Disclaimer: JKR owns anything that is obviously hers. I own the rest. I do not make any money off this.
Characters: Draco Malfoy, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley
Genres: Angst, Drama, Health, Humour, Romance, Smut
Story Warnings: Epilogue? What Epilogue?, Profanity, Physical Trauma, Smut
Overall Rating: NC-17
Summary: Hermione is far too fond of cake and all but attached to Harry at the hip. Generally, it's working out for her, but lately Draco has been annoying her to death by mocking her weight and her relationship with Harry. One day she spots some logic in his claims that she and Harry ought to be more than friends. Uncertain how to proceed, she agrees when Draco volunteers to help. This turns out to get very confusing very fast, as Hermione finds herself becoming attracted to the wrong person...
Extra Note: Thank you to mazvn and dollfaced for the beta and handiangel for the Britpick. You guys are brilliant. :)
Chapter Length: 4,246
A jolt went through Hermione and she desperately fought not to believe Malfoy, not this time, even as her eyes slid closed.
Even if this was merely another lesson, she’d take it. She was too starved for this kind of attention to turn it away.
"What are you doing to me?" he breathed, slowly running his lips up her neck.
Yes, please act like you can’t resist.
"Open your eyes."
She reluctantly did. She didn’t relish giving up this brief fantasy.
"I really want to kiss you," he muttered. "If you don’t want me to... Please stop that."
Stop what? She wasn’t doing anything. Except leaning against him and gazing at his reflection in the mirror in a dream-like state. She slowly turned her head towards him and with a pained groan, he delivered on his promise and pressed his lips against hers.
It was a kiss so very different from last time. He’d moved one hand to cup her cheek and the other one gripped her waist almost painfully, as he held her as if he not only wanted to but needed to.
She understood. He was kissing the beautiful witch in red this time. She could be her for one night. She could be beautiful and sophisticated and know how to talk and flirt and turn men’s heads.
She twisted her body to face him without breaking contact and he rewarded her by drawing her closer and slipping his hand from her cheek into her hair, completely ruining her hairstyle in the process.
She didn’t care. She merely put her hands on his chest to feel his heart. It beat fast and hard, lending some truth to how he was affected. The beautiful witch in red could do what Hermione herself couldn’t. What she’d never be able to do.
She felt him push at the short sleeves of her robes and broke the kiss with a gasp when she felt the robes sliding down, only even covering her from her waist down because the sleeves caught on the crooks of her arms.
"Now’s the time to stop me," he murmured.
"How did you do that?" she whispered.
He didn’t reply but merely kissed her again, more desperately this time.
He really wanted the witch in red.
It was only a harmless fantasy, right? They could both get what they wanted from it, couldn’t they? Without thinking, Hermione let her arms fall down, allowing the robes to fall to the floor.
Only... now she wasn’t the witch in red any longer. Now she was Hermione wearing her nicest pretty-but-not-very-sexy going-out underwear, a messed up hairdo and smeared make-up.
He didn’t seem to notice. She was happy about that, because it helped her fantasy. Of course, it was more than possible that he simply chose to pretend, but it didn’t matter.
She didn’t object when he seemed to nudge her towards her bed, steering her with the pressure of his body. It had been far too long since anything worthwhile had happened in that bed, and whilst he clearly seemed to be hesitating, she really wanted that to change. Tonight.
But maybe it was unfair to attempt to manipulate him with fantasies.
She broke the kiss. "If you don’t mean to continue, please leave now. " Before it was too humiliating to be left behind.
Who was she kidding? She was already almost naked, not to mention more than a little desperate for validation. It would be absolutely mortifying if he left now.
His eyes darkened. "If I don’t...? Merlin, Granger, are you blind? No, never mind that, even a blind person would’ve noticed by now."
She blushed but before she could reply, he kissed her again and she felt her hands coming up to undo his robes. He readily shed them with her help.
No going back now. Good.
When he nudged again, she fell back on the bed and he toppled down on top of her, flinching as he did so. She found that odd for the briefest of seconds, considering that he ought to have a soft landing on her. She was going to ask if he was all right, but he was clearly having none of her speaking. As his hands began exploring the very curves she was usually so self-conscious about, she immediately forgot all about words.
