Disclaimer: This is a non-profit derivative work based on the world and characters of J. K. Rowling.
Characters: Draco Malfoy, Hermione Granger, Others
Genres: Angst, Drama, Romance, Smut
Main Pairing: Draco/Hermione
Story Warnings: Dubious Consent, Epilogue? What Epilogue?, Psychological Trauma, Smut, Substance Abuse
Overall Rating: NC-17
Summary: Nine years after Voldemort's defeat, Hermione decides to take a holiday from her life to work out who she is and what she wants to do with herself. She soon gets the feeling that Draco Malfoy might be the key to her salvation, but Draco seems to be consumed by a need to keep secrets that are destroying him and does not want her interfering. Armed with a determination to save someone who doesn't want to be saved, she sets out to see how he might fit into the oddly shaped puzzle that is her life.
Credit: Thank you to dollfaced and mazvn for the comprehensive beta and filigree1 for the Britpick. Extra thank you to dollfaced for the banner.
Chapter Length: 8,861
* * *
Hermione had a headache. It wasn't an uncommon occurrence these days, but this morning it was worse. She hadn't slept well at all with far too many thoughts and scenarios running through her head, and now she was paying the price.
Draco Malfoy had kissed her last night. Kissed her. At first it had seemed almost like a way to shut her up, but then he'd deepened the kiss and it had almost seemed like he was completely full of it when he said he didn't want her... right until he'd shoved her away, wearing an extremely unflattering look of horror on his face.
Surprise at what had happened hadn't actually been the source of her sleepless night. Not really. It was very possible that she wasn't as traditionally pretty as some of the other women Malfoy had something going on with, but given how he seemed to like variety, she'd figured his gaze would land on her sooner or later. She'd even wanted it to land there. She wasn't as pure and naïve as everyone, including Malfoy, seemed to think. The draw for her was that unlike Darius, Malfoy didn't seem very interested in anything beyond maybe a night or two and, quite frankly, she could use that. She hadn't been touched in so very long and those dreams she kept having were highlighting how much she missed the physical aspect of a relationship, if not the emotional mess. She'd thought that if it happened, then maybe it could be something where everyone walked away happy after getting exactly what they wanted and nothing more.
She supposed there was still a chance that everything could work out like that.
It was just... she didn't like the way he was mocking her attraction. She'd put a brave face on it, but it was rather humiliating to have him notice her interest in him and then use it to try and hurt her. It was also rather humiliating to have him react to his own instincts the way he had and then visibly recoil from her afterwards. He hadn't even spoken to her. Hadn't told her to leave. He'd simply stared at her and then turned and walked into his bedroom, locking the door so she couldn't follow.
What had he expected her to do? Go after him and try to force herself on him? That was fairly insulting, and also worrisome if based on his experiences with other women.
Yet, at the same time, she wasn't about to give up on trying to help him. That day, when Darius had begun talking in great detail about a personal family matter, something had happened in Hermione's head. Like the time she'd fainted, suddenly things had shifted out of focus, and it was as if a thread had been severed inside her, making a part of her float away. Only this time, she'd stayed conscious. She'd vaguely watched at least most of what had happened, including Malfoy's quite unexpected kindness. Once she'd managed to fight her way back, he'd returned to his old self, but whilst she'd been at her most vulnerable, he'd been... compassionate. Almost sweet.
She still didn't understand what had happened. When told the full story, or at least as much of it as Hermione felt comfortable sharing, Madam Vera had called it dissociation and said that it happened sometimes when a person needed to protect themselves. Yet, it had never happened before. Wouldn't it have happened before? Shouldn't it have happened before? Madam Vera didn't seem to think so. She'd said a body could be unpredictable and Hermione had probably run out of the resources needed for her usual defences.
She'd given Hermione the name and address of someone in London and recommended Hermione travel by Floo down from Hogsmeade to go and talk to him once or twice a week.
Hermione had thanked Madam Vera, seeing as that was only polite, but she had no intention of going. It had happened once. Maybe if she made it a habit to dissociate or faint, like she'd done down in Hogsmeade for still completely unknown reasons, then there would be a reason to go. As it was, she was merely under a lot of stress and only needed to learn to cope better.
But one thing she wasn't coping very well with was this headache. So up she went for yet another visit to the Hospital Wing. She'd been here a little too often for her own liking lately, but there wasn't much she could do about it.
It was still very early, but fortunately Madam Vera was up. Hermione could hear her rustling about in her supply room. There were screens set up around one bed, but other than that, the place looked deserted. Hermione hesitantly took another step forward but was halted by a cheery, "Be right with you!"
Oh, right. Madam Vera had something in place so she could hear when people entered. Hermione always seemed to forget that. She sat down on the edge of a bed, waiting.
A few minutes later Madam Vera came out, wiping her hands. "So, what can I do for you?"
"Headache," Hermione simply said.
"Hmm." Madam Vera said, peering into her eyes. "Anything else? Any tension or soreness?"
"No, just a headache, Madam--"
"Please, just Vera. You aren't one of the students."
"All right... Vera..."
"Maybe a few. I don't know. I didn't sleep very well last night."
