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Dramione Duet
DUET 8: rzzmg (pinch-hitter) and articcat 
10th-Oct-2018 10:54 am
dramione_duet_mod
Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling and Warner Bros. All fics posted at this community were written entirely for fun, not for profit, and no copyright infringement is intended.

Title: Hide & Seek (alternatively, “The Chameleon”)
Author: rzzmg (pinch-hitter)
Rating: PG-15
Word Count: 7,410 words
Summary: "Masks aren't only for the ballroom. Sometimes they're for a person's protection, too. You know that as well as I do, don’t you, Granger?"
Warnings: Sexual tension, references to blood supremacy, off-screen reference to sexual snogging sessions, HEA.
Author's Note(s): Timeline is 2002 (compliant until the end of OOTP, after that entirely A/U). To my pinch-hit partner: I wrote three different stories, tackling your prompts in different ways. This one was my favourite. I hope you’ll like it, too! To the Mod, Ningloreth: you are a goddess and I worship you. XOXO!





Even wearing a mask, with her hair cut boyishly short, and wearing a Mediaeval page's costume that flattened her chest into one smooth plane, Draco recognised Hermione Granger from a hundred paces as she lingered along the back wall, trying to blend into the background like some kind of wallflower...with an added Notice-Me-Not spell on for good measure.

It was a lucky thing, really, that the Malfoy crest ring he wore on his right hand was layered with centuries of intricate and useful spells, one of which allowed him to see through glamour enchantments. Otherwise, he might have remained clueless as to her presence...at least by sight.

There were some in this room, however, that didn't require such a sense to know she was here. They could 'see' through the chameleon routine with their other senses:

Greyback would smell her.

Nagini would taste her air.

Sanguini would hear her heartbeat.

And there were others, new half-breed creatures that had come in from the east, characters that the old guard of Death Eaters did not like having in their midst. Their monstrous hearing, sense of smell, even the fact that some of them had eyes that registered heat patterns, rather than visible light, would give her away to them.

Most likely, Granger hadn't accounted for any such things when she'd decided to trip on into the party tonight, not understanding the character of Voldemort's preferred company.

He had to get her out of there, stat.

~.~.~


She'd been told by Snape to expect a certain level of extravagance, to prepare herself for decadence in the midst of a wizarding world that was otherwise starving its common people out. Seeing such excess in person, however, Hermione could begin to understand the justification by 18th century French peasants for la Terreur.

Champagne flowed like water in tall, crystal glasses with gold rims, top shelf harder liquor was served at a bar on the other end of the ginormous, well-lit room, and there were tables all around the edges of the dance floor filled to the brim with mouth-watering appetizers of the rarest delicacies on the planet—poached Scotch quail eggs, Beluga caviar served in edible silver leaf, white truffle sauces and creams, Densuke black watermelon...

The lavishness and waste were astounding.

Voldemort encouraged such diversions, apparently, wanting to present the face of prosperity to other countries, his propaganda machine hard at work to assure his reign was politically accepted by the rest of the world. Meanwhile the rebellion and those caught up in the middle of it were scrounging for their meals and trading their souls for an international portkey on the black market.

The real suffering was hidden behind a parade of colourful and ever-shifting skins.

Despite her disgust, the truth was that a masquerade had been the perfect cover. It would be doubtful anyone would recognize her behind a mask, with her breasts bound, looking like a boy. Tonight, she was as much a chameleon as any of these Aristos, and although she'd mourned the loss of her long, curly hair, in this case being metamorphic would make her mission that much easier to complete.

Now if only she could locate her target...

Where was that two-headed snake, Draco Malfoy?

~.~.~


Setting his empty Firewhisky tumbler on a passing waiter's tray, Draco headed towards Granger in a lazy, roundabout manner so as to not give himself away, stopping on occasion to shake a hand or kiss the backs of some hanger-on's knuckles in greeting, making small talk with people he despised.

Just a little while longer, he thought.

Snape said Potter was close to finding the Dark Lord's last horcrux...

He glanced over at Granger again, who was simply standing against the back wall, watching the action at the door. She seemed to be searching for someone.

What was she thinking coming here tonight? The Dark Lord's El número tres on his 'Most Wanted' list had come to a Death Eater's Samhain Revel, for what? What was the grand plan? Why jeopardize herself and the Order's secrets this way? Had Moody sent her into the viper's den to scope out the enemy with a fresh set of eyes, or was she here for a more nefarious purpose than intelligence gathering? Knowing Mad-Eye, it could be either...and it wasn't beneath him to use someone as innocent as Granger to further his purposes, no matter the cost to her.

