A/N: Hello again and thank you ALL for the wonderful reviews and favoriting the story!! It definitely makes my day and motivates me to write the next chapter faster! I hope you all enjoy this and appreciate the quicker update! :) :) :) Happy Reading!
Draco Malfoy never experienced loss until now. Even during the war, his parents were constantly by his side—albeit quite coldly. He witnessed grief, only from a distance. He remembers lurking the decimated corridors of Hogwarts, past the Great Hall, and hearing the devastated cries. From afar, he remembers observing the Weasley family, hunched over the still body, which later he learned was Fred. That was when he truly felt like the enemy, capitalizing on their loss. Pulling himself into the present, he observed the scene before him. Only one emotion coursed through his body—nothing. He was callous. Fixating his gaze on the leg of the ivory chair he sat on earlier, he barely registered a faint, gentle voice.
“Draco,” Hermione murmured as she placed a hand on his back.
Oddly enough, despite the fact that Draco remembered this event regarding the Weasley family, he doesn’t remember when his grief burst through his chest—making him realize that he had emotions. Maybe it was when he stepped through the heavy oak doors, seeing his mother hunched over her dead husband—shoulders gently shaking. Maybe it was when he saw tears running down Hermione’s face with her hand covering her mouth; crying, for someone who’s given her nothing but pain. Or maybe it was when Draco realized that he didn’t even get to utter a sentence, a sentence of apologies, hatred, or gratefulness to his father. Maybe it was when he realized that even the nameless Healer looked remorseful. Everyone was grieving—except him. At that very moment, Draco roughly shook Hermione’s arm off and stalked out of the room.
“Hermione, dear,” said Narcissa while gently dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief, “Could you get Draco? There are some papers to be signed; he’s most likely on the balcony.”
Wiping the tears off with the back of her hand, Hermione nodded and slipped through the door. She couldn’t imagine how Draco was feeling right now. It was just this evening when they visited the same room. Yes—they knew this was coming but not this soon. Draco wasn’t ready for his life to be turned upside down. Just a couple hours ago, they were together finding comfort and thought, another day we will deal with this, but not tonight. Now, she didn’t know what to expect. Taking in a deep breath, she gently slapped her cheeks and opened the French doors. The crisp morning air brushed past her face, and she saw him. There he was, leaning against the cool, iron railing with his head hung between his sagged shoulders.
Rubbing her arms for warmth, Hermione tentatively stepped forward and said barely above a whisper, “Your mother a-asked me to find you.” Not hearing a response or seeing any movement, she continued stepping towards him, “Something about signing some papers, Draco.” She reached out, “Look, I’m sorry Draco; I really am—but,”
Cutting her off, Draco grabbed her hand and clasped it firmly. With his hand easily wrapping around hers, he brought it on top of the railing and placed it there. When Hermione’s palm rested on the cold surface, she shivered and winced at Draco’s determined grip. When she finally realized that Draco wasn’t going to let go any time soon, she gave up trying to wiggle her fingers out of the grip. Instead, she wrapped her left arm around his torso and leaned her head against his back—trying to embrace him as he did earlier in the evening. Feeling his stiff body against hers, she knew that words were not enough. So Hermione closed her eyes and stayed there to give him warmth—comfort.
Time passed as the birds began to chirp and hints of sunlight began to illuminate the garden; Draco finally released his firm hold on her hand. Slowly, he turned around, not looking her in the eye and said flatly, “I need to sign the papers.”
After signing the Healer’s papers—simply stating that yes, this is my father, Lucius Malfoy—he asked Hermione to go home despite her protests. Refusing any meals from the house elves, he eventually found himself in his father’s office. The one he was never allowed to enter—until today.
