The very happiest of birthdays to MCal! she is a fine cheerleader and one of the sweetest humans on the planet. Thank you for being you, my friend

hearts to In Dreams for a quick alpha on this one. No beta since I tend to feel like I should do it myself on a gift. But love to LightofEvolution anyway since I'm sure she would have lol


"There is no such thing as a Soulmate, Harry. The entire concept is completely illogical."

Hermione is giving her dearest friend a rather arched look over the top of her mug, rim still decorated with froth. For some reason, he is trying to assure her that his decision to move in with Theodore Nott is perfectly logical, even though they have only just met, on account of the man BEING HIS SOULMATE. Ridiculous.

"Look, Hermione, I know you are a scientific sort, and these types of magics don't appeal to you-"

"Appeal to me? Harry, I love you, but it has nothing to do with a lack of appeal and everything to do with it being pure nonsense! Soulmate magic has been debunked for centuries. In 1753, Bartholomew Roberts found no evidence to support the concept, and he spent years experimenting for the Department of Magical Knowledge-"

"Roberts was paid off by the Ministry, Granger, everyone knows that."

She hates being interrupted. Hermione looks up to find the offending wizard in question, Theo Nott, staring down at her, amused and irritating. Behind him, a ferret is lurking.

Fantastic. Her own little Slytherin reunion happening at her pub table. "I haven't found anything in my reading to suggest-"

"Of course you haven't," Nott interrupts again. He has some bloody nerve. "The Ministry cleaned up their own history as much as they did the older magics. The magics they can't control and tax and quantify."

The wizard slips onto the bench right next to Harry, nudging him over with his thigh. "Shove over, will you?" Harry rolls his eyes, but his cheeks go just a little rosy, and he complies quickly, pressing his elbow into Theo's in a subtle display of public affection.

"Potions, incantations… So easy to regulate, don't you think? But inherent magics, things that simply are…" He leans forward, ready to drop some knowledge, it seems. "No disrespect meant, darling, but purebloods know a bit more about this than you would."

Oh, she bristles. BRISTLES. The nerve of him! She won a bloody war over this sort of...of… bigotry, and she will not let him belittle her in this way. A tirade is building from the tips of her toes, filling her entire body with venom that she will spew forth, S-P-E-W, dickhead, just as soon as she finds the words to best capture her utter revulsion and offense at the smug look on his stupid face.

But she doesn't even get started, because Draco Malfoy chooses that moment to join the verbal party. "Nott, you're such a cock. You think telling Hermione Granger she doesn't know something is going to win any points? I thought you wanted to keep shagging this prick." He gestures vaguely to Harry, then looks down at Hermione. "Mind if I sit?" he asks her, exceptionally polite, and she can't fire her synapses fast enough to think of a reason to say no.

She nods dumbly instead, and scoots as far as she can to the wall. "May as well," she mutters, understanding her night out with Harry just took an unwelcome turn.

"What my crass and unthinking friend is trying to say, Granger," he starts to explain, still polite, "is that the Ministry changed a lot over the years in their bid to control the masses. Most of the earth magics, old rituals and inherent gifts, were purged from general knowledge and the public curriculum. Only those of us with...older connections, I suppose you could say, maintain and pass this information through our own houses."

She snorts at him. "So, you believe in fortune telling then? And soul mates?"

He nods, perfectly and alarmingly serious. "I do. Everyone has one, a soulmate, but not many know it anymore, so most wizards and witches miss out. They," he gestures to the happy couple, "are some of the luckiest bastards of our generation. Goyle's soulmate was a half blood, and won't have anything to do with him. Daphne Greengrass had just discovered hers our seventh year, but he was killed during the battle of Hogwarts. Marcus Flint, Millie, Pansy… they gave up looking eventually."

Hermione can't believe she's listening to this romantic drivel coming out of the mouth of a Malfoy. She looks across the table to find Nott and Harry sitting close, her friend feeding his lover a bite of his appetizer. They do look exceptionally happy, she must admit. Never really knowing one another at Hogwarts, they basically just met last week.

Turning back to the blond beside her, Hermione finds him staring at her intently. The entire conversation is unnerving, and she is scrambling to get back to a place of knowledge. Of facts. Her defense mechanism when she doesn't know something kicks in: She wants Draco to admit he doesn't know something as well.

"So then, who is your soulmate, Malfoy? I haven't seen any lavish pureblood circus of a wedding in the society pages. Has your intended proven illusive as well?"

She feels smug at his expression. He looks a bit bewildered and stunned and sort of "got" by her comment.

"I thought I had found her," he mumbles eventually, looking away.

Hermione waves her hand, signally her waning interest in the conversation. "Wherever she is, I'm sure she's just waiting for you to ride in on your white steed to sweep her away to your castle of dark magic and misdeeds."

She looks back to Harry and makes her excuses. "We can do this another time, Harry. Have a good evening with Theo." Trying to give him a sincere smile, she can admit she is happy to see him smitten, she just doesn't believe in any of this nonsense.

With a rather clipped, "If you'll excuse me," to Malfoy, she slides out of the booth as soon as he rises and makes her way to the door.

Outside, the sun has just set. A line of gold is fighting and losing a battle with the inky black night, and Hermione turns to her left, seeking the apparition point that is only a couple of blocks away. This was not how she envisioned her Saturday night; home by nine and the only one of her original trio still single. Ron is back with Lavender, Harry is apparently living some made-up ancient magic fantasy, and Hermione hasn't had a date since Ernie McMillian three months ago. What a disaster that had been.

She's only made it a block when the hairs stand up on the back of her neck, sure she hears something shuffle at her six.

With a relatively subtle look back, she starts when she realizes Malfoy has followed her and is approaching as she turns.

"Malfoy, what on earth?"

