Disclaimer: I own none of these characters here. I merely borrow them from JK Rowling and company for my own amusement, and hopefully yours too. Please don't sue. I have nothing of value anyway.

Reversal of Fortune

Summary: Draco has been disowned by his family and must make due in the real world. Will he be able to do it? And how will he handle the fact that his new neighbor is none other than Hermione Granger? Can they get along or is this a match made in hell? Dramione.

Hermione sat in her flat reading a book with some soft music playing in the background. Her cat was perched on the edge of the sofa and she had her feet up on the coffee table. It was a lovely Saturday morning and she was enjoying a nice cup of tea along with her book. That is until she heard loud commotion coming from the outside hallway to her apartment. She could hear people talking and every once in a while she'd hear something heavy drop or smash into the wall, followed by loud cursing. Curiosity got the better of her and she stood up and went to the peephole. She could see a large bed being carried by two men into the apartment across from her. She couldn't make out their faces, but one of them was tall and blonde. She deduced that the empty apartment across from her was now being rented by someone obviously, but she had no idea what to expect. She just hoped whoever they were, they were quieter than they were being right now. She was annoyed with how much racket they were making, especially when they couldn't fit the big mattress through the front door. The blonde man started kicking the wall and his friend just shook his head. Hermione sighed and went to sit back down again. She wasn't that friendly with her neighbors really because she was living a secret life. She was in a Muggle building and she had to pretend to be one in order to live there. But it wasn't always easy to hide the fact that she was a witch. Part of her wanted to go across the hall and use magic to help the poor sod get his bed in the door, but she knew she couldn't do any such thing. But it would simple it up a lot, that's for sure.

She heard the kicking and the cursing stop and she figured out they must have gotten the bed inside finally. She wondered if it was a single man living there, or a couple. She hadn't seen a girl yet, but that didn't mean there wasn't one waiting in the wings. After all, she had stopped peeking at them. But curiosity got her thinking and she went to the door and looked out again. This time a large brute of a man was walking into the apartment with boxes under his arms. The blonde man was nowhere to be seen, and neither was the bed. She wasn't entirely sure which of the people was actually moving in. She thought perhaps that even if she couldn't use magic she might offer to lend a hand. But then she realized she wasn't that strong really and why should she care to help a stranger move his things in? It looked like he had plenty of help already, as another man walked out of the apartment and presumably went to go get another item to bring in. He was smaller than the man with the box, but she didn't see the blonde man anymore. She warred with herself about offering to help, and then realized she had some biscuits in a tin that someone gave her that she never ate or opened. Maybe it would be a nice gesture to at least bring them as a housewarming gift to the new neighbor?

She went to her pantry and rummaged through it until she found the tin of biscuits and pulled them out. She checked herself in the mirror first to make sure she was presentable, and then she proceeded to open the door and almost ran into the guy who had been helping the blonde man with the mattress.

"Oh! Sorry! I didn't mean to run into you," she said startled slightly.

"No worries. I'm just in a bit of a rush. I have to be somewhere soon and I have to finish helping this guy move in," he explained quickly.

"Oh, so you're not the one moving in?" she wondered.

"No, it's another bloke. He paid me and my buddy Jack to help him move. The man has a lot of shit, pardon my language. It's never going to fit inside this tiny little flat," he chuckled.

Just then, the blonde man appeared at the door and looked cross with the other man.

"Am I paying you to chat up birds in the hallway or am I paying you to move my shit?" he grumbled angrily.

Hermione just stood there and stared at him and couldn't believe her eyes. She finally got a good look at his face. Plus his voice was one she'd know anywhere.

"Malfoy?" she asked with astonishment.

He looked away from the man and back at her, just noticing who she was for the first time.

"Oh perfect. It's Granger. Please tell me you don't live in this building too?" he said grumpily.

"As a matter of fact, I do. I live right there," she pointed to her door. "What the hell are you doing in this building? Isn't it a little beneath you?" she wondered.

"Look I don't have time to explain right now. I have to get the moving truck back in thirty minutes so these two buffoons need to speed it up," he said ignoring her question.

"Man, it's never going to all fit. You should have had a yard sale or something," the guy complained.

"Just go get more stuff. I'm right behind you," Draco said shoving the guy away from the door and propelling him back outside. Then he looked at Hermione holding her biscuit tin. "Are you still out here? Shows over. Go back inside."

"I-I was just going to offer you these biscuits as a welcome to the building, but never mind. I can see you're as pleasant as ever," she said giving him a look.

"Are the biscuits poisoned?" he asked with a raised eyebrow.

"No."

"Then I'll take those," he said, grabbing them out of her hands.

"Hey! Give those back!" she cried, reaching for them.

"You said they were for me," he pointed out.

"Yeah, but I didn't know it was YOU in there. I thought someone nice might have moved in. Give me back the biscuits!" she tried wrestling them out of his grasp.

