"Are you ready?" Dumbeldore asked them, picking his wand up and standing up. "This will take a few seconds."
The two teenagers stared at each other, unable to speak.
"I need you both to stand up." The Headmaster said, watching the two with sad eyes. Hermione and Draco stood up almost robotically, their fingers laced together tightly, their palms pressed together.
"I'll cast the forgetting spell and you both will fall into a deep sleep. I will transport you to the Hospital Wing one by one from here and your friends will be informed to collect you from there- you fell down a flight of stairs or tripped over a desk and hurt your head in the library. You will not remember anything except the real yesterday where you came to Hogwarts to complete your seventh year. You will believe that you woke up and then things black out for you. The next thing you will remember is waking up the Hospital Wing." Dumbledore explained, though knowing that they were most probably far from paying attention to him. Their eyes were locked together, their mouths opening and closing but no words forming.
"Ready?" He asked softly. "I cannot begin without your consent." They swallowed hard, their grip on the other's hand tightening, and nodded.
The old Headmaster nodded and raised his wand. He opened his mouth to begin the charm when Hermione cried out suddenly.
"Stop!" The other two turned to her. "Wait, stop..." She said, softer this time. She turned to Draco, tears welling up in her eyes. Without wasting a second, she grasped the back of his neck with her free hand, stood on her toes and pressed her lips against his. Tears streaming down her face, she felt him respond desperately. For those few seconds, they imagined they were the only ones in the room. The only ones that mattered.
It was their last kiss. Yet there were going to be more to come. Many more.
She pulled away, her fingers knotted in his silky hair. "I love you." She said, her voice thick and choked with emotion. He squeezed his eyes shut, willing the tears to stay away.
"I love you too." He said, opening his eyes once again and looking straight into her deep brown orbs. "Forever and always."
"Forever and always." She repeated.
And they turned to Dumbledore, who was waiting patiently while staring out of the window, his eyes twinkling, and nodded. They were ready.
* * *
* * *
"Do you hear that, Gin?" Hermione asked, holding her hand up to silence the redhead.
"Let go of her!" A distant male voice yelled.
"What in the name of Merlin?" Hermione asked, heading in the direction of the voice, her wand now gripped tightly in her hand and Ginny following close behind her.
"Go rot in Azkaban with your dear father for the rest of your life." The unmistakable voice of Blaise Zabini growled. Hermione and Ginny picked up their pace and was just in time to see a Slytherin girl point her wand at Blaise and cry- "CRU-"
"I don't think you want to do that". Hermione said, her wand and Ginny's pointed at the Slytherin as they took in the scene in front of them. Draco Malfoy and Blaise Zabini were pinned against the wall as was Pansy Parkinson, who looked like she was doubling over in pain. A group of Slytherins were around them, wands pointed at the disowned three.
Once the mess had been cleared up and the three were securely back on their feet, Hermione spun around, not anticipating the short distance between herself and a certain blonde Slytherin. Her face was inches away from his and silvery blue eyes met chocolate brown ones.
There was something. She felt her throat go dry and he was unable to look away from her. Those eyes. They seemed too damn familiar. There was something within them. Some familiarity that he just couldn't place.
And his eyes? Oh, she could have sworn she had looked deeply into them before. Yet, that was impossible. Her mind had to be playing tricks on her. It was impossible.
They finally snapped out of it, both looking away at the same time while she hurriedly stepped away from him.
"I- I hope you guys are okay", She stammered, putting more distance between them.
"Yes, thank you- uh- so much", Pansy said, "We owe you one." Her voice, Hermione thought, it was... God, she must have hit her head real hard when she fell in the library yesterday!
Ginny smiled- "You do."
"She's right, we do", Blaise nodded, "Thank you", He held his hand out and still in a slight daze, Hermione shook it, Ginny after her.
Hermione turned around slightly and realized that Draco was still staring at her intensely.
"We should- uh -go.." Hermione hastily said, averting her eyes from his gaze,"Harry and Ron are probably waiting for us..."
"I think three of these belong to you", Ginny said, holding out the wands. The three stepped forward and picked up their respective ones.
"I guess we'll see you around." Hermione said, "Try and keep out of trouble, yeah?"
As Draco watched them turn and leave, he realized he hadn't said anything. Hadn't even showed gratitude. He finally found his voice, cleared it and said, "Uh, Granger... and uh- Weasley..."
