Better Late Than Never

BY : Jules
Category: Harry Potter > Het - Male/Female > Draco/Hermione
Dragon prints: 8333
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, nor any of the characters from the books or movies. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.


AUTHOR’S NOTE: Thanks to Raffy and my hubby for their Beta skills. Also, a special thank you to Raffy and Wicked: for your moral support as well as dogged insistence during my procrastination phase. I hope I fulfilled the expectations of the fic requestor. To everyone – ENJOY!

The dull roar of the pub droned on, covering up the individual phrases in the conversations that were taking place there. Draco scanned the smoke filled interior. The dark wood, the squat stools, upholstered benches, and the dark wooden tables covered in scratches and dents were all familiar to him. He had come to this pub every Friday for the last year. His comrades were his fellow solicitors at the law firm of Bixby, Dudley & Carrington. Draco recently had an important conversation with the management and had ascertained that he was on the fast track to be made a junior partner in the firm. While no one else knew of this, Draco’s celebration tonight was in honor of that achievement.

Quite the opposite was the case for everyone else. Being that is was Valentine’s Day, Draco’s co-workers were either celebrating their success in the romantic arena or they were lamenting their losses. Either way, Draco wanted nothing to do with the subject matter, being a confirmed cynic regarding romantic matters. Draco cringed at the announcement that Karaoke would be beginning at 9 p.m.

“Just what every bleeding heart needs tonight, poorly sung sappy love songs,” thought Draco. “I think that I need more potent alcohol to survive this debacle.”

Draco slowly picked his way over to the long mahogany bar to order himself another Strongbow. Clearly, cider was called for tonight in order to drown out the caterwauling that would be beginning in little less than an hour.

“Pint of Strongbow, Jim.” murmured Draco.

Jim, once again evidencing that bartenders were either psychic or lip readers, solemnly nodded and grabbed a glass to fill.

“Don’t know why you won’t give Blackthorn a try, Luke.”

“No Jim, I really prefer Strongbow,” responded Draco with a grin.

The exchange was an old tradition. Jim much preferred Blackthorn Cider and rarely missed a chance to jokingly try to convert *Luke* to his way of thinking. The familiarity of the exchange was comforting to Draco, since he had very little tradition left in his life now.

“Better luck next time,” said Draco with a wink as he took his pint and began to navigate his way back through the boisterous crowd.

“What I wouldn’t give for a silencing spell,”Draco thought forlornly as a few energetic individuals began rehearsing their karaoke selections. Regaining his seat with his friends, Draco carefully perched on the high stool that hovered near the bar rail. Making sure to face the room with his back to the wall, he surveyed the crowd. Seeing the regular Friday night patrons along with the additional holiday crowd made Draco a little more vigilant. One of the reasons Draco liked this bar was the usual mellow nature of the crowd. Unfortunately, this was not the case this evening. Half again the regular number of people were in the dark and smoky tavern for Valentine’s Day. The unfamiliar faces heightened the anxiety that Draco always felt. “Living in secrets and shadows can do that to a person,” he thought.

“Hey Luke, are you going to sing tonight?” laughed Ned. Ned was a jovial records clerk at the firm. He was usually at night school to fulfill his dream of becoming a barrister or home with his mother. His enjoyment of his night out was obvious.

Draco shook his head firmly, “No, I won’t.”

Colleen joined in with “I hear you humming in your office; I know you can carry a tune.”

Soon there was a chorus of Bixby, Dudley & Carrington employees, all lobbying for *Luke* to sing karaoke. While Draco had to admit, of the few enjoyments in his life that he still held, singing was one of them. But he had no intention of joining the other love-struck denizens of the pub in howling their way through songs of unrequited love.

“Love is a fallacy,” Draco avowed flatly. “It is just a story made up to justify all s of of unstable emotional behavior.”

“Luke, you can’t really mean that – can you?” questioned Narra. Although one of the most successful criminal solicitors in London, she had a heart of gold and the demeanor of a shy schoolgirl. But Draco knew if you crossed her in the courtroom, you would count yourself lucky if you exited with all your body parts intact.

“Yes Narra, I do -” started Draco, only to be cut off by Colleen.

“I can’t believe that you are going to let your past haunt you forever. You’re a grown man, for God’s sake. What’s there to be afraid of?”

Draco, not wishing to open that particular closet door, simply responded, “Love is a myth. It doesn’t exist. It is a rationalization made up by humans to justify losing emotional and behavioral control when they are sexually attracted to someone.”

“My, what a cool and calculating answer,” cooed Daphne. Daphne was well known for her cross-examination skills. Immediately Draco’s hackles went up.

“While you protest quite loudly that love is a fantasy, I hear you present no empirical evidence to support your argument. In fact, I would go so far to say that you are having an emotional response and a projection, in psychological terms,” she stated with the sly smile.