She didn’t want him to ever stop touching her.
"I need you," he whispered against her ear, running his hand behind her back to open her strapless bra. "My lovely Hermione."
Yes! Tell me pretty things! She slid her hands over his back, noticing that he was trembling a little, looking strained. Once more, it gave her pause until he noticed her looking at him and responded by kissing her again. It was a sweet kiss, followed by her bra mysteriously disappearing.
She bit her lip. They were really going to do this, weren’t they? Well, in that case... She let her hands slip down to his hips and pushed his underwear down. He didn’t resist, didn’t stop her, only watched her with a hunger she’d never seen in him before. "Yours too," he then whispered, and she obliged.
He briefly closed his eyes, but then he was kissing her lips, her throat, her neck, her shoulders, her breasts... She was so overwhelmed that she didn’t know what to do except hold onto his shoulders for dear life and enjoy it. He shifted his weight to his hip beside her and let his now free hand explore. Lower, lower... deeper. Her eyes widened and she all but bucked against him, moaning loudly. She’d forgotten. She’d honestly forgotten how it could feel to be touched like that by someone.
He groaned deep in his throat. "Hermione, love, I won’t be able to take my time tonight..."
She didn’t mind. She wanted him inside her. Now! She signalled as much by turning towards him and wrapping her leg around his hip.
He shuddered. "You have no idea," he murmured. "No idea how much I want this... want you..."
Of course he wanted her. As long as he didn’t look too hard below her collarbone, she was still the heavily made up seductive witch in red! She grabbed his neck and pulled him closer to kiss him, and he surrendered, coming down on top of her, soon entering her.
She gasped, her eyes rolling back. He’d been right when he’d said she needed to have sex. She’d had no idea how much she missed this! Somehow, she’d managed to forget how wonderful being filled felt.
Then he began moving, slowly, whispering more sweet compliments. She clung onto him with all her might, savouring the purity of feeling without thought.
He was trembling, sweat beading on his forehead and back, and telling her that she was the most beautiful witch he’d ever seen. She kissed him again, and he eagerly returned the kiss, moving faster, making everything come together in what she could best describe as a blur of clarity.
She found herself asking him to please not stop, please keep going, please go faster, please touch her, please kiss her, please... He obliged her on everything she asked, but he’d stopped talking to her. Instead his jaw was set and he seemed deeply concentrated on what he was doing.
She didn’t blame him. Talking could take a lot of effort when it wasn’t a natural ramble like hers, and it felt so good, she never wanted it to stop. She kept the wonderful feeling going as long as she could, her fingers and toes buzzing with all this newfound sexual energy, but then she felt it all slowly blooming out of her control, consuming her.
When she lost the final sliver of control and came with a broken moan, he followed closely behind, gratifyingly unable to hold back any longer. Or maybe simply unwilling to hold back. But It had been so long since she’d made someone lose control that she decided to decree it to be what happened.
Maybe he really did think she was as beautiful as he’d said she was tonight.
He groaned as if in pain and then gently kissed her before rolling off her and onto his back, leaving her to feel oddly bereft. She wondered if it would be inappropriate to get under the covers now.
"That was... unplanned..." he said, sounding slightly out of breath.
She couldn’t quite squash her giggle. "I’ll say."
He shot her a glance. "You’re going to be late."
That surprised her. "I’m still going?"
"Well... yes!" He struggled to get up on his elbows, looking down on her. "When will you get such a chance again? You have the means and opportunity to look your absolute best and you even got rid of all of that tension now..."
It took a moment for her brain to even register the words, and when they did, she immediately gave herself a mental beating. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Couldn’t he at least have allowed her brains to clear up before he reminded her that he hadn’t actually meant a word of anything he’d said?
"Need another shower," she muttered, getting up and walking out into her bathroom without sparing him a second look.
When she looked at herself in the mirror, her hair tousled and lipstick smeared, she realised she was still wearing the necklace.
She really had never stopped being the witch in red, not even for a second.
A half hour later, Hermione was showered, dressed and all made up again, almost as good as new, thanks to the power of magic. Malfoy had left before she’d returned from the bathroom, but she’d found her dress on the bed, any wrinkles straightened. There was no note, no bye, no nothing. It was as if nothing had happened at all.
