If, in fact, they weren’t successful in life, Hermione feels that a grave injustice occurred. After a long day at the office, following two other busy days, there’s nothing quite like getting Chinese from that place near the Ministry that always throws in extra rice and going home to not do anything more than spoon out food onto plates. Considering it’s already Wednesday and this is the first night she’s been home at an hour that could possibly be considered ‘not that late’, she’s grateful for Chinese take-away and an ex-husband who cares about his children, thus giving her an empty house for a few days.
While she loves being a mother, which is actually a harder job than the one she’s paid for, she can appreciate having time to herself occasionally. More so than she did before she had children, in fact. Of course, tonight it’s not really just time to herself since Teddy came home with her for dinner. They’ve both been working hard the past few days, with nary a moment for his flirting or cheekiness, so she thought it would be nice to have a meal together. They can afford an evening, now that the worst parts of the new case have been reasonably taken care of until the interviewing phase begins, which won‘t be until next Thursday.
Teddy’s in the loo washing up before they eat, so she has a moment alone while she gets plates and organizes the food. She can’t help but smile as she remembers his look of pleased surprise when she asked him if he’d like to come over for dinner. She has to wonder if he thought she’d changed her mind because he’d looked relieved and had seemed to relax just enough for her to realize that he’d been somewhat tense the past few days.
On Monday, work had been too busy to allow for daydreams or reminiscing about the days they’d recently spent together. Tuesday and today had been just as busy, as she had meetings in and out of the office most of both days. Still, when she was free and around, no one observing them would have been able to tell they were out together a few days ago.
She’s pleased that they’ve been able to balance work and the other as-yet undefined thing. They've so far been able to continue working together and being friends without complicating that aspect of things. Teddy's the same, focused and friendly to everyone he encounters; though, he’s certainly flirty after hours when they stay late to transcribe paperwork and brainstorm the case. However, it’s all in fun and rather subtle compared to his more obvious efforts during the weekend.
“You know, it helps if you actually put the food on the plates instead of just staring out the window.”
The amused voice startles her, and she glances over her shoulder to find Teddy leaning against the counter watching her. She frowns as she realizes that she didn’t even hear him enter the kitchen, which means she was either very much lost in thought or he’s just that sneaky. Right now, she thinks it’s probably a combination of the two.
“Or we could just save the plates and eat out of cartons,” he says with a lazy grin. “Means you won’t have to worry about cleaning up after since you’ll just have to toss everything into the bin.”
“Spoken like a true bachelor.” She laughs and shakes her head. “I’ve already got the plates out, and I don’t have any interest in eating out of cardboard containers.”
“You don’t mind doing that when you have Chinese at work. What’s the difference?” He walks over to help her sort things, his blue hair falling across his eyes before he shoves it out of the way.
“I’d tell you that you need a haircut if one was actually necessary for you,” she tells him. “Why you want to go around with hair in your eyes is beyond me.”
“It’s artfully disheveled. Besides, it’s just long enough to make you want to run your fingers through it without making me look like a girl,” he says smugly. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed where one of those hands of yours always seems to end up when I kiss you, Hermione. I might be young and easily distracted, but I’m also pretty bloody observant, especially when it comes to you.”
“If my hand always ends up in your hair the few times we’ve kissed, perhaps it’s to get your hair out of your eyes so I can actually see you,” she points out as she opens a carton and begins to divide the food. “I might actually like looking into the eyes of the man I’m kissing, you know?”
“True, but I’m afraid that will require experimentation so that I can analyze and compare a reasonable number of kisses to determine the cause for said hair touching behavior,” he decides, grinning as he flutters his eyelashes in a ridiculous manner. “So, to successfully prove your claim, we’ll just have to kiss a lot more. I’m not clever enough to make an educated guess, you see, and I like to be extremely thorough when it comes to proving claims.”
“Ah, but clever enough to use big words that are quite impressive and show that you have a nice vocabulary.” She rolls her eyes and smiles. “And you look like you’ve got something stuck in your eyes when you bat them that way, which I suppose isn’t the intended message. Or perhaps it is?”
