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Chapter Twenty: I choose you

"There was a time when I would have believed them if they told me you could not come true, just love's illusion. But then you found me and everything changed and I believe in something again. My whole heart will be yours forever, this is a beautiful start to a lifelong love letter..." I choose you by Sara Bareilles

oOo

Draco was drinking his morning coffee when he received an unexpected visit from his mother; he wasn't surprised in the least because he knew that she will find a way to remind him about the impending dinner at the Manor in the evening. "Mother, what a pleasant surprise" he drawled.

"Have you read the Prophet?" Narcissa asked urgently.

Draco noticed his mother's worried expression; "No, why?"

Narcissa pulled a chair and sat down; "I think you should read it first" she replied.

"I don't have time to read the paper Mum, I'll be leaving in 10 minutes to pick up Hermione and apparate to work after. Just tell me what's written in the paper that dragged you all the way here."

"Rita Skeeter wrote an exclusive about Hermione and the Weasley boy"

Draco felt the coffee go down the wrong pipe, making him sputter and cough.

Narcissa cringed and handed her son a napkin; "Here you go"

Draco accepted the napkin and wiped his lips; "W-what?"

"The evil wrench didn't write much about Hermione, it was mainly about the boy and his philandering ways" Narcissa said. She then paused and wrinkled her nose; "Looks like he impregnated Irina's daughter-Millicent, if I'm not mistaken."

"It was on the paper?" Draco asked.

Narcissa nodded; "It was" she replied. "That's actually the reason why I came here, your Father and I would like to let you know that we will understand if Hermione does not want to come over for dinner."

"I would have to ask her" Draco replied. He then stood up and placed the napkin on top of the table; "I better go ahead and check on her" he said.

Narcissa also stood up from her perch; "Go on right ahead, let me know what you two decide, okay?"

"I will" Draco replied. He then leaned forward and planted a kiss on his mother's cheeks; "Goodbye Mum" he said.

oOo

"Hermione! Where are you?" Harry called out loudly.

"Kitchen!"

Harry made his way towards the kitchen and saw his best friend reading the Prophet; he mentally cursed and cautiously approached the brunette. "Err-"

Hermione lowered her paper and stared at Harry with a raised brow; "I know why your here at this hour Harry" she said dryly.

Harry adjusted his glasses and studied Hermione's face; "How are you feeling?"

Hermione folded the paper and placed it beside her plate; she grabbed her morning tea and swivelled her chair towards her best friend's direction. "Would you believe me if I tell you that I'm alright?"

"It depends actually" Harry said. He then walked towards the breakfast bar and braised his hands on the counter; "If you're telling the truth or not."

Hermione cracked a smile; "You've been my best friend for more than a decade, I'm quite sure you can tell my fibs from my truths" she challenged before taking a sip of her drink.

Harry cocked his head to the side and stared at Hermione intently; after a moment, a look of relief crossed his face. "Damn, I was worried for nothing"

Hermione giggled as she placed her cup on top of the counter; she then tapped her fingers on top of the folded paper and smiled. "For once in my life, Rita Skeeter didn't demonize me-it's a little bit disconcerting but I can't say that I'm not thrilled."

Harry chuckled; "True"

"I feel a tiny bit bad for Ron though"

Harry scoffed; "He deserved it, it's about time somebody called him off of his ways" he said. He then narrowed his eyes; "Don't tell me you still care for that bloody oaf?"

Hermione shrugged her shoulders; "Truth be told, I don't give a rat's arse about him anymore but that doesn't mean I don't feel bad for his situation-in general."

Harry threw Hermione an astounded look as a response.

Hermione rolled her eyes before hopping off of her chair; "Don't you have work to get to?" she asked she grabbed her plate and made her way towards the sink.

Harry shook his head to clear his thoughts; "Yeah, I guess I'll go now."

Hermione opened the tap and began scrubbing; "You should"

"I can wait for you"

"That won't be necessary Harry, Draco will be here in a matter of minutes"

Harry nodded; "Okay then, I'll just see you there then, have a good morning Mione"

Hermione turned her face towards Harry and smiled; "You too"

Harry plucked his wand from his pocket and disapparated with a loud pop.

