Hello! New oneshot time. This is an angst-filled Dramione told from Hermione's POV through flashbacks and contemporaneous accounts.

Contains explicit sexual content, but it's nowhere near the majority. No major TWs, but there are mentions of alcohol use as a coping mechanism, and I use drug addiction as a metaphor, so please be mindful.

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

Hearing a knock on the door at this hour was the absolute last thing that Hermione Granger wanted.

She had stayed late at work, frantically working over a case that was set to appear before the Wizengamot the following week. The Department of International Cooperation and Auror Department had caught a Norwegian arms dealer trafficking dark objects into England via Scotland, through a sophisticated network of trade. Hermione was leading chair on the case and had spent the previous few months thinking of nothing else except how the network had expanded across the black market, and avoided every importation inspection that Great Britain had to offer.

Well, that was all she had thought about until the knock on the door.

It was ten forty-six. This was not someone canvassing, or a package, or anything of the like. Her friends would have floo-ed her to ask if they could come round, and she wasn't close enough to the neighbours on her small street in the north of London for any of them to think this was an appropriate time for a social visit.

There was only one person who would appear at her door at this time of night.

Besides, if she hadn't been sure, she only knew one person who had a knock like that. It was very particular; one hard knock, followed by three soft knocks, with a two hard knock finale.

She was so accustomed to the tapping rhythm that she could read it like Morse code.

She knew what he was saying. She knew what he wanted. Message received.

Hermione sighed, and closed her files. She walked to the door without trepidation, knowing how the next few moments would unfold. Not by divination, or by any other ludicrous method of seeing.

No, from the sedated understanding that comes from repetition.

She closed her eyes for a moment as she reached for the doorknob, cherishing a final moment of peace before her life was upended once again, as she prepared for her universe to shift so that she no longer revolved around the same centre of gravity.

Just like before. And before. And before then.

But still, she opened the door.

She wasn't surprised to see him. She never really was when he showed up on her doorstep. But after almost six months of nothing more than brief glances as they passed each other in the Ministry, the sight of him leaning casually against her doorframe, his grey eyes piercing with an intensity that she had only ever seen from him in these moments, she felt her heartrate pick up.

"Have you seen the hour, Draco?"

"Is it late?" Draco Malfoy smirked, feigning a glance at his watchless wrist. His eyes flicked back up to meet hers. "Are you otherwise occupied?"

Gods, he never stopped looking beautiful, she thought. The man before her was nothing short of an Adonis himself. Muscles shaping every inch of his pale skin, white blonde hair that fell casually across his brow, grey eyes that seemed to see directly into her soul.

He had always seen right into the depths of who she was.

"I'm just working on the case," she replied, forcing herself to answer her questions. She hated these semantics. They always did them; pretending, maybe, that this was a casual moment between two people who were…well, who were nothing more than acquaintances.

But she knew better. And he did too.

Still, every time like clockwork, he asked her the same question.

"Are you alone?"

"You know I am."

And she gave him the same answer.

He raised an eyebrow, and she saw the pulse at the base of his neck quicken.

As if they were in a play, a play they had rehearsed diligently, and performed multiple times, she said her following lines as she had the last time he had shown up at her door.

"What do you want, Draco?"

And he, knowing his cues from the script, smiled that cursed little smile that wrecked her so completely that she knew she would never fully recover.

"You know why I'm here, Hermione."

And then, as the director signaled, he sauntered into her home, closing the door behind himself, and kissed her with a ferocity that matched her memories, sending her into a tailspin which would end, as it always did, with her bringing him into her bed only for him to leave before she woke up in the morning.

It had been six months since she had last slept with Draco Malfoy.

It had been seven years since they had first slept together.

It had been six and a half years since they had started seeing each other.

It had been four years since he had ended things.

It had been three years since he had first shown up at her door.

It had been two years since she had last been with anyone else.

And it had been seven long, hard years, since she had first realized she was in love with him.

It had started in sixth year, after Dumbledore defeated Voldemort the previous spring during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries. She had entered Hogwarts that year feeling excited at the prospect of time at school spent without worrying about her life, or those of her friends at every moment. Stepping off the Hogwarts Express, Harry and Ron in tow, she had taken a moment to look around, breathing her new reality in.

That's when she had first seen him.

He had stepped off the train at the same time, a few carriages down. She knew his father had been thrown in prison, the Malfoy family stripped of its fortune and prestige. Despite all of this, she was surprised to see that he looked…if not happy, not miserable. He was surrounded by his Slytherin friends, chatting to them in low voices.

After a moment, as if he felt her gaze, he turned and met her eyes.

That was the first time she had ever seen the intensity that she had become so accustomed to.

It lasted only a second, the briefest moment between them, but the intimacy of his gaze took her breath away.

He gave her a small nod.

Then it all began.

He lifted her onto the counter in her kitchen. The ferocity with which the encounter had started had dissipated somewhat and was replaced with a tender intimacy that broke her heart and remade it in one instance. It was the way he had captured her lips the night they had spent sipping a bottle of wine next to the lake by her parents' cottage, the way he had kissed her good morning in their shared apartment.

