Monday 13th September 1999

“We can’t do this anymore,” She whispered, her forehead leaning gently against his chest, “This is so, so wrong.”

She waited for his reply, but nothing came, just the steady rise and fall of his breathing.

She looked up hesitantly, almost scared to look at his face and see what he was thinking. His steely grey eyes immediately locked with her own and she felt her heart constrict with an undefined emotion. Panic? Pity? Sadness? Regret? She wasn’t sure, but she felt her determination waiver and she mentally shook herself. This was the right decision, she knew it was.

“Say something.” She pleaded, his eyes having never left her own.

He blinked and turned away, breaking contact with her body and wrenching her heart further.

“What can I say?” He asked, his back to her.

“I don’t know. Anything. Tell me that this thing between us is fine, tell me it’s normal. Tell me this isn’t crazy.” Her breath was catching now and she knew she was seconds away from tears.

“I can’t,” He said tightly, “We both know this can’t go anywhere.”

The tears were falling now, like a dam that had burst its walls. She hastily wiped them with the back of her hand.

“I love you.” She implored like it might make a difference, like it might kid them both that this was all going to work out okay.

He whipped his head around, eyes back on her and burning with such an intensity it was almost painful to keep his gaze.

“Just shut the fuck up, Granger. You haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about.”

“Draco…” She whispered, but he pushed past her without another word.

Hermione watched his retreating back, sliding slowly down the wall behind her. She wrapped her arms tightly around her knees and sobbed hard, hating herself for letting things get this far, yet hating him for walking away.

Draco stared straight ahead, refusing to look back at the girl behind him. His chest hurt, and he wanted to hit something. Most importantly he wanted to get away; as far away as physically possible. He hated that she loved him, but more than that, he hated that he loved her too.


Friday 18th December 2009

Draco rolled his shoulders trying to ease out the tension in his neck. It had been over ten years since he’d set eyes on Hermione Granger and the thought of it was unsettling him more than he cared for. That horrid September day all those years ago was still firmly imprinted on his mind and every time he tried to focus on the mission in hand, he found his thoughts intruded with memories of her; the smell of her apple blossom shampoo, the sound of her laugh, the feel of her body against his.

He needed to pull himself together. This wasn’t about him. Or her. He was here for help, despite how much it was killing him to be here and to ask her for help of all people. But he needed secrecy and he needed trustworthiness and if their earlier fraternisations told him anything it was that she was adept in both these areas.

He glanced at his hands clenched tightly in his lap and willed himself to stop thinking about her in any sort of way that wasn’t professional. It was insane that he was so worked up about seeing her; he was over her. He was completely, irrevocably over her.

He took a steadying breath as the car pulled up to the pavement outside Gudgeon and Smythwicke’s and he unfurled himself from the back seat. The cold wind took his breath away as he stepped out into the gathering snow storm and he pulled the collar of his robes tighter around his neck, signalling to his driver to park the car: this might take a while.


Hermione wrapped her fingers around the steaming mug of coffee in front of her and sighed deeply, glancing out at the darkening sky and the swirling snow. It was quiet in the run up to Christmas. Usually she loathed the lack of work at this time of year, but right at that moment she was glad. She took a sip of the bitter liquid and slowly opened the top drawer of her desk. Perched on top of a pile of stationery was a beautiful diamond ring. Stretching out her hand, she held it gently in her palm for a moment before sliding it onto her wedding finger.

She knew she should be feeling ecstatic right now. She should be yelling from the rooftops with happiness. After all, the man she had been seeing for the past two years had proposed. Why didn’t she feel more though? Why was she hiding her ring away in her desk drawer so that her colleagues wouldn’t find out?

Hermione sighed and sipped her drink again, blowing into the mug so that the steam blew into her face. She started as the phone on her desk rang and put her mug down with a clunk onto its coaster.

“Hermione speaking.”

“Sorry to bother you, Miss Granger, but there’s someone here to see you.”

Hermione frowned. She knew she didn’t have any meetings in her diary this afternoon.

“Tell them to make an appointment, Claire. I’m in the middle of something.”

She was just about to put the phone down, but the young girl quickly interjected, “I’m really sorry, but I already told him that and he said you’d definitely want to see him.”

Well that piqued Hermione’s curiosity.

“Who is it?” She asked.

Almost in a whisper, “It’s Mr Malfoy, Miss Granger, Draco Malfoy.”


The waiting area was as beautiful and glamorous as the rest of the building with muted soft furnishings and expensive décor. Draco was impressed, but not altogether shocked that Hermione had landed herself a job in such a place. She had clearly done well for herself, but anyone who ever met her could have told you that she was going places.

Draco wasn’t surprised that he had to wait to see Hermione. A part of him was surprised that she had agreed to see him at all. If it had been the other way round he wondered if he would have decided to meet with her. Probably not, although wondering why she wanted to meet would have driven him crazy for the rest of his life.