The two turned around, surprise evident on their faces.
"Finally found your tongue, Malfoy?" Hermione asked, finding a smile on her face for some unknown reason.
Draco smiled slightly back, but it still held his signature smirk. "Guess so... uh- thank you."
Hermione nodded, making eye contact with him for a second but looking away almost immediately. What in hell, she shook her head internally but smiled at the three one last time before taking Ginny's hand and leaving.
* * *
"Really, Harry? Do we HAVE to?" Ron whined, frowning.
"Come on, Ron", Harry said, putting his toast down and standing up. Ron muttered something along the lines of "Stupid Slytherins" and "Bloody courteous Griffindors" before following Harry.
The two boys walked over to Slytherin table and came to stand in front of Draco, Pansy and Blaise, who were sitting mostly by themselves.
"Uh, hi." Harry greeted, awkwardly.
"Hello." Blaise said, his eyebrows raised. "Is there something we can help you with?"
"Yes. I mean, no. I mean, well, if you want." Harry stuttered, understanding why it had usually been Hermione or Ginny who did the talking and socializing. "What I mean is that- there's place at the Griffindor table." He looked at them and they looked back, eyebrows still raised, waiting for further explanation.
"Good on Griffindor, then?" Pansy said, highly confused.
"What he means is that you seem awfully uncomfortable here and if you'd like you can come sit with us." Ron said, his words coming out quickly so he could get it over with.
"Oh. You- you want us to sit with you?" Pansy asked. She looked at her best friends. "Can we?" They shrugged. She turned to the two Griffindors again. "Are you sure?" And when they nodded, the three outcasts stood up and followed them to their table. And there began the start of something new.
* * *
"Malfoy? Are you- are you alright?" Hermione asked, taking a step closer to the boy kneeling in front of the fire.
"Get out, Granger." He growled, his eyes squeezed shut tightly.
"But- you don't- it might help for you to talk." Hermione said in a small voice, wanting to help him somehow. After what he had done for her the previous week at camp- taking her back to the Manor and saving whatever remained of her dignity- she wanted to repay him somehow.
"I don't want to talk. And if I did, it wouldn't be to you." Draco grit out, opening his eyes and staring into he fire.
Okay, that hurt a little bit, she admitted to herself. "I just want to help..."
"You cant always help, Granger. You cant always be a hero. I'm not some sorry case you can work on either. So just get out."
"I'm sorry..." She swallowed hard and turned to leave the common room when she heard a ragged intake of breath and the crumpling of a sheet of paper.
"He's out." A throaty voice said from behind her. She spun around to see him with his head cradled in his hands. She kept silent. "My father got out of Azkaban."
Hermione gasped and her hand flew to her mouth. "He- he escaped?" He shook his head and turned to look at her. Her heart broke at the look in his eyes- defeated, scared.
"He's under house arrest. But he's out." Draco rasped out, his breathing growing uneven. Tears shined in his eyes and he looked away from her, ashamed. She found her feet moving to their own accord and she was soon standing beside him and then kneeling down.
"When did you find out?" She asked softly. He handed her a letter silently and she scanned it, reading about how they had released Lucius Malfoy from Azkaban and instead put him under house arrest because of cooperation and good behavior and minimal evidence for his crimes.
"Just now." He said, sitting down with his knees pulled up to his chest. She placed a hesitant hand on his shoulder and when he didn't move to shrug it away, she relaxed. "I thought we were free from him. My mother, she..." He shook his head and she saw tears glistening in his eyes.
"You are free from him, Malfoy. He's-"
She froze, thinking she had said something wrong or was going to anyway, which he had anticipated. Or maybe he didnt want to hear what she had to say...
"Don't call me Malfoy." He whispered. "It reminds me of him. Please, don't." Her heart shattered a little and she felt tears rise to her eyes.
"Okay." She nodded, listening to her own voice crack. "I won't. You're Draco. You can never be Lucius. You never were, you never will be. You're so much better than he is. A much bigger man than he ever was or ever will be."
He turned to her and raised his hand and her eyes widened and then she squeezed them shut.
"I- I won't hurt you." She heard him say brokenly and that was when she felt his hand on her face, his fingers lightly brushing something wet from her cheek. She stared into his eyes and felt more tears gather in her own. "I would never hurt a girl..."
"I know." She nodded, truly believing it.
"I'm not evil..." He said and blinked rapidly as his arm dropped back to his side.
