her door, and she turned to glimpse his tall frame, his foolishly moussed hair, his ridiculously snug trousers.

"Gilderoy Lockhart," she pronounced, smiling at him.

"Helena Burke," he replied, and she froze, dropping a pot of ink and watching it seep into the floor.

"How did you," she began, choking on the sentence. "Why - "

"I hired a private investigator to look into your background when we first started working together," Gilderoy explained, meeting her eye with his jaunty smirk. "You were intent on damaging my reputation, and I felt some leverage would someday be necessary."

"And he just figured it out?" Rita asked, confused.

"Oh, balls, no," Gilderoy sniffed, waving the thought away. "No, then I learned from you that one should never hire a man to do a woman's job. I found another one," he explained. "Took her less than three days to come back with a name."

"Oh," Rita - who was really Helena - said, lost and uncertain without the shield of her persona.

"I know who you are," Gilderoy added, and Helena crossed her arms.

"Clearly," she remarked. "You've just said my name."

"No," he corrected, "I know who you are." He looked sorrowfully at her face. "We went to school together, didn't we?"

"Yes," Helena confirmed, shifting uncomfortably. "I was - "

"In Slytherin," he asserted with a nod. "You lent me a quill once in Transfiguration, and I never returned it."

Neither that, nor my feelings, she thought morosely, though she shoved her pesky sentiments aside.

"No," she agreed briskly. "You did not."

He took a tentative step towards her. "Why didn't you tell me the truth?" he asked.

"You'd have used it to destroy me," Helena pointed out. "Isn't that precisely why you hired the P.I. to begin with?"

"Well, true," Gilderoy acknowledged, shrugging. "But why do any of it?" he asked, and he reached out, taking her hand. "Why be someone you weren't?"

"To get my quill back," she snapped, and he smiled, a lover's smile, but didn't relent.


She sighed. "So that you would see me," she explained, glancing at her feet. "For once."

"I see you now," he said, lifting her chin. "Fool that I am. I see you now."

"Only because I'm exceedingly clever," she told him, "and have the foresight to play a long game."

"True," he agreed, nodding, his eyes traveling over her face. "But you chose poorly, and if you can't forgive me now, what more can I do?"

"Do you want me to forgive you?" Helena asked, flashing him a look of practiced skepticism. "Seems you'd be better off revealing my identity to the world. Write a book on it," she suggested. "Scandal: The Life and Lies of Rita Skeeter."

"It does have the ring of a bestseller," he agreed, "but truly, you'd do a better job of it. You'd leave the reader with a much more vivid experience with regard to the engorged state of my thirsting manhood - "

"I really would," she confirmed. "I may not have been a star pupil and Prefect, but I do spin a good yarn."

"You do," he said firmly, sweeping her up in his arms. "And if you want to keep this private, so be it." He brushed his lips against hers, whispering against her mouth. "I'd be happy enough with Helena that Rita can go on destroying me."

"She will," Helena told him, fairly certain that was a promise. "You're an easy target."

"Balls," he murmured, closing his eyes.

"Those are - "

" - out of fashion, I know," he concluded grumpily, wrapping his arms around her waist. "But I concede."

"As well you should," she said indifferently, but when she buried her face in the crook of his neck, she smiled.

It was a smile of satisfaction.

Chapter Text

The Real World: Hogwarts
Episode I

Pairing: None. Ish. None yet.

Universe: Hogwarts, Year 6

Rating: M for language

Summary: Some people (cough, Shayalonnie and oblivionbaby) wanted to watch a reality show of just Hogwarts 24/7 and they roped me into it. If you enjoyed Bachelorette, then you sort of know what we're getting into now, except with even less substance. There will be a short post every day from now until Christmas, a gift from me to you.

Disclaimer: I've never actually seen any of the Real Worlds, or any reality show really except for Bachelor(ette) and Ink Master (which I love, talk Ink Master with me anytime) so this will have close to zero accuracy.

And now . . . have you missed Lee Jordan?

[Camera pans the Headmaster's office and shakes into place unsteadily, slowly zeroing in on where Albus Dumbledore sits expectantly at his desk. He is nursing his right hand and looking intently at something in front of him when Minerva McGonagall enters.]

Minerva: [sits down, props feet on Albus' desk, and leans back, a listless expression on her face as she reaches into the pocket of her robe and produces a Muggle cigar.] "Fawkes, give me a light, would you?" [The withered phoenix floats over and coughs up a few sparks, and she takes a slow puff, blowing a practiced ring of smoke into the air as Albus watches, vacantly amused.] "Albus." [She glances skeptically around the room.]"What the fuck is this?"

Albus: [smiles slowly, the familiar twinkle appearing in his eye] "Minerva, you do realize you're on camera." [He gestures behind her to where the camera jostles into place, as though the person holding it has finally managed to levitate it properly.]

Minerva: [looks into the camera and purses her lips in matronly disapproval before taking a long, deliberate pull from her cigar.] "Albus, you cocksucking whore - " [she coughs out a puff of smoke] " - what have you done now?"

Albus: [chuckles] "Lee, if you would, please?"

[A loud cough, and then Lee Jordan steps tentatively into camera view.]

Lee: "Er, hello, and welcome to - " [He looks up, gesturing to someone off screen] "We're rolling, right?"

[An incoherent response rumbles from off screen.]

Lee: "Right." [Clears his throat and then glances behind him; Minerva makes a face before transfiguring her still-lit cigar into a small insect, which Fawkes snatches from the air and eats, emitting a warbled crow of triumph.] "Sorry, Professor - "

Minerva: [lazily, flicking a speck of ash from her robe] "Jordan, just get to it, would you?"

Lee: [muttering to himself] "Right." [He straightens and someone passes him a mic from off screen, which he accepts, nudging his tie into place as he opens his monologue.] "This is the true story of the students and teachers who live at Hogwarts, and who have agreed to have their lives taped to find out what happens when people stop being polite … and start getting real."

Minerva: [interrupts, mouth open in disbelief] "What the fuck, Albus - "

Albus: [innocently] "What?"

Lee: [turns to face them; the camera zooms past him to focus on the two professors.] "Uh, guys - "

Minerva: "What has possibly possessed you to think this is a good idea, Albus?"

Albus: "Look, Minnie." [He shifts in his chair] "Here's the thing. There's some shit going down this year, okay, and I can't have you up my arse about everything I do this time - "

Minerva: [shrilly] "This time? Albus, you have literally never listened to me - "

Albus: [trumpeting loudly] "And like I always say, EVERYTHING IS TOTALLY FINE!"

Minerva: "Totally fine?" [She blinks at him in disbelief.] Albus Dumbledore, you unbelievable cockwarbler - "

Lee: [steps towards them carefully] "Again, Professors, just as a reminder - "

Minerva: "Quiet, Jordan, or I'll take ten points - "

Lee: [indignant] "Professor, I graduated last year!"

Albus: [to Minerva] "Minnie, no offense, but surely you've gathered at this point that I am the architect of a much grander scheme that could not possibly register in your teeny tiny mortal mind - "

Minerva: "Oh you son of a cunting - "

Albus: [continuing unfazed] "Look, I said no offense - "

Minerva: "That's not a thing, Albus, you can't just say that - "

Albus: "I don't mean you personally have a teeny tiny mind, just that all people who aren't me have teeny tiny minds - "


Lee: [whispering to himself] "Holy balls - "


Albus: [mumbling] " - don't understand why you're so sensitive, I feel like this is obvious - " [looks around] "Where's Severus, he'll get it - "

Minerva: [furious] "Oh no you don't!" [She clambers onto the desk and Fawkes screeches encouragingly from his perch, rowdily delighted.] "You tell me what's going on, Albus, or so help me - "

[Minerva reaches across to take Albus by the shoulders, shaking him and muttering "full offense" and "for the actual sake of fuck" as she struggles to throttle him.]

Lee: [steps in front of the camera, shouting] "Let's go meet the rest of the cast, shall we?"

[Camera cuts out; reopens on an interview scene as Harry Potter takes a seat in a chair, looking around.]

Harry: [confused] "Lee, what exactly - "

Lee, off screen: "You're doing great, Harry!"

Harry: "Oh, um, hi." [He looks into the camera and smiles awkwardly, as if he's been instructed to do so.] "I'm Harry."

Interviewer: "Your full name, please."

Harry: "Oh, sorry." [Flushes earnestly] "Harry Potter."

[Camera cuts to Draco interview.]

Draco: "Did he really forget to say his full name?" [scoffs] "What an idiot." [Looks confidently into the camera] "I'm Draco Malfoy."

Interviewer: "And your house?"

Draco: "Oh, I see, so you're pretending people don't know who I am, then?"

[Camera cuts to Hermione interview.]

Hermione: [brightly] "Hello, I'm Hermione Granger, I'm a Gryffindor Prefect and a sixth year, I'm really quite interested in arithmancy and ancient runes, though I'm also taking potions, astronomy, transfiguration - "

Interviewer: [hurriedly interrupts] "Yes, yes, okay - "

[Camera cuts to Seamus and Dean interview.]

Seamus: "Yeah, we'd really just prefer to do our interviews together."

Dean: "No reason."

Interviewer: "Okay, well, um - "

Seamus: "Listen, here's the thing, I think we all want to know if Potter's gay, right?"

Dean: "And Malfoy."

Interviewer: [hesitantly] "Well, let's not - "

Seamus: "And Weasley. And Corner. And Longbottom. And Goyle - "

Dean: [interrupts] "Do you think everyone is gay?"

Seamus: "Pretty much. Except me, obviously."

Dean: "Well, obviously."

Seamus: "I just feel like it would be more interesting if everyone were gay."

Dean: "Except you."

Seamus: "Right, I said that."

Dean: "Yes, right. Cool."

[Camera cuts to Pansy interview.]

Pansy: "Listen, how many times can I say fuck?"

Interviewer: "We'd prefer none."

Pansy: "Cunt?"

Interviewer: "Please don't."

Pansy: "Pussy. Twat."

Interviewer: "Really, if you could just stop, that'd be - "

Pansy: "I'm just listing by category but I feel I'm an equal opportunity swearer. Like - cock, surely cock's okay, you know, within the rigid confines of the patriarchy? Or dick?"

Interviewer: "Miss Parkinson - "

Pansy: "What about shitpouch?"

Interviewer: "No."

Pansy: "Thundercunt."

Interviewer: "Now you're just mixing words together."

Pansy: "Am I, though?"

[Cuts to Theo interview]

Theo: "So, can I say - "

Lee, off screen: "NO, NOTT, YOU FUCKING CANNOT - "

Theo: [sulking] "Ugh, balls."

[Cuts to Ron interview]

Ron: "Yeah, hi, I'm Ron Weasley - "

[Severus Snape enters the screen to walk through the corridor and does a double-take, pausing before taking a few steps back to scowl imperiously into the camera.]

Severus: "Weasley." [Narrows his eyes skeptically] "What is the meaning of this?"

Ron: [Glances nervously at the camera] "Er, I um - don't really know, sir."

Severus: "Get to class." [Scowls again] "And take five points from Gryffindor."

Ron: [in disbelief] "WHAT - Professor Snape! That's not - "

Severus: "Scamper off, Weasley, or it'll be another five."

Ron: [looks helplessly at the interviewer] "Aren't you going to do something?"

Interviewer: "Nah."

[Cuts to Luna interview.]

Luna: "Is this a documentary about finally revealing the truth about Nargles?"

Interviewer: "No."

Luna: [quietly] "Balls."

[Cuts to Blaise interview.]

Blaise: [Looks up as Draco sits down beside him] "What are you doing here?"

Draco: "Making your interview more interesting."

Blaise: "Debatable."

Draco: "Why, what were you going to say? 'I'm Blaise Zabini and I'm a Slytherin whose mummy is a husband-murdering, opera-singing tart'?"

Blaise: "Kind of."

Draco: "Oh. Carry on, then."

[Cuts to Ginny interview.]

Ginny: "Have you seen Dean?"

Interviewer: "He was with Seamus."

Ginny: "Fuck, I suspected that." [Tilts her head] "Harry's straight, right?"

Interviewer: "I really can't comment."

Ginny: "Eh, we'll circle back later."

[Cuts to Parvati and Lavender interview.]

Lavender: "I heard Ron got in trouble for doing this show. He's so interesting."

Parvati: "Ugh, Lavender, really?"

Lavender: "Like, not Harry Potter interesting, you know, but that's like - too much, you know what I mean?"

Parvati: "Stop."

Lavender: "Like, in terms of actual humor and substance - "

Parvati: "For the love of god, stop."

[Cuts to Draco interview.]

Draco: "Have you seen Granger? No reason. Did she say something about how she's a muggleborn?" [mutters to himself] "Stupid Granger with her stupid brain and hair and face."

