She was poison.
The darkest, sweetest, most pungent elixir - fatal at the first touch. Her scent...that cosmic, dangerous blend of cinnamon, citrus and pine- it was a cocktail of deadly lust, a predatory aphrodisiac. Eyes like a wildfire, her body - a smoothly curved sculpture like a whiplash. She tasted of black cherries.
She was too beautiful.
He could feel her toxin slowly working through his system, trickling into his bloodstream and stopping his heart one beat at a time.
But he would never stop coming to her. The flavor of her particular brand of venom was far too tempting.
Pounding bass thumped beneath his feet, the melody lost somewhere in the thick wall that separated him from the main floor of the club. Yet again, he was stationed at her door like a mercenary, awaiting permission to enter. She never turned him away like she claimed she did dozens of other hopeless, drooling men.
He thought it to be a lie. She was no man's exclusive, least of all his.
But he ignored the lie because he was addicted, and like any of the Muggle amphetamines he'd experimented with, quitting was near impossible.
The door was opened to him just as the bass line shifted into another, more upbeat song through the wall, and he was stiff and silent as he entered her backstage domain. The room smelled of perfume - her perfume - and it mixed oddly with her bodyguard's cologne as he brushed past him.
His palms were sweating. They always did right before he saw her.
Her chair wasn't facing him, but he could see her gorgeous, slim legs crossed from over its back. Slowly and tantalizingly, they uncrossed, and she swiveled the chair around.
"Well...?" she husked, her voice colored with that beautiful, yet untraceable accent she carried.
"Lovely," he whispered.
At least she had a reason, a legitimate purpose for working in the Department of Mysteries.
She had promised herself that following the end of the war, she would be rid of any and all fears that had plagued her within its duration. And one of them was inside these very walls. One that had preyed on her dreams night after night, filling her mind's eye with images of black marble and glowing orbs.
She had steeled herself, had worked up the courage to force the fear away by burying herself inside of it and letting every aspect encompass her.
Worst of all, the fear had just begun to ebb...
And then he had arrived.
Hermione worked in the Time Room. It was a logical profession, suited to her abilities - especially considering her experience with Time Turners - and was close enough to the Hall of Prophecy to fulfill her psychological needs. She would pass that godforsaken door every day, and every day the dread in her gut would shrink a little bit.
It was a sound theory.
And, Merlin, it had been working so well until the day that terribly familiar, blond figure had set foot in the elevator.
He had ruined everything.
Now, whenever she walked these halls, she was consumed by the anxious possibility of colliding with him on his way to the Hall of Prophecy. He had no reason to claim such a position - no qualifications. Merlin, his experiences with Divination were nearly as abominable as hers.
It left her heart palpitating and her mind frazzled, and for his first few weeks of employment, the work she'd done had been next to worthless. She'd taken to arriving late and leaving early. Anything to avoid him.
To avoid it.
It had come on quite abruptly during their sixth year at Hogwarts, and it was based upon something so irrational that Hermione wanted to rip her hair out.
It was based upon one. single. moment.
She had been studying late one night in the Library - hardly anything new - her nose buried in the pages of an Arithmancy textbook. Her mind had been numbed by the numbers, body feeling something similar, when she caught sight of him.
It was Fate's perfect trap. Cupid's sick sense of humor.
Of course she had been surrounded by the scent of parchment and ink, practically her favorite aroma on Earth. Of course she had been warm with the sensation of knowledge and the crackling fire in the Library's corner. Of course the lighting had been sultry and comforting.
Of course. Of course. Of course.
And of course he had looked the way he did.
By no means had Malfoy been sugarcoated in her mind before this moment. The sound of his name alone never failed to induce sour images of sneers and blond hair and annoyance in her mind. Of that cruel word she told herself never to think about.
Which was precisely why this moment should've meant absolutely nothing. Should've been a fleeting fancy at best.
But it did not mean nothing. And it was not fleeting.
It was as persistent and unforgiving as death.
