"In those heavy days in June
When love became an act of defiance"
-Florence + The Machine
You'd have thought the sounds of the battle, of children dying and dark magic blanketing over the hallowed grounds, would have been what sent Hermione Granger into a panic.
It was in the silence that followed, punctuated only by guttural screams tearing up mother's throats as they grieved the loss of their babies. It was in the quiet of victory that still felt far too much like defeat.
Years of running, fighting, dying, and surviving led them to this place, and now that Hermione took a moment to stare at the collateral damage, the price of winning seemed too high even for her.
Without knowing where or why or how long, Hermione sprinted from the Great Hall, leaving Ron hunched over his dead brother and Harry sobbing at the feet of Remus and Tonks. She should have been stronger—should have stayed when they needed her.
She'd stayed long enough.
She'd done enough.
As the panic swelled in her chest and grabbed hold of her throat, threatening to drown her, she pushed forward… or away. Yes, she pushed away from everything that wanted her to stay.
The bridge was mangled, loose rubble strewn along her path, but with only her bag and a will to run, she made it to the gates of Hogwarts. She paused when she was free of them, heaving over and settling her hands on her knees as she dragged desperate breaths into her lungs.
She reeled, wand pointed steady even as her jaw trembled. "B-back away, Malfoy! Don't move!"
He didn't move, didn't even have his wand pulled, just a bag over his shoulder and hands in his pockets as he stared at the smoke fuming from the spires of their beloved school. "I won't hurt you—not that I could."
Her heartbeat pounded in her ears and all she could think to do was study him. He was thinner than she'd ever seen him before, more so even than in sixth year. His cheeks were grey and gaunt, hollow. It was as if his skin were nearly hanging from the sharp planes of his jaw, but even more so he looked… tired. The kind of exhaustion that has seeped into your soul.
"I'm going to pull my wand free. Don't kill me."
"Don't pull your wand if you don't want me to kill you, Malfoy."
"I have to," he said with a purposeful resignation. "I have to leave." He first produced a Muggle keychain in an odd shape from his pocket. Once placed on the ground in the space between them she could clearly read the word Florida across its surface. "Vado."
The keychain began to faintly glow, its edges turning an ethereal blue. "You can come," he said. "If you want."
"Come with you? Are you insane?"
A humourless laugh slipped past his cheeks and he chuckled. "Possibly. But regardless of my mental state, I'm leaving all this behind. You could too—if you wanted."
Hermione snorted. What a ridiculous—
The sound of a wall crumbling into the valley below caused her to jump, her wand lowering as she whipped towards the noise.
"This war is done but another one is starting," Draco said, suddenly by her side. "One fought in courtrooms with staunch codgers who want to make rules for the rest of us all over again. Greater good my fucking arse. I'm not sticking around for it."
It wasn't an option. No. Hermione Granger would stay and rebuild. That was her job, her duty to her school and the world she'd almost died to protect.
"Goodbye, Granger. I'm sorry for…" His words faded away, and he swallowed. "For all of it."
Her gaze remained locked on the castle that had been her home for nearly half her life and when he turned, she did too. "Wait. Where are you going?"
"Guess I'll find out." With a smirk, he stepped up to the Portkey.
Adrenaline and anxiety raced through her veins and before she could think twice on it, she reached out and touched the Portkey at the exact same time.
They were tugged and twisted across land and sea, landing minutes later with a thud on a soft sandy beach. Hermione coughed, feeling the oppressive humid air fill her lungs like she was drowning.
Sputtering, she climbed to her feet alongside Malfoy and stared at the endless blue ocean lapping up at their feet.
"My contact said it'd be Florida."
"We… We're in the States?!" Hermione's throat threatened to close as she stared at the body of water separating her from home. "Fucking hell, what did I just do?"
ONE MONTH LATER
The first four weeks of their exile had danced on the line of tolerable and unmanageable. Mostly they avoided each other's existence entirely. Hermione threw herself into finding out how exactly to create an international Portkey while Draco learned the merits of Muggle living.
If they used too much magic in the small beach cottage, all hell would break loose. The lights would fail as would the heating and cooling, and Merlin, she couldn't live without the glory of a cooling system now that she'd had one.
So Draco discovered music and movies and loved to eat cereal for breakfast. It was at times marginally endearing, but mostly she just found herself irritated with him. Why on earth she'd followed the prat across the Atlantic was beyond her.
She'd barely touched down on American soil when she recognised her mistake. The issue therein was that Hermione didn't know much about the magical communities in America. She'd no idea where to find them outside the handful she'd learned about in school. There were hubs in New York and California, both of which weren't exactly easily traversable. She had no resources to create a Portkey of her own; she couldn't very well Apparate. She didn't even have a passport on her, both of which Malfoy had secured with a contact months prior.
Hermione Granger was, for all intents and purposes, stranded in the states with Draco-bleeding-Malfoy.
She wanted nothing more than to let her friends know that at the very least she wasn't dead, but without an owl or a Floo, she'd no idea how to reach them.
Thank Merlin for small mercies, but she was blessedly tucked away at a pristine beach with sugar soft sand and miraculously few tourists.
It'd just turned June. One month since she'd gone missing in England. She sat tucked in the tall grass of the dunes, feet buried in the warm sand as the sun dipped below the horizon.
New York. That's where she needed to go. She'd just no idea how to get there.
"Well, well, well, Granger." Draco strode breezily through the front door; it was still so odd to see him dressed as a Muggle in pale blue shorts and a white shirt, but even more odd to see him smiling. He didn't do that much even in Florida. "It seems I get the distinct honour of informing you that you were wrong."
Hermione sighed and laid her book across her chest. "Whatever it is you've come to badger me about will just have to wait, Malfoy. I'm busy."