“Mr Malfoy?” He turned his head to the young girl who must have been Hermione’s PA, “Miss Granger will see you now.”

It did not escape Draco’s notice that Hermione was a ‘miss’ still.

He followed the tall blonde down a corridor to a heavy oak door with Hermione’s name plate affixed across it. She knocked sharply.

“Come in.” A voice Draco remembered well. Somewhere behind his navel his stomach jerked uncomfortably with something akin to trepidation.

Hermione’s PA pushed the door open and Draco stepped his way inside the office, the door clicking softly into its frame behind him. Anyone else might have given a cursory glance around the room, taking in their surroundings, but Draco only had eyes for the person standing in front of him. Their eyes locked onto one another’s ferociously and Draco subconsciously clenched his hands to stop them from reaching out to touch her, to check she was real.

She looked different, but similar; her face more angular, her body curvier, fine lines beginning at the edge of her eyes. The changes were subtle, but there. Her eyes though held such a familiar look it almost poleaxed him: that guarded, gentle, curious gaze that she seemed to have always reserved just for him.

She broke the silence first, “Malfoy?” It came out a little too quiet, like she was struggling internally just as much as he was.

“Granger,” He nodded, “It’s been a while.”


Hermione had to keep reminding herself to breathe. Everything felt so surreal. She felt hundreds of questions burning inside her, desperately fighting their way out. He looked different; lighter almost. The last time she had set eyes on him in person had when she was 19 and he had been drowning in the foul after-effects of the war. Despite his family having defected from Voldermort’s service, the Malfoys had still been treated with contempt and disdain in the following years. There had even been calls for them to leave the country at one stage.

Draco had taken everything hard. The year leading up to The Battle of Hogwarts had been a massive strain on him and his family as it was; he had shared that much with her, but never provided details of how. Now though he looked like he was more at peace with the world, and himself. It changed his whole demeanour.

“So…” She said, breaking their eye contact, which had been going on for just a little too long, “What can I do for you?”

Draco eyed her with something she couldn’t quite put her finger on and she felt uneasy; not in a way that made her want to run, no, quite the opposite, “I need your advice.”

“Ok,” Hermione gestured to the chair opposite her own and they both sat down, Hermione secretly grateful for the support given how weak her legs were feeling, “What sort of advice?”

Draco cleared his throat and ran a hand through this cropped, but obviously finessed hair in an agitated fashion, “Look can I cut straight to the chase? I realise that I’m probably one of the last people in the world you want to see given what happened between – umm – us,” He bowed his head awkwardly as if unsure how to handle that particular topic, “But I need your help with a delicate matter and I don’t trust anyone else to do it.”

Hermione blinked, unsure what to say, but nodded for him to carry on.

“It’s been uncovered since my father’s death that there’s a clause in the ownership of Malfoy Manor that means the entire estate could be dissolved and redistributed,” His brow furrowed deeply, and he looked suddenly tired, “I don’t want that.”

There was a moment of silence while Hermione digested the information.

“So you want me to see if this clause is binding, is that why you’re here?”

“No, I know it’s binding. My father has – had – his own lawyer; he was the one who found the clause in the first place.”

“But I’m guessing you’re looking for a way around it, right?”

He smirked that signature smirk that had gotten Hermione into all kinds of trouble, that smirk that she would once upon a time have kissed away, “Correct.”

“Do you have the paperwork with you?”

“Of course.” He pulled it out of his messenger bag and laid it carefully in front of her.

Hermione flicked through it and bit her bottom lip, “This is going to take me a while you know.”

“I know.”

Hermione scanned another page of the document before replying.

“Ok, I’ll see if I can find something.”

“Thank you.”

Hermione blinked and looked up with an air of indifference, “This is going to cost you though, I don’t hand out freebies I’m afraid.”

Draco laughed, “Don’t insult me, I’m not here to cash in on your ‘goodwill’ or anything like that. I know that you’re the best at what you do and I know that you can keep this between us.”

“You don’t know anything about me, Draco,” She huffed, “It’s been ten bloody years.”

“I know that you’re the smartest witch of our age…and I know that you never told anyone about us.”

“What was there to tell?” Hermione scowled, “We had a little fling. So, what? People have flings the world over.”

“A little fling? Is that what you call it? You call a year a fling?” Draco was losing his temper, she had always had that effect on him.

Hermione rolled her eyes and inhaled deeply, “Look I’m willing to help you, Draco, but let’s make one thing clear, I am not willing to talk about whatever the hell you want to call it; a fling, a relationship, a completely idiotic teenage indulgence, whatever. This is going to be purely professional and once I’ve helped you, you’re going to disappear back out of my life and I’m going to carry on like nothing ever happened.”

“Right,” Draco stood, jaw tense, beautiful slate-coloured eyes staring down at her with distaste, “Well, I’ll see myself out. Thanks.”

“I’ll owl you.” Hermione muttered, looking back down at the paperwork in front of her.

The door clicked sharply shut behind him and Hermione immediately burst into tears.


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