“Ron?” Harry asked, bewildered, when he turned around.
“Sorry I’m late. Got stuck at the office longer than I thought.” He was hanging up his coat on the rack on the wall, completely ignoring the presence of Draco and Hermione.
“You’re here?” Ginny asked, incredulously.
“Of course. I did get an invitation as well. One which I accepted, so it would have been quite rude to not show.”
“Personally, I think it was quite rude of you to accept it,” Draco drawled. Ron pretended not have heard a word.
“I didn’t think that you two would be back in time when I got the invitation, and I couldn’t just let them go without at least one of the very people they were celebrating. That would have been quite a ridiculous celebration. None of the people who actually won the War not showing up would have been disastrous. And considering that I work in the Ministry, it was practically an obligation.”
“We weren’t the ones that won the War, Ron,” Harry began.
“You wouldn’t have been the only one to show, Hermione would still be here,” Ginny said at the same time. She glared at her brother, when he pointedly ignored her as well.
“What do you mean, Harry? We found the Horcruxes, we destroyed them, and you killed Him. How did we not win It?”
Harry took a deep breath, and felt Ginny squeeze his shoulders gently as she held him in his seat.
“Now is not the time Ron. Just don’t say anything like that ever again,” he said, trying to remain calm. To anyone not paying close attention, he would have seemed so. In fact, he was barely containing his anger, allowing it to only cause his body to shake in fury as he clenched his fists.
“Why is now not the time? No one is going to overhear us, and we have plenty of time while we wait. Why not now?"
“Because you’re an idiot!” he shouted. “There were hundreds of people who fought in the War, hundreds of people who died for Merlin’s sake! Not to mention everyone who helped us survive along the way, even if it meant giving up their own lives. Had it not been for all of those people, who you obviously don’t care about, we couldn’t have done all the things we did. Had it not been for every single person who did anything in the fight, we would all be dead, and Voldemort would still be here, destroying more and more lives, and killing off the Muggles. The four of us did not win the War, all of those people out there did!” Ginny was standing next to him now, having let go of him when he began his rant. Hermione was staring into the corner of the room, tears threatening to fall from her eyes. Ron was raising his eyebrows at Harry, as if to say, “So what?”
Draco was staring intently at Harry Potter. The Boy Who Lived. The Chosen One. Here he was, in another moment to bask in his glory, and he wasn’t. He never wanted to. Being who he was had been a curse. He had felt the pressures of society to save the world. Everyone would have blamed him if they had not succeeded, and now everyone gave him the glory of winning. And he didn’t want it. Had they lost, he would have blamed only himself. He would have shared the blame with no one. But it was supposed to be due to him that they won, and he was supposed to take all the glory that went with it, much like he would have taken the blame. Yet here he was, furious with his best friend for trying to feel that glory. Here he was saying that he had been simply the biggest pawn of the game.
It really shed a new light on an old enemy.
“Ronald,” came Hermione’s quiet voice from right next to him. Ron turned to look at her for the first time that night.
“Ronald, just stop. We both know that Harry is right. Just because everyone else may think the way you do, doesn’t mean they should. We shouldn’t be celebrating our own accomplishments. We should be celebrating theirs. They did the bulk of the work.”
“Of course they did, there’s a hell of a lot more of them than us!” he interrupted.
“Ronald. We merely did what anyone else would have done.”
“No one else could have done it, Hermione! No one, and you damn well know it!”
“Anyone else could have done it!” she shouted back at him.
“How? We had the perfect combination of people, something no one else could have gotten if they tried!” he returned.
“Yes, the perfect combination, the bookworm, the true Gryffindor, and the dumbest git to ever walk the planet. That would have been real tough to replicate!”
“I am not the dumbest git to ever walk the planet!” he hollered in return.
“Yes, yes you are, Weasley. Now shut up. We’ll be having company any minute.”
“What the fuck are you doing here, Malfoy?” Ron sneered with disgust, finally, successfully distracted. There was a small knock on the door before Draco could respond.
“Right on time,” he replied with a small smile. He offered his arm to Hermione, “Shall we?” She nodded as she gently brushed the tears away. Harry offered his arm to Ginny, and the four stood as the door opened quietly.
“We’re ready for you,” said the man who had escorted the four people in earlier, “Ah, Mr. Weasley. I was under the impression you weren’t going to show.”
“A little misunderstanding,” he replied with a smile. It sickened Draco to think that, if nothing else, the boy was a phenomenal actor.
“I see, well, if you would all please follow me, it is time. The Minister has decided that he will find another time to speak with you as he has already entered the celbrations.” The group simply nodded.
Walking down the stairs, with Hermione on his arm, was one of those moments you really can’t describe in feeling. She was Hermione Granger, Golden Princess, and he was Draco Malfoy, Black Prince. The room was silent when they had been announced. She was the War Hero, and he was the Death Eater. She should not have been there with him. Ron Weasley should have had her arm. That was their eyes said. He should not have been any where near her, or this place. He was foul, while she was fragrant. He was filthy while she was pure. He was Evil, while she was Good.
He was nothing while she was everything.
“And now, let the festivities begin!” the Minister said happily from the top of the staircase. Immediately, house elves appeared, carrying trays of food and drink for those who were unable to get their own from the tables that lined the walls. Rather, for those who were unwilling.
Draco watched as Ron swept the floor for women to dance with. He never expected the boy knew how to dance.
“He really doesn’t,” Hermione said.
“Know how to dance. He really doesn’t know how to.”
“Did I say that out loud?” She nodded and took a sip from her drink. He smiled slightly as he looked over at Ginny and Harry.
“They seem to be doing just fine.” Again, she nodded. “They look really happy.” Another nod. After another few moments of silence, he questioned, “Hermione, what’s wrong?”
She sighed and stirred her drink. After a moment she replied, “Nothing and everything.”
“That doesn’t help me much.”
“I know. I just…. I don’t know.” She shook her head as if to shake off unwanted thoughts. He nodded and let the silence return. They weren’t dancing, and neither was going to suggest it. It was pointless; neither really wanted to be here.
As the hours passed, a few men came to ask for Hermione to join them in a dance. She respectfully declined all, telling them that she didn’t like to dance, that she never had. The whispers that had already begun, would forever be multiplied by her words. The words were no longer, why is she with him, they were now, what has he done to make her stay with him. The rumors continued to fly about the room, and the only people that should have cared, didn’t. The two that knew the truth didn’t hear a word, enraptured with each other as they were. The only other one who could have stopped them practically encouraged them to continued and expand.
As the hour approached two, and the party was still in full swing, Hermione turned to Draco and said, “I want to go home. I want to get my little girl and go home.”
He nodded quickly, but then stopped, “We told Mrs. Weasley that we would pick her up in the morning, I thought.”
“It is morning, in case you haven’t seen the clock, Draco.”
“I know, but it wouldn’t feel right to wake her up at this ungodly hour. And don’t tell me we don’t have to wake her. She would go mad if she woke up and Ella wasn’t there.”
Hermione sighed, sadly, “I know. I just miss her.”
“Who the in the world are you two talking about?” someone behind them said. Both turned around to see Rita Skeeter’s replacement: Lavender Brown. They shared a quick glance and Hermione nodded to him. With a smile, he replied, “Our daughter. Ariella Marie Malfoy, if you want to know. Now if you’ll excuse us, Hermione dear. We should really be getting home.” He once again offered her his arm, and she took it, smiling back at him.
“Please. I’m quite tired, and we have a long day ahead of us. It was nice seeing you again, Lavender,” Hermione said, nodding goodbye to her. With that, Draco Apparated them home.
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