one: good and broken
A/N: Betawork done by samhuster and AlmondMilkTeaDoubleBoba (and thanks to rvnclwhre and lattewhxre for helping me britpick hehe).
P.S. This IS a Dramione fanfic. It may not look like it from the first chapter, but I assure you it is!
Crookshanks was taking up precious room on Hermione’s chest. Her arms ached from holding up her Ancient Runes textbook, but the way her kneazle’s happy purrs soaked into her chest slowed her heart and the anxiety coursing through her veins. So she left him where he was.
Ever since the war, she hadn’t been the same.
‘Constant Vigilance’ they’d said. She should have known that with how she was with everything else in her life, she would have taken that lifestyle to heart just as reverently and with just as much dedication. She considered the phrase with ire now.
Now, it was like she couldn’t find it in her to calm down. The only things that had continued to work for her were indica and intercourse.
The war had turned Hermione into someone she wasn’t expecting but had slowly come to love and appreciate. She had fully embraced the woman she’d become. Hermione had since found no valid reason to shy away from it any more than she already had in the past - she did pride herself on learning from her mistakes, after all.
Hermione had taken to adapting different ways of calming down and relaxing. They had also steadily turned into her vices, her coping mechanisms - what had begun as an innocuous hit of a passing joint had turned her into a steady stoner. Similarly, she’d taken a turn between the sheets with none other than Theodore Nott, and he had become her consistent friend with benefits, if you would. They’d grown unexpectedly close in more ways than one over the months following the war.
The sex helped her come back to herself. Sometimes her highs became especially bad and induced major anxiety attacks. Getting off always brought her highs down far enough to where her heart slowed and breathing evened out. Theo understood, which was why they kept each other around.
No one knew about either, and it was fully intended to stay that way. They had an arrangement and it worked well for both of them. Discretion also made it that much more fun - having to sneak around and hide all evidence of their fuckery was just exhilarating. Hermione had never really had a chance to be a teenager and indulge in any of the things some of her friends did, so she was making up for a lot of lost time.
As it stood, she had to continue to keep up appearances around everyone else.
That part was important. Especially when it came to dealing with Malfoy.
He’d, by the grace of some deity she couldn’t have ever worshipped, been given the title of Head Boy. She had, of course, received the title of Head Girl and accepted with all the grace of the excellent student and War Heroine she was.
Malfoy was not an obstacle she had anticipated. Of course, in the general sense she knew he would be around, but living with him? That was a far cry from what she’d foreseen.
McGonagall liked to prove she had tricks up her sleeve and hadn’t lost her ability to meddle. As much as Hermione loved her mentor, ally, and friend, she could truly be a bit off her rocker from time to time.
Speak of the devil. Malfoy strolled in, throwing open the portrait just as she was considering pulling out her secret stash, too. A pity, really. She heard the figurehead in the portrait yell in protest as he hit the wall.
“Ah, Granger,” he said, loud and boisterous as always. Crookshanks gave a questioning ‘mrr?’ from his place on her chest, lifting his head to look at the intrusion to his nap. “There you are. You’re wanted in the third floor corridor.”
She found her tongue in time to ask for more information, but as she fumbled over the words, he disappeared into his room with yet another slam of the door.
Groaning, she scratched the space between Crooks’ ears. “Well,” she sighed, “if nothing else has stayed the same, Malfoy certainly has.” It was odd to think of Malfoy like that, as if he were some benchmark that had always continued to remain steadfast. Although the war had changed so many things, ruined so many lives, Malfoy had treated her almost the exact same as he always had. Save, of course, for the snide blood purity remarks. Those would not go over very well in this new world.
Swinging her legs over the side of the couch, she pulled on her robe and headed to the hallway. She’d learned so far that being Head Girl left little room for questions. She had realized that, similar to the war, it was just better to do and rework the rough patches as you go.
Some practices never really left her.
Ducking into the corridor, she found herself caught by her wrist as she was twirled into a classroom. Before she could panic, hot lips met hers, moving roughly against her. Hermione melted into his touch, bringing her hands up to run through the silky soft curls atop his head.
In truth, she really should have expected that it would be Theo.
He had a penchant to try to see how hard he could push the rules. He was always searching for fun, or trying to lure trouble his way. And it wasn’t like Hermione could really chastise him - they were all making up for so much of their lost childhood. If she were being honest, she was even a little envious that he was so carefree.