And she'd go right along with it, thinking she was being a good martyr for the cause.

As he came up on her from her blindside, he had to purposefully stop and appear to be fiddling with his costume for tonight's masquerade to avoid detection from Yaxley, who was eyeing him from across the room. The head of M.L.E. didn't trust Draco, never had. No surprise there, though, as Yaxley had always hated Lucius, who he'd viewed as his greatest rival for Narcissa Black's hand. When he'd lost that competition thirty years earlier, Yaxley had made it his life's work to spite Lucius at every turn, and of late, that wrath had come to include him too, the only son and heir of his greatest foe. Fortunately, Draco knew how to blend in to avoid detection. He knew how to play a false face and present a good mask, and thus far, it didn't seem as if Yaxley had anything concrete on him.

Or so it seemed.

The Dark Lord's head of enforcement didn't get the job by being sloppy and tipping his hand, though. He was, as Moody always instructed, constantly vigilant and suspicious of everyone. It was fair to say, in fact, that Yaxley had been the guiding force behind Umbridge and her Ministry of Propaganda...and for the suspicious disappearances of those she fingered as enemies of the state.

The man was a spider in a room full of mosquitoes and flies.

It took all of Draco's skills to throw off the scent of his betrayal.

Conjuring a small hand-held mirror, he preened before it, acting like the dandy son of a pure-blood aristocrat. Yaxley, like most everyone else in their circle, knew Lucius to be vain about his looks and dress, and Draco had slyly used that preconceived prejudice about the sire to reinforce the notion that the apple didn't fall from that tree. He played with his hair now, made sure the long fringe lay just right over one side of his face, even played with plumping his lips as he stared into the mirror.

He pretended to be in love with himself.

From the top of his vision, he watched as Yaxley made a face in disgust and turned away, buying the act.

Mission accomplished, Draco vanished the mirror with a wandless, non-verbal spell, and then took a moment longer to glance around the room to make sure no one else was watching him. When he was satisfied he was ignored by the majority of the fancy-dressed, gaily animated mob, he moved in on his target.

~.~.~


If Draco was here, he should have been relatively easy to spot, right?

Again, wrong.

There were dozens of blondes in the room, half of them male, all of them arrogantly strutting around like they owned the world. It was like stumbling upon the annual gathering of das Herrenvolk.

As she glanced around she realised that she didn't fit in here...didn't want to. This laughing, heartless crowd of vain social-shifters were all psychopaths, capable of any and all manner of evil just to satisfy some need within them that could never be filled, no matter how much suffering they inflicted on others. They were all empty people without even honour to cling to, betrayal their weapon of choice, narcissism their only friend.

So why did Severus insist Draco didn't belong here?

From what she remembered of him from their school days together, he was the perfect delegate for this bunch. The rich, handsome, arrogant son of a politically powerful pure-blood lineage that stretched back to the days of William the Conqueror was a shoo-in for membership. He'd certainly been well-conditioned to hate her for no other reason than for her Muggle roots, and he'd most definitely enjoyed acting upon that prejudice all through their educational career.

Well, except for that one time...

No, she wasn't going to go there again. It had been nothing more than the result of a poorly-considered, alcohol-inspired contest and merely his way of throwing her off her game, of toying with her like a cat would a mouse.

One amazing snog session in a cupboard on a drunken dare did not amount to Malfoy being one of the good guys.

So, what did she care that he was an inch away from being arrested by Yaxley and put on trial for crimes against his dark master? Knowing him, he'd probably done something far too ambitious and underhanded, and had been caught at it. Thus, he deserved what was coming for him. True, she'd never heard of him in conjunction with attacking Muggles, snatching Muggle-borns, or killing anyone, but that hadn't meant he was innocent. It was possible he served Voldemort's goals in a more administrative way, as his father did.

She should go, forget this whole bloody plan, tell Snape that she was sorry, but...

Her conscience wouldn't let her do that. She'd made a promise to do her best, and she and the Order owed Snape more than it could ever repay. If not for his spying for their cause, for the intel he delivered at great risk to himself, the resistance would never have succeeded in destroying six horcruxes and in saving the lives of so many people. With their lesser numbers and few resources, they'd most likely have been finished off by now otherwise.

So, here she was, sent into imminent danger, all to pull a rotten ferret out of the fire, all because her former teacher and friend had asked her to save his godson... And, okay, because she couldn't forget that one time in the cupboard with Malfoy, no matter how often she'd tried with others over the years.

The things a woman would do for her friends...and for amazing orgasms.

~.~.~


Yes, there was no mistake now as Draco came within feet of her: it was definitely Granger wearing that foppish garb. He would know her anywhere.