"Yes, well, I find that more a priority than listening to you prattle on about what you had for lunch."
"You are, without a doubt, the worst possible housemate I could have picked."
Hermione rolled her eyes and lifted her book again. "First, you shouldn't have invited me then. Second, I don't want to be your housemate. I want to go back to London where I belong but I can't do that, now can I?"
"I know wallowing is your new pastime but could you please put aside your sad little woes to celebrate me."
She could hear the shuffling of his feet along the wood floor but she trained her eyes on the page in front of her; it didn't matter if she wasn't reading it.
"Fine, then you walk your arse back and forth to town instead of letting me drive you."
The realisation of his words washed over her, and she scrambled upright, her nose almost bumping his. He was grinning, the git.
"I did!" Malfoy waved two pieces of paper in front of her face, one with his stupid face on it and the words DRIVERS LICENSE - FLORIDA emblazoned on the front. The name wasn't his—it was his new American identity of Wesley Scott—but it was most certainly his photograph and an age stating he was now twenty-two. "Now say you're sorry."
Hermione's shocked, albeit joyous, features fell into a glower, her lip curling. "For what?"
"For saying I was too stupid to learn to drive a car."
Her lips twitched in a smile at the memory of the argument, one in which she had won, if memory served her correctly, as it was he who'd retreated to his bedroom stomping like a petulant child. "I didn't say you were too stupid."
"Yes, you did."
"No, I said you were an idiot who'd be rubbish at driving a car, which may be true despite that little piece of paper. You don't have the hand-eye coordination—"
"Oh sweet Salazar's sack," Draco groaned and yanked his temporary licence back into his side. "I was the best flyer at Hogwarts."
Hermione purposefully gave him a placating smile and ticked her head back a few times in thought. "Second best, I'd say. Harry won more games than you did."
"Cause he's a cheat."
She bared her teeth in a remorseful grimace, drenching her voice with false contrition. "Sounds like something a loser would say."
The expletives rolling so effortlessly off his tongue were hard to catch as he stomped down the hall and slammed the door to his bedroom shut. Hermione smiled and added another mental tally in the Draco vs Hermione list; she'd won again.
Hermione's fists pounded against the door. "Malfoy! Malfoy, wake up!" Silence greeted her and having enough of it, she retrieved her wand from across the hall and pointed it at the doorknob. "Alohomora!"
She could have gently pressed it open, as it was nearing two o'clock in the morning, but she kicked it open instead, letting it smash into the door stopper as she marched through the entrance.
Malfoy was unaffected, lying half-naked with his forearm draped over his eyes and his lips parted. She paused upon seeing him though, at the inky black of his dark mark staining his forearm and the smattering of silver scars over his torso. It wasn't the first time she'd seen him with his shirt off; it'd happened early on in their time at the cottage, back when he was emaciated and bruised from battle.
In the weeks following, he'd indulged himself, eating and sleeping and regaining all that he had lost. The git had taken to running—running—along the beach at sunrise, and she was surprised how quickly he'd bounced back.
Lost in the delicate curves and valleys of his abdomen, she quite nearly forgot herself. "Malfoy," she hissed. When he didn't respond, she picked up a pillow and slammed it into his head. "Malfoy!"
Lazily, he drawled, "If you aren't waking me up for sex, please do go away."
"First, you disgust me." He snickered and dragged his hand away as she continued, "Second, you can drive me to New York."
"Let me think about it." He blinked. "No."
"Malfoy," she whined and fell onto the edge of the bed. "You want me out of here don't you?"
"And I want to be out of here, but how on earth am I supposed to get home without a Portkey? I can't travel anywhere without some Muggle identification."
"It sounds like a hassle, Granger. Truly."
Her lips pinched, and she reached out to flick him hard on the arm. "You are taking me! If you don't, I swear I will make your life a living hell."
She rose and strode easily from the room, ignoring him shouting, "You already do!" at her back.
"What do you mean no?"
Hermione gestured to the pretentious two-door sports car in front of them."Why on earth did you purchase this thing—"
"I didn't; I rented it. Isn't it incredible? I want to try out a few before I purchase one."
Pinching the bridge of her nose, Hermione let out a hard huff of air. "You don't even have a job. Why wouldn't you just get something economical and good on gas?"
Draco's lip curled as though she'd offended his mother, father, and every ancestor on his family tree. "I don't need a job; I've more than enough in my account to tide me over for a few years if I live moderately—"
"This is not moderately."
"You know you have an awful lot of opinions for someone who's been living under my roof and is begging for a ride across the goddamn country."
Rolling her eyes, she approached the silver coup and shoved her small duffle of newly purchased clothes into the non-existent back seat. "Fine. Let's just go."
Malfoy's lip curled in a sneer as he rounded the car, and she swore she could hear his grumblings even as she tucked herself inside.
The first stop was Charleston and should take about four hours to get to; Hermione was hopeful they could cover more ground, but with her companion still so fresh behind the wheel she didn't want to push it.
The car purred to life and as they made their way through town, Hermione was surprised to find that Draco wasn't all that bad at driving. He seemed completely at ease, driving with one hand on the gear shaft, his other wrist slung lazily over the top of the wheel.
Actually, the longer he stayed so at ease, the more irate she became.
"I know I'm pretty Granger, but damn, do you really need to gawk?" His lips pulled into a smirk as his gaze dragged front the road and settled on her.
"Eyes on the road! And I'm not gawking, you idiot—"
His jaw slammed shut. "How many bloody times have I told you to stop calling me that?"
"It's moot if you keep acting like an idiot! Driving a car is a very serious responsibility, and you should treat it as such. Two hands on the wheel at all times, and you should correct your posture while you're at it."
