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The next few weeks passed slowly. The injuries to Hermione’s arm and ribs had healed quickly, the ones to her spine and head more slowly. Draco spent every day and night with her. He only left when she insisted that he go back to their dorm to shower. He would swing by the Burrow each time he left, updating Harry and Ginny on her progress.

 

He ate with her, helping her to cut her food while her arm was still in the sling. He would brush through her hair each morning, something that Hermione loved. No one had brushed her hair for her since she was a small child. The memories of her childhood made her miss her parents terribly. She vowed to go to find them as soon as she finished her exams.  

 

She would tell Draco stories about her childhood. He was amazed at all things muggle. He never thought much of muggles, and therefore was amazed at just how little he knew of their world. Hermione promised to take him to the cinema soon. He could not wait to experience the thing she called a movie. She had explained about electricity and how it worked. He never seemed to get enough of her stories, and she was happy to share them with him. It somehow made it seem like her parents weren't half a world away when she talked about their times together.

   

Now that she was almost completely healed, the healers had decided she could go home the following day. She was to try to take it easy but she could return to classes the day after she went back. Hermione was grateful because the start of term had been two days before, and she did not want to get too far behind. Draco sat next to her bed, holding her hand as the healer gave them the good news and explained what she could and could not do. Hermione and Draco both blushed deeply when the healer said that she was not to engage in any sexual activity for at least one week. Not that I have to worry about that anyway, Hermione thought to herself.

 

Once the healer was gone, Hermione suggested that Draco go to Hogwarts and tell McGonagall of their plans to return to Hogwarts the following day. Draco agreed and kissed her soundly before leaving the room.

 

After walking into the hallway, it occurred to him that he had been in this hospital all of this time and had not gone to see his mother even once. He quickly made his way to the ward where Narcissa's room was. The sight that greeted him upon entering was so drastically different than the last time he had been there. It almost appeared to be a flat rather than a hospital room. The colors were warm and inviting, instead of bland and sterile. His mother was sitting on a navy blue couch, reading a book. The blanket he and Hermione had given her for Christmas was laying across her lap.

 

Sunlight poured through an open window onto her face. He was so pleased to see that her face held so much more life than before, there was a sparkle in her eyes and a slight blush on her cheeks. Her blonde hair was pulled up into a tight bun and she was wearing makeup.

 

Draco cleared his throat. She looked up at him and a huge smile came across her face. She immediately ran to him, pulling him into a bone crushing hug. Draco embraced his mother before pulling her out at arms length to look at her. "You look wonderful, mother." The frail look that she had the last time was long gone, replaced instead by the strong beautiful woman he knew his mother to be.

 

She seemed to be bursting with excitement. "I am going to be released tomorrow, Draco." Draco was pleased, but could not help but wonder where she would go.

 

"That is wonderful. I am very glad to hear it. Listen mother, I have to explain to you why I have not been to visit you in the last few weeks." His mother put her finger over his mouth and he stopped, wondering why she did not want to hear.

 

"No worries dear. Your aunt Andromeda has been here every day to visit with me. She brings Teddy some of the time and he is such a joy. I have not been lonely.  Also, the healers told me everything about what happened, love." She placed her hand on his cheek, sadness in her eyes. "I am so glad that Hermione is ok. I would like very much to go down to visit with her before I leave tomorrow, if that is ok with you?"

 

"Oh, of course. I think she would very much enjoy that. She is being released tomorrow as well. I actually am leaving to go discuss our return with McGonagall, so now would be a great time. I can show you to her room before I go, if you want?"

 

Narcissa smiled and nodded. They checked with the healers to make sure it was ok, then made their way to Hermione's room.

 

Draco entered first, his mother following closely behind. Hermione looked up from her book and smiled to see Narcissa looking so well compared with the last time he had seen her. Hermione stood up and made her way to the Malfoys. Narcissa took her completely off guard when she wrapped her arms around her and gave her a firm hug. Tears formed in the corners of Hermione's eyes at the gesture. She knew that Narcissa understood more than anyone how she felt, and she was glad for her affection.