She nearly purred under his touch, as his hands expertly grazed her hips, slipping under her blouse to grab at her waist. It had been months since she had felt his fingers holding her there, in a way that only he knew how.

"Missed you," he murmured against her lips, pushing his body between her legs. "It's been too long."

He always said that, she thought absentmindedly, as his lips moved gracefully against hers. Every time. Almost immediately after kissing her, he would act as if he were a man sated during a drought. He would act as if she were precious, something that he longed for constantly.

He would act as if he were not going to leave in the morning.

But, desperate not to be a passive actor in her own destruction, she would kiss him back.

If this beautiful man was really going to ruin her, she was not going down without getting all that he offered.

He was like a final glass of champagne on the Titanic. And god knows how she drank him in as the ship slipped beneath the surface.

The first time they had kissed, he had initiated.

She had been in the library, researching a potions essay, when she heard someone pull out the chair next to her.

Looking up at her interrupter, she was given pause.

"Is there something you would like, Malfoy?"

He was leaning back in the chair now, arms crossed. He was staring at her with the same intensity that she had seen a month prior when they had gotten off the train. They had only exchanged a few words since then. He had not thrown an insult her way, for a change. Instead, they had exchanged occasional pleasantries, or simple questions, like for her to pass him an ingredient in Potions.

However, this was the first moment that he had sought her out.

Little did they know that he was beginning a pattern that was haunt them both mercilessly for the better part of the next decade.

He frowned a bit at her question, the intensity still in his eyes. "Yes, Granger. There is actually something I would like."

And he leaned forward and kissed her.

His hands had begun unbuttoning her shirt, lips moved to her neck. She hadn't been expecting him tonight, so she was wearing a beige t-shirt bra. However, she had long known Draco didn't care about that kind of stuff. She could be wearing a trash bag and he would still look at her with the fresh eyes of a man seeing the sun for the first time.

He had always looked at her like that.

"This is something I like about you, Granger," he whispered into her ear. They were in an abandoned classroom off the Charms corridor. After several late-night rendezvous, and an ability to quash her initial fear of getting caught snogging Draco Malfoy, she was letting him pet at her.

He had jumped at the opportunity, taking off her shirt with skilled fingers, looking in her eyes at every moment, reading her expression, her face confirming her consent the whole time. When all the buttons were all open, she gave one final nod and he looked down at her.

She had not been expecting to let him into her shirt that night. It had, as most things in their relationship had and would for years to come, just happened. Therefore, she was wearing a very practical white cotton bra. It was not like she owned anything overtly sexy either. It was not her style.

If she was expecting him to be disappointed, she was quickly proven wrong. He looked at her cotton bra as if it were expensive lingerie, as if she had laid herself before her wearing nothing but diamonds.

He started kissing down her chest, as he hands began to explore her breasts. She felt her breath quicken, and he stood up to whisper in her ear.

"This is something I like about you, Granger," he murmured. "Even in the most boring bra in the world, you look like a goddamn angel."

His opinion had never changed.

"Draco," she whispered. He looked up from where he was kissing down her bare chest.

"Yes?" he answered.

They had moved from the kitchen to her bedroom, where he had laid her down on the bed. He was fully clothed but had managed to get Hermione out of her blouse and bra. She did not even know how long he had been kissing her chest. It felt like eternity.

She knew how he was. He took his time. He cherished these moments.

He knew they would not have another one for a long time.

He had made love to her for the first time in the Room of Requirement. Perhaps to him, he thought of it as the first time they had had sex. But for her, they had made love.

It was when she realized she loved him.

She knew that they had been building to this moment. The secret moments that they had been stealing had been growing more and more intense, and more and more physical, to the point where last night, with his head between her legs, he had asked her, and she whispered the word that would seal her fate.


She wanted him, that much was undeniable. The pure chemistry between their bodies had shocked her. She had never felt pulled to another human being before. And the brief flings she had had prior, a few chaste kisses with Viktor, a snog with Ron over the summer, were nothing compared to the utter bliss she felt as she melted into his hands.

Under the dim lights of the Room of Requirement, he was holding his body just so above hers. They were both bare, for the other to see, to hold, to kiss. But just before he crossed the final barrier, he looked her in the eye and asked.

"Are you sure? You can say no at any time."

"Draco," she murmured, reaching up to stroke his face. She barely ever used his first name. Curving her lips around each syllable felt intimate in a way that his face between her legs did not. "I want you. I want this."

He entered her like a starved man then, kissing her with a fire she could never have imagined from someone else. And in that moment, she knew.

As they came undone together, after passion and chaos consumed them, she was certain.

She loved him. God save her she loved him.

That was her first mistake.

"Yes?" he whispered again, as she had answered him first with silence.

She stared up at the ceiling, desperately trying to ignore the ache in her core for him, and his eyes which could unravel her in a heartbeat.

No, she looked to the heavens as she asked her next question. She had never been religious before Draco. But the existence of such pleasure and pain had convinced her that something else must be there, something so magnificent and terrible that it would make her revel in her downfall.

"What are we doing?" she whispered, begging for an answer that would satisfy her, after all the years.