"Fine, take them! I don't need your lame old grandma looking biscuits anyway. Probably re-gifting them anyway, am I right?" he sneered at her.

She didn't know what to say to him since he was right, they were re-gifted. But it was supposed to be the thought that counted! But she grabbed them up under her arm and stormed back inside her flat and slammed the door. Why of all people was Draco Malfoy living across from her? Shouldn't he be in some penthouse suite or a mansion in the country side? She couldn't fathom why he was living in the city in an older run-down apartment building. Half the time the lift didn't even work. She took the stairs mostly. But she was a single girl with mediocre paying job at the Ministry, and not some pureblooded elite snob who pissed galleons, like Draco was. She didn't understand why he was even there at all. But she tossed the tin of biscuits on her kitchen counter and decided to go back to reading her book. Even if now all she could think of was that Draco was her new neighbor. She really, really hoped she never saw him out and about. She hadn't seen him in years and didn't care to see him now. And it was clear by his attitude that he didn't want to see her either.

Time passed and everything was all quiet across the hall. She figured they finished their task and went to deliver the moving truck back. And she just kept wondering if Draco actually drove a moving truck by himself. Surely he didn't. But then again, he was now living below his means, so perhaps he had stooped so low as to drive a common rented truck, even though she could not picture that at all. But she went about her business and when night came, she decided to run to the corner mart and get some food for supper. She had been so thrown off by Draco moving in that she forgot to go to the regular market and now she didn't feel like making the trek. She'd just eat something small for supper. But as soon as she walked out her door, Draco opened his door up.

"Ugh, you again," he grumbled under his breath.

"I'm not exactly jumping for joy over seeing you again either, blondie," she shot back at him as she clutched her purse tightly.

"Where's the rubbish bin in this place?" Draco asked with a sigh as he was holding a bag in his hands that he didn't know what to do with.

"The what?" she asked, still trying to get used to speaking to such an unpleasant person.

"The rubbish bin. Where the fuck is it? Or do you people just leave your trash lying about the hallways?" he asked impatiently.

"It's down the hall to the left. You'll find the little chute next to the fire extinguisher on the wall," she said, unsure of why she was helping him out at all.

"Thank you," he said coolly and turned around and marched off.

"You're welcome, you fuckwit," she mumbled under her breath as she turned the other way and went down the stairs and out into the night.

Draco just marched down the hallway and found the trash chute. It was right where she said it was. And he deposited his rubbish and sighed. This was his life now. He was no longer living in a cushy mansion, but rather a dingy little flat in the heart of the city. And he was no longer rolling in money, as his father had disowned him for refusing to marry a girl he didn't love. Draco had been given an ultimatum. Either he married Astoria Greengrass, a girl he didn't even know, or he get out of the mansion and live on his own. After many arguments and tantrums thrown by him, he was unceremoniously thrown out of Malfoy Manor and told not to come back unless he was prepared to marry. He was allowed to keep the contents of his room, and that was it. He didn't even have a job. Just a little startup money his mum gave him so he wouldn't be homeless, but now he had to actually find a job. He had no idea what he was going to do. And part of him thought he should just get married and avoid all this drama. But he had bowed down to his father one too many times, and he just couldn't do it anymore. Not when his whole life was at stake. He wanted to marry a woman he loved someday. He didn't want to live in such an archaic environment where his father dictated everything. And now this was the price he paid. Living like a common Muggle. With Granger for a neighbor, no less. Of all the buildings in the city, why'd he pick the one she lived in? He was hoping to just blend in and not be reminded of his past. But that was going to be impossible now. He went back inside his flat and shut the door and just sat down on a stack of boxes and shook his head.

When Hermione came back to her flat, she was pleased to not see Draco in the hallway. So she opened her door and Crookshanks immediately ran out. That wasn't like him as he knew he wasn't allowed outdoors anymore, but he went straight for Draco's door and started scratching on it.

"Will you get over here? Stop scratching at the mean man's door!" she scolded her cat.

But he didn't listen. He just kept meowing and scratching and raising himself on his hind legs so he could rattle the doorknob. This was something he did to Hermione whenever she locked him out of her bedroom. But she did not want him bothering Draco.

"Crookshanks! Get back over here! My hands are full!" she cried at her wayward pet.

Just then the door opened up and Crookshanks went running inside Draco's flat immediately. He watched as the cat ran past him and then he looked at Hermione.

"Oh God, what the hell was that?" he asked miserably as he saw the orange blur of a cat run past him.

"That's my cat. I'm really sorry. For some reason he wanted inside your flat. I tried to stop him!" she explained.

"A cat? I hate cats. Great. Now it's in my flat. You gotta get rid of it," he said with annoyance.

"Let me just put my bags down," she said with a sigh as she set them down inside her doorway and walked back over to Draco.

"Wait. What are you doing?" he asked as she tried to enter his apartment.

"You said to get the cat. I'm getting the cat," she shrugged.

"Can't you just call him out? Doesn't it listen to you?" he wondered.