"I know." She said, feeling the tears slip out onto her cheeks. "You're a lot of things, Draco, but you're not evil. You're definitely not and don't you think so for even a second. You are not your father."
He looked back at her again. "Do you do that often?" He asked, his voice still hoarse.
"Do I do what often?" She asked, unable to stem the tide of tears at the sight of his vulnerability.
"Cry for others." He stared at her, taking her in. From her wet eyelashes to the firelight reflecting off her dark brown curls.
She sniffed and wiped at her face, smiling weakly. "I don't like seeing people hurt."
"Even Draco Malfoy?" He asked, a hint of a smile playing at the corner of his lips.
Her smile didn't leave her face as she sat down more comfortably, wrapping her arms around her knees and resting her cheek against her knees to look at him. "Draco Malfoy should never cry so- especially him."
He stared at her, unable to fathom how anybody could be so selfless. "Thank you..."
Her eyes sparkling as she turned to the fire and watched the flames dance around.
"Be careful, Draco, you grow any softer and I might think you're attracted to me."
* * *
The group looked up as Ginny burst out laughing from the window, a letter in her hands.
"What's going on?" Neville asked, putting his cards down.
Blaise slammed down his cards and exclaimed, "I win!"
"Blaise, you don't put your cards down in Bluff..." Hermione said, tiredly, handing him his cards back. "You need to get rid of all of them." She had been trying to teach Ginny, Draco, Blaise, Pansy, Neville and Luna how to play muggle Bluff.
"Oh." Pansy said, frowning and glancing at her cards. "In which case, I'm not even close to winning."
"That's because you'd smile every time you bluffed." Draco laughed and Hermione smiled. He had, surprisingly enough, been the only one to have properly and quickly grasped the rules of the game.
"So, Gin, what's going on?" Hermione called to Ginny, who had a large smile on her face, still reading the letter in her hands. "Is it Harry?" She nodded and ran to Hermione and placed the letter in front of her, pointing out a particular section. Hermione read it, her eyes widening and a grin appearing on her face. She looked from the letter to Pansy, then to Ginny, then back to Pansy and soon the two girls were laughing once again.
"I'm sorry, is there something funny?" The black haired girl asked, placing her cards aside.
"I think you'd be delighted to know that your sister has found a boyfriend in Hogwarts." Hermione said, calming down a bit.
"What?! Who?! Let me see that!" Pansy jumped to her feet and snatched the letter from Hermione's fingers. She read through the letter, cringing at the parts that she was not supposed to read and finally her eyes settled on the relevant bit. "NO!" She exclaimed, disbelief etched on to her face.
"Who is it, Weasley?" Draco scoffed, smirking. The three girls stared at him and soon he realized what it was on their faces. Wonder. Wonder as to how he knew. "No! You're joking! Weasley? As in- your red head tall, lanky Weasel?"
Pansy nodded numbly at the entire room burst out laughing.
"Oh, this is too good!" Blaise laughed, almost falling off the couch. "Hayley and Weas- Weasley! A couple?!"
"And they're pretty serious according to Harry. He adopts table manners when around her." Ginny said, causing them to burst into a new fit of laughter.
"That is bloody serious!" Neville said.
"I think I'm going to be sick." Pansy said, a green tinge to her palor.
* * *
"But it's not schizophrenia, right?" Hermione asked her aunt June in the kitchen of her house.
"It's not." June shook her head, her straight brown hair movie side to side in her ponytail. "He's got a mild malady. I don't think it's a completely- uh- muggle malady. Did I get that right?" Hermione nodded, gesturing for her to go on. "I think it's a semi-Wizarding malady and that's why it's different."
"But the Wizarding hospital couldn't recognize it." Hermione said, turning to look through the kitchen doorway to the living room where Blaise was lying asleep on the sofa and Pansy and Draco were seated on the couch beside him, Pansy silently sobbing and clutching her bruised arm.
"You're sure that he didn't know what he was doing?" June asked, staring at the scene too.
"He grabbed her, Aunt June. He grabbed Pansy and slammed her against a damned wall. He would never ever hurt her- he- he loves her." Hermione finished softly. "I'm sure he didn't know what he was doing."
"Have the symptoms matched?" June asked, looking out of the kitchen window. Hermione did so too.