But she didn't get it. Instead, she got wicked lips returning to her body.

He murmured something against her skin before her moment of distraction was lost in sensation.

Lost in him.

The summer between sixth and seventh year came and went. The last she had seen of Draco had been the night before they left Hogwarts. It had been spent engulfed in each other. However, instead of the passion that she had become accustomed to, it had been slow. He had kept his eyes on her face, moving tenderly above her, kissing the corner of her lips. It had driven her crazy in a way that she did not realize was possible. And when all was said and done, and he was lying on top of her, face in her hair, she had whispered her confession. Her three worded salvation.

Or damnation, depending on how you looked at it.

He hadn't said anything. She wasn't even sure he had heard at first. But when she woke up alone, and she didn't seem him at the platform, or on the train, or anywhere at all, she knew.

He had heard. And he had made his choice.

Hermione spent the first half of the summer in heartbreak, before a couple too many glasses of firewhiskey and a late night resulted in her spilling her heart to Ginny. Her friends hadn't known. What would she have said? However, instead of reacting in anger, Ginny reacted with love. The next day, after nursing away her first hangover, Ginny had, though with kindness, told her to move on.

So she tried.

And her attempt led her to get off the Hogwarts Express at the beginning of her seventh year with Anthony Goldstein on her arm. Their brief summer fling started after running into each other at Flourish and Blotts midway through July, shopping for their class books. Anthony was…nice. He was kind. Sure, Anthony didn't make her heart pound the way that he had, but he was… nice. He was good for her.

Harry and Ron had welcomed him into their friend group easily enough, after the DA in their fifth year. Ginny approved as well. Hermione was…if not happy, settled. Anthony was stable. Anthony was good. Anthony was better for her than he had been.

When they stepped off the Hogwarts Express together, hand in hand, she suddenly felt nervous. She felt shivers run up her spine, and a burning sensation. When she turned, she came face to face with eyes boring into her. Beautiful grey eyes.

He glared at her, glanced down at her hand in Anthony's, before turning away on his heel and disappearing into the throngs of students looking for luggage, for their friends.

She was not looking for anything. There was nothing she could be looking for.

Later that night, after dinner and the Sorting she had given Anthony a kiss goodnight and began to head upstairs to the dormitories. When she reached the seventh floor, out of nowhere, she felt an arm grab hers to spin her around.

"Goldstein, Granger? Really?"

Strong arms she knew too well shoved her against the wall. Draco stared down at her, the same burning expression as earlier painted across his face.

She ripped her arms out of his hands. "What is it to you, Draco?" She spat up at him angrily.

An emotion she had never seen before flashed through his eyes.

"It is everything to me," he hissed, before capturing her lips with an intensity that set her body on fire, emanating from the spot where his mouth moved against hers.

Needless to say, her relationship with Anthony did not last long after that.

"Draco," she whispered again, trying to ignore his fingers moving steadily up her thighs, hands gripping at her, marking her through touch.

His lips, which had been working slowly down her neck, paused.

"Hermione?" he responded, breathing her name like a prayer.

She tried to slow her breathing, to calm her racing pulse, to distract herself long enough to force the question.

"What are we doing?"

The words were quiet, like her three-worded confession so many years prior.

Was confession the right word? Confession implies penance, implies wrongdoing. Images of attending Catholic Mass with her parents as a child arose in her mind's eye.

Loving Draco made her the penitent.

Yes. Confession was the right word.

Draco Malfoy was infinitely simple and infuriatingly complex. Murmuring into her hair, his body covering hers in an abandoned seventh floor classroom mere hours after arriving for her final year, he made promises he never intended to keep.

You're mine. I'll kill anyone else who touches you. Did you like that, Granger? Making me jealous. I'll show you jealous, I'll show you envy in its purest form…

Envious, that's what he was, she thought, holding onto the word like a lifeline as Draco pounded into her, slowly, torturously, stripping any thought of Anthony from her mind. There was only Draco. There would only ever be Draco. She was a fool to ever consider otherwise.

That's all it had taken for him to come back. For him to consider the possibility that she had moved on. For it to break through his rigid exterior to where he hid his heart, under layers of sarcasm, and grit, and pain.

In that way, Draco was quite simple. He was a prideful man; to see someone covet what he considered his would send him on a rampage.

And she was his. That was inarguable.

What was more complicated was whether he was hers.

His lips were frozen a half centimetre above her skin, close enough that all she had to do was arch her body and they would be connected once again. But she couldn't. Not this time.

How many times had she been in this position with Draco? Ready and willing to let him destroy her once more, collapse the tower of progress she had been building since their last encounter.

The stones would crumble to the earth, and like the obedient masochist she was, she would begin rebuilding until he decided she was worth his time again.

Would it take another six months? A year? She'd be waiting. She would always wait for him.

Did she have any agency anymore? Or had she thrown it to the wind years prior, lost to the air, particles of dust flying in every direction, never to be made whole again.

It wasn't much. It wasn't an action that necessarily demonstrated a backbone. But it's all she could manage in the face of her torturer that she loved more than she loved herself.

