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maplesugrrrl and eucalyptus organized the dmhgficexchange Celebrate the Season with Draco and Hermione challenge. I was assigned jbirdd, who requested a post-War story, including a shower and Christmas carols, but no sappy Draco or jealous Harry. I think this fits the bill.

Title: Lift A Glass, Don't Look Down
Author: voleuse
Fandom: Harry Potter
Ship: Draco/Hermione
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: They practiced all year long.
Notes: Set after the War



The snowfall is light this evening, faint dusting of sugar over the rooftops.

Hermione stands under the eaves of a bookshop and watches the sky.

There's a trio of children standing on the corner, chirping out a cheery song about King Wenceslas. The shop door clatters open, and a woman exits, laughing. There's a sprig of holly tied to the lamppost in front of her, and on the one across the way sports a red velvet bow. The bakery down the street is featuring something with cinnamon; the scent tickles her nose through the cold.

Hermione takes it all in, but none of it seems real.

Inside her gloves, her fingers are numb. She clenches her fists, and turns toward home.

*


It's a supreme irony, Hermione often thinks, that Malfoy's new residence should be so close to hers.

Then again, refugees can't very well afford to assess potential neighbors.

She passes him on the way to her door, and manages a friendly scowl. "Merry Christmas," she says.

"Don't be common, Granger," he replies. His hair is damp from the snow, and there's mud on the hems of his trousers.

She looks him in the eye, by accident, and swallows her retort.

Instead, she smiles.

He looks surprised.

*


The first time she saw him outside her building, she had assumed the worst, reached for her wand. Which, of course, wasn't there.

He had laughed, a humorless burst of sound, and she looked up to see his hand grasping at his waist.

He'd reached for his wand, as well.

They didn't speak to each other that day. Or the next.

It's only recently they've begun to exchange even greetings, and she suspects he does it for the same reason she does.

Out of an entire city of strangers, he's the only one she knows from before.

*


She stows her groceries, snags a yoghurt and sits in front of the television.

She doesn't touch the remote control, doesn't open the yoghurt. She just fiddles with the cover, stares at the blank screen.

And she makes a decision.

She changes into fresh clothes, brushes her hair carefully. She takes a moment to swipe gloss over her lips, then wraps a scarf loosely around her shoulders.

She's almost out the door before she remembers to put the yoghurt in the refrigerator.

*


She's known where Draco lives, approximately, for almost a year and a half.

After their first meeting, she'd paid careful attention to where and when she ran into him. By their fourth encounter, she'd pinpointed the location of his flat almost exactly.

Based on his clothing, the varying spatters of mud on his trousers, and the occasional groceries she saw him carrying, she also deduced where he worked by the second week.

She spent several hours, one evening, wondering why the Ministry had relocated the both of them so close together.

By the time she slipped into bed that night, she'd decided it wasn't a random assignment, but the reasoning behind it didn't bear close examination.

All these things run through her mind as she walks the three blocks to Draco's building, and up one flight of stairs.

She's never actually been inside the building, so she stares down the hallway for a minute, trying to guess which door might be Draco's.

There's a newspaper propped against one door, so that can't be his flat. Another door has a tinfoil star hanging from the knob, and yet another has a welcome mat in front of it.

It's the second door on the left, she decides with a nod, and she heralds her arrival with a brisk knock.

There's a long moment of silence, so she knocks again, then a third time. Finally, she hears a muffled exclamation, and the door swings open.

It is Draco's flat, and it is Draco at the door, hair dripping wet now, and a towel slung low around his hips.

Hermione hopes she's too old to blush, and affixes her gaze on Draco's face.

His frown is dissolving into a blank stare, though he casually braces his hands against the doorframe.

"Granger," he says, and it sounds like an insinuation.

She ducks under his arm, curving to avoid dishevelling the towel. "I'm sure you meant to invite me in."

Behind her, Draco mutters, but he also shuts the door.

She looks around the apartment. It's a bit smaller than hers, and she wonders if Malfoy has access to his accounts from before, or if he's forced to make do with his wages, as she does.