Lee, off screen: "For fuck's sake, Malfoy, will you get out - "

[Cuts to Daphne and Pansy interview.]

Pansy: "You should give Daph extra screen time. She's got great tits."

Daphne: "Aw, Pans!" [gives her a playful shove] "You're sweet."

Pansy: "Oh, so I can say tits, then? Excellent."

Theo, off screen: "If she can say tits, then I'm saying tits - "

Lee, off screen: "Nott, I will fucking murder you dead - "

[Cuts to Vincent and Gregory interview.]

Vincent: "I'm Crabbe."

Gregory: "I'm Goyle."

Lee, off screen: "NEXT!"

[Cuts to Harry interview.]

Harry: "Has Malfoy been acting strangely to you?"

Interviewer: "I literally just met him."

Harry: "Yeah, but, there's a vibe there. Like a weird, something's off vibe, you know?"

Interviewer: "Okay - "

Harry: "A deathy, evil kind of vibe."

Interviewer: "I'm really not - "

Harry: "I'm saying I think Malfoy's a Death Eater."

[Cuts to Hermione interview.]

Hermione: "Harry said what? [rolls her eyes] "Ridiculous. As if Malfoy would ever - " [she pauses, looking lost in thought.] "Would he?"

Interviewer: "I don't know?"

Hermione: [shaking herself of the thought] "Anyway, as I was saying about S.P.E.W. - "

Lee, off screen: "Who the fuck let Granger back in?!"

[Cuts to Luna interview.]

Luna: "I think it's going to be a very interesting year." [she smiles and whispers] "We're going to burn this place to the ground."

Interviewer: "What?"

Luna: "What?"

[Cuts to Harry interview.]

Harry: "He's just like, doing this thing with his wrist, you know? And he was in Knockturn Alley, which - sketchy, right?"

Lee: [enters the screen, stomping over to Harry] "Merlin's ballsack, Harry, please - "

Harry: "Okay, but did I tell you about his weird thing with his wrist though?"

[Cuts to Albus interview.]

Albus: "What am I planning?" [smiles absently] "Oh, nothing. As I always say, it's the unknown we fear, when we - "

Minerva: [yelling offscreen] "Albus!"

Albus: [turns pale] "Shut it off. Hide. NOW."

[Camera jostles and the screen goes black.]

Chapter Text

The Real World: Hogwarts
Episode II

Summary: The Real World, continued. Olivie Advent Day 2.

[Scene opens with an interview with Neville.]

Neville: [openly nervous] "I really just came down here looking for my - "

Interviewer: "I'm told Harry Potter was late to the welcome feast this year. Care to comment?"

Neville: "Er, I mean, it wasn't the first time Harry missed it - "

Interviewer: [interrupts] "Would you say Harry receives any favoritism from the school administration?"

Neville: "Well, I don't think that I can - "

Interviewer: "From Dumbledore, specifically?"

[There is a long pause.]

Neville: "Pass."

Interviewer: "You can't pass."

Neville: "Well, I'm doing it. Pass."

Interviewer: "That's essentially a tacit agreement, then."

Neville: [Thinks, and then nods to himself.] "Trick question. Pass again."

Interviewer: "Listen - "

Neville: "I SAID PASS."

[Severus Snape appears in the corridor once more, his nose wrinkling distastefully as he catches sight of Neville.]

Severus: [Tsking] "Mr. Longbottom, given the state of your performance in my class, I would recommend spending more time studying and less time preening for the camera." [He pauses as Neville looks sheepish.] "5 points from Gryffindor."

Neville: [tentatively] "But Professor, I - "

Severus: "But nothing, or I'll make it ten."

Neville: "Perhaps Professor Dumbledore didn't explain - " [he turns red, ducking his head and mumbling] " - we're supposed to be doing this for a reality show - I'm supposed to be doing this interview - "

Severus: [coldly] "I've never heard such a thing. Fifteen points."

[Cuts to Severus interview.]

Severus: "I know exactly what's happening. I'm not an idiot. I'm incredibly informed."

Albus: [gently] "Then perhaps you might consider, you know, not taking points away from the students you don't like - "

Severus: [interrupts] "I find that demoralizing others stabilizes my otherwise crippling lack of self-esteem and my generally unbending state of misery with regard to my life and my choices."

Albus: [Pauses in horror, and then laughs awkwardly] "He's - the thing is, he's joking."

Severus: [stone-faced] "I'm not."

Albus: [laughs again] "He is. Trust me. He's hilarious."

Severus: "I'm not."

Albus: [nudges him] "Life of the party, this one - "

Severus: "I'd sooner eat my stockings than attend a party."

Albus: [continues, unfazed] " - social butterfly, he is, as you can see - "

Severus: "I was invited to a party once. That person no longer possesses full functionality of his right testicle."

Albus: [frantically] " - TRULY UNPARALLELED SENSE OF HUMOR - "

Severus: "I told one joke in March of 1987. The recipient of the punchline died three days later."


Severus: "I sometimes fantasize about lighting small fires in order to fall asleep."

[Camera pans out to reveal that Luna is sitting on Severus' right.]

Luna: [whispers] "Burn it down."

Albus: [looks over Severus to see her, startled] "Miss Lovegood, how on earth did you get here?"

Luna: "It's probably best if you never assume I'm not everywhere at any given time, Professor."

Severus: [looking impressed in spite of himself] "That is absolutely terrifying."

Luna: [kindly] "Thank you."

Severus: "You're welcome."

Albus: [sighing] "God, I need to lie down."

Minerva, off screen: "Albus!"

Albus: [leaps up] "Oh, for fuck's sake."

[Cuts to Draco interview with Theo and Blaise.]

Draco: "You know who I hate?"

Theo: "Potter."

Blaise: "Potter."

Draco: " - Potter. He's intolerable. An idiot. And I'm so sick of his - "

Theo: "Hero antics."

Blaise: "Hero antics."

Draco: " - hero antics, you know? Just because he's Dumbledore's favorite - "

Theo: "He thinks he can just strut around - "

Blaise: " - utterly immune to consequences."

Draco: "He thinks he can just strut around, utterly immune to consequences - "

Theo: "We know."

Blaise: "Seriously. We know."

Draco: "You know who else I hate?"

Theo: "Granger."

Blaise: "Granger."

Lee, off screen: "Hermione!"

Draco: "Granger. She's disgusting. Her hair's so big. Her skin's so soft. It's infuriating. I want to murder her with my mouth."

Blaise: "Like, eat her?"

Lee, off screen: "Don't, you signed a waiver!"

Theo: [shaking his head] "You have your emotions confused."

[Cuts to a hidden camera in the library where Ron, Hermione, and Harry are whispering in a corner.]

Hermione: [looking nervous] "I mean, surely he didn't think we'd continue his class in a N.E.W.T. year, of all years!"

Harry: "I'm pretty sure that's exactly what Hagrid thinks."

Ron: [in a slow exhale] "Fuuuuuck thaaaaaat."

Hermione: [biting her lip] "You know, I hate to agree with Ron, but - yes, that."

Harry: [shrugging his disinterest] "Let's talk about something more important. Like what Malfoy's up to."

Hermione: "He's literally right there, Harry. He's studying."

Harry: [sniffs skeptically] "I don't like it. Looks fishy."

Ron: "He's got his textbook open. He's taking notes."

Harry: "Voldemort takes notes."

Hermione: "I'm not sure that's relevant - "

Harry: "You know what else Voldemort does? Murder."

Ron: "I don't know where this is going at all."

Hermione: [glances at him, exasperated] "Do you really not?"

Harry: "I'm saying Malfoy's a Death Eater."

Ron: "Oh, I guess I did know, then."

Hermione: "Are you just trying that out on everyone to see if it sticks?"

Harry: "Is it sticking?"

Ron: "No."

Harry: "Fuck, I feel like I've got a solid argument here - look, remember the wrist thing?"

Ron: "Yes."

Harry: "The wrist thing!"

Ron: "I've got it."

Hermione: "We've definitely got it."

Harry: "Okay but I feel like you're not hearing me."

Ron: "I hear you."

Harry: "But like - hear me out, though - "

Ron: "His wrist."

Harry: " - his wrist - "

Ron: "Knockturn Alley."

Harry: " - and Knockturn Alley!"

[From the left side of the camera view Pansy and Daphne appear from the other side of the bookshelf where the Golden Trio are talking; Daphne wipes smudged lipstick from Pansy's neck and Pansy reaches out to nudge the corner of Daphne's skirt, which is folded up awkwardly, the corner of it caught in her lacy black knickers.]

Hermione: [looking over her class notes] "I feel like we're missing something."

Harry: "About Malfoy?"

Hermione: [sighs] "I can't."

[Cuts to Seamus and Dean interview.]

Seamus: "You know who I think is gay?"

Dean: "Who?"

Seamus: "Snape."

Dean: "Ooh, good one."

Seamus: "And Flitwick."

Dean: "Yep."

Seamus: "And Binns."

Dean: "The ghost?"

Seamus: "Ghosts can be gay."

Dean: "What about Dumbledore?"

Seamus: [pauses] "Nah."

Chapter Text

The Real World: Hogwarts
Episode III

Summary: The Real World, continued. Olivie Advent Day 3. A little late today, but still counts!

[Camera footage opens on Harry, Hermione, and Ron walking through a busy castle corridor.]

Ron: "What are the chances we actually get free time this year?"

Harry: [thinks, then nods decisively] "Real fucking low."

Ron: "But we've got all these free periods, though - "

Hermione: [exasperated] "Those are for studying - "

Harry: "Or for stalking Malfoy."

Ron: "No."

Harry: "Oh, come on."

Ron: "Let me rephrase - "

Harry: "Sure - "

Ron: "No thank you."

Neville, walking by: "PASS!"

Harry: [sighs] "Okay, but hear me out - "

Hermione: [interrupts] "For the hundredth time, those free periods are for studying!"

Ron: "Studying what, though?"

Hermione: [with a grimace] "Honestly, I'm sure something will come up. This all seems too convenient." [She gets distracted, seeing a first year with a Fanged Frisbee.] "Excuse me, these are banned!"

Ron: [gesturing] "Gimme." [under his breath to Hermione and Harry] "Been wanting one of these."

[Nearby, Lavender laughs uproariously. Camera cuts to Lavender interview.]

Lavender: [shrugging] "What? He's funny."

Parvati: [arms crossed] "No. He isn't."

Lavender: "Okay, but - "

Parvati: "Stop."

Lavender: "I really don't think that you're - "

Parvati: "No."

Lavender: "If you would just - "

Parvati: [flips desk] "NO!"

[Cuts to interview with Albus.]

Albus: "Look, so, I know Slughorn's not that great a potions instructor - "

Minerva: [looks startled at this] "What the fuck? Albus, you bollocky cockswallop - "

Albus: [continues, unfazed] " - and I know, technically, that he's at least partially to blame for Voldemort - "

Minerva: "Do you even hear yourself when you talk?"

Albus: [indignantly] "Minnie, am I really supposed to disqualify people simply because they may or may not have contributed to an evil wizard's meteoric rise to power?"

Minerva: [arms crossed and fuming, says nothing.]

Albus: "Who would even be left at that point - "

Minerva: [erupts] "You can't possibly be serious - "

Albus: [interrupts loudly] "But as I was saying, it's a small thing, really, in the grander scheme of forcing Harry to take potions." [clears throat] "For reasons that I have not yet made clear."

[There is a pause.]

Minerva: "Well?" [glares] "Do you plan to make them clear?"

Albus: "Yes."

[Another pause; Minerva waits expectantly.]

Albus: [looking surprised] "Oh, were you wanting to know now?"

Minerva: "That was sort of the idea, you twatwarbler."

Albus: "Well I can't now. I'm busy now. Oh, look, Harry!"

[Albus disappears. Minerva sighs and turns to face an incoming Harry and Ron.]

Minerva: "Potter, you'll have to take Potions."

Harry: [taken aback] "Why?"

Minerva: [bellows] "Don't argue with me, Potter - YOU COME INTO MY HOUSE - "

Harry: [frantically] "Okay, fuck, fine - I'm taking potions."

[Cuts to scene from Potions classroom; Harry is awarded the Felix Felicis.]

Hermione: [muttering to herself] "Oh fuck no."


Theo: [sighs, rubbing his temple] "Yeah, this seems about right."

[Cuts to interview with Draco.]

Draco: [haughtily] "Oh, big surprise, despite years of absolute fucking incompetence Harry ball-gargling Potter is suddenly some kind of potions ingenue - "

Hermione: [bursts in] "LEE!"

Lee, off screen: "What the fuck now?"

Draco: [brings a hand to his chest in a show of aristocratic, falsely horrified dismay] "Granger, I beg your fucking pardon - "

Hermione: [ignoring him] "Did you see it? Did the camera get it?"