 

"I am going to go meet with McGonagall now. I will leave you ladies to catch up." He smiled broadly at the notion. The two women he loved, together in one room. There is no way he could possibly be happier. He kissed his mother's cheek and Hermione's lips before leaving the room.

 

Narcissa followed Hermione to the hospital bed as they both sat. Narcissa took Hermione's hand in hers before speaking. "Hermione I am so sorry for what that evil man did to you. I am sorry you had to endure it. I understand how you are feeling and if you ever need to talk, I am here for you."

 

Hermione's words caught in her throat. She was so touched by the words of this woman. "Thank you so much. I appreciate you being here with me right now. I only wish you didn't have to be away from us after tomorrow. I do not know what our plans are after Hogwarts, but I know we can make sure we are near you."

 

Narcissa smiled. "Actually, I have a bit of news, Hermione. The headmistress has decided to offer me a position within the school." Hermione gasped, not because she thought Narcissa unworthy of the position, but purely from shock that Narcissa would accept such a job. Hermione always thought of her as the woman who stayed home, tending to her husbands needs, besides that she was pretty sure that the Malfoys were richer than rich and Narcissa had no real need to work at all.

 

"I will be teaching a new class being offered that focuses on culinary skills, from a wizarding perspective. It will be an optional course offered to students, with no NEWT exams. Draco was always very fond of my cooking. I bet you didn't know that." Narcissa seemed pleased with her new position and Hermione couldn't have been happier for her.

 

"That is so amazing, Cissy." Hermione paused. She hadn't meant to be so familiar with Narcissa, but she relaxed when she saw the smile come to Narcissa's face. "Does Draco know?"

 

Narcissa grinned even wider. "I believe that the headmistress will tell him today when he meets with her." Hermione tried without success to suppress a yawn. "I really should be going, dear. You need to rest." She stood and turned for the door. All of a sudden she stopped, turned around and pulled Hermione into another tight squeeze. Hermione tried to hold back the groan of pain from her newly healed rib cage. Narcissa pulled back sharply.

 

"Oh goodness, I am so sorry Hermione. I almost forgot you were newly healed." Hermione forced a smile and Narcissa left her in silence.

 

Hermione laid back on her bed, exhaling a long breath. Her newfound relationship with Narcissa was both unexpected and overwhelming. Despite the sharp pain in her ribcage, she couldn't have been happier about it.



 

After an hour or so, Draco came bursting into Hermione's room. "Hermione, you won't believe it. McGonagall has offered my mum a position at Hogwarts! She will be teaching culinary classes. I had nearly forgotten how much I love her cooking."

 

Hermione could not hold back the giggle that escaped her lips at hearing almost the exact same words that had come from his mother's mouth.

 

Draco looked at her, amused. "What? What's so funny?"

 

"Your mum already told me. I am so happy for her Draco. She seems very happy. And best of all, you will not have to be away from her." Draco looked so happy he could just burst. Hermione knew exactly why he was so happy. He had been constantly worrying about where his mother would go once she left St. Mungo's.

 

The couple chatted more about their return to Hogwarts the following day. They would be going along with his mother back to the castle.

 

As evening fell, a healer came in with a sleeping draught for Hermione, successfully ending their conversation. Hermione downed it quickly, ready for the next day to come. She quickly fell into a deep sleep, wrapped in Draco's arms.

 

Hermione awoke the next morning and turned over to find that Draco was not in her bed. At first she was worried, he had promised not to leave her ever again. She began to panic until she saw the parchment on his pillow.

 

My dearest love,

 

I hope to return before you wake. Just in case I don't, I wanted to leave you this note.

 

I have gone to help mother pack her things. We will be down to collect you around 9 so that we can all travel together back to Hogwarts.