Malfoy's features melted into a withering sneer. "I didn't realise you'd gone and taken the proper exams for your license as well."
"You don't need your license to know that you're being idioctic." A smile fought its way onto her lips and just as his fingers clenched the wheel and his knuckles went white, she sniffed and opened the map.
"Now, I've marked our route—"
A long, irritated groan rumbled through the car. "I know, Granger. I know. Do you know how I know? Because you already made me memorise the blasted thing! It's two junction changes; I'll be fine."
"That's not responsible." Hermione shook her head and put a finger on the pink highlighted line. "We should follow Route 1 until—"
"Bloody fucking hell, Granger. I know!"
"We need to stop." Hermione's features pinched, and she squirmed in the leather seat.
"Because I said so."
Malfoy snorted. "We just stopped for lunch an hour ago. I'm not going to stop so you can emotionally snack your way through this blasted country. You should have thought ahead."
"Will you just pull off the motorway, for the love of—"
"We'll stop for petrol before long."
The two glasses of water she'd drained at the small cafe in Georgia had been an infinitely bad idea, and when Malfoy swerved to miss a pothole, she clenched her thighs together.
"I need the loo, you blithering idiot!"
With a growl and a heavy foot, he braked for the next ramp. "I swear to Salazar himself, if you don't stop calling me that..."
The four hour trip to Charleston took closer to six, but they still arrived before dinner and stopped at a hotel that Hermione had called ahead to secure reservations at.
Malfoy grabbed his bag from the car, reaching right past Hermione's luggage and then promptly slammed the door. She counted three long breaths before she retrieved her own and exited the car.
At the desk, Hermione strode past him to the clerk and smiled brightly. "Hello, I've called ahead for two rooms."
The woman barely looked at them before clicking the buttons of her keyboard with long, gaudy nails. "Oh, I just love your accent! Names?"
The fascination with their accents in America was exhausting, and Hermione no longer saw fit to remark on it every time someone gawked at her like a zoo animal for speaking proper English. "Hermione Granger and Dr—" She paused, remembering herself. "Wesley Scott."
"Just the one night?"
"Yes, thank you."
Hermione blinked. "Identification?"
The woman's fingers ceased their tapping, and she looked up through her caked eyelashes. "Licence or Passport," she drawled in what could only be described as thick southern.
"I—" Hermione panicked, chewing on the inside of her cheek. "I don't have any."
"Well, I do!" Malfoy exclaimed brightly and slid his fraudulent paperwork towards the woman, including a bootlegged passport.
The clerk glanced briefly at the name and picture and pushed it back towards him. "Great, I'll need a card for incidentals, honey, and you'll be all set." She then turned her attention on Hermione. "I can't rent you a room without identification; it's against the law. Sorry, sweetie."
Malfoy sighed and leaned against the counter. "Could my room have two beds?"
The clerk returned her attention to the computer and clicked a few buttons. "Sure; we've got two queens on the third floor. Here're your keys and checkout is at eleven in the mornin'. Enjoy your stay."
Even as Malfoy grabbed the keys from the counter and turned for the lift, Hermione couldn't help but gape. After an inordinate amount of time had passed, she hurried after him, hissing, "Malfoy! We can't share a room."
"Okay," he said with a shrug as the lift doors opened. "Get the keys from the valet and sleep in the car."
Frustration bubbled over as she followed him in, watching in horror as he pressed for the third floor. "Don't be ridiculous."
"Merlin's tits, Granger, what the hell do you want me to do? Imperious the girl to let you have a room?"
"Of course not!"
"Then your options remain: share a room or sleep in the car."
She grumbled all the way to the third floor.
Her stomach growled so loudly that even Malfoy's eyes widened, and he shot her a disgusted look.
Mashing her lips in a flat line, she resumed her reading only to be interrupted by her loud hunger pangs yet again.
"Let's go." Malfoy slapped the top of his thighs and rolled from his bed. "Looked like we passed a few restaurants; we can walk."
"I'm not hungry."
A humourless laugh lilted through the air, and Draco lifted his hands in surrender. "What do you want from me here? I know you regret coming; I've heard that loud and clear. I'd be remiss if I didn't note that you're not exactly my ideal companion. You're combative and condescending and so tightly wound that I'm fairly certain you're going to explode. I've been bending over backwards—"
"I wouldn't go that far…"
"Bullshit! You know I have. I haven't asked for anything; I don't want anything. Do you want me to fall on my knees and beg your forgiveness? That's not how I do things. You needed a way out; I gave you one. You needed a place to stay, food, clothes, a ride across the bloody country. What more do you want from me?!"
His tirade sobered the constant indignation swirling inside her when she was around Malfoy. It felt like she'd swallowed a hot lump of coal, and she had to clear her throat before saying, "You're right."
Malfoy's brow furrowed, and he looked at her suspiciously. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Rolling her eyes, she closed her book and rose to her feet. "Don't get cheeky. I'm completely capable of admitting when I'm being unreasonable, and you're right. You've made the last month very comfortable for me, Malfoy. And you didn't have to. So, thank you, I suppose." Her lips twisted as she tested the weight of a genuine apology to Malfoy on her tongue. She didn't like it.
A few moments of silence followed, and he finally released a long breath. "I'm sorry too. For… For everything."
Hermione sniffed and crossed her arms. "Does that apology cover the last four weeks?"
"It covers the past seven years and then some, Granger."
The ever-present heaviness on her chest lightened fractionally, and she extended her hand to him. He smirked at it as their hands joined.
Had she ever touched Malfoy before?