“Death by overexposure to Dark Magic, isn’t that too ironic?” Draco spat into the empty space around him. He slumped in the leather chair and stared at the contents on top of the fine polished mahogany desk. There were parchments, a neat assortment of fine quality quills, and a leather-bound book used to keep logs of business transactions. However, something small and rectangular caught his eye. It was a little silver frame, tucked behind pile of parchment, no bigger than the size of his palm. Draco was shocked to see that it was a moving picture of him when he was five—maybe six. There he was, flying on his first broom with his mother looking pleased and smiling at him. His father was standing a few feet away from them, looking dissatisfied as usual. Bringing the frame closer, Draco saw something that couldn’t have been. He blinked and watched the picture again. There was his father, first looking like he was watching something distasteful and there it was. At the very last moment, a smile flickered across his face and went away as quickly as it came. Anybody else would call it more of a grimace, but Draco knew his father—that was a smile.
And this was the moment when Draco Malfoy experienced anger. Quickly scribbling a note for his mother, he roughly placed the frame on top of the parchment and apparated away with a deafening crack.
As soon as his feet hit the carpet, he hurled the first thing he could reach against the wall.
“Malfoy!” Hermione shrieked from kitchen holding a plate of pancakes, “What do you think you’re doing!”
Staggering back, Draco looked at his surroundings and realized that he wasn’t in his flat. No, he was in Hermione’s. Not knowing what to do, Draco yanked at his hair and stormed out. When he slammed the door to his flat, he slumped against the wall—appalled that the first place in his mind was Hermione’s flat and frustrated with everything.
“Open up!” Hermione yelled while banging on the door, trying to push open the door. “Come on, Draco!”
He shot up to his feet and threw open the door. “What!” He bellowed at Hermione.
Unfazed, she pushed past him and said authoritatively with a glare, “Don’t tell me what. Stop being such a prat and talk to me, Draco. You’re not saying anything, all you told me was that I should go home!” Realizing that Draco’s face was set in stone, void of all emotion, she asked in a desperate plea, “What do you want me to do?”
“Just leave, Granger.”
Hermione crossed her arms across her chest. “I’m not going anywhere—not until you-you just talk to me.”
Throwing his hands up in the air, Draco roared in disbelief, “Dammit, you’re so fucking stubborn! Do you not get it? I just want to be alone. I thought you were smart, Granger. Just leave. Me. Alone.”
Her mouth dropped open. Determined to evoke more emotion from Draco, not caring if the anger was directed towards her, Hermione charged towards him. Shoving him as hard as she could with her hands, she provoked, “I’m bloody brilliant, and I know that it’s bad to keep all your emotions boiling inside!”
“You fight like a bloody pygmy puff!” Draco yelled back as he looked down at her, now hitting him with little fists making him barely budge. “You’re one to talk because you do the SAME thing, keeping it all inside. And you don’t understand; you’ll just think I’m a fucking monster!”
“You don’t think I’ll understand?” Hermione shrieked at Draco, “You don’t think I bloody understand? You’ve known me for long enough, and you don’t think I won’t understand?”
Draco jumped back from Hermione, fury coursing through his body. “Fine. I’ll tell you what’s wrong,” he said in a dangerously low voice. “My father just died, and I can’t shed a damn tear. I’m not grieving like everybody else.”
Face slightly flushed, Hermione was taking shallow breaths. Slowly stepping towards him again, she replied, “Everyone deals with loss differently. Some cry, some immerse themselves into something new, and some, well, some get angry.”
Somehow, her smooth, calm voice slowed down his heartbeat and relaxed him—just enough, to talk in a somewhat normal voice. “I…I know, but-“
Blaise and Luna burst through the door, looking a bit flushed. Blaise, glancing back and forth between Hermione and Draco asked, “Is everything okay? We heard you guys going at it and came as soon as we could!”
“I think it’s alright now, Blaise,” Luna chimed from the doorway.
Draco and Hermione gaped at Blaise who was now standing right between them. Not sure if they were supposed to tell Blaise the news or his current state of dress, Hermione was the first to gather her thoughts. “Blaise? Um, why… I mean, where are your pants?”
His eyes widened when he saw that he was only in his emerald green boxers adorned with little brown brooms. “I-I…don’t know?”