"I'll get you a few potions so you won't have to come here so often, but do try to find ways to avoid the strain that causes these."
Vera disappeared off to find the potions just as one of the screens shielding that one bed was noisily pushed aside, scraping over the floor in a manner that made Hermione involuntarily cry out as the sound painfully pierced her ears and made her head pound worse. She scowled over at the offender, only to completely stop in her tracks. Malfoy. Wearing only trousers and glaring at her before he sat down and began pulling on socks.
"Um, good morning?" she ventured. He wasn't exactly the first person she'd thought she'd find in a bed up here this morning. Maybe he'd had a lot more to drink last night? Or maybe he couldn't sleep either?
"Would've been better if your nattering hadn't woken me up," he snapped. Apparently he was cheery in the mornings.
She tried very hard and failed not to stare at him out of the corner of her eye as he pulled on a shirt and, without closing it first, bent over to pull on his boots, the movement of the necklace he was wearing drawing her eyes to the very appealing image of his chest. His torso was another part of him that didn't make any sense. It had become quite clear to Hermione over these past weeks that Malfoy spent most of his free time sleeping around and doing whatever else he needed to in order to forget whatever was haunting him. Never had she seen even the tiniest hint that he engaged in any kind of physical activity that wasn't sex. Yet here it was... a body that certainly wasn't unpleasant on the eyes.
"Look your fill yet, or do you want me to leave it open a while longer?" he asked, getting to his feet to button his shirt.
She quickly looked away, her cheeks flaming. He was still mocking her. Trying to save some of her dignity she said, "I didn't mean to stare. I simply couldn't shake this idea... that maybe you didn't use to wear shirts."
She sensed that he stilled. "What?"
"I know. It's silly. How would I know what you wore or didn't wear under the robes I always saw you in?" She glanced at him and was surprised to see that he'd paled.
Then he sneered. "Maybe you spent far too much time thinking about me naked back then as well," he said and would've probably stormed off if Vera hadn't chosen that very moment to come back out with the potions for Hermione and to request to have a word with Malfoy.
Hermione left. She had a lesson soon and, besides, it wasn't that pleasant to be viciously mocked.
* * *
Hermione decided to give Malfoy some space after that. Not only had he made his wishes abundantly clear, and trying to change his mind was exhausting and rather futile, but she also had to focus more on her teaching duties these days. She'd worked on fitting the House Unity project themes in where everyone's lesson plans would allow for it with a minimal overlap, and that hadn't been very easy. It was now spread out over the second half of the year, with each teacher devoting pockets of time to whoever needed it. The students had already been put together in groups of one from each House--which had almost caused a riot--and had then been given a few weeks to loosely define what their projects were to be about as well as how they meant to achieve their goal with their combined strengths. They were expected to do any preliminary work in good time.
It was becoming more and more apparent that Hermione had miscalculated the level of opposition to the project slightly. Since she'd done her very best to group people with only those they shared subjects with, she'd now gone to each and every teacher and requested that those groups be forced at all times, even for other tasks. It had visibly caused extra levels of friction, but Hermione felt optimistic that they'd eventually get used to it and get to work. It wasn't, however, until McGonagall got up in the Great Hall and announced that anyone dissatisfied with their group would also be required to eat and share dormitories with each other that things quieted down on the surface. But everyone was still seething.
Malfoy never commented, but she knew what he was thinking and she resented it very much. It was still a good idea, damn him. A great idea, even! The very fact that they got so much opposition only proved that the children needed to learn how to get along across Houses!
But another thing that was rapidly becoming apparent was that the majority of the children that were dissatisfied and fighting were Gryffindor and Slytherin. She should have predicted that, and in fact she had, but considering Malfoy's reluctance to even talk to her, she couldn't really do anything about it at this time. She could only wait and vainly hope that the problems would disappear on their own.
* * *
By the time the next weekend came, Hermione was exhausted. She had no idea why she'd ever thought taking a sabbatical from her regular life in order to teach for a year would be peaceful when it was anything but. She was in fact so completely drained that on Friday afternoon she went for a nap, and that nap lasted until Saturday morning. After a big breakfast, Hermione then marked her students' work and adjusted her lesson plan, completely freeing up her Sunday.
Feeling rather pleased with herself for being so productive, she hesitantly went down to the staffroom. She'd avoided it ever since she'd ogled Malfoy in the Hospital Wing, but she rather wanted company. Fortunately, Malfoy wasn't there and Darius was, and he at least seemed pleased to see her.
"I was afraid Malfoy had scared you off for good," he said.
Hermione grimaced. "He does that a lot?"
Then maybe he didn't simply hate her. That was some small consolation, she supposed. "So, what are you doing?" she asked, sitting down.
"Boring myself." Darius frowned at the gadget of the week. "This here is rather useless."
"You didn't make the Muggle stereo work yet?"
"No, not yet." He sighed. "Who am I kidding? None of it ever works, and the castle is always far too quiet when the children aren't running about."
Hermione blinked. She'd never before seen Darius in a bad mood and she didn't really know how to cheer him up. "Then let's go somewhere that isn't as quiet?" she suggested.