Draco, sensing that he would not win this particular argument and wishing to maintain the peace with his co-workers, offered this: “If I promise to make an ass of myself singing in front of everybody in this bloody bar, can we just drop this subject?”

The smiles of triumph were so wide Draco would have sworn that he’d been set up. In a not so gracious manner, Draco picked up his empty pint glass and returned to Jim at the bar.

With the storm cloud situated firmly over his head, Jim took one look at Draco and handed him another Strongbow. Silently, Draco paid for his cider and made his way back to his friends. Their smiles frightened him even more.

“We’ve submitted your name and picked out your song,” simpered Daphne. The overly gracious demeanor didn’t suit her and alarmed Draco even further.

“What did you pick?” asked Draco.

“Oh Luke, an easy one,” interjected Narra. “A Beatles tune, it should be easy. Everyone knows the tune.”

“Not everyone,” sighed Draco to himself. “Not having exposure to the Muggle world until seven years ago is a distinct disadvantage.”

Draco searched his memory as he asked, “Which song?”

“All You Need is Love,” they replied in unison.

Draco did not see how this night could get much worse. “You’re joking, right?” he tried.

“No way mate,” replied Ned, grinning from ear to ear and swaying a bit.

“Alright, are there at least lyrics I can look over while I wait for execution?” joked Draco.

“Here are some,” replied Narra, “I think you’ll sound great.” Narra’s encouragement was at least sincere.

Draco made a show of moving off a bit to study the lyrics. In fact, he was frantically searching his memory to see if he had ever heard the song. Lyrics didn’t help if the melody was unknown. It occurred to him that Jim operated the sound system and perhaps, he could get him to play a Beatles CD before the karaoke started. With this in mind, Draco made his way back to the bar to talk to the barkeep.

“So you’ve finally come to your senses and are going to drink a real cider,” teased Jim upon seeing Draco “So “Sorry, no.” lamented Draco unrealistically. “I was here to make a request. Can you throw a Beatles CD in the tuner?”

“I’d love to mate, but haven’t you noticed the commercials? Sky has been on all night, the tuner’s broke.” replied Jim. “Sorry.”

Feeling a bit more than peeved, Draco fumed, “I’m done for.”


Hermione was trying to figure out how her interns had talked her into coming out on Valentine’s Night. Normally she would have been ensconced at home with a good book, Crookshanks on her lap and a cup of tea besher.her. How it was that she found herself in a pub was beyond her. After all, she was the supervisor and they the students. She was the senior marketing specialist for the Holyhead Harpies. She was the adult.

Since moving their corporate offices to Diagon Alley two years ago, Hermione had been able to supplement her workforce with interns from Hogwarts. In response to the overwhelming need to develop skills in the young witches and wizards at the end of the Second Reign of Terror, Hermione had worked with the Hasteaster McGonagall to place recent graduates at headquarters. Through this special program, which Hermione was proud to have had a hand in developing, hands-on training took place for two terms. Students could either have an in-depth, two-term placement or two separate placements to get a variety of experience. Either way, the Harpies benefited, as the interns didn’t get paid.

As her luck would have it, her interns this year were all female and all muggle-born. Therefore they were quite familiar with the traditions of Valentine’s Day, much to Hermione’s chagrin. Although still in her work clothes, Hermione fit in with the rest of the patrons. The dark green sweater with the tasteful double H above her heart was classy and casual. Although her interns had transfigured their sweaters to red in honor of the holiday, Hermione did not. While she had been manipulated into venturing out, she had no intention of stay out for long.

Hermione sidled up to the bar to order herself a drink. Catching the barman’s eye, she indicated she wanted a cider.

“We’ve two on draught, Blackthorn or Strongbow, miss,” replied the bartender.

“I’ll have a half pint of the Strongbow, please.” replied Hermione.

“Sure I can’t interest you in the Blackthorn? It’s mighty good.”

“No, actually I’m particularly fond of Strongbow actually, but thanks for the recommendation.” answered Hermione with a smile.

As the barkeep moved away, a movement caught her eye. An attractive blond man about halfway down the bar had turned with his back to the bar and exhaled rather loudly. The act of blowing the fine hair out of his face was eerily familiar. Studying his profile, Hermione gasped. The long pointed nose, the high arching brows and cheekbones, the full lips, and the long lashes closed over eyes Hermione knew would be grey. They were a combination of features she had never thought she would see again.

Moving woodenly towards the man, Hermione stopped far enough away to not intrude but close enough to be heard as she said softly, “Draco.”


Draco’s eyes snapped open almost violently. He had not heard anyone call him that name in seven long years. There was only one person who could call him by that name, Hermione.

