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The witch and wizard lay beside one another, staring uncomfortably at the vaulted ceiling. Neither of them ever thought they would be where they were, but now that the unthinkable had happened, the inevitable silence was there to follow.

 

The quiet was only broken by the snoring Wampus cat who lay on the floor, entirely unaware of the consequences that his loved ones could face for their actions. After all, mortal enemies were not meant to share a bed, and though the creature never would have known it, the man and the woman were, in fact, mortal enemies. At least, that is what the public thought.

 

"So, I suppose that's one way to celebrate," the woman said, slowly, still watching the ceiling far too intently.

 

"Well, at least Potter isn't wrong anymore," he said with a smirk. "First time for everything."

 

Her face drained of all color. "Well, he doesn't need to know that. This isn't going to be a—well this was a one-time sort of thing, so no reason to involve him."

 

With that, she rolled out of bed and began collecting her clothes. The blond wizard frowned at her from his place in bed, wondering what he had done to make her leave in such a hurry. Based on the sounds she had been making, he assumed she had enjoyed herself just as much as he did.

 

"Whoa, Granger. Slow down," he said, sitting up. "Where are you going?"

 

"Home." She pulled her top over her head. "I'll be back to run more tests tomorrow."

 

"You can't just leave," he argued, swinging his legs over the side of the bed.

 

"Can't?" Hermione raised her brows, but refused to make eye contact. "I can do whatever I want."

 

"But—but we just—" He struggled to pull his boxers on, hobbling on one leg as he tried to pull them up. "Hang on, then! Just sit down so we can talk for a moment, yeah?"

 

"About what?" she asked, fixing her waistband.

 

"About what just happened!"

 

Hermione shrugged, still not looking at him. "I don't need to talk about it." She reached down to scratch the Wampus behind his left ear. "See you later, Barth." Glancing briefly at the wizard, she added, "Bye, Draco."

 

"Wait—"

 

But she did not stick around to talk to him. Instead, she Disapparated.

 

 

***

 

 

It was time for desperate measures. Flowers and letters were apparently not enough, and if the youngest Weasley brother was going to win back the woman he loved, he would have to make her listen to him. Set on his new idea, he put on one of the button-up Muggle shirts that she always said made him look "handsome". Surely, that would impress her.

 

"Ron, are you sure about this?" his roommate asked, awkwardly, swiveling away from the Spleenworts that he was watering.

 

"Never been surer of anything in my life, Neville." The redhead looked at himself in the mirror above the mantlepiece. "Pretty sharp, yeah?"

 

"I guess so." Neville scratched the back of his head. "You're just gonna Floo over there, then?"

 

"Well yeah, want to keep my energy up for, well, you know." Ron wiggled his eyebrows. "Don't think I'd have it in me if I Apparated over."

 

"But what if you Floo in and erm—what if—what if Malfoy's there?"

 

"Hey, I could use some encouragement here!" Ron griped, taking a step towards the fireplace. "Sometimes you just have to take things into your own hands, y'know, as a man."

 

"As a man," Neville repeated. "Yeah, alright, then. Well, good luck."

 

Ron nodded and took a handful of Floo powder. "Thanks, mate. Might be back tonight, might not be." With a smirk, he dropped the powder and said, "Hermione Granger's flat!"

 

The pull of the Floo made his stomach churn, but before he knew it, he was crawling out of the fireplace in his ex-girlfriend's apartment. He was met by a shriek.

 

"Ronald?"

 

He grinned. "Yes, it's me. Thought we could—what's going on with your hair?"

 

"It's none of your business," she growled, her face turning beet red. "Why are you here?"

 

"Well, I needed to talk to you." He frowned, astonished that she did not look as pleased as he thought she would. "Aren't you happy to see me?"

 

"Shocked is more like it." She was fumbling with something in the small kitchenette, but Ron could not make out what it was. The clanging of dishware filled his ears as she rifled through one of her few cupboards. "So what is it you wanted to talk about?"

 

Ron did not know what he expected, but he most certainly did not think she would be so cold. With her back turned to him, she pulled down a glass and tapped her wand against it; water spurted forth from the tip of her wand, filling the glass, but only to the halfway mark. He waited for a moment, expecting her to offer him a drink as she did even during the worst of their many fights. When she offered him nothing, he realized that something was terribly wrong.

 

"Hermione, what's going on with you?" he asked, quite certain that it wasn't his actions that could have made her so distant. "Did he do something to piss you off? Er—Malfoy, I mean."

 

She whipped around, glaring daggers in his direction. "Why do you assume it's Malfoy that's pissed me off?"

 

"Well, I mean, it's Malfoy, isn't it?" To Ron, it was the most obvious thing in the world, but he knew Hermione, and if she was not ready to admit that she was wrong yet, she wouldn't. "I'm not judging you or anything, but—"

 

"You're not judging me but you're about to say something really judgmental," she snapped. "Save yourself the trouble and go home, Ron. Clearly, you don't get it."

 

He took a few steps towards her. "Hermione, I know I don't like him but I get why you picked him. It's okay that it happened you just—you just need to fess up and we'll move on, alright?"