And with drowsy, eased eyes she had glanced up for a fraction of a second, catching a glimpse of Draco Malfoy where he sat in the opposite corner in an armchair. Reading. His long legs - had they been so long before? - were stretched out before him, crossed at the ankles and propped up upon the footrest. His body - had it been so large before? - was lax and at home in its position, one elbow lazily balanced on the chair's arm holding up the book. The other hand was buried and twirling idly in his blond locks.
Locks. Had they been locks before? No. Never. They had been pale, plain strands, texture-less and flat upon a rotten boy's pointy head.
His hands. Had she ever desired them so? Ever craved their long, ivory fingers caressing her skin? Touching her lips? Inside of her?
Never! Never! Never!
The shock of the sudden onslaught of emotion had made her gasp, and he had glanced up.
Oh, they had been empty and lifeless to her once. Cruel, even. They had meant absolutely nothing until this instant.
And now they meant everything.
She wanted to weep. Wanted to scream and thrust her chair back and run away, never to return. But she was paralyzed by their beauty. His beauty. So unconventional and yet so strong.
The book had weighed on his wrist as he stared back at her, lowering with each endless, passing second, and it was as if he too had been thrust into this moment with her. As if Cupid was cursing them both.
But then he looked down again, gave his head a short shake and never looked back.
And she knew she was alone in this sudden, unfaltering hell.
She had fallen in love with him in that moment.
And she had never fallen out.
He often caught himself in the act.
It was always on those mornings. The mornings when, for some unknown reason, most of the Ministry staff became clogged in the large, marble lobby on their way to their respective floors. It must've had something to do with certain days on which almost the entire Ministry was working, or perhaps it was just rotten luck, or far too many people had woken up late...
Whatever the reason, he found himself using those mornings to seek out a certain, brown, mousy, curl-covered head. Never consciously, of course, but somehow instinctively. His eyes would just swoop to her, as if magnetized, and he would grow feverish and angry with himself as soon as he realized what he was looking at.
But, Merlin, she was beautiful...
Beautiful in a strange and hypnotizing way, but also beautiful in a way that he shouldn't have found beautiful. Not in the slightest.
She was beautiful in that she was stubborn. In that her mouth would tilt down at one corner and her eyes would scrunch up in a most adorably childish fashion when something offended her sensibilities. In that her cheeks would stain red like spilled ink in moments of embarrassment and excitement alike.
In that those wild, not-to-be-tamed curls reflected her personality like a twin.
She was sugar.
Sugar and honey and everything warm and sweet.
And just as honey sticks to the fingers, she stuck upon his mind tenaciously. He would often find himself slipping into the Time Room at random intervals for absolutely no reason whatsoever, and then he'd have to make up some pitiful, fumbling excuse when she confronted him.
He couldn't say precisely when he'd discovered her to be undoubtedly, unfailingly and unconditionally gorgeous, but it must've been somewhere between that alarming, revolutionary, and surprisingly hard punch in Third Year and that fatal, lavender gown at the Yule Ball in Fourth.
Ever since then, he found that he couldn't keep his eyes off of her - and the guilt was all-encompassing. That deep, underlying sense that he was committing sin just by allowing his eyes to be seduced.
Because she was a m-
No, he'd refused to so much as think of that word ever again.
It didn't matter anyway. She was imprinted upon him regardless, and no matter what he'd tried, he couldn't push her out of his head. Which led to diversions...
Which led to plenty of alcohol, drug-use and many, many whores.
His latest distraction had proven to be the most effective yet.
She had never been the most...open individual.
Often, she'd sat cross-legged on the dormitory beds with the other girls as they'd discussed boys and sex and the like, though she rarely ever spoke.
She could remember being called a "prude." Vividly.
Only, she wasn't.
Far from it.
In fact, puberty had brought along quite an alarming, hormonal onslaught - one that had left her baffled by her own sudden and mysterious cravings. Things she couldn't explain to her mother. Things she'd never explain to her father.
And she had somehow managed to repress it through all those torturous years in Hogwarts, cooped up with so many boys sleeping not twenty feet away.