"Yes. He's not been with us much and when he is, he's always angry or frustrated. He barely sleeps or eats anymore. He's been seeing things that aren't there and hearing things that no one else has. Most of the symptoms match. But schizophrenia..."
"It's not schizophrenia, Hermione." June shook her head. "It doesn't seem strong enough to be."
"But it can be cured?" She asked, pressing her forehead against the cool glass of the window on the back door of the kitchen.
"It can." June nodded. "I will help him. And I'll give you medicines which he needs to take regularly."
She scoffed. "Medicines."
"Hermione, I know how you feel about this but-"
"But what?" She snapped, spinning around. "Did they work the last time?" Her aunt didn't respond. "Did it, Aunt June? Did it help him?"
"That was different." Her aunt said softly.
Hermione shook her head, feeling tears rise to her eyes. "That was no different."
"I promise you that I'll-"
"You promised the last time!" Hermione cried, her cheeks steadily growing wetter. "You promised you would help him! Peter was just twelve! He was goddam twelve and he died! Why? Because he thought he was somebody else! His mind took over him and then what? We find that he's been run over by a car while he was roaming streets he shouldn't have been roaming aimlessly and alone. He was twelve, Aunt June! Twelve! That was my cousin!"
"Hermione..." June reached out to touch her shoulder but Hermione took a step back. "Please. He was beyond help. We realized too late. But Blaise- he can be helped."
"It's been four years. Four years since he died. I haven't forgotten it. I have forgiven it but I haven't forgotten it." Hermione shook her head, turning away from the older lady of thirty two.
"I know. While I haven't forgotten it, sometimes I don't think I've forgiven myself either. I will help him, Hermione. I won't let him go." With that, she heard June's footsteps leave the kitchen. With that, she let herself break down.
Break down for the innocent boy who had been attacked by a disease that was found out too late to be cured. Break down for the boy who had done nothing to deserve the terrible death he faced. Break down for the boy lying outside, who had not a clue that the same disease had probably invaded his own mind.
The sob that had been barred by her tight lungs made its way past her throat and past her lips and she found herself crying like she hadn't cried in a long time. She heard sobbing from outside and knew it was Pansy. She knew they had heard the entire conversation and they had heard her cousin's fate. Heard her breaking down.
Her feet carried her forward and she soon found herself clinging to Pansy tightly. Heart-wrenching sobs tore through their lips and Hermione felt pain. An unbelievable amount of it. She felt a forehead press against her's and she opened her tear-filled eyes to meet Draco's, who had one hand gripping Pansy's shoulder and the other cupping Hermione's cheek. Tears shone brightly in his eyes as he slipped his fingers into her hair and held the back of her head, his forehead against her's as she cried. As they cried. For each other, for Peter, for their best friend.
* * *
Blaise stared at them from the doorway of the check-up room in the Muggle Hospital June had been bringing him to. Hermione felt Pansy's fingers grip her hand tightly and Ginny her arm. Draco stood on the other side of Pansy, awaiting- like them- news.
"Im going to be fine." The dark haired boy said, a smile growing on his face. Pansy let out a relieved cry before throwing herself into his arms and clutching him to her tightly, never wanting to let go. Ginny released a shaky breath and hugged Hermione tightly. She felt a hand slip into her's and looked to see Draco smiling at Blaise and and Pansy, who still hadnt released each other.
Ginny let go of Hermione to go and hug Blaise and just when she was free, she felt herself being pulled into a hug and was surprised to feel Draco's arms around her.
"Hug me back or I'm going to be very humiliated." He said into the crook of her neck, his breath ghosting over her skin. She swallowed hard and put her arms around his neck, hugging him back. "Thank you."
"He's my friend too. I would never let him go." She said, shaking her head against his and holding him a little tighter. "Never."
He let go when he saw somebody waiting for her, glancing around at everything but them.
"Somebody's waiting for you." He said, splitting apart from her. She looked puzzled before turning around and seeing her Aunt standing there. In a second, she was holding tightly to her.
"I'm sorry about what I said. Thank you, Aunt June." Hermione said and felt her Aunt's arms grow tighter.
"I would never have let him go."
* * *
"Harry!" Hermione squealed as Harry took her into his embrace. Ginny hugged her brother and then they swapped, Hermione hugging Ron.
"How are you guys?" Hermione asked, a large grin on her face.
"We're brilliant." Harry smiled, "How about you?"
"We're perfect." Ginny said, her fingers laced with Harry. "We missed you though."
