you’re safe with me
Dramione | Completed | 4.7K words
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As quietly as possibly, Hermione crept inside the library at Malfoy Manor. It was as good a place as any for to catch her metaphorical breath, before she’d need to plaster on a fake smile and rejoin the ball — to keep up appearances. Maybe she could find the book on the origins of arithmancy Draco mentioned the last time they were here? Hermione doubted she’d be back at the Manor any time soon, if ever. Not after this evening has gone exactly as she’d feared, To her great surprise, despite her fraught wartime history, the Manor had somehow become one of her favourite places in the world, with the exception of one permanently sealed drawing room. But alas, Malfoy Manor had once again become ground too dangerous for Hermione Granger to tread, though this time the reasons for it were vastly different.
Hermione idly fiddled with her beaded bag, wondering if the Malfoys would even notice if just one of their many books went missing for a bit. Probably not. She would return it later by owl, of course.
Making her way to her favourite spot in the back corner, Hermione was surprised to find Draco Malfoy collapsed in one of the wing-backed chairs, a hand wearily rubbing his eyes, the other gripped tightly around an empty glass, notes of firewhisky lingering in the air. He hadn’t noticed her.
Recovering as best she could in the circumstance, Hermione deliberately kept her voice light. “Malfoy? Why on Earth are you hiding in the library? This is your Engagement Ball. Shouldn’t you be out there accepting the fawning praise of the Sacred Twenty-Eight for doing your part to keep the Malfoy family tree as devoid of branches as possible?”
Her voice startled him, causing Draco to look momentarily panicked. Though he regained his customary smirk so quickly, perhaps it was only her imagination. Or a trick of the dim light.
“Ha, Granger. Very droll. As a point of clarification, this is my Betrothal Ball, nothing to do with an engagement. And secondly —“ Draco sighed deeply. “Fuck. I just need a break from it all, you know?”
Hermione blinked. She knew. After all, that’s precisely why she was here, but it was conveying to see Draco struggling when he ought to be celebrating the ostensibly happy news. “I do. And you’re safe with me, Auror Malfoy. As always.”
Her partner made a non-committal noise, as he put his empty glass on the side table. The reality of her presence caught up with him and his gaze sharpened. “Why are you here, Granger?”
Hermione laughed softly, hoping she didn’t sound as nervous as she felt. This was not a conversation she wanted to have with him, full stop and she especially did not want to have it now. “Well, Ron’s not accepting the end of our relationship as well as I’d hoped. He’s out their hitting the champagne pretty hard, whilst making eyes at me. Seemed like a good idea to hide out for a bit.”
Technically, everything she’d said was true, but only to a point. It was Hermione’s own inability to stop staring at the future bride’s left hand that prompted her to seek refuge somewhere else. If Ron had been her only issue, she could have drawn on a wealth of experience to simply endure it. But being forced to confront the reality of a future where she would never get what — who — she wanted? That proved to be too much.
Draco snorted. “Really, Grange — the library? It’s your natural habitat. If you wanted to hide almost anywhere else in the Manor would be better than — wait. Did you say the end of your relationship?”
Briefly wondering how much firewhisky he’d had, Hermione plastered that bloody fake smile back on, responding in a falsely bright tone. “Um, yes. Ron and I broke up.”
It was Draco’s turn to blink. He sat silently for a moment, his thinking face — the one he adopted when they were working on a case together — firmly in place. Then he rose from his chair, standing before her, his eyes boring into her own. “When?”
Hermione tried — and bloody failed — to sound breezy. “Oh, late last month.”
Malfoy Heir to wed Miss Astoria Greengrass.
The headline in the Daily Prophet, accompanied by a photo of Draco next to a smiling, beautiful, perfect pureblood witch screamed at Hermione from the front page. She felt as though all the air left her flat, leaving her underwater, unable to her breathe as her carefully crafted illusions about her own feelings disappeared into the ether the very instant she realised she was too late. It was only then Hermione registered just how deeply she was in denial over the extent of feelings for the pale wizard who was definitely not just her co-worker, no matter how many times she’d angrily shouted at otherwise at Ron.
Draco’s expression was inscrutable as he studied her face. “Before or after my betrothal was announced?”
The question was so prescient Hermione did not have her features schooled enough to prevent her jaw from dropping a fraction. She made a hasty correction, though Draco’s narrowed eyes told her she wasn’t quick enough, blast him. “What? That’s not — Malfoy. That has nothing to do —”
“Granger.” Her name was an interruption and a plea.