That was not a ridiculous brag either, but fact.

For seven years he'd played it cool, watched her and listened to her, had learned her by observation and contemplation all to understand better what made her tick. He'd memorised every line and curve of her features, the sounds she made when she was happy or sad or frustrated, and he knew her expressions with an intimacy that would astound her were she to ever find out. He'd spent hours studying her as a child when no one was the wiser, curious as to how someone of such low birth could be so astoundingly powerful, so incredibly insightful, and so amazingly loyal to those who were, really, quite undeserving of it.

She was pretty and pretty damned clever, and he'd always admired that particular combination in a female.

...And then there had been that intense snogging session in that cupboard on Valentine's night during their seventh year's masquerade ball's after-party. Ten minutes of heaven he'd never been able to forget.

"Take the mask off. I can't see you."

"You first."


Neither of them had been brave enough to do so then, despite the fact they'd both known the identity of the other person. That knowledge hadn't stopped them from enjoying the moment, though. The alcohol had definitely paved the way for them both to lower their inhibitions that night. She'd been soft and sweet, trembling in his arms at first, and he'd known by her inexpert movements, that he'd been her first kiss. By the time Weasley had banged on the door to demand they come out ten minutes later, they'd had half their clothes off, his fingers were up inside her, and she was coming on them and moaning into his mouth.

It was fair to say that by the time the war had finally broken out just a few months later, he was already quite madly in love with her.

Now here she was, standing in the middle of hell and tempting the Devil to find her, but why?

Closing the final distance between them had his heart pounding and his cock tightening. He hadn't seen her in years, and here she was before him! If only the situation was different... "Don't react," he hissed under his breath as he stepped in front of her, blocking her view of the room. "Put your wand away, Granger."

At first, her eyes went wide in surprise, then wider in recognition of him. She hadn't seen him in four years, since the outbreak of the war, and time had certainly changed them both. She looked leaner, smaller than he remembered, but that could be because of the costume and the waif-like haircut. Whereas he... He'd bulked up, grown into his wide shoulders and long legs. His hair had grown out, as long as his father's, although he preferred to tie it back in a thong at the nape of his neck, leaving the long, straight fringe to fall across half his face. To many daughters of his father's Death Eater-loyal friends, he was considered handsome—still sharp-angled and pale skinned, saturnine even, but the elfish look was in, apparently. He'd had no problems acquiring lovers over the last four years, although they were primarily used for the information they tended to give up after sex.

He wondered if she'd notice him again as a woman notices a man, or would she revert to those days before the cupboard incident and see him only the trumped-up prat she'd known as a child?

"Smile like we're old friends and nod like I'm talking to you," he instructed.

Once she got over her initial shock, Granger was astute enough to recognise that she'd put them both in danger if she didn't play along. She did as he asked, pasting a fake smile on her lips and dully nodding.

"Out the doors to your right, down the corridor. Sixth door on the left." He put a casual hand on her arm to guide her out the door with him, appearing to be in animated conversation with her. His smile wasn't faked, though. A part of him wanted to wring her neck for appearing here tonight, but the truth was he was glad to see her again. It had been hard for him to keep up the pretence this long, and he'd begun to tire of it. It had been a long war and the memories of her had begun to fade, replaced with the horrors. Being in front of her again re-energized him. "We can talk there."

"I'm trusting you," she replied. The tip of her wand poked him in the side, hidden by his arm as he guided her out. "But I'll happily blast you into next week if you try anything."

He chuckled, genuinely pleased to note the war hadn't killed any of the Gryffindor fire in her belly.

"Still a vicious harpy, I see."

The smile she gave him then was all teeth and as vicious as a Rattlesnake's. "Consider me your personal Augury instead."

Controlling his laughter was out of the question then. "Pet, I always have."

As they passed through the doors and moved into the house itself, he dared to wrap his arm around her waist, to give the appearance of going someplace more private for a tête-à-tête...which was actually the truth of the matter, in this case. He relied upon his well-earned reputation as a libertine, however, to give the impression to anyone who might be watching that it was a sexual encounter they sought, rather than a meeting of the minds.

Although, a part of him rather hoped it might be the former as well.

~.~.~


How dare he manhandle her like this!

Alright, it was helping her escape potential capture, if anyone in the ballroom happened to have recognised her, and yes, it had given her precisely the access to the individual she'd come to find, too. Still, did he have to put those long, attractive hands on her, and smell so enticing, or look so...grown up and handsome?

Did he have to make her feel like a foolish, little girl meeting her first crush again after so long?