Luna explained with a giggle, “Blaise was a bit preoccupied and just grabbed the first thing he saw.”
Draco pinched the bridge of his nose—as if he didn’t have enough predicaments already. “Let me get this straight—Blaise. You’ve been in Luna’s room, preoccupied…naked.”
Hermione gasped. “So THAT’S what you guys have been doing. Now that I think about it…you two were out a lot.” Hermione put a hand on her hip and scolded, “Luna, you’ve known him for like, the weekend!”
Shrugging, Luna said, “Well, that’s certainly much longer than my other indulgences. Besides, when Blaise does this thing where he wraps my legs around his waist, grabs-“
“Merlin, we get it Luna!” Glaring at Blaise, Draco demanded, “Get out.”
Before Blaise could say anything in protest, Luna grabbed his arm, “Best not to bother Draco when he’s upset. We’ll be at the Quibbler if you guys need anything.” Mouthing sorry to Hermione, the whimsical pair left the room.
“Well, that was certainly unexpected,” Hermione remarked. Holding his gaze, she couldn’t help but smile a little. Holding out her hand, she cocked her head towards the door, “Let’s eat some breakfast. I was cooking up a feast before you came and…you know.”
Then Draco remembered that today was not a light-hearted affair. Although he was glad that Blaise and Luna came in. Or else, he didn’t know what could’ve happened. After all, he and Hermione were tired—physically and emotionally. What surprised him most was her outburst, not his. He never knew that she approached problems physically. Truthfully, her punches and shoves weren’t painful, but it showed him how frustrated she was with him. He had drained the magnanimous Hermione Granger’s patience thin. No matter what happened to him today, he felt like he owed her something. So letting out a sigh and trying his best to smile, Draco took her hand and let her lead him to her flat.
Placing a stack of pancakes on the table, Hermione asked, “Orange juice or coffee?”
“Coffee. Definitely coffee, but with-“
“Lots of sugar and cream, I know. Don’t worry, you don’t like drinking bitter drinks—hard liquor or coffee. Your secret’s safe with me.” With a chuckle she added, “What would everybody think, the bad boy Draco Malfoy can’t handle strong drinks.”
Reluctantly he nodded along. “Granger, did you know that you look like hell?”
Sitting down, she frowned. “That makes the two of us then, just trying to lighten the mood a bit.”
Silence engulfed the pair as they both sat, unmoving, just listening to the hum of the refrigerator. Listening to Hermione’s breaths, Draco wasn’t sure of which topic to bring up first. He could apologize for his outburst, thank her for the food, or thank her for staying with him last night. As he was deciding which would be best, Hermione broke the silence.
“You should really eat something—Draco.”
Staring at his coffee, he replied, “Calling me by my first name isn’t going to make me eat—although I do like it.”
Hermione motioned towards the food, “I didn’t lose sleep in order to make this just so you wouldn’t eat it. Besides,” she said pouring syrup on hers, “we both need the energy.”
With a huff, he cut a little piece of his pancakes and shoved it in his mouth. Deciding to tread through safe topics, met eyes with Hermione and realized how tired she looked. “So, Blaise and Luna… to be honest, it’s not that surprising.”
She shrugged, “I guess so, Luna does like to indulge, and I assume that Blaise knows what he’s getting into. But I haven’t seen her with one guy for more than one evening, so I guess this is a good change.”
“Yeah, they are similar. But it’s probably best not to expect a budding romantic relationship between them.” Draco saw that Hermione shifted in her seat and kept staring at her fork. While they were on the topic of relationships, Draco took in a deep breath and said, “Hey, thanks for… you know, staying with me last night.”
With a jilt, Hermione focused on Draco and prayed that she wouldn’t blush, “Oh, um, yes, that was good- I mean, it was my pleasure. Wait, no, um… no problem.”
Draco broke out into the first genuine smile in the last twenty four hours, “I enjoyed it as well, Granger.”