He glanced at her. "What? Hogsmeade?"
"I told you that I'm not all that welcome down at The Three Broomsticks."
"Then we'll go to The Hog's Head."
"I can't bring a respectable witch to Hog's Head."
She couldn't help but roll her eyes. "Oh, please. I visited it several times as a teenager. It can't have got that much worse."
He snorted. "It certainly didn't get better."
Hermione mock-pouted at him. "I can't believe I'm asking you out and you're turning me down!"
At that he quirked an eyebrow. "You're asking me out? What, on a date? And you want it to go to The Hog's Head?"
She sighed overly dramatically. "Never mind. Just a thought."
He shot her a dubious look whilst scratching his head. "You're as bored as I am, aren't you?"
She could barely suppress her amusement at that highly accurate assessment. "Maybe a little bit."
Apparently her ploy to cheer him up and alleviate her own boredom had worked because his face broke into a grin. "Ok. We'll go to The Hog's Head. But don't say I didn't warn you. Come on."
She jumped to her feet. "Wait! Can I go and get ready first?"
"It's The Hog's Head. What's to get ready for?"
"Going out?" Now she grinned at him.
He rubbed his hand over his eyes and shook his head. "Right. I forgot how you suddenly decided after weeks and weeks of being perfectly uninterested in me that we should go out on a date. To The Hog's Head."
She tilted her head and couldn't help but tease, "You keep saying that name, I'm going to think that you're growing fond of it."
He snorted at her again. "Are you getting ready, or..?"
"Certainly." She began moving towards the door. "What do you think I should wear to blend in?"
He stared at her for a moment and then blinked. "You... ah... I don't think you want to blend in."
"You might catch a cold."
"Why--oh. Huh." She scrunched up her nose. "I don't think I brought anything like that."
"That is your main concern?" He stared at her.
She shot him a brilliant smile. "I'll see what I can dig up!"
Then she hurried up to her room to get ready.
* * *
Almost an hour later, Hermione was all but flying down the stairs, even chancing a wild jump when they suddenly decided to shift. She hadn't meant to take quite that long to get ready, but first she'd had to work out what to wear, and then there were shoes and hair and make-up and jewellery and perfume and... ok, maybe she'd gone a bit overboard--even using spells to at least temporarily make a few of her accessories more feminine--but she was so sick of feeling like some kind of machine. She was tired of never having any fun. She hated feeling like her life was already over.
Darius was fun . She only hoped he'd bothered to wait for her.
She stumbled on a step and had a fright as she almost fell face first down stairs long and steep enough to break anyone's neck, but at the last second, she managed to grab onto the banister and right herself. Maybe she wasn't quite in that much of a hurry. Finishing the stairs at a more leisurely pace, she was relieved to see that Darius was waiting for her down by the doors. She drew up the hood of her cloak just as he saw her coming down.
He didn't comment on the wait. "Ready?" he simply asked, and she nodded.
They walked most of the way in silence but as they passed The Three Broomsticks, Darius hesitated.
"I suppose we could go in," he said. "I mean, I don't believe they'll deny me service. And most people don't know me at all."
She grabbed his arm and tugged. "No, let's do what we planned." She was far from eager to run into Malfoy anyway. It would go against her mission to feel pretty and happy to have him make snide remarks at her.
Darius reluctantly followed, and when they reached The Hog's Head, she began to see what he'd been going on about. Simply looking from the outside, she hadn't quite remembered that the windows were that grimy. It didn't get any better on the inside. The floor was made of packed dirt--even though there were supposedly floor boards underneath--and nothing looked like it had ever seen soap. Including the patrons. She had to suppress a shudder.
"Not too late to turn back," Darius said. She might've taken him up on that if he hadn't looked so bloody amused.
Instead she stuck her nose in the air and walked in like she owned the place. When she found a table, she released the clasp on her cloak and discreetly covered her chair with it before sitting down and looking expectantly at Darius, who was simply staring at her.
"What?" She was feeling defensive and scowled at him before glancing down her own front. Her dress was, in fact, quite modest. Then again, he'd been staring at her face. Had her lipstick smudged? She reached for the mirror in her handbag, but upon closer inspection still saw nothing wrong. She scowled at him. "What?"
He finally seemed to snap out of it and smoothly sat down on the other chair belonging to the sticky table she'd chosen. "I'm sorry," he said. "I don't believe I've ever seen you look quite that... pretty... before."
She frowned. Was that even a compliment? "Thank you?"
"No, that sounded wrong. I'm sorry. I'm... just..." He grimaced. "I'm just so very suave, as you can probably tell."
She couldn't help but smile at that. "I'd expect nothing less from a gentleman taking me to such a refined establishment," she teased.
He didn't laugh as she'd expected. Instead he said, "You really haven't seemed all that interested in me, but now I admit I'm a little confused."
Suddenly this began to seem a lot more complicated than she wanted it to be. "We're friends, right?" she ventured, fighting back a wince at how weak that sounded. She very much liked Darius, but she was still trying to get over her ex. She wasn't ready to even consider being with someone else for anything but a bit of fun. Darius seemed like the sort of man who might get hurt by any 'bit of fun' that went beyond friends, so she had no intentions of taking it further.