Hermione closed the tap and shook off the excess water of the plate; she grabbed a dishrag and began drying it.

"Hermione love, where are you?"

Hermione smiled widely upon hearing her beau's voice; "I'm in the kitchen!"

Draco peaked from the hallway and smiled; "Morning"

"Morning" Hermione chirped. She then pulled the cupboard open and began putting away the dishes she used; "Just give me a sec I'm almost done."

"Take your time" Draco said. He then walked towards the counter and noticed a copy of the Prophet; he took a deep breath before moving his eyes towards his girlfriend; "I take it that you already saw the paper-are-are you alright?" he asked carefully.

Hermione closed the cupboard and turned towards Draco; she leaned back on the sink and cocked her head to the side. "It's funny that you ask that because Harry was just here a couple of minutes ago, asking me the same thing."

"What did you tell him?"

"That I'm okay, of course"

Draco stared at Hermione intensely; "You sure about that?"

Hermione pulled away from her perch and threw the dishrag haphazardly on the sink; she made his way towards Draco and stood right in front of him. She placed her hands on his hips and met his eyes; "I'm really okay, like what I already told Harry, I don't care about Ron anymore-whatever is written in the Prophet does not concern me anymore" she said seriously. "And besides, I have you and everyone knows your already handful" she teased.

Draco smirked; "Is that so?" he asked as he slid his arms around her waist.

"Yep"

Draco pulled her into his chest; "Does that mean you'll still want to go to dinner?"

Hermione tilted her head; "Of course, don't you want to go?"

"Of course I want too, I only asked because Mum and Dad want to make sure that your still up to it-you know, after the Prophet thing."

Hermione smiled; "That's very sweet of them but tell them I'm okay and I'll be happy to have dinner with them"

Draco leaned forward and pecked her lips lightly; "Okay, you ready to go to work?"

"Let's go."

oOo

Molly was rubbing her temples when her youngest son saw her; he descended the stairs and made his way towards her. "Mum? Are you okay?"

Molly's eyes snapped open and lifted it to meet his; she gestured towards the news paper on top of the table and sighed in defeat. "Read it."

Ron furrowed his brows; "Why?"

"Just read it Ronald, I don't have the strength to argue with you today"

Ron shifted closer to the table and grabbed it; he unfolded it and felt his blood run cold when his eyes fall on the front page.

Molly leaned back on her chair; "You have to check on Millicent, this news isn't good for her"

Ron felt his knees give in so he hastily moved towards nearest chair and sat down; "I-I can't believe this-who would do this?"

"I don't know Ronald and at this point I really don't care" Molly replied tiredly.

"I will kill that bloody bug! This is-this is wrong!"

Molly raised her brow; "Are you telling me that what's written there is not true?"

Ron snapped his mouth close.

"I thought so" Molly said. She then stood up from her perch and shook her head; "I don't know where your Father and I went wrong but there's no sense in dwelling in things we can no longer change. What we can only do now is to move on and hope for the best. Go check on your fiancé, she needs you now" she said before walking away.

Ron's hands shook as he slowly crumpled the paper in his hand; he gritted his teeth before standing up from his perch.

oOo

"This is preposterous Marcus-is there anything you can do to break the charm?" Irina huffed indignantly.

"I already told you multiple times Irina, there is nothing I can do about it" Marcus replied calmly.

"So you're just letting our daughter-our only daughter marry that scoundrel?"

"We don't have a choice and you know that. And besides, why are you so opposed on marrying those two?"

"Have you read the paper?" Irina asked.

"Yes" Marcus replied.

Irina threw her husband a disbelieving look; "And you don't care?"

Marcus sighed; "As much as it pains me, it's the truth. Millicent did have an affair with Ronald and now she's carrying his child, it's not as if we don't know this."

"But-but-"

"No buts" Marcus said sternly. "Your daughter made a mistake and it's about time that she owns up to it."