The war had temporarily put a stop to it.
With so much blood on one's hands, it was nearly impossible to think about such things. But when the end came she knew she'd have to find a way to sate her cravings. To release the bubbling, burning sexual energy.
And it came in the form of three little words.
Garden of Eden.
She had stumbled upon it one evening, as she'd made her way through the backstreets of London after a particularly long work day. The Floo had sounded nauseating, and a walk through the damp, fresh-with-rain city was bound to soothe her bones.
Only she must've taken a wrong turn somewhere, and after twenty long minutes she found herself completely and irrevocably lost.
So she took one of the strategically placed portkeys to Diagon Alley, certain she knew her way home from there.
Diagon Alley was an entirely different jungle at night. Children were few, and much of the normal Wizarding Community had already retired. No - this was the time for those strange, nocturnal people. The ones that, she surmised, may have not come out in the daylight at all. They were tipsy and crass and not just a little bit off their rockers, and she found she couldn't go five or ten feet without being roughly knocked into.
But it wasn't so much frightening as it was...exciting.
This was not her usual crowd. This was new and interesting and dangerous.
She couldn't look away.
Stumbling through the streets in an awestruck daze, she found herself looking upon this world with virgin eyes. The lights, the sounds, the scents...all of it was different. But none so different as the streets themselves.
The common storefronts she'd grown so familiar with were changing before her eyes. Gringotts shifted into a glowing, golden stack of gourmet restaurants. Ollivander's - a winery. Vendors along the sidewalks opened up magical stalls filled with dark, wondrous items: jewels, fabrics, exotic perfumes and aphrodisiacs, more...
But Flourish & Blotts...
Flourish & Blotts.
Of course it would be Flourish & Blotts.
That was the store that changed her life in a single moment.
Its once cozy, book-crowded windows had been replaced with dark, enigmatic brick, and only a faint, deep hum could be heard from within them from where she stood. The sign usually bearing the title which she was most familiar with now bore those three dangerous words.
Garden of Eden
And she found herself childishly assuming - for only a short moment, mind you - that it was some kind of magical, gardening supply shop. That thought died the instant she saw the bouncer; he was a big, burly man - at least 6'3 in height - with a no-nonsense expression seemingly permanently welded to his face.
He gave her a skeptical look.
Stubborn as she was, she felt the need to return his gaze tenfold, and then walk briskly past him into the store. He must've been so shocked he didn't think to deter her until she was already lost in the sudden, smoldering sea of bodies within.
It was a club.
That was all she was certain of at this point.
But soon she would be certain of so very much more.
Yes, this one was most effective. Had been, for the past four months or so. When he was here, he found his mind only wandered to Hermione every other five minutes, which he considered to be a remarkable accomplishment.
It had been Nott who'd first introduced him to this place. Nott who'd revealed its many guilty pleasures. But Draco found himself attempting to come alone ever since, simply because he had no intention of spending any time whatsoever with friends while he was there.
Because Garden of Eden was no ordinary strip club, and therefore had no ordinary strippers.
He could remember the first time she caught his eye.
Among the many beauties that crossed the club's black marble stage, she was the undoubtable cream of the crop. Between the heart-stopping, blonde Azalea, the buxom, long-legged Marigold, and of course, the sweet, redheaded Red Rose, there was always a lot to look at.
And yet, he had eyes only for her, when she came out from behind her dark curtain - always the last act of the night.
Oh, she was gorgeous, and he could recall his awestruck amazement upon first seeing her saunter out, her walk like a delicate samba, in those thigh-high leather boots. Fishnets completed the journey to her hips, and the black, lacy lingerie with the garters stung the eyes like spice. Her lips had a black stripe down the middle, making their sheer kissable structure all the more noticeable, and her powerful, chocolate eyes were hidden behind a dark, custom-made carnival mask.
He was lucky he had the restraint not to salivate like a dog.
Blaise nudged him in the ribs. "Careful. Bartender said she doesn't put out."