Unable to pretend any longer, Hermione sighed. “After.”
“Why?” Draco asked in a pained whisper.
“Ron and I were never right for each other — okay? Not really. But when my close friend and partner getting engaged sent me into an emotional tailspin, it really didn’t seem fair to Ron to keep pretending otherwise. Not after assuring him for years I only admired you as a colleague, because we got along so well and we had such a good working relationship.” Keeping her gaze on her shoes, Hermione blinked back tears. “To be fair, I didn’t realise I was lying to him until it was too late.”
Draco’s bitter laugh prompted her to look up and she took in the stunned disbelief in his grey eyes, as well as the undercurrent of anger. Her heart broke just a little bit more.
Hermione swallowed. “I don’t find this particularly funny, Draco. And I think I should just go home.”
“Oh no you don’t, Granger. “ Draco grabbed her wrist, pulling her close as he pressed her hand over his heart, his eyes blazing into hers. “I only agreed to this damned betrothal because you were still bafflingly with that unworthy tosser and I couldn’t bear to continually hope you’d eventually see that he wasn’t right for you. That you’d eventually see me.”
Hermione blinked back tears, unsuccessfully trying to pull away from Draco’s grip, overwhelmed by his intensity and nearness. “I always saw you, Draco. But I never thought you’d see me as anything more than what we already were.” Unable to look at him, she used her free hands to point in the direction of the ballroom, where his betrothed was currently holding court and Draco flinched, dropping her hand. Summoning her resolve, Hermione spoke again, the words like ash on her tongue. “Given our inability to effectively communicate,I will be requesting to be transferred out of Magical Law Enforcement. The Unspeakables still try to recruit me a couple of times a year — I’ll see if I can move there.”
“No.” He looked stricken, his voice pa whisper as he shook his head.
Hermione’s voice broke. “Draco, working with you the past three years has been hard enough. I’m sorry, but I can’t keep doing it now.”
“You think it’s been hard for you? I’ve watched the only witch I’ve ever loved be with someone who takes her for granted, does not appreciate her and has the unmitigated gall to incessantly complain about her to me whenever I’ve been forced to speak with him.”
“Ron was likely trying to convince you I wasn’t a very good girlfriend because he was jealous of us — of our working relationship, I mean. We fought about it constantly, Malfoy.”
“And his way of coping was to try to diminish you at every opportunity?”
“Oh lay off of him, Malfoy! He’s not the one who spent the entire time being in love with someone else.”
Draco’s mouth was on hers before the last syllable left her lips, quickly swallowing her startled gasp. One hand cradled her chin as the other pulled her hips flush against his and Hermione whimpered, losing herself in the feel of his tongue gliding against hers as her body pressed into him. Her blood sang as she grabbed fistfuls of his robe, desperate to pull him closer still — the years of unspoken, mutual longing becoming thoroughly unmasked with the worst fucking timing. She stiffened, as she recalled why she was at the Manor in the first place.
As if hit with the same realisation, Draco abruptly let her go. She instantly stepped back — keeping more than an arm’s width away as they stared at each other, panting.
Draco spoke first, his words full of quiet desperation. “I can get out of it, Granger. If you’ll have me.”
Hermione’s heart clenched. “I feel really bad about that for her sake, but not so bad I’m willing for us both to be perpetually miserable over it. I was having a hard enough time when I thought it was just me. How badly will your parents react?”
As far as Hermione was concerned, this was an open question. Over the past few years, she’d become far closer to the Malfoys than she would’ve ever dreamed possible. Narcissa was quite fond of her, frequently insisting they take tea together — just the two of them as Draco was deliberately not invited. She ate dinner with the family once or twice a month. While it took longer for Lucius to come around on her, he had reluctantly admitted she was just as talented and capable as his son, even though it clearly pained him to say the words aloud. Hermione harboured secret affection for the still somewhat vainglorious older man— particularly after l realising he was too much like his son for her to ever truly dislike. But the elder Malfoys acceptance of her was in her role as Draco’s partner at the DMLE — a role where she frequently saved his life. There was an enormous gulf between accepting Muggle-born Hermione Granger as their son’s colleague or even close friend, and accepting Muggle-born Hermione Granger permanently into their family, particularly when such acceptance would ultimately end the Malfoy family’s status as a purebloods.