"Yes, of course." His expression was fairly unreadable for a moment, but then he cracked one of his regular teasing smiles. "Then what can I get you? I hear their filthy mugs really add to the taste."
She couldn't help the way her toes curled in disgust at that mental imagery. "Er. Don't they have some bottled ale or something? Butterbear? Anything nobody's actually touched, thank you."
This time he laughed out loud and promised to do his best to find something she could safely drink.
As Darius left her alone to get drinks, Hermione idly looked around. The atmosphere here was quite different from over at the Three Broomsticks. When people laughed here, it was a far cruder sound. When they talked, it was louder and meaner. Even the background music from the Wizarding Wireless Network somehow seemed rougher and more jarring.
It was all worth it, though, simply to avoid--
She froze. Someone blond had entered. No, that had to be a coincidence. There must be other blond wizards--even with that slightly shaggy haircut. He turned and she couldn't quite suppress a groan. The chance of other wizards having the exact same face were probably rather low. What was Malfoy even doing here? Why wouldn't he go to the pub where he had a thing with the barmaid?
He looked up and spotted her, and she immediately looked away, searching for Darius instead. Darius was making his way back, but also seemed to have spotted Malfoy.
"Interesting," Darius said, placing a bottle in front of her and taking his seat again. "Didn't expect to see him here. But from the look on your face, neither did you. That explains a lot about tonight actually." He took a swig from his own bottle.
"Is it really that much of a surprise if I want to avoid him?" she muttered.
"No, not at all. He seems to turn a special kind of unpleasant around you. I'd avoid him too."
"I don't have magic, Hermione, but that doesn't mean I'm stupid. I've seen the way you look at him. You very much wish he were nicer to you."
"Of course I wish he were nicer to me!"
"That's not what I meant, and you know it." He made that statement far too matter-of-factly.
She looked away, her cheeks burning. Did everyone know, then? Why did they even care? Her interest was harmless. It had simply been far too long since she'd had any 'bit of fun' and Draco Malfoy very much seemed like the type who could supply that kind of fling. But he hated her and had recoiled the one time he'd kissed her, so it was very high on the list of Most Unlikely Things To Ever Happen.
"I think I've said it before but it bears repeating--you're far too good for him."
"Yes, well, maybe I don't want to be," she muttered. She had only meant for it to be a personal observation, but from the startled look on Darius's face, he'd heard. Oops. "I-I only mean," she said, trying to save face, "it's not always easy to live up to the idealised image people have of me."
He shot her a thoughtful look and then slowly said, "If you want to go and talk to him, then by all means..."
"No! I was avoiding him, remember? And I'm here with you."
"As friends. And I manage quite well without a babysitter."
"Besides, if ever there was a time to get him out of your system, it's now. He must be quite desperate for a diversion to be here."
That stung and she could think of nothing to say but, "Thanks."
Darius made a growling sound. "He's not exactly a fan of yours, Hermione, whether you like it or not. Some of us would feel very lucky to get the interest of a witch of your calibre, but not him. Might as well be realistic about it. Looking like that, he would probably have you, but he wouldn't be grateful. Not in the least. And he'd toss you out afterwards." Darius got to his feet, finishing his ale.
"Where are you going?" she asked.
"We'll have to do this some other time. From the way he noticed us too, it looks like tonight I'm only going to be a prop in your little play and I'm really not in the mood for that. Good luck whatever you choose to do, yeah? See you tomorrow." Then he left.
Hermione was left staring down at her hands, her entire evening gone down the drain. And why did Darius have to sound like this happened a lot with witches around Malfoy?
"Lover's quarrel?" a dry and all too familiar voice asked. "I have to say I'm surprised. I'd have thought someone as simple as Dorky would be easy to keep happy. What does that say about you?"
Her fists clenched. He couldn't ever stop doing that, could he? She got to her feet, picked up her cloak, and then she fled the pub.
* * *
Hermione didn't really have a plan for where she was going, she simply couldn't stand being near Malfoy at the moment. Nor did she want to completely lose face by showing up at the school mere minutes after Darius. So instead of going to the main road, she ran the opposite way, entering a part of Hogsmeade she'd never been in before. The buildings here were lower, darker, and the road narrowed into little more than a path. The shops had names that Hermione had never seen before, and they seemed to be carrying rather... odd... things at times.
Obviously she'd entered a less savoury part of town.
At this very moment, however, she didn't care. All she wanted was to keep moving. She couldn't go back to her rooms yet. Sitting at home, staring at a wall, was too depressing and she couldn't do it any longer. She wanted to be out and about. Even if that meant only taking a brisk walk through the worst part of Hogsmeade after all the effort she'd put into her looks.
She heard a sound behind her and froze in her tracks, her fingers closing around her wand. "Show yourself," she said, turning around.
"Scared?" Malfoy calmly asked from the shadows. "Then this is the wrong place for you to be."
She huffed out a breath and let go of the wand. "I'll be fine. No one's here." She turned her back on him again, meaning to go on, but his voice stopped her.
