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He feels something close to love for her and if he stopped this business of denial, he would never stop tracing love into every crevice of her skin.

Fuck it, he is in love with her.

But Draco Malfoy is a coward. This fact relieves and unsettles him because at least one part of him has remained constant since the war, but that goddamn part was the reason he could never truly be happy.

He knows that he is not allowed these thoughts. That he shouldn't be thinking about sliding his hands up and down her back, dipping his head into between her head and her shoulder, inhaling the essence that is her. It was one time, one last desperate chance he had and he didn't even have the words to tell her.

Honestly, he makes himself sick sometimes.

As Draco Malfoy thinks these intimate thoughts about the Hermione Granger soon to be Weasley, he misses the glances Hermione sneaks his way.

They've been sharing an office for one year, six months, four days, one hour, and twenty minutes. Their desks touch in the center, mounds of paper being the only separation between them. Pens, recklessly scattered artifacts, ripped Witch Weeklys (they had formed a habit of cutting out each other's heads and pasting them around the office and at one point Potter had to reprimand them), and a thick tension surrounds them. This tension was previously marred by passionate arguments and shared lunches, but was now a wasteland of uncomfortable feelings.

Hermione twists the ring on her finger, glossing over the small stone Ron had excitedly assumed she would love. She watches Draco meticulously organize the case files in his desk, knowing that he wouldn't be doing it manually if something wasn't bothering him. God I'm shameless, she thinks as she takes in his rolled up sleeves and the way his collarbones peek out from under his shirt. Her heart swells as she watches him. She clears her throat inconspicuously, causing Draco to snap out of his routine.

Their eyes meet slowly. Draco is pissed because his eyes go directly to her damn lips and Hermione is mad because she's managed to slide off her ring and can't even feel bad about it.

"I broke up with him last night." She leans forward from her seat and sets the ring down on his desk. His eyes flicker immediately towards the ring and then back at her, grey eyes that are beginning to look quite hopeful.

"Granger..." a loop of "this can't be happening" and "oh god it's happening" plays in his head as his head seems to spin faster.

"It wasn't just for you. I mean, yes, partly of course, but I wish it didn't take me so long to realize, to act on these doubts and then you kissed me on the mission last week and --" Draco bolts out of his seat, mesmerized by her, realizing that he needs to tell her how he feels. He puts a finger to her mouth (something he never would dare to do normally) and looks down at her trembling form.

"I'm sorry I put you in that position last week. It wasn't fair to you. I should have just told you that I love you, I need you, and I'm sorry I waited a whole fucking year to tell you. I just need you to know that." Their foreheads are aligned perfectly and Hermione smiles up at him and somehow he knows it will be okay.