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“You think Malfoy, Draco Malfoy, sent you that brooch?” Ginny exclaimed. It was later on boxing day, and the girls were both in Ginny’s room experimenting with hairstyles for the upcoming celebration.

“Shhhh, yes.” Hermione chastised.

“What makes you say that?” Ginny asked, piling Hermione’s hair on top of her head.

“Well, who else do we know who has unlimited galleons at their disposal?” Hermione pointed out.

“Well, no one.” Ginny admitted. “But anyone could have sent you that brooch. What makes you think you know them?”

“Well, the quote, in the card… it was from my favorite book.” Hermione admitted. “And I told Draco that it was my favorite.”

“Really?!” Ginny exclaimed, dropping Hermione’s hair.

“Yes.” Hermione nodded. “Plus, well… the Dragon?”

“Yeah, the Dragon isn’t as random as you might think ‘Mione.” Ginny said.

“No?” Hermione asked.

“Well, there’s a lot of stories about Dragons. How, ages ago they taught wizards how to speak. They are said to be the wisest of all creatures.” Ginny explained. “You’re said to be the ‘brightest witch in a generation’. Maybe whomever sent you that pin, thinks you’re wise. You’ve been likened to a dragon in a few Prophet articles: the wise warrior.”

“I guess that could make sense.” Hermione sighed. “But why would a stranger spend that much money on me, and not say who they are?”

“I don’t know,” Ginny admitted. “And I will agree that the quote is making me think that it’s Draco.”

“I know.” Hermione said simply. “What does that mean?”

“Well.” Ginny said, giving up completely on Hermione’s hair. “I think he has feelings for you, but knows it won’t work. So he’s sending you randomly perfect, anonymous gifts.”

Hermione held her breath. “The dress.” She gushed.

“Yes, the dress.” Ginny agreed.

“No, Ginny! The dress!” Hermione cried, pointing to the gown that hung on Ginny’s wardrobe. “It has one sleeve, with a bit of lace that exactly covers the scar on my arm. Draco knows, he knows how self conscious I am about that scar! We once talked about making shirts with only one sleeve, to cover my scar and his Dark Mark!”

Ginny let out a low whistle. “I think you’re right.”

Hermione sat down hard on the floor. What does this mean? She thought. Draco had scarcely spoken to her in weeks. He’d told her to stay away from him.

“‘Mione?” Ginny asked gently. “Are you okay?”

Hermione nodded. “Don’t tell the boys.”

“Yeah, I think that wouldn’t end well.” Ginny agreed. “Come on, lets send Fleur and owl and see if we can get her to come over before the party and do our hair, because otherwise we’re going to look like a couple of hags.”




On New Years Day, the whole group left the Burrow in ministry cars. They arrived at the the ministry to a gaggle of reporters letting off flashbulbs. Hermione had let Fleur put her hair in a sleek bun, with a few loose curls framing her face. She was wearing the dress, which fit her perfectly, and the shoes, which she found had been charmed comfortable despite their sky high height.

Ginny, wearing a beautiful Gryffindor red gown, floated ahead of her on Harry’s arm. As she went to climb from the car, and hand appeared in her face to help her. She took the hand and found that it was Ron, who then offered her his arm. “Ginny said I can’t let you go in unescorted.”

They followed Harry and Ginny, and the other Weasley’s into the elaborately decorated hall. They were all seated at a table together, and they mostly settled in for the duration of the event. Harry and Ginny danced several dances together, and both Ron and Harry gave Hermione a turn or two on the dance floor.

She tried to relax, knowing the Order of Merlin ceremony was still ahead. She touched the brooch she had pinned to her shoulder. She didn’t want to get up in front of all these people. She was even expected to say a few words after accepting the award.

“You look like you’re extremely stressed.” Came the voice of George.

“I’m not particularly looking forward to the next part of the evening.” Hermione admitted.

“Come on.” George said, offering Hermione a hand. “Give me a dance with you, and I’ll cheer you up.”

Hermione didn’t feel like dancing, but George so rarely spoke anymore that she couldn’t refuse him. She took his hand and let him lead her out onto the floor.

“You know, Fred would say that you should enjoy the limelight.” George pointed out, as they worked their way slowly around the edge of the dance floor.

“Yes, well, Fred rather liked the limelight, didn’t he.” Hermione said with a smile.

“You know, you shouldn’t feel guilty.” George pointed out.

“How did you know I feel guilty?” Hermione asked.

“Ginny told me.” George admitted. “Look, Hermione, I know you think you don’t deserve this award. But you do. Think of it as the official end of the War.”