She didn’t care. She really didn’t. He’d wanted the witch in red and he’d had her. Well, she’d wanted to be wanted and she’d had that, so there. She wanted nothing else. Nothing at all. Who needed a wizard who’d care to stay in bed for more than five minutes after having sex anyway? She certainly didn’t. Especially not him.
Rather than dwell on how much of a liar she was, she hurried off to the Anniversary Ball.
Nobody really noticed her entrance as she slipped in to pretend she'd been there all along. She felt odd being there so shortly after having had sex with Malfoy out of the blue, but it couldn’t be helped. She’d be damned if she’d stay at home and let him notice her absence from the ball when he read the gossip the next day. And he could deny it all he wanted, but she knew he read the gossip. He’d made enough puns off it to last her a lifetime.
"There you are, Hermione," Harry said, appearing at her side. "I’ve been looking for you for the past hour! Did I misunderstand when you said to meet you here?"
She shook her head. "Sorry."
"You look marvellous! How did you get that necklace? Rob a jeweller’s?"
"Something like that," she absent-mindedly replied. "Can I talk to you for a bit?"
"Certainly!" He looked at her expectantly.
"No. I mean in private."
"Oh." He looked around, seeming a little uncomfortable with that. "I think I know a private room, but mind if we keep an open door?"
"No, not at all."
"All right, then!" He led the way and then, as he’d said, left the door open. "What did you want to talk about?"
"First, I’d like to know why you’re suddenly afraid to be in private with me."
"Ah." He shifted a little awkwardly on the spot. "I talked to Ginny the other day, and she said she was coming later tonight... I simply don’t want her to get the wrong idea from the society press. You know what I mean."
Hermione couldn’t help the sudden urge to smile. "You’re working things out with Ginny?"
He shrugged, sheepishly grinning as he scratched his head. "Maybe? I mean, I hope so. To be honest, I couldn’t quite figure it out, but... I really do hope so."
"So do I!" Hermione said and realised without that much surprise that she meant it.
Harry was her friend. Not only her friend, but her best friend in the entire world. She loved him dearly, but she wasn’t in love with him. How silly of her not to see that sooner. Just because two people might theoretically be a good romantic match didn’t mean they were. Sometimes something was simply missing.
He eyed her warily. "Why are you staring at me like that and grinning like a fool?"
"Let me tell you a funny story," Hermione said, still grinning.
And then she told her all about her recent mad endeavour to romance him, leaving out Malfoy’s part as best she could—leaving Malfoy's name out at all times—and certainly never mentioning what had happened right before she got here.
Some things Harry simply didn't need to know.
Hermione was out on the balcony, enjoying a breath of fresh air when someone snuck up on her and said, "So you and Harry, huh?"
She shot him a sideways glance. "Hey, Ron. I wondered where you were hiding."
"For the past ten minutes I was enthralled by Harry’s storytelling abilities." He grinned and leaned against the railing, standing very close to her. "You honestly thought the two of you’d be a good match?"
"I think we’d have been a better match than you and I ever were," she said with a casual shrug.
He cocked his head. "Do you really mean that?"
"Of course! Why else would I even consider it?"
"Even now, after you gave up the idea of you and Harry, you think you’d be a better match?" he asked, leaning a little closer.
"Yes." They could hardly have been a worse match, after all. In spite of all of their best intentions, Ron and she simply hadn’t managed to make the transition from friends to couple very well.
"And you’re completely certain?"
She wasn’t given the chance to reply before his lips were on hers. She froze for a moment, unsure what to do, and then she stepped back. "What do you think you’re doing?"
"I told you I missed you."
"Yeah, but... not like that! You do have a girlfriend, you know!"
"No, I don’t. She kicked me out, remember?"
"Yes, I do remember. She kicked you out. You’re rebounding, and if you respect me at all, you won’t try to make me a part of it."
"Is that what you think is happening here? I missed you, Hermione, and I’d forgotten how beautiful you were..."
The appreciation in his eyes was unmistakable. Right now Hermione honestly wished she’d let Malfoy burn these stupid robes.
"Have you been drinking?" she bluntly asked.