He wasn't sure how he felt about that. There was something to be said about knowing she didn't have a different man in her bed every night, and yet it left him wanton and depressed, knowing he'd likely never be an exception.
Why? Why couldn't he be? He searched anxiously for the pride he'd once worn like armor in his Hogwarts years, but it seemed to have rusted over the period of the war.
He had resigned himself; he would never be her exception. Nevertheless, he kept coming - kept watching - ignoring the fact that he was invisible to her. So how could he have predicted it? Predicted the night she stepped forward in those high, black stilettos, closer to the crowd than he'd ever seen her before, and beckoned him with a dark, gloved finger.
Not another man. Not one with honor and a respectable past.
At first, he'd thought it was only for show. A way to further engage her already drooling audience. But then one of the bouncers stopped him on his way out at the end of the night.
"Malfoy?" he'd inquired gruffly.
"Yes?" Draco replied, slightly surprised. He'd never given his name. Was he so easily recognized?
"She wants to see you."
Stunned silence ensued. Draco didn't need to ask who.
They had him wait outside her dressing room, giving him more than enough time to over think all of the possibilities. Of the few times he had been well and truly nervous in his life, this was one of them.
He could hear her moving about...just faintly from under the door crease. His heart pounded a mile a minute.
Then, quite suddenly, the door swung open and there she was. Up close for the first time. His breath hitched.
"Mr. Malfoy..." she purred. He had heard her speak before on stage, but that was nothing compared to feeling the sweet, subtle warmth of her breath brush against his eyelashes.
She cut right to the chase. "You're here every night, aren't you?" Her eyes twinkled mischievously. "Are you in love with me?"
The words made him flush and swallow. "No...no, not every night," he whispered, voice barely audible. He chose not to answer the second question.
"Every night I dance," she amended. Her head cocked to the side, catlike. "Why?"
He could hardly believe how intimidated he was, and soon enough it made him angry with himself. Clearing his throat to regain some leverage, he said, "You know why."
She closed her dark eyes briefly, making the mask look like a blindfold, and then opened them again, a secretive smile spreading across her face.
She stepped aside for him.
Her sheets smelled more like books than perfume. Something he'd always noticed. And now they smelled like sex.
He loved how she gasped as he worked his teeth down the buttons of her corset, just the way she liked. Loved the slow, tantalizing reveal of all that precious, alabaster skin. He had been nervous once, that first night, as his trembling fingers had explored the swoop of her hips and the swell of her breasts, so afraid to fuck it up.
But now it was like playing a memorized nocturne on a Steinway. A favorite nocturne. His hands knew where to be, and when. His lips followed a familiar, sweet path along the nape of her neck, nipping at the sensitive skin and grinning against it as she mewled. He spoke filthy, carnal words into her ear, breathing heavy and hot, his fists clenching just tight enough on her waist as he entered her to make her squirm.
Fuck, he wished she'd take it off.
"What's it to you, Malfoy?" she spat, turning away to guard her own expression. Why did he care?
"Just curious," he drawled, and from the lack of footsteps, she knew he wasn't leaving.
"I like these clothes," she whispered.
"Oh, no doubt. But if you'll forgive me, I believe the rule is below the fingertips." His voice betrayed a smirk.
Growling under her breath, Hermione whirled to face him, confidently slapping her palms down against the sides of her thighs.
And for a terrible moment, she thought her own horror was evident on her face.
He was right.
The navy blue pencil skirt she'd bought last week stopped just above the tips of her pinky fingers.
"Dress code, Granger," Malfoy tisked, smiling wolfishly, and then he turned on his heel and disappeared from the Time Room. It was only after he'd left that she realized he'd had absolutely no reason to be there.
"No," she breathed, writhing body suddenly stiff.
Draco ceased the tortuous undulation of his hips immediately, poised halfway inside her, refusing to give another thrust until she answered him. "Why?"
Rose whined, eyes squeezing shut beneath the mask as she struggled to join their hips. Draco grabbed hold of her waist and slammed her down against the bed, pinning her.