It had not been lost on Hermione that outwardly both of Draco’s parents appeared delighted at the prospect of Astoria Greengrass becoming the future Lady Malfoy — something that hurt Hermione more than she’d expected, even when she has no right to that pain.
“I do not fucking care.” Draco’s voice was iron. “And for what it’s worth, this is a love match for Astoria either. It’s a business arrangement made by our respective families. I’m not saying she’ll be happy about it. But I won’t be breaking anyone’s heart.”
Oh. That was a relief. Hermione chewed her lip. “How long?”
“Tomorrow — by the end of day. I’d do it tonight, but that seems unnecessarily cruel.”
“Right.” Hermione thought quickly, her mind still reeling from the kiss and the fact she’d just admitted out loud she loved him. Although assuming she hadn’t misheard, Draco technically declared his love first. “I’m going home and I will stay there for the rest of the weekend. My floo will be closed to everyone who isn’t you. If I don’t hear from you by Sunday, I will put in my transfer request at the Ministry on Monday morning.”
“You will hear from me, Granger. You have my word. I intend to tell my parents tonight.”
“Tell her first.” Hermione blurted out the words before she could stop herself, apprehension working its way up her spine.
Draco was nonplussed. “Why? Honestly, Granger, as I said the entire thing was arranged by our parents anyway. They’ll have to be involved.”
“Tell her first and have someone else you trust — like Theo — with you when you tell your parents.”
“Hermione, I don’t —“
Her fears overtook her and she cut him off. “Every time your parents have invited me to dinner over the past six months, Lucius has been unsubtle in telling me he expects you to wed soon. Then at the office, you’ve been telling me about how much they were pressuring you into accepting a betrothal arrangement that you said you didn’t want. I’m not accusing him of anything, truly — but while I can most likely live with you deciding to proceed with your existing betrothal, not without some assurance it was your decision in truth.”
Draco’s eyes went wide as he grasped her meaning. “Point taken. I don’t think Father would do that, Granger. But I also don’t feel certain enough to say he’d never do it. So some precautions wouldn’t hurt. I’ll speak with Theo before he leaves tonight.” Draco tucked a curl behind her ear as he spoke, before leaning forward — clearly intent on kissing her again, stopping when he felt her hand pushing him back.
“Draco, I feel enough guilt over the earlier admittedly bloody amazing kiss, especially seeing how your Betrothal Ball is still on-going as we speak. To say nothing of how bad I feel about the emotional affair I didn’t quite realise I was having while still with Ron.”
Hermione had already been tempted to beg him to shag her against the bookshelves during visits to this part of the library. And that was while she was still trying to convince herself constantly thinking about the wizard before her was merely an idle fantasy that wasn’t hurting anyone. She had no confidence in her ability to resist sharing that desire if he kissed her like that again. “I’m going to leave now, before I do more things I regret. But I expect I to see you soon, Malfoy.”
“You will, Granger. I promise.”
Seized by hope and terror in equal measure, Hermione nodded, managing a small smile before apparating out of the Manor and into her tiny, darkened flat. Only then did she allow the floodgates to open, sliding to the floor as she wept, not even attempting to sort out which of her tangled emotions prompted the tears.
When her floo roared to life the next evening, Hermione’s heart nearly beat out of her chest. Instinctively hiding her chewed nails, she frantically tamped down the blossoming surge of hope inside her before she has unambiguous confirmation from Draco. What if he was only coming over to let her know in person that he’d reconsidered?
So when Draco strode directly towards her from the fireplace and kissed as intensely as he had the night before, her soul cried out in relief. Hermione wrapped her arms around his neck, frantically pulling him, needing him as close as possible.
After a long moment, he pulled back to look at her, palpable relief etched across Draco’s own features as he stroked her back. Seemed as though he’d also worried she might reconsider.
“It’s done. Everyone knows. The Greengrasses are not happy, but as it turns out, Astoria wasn’t particularly upset. Especially not after I insisted the settlement for breaking the betrothal go to her and not her parents. Seems like she prefers independence over a marriage to me in any event.”
Well there was an unexpected balm for her conscience, but Hermione didn’t really care about Astoria Greengrass, not that she relished the thought of the witch being hurt. But she didn’t know the witch.