Well, other than the time she'd punched him in the nose. His hands were rougher than she'd imagined and when his thumb swiped over her pulse point, she startled and brought her hand back to her side. "I suppose dinner would be nice."
Malfoy paid the tab, and they made their way out onto the street and began walking up King Street towards their hotel.
Hermione always had a certain impression of the States. She imagined everything was new and towering, shiny and steel like parts of London.
But Charleston? Well, Charleston was, simply put, one of the most beautiful places she'd ever seen. The historic buildings that lined King Street were breathtaking and the people milling about the street seemed in absolutely no hurry at all; so much different than she imagined most Americans.
"I like this town," Malfoy mused, hands shoved in his trouser pockets.
Hermione hummed in agreement as she stared at a couple snogging on a bench.
"Although I still maintain that what we ate was not fish and chips."
Wrinkling her nose, Hermione laughed. "Finally, something we agree on."
As they approached their hotel, they both slowed. "Do you want—" Draco started, the apples of his cheeks darkening just enough to be noticeable. "Do you want to walk a bit more? Stretch our legs? It's early yet."
It felt like an olive branch—another olive branch. And despite the fact that he was he and she was she, dinner hadn't been the worst, even without the distractions of the telly, books, or staring at a blank wall.
"I could do a walk."
Hermione woke the next morning feeling refreshed; the hotel was posh and sinking into the thick mattress had been exactly what her body needed.
But, once they were on the road, Hermione felt possibly even more on edge than she had prior to their ceasefire. She knew how to fight with Malfoy; she'd been doing it for seven years. This, though, was unfamiliar territory.
He didn't have particularly good taste in music, always seeming to settle on something a bit angry and perpetually screaming at her. But his finger drummed along to the cadence settling on the gear stick as the car purred ahead along the motorway.
Hermione pulled out the map, clearing her throat and ready to inform him of the next step, but before she could, Draco rolled his gaze to hers, his eyes narrowed into slits. "Are you sure you don't need to know the route?"
Slightly abashed, she neatly folded the map again and tucked it in the glovebox. "Right. You know."
"Don't fucking call—"
"What else would I call you when you purposefully ignored my offer to help and then got us lost on some backcountry—"
"Shut it, Granger."
Just then, the angry black clouds split open, and a torrential downpour beat against the roof of their car. "Oh, brilliant!"
The car slowed just slightly, and Draco leaned far forward over the steering wheel, squinting into the darkness. "You can't blame me for the damned rain, Granger! Now be quiet so I can—"
"I can blame you for not being on Highway 1—which is where we are meant to be—and instead being—"
A loud clap of thunder shook the car, and she gasped, curling her legs up to her chest as he carefully navigated the road.
Another car came flying past them, and he cursed as the car drifted just slightly to avoid cutting it too close.
"Looks like there's a town up ahead," he mumbled from the side of his mouth. "We can stop there until this passes."
True fear gripped Hermione's heart as the waning sun was snuffed out by more cloud coverage. When another loud crack of thunder tore through the air, her hand shot out instinctually, curling in his shirt.
She realised only after his gaze dripped down to the touch what she'd done and quickly drew her hand back into her possession. Instead, her fingers dug into her own side, and she focused on her breathing as the lights in the distance grew brighter.
Finally, the car slowed to a stop on what appeared to the main strip of a microscopic town, and they let out a collective breath of relief. Malfoy's hand reached for hers, and while under normal circumstances she would find the touch repulsing, it was a welcome reprieve.
In the darkness of the car, he searched her face. "Are you okay?"
"Yes." She blinked and shook her head. "You did good, Malfoy."
Squeezing her fingers once, he nodded and relaxed in a heap against his seat.
"Oh, I just love your accents!"
Draco growled and ordered a second pint, turning away from the rain drowning the small South Carolina town.
Hermione could only chuckle as she tried the infamous sweet tea that the menu heralded as its flagship product.
It wasn't bad, she'd found; it just wasn't tea.
"It doesn't look like the rain is going to let up anytime soon…" she mused, staring at the way it practically bounced off the cracked concrete.
"Maybe we ought to get another room for the night and start fresh tomorrow. Did you check your beloved map?"
Her eyes snapped to his. She was quite ready to admonish the git, but he was smirking around the lip of his pint glass, and she found her ire waning.
Shaking her head and biting back a smile, she pulled the map free and found the small town of Traveler's Rest. Slowly, she dragged it along the fat lines of the motorway until it rejoined with the highway they were intended to be on.
"Couple hundred miles, looks like."
Malfoy loosened a long, frustrated breath and mumbled a nearly inaudible, "Sorry."
Her brows pitched high on her forehead as she peered back at him. "What was that?"
"I just didn't catch it is all…"
She could hear his teeth slam together. "I said I'm sorry."
"For what exactly this time? You've done so much apologising lately I'm having a hard time keeping track."
"You insufferable fucking…" Lucky for him he swallowed the rest of his insult and mashed his lips together in a smile. "Hermione, I'm sorry for not listening to you blather on about the map and for getting us lost. Happy?"
Giggling, she looked back down at the map. "Beyond, Malfoy. Beyond."
Grimacing, they stood in the doorway of the small, rundown hotel, noses wrinkled at the general dinginess of it all, but mostly at the one—as in singular—bed.
Swallowing thickly, Hermione blinked several times and finally croaked out, "It'll be fine."
"I can transfigure the couch." Malfoy carded a hand through his hair, shifting nervously from foot to foot.
Hermione smiled and rolled her head to stare at him. "Don't be an idiot." Thankfully, he laughed. "We can handle sleeping in a bed together for a single night. We'll stuff pillows between us."
Rolling his eyes, Draco walked further into the room and pulled his wand, casting cleaning charms on every inch of the bed and room.