They’d grown close in recent months. Only a handful of students had returned for their eighth year - save for Harry and Ron. They’d chosen to move on to the Auror program - she was excited for them; education had never really been their strong suit.
Hermione had never known more of Theo Nott beyond his name throughout their six years together in school. However, he was one of the few Slytherins who had shown up in May to start repairing the castle, and they’d taken up a very unlikely friendship while fixing up the library.
Those were hard times all around. The Nott family had played a large behind the scenes part in the war. Nott Sr. had proven to be a very large benefactor for the Dark side, and Theo had vehemently refused to have any part in it. He’d stayed at Hogwarts throughout the year, doing his best to stay out of trouble, and came back to fight in the final battle on the Order’s side.
His father had been furious, but there wasn’t much he could do now that he was in Azkaban for the foreseeable future.
Hermione had come back to the castle in the weeks following the fight and had begun the long uphill battle of facing her demons. They were everywhere she went - in the alcove where she’d come across Lavender Brown, in the hallway where Fred had breathed his last laugh, and outside of the Headmaster’s office, where she’d thought she’d never see her best friend again.
It was the most painful thing she’d ever done. An endless amount of the ghosts of people she had loved dearly were lingering and she couldn’t see a single one.
Every single day she had to wake up and remind herself what exactly it was she was living for. Every day she had to wake up and cope.
It felt like an impossible feat to have to live the rest of her life that way. But if Harry, someone who’d lost so much, could do it, there wasn’t any good reason why she couldn’t either. So she trudged on, day by day.
Breath by breath. It was exhausting.
And then she’d really met Theo. She’d been swallowed up by the complete monstrosity the library had become - her safe haven for so many years, annihilated. It had been nearly destroyed. Her heart caught in her throat as she walked slowly through the aisles, taking a moment of silence to mourn yet another thing she hadn’t realized needed mourning.
Hermione stood frozen over a charred copy of Hogwarts, A History, that she’d nearly tripped on. Getting pathetically choked up yet again at the sight of her sanctuary in shambles, she forced herself into a random aisle to collect herself.
As she was staring at the spines of the books that she could only partially see and trying to calm her turbulent mind, Theo waltzed on into her area and observed her gasping for breath. In a split second, he decided the best course of action was to crack a joke. “Damn, Granger,” he said with a low whistle, “I knew books got you worked up, but I didn’t know it was this bad.”
She’d managed to choke out a laugh, run a shaky hand through her hair and by the end of the day, they were talking like they’d known each other for years. Which, hypothetically they had - just not on this level. If she would have known just how much she really would have adored him, she would have tried to befriend him sooner. Although, it probably wouldn’t have worked as well, all things considered.
It was easy to pinpoint the moment she’d known they would get along just fine - he’d found her in an alcove near the library having a panic attack. Over time, she’d hoped they would become less and less frequent, but it hadn’t started to decline yet.
Hermione had been pointedly ignoring the fact that they’d become worse with her coming back to rebuild the castle. Nothing scared her more than the idea that the place that she had always called her home, was slowly becoming a place that reminded her of such horror.
And that was when Theo’d found her. She didn’t know how, but she’d never asked. He hadn’t said a word, just sat with her and provided what she needed until she found herself again. She had tried to stutter out an apology for inconveniencing him, but he wouldn’t hear of it.
They’d hung out outside of the castle for the first time that night. He’d introduced her to weed, telling her all about it, and offering up the idea that it might help her relax. She’d jumped at the chance to potentially get her brain back on track, and he’d been complicit in both of her vices ever since.
Which brought her back to present - his lips hot and soft on her skin, her fingers threaded all through his hair. She was thankful they’d developed an... understanding of sorts. Sex helped her clear her mind, and Theo was a warm, willing body. They’d first fucked over too much Elf-made wine in his empty manor one night after rebuilding, and it had been uncomfortable for a while, until they realized they both needed it equally as bad.
He yanked her into a classroom, locking and silencing it wandlessly, and she always hated to admit how much she was turned on by the fact that he was so powerful and at ewith his magic. Hermione had decided that she very much liked being put in her place when it came to the bedroom.
He backed her into the desk, and she found herself seated on it as he kissed her. “Theo,” she gasped, shivering as his teeth grazed the place where her neck met her shoulder. His fingers grabbed at the hem of her shirt, tugging it up and over her head. Her hand wrapped around his neck, and brought her lips back to meet his.