 

I'll miss you every moment I am away, but my heart remains with you.

 

Your Draco xoxo

 

Hermione smiled at the note. She folded it and placed it in her robes for safe keeping. She glanced at the clock. 8:45, she had 15 minutes to be ready. She felt panic rising for the second time in as many minutes until she looked on the floor and saw all of her belongings, packed neatly and ready to go. She smirked at the gesture. Draco loved to take care of her. It was not something she was used to, but coming from him she loved it. She got up and dressed as Draco and Narcissa walked in the door.

 

Draco smiled at the sight of the woman he loved. "Ready love?" She nodded.

 

He kissed her quickly, shrinking down her belongings, and placing them into his robes, along with his mother's.  He took their hands, placing one in each of his before turning towards the door. The women looked at each other and smiled as they followed Draco from the room.


 

After arriving back at Hogwarts, Hermione and Draco helped get Narcissa settled into her dorm, before continuing to theirs. He laid their belongings on the floor, returning them to normal size. All of the other students from their year had returned but were still in class, so the common room was empty.

 

Draco turned to Hermione, a fire burning in his eyes. "Hermione, I am so sorry..." He began before her mouth met his, silencing him.

 

Hermione pressed her lips against his. She put her hands behind his head pulling his head towards her with all of her strength. She had missed this terribly, not that she had been in any condition to snog while at St. Mungo's. It had just been too long since she had been free to kiss him the way she wanted to.

 

Draco matched her emotion by kissing her back with all of his might. He had missed her as well, but had the fear and guilt over what had happened that he couldn't help but express as well. He quickly put his hands under her bum, pulling her face up level with his. She wrapped her legs around his waist as she deepened the kiss, her tongue invading his mouth. He slowly walked her towards the girls corridor, their mouths never parting. He nearly dropped her on the floor when her body passed through the doorway and his met the invisible wall.

 

They both laughed out loud as he slowly lowered her to the floor. "I will meet you in my room in 30 seconds." She said, running through the doorway to her room. She ran into her room, stripping off her shoes and socks before jumping onto her bed. Draco came in moments later and walked towards the bed, removing his shirt along the way.

 

Hermione was entranced at the sight of his bare chest and arms. She stared open mouthed as he climbed onto the bed beside her. "Like what you see?" Draco raised an eyebrow, his trademark smirk on his lips.

 

"You have no idea." It was all she could say before she again pulled his lips to hers. She ran her fingertips up his firm abdominal muscles and chest, over his shoulders before grasping his biceps. She pushed gently backwards until he was flat on his back. She quickly lifted her leg over his body, and shifted her weight so she was hovering over him, still connected at the lips. She pulled her head up, sitting back on him.

 

Draco's hands traveled from her thighs, up her sides, beneath her shirt. He moved his hands slowly upward, dragging her shirt up with them. His fingertips roamed, grazing every inch of her sides and back until he was at her shoulders. She raised her arms as he removed her top. His fingers made their way to her back once again, undoing her bra and tracing a line down her arms, removing it completely.

 

Hermione blushed under his stare. She felt so exposed. Her shyness quickly burned away as she read the look of appreciation in Draco's eyes as he appraised her naked upper body. He allowed his hands to roam from her bare shoulders, down her front, gently massaging as they went. Hermione closed her eyes and let her head fall back, feeling his touch.

 

Draco put his hands on her hips, easily lifting her off of him, and lowering onto the bed beside him. He then placed his knees between her legs, supporting his weight on his arms. She felt the muscles in his biceps ripple as they contracted, supporting his weight.

 

Draco's mouth picked up where his hands left off. He kissed and gently sucked every inch of her neck and chest. Hermione's hips involuntarily raised towards him. He pushed against her, his perfect control slipping.