Lee, off screen: "Get what?"

Draco: [aghast] "Granger, do I look like a piece of furniture to you? Here I am, innocently attempting to wax poetic about Potter's failings in peace - "

Hermione: "He's cheating, Lee - that son of a - "

Draco: [interrupts] "GRANGER, MY VIRGIN EARS - "

Hermione: [steps in front of the camera speaking to Lee, who is somewhere behind it] "I just want to see if the world is actually seeing the truth, here - which is that despite the fact that I would literally die for Harry - "

Draco: [peeking out from behind her] "Just curious, where do I fall on the spectrum of people you would die for? No reason." [He pauses, laughing nervously] "Ah, not relevant, carry on - "

Hermione: " - he is cheating, he is abusing the system, he is taking instruction from a book - "

Lee, off screen: "Hermione, what the fuck do you want me to do about it?"

Hermione: [shouting back] "I want justice, Lee!"

Draco: "Do you want me to fight him? I'll do it. Not for you, obviously, seeing as you're a disgusting, perfect, loathsome ivory-skinned monster, but - "

Hermione: "What is the purpose of a show about real life if not to EXPOSE THE TRUTH - "

Lee, off screen: "Hermione, I really don't think you understand what we do here."

Hermione: [shouting back] "I UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING!"

[She storms out; Draco looks sympathetically at the camera.]

Draco: "Ugh, isn't she the absolute worst? Isn't she absolutely the most disgusting, horrible, angel-faced disgrace of a human being you've ever seen?"

[Camera pans out to reveal Luna sitting on his right.]

Luna: "I don't think you mean that."

Draco: [jumps out of his seat] "How the fuck did you get here?"

Luna: "Hm? Me?"

Draco: [blinks, glances at the camera in confusion, and then looks back at her.] "Yes, you!"

Luna: "Oh, I thought you meant him."

[Camera pans out further to reveal Severus on Draco's left.]

Draco: [looks, then recoils in dismay] "Why?!"

Severus: "Hm?"

Luna: [vacantly] "Oh look, wrackspurts."

[Cuts to Pansy and Daphne interview.]

Daphne: "Marry Potter, fuck Granger, and kill Weasley." [Thinks] "Right?"

Pansy: [shrugs] "I say kill all three of them."

Daphne: [tsks disapprovingly] "Pans." [nudges her] "Come on."

Pansy: "Fine." [sighs in resignation] "Maybe fuck Weasley." [Straightens] I feel like he'd go down on you for like, fucking - hours, you know? Because he'd just be so grateful he'd just set up camp down there with some kind of breathing charm and just, fucking - go to town, you know?"

Daphne: "Ooh. That's true."

Interviewer: [interrupts gently] "Er, just as a reminder, the question was what your response was to Harry Potter's performance in Potions today."

Daphne: "Oh, we know."

Pansy: "We made it better."

Chapter Text

The Real World: Hogwarts
Episode IV

Summary: The Real World, continued. Olivie Advent Day 4.

[Opens with interview with Harry and Hermione.]

Hermione: [tentatively, as though she is apprehensive about being overheard] "Ron's been very nervous about quidditch tryouts."

Harry: "Yes. Obsessively so."

Hermione: [looks imploringly at him] "Well, it's a bit understandable, isn't it?"

Harry: "Hardly. I swear, every time I bring up Malfoy, Ron interrupts to talk about these tryouts."

Hermione: [sighs, then turns back to the camera.] "In any case, we've been having to be especially sensitive and encouraging, which comes more naturally to some of us than others."

[Cuts to a clip of several Gryffindors over breakfast.]

Hermione: [coaxingly] "You'll be fine, Ron - "

Ginny: "Yes. All you have to do is not suck."

Seamus: "It's easy. Just be better."

Dean: "I agree with Seamus."

Neville: [earnestly] "Plus, if you don't end up getting on the team, we can always talk about plants."

Ron: [slams his head into the table.] "I want to die."

[Cuts back to Harry and Hermione interview.]

Harry: "But the truth is, it's really not that hard for us to motivate Ron."

Hermione: [blushes] "Yeah, we've, um . . . perfected a method over the years."

[Cuts to Harry and Hermione talking to Ron.]

Harry: "You just have to use the Force, Ron."

Hermione: "Do or do not, there is no try."

Ron: "What?"

Harry: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Hermione: "Life is also like a box of chocolates. Because you never know what you're going to get."

Ron: [thoughtfully] "That's true."

Harry: "Hakuna matata!"

Hermione: "It means no worries - "

Harry: " - for the rest of your days!"

Ron: [nodding approvingly] "That sounds good. But how does that - "

Harry: "Look in the mirror, Ron, and tell me what you see."

Ron: [looks around, confused] "What mirror?"

Hermione: "I see pride - "

Harry: [interrupts] "I see power!"

Hermione: "I see a bad ass mother - "

Harry: " - who don't take no crap off of nobody!"

Ron: [impressed] "Really? You guys see that?"

Harry: "Ron, I'm just a boy, standing in front of another boy, asking him to believe in himself."

Hermione: "Don't you understand? When you give up on your dream, you die."

Ron: "I guess that's true."

Harry: "Fight and you may die, Ron. Run, and you'll live . . . at least a while."

Ron: [startled] "Wait, what do you mean I'll live? Was there a possibility I'd die?!"

Hermione: "And dying in your bed, many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days, from this day to that, for one chance - "

Harry: " - just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies - "

Ron: "Our enemies?" [huffs in irritation] "For fuck's sake, Harry, is this about Malfoy again?"

Hermione: " - that they may take our lives - "

Harry: [erupting dramatically] " - but they'll never take . . . OUR FREEDOM!"

[There is a pause. Harry has clambered onto the table to deliver the final line, and Hermione is breathless, her fist raised.]

Ron: [lets out a low whistle] "Wow." [He smiles cheerfully.] "You guys always know what to say."

[Cuts back to Harry and Hermione interview.]

Harry: "So, um, yeah. There are some benefits to having grown up in the Muggle world."

Hermione: [sheepishly] "We'll tell him someday."

Harry: "No we won't."

Hermione: [sighs] "No, we really won't."

[Cuts to Theo interview.]

Theo: "Yeah, I mean, school's fine."

Interviewer: "Do you have a favorite class?"

Theo: "Um, well. I guess if I had to choose one - "

[Pansy and Daphne come storming into the corridor. Theo sighs in relief.]

Theo: "Oh thank god. I thought I'd have to talk about fucking . . . school for a minute there."

Interviewer: "Personally, I came close to setting a small controlled fire."

Theo: "Ooh, smart."

Pansy: "What the fuck is this?" [She storms over to the interviewer, shoving something in his face.] "Are you responsible for this?"

Lee, off screen: "Oh, for the love of Godric's teeth - "

Interviewer: "I - Miss Parkinson, I can't see it while you're shoving it in my face - "

Daphne: "It had to have been one of you, right? One of your pervy show people?"

Lee, off screen: "PERVY? First of all, how fucking dare you - "

Theo: [peering over Pansy's shoulder] "Pans, what the fuck does it say?"

Pansy: "Something disgusting and unforgivable, that's what!"

Theo: "Is it more of Draco's poetry? His freeform work is improving but the sonnets are still utter fucking garbage as far as I can tell - I mean really, if I hear him ask 'what rhymes with bushy' one more time, I'm just going to - "

[Lee stomps into view, cutting him off.]

Lee: "Alright you twatting harpies, what are you - " [He pauses.] "What the fuck is this?"

Pansy: [shoves the parchment in his face] "Who did this?"

Lee: [draws a hand to his chest in outrage, knocking her hand away] "You had better not be accusing me of something, you horrible brute!"

[Lee grabs the parchment she's waving and reads it; his face contorts into a grimace.]

Theo: [straining to read from afar] "Well? What the fuck does it say?"

Lee: [hesitant to say] "Er, it um - it says - "

Pansy: [reciting the note] "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet - "

Daphne: " - but for Pansy, thy rose shall be called Daphne - "

Theo: [interrupts] "That's not Draco's work. His poems have a certain . . . gravitas." [grimaces] "Also, they're usually about Granger."

Pansy: "It ends with 'I know your dirty little secret - "

Daphne: " - and it's signed, of all things, 'xoxo' - "

Lee: [scoffs] "This is hardly a hugs and kisses occasion."

Theo: [nodding] "Agreed. Inappropriate." [pauses] "Wait, but what does it mean?"

Pansy: "It means somebody's been mucking about in our business!"

Lee: "And what does that have to do with me?!"

Daphne: "Who else is around school following people's every move other than you? And who the hell is 'Gossip Girl'?"

[Albus runs into the corridor, panting and out of breath.]

Lee: [relieved] "Oh good, Professor, perhaps you can help us - "

[Albus shushes them urgently and they fall silent; heeled footsteps echo the halls as someone turns down an alternate corridor.]

Albus: "Excellent, she's gone." [looks up] "What's the problem?"

Lee: "Well, it seems Pansy and Daphne have received - "

Albus: [interrupts] "Just kidding, don't care. Bye!"

[Albus disapparates. Everyone turns to look at the camera.]

Lee: "Um." [He is physically uncomfortable with the situation and looks very much like he would like to leave as well.] Well, I suppose, I, um - "

Theo: [blurts out] "My favorite class is Transfiguration."

[Everyone turns to look at him.]

Theo: "I don't know, I panicked!"

[Cuts to Seamus and Dean.]

Seamus: "Hagrid. Gay."

Dean: "Oh, come on."

Seamus: "One hundred percent. I'd stake my life on it."

Dean: "I wouldn't advise it."

Seamus: "Also gay? Salazar Slytherin."

Dean: "How do you figure?"

Seamus: "The whole snake thing. Dodgy."

Dean: "So snakes are gay, but not lions?"

Seamus: [Thinks] "No, lions too."

Dean: "So Gryffindor and Slytherin - "

Seamus: "Gay."

Dean: [muttering to himself] "The only possible way this is acceptable is if he turns out to be gay, right? I mean, is this incredibly insensitive material to include in any sort of publicized footage?"

Seamus: "What did you say?"

Dean: [loudly] "I said I agree. Totally gay."

Chapter Text

The Real World: Hogwarts
Episode V

Summary: The Real World, continued. Olivie Advent Day 5.

[Scene opens on several professors and Lee having a discussion in the Headmaster's office.]

Minerva: "Mr Jordan, what exactly is the problem here?"

Lee: "Er, well, it seems someone has sent Miss Parkinson and Miss Greengrass of Slytherin a, um, mildly threatening note."

Filius: [skeptically] "Mildly threatening?"

Pomona: "Is there such a thing as a 'mild threat,' Mr Jordan?"

Albus: [buoyantly] "Sure there is. A man with the soul of an evil megalomaniac hidden in his turban, for example."

Minerva: [turns her head sharply, glaring] "Did you just reference Quirinius Quirrell as a mild threat?"

Albus: [obnoxiously] "Would you have preferred I use the werewolf as an example? Or the good-looking unqualified one who tried to abandon two children to their inevitable demise?"

Minerva: "Under the circumstances, yes!"

Albus: "Hush, Minnie, don't be rude. Lee is talking."

[He looks expectantly at Lee, who swallows comically.]

Lee: "Er, well, I say mildly in that no actual threats were made, really - "

Filius: "No blackmail?"

Pomona: "No inclusion of bodily harm?"

Lee: "No. There was an ill-timed expression of hugs and kisses, but - "

Severus: [shudders] "Revolting."

Lee: " - other than that, nothing."

Albus: [cheerily] "Well then - no harm, no foul!"

Minerva: [glaring] "Albus, you cunting baboon - "

Albus: "Look, it's a rule. If there's no impending murder, then we're fine."

Filius: [alarmed] "Dear god, is that really the only rule?"

Albus: "Look, this is just like that time we had that Death Eater here dressed up as someone we all knew and loved for many years and nobody noticed was actually a member of a villainous mob of murder enthusiasts." [He shrugs] "Totally fine."

Minerva: "Albus, you buffet of blithering cockmongery, someone died that year!"

Albus: "Did they?" [cocks his head, thinking] "Ah, I always forget that one." [Pauses dejectedly, then brightens.] "Ah, well, as I always say, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great advent- "

Minerva: "I'm going to kill him. I'm going to do it this time. Severus, hold me back!"

Severus: [inspecting his fingernails] "No. Shan't."

[A ruckus erupts as Minerva lunges for Albus; Pomona and Filius both attempt to hold her back but fail, each one grabbing onto an ankle as she drags them, one foot at a time, towards Albus, who sits indignantly at his desk.]

Albus: "Minnie, really - I think you're overreacting a bit, it's only a bit of casual murder between friends, isn't it?"