"What are we doing?" she repeated, the words a little louder this time.

Breaking up with Anthony was simple. She did it the next day. There were a few tears shed, nothing serious, before a nod and a false commitment. Of course we'll stay friends. She probably spoke to Anthony once again that whole year.

Being with Draco in any official, public capacity. Now that was complicated.

There were the obvious roadblocks that went by the names of Harry and Ron. There was screaming and yelling, fights in the common room that would go down in Gryffindor history. There were weeks of the silent treatment, followed by grudging apologies and statements about just wanting to protect you before finally falling into reluctant acceptance.

Acceptance was always the final step.

Then there were the more private roadblocks known as parents. The Grangers demanded what Hermione was thinking dating her childhood bully, whereas Lucius and Narcissa were a completely different story. They spent an unforgettable New Years at Malfoy Manor that year, after Lucius was released from Azkaban, a dinner so tense that by the end Draco shattered a glass in his bare hand and demanded that his parents just bloody well get over it. They went to the Grangers the next day, where strained small talk continued until Hermione swore that she broke a blood vessel in her cheek trying to sustain her smile.

Then there were the roadblocks just between the two of them. Issues like how Hermione could never admit she was wrong because Draco, you just haven't thought about it from this perspective. Or how it took Draco almost an entire year after they started dating to say he loved her when he wasn't drunk or in the throws of passion. And how the longer it took, the less she believed it when he finally did say it, sitting on the grounds after their graduation from Hogwarts, watching the sun set over the lake.

But they were young and in love. And when you are young and in love, the roadblocks seem fun - they seem necessary - this is how you fight for someone - it's romantic - it'll make it worth it.

She was much more jaded now.

"What do you mean?" he asked quietly, his voice lacking any of the passion or confidence it had exuded minutes before. He hadn't pulled away from her.

She tried to focus on anything but his expert fingers on her skin, on how what she so desperately desired, and craved for years was seconds away from fruition. How she just knew he would touch that spot only he could ever find until her eyes rolled back in her head and she saw stars.

But she couldn't lose her nerve. It had taken her seven years to push back against him, against this waltz they had been perfecting for her entire adult life.

It was time for her to lead.

She took a deep breath, inching away from him until his jaw tensed, surprised at the rejection.

"What are we doing, Draco? This? What is this?"

"You know what this is," he murmured, dodging the question professionally and leaning forward to try and capture her lips. To avoid the conversation.

"No, I don't," she whispered back, turning her head away. She would melt uselessly under her gaze. The strongest weapons in Draco's arsenal were his silver eyes. "I don't know what this is. What we are. What we're doing. Or why."

She could hear his heart hammering in his chest as he took way too damn long to respond. Nervously, she looked up.

It was not her first mistake, but it certainly sealed her fate.

As he met her gaze, the palpable fear behind his eyes dissipated, disappearing into neutrality before a new dominant emerged. Confidence.

This was not Occlumency. Just the knowledge that he was her heroin and when he offered himself to her on a silver platter, she would take it no matter how much the come down burned the next day.

He smirked and leaned towards her once again. She didn't retreat.

"Oh, Hermione," he whispered, caressing her name around his lips like she was important. Like she was dear to him.

"We're doing what we always do."

When you are young and in love, you never see the end coming.

After Hogwarts, they fell into a pattern. A routine. It was comfortable. They were on their way.

Of course, they still had their arguments, what couple didn't? They would scream and yell, fight about the most useless of things before the heat changed dramatically and forgiveness was achieved only by him burying himself to the hilt inside of her.

They reached a tentative peace with the parents. The Grangers learned to like Draco, they found him charming. Smart. Insightful.

Of course, he was all of these things.

The Malfoys were another story. Narcissa was easier than Lucius. Whereas Narcissa achieved a casual relationship with Hermione that involved tea once a month, Lucius took the avoidance approach. He would nod at her when she saw him – a tepid acknowledgement of her existence – but otherwise stay quiet.

It wasn't much. But it was enough. Or at least she thought it was.

A year after graduating Hogwarts, they moved in together. They laughed while they painted the living room blue, flicking paint at each other until it dissolved into a full-out war and they were both navy, making love on the floor.

They created a morning routine. On weekdays, Hermione would brew a pot of coffee that they would both share before grabbing a muffin at the café around the corner on their way to work. On the weekends, Draco would make them breakfast in bed. He was a surprisingly good chef, but always managed to include chocolate, or jam, or something else that he could innocuously spread across her body only to lick up with his practiced tongue.

Weekend breakfasts were her favourite.

It was in these peaceful moments that Hermione considered the possibility of forever. That perhaps, against all the odds, they would make it. She wanted them to make it. Three and a half years had been a long time to give yourself to someone else.

She was wearing blinders. She realized that much later. But at the time, all she could see was him, in blinding silver.

She didn't notice how their arguments grew more frequent and more ferocious, solved by slamming doors and I'm spending the night at Theo's. She didn't notice how Draco missed their weekly dinner with her parents not twice but three weeks in a row. She didn't realize that she started pretending to be asleep when he got home late, when she felt the mattress dip beside her.