"Obviously not or he wouldn't have run inside your flat to begin with. It's a cat. It has a mind of its own," she told him.

"Ugh. My place is a mess. Just remember, I only moved in today. Nothing's unpacked. So make it snappy," he said, motioning for her to come in and look for the cat.

"Don't worry, I'm not paying attention to your crap. I just want my bloody cat back. I swear he was acting like you had a whole tuna fish hanging from the ceiling the way he was dying to get into your place," she said, shaking her head.

"I don't have any fish hanging around my place, trust me," he informed her.

She walked in and saw nothing but boxes and what appeared to be a lot of junk to her eyes. She found her cat perched on the window ledge batting at something she couldn't see right away and then she realized it was a mouse. A little mouse was attempting to get in through the slightly open window and Crookshanks was threatening to eat it.

"What do you have there, huh?" she asked her cat with a small sigh.

When Draco saw the mouse though, he actually let out a scream. It startled Hermione and her cat, and they both jumped.

"What? Afraid of a mouse?" Hermione chuckled at him.

"For your information I'm not afraid. I was simply taken off guard. But really, a mouse? In my flat? Is this a common occurrence? I was told this building was clean!" he complained, catching his breath and trying to save face in front of Hermione.

"It is a clean building but sometimes mice come in. That's why I have a cat. Perhaps you need one?" she said, as she shut the window fully and scooped her cat up under her arm. "There, now it can't get in. But you might wanna leave some traps out," she told him as she attempted to leave.

"Wait! Traps? Mousetraps? I-I don't know where to get those. And you can't leave with a mouse hovering at my window! Get rid of it!" he cried, forgetting that he was supposed to be cool and unaffected by the rodent.

"Draco, you've got a wand. Just poof it away. Turn it into a teacup for all I care. Didn't we learn that spell in our third year or something?" she sighed.

"Right. Right. Just poof it into a teacup. I hadn't thought of that. I just didn't want it to come at me and try and eat me while I slept," he said smoothing down his hair and trying to act naturally.

"God Draco, you're such a sissy. It's a mouse not a grizzly bear. It isn't going to eat you," she laughed at him.

"Shut up. I've heard stories where rats eat babies when they sleep!" he shot back at her.

"It's not a rat, it's a little mouse. And besides, I think that's just an Urban Legend about the babies. I'm sure you're safe. Or do you want me to get rid of the mouse for you?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.

"No, I can do it. Just run along. Who invited you in anyway?" he scoffed, never taking his eyes off the mouse at the window.

"You told me to come in! But whatever. I'm hungry. I'm making supper. Good luck with your mouse problem," she said as she turned on her heel and took her cat away to her own apartment.

She left Draco just standing there, but she figured he'd be fine. She scolded the cat again for running into his apartment, but apparently he could sense a mouse even from that far away. He was a special cat, being part Kneazle meant he had excellent senses. But it was not very useful when you were trying to avoid your new neighbor. But just for the fact that she witnessed Draco being scared of a little mouse, she decided to give Crookshanks a treat. He deserved it. It wasn't a mouse buffet but it would have to do. She couldn't help laughing to herself when she thought of the way Draco screamed like a little girl when he saw it. It was the best thing she'd seen in a while. She started putting her meager groceries away and made a quick sandwich for supper and sat back down to watch some telly. That is until someone came knocking on her door. She got up and looked out the peephole and saw Draco standing there again and she rolled her eyes. She opened the door.

"What is it now?" she asked stifling a fake yawn.

"I need sugar. Do you have sugar?" he asked holding out a measuring cup to her.

"Sugar? Are you actually baking something in there?" she asked with much curiosity.

"Of course not. Don't be absurd. Me? Baking? I'm trying to have a cup of tea but I don't have any sugar," he explained with a put out expression on his face.

"Tea? That makes more sense at least. Fine, I'll get you some sugar," she sighed as she grabbed the measuring cup from him and went to the kitchen.

Draco cautiously entered the apartment and noticed the cat licking himself on the sofa. He was sated by the cat treats and part of Hermione's sandwich, so he had no urge to run off to find more mice. But Draco just stood there uncomfortably.

"So did your cat run into the wall at Platform 9 ¾ or was his face always squashed up like that?" Draco asked her.

She made a face at him and handed over the cup of sugar.

"He always looked like that, you dork. I think he's beautiful."

"You would," he said snarkily under his breath.

"What?"

"Nothing. Uh, thanks for the sugar. I won't be bothering you again," he told her.

"I should hope not. It's not like we can even stand each other," she remarked.

"Look, I didn't wanna come over here at all, but I don't know anyone else," he said with a sigh.

"You could just go to the corner market for sugar," she offered him.

"I'm a little strapped for cash, if you must know," he admitted reluctantly.

"Really? What happened?" she asked inquisitively, even if she couldn't stand him. She had to admit she was dying to know what he was doing living there with her.

