You find her alone in her flat, leaning her forehead against a white kitchen cupboard and staring down at a mug of dark tea. The steam rises from the mug in tepid swirls, winding and curling it's way around her hair. For a moment she is a vision, her pale visage framed by wild chestnut curls mingled with the grayish steam.

She is peace and it will take years for you to understand why.

You step further into the flat and that's when she notices you. You want to chide her for not being more vigilant, for losing herself in her thoughts like she always does, but you don't and you won't.

Instead you remove your overcoat and carefully hang it up on the rack. Your movements are methodic and practiced.

When you finally enter the kitchen and get a closer look at her you notice that there are dark circles under her eyes. You know that your face is marred by the same temporary imperfections. The only difference here is that her exhaustion is a result of grief and yours a result of guilt. You reconcile this fact by telling yourself that it's all the same in the end. Sadness is still sadness.

She glances down at her mug of tea listlessly, taking a feeble sip before setting it aside and moving past you, into the bedroom. You follow her because if there is anything you know, it's that she makes you feel at peace. Even if it's only for the half hour or so that you will be together tonight, it will bring you peace. These nights are like frequent cease-fires to a war raging inside of you, a war that you are much too familiar with.

You will take this peace from her because you need it, and there is something in the soft curl of her lips and the spark in her eyes that tells you she needs it as well.

This is how it always is. You always follow her in silence into her bedroom. You always watch as she turns to you and begins to undo the buttons of your shirt. You always allow her to pull the shirt off of your unmoving form, neither helping nor hindering this practiced process.

Her hands are cold as they press against your chest, but you don't shiver or shy away. You try not to acknowledge the fact that she is the only person you ever have any sort of physical contact with nowadays.

It's been going on for months now. You know that you could count the months if you wanted to, pinpoint the exact date when this first happened, but somehow that seems wrong. You don't want to confine what's going on here to a specific space in time. It doesn't work like that, you tell yourself.

Still, however, you can remember the day that it first happened. It was three months after the war ended. Three months after Potter and Weasley died. Three months after both your life and hers came crashing down in a matter of minutes.

You'd been struggling to get by for a long time. While Potter didn't survive, neither did the Dark Lord. Both met their end on that fateful day. The war left you on your knees. Without the resources you'd been living off for most of your life, you were left to face some harsh realities that had been creeping up on you for a very, very long time.

It had only been by chance that your new job as a Public Relations staff member for the Ministry was one shared by Hermione Granger. It all continued on from there, working alongside Granger giving you and her a strange sort of insight into each other.

Then one day it all changed. You were alone with her and you'd just received word that your father had finally been convicted to a lifetime sentence in Azkaban for his Death Eater involvement. Looking back on it, you couldn't identify the reason why your reaction had been to push the bloody Gryffindor Princess against a wall and snog her senseless in the middle of a petty argument, but it happened, nonetheless.

The strangest thing about all of it was that she'd responded with equal intensity. You'd known that she was going through something, drowning in a sea of grief and confusion after the loss of her best friend and her lover, but you didn't expect this.

Things progressed as they always did, and somehow that night became the best night in years.

She was respite and peace and relief. The simple sensation of her skin pressed against yours was a chemical cauterization, healing wounds both old and new. Even though you quarreled and glared at each other and barely spoke after it was all done with, it felt good. It felt right.

You didn't stop thinking about that night. It was maddening how she made you feel, someone who you used to despise so deeply, only to learn years later that the views and the principles you'd been raised with were horribly wrong. She alone defied all of them.

Maybe that was what drew you to her in the first place.

Nevertheless, two days later it happened again.

It kept happening, usually on the long nights at work when you were alone with her for extended periods of time, bickering and glaring while trying to get work done.

One day she gave you the key to her flat. That's when you really wondered if all the grief had left her unhinged.

But you still went to her flat that night. You went to her flat three days later as well, surprising her while she'd been in the middle of preparing dinner. You thought for a moment that it was all a great big mistake to push yourself into her life more, but she proved you wrong. Like clockwork, she put down what she was doing and brought you into her bedroom and begun to undress you.

That was how it all began. Now, months later, the routine persisted. Whenever you felt the urge you came to her flat, she put down whatever she was doing, and together you proceeded to her bedroom. Sometimes you wonder if she never has company over because of the off chance that you'll show up. You don't know how that makes you feel.

The strange thing is that somewhere along the way the bickering and arguments had stopped. In fact, speaking had pretty much become obsolete with the exception of the other's name and the quiet little sighs she makes when you touch her.

It's the same as it always is tonight. You kiss her desperately, letting out the fierce flood of pent up emotions that you've always struggled to restrain. She kisses you back with force enough to measure up to yours. The only real emotion you've seen her display lately is at times like these, when she's desperate and greedy with you. But it works. You match her, taking everything in stride, giving it back just the same.

Her small hands are cold and skittish as they move from your chest and grip your shoulders and arms. Her lips are warm as they glide along your throat and collar. Her hums of contentment make you feel drunk with a very strange sense of power because you know beyond a doubt that she only makes these sounds with you. Maybe at one point she felt this way, made these noises and did these things with Weasley, but he is long gone now. She doesn't speak of him ever and that's good enough for you, even if you know that sometimes she thinks of him while you're with her.

You tell yourself that you're thinking of someone else too.

In the end you take what you need from her and she from you. When you are done you wait for exactly two minutes, lying next to her, counting the time in your head, not allowing yourself even a second longer beside her. After your time is up you get out of bed, put your clothes back on, and leave.

The walk home is lonely and quiet. Despite the heaviness you feel in your chest right now it's still better than that anger and helpless self-hatred that you usually battle before going to her.

She is peace and it will take years for you to understand why.


Author's Note: I decided to dip into Draco/Hermione for a change and was quite satisfied with the result. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Reviews are very much appreciated.