 

"Hermione, wait." Draco said through gritted teeth. He did not want to do this yet and if he went any further, he wouldn't be able to stop. Hermione looked at him wide eyed as he sat back from her body on his knees, still between her legs. She pulled herself back, into a sitting position facing him.

 

"What's the matter, Draco? I'm healed enough. I can take it." Draco took her hands in his, kissing each one in turn.

 

"It isn't that, love. I mean of course when we do go all the way, I do not want you to hurt in any way. But, I mean I don't think it's the right time. I love you with all of my heart, and believe me I want you. I just want to make sure you are ready." Hermione opened her mouth to object but was interrupted by Draco. "Hermione, I want to ask you something. Have you ever?"

 

Hermione's eyes fell. She shook her head. "Draco, just because I haven't had sex does not mean that I am not ready. I know what I feel. I know that I love you and I want this."

 

Draco's eyes fell down as well. "Hermione, I want you to know that I have done this before. With Pansy and with Astoria." Hermione looked at him, one eyebrow raised in disbelief. Draco tried not to smile. "Yes, just the two of them. When we did it, it was because it was what was expected of me. That I would have sex with them. It was not intimacy. I did not love them. I did not care how they felt about any of it. I just did it. I..."

 

Hermione did not wait for an opening to speak this time. "Draco, I do not care what you did with other girls. I believe when you say you did not love them. I know you do love me. I do not doubt your motives and I know that you are not with me for that reason, otherwise you would have been gone long before now. If it is important to you, we can wait. I love you, Draco Malfoy." She grabbed her shirt, pulling it over her head.

 

"What do you want to do today then? We do not start our classes until tomorrow." Hermione said when they had both returned to the common room fully dressed.

 

"Why don't we talk about what our plans are for after Hogwarts. Exams will be here before we know it."

 

He conjured two glasses of hot chocolate and they sat down on the couch. "I was actually hoping to join the ministry. I don't know which department just yet. I just know I want to help put the bad guys away. Speaking of, I got an owl from the ministry last night. They want me to testify against my father at his trial."

 

"How are you feeling about that?" Hermione knew he was happy to see his father put away, but knew that since this was his second serious offense, he would probably be sentenced to the dementor's kiss.

 

"I am happy to help. Really. After first my mother, then you were so nearly taken from me by that man, I can think of nothing more satisfying than making sure it never happens again." He pulled her closer, resting her head against his chest. "How about you? What are your plans?"

 

"I also plan to work for the ministry. I want to work in the department of law enforcement. I was thinking of being a lawyer." Hermione played with her fingers waiting for his response.

 

"I think you will make an amazing lawyer!"

 

She looked up at him smiling "Do you really think so?"

 

"Hermione Granger, I have never seen anyone who can win an argument with you, unless you want them to. Believe me, I have tried." He pulled her back down onto his chest, running his fingers through her hair.

 

"I was thinking. What do you think of us sharing a flat near the ministry once we leave here? We have already been practically living together here." They had been taking turns sleeping in the other's room since the others had moved in. "I honestly don't think I could manage waking up without you next to me."

 

"Draco, I think that is a great idea. We can start watching the prophet for flats for rent."

 

"Actually, I kind of already had one picked out. I hope that's ok. We can go see it today if you would like? I'm sure we can convince McGonagall."

 

Hermione jumped up, excited. "Who says we have to tell her?" She had a wicked grin on her face.

 

"Hermione, I do believe the Slytherin in me is rubbing off on you. How do you plan on getting out of the castle without McGonagall knowing?"  Draco looked at her in admiration. Even he had no idea how she planned to manage this.

 

Hermione leaned down, giving him a quick kiss. "It's a surprise. I am going to go change. Be here in 15 minutes, ready to go see our new place!" She raced from the room.

 

15 minutes later Hermione emerged from the girls' dorm corridor, Harry's cloak in hand.

 

"What is that?" Draco was intrigued to say the least.