"As if I'd tell you," he scoffed, clutching the cup of sugar tightly.

"Fine. Don't tell me. Just go drink your tea," she said motioning for him to leave.

"Fine.

"Great."

"Perfect."

"Leave!" she shouted angrily.

He started to say something else, but thought better of it. She might take her sugar back. So he just turned on his heel and marched out of her apartment and slammed the door. She let out a breath and shook her head. This was going to be interesting, she thought to herself. And she wasn't sure she was going to like it.

The next day, Draco didn't emerge from his flat and Hermione snuck out in order to see Harry. He was meeting her for breakfast. And even if she wasn't exactly in hiding, she tried hard to avoid her new neighbor. But she couldn't wait to tell Harry all about it. When she got to the coffee shop, Harry was already waiting at a table with two coffees. She smiled when she saw him and sat down across from him.

"Hey Harry," she grinned.

"Hermione. What's so important you just had to see me today?" he asked giving her a look.

"You will never in a million years guess who moved in across the hall from me yesterday," she said quickly.

"Who?"

"Just guess!"

"I have no idea. Someone famous?" he offered.

"No! It's better than that. Draco Malfoy! He lives in Mrs. Donaldson's old place. I didn't have the heart to tell him she died in there last month because he was already so upset about seeing a mouse. Lord only knows what he'd do if he thought the place was haunted. Which on second thought, might actually be hilarious," she said thoughtfully.

"What? Malfoy moved into your building? Why?" Harry was confused.

"No clue. He mentioned something about being strapped for cash when he borrowed sugar from me," she shrugged as she sipped her already made coffee.

"Strapped for cash? Wait, he borrowed sugar? Was he making a cake?" Harry laughed slightly.

"That's what I wondered! But no, he was having tea. I don't know what to even do with myself now! I had to sneak out this morning before he heard me. God only knows what else he'll want to borrow from me next. It's just so weird to me that he lives there. I don't know if I'm gonna be able to handle such weirdness."

"Maybe he has a gambling problem and lost all his money?" Harry tossed out.

"He doesn't strike me as the gambling type," she told him.

"Well there must be some reason he's strapped for cash. Surely his family still has money," Harry said.

"Well if they do, they're not giving it to him anymore."

"You have to find out what's going on! Talk to him. I'm insanely curious," Harry said excitedly.

"Talk to him? Are you mad? I don't want to talk to him!" Hermione cried.

"But it'll be like research or something. Get to the bottom of things," Harry explained.

"It's not my business," she said shaking her head.

"Oh but come on. You know you wanna know," he smiled at her and took a sip of his coffee.

"Why don't you come to my flat and ask him yourself?" she offered up.

"I can't. I have somewhere to be later. Ginny wants me to come home after our breakfast. Big day planned of cleaning out our flat," he told her.

"Doesn't that sound exciting. Cleaning? Isn't it more exciting to find out why Draco is suddenly broke and my neighbor?" she pouted.

"Ginny would kill me though. I promised her I'd be back in an hour."

"Spoil sport. How am I going to find reasons to talk to him?" she wondered.

"I'm sure you will. And then call me to tell me what it is. Be our spy. Because I really want to laugh over his misfortune. Bugger had it coming," Harry chuckled slightly.

"Be a spy? Fine. I've done worse. But he's gonna get mad at me if I push him for details," she said.

"Just be charming."

"I'm afraid my charm doesn't work on Draco. He still acts like I'm beneath him, even if he's living in a crappy apartment. With hardly any furniture, I might add. He just had a lot of boxes of crap," she told Harry.

"Just still try and charm your way into his good graces. At least long enough to find out the story," Harry urged her.

Hermione didn't really feel comfortable being the spy, but in all fairness, it was her that was being a gossip about Draco moving in. She supposed it was up to her to find out more, if anyone was to find that out. So she decided to buy Draco a houseplant and give it to him as an offering of neighborly friendliness and maybe he'd invite her in and spill his guts? A girl could dream. So after she and Harry ate their breakfast, they parted ways and she set off to a shop to buy a plant. She settled on a nice fern that was hard to kill. She carried it home and came to Draco's door. She could hear nothing coming from inside and she wondered if he was out. But she decided to pound on the door anyway and see if he'd open up. And he did.

"You again? What do you want?" he asked with exasperation, as he stood barefoot and shirtless at the door. It looked like he'd recently woken up.

"I bought you this plant. It looked like your flat could use some cheering up, so here you go," she thrust the fern into his hands and tried not to notice how good he looked without a shirt on.

"A plant? Do I look like I want a plant?" he asked distastefully.

"Everyone likes plants, don't they?" she surmised.

"What do I do with it?" he asked with a sigh.

"You water it, silly. And then just look at it. It's not really an interactive gift. It's a bloody fern. Just put it on a shelf," she said with exasperation.

"Alright. Thanks Granger," he said before slamming the door in her face.

"Mission not accomplished," she muttered to herself as she stared at the closed door.