Narcissa and Lucius were another story. They’d become dear to her and she was terrified about what their reactions might be. “And your parents?” she asked, unable to hid her nervousness.
So she was taken aback when Draco’s eyes lit up with joy. He coughed, attempting — poorly — to hide a smirk. “About that. I have a letter for you from my father.”
Her nerves were stil on high alert as she opened the sealed parchment with trembling hands, frowning as she took in Draco’s poorly concealed grin.
My dear Miss Granger,
You wound me. After my concerted effort to welcome you into my ancestral home and indeed into our lives, you truly believe me to be capable of acting against my son’s wishes in matters of the heart? For shame, Miss Granger. For shame.
Since my efforts on this front also managed to escape my son’s notice, I will spell it out plainly for you here, just as I had to for Draco in person. I told you I expected my son to wed soon for the very same reason I told him he must either make his own choice or accept a betrothal from his parents. Namely, so you foolish children would realise you are perfect for each other and act accordingly!
Do not misunderstand me. Astoria Greengrass is a fine witch and she has left Malfoy Manor with more galleons than her parents would have ever deigned to give her and my heartfelt felicitations. But Miss Granger had the match proceeded, she would have been a consolation prize to more than just Draco.
My dear, after seeing first-hand the lamentable consequences of attempts to force my choices on Draco, I want nothing more than for you to marry my son and make him happy, as I (ahem) was always aware that you are in fact, his choice. I have loved none but my dearest Narcissia, but that is only because the fates smiled on me when I did not deserve it. Draco, however, deserves the world. Seeing as you are his world, I was compelled to act to see him happily settled with you at his side, permanently.
(As an aside, I think it uncouth for me to point out that no one — such as yourself — worthy of a Malfoy ought to be saddled with a Weasley. Further, I fear it would also be uncouth for me to discuss how often I pondered why a witch happy in her ‘relationship’ would spend so much of her limited free time in the home of her ‘colleague’ dining with his parents — occasionally doing so even when my son was unavailable, and Narcissa and I were blessed to have you all to ourselves. One might forgive me for assuming it meant you enjoyed our company. But I digress and as I do not wish to be uncouth, I will say neither of those things.)
While I must confess that your doubt has caused me some genuine hurt, in truth it is only a small injury to my pride and this letter is perhaps more harsh than the injury itself justifies. Narcissa and I are overjoyed the pair of you have finally, as I understand Muggles say, “gotten your shite together” and I expect (and in truth demand) to see even more of you at the Manor than we have in the past. All of the denizens of Malfoy Manor have missed you terribly over the past month — with Bunny left especially bereft by your absence. (In time, I hope you can forgive yourself for hurting a house elf. If it helps, I do not believe she intends to hold a grudge.)
For the sake of moving forward as a family, I will admit that given my history, your caution to Draco that he ought to involve Theo when telling us of his intentions was wise. One might even go so far as to describe it as a cunning choice on your part. (You know my dear, despite how often you claim your hat-stall was between those abominable do-gooders and Ravenclaw, your evasiveness on questioning has led me to wonder if Slytherin actually had the next best claim on you. If you confess this to me, all will be forgiven and I will forget you ever suspected me capable of treachery when in truth I only had the very best of fatherly intentions towards you both.)
I expect to see you both at the Manor soon. We intend to proceed with wedding planning, far more joyously now the correct bride is in place. (Narcissa tells me it would not be appropriate to have a second betrothal ball and was not swayed in the slightest when I pointed out it would actually be the first ever Malfoy Engagement Ball. I do hope your heart wasn’t set on that my dear, as I have reluctantly acceded my wife’s better judgement in this regard.) I have instructed my son to ask you himself properly, in the Muggle fashion. The ring belonged to my mother, who would have adored you had she lived in a world where meeting you was possible. Do not fret about the heirloom, it suits you — just as you are.
By now, Miss Granger, I hope you realise you have stolen the hearts of all the Malfoys. Please take care with them — for though we have a well-earned reputation for ferocity in most matters, our hearts are unaccustomed to the fray and thus, more fragile than you might expect. If it helps, pretend we are similar to house elves and treat us accordingly. (Of course, except for the time you ignored Bunny for a month. None of us could withstand such cruelty from a loved one.)
Narcissa and I love our son very much, and while he is in no way deficient, I must confess we always longed for a daughter. We are waiting for you, my dear. And please be merciful with Draco — as the cleverest among us, he was the first to recognize your true worth and has therefore been waiting for you the longest.