There was no need for her to be this nervous. This was just… Well, it was preposterous. That logic did little to quell the frantic hammering of her heart against her sternum as she tugged at her t-shirt and stared at herself in the bathroom mirror.
After two long breaths, she exited the room and found Draco lying back on the bed with his hands folded over his chest, studying the ceiling. Hermione gulped and quickly padded to her side of the bed and tucked herself under the covers.
A long beat of silence followed and then, "Goodnight, Granger."
It would be fine.
Everything would be fine.
Hermione woke enveloped in comforting warmth, her head pressed against a hard surface that was rising and falling in rhythmic breaths. Her eyes shot open, and she found herself wound in Malfoy's arms, her leg thrown over his and her curls splayed wildly around them.
A quiet gasp escaped her, and his brow furrowed as he held her tighter and rolled them just so. A second gasp escaped her when she felt the thick ridge of his erection against her hip and something in her melted and churned deep in her belly.
Without thought she splayed her fingers over his hard chest, feeling the slight bump of a scar near his clavicle. Malfoy hummed in his sleep, and she took the moment to just look at him.
He was handsome, but then, the git always had been. It was possibly the most annoying thing about him. He'd no right to be such a poncy little prick and be good looking.
It'd been so hard to watch him wither sixth year, to see him grey and broken over Easter holiday at Malfoy Manor. And as much as she had spent so long despising him—loathing him—she knew that was different now. He was actually a bit funny when he wasn't being insufferable; he was clever, too, maybe even as much as her.
She couldn't help but wonder if things had been different—if they hadn't spent all those years hating each other—maybe they could have been friends. Maybe they could've been more.
Her touch lingered higher, finding another silvery scar on the base of his neck, and when her touch brushed over his bare skin, his muscles responded. His hand flattened on her back and slid slowly to the curve of her lower back, then to her hip.
With a shaky breath, she shifted to look at his face and found his eyes open as he stared down at her with an unreadable expression on his face. His cool, grey gaze floated over her features, landing on her lips. When she filled her lungs, her body arched into his just slightly, and the hand on her hip slid up the hem of her shirt to settle on her waist.
It'd be so easy to kiss him, to smother any lingering animosity as she lost herself in the soft bow of his lips.
But easy things weren't necessarily right things, and Malfoy seemed content to let her decide, keeping her locked in his arms as his hand scorched her skin.
Hermione blinked and smiled, rolling away from him even as her body begged her to stay.
"Sorry about that," she said, pushing up to sit and hiding behind her curls. "I must have been more knackered than I realised."
Malfoy rolled flat on his back. "I'm sorry too." Smiling to herself, Hermione tucked her hair behind her ear. "Something funny, Granger?"
"Just… I wouldn't have taken you for such a cuddler."
He laughed, a real laugh, one that erupted from deep in his belly and shook the mattress before he dragged a hand down his face and moved to sit at the edge of the bed. "Nor would I, Must be something about you."
As he rose to stand, Hermione tried to keep her eyes trained on her fingers twined together in front of her, peeking up through her lashes as he gripped his hard length in his pants and disappeared into the bathroom.
With a long groan, she fell on her back and grabbed a pillow to suffocate herself with.
They had breakfast in the small corner cafe downstairs and grimaced at the lack of proper meal choices. They settled for pancakes, an American staple it seemed, and sausage that looked absolutely nothing like proper sausage.
"We can grab our bags after," Malfoy said, pushing a pancake between his lips. "I asked the clerk, and she said it's twelve hours or so to New York from here, so maybe one more stop. We can drive as far as we can and then stop when we're tired."
Hermione hummed and poked at her food then turned to the window. The streets were packed with people, kids with painted faces and balloons, music starting to lilt through the air.
The waitress came by to refill their mostly untouched coffee, and Hermione nodded to her. "Pardon me, but what's going on today?"
The older woman grinned and topped off their drinks before settling a hand on her hip. "It's Traveler's day, a pun on the name of the town. Every year they do a little summer celebration; food and drink tickets are sold just up the street and local restaurants all have booths. They'll have music and activities for the kids until they close up for the day."
"Oh. That's a shame; we were just getting ready to leave."
"There's a storm coming," the waitress said. "They'll be packing this up after lunch, I heard."
"Another storm?" Draco choked out, turning to examine the clear blue skies and puffy white clouds.
"That's the south for ya! Something about summer storms and summer love, they wash up on you when you least expect it." She winked and pulled the ticket from her apron, setting it between them.
A blush blossomed along her cheekbones at the implication of the waitress, and she gently pushed her food away. "We could drive until the storm hits?"
Malfoy pulled a face. "We could get stuck somewhere again and maybe not next to a town."
"That's a good point. Well, why don't we just stay? We can get the room another day and walk around a bit before the storm hits."
His brow furrowed but he managed a nod. "Sounds like our best bet."
What was one more day in America, after all?
Draco spent an exorbitant amount of money on food and drink tickets, and then used said tickets to sneak her pints of a wheat beer called a Blue Moon which they strangely kept throwing an orange slice in. It was, however, delicious, and she perhaps had more than she ought to, especially considering it was still before lunch. They walked along the tents and poked at the handmade goods.
"Look!" Hermione nearly squealed as she found a small pewter jewellery stand boasting an otter pendant hanging from a chain. The vendor came up to where she stood; he was old with tanned, almost leathery skin. Thick black hair with streaks of charcoal grey was braided down his back, and he wore more jewellery than Hermione could ever remember seeing.
"I have a belief," he said, his voice rich and aged beyond his years, "that people are often drawn to their spirit animals in this tent."