Irina sighed in defeat.

oOo

Ron flooed inside Millicent's flat and saw the witch slumped on her couch; "Millicent?"

Millicent opened her eyes and turned her head to the side; "What are you doing here?" she asked tiredly.

Ron walked towards the couch and furrowed his brows; "Are you alright?"

"I'm tired-really tired. I've been puking my guts out since 5 a.m."

Ron cringed; he sat on top of the coffee table and stared at the witch; "Morning sickness?"

Millicent rolled her eyes; "You haven't answered my question yet, what are you doing here?"

Ron placed his palms on top of his thighs and began rubbing it nervously; "Have-have you read the Prophet?"

"No, why?"

"Just don't read it...you don't need more stress"

Millicent sat up and frowned; "What happened?"

Ron sighed dejectedly; "We made front page-Rita Skeeter wrote an article about us-err-I'm quite sure that the whole Wizarding world already knows that you're pregnant..."

Millicent's eyes widen in shock; she opened and closed her mouth but no words seem to escape her lips.

"I don't know how it happened or who gave that bloody interview but I will find out" Ron said with determination.

Millicent stared at Ron for a second before bursting into tears; she buried her face into her palms as sobs escaped her lips. "My-my life-is-is ruined"

Ron cringed; he leaned forward and began patting Millicent's knee awkwardly. "Calm down, crying is bad for you..."

Millicent pulled her hands away from her face and stared at Ron with anger; "This is your fault!" she said heatedly. She grabbed a throw pillow and began hitting him repeatedly; "My life is ruined!"

Ron snatched the pillow from Millicent's grasp and threw it far away; "Bloody hell! Stop hitting me" he growled.

Millicent wiped her tears angrily; "Get out of my house!" she yelled.

Ron shot up from his perch; "With pleasure!" he hissed. He hastily pulled his wand out and disapparated with a loud crack.

"Arsehole!" Millicent cursed loudly.

oOo

"Mmmmmkay-you really have to go now or you'll be late" Hermione said as she pulled away from the kiss.

Draco pecked Hermione's lips once more before smiling; "Okay...so we're still on tonight, right?"

Hermione wiped Draco's lips with her fingers; "Yep"

"Mum will be thrilled"

Hermione giggled; "You'll be picking me up at 7, right?"

"Yep" Draco replied.

"Okay then, see you later" Hermione said with a smile.

Draco pulled his arms away from Hermione's waist; "See you later love" he said before disapparating.

oOo

"What happened?" Pansy asked as she stepped out of the fireplace.

Millicent sat up and wiped her nose; "Bloody Weasley happened" she croaked.

Pansy made her way towards the couch and sat down beside her distraught best friend; "I take it that you read the paper?"

"I'll bloody murder that two faced bitch!" Millicent seethed.

"Rita Skeeter? Why?"

Millicent turned her head to the side and glared; "Are you really asking me that question?! She dragged my name into the mud and I won't stand for it!"

Pansy rolled her eyes and leaned back; "For once in her life she wrote the truth."

Millicent scowled; "Which side are you on?"

Pansy turned to face Millicent; "I'm on your side, don't be stupid" she replied. "It's just don't get why you're so worked up about this-you made mistakes, this is one of the consequences, you just have to deal it with it."

"It's not that easy!"

"Nothing is easy Millie, you can't just expect to get a free pass after what you have done" Pansy paused and wrinkled her nose. "I'm not the mudblood's fan, not by long shot-but I hardly think she deserves what you guys did to her."

Millicent pursed her lips; "Well it happened already, I can't do anything about it!"

"Exactly my point, you can't do anything about it so just deal it with and move on. You have a new life within you, focus on taking care of yourself and your baby-it's a start."

Millicent leaned back; "Ronald was here a couple of minutes ago..."

Pansy raised her brow; "Really?"

"He was checking on me" Millicent replied meekly.

"Let me guess, you bit his head off?" Pansy asked dryly.

Millicent sighed dejectedly.