 

"This, is an invisibility cloak. It is the best of its kind. Harry let me borrow it. We can walk beneath it to the edge of the grounds. Then you can apparate me to our new flat." She was practically bouncing with excitement. Breaking the rules was not something she usually enjoyed, but she couldn't help but love the feel of the adrenaline running through her veins.

 

She wrapped the cloak around them once they were outside. They traveled closely together beneath the cloak. The cloak that had easily covered Hermione, Harry and Ron in their early years, was not quite big enough to cover Hermione and Draco, given his broad stature. Hermione decided the best way to handle it was for her to jump up and wrap her limbs around him, pressing their bodies together beneath the cloak.

 

Carrying her this way, Draco made his way past the wards and apparated them without warning, the cloak still covering them.

 

They landed on a rather busy street, a few blocks from the visitors entrance to the ministry. The buildings surrounding them were tall, and people were coming and going from them, all too busy with their own thoughts to notice the two appear from under the cloak. "It's in this building." Draco took her hand, leading her to the tallest, most expensive looking building.

 

Hermione followed him, overwhelmed by the beauty of the landscaping in front of the building.  A uniformed doorman held the door for them. "Good evening Mr. Malfoy."  The man nodded at the two of them, wearing a genuine smile.  Hermione gave a shy smile in return.

 

The inside of the lobby was majestic. There were white marble floors that matched the top of the reception desk. The rest of the desk and all of the furniture were dark wood. Behind the desk sat a beautiful muggle woman with long brown hair and blue eyes. She smiled at them as the doorman had. "Are you here to show her the flat? She is going to love it!" She asked Draco, obviously excited for the two of them.

 

Draco blushed but nodded. "This way, love." Draco led her to the lift.  After getting in, he pressed his wand to the top button with a PH on it. Realization dawned on Hermione. "Penthouse?"

 

Draco nodded, judging her reaction. "Yes Hermione. My family owns this building. My father used to use the penthouse for business that he wished to keep from me and mother. When he went to Azkaban the first time, I had someone clean it out completely. It has sat empty since then. I always planned to move here after leaving Hogwarts, but it really is too big for just one person. I would be honored if you would share it with me, Hermione." She squeezed his hand tightly as the lift went higher.

 

The doors opened directly into a sitting room. It was a beautiful room. It was completely empty, but for a huge fireplace on the far wall. On either side of the fireplace were sliding glass doors that led out onto a balcony that overlooked the city. The floors were made of dark wood, so dark it was almost black. The ceiling was high, enchanted to look like the sky outside and held a beautiful crystal chandelier.  "I thought Hogwarts was the only place with a ceiling like that."

 

The whole room had the feel of being outside. Hermione stepped out of the lift and into the space. She felt an arm on her back and looked up to see Draco's grey eyes penetrating hers, waiting for her reaction. She chose not to say anything just yet.

 

He led her further into the sitting room and to the right slightly. There was an island counter around the corner that separated the sitting area from the kitchen. There were 4 silver bar stools with black leather seats in front the island. Beyond this area there was a large open dining room that was big enough to house a table for 12 at least. Behind the island there was an all stainless steel kitchen. Hermione was overwhelmed by the idea of cooking in it, so turned the other direction to a set of doors on the far wall.

 

The first led to a walk-in coat closet. Who in the world has a walk-in coat closet? She thought to herself before closing that door and opening the next.

 

This room was a rather large bathroom that was completely white with silver fixtures on the sink and shower. She left and again went to the next room.

 

This door led to a large master bedroom, there were two more doors on the opposite wall from her. The bedroom had plush black carpet and stark white walls. The wall to her right was lined with windows and had a sliding door that led out to a separate balcony. She opened the first door off of the master bathroom and closed it again quickly. If the walk-in coat closet had been too much, this closet was absolutely ridiculous. It was massive. There is no way I could ever fill up a tenth of that closet, much less half, She quickly forgot the closet, though when she opened the final door. It was a bathroom alright, it had the necessary fixtures, but if not for those, she would have guessed it to be a public pool. The bathtub was large enough to hold the entire Gryffindor Quidditch team. It was completely white, like the smaller bathroom with the same silver fixtures. There was a separate shower with dual shower heads that faced each other. She blushed at the thoughts that crept into her mind about a shower for two people. She quickly left that room and walked back into the bedroom, hoping Draco did not notice the rose color of her cheeks.

