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Originally Posted: February 28, 2008

There are many reasons why being here is not a good idea. The most important, of course, is that her friends would never understand. Hermione doesn't even understand, so she can't very well expect their full support and encouragement should they find out. When they find out. She knows it's not a matter of if but simply a matter of when. Thinking otherwise is dangerous and foolish.

If she's being logical, there's actually not many reasons why she should be here,not that everything can be defined by logic. The past alone should outweigh anything else. True, she's no longer a teenager who feels like society can dictate her actions or that she needs to follow unspoken rules about her personal life, but it's complicated, this time. She's had lovers over the years. Not many because work is important to her and the failed relationship she had with Ron ten years ago seemed to prove that she couldn't be fulfilled both personally and professionally. Sacrifices had to be made, and, in her youthful optimism and desire to change the world, she chose her professional life.

It's not a decision that she regrets. She did at first, when Ron was still angry and they barely spoke, but they're older now. She'll be thirty next month, in fact, so it's not like they're children anymore. She wonders sometimes if they were ever children after they went to Hogwarts and became friends with Harry. Of course, she doesn't really care because she'd trade childhood and teenage adolescence for being Harry's friend every time. He's her best friend, and it's his opinion, more than any other, that really matters to her.

Which is why she doesn't understand why she's doing this now. Harry's many things but she's not foolish enough to think that he'd simply accept her choice of lover without issue. In all honesty, there's never been anyone who has shared her bed that's even made her consider Harry's reaction. Her affairs, such as they are, are discreet and temporary, usually a mutual agreement with a friend because she isn't the type to share her body with someone she doesn't feel something for, even if it's not romantic love. It's likely why there have been so few over the last ten years, and why they never lasted more than a couple of weeks before ending so that relationships wouldn't become complicated.

She looks at the man sleeping next to her and tries to figure out why this is different. He's older than her, old enough to be her father easily, but she likes his maturity. He certainly doesn't look like he's in his mid-fifties, not with the fit body he hides beneath his robes and the face that barely has any signs of age yet. He doesn't act it, not with the stamina that seems more appropriate for a man half his age or the charming public persona that makes so many forget his horrible past. His hair is his vanity, falling now across his bare back as he dreams.

They aren't friends; or, at least, they weren't when this affair started. They barely said a civil word to each other, in fact. She still isn't sure how they went from a rather heated debate over the history of magic in the stacks at Flourish & Blotts to ripping their clothes off in his bedroom while still continuing their debate. She won, she recalls with a slight smirk, though possibly due to the fact that he'd been breathless by the time she was finished with him. It had been awkward, with a realization of what she'd done and who she'd done it with, then the sneaking out while he slept and going home to shower and chastise herself.

The chastisement obviously hadn't worked, considering that was seven months ago, and she's no longer sneaking out while he sleeps as if they've made a bad mistake. It probably is a mistake, being here with him, but neither of them are able to stay away. They tried, at first, with arguments over how wrong it was and memories of past actions, especially his, and so many excuses as to why they needed to stop. Every time. But they never stop. The sex has developed into shared meals, into conversations about topics few others even understand much less discuss with her, into overnight stays and a shelf in his wardrobe for some of her clothes, into his wards now allowing her entrance and him having access to her flat, into a big, complicated mess that scares her more than she cares to admit.

They've managed to keep it secret, even from his own son and her Harry, but she knows it won't always be that way. It's become more difficult in recent weeks to hide it, to pretend that she's not involved with someone who has somehow swayed into an actual relationship instead of an affair, and there is a part of her that worries what people will say. The Mudblood and the Death Eater is a perfect headline for the gossip section of the bloody Prophet, after all. No, they'll use Muggleborn; it'll be others who use the other word, who call her names for being involved with someone like Lucius Malfoy. He's not a nice man. He's done horrible things and spent time in prison, and the scar on his forearm is a reminder of his past. He hates everything she is, or used to, and she should hate him, for the diary that nearly killed Ginny so long ago and the plans to kill Harry and even for standing idly by while she was tortured in this very house.

That's what they'll tell her, what they'll remind her, and they'll be right. She should, but she doesn't, and the fact that she can't explain why will just make things worse. If all this is just about was sex, it'd be easy. She could blame lust and hormones, blame a lonely life and wish to be desired, but there's really nothing to blame except herself. And the fact that she feels guilty over decisions she makes in her own life is just wrong, in a way, because who are they to judge her or even him. So what if it's a mistake in some people's eyes. Her friends should want her happy, even if she might end up getting hurt. That's her choice to make, and she'll learn from it, if it happens.

While she's lost in thought, he moves and slowly opens his eyes. He looks at her, smiling slightly as he pulls her closer and kisses her neck before he drifts back to sleep. She runs her fingers through his hair and snuggles against his warm body. It doesn't really matter why she shouldn't be here, she realizes, because she is here. Her choice was made months ago, whether she understands it or not. As she watches him sleep, she starts to relax and stops thinking so much. She knows that they'll get through whatever happens once people do find out about them because, even if they never say the words, it's there and it's real.