"Last time we talked, you told me that you two found an amicable way to co-exist for the sake of your baby and your sanity, what happened to the truce?"

Millicent leaned her head at the back of the couch and fixed her eyes on the ceiling; "It was actually my fault, I was so upset when I read the article so I blew a gasket" she replied. She then turned her head to the side; "Pregnancy hormones and all" she added as an explanation.

Pansy can't help but chuckle; "That's a good excuse"

Millicent cracked a smile; "I know"

"Are you planning on apologizing?" Pansy asked curiously.

Millicent turned her gaze back on the ceiling; "I haven't thought about it yet but I will consider it, he will be my husband after all."

"True."

oOo

Ron apparated directly inside his room and began pacing; he's still seething from what's written on the news paper but having Millicent throw a bitch fit about it made it much worse. He halted his steps and plopped down on his bed; he braised his elbows on top of his knees and buried his face on his palms. He knew for a fact that he got what he deserved but that doesn't mean it's easy to digest; he pulled his face away from his palms and shook his head to clear his thoughts. "There's no sense wallowing in self pity, I need to get to the bottom of this, Rita Skeeter it is."

oOo

Draco plucked his wand from his desk and turned his chair to the side; "Expecto Patronum" he muttered while swishing his wand. He leaned back and watched as his patronus take shape; he let out an appreciative smile upon seeing the majestic creature materialize before him. "Tell my Mum that Hermione and I will be at the Manor by 7:15 sharp", the creature nodded once before dissipating into thin air.

"Impressive..."

Draco's head snapped to the side and saw one of his best friends standing by the door frame; "Don't you have work or something?"

Theo stepped inside Draco's office and closed the door behind him; "I can spare my best mate a few minutes" he said as he walks towards the chair. He plopped down and smirked; "Really Drake? A dragon?"

Draco rolled his eyes; "It's not as if I can choose"

Theo leaned back; "Good point" he said. "So...how are you and Granger?"

Draco smirked; "Aren't you just dying to know"

"It was splattered all over the paper, of course I want to know."

Draco scrunched his face in disgust; "Bloody Skeeter."

"What gives? Are you guys alright?" Theo asked curiously.

Draco leaned back on his chair and stared at Theo; "We're good, I spoke with Hermione this morning and she's taking it well"

"That's good" Theo replied with a smile.

Draco smiled back; "Thanks mate" he replied. "Where's Pansy by the way?"

Theo's face turned sour; "She left to check on Millicent"

A baffled look crossed Draco's face; "At this early?"

Theo studied Draco's face for a couple of seconds before understanding dawned on him; "You don't know..."

"Don't know what?"

"Millie screwed up and now she's betrothed to Weasley"

Draco's eyes almost bulged out of its sockets; "What?"

Theo wrinkled his nose in distaste; "Her plan backfired, based from what Pansy told me, she managed to set off an old dormant pureblood binding enchantment when she acknowledged that she's carrying Weasley's spawn right in front of his mother."

Draco chuckled; "I can't believe this! How stupid can she get?"

Theo sniggered; "Pregnant hormones?"

oOo

Narcissa was trimming her rose bushes when she noticed a wisp of smoke sweep in; she turned to her side and watched as it took form.

The majestic dragon opened its mouth and Draco's voice rang loudly; "Mum, Hermione and I will be at the Manor by 7:15 sharp" the creature said before vanishing into thin air.

"Is that your son'svoice I heard?"

Narcissa turned around and saw her husband walking towards her; "It is" she replied.

Lucius stood right in front of his wife and chuckled; "Even his patronus is ostentatious" he joked.

"Says the man who has a huge stallion as a patronus"

Lucius rolled his eyes; "So, what did your son want?"

Narcissa smiled brightly; "They're coming over for dinner"

"Really?"

"Yes. I guess the news didn't deter Hermione-it's actually good you know, it shows that she's moving on with her life"

Lucius smirked; "With the help of our son, of course"

Narcissa nodded; "Indeed" she replied. She then took off her gloves and beamed; "I better get started now" she said excitedly.

oOo

"You can't go in there!"