“I look quite beguiling when I preen,” he defends before he sticks his tongue out at her. “It’s a good thing that I’m reasonably confident because you could make a man insecure, woman.”
“Hermione, not woman like you’re a Neanderthal with limited word usage. If you begin to grunt and beat your fists against your chest, I give fair warning that I’ll toss you out of the house onto your bum.”
“Oh, when I start to grunt with you, tossing me out of the house will be the last thing on your mind,” he says in a smug tone. She glances at him and arches a brow, pursing her lips when he winks and smiles cheekily. “As for hitting myself on the chest, I’d not do that because it’s ridiculous and I can think of many more enjoyable uses for my hands. Now, if you want me to touch your chest, I‘m certainly willing.”
“With that attitude, you’ll never find out exactly what I’d do when said grunting occurs.“ She swats his arm and mutters, “Cheeky brat. I suppose this is you making up for three days without teasing.”
“No, this is me finally alone with you again somewhere other than the office.” He finishes emptying the last carton and picks up their plates, carrying them to the table. “However, I’ve been on my best behavior at work. Not that I want to risk either of our jobs or reputations for professionalism by doing anything overtly stupid. But, still, I could argue a case for deserving some sort of reward.”
“And I could combat that argument with the reminder that work is separate from personal, which means there’s no such thing as a reward for simply following procedure and obeying regulations.”
“There’s actually not a rule about dating in the workplace. Technically, you’re not my direct supervisor, you’re just training me, so the language is ambiguous enough to mean that we’re not doing anything wrong, in the Ministry’s eyes, by pursuing a relationship outside the work place.” He looks at her and grins as his hair changes to a dark violet. “I did research during my lunch break on Monday, just to make sure.”
“Did you?” She reaches up into the cabinet to get down two glasses before she admits, “I did, too. I have no intention of allowing anything to affect my job, of course, but I wanted to ensure that I wasn’t doing anything illegal or that could put my job at risk.”
“Yeah, see, I didn’t want you to have to worry about your job along with everything else you’re worried about,” he tells her as he sits down. “It’s frustrating because so much of this is out of my control, so I wanted to at least do something productive.”
“Pineapple juice or fruit punch? I’m afraid that’s all I have besides water.” She looks at him and frowns slightly. “I imagine it’s just as frustrating to think about the complications and weigh the best course for both of us as it is to jump in without worrying that much at all.”
“Fruit punch is fine,” he says. “And I worry, Hermione. Maybe even more than you do, even if it’s about different things. Well, maybe not because you’re a natural worrier and I’m normally not someone who is concerned about every possible outcome of every movement. Now, though, I feel like I’m walking on eggshells sometimes, like one wrong move will end any chance I have, and I hate having no idea what you’re thinking a majority of the time.”
She pours them each a glass of fruit punch before she joins him at the table. When she sits down, she looks at him steadily. “I think that this situation isn’t necessarily easy on either of us,” she says softly. “Neither of us are people who thrive in such circumstances, I’d daresay, and that just makes it worse. I’m trying, Teddy, and I wouldn’t be taking a chance if I honestly didn’t like you enough to bother dealing with all the thoughts and worries I’m having right now.”
“It’s worse for you,” he murmurs. “And I try to remember that, I really do, but, like you said, it isn’t always easy. Fortunately, we can both make mistakes and fuck up without being able to get too mad because that’s just part of it all, I guess.”
“Language,” she scolds before she nods. “You’re right, even if I hate the idea of actually making mistakes, especially at this point in my life. I thought all of this was behind me.”
“What? Dating?” He gapes at her. “Bloody hell, Hermione. You’re only thirty-eight, and you look years younger. You’ve got a brilliant career and great kids. Any bloke would be thrilled to have you, not that I’m encouraging you to actually test that claim. This is one time you can just trust me and let me be the lucky man who managed to get through to you.”