Slowly turning to face Hermione, Draco examined her from head to foot. He took in her long, wavy, mocha hair; it’s golden highlights visible even in the dim tavern interior. The brown doe-like eyes and the cosmetic-less face were all as he remembered. She was rather tall and willowy, slim in her green sweater and black pants. Thntatntative smile on her face was like a light bulb waiting to be lit.

Turning to face her, he full on, “It’s Luke now.” Draco murmured.

Quirking an eyebrow at him, Hermione extended her hand to Draco and retorted, “Is it now? I’m still Hermione.”

While grasping his hand, Hermione warmly continued, “Luke is it? That means the light.”

Draco responded, “It is also short for Lucius. I wanted to have something that would not be completely foreign. Don’t see more meaning in it than there is, Granger.”

Finally letting go of his hand Hermione stepped a bit closer and said, “I no longer believe in serendipity. But you have to at least acknowledge the irony in the meaning.”

Shaking his head slightly, Draco responded with a grin, “I’ll give you that.”

Simply drinking in each other’s presence, the silence was companionable. Hermione and Draco eventually restarted the conversation. Unfortunately, they both attempted it at the same time.

“How have you been?--”

“What brings you to London?--”

Both stopping with a smile, Draco motioned for Hermione to continue. I guI guess the involved question is what’ve you done with yourself?” asked Hermione.

“I’m about to be offered a junior partnership at the law firm w I w I work. I’m nominally celebrating that tonight. But as no one else knows yet, my cover is simply engaging in the traditional ritual of ending the week here with Jim,” offered Draco.

At Hermione’s bemused expression, Draco clarified, “I’m here with some of my co-workers, being subjected to the tortures of karaoke. In reality, I have been blackmailed into actually participating in this circus. By the way, you wouldn’t be able to hum a few bars of All You Need is Love, would you?”

Hermione acknowledged that the grown man in front of her resembled little the snotty boy of her school years. The only reminder was the self-depreciating wit.

“I can hum the tune but I am sure you’ll be sorry.” responded Hermione.

“Please, go on. I’m the only person here who doesn’t know the tune and my turn is coming up,” Draco related nervously.

Realizing that Draco indeed needed a helping hand in the song identification department, and he must certainly be desperate if he was asking her, she stepped closer and began to hum.

As Hermione moved closed, Draco caught the scent of her shampoo, an interesting cinnamon and vanilla combination. Hermione, on the other hand, could tell on her inhalations that Draco’s soap was sandalwood.

After a few bars Draco recognized the tune and joined Hermione in the humming. Their duet was halted by the Karaoke DJ announcing the first contestant was none other than “Luke Mallory.”

“Can you stay?” asked Draco.

Hermione nodded.

Draco winked at Hermione as he began to make his way to the stage area. After a brief discussion with the DJ, Draco took the proffered microphone, and closed his eyes.

“Praying won’t do you any good, Luke!” yelled Ned from the Bixby, Dudley & Carrington crowd.

Slowly, with a deep breath, Draco opened his eyes; locking his gaze with Hermione’s and made a slight nod at the DJ. As the cheesy background music began Draco took another deep breath and began to sing:

Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.
There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
Nothing you can say, but you can learn
How to play the game -
It's easy.
Nothing you can make that can't be made.
No one you can save that can't be saved.
Nothing you can do, but you can learn
How to be you in time -
It's easy.
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.
Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.
All you need is love, all nee need is love,
All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.
There's nothing you can know that isn't known.
Nothing you can see that isn't shown.
There's nowhere you can be that isn't where
You're meant to be -
It's easy.
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.
All you need is love. (All together now).
All you need is love. (Everybody).
All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.
Love is all you need.
Love is all you need...
(Oh yeah)
(She love you, yeah, yeah, yeah)
(She love you, yeah, yeah, yeah)
(Oh, yesterday)

By the end of the song, Draco’s cohorts were singing the responses and the bar was in an uproar. Draco had perfect pitch.

“That’s where the Prince of Slytherin has been hiding,” Hermione thought with a smirk.

His co-workers surrounded Draco as he exited the stage. He graciously accepted his accolades, tactfully not pointing out that blackmail was how he was forced into singing in the first place. He caught Hermione’s eye and motioned her over.

Looking around to see her interns grinning wildly at her and gesturing that they were leaving, Hermione wove a path through the pub to Draco. The sight in front of her gave her pause. She had never seen anything like it, at least in conjunction with Draco. While Hermione could clearly see he was smirking, the only way to describe it was as a wholesome smirk. It held none of the anger and resentment that his expressions in school had held. Perched on the barstool, his white blond hair was quite visible from across the pub. The good-natured teasing he seemed to be enduring was coming from contemporaries that clearly d and and respected him. It was a very different from the crowd of Slytherins that used to surround him.

As Hermione stepped next to Draco, the crowd of co-workers parted and allowed her to stand next to him. Narra and Daphne noticed first that Hermione didn’t seem in any hurry to speak to *Luke*. Ned on the other hand noticed also. Assuming Hermione was an admirer, Ned belted out “Oy Luke, you’ve got yourself a fan girl!”