Her soft pants broke apart the words. "I - I can't. I just - can't."
Slowly, he sunk back into her to the hilt, hushing her when she moaned loudly. "Then I shall do it for you."
But when he reached for the black mask, its red rimmed lace hiding the majority of her face, he was aware of a sudden and violent sting blossoming in his cheek.
She'd struck him.
He wasn't worth an ounce of work the following day, all because he couldn't stop thinking about that slap.
Why? Why had it seemed so familiar to him? Like a sharp bite of nostalgia...
Idly, his fingers traced small circles across the abused, still-red skin.
Why was he staring at her?
Why was he in the Time Room again?
Why did he keep doing that? Coming in, searching fruitlessly through a few drawers, eyes locked on her, and then leaving?
His cheek was still pink.
And her hand still itched.
She swallowed thickly, eyes looking everywhere but his face.
"Not tonight," she whispered.
Please, not tonight, Draco...
"Bollocks," he said.
"You've never turned me away. Never."
She steeled herself, finally meeting his burning gaze. "Well - I am now. Please go. Not tonight. Please."
She was quick to shut her dressing room door, but she couldn't miss the loud, furious pound of his fist against it.
He stormed past the bouncers, fuming. What? All because he'd reached for that bloody mask?
He had always been honest. Never hidden behind a mask. She'd known his identity all along. Was is so impossible to return the fucking favor?
He was back. She could sense him behind her.
No doubt he was rifling through one of those drawers again.
But she refused to look, instead continuing her work on a broken time turner with more fervor than before. Let him rifle all day.
Except, he wasn't rifling.
"Granger. One of the prophecies mentioned that time turner."
Her heart stuttered.
No. She didn't want to have to speak to him. Speaking to him meant eventually looking at him. Meant remembering the look of those lips. Meant remembering the sensation of them against her inner thighs...
"Which time turner?"
"The one you're fiddling with."
"I see," she whispered. "Bring the prophecy to me and leave it."
A long pause.
And then his heavy - likely angry - footsteps.
She expected him to do as she said. To set the prophecy on the desk beside her and be gone.
Instead, he chose to reach over her. To brush his arm against her shoulder as he placed it carefully on the table. And then he didn't move.
No, he remained so incredibly close, his hot breath grazing her neck. Not touching her. But so undoubtedly there.
"W-What?" she breathed, not daring to move an inch. And she heard his breath catch.
His exhale was rough and shaky in her ear. "I'll be back for it in an hour."
And he was gone again.
It had been a month.
A month since she'd last seen him in that front booth. And she missed his dark, broad silhouette. Missed the sharp burst of excitement she'd feel in her gut when the light caught his gray eyes like a deer in headlights.
And her dances...
Well, she found her heart wasn't really in them anymore.
He'd stopped coming to the Time Room.
He was gone.
He'd never come back for that prophecy.
He'd Apparated straight home.
Fuck, how could he have been so blind? How could he not have known?
Because you've never been so close to her before.
Yes, that would've been true. He'd never come into contact with Granger like that before. Never been close enough to catch that sweet, enigmatic scent. That sweet, familiar scent.
And that made it all a lie.
Because he had been that close before. He'd been closer.
That night, Draco locked himself away in his room, refusing the House Elves' attempts to bring him supper. He lay back on his bed, motionless, trying to absorb the sudden and breathless truth.
It had been Granger all along.
He'd know Rose's scent anywhere.
And at present, the only emotion he found himself capable of was blinding, white-hot fury.
She saw him.
Only for a brief moment, as he passed by in the Ministry Lobby, But she saw him.
And he wouldn't meet her eyes.
Everything collided on a Thursday.
It started in the morning, as she found herself alone with Draco in the post room. He was sorting through various bills and letters, and she was pretending to do the same. But really, all she could do was look at him.
Such deprivation after gorging herself upon him for so long was wrenchingly painful. Her eyes missed looking at him. Her hands missed the silk of his skin. Her tongue missed...