“Trust me when I say that there has never been a line at the door for such things. Besides, as you said, I have children, which is certainly not considered a positive for most men, and I have a great career that often requires working at home so that I’m not in the office when the children need me. I’ve managed to balance work and family really well for years, but a lot of men wouldn’t be satisfied with what little time I have left. If anything, you’re somewhat of a rarity, which is probably another reason I’m hesitant about all this.”
“As if you need another reason,” he mutters. He smiles then and reaches over the corner of the table to caress her cheek. “Let’s eat and talk about less serious things for awhile, okay? I’ve missed you and really want to be selfish and just enjoy your company until you kick my arse out later.”
“That sounds like an excellent idea,” she murmurs, moving her head slightly so she can kiss his palm. She glances at the food and then smiles up at him. “When you surprised me in the kitchen earlier, I was actually thinking about the person who invented take-away and hoping that they lived a long and successful life.”
He looks at her a moment and then laughs. “I love how your brain works. It’s so fascinating, and you make me think about things I’ve never even considered before. I like to think that I’m pretty bloody bright on my own, but I always feel smarter whenever we talk, even if it’s about odd things like take-away.”
“I’m not exactly sure that I’d call my brain fascinating, as it can be peculiar sometimes, but I have to admit that I like the notion of challenging you to think more. It’s quite a lovely compliment, far better than flowery talk about the color of my eyes or such nonsense.”
“See, you have your reasons why we’re a bad idea and all these issues that mean we shouldn’t even try, but I have a list of reasons why you’re amazing and could easily be my ideal woman. The fact that you’d rather be appreciated for your intelligence than your pretty brown eyes is just one of many reasons.”
She shifts in her chair and tries to think of an appropriate comeback, but, in the end, she smiles and just hopes she’s not blushing. They begin to eat, and she quickly remembers how hungry she is once she tastes the Chinese food. It’s perfect for tonight, suiting their casual conversation about non-serious things and allowing them to steal bits off each other’s plates. By the time they finish, she’s surprised that so much time has passed. Once again, they've started talking and enjoying the comfortable silence until time slips away from them.
“That was really good,” she says as she leans back in her chair. Her legs brush against his, and she glances at him when he shifts. He’s staring at her intently, which flusters her.
“Yes, it was,” he agrees. He reaches over and traces the back of her hand with his fingers. “I really don’t want to go home yet. It’s not that late.”
“I suppose we could have coffee. I might even have biscuits somewhere.”
“I’ll make the coffee if you want to search for the biscuits.”
They don’t move from the table. Instead, she turns her hand and his fingers brush against her palm. His hair is green when he leans forward, and she grips his wrist as she sways towards him, meeting him halfway. It’s their first kiss since Saturday, so it doesn’t really matter that the angle is awkward or that they taste like fruit punch. The only important thing at that precise moment is that his lips are on hers and that she missed kissing him nearly as much as she missed their long conversations about everything and anything.
When she pulls back, he smiles and rubs his thumb along her jaw. “I don’t think we need coffee.”
“Maybe not,” she murmurs. “However, I do think we need to move somewhere more comfortable because this is rather awkward for kissing.”
He stands up so fast that he knocks the chair back. Before it can fall, he catches it and flashes a sheepish smile as he sets it back up. “Didn’t want to give you time to change your mind.”
“I probably should, but, right now, I really just want another kiss.”
“Thank God,” he says, holding out his hand to her as he lowers his head. She stands up, bumping his nose and chin before she tilts her head and their lips meet again. He moves his hands down her back, and she holds his shoulders as they stumble and kiss their way to the sofa. When they sit down, she laughs and reaches for him, leaning back against the pillow as she moves her fingers into his hair.
She can’t remember the last time she’s really been snogged. Years, definitely, because she and Ron had drifted apart for awhile before they finally separated. It’s exciting to feel this way again, especially considering the fact she doubted she would again. Teddy has great lips, and he’s an amazing kisser. Somehow, he manages to be gentle and passionate all at the same time, which she finds incredibly arousing.