Draco stared at the clearly weaving form of Ned. Most of the other Bixby, Dudley & Carrington crowd stared silently at Hermione first and then Draco. They could never remember seeing *Luke* with a date from outside their office. It was well know that he was almost the perfect date, but all any woman got was one date. No more. Never anything serious. They all assumed that *Luke* was too focused on his career, which they all recognized as being akin to a shooting star at the firm.

Draco cleared his throat and announced, “This is Hermione, I went to school with her”.

Multiple and identical sets of eyes shifted to Hermione. Quick assents nts were made on the part of the females in the crowd. A different type of assessment was made by the male members. Almost as one the eyes returned to Draco with a matching question in each set, who is this woman?

Sensing that he had opened a can of worms and that he had not prepared Hermione for the interrogation his co-workers were preparing for, he quickly interjected, “I haven’t seen Hermione since university. I know you’ll understand when I say I’ve got to be going.”

Disappointment is shown in every one of their expressions, Hermione sensing a unique opportunity to frighten Draco.

“Oh that’s okay Mal-lory,” she said breezily. “We have loads of time to catch up now that I’m living in London. You should at least introduce me to your friends,” she finished with a falsely innocent smile.

Draco, understanding entirely the set-up that was occurring but not seeing an inconspicuous way out of further interaction, acquiesced. “Hermione, these are my co-workers form the firm I work at, Bixby, Dudley & Carrington. Here’s Narra, Daphne and Colleen, all brilliant litigators. And here’s Gregory, Saul and Ned; they’re all in school right now. Over there are Tom, Rupert and Dan; they have enough sense to ignore this whole circus,” Draco finished with a wave at the three men sitting a few tables away.

Hermione smiled at each person in turn and waved at the men sitting apart. “I’m so glad to meet up with *Luke* again, it has been ever so long since I saw him last and that was under such dodgy circumstances,” she said with a wink.

“What, upstanding Luke was involved with something shifty?” cried Ned.

Draco, giving Hermione a silent warning about continuing said, “No of course not. All Hermione is talking about is graduation and its aftermath. You know how freely the cider can flow; quite the life threatening situation.”

Hermione, remembering their last meeting and the tense exchanges that took place that night decided to drop the teasing. In fact, she desperately hoped that Draco would recommence their goodbyes so they could leave. Suddenly it was paramount that she get out of this artificial atmosphere and talk to *Draco* not *Luke*.

Draco, sensing that something had shifted in Hermione, took her elbow gently and with an unyielding voice announced, “I’ll see you on Monday.”


“Draco’s still a powerful force to be reckoned with,” Hermione thought as she was efficiently bundled into her coat and steered towards the back door of the Pub. Surprisingly, Draco turned and waved briefly to Jim before exiting.

The alley was narrow and damp from the melting snow. Draco turned abruptly to Hermione and said simply, “yours or mine?”

Not even pretending to misunderstand his questions, she replied, “Yours.”

Stepping close and putting his arm around her shoulders, Draco apparated them to his flat. Stepping away quickly, nominally to turn on a light and start a fire in his grate, Draco economically moved around his home taking off his coat and placing it on the coat tree in the hall. Turning to Hermione, he held out his arm for her coat. She wordlessly gave it to him and turned to survey his lounge room. There was what looked suspiciously like a futon in front of the fire, along with the requisite tabltables, floor lamps, and telly. Hermione was most drawn to the entire wall of books that faced the hallway that led to the other rooms of the flat, presumably. There were of course law books but a surprising numbers of history, political science and music texts as well. Hermione unconsciously walked to the shelves and ran her hand along the spines, tilting her head to read the titles.

“You haven’t changed at all have you,” Draco said with a smile.

Turning her head to grin at him but catching in her periphery a photo on the mantle she started, “Just because I still lo-.” Walking over to more closely examine the ornately framed pictures, Hermione was taken aback seeing a picture of herself and Draco that had clearly been taken in the war room at Hogwarts during the war. It seemed distinctly out of place in the middle of all the still Mugghotohotos. Although there was little movement in the photo, simply Hermione and Draco looking up from papers scattered on the table in from of them and smiling forlornly; it was still shocking to see it. First, Hermione didn’t even remember it being taken. Second, it seemed quite dangerous to have it sitting brazenly on his mantle. The movement, the school cloaks and uniforms, and the cave-like appearance of the background were all suspect.

Turning with the questions clearly in her expression, Hermione faced Draco. Draco, meanwhile, had been busy opening a bottle of wine and procuring glasses for them. He motioned for Hermione to join him on the futon/davenport. Settling in next to him and taking the wine with a nod of thanks, Hermione waited for Draco to explain.

“I don’t bring people here,” he stated simply.