Hermione smiled and let her fingertip drift over the smooth lines. "I don't know much about spirit animals."
"The otter is a small but powerful little one; they are known for their ingenuity and playfulness. They honour and respect family, togetherness and healing."
"It's beautiful," she said, her hand falling away. "All your work is."
"I'll buy it," Draco said quickly, reaching into his trouser pockets and handing over two twenty dollar bills. "You can keep the change."
"Malfoy, you don't have to—"
The vendor had already tucked the money in his lockbox and thanked him for his purchase before Hermione could fully protest. Draco lifted the little box holding the otter and shrugged.
"I already did. Besides, now you'll have something to remember me by." He winked and lifted the necklace free, gesturing for her to turn so he could place it on her neck.
Hermione reverently placed her palm over the piece as he secured the clasp. With a smile, she turned back to him and rolled her eyes. "I will never not remember you, Malfoy. Impossible to forget."
A weak smile tugged at the corner of his lips, and he jerked his chin for the entrance of the tent. "Let's get another round."
Hermione could feel the pressure of the storm settling in the air; even the wind had picked up and was lifting the curls from her shoulders.
Before the rain descended, they enjoyed the last of their rounds as the vendors packed up their tents and the band concluded their set. Children and couples filled the road where the band had set up. To her complete surprise, Draco jumped to his feet and held out his hand.
Her gaze darted around, even going so far as to look over her shoulder. "Me?"
"Obviously. Hurry, the band is about to finish up."
To further her surprise, she joined him, tossing her empty cup in the rubbish bin and then following him to the centre of the crowd. The music had a bit of a twang to it; the musicians were stomping in their cowboy boots and their brimmed hats to the beat of the song.
Draco took her in his arms, and they danced playfully along with the melody.
Laughing, Hermine shouted, "I can't dance."
"It's obvious!" He glided her backwards and spun her around; the quick movement caused her head to swim, and she faltered a moment. Draco was faster, catching her and righting her with a bright smile. "You're helpless."
The first few trickles of rain began to leak from the clouds and as they stood there, chest to chest and surrounded by strangers, she felt the moment charge like static.
His fingers curled around her elbows, and he pulled her just slightly closer still. He was so close, his gaze locked on her parted lips. "Hermione…"
Without thought, she lifted onto her toes and pressed her lips to his. It was an experience she felt that she deserved to have at least once in her life, the feeling of being snogged by Draco Malfoy.
As soon as their mouths touched, his hands came alive, darting to the sides of her face as his fingers slid into her curls. He kissed her again and again and again.
He kissed her until the clouds burst open and soaked them in a matter of seconds. They broke away, laughing, with Hermione lifting her hands to the heavens and relishing the feeling of heavy rain on her skin.
The storm felt cathartic, washing away more baggage than Hermione realised she'd been carrying all this time. When she opened her eyes again, Malfoy was staring at her with an unreadable expression.
She smiled and tugged on his arm, pulling him up the street towards the hotel.
No sooner than they stepped over the threshold to their room was Hermione pulling him back against her. Malfoy responded eagerly, pressing her up against the back of the hotel door as his hands drifted up her drenched shirt and massaged her breast.
Her head fell back, smashing against the door, as his lips trailed down her jaw and to the juncture of her neck and shoulder. Despite the chill of the air conditioner on their wet bodies, Hermione's skin was on fire.
With less grace than she thought possible, she yanked the button of his jeans free and shoved the hem of his shirt up so he could rip it over his head. He tossed it carelessly behind him and it hit the bathroom floor with a squelch. Moments later, her own clothes were scattered around them.
He groped her bum, lifting her easily and pressing her back into the door, his hips rocking into her core. Their skin was slick and slippery as they learned each other's bodies; he found her pulse point under her jaw, and she keened and arched into him, he did it again. And again. And again.
With wild open-mouthed kisses he ran his tongue along her clavicle, licking up the raindrops still sticking to her skin as her hands buried in his fine hair.
With a low growl, he obliged. He toppled over her as they fell against the mattress, catching his weight on his elbows just in time. Despite having barely touched before this moment, they seemed impossibly synced. Where he pushed, she pulled. Where she arched, he pressed.
"Tell me when to stop," he murmured against the soft swell of her breast, his fingers digging into her thigh.
Hermione laughed, her lower back lifting off the mattress. "You can stop when we're too exhausted to keep going."
Shifting all her weight, she rolled them so she was straddling his lap. The shock on his face was enough to make her smile, and when she reached behind her to free the clasp of her bra, his shock turned to awe.
"You're going to give a girl a complex, Malfoy."
"You're fucking perfect." He sat up so their torsos were pressed together, her breasts sliding over his slick chest as he once again kissed her deeply. With a slow reverence, his lips travelled lower. His lips closed around one as his fingers rolled the other.
She bucked against his lap, and if she were in her right mind she'd be embarrassed, but when he devoured her as such, she couldn't be bothered to care.
"Evanesco," Hermione cast with her head tilted to the ceiling as she lost herself in his touch. Both of their undergarments vanished, and he groaned at the feeling of her heat pressed against his erection.
She lifted up just slightly as he reached between them and slotted the tip of his cock at her entrance. She wasted no time in sinking on top of him, and they shared a pleasured cry. Merlin, it'd been too long and it'd definitely never been this good.
They moved in perfect tandem, her hips rolling as he rocked into her. He fell back against the mattress, his hands catching her breasts as she took over fucking him.
"I'm going to come," she bit out, one hand moving from his chest to massage her clit.
"Fuck," Draco choked. "You're going to be the death of me, you perfect, perfect witch."
The walls of her sex fluttered and closed tightly around his cock, her hips stuttering along its rhythm. When her orgasm waned, he rolled them again, pulling out of her and fisting his cock furiously until he spilt on her belly.