Ron ignored the secretary's plea and made his way towards Rita Skeeter's office; he slammed the door open and pointed his wand at the unsuspecting witch. "Give me 10 reasons why I shouldn't Avada your arse"

Rita's eyes widen in shock, her face paling by the second; "Mr. W-weasley this is a pleasant surprise" she stuttered.

Ron kicked the door close and made his way towards the desk without lowering his wand; he stood right in front of Rita and leaned forward. "I will only ask you one thing and you will answer me truthfully."

Rita swallowed hard before nodding; "O-okay"

oOo

Lavender was arranging the clothes on the rack when she heard the front door of their shop open; she pasted a smile on her face before turning around. "Good after-what the bloody hell are you doing here?"

Ron glowered; "Cut the crap, I already know that you're the one behind the bloody article"

Lavender leaned back on the rack; "Brilliant, right?" she asked with a smirk.

Ron plucked his wand from his pocket and flicked it; the door instantly shut close and the clear windows began to fog, obscuring the view from the outside.

Lavender felt fear settle inside the pit of her stomach; "W-what are you doing?"

Ron stuffed his wand inside his pocket and stared at the witch seriously; "I'm here to talk"

"We don't have anything to talk about"

"I beg to disagree" Ron said. He then made his way towards the nearest chair and sat down; "Sit down, we have a lot to talk about."

Lavender crossed her arms on top of her chest petulantly; "What if I don't want to talk?"

Ron leaned back and crossed his legs; "Then you'll listen"

"What if I don't want to?" Lavender challenged.

"Tough luck love, because we're not leaving this blasted place without talking. So I suggest you sit down because I won't take bloody no for an answer"

oOo

"You done for the day?"

Hermione lifted her gaze and saw her best friend by the door; "Yep and you?"

Harry let out a puff of air and shook his head; "Nope"

"Why?"

Harry crossed his arms on top of his chest as he leans sideways on the door frame; "Stupid Weasley didn't show up today so I have to do his work."

Hermione cringed; "Ouch"

Harry rolled his eyes; "I know" he replied. "Are you going home?"

"I am" Hermione replied. "And oh, I'll be having dinner at Malfoy Manor tonight, just so you know."

Harry grinned; "Meeting the parents already?" he teased.

Hermione chuckled; "I already met them Harry, this is not the first time"

"Oooohhhh...Do I hear wedding bells?"

Hermione's cheeks flushes bright red; "Harry James Potter!"

Harry chuckled; "No need to look so flushed Mione, I'm just messing with you"

Hermione stood up and squared her shoulders; "Well it's not a funny joke!" she huffed.

Harry raised his brow; "You don't want to marry the ferret?"

Hermione's cheeks flush even brighter; "Err-well-not yet and he-he hasn't asked-and it's too early for that!" she replied. She then cleared her throat as she grabbed her bag; "And we just started dating...I don't think we're taking that step any time soon" she rationalized.

Harry just smirked; "If you say so"

Hermione stepped away from her desk and began walking towards her best friend; "I'm not kidding Harry, so stop it"

Harry pulled away from his perch and shrugged his shoulders; "Fine."

oOo

Lavender stared at Ron in shock, her mouth agape.

"Say something" Ron said.

Lavender cleared her throat, her mind still reeling with what she just heard; "You're-you're apologizing?" she asked in disbelief.

Ron nodded fervently; "I am."

Lavender peered into the red head's eyes and saw remorse and guilt; "W-why?"

Ron sighed; "Because you deserve it; because I've been an arse and took advantage of you."

Lavender bit her bottom lip as she tries to digest his words.

Ron took it as a sign to explain; "I was distraught and pissed drunk the day you found me but that doesn't excuse what I did to you. I dragged you into this and been extremely rude to you-I shouldn't have blamed you because you just tried to comfort me the best way you know how-I don't know what else to say but I'm sorry...I'm really am Lavender" he said sincerely.