They entered the room he'd indicated, and a beat after the door had closed behind them, it locked on its own and she felt magic released into the airs, sinking into the walls, ceiling, and floor to ensure the room was completely Silenced for their coming conversation. The candles spaced throughout in the room were suddenly ablaze, banishing the darkness.

Jerking away from her childhood nemesis, she spun and pointed her wand at his sharp, aristocratic nose. "Your wand. Now."

Slowly, he divested his wand from a hidden hip holster, and then flipped it around, presenting her with the handle. "I am now at your disposal, love. Be gentle," he said with a cheeky grin.

The moment her fingers wrapped around his wand, it gave her magical aura a deliberate, leisurely stroke that had her breaking out in goose bumps and shivering. Then, it seemed to hum in her hand, as if what it found was to its liking, before falling silent. She stared at it, shocked.

"Your wand...it just..."

"What?" he prompted when she stalled for the right word.

Feeling the blood rush to her cheeks in mortification, she quickly decided it best to dismiss the issue. There was no way she was admitting to having been felt-up by Malfoy's wand. "Nothing." Her own wand arm straightened as she reacquired her target. "Now, answer me a question to prove you are who you appear to be."

His eyebrows shot into his hairline and his smirk widened, as if he found her security attempts to be amusing. "What do you want to know, exactly? There are so many possible ways we could take this inquisition of yours."

His reply had her jaw dropping to the floor.

Was he flirting with her?

She gave him a once-over, and it was only then that she really took notice of his costume. "Are you dressed like a...a fancy pirate?" she asked, only just noticing the entire get-up. Black velvet long coat, black breeches, snowy-white shirt with ruffles, dark leather bandolier and belt, knee-high leather buccaneer boots. Black leather mask across his face, leaving his mouth exposed. No sword at his hip or hat on his head, though. Still, over all he looked rather dashing, dangerous...knicker-melting. "It suits you."

He seemed interested in the turn of her thoughts. "Oh?" He glanced at himself, then back at her. "Do tell. How sexy do I really look, Granger? Don’t hold back."

Fine, if he really wanted to play... "The costume is a good fit for you, Malfoy, I don't deny it...but then everyone knows pirates are opportunists, narcissists, and irredeemable scoundrels."

His lips twitched with amusement.

Had he always had that dimple in his left cheek?

"If it seems I'm that way, then it's for a good reason, pet," he teased, but there was a darker gleam in his eye as he said it. He stepped in close enough for the tip of her wand to press into the centre of his chest and then he leaned forward until his mouth was next to her ear. "Masks aren't only for the ballroom. Sometimes they're for a person's protection, too. You know that as well as I do, don’t you, Granger?"

Jesus, he was too close...brought up too many memories of that one time she'd allowed herself to be drawn in and to drop all inhibitions. He was making her pant, for Godric's sake!

"Regardless, you can't change what's underneath them," she countered, trying to hold the line against the dangerous attraction she felt. It wouldn't be wise to fall back under his spell, especially as she didn't know his real loyalties. Obviously, he wasn't an enemy, as evident by him passing her his wand, but that didn't mean he wouldn't turn on her like snakes often did. "Tigers and zebras can't change their stripes. Sharks don't stop swimming. Scorpions always sting. What you see is what you get."

He snorted and pulled back, giving her some room to breathe.

"Is that so?" he challenged her. "Try telling that to the chameleon."

His grey eyes twinkled with mischief once more.

She sighed. "You're still impossibly irritating."

He grinned. "And you're still in denial about wanting me. Well, well, my pretty pet, aren't we quite the pair?" Clapping his hands together, he seemed positively delighted at the thought. "Moving on...time to ask me your Order's 'safe' question, Granger. For safety's sake." Reaching out, he stroked a playful finger down her cheek. "Then it'll be my turn to get some answers from you."

To her dismay, her body reacted to his touch: her heart sped up, and things low in her belly went tight and hot. Suddenly, Hermione was very much aware that this Draco Malfoy was the same as the one from the cupboard, not the one she remembered as a child, before that particular incident.

This was the man to whom she'd given her first kiss, first touches...first orgasm.

Oh, Merlin, what had Severus gotten her into this time?

~.~.~


There it was, the one thing he'd hoped to see on her face: attraction for him.

Of course, her utter horror at having experienced such feelings had followed very quickly on its heels, quelling his excitement.

Still, for one unforgettable moment, Hermione Granger had seen him as a man again...and she'd wanted him. And that was before they'd even gotten reacquainted and she knew his part in spying for the Order behind the scenes. Imagine how her opinion of him would change again once she realised that she'd been so utterly wrong about him for so long.