He steps right into her space and places his hands around the balls of her shoulders. She can hardly see his face in the low light, a streetlamp on the corner behind him only serving to cast him into shadow. His eyes glint as he looks between hers. "I apologize, but I just have to be sure," he says in a whisper, strained and rough, just before he presses his lips into hers.

Hermione is stunned. She doesn't move as he lifts his hands higher to cup her face, is stone still as he pillows her bottom lip between his so gently it could make a girl weep. Her hand palms over his wrist, a bit too helpless and feminine for her liking, but really what else can one do when faced with something this profound? Is she supposed to be pushing him away? She can't imagine why she would ever do that, why she hadn't chased him down herself to initiate this very moment. Why had she left the pub at all? She could have stayed, cuddled in beside him, mirroring their friends across the table. She could have fed him chips and licked foam from his lip and let his hand rest on her thigh while she played with the hairs at his nape…

Pushing away like breaking the surface through rough waves, Hermione is panting as she stares, wide-eyed back an an equally breathless Draco Mafloy.

"The hell was that?" She asks, meaning to sound indignant, but instead filled with awe.

"I knew it," he says back, still catching his breath. "I fucking knew it." He steps in again, but doesn't quite touch her. He looms and looks down at her, eyes hard and piercing, but with something other than anger raging within.

"Don't tell me you can't feel it," he hisses at her. Perhaps he is angry after all. Hermione tries to take a step back only to find she is against the brick exterior of a building. The street around them is also oddly quiet. "Admit it, Granger. Tell me I'm right… please." The last is grit out through clenched teeth. He looks pained, and it is terrifying for a reason Hermione isn't sure she can admit.

"I feel… something. What did you do to me?"

He barks out one quick laugh then buries his face in his hands. He groans, loud and frustrated, then swipes his palms back down his face. "I didn't do anything to you, you insane witch. You're mine. Mine, and I'm yours. Tell me you didn't feel it that night on the pitch. Fucking tell me you can't tell I belong to you."

His face has slowly morphed from one of angry passion to pleading. He continues to loom into her space, but more desperate than threatening; Hermione has never seen him so vulnerable.

She knows the night he means. It was eighth year and one of the great follies of her young life. Tipsy on a bit of mead and mourning her dead-end relationship with Ron, she was wandering the grounds late at night and found herself on the Quidditch pitch. Malfoy had been there, flying formations in a drizzle on a warm night near the end of the year. When he caught sight of her, he had flown down to ask her why she was there. He seemed accusatory, like he was used to being followed; used to fighting for trust. She supposed, in hindsight, that was very much his frame of mind back then.

She'd shaken her head and denied her presence being connected to him at all. Then he'd done the strangest thing. Reaching out, as if he couldn't fight the urge if he had tried, Draco had plucked one damp curl from her cheek and tucked it behind her ear. She wasn't there for him, she'd said again, unsure if he believed her, and he had whispered, "Pity," so close she could feel his breath on her skin. They had both frozen, her hands itching to reach for him, before he had promptly returned to the skies, a haunted expression on his face.

She'd lain awake thinking of that moment off and on for years. It wasn't until recently, more than five years later, that she had begun to think she had imagined it. Now, he is looking at her with that same look of longing and regret, and Hermione can't begin to unpack what this means for her at the core of her beliefs.

"I don't…" she starts, and has no idea what to say. The thought of him leaving again, of proverbially flying off into the night, is painful. She tries again. "It's just I don't believe-"

"I know you don't," he interrupts. Why was it so much more bothersome when Theo did it? When Draco speaks, she just wants him to say more. "I know belief isn't easy for you, but I can show you."

Still skeptical, Hermione is searching her mind for a response, a delay at least. Internally, there's a pull no parchment or figures could explain, and she's so close to giving in.

A half step closer, no air left between them, he's still making his case. "Let me prove what you must already know. You can feel it, I see it on your face that you do. I've been living with the ghost of you for years, and I want my soulmate, Granger. Please."

It's an impassioned plea, and she's bending. She can feel her resolve melt, part of her not understanding why she had fought at all. Reaching up, she brushes the stray locks of blond from his forehead, a gesture reminiscent of their moment on the pitch in the rain.

"I don't believe in soulmates," she says, clinging to the core of herself even as her very magic is reaching toward her once rival.

"I know," he says with a soft smile. "But when things are, it doesn't really matter if you believe them or not. I'll be yours just the same."

There's logic in that, fast and loose though it might be, but it's enough to break down the last of her walls. With a little whimper of resignation, she throws herself forward, wraps her arms around his neck, and takes ownership of what he's offering. As soon as their lips connect this time, she knows there is no going back.

XXXXXXXX

In the pub, Harry has his forehead pressed against Theo's, one hand cupped on the bone of his jaw. "Think he'll be able to convince her?"

Theo snorts, gripping the back of Harry's neck a bit tighter. "She won't need much. Twenty galleons says they elope before you've moved into Nott Manor next week."

"You don't know her like I do," he answers back with a knowing smirk. "She's stubborn, Nott."

"Won't matter," Theo denies, landing one soft kiss onto Harry's mouth. "Magic is much more stubborn, even than her. About that bet?"

Harry chuckles. "A better prize, and I'll consider it. Neither of us need galleons."

"Too true. Everlasting adoration, then… and wicked hot sex."

"And if you win?"

Theo kisses him again, lingering this time. "Same, obviously. It's the natural conclusion, and we are helpless in the face of it."

XXXXXXXXX

Outside, it's starting to rain, and Hermione Granger is pressed against the bricks with Draco's hand in her hair and her heart on the line. For all her wit, despite her lack of faith, she is not fool enough to deny what is offered, and, just this once, lets fate win this round.


Thank you for reading!