"Not a lot, no."
"Wrong answer," she said, not for a second believing that he could be sober and do this to her, to either of them. "I believe you’re completely pissed, and tomorrow you will have sobered up and we will forget all about this."
"Is that your final answer, then?"
She nodded, looking away. No way was she ever going down that road with Ron again. It was far too hurtful and would be certain to completely shatter their friendship this time. "It is."
He sighed. "Then maybe I really ought to get pissed."
First thing Monday morning, Hermione had Draco Malfoy in her office holding yesterday’s newspaper. She marvelled at the fact that he’d been able to find the Ministry this early in the morning.
"I’m confused," he stated without further ado, walking right in and taking a seat. She noticed that he was trying to conceal a slight limp today.
He certainly wasn’t the only one confused. "What now?"
"This!" He opened the newspaper to one of the pages about the Anniversary Ball—she believed there were eight full pages about it in this issue—to show a picture of Ron kissing her."
"Oh." She hadn’t seen that yet.
"‘Oh’? I show you this and all you can say is ‘oh’?"
"Well... what do you want me to say?"
"I’d like to know why you’re wasting time on your useless ex when you have every opportunity to pursue Potter."
Out went any hope that he might be upset that she’d kissed anyone at all. Why she’d even thought that might be the reason, she didn’t know. Of course everything was about his little agenda. It always had been, hadn’t it?
"Probably the same reason why I wasted time on you," she calmly said. "It was a very pretty set of robes."
His eyes glinted dangerously and he leaned forward. "But as I recall, I was the one who gave them to you, not Weasley. So what were you doing, rewarding him?"
Hermione felt like she’d been slapped right across the face. Not an uncommon occurrence around Malfoy, really, so why she’d hoped for different motives, she honestly couldn’t say. "I think this conversation is over."
"That would probably be best, yeah." He carefully got to his feet, favouring his left side.
"What happened to your leg?" Hermione asked, watching him. She still wanted to smack him and it would probably be wiser to simply let him go, but her curiosity got the better of her. It often did. Maybe that was the reason why she often put herself in a position where Draco could get to her.
"Nothing that’s any of your business, Granger."
"It was during the sex, wasn’t it?"
"It really wasn’t that wild..."
"Don't even try that, Malfoy. Something is wrong with you, anyone with eyes can see that. You’re gaunt and hollow-eyed. You rarely eat much. You begin sweating and snapping at people if you have to stand or exert yourself for too long. You have a lounger for a work chair. You take frequent holidays. And now, you seem to have hurt yourself during sex, which was probably why you wanted me to leave the room as fast as possible after. How am I doing so far?"
He sat back down, looking slightly stunned, the fact that he was angry forgotten. "Too well."
"I didn’t see any injury on you."
"No... of course you didn’t." He looked off to the side and when he noticed that the door to her office was still open, he swore and went to close it before going back to his chair. "Don’t tell anyone, Granger. Please."
"Do the ‘Old Families’ you’re representing know?"
"In a sense. They know I have medical issues."
"Then I have no reason to tell anyone, do I?"
"I suppose," he muttered.
"It’s not like you to hide an injury, Malfoy."
He shot her a sharp look. "I never had one this severe before. Trust me, after a few years of nothing but being pitied and bound to your bed, the novelty wears off."
"A few... years?" That had certainly been unexpected. Possibly even more unexpected than the sex, and that was saying something.
"You don’t want to know, Granger."
"I do." She really, really did. "Please tell me."
They held a staring match for the longest time, but then he sighed with what seemed to be part irritation and part resignation as he gave in. "I suppose you could force the issue now anyway. Long story short, during my brief stint in Azkaban when they were evaluating my case, one of the noble pure-bloods present got hold of a wand and cursed me. I assume for my family’s part in his downfall."
"He didn’t curse to kill?"
"Oh, yes, he did. But... some Auror... who happened to be there managed to jump in and deflect most of it, leaving me ‘only’ unconscious and eventually in incredible pain from this unknown curse. During the first few years, if I’d had the strength for it, I would probably have hunted the Auror down and killed him for not letting me die that day."
"The, uh, ‘noble pure-blood’ refused to say what the curse was?"