[Lee has now grabbed on to Minerva and the camera is jostled, indicating that at least one of the camera crew members has joined in.]

Lee: "THIS - IS - UNSEEMLY - "

Albus: "Honestly, Minnie, one mistake and it's like I'm a social piranha - "

Severus: [takes a seat in a large, clawed armchair and peruses a copy of the Daily Prophet, licking a finger as he turns a page.] "It's pariah."

Albus: [pauses thoughtfully] "I always thought the fish reference was off; but then I thought - who likes fish?"

[Minerva is finally dragged down as Aurora Sinistra takes a flying leap, tackling her from afar. Horace Slughorn enters as the other teachers collapse with a groan.]

Horace: "What did I miss?"

Severus: [still reading the newspaper] "Not much."

Albus: [thinking] "Something something, blackmail, mild peril, something else - then Minerva tried to fight me."

Horace: [spiritedly] "Right-ho then, gents, carry on. Ah, and Albus, I'm using the same lesson plans from fifteen years ago."

Albus: "What else would you do? Teach something new?"

[Both laugh uproariously. Camera cuts to Draco interview.]

Draco: "Yes, I've heard about the note Pansy and Daphne got."

Interviewer: "Any idea who sent it?"

Draco: "I hope it was Potter, but really, he's far too oblivious. And it's a girl, isn't it? 'Gossip Girl'? So not him anyway." [He perks up] "Maybe it's Granger!"

Interviewer: "Is that a good thing?"

Draco: "I really don't know. Please don't ask me about her."

Interviewer: "I feel like I should."

Draco: "I don't know what you want me to say. She's got brown hair that glints in the light, with these rays of sun that catch in her soft curls whenever she turns her head."

Interviewer: "Oh boy."

Draco: "And brown eyes like the way the forest looks when the sun goes down, all warm and comforting but also mysterious and deep, like they contain the very secrets of life within them."

Interviewer: "Mhmm."

Draco: "She's the perfect height for me to rest my chin on top of her head - "

Interviewer: "Have you tried?"

Draco: "I've estimated."

Interviewer: "Okay."

Draco: "You know. Normal stuff. Nothing weird."

Interviewer: "Nothing weird?"

Draco: "That's what I said, isn't it?"

Interviewer: "Right. So, anyway. Tell me more about the Room of Requirement."

Draco: "Ah, right. So really, I got the idea from horrible, disgusting Granger - "

Interviewer: [rubs temples] "For fuck's sake - "

Draco: " - whose cheeks are as perfectly tinted as the first bloom of spring - "

Interviewer: [interrupts] "So how does it work?"

Draco: "Summoning charm, basically, within the sentient castle. It requires some subtlety." [Pauses, thinking.] "It's like a woman, sort of."

Interviewer: "How so?"

Draco: "You have to ask it for what you want, you know? And preen for it a bit. You can't just bang on the door and shout for it to let you in."

[Scene cuts to Harry standing outside the Room of Requirement, maniacally pounding his fists against the wall.]


[Cuts to Harry interview.]

Harry: "In my experience women are confusing."

[Cuts to Ron interview.]

Ron: "Yes, so, I think Harry and Hermione might have mentioned how I'm a bit nervous about quidditch tryouts."

Interviewer: "They did. Care to comment?"

Ron: "I'm nervous."

Interviewer: "I'd gathered."

Ron: "It's not like I'm not good at quidditch, obviously - "

Interviewer: "I wouldn't have guessed that, but keep going."

Ron: " - it's just that - it'll be so bloody disappointing if I don't make it."

Luna: "Is it because everyone always forgets about you?"

Ron: [jumps out of his seat] "Fucking - Godric's balls, Luna!"

Luna: "I wouldn't worry about it."

Ron: "You wouldn't worry about what?!"

Luna: "Oh, a variety of things. Nargles, Snorkacks, Plimpies, Squirtles, Charmanders, Bulbasours - "

Ron: [staring at her] "You've got to be making these things up."

Luna: "Oddly, no." [whispers] "Gotta catch them all."

Ron: "What?"

Luna: "What?"

Interviewer: "What?!"

Chapter Text

The Real World: Hogwarts
Episode VI

Summary: The Real World, continued. Olivie Advent Day 6.

[Scene opens on the Slytherin common room.]

Blaise: "Marry McGonagall, fuck Pomfrey, kill Hooch."

Daphne: "I'd fuck McGonagall over Pomfrey for sure. Have you lost your mind?"

Blaise: "Have you?!"

Draco: [sitting at a table behind them] "Guys, what rhymes with 'lioness'?"

Theo: [shouting back to him] "Wine list."

Draco: "Not really the vibe I'm going for."

Theo: "Then be more specific!"

Daphne: [ignoring them] "I just think McGonagall's got to be one of those, like, secret freaks, you know?"

Pansy: "I'm with Daph. Definitely. McGonagall's a closeted perv, for sure."

Blaise: "You know who's probably dirty as hell? Snape."

Daphne: "Oooh, yes."

Draco: "What would you call the precise brown that looks a bit golden? You know, with a bit of a sheen to it? Like, if it were crystalline in some way, but then also opalescent?"

Theo: "Fucking hell, Draco - what the fuck?"

Draco: "You said to be more specific."

Blaise: [to Theo] "He's not wrong."

Theo: [sighs, then yells back] "Topaz?"

Draco: [sniffs disapprovingly] "I don't know. Seems pretentious."

Theo: "Amber, then."

Draco: "Huh." [Thinks, then scribbles something down.] "Not bad."

Daphne: "Alright, new round - the secret freaks. McGonagall, Snape, and - "

Pansy: "Granger."

Draco: [perks up] "What?"

Daphne: "Granger, a secret freak? You think?"

Pansy: [emphatically] "For sure. She's so tightly wound."

Blaise: "I agree."

Draco: [loudly] "What's that about Granger? That she's a horrible monster? I agree."

Daphne: "Okay, fine, so - "

Pansy: "Marry McGonagall, fuck Snape, kill Granger."

Theo: "So basically you just added her to the list so that you could kill her in your weird, disturbing hypothetical?"

Pansy: "Pretty much, yeah."

Daphne: [shrugging] "I'd fuck Granger."

Theo: "Same. Easily."

Draco: [peering over at them from across the room] "Wait, who is fucking Granger?"

Blaise: "I think I'd marry Granger in that scenario. I might actually consider fucking Snape - I'm that curious."

Draco: [still shouting] "Fucking Granger as in 'I hate that fucking Granger'? Because, yeah, me too. Totally."

Theo: "No, Draco - fucking Granger as in intercourse."

Luna: "Yes, or congress. Specifically, sexual congress."

Theo: [nods] "Right, that's what I - " [jumps back] "Fucking hell, how did you get here?"

Luna: "Your passwords are really unimaginative."

Blaise: "She's not wrong."

Theo: [aghast] "Still - "

Draco: [poring over his parchment] "What rhymes with 'unbearably curly hair'?"

Luna: [effortlessly] "Unbeatable savoir faire."

Draco: "Oooh, that's a good - " [looks up] "How the fuck did you get in here?"

Luna: "Same as you, I imagine." [Turns to the others.] "I'd marry Snape, I think. He seems like he'll age well."

Daphne: [tilts her head thoughtfully] "An interesting additional layer of consideration to the game - longevity."

Blaise: [agreeably] "She's not wrong."

Luna: "And I think I'd fuck Hermione."

Draco: [looks up] "What? Who? That beastly Mudblood? Disgusting." [looks down] "Does 'enchanting forbidden danger' rhyme with 'spellbinding face of Grang-' you know what, nevermind." [scribbles furiously]

Pansy: "You'd pass on McGonagall? But what if she's, you know, really into - "

Luna: "She's not. I've seen."

Theo: "Exactly how much have you seen?"

Luna: [shrugs] "Enough."

Pansy: "You're terrifying."

Luna: "Oh, thank you."

Pansy: "You're welcome." [pauses] "And in a bizarre twist, I mean that."

Luna: "You're sweet."

Theo: [dumbfounded] "What the fuuuuuu- "

[Cuts to interview with Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, the Grey Lady, the Fat Friar, the Bloody Baron, and Peeves.]

Nick: "Look, we ghosts take serious issue with our lack of inclusion in the show."

Grey Lady: "We are residents here too, you know. Isn't that right, Peeves?"

[Peeves, emboldened by her attention, instantly tries to steal the camera, grabbing onto the lens and cackling; the Bloody Baron stares at him and he slowly puts it back, blowing a quiet raspberry to express his disappointment.]

Peeves: [mumbles] "What she said."

Nick: "I'm already not invited to the Headless Hunt - " [mutters to himself] "Forty-five times with a blunt axe and these cocksucking motherfuckers can't even - "

Grey Lady: [interrupting] "What Nick is trying to say is that it's very difficult to not be included in the activities of the living simply because we are, you know - dead."

Interviewer: "Isn't that . . . sort of the idea, though?"

Fat Friar: "How dare!"

Nick: "All lives matter!"

Grey Lady: [nodding her agreement] "Even dead ones."

Peeves: "Especially dead ones!" [He produces a large stack of books and drops it, releasing a cloud of dust into the room as he swoops around, whooping loudly.]

Nick: [coughing] "Why was Peeves included in this?"

Grey Lady: "So the Friar wouldn't be the dumbest ghost in the room."

Fat Friar: "Again, HOW DARE!"

Nick: [grumbling to himself] "I wouldn't even have to participate in any of your ridiculous schemes if I didn't have a measly half an inch of skin on my - "

Grey Lady: "Nicholas, you wart, I'll tell you what you've got a measly half-inch of if you don't shove it back down your improperly decapitated throat!"


Peeves: [at the top of his lungs] "FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!"

[Argus Filch runs into the corridor, followed by Pomona Sprout.]


Pomona: "Filch, you bollocking wastebasket, it's noon!" [she looks around, seeking out Peeves.] "Peeves, have you made off with the textbooks I had piled in the back greenhouse?"

Peeves: [holding a book titled 'Flesh-Eating Trees of the World'] "No."

Pomona: [sternly] "Peeves."

Peeves: "No."

Pomona: "Peeves!"

Peeves: "No."

Pomona: "PEEVES!"

Peeves: "Only a little."

Pomona: [growls in frustration] "Minerva!"

[Minerva apparates in, smoking a cigar. She looks around, nodding amicably to the Bloody Baron, who nods back, approvingly smug. She settles down beside him, leaning back in her chair as she blows out an expertly crafted smoke ring.]

Minerva: "What's up?"

Pomona: [sulkily] "Peeves stole my textbooks again."

Minerva: [takes a long drag, considering her before turning her attention to Peeves] "Peeves. Peevesy. Peevesmeister."

Peeves: [loudly, in obvious denial] "WHAT?"

Minerva: "I can't. Do you understand me?" [She lets out a long exhale of smoke.] "I simply cannot."

Peeves: [muttering] "Fine, take your books." [He looks up, a devilish flicker appearing in his eye.] "Because I'VE GOT YOUR - "

Minerva: [sharply] "Do not grab Professor Sprout's nose, Peeves."

[Peeves, looking dejected, deflates slightly before disappearing, a loud thud coming from directly above their heads and shaking the walls around them.]

Minerva: "Better get that, Filch."

[Argus groans, muttering something that sounds suspiciously like 'fuck my fucking life' before turning to leave, as Pomona gathers the books and levitates them out. Minerva stands, giving the Bloody Baron another nod before striding out past them, the cigar still lit between her fingers.]

Lee, off screen: "What the fuck was that?"

Nick: [loudly, addressing the camera] "So, you'll include the ghosts?"

Interviewer: [uncomfortably] "Uh - "

Lee, off screen: "Fuck no!"

Interviewer: " - sure."

Nick: [pumping a translucent fist] "Victory!"

[There is a pause.]

Lee, off screen: "You absolute trash pile of scrotums."

Chapter Text

The Real World: Hogwarts
Episode VII

Summary: The Real World, continued. Olivie Advent Day 7.

[Scene opens as Ron and Harry head to the quidditch pitch.]

Harry: "Look, it's going to be fine. It's not as if Malfoy being a Death Eater is going to affect your quidditch performance."

Ron: "Harry, again, that's really not the issue."

Harry: "I mean, understandably you're worried about the copious amounts of evil Malfoy is probably attempting at any given moment, this one included - "

Ron: "No, that's really not it."

Harry: "Heck, you might even be worried about whether Malfoy is targeting you as his first mission, which could make for a very stressful tryout."

Ron: "I'm not, actually, because as it turns out, it's the quidditch bit I'm finding stressful."

Harry: "Oh." [pauses, confused] "Is it because Malfoy plays quidditch, and then he ended up a Death Eater?"

Ron: "Harry, I'm starting to worry you're not hearing yourself when you talk."