"That's where you're wrong," he said. "People around these parts are nothing if not good at hiding and watching. You're not safe. Go back to the main road."
She sniffed, quite put out with him tonight. "I'm not safe? Then what about you? Or are you the kind of man that thinks your mighty penis will protect you?"
He laughed. It was a soft but mirthless sound. "I'm protected by my deeds, witch," he then said.
"Your deeds? You never killed anyone. You never did much of anything, really. If anything, I have more deeds to my name."
"Trust me, your morals would prevent you from any act that would earn their respect. I have no morals left and you have no idea what I've become capable of. I repeat, go back to the main road."
"Why don't you simply leave me?"
"You don't want to know what will happen if I leave you."
She eyed the buildings around her. If he was telling the truth, then it was likely that the only reason she hadn't encountered anyone yet was because of his presence. How annoying. In some places it truly didn't matter that she was Hermione Granger, War Hero and close friend of Harry Potter. She could be overpowered and silenced if enough people wished to hurt her. If someone they respected or feared on another level was here, however... but someone all bark and no bite like Draco wouldn't be that person, would he?
Abruptly, she turned around and began walking back, passing Malfoy on her way.
"You're welcome," he breathed.
She whirled on him, her teeth bared. "You expect me to be thankful for you ruining my evening?!"
"Certainly, if your idea of a nice evening out is to walk into a seedy part of town and--"
"You know very well that's not what I meant!"
He frowned. "So you blame your lover boy leaving on my very presence?"
"Why were you even there?"
"Because I'm free to go wherever I please, Granger. I hardly expected you either."
"And why, when seeing me upset, was your first instinct to try to upset me further? Can't you simply leave me be? I stopped trying to talk to you, what more could you possibly want?!"
He looked at her quietly for a while before saying, "You're right. I should remember that your presence isn't meant as an insult to me."
She stared at him. Simply stared. He was never going to apologise or even act like a compassionate human being, was he? "Why did you kiss me?" she quietly asked.
His expression was nothing if not closed. "I don't believe we need to discuss that."
"Oh, but we do. If you hate me so much, why did you do it?"
He grimaced. "I knew you'd misinterpret it. Good girls always do."
'Good girls'? Right then she hated that label more than anything and she burned to tell him that, but she knew he'd only laugh at her and tell her that she had no idea what it was like to be bad. Like she didn't have secrets as deep and dark and shameful as he, or probably anyone in this part of town, did. She gritted her teeth to keep all that in and only said, "Then set me straight."
"It's fairly simple, actually. I have a weakness when it comes to women. Physically. I merely did what I would normally do with a woman because I was too pissed to stop myself in time."
"Fine. Let's say that's the truth. Why does it matter so much that it was me? Why was there even a need to stop? You didn't seem to hate it."
He paused as if taken aback that she would so boldly show her disappointment in his rejection. It almost made her laugh out loud. What exactly did he think she was risking? "You're not my kind of witch," he finally said, his words so soft that coming from another person she might have believed he cared about her feelings.
She took a deep breath. Interestingly enough, his words didn't hurt in the least. She'd been expecting them. And somehow, the fact that he was acting exactly as she'd expected calmed her. "You know what I think?" she quietly asked.
"No, but I suspect that I will in a few moments."
The corners of her mouth drew up in a sardonic smile that didn't feel like her. "I still think you fear me more than you hate me, and now I think I know why."
"I'm sure you do."
"I think you like me." For a moment he only stared, and that moment was all she needed to push on. "I think it terrifies you to think about what that could mean. I think the thought of being kind to me, kissing me, getting intimate with me, is positively petrifying to you, because you have no idea what could happen. You'd much rather destroy yourself than give anyone else the power to destroy you."
The darkness shielded his expression too well for her to properly read it, but he was standing very, very still. "Rather dramatic tonight, aren't we?" he finally said in a patronising tone. "Not to mention perhaps a bit full of ourselves."
Again, nothing she hadn't expected. The dark smile that was feeling more like a grimace intensified and she took a step towards him. "Prove it."
"And how does someone prove something like that?"
"You could kiss me without going into a panic. It's dark here, so you won't even have to look at me."
He tensed. "Look, Hermione..." He cut off and muttered a few foul words. "Granger. I find this... dare... to be rather childish."
"Yes, certainly much more childish than your constant need to verbally put me down."
"Obviously you must like it."
Her dark smile turned into an even darker laugh. "Not accepting the challenge, then? I thought so." She turned her back on him and began walking towards the main road again.
For quite a while, she didn't hear him following, but then she heard the rustling of clothes and the hurried steps signalling that he was gaining on her with a vengeance. He probably wanted to yell at her some more. She was beyond caring and merely kept walking. Then suddenly she was grabbed and shoved into the narrow space between two buildings, momentarily frightening her and making her think it was someone else. When she looked up, however, it was him. Only, he looked angrier than she could remember ever seeing him.
"A challenge?" he spat. "Fine. Don't come crying to me."