"Scourgify," he breathed, falling in a useless heap next to her, kissing her shoulders again and again.
Silence stretched as they basked in wake of their orgasms and as realisation settled over her, she looked over her shoulder just as Draco did the same. Their eyes were wide and suddenly, he laughed.
"Well, that changes things between us."
Swallowing, she turned back to study the ceiling. "Yes, it does."
The following morning was… awkward.
They kept orbiting around each other in wide circles as if one touch would cause his cock to accidentally slip back into her.
Eventually, they got in the car where, to her utter shock and dismay, the awkwardness intensified. How many times could a person read a map?
Finally, around three hours into the trip, her resolve crumbled. "I think we ought to just talk about it."
Draco winced and squirmed in his seat, eyes staying steady on the motorway. "Okay. What part?"
"Maybe the whole part."
"Like the logistics of the shag? Or—"
Hermione's eyes clenched shut, and she violently shook her head back and forth. "Absolutely not. Not that part. Just—" She wanted to ask if it meant something to him or if it was just a drunken one-off but truthfully, she wasn't sure of the answer for herself. If she were being honest with herself, which she always strived to be, she knew that at the very least, it meant something. "Just that we shouldn't let it affect how things are between us. It was a silly mistake—"
A scoff burst from inside him. "Mistake?"
"Well, no—" Shit. Hermione waved her hands in the air, a desperate attempt to swat the words from existence. "No, of course not a mistake. I just meant—"
"I heard you, Granger. We'll go back to how it was before."
"That's not what I want." The confession, while truthful, fell on deaf ears as Draco guided the car off the ramp.
"We need to stop for petrol. Piss if you have to; I don't want to stop again."
Hermione's lips parted, she wanted so badly to make this better but by the hard expression he donned, she knew it wasn't the right time.
They drove longer than they had any day prior—almost ten hours cramped in a car with a cranky wizard who refused to speak to her other than a few responding grunts when she tried.
But they made it far enough north and would arrive in New York City the following afternoon. The hotel was lovely, much nicer than the dingy one in South Carolina they'd been forced to endure. Although when he requested two beds and then claimed the one near the window, Hermione found herself wishing for the dark little room with the creaky bed.
They'd eaten takeaway on the road, and now there was nothing to do but sit and stare at the telly until they passed out.
The silent treatment was wearing on her, but she'd no idea how to fill the void or cross the chasm that now existed between them. Instead, she gnawed the inside of her cheek raw and thrummed her fingers on her leg repeatedly.
"I don't like it when you don't talk to me," she blurted, shooting up from her spot on the bed.
Draco blinked at the telly and said nothing.
"I didn't mean it was a mistake, Malfoy. I just meant a blunder, maybe, or a surprise."
He snorted. "A surprise shag?"
The corner of her lip twitched, and she could see the visible softening of his rigid walls. "Or something similar… I only meant that I didn't want what happened to make things worse if you'd only meant it as a oneoff or if it was a drunken slip—"
"I wasn't drunk," he interjected, looking at her for the first time in hours. "Were you?"
She quickly shook her head. "I mean, I'd had those beers but, no, I wasn't drunk. I knew what I was doing. I wanted to do what I was doing."
Slowly, his gaze travelled over the curve of her cheek and back to her eyes. "You did?"
"Yes." Tentatively, she rose to stand and crossed the few spaces between them. "I still do."
He gulped. "You do?"
Hermione rolled her eyes and rested her hands on her hips. "Are you going to keep asking these stupid bloody questions I've already answered or shag me?" A bright peal of laughter slipped from her lips as he gripped her by the waist and tossed her gently on the bed.
He kissed her slowly, and she paused to commit each touch to memory: the way he pressed his thigh against her core and the gentle laving of his tongue over the hollow under her jaw, or how he reverently roved his hands over her curves as they divulged themselves of piece after piece of clothing, and when he sank slowly inside her, they shared a sharp breath between them.
He pressed another kiss to her cheek as his hand pushed her knee higher and he reached places inside her she swore were made just for him. "Granger," he whispered into her curls. "I never wanted it to be a one -ff with you. I never will."
Denting the taut strips of muscle on his back with her nails, she keened into him as he made slow lazy work of fucking her. She never wanted it to end, could easily lie here the rest of her days as he dragged his cock in and out of her and trailed kisses over every inch of her he could reach.
After what felt like a glorious eternity, he sat back on his haunches while still buried inside her. One hand slid up the valley between her breasts and gently curved around her throat, his thumb trailing over her jaw as his free hand began rubbing mercilessly at her clit.
"Come for me, Granger; I can't hold off much longer when you look like this."
Her back arched as he rolled his hips just so. "I know the charm; you can come with me."
"Fuck me," he groaned and began driving into her with new vigour, the slap of their skin mixing with their panted breaths. A few thrusts later their orgasms collided, their bodies and the universe stilling for that one perfect moment before he fell over her.
Their breaths evened and she rolled on her side, resting her arms over his chest and grinning at him. With a sleepy smile he reached up to tuck a curl behind her ear, and she caught his wrist before he turned away, kissing his palm. "I never wanted it to be a one-off either, Malfoy."
If Hermione had counted correctly, she had four more orgasms before they again got in the car to make the final leg of the trip. The mood in the car was far more jovial, his hand resting on her inner thigh as the car sped along towards New York City.
But as the skyline came into view, the tension returned. She was going to be leaving soon. They hadn't talked about it all, instead existing in a happy little bubble filled with orgasms and banter.
She could sense that he felt it too, his hand coming up to rest on the wheel as they crossed the bridge into Manhattan.