Tucking a few strands of hair behind her ears, she tried to suppress her grin. But when she saw his lips curl up in the brightest smile, she couldn’t help the relived laugh that escaped her lips. After this moment of joy, she couldn’t help but feel slightly guilty. She wondered if Draco sought her out just because of his loss or because he simply wanted to. Would this be considered as her taking advantage of him emotionally? More than anything, she wanted to blurt these thoughts out, but given the situation, their progression in their ‘relationship’ could wait—for now.
Draco asked in a concerned voice, “Wait, how come you’re not at work?”
“I sent Kingsley an owl, and since the latest project is finished, there’s no harm in me taking a day off,” she explained. “Besides…um, since he’s the Minister and all, he knows what happened.”
“Right, well, that’s good then,” said Draco while he wiped his hands on his pants. He was a bit bummed that the atmosphere returned to its gloomy state, but there was business to be taken care of. Clearing his throat, he suggested, “You should get some rest; you’ve been up ever since and made breakfast—which was delicious by the way.”
“But you only had a little bite and if you need anything, I can come with-“
Casting a warming charm around his plate, he politely cut her off, “I’ll finish it later, okay? I should get back to Mother, and don’t worry because I won’t fall apart into pieces if you’re not there, Granger.”
Hermione asked with concern, “Are you sure?”
“Positive.” Draco leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. Getting up, he reassured her, “Don’t worry; I’m going to wake you up as soon as I get back, or else, I’d be bored.”
“Alright, you better wake me up, Malfoy.”
With a mock salute, he grinned from the doorway, “I will, I will. Also, I do prefer being called Draco.”
Hermione finally got in bed around noon and held up the bundle of documents Narcissa gave her earlier today. Letting her head relax into her pillow, she brought the papers closer to her face and stared at the first line written in impeccable penmanship: To Miss Hermione Granger. Unable to suppress her curiosity, she turned the page only to have the heavy bundle drop on her face. With a groan, she rubbed her nose and got up from the bed. Rearranging her pillows against the headboard, she leaned back and spread the documents. As she scanned the first document, her mouth dropped.
Magic Infused Muggle Technology
Magical Infused Muggle Technology (MIMT) is a distinct and discreet branch of the Malfoy Corporation which directly infuses magical elements and properties into muggle space exploration technology. It was established in 1958 synonymous with the formation of NASA in the muggle world. The goal of this division is to obtain astronomical substances which may or may not have inherent magical properties. In exchange, the Malfoy Corporation assists muggle scientists in finding solutions in the challenges of the spacecraft launching—specifically in the initial thrust of overcoming gravity. More recent completed projects include…
This was unbelievable. Hermione Granger never in her wildest dreams even thought that magic, let alone from the Malfoy family, was pivotal to space exploration. She quickly flipped through the pages, and it included a list of muggle officials who knew about this association, a summary of financial benefits, and a list of substances found in space that were suspected of having traces of magic. Feeling her head pounding, she dropped the documents and rubbed her temples. This was surprisingly beneficial to both parties. However, this wasn’t Ministry approved, and even Hermione would have trouble coming up with a way to present this to Kingsley. Narcissa’s request kept ringing through her mind. Hermione wasn’t a scientist; the only muggle science she knew was from what she read in books. All of the sudden, the idea of acting as a liaison between wizards and muggles seemed just unfathomable. However, she had to give the Malfoy family some credit—not just anyone could come up with a business merger like that.
Draco opened the door with heavy footsteps and threw himself face down on the couch. He called out with a guttural groan, “Granger?”
Not hearing a response, Draco slowly opened his eyes and scrambled off the couch in disgust at what he saw stuffed between the cracks. Grabbing his wand, he cast a scourgify all over his body and on the couch—twice for good measure. Levitating the neon yellow thong into Luna’s room, he shuddered. Instead, Draco sat on the coffee table and noticed for the first time a little, plain calendar next to the television. He grabbed it and saw that October 31st was circled multiple times.