"Don't lie, Ginny, you didn't miss them at all." Pansy laughed. "Just like my sister didn't miss me." Her arm was linked with Hayley's. "She was too busy with a certain someone else." Hayley blushed and Ron looked away, embarrassed.
"Oh, look at them. Blushing. Adorable." Draco drawled, joining the group. He nodded at the boys. "Potter, Weasley." The nodded back in greeting.
"Potter, Weasley." Hermione mimicked, annoyed. "What happened to the concept of first names?" She threw her arms in the air, frustrated. "And we don't even hate each other anymore."
"Speak for yourself." Draco grunted and she swat him on his arm.
"You know you don't, Draco." Hermione laughed when he scowled, though it held no malice.
As they begun walking towards the Great Hall, Draco and Hermione still bickering playfully, Harry leaned towards Ginny and said, "Is it just me or have those two grown very close?"
Ginny smiled and watched as her best friend shrugged off the arm the blonde Slytherin had placed around her shoulders and glared at him. "Oh, Harry, you have no idea how close."
* * *
"Wine, Hermione?" Blaise asked, holding the bottle up for her. She shook her head. "Why not, though? I know you don't drink often, but come on! It's Pansy and my engagement dinner!"
"Obviously she can't take wine, no preg-" Ron froze, his eyes widening. Hermione felt her throat and lungs constrict and closed her eyes just as everybody processed what Ron had just blurted out and stared at her.
"Hermione?" Pansy breathed and Ginny, Harry and Ron looked at her worriedly, knowing that she really didn't need this right now.
Hermione opened her eyes slowly and the first thing she saw was Draco, whose eyebrows were furrowed together as he stared at her, his mouth slightly open. She felt tears well up in her eyes and she wiped her hands hastily on a napkin before whispering an "Excuse me, please" and hurrying towards the restaurant's floo network. She stepped in and called her mother's address out. The house was empty because her mother had gone out of town.
She landed heavily on the sofa, her hand across her mouth. No! He wasn't supposed to find out! He wasn't! She was supposed to deal with it by herself until it was impossible to avoid! She pointed her wand at the floo network and blocked out any incomings.
The doorbell rung and she froze. No... No... She could hear him pound against the door and the rain pound against the windows.
She stood up shakily and went to the door and opened it only to see Draco standing there, drenched thanks to the heavy rain.
"Is it mine?" He breathed, stepping into the house. He stared at her and she stared back.
"Is it, Hermione?" He asked, his hands on her shoulders. She stepped away from him and his arms fell to his sides.
She whispered, her voice breaking, "Whose else could it be?"
* * *
She jumped to her feet, hastily wiping at her eyes and watched as Draco strode into the house.
"Are you hurt?" He demanded and she seemed incapable of speaking all of a sudden. He moved closer to her and held her face in his hands. "Did he hurt you? Pansy told me..."
"He only did what she saw- grabbed my shoulders and shook me." She responded, tears in her eyes. His hands slipped from her face to her shoulders and rested lightly there, his thumbs moving over her sleeved skin. Just then did she notice the dried red substance on his knuckles. She grabbed his hand and pulled it in front of her to inspect it. She looked up, silently asking him. "I may have visited Rogers."
"You- you did what?" Hermione stuttered, staring at his bloody knuckles.
"I went to his office as soon as Pansy told me and I- kind of got mad."
"Kind of?!" Hermione exclaimed, running her fingers over the blood.
"Okay, I got really mad. I may have punched him and broken his nose." He mumbled.
"Why would you do such a thing?!" She exclaimed, stepping away from him.
"Why wouldn't I?! He asked you to lose the baby, Hermione! Our baby! He then proceeded to manhandle you and you thought I'd just to sit around when I found out?! You- you mean the world to me... Yell all you want but there's not a thing I wouldn't do for you. And if someone's so much as touched you wrongly..." He shook his head, not completing his sentence. And after months, she found herself wrapped tightly in his embrace.
* * *
He marched straight up to her and she watched, standing completely still. Ignoring the fact that her mother was sitting there on the sofa with Ginny, he placed his hand at the back of her neck and pressed his lips against her's. His other arm went around her waist, refusing to allow her to escape if she tried. But she didn't. She stayed exactly where she was, beginning to respond slowly.
It had been two months since she had Rick had broken up and Draco had barely let her out of his sight. She had tried staying away from him but as her lips moved with his, she knew it was impossible.