He couldn't wait for that conversation!

It was enough for now, though. There was a chance here, and that's all he cared about, honestly.

"Ask me your question," he murmured, reminding her of her charge. "Something you and I alone would know."

Ask me about that night in the cupboard.

Ask me what I would give to go back and take my mask off for you that night.


She blinked, seemed to pull away from where her thoughts had gone, and in another moment, she was back in her right frame of mind, all business.

Clearly, the woman was going to make this harder than it needed to be.

"Right," she said, tilting her chin up and rebuilding her walls. "In fifth year, you passed me a note in Snape's class. What did it say?"

Inside, his heart laughed at the memory, recalling how very juvenile he'd been back then while attempting to get her attention. "I asked you if you liked pink, too, like Umbridge. Beneath that, I drew a little picture of you on your knees in front of her, licking her quim—"

"Yes, alright, it's you." She stopped him with a hand in his face, her cheeks glowing in embarrassment. "I only asked what you wrote, not what you drew."

Seeing her so flustered had him snickering.

"Oh, how I've missed you," he admitted, not realising he'd said it aloud until her head snapped up and she looked at him as if he was an alien with three heads.

"W-what did you say?"

Shit.

"Your hair," he dodged, reaching up to run the tips of his fingers over the short edges at her forehead. He followed them around her face, tracing the cut around her ear. To his surprise, she allowed him to touch her this intimately. "Why did you chop it?"

The pressure of her wand's tip upon his sternum was gone as she dropped her wand arm, giving him leave to approach. He took the step closer, careful not to crowd her again, as it seemed he'd gotten her a little too hot under the collar when he'd tried it earlier. She still had that rabbit-ready-to-bolt look in her eyes.

"Everyone knew me as the bookworm with the frizzy hair," she admitted. "No one knows me this way."

"I knew you."

"How?"

He glanced into her upturned face, at the mask that covered her nose and brow...resisted the urge to kiss those plain, pouting lips.

"You're very...distinctive."

There, that was as vanilla and safe a response as a man could give to a woman he wanted to bed and not scare her off before then.

Like a Crup with a bone, however, Granger wouldn't let that explanation lie. "How so?" She seemed to realise she was fishing for compliments and quickly amended her statement. "I m-mean, I should know for safety's sake. Is it...something about my appearance in general that tipped you off? The way I stand or the expressions on my face?"

"All of it. I just...I know you."

She took a step back at that and tightened her grip on her wand, as if his answer frightened her on multiple levels. Not his intention, of course, but then things had never seemed to go the way he wanted or expected when dealing with this witch.

Taking a deep breath, Draco struggled to maintain control of a situation that was quickly sliding sideways. "I mean, as a good Slytherin, I always study my opponents. You, Potter, and the Weasel were on my horizon for years, if you'll recall."

Fortunately, that was an explanation she seemed to buy, for she markedly relaxed.

"Oh, well, that makes perfect sense."

Of course, it did. Because he knew her, and knew she wouldn't accept any other explanation right now for his interest in her. That, it seemed, was going to take time.

...And time wasn't something they necessarily had when standing at ground zero of Death Eater central.

What was he thinking, flirting at a time like this?!

~.~.~


He was frowning at her now.

Honestly, his emotions were as mercurial as the Gemini sign he'd been born under.

Not that it was strange for her to know his birthday was the fifth of June, because she knew the birthdays of everyone in her class at Hogwarts. As the previous Head Girl, she'd memorised them so she could assure they each had a card sent to them on their special day, signed by all the staff. It had been one of those things she'd done to attempt to make the office more personable.

She'd never had a chance to give him his birthday card that last year, though. The war had broken out on the first of June, when Pansy Parkinson had let Death Eaters into the school and had helped to kill Dumbledore...

"Why are you here?" he asked, having gone from soft and adorably flustered to angry in a hot second. "Do you realise what they'd do to you if any of them—" He pointed back towards the general direction of the ballroom. "—caught you? You're on the Dark Lord's top ten hit list, Granger!"

"Why would you care?" she countered, suddenly realising how foolish she'd been in letting him lead her away and into a private, locked and Silenced room. She knew absolutely nothing about Draco Malfoy aside from Severus' reiteration that his godson wasn't like the others. Only that testimony stood between her leaving him for Yaxley and her saving his sorry bum for Snape. "You're the enemy, right?"

He gave her a dark look. "I haven't turned you over and claimed the generous reward for your head, have I?"

"Yet," she snarled back at him.

His jaw visibly clenched at her accusation, as if it infuriated him.

"I'll ask you again: why are you here?"