“The War ended months ago.” Hermione replied.

“Maybe it did for the average wizard. But be honest Hermione, for you and me, for Harry and Ron, for those of us that fought from the beginning, it doesn’t feel over.” George said sadly. “I don’t think it’ll ever feel over, we’ll always spend our lives with regrets, thinking we could have done things differently. For you, this is a public declaration that you’re allowed to go on with your life.”

And with that, Hermione knew what she was going to say in her speech. “Thanks George.” She said, and hugged him.

At that time, Kingsley stepped up to the front of the stage at the end of the hall. He sent everyone to their seats, and welcomed everyone to the celebration, and then he called the three friends up onto the stage with him.

Hermione took a deep breath, gathered her skirts, and stepped up beside Kingsley. He spoke about their bravery and how indebted the wizarding world was to them. He awarded first Harry, and then Ron their medals, pinning them to their dress robes. They both spoke briefly, Ron dedicating his medal to Fred, and Harry dedicating his to Snape, which drew some whispers.

Finally, Kingsley stepped up to Hermione. He draped the dark green sash over her head, and pinned the medal to it. It felt heavy on her shoulder, and she didn’t hear the words that Kingsley said to her, but she knew when it was her turn to speak. She lifted her wand, and whispered the sonorous charm.

“Thank you Kingsley.” Hermione began. “Most of you know, my parents are Muggles. I didn’t know anything of magic, or this world until I received my Hogwarts letter when I was eleven. I’ve lived in this world, for better or worse, since that day. And just a few moments ago, I was dancing with my friend, and he said something that reminded me of a muggle song my Grandfather used to play for me when I was a little girl. It’s called Green Fields of France, and it talks about a young man who was killed in the First World War. There’s a verse that goes: “Countless white crosses in mute witness stand, To man's blind indifference to his fellow man.”

The room was silent, listening to Hermione, who continued. “‘The killing, the dying, it was all done in vain… it all happened again.’ As a child, I didn’t understand those words. I don’t think I truly understood them until after we declared peace. But we cannot rest now. If we don’t change the way we think, and the way we interact with each other, this will just happen again. So I challenge all of you here tonight, to move on! Hug your family and friends. Celebrate what we have won! But when we are done celebrating, treat each other with respect. The war is over, there are no more ‘sides’ to be on, no ‘right’ way of thinking. Don’t judge people from where they come from, instead see where they go from there!”

Hermione cancelled the charm, and stepped back next to Harry and Ron. After brief pause, the room erupted into applause. Hermione blushed, and after the noise died down, And Kingsley thanked them, the trio returned to their seats. Hermione adjusted the brooch so that it held the sash in place on her shoulder.

For the rest of the night, the group danced and had fun. They ate too much, and laughed, and told stories.

Hermione was relieved when the night ended, and they headed back out into the night air to the cars. She walked on George’s arm this time, slipping quickly past the photographers with a demure smile.

When they got home and were comfortably in their pajamas, drinking hot tea, Mr. Weasley said to the group. “I’m very proud of all of you. You spoke very eloquently tonight, particularly you Hermione.”

“Well, it was really George who inspired me about what to say.” Hermione blushed.

“I’m glad to see you all supporting each other.” Arthur continued. “This is going to be a long year!”

The following day, when the post owl delivered the prophet, Draco unrolled it to see a picture of Hermione looking back at him. She was standing on the stage speaking, looking as though she was born to lead. There were lots of pictures, and lots of articles, detailing the events of the evening. He carefully clipped out all the pictures of her. One dancing with Harry before she received her medal. Another, speaking seriously with Kingsley, her Order of Merlin shining on her chest. A picture of her signing an autograph for a little girl who had been waiting outside the ministry. But his favorite one, was a picture of Hermione standing between Ginny and Fleur. The girls appeared to be giggling about something behind the camera, and it was the most relaxed Hermione looked in any of the photographs. She held a glass of champagne in her hand, and would turn to Ginny and laugh before Fleur whispered something in her ear. She looked beautiful, with her medal and sash contrasting against her inky black dress.

You’re a fool Draco Malfoy. He told himself, tucking the photo’s into his divination book. He had amassed quite a collection. You’re a fool to think she would even look at you.






Author's Note:

Hi all! Just a quick note about the song I quoted in this chapter, Green Fields of France (Also known as No Man's Land) was written by a Folk Singer called Eric Bogle. It's considered one of the best anti war songs ever written, and if you haven't heard it in it's entirety, I highly recommend you check it out. It's been covered by dozens of artists, but in my opinion, the best version is the live performance by the Irish group The High Kings.

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