"I love you." He said, pulling away enough to say the words against her mouth. "I love you so much and I can't stop loving you no matter how much I try."
"I love you too." She found herself whispering, her hands resting against his chest, feeling comfortable and completely content after a long time.
* * *
"Hey, everyone." Draco said, scratching the back of his head nervously as every of the three thousand eyes landed on him- some annoyed, some confused and some amused. "No, this isn't a part of the concert and I'm very sorry to have disturbed it." He glanced at the singer from whom he had taken the mike from. The singer smirked and gestured for him to go on. "Today's actually a really special day for me. At least, I'm hoping it'll be. There's this girl." He smiled as people in the large audience whistled.
"She's here actually. I've been planning this for a long time but I couldn't find the... Right moment. I didn't want to do it in the usual way- dinner and all. She's really special and she deserves something as special as her." More whistling followed by someone screaming, "Where is she then?!"
"She's going to kill me for this but-" Draco pointed to their gang, who were seated at the center of the crowd. "Hermione Granger." Hermione's hand flew to her mouth and she ducked her head as everybody turned their heads or craned their necks to get a glimpse of her.
"She's my special girl. Right there." Draco said, his voice growing a bit softer."Hermione Granger. Brightest witch of Hogwarts. Brightest witch ever. I've known her for thirteen years now. I was eleven when I met her and I hated her all the way till I was eighteen. But I've had the most brilliant time the past three years. And- damn, I suck at this." He laughed nervously.
"You made me someone entirely different, Hermione. You made me good. You helped me in ways nobody ever could and I will forever be grateful for that. We have had our ups and downs but the fact that we're here, right now, together- it says everything. It shows how strong we are. I don't want to come to your house everyday to see you anymore."
Hermione's eyebrows furrowed together, confusion in her eyes. What was he saying? He didn't want to see her anymore?
"I don't want to have to wait to see you in the morning." He said, his expression growing serious as everybody in the audience disappeared and only she remained. "I want to wake up with you in the morning. I want to be with you for every moment of my life... I want to be with you forever. For as long as forever lasts and even after."
The crowd "Aww'd" and had smiles on their faces, just as his friends did. Hermione, on the other hand, was completely shocked, rooted to her spot with tears in her eyes. She watched as Draco pulled out a box from his coat pocket and taking the mike off it's stand, he knelt down on one knee and said, "You complete me, Hermione and I can't live without you. Will you marry me?" He opened the box to reveal a glittering simple ring with three small diamonds set one beside the other at the center.
There was silence. And then-
"SAY YES!" Somebody in the crowd cried and Draco smiled slightly. Soon, the entire crowd was cheering and chanting, "Say yes! Say yes! Say yes!"
A smile broke out on Hermione's face and she released a soft laugh, the happy tears finally streaming down her cheeks. She stood up and the crowd fell silent once again as she made her way to the stage. She walked on to it and Draco stood up when she came to stand in front of him. She stepped close to him, their bodies almost touching. And then-
"Yes. There's nothing more I'd want in this world than to marry you, Draco."
* * *
"WELL THEN JUST GO SIGN THE DAMNED DIVORCE PAPERS!" Hermione cried, feeling the remains of her heart shatter completely. She loved him...
"I WILL", He screamed back.
"GOOD. You can go be happy with your dear bitch and I'll live my own life. WITHOUT YOU!" Hermione yelled. She lowered her voice and hissed, "I have other people in my life. People who actually love and care for me. I'm sure they'll help me take care of the baby."
"If it has'nt occured to you yet, Hermione, Aaron is no longer a baby!" Draco said, not understand why this conversation was suddenly so difficult. Was this really the end? "And you wont get to keep him all the time... I'm still his father and-"
"I was'nt talking about that baby..." Hermione shook her head, her tears slipping out beneath her closed lids. God, she was so tired...
She placed her hands on her stomach, effectively sending the message to Draco and successfully silencing him instantly. His eyes widened and he stared at her. Not Aaron... Not that baby...
"Oh Merlin... Hermione... How- when..."
"I don't blame you for not noticing. You were a little preoccupied with other matters. Other matters than your own wife." Her throat and lungs constricted painfully and she buried her face in her hands, unable to take it anymore... It hurt so much...
"Oh Merlin...I-I-" He was truly lost for words as he stared helplessly at her. Was he supposed to go forward? What was he supposed to say?