It was a stalemate, neither of them willing to budge. He wouldn't tell her what she wanted to know, and she couldn't risk telling him what he wanted from her, because what if Snape was wrong? What if the wizard before her was truly a loyalist to Voldemort's cause, and Snape was simply putting his faith in the wrong person out of some sense of godfatherly affection? If she told Malfoy the truth about her reasons for coming into such dangerous territory tonight, it could put Severus in danger and his spying was an intricate part of the Order's long-term battle strategy.

No, better to let him believe she was there for some other Order mission...at least until she could determine his true allegiance.

She glanced around, noticed the large, silent hearth on the other side of the room. "Is that thing attached to the Floo network?"

He didn't even give it a second look. "Tell me what I want to know first."

Okay, there was more than one way to skin a fish.

Stomping over to the hearth, she looked for the urn nearby that might contain the powder to activate it. She found it contained inside an old, silver box. So, this fireplace could be used as a Floo. Now the only question remaining was if it was still hooked up to the network. If it had been deactivated, she'd be stuck taking the same way out that she'd taken in...which could prove problematic if she had to drag Malfoy’s sorry arse out the front door. People might just ask questions.

Tossing powder into the Floo caused it to roar to life.

Well, it seemed to work. Now for the hard part.

She pointed her wand at him. "Get in."

Now it was his turn to look dumbfounded.

"Are you insane?"

"Quite possibly," she admitted. "I agreed to take this stupid mission and show up here tonight, didn't I?"

If his eyes could get any bigger...

"You came here to abduct me, didn't you?"

"No, 'abduction' is what you and your Death Eater cronies do for a living. I 'rescue'." Her tone hardened; she was done playing nice and letting this man affect her senses. He'd always had a way of twisting her inside out, but not this time. "Now, get in or else."

It was funny to watch his expressions shift from disbelief to amusement to haughty disdain all in the blink of an eye. If anyone could manage such a wild swing in emotions, though, it was Malfoy.

He folded his arms across his chest and looked down his ferrety nose at her.

"Else."

"Okay."

She Stupefy'd him before he could open his mouth a second time. Then, when he was unconscious, she levitated him over to the Floo and into it. Climbing in after him, she made sure she held onto him tight before throwing down the Floo powder and calling out her destination.

"Hog's Head, Hogsmeade."

Just as she was whisked away, Yaxley crashed through the door, several of his M.L.E. goons right behind him.

Talk about being in the nick of time!

~.~.~


A night and half a day later, Draco woke up in a bed.

Not his bed at the Manor, and unfortunately, not in Granger's bed either, wherever that might be located. Instead, he was in Potter's bed at Grimmauld Place, according to Snape who was sitting at his side, nursing him.

"I'm not nursing you, boy, now get up!" his godfather snarled at him, after explaining the entire situation. The man stood up and marched for the door, clearly having had enough of playing bed nanny. "And change out of that ridiculous costume!"

"You mean you don't like the mask?" Draco asked, pulling it off his forehead where someone had moved it and down over his face again. "I think it makes me look dashing."

Snape gave him a once-over. "You look like a Weird Sisters reject."

"Big fan of them, are you?"

He loved yanking his godfather's chain, especially when it won him that frown.

"Pray tell, what shall I wear, then?" he asked with a mocking smile at the man. "Not my house, remember?"

"You and Potter are about the same size. Borrow something of his."

Draco's grin fell away and he made a face.

"Quit your cringing, boy. You look like a first year attending my class," Snape snapped at him. "And contrary to popular belief, Mister Potter is not infested with vermin."

Ooh, hoo! Now this was too good an opportunity to pass up…

"Gotten close enough to know this personally, have you?"

Snape's frown told him not to go there.

Draco's answering grin told him that someday he would.

Before someone took out an eye, Snape decided to leave. Yet, upon opening the door, his godfather paused. "You should know the Dark Lord has placed you on his top ten list above Miss Granger. You're now under Potter and Moody for 'Most Wanted'."

"Ironic," Draco chortled. He'd expected to be on the list, but not higher than Granger. Wait until he told her! Her competitive streak wouldn't take that well. "Good to know I'm so well-hated by villains."

When Snape didn't immediately reply, Draco's humour dried up.

He guessed then what was coming next.

"Anything else?"

"Lucius and Narcissa." Severus' voice sounded heavy with regret. "They've disowned you. They won't even speak your name."

Honestly, he'd expected as much if it ever came out what he was doing. Still, that didn't mean he was immune to the hurt it caused him to know his parents chose a mad, sadistic tyrant over him. Then again, he'd chosen a feisty Muggle-born witch over them long ago, so perhaps they were even.