Pulling away from her with swollen lips and a cheeky grin planted on his face, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a freshly rolled blunt. “Look what I brought,” he sing-songed. “Figured you’d appreciate it.”
“Have I ever told you how much I adore you?” she said, smiling brightly at him and reaching for it.
“Not today,” he snarked, “but, I’ll take it.” Theo shrugged at her with a smirk, pulling out his wand to light the tip of it.
Inhaling deeply as he sparked it, she allowed the familiar feel of warm smoke to flow down her airway into her lungs. Weed had always helped her to relax in recent months. Through Theo, she’d become a bit familiar with Blaise Zabini. She’d never really met him before, but he supplied some of the best she’d ever smoked. He hadn’t returned to Hogwarts for eighth year in favor of perfecting his strains and his growing technique. Hermione found herself more thankful for his existence than she could have imagined.
And Theo always, always bought it for her. She often insisted on buying her own, but he made up excuses every time.
“I have more money than I know what to do with, Granger.”
“You’re a fucking war heroine. I’d never live it down if anyone ever found out that I was making you pay me for fucking stress relief.”
“If anyone deserves a free escape from the real world, it’s you.”
So she’d stopped insisting, as his reasons seemed to be endless. Theo was incredibly adept at making people see things his way. It was no wonder he was a Slytherin.
Before she lost her head too much, Hermione cast both a Nullus and contraceptive charm, took three hits, and then put the blunt between his lips for him. Reaching down to untie the cord on his grey sweatpants, she teased her fingers just under the waistband, feeling goosebumps pop up as her fingers trailed across his skin. As he leaned forward to exhale the warm smoke back into her mouth, she leaned forward and reached for his cock.
Never breaking eye contact, Theo’s breath caught in his throat as she started pumping him slowly, using the precome leaking from his tip to try to lubricate. She kept her hand movements light, since she knew that it wasn’t enough. His hand reached into her skimpy pajama shorts and stroked her, teased her, over her knickers. She smirked up at him coquettishly from under her eyelashes.
He passed the blunt back to her and she happily inhaled again. The high was starting to set in, and she was growing more aroused. Weed had become somewhat of an aphrodisiac for her, since it was almost always associated with sex or getting herself off. By this point, her body felt the high and automatically got turned on. Not that she was complaining - it worked well in her favor. Theo moved the offending material to the side in order to gain better access, and her head lolled back as he made contact. “Fuck,” she hissed, squeezing her hand tighter around him as a result and harshly exhaled the smoke in his face.
Theo coughed once as he accidentally inhaled the unexpected blast of smoke. Snatching it away from her, hitting it once more, and crushing what was left under the heel of his shoe, he yanked her shorts off. “Hey,” she pouted, “I wasn’t finished with that.”
“Doesn’t matter,” he growled, “I’ll buy you more. You’re done now.”
Air left her in a gasp as he ducked down and attached his lips to her clit without any warning. “Oh–” she propped herself up on her elbows, looking down at him. His hands were leaving indents as he spread her thighs and devoured her.
Theo Nott was exceptionally skilled at a few things, and one of them was that he was an absolute god in the bedroom. It didn’t take him long at all to pick up on what she liked without her having to point it out. She loved it when he talked to her, when he was rough with her. Hermione wasn’t quite sure where it stemmed from, but they had a safe-word for if it ever became too much. She’d still never had to use it, finding that she loved it when he pushed her limits just that much more.
“Mmm,” he hummed against her, and she shivered from the vibration it sent up her spine. “I always forget how good you taste.” Arching her hips into him and letting her head drop back, she whined as he brought her closer to the edge she so desperately craved.
Her high was completely settled in by now - the thrum it created was coursing through her veins, and coupled with the sex, everything felt like it was heightened to the nth degree. Her eyes felt heavy, and she shut her eyes, giving in to the high and the waves of pleasure that forced them closed.
This. This was how she coped. This was the only thing that really brought her back to herself.
Wanting so desperately to come on his cock this time, she boldly reached down and roughly grabbed his chin, pulling him up to kiss her, craving the feel of his lips against hers. His fingers picked up where his tongue had left off, slipping into her all too easily.
She batted his hand away, whimpering. “No,” she sighed against his lips, “I want to come on your cock. Please.”
At that, Theo moaned, moving his lips down to her neck to kiss at her pulse point. “Fuck, Hermione. You say such dirty words, but they sound so fucking pretty.”