She thought about knocking again, but realized she had no reason to knock. Obviously the fern did not work as a conversation starter. But she was betting a bottle of Firewhiskey would do the trick. Alcohol always made people spill their guts. So she turned around and headed out to buy a bottle and hand that over to him under the guise of them drinking together. Of course it was only eleven am, so it'd have to wait a bit. But she had all the time in the world.

When night fell, she put on her cutest casual outfit and picked up the bottle of whiskey to take to Draco's. She knocked on the door again and he opened it up, this time wearing jeans and t-shirt and he gave her an interesting look.

"Back again? What is it this time?" he sighed getting exasperated with her constant presence.

"I-I bought this bottle of Firewhiskey and I thought we could share it," she said with a smile.

"Share it? Are we best buds now? Why are you really here? Did my mother send you over here?" he asked quizzically.

"Your mother? No. Why on earth would your mother send me anywhere?" she asked with confusion.

"Nothing. Nevermind. You're right, she wouldn't send you over here because she doesn't know where I am," he sighed.

"Why are you here, Draco?" she just tossed it out without pretense.

"I'm not telling you," he scoffed.

"Fine. Enjoy the whiskey then," she said feeling foolish and turning on her heel to go back into her flat.

He didn't stop her and she merely heard him slam his door right after she slammed hers. Stupid Draco Malfoy. Being all mysterious like that. She should have known better than to think he'd spill his darkest secrets to her just because she bought him booze. But it was worth a try at least.

She sat back down on her sofa and just tried to get interested in a television program but she was too preoccupied with what Draco might or might not be doing. It was maddening. But soon there was a knock at her door. She got up to answer it after looking out the peephole to see Draco standing there. She opened up and stared him down.

"Okay, so I may have sent you off prematurely. I don't have any glasses," he admitted to her softly.

"Glasses? Just chug it out of the bottle then," she offered as she tried to slam the door in his face, but he stopped her.

"Look can we have a do-over? I know I was a prat but if you want some of this whiskey, we can share. If you have glasses, that is," he explained to her.

"Who doesn't have glasses?"

"I don't."

"Oh right. Well come in then," she motioned for him to come inside and sit down on her sofa.

Draco sat down uncomfortably on the sofa and wrung his hands nervously. He had no idea why he was inside Granger's apartment, but part of him was dying to get his woes off his chest. It was just a pity there wasn't anyone else more suitable to share it with. But Granger would have to do.

Hermione went to get glasses from the kitchen and then came back into the living room and set them down on the table.

"So again, I ask, why are you here?" she posed the question to him.

"I'm here to drink. Didn't fancy chugging it from the bottle all by myself in a dark room. Did I mention I only have one lamp?" he sighed as he cracked open the bottle and poured himself a glass.

"Right. I just meant, why are you living here?" she restated the question.

"Oh. That. Well, it's a long story. But the basic gist is that I got kicked out. How's that for funny? I'm sure you and your mates will get a right chuckle out of that one," he lamented as he took a drink.

"Kicked out? What did you do?" Hermione was paying rapt attention now as she poured herself a tiny sip of the drink.

"I didn't do everything I was told to do," he shrugged. "Are you really only drinking a half of a sip?" he noted the small amount she poured.

"Oh, I'm not much of a Firewhiskey drinker," she admitted.

"Well if you want me to spill my guts, you're gonna have to drink more. Otherwise I could just sit alone and tell the mouse my woes," he told her with a small smirk.

She poured herself a little bit more to placate him, because she didn't want him leaving. Not when she sensed there was a good story in there somewhere. She took a drink and made a face.

"Oh yucky. This stuff is terrible."

"It numbs the pain though."

"I guess. So what didn't you do?" she asked quickly.

"You're a nosy one," he made a face at her.

"Well can you blame me? The great Draco Malfoy is now living in a basic flat with no glasses and only one lamp. Who wouldn't be interested to find out how that came to be?" she insisted.

He sighed and ran his hands through his slightly messy hair.

"I didn't want to marry this girl my father picked for me. I just don't think that a person should be handpicked to marry you by your bloody parents. Shouldn't I meet someone on my own that I love?" he told her.

"Oh, well, yeah. I agree with you. I had no idea your father would try to marry you off like it was the Dark Ages," she commiserated with him.

"So here I am. My mum gave me a little money to start out with, but I'm going to need a fucking job. An actual job! Can you even believe it?" he cried unhappily.

"Welcome to the real world Draco. It sucks here," she raised her glass and finished off her meager sip, while he poured more for himself.

"It's been twenty four hours and so far I'm not loving this real world experience. I actually ate a pot of noodles for supper. Me! Draco Malfoy! I ate a poor persons meal," he said sadly.

She looked at him and couldn't help but laugh. She knew it wasn't funny to him, but it was highly entertaining for her. He scowled at her.

"Is this funny? Am I amusing you?" he wondered.