Harry: "Why, you think Malfoy did something to me?"

Ron: [sighs loudly] "I really, really don't."

[Nearby, Lavender giggles shrilly; Parvati backhands her shoulder and she stops, but not before Ron looks up, catching her eye. Scene cuts to Ron interview.]

Ron: "I think something's wrong with Lavender. Whenever she sees me, she laughs at my jokes. And she's sort of always looking at me in a vaguely predatory way."

Interviewer: "What do you think is wrong?"

Ron: "I don't know. Maybe she's sick?"

Interviewer: "You think she's laughing at you because she's sick?"

Ron: "That's a thing girls do, right?"

Interviewer: "Isn't one of your best friends a girl?"

Ron: "Who? Hermione?"

Interviewer: "Yes."

Ron: "Is she?"

Interviewer: "A girl?"

Ron: "Yes."

Interviewer: "Yes?"

Ron: "Do you think she knows if Lavender is sick?"

[Cuts to Hermione and Harry interview.]

Hermione: [arms and legs crossed, bouncing one ankle irritably] "Oh, Lavender's sick, alright. You know who else is sick? Me. As in they, Ron and Lavender collectively, are making me sick."

Harry: [thoughtfully] "You seem upset."

Hermione: [mockingly] "Oh, do I?"

Harry: "Yes."

Hermione: "Well, I am." [She looks up, spotting someone across the pitch.] "Ugh, and it gets worse, of course."

[Camera zeroes in on Romilda Vane from afar, who is waving manically at Harry.]

Harry: "Is she waving at me?

Hermione: "Yes."

Harry: "Do you think Malfoy told her to?"

Hermione: "No."

Harry: "So she probably has whatever Lavender has, then."

Hermione: "Yes - idiocy." [She looks directly into the camera, pursing her lips.] "It's contagious."

Harry: "Huh. Cool."

[Cuts to Cormac McLaggen interview.]

Cormac: "Am I going to be on the Gryffindor team? Yes. Am I going to make sure we take the cup this year? Yes. Am I going to snog Granger's crazy hair straight? Definitely. Am I going to perfect my recipe for breakfast protein shakes? Without a doubt. Is the term 'quidbitch' finally going to catch on? Fucking hell yeah. Am I going to get a modeling contract from this show and end up famous?"

[There is a pause.]

Cormac: "No, really, I'm asking."

Interviewer: "Oh, I was confused, because I literally was just sitting here until you showed up asking rhetorical questions."

Cormac: "Well, is it a yes or no?"

Interviewer: [calling off screen] "Lee?"

Lee, off screen: "Hell to the no, fuckbiscuit!"

Interviewer: "He says no."

Cormac: "Bummer."

Interviewer: "Word."

Cormac: "Well, in any event, I've torn the sleeves off my practice jersey."

Interviewer: "Why would you - "

Cormac: [throws his broom down like a mic drop] "Quidbitch, son!"

[Cuts back to quidditch pitch.]

Ron: "What's Cormac's deal?"

Cormac: [after saving a goal] "Quidbitch, son!"

Harry: "I think there's a word for him that hasn't been invented yet."

[Camera cuts to Hermione.]

Hermione: "The word is fuckboy."

[Camera cuts back to quidditch pitch.]

Harry: "Alright, Ron, I'm pretty sure Malfoy's otherwise occupied, so you should be fine."

Ron: "Thanks, I guess."

[Cormac saves four goals out of five. Ron saves all five. Camera cuts to Hermione's interview.]

Interviewer: "What did you think of Ron's tryout?"


Interviewer: "Okay - "


Interviewer: "Wh- wait, come again?"


[Draco wanders into the corridor and pauses, frowning at her.]

Draco: "Granger, why on earth are you yelling?"


Draco: "Well that is just a boldfaced lie, Granger, how dare you - "

Hermione: "You didn't let me finish. I've never slapped another student who didn't fully deserve it."

Draco: [indignantly] "You're horrible."

Hermione: "You're horrible!"

Draco: "Why don't you come over here and say that to my face!"

Hermione: "I am saying it to your face!"

Draco: "Say it closer in my face!"

Hermione: "How close to your face do you want me?!"


Lee, off screen: "Excuse me, what the fuck is this?"

Hermione: [backing away hurriedly] "Like I said, I definitely didn't use the Confundus charm on Cormac McLaggen."

Draco: "Wait, what didn't you do?!"

[Harry appears, skidding around the corner.]

Harry: "It's Malfoy! He's there!"

Hermione: [sighs] "I see him, Harry - we all see him."


Draco: [sniffing impatiently] "Ugh, this room is full of detestable human rubbish bins. And Granger."

[He leaves.]

Harry: "He's gone! Malfoy's gone!"

Hermione: "I know, Harry, we saw - "

Harry: [somberly] "Listen, I think Malfoy's a Death Eater."

Hermione: [burying her face in her hands] "This can't be my real life."

[Cuts to Lavender interview.]

Lavender: [sneezes] "Excuse me."

Ron, walking by: "I knew she was sick!"

[Lavender giggles; Parvati slams her head into the desk.]

Interviewer: "Is she okay?"

Lavender: "She's fine. She does this sometimes."

Interviewer: "Oh. You were saying you got a note?"

Lavender: "Oh, right. Yes." [She pulls a slip of parchment out of her pocket.] "It says 'Roses are red, violets are blue, I know you like Ron Weasley, and secrets don't make friends' - which is odd, because then it's signed 'xoxo' and if secrets don't make friends - "

Interviewer: [interrupts] "Is it signed Gossip Girl?"

Lavender: "Yes! Isn't that bizarre? At first I thought it was Parvati playing a little joke on me - "

Parvati: [her voice muffled into the desk] "Only it wasn't, because her obsession with Weasley makes me want to die."

Lavender: " - but she insists it wasn't her, so I really have no idea."

Interviewer: "Any guesses?"

Lavender: [shrugs] "I don't know - Granger, maybe? She seems nosy and bad with rhymes."

[Draco walks by.]

Draco: "What's that about Granger? That she's bad at rhymes and a revolting rosy-cheeked blossom of filth?"

Lavender: "What?"

Draco: [continues walking] "Nothing!"

[Cuts to Slug Club meeting.]

Blaise: "Guys, it's a really easy game."

Cormac: "I'll go first."

Blaise: "Sure."

Cormac: "Fuck me, marry me, murder everyone else."

Blaise: "No." [shakes head] "Not even close."

Ginny: "Who were the three again?"

Blaise: "Patil twins, Weasley twins, Creevey brothers."

Neville: "Pass."

Blaise: "Fine. Belby?"

Marcus Belby: "Fuck the Weasleys, marry the Patils, kill the Creeveys."

Blaise: "Belby's got it! Longbottom, you pick."

Neville: "Er - Venomous Tantacula, Devil's Snare, and Fanged Geranium."

[There is a pause.]

Blaise: "Oh fuck no."

Ginny: [horrified] "No!"

Blaise: "So much no."

Marcus: "How would that even - "

Neville: "I SAID PASS!"

Chapter Text

The Real World: Hogwarts
Episode VIII

Summary: The Real World, continued. Olivie Advent Day 8.

[Scene opens with Draco, Blaise, and Theo interview.]

Interviewer: "So, what is the issue here?"

Blaise: "Not an issue, per se."

Theo: "It's a joke, really."

Draco: [arms crossed] "It is not a joke."

Theo: "Well, it's funny."

Blaise and Draco: [in unison] "It is not funny!"

Theo: [shrugs] "I mean, I laugh about it."

Blaise: [mutters] "You would."


[Theo glances at the other two; they shrug, and he sighs.]

Theo: "Zabini and Malfoy here take issue with - " [he stops.] "I can't. It's too ridiculous."

Draco: "It is ridiculous! Finally, we agree!"


Blaise: "Theo does a . . . thing with our mums."

Interviewer: [curiously] "What?"

Theo: [innocently] "What?"

Lee, off screen: [screechingly] "WHAT?"

Interviewer: "What sort of thing?"

Draco: [shuddering] "A terrible thing."

[Cuts to film of Draco and Theo at Malfoy Manor.]

Draco: "Mother, Theo's here."

Narcissa: "Oh, hi Theo."

Theo: "Narcissa."

[They stare at each other.]

Narcissa: [clears her throat] "I suppose you two should be going, then."

Theo: "I don't suppose you'd like to come."

Draco: "What? We're going flying, why in Salazar's name would my aristocratic mother want to go flying with her teenage son and his - "

Narcissa: [cheeks flushed] "You want me to come?"

Draco: "What? No, he doesn't - "

Theo: [smirking] "Oh, I want you to come."

Draco: "No you don't, that's - "

Narcissa: "With you?"

Draco: "Again, I really don't think - "

Theo: "With me. On me. I'm not choosy."

Draco: "OH FUCK NO."

[Cuts back to interview.]

Draco: "My mother sent him an owl today. I don't like it. I like it even less than I like Granger's horrible stupid angelface."

Theo: "I feel you're getting all worked up for nothing."

Blaise: "That's not even the half of it."

[Cuts to footage from Blaise's summer home.]

Blaise: "Mother, you remember Theo."

Esmeranda Zabini: "Oh yes, hello. Your father is a widower, is he not?"

Theo: "He is."

Esmeranda: "And wealthy?"

Theo: "Yes."

Esmeranda: "And old?"

Theo: "Quite."

Esmeranda: "Hm."

Blaise: "Oh for fuck's sake, Mother, could you not? Nothing would be worse than having Theo as a stepbrother."

Theo: "On the contrary."

Blaise: "Uh, what's that now?"

Theo: [to Esmeranda] "Why buy the Nimbus 2000 when there's a Firebolt to be had with twice its power?"

Blaise: "Wait."

Theo: "By which I mean, why not buy the newer model?"

Esmeranda: [thoughtfully] "How old are you again?"

Blaise: "WAIT."

Theo: "Old enough."

Esmeranda: [tilting her head, considering him as she bites her lip.] "Hmm."

Blaise: "WAIT, WAIT, WAIT - "

[Cuts back to interview.]

Blaise: "My only consolation is the knowledge that she'll eventually murder him."

Theo: "See? All in good fun."

[Cuts to the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom.]

Severus: "There will be both foolish wand-waving and silly incantations in this class."

Ron: "That's . . . good?"

Severus: "None of you managed to learn how to bottle fame or brew glory, and to my unrelenting disappointment, there's yet to be a fucking stopper put in death by any one of you deplorable miscreants, so now we're going to do something else entirely."

Ron: "Lovely."

Harry: "Cheery."

Ron: "Quite."

Severus: "Let us begin with non-verbal spells. Who can tell me what the advantage to a non-verbal spell is?"

[Hermione raises her hand.]

Severus: "Nobody?"

[Hermione waves her hand around, fidgeting in her seat.]

Severus: "What a fucking surprise, nobody knows the answer to the world's most straightforward question."

[Hermione stands on top of her desk, hand still raised.]

Severus: "Color me fucking astonished that after six years, you all remain hopeless, directionless toadstools."

[Hermione lets out a stream of multicolored fireworks from her wand, waving it around on top of her desk.]

Severus: "I thought this year would be different. I said to myself, go ahead. Take a chance."

[Hermione begins pulling a long series of colored scarves out of the end of her wand, a feigned expression of confusion and delight on her face, as though she does not know when the seemingly infinite stream of scarves will end.]

Severus: "I had hope. My God. I live on it."

[Hermione produces a top hat, waves her wand over it, and pulls out a small rabbit wearing a midnight blue tuxedo and a set of authentic pilot's goggles by the tips of its fluffy white ears. There is a spattering of polite applause.]

Severus: "Anyway, you all ended up disappointing me more than, um - more than any of the other silly idiots I've ever taught."

[Hermione gestures to a large, human-sized box, inviting Ron to lay down inside it; he agrees, and, in a moment of terror, his face turns pale as she saws him in half. The class gasps in amazement as he is separated into two pieces, but the trick isn't over; Hermione then pushes the pieces of the box together, and Ron emerges, fully whole. This time, the applause is more than simply polite. It is enthusiastic, and the class is breathless.]

Severus: "You have no idea how many legends have walked these halls. And what's worse, you don't care. Because this place, where so many people would die to study, you only deign to study."

[Hermione, now locked inside of a sealed glass case that is filled entirely with water, struggles to free herself from the confines of a set of brass handcuffs; above her, a tank of piranhas is set to be released into the case, and she is running out of time. Draco gasps, bringing his hand to his mouth; he is heard to whisper "Granger, no," and the class is spellbound as she struggles to make her escape.]

Severus: "And you want to know why I don't kiss you on the forehead and give you a gold star on your homework at the end of the day. Wake up, sweetheart!"