"What are you staring at, Granger?" he snapped, and she heard herself gasp. She hadn't expected such...hostility.
Scrunching up her nose, she resolved to be equally childish, "Oh, don't mind me. I was just wondering how one hides so much idiocy underneath such a sophisticated suit."
"It's more than you could afford," was it, and then he diverted all attention back to his post. Hermione found it to be a rather weak comeback. Weaker and less scathing than usual.
He was not himself.
Sighing heavily, she too turned away, tossing several useless letters into the waste bin.
But she was on her way out when she heard him say, "I know," a bit quietly.
She stopped. "Know what?"
He glanced halfway over his shoulder, not meeting her eyes - only displaying his lovely profile."I know," he repeated, and then stalked out the back exit.
Hermione felt a nervous, uneasy twinge in her gut. He could've meant any number of things. Could've found any number of embarrassing or incriminating pieces of her past.
Her stomach was in knots.
She'd told Madam Theresa that she didn't want to go on tonight, but the elder witch would hear none of it.
"You are our best act. Most of these men are here for you. What would you propose I tell them, hmm?"
So she'd tried to pull herself together, and now here she stood, just behind the curtain, mere seconds from her entrance.
She forced her chin up, swallowing her discomfort, and steeled herself for what she knew she'd see. A full house...low sultry lights...and one empty, reserved seat in the front row.
The song of her newest dance began, slow bass like the throb of her heart through the speakers. And with a final deep breath, she stepped out.
She nearly tipped off the catwalk, her muscles had locked up so abruptly, and she found that deep breath meant next to nothing now.
She was frozen.
He was there.
How long had it been? Two months. It must've been two months now.
But he was there, and she couldn't breathe.
The music beat on without her, leaving her fumbling and dizzy as she tried to find her place again, but his eyes were locked on hers, and they were blazing.
"He ripped my heart out...I pulled my soul out..." the song crooned, and she used it as a checkpoint, beginning the dance from there and slowly swaying her hips. The men in the crowd began to whoop and holler and catcall, but her ears were deafened, her eyes blinded.
All she knew was him.
And he was as silent and still as a statue.
Advancing up the runway, she clenched her fists at her sides, trying desperately to regain some of her momentum.
But her thoughts were irreparably scattered.
He'd never made her feel this way on stage before. Although...it was just as they'd said, wasn't it? Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
She closed her eyes, managing to calmly perform the swaying turn that always got good attention, but inwardly she was praying for the song to just end.
When it did, she was winded. Breathless. Overwhelmed.
She skipped her blow-a-kiss to the audience altogether, beating a hasty retreat up the catwalk until she was safe behind the curtain. She hadn't glanced at him again.
Scurrying off to her dressing room before Madam Theresa could corner her, she gave her bodyguard a curt nod and then locked herself in.
She needed to calm herself.
She needed to breathe.
She needed to forget that she was in love with him.
Yes, that was the truth of it.
I hate him.
I hate him.
I hate him.
He has no right to make me feel this way.
But it felt like it'd only been a few seconds before her bodyguard was knocking on the door. "Miss Rose?"
She schooled her voice. "Yes?"
"Someone here for you." He sounded odd.
"Please tell Madam I am not feeling well."
There was a moment's pause.
And then - "It is not Madam, Miss Rose."
Her eyes fluttered shut.
When she spoke again, it was choked. "Don't..." she whispered, pleading. "Don't let him in. Please."
"Miss Rose...he has a wand to my neck."
With a startled gasp, she forgot her objections and dashed for the door, wrenching it open. She barely had a chance to see her bodyguard slump against the wall with relief before that tall, broad form was crowding her back inside and slamming the door shut.
His mouth was on hers. Hot and ravenous. She could hear her muffled squeal echo in his throat. Feel her hands shaking as they pushed against his chest. But he would have none of it.
Strong fists shackling her wrists, he yanked them down and pinned them to her sides.
"Draco! Draco - please, what are you doing?"
He'd never been so rough...so furious...