A tear escaped the blonde's eyes but she hastily wiped it; "I-I don't know what prompted you to do this but I can no longer take back what I already told Rita Skeeter-what are you expecting from me?"

"Nothing-just your forgiveness" Ron admitted.

Lavender bit her wobbling bottom lip; uncertainty evident on her face.

Ron let out a small smile; "I'm not expecting you to give it right here and right now Lav, I know what I did and I know it will take time."

Lavender let out a sigh of relief; "Err-good."

Ron stood up from his perch; "Well, I better go...I'm taking too much of your time already" he said before waving his wand, revoking the charm he placed.

"Okay..."

Ron made his way towards the door and pulled it open; "See you around Lav"

"Ron?"

Ron paused and turned his face towards his old flame; "Yes?"

"Thank you for apologizing and-I'm sorry too" Lavender said with a small smile.

Ron smiled back; "You have nothing to be sorry for and you're welcome" he replied.

Lavender nodded as a response.

Ron stepped out of her shop and vanished within seconds.

Lavender leaned back on her chair as she contemplates on what just happened; she always thought that she'd never find it in her heart to forgive the red head after everything he'd done to her but hearing him say it out loud changed that. She knows that she'll learn to forgive him eventually because she's very much aware that she's at fault too but she guess for the mean time, she'll just make a vow to herself; she won't intervene with his life anymore, she won't waste more time on him and she'll definitely avoid him as much as she can. For her, Ronald Billius Weasley is just a familiar face from Hogwarts and nothing more; "Time to move on..." she whispered to herself before standing up.

oOo

"Do I smell roast beef?" Lucius asked as he steps inside the kitchen.

Narcissa turned around, a big smile lighting her face; "Indeed"

Lucius made his way towards the counter and began perusing the variety of dishes on top; "Wow"

"Do you think it's too much?" Narcissa asked as she worried her bottom lip.

"Do you have anything else cooking aside from this?"

Narcissa shook her head; "No-just the éclairs and that's it."

"Then it's not too much" Lucius replied.

Narcissa let out a sigh of relief; "Thank Merlin"

Lucius raised his brow; "You are aware that this is not the first time that Ms. Granger is dining with us, right?"

"I know that but this the first time she'll have dinner with us after that dreadful article from the Prophet...I just want her to be comfortable"

Lucius leaned forward and squeezed Narcissa's arm; "I'm quite sure everything will be fine love, she won't be joining us if she's really not up for it" he said with a small smile.

Narcissa mulled on her husband's words before nodding; "You're right" she replied.

Lucius pulled his arm, a smirk playing on his lips; "I'm always right."

oOo

Hermione was putting on some lip tint when she heard a loud pop coming from her living room; she stuffed the tube inside her purse and hastily made her way towards her waiting beau. "Draco, is that you?"

"Yes love"

Hermione peered from the hallway and saw Draco standing near the fireplace; "I hope what I'm wearing is alright..." she said timidly.

Draco turned around; he stared at her for a couple of seconds before smiling widely; "You look gorgeous"

"Thank you, you are gorgeous too"

Draco chuckled; "We sound like teenagers on their first date"

Hermione nodded; "We do."

Draco walked towards Hermione and wrapped his arms around her waist; "Are you ready to go?"

Hermione threw Draco an awkward look; "I know your Mum insisted that I shouldn't bring anything but I feel bad going there empty handed..."

Draco leaned forward and planted a soft kiss on Hermione's forehead; "Don't worry about it, I'm quite sure my Mum cooked enough food to feed a whole battalion"

Hermione giggled.

"Shall we?" Draco asked.

Hermione pecked Draco's lips; "We shall"

oOo

"Is that you Ronald?"

"Yes Mum" Ron replied as he steps out of the grate.

"You have a visitor and we're in the kitchen"

Ron furrowed his brows; "Who could it be?" he asked himself. He dusted off the soot from his clothes before making his way towards the kitchen; he peeped from the hallway and almost instantly his eyes widen in surprise. "Millicent?"