"I'll come back and visit," she said finally as they made their way towards Central Park, which housed the entrance of the magical hub of the northeast. If she remembered correctly from what she had read, and she probably had, it could be revealed with some common charms when standing near the fountain.
Draco swallowed, his eyes tightening for a fraction of a second before he forced a smile. "Of course. It'll be quiet without you—finally."
Fighting back a chuckle, she reached over and pinched him gently. "No one will be around to tell you when you're being an idiot."
"Ah, well, I've managed all these years, surely I can manage a while longer." His lips folded into a thin line as he found a parking spot on a side street. When the car had stopped, he turned to face her and she could see the emotion he was holding at bay. "Maybe you can send me a few howlers—Merlin, don't cry, Granger."
Her jaw trembled and a single tear slipped free. "I'm not."
Cradling her jaw, he brought her gaze back up to meet his and smirked. "It's not forever and you know where to find me."
The entrance to the magical underbelly of New York was actually quite in plain sight. How the Muggles missed it was a testament to the strength of the Muggle Repelling charms because Hermione and Draco witnessed three witches stride through the side of a giant statue and not a single person blinked in their direction.
Shrugging, Hermione and Draco followed suit and found themselves in what could only be described as an underground city. It was as though New York City itself had been built on top of it. The streets were bustling with witches and wizards on their way to work and shopping at the chic storefronts.
Hermione stopped a friendly enough looking witch and asked where she might be able to inquire about an international Portkey.
"International?" The witch said, her eyes floating over to Draco before remembering herself. "Right, that'll be in the Congress building. Straight ahead, can't miss it."
"Thank you." Hermione turned to face the end of the street and sure enough, a massive building stood just a few blocks away.
They made their way down the street, and Hermione stopped at the foot of the stairs leading to the entrance.
"Well," Draco said, rocking back on his heels. "This is it."
"Maybe you could come back to England? We could talk to the Minister and—"
With a sad smile, he shook his head. "No, I'm not ready. Too many bad memories for me; I think I'll start something new. Will you owl my parents, tell them I'm alright?"
Hermione tried in vain to fight off the tears threatening to spill over. "Anything else?"
"Yeah." He smirked, and it reached all the way up to the corner of his eyes. "Tell them that I ran away to the beach and I'm happy. Tell them in a final act of defiance I fell in love with the girl I promised I never would."
The sides of her throat closed in and as she tucked her chin to hide the torrent of tears, Draco wrapped her in his arms and whispered soothing words in her ear. "It's not goodbye. I'll see you soon."
With a final resolving breath, she stepped away from him. "See you soon."
Before she entered the building, she turned over her shoulder, desperate for a final look at the git she'd come to know so well. He was hunched over on a bench, face buried in his hands and in that moment, everything changed. Clenching her jaw, she marched up to the witch at the front desk.
"I need to obtain an international Portkey and send two owls to England."
Faster than she'd ever thought possible, Hermione rushed down the stairs from the MACUSA building, her heart stuttering to a stop when she noticed the park bench was empty.
Then, just up the road, she spotted his obnoxiously blond hair and took off in a run, her bag flopping at her side and hitting her thigh again and again.
"Malfoy!" He didn't hear her. Her lungs and years of anti-athleticism were failing her rapidly. She paused, doubling over as she sucked in a few lungfuls of air, then screamed as loud as she possibly could, "Malfoy, you idiot! Stop!"
He heard her then, his hackles rising as he turned and searched the crowd for her. In all the possibilities of her declarations of love, she'd never expected to be so winded.
Disbelief pinched his features tight as he made his way towards her, a smile breaking through. "Merlin, Granger, it's hardly two blocks. You look like you're dying."
"Shut it, you prat."
"Is your Portkey delayed? I should've—"
She silenced him by crushing her body into his and covering his words with her mouth. Banding his arms around her waist, he lifted her off her toes, and her bag fell in a heap at their feet. When they parted, Hermione was still breathless but now for entirely different reasons, and she grinned. "I told you to shut it."
He bumped his nose against hers. "I don't answer to you, witch."
"Well, you're going to have to start." He set her down, and she lifted her bag on her shoulder again. "Let's go home."
She took a few steps but he remained rooted where he stood, blinking rapidly like a fool. "Home?"
"Yes, the place we've been living all these weeks. Florida? Come on, it's a long drive."
Hermione patted her bag. "I have one—two actually—in case you change your mind. We can activate them at any time in the next six months."
"But your friends—"
"You gave me a brilliant idea, actually. I sent them an owl, let them know I'm not dead or kidnapped and am having a lovely holiday with my new boyfriend and will return when I feel like I can manage it."
The gears in his head were churning as his lips made various shapes as he fought for words. "So… you're not leaving?"
"You're coming back to the house? With me... to stay?"
"Yes. Now, stop being an idiot so we can go." Hermione didn't make it two steps before Malfoy crashed into her backside, wrapping her in a tight hug and grinning against her cheek.
"You're really going to have to stop calling me that."
She twisted her neck to kiss him properly. "I'll think about it."
A/N: I want to give a big thanks for reading! I'd love to know what you thought because this story is a little different from what I normally write! I'd originally written this for a comp in Dramione Fanfiction Forum and have decided not to compete for personal reasons. But the rest of the pieces go live tomorrow anon and you guys should read them all! A big thanks to my AlphaBet, Ravenslight and NuclearNik and Farmulousa for letting me pick her British brain. They all made this story better and for that I'm so so grateful! Stay safe, friends!
A big thanks to my AlphaBet, Ravenslight and NuclearNik and Farmulousa for letting me pick her British brain. They all made this story better and for that I'm so so grateful!
Stay safe, friends!