[Time runs out, and the piranhas are dropped into the tank; the water turns red and Parvati screams, hiding her face; and just as the class quiets, fearing the worst - Draco buries his head in Theo's shoulder, and Harry and Ron clutch each other's hands - Hermione materializes at the head of the class, taking a cheeky bow as she leaps atop Severus' desk. At the end of this, her greatest trick, the applause is raucous.]

Severus: [unfazed] "Well, class dismissed."

[Cuts to Albus and Minerva interview in the Headmaster's office.]

Albus: "All the kids are doing it, Minnie. It's fun."

Minerva: "No."

Albus: "Minnie, this is why the kids don't like you."

Minerva: "Wh- " [She cuts off, enraged.] "Do you think they like you?"

Albus: "They love me. How could they not? I always swoop in at the last second and make sure they win the house cup."

Minerva: "There are three other houses, Albus!"

Albus: "Oh, pish, Minnie, now you're just making things up."

Minerva: "You're joking. You absolute cunt-bungling piss waffle."

Albus: [ignoring her] "It's such an easy game, Minnie - here, I'll think of three - "

Minerva: "NO! Albus - "

Albus: "Armando Dippet, Phineas Nigellus Black, and Brutus Scrimgeour."

Armando, from his portrait on the wall: "Ooh, yes, good lineup."

Minerva: "Marry all of them and team up to take you down as a group and kill you with knives."

Albus: [sniffing indignantly] "This is why the kids don't like you."

Chapter Text

The Real World: Hogwarts
Episode IX, MFK and Poetry Edition

Summary: The Real World, continued. Olivie Advent Day 9. Sally decided to troll me on Tumblr today with a series of MFK requests, and since I'm a bit tired and trying to finish up a chapter of Nobility, some of you will have read those already - but there are a few new things in the mix.

Hermione, Pansy, Lavender

Draco: [clears throat] "Okay, well, here's the thing - "

Theo: [sighs] "Oh no."

Blaise: "Here we go - "

Draco: "If you choose marry, then that would mean unlimited fucking, right?"

Blaise: "Assume for the purposes of the game it's a sexless marriage."

Draco: "Huh. Hypothetically, though, that still means for whoever I pick to marry I'd be able to spend every day of my life with her and her horrible, ghastly, oppressively beautiful hair that smells like gardenias and sunshine and everything I hold dear, right?"

Theo: "Uh. Yes?"

Blaise: "I think so? I sort of got lost in that - "

Draco: [interrupting] "But, on the other hand, whoever I chose to fuck, I could actually be naked with her revolting, wonderful, Gryffindor-flavored - "

Blaise: "Please don't finish that sentence."

Draco: [continuing loudly] "And obviously, I'd have to kill Granger because ew, yuck, disgusting, am I right?"

Blaise: "What are you saying?"

Draco: "I'm certainly not saying that I have any interest in Granger - "

Blaise: "I didn't ask what you're not saying - "

Draco: " - and I certainly didn't say that I secretly pine for her, because I don't, and my poem series Ode to a Lioness is about someone else completely - "

Theo: "Whatever. I'm getting cheese fries."

Draco, Theo, Blaise

Hermione: "This is ridiculous! I'm not playing this game."

Harry: "I'd say marry Theo, fuck Draco, and kill Draco."

Ron: "Mate, I think there was someone in there twice."

Harry: "Was there?"

Ron: "Yes."

Hermione: [muttering to herself] "As if I'd be expected to have sex with any of those miscreants, honestly."

Harry: "Um, marry Draco, fuck Draco, kill Draco."

Ron: "You did it again. Only worse."

Harry: "Why, what am I saying?"

Hermione: "Honestly, this game is ridiculous, I can't believe you would even ask me something this unbelievably imbecilic - "

Harry: [interrupting] "Is it because I said I'd kill Draco?"

Ron: "No mate." [He sighs.] "That's not it."


[Draco pokes his head in.]

Draco: "What the fuck are you yelling about, Granger? I can hear your disgusting heavenly siren-like voice from across the corridor!"

Ron: [mumbling to himself] "Fine, I'd fuck him too."

Draco: "What?"

Ron: "What?"

Luna: [whispering] "I knew it."

Hermione, Ron, Harry

Seamus: "Easy. Fuck Harry, marry Ron, kill Hermione."

Dean: "Just to clarify, you're still maintaining that you're not gay, right?

Seamus: "Right. But, you know, bros before hoes."

Dean: "Yep. That applies here. Totally."

Flitwick, Sprout, Pomfrey

Pansy: "Marry Sprout, fuck Pomfrey, kill Flitwick."

Daphne: "Aw, but Flitwick's so smol and cute!"

Pansy: "Don't care. He's too small. I would lose him."

Blaise: "Personally, I think I'd fuck Sprout. Maybe smoke some weird plant shit with her first."

Daphne: "But if you get hurt while fucking Pomfrey, she'll fix you!"

Blaise: [startled] "Why the fuck would I get hurt?"

Pansy: "We don't know your life, Blaise."

Blaise: [perturbed] "Do you think you'd get hurt?"

[Pansy and Daphne share a knowing glance.]

Daphne: "Lovemaking is a very passionate thing, Blaise. Sometimes there are casualties."

Luna: [whispers] "Love is murder."

Narcissa, Esmeranda, Lady Greengrass

Theo: "Yes to all of the above."

Draco: [slamming his head against the desk] "No. No. No."

Blaise: "Fucking hell, no - "

Pansy: [indignantly] "Why is my mum not included in this list?"

Theo: "Fine, add her in."

Blaise: "Narcissa, Esmeranda, and Dahlia, then."

Theo: "Fuck Esmeranda - you know, so I don't die - "

Draco: [stonily] "I will kill you."

Theo: "Marry Narcissa - "

Blaise: "HA! Draco, new stepdad!"

Draco: "I will kill you with fire."

Luna: "Fire!"

Pansy: [interrupting] "I see where this is going and I DON'T LIKE IT."

Theo: " … I'll stop there."

Pansy: [smugly] "Wise."

Neville, Peeves, Flitwick

Pansy: "I can't decide whether I should marry or fuck Peeves."

Daphne: [shocked] "Pans! Why wouldn't you kill him?"

Pansy: "What good would that do? He's already dead!"

Daphne: "That doesn't mean you should fuck him!"

Pansy: [shrugs] "Well, in any case, I'm killing Neville."

Daphne: [groaning] "And what, pray tell, is your opposition to Neville?"

Pansy: "He loses his things. How could he possibly find my clitoris?"

Ode to a Lioness
Definitely not by Draco Malfoy
Definitely not about Granger

Free Verse #119:

You know what's funny
I don't even like blood
It's gross
Isn't that hilarious
My life
It's in fucking ruins

Limerick #16:

There once was a beautiful lioness
Whose silky soft skin was the finest
She acts like a swot
It's all kinds of hot
And Theo said this rhymed with wine list.

Free Verse #122

If you think about it
I'm not really that bad
No really
Hear me out
I haven't killed anyone

Haiku #10

Hermione Granger
Why don't you fucking like me
Testes, dicks, and balls

Sonnet #27:

Though circumstance has forced a rift,
Between the ties that bind we;
I find myself alone, adrift,
And calling for you, shyly.
For though your hair is frizzy,
And your voice a bossy shrill,
I dreamed a dream you'd miss me,
If an Albus I should kill.
At night, I seek out solace,
Thinking of the way your shoulders stoop,
For you are oddly flawless,
Despite your books, and stupid group.
And though I live in pain and ache over your loyalty to Potter;
It sucks, I die some more each day, your Patronus is an otter.

Haiku #13:

I just want to kiss
Your stupid, stupid face mouth
Why is that a crime

Free Verse #128:

Unbearably curly hair
Unbeatable savoir faire
I want to touch you
I want to touch you
I really want to fucking touch you
I hate you
Please love me until we both die
Which regrettably for me might be quite soon
Don't dawdle

Free Verse #133:

For the actual sake of fuck
I'm at least better than Weasley
Come on
Are you looking
Do you need glasses
I'm right here

Chapter Text

The Real World: Hogwarts
Episode X

Summary: The Real World, continued. Olivie Advent Day 10.

[Scene opens with Ron, Harry, and Hermione in the library.]

Hermione: "Look, Harry, all I'm saying is that the last time you spent too much time with a book, things did not go all that smoothly."

Ron: "You spend all your time with books!"

Hermione: [irritatedly] "Yes, Ronald, and tell me - what about my life do you think is going smoothly?"

Ron: "Fair."

Harry: "It's different this time, Hermione. I'm not talking to the book, I'm just relying on it unquestionably without any regard for the safety of myself or others."

Hermione: [sighs] "I just think that at this point we should really start catching on to things that have already happened to us. I mean, this could be Voldemort all over again - "

Harry: "He's a lord, not a prince. He can't be both, that's just absurd."

Ron: "Maybe he tried to be a prince first, but it didn't stick?"

Harry: "What does that mean?"

Ron: "Like, maybe he was like 'hey guys, call me Prince Voldemort from now on' and everyone else was like 'prince is a bit much, you should really take it down a peg' and he said 'alright, fine, how about lord, then' and everyone was like 'yes, much better, we can work with lord' - "

Hermione: [interrupting] "Have you considered that perhaps this Prince person might be a woman?"

Harry: "No."

Ron: "That literally never crossed my mind."

Hermione: [indignantly] "Women can just as easily be brilliant. And uncommonly good at potions!"

Harry: [smugly] "Not you, though."


Hermione: [is furious] "You're only doing better than me because you're cheating - "


Hermione: " - you know perfectly well that without it - "


Hermione: " - I would be ahead of you without question - "


Hermione: " - so the fact that you would even say that is just totally and completely - "


Hermione: [looks at the camera, sighs] " - stupid."

[Camera cuts to Ginny interview.]

Ginny: "Yeah, I've heard about Harry's potions book."

Interviewer: "You have?"

Ginny: "Yeah. I mean, I'm sort of the 'cool girl' around here, so people tell me things."

Interviewer: "And? Any thoughts?"

Ginny: "Well, it's not really the same as what happened to me." [She pauses, thinking.] "Plus, Tom Riddle's diary wasn't a total waste."

Interviewer: "How so?"

Ginny: "I learned a lot, actually. Like, for example, he showed me a variation on my bat-bogey hex that makes the bats glow in the dark. And he taught me how to cut a sopophorous bean, and helped me with levitation." [She pauses, brightening as though she has remembered something.] Oh, and I know how to make a horcrux."

Interviewer: "A what?"

Ginny: "Horcrux. It's when you split your soul after murdering someone, and then you hide it in an object so that you can never die."

Interviewer: [startled] "What?"

Ginny: "Oh I mean just to be clear I haven't actually done it. I probably won't."

Interviewer: "Did you say you 'probably' won't?"

Ginny: "I'm pretty sure I won't."

Interviewer: "Pretty sure?"

Ginny: "Fairly sure."

Interviewer: "Fairly sure?"

Ginny: "Like 75% sure."

Interviewer: "75%?"

Ginny: "Eh, 51%."

Interviewer: "I really feel like it should be higher than that."

Ginny: [shrugs] "I'll let you know what I decide."

[Camera cuts to follow Harry as he walks down the corridor.]

Harry: "Yeah, I'm meeting with Dumbledore tonight. Not really sure why, yet, but - " [he stops short, seeing Sybil Trelawney approach.] "Hide!"

[The camera jostles as Harry hides behind a statue. From the other side, Sybil is doing a card reading for herself.]

Sybil: "Seven of spades: an ill omen. Ten of spades: violence. Knave of spades: a dark young man, possibly troubled, one who dislikes the questioner and is mostly straight although casually questions sexuality approximately twice a day, right before breakfast and again in the shower but it's normal, it happens to everyone - one who is using mysterious potions book to cheat in advanced potions class and will drop out of school eventually, deeply obsessed with Draco Malfoy, who is definitely a Death Eater - " [She stops.] "Well, that can't be right."

[She shuffles her cards and walks away. Meanwhile, Harry comically wipes sweat off his brow and gestures for the camera to follow as he gives the password ("Acid Pops") and enters Albus' office.]

Harry: "Good evening, sir."

Albus: "Ah, Harry! I bet you're wondering what these 'lessons' are about, eh?"

Harry: [with tentative eagerness] "Yes, sir."

Albus: "Well, I've decided to finally tell you the truth about what happened that prompted Lord Voldemort to try to kill you fifteen years ago."

Harry: [excitedly] "You have?"

Albus: "I have!"

Harry: [squealing] "Really?"

Albus: "Really!"

Harry: "You really mean it?"

Albus: "Yes!"

[They clasp hands and dance around the office, unable to contain their shared joy. When they finally sit down, spent and out of breath from sheer jubilance, Harry is grinning.]

Harry: "So, tell me everything!"

Albus: "What?" [He blinks.] "Oh, no, sorry, I lied before."