Hermione looked at him quizzically. “What do you mean, you never have anyone over?”

“That’s exactly right.”

“But, how? Why?”

“How is easy, I don’t ask them and it would be exceedingly bad form to come over unannounced,” he replied smoothly. “Why is… because it is too hard. I have to be too careful. Can’t let the muggles see what they’re not supposed to.”

“So you’ve never had anyone here?” queried Hermione.

“No, I see others all day; I don’t need to see them at night too.” Draco responded with a smirk.

Hermione considered this. She found it elementally depressing and sad. Deciding to change the conversations direction she asked, “Where’s this come from?” motioning with her chin at the photo of them both.

“Oh that, Creevy took it the night before The Last,” he replied, his voice softening.

Hermione raised her eyebrows at that. “I don’t remember him taking it at all.”

“I’m not surprised, you never looked up from the plans. Colin gave it to me later that night and I never got a chance to show it to you. Things got rather busy as you remember.”

Temporarily transported to the battle, feeling the intensity and chaos, Hermione shook herself before returning her gaze to Draco.

“Yes,” she said quietly, “It all spiraled rather fast after that.”

Both nervously became enthralled with their wine glasses. Draco was the first to break the tension. Slowly, his gaze traveled up her torso. He grinned at the emerald green Harpies sweater.

“I never got a chance to thank you properly. You didn’t have to agree. I still don’t know you you did really.” He mused sincerely.

Hermione met his eyes over the rim of her goblet. “You needed me to do it. You had worked really hard, had been an integral part in the triumph of the light, but even I could see that there was no way you’d get a fair share from the ministry. They’d thought you incapable of making a decision different from your family. They were filled with a lust for vengeance. You could have stripped naked to prove you had no Dark Mark but it wouldn’t have been enough.”

Even though Draco was shaken by the resounding honesty of Hermione’s reply, he smiled at her last comment. “I’d have rather been Avada-ed than strip in front of the likes of Arthur Weasley and Mad Eye Moody.” He said with a snort.

“Well you know what I mean, so that’s why I said yes when you asked me,” responded Hermione.

“Well, thank you.” Draco said quietly.

They both stared at the dancing fire. Each lost in their memories of the past. Slowly, Hermione turned to Draco and whispered, “Will you ever come back?”

“Has anything changed?” Draco said bitterly.

Hermione considered her reply carefully before answering. “Yes, but not as much as I’d like. Most people have realized that at the end of the Second Reign, emotions ruled instead of using due process. But there are still those who blame anyone seen as having any connection to Voldemort for everything, not recognizing that sometimes, bad things happen but there is no personal reason for it. They just can’t get past their anger. They need to grow up. They need to realize that they can’t control everything and don’t have the right too. ”

Draco simply looked at Hermione. Her voice had gotten steadily louder and her face was flushed. “Uhm, Hermione, what was that about?”

Chagrined, Hermione hung her head. “I’m sorry Draco. Only the first part of that was an answer to you question. The rest was simply a rant.”

“Well pony up, what was that all about?” questioned Draco.

“Well, one of the people who haven’t grown up is Ron. I feel like there is this big ball of anger inside of him and it makes him miserable. Unfortunately, everyone around him gets swept up in it too. If you don’t agree, watch out. Honestly!” Hermione replied.

“Beware of the Dark side, Luke,” intoned Draco.

Hermione simply stared. “Did Draco Malfoy just quote Star Wars to me?” She wondered.

Draco could read her expression like one of her precious books. He chuckled and motioned to his large screen television in the corner. “What do you think I do with that? It’s not just decoration you know.”

“Oh, come on! From mister pureblood I hear quotes from pop culture and I’m not supposed to react?” countered Hermione.

“I guess it is a radical ce foe for you to see me this way,” said Draco.

Hermione said nothing. Draco’s last comment had thrown her back in her memory to her last meeting with Draco. The battlefield was teeming with fog from the rising sun. Bodies lay everywhere, many in black cloaks and masks but others not. Draco was leaning negligently against a tree, or so Hermione thought. As she approached, she could see the blood along his hairline and the shudders coursing through his body, most likely a result from repeated cruciatus curses. Hermione had gently helped Draco to sit at the base of the tree. She had mended his cuts and abrasions. She had also done the medi-spell to relieve the worst of the after effects of the cruciatus. While she looked after Draco until he was stronger, she muttered under her breathe about death eaters.

“Don’t be so quick to assume all of this came from them,” Draco had said.

“Wh- What do you mean?” replied Hermione.

“Exactly what I said Granger; I received a couple of gifts from those beings of light who thought guilt by association was enough to justify a few crucios when the confusion would hide their attack,” declared Draco angrily.

“Who did this to you? Don’t they understand what you did? What you risked?” exclaimed Hermione.

