The characters and canon situations in the following story belong solely to JK Rowling, Scholastic, and WB. I am not making any money from the publishing or writing of this story.

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Hermione felt slightly better after a long hot shower and something to eat. She had poured out every word and experience of the past twelve or so hours to Ginny, whose facial expressions had ranged from rapt, to sympathetic, to eye-rolling understanding. This last was in response to the description of Draco’s abrupt change in mood in the Potions storeroom.


“What I don’t understand is how he can go from a serious conversation to being completely turned on in less than five minutes. Not that I’m complaining,” she finished to her friend.


Ginny nodded her head knowingly. “Believe me, I do know what you mean. Not that I’m complaining, either. Charlie says it’ll probably always be that way, but that self-control improves with age.”


She wrinkled her nose in a quizzical way. “You really talk to Charlie about your sex life?”


“Oh, yes – well, you know Charlie; he’s completely uninhibited. I don’t think anything could take him by surprise, and that makes him easy to talk to. But then, you’ve talked to Harry before, haven’t you?”


Hermione laughed softly and recounted her first attempt to ask Harry about something sexual in nature. As she described the Fat Lady’s contribution to the conversation, Ginny exploded into giggles. “Sweet Circe, Hermione! How can you even look at any of the portraits in the castle? She’s such a gossip!”


“I keep trying to tell myself that they need entertainment, too. And it can’t be the most embarrassing thing they’ve ever heard. Surely you three have put on at least one show for them.”


“Hmmmmm. You’re probably right.” The redhead looked as if the thought hadn’t occurred to her before. She glanced at the timepiece on Hermione’s bedside table. “We should get going.”


“Ginny? Would you mind . . . I mean I don’t know if I want to be alone- alone with Draco this afternoon . . .”


Her friend looked at her speculatively. “Well, I know you’re not playing hard to get, so it must be a case of mild panic. Let me guess, you liked what you were doing earlier, but you’re not ready to find out what happens next?”


Hermione blushed and looked down at her hands. She realized she was wringing them nervously. “Something like that. Maybe I want to slow down a little.”


“No problem. I’ll attach myself to your side with a Sticking Charm if needed. But honestly, you have nothing to worry about; Draco adores you, and he’d never do anything that made you uncomfortable.”


“I know, but I just feel self-conscious all of a sudden, like I’ve been heading towards a certain destination all along without really thinking about it. Now there’s a metaphorical blinking sign over my head that says Going to Have Sex Soon in flashing letters.”


“If it makes you feel any better, Draco has the same sign over his head. And I think his is bigger and flashier.”


The reminder that her younger wizard was in the same position as her was comforting, as was the fact that he cared for her very much. I think it’s safe to say I’m in love with Draco Malfoy.


They met Harry in the commons a little later, and the three made their way toward the entrance hall where Draco and Luna were waiting for them, arms laden with baskets and blankets. Conversation on the way to the picnic spot was dominated by a good-natured argument between Harry and Ginny. Luna, who skipped ahead of the rest, sang out a lively protective chant against odderknocks, which were apparently in season.


Hermione walked beside Draco holding his hand. Her own mind was whirring away about all sorts of things, like Lucius’ stubborn refusal to see her point of view regarding Ron. She wondered what their visit tonight would be like now, and hoped he would answer her myriad questions. She also thought about those few heated minutes in the infirmary Potions storeroom with Draco, and what more might have happened if the matron hadn’t interrupted. He, too, seemed lost in thought.


Their contemplative moods slowly shifted as they neared their destination. The weather was unusually warm, the lake sparkled in the sun, and it was hard not to laugh at Luna’s antics. Outer robes were shed and heaped in a pile by an outcropping of rock.   Blankets were spread out, food was portioned onto plates, and Hermione had the pleasure once again of seeing her wizard eat copious amounts of food with his beautiful hands. By the end of the meal, any nerves she’d felt earlier had disappeared and she was snuggled against his side, feeding him bites of chocolate cookie.


“Hey! Stop that!” She giggled as Draco once again caught her fingers instead of the cookie between his teeth.


His eyes crinkled in amusement and he quickly swallowed down his mouthful. “More, please.”


“Oh, no – I’m lucky to have all my fingers still as it is! You can feed yourself, Mr. Malfoy.”


Draco broke apart another cookie and offered her half before flopping back contentedly.


Hermione turned to face away from him and then lay back so that her head rested against his chest. She watched Harry and the girls pack up the remains of lunch and closed her eyes. The rise and fall of her wizard’s torso eventually lulled her into such a drowsy state that she turned on her side and fell into a light sleep.


She awoke a while later to find that she’d curled up into Draco’s side, her arm thrown over his chest. His arm had curved up and around her, holding her in place, and he was running the fingers of his other hand through her hair. Hermione could hear her friends talking amongst themselves a few feet away.


“Did I really fall asleep?”


Draco treated her to one of his soft, husky laughs. “Yes, and you’ve drooled all over my shirt.”


“I did not!” Hermione rolled to her stomach and looked down where her mouth had been. There was a small wet spot, and she looked up with a guilty smirk. “Oops.”


“It’s quite alright. I’ve been drooled over by girls many times, although never in an actual physical sense.”


She laid her cheek on top of her hand where it rested on his chest. This way she could look at him but stay cuddled close. “So you could say I’m your first.”


Draco was looking skyward with a soft smile on his face. “Miss Granger, you are without doubt my first everything.”


The young witch couldn’t have asked for a more perfect set of circumstances. She had the safety net of her friends nearby, giving her and her wizard the illusion of privacy without actually providing any. They could talk freely, and continue to enjoy each other’s close proximity, and that was about all. “Tell me something I don’t know about you.”


“Hmmm. I’m getting married on Friday.”


“I’m being serious, Draco!”