It’s hard to believe that it’s not even been a week since he asked her to dinner. Of course, she’s fantasized about him for months, so maybe that’s why this feels so bloody good. He’s lying against her as they kiss, his body warm and heavy against hers, and she can’t stop touching him. She wants him. While she’s aware of this, has known even before she was aware that he fancied her, it still surprises her just how desperately she desires him. It’s frightening, even as she does her best to ignore logic and all the complications for a few wonderful moments.
“Hermione,” he moans against her lips as he shifts on the sofa. She feels him press more directly against her, rolling his hips slightly. She makes a low whining noise when she feels his hardness push against her thigh, unable to believe that he’s that aroused just from kissing. Before she can start worrying about things going too fast, he kisses her neck and distracts her. She moves her hands down his back and tugs on his shirt, pulling it free from his trousers until she touches bare skin.
“Yes,” she hisses when he kisses a certain spot beneath her ear that makes her toes curl. She arches up against him and slides her hand up beneath his shirt, stroking his back as she moves her fingers into his hair and tugs. He raises his head, blinking at her as green hair falls across his forehead, and he smiles crookedly before he kisses her again.
The kiss deepens quickly, any teasing or gentleness fading as they give in to the tension that’s been crackling between them even longer than she realized. He grinds against her as his tongue curls around hers, and she unconsciously rocks up to meet him, needing more friction and more touching and more Teddy. She digs her fingernails into his back as she rubs her chest against his, her nipples tight and hard and her breasts heavy and aching. It isn’t until she feels his fingers on her ribs, beneath her shirt, that she slowly comes back to her senses.
She blinks dazedly as she realizes she’s rocking against him, and she can feel his erection press into her as his hips keep moving. “Stop,” she murmurs. “We can’t.”
“We can,” he whines, trying to kiss her again.
“No, we can’t,” she says even as she wishes she could just close her eyes and let things progress naturally. She’s scared, though, even more than she was because it was so easy to let go and things moved so fast that she can barely breathe.
“Fuck,” he mutters. “Fuck, fuck, fuck.” He pulls back and moves to his knees, looking down at her as he runs his hand through his hair. “And don’t even bother scolding me about my language. What’s wrong, Hermione?”
“It’s moving too fast,” she tells him, trying not to stare at the bulge that is pressed against his trousers. “We just need to slow down.”
“Why?” He’s breathing hard and he looks confused and aroused and angry. “We’re not even naked! I just want…you want, too…and I don’t see why we can’t…”
“Because I’m scared,” she says more sharply than she intends. She sits up and moves her legs out from beneath him. “I didn’t intend to let things progress this far, Teddy. I wanted to kiss you, and I thought there might be a little touching. I didn’t expect us to start grinding and, well, it’s just too much right now.”
“Says who?” He shakes his head. “I’m trying to be patient, but you were kissing me back and you were the one who pulled my shirt up and it wasn’t just me!”
“I know it wasn’t, and that’s why we need to stop.”
“That makes no sense!”
“I’m not going to make a mistake just because I can’t control my lust,” she snaps at him, flinching when she watches his face and realizes how that sounds.
“A mistake.” He speaks quietly as his hair turns a dark red that she’s never seen before. “Right. Can’t have the perfect and restrained Hermione Granger-Weasley do anything as human as lose control. God forbid she ever do anything as stupid as crave contact or want someone.”
“Teddy, I didn’t mean---”
“It’s fine, Hermione,” he interrupts, his tone indicating that it was anything but okay. “I might be young but I’m not an idiot. I thought you felt it, too, and I believed that you’d decided to just go for it and take a chance. I didn’t realize that being with me would be such a mistake.”
“Now you’re just being stubborn and immature,” she points out quietly. “I never said that being with you is a mistake. You have no right to be insulting or act as if you’re the only one affected by this. We both have to be ready, and, while I do want you, I panicked and got scared.”
"You're not the only one who's scared, you know?" he says, his tone still curt but wavering slightly. "It seems like you forget sometimes that it isn't just you with concerns and worries."