Harry: [shocked] "What?"

Albus: "Yeah, no, I don't actually tell anyone anything. Are you new here?"

Harry: [sulkily] "Balls."

Albus: "Really, though, can you imagine? If I just told people the truth about things and didn't frame an innocent man for my murder? God, how primitive."

Harry: "Wait, what?"

Albus: "Nothing, nothing - listen, the evidence clearly shows that Sirius Black obliterated Peter Pettigrew until nothing was left of him but a finger, and while I know perfectly well that he had no reasonable motivation to do so whatsoever, I really don't think we need to dwell on it. Azkaban it is."

Harry: "Wait, what?"

Albus: "Oh, sorry, no - that was another thing I did." [Stops, thinking.] "Which one is this, again?"

Harry: "Er - " [He pauses.] "I think you were preparing to mislead me about the circumstances of my death?"

Albus: [tapping his nose] "Ah, right, silly me! Forget I said anything."

Harry: [dreamily] "I'm doing to name my son after you."

[Cuts to interview with Luna.]

Luna: "What's my favorite class? Probably Defense Against the Dark Arts."

Interviewer: "Are you just saying that because he's sitting right there?"

[Camera zooms out to reveal Severus on her right.]

Luna: [shrugs] "Oh, he's not listening."

Severus: [licks his finger and then turns the page of the Daily Prophet.] "I'm really not."

Interviewer: "Er, okay. Why, then?"

Luna: "I think it's funny. All the made up stuff. Hilarious."

[Severus puts the paper down slowly and looks up.]

Severus: "What made up stuff?"

Luna: "Dark magic. Evil. That stuff."

Severus: "You think that's made up?"

Luna: [nods] "Frankly, it seems pretty far-fetched."

Severus: [blinking] "How so?"

Luna: "Well, you tell me what sounds more real: a mischievous thieving creature that infests mistletoe - which is a notably unsanitary plant - or mysterious hooded soul-suckers whose only job is to suck souls?"

Severus: [tilts head, thinking.] "Premise accepted."

Luna: [primly] "Postulation?"

Severus: "Pending."

[They wait.]

Luna: "Conclusion?"

Severus: [lifts a finger] "Hold, please."

[They wait again. Three minutes pass.]

Severus: [firmly] "Conclusion accepted."

Luna: [victoriously] "I knew it."

Lee, off screen: "Ugh, get the two dummies out here, would you?"

[Camera cuts to Seamus and Dean interview.]

Dean: "I'm just saying, I don't see why we don't have quidditch cheerleaders."

Seamus: "What are cheerleaders?"

Dean: "Girls who wear short skirts and dance enthusiastically for the benefit of the crowd."

Seamus: [making a face] "Who would want that?"

Lee, off screen: "Ah, yes. Much better."

Chapter Text

The Real World: Hogwarts
Episode XI

Summary: The Real World, continued. Olivie Advent Day 11. (Being posted late)

[Scene opens on the camera in the Headmaster's office as Minerva bursts in, catching Harry and Albus standing around the desk with their faces inside the pensieve. They are both bent awkwardly at the waist and reminiscent of ostriches with their heads buried in the sand. Upon seeing her, Fawkes squawks his entertainment and gestures with a wing, as if to say 'and to think these are your world's heroes, you puny, rotten mortals.']

Minerva: [groaning] "What the fuck is this?"

Phineas, from his portrait on the wall: [sniffing] "You couldn't possibly understand the complexities involved in this, you woman."

Minerva: "He's showing Potter memories from Tom Riddle's past, is he?"

Phineas: [pauses, and then lifts his chin.] "I don't know. Maybe."

Minerva: "I have to assume he is going to show the memories one by one and not explain anything at all, isn't he?"

Phineas: "Nobody asked you!"

Minerva: "I was there too, you know. Sort of. Tom Riddle was Head Boy the year before I started at Hogwarts so I heard all about him, and I was there when Albus fussed over him coming back."

Phineas: "So? This is boring. You bore me."

Minerva: "Is it so out of the realm of possibility that I might have made this connection?"

Phineas: [jolts upright] " - what? Sorry, I fell asleep - "

Minerva: "He basically looked the same, you know. Riddle. The whole noseless thing was a more recent development."

Phineas: "Is this a night terror? It must be, because you obviously lulled me to sleep and now you're so VICIOUSLY DULL - "

Minerva: "I mean, he expects Potter to understand, right? And Potter is only a child. I'm an adult." [She straightens, indignant.] "Quite an accomplished one, too!"

Phineas: "Have I died again? Is this death? Is this what it feels like to die of boredom?"

Minerva: "It hardly seems fair that he wouldn't just explain what he needs done, you know. I'd have helped - I'm not completely useless - "

Phineas: "I MUST BE A GHOST, THEN - "

Minerva: [looks up at him witheringly] "Oh, for all of the fucks - "

Phineas: [swooning] " - FAREWELL, SWEET WORLD - "

Minerva: " - I hardly think it's necessary to - "

Phineas: [wailing loudly] " - RIP ME - "

[Scene cuts to Ron and Hermione interview.]

Ron: " . . . so, anyway, I guess I'm just asking because some people were saying that maybe you tampered with my quidditch tryout."

Hermione: [nervously sweating] "That's ridiculous. Don't be absurd."

Ron: "Okay, but if you could just say, directly - that you had nothing to do with it, I mean - I would really sleep better at night."

Hermione: [conjures a towel and wipes her forehead, babbling] "I've already said it, Ron, I don't know how I could be more direct - "

Ron: "I feel like you haven't, though, if I'm being honest."

Hermione: [wrings out towel onto the floor, tucks it beneath her armpits] " - really, it's like you don't trust me at all, almost like you're accusing me of something - "

Ron: "I am accusing you, see? And the thing is, you're supposed to deny it - "

Hermione: [wringing out her sopping wet hair] "Me? In denial? Never, I'm never in denial - "

Draco, walking by: "Granger, fucking bollocks, what on earth has Weasley done to your disgusting sun-kissed skin? You look like you're drowning in a lake of your own putrid, heaven-sent perspiration - "

Hermione: [jolts upright] "GO AWAY MALFOY, I HATE YOU!"


Ron: "How the bloody hell is she supposed to prove it?"

Draco: "I don't know, I haven't thought it through."

Hermione: [stalking towards him] "GET OUT OF HERE YOU TWITCHY FERRET, I AM BUSY - "

Draco: [gritting his teeth, indignant] "OH, YOU HAVE CROSSED A LINE - "


Ron: [scoffing skeptically] "Well that's just silly, Hermione, I mean really, how is he supposed to prove that?"

[Both parties ignore him.]


Hermione: "YOU WISH, MALFOY!"

[Ron's furrowed brow suddenly relaxes, as though he has realized something.]

Ron: "Oh. This is a sex thing, isn't it?"

[Camera pans out to reveal Luna on his other side.]

Luna: "Yes, I think so."

Ron: "Should I intervene?"

Luna: "No, let's let it play out." [She hands him popcorn.] "Want some?"

Ron: "Sure, thanks." [He takes a handful, gesturing to Hermione and Draco.] "Stupid, isn't it?"

[They observe as the argument continues.]




Hermione: [startled] "Why, are you?"

Draco: [equally startled] "I, um - I don't know - "



[Luna watches, fascinated, as Ron reaches for more popcorn.]

Luna: "I wonder what it would be like to be written as having sexual chemistry with someone."

Ron: [tosses popcorn into his mouth, shrugging] "Same."

[Camera cuts to Theo interview.]

Theo: "Yeah, so, I got one of those Gossip Girl notes today."

Interviewer: "You did? What did it say?"

Theo: "It said 'I know about your correspondence with a certain Lady Malfoy - or should I call her Mrs. Robinson? Here's to you, then, Theo Nott,' and then - "

Interviewer: "Inappropriately timed hugs and kisses?"

Theo: "Yes." [He shifts uncomfortably.] "And it's odd, isn't it? Her name isn't Mrs. Robinson and Gossip Girl obviously knows that, since she said her name - "

Interviewer: "Does it worry you?"

Theo: [flatly] "Well, it doesn't thrill me."

Interviewer: "So, who do you think it is?"

Theo: [shrugs] "I don't know. Maybe it's Granger." [He pauses, thinking.] "Has anyone outside of Slytherin gotten a note?"

Interviewer: "Yes. A Gryffindor."

Theo: "Hmm. Maybe it's not, then." [He tilts his head.] "Maybe it's not even a girl."

Interviewer: "I suppose that's possible."

[There is a pause, then Theo brightens.]

Theo: "God, I hope it's Potter."

Interviewer: "Why?"

Theo: "Are you kidding?" [He laughs.] "What would be more entertaining than seeing Potter confirm for Draco that I'm fucking his mother?"

Interviewer: [shocked] "Wait, are you?"

Theo: [shrugs, then smiles.] "I'm not telling." [He sits back in his chair, smiling.] "XOXO."

[Camera cuts to a meeting of the Slug Club.]

Cormac: [upon entering the room] "Okay, so who is going to be the first to mention how good I look?"

Ginny: [rolling her eyes] "Come on, man - "

Cormac: "Me, guys, it's me. I'll say it. I look good."

Blaise: [shrugging] "I mean . . . he's not wrong."

Horace: [chuckling] "I have great taste." [He takes a sip of whisky.] "I mean really, Tom Riddle and now these guys? Horace, you beautiful bastard, you've done it again."

Ginny: "I'm surprised you're not going to take issue with him, Blaise. Aren't you sort of the 'look how good I look' type?"

Blaise: [eyes her closely] "Why, are you looking?"

Ginny: [takes a sip of pumpkin juice, swallows, and then smiles, licking her lips.] "Maybe."

Cormac: "I'm looking. I don't see anything special."

Blaise: [stands up] "You busy, Weaslette?"

Ginny: [also stands] "Not particularly."

Cormac: "Yes she is, she was just telling me how good I look." [He rolls his eyes.] "God, it's like nobody's even paying attention."

[Blaise and Ginny slip into the potions storage closet. Shortly thereafter, there is a series of loud noises, as though things are being tossed around and broken.]

Cormac: "I wonder where they've gone."

Marcus: "Do you, though?"

[There is an audible bang against the wall, as though someone has been shoved against it.]

Cormac: "Yeah, I mean, normally people are really interested in talking to me."

Marcus: "Are they?"

[The banging grows louder and more suspiciously rhythmic.]

Cormac: [thoughtfully] "He's probably helping her find the words to describe her attraction to me."

Marcus: "He's definitely helping her find something."

[A feminine sounding whimper is heard.]

Marcus: "I think he found it."

Cormac: "Why? I don't hear any sonnets."

Chapter Text

The Real World: Hogwarts
Episode XII

Summary: The Real World, continued. Olivie Advent Day 12.

[Scene opens with Hermione and Harry interview.]

Harry: [to Hermione] "Listen, you're going to have to get over this whole potions thing."

Hermione: "It's not just the class, or the cheating! It's the entire concept of the book. Didn't you use one of the spells from it on Ron?"

Harry: "Yes. And as you know, he's fine."

Lavender, walking by: "Yeah he is!" [She giggles.]

Parvati, also walking by: "No. No. Bad Lavender."

[She uses her wand to spritz Lavender with water. Lavender shrieks and runs away, pawing at her face and Parvati sighs, looking pleased with herself.]

Harry: "What was that?"

Parvati: "It's called aversion therapy."

Hermione: "No it's not. It's how Muggles train dogs."

Parvati: [shrugs] "Whatever. Same thing."

[She walks away. Hermione sighs, turning back to Harry.]

Hermione: "Why would you even use the spell if you didn't know what it did?"

Harry: "To find out what it did, obviously!"

Hermione: [insistently] "What if it had been dangerous?"

Harry: "Hermione - " [he groans] "it's like you're not even hearing me. I told you, it wasn't dangerous. Ron's fine."

Hermione: "Well why did you use it on him?"

Harry: "I wasn't going to use it on myself, can you imagine? 'Chosen One murdered by unknown spell from unnamed deviant's potions textbook' - "

Hermione: "AHA!" [triumphantly] "So you admit it was a ridiculous thing to do!"


[Cuts to interview with Ron and Ginny.]

Ron: [smugly] "Yeah, it's sort of understood around here that the athletes get treated a little better by the professors, so I'm looking forward to seeing how that plays out."

[Ginny snorts her disagreement.]

Ginny: "I think you mean the good athletes get treated better."

[Scene cuts to Transfiguration class.]

Minerva: "Alright, let's see what you've done. Miss Granger?"

Hermione: "My assignment was to practice human transfiguration by using Crinus Muto to turn my eyebrows purple."

Minerva: "Well, let's see it."