"Save it, Draco. Just don't...", Hermione shook her head. She turned away from him and headed up the stairs.
She stopped suddenly at the top of the stairs and said, "I really do hope you are happy, Draco."
She ran away to her own room, tears silently streaming down her cheeks.
* * *
"I love you."
Draco looked at her, eyes wide and mouth open with surprise. And just like so many times before, it's like they were the only ones there. Ginny came up to them and took Aaron from Hermione and the others moved away from the group quietly.
He stared at her and knew that there was no better time than now. He retrieved a light purple velvet box from his cost pocket and when she didn't look down, he whispered her name. She blinked, falling out of her trance and releasing a breath, she looked down at the box.
"Marry me." Her breath got caught in her throat and she felt tears rise to her eyes.
"I know I ruined us. Dammit, I know I did. And there is nothing that I regret more than the past four months. I put you through hell and I can never apologize for that enough. And yet- despite all what I put you through, you didn't let me go. You still took me back and you still... Loved me. I don't know what I was doing and you have no idea how sorry I am. But if there's one thing I realized, it's that- I can't live without you. No matter how much I try, I can't. I love you and I'll love you for a thousand years more. I'm so sorry I ruined everything..."
Hermione shook her head, closing her eyes tight and feeling tears slip out beneath her lids and onto her cheeks. "Everyone makes mistakes, Draco. It's only human. You fixed whatever happened and that's what matters."
"I ruined our marriage three months ago and I want to take that back. I want to fix it. I want to- I just want everything to be perfect."
She placed a hand on his cheek and stepped closer to him. "It is perfect."
"I ruined our marriage and I want to give you everything I can once again. I want to do it right this time." Draco then took a step behind and dropped down to one knee. Hermione's hand flew to her mouth and tears ran down her cheeks. "I love you in a way I've never loved anybody before. I love you so much that it drives me insane at times."
The countdown to midnight began to their left, voices calling out the seconds remaining. 50...
"I love you more and more everyday and there's not a day that I've regretting getting to know you. From after the war to Jawstens to Aaron to- to everything. I've never been one for romantic stories and sappy confessions and sentences but... Im willing to forgo that for you." He smiled and she did too, wiping at her tears with her hand. He opened the purple box and a simple silver ring with two thin bands running parallel with each other except at the center where they laced together sat at the center. "So Hermione Granger, will you spend the rest of our lives with me? Will you make a very lucky man tonight and allow me, for the second time in our lives, to make you my wife? Will you marry me?"
She stared at him through tear filled eyes, unable to react. It was all so overwhelming. Was her fairy tale really going to have a perfect ending after all?
"Hermione?" He asked and she gave her head a slight shake. She looked at him again. "My knee is kind of hurting..." She couldn't help but laugh and he grinned at her. "I can't promise that we won't fight, but I can promise that I'll love you forever and always. So will you?"
Hermione sank to her knees and knelt in front of him, their bodies close together. She removed the glove covering her left hand and held it out to him. "Without a doubt."
Twelve seconds to midnight...
He slipped the ring above the one that was already sitting on her ring finger.
"I was fortunate enough to be proposed to twice. Fortunate enough to have gotten married to the same man twice." She said, smiling through her tears. Wishes of a new year were being called around to their side. "Fortunate to have had the chance to fall in love to the same man twice over in the same lifetime. Happy New year, Draco."
"Right back at'cha." He grinned and leaning forward, he pressed his lips against her's.
Her arms went around his neck and his around her back, holding her tightly to him. He was never going to let her go ever again. Never.
WOW. WOW. WOWWWWW. That was insane! That was... I'm so overwhelmed right now, haha. I hope you are too! That was basically living the reality. It was everything we couldn't see in The Other Reality along with two scenes played out as their real reality. I honestly don't know what to say right now! Damn! I'm really happy that I could finish this chapter so soon actually. I haven't been having the best time and things are pretty tough and weird right now but wow, this was.. Really something.
You guys are the absolute best and if there's a reason Ive come this far, it's you. Each and every one of you have been so supportive, it's been crazy.
There is still the epilogue remaining and my A/N there will be even longer, haha. Until then though, do do do review pleaseeeee! Second last chapter- even if you're not a frequent reviewer, do so this time! For TOR's sake! There's that box waiting right there for you!
Ive loved you for a thousand years, I'll love you for a thousand more :')
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