"I'm sorry Draco. I didn't mean to laugh. It's just, you kind of have to admit this is funny. What a reversal of fortune. Even I don't have to eat pot of noodles for supper," she told him.

"Perfect. I bet you had steak and potatoes didn't you? God, what I wouldn't do for a piece of red meat right now," he said dreamily.

"For your information, I had a salad. But it had chicken in it," she relayed to him.

"Ugh, even a salad would be nice. I don't understand how people do this," he groaned.

"Poor Draco. Where are you going to get a job? Tesco?" she offered with a grin.

"Bite your tongue. No. I'm not bagging groceries like some Muggle. I was thinking of trying the shops in Diagon Alley at least. Someone there is bound to take pity on me. Maybe Flourish and Blotts?"

"Oh I know! How about Weasley's Wizard Wheezes? I know they're looking for someone," she tossed out as she poured another tiny amount of alcohol in her glass.

"You've got to be kidding me. As if I'd work for the Weasley's. I've sunk low, but not that low," he grumbled.

"Suit yourself, but I bet they'd love to hire you," she giggled, knowing Ron would have a field day if he was able to be Draco's boss.

Draco just flipped her off and poured more drink into his glass. Then he grabbed her glass and filled it halfway.

"There, now that's a proper drink for you," he said, tiring of her little sips.

"This is the proper drink for a giant maybe. Or an alcoholic. If I drink this much, I might barf," she turned up her nose at it.

"Then it'd be my turn to laugh at you. Can't hold your liquor," he chuckled slightly.

Off his laughter, Hermione wanted to prove him wrong. She didn't want him laughing at her. Not anymore.

"Fine, I'll drink this up. And more. You'll see. I'll drink you under the table!" she tossed out the dare.

"Oh please. You're embarrassing yourself," he laughed at her.

"Wanna make a bet?"

"A bet? What do I get if I win?" his interested was piqued.

"Hmm, twenty galleons!"

"Twenty galleons? I used to toss that away like it was nothing," he remembered.

"But you have nothing now, so suddenly it's more appealing eh?" she urged him.

"Fine, you're on. Except what do you get if you win? I don't have any money to speak of," he added dejectedly.

"If I win, I get your lamp," she said with a smile.

"My lamp? It cost more than twenty galleons! Plus then I'll have no light."

"Get some candles. I want the lamp when I win," she said self-assuredly.

"Fine. You're not gonna win anyway. Do you realize I am a champ at drinking whiskey? You and your thimble sized drinks tell me you're not a champ. So obviously I'm going to be twenty galleons richer when this is all said and done," he said smugly.

"We'll see," she said, raising her glass to him.

They clinked them together and the bet was on. Hermione had no idea why she was doing this except it wasn't just Draco who got lonely sometimes. And she hadn't seen him in years. He seemed different. Probably because he just got his riches taken away from him. But he was slightly more tolerable than he used to be. After all, he hadn't called her a Mudblood yet and they'd interacted several times now. Maybe people changed?

"So what is it you do for a living, Granger?" he asked, getting slightly tipsy already.

"Me? I work for the Ministry," she told him as she gulped her terrible drink in effort to win the bet.

"Yeah, I know. But what do you actually do?" he clarified.

"How'd you know I worked for the Ministry?" she wondered confusedly.

"I read about it in the paper years ago. But I'm just curious what you stuffed shirts actually do," he told her.

"Well I'm in charge of setting up trials and such for the criminals once they're caught."

"Sounds really fucking boring. And easy. I could do that," he said confidently.

"Well you can't have my job and there are no openings that I know of. Except maybe for janitor," she offered with a smirk.

"I'd rather work for the Weasley's than be a janitor."

"Perfect, then when can I tell Ron and George you'll stop by for an application?" she teased him.

"Ha-ha. Very amusing. Never gonna happen."

They drank silently for a short time and Hermione had to admit she was already feeling the effects of the alcohol even if she hadn't had very much yet. She knew she was probably going to lose this bet, and that didn't make her happy. She hated losing things. So she poured herself more and pretended she was okay. But the face she made every time she took a drink was making Draco laugh.

"You are not a seasoned drinker, are you?" he chuckled at her.

"I like wine. I rarely have the hard stuff. But I bet I could drink more wine than you!" she told him as she slapped him on the arm.

"Ouch! You still hit hard as ever," he said rubbing his arm.

"Sorry. I don't know my own strength sometimes," she admitted sheepishly.

"Or else you meant to sock me in the arm really hard. I suppose I'd have it coming. I don't even know why I'm here or why you're being decent to me," he told her with a shake of his head.

She shrugged.

"I don't know why I'm being decent to you. You always hated me. And I hated you. I guess I was just really curious why you were here and not in your mansion."

"I wish I had a better story to tell, but I just was a disobedient child apparently. I didn't really think Father would throw me out. But he said I was spoiled and directionless and when I wouldn't marry Astoria, he said he gave up on me."