[Hermione transfigures her eyebrows with great difficulty; the strain is visible on her face, but she manages it, turning them a bright shade of violet that flickers for a moment and then holds.]

Minerva: "Well done, Miss Granger - a bit unsteady at first go, but overall, quite remarkable! Take 10 points for Gryffindor." [She gestures to Ron.] "Mr Weasley?"

Ron: "My assignment was to also use Crinus Moto to turn my hair chartreuse - which, by the way, was a color I had to look up."

Hermione: "By that you mean you asked me."

Ron: "Well I looked up, didn't I?"

[Lavender laughs loudly. Parvati promptly sprays her in the face.]

Minerva: "Well?"

[Ron attempts the charm, pointing his wand at himself, but rather than change colors of his hair, he sprouts a thin handlebar mustache. The class laughs.]

Minerva: "Ah - not quite, Mr Weasley, although the mustache is at least the right color." [She sniffs] "Though, I must say, not an advisable look for you. Two points to Gryffindor for a solid effort." [She looks around.]"Ah, Mr Potter - all set with the quidditch tryouts, are we?"

Harry: "Yes, Professor."

Minerva: "The team in good shape, is it?"

Harry: "Definitely, Professor."

Minerva: "You're able to balance your schoolwork with the team's practice schedule?"

Harry: "Yes."

Minerva: "Excellent." [She gestures for him to begin.] "What have you got for us, Mr Potter?"

Harry: "My assignment was to transfigure your hopes and dreams for another house cup into an inevitable reality."

Minerva: [prompting him] "By doing what?"

Harry: "By winning every game."

Hermione: [startled] "Wait, what?"

Minerva: [ignoring her] "Please be specific with regard to the assignment, Mr Potter; as you well know, vagueness will not be tolerated in this class."

Harry: [sighs] "By ungluing my head from my sphincter, abandoning all efforts at twattery, and winning every single motherfucking game, so help me, Potter, or I will use every means at my disposal to feast breathlessly upon your entrails - "

Minerva: [cutting him off] "That's enough. And?"

Ron: [interrupting] "Wait, are you fucking serious? That's his assignment? I gave myself a bloody mustache for you, Professor - "

Seamus: "I did too, Ron, and nearly blew off my nose in the process, too - "

Ron: "You didn't do that as part of the assignment! You're not even in this class!"

Seamus: [laughs] "I know, right?" [He strokes his mustache] "Doesn't change the fact that I look rather fetching."

Ron: "Oh for fuck's - " [He looks around, furious.] "Where's Dean?"

[Dean runs in, panting.]

Dean: "Sorry, sorry, so sorry - he got loose again - "

[Dean grabs Seamus' arm and drags him out of the classroom. Minerva, who has ignored this entire exchange, addresses Harry.]

Minerva: "Well, Potter? How is your assignment going?"

Hermione: [looking disgusted and appalled] "Professor, you can't honestly mean that - "

Minerva: "Hush, Miss Granger, I'm waiting for an answer from Potter." [She looks at him expectantly.] "Well?"

Harry: [shrugs] "It's going well so far."

Minerva: "Excellent. One hundred points to Gryffindor for outstanding dedication."

Harry: [nodding] "I deserve that."

Minerva: "I know this, and I love you."

Hermione: "Professor!"

Minerva: "Miss Granger, unless you're going to catch a snitch right now and win me a house cup today, I suggest you sit down!"

Harry: [whispering gleefully] "The Chosen One strikes again."

Hermione: "What?"

Minerva: "What?"

Harry: "I mean - ouch, my scar!" [collapses]

[Cuts back to Ron and Ginny interview.]

Ron: "Fine, so maybe Harry's whole deal doesn't apply to me."

Interviewer: "Do you think all the teachers have favorites?"

[Ron and Ginny exchange a look.]

Ginny: "Some do."

[Scene cuts to Defense Against the Dark Arts.]

Severus: "Potter, what is an Inferius?"

Harry: "Er - "


Harry: "But - "

Severus: "Weasley, what is a Dementor's purpose in life?"

Ron: "What the fuck?"


Hermione: "Professor Snape, I really don't think this is - "

Severus: "Granger, what is Gilderoy Lockhart's favorite color?"

Hermione: "Er - it's lilac, but sir - "


Hermione: [frantically distressed] "But I got it right!"

Severus: "Yes. And you deserve to be punished for reserving any space in your brain for that worthless, peacocking twat cannon."

Hermione: [hangs her head] "You're right. I accept that."

Severus: "Malfoy!"

Draco: "Yes, sir?"

[The class leans in, waiting, as Severus considers the question.]

Severus: "Are you comfortable?"

Draco: [shrugs] "It's a little drafty, if I'm being honest."

Severus: [waves his wand to adjust the temperature] "How about now?"

Draco: "Better."

Severus: "How are you doing? Everything okay?"

Draco: "I mean, it's fine."

Hermione: [raising a hand] "Um, excuse me - "

Severus: "Hush, Miss Granger, I'm teaching."

Harry: [huffily shocked] "Wait, this is supposed to be you teaching?"

Severus: "POTTER, YOU TRASHBAG - " [He calms down, then faces Draco.] "Fine. Mr Malfoy - " [he pauses, thinking of a question.] "Veela, dementor, mermaid."

Ron: "Oh my god."

Harry: "This - no." [He shakes his head.] This isn't happening."

Draco: "Marry the mermaid, fuck the veela, kill the dementor."

Hermione: [looking furious as she mutters to herself] " - don't know why he'd want to marry a mermaid anyway, it would only lure him to his death - the stupid, pointy blond monstrosity - "

Severus: "ONE MILLION POINTS TO SLYTHERIN, class dismissed."

[Camera cuts back to Ron and Ginny.]

Ron: "What were we saying?"

Ginny: "I don't know but this school is fucked."

Chapter Text

The Real World: Hogwarts
Episode XIII

Summary: The Real World, continued. Olivie Advent Day 13.

[Scene opens with Dean and Seamus.]

Dean: "Well, so, a thing happened today."

Interviewer: "What thing?"

[Camera is jostled as Harry places his face directly in front of the lens, his glasses askew and his eyes wild.]


[Seamus peeks his head out from behind Harry, pointing to him.]

Seamus: "This is part of the thing."

Dean: "A major part."

[Hermione and Ron appear, both out of breath as though they have been chasing Harry around the castle.]

Hermione: "Harry - " [She stops, holding a finger for pause as she catches her breath, and then gulps.] "McGonagall already told you - "


Ron: "Mate, McGonagall already said he was in detention - "


Hermione: "Harry, for heaven's sake, be reasonable - "


Ron: "Yes, and Knockt- "


Hermione: "Oh, for the love of - " [She reaches out, taking Harry's arm.] "Ronald, grab his other side, would you?"

[Together they muscle Harry out of the shot with great difficulty. He is heard to be yelling "the wrist thing, though" as they drag him away.]

Dean: "Well, that was fun."

Seamus: [nods] "It was, actually. I always like seeing Potter come unhinged."

Interviewer: "Does that happen often?"

Seamus: [shrugs] "More than you'd think."

[Cuts to old footage.]


Hermione: "Harry, there's no such thing as - "


Ron: "I really don't think you should - "


Hermione: "This all seems a little far-fetched - "


[Cuts to more old footage.]


Hermione: "He's a teacher, Harry, I don't think he's - "


Ron: "I mean, I guess you could - "


[Cuts to more old footage.]


Hermione: "Okay, this one is real."

Harry: "FUCK YEAH!"

[Cuts back to Seamus and Dean interview.]

Seamus: "It's been known to happen every now and then."

Interviewer: "Interesting. So what happened today?"

Dean: "Er, I guess someone gave Katie Bell a cursed necklace to give to Professor Dumbledore."

[Harry's voice is heard echoing through the corridor: "SOMEONE NAMED DRACO MALFOY," followed by Hermione shushing him.]

Interviewer: "Any idea who it was?"

[Ron is heard to bellow "DON'T - YOU - SAY - IT" just before there is a loud, muffled clanging sound, as though someone has been tackled.]

Seamus: "No. But maybe Gossip Girl does, since she seems to bloody know everything." [He huffs angrily, crossing his arms irritably over his chest.]

Interviewer: "Oh, have you two heard from Gossip Girl as well?"

Dean: "Yes. Seamus has."

Interviewer: "What did she say?"

Seamus: [sulkily] "Something stupid."

Dean: [gently, placing a hand on his shoulder] "Look, you're going to need to - "

Seamus: "I said it's stupid, okay? End of discussion."

Dean: "I just think you'll feel better if you - "

Seamus: "If I what? Let the rest of the world in on my depraved little secret?"

Dean: "It's not depraved, Seamus, come on - "

Seamus: "Yes, it is. It's disgusting."

Dean: "Oh, come on."

Seamus: "You come on."

Dean: "Just say it. It's really not that bad."

Seamus: "It's fucking abhorrent."

Dean: "It's part of who you are, Seamus. Don't be so hard on yourself."

Interviewer: [interrupts kindly] "For what it's worth, Seamus, I agree with Dean."

Seamus: [irritatedly] "Well you would, wouldn't you? You have no idea what it's like to have to hide something like this."

Interviewer: "True, I can only imagine - "

Seamus: "I mean, I'm bloody Irish. Can you imagine if people found out I was secretly a Bulgaria fan?"

[There is a pause.]

Interviewer: "Oh."

Dean: "Yeah, I know - "

Lee, off screen: [loudly] "I really thought this was going somewhere different and now I'M UPSET."

Dean: " - it's really devastating stuff."

Seamus: [indignantly] "It is devastating! The note just said "I know what you're into" and then it just had a picture of Krum - "

Lee, off screen: "Oh, wait - "

Seamus: [continuing] " - and how could Gossip Girl have known that was the team I secretly pine for?"

Lee, off screen: " - yep, I feel better. GOOD."

Seamus: "I mean, I hide it so well."

Interviewer: "Yes. So, so well."

Dean: [to Seamus] "I'm just wondering, did you ever consider that maybe the note might have been referring to something other than your quidditch preferences?"

[Seamus pauses, thinking. Dean and the interviewer both lean forward, waiting.]

Seamus: "Are you trying to say that . . . "

[They wait.]

Seamus: " . . . Viktor Krum is gay?"

Lee, off screen: "Oh my god, this horrible twatbroiler."

[Scene cuts to the professors who are gathered in the Headmaster's office.]

Minerva: "As many of you have no doubt heard, an attempt has been made on Albus' life today."

Albus: [sniffs] "A weak attempt."

Minerva: "Miss Katie Bell was trying to deliver a cursed necklace - "

Albus: "Which was fug, by the way. Even if it hadn't been cursed I wouldn't have touched it. I would have been made a total laughingstock." [He glances at Filius.] "No offense."

Filius: "Wait, what? Why would I - "

Albus: "Well you always wear that horrible necklace, Filius, so I didn't want you to be insulted."

Filius: [confused] "This is a bow tie."

Albus: "Look, I said no offense, can you just drop it?"

Minerva: [loudly] "Anyway, Albus, now that we know that your life is in danger - "

Albus: "Is not. I'm invincible."

Minerva: [ignoring him] " - perhaps we should discuss some extra security, or maybe Potter is right, I should look into Mr Malfoy, seeing as it's quite unusual that he hasn't turned in two assignments in a row and he is starting to look a bit like he is melting - "

Albus: "No, he's fine."

Minerva: "But Albus, he's - "

Albus: "He's fine."

Minerva: "But I still think we should - "

Albus: "HE'S FINE."

Severus: "He's not fine and neither am I, if anyone's keeping score."


Minerva: "Albus, I really think we should - "

Albus: [interrupts] "Whoa do you guys feel that?"

Minerva: "Feel what?"

Albus: [shivers] "It's so cold in here."

Minerva: "What? Albus, I'm fine - "

Albus: [chatters teeth dramatically] "It's freezing. It's chilling."

Severus: "Oh, I see where this is going."

Minerva: [raising a hand to her temple] "Fuck me, so do I."

Albus: "God, why is it so fucking cold in here? Is it because - "

Severus: "Because she's a dementor?"

Minerva: [sighs resignedly] "It's definitely because I'm a dementor."


Severus: "Ooh, embellishment."


Minerva: "I swear to Godric, this cuntackular piece of - "

Albus: [bellowing] "Pomfrey! WHERE'S POMFREY? Because - "

Severus: "Because she needs a healer for that burn?"

Albus: [gleefully] "BECAUSE YA BURNT, BITCH!"

Minerva: "Let's just let him die."

Severus: "Please try to remember that you said that."

Minerva: "What?"

Severus: "What?"


[He disapparates. Horace applauds, and Minerva glares at him.]

Horace: "What? The man's got style."

Minerva: [frustrated] "I am going to burn this place to the ground."

Luna: [whispering] "Do it."