With great love and affection,
Lucius Abraxas Malfoy
P.S., Turn around.
Feeling dazed, Hermione did as the letter bade. She was at turns bewildered, amused, mildly irritated and deeply touched by the words written by Lucius Malfoy. So utterly engrossed by the parchment in her hands, that Hermione hadn’t noticed Draco getting down on one knee.
He held out a ring — a simple one by Malfoy standards. A reasonably sized emerald, set with smaller diamonds on either side. Lucius was right, it did suit her — far better than the ridiculously enormous diamond which had graced Astoria’s finger the night before, a ring Hermione simultaneously loathed and deeply coveted.
Over the years, she had witnessed Draco in all manner of precarious situations. Their line of work was dangerous and as partners they had been frequently been in peril together. She was struck by how odd it was — to see fear on his face for first time since she’d acceded to Robards unenthusiastic plea for her to accept Draco as her partner, a request only made after the rest of the department had already refused. Strange to realized she could be the one provoke that fear, especially when she loved him so.
Draco exhaled before speaking, his voice clear as his eyes never left hers. “Hermione. If this feels too sudden, I’ll tell Father he can go hang and I will wait until you are ready. But you should know I’m not asking because he or Mother or anyone else wants me to. I want to, Granger — me. I want to know you are finally mine. In fact, I want the whole world to know you are mine. Because you — Hermione Jean Granger — you and no one else, are my choice. Now and always.”
Hermine bit her lip, nodding at him as tears slid freely down her cheeks — waiting.
Draco’s anxiety disappeared and his eyes filled with tears as well as the most beautiful smile she’d ever witnessed graced his face. “Hermione, will you marry me?”
“Yes. Of course I will, yes.”
She would have said more, but she was back in Draco’s embrace too quickly and her ability to speak was hindered for a long time thereafter — not that she was complaining. When they finally separated, clothing in disarray and ring on her finger, Hermione took a few minutes to respond to her future father-in-law. After she sent off her owl, Hermone dragged her fiancee into her bedroom without a word — not that he had any complaints either.
Once there, Draco set upon her like a man possessed, quickly divesting her of everything that wasn’t her engagement ring as he explained in detail exactly how he intended to fulfil every fantasy he had about her over the past three years. Seeing howthey were more or less the same fantasies Hermione had about him, she was more than happy to oblige.
Happy coincidence, that.
Lucius Malfoy sat in his study at Malfoy Manor, immensely pleased with himself for finally getting his oblivious children on the right path. He was in the midst of his second self-congratulatory glass of firewhisky when an unfamiliar owl interrupted his reverie.Lucius’s curiosity already piqued and it only l grew on further inspection, when he discovered the letter was charmed so it could only be opened and read by himself. Quickly confirming there were no dark spells at play, Lucius opened the envelope and began to read.
My Dearest Lucius,
If you don’t irrevocably and unequivocally forgive me for my unintentional slight to you (as well as promise to never bring the matter up again in the future) I will convince Draco to elope with me within the month. Further, I will — with copious tears in my eyes — tell Narcissa that your letter is what pushed me to do so, thus laying the blame for depriving her of the opportunity to throw us a lavish wedding squarely at your feet.
However, should you graciously accept my terms without fuss (ahem), not only will I enthusiastically allow Narcissa to plan our wedding, I promise on the occasion of our tenth wedding anniversary I will tell you the unabridged version of my initial encounter with the sorting hat. Between us both, I do not think you will be disappointed by the tale.
The Future Mrs. Hermione Granger-Malfoy
I look forward to receiving your reply by the end of business on Friday; failing which, I will be forced to put my alternative plans in motion.
Having said that, please do not feel like you have to rush your decision on my account. For the next few days at least, Draco and I expect to be quite preoccupied.
I love you too.
The very instant Lucius read the last word, Miss Granger’s letter burst into flame, vanishing in a puff of smoke which destroyed all evidence of her affectionate threats. No one was present to witness it, but the brief light from the fire illuminated an actual grin on the face of Lord Malfoy, the likes of which was only rarely seen by his wife.
Lucius chuckled as he brought the firewhisky to his lips and took a hearty sip from the tumbler. Hermione Granger was going to fit in here beautifully.
He fervently hoped any future grandchildren would have curls.