Hearing him, she took matters into her own hands, grabbing at the hem of his pants and tugging them down roughly. Pumping him once, twice, three times, she guided him to her. Pushing into her slowly, they moaned together, eyes never leaving each other. For this, she kept them forced open, letting them flutter shut only once he had bottomed out.
Theo knew she liked to hear him talk, so he gladly obliged. “Gods, how is it you feel better every time?” He peppered kisses up her neck, dropping one behind her earlobe. Nipping at it, he groaned lowly, the vibration of it moving through her ear canal and into her brain, making her shiver. “You’re so tight around me baby, you’re close, yeah?”
“Yeah,” she nodded, tilting her hips up into him, trying to get him deeper inside of her. “Just like that, oh fuck–” he often rendered her at a loss for words.
“That’s right, come on, let me feel you.” Reaching down to rub at her clit, he pushed her over. Pulling him down for a kiss and whining, she whited out for a second, seeing stars. Coming back to earth with a gasp, somehow she found herself on her stomach, bent over the desk.
“You look so good like this,” he said. Giving her no time to process her aftershocks, he pushed into her again, pounding into her from behind. His hands dropped to the desk beside her, leaning over her and caging her in. Theo’s body was damp, his chest pressed up against her back. She reached down to rub at her clit again, ignoring her sensitivity, and propelled herself towards another precipice.
“Come on, give me one more, I know you can do it,” he whispered into her ear. Nudging her legs apart just a little more and pulling her up against his chest by her throat, he found that spot inside of her that made her slick. “You like this, yeah? I know you like it when I take you like this. If I would have known you were this filthy, I would have found you a lot sooner,” he said. She moaned, gripping him tighter.
Her ministrations never let up against her nerves, and his fingers found her peaked nipple, rolling it between them. “Gods, you’re insane. Come on, come around me one more time, you can do it. Come on my cock like a fucking good girl.”
That sent her flying. Catapulting through the cosmos, she shattered around him one more time. He followed shortly, spilling into her with a groan. Burying his face in her neck, he nipped at her as he came.
Panting, he pulled out of her. “That,” he said, “was very much needed.”
She nodded. “I agree,” Hermione was breathless. “I’d even go so far as to say that that was one of the best yet. What strain was that?”
Scrunching his face in thought as he tied the string of his sweatpants, he said “I think it was Hawaiian Punch, but I can check with Blaise next time I talk to him. Why, you think that’s what did it?”
Thinking back to what she knew of the strain, she nodded. “Maybe, I’m pretty sure it’s a Sativa - promotes feelings of euphoria,” she said with a smirk as she pulled her shorts back on.
Theo gave her a mock pout. “Hey, I thought I did that.”
Hermione laughed. “You certainly help it along. Don’t get too big a head, Nott.”
“Too late,” he shot her a cheeky grin. “But you know you love that about me.”
“No comment,” she replied, hiding her smile as she turned away, shaking her head.
His booming laugh filled the room as she cancelled all of the charms, banished his come from between her thighs, and vanished the crushed blunt. “I still can’t believe you wasted all of that. There was like, half a blunt left.”
“Like I said, I’ll buy you more. I was just sick of you blowing that shit in my face,” he said, pulling his shirt back on and casting a cooling charm on the both of them.
“Yeah, yeah,” she muttered. “What a waste of perfectly good weed,” she shook her head. He rolled his eyes at her as they exited the room.
“I’ll come by tomorrow. We can drink a little, maybe just relax in the common room?” Theo asked. “Maybe have a repeat of tonight?” he waggled his eyebrows. “I have Blaise sending me an owl tomorrow, so I’ll bring you some.”
She smiled up at him. “You’re an angel, Nott. Have I said that today?”
He shot Hermione her favorite lopsided grin. “Nope, but I’ll take it. See you tomorrow, Granger.” They parted ways - he went to the eighth year dorm and she went up to her room.
She stopped in the bathroom on her way back up to the head’s dorm. She made half of an effort to fix her hair, and no effort to cover up the hickeys on her neck. Sometimes, she liked them - but she had some tact, so she covered them up for classes.
Trudging back to her room, she was hoping it would be empty. She really was not in the mood to deal with Malfoy right now. Theo had entirely worn her out, and all she wanted to do was go to sleep at a reasonable hour.