"Eh, you don't need someone like that in your life," she said waving her hand in the air.

"I suppose not, but it's all I knew. Now I don't have a clue what to do with myself. Talk about directionless," he lamented.

"I kind of know how you feel," she sighed and poured another glass for herself.

"No you don't. When were you ever directionless?" he scoffed.

"After the war. I didn't know whether to go back to school or take the job offer I had. Plus I lost my parents. I had no family to help guide me. I didn't know what to do honestly," she remembered sadly.

"What do you mean you lost your parents? Did they die?" he asked suddenly feeling bad for her.

"No, they were obliviated by me and I implanted false memories for them where they never had a daughter. Turns out I did a really fantastic job of it and the healers couldn't undo my damage. So now they live in Australia and don't know I exist. Or rather, they do know I exist, but they don't know who I am and want nothing to do with me," she explained.

He absorbed what she said and took another drink.

"Why'd you do that? It doesn't make much sense," he shook his head.

"I didn't want them to be targets during the war. And I also didn't want them to miss me if I died. But I didn't anticipate that I'd never get them back. I didn't know my own skill really. It was the false memories that were the kicker. I shouldn't have done that," she sighed and gulped her drink.

"I'm sorry they're lost to you. I reckon you do understand slightly what it feels like to be thrust out on your own with nothing," he conceded.

"I had Ron though. And Harry. Plus the Weasley's and other friends. Do you still have your friends?" she wondered aloud. For some reason she was way more interested in Draco's life than she ever imagined she'd be. But he looked so broken and helpless, that it endeared him to her.

"I don't have any friends. Or anyone at all, honestly. They all hate me. The only person who wanted to be with me was Astoria, but that's because her family made her do it. I don't think she really liked me. Hell, I don't really like me," he said staring at the glass in his hand, getting lost in thought.

Hermione felt bad for her old childhood tormentor and she wasn't sure why. He deserved to be knocked down a few pegs. But something about his life now made her sad. And it didn't help that she couldn't stop staring at his lips. She'd never noticed what a perfect little pout he had until tonight. She wondered what else those lips could do, and then she caught herself having those thoughts and realized she obviously had already drank too much.

"I kinda sorta like you a little," she admitted tipsily as she refilled her glass, determined to win the bet.

"What? Now I know you're drunk already," he chuckled slightly and looked at her oddly.

"Did I say that out loud?" she asked shaking her head.

"Afraid so. But don't worry. You're not really as bad as I thought you'd be. God I used to hate you and all your friends," he sighed.

"We hated you too."

"Now look at us? Pathetic. I can't believe I'm sitting in Granger's flat, drinking myself into a coma while telling you my problems." He was angry at himself for opening up to her, but right now, he needed someone. Anyone. And she was the only one there. He told himself it had nothing to do with the fact that she had gotten prettier than he remembered. But he figured that must be the whiskey talking.

"Are you hungry? I'm a little hungry. Want some crisps?" she asked, suddenly feeling the air between them grow thicker and she wanted a distraction.

"I would absolutely love some crisps honestly. The noodles didn't really fill me up," he admitted with a grin.

She got up to get the crisps and realized just how drunk she already was. There was no way she could win this bet, even eating some food to balance out the drink. But she was still determined to try. She brought the crisps back to the sofa and sat down.

"Oh, these are the best," he said, digging into the bag and trying to ignore how vulnerable he was making himself in Granger's company. He just wanted to pretend she was someone else for the night. But when she started giggling, he couldn't help but notice how cute she looked.

"What's so funny?" he asked her curiously.

"This. This is funny. You and me eating crisps and drinking. Plus you got crumbs all over yourself. I figured an aristocrat like you would eat less sloppily," she told him with amusement.

He brushed off his shirt and gave her a look.

"So sue me. I'm starving! I just kind of shoveled them in my mouth," he said defensively.

"Do you want anything else? I have bread to make a sandwich. I was saving it for lunch tomorrow, but if you want it, you can have it," she offered, unsure of why she was being so accommodating.

"Nah, I don't wanna eat your lunch. The crisps are fine," he shook his head.

"Suit yourself."

"Look, why are you being so nice to me? I've never been nice to you. And if all you were after was information as to why I'm here, why am I still sitting on your sofa? You got the goods. Why are you offering me food? Have I really become that pathetic?" he asked her, running his hands through his hair.

"I don't know why I'm being nice. You never deserved it before. But you are a little pathetic right now. I guess I just have a soft spot for the under privileged," she shrugged and took a gulp of her drink.

"Explains why you were with the Weasel, then," he snickered.

She smacked his arm again and nearly knocked the drink out of his hand.

"Shut up! His name is Ron and that's not why I was with him," she said insistently.

"Ouch! Again with the hitting of me! You're brutal. Is that why Ron is not here anymore? Did you keep hitting him too?" he asked rubbing the sore spot on his arm.