 

She walked into the middle of the bedroom, closing her eyes and turning her face towards the ceiling. She took several deep breaths attempting to take it all in. She startled when she felt Draco's strong arms wrap around her waist from behind. "What are you thinking?" He whispered in her ear.

 

"Draco, it is beautiful. I really don't know what to think. I do know that there is no way I will be able to afford to split the rent with you. Not on an entry-level ministry position salary, and that is if I get a job there."

 

"Shhh, love. I told you. My family owns this building. So, there is no rent to pay. Of course, if you do not want to live with me here, I understand. We can find somewhere else. Wherever you like. All that matters is that I am with you."

 

Hermione turned to face him. "I love it Draco. I would love to live with you here."

 

He put his arms further around her waist, lifting her off her feet and spinning her around. "I am so happy you like it! I left it empty because I thought you might want to help me pick the furniture and decor. My mother said she would love to help us, if you would like her to."

 

"She knows already?" Draco nodded, smiling.

 

"I would love for her to go with us. I do have a question though. The other door, is it a guest bedroom?"

 

Draco was confused why she would ask this. He thought she may want Harry and Ginny to come stay with them. "Yes, and it has it's own bathroom off of it as well. Why do you ask?"

 

"I know your mother now has a permanent home at Hogwarts, but I thought we should set it up for her if she ever wants to come here. She can stay on holidays and breaks. What do you think?"

 

Draco was taken aback by Hermione's suggestion. She genuinely was the most thoughtful person he had ever known. "I think that is a great idea Hermione. We can tell her about it when we get back to the castle." He looked down at his watch and jumped. "Hermione, it is nearly dinner time. I think they will notice if we do not show up." Quickly they exited the flat, and apparated from the hallway to outside the gates.

 

Once they landed, they realized they had forgotten to put on the cloak. As they looked up, they were both startled to see Mrs. Malfoy standing just inside the gates, her hands on her hips.

 

"Draco, Hermione where have you been? Come in quickly. It is nearly dinner time and you will be missed if you are not there." Without another word, she led the two back to the castle and into the Great Hall. It was not yet full, so no one noticed that they had been anywhere but their dorm.


 

The rest of the school year passed uneventfully. Blaise and Pansy had returned for the remainder of the year, along with a few others. Hermione and Pansy weren't exactly friends, but Hermione harbored less animosity after Draco's confession about never loving her. She was genuinely happy to see Pansy and Blaise so happy together. The four of them spent most of their time together by the fire in the evenings and roaming the grounds during the day, when they were not in class. Hermione had relaxed a little, but still made sure each of them took time each day to prepare for their NEWT exams.

 

Hermione and Narcissa got together a few evenings a week to browse wizard decorating magazines. They had all of the furniture and decorative items for the flat picked and delivered, including the ones that would go into Narcissa's room.

 

Hermione and Draco of course joined the new culinary class, along with a large percentage of students from every year. Draco was pleased when he realized that he had finally found a subject he was better at than Hermione. He had excelled at the subject and managed to help Hermione enough to keep her from burning down the castle. Hermione hated the subject but enjoyed watching and learning from Narcissa. She was so in her element here in the kitchen. Draco and Hermione had approached her one day after class and had offered her the room and she had been overjoyed at the idea. 

 

*

 

Ok everyone, sorry for the abrupt ending to this chapter, but there is just one chapter left to this story and if I did not end it here, it would have been too long. So, I hope you enjoyed this chapter and remember, just one left!!!

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