“Apparently it does not matter to them. I’ll never be anything other than a Jr. Death Eater to some,” Draco responded woodenly.

Returning to the present, Hermione explained to Draco, “I knew that you were leaving then. I could see in your eyes the disappointment, that your change was going unacknowledged. I was only surprised that you would ask me to be your secret keeper.”

“I always respected your honesty and integrity, Hermione. You were a natural choice,” murmured Draco.

“Meaning I was at the top of your short list,” chuckled Hermione.

“Well there was that…” smiled Draco.

Draco broke the companionable silence by abruptly saying, “Ron was one of them, you should know.”

Hermione slowly met his gaze, “I know. He told me during the last argument we’d had. I was furious. I almost hexed him myself. Harry had to stop me. I should’ve seen what he was capable. He is such an arsehole. I’m so sorry.”

Draco reached across, tipped Hermione’s face up, and saw the tears filling her eyes. Quickly Hermione stood up and walked to the fire, staring down into the depths. Draco could tell the emotions were swirling inside of her. He just wasn’t sure what he should do.

“I am so angry! I am glad Harry took Ron to France. Good riddance! It’s his ilk that ran you out of the wizarding world, that has you living under this blasted charm, that keeps you here alone with no friends.” Hermione’s pacing in front of the grate and the vehemence of her sentiments stunned Draco. Before he could react, Hermione tossed back her wine and held out the glass, “May I have some more?”

Nodding, Draco took the glass and walked to where he had left the bottle. As he turned around, he spotted Hermione gazing out the glass on his balcony doors. “Would you like to step out? I remember how you enjoyed going to the Astronomy Tower when you were upset during the siege.”

Not really waiting for a reply, Draco threw open the double doors and walked out on to his balcony. Hermione noticed they were about five stories up, one of the taller buildings in the area. Hermione turned her gaze to the night sky. Although the stars were much less visible in the city sky, she could still see her favorite constellations.

Draco came up behind her, standing close to her back and looking up with his face beside hers.

Pointing over her shoulder, Draco simply said, “Andromeda.”

Hermione pointed and commented, “Pegasus.”

Draco moved his arm and stated, “Arcturus.”

Hermione searched but was unsuccessful in her search, “Where’s Cassiopeia?”

“That’s north, so that building is in the way,” rejoined Draco, turning slightly and in the process, rubbing against Hermione from shoulder to thigh.

Hermione dropped her wine glass. She felt as if somehow she had stepped on a live wire. The combination of Draco’s warm breath tickling her face and neck, combined with the friction of his body movement as he turned, shot aware dow down her spine. Flushing hotly she stammered, “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry.”

Staring at Hermione, Draco seemed to be having trouble breathing. Not caring in the slightest about the broken wine glass, he carelessly waved his hand and muttered “Reparo.” But that was not what held his attention. He felt that if he looked hard enough, he would be able to see electricity arching between himself and Hermione. That perhaps there were magnets embedded in their bodies, drawing them closer. He certainly felt the pull.

Hermione, for her part, felt like something snapped into place. Like a part of a puzzle she hadn’t realized she was looking for, the piece was suddenly found and fit in to the last space in the picture. She realized she missed Draco intensely. That since he had gone, no one had challenged her. No one excited her. No one left her breathless. All the feelings that she had always associated with the war and battles; all the anxiety and worry she expended over the fighting was about his safety and well-being. She understood the double-edged sword of being his secret – keeper; the fact that she took pride in service but she acknowledged her mourning, his absence in her life. It all made sense now.

Slowly Hermione raised her gaze to Draco’s eyes. He didn’t look well; he looked like he had eaten a bad meal. She could see the tiny beads of sweat dotting his hairline; his chest rising and falling as he breathed deeply. But, his eyes were the most disturbing. Even though it was dark on the balcony, Draco’s eyes seemed dilated to the point of his grey irises disappearing entirely. Carefully, as if not to frighten a feral cat, Hermione gently brushed her thumb over his cheek. He radiated heat and she could smell his sandalwood soap even through the city exhaust and trash odors. Taking a tentative step closer, Hermione could feel his warmth enveloping her; starting with her breasts and torso but invading her entire body. The chill she had originally felt on the balcony was no longer there. It was as if she was standing in front of a roaring bonfire, enraptured by the fire’s hypnotic beauty.

Draco felt the feather light caress of Hermione’s thumb and he felt like he was home. The loneliness, isolation and the separation he usually felt was gone, replaced by a solemn calm. Hermione’s uncertain expression pulled at his heart, with an emotion that he had called a fallacy and an organ that he’d denied having just hours ago. Draco moved towards Hermione with an assurance he didn’t necessarily feel. Stepping so that his body was flush with Hermione’s, he firmly took hold of her face. Not hesitating a moment, more from not wanting to second-guess his actions than bravery, Draco lowered his lips to Hermione’s. The momentary gentle pressure increased to a firm insistence that Hermione joined him in. Resolutely, Hermione slid her arms up to twine around his neck as she met his ferocious kiss with a mirrored intensity of her own.