Digging through his brain, he tried to remember what they were doing. Then he realized that in the little corner of the date, only in writing Hermione could make that miniscule, he made out a sentence: Halloween at my parent’s. You promised, Malfoy, don’t try to weasel your way out of this one. The first thing that came to his mind was how she could possibly manage to write two whole sentences in that little space. Halloween was only a week or so away. With a sigh, he put the calendar back. Deciding that he would confront her about this later, probably tomorrow, he gently pushed open Hermione’s bedroom door.
Draco couldn’t help but let out a soft chuckle at the sight before him because it was so—so Hermione. There she was sleeping deeply in the most uncomfortable position he’d ever seen amidst a bunch of scattered documents on her bed. Carefully untangling her legs and lifting her head upright from her forearm, Draco leaned her against the headboard so he could clean the array of papers. As he was gathering them, he found it ironic that his mother called him and Blaise over just to tell them that she wouldn’t give them any details about the company—not until Hermione had given her answer. Draco rolled his eyes when he recalled how Blaise sputtered and complained how she could trust Hermione and not the two blokes in charge. He put the papers on her nightstand and couldn’t help but glance down to take just a peek at what the documents said. But alas, his mother was always clever with charms; the only thing Draco saw were blank pages. Focusing his attention back on the now snoring girl, he scooped her up and her head lolled against his chest. Resisting the urge to cuddle with her again, he laid her down and left the room.
Hermione wondered, why on Earth Draco was sleeping on her couch—wrapped up in his blankets from his room. She glanced at the clock, and realized that it was eight o’clock at night—unsure if she should wake him up. Draco looked so peaceful, muscles relaxed, almost as if nothing happened over the past couple of days. Hermione couldn’t help but reach out and run her fingers through his impossibly soft hair while brushing it off his forehead. As if some insurmountable force was pulling her towards him, Hermione slowly leaned forward, inching ever closer to his lips. Closing her eyes, she breathed ever so gently before her lips hovered over his, but as she was about to close gap, Draco’s eyes snapped open. Startled by her face so close, Draco abruptly sat up, bumping foreheads with Hermione—hard.
“ Merlin! Granger, were you about t-to…”
Hermione blushed hard, “No, I-I wasn’t…anything.” Cursing under her breath, she ran for her room and slammed the door shut.
Still shocked, Draco shook himself awake and knocked on her door. “Granger?”
Letting out a groan, she yelled, her voice muffled by the bed, “Go away, Malfoy!”
Despite this, Draco opened the door and sat down on the bed next to Hermione. Gently shaking her, he said, “Hey, it’s alright. Come on, look at me.” Draco bit back a chuckle when he saw her, flushed red to her neck, and he thought that this was her most beautiful yet. “I was just startled, Granger. I hope you don’t make habit of trying to snog guys while they’re sleeping.”
“I wasn’t trying to snog you,” Hermione said defensively. Getting up, she tried to explain, “I was… I was just trying to—oh never mind.”
Before she left the room, Draco rose and said clearly, “You make me happy.” There, he finally said it. Walking over to her, he put his hands on her shoulders and looked into her eyes. “You, Hermione Jean Granger, make me happy. I don’t…I don’t know how to say it, but,” Taking in a deep breath, he leaned down until his face was in front of hers and breathed, “I like you.” Draco took one step forward, bringing them flush against each other and gently grazed her lips with his. Not sensing any resistance, he took Hermione’s face in his hands and kissed her—this time, for real. His mind was reeling. Never did he even imagine that her lips would feel this soft, so perfect, and he felt strangely whole. Hearing Hermione let out a soft sigh was the most beautiful sound he ever heard. And in that moment, when her arms slowly wrapped around him was when he realized that this—right here, with the witch who eventually cared for him, accepted him—this was where he belonged and would remember it forever.
Just then a light, airy voice practically sang, “It’s about time you two kissed; wouldn’t you agree Blaise?”
Slinging an arm around Luna’s shoulder, Blaise answered, “Yes—yes, I agree wholeheartedly.”
A/N: I know it's been quite emotionally heavy these past chapters, but I promise brighter times are coming--very soon! Let me know what you guys thought! :)