Then he bent down and she steeled herself for something hard, punishing, bruising, and far from pleasant. A kiss that would be designed to stop her from ever wanting more of them from him. A warning not to challenge him again. As he lowered his head, she had to work very hard not to pull away. She refused to flinch!
But the hard kiss never came. Instead she got warm, firm lips pressing against her own as his hand moved up to cradle her neck. The difference from what she expected stunned her into standing completely still as he ran his thumb over her lower lip and lightly press it down, before he kissed her again, deeper this time.
Pure, searing lust shot through her, making her dizzy as he touched his tongue to hers. She instinctively arched into him although she tried to stay at least a little mentally detached so it wouldn't completely blindside her when he stopped and delivered a cruel comment. That had to be his plan. She could imagine no other reason that he would... he would... how had her fingers suddenly found his hair? It was so soft. A little tangled, though, so when she buried her fingers deeply to comb through it, she accidentally pulled hard enough to make him curse. Well, that served him right for kissing her like... like he meant it! He drew back a bit, but she wouldn't have it and pulled him closer again to tease his lower lip. He groaned against her mouth and lifted her up to grind against her, proving that he most certainly wasn't unaffected.
Good. Maybe he'd be the one to heed the warning, then.
Rather suddenly, however, he let go of her body to grab her wrists and pull her hands off him as he stepped back. She fought a pout and instead merely looked at him, waiting for the killing blow.
He cleared his throat and looked away for a second as if to compose himself, but then the most ominous smirk slowly appeared on his face. "Really, Granger?" he asked a little hoarsely. "You want to get into that here?"
A blush stained on her cheeks as she realised what he meant. They were in some kind of alley, which she couldn't see very clearly, but it was now slowly occurring to her that the place reeked of all sorts of waste. She stubbornly stuck up her nose at him. "I was merely obliging you, as I thought this was your style."
At that his smirk widened. "I'm sure our onlookers appreciate that." He nodded towards the end of the alley where she only barely could make out the grey outline of one person in a doorway and another one in a second floor window.
So he'd had his whole stage set up. "You knew they were there."
"Of course. I already told you. They're good at hiding and watching. They probably think you're from the brothel around the corner."
Hermione wished she could say she was surprised, but she wasn't. Crushingly disappointed that he'd only kissed her like that for show, yes. Surprised, no. This was exactly what she'd expected and, frankly, exactly what she deserved for goading him into kissing her in spite of himself. "Of course. And that explains what you were doing around these parts, doesn't it?" she said, before she very deliberately stuck her nose in the air and turned her back on him to make her way back to the castle.
* * *
Back at the castle and inside her office, Hermione closed the door and then leaned on it, trying to work through what had just happened. She simply couldn't figure it out. She couldn't figure him out. Why did he insist on treating her horribly at every turn and then kiss her like that? It was becoming more and more apparent that the problem really wasn't her, it was him. She'd been right that he was deliberately trying to push her away. She might even have been right about why. One thing was for certain, if she'd been right about why, he was only going to get worse from now on. He would be ruthless. Especially if he thought it was working.
She heard Malfoy's firm footfall moving past her door. She didn't know if he knew where her office and quarters were located--although she was fairly certain he did--but walking past her office was the fastest way for him to get to his own rooms. She'd always wondered why he had his office here on the sixth floor, but had yet to manage to ask someone without seeming a bit too interested. She knew why she was here--as nothing but a temporary replacement she hadn't wished to invade what had seemed like such a personal space, so she'd gone to McGonagall and requested to be put somewhere else. The request had been granted, but Hermione had been warned that all the best offices were in use even if the private rooms that came with them weren't always. If she didn't like being so close to Malfoy--a factor of unpleasantness that McGonagall had actually addressed--the next office in line in terms of comfort would be one on the second floor, which had fallen into disrepair some years ago. So far Hermione had been perfectly comfortable up here. Malfoy kept to himself most of the time and the rooms up here were actually even a bit bigger than the regular Arithmancy professor's had been.
She heard Malfoy's door open and close. And then there was silence. Nothing but silence. She didn't even know how long she stood like this, listening to nothing and feeling like she was going deaf.
Finally she'd had it, and before she could consider what she was doing and why, she'd opened her own door and marched over to knock on his. She half-expected him to either ignore her or yell at her to go away, but he didn't. He opened the door as if he'd been expecting her.
He probably had, the prat.
She stared at his politely distant face, willing herself to speak but not quite managing it. Finally, she simply gave up and turned to leave. He'd probably just be horribly mean no matter what she said anyway.
She'd only taken a single step when she felt his fingers close around her arm and she was pulled into the room, stumbling a bit as he let go and the momentum brought her further. She blinked as she experienced that slight shift in her vision she sometimes got around him, and then whirled around. "Malfoy! What on earth do y--"
He closed the gap between them in few long steps, and then covered her mouth with his. Her eyes widened even as his warmth and scent had an almost hypnotic effect on her. Damn her for reacting so strongly to him. It wasn't fair! What was he up to now? She'd thought she knew his game, but this was quite unprecedented, to say the least. He drew back, but quite fed up with him, she decided not to let him have all the control, and used all her might to pull him back. He clearly hadn't been expecting it and stumbled against her, forcing her to take a few steps back to not lose her own balance. And then, suddenly, he was back in control, guiding her until she felt his desk hit the back of her thighs. She gasped as he lifted her up to sit on it, his lips moving over her cheek and down her neck whilst he was deftly running his hands up her thighs, bringing her dress with them. It was rapidly becoming hard for her to even think coherently. Even if he didn't mean it, he had such a talented mouth. And hands. The merest brush of his hand against her thigh had her swallow a whimper.