"I know you are, Teddy, even if it's not obvious. You do well hiding your nervousness, for the most part," she says softly, rather pleased that she's able to approach this patiently even as her own emotions are confusing her. "Anyone in this sort of situation is, under normal circumstances. With all the issues we bring with us, it's understandable that we're both anxious and frightened."
He sighs and his hair begins to fade until it’s a burnt orange as he stands up and begins to pace. “I hate that you got scared,” he finally says when he stops pacing and looks at her. “I know I’m not very good with a lot of this emotional adult stuff, but I heard you say mistake and I thought the worst. I rarely lose my temper, but, when I do, it’s usually fast and then I’m over it.”
“I can understand that.” She knows about insecurities, after all, and she also realizes how tough it is to be vulnerable around someone with the power to hurt you. She knows now that Teddy has given her that power.
He walks back to the sofa and sits down, keeping distance between them even as he reaches for her hand and faces her. “I’m not going to say I’m sorry, Hermione, because we both fucked up, and I’m really struggling with being patient and trying to give you what you need without becoming a pathetic wanker. For once, I‘ll actually use my age by mentioning that I‘m only twenty, so most of this is new to me. I mean, I know I‘m pretty sensitive for a bloke, figure that‘s cause Gram raised me, but I am still a man and it‘s hard to think when I feel like I do whenever I‘m kissing you.”
“It seems that your language becomes much more foul whenever you’re upset. No, that isn’t me scolding. Merely an observation,” she explains before he can say anything. She smiles slightly as she moves her fingers to curl around his. “You’re right, though. Neither of us should apologize, or perhaps we both should. I honestly didn’t mean to get so carried away tonight. It’s just, well, like you said. Sometimes it’s hard to think whenever you’re kissing me.”
“I think the compliment of being told that my kisses can make you unable to think almost makes up for all this unpleasant awkwardness,” he teases softly. “For what it’s worth, I didn’t intend to do anything except steal a few kisses, if you let me.”
“If I let you, it couldn’t be considered stealing.”
“Yeah, but stealing sounds more daring and sexy than accepting given kisses.”
“You actually have a point there.”
“You don’t have to sound so surprised.”
“Well, it so rarely happens that you’ll have forgive my shock and dismay.”
“Very funny. You’re so comedic that I’m considering rolling on the floor with laughter.”
“Sarcasm doesn’t become you, Lupin.”
He grins and leans forward before he suddenly stops. He sighs and raises her hand, brushing a kiss against her palm. “As much as I want to kiss you, I think it’s probably better if I don’t right now.”
“It’s probably for the best,” she agrees, reaching up to brush his hair away from his eyes. “It’s getting late.”
“I know.” He kisses her hand again before he stands up and stretches. “I enjoyed tonight, Hermione. Even the not so great parts, since the really good parts definitely made up for those.”
When he stands, she notices that he’s still half-hard, even after the mood was ruined. She has to bite her lip to keep from doing something stupid like giggling when she thinks that there seem to be at least a few benefits to being twenty. Before she’s caught looking, she stands up and kisses his cheek. “I enjoyed tonight, too. You know, Hugo will be coming home on Sunday, but I could go out Friday, if you’d like. Dinner after work?”
“Are you asking me out on a date?” he asks, grinning as he looks down at her. Before she can say anything, he nods. “Yes. God, I’m easy, aren’t I? Didn’t even make you work for that agreement.”
“Incorrigible is what you are, amongst other things,” she mutters. She has to smile, though, relieved that things feel more normal after the awkwardness of earlier. “Good night, Teddy.”
“Ted.“ He swats her bum lightly and darts away, laughing as she glares at him. “God, you’re smashing,” he says with a grin before he tosses powder into the Floo. “Sweet dreams, Hermione. I’ll see you at work tomorrow.”
He blows her a kiss, just like he did the other day, and steps through the Floo. Before he’s completely through, she reaches him and swats his bum in return, just so he doesn’t get the last word, so to speak. After he’s gone, she sighs and runs her hands through her hair, her mind whirling from everything that’s happened tonight. Finally, she goes to the table and starts to clean up from dinner.