She didn't see the pattern emerging before her. She was enjoying the ride too much to realize that they were in fact circling the drain.

"What we always do?" she gasped out, Draco's fingers finally slipping beneath her waistband.

"Yes, love," he murmured into her ear, gaining momentum as he gently slid a finger into her core. Gods, she was soaking.

Her body had never learned when it came to Draco. Where her mind begged desperately for release from the shackles he had her in, her body begged for the physical release that only he could give her.

"What does that possibly mean," she whispered, ignoring how breathless she sounded, how easy it was for him to get her in this state, how badly she wanted him to.

He added another digit and increased the speed, her breathless words dissolving into moans and purrs and oh my god Draco, right there as he curled his fingers.

"It means, Hermione," he whispered, his eyes suddenly boring into hers as his lips pressed a quick kiss to her own. "That this is just what we do."

"That's a shite answer, Draco," she whispered. His fingers hit that spot and she cried out as the world exploded into stars behind her eyes.

"You always expected better of me than I could give," he answered back quietly, so quiet that she suspected perhaps he did not intend for her to hear him over the peak of her own pleasure.

But she did.

And she happened to agree.

Draco ended their relationship on a Tuesday morning. He had stayed at Theo's the night prior after a particularly ruthless argument that had climaxed with her screaming Do you even love me anymore?

He had turned on his heel and gone to the floo, disappearing into green flames so quickly that she hardly noticed he hadn't answered the question.

He would never say it again.

When he had stumbled into their living the next morning, his hair disheveled, his eyes bloodshot and his breath reeking of firewhiskey, she knew. She knew before he told her it was over, before he announced that she could keep the apartment, that he would be collecting his most important belongings and leaving immediately, that he would send for the rest within the week. She knew before the first tears began to spring from her eyes, as they fell without regard for her pride, as she looked at the person she loved more than anyone else in the entire world and realized that after three and a half years of touching her, holding her, having her, he was leaving her in pieces.

He didn't hug her goodbye. He didn't say anything. He turned and he left.

It would be another year before he was next at her door.

Draco always looked his most beautiful in the moonlight. Hermione had held this opinion since he had first kissed her in the library, so many years before. Perhaps it was the way the light illuminated his pale skin, making him look other-worldly, as the moon softly accentuated his lines that were blinding in the sunlight.

Or perhaps Hermione thought this because so much of their relationship had occurred in the dark.

He was kissing her with abandon, like a lover, like she was the daybreak that had conquered his darkest night. He didn't kiss her as if she was a coworker he slept with on occasion.

But wasn't that what they were now? She worked in the Department of International Cooperation and he worked as a Potions Master for the Auror Department. They went to some of the same meetings, they had to work together on some cases. Cordial. That's what they were on the outside. Everyone knew they were exes, but they were cordial. They got along well in a professional capacity. They kept out of each other's way, respectfully.

But in the privacy of her room, with the moonlight dancing through the window, they were no longer coworkers, or cordial exes. They were lovers, born of a shared intimacy that was too intense for a casual fuck.

Wasn't that what they were doing? Casually fucking?

But Hermione knew that was a lie. There had never been anything casual or detached about her relationship with Draco Malfoy. In these moments, she let herself believe that Draco loved her.

But he didn't. That wasn't what they were doing. They weren't loving each other.

They were doing what they always did.

Recovery is arduous. It is torturous. It is looking at the one thing you crave most in the cosmos and deciding that you'll have to live without it.

Of course, Hermione had not made that decision herself.

She moved out of the apartment. She had barely lasted a week without him. The place was tarnished for her, stained with a memory that she could not bear to live in the presence of. She packed up her stuff, took herself and Crookshanks to Harry and Ginny's place until the end of the month, before moving into her place in North London.

She saw Draco for the first time about a month after the breakup. Whereas she felt like her pain was etched into her every movement, as obvious as the sun in the sky, Draco looked like he was unaffected. The famous Malfoy composure appeared in full force.

They had an interdepartmental meeting, a boring, tired affair. They gave their reports. Hermione thought she would cry at any moment, her eyes focused on the floor to avoid any chance at cracking. Draco delivered his flawlessly, nothing more than a raised eyebrow to prove he was not in fact made of marble.

Hermione had gone home and downed a bottle of firewhiskey by herself.

The next day, waking up with the worst hangover of her life, she had made herself a promise. She was done with him. It was over. She would move on. She would heal. She would not let him hurt her again.

It turned out to be the most recent in a string of broken promises that paved her relationship with Draco Malfoy.

Draco always looked her in the eye when he entered her.

She didn't know why. Perhaps he liked the way her eyes flared when he stretched her, in a way that was both familiar and surprising. Perhaps he favoured the angle, him holding his body above hers, as if she was delicate, not that he would treat her as such for long. Perhaps he enjoyed the intimacy, in these soft instances when they had it, when they blocked out the world and pretended that just maybe, this was theirs.

It was, in a way. But only in the moonlight.

She let his name slip through her lips, demonstrating a vulnerability she reserved for these moments, for when she was too far over the edge to get back safely. Where the only option was to fall through the air, to allow herself to shatter against the unforgiving earth, and hope that she would be able to collect all her pieces in the morning. When he was gone.