Millicent turned from her seat and let out a small conciliatory smile; "Hey..."

Ron stepped inside the kitchen and studied the witch's face; "What are you doing here?"

"Ronald! Be nice!" Molly chastised. She then stood up from her perch and smiled at her future daughter in law; "I'll leave you two to talk" she said.

Ronald sat down on the chair that his mother vacated; "Look if you're here to fight-"

"I'm sorry" Millicent blurted out.

Ron clamped his mouth shut, stunned with the witch's unanticipated apology.

Millicent took a deep breath; "I didn't mean to bite your head off when you came this morning-I was just stressed-err pregnancy hormones..."

"O-okay..."

"So-are we alright? Are we still in truce?"

Ron let out a small smile; "Yeah, I guess so..."

Millicent let out a sigh of relief; "Good" she replied. "Err-since we are okay...can I ask a favour?"

Ron raised his brow; "It depends"

"Can you get me salted caramel apples?" Millicent asked with a small smile. "With pickles on the side..."

Ron blinked a couple times before bursting out laughing.

oOo

The dinner was far from what Hermione expected and she had fun; talking with Draco's parents in a relaxed environment made her see a different facet of the couples personality-even Lucius made her laugh a couple of times and that is saying something.

"Thank you for inviting me, dinner was lovely" Hermione said politely.

Narcissa beamed; "I'm glad you enjoyed yourself dear"

Lucius smiled; "Feel free to join us anytime, you're always welcome here"

Hermione smiled back; "That's very gracious of you Mr. Malfoy, I'll keep that in mind"

Lucius threw the young witch an amused look; "Don't you think we're way past formality, Hermione?"

Hermione felt her cheeks flush in embarrassment; "Err-right"

Draco pulled Hermione to his side and wrapped his arm around her waist; "Stop making my girlfriend blush Dad, that's my job."

"Draco!" Hermione shrieked, her cheeks burning even brighter.

Narcissa chuckled; she then looped her arm around her husband's and smiled at the couple right in front of her. "Why don't you take Hermione for a walk around the Rose Garden before you take her home? My roses are in full bloom, I'm quite sure she'll love that" she suggested.

Draco smiled; "That's actually a good idea Mum"

Lucius smirked at his son; "Of course you'll think that it's a good idea, you'll have Hermione all to yourself" he teased.

Draco winked at his Father; "True"

"I'm standing right here, you know" Hermione mumbled.

"We'll take our leave now" Narcissa announced. "You both have a good night"

Hermione turned towards Narcissa and Lucius; "Good night and again, thank you for having me here"

"You are very much welcome" Lucius replied. He then placed his hand on top of his wife's hand; "Let's go now love, let's leave this two alone"

Narcissa nodded; "Lets"

"Night Mum and Dad" Draco said.

"Night love" Narcissa replied.

Lucius nodded towards his son as acknowledgement before turning around and steering his wife away.

Draco waited for a couple of seconds before shifting his gaze towards the witch in his arms; "You'll love Mum's garden"

Hermione threw her beau a curious look; "How big is her garden exactly?"

Draco grinned widely; "I'll let you decide, come on" he said before guiding her towards the French doors.

oOo

Hermione stared at the roses with awe; "This is beautiful"

Draco smiled; "It is, Mum takes her roses seriously"

Hermione nodded; "She does" she replied. She then squinted and fixed her gaze on the bushes near the gazebo; "Are those fairy lights? As in, real fairies?"

"Yep"

"Wow"

Draco stepped behind the brunette and hugged her from the back; he rested his chin on top of her head and let out a contented sigh.

Hermione leaned back on Draco's chest and placed her hands on top of his.

"Thank you for spending time with my parents, it means a lot to me..."

"You are welcome" Hermione replied. "I had fun, your Dad is hilarious and your Mum is charming as always"

Draco chuckled; "Runs in the family."

Hermione pulled away and turned around to face her beau; she placed her hands flat on his chest and met his eyes. "I know I've said this multiple times but I will say it again, thank you..."

"For what?"