As bad luck would have it, she was greeted by blond hair as she pushed open the portrait. He was laying on the couch, a book in one hand - not one she had read yet, by the look of it; maybe he’d let her borrow it, she mused - and Firewhisky in the other. “Where have you been?” he demanded.
She hid a snort with a purposeful scuff of her shoe against the cobblestone floor. “None of your business.” Hermione headed to the kitchen to pour herself some water. Smoking usually left her somewhat dehydrated, especially when it was coupled with sex.
Closing his book, he stood up and walked over to her. He crowded her against the counter. “What the hell is your deal?” she asked. “I don’t owe you anything.”
“You do when it’s far past the time of any goddamn rounds, Granger. You seem to forget we’re supposed to be a team,” he nearly spit the last word at her in his anger.
“You’re the one that sent me out there! If you were so bloody concerned, maybe you should have gone with me.” She crossed her arms over her chest, trying to inconspicuously shake her hair over her shoulders. “I am a grown woman, I can take care of myself just fine if you haven’t already noticed. You can go back to whatever it was you were doing and leave me the fuck alone,” she seethed.
Malfoy’s eyes zeroed in on her neck with laser focus. “What the hell is that?” he asked, pushing her hair back. “Is that a fucking hickey?”
Shrugging away from his touch and scowling at him. “Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Like I said, none of your business.”
Granger had a hickey.
She had a fucking hickey.
Draco couldn’t explain why that made him so inexplicably angry, but here he was, fuming as she casually sipped her water like nothing was amiss. “And what’s that smell?” He pressed, wrinkling his nose for dramatic effect. “Whatever it is, it smells foul.”
At this, she blushed, and he found it odd. Why did this spur her embarrassment and not his incessant prodding at her implied sex life?
Granger busied herself. “As I said, none of your business, Malfoy. Why don’t you go back to whatever you were doing before I came in and disturbed your peace?”
Waiting for you.
He hadn’t been lying when he said he was waiting up for her. It was late into the evening, and as the night grew longer and darker, he’d grown uneasier. And now, he had so many unanswered questions.
Draco was determined to get answers.
“I asked you a question, Granger, and I expect an answer,” he snarled, moving closer to her.
“Well you’re going to have to deal with the fact that you’re not getting one!” she yelled in his face, chest heaving.
He inhaled the scent of her again, finally pinpointing the smell. His expression changed from angry to incredulous, disbelieving. “Is that... weed I smell, Granger?” Draco’s lips curled into a smirk as his demeanor shifted on its head.
Well, well, well. The Golden Girl had a dirty little secret. More than one, from the look of it.
Her face flushed red, and she turned away, filling her glass up again. “Why won’t you just leave me alone? I don’t have to tell you anything.”
Denial - he knew that look.
“That means it’s a yes,” he singsonged triumphantly, purposely pushing her even further.
Granger ignored him, turning and heading from the kitchen to the common room. She plopped down on the couch, picking up a book and angrily flipping back to the page she’d been at earlier. Draco followed her, deciding that he was very much in the mood to stir the pot. With Granger, it was never all that difficult to irritate her or get her worked up.
And oh, Draco was looking for a fight.
Sitting down unceremoniously next to her on the couch, he just sat there and stared at her until she gave him attention. It didn’t take long. She turned with a huff, cheeks still pink, and said again, ”What?"
“Oh, nothing,” he said casually as he examined his fingernails. “Just waiting for you to say it.”
Her eyebrows shot up on her head. “Say what?” Her voice was soft and menacing. It didn’t scare him - part of him loved seeing her angry.
“That I’m right.” Draco’s incredibly smug grin split his face in two. It was fuelled not only by the anger in her voice, but the way she bristled at his words. “Come on, Granger. You can admit it. We both know I am. Out of the two of us, I’m not the naive one.” He rolled his eyes.
At that, she threw down her book. “Oh, you think I’m naive?” There was a haughtiness in her voice that sounded more like an ‘I know something you don’t’ and Draco was intrigued.
“Most definitely. Care to argue?” Draco leaned forward, intentionally baiting her. He was hoping not only for her to admit that he was right, but maybe he could weasel some information out of her on where those hickeys came from.
Unfortunately, Granger saw right through him. “No.” Her defense dropped immediately as she sat down in the chair across the room and picked up her book, continuing like nothing had happened.
Draco kicked back and propped his feet up on the coffee table. He rolled up the sleeves to rest just at his elbows - he was entirely hell bent on not letting his Mark bother him anymore - and unbuttoned his two top buttons before conjuring a glass of Firewhisky and taking a sip. “You know, you can tell me. It’s not like I’m going to rat you out.”