As Draco opened his lips, Hermione took advantage of the movement by licking his lips before thrusting her tongue into the silky hot recesses of his mouth. He tasted of the recent wine they had shared, as well as the past cider from the pub. Gently sucking on his tongue as she caressed it with her own, Hermione simultaneously increased the pressure of her arms to draw him as close as humanly possible to her chest. Draco, never one to lag behind, moved his hands down to her derrière and pulled her pelvis roughly against his own. Working in tandem, unbeknownst to each other, Hermione was concentrating on the upper half of their bodies and Draco on the lower. Although neither of them could really tell where one left off and the other began, both felt that it was not enough.

Draco, seeing as it was his flat, set Hermione down while simultaneously grabbing her wrist to guide them both back inside. Closing the balcony doors behind them, Draco determinedly turned towards his bedroom, which was located on the other side of the fireplace. Opening the glass doors to the fireplace with a muttered “Alohomora” and a wave of his hand; the flames bathed the chamber in their warm orange glow.

Hermione grinned. “Showing off wandless magic are we?” she teased.

“Your wand, never leave home without it,” he replied guiding her gaze to the tasteful Hematite ring on his pinky. Realizing he had transfigured his beautiful Ziricote wand into a ring so that it would always be with him, Hermione stopped to examine the transfiguration work.

“Leave it to you, Granger, to stop in the middle of making love to inspect my ring,” Draco groused with a grin

“But Draco, I am ly ely examining your wand,” purred Hermione.

Draco barked out his laughter. Shoulders still shaking, he securely held on to Hermione’s chin, tilting her head up once again. “You may do that anytime, my dear,” he drawled.

Hermione, wanting to continue what was started on the balcony, backed up and sat on Draco’s bed. Seated on the mattress and leaning back onto her arms, Hermione kept her eyes trained on Draco. Mimicking the raised eyebrow she had seen on his visage many times, Hermione kicked off her shoes and smirked. Wanting to show her everything that his wand could do, Draco pounced on the bed and began assisting Hermione with her disrobing.

“Not that I don’t love seeing you in Slytherin colors, but I would much prefer skin color right now.” Draco whispered into Hermione’s neck as he grasped the bottom of her green Holyhead Harpies sweater to pull it over her head.

With much kissing and not a small amount of fumbling and snickers, Draco and Hermione were lying on the coverlet of his beautiful sleigh bed. The ginger blush of the fire cast a burnished patina over the room and their naked bodies. Draco looked tenderly into Hermione’s eye and whispered, “I’ve missed you, so very much.”

Hermione responded, “Not nearly as much as I’ve missed you. But did you know, during the war? Did you realize?”

“Of course not, silly. And I gather you just realized it too?” said Draco with a smile.

“Better late than never,” retorted Hermione.

Draco’s agreement was in his eyes as he leaned across the space between them. Hermione met him halfway and once again their tongues began fencing. While feasting on each other’s mouths, the space between their bodies disappeared. Draco caressed Hermione’s skin, starting at her neck and traveling down her side to end at her hip, only to immediately start the return journey. Her skin echoed the cinnamon and vanilla scent of her hair and his desire was tempered with the visceral sense of , co, cookies and safety. For Draco, it was incredibly erotic.

Hermione’s hands weren’t idle. She began by smoothing her hands gently over Draco’s chest, graduating to tickling his nipples with his fingernails. His moans were muffled by her hair and neck, where his mouth and tongue currently tasted her skin. Deciding to increase the intensity, Draco gently bit the tender skin at the junction of Hermione’s shoulder and throat. Quickly soothing the huith ith an ardent kiss, o wao was intent on mapping Hermione’s neck.

The sensation of Draco’s light nips and moist kisses was building the excitement in Hermione’s body. Her pulse and breathing quickened as Draco continued his lavish attention. Hermione felt like she was on fire and wanted Draco to burn with her. Using her nails to lightly scrape up and down his back, then migrating her hands to the front of his torso, she played with his chest more, increasing the teasing to pinching and twisting his nipples. Draco’s answering groan told her that he was enjoying the receiving, as much as she was enjoying the giving.

Wanting to taste more of Draco, Hermione began using her tongue to trace designs on his shoulders. Moving slowly towards his chest, with his areola as her destination, she created a labyrinth on his skin. Having finally reached her goal she mercilessly used her mouth to arouse Draco. Biting, sucking and licking first one then the other nipple, he felt that he would soon burst.