Hermione let out a small smile; "For making me believe in something again-for making me this happy..." she admitted shyly.

Draco felt myriad of emotions surge inside his chest upon hearing Hermione's admission and before he can stop himself, he's blurting out the words he never thought he'd ever say again. "I love you"

Hermione felt her heart stop, her eyes widening in shock.

Draco realized what he just said and felt his face redden in embarrassment; "Oh Merlin..."

Hermione seemed to snap out of her stupor; "Did you just-"

Draco internally winced; "I did...too soon?"

"Do you mean it?" Hermione asked quietly.

Draco pulled Hermione closer and gaze into her eyes; "Yes" he replied. "I know we haven't been dating that long and it's too early for me to say the L word-I know it might scare you away but Merlin, I do Hermione...I really do love you." He then took a deep breath and continued; "I never thought I'd ever utter those words again after everything that happened to me but you-you make me feel again, you made me believe in something too-you made me believe in love..."

Hermione felt tears cloud her vision as overwhelming happiness flood her chest; "Draco..."

Draco shifted his hands towards her face and cupped it; "You make me love you Hermione Granger and I'm the luckiest bloke in the whole wide world because I get to say those words to you..."

Tears fell down Hermione's cheeks; "I love you too Draco...I've been wanting to tell you that for a very long time now-I just didn't have the courage to..." she admitted.

"You mean that? You're not only saying that because I said it?" Draco asked cautiously.

Hermione smiled through her tears; "It's true. I'm in love with you too..."

Draco's face instantly lit up; he pulled Hermione's face and captured her lips into a passionate kiss.

Hermione snaked her trembling arms around Draco's neck and hugged him tightly; she let her emotions seep through her lips, trying her best to make him feel the love that's consuming her whole body.

Draco kissed Hermione for a couple of minutes before pulling away; he rested his forehead on hers before speaking. "You have no idea how happy I am now Granger"

Hermione smiled as she closed her eyes, obviously savouring the moment; "The feeling is mutual Malfoy-it's always has been."

Draco hummed contentedly; he was about to suggest that they should go home when a thought hit him. He didn't want to ruin the perfect moment but he needs to know if this knowledge will change things for them; he braised himself before speaking again. "Love?"

Hermione opened her eyes; "Yes?"

Draco pulled his face away and cleared his throat; "I don't want to ruin the moment but I need to tell you something-I think you deserve to know this before it hits the news..."

"Know what?"

"I spoke with Theo this morning and he told me something that has to do with-the Weasel and Millicent..."

Hermione raised her brow; "What about them?"

Draco took a deep breath; "They're betrothed- Millicent accidentally set off an old dormant pureblood binding enchantment when she acknowledged that she's carrying Weasley's spawn right in front of his mother. It was not supposed to go that way but her devious plan backfired so now she's stuck with him..."

Hermione blinked a couple of times before bursting into fits of giggles; "Oh Merlin!"

Draco threw his girlfriend a worried look; "Err-"

Hermione covered her lips with her hands, stifling her mirth; after a couple of seconds she managed to control herself. "That was hilarious!"

"So-you're not upset?" Draco asked testily.

"Merlin no!" Hermione replied.

"You are not angry or anything?"

Hermione shifted closer to Draco and let out a reassuring smile; "I'm not" she said firmly. "Karma is really a bitch, eh?"

Draco cracked a smile; "Karma is only a bitch if you are."

"Good point"

Draco tightened his hold on Hermione's waist; "So-you're really not upset" he asked seriously.

Hermione shook her head; "I'm not. Thank you for telling me though...I appreciate it" she replied.

Draco pulled Hermione into a tight hug and buried his face into her curls.

"Draco?" Hermione whispered.

"Yes?"

"Ronald is just someone from the past and I no longer feel anything for him" Hermione said.

"I know..." Draco replied lowly.

"You're the one I want and if someone will ask me who I want spend forever with-I'd choose you. I love you..."

Draco felt his heart soar; "I'd choose you too and I love you..."

oOo

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