He had a point, and she knew it. He owed her for speaking for him, even though he’d never admit it. Draco let the unspoken words settle over her before he continued. “Granger, you fought, survived, and won a bloody war that targeted you. If you didn’t have a vice–” or two, he thought snidely, “–I’d be more than shocked. I’m just trying to make conversation.” He shrugged. “But if you don’t want to spill all your dirty little secrets the first few days back to school, that’s fine with me. We have the rest of the year. I’m a patient man.”
She spoke sooner than expected, sounding hesitant more than anything else. “Why do you want to know so badly?”
Why did he? He thought about it. “I don’t know, I think I just want to talk for once. We spent so much time hating each other–” he fought to keep the guilty look off his face, “–that we don’t even know if we could even get along for real. And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather this be an easy year. And it would be much easier if we could actually get along, don’t you think?”
That ought to placate her, at least for now. And the weird part was that he actually meant what he was saying. A part of him had always wanted to get along with her - being snarky was one thing, but being outright mean for so long had just drained him so entirely. He wanted to get through this year with no hiccups, and then get out and try his damndest to rehabilitate the Malfoy name.
Granger spoke then, sounding cautious. “Okay... I see your point,” she acquiesced. She rolled a thought around in her mind, chewing on her cheek as she did so. Shutting her book, she crossed her legs in the chair she was sitting on. A slightly uncertain smile grew on her face. “I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.”
The word had left his lips before he could think twice. “Done.” He reached forward to place his wand in the middle of the coffee table, each of them at an end. Twisting it between his fingers and letting it go, it spun. Their eyes both followed its movement as it twirled, until it finally stopped. The tip end landed on none other than Granger herself.
She groaned. “I suppose I brought this upon myself, didn’t I?” Huffing out a sigh, she said, “Fine. You were right. I smoke weed for fun.” Slumping back in her chair and resting her elbow on the back, she raised an eyebrow as if expecting him to judge.
“What strains do you like?” he asked, probing. She looked surprised at his question, like she hadn’t expected him to know that.
“Depends,” she shrugged, picking at her cuticle. “Usually I prefer Indica because it calms me down better and helps me sleep, but I’ll dabble in the occasional Sativa.” A slow, private grin grew on her face. “I’m very partial to Hawaiian Punch.” Her eyes glittered.
“Funny, I like Sativa better,” he said, shooting a smile at her. “Come on, Granger, I know you have more coping mechanisms than little old weed. Let’s hear them.” He raised the glass to his lips.
At this, her confident demeanor slipped a touch and she shifted in her seat. Looking like she was debating with herself, she bit back some words before spitting them out. “Sex.”
He choked on the amber liquid as it went down. Draco spluttered out, “What?”
“You heard me,” she pressed. “Sex. Intercourse, making love, shagging, having relations...”
Draco grimaced. “I know what sex is, Granger, you don’t have to spell it out for me. I’m just surprised you’re having it.” Who with?
“Don’t you want to know who it’s with?” she asked. Her confidence back in spades, and she was eyeing him heavily.
“Humor me,” he said, cocking an eyebrow, staying firmly away from his alcohol for when she inevitably shocked him once more.
“Fucking Nott? Theodore Nott? Slytherin?” His eyebrows nearly disappeared into his hairline with how high they’d jumped. “Him? I didn’t even know you two knew each other.”
“We got close while rebuilding the castle.” Granger shrugged. “We work well together and I trust him. Not to mention he’s my dealer, so we kind of have to get along.” She smirked, scratching absently at her forearm. Draco tried to ignore the motion.
“Wow. Definitely did not see that coming.” He was trying to ignore the odd, uneasy feeling that was brewing in him at the revelation. “I’m shocked - I can’t believe that the Weasel lets you... dabble like that.” If the two of them were together in any capacity, he couldn’t see Weasley accepting the fact that Granger was playing in other peoples’ cauldrons.
That would never fly with him - Draco was not one to share. He couldn’t wrap his head around the idea that people were so open with their relationships sometimes. Not, of course, that he was judging, but it simply had no appeal to him in any way, shape, or form.
Her face scrunched tight, before abruptly relaxing and giving a choked splutter that sounded like it got caught somewhere between a laugh and a cough. “Uh, no. Ron and I are not together.” It sounded like there was a backstory to that, and Draco was instantly curious. They’d always seemed close, especially around the final battle.