The furniture is well-worn but comfortable-looking, and the carpet is clean. There's a coat slung over the back of a chair, and Hermione can hear a teakettle in the adjoining kitchen, not whistling, but almost.

Draco clears his throat. She spins on her heel, and finds him leaning against the door, arms folded and eyebrows raised. The towel, she observes, has fallen a quarter of an inch.

"Sorry to bother you," she apologizes, half-sincerely. "I didn't interrupt anything important?"

He straightens, rolls his eyes. "What does it look like?"

She unloops her scarf, drops it over his coat. "I'm trying to be polite." She sits on the sofa, crosses her legs. "It's what people do."

"It's what Muggles do," he sneers, and she looks away as he stalks toward her. When he halts, his right hand sways toward her, then he pulls back. "What do you want?"

She stands, slowly, deliberately, and she can feel the warmth of him, even through layers of wool and cotton and lace.

He shifts backward, just an inch, and she watches his eyes dilate.

She lets loose her grin, and slides sideways. "Do you have anything to drink?" she asks, and walks toward the kitchen.

*


To her relief, or perhaps disappointment, Draco disappears into his bedroom to pull on a white T-shirt and trousers.

By the time he returns, she's poured the tea, dropped two sugar cubes into her cup. His hair is still wet, and his feet are bare.

She pops a third sugar cube into her mouth, and he drapes himself across a chair.

"Do you normally wear," she gestures vaguely at his T-shirt, "those?"

His expression flickers, and Hermione flinches.

"Never mind," she amends. She rolls the tip of her tongue; granules of sugar scrape minutely against her teeth. She leans her hip against the table and gives way to silence.

Draco flicks a fingernail against the rim of his teacup, traces it with quick taps.

The hem of Draco's right sleeve is loose, Hermione notices. There's a loop of thread sticking out.

She's ready to reach for another cube of sugar when Draco finally speaks.

"What do you want?" he asks. He's not whispering, but she leans closer anyway.

Then closer still. "I don't know." She places a hesitant hand on his shoulder. "What about you?"

He covers her hand with one of his, then pushes it away. She pulls away, takes it as a rebuff, but he reaches out, catches her wrist and tugs.

They're knee to knee, and Draco's hand encircles her wrist. Her other hand bumps across the table, and lukewarm tea sloshes over her hand.

"Hermione," he says. It's the first time anyone's called her by her name, the first time since everything ended.

She doesn't understand the look on his face, but it almost doesn't matter.

She nods, and then his hands are sliding over her hips, flicking open the buttons of her sweater, pushing it off her shoulders. Then, her blouse, her bra, and his hands are cool against her ribs, her breasts, and his mouth is warm on her throat as she sinks into his lap.

And he's pushing her skirt up over her hips, and she swallows a moan when he presses against her, just right, just there.

He laughs, and it startles her into thought, into movement. She grabs the hem of his T-shirt, yanks it roughly up, over his head. She rolls her hips against him, and his eyes flutter shut, even as he surges up, to his feet. When he presses her against the table, something clatters and crashes to the floor, but Hermione barely notices.

Draco pushes her skirt up again, yanks her knickers off her hips, down her legs. She's still wearing her boots, she realizes, and she'd laugh, except his hands are sliding up her thighs.

She fumbles with the fastenings of his trousers, pushes them just far enough off his hips, and he's not wearing anything underneath. She hooks her heels around his knees, and then he's thrusting into her by inches, slow enough to make her wail.

She clutches at his arms, presses her mouth against his chest, and when he reaches between them, circles his thumb against her, it's just enough, just enough to push her to the edge and over it, everything bursting like dragonflame.

When the world rights itself again, she arches against Draco, and he lifts her, lays her across the table, and for every thrust, she writhes in counterpoint.

*


Afterwards, her hair is sticky with tea, and they both laugh at her boots.

Draco lends her his shower, but she sleeps in her own bed that night.

This is only the first time.

###

A/N: Title and summary adapted from "Wonderful Christmastime," a Paul McCartney song (though I listened to the Tom McRae cover, myself).

Originally posted here and linked here.

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