Draco could not believe that his arousal was so immense, considering Hermione had not gotten near his cock. Fearing that he would come to soon, Draco pried Hermione off of his chest with a slurping pop. Rolling more on top of Hermione, Draco began a similar journey down Hermione’s torso. Stopping to pay homage to her full breasts, Draco repeated the actions that he had recently been the recipient of. Although Hermione moaned and arched to provide him better access, Draco would not be dissuaded from his ultimate objective. Continuing his downward direction Draco was soon nuzzling Hermione’s trimmed thatch of hair. Inhaling the musky scent that was uniquely Hermione, Draco gently spread her thighs and began laying kisses all around her mound. Tenderly, Draco spread her lips and began to lick her. The rough texture of his tongue and his exhalations drifting across her heated skin was drugging.

Hermione realized that as enjoyable as the sensations that Draco provided were, she wanted more. Trying not to disturb Draco and his ministrations, Hermione began to shuffle her head and upper torso towards Draco’s pelvis. When Hermione reached the outside of Draco’s leg and began to lick his thigh, Draco understood her movement. Using his knees to raise up, Hermione slid herself into the position she needed. Inhaling the sandalwood soap and musk scent, Hermione began licking Dra bal balls. The shock of the sensation of Hermione’s captivation pulled a deep groan from Draco’s chest. Draco increased his ferocity in lapping up Hermione’s essence. He smoothly inserted a finger into Hermione’ slit while he began to suck gently on her clit. The moan from Hermione was the twin of Draco’s earlier exclamation.

Hermione knew that she could not withstand much more of Draco’s insistent affection and she had one last desire she wanted to fulfill. Moving her f fro from his balls to his cock, she took a cursory swipe with her tongue and then simply swallowed him. Draco’s cry reverberated through her, adding to the already overpowering sensations of suction and fullness. Hermione used her tongue to slide up and down on Draco’s shaft and then used her whole mouth to consume him. She could feel the tension in her jaw, and as she deliberately slackened her muscles, the head of his cock began to slide down her throat. Relaxing further, Hermione buried her nose in Draco’s perineum, his hair ticklher her chin.

Draco needed Hermione to come immediately. He added a third finger to the two already sliding briskly in and out of her wet sheath. He also added teeth scrapes to the friction of his tongue on her clit. Alternating the sucking and scraping movement, Draco felt Hermione’s orgasm overtake her. Unbelievably, his cock slides further down her throat and he could feel the swallowing-like spasms she made. The milking action almost put him over the edge. Only through supreme determination did he not shoot the copious amounts of cum boiling up his balls down her throat. He felt like he was encased in hot, wet velvet, and although he dreaded to leave, he knew what he wanted… to be buried in her pussy when he came.

Giving one last tender kiss to her lower lips, Draco removed his cock from her mouth and repositioned himself to enter her. Bringing her knees up to his shoulders, Draco slowly burhimshimself in Hermione. It was like coming home. He wanted to dwell inside her forever. Moving slowly at first but building quickly to a frantic pace, Draco slammed into Hermione. Hermione responded by rotating her hips to answer his thrusts. Their moans were a tantric chant that sustained them.

Finally, Hermione burst again; colors, sounds and sensation exploding within her. Draco followed, his own orgasm sweeping over him like a tidal wave. It seemed like he would never stop coming, that he would never empty.

Collapsing to the side but bringing Hermione with him, Draco withdrew from her body while snuggling closer. Their sweat-covered bodies began to cool in the evening air and Draco levitated a blanket over them. Nuzzling Hermione’s hair as he feathered soft kisses on her cheek, he inhaled deeply.

“Please don’t leave,” Draco whispered.

“I never want to,” replied Hermione, “but are you ready to remove the Fidelius? I can’t and won’t leave my life.”

Dread crossed Draco’s face. Removing the charm meant that he could no longer avoid the circus that was sure to occur with his re-emergence in Wizarding society. “But, he realized, “I won’t be alone.”

“I know that you’re worried,” Hermione started hesitantly, “but I’m not asking for anything but the removal of the charm. You don’t have to come back and do anything you don’t want to. If people look, they’ll find you but it’s not like we’re taking an advertisement out in the Prophet.”

“I really do like my life as it is now, do you think we can straddle both worlds?” queried Draco.

“Silly, I have done it my entire life. I am sure you can too. We must just be sure about the parameters, but we control them. Whatever you want I am sure we can work out,” said Hermione dozily. “But can we sleep now? I am done for.”

“Certainly, love.” Draco answered as he kissed her lips lightly. “The future is ours.”

ioneione rolled onto her side and Draco spooned her back closely. Although Draco was nervous about ending the charm that had protected him for seven long years, he felt completely at peace with the woman in his arms. He knew that whatever arose, they would face it together and that was his hearts desire.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Draco,” murmured Hermione softly.

“Happy Valentine’s Night, Hermione,” whispered Draco.

And then the only sound was their quiet breathing and the crackle of the fire.

~*~* FINIS*~*~

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