It really was unfair. How could he be such a prat and still make her want him so desperately? He was probably only playing with her. As usual.
"Malfoy, what--?!" she valiantly tried once more.
"Hush," he muttered against her skin, making her blood hum with want.
She shook her head, trying to clear it. "No, explain."
"You came looking for this, didn't you?" He pushed her back until she was lying down flat on the desk beneath him. Oh, Merlin, it felt nice. No, it felt perfect. It felt right. It felt like exactly what she needed tonight. It even felt... familiar.
"No... I didn't..." she weakly protested. The truth was, she had no idea what she'd been looking for.
"Couldn't just leave me alone to wank in peace, could you? You had to come here, had to haunt me some more." He pulled off his own shirt, leaving her to stare at that chest she'd been lusting for and that necklace of his that seemed to show the current phase of the moon. It was glowing faintly white in the semi-darkness of the room.
"Not a werewolf, are you?" she asked, a bit apprehensive.
He laughed. It was a bitter sound. "No. Strictly a curiosity that's sometimes handy for potion brewing. You won't have to panic if I bite you." He bent to nibble at a strangely particular sensitive spot at the base of her neck, making her moan and cling onto him before she could catch herself.
His hands never still, he'd almost divested her of all of her clothes before she could think of anything else to say. Yet when she felt the clasp on her bra give way, she couldn't help holding onto the small protection that piece of garment gave her.
He hissed. "Don't change your mind. Not now. Not after you've already driven me beyond sanity with all your little looks and those lips. Merlin, those lips..."
"Then be honest with me. Why do you suddenly want me?" She was pushing it. She'd die if he decided to stop.
"It's not sudden," he whispered. "I just... I'm going to burn for this. I don't care. It's what you want, isn't it? Can't be too bad if you want it..."
Then he kissed her so hungrily that she forgot all the new questions she now had, before he trailed his lips and tongue down over her neck, her slowly bared breasts, her stomach... She grabbed onto him and pulled his head back up for another kiss and he obliged, before trying to kiss his way down again. She froze and dug her fingers into his arms, stopping him.
Finally catching on, he stared down at her with a frown. "Still?" he quietly said.
She didn't understand what he meant by that so her only response was a blank look.
He grimaced and then nuzzled her neck. "Let me taste you..."
A mix of excitement and dread was roiling around in her stomach. "No..."
He leaned back to pin her with a gaze that saw too much. "Nobody ever bothered?"
"That's none of your business!" she indignantly replied. She drew up one of her legs, caressing his calf with her foot as she did so. "There are other things I want more..." She knew her eyes told him exactly how much she wanted it, how much she needed it.
He didn't need her to tell him twice. Abandoning his first plan, he instead slid one of his hands down inside her knickers whilst caressing her breasts, particularly her nipples, with his lips and tongue and breath.
It was maddening. She twisted and squirmed under him either to get away from him to ease the intensity or get closer to magnify it--she wasn't honestly certain which option she wanted more--as the feeling grew to impossible proportions. Yet this wasn't what she'd asked for, so she bucked up against him and grabbed onto the buttons at the front of his trousers, eager to remove them. He neither helped nor hindered her but simply continued with his own agenda to melt her brains. With shaking hands it took a little bit longer than it otherwise would, but she finally managed to open his trousers and shove them and his underwear off. He hardly even seemed to make a note of it. Yet when she grabbed hold of the erection that sprang free, he tensed and a pained sound escaped his lips. Delighted at his response, she began caressing him with a firm hold, up and down, stroking, squeezing...
Abruptly her hand was removed, but before she could complain he'd entwined their fingers and brought her hands above her head whilst silencing her rather effectively with a kiss that made the whole room spin. Once he seemed satisfied that she was compliant, he let go of one of her hands to tuck at her knickers. She eagerly helped him, lifting her bum and feeling rather gratified at his moan as their hips connected for a moment. Then he tore her knickers the rest of the way off and suddenly, they were both completely naked. Her eyes widened and her breath caught as she felt the warm, smooth skin of his erection against her naked flesh.
She'd half-expected him to immediately drive into her, but he didn't. At first she thought he was merely prolonging the pleasure, but then she realised--he was hesitating. Lust and guilt were warring on his face and the guilt seemed to be winning, even making room for regret.
Oh, no, you don't!
She was tired of him treating her like someone who was untouchable. She had absolutely no idea where he'd picked up the notion that she wouldn't be able to handle having sex with him, but she'd had it with that. She'd had a rough time lately and all she wanted was to get laid! Was that really too much to ask?