"Thank you," he said, then clarified, "for telling me. And for the rescue...and taking the risk on me in the first place."

"You did an admirable job, Draco. Four years is a long time to go without being found out. You've exceeded all my expectations."

"I learned from the best."

After all, he'd been taught Legilimency and Occlumency by Snape starting at the age of fourteen. By seventeen, he'd shown quite the proficiency for both—one that rivalled even his Potions Professor's talents. Those skills had been the only thing standing between him and Death as he'd knelt at Voldemort's feet to take his place within the ranks soon after the war had officially begun, for with them he'd been able to feed the Dark Lord false information about himself, painting a picture of a spoilt heir with only marginally significant magical abilities and too much of a lackadaisical attitude to be of much use to the cause. Thus, he'd been sent to work in the Ministry as one of Pius Thicknesse's administrators...and there he'd kept his eyes and ears open, leaned how to open confidential letters without anyone the wiser, and had even cracked the secret code that Death Eaters alone used to communicate with each other. All of that information had been turned over to Snape, who had informed the Order.

"You succeeded on your own merits," his mentor said in a rare moment of praise. He turned and looked at Draco, his piercing, black gaze penetrating through the mask he was wearing and into the very heart of him. "But the act is now over. They'll all see who you really are."

The idea was even more terrifying to Draco than the pretending had been. Since childhood, he'd always shammed his way through life, a social chameleon who took on the colours his parents and friends had expected him to, and for a few short years there, he'd even believed himself to be that deceptive and dangerous a creature. Seven years of careful observation and a far-too-short ten-minute snogging session in a cupboard with Granger, though, had changed all of that for good, for it had finally forced him to confront his true feelings. He'd had to admit he was in love with a woman his father and mother had deemed 'filthy' and beneath them, and then come to the determination that he didn't actually feel their way about her at all.

Once that domino had gone down, the entire lot of them followed. He'd realised how ridiculous pure-blood supremacy actually was and, after doing some research on the matter, how it was lacking in both fact and in long-term sustainability. The concept and execution were flawed, and they left no room for a love like he felt for Granger. By graduation, he'd abandoned the thinking.

Just in time for the war to break out.

When caring for Granger's life, protecting her from Voldemort and his band of crazies became far more important than making his father and mother proud, that had been the pivotal moment he'd grown up. To save her, he'd agreed to continue to wear the same hateful mask he'd always worn, pretending as he always had, but unlike before, he'd done it for love of her.

Four years...it seemed like a lifetime to have played this game. How had Snape done it for so long?

"Incidentally, your saviour, Miss Granger is in the kitchen below," his godfather told him, his black eyes taking him all in with a scathing glance. "You might want to shower and comb your hair before tromping down to see her. You look absolutely atrocious."

With that, the man stalked out, robes billowing behind him.

Ripping the mask off his head, Draco spent a while looking at it. He ran his fingers over the shaped leather, observed it as keenly as he had her all those years ago.

Now that his cover had been blown, would Granger be willing to see beyond the mask he'd always worn, into the very heart of him? Would she want to?

Could she accept that all Slytherins were chameleons in their souls, but that his was constant only for her?

~.~.~


Her tea had gone cold.

Sitting for more than an hour, staring at nothing and lost in thought, she hadn't even noticed until she felt the porcelain under her fingers heat up.

Draco put his wand away and took the seat next to her at the long table.

"Keep thinking that hard, and one day your head's going to explode," he told her.

"Hasn't happened so far," she replied. "I'm willing to risk the odds."

His laughter was a good sound, honest and very masculine. It made her chest tight to hear it for some reason. Probably because she'd never expected to hear Draco Malfoy laugh with any sort of sincerity, not in her lifetime. She'd never expected him to tease her either. Or to make her heart race with just a simple look.

...Or to have been working with the Order all these years, to have been a secret undercover spy, like Snape.

He was proving to be quite contrary to her assumptions about his character, and she was having a difficult time reconciling what she remembered when she was twelve with that cupboard in seventh year, and then again with how he'd been at the party. Severus had insisted that she didn't really know Draco at all, and even Moody had encouraged her to look deeper.

Had she been judging him wrongly all this time? Had she been staring into his face all these years and seeing only the mask he wore? Was he less two-headed snake, more chameleon?

Only one way to find out.

"Why did you do it?" she asked him, paying close attention to his expressions rather than his reply. "Why did you turn on them? Your parents..."

He met her challenging glare. "More importantly, why do you think I did?"

She frowned, for once unsure if the answer she thought she knew was right or wrong. "Not for the glory, that's for sure."