 

"I didn't pick him," Hermione snarled, turning back around to fish through the cupboards again. "I ran facefirst into him in Knockturn bloody Alley."

 

"Well, however it happened, I mean—Neville says he's apparently handsome, and then there's the gold and I mean, I know I don't have all that..." He scratched the back of his head. Convincing her to rekindle their romance was not going exactly as he planned.

 

"I didn't break up with you because I didn't like the way you looked." She pulled something down from the cupboard and pivoted to face him once more. A dusty apothecary jar was in her hands. "And I don't care about gold. I broke up with you because, well, we don't have anything in common."

 

"And you do with Malfoy?" he scoffed in disbelief. "Spoiled, Slytherin, pure-blood Malfoy?"

 

"He's smart, thank you," Hermione growled, uncorking the jar. She dumped the substance into the glass of water and once a cloud of aquamarine had turned the entire glass the brightest shade of blue, she took a swig. "Besides, I'm not dating him. Harry just—he jumped to conclusions. We're just working on something together. A erm—a project."

 

"Harry mentioned the library." Ron looked around the apartment. "I don't see any books."

 

She sighed and took another drink. "The library was a lie. What we're working on is sort of a secret. I'd tell you but it's pretty confidential. We kind of work together."

 

"Since when did you get a new job? And what is that you're drinking?"

 

"It helps with anxiety. I water it down a bit so it doesn't put me to sleep. And the job started a few weeks ago," Hermione said, her voice small. "Um, I like it a lot, actually. It's a good...job."

 

Ron's heart swelled with hope. "So—so you're not shagging him, then?"

 

Her face paled. The response he ached to hear did not slip from her tongue, and with each second that she remained quiet, the truth became clearer. Despite all of their many rows, never before had Hermione caused him as much pain as she did in that long, silent moment.

 

"So you are shagging him?" he asked, angrily, balling his fists. "You aren't dating him, you're just sleeping with him? Is that supposed to be better?"

 

"Well, I—erm—you see, you and I are broken up, Ron—"

 

"Broken up or not, it's Malfoy! I could handle anyone else but him? Really?"

 

"Honestly, you just picked a really bad day to come here." She leaned against the kitchen counter. "Look, you'll always be my friend, Ron, but things have gotten very...complicated...for me."

 

"So complicated that you're shagging the biggest git we know?"

 

Her eyebrows drew together in fury. "Don't blame him, Ron. If you had taken any interest in the things I liked to do, then maybe we wouldn't keep breaking up! It's not his fault you don't know the difference between a Calming Draught and a Sleeping Draught! It's not his fault you'd rather blubber on about Chocolate Frog cards than read a bloody book!"

 

Confused, Ron inquired, "Potions? Since when do you give a damn about potions?"

 

"I always have," she huffed, crossing her arms. "Draco and I—we make a good team. A really good team, actually."

 

"The Mudblood and the Death Eater." The words tasted like poison. "Real solid team, Hermione. That's just ace, that."

 

"Mudblood," she repeated, storming towards him. "Well, I'll have you know, Ronald Weasley, that Draco doesn't care that I'm a Mudblood. He thinks I'm smart. He challenges me. And I—I like him. He's nice to be around."

 

"Why don't you just marry him then?" Ron spat.

 

"Maybe I will." Defiance was written in every single one of her features. There was no winning an argument with her when she looked like that.

 

"Whatever," he mumbled. "I'm going home. Owl me when he fucks you over like we both know he will."

 

"No, you owl me when you get your head out of your—"

 

Before she could finish her thought, Ron Apparated back to Neville's house, livid.

 

 

***

 

 

Number Seven, Nettles Way was usually a place full of warmth. That evening, however, it felt hollow. The sofa was more than full with an adult Wampus cat and his long-legged human, and as Draco Malfoy idly scratched the creature's head, he pondered the day's events. After all, he had never had a woman run out on him, especially not so quickly.

 

"Who does she think she is?" he pouted, reaching across the animal to seize his glass of wine. He took a long drink. "Coming in here and having a shag and then just leaving like nothing happened. Does she have any idea just how many women would line up at the bloody door just for a slim chance of doing what we just did?"

 

Bartholomew pushed his giant head against Draco's palm, seemingly unaware of the issue, but quite aware that his human was upset.

 

With a heavy sigh, Draco admitted something he never thought he would say out loud. "I guess that's what's so appealing about her, though, isn't it? She's Hermione bloody Granger. Why would she give a damn that I'm the Malfoy heir? Gold's clearly not her thing. She was with Weasley for how long?"

 

The Wampus cat massaged its massive middle feet against Draco's side.

 

"Hey, watch it!" the blond complained, elbowing the animal. "You really have no idea how big those things are nowadays, do you? You could've taken a chunk out of my abdomen, you great brute."

 

Bartholomew flared his nostrils and closed his eyes, settling on top of the human that was all too narrow to be supporting his weight. Draco closed his eyes too. Never did he think he'd feel so emotionally drained over something so silly.

 

Then, a soft crack woke him up.

 

Standing there, disheveled, was a nervous Hermione Granger. He rubbed his eyes. Was he dreaming? Was she there to discuss work?

 

"Draco, we need to talk."

 

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