"For your information, no that is not why. We broke up. And I never hit him! You just bring it out of me," she shrugged. "Ron and I amicably split because we just had nothing in common after the war was over."

"Really? I thought you were meant to be or something? Why didn't it work?" he asked with genuine curiosity about her life.

She sighed and refilled her glass.

"He wanted to get married and have babies, and I wasn't ready. I'm only twenty three! I guess it just turned out that once the fighting was over, we had very little to talk about that wasn't him trying to talk me into getting married."

"I don't really understand why everyone wants to get married so soon. I'm only twenty three too and I think it's too soon! That's what I kept telling my father. I've barely sowed my wild oats yet. Who wants to get married?" he asked gesturing wildly with his near empty glass.

"I'll drink to that!" She clinked their glasses and erupted into a fit of giggles for no real reason.

"Why are you giggling like that? You're gonna make me laugh and nothing is funny!" he scolded her.

"I have no idea why I'm laughing except the room is starting to spin. Isn't it spinning for you?" she wondered.

"No, afraid not. I'm totally winning this bet. First the room spins and it's funny. But then it keeps spinning and you puke everywhere. Mark my words. Just let me know and I'll move out of the path," he laughed at her.

"Be quiet. I'm not going to puke! I just need the room to stay still. I should eat more. Want some ice cream?" she asked as she rose from the couch and almost fell over on her way to the kitchen.

"I'm always up for ice cream. What kind?" he called out into the kitchen.

"Mint chip!"

"Oh man, that's the best one!"

She smiled to herself and got out the container and two big spoons. She plunked it down on the coffee table and offered Draco a spoon.

"We're just eating it out of the carton? No bowls?" he asked with confusion.

"Nope. This is how single lonely people eat ice cream. Trust me. It's fun," she told him, as she dug her spoon in and licked it clean.

He noticed her tongue and for a second he wondered what else she'd be good at licking. But he shook his head to dispel those wrong thoughts and just dug his spoon in too. But this just made Hermione notice his tongue and his lips again, and she wished her mind would stop going there. She shouldn't be having these wrong thoughts about Draco Malfoy! But neither one of them could help it. It was the product of too much drink and loneliness on both their parts, they surmised. It's not like they actually were attracted to one another. That would be crazy talk. After a while of eating ice cream in silence, Draco finally spoke.

"Thanks for this," he said softly.

"For the ice cream? It's not a big deal," she brushed it off.

"I meant for all this. The company, the booze, all of it. I wager I'll regret this in the morning, but it's not half bad talking to you," he explained.

She just looked at him and smiled slightly.

"You're welcome. You're not half bad to talk to either."

"Now I know we're both drunk," he laughed. "So are you ready for more or are you hitting puke city soon?"

"I am perfectly fine," she lied, as she held up her glass for a refill. "I'm not losing this bet. How are you feeling, Draco?"

"I'm peachy. I've almost forgotten what a shit heap my life is. It's grand," he smiled as he took another sip.

They drank in silence for a bit and the room was really spinning now for Hermione. She was enjoying it less and less but she was so competitive, she didn't want to admit defeat. But after her last glass and one more dollop of ice cream, she felt her stomach revolt on her. She looked at Draco, then dropped her spoon, and immediately ran off to the loo. Draco just smirked as he heard her wretch in the bathroom and he realized he was now the proud new owner of twenty galleons. Not much, but it'd get him by for a day or so. He waited until Hermione came back out and she looked like death. He put his hand out for her.

"Give me my money," he said proudly.

"Ugh. Fine. It's in my purse," she said miserably.

"Do you want me rummaging through it, or are you going to get it for me?" he wondered.

"I'll get it. I don't want you in my bloody hand bag scavenging for food or stray coins," she made a face at him as she grabbed her purse and handed him the galleons.

"Thank you, m'lady. And with this, I bid you farewell as it's late and I'm knackered," he said with a slight yawn. "I'm taking the bottle with me," he added, scooping it up.

"I don't even wanna smell that bottle again, so please do take it. And take the ice cream too. I can't look at it," she said, holding her roiling stomach and making a yucky face.

He grabbed up the ice cream and his spoon and set off towards the door. But he looked back at a glum Hermione and grinned at her.

"This was fun. Next time you wanna get drunk again, you know where to find me."

And with that, he was out the door, slamming it too loudly behind him. Hermione's head was beginning to hurt already and she just laid down on the sofa and tried not to die. But a small smile crept on her face when she realized she had fun too. Even if she lost the bet. Spending an evening with Draco had been much more interesting than spending the night with her cat. And that thought had her wondering when she'd lost her mind. But Draco wasn't really half bad if you got to know him. But she never wanted to tell anyone else that fact. This was her dirty secret. Sharing ice cream and whiskey with Malfoy was something she was never telling anyone else. She'd just tell Harry she got the information another way. She didn't want anyone knowing she actually sort of liked Draco now. She'd take that to her grave.

To be continued….

Please leave comments to let me know how you like this story so far! Thanks for reading!