Slowly, as if he was afraid of spooking her, he reached out and brushed his fingers over the back of her hand. The touch was warm, not at all reptilian.

"No, not for the glory," he admitted. "I'm no Gryffindor."

"Then why?"

He paused, seemed to consider how best to answer. Finally, he settled on a dare. "If you really want to know, you'll have to kiss me again. This time, without the alcohol."

Astonished by such a blunt offer, she turned to him...and stopped as the truth hit her with all the force of a Stupefy.

She stared into his exotic, handsome face with its cutting angles and those haunting pale eyes, and suddenly realised she'd been looking at Draco Malfoy all wrong. Yes, he had an excess of sensual beauty; his was the face of a imperious blueblood, denied no desire. And it was that preconceived notion that caused her to see what everyone else saw when they took him in: a pampered lord, bored with the world and simply waiting for his turn. Yet underneath that façade there was strength, determination...and a weird sense of honour that could be born only from a Slytherin's heart.

There was the soul of a pirate and a spy hidden under the face of a beautiful Aristo.

With trembling fingers, she moved to cup his cheeks, forcing him to still as she really took her fill of him, learned him in a way she never had before. She touched him, amazed at the revelation.

"No more masks," she breathed in awe, understanding what he'd been telling her since those ten minutes in that cupboard so long ago. "I see you."

His smile was slow and devastating to her heart.

"About bloody time," he whispered right before he leaned forward and captured her mouth once more.

~.~.~
EPILOGUE


There was something to be said for hiding...especially when the reward was so worth it.

"Found you!" Granger called, opening the door to the cupboard and sliding in next to him. 

Shutting the door behind her plunged them into darkness.

A non-verbal spell from him lit up the small space with light.

Before he could put his wand away, she grabbed the wand up, frowning at it. "Is it... Does the light seem to be...dancing?" she asked.

"No," he lied.

It definitely seemed as though his wand was excited to be with her again. The bloody thing had a mind of its own where she was concerned. At times, he wondered just how sentient the thing was, because he could swear it was in love with Granger, too.

"Who cares? The important thing is that you found me." Placing his hands on her hips, he pulled her in nice and tight. "Now what are you going to do with me?"

The look she gave him promised wickedness to follow.

"Well, I was thinking perhaps..." She set his wand on a nearby shelf and pulled something made of leather out of her brassiere. "We might try something a little different this time."

He loved it when she got creative. "Oh? Do tell."

To his surprise, she tossed a leather hat onto his head, and then spent several minutes adjusting it just to her liking.

"There, now you look like a real pirate!"

"You forgot the mask," he said, feeling ridiculous but enjoying how much pleasure it brought his witch to indulge her whims. "Pirates always wear masks to avoid identification from the Crown."

Granger glanced up at him with a soft, sweet gaze. "No more masks for us."

She was right, he thought as he bent to claim her lips in a scorching kiss that left them both panting and wanting more in a short time. Playing chameleon had only kept them from indulging in this. That wasn’t to say he still wasn’t Slytherin at heart and played things close to the chest, but with her, there would never be any more barriers between them.

"Mmm, right back where we started," he hummed against her throat as he nibbled on the tender skin. “Cupboards seem to be our thing, love.”

Granger made a cute kittenish mewl against his mouth. "Merlin, I hope so," she said and guided his hands to the zip on her jeans.

Draco chuckled, taking over from there. In truth, he really appreciated his new wife's insatiable appetites. The woman was as greedy for his attentions as he was for her! It was sexual gluttony on tap.

“Well, well, my pretty pet,” he whispered in her ear, slipping his hand under the band of her knickers and making her arch against him in pleasure, “aren’t we quite the pair?”

~.~.~
FIN
~.~.~


Comments 
10th-Oct-2018 10:08 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for writing this, and so quickly.

The way you've shown us D&H's thoughts and feelings with so much subtle detail makes this story really stand out. I love the way you made the 'snogging' such a pivotal moment for both of them, and the beginning of a momentous change in Draco which, because he had to hide it, could be consistent with canon.

And I love the way you've put them back in the cupboard -- without masks -- at the end :-)

(Also, I can't believe you wrote three stories! Are you going to post the others somewhere?)

Edited at 2018-10-10 10:21 pm (UTC)
13th-Oct-2018 05:23 am (UTC)
I always love your Dracos! This was fun!
16th-Oct-2018 02:47 am (UTC)
Oh my god, I finally read this and am literally giddy with joy. This was absolutely perfect!! The ending, with them being in the cupboard without their masks just gave me all the feels. The banter and flirting was perfect! Gah! <3 Thank you for such an amazing gift <333
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