Before he could completely change his mind, she freed her one hand and reached down to grab him again, in a firm hold, caressing the indent right under the head with her thumb. It was enough to make him shiver, but when he didn't immediately resume his earlier activities, she resumed hers with long, firm caresses, making sure that he felt all of her nakedness pressed against him. And she lifted her head to kiss him, deeply. Because she wanted to.
It didn't take long before he tried to still her hand and pull away from the kiss, but she wouldn't have it. She didn't care if this was all she was allowed, she would have something, damn it. She needed it. Needed to feel passion, to feel desired, to lose all control and make someone lose theirs. She needed to feel like she was still alive.
Gasping, he stopped her more forcefully, grabbing her hand hard and pulling it away. "You have to stop," he whispered.
It was almost too much to bear. "Why?" she replied. "Don't you want me at all?"
He swallowed and closed his eyes in a pained expression. "I do," he then said. "I-I can't stop this... I need to be inside you just one last time. So badly. Just once. I know I shouldn't allow it, but..."
He shook his head. "You couldn't possibly understand." Then he kissed her again, and finally, finally he was entering her.
Her arms instinctively went around him and to clutch at his back. It had been a while and it hurt a little, but she merely bit her lip to keep from crying out and waited for the discomfort to pass, unwilling to say or do anything that might make him reconsider this.
"Amazing," he choked. "Of course..."
Immensely relieved and gratified that he wasn't mocking her during sex, she wrapped her legs more firmly around him and began moving experimentally under him, getting used to the feeling and wanting more.
He groaned deeply. "No, Hermione, can't you just be passive for once?" She couldn't help but laugh at that, so he shot her a dark look and muttered, "Suppose not!"
Then he began moving rather forcefully above her, completely obliterating anything that could've passed for a coherent thought as her mind couldn't contain anything but the pure bliss of the friction and the way he touched her, the way his lips kept returning to that one spot at the base of her neck with what was first light nibbling, but as her passions rose and his movements became faster, he sucked that spot at the base of her neck harder and harder until she was helpless to do anything but come, loudly, shouting out her pleasure.
"Hurt me," he grunted in her ear. "Scratch, bite... something."
She experimentally dug her fingers into his back, but her nails were short, so it didn't have much of an impact. Instead she tried nibbling his ear, but she couldn't bring herself to bite hard.
He snorted a breathless little laugh. "Cute. Never mind, then..."
That annoyed her, and she pulled down his head to kiss him, but when she had him distracted she bit down on his lower lip so hard she could taste blood. She immediately let go, shocked at what she'd done. He cried out and she thought she'd crossed the line until she realised that he was moving faster and more erratically and he was asking for more, more, more, please... So she dug her fingers hard into his back and raked her teeth over his collarbone until she found a good spot and then she chomped down.
His eyes rolled back and he came, losing himself so completely that Hermione could feel nothing but pure gratification as she watched his bliss and felt him collapse on top of her.
At some point Hermione seemed to have completely forgotten exactly how good it felt to have a man on top of her. The weight, the scent, the feeling of him still inside her... Suddenly it hit her once more exactly how much she missed Ron, and she had to make an effort to keep her feelings under control so Malfoy wouldn't get the wrong idea and think she regretted it. It wouldn't do to make him think that he'd made the wrong decision in sleeping with her after she'd been so insistent. Any sudden melancholy aside, she'd truly needed this.
Malfoy didn't stay unmoving for long. As soon as he seemed to have his breathing back under control, he eased off her and put his underwear back on without even looking at her. She'd have felt more annoyed about being ignored if she hadn't seen how his movements were a bit unsteady and his face was drawn. For once he didn't appear to be mean to her simply because he could. He seemed genuinely upset about what had happened between them. She didn't understand. He hadn't seemed to find her that awful only moments before if his begging had been any indication.
"Put on your clothes and leave," he hoarsely said, still without looking at her. "You got what you wanted. Now please pretend this never happened."
It wasn't the time to argue, she was far too naked for that, so she slid off the desk to her feet and bent to get her own underwear only to flinch when her abdomen objected to the movement. She was so sore inside out. It had been far too long since last time and he hadn't exactly been gentle with her. The movement drew Malfoy's attention and his gaze landed on her thighs before his face turned ashen and he actually swayed a little before grabbing onto the edge of the desk to hold himself up.
She looked down, puzzled about his reaction, and spotted blood on her thigh. Ah. He certainly was squeamish about certain things, wasn't he? "Relax," she said, her voice much calmer than she would have thought possible. "It's not that time of the month if that's what's making you feel sick. I suppose you gave me a little scratch or something. You were rather rough, you know." Then she too began putting on clothes.
He didn't respond, didn't give any indication he'd heard her at all, only stood there for a while and then, rather suddenly, pushed away from the desk and went to the door to his private rooms without looking at her again or collecting the rest of his clothes. There he hesitated. "Your neck..." he finally said. "You need to heal it. Or cover it up. It will bruise and attract attention. We could both get sacked if found out." Without another word, he entered his rooms and quietly closed the door behind himself.
She refused to be hurt. She refused. But whether he wanted to repeat this or not in the future, she would damn well make him face and resolve whatever issues he had with her because this was intolerable.