“Really? Could have fooled me,” he said, aiming for casual, but probably failing in his attempt to dig up information.
“No, definitely not,” Granger shook her head vehemently, curls moving slightly with the motion. “We tried it, but we figured out rather quickly. I think a lot of it was that we didn’t know how to interact properly when there wasn’t some kind of... I don’t know, imminent darkness looming constantly over our heads.” She rolled her eyes.
“I mean, it made sense at the time. We understood what we’d been through better than anyone else, but at the end of the day when we really thought about it all, we just weren’t a good match.” A twinge of a sad smile graced her lips for the briefest of moments. “We’re still good friends though,” she added.
“The war changed everyone, Granger,” he said quietly. “It’s only natural to want to find yourself after the fact. Most of us have no idea who we are without the threat of death tainting everything we do.” Draco didn’t miss the fact that he’d unwittingly included himself into the admission.
They were quiet for a moment as they tried to find their way back to the conversation before it had gotten so gloomy. “Theo Nott?” he teased again. “Really?”
“Yup,” she said, acting like it was the most normal thing in the world for her to be shagging one of his oldest friends. “Anyway, it’s your turn.” She shot him a pointed look. “But I bet I can guess it.”
He waved her on. “By all means.”
Granger pointed at him. “Alcohol. The expensive stuff, I’m sure. No less for a Malfoy,” she laughed.
Clearing his throat uncomfortably, he rubbed at the back of his neck. “Actually, this is the cheap shit,” he let out a short laugh. “I decided I wanted a break from the finer things in life for a bit. They didn’t do me any favors in the end, did they?”
“No, they didn’t.” She looked solemn. They sat in silence for a few moments before she perked up and asked, “So, am I right?” Such a swot. Always needing the answer as soon as humanly possible.
Draco rolled the idea around in his head. Was she right? He didn’t necessarily know the answer. Trying to think of any instance in his life where he’d found some sort of solace or escape in something else, he pondered.
The first time he’d lost himself in his thoughts at Hogwarts was the second week into term, in the library. He was at the table three down from hers and she was scribbling notes, quill moving furiously, bushy hair nearly sparking, brows furrowed in intense concentration.
The second was at the first Quidditch game second year. He was finally on the team, and they’d kicked the year off with Slytherin against Gryffindor. He caught sight of her in the stands, her small figure nearly drowning in a red and gold scarf that was nearly three times her size.
Another memory - they’d been paired up for potions. Snape had been feeling particularly vicious this year, and he’d decided to take it out on everyone, and Draco was no exception. Putting him with Granger was his punishment for being a dick to him three days prior, and he knew it.
They’d worked surprisingly well together, and as time passed, they’d had the best brew in the class. They would have parted on good terms if not for the fact that Weasley and Potter had cornered him on the way out to threaten him for absolutely nothing. Teeth clenched and jaw angrily set, he’d looked at her from between their shoulders, took one look at her shocked face, and left while spitting under his breath, “You act like I wanted to work with the Mudblood.”
He’d felt bad about that for days.
In fact, every time he’d had to throw a slur or insult at her he’d always turned it over in his head for days after the fact. It had never been that way for anyone else. Anyone else and he spewed insults out left and right with a fervor that he’d learned directly from Lucius.
And then, she’d been on the floor of his drawing room, and it had taken everything in him, his Occlumency shields, and his mother’s hand on his arm to keep from stopping the whole thing. He knew he couldn’t have, not without getting everyone in the Manor killed, but Gods had he wanted to.
He’d never felt himself spiral so badly - not when he’d taken the Mark, not when he’d felt the despair sink in once he’d finished the cabinet, not when he’d had his wand pointed at Dumbledore. He wondered if it wasn’t a by-proxy that he was losing his grip on sanity watching her get tortured, and then remembered Bella couldn’t possibly be that smart.
It had barely registered as strange at the time, given the circumstances, but as all the pieces fell into place, it all made itself plain as day.
It struck him like a curse. Without him ever releasing, she’d become his vice somewhere along the line. She’d always been his vice.
“Yeah,” he finally said, sounding strangled, getting out the words even with the driest of mouths. “Yeah, you are.”
AUTHOR’S NOTE, PLEASE READ: This will not be regularly updated for a few more weeks as I plan to have more written before I post consistently.