She had every time before.

The year following hers and Draco's breakup was exhausting. It was long. It was filled with setbacks and moments of revelation and firewhiskey and tears.

It contained at least thirteen shattered wine glasses in her apartment, thrown at the wall in moments where she couldn't handle it anymore. It had two regretful one-night stands; one with Terry Boot that made her cringe whenever she saw him, and one with an unknown man after a night at a muggle club that Ginny had dragged her to. Both had done nothing to sate her physically and had drained her emotionally.

It contained moments of staring at the ceiling in bed and being thankful; she had felt a love unlike anything she had ever known. She had learned patience, empathy, she had grown. Wasn't that worth it? Was the pain worth it?

It contained the deepest depression of her life, when Harry and Ron had to physically force her out of the house after calling in sick for a whole week, letting sobs wrack her body and alcohol nurse her soul.

It held ups and it held downs, as life always did. There were nights she thought she would never move on and there were nights she was convinced she had.

But when the twelve month mark came, and she stayed at home, curled up with a cup of tea and a book with Crookshanks in her lap, she was convinced that though she was not healed, she was further down the path than when she had started. And that was a victory, wasn't it?

Draco appeared at her door for the first time the very next night.

The delicacy was long gone. He thrust into her with fervor, eliciting noises from her mouth that no man had ever discovered. She had long since learned that her sexuality was a treasure trove, and only Draco held the key.

She ran her fingers up his arms, feeling his muscles tense under her, until she was grasping at his shoulders, pulling herself up, towards him, always towards him. He reached down to wrap his arm around her lower back, and with her legs around his waist, they moved in tandem as he pulled her onto his lap.

This was the only moment she felt in control of her relationship with Draco. When she was on top; lowering herself onto his cock as slowly as she wanted, hearing the groan at the back of the throat that she knew was reserved for her. Biting her lip at the sensation, she threw her head back and moaned as she pulled her body to his tip, before lowering herself at a tantalizing rate. He gasped, his hands on her back, pulling her close until her breasts were flush with his chest. He reached up to grab her chin, bringing her lips down on his ferociously, before he began thrusting up into her, regaining control.

Draco was always in control when it came to them. Anything else was a mirage.

When she opened her door that fateful night only to come face to face with the eyes that haunted her fantasies and her nightmares, she had gasped.

It was late in the night. Had she fallen asleep and into a dream? Because this could not be real; Draco leaning on her doorframe, looking so casually beautiful that it took her breath away.

She remembers it as you do any moment that alters the course of your life.

"Draco?" she had whispered, disbelievingly.

He had nodded in response, his face a picture of detached neutrality. "Hermione."

"What… what are you doing here?"

"I came to see you."

He said it as if it was obvious. As if it was to be expected. If he hadn't just shattered the unstable foundations that she had been building in her life without him.

But in the way that Draco Malfoy was simple, so was she. At least she was when it came to him.

She let him in that night. She let him kiss her. She let him take her to bed and send her spinning through galaxies only to wake up alone in the morning. In the process, she learned a lesson that would propel most of her choices over the following three years.

She would always take what Draco was willing to give her.

Everyone had a weakness.

The fact that Draco was hers was both the biggest tragedy and greatest gift of her life.

He pushed her hair off her shoulder, peppering kisses down the side of her face until he reached the crook of her neck. He sucked at the spot there, the spot that no one else had ever found, that had her toes curling and her core shaking. There would be a mark in the morning – he always left one.

He knew she liked it.

He had a knowledge of her that only came with time – with hours spent in each other's beds, at their sides, on park benches and beaches and at those damn Ministry galas. And as much as it killed her to admit it, Draco Malfoy knew her, better than anyone else in her life.

He knew how she took her coffee – one cream, two sugar.

He knew how she looked in the morning – exhausted, never having successfully mastered her insomnia.

He knew how she looked when she came – her head rolling back, her eyes blown open by intensity, panting, wanton.

He knew her ticks, what aggravated her about Ron and Harry, her arguments with her parents, her insecurities about her body, that her favourite book was Pride and Prejudice, her loves, her hates, her soul.

Draco Malfoy knew her everything.

He was the only person she had ever let fully in; trusted to take her whole being in his hands and to see her.

To see her as she was and to love her for it.

And he had.

Until he hadn't anymore.

The first night was an anomaly, she tried to convince herself when she woke up in the morning to an empty bed. An accident. A night of solace between exes. It happened all the time, didn't it?

She had cried in Harry's arms, apparating straight to his and Ginny's apartment. He soothed her, even as his jaw clenched and his eyes flared when she uttered the fateful words I slept with Draco. Ginny gave her a look of pity that proved to her just how far she had fallen.

It had been a year. A long, laborious year that Ginny and Harry had had front row seats for. They had seen her pain, her longing, her despair, only to watch her fall back into his arms the first time he came knocking.

After she had cried herself dry, they spoke to her gently, but with a firmness she had not been expecting, that could only come from a place so full of love that they could not bear to see her crumble again.