"He couldn’t very well tell anyone, Granger. Once he started attempting to hurl spells at everyone, the Auror killed him in self-defence."
"Yes. Well. The Healers thought I’d eventually die or become catatonic. I did neither. It may not seem that way, but I’m... vastly better now than I used to be. Some days I don’t even need potions for the pain to be bearable."
"So... you aren’t dying?" She winced. Subtlety wasn’t her strong suit around him it seemed, but she really had to know. She didn’t want to come into work one day and find him... gone. He might be the biggest arse this side of creation, but she had an awful suspicion she’d miss him if he weren’t there.
"We’re all dying."
"You know what I mean."
He looked away. "I don’t know. I don’t plan to die. I’d really like it if they’d come up with a miracle cure, but until they do, this is my life for however long I have it."
"How come it wasn’t all over the media?" She couldn’t seem to stop asking all these questions. Sooner or later he’d rebuff her and she’d deserve it, but she had to find out as much as possible first.
Again, he stared at her the longest time before answering. "My family preferred to keep it quiet. My bed rest wasn’t a very dignified time. I’d cry, vomit, rage and worse. They figured that either I’d improve or I’d die. Both of those options would be far less humiliating to me than letting the world know what was going on. I happen to be rather grateful that they didn’t tell anyone."
"Oh. And your leg can’t be healed?"
His lips twitched with dark humour. "It’s already been healed so many times after cramps and seizures damaged the tissue that it won’t take any more. I have the leg of someone sixty years older. But that’s not so bad. It doesn’t give me much trouble unless strained. What’s worse is the state of some of my internal organs. That damage is far harder to live with." He leaned back in his chair, equipping his nastiest smirk. "Sorry you had sex with a cripple yet, Chubs?"
"Trust me. I have far better reasons to be sorry for it than that!" she snapped, still trying to digest all of this.
His smirk disappeared. "I can’t say that I'm sorry. I can barely remember the last time... " His voice trailed off and for a moment he didn’t seem like he’d finish the thought, but then he merely shrugged. "It’s hard to find bed partners under these circumstances."
"Only because you insist on trying to hide what’s wrong." She shook her head. He would honestly rather let everyone believe that he was some kind of layabout than let them know that he had legitimate medical issues?
"I don’t need a pity shag, Granger. And I know that’s not what I got either. You were as starved as I was."
All signs pointed towards more starved, actually.
"But you didn’t have to strain yourself like that!" she objected.
"I wasn’t going to chance you changing your mind. Besides, I'd been on my feet all afternoon so I was already strained."
"And you honestly thought I would change my mind if you asked me to be on top?"
He nodded. "Face it, Chubs. You didn’t want to be on top. You wanted me to take charge. I gave you what you wanted so I could get what I wanted."
What she wanted. She’d wanted to hear pretty lies about her appeal and he’d known it. To hear him admitting to it like this hurt more than it should. Did he honestly have to tell her that he’d only slept with her because it was currently hard for him to find other, more desirable sex partners? What happened to simply leaving the fantasy alone?
"I see," she forced out. "I suppose everyone got what they wanted, then."
"Yeah. Except for one thing." He pointed at the picture of her kissing Ron. "It was Potter I wanted off the market."
She pursed her lips. Back to that stupid fixation. "Oh, don’t worry about that. He is." Well, maybe he was.
He raised an eyebrow. "Really?"
"Yeah. We had a talk and—" Manipulate the truth to get what you want—it’s not like he doesn’t do it all the time. "And it’s all sorted between us. We’re both clear on what we want."
He leaned back, looking stunned. "I’ll be damned... It worked? In spite of what I see here?"
He didn’t have to seem so surprised.
"Yes, it worked like a charm. I’ll be looking into selling the dress when I’ve had it cleaned and I’m returning the necklace today." She patted her desk drawer where she kept it.
"I can do that," he said, holding out his hand. "I’m going down to Diagon Alley anyway."
She hesitantly opened up the drawer and took out the box. She supposed it was only right to let him return it since he’d picked it up, but somehow she didn’t feel quite ready to part with it yet. Steeling herself, she ignored any feelings of ready or not ready and thrust it at him.
She could do with less feelings these days anyway.