It was terrifying and glorious all at once.
And she was mute.
Her mouth fell open in silent horror, only to be roughly claimed by his tongue a moment later, and his hands scraped down the sides of her thighs, snapping her garters like toothpicks.
There would be welts on her, she felt sure.
It was a final, inner plea. But a plea for what, she was no longer positive.
"Spread your legs," he commanded, eyes sharp and filled with more rage than she could fathom. He shoved her up against her dressing table, making the perfume bottles sing as the clinked together.
Eyes never leaving hers, he dropped swiftly to his knees, ignoring the corset and going straight for the lacy underwear.
He shredded them.
Pretty black tatters floated delicately to the floor around her ankles.
And he was suddenly there. His mouth. His tongue. His hot, torturous breath. Hermione threw her head back, lips parting in a silent scream, her fingernails digging into his shoulders.
He was merciless.
He was brutal.
He laved his tongue along her sex, inside of her, making her see red behind her eyelids. And then, just as that spectacular burn reached a smoldering crescendo-
Stopped and pulled away and got to his feet.
"Taste yourself," he growled, ignoring her desperate gaze and forcing their lips to collide once more. His tongue pressed the salty sweet of her essence inside her mouth,
It was then that he flipped her around.
Then that he reached his arm up from behind her and clasped her jaw, forcing her to make eye contact with her reflection in the vanity mirror.
She could hear the telltale clink of his belt buckle as he tore it away. Hear his zipper snatched down.
She squeezed her eyes shot.
"No," he snapped. "Open them. Look at yourself."
Reluctantly, she glanced in the mirror again. His hand tightened, squeezing the tender flesh just beneath her earlobes as he held her chin in place.
"Do you know what I see?" he asked, and suddenly his voice was soft. Almost gentle. Almost affectionate. And yet with a very subtle edge.
Her teeth snagged on her low lip as their eyes met in the mirror.
"I see you, Granger."
And he slammed into her, filling her to the brink in a single motion. She screamed again, denied the satisfaction of hearing it echo back to her and aware of so very much - too much - at once.
Of his hand on her chin. Of his fingers snatching away her mask. Of the hard, punishing length of him pounding into her without rhythm. Only passion. Only anger.
Her chest heaved against his forearm as he rapidly increased his speed, greedy and undeterred, and the vanity began to shake.
She watched, aghast, as one by one her perfume bottles toppled and shattered, spilling their strong scents out across the surface and into the gaps between her fingers.
And then Draco released her chin to take strong hold of her hips, and with two final, massive thrusts, he yanked her back against him and ground his release into her with a feral cry.
She couldn't help it.
She gave in, exploding around him as she always did without fail and then feeling her mind go blank. Her knees go weak.
Together, they sank to the floor.
His nose brushed against her ear, nestling into the thick, chestnut curls. It was the first sign of affection he'd displayed all night.
"I should hate you," he murmured, nipping at her earlobe. And then, "Finite Incantatum."
"W-W...Why?" Her voice was somehow ravaged, regardless of her silence.
"You lied to me Granger."
She was still in shock. Still not quite able to process the fact that he was here with her now. Saying her name.
That he knew.
"I...I had to," she whimpered.
"You...you would never have...you - you hate me."
The softness of his voice evaporated for a moment. "Don't tell me what I feel."
Hermione was silent for a long while, waiting for her pulse to slow. For her breathing to relax.
"Then what do you feel?" she whispered finally.
He shifted behind her, then grasped her waist and helped her to turn around on his lap. She found herself kissing away a bead of sweat from his temple.
He took a long breath.
"I feel furious."
Tears welled up in her eyes.
"Furious," he continued, "because you wasted all this time hiding from a man who is so in love with you he can't keep his head straight out work."
And then he kissed her. Just a gentle peck to her cheekbone, where the faint outline of the mask's edge remained.
"You...you love me?" she breathed, feeling a wayward tear escape and run down her cheek.
"Yes. I love you."
"Oh, shut up Granger."