It had to be a one-time incident. It was understandable, you were together for years. But you can't let him worm his way back into your good graces. Not after everything he did. We don't want you to get hurt again.

She nodded along, hearing the words from her closest friends and understanding the value in them. She understood the logic, how point A went to point B and so on.

But at the same time, she knew that her rationality was mute when he looked at her with that look like his very eyes could make her come undone.

The next time Draco knocked at her door, she did not tell Harry or Ginny the next day.

She never told anyone again.

She could feel it building. Pressure. In the core of her being.

As soon as she came, there would only be seconds left. She was certain.

Nothing sent Draco over the cliff faster than feeling her come undone around his cock.

So she pulled his face to hers and kissed him, hoping to slow down the inevitable; to have him for just one more minute. He was panting under her tongue, his release just around the corner. He was waiting for her. He was a gentleman like that.

She kissed him tenderly, a remnant of a past intimacy that she could only access in these moments. He kissed her back, their lips moving together to create a symphony. It was music when they made love; it always had been.

He grasped at her cheek, his other hand pulling her flush to his chest once again. He slowed his thrusts, stilling for a moment inside of her. Gasping at her lips, he murmured her name.

She could almost believe that he wanted it to last, too.

Forgive her for prolonging it. Forgive her for praying that he would whisper those three words he once had. Forgive her for lying to herself, for believing that he loved her. How could she not be convinced? When he kissed her like this, as if he didn't need to breathe in oxygen, just her, when he touched her like they belonged together.

This was a luxury she allowed herself in these moments; to believe it was more than comfort, more than sex. That Draco was here because he wanted her, not in the night, but in the days, too. That he loved her. That he had always loved her, that the past three years had been a hallucination. That he had never left. That he would never leave.

But in the morning, he would. And she would pay for this luxury with heartbreak.

Moving on is a complicated process, one that is significantly derailed by continuing to sleep with the man you desperately need to heal from.

Over that next year, Draco appeared at her door twenty-one times. Sometimes it was over successive nights; sometimes she didn't see him for a month. He showed up on his schedule – when he wanted her.

And she never refused him.

She convinced herself it would offer closure. It would allow for her to move on. This time was really goodbye. But it never was, and while her secret hits sustained her outwardly, beneath the surface, her addiction to Draco Malfoy had broken into her barely patched up life and rooted itself deep within her, so deep that she wondered if she would ever be free of it.

A year after they had begun this arrangement, Dennis Creevey had asked her out on a date. She was surprised - flustered. She had not dated since Draco. And here was a man she knew, she liked even, she found attractive, who was showing interest in her.

She had been curious – wasn't she always? Would it allow her to stop whatever she was doing with Draco, to settle down with another person, to fall in love again. It would never be the same – who ever forgot their first? But she could be happy. At least that's what she tried to convince herself.

He took her out for dinner in Diagon Alley. The date was pleasant. Sure, it did not set her core on fire, but she enjoyed the conversation. Dennis was funny. He could be quite charming when he wanted to be, and she'd be a fool to admit he wasn't handsome. But it wasn't there. That indescribable thing she had had with Draco.

Call it a spark. Call it chemistry. Call it soul-bonding. Call it whatever you wanted to. It only belonged to her and Draco.

In a desperate bid to see if she could force it, to see if she just had to try, to be willing, she slept with Dennis that night. She didn't orgasm. He couldn't get her anywhere near the peak.

Draco had always read her body like a map, tracing his routes with his lips and fingers, knowing exactly where to press to make her scream. Of course, Draco had the advantage of time. But she knew the issue with Dennis wasn't the lack of practice, or his lack of finesse.

It was her. Her and her debilitating addiction to Draco Malfoy.

After he had finished, she had ushered him out of her apartment, insisting she couldn't sleep well with another body next to her. He had left sheepishly, kissing her on the cheek and stating that we should do this again sometime. She had forced a smile in return, knowing full well that it would never happen.

The next day, her date with Dennis had been splashed across the society section of The Daily Prophet - the romantic entanglements of a war heroine and the best friend of Harry Potter was interesting to the masses. Coworkers had asked her about it; all she could do was shrug and say it was nice.

That night, Draco had fucked her on top of her kitchen table, a possessive aggression overtaking him that she had not seen in years. She understood it then.

He still knew she belonged to him. That another man had coveted her.


Draco was a simple man.

She came with the force of an earthquake, her cunt spasming around his cock as waves ripped through her body, as sounds she did not recognize ripped from her throat.

She felt him stutter beneath her, the snapping of his hips increasing in speed, until he sank his teeth into her lower lip and groaned.

In the seconds after they came, she always felt most at peace. Maybe it was the endorphins coursing through her blood, or that he did not immediately push her away. She lied to herself in these moments, convinced herself that he would kiss her, before wrapping her into his arms and falling asleep, awaking in the morning still tangled together in sheets and limbs.

He did kiss her this time, as he always did. Pulling herself gently off him, she fell onto her normal side of the bed, trying to calm her racing heart. Next to her, she heard deep breathing as Draco attempted to do the same.