He chuckled. “Very well. Hmmmm . . . I’m named after a constellation.”


“Oh, I know: Thuban is part of it, isn’t it? The ancient Egyptians’ pole star?”


Draco lifted his head to look at her with a sneer that was somehow filled with fondness. “Only you would know that. Your turn.”


“I like learning, and I keep track of what I know. Now you go.”


He tickled her ribs until she squirmed, arguing, “You can’t use that as both a response to my remark and answer to my question. Tell me something I don’t know about you.”


It was hard to concentrate when his fingers still dug gently into her ticklish spots, but she finally managed, between giggles. “I used to have a familiar, a half-kneazle named Crookshanks.”


Draco stopped his torturous efforts against her sides. He sat up, sliding her head down to rest against his thigh. “Used to?”


“He disappeared after the battle here at school. I miss him.” Without meaning to, Hermione had steered them toward conversation of a more serious sort.


“So you’re a cat person?”


“I suppose, although I’m in no hurry to replace Crooks.”


Draco ran his hand through her hair, causing her to shiver. “I’m sorry to say that we have dogs at the Manor. I suppose now you’ll finally go running and screaming?”


Hermione sat up quickly, pleased with the idea. “What kind of dogs?”


He shrugged. “Big woolly hounds, I don’t know. They’ve been bred on our French estate for as long as anyone remembers. Lucius likes to keep some at the main house for company.”


Her was filled with tender concern for Lucius immediately. “For company – does he live all alone?”


“During the school year, yes, with the exception of the house elves. He travels so much for our businesses, though, that I don’t really think he’s been home all that much since I first left for school.”


“Draco, will you tell me what you know of your mother?” Hermione felt shy all of a sudden and angled her body slightly away from her wizard so he couldn’t see her face. He pulled her back against his shoulder and kept his arm wrapped around her.


“Lucius doesn’t speak of her, and I’m certain it has nothing to do with lost love and the agony of remembrance. Over the years I’ve gathered she wasn’t a very nice woman.”


“But she was bespoke.” In Hermione’s mind, the word was synonymous with love and compatibility.


Now Draco wrapped both arms around her and leaned his chin on her shoulder. “I once asked why he wouldn’t talk about her, and he simply said that he would have waited for another witch, but that Abraxas had claimed right of choice. Another time he said he believed that the only thing that qualified her as their bespoken one was our covenant’s foreknowledge of my birth. I don’t think they were ever in love.”


“What about Abraxas?”


“He wasn’t very nice, either, from what little I’ve heard. I get the idea that Lucius did whatever he ordered, and not out of love.” Draco kissed her neck softly. “Let’s talk about something one of us does know about. What were your parents like?


“They were wonderful. They worked hard and always had time for me. My father loved to read, and my mother sang and danced while she cooked and cleaned. They were so excited when I got my acceptance letter, and relieved, I think, to find out I wasn’t a freak after all. My magic manifested rather early, and they had no way of understanding what was going on.”


“You must miss them very much.”


Hermione leaned into Draco’s tender touches. “Yes, but now I know that I would have drifted from them eventually. The two worlds are just so different. And how would I have explained pureblood marriage traditions to them! I can’t even imagine the shocked horror on my father’s face, had I gone to him with the news that I was taking two husbands.”


She couldn’t help but laugh at that thought, and Draco joined in. Emboldened by their exchange of information, she shifted to turn into his arms. She said quietly in his ear. “I like spending time with you like this. I mean, I like the things we do when we’re alone, too, but this is nice.”


Her wizard drew her close in a sweet embrace and sighed. “I apologize for constantly testing your limits, Hermione. It’s just . . . I’ve waited and hoped for this so long that I forget you’re still getting used to the idea. Please help me know when to stop,” he begged quietly against her temple.


She pushed away to look up at him in surprise. “Oh, Draco – no! That’s not what I meant at all. I . . . I want to be with you like that. The way that you,” here she dropped her eyes and blushed deeply, but pressed on, “the way that you touch me drives me crazy, and I can’t stop thinking about it when we’re apart. Well, actually I can’t stop thinking about it at all.”


Draco shifted uncomfortably and sat back to put some distance between them. It was obvious he was trying not to be affected by the conversation, and Hermione found his efforts endearing. She also found that her own body was rapidly responding to her short speech. Mother of magic, I just turned myself on. Now I want to jump his gorgeous bones. She leaned in to press a short, passionate kiss to his mouth and said, “And about what happened earlier, I’m sorry we were interrupted, and that I was cross with you. Will you forgive me?”


Draco groaned softly and leaned his forehead against hers. His voice was barely a strangled whisper against her lips. “There’s nothing to forgive, but that reminds me – I never got to explain. Your rules aren’t meant to make you miserable; they’re supposed to bring us closer together. You can’t bring yourself to climax, sweet witch, but we can. If that’s what you want, you only need to say the word. It’s part of our binding vows. If you remember, your pleasure shall be mine. I want to give you pleasure, Hermione.”


It was perhaps the most incendiary thing Hermione had ever heard, and her body was swept with a burn of want and need so hot that she felt as if she were aflame. Even as she leaned toward her wizard’s mouth, though, she heard Ginny call her name, and she was filled with the agonizing knowledge that she had sealed her own frustrated fate. Nooooo! I had to ask her to stay with us for the afternoon, and now I won’t be able to get rid of her! She felt as though she could cry, but Ginny wouldn’t be ignored.


“’Mione! Did you hear me? Let’s all take a walk along the lake. Come on, before I drag you the whole way!”


If Ginny was aware of Hermione’s change of heart, she didn’t let on. She did, however, tactfully ignore the evil looks her friend shot at her and the state of the blond wizard following in her wake. The rest of the afternoon was spent in an endless exchange of heated looks and the torment of unfulfilled desire.


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