They would fall asleep like this, their energy spent and bodies sated. They would not touch; they never did. They would share space, continue to exist together, until her racing thoughts tinged with regret would finally fall away, sleep offering its sweet reprieve until Draco invaded her dreams.

When she would wake up in the morning, he would be gone.

Like clockwork. It was a system that they had perfected. It was always the same.

But this time, it was a bit different.

She felt his hand reach out to her side, slowly, as if testing the waters. When she did not move away, he threaded their fingers together, holding on to her.

Her breath caught in her throat.

He never touched her after sex. That was their unspoken rule. While they were fucking, they could have those small intimacies, they could access them, could pretend that this was more. But when they weren't, they could not cross that line. It was too dangerous. It was too close to the chaos of the question: what were they?

She felt his thumb graze her skin softly. She was certain he could feel her blood pounding in her veins.

But she didn't say anything.

Because Draco Malfoy could do whatever he wanted with her. He could fuck her, he could hold her, he could destroy her completely and she would allow it.

In the way that Draco knew her everything, she knew that she would give everything she was for this man.

Maybe he liked to pretend, too. Pretend that this was the past, before they were whatever they were now. Before they were tainted. When they were young and in love and had their entire lives ahead of them. When she was just the girl he had kissed in the library and he was the boy she had loved in the dark.

She squeezed his hand, continuing the charade. If he wanted to pretend, she would pretend alongside him.

As long as he allowed it. As long as he would let her.

They fell asleep like that.

For the first time in a long while, Hermione had no dreams.

Her mind could conjure nothing better than the present.

Sleeping with Dennis had been a mistake. She knew that. It was the final nail in the coffin of her realizing that Draco had a chokehold on her heart that could not be released.

There was relief to it, to know that there was nothing more she could do but allow herself to crumble. Draco was in complete control and recognizing that gave her the same feeling as giving into an Imperio.

It was a mindless sensation. But where the Unforgivable gave her a vague, untraceable happiness, her relationship with Draco gave her a completely traceable misery.

And it was equally unforgivable.

For two years, they continued this. He would show up at her door when he wanted, she would allow him in, and he would get her into bed, his sinful lips conquering her body as he thrust into her mercilessly. It was almost a punishment.

And she felt as if she was being punished.

Because only divine retribution would cause her to suffer like this. To be so close to having everything she wanted in the world, but to have it ripped away every time. It was a shadow love, a ghost relationship, but she still would not ever stray. She was committed; she had bonded herself to this man, flaws and all.

And even though he would not have her, she could have him sometimes.

Loving Draco in the dark was better than not loving him at all?

She could have a piece of him.

And sometimes it was enough.

But she did not lie to herself on this, though she did on many other things when it came to this man.

It would never be enough. Not to her.

But she took it anyway.

Because she loved him.

God help her, she would always love him.

When she woke in the morning, Draco was gone from his side of the bed.

Though she had been expecting it - he had done it every time they had slept together - it surprised her.

She clenched her fist, the hand that Draco had held throughout the night as they slept, her fingernails digging into her palm.

The pain was dull in comparison to the torturous absence ripping through her body.

He had left. He would always leave. Why had a simple hand hold allowed herself to believe otherwise?

He was gone. He had left years ago and never come back - the traces that returned were a laughable imitation of what they had had.

She felt her eyes burn with tears.

Gods, she was pathetic. She was hopeless. She was beyond help, beyond saving.

Because she knew, as she let the sobs wrack her body, as she let herself feel his departure for the betrayal it was, she knew that the next time he appeared at her door, she would let him in.

For better. For so much worse. For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to long for, til' death do us part.

Because only leaving this earth would allow her to forget Draco Malfoy. To receive closure. To move on.

And truthfully, she knew that in whatever plane of existence she inhabited after this, she would long for him there too.

But she would not have him.

No. Draco did not belong to her, not in the way that she belonged to him. Wholly, unbearably, until she kicked and screamed and begged to be freed but knew she would fall apart if she ever was.

She would only ever have him in her memories.

But, as was her mantra when it came to him, something was better than nothing.

It was an annoying saying, and it was not enough.

But nothing ever would be.

Not when she had once possessed everything.

She cried the whole morning.

Draco stood in front of the apartment door, two coffees in his hand, hesitating. He pursed his lips, his heart hammering in his chest, as he considered knocking. It would be so easy. He would saunter in, give her the drink, kiss the tired out of her, and hold her in his arms until the sun was at its peak in the sky.

But he paused, his nerves getting the best of him.

They always ended up triumphing in this situation.

And like clockwork, he turned away from the door and walked down the path away from the building; away from Hermione. As he turned the corner of the street, he tossed one of the coffees – one cream, two sugar – into the rubbish bin on the side of the road. He put his free hand into his pocket and walked away, wondering if perhaps next time, he would muster the courage to break that final barrier. To spend the morning with her. Like he wanted to. Like he had always wanted to.

But he knew he wouldn't. He would buy two coffees only to throw hers out.

He knew this not from divination or prophecy, but from the sedated understanding that comes from repetition.

Because this was what he always did.

Let me know your thoughts! I hope you enjoyed this angst filled journey.