Draco woke Hermione at about 6:30 the next morning and she was surprisingly well rested. She tried to keep calm, but it felt like a flock of birds was flying in formation in her stomach. She showered and dried her hair. She pulled her hair into a low bun at the base of her neck with a few loose hairs hanging down. She put on a black pencil skirt that went to mid-thigh, a soft white feminine blouse and red high heels. She finished the outfit with her pearls from Draco. She looped them around her neck twice and put on a light amount of makeup and deemed herself ready. Draco was wearing a black suit-cut perfectly, a white shirt and a red tie. He looked every bit the part of a hero-which he was, and looked incredibly sexy.

They went down to the kitchen and saw Narcissa sitting at the little kitchen table, drinking coffee with Sweetie. They entered and sat with the other two at the table. Hermione took a piece of toast and nibbled on it. There was small talk being made, but Draco and Cissy realized that Hermione’s head wasn’t in it. They let her eat in peace and they talked among themselves. At 7:50, Draco took Hermione’s hand and told her it was time to go. Hermione looked up and nodded. Cissy went and got a sweater for herself and met them at the library fireplace where the floo network was hooked to. They all got in the fireplace and Draco threw the powder and said where they were going. Hermione still hadn’t said a word. She was afraid that if she spoke, she might throw up. She was breathing deeply to try and ease the nauseous feeling in her body. She knew that she had to get it under control before this hearing.

They arrived and saw Dean waiting for them by the fireplaces at the ministry. Hermione hadn’t let go of Draco’s hand yet and kept fingering the pearls as she stood there. They walked to him and then walked down the halls to get to the courtrooms. Blaise was waiting for them by the doors. The five of them walked in and as soon as they entered, they saw Ron and some of his family sitting at the other table. She tightened her grip on Draco’s hand as they looked at her standing at the entrance. He winced a little at the pressure that she was putting on his hand, squeezing it. She obviously didn’t know her own strength. Dean tried to lead her to the table they would be sitting at before the panel of judges. She was rooted to the spot, not really hearing what anyone was saying.

“Baby…..Hermione honey, you are breaking my hand. Please stop squeezing my hand love.” She finally woke up a little and listened to what he said to her. She blushed and relaxed her grip on him. “Honey, you need to go with Dean. We will be right here behind you.” She nodded and followed Dean to the table up front.

Dean was whispering assurances into her ear and rubbing her back. She looked behind her and saw her support group consisting of Draco, Narcissa and Blaise. Not far from them she saw Harry and Ginny, half in her area and half in Ron’s. They smiled at her, and Harry gave her a small thumbs’ up. She also saw George and Bill sitting together. Molly and Arthur Weasley were sitting up front, talking to Ron and his lawyer. She also saw some other people she didn’t know, with rolls of parchment. She assumed they were reporters.

She finally sat down next to Dean and started fumbling with the pearls and taking deep breathes to calm herself. She heard the door open and then close and saw Kingsley enter the room and sit by Narcissa. She felt better when she saw him smile at her and nod. She turned back around and then the courtroom was called to order as the panel of judges came in the room wearing their special maroon robes.

Hermione finally snapped out of it as the head judge started talking and was fully aware of the proceedings. Dean could see that she was fully engaged now and knew that everything was going to go well. He was a little nervous when she was out of it and was afraid that she had PTSD with what happened. She was now taking in every word that the judges were saying about procedures and how the hearing would run. She was determined to make sure that her future and life with Draco was going to happen starting that day and she would make sure they understood what happened to her.

Dean was told to call his first witness and he called Draco to the stand. Dean started questioning him. Listening to Draco talk about what happened and what he saw was very hard to hear. You could hear the pain in his voice describing how when he and Blaise blasted in the door they saw Hermione’s lifeless body crumpled on the floor as Ron attacked her. Draco stunned him and conjured up ropes to tie him up with while Blaise immediately went to Hermione to help her. Draco apparated to the Potter’s house and told them what happened and they got help. Hermione had tears in her eyes listening to him tell his side. He also had tears, just thinking about it again. That was the woman he loved and she would have died if he and Blaise hadn’t gotten to her in time. Ron’s lawyer tried to get Draco to slip up on the stand, but had no luck. Draco was dismissed.

Dean then called Blaise to the stand and that was even harder to hear. She realized that her friends and Kingsley really had sugar coated her injuries when she was in the hospital. It was a lot more serious than they had let on. Blaise said that he lost her heartbeat twice, but got it back after some very hard work. She was visibly shaken by hearing this and started crying. She could hear Cissy and Ginny crying. Blaise was choked up as well. She grabbed the pearls and rubbed them between her fingers. Ron’s lawyer had no questions for Blaise, so he was able to step down and return to his seat.

Harry was called next and gave his story from when Draco came and got him and he took Ron to the ministry. He sent a group of investigators to the flat to make the report. He wanted a fair investigation for both of his friends and said that to the court. Harry was asked about Ron’s temperament and his drinking. He had to answer truthfully and he knew it wasn’t looking good for Ron. When Dean was done, Ron’s lawyer started asking questions about the good times they had and the good things that Ron had been involved in. He had to do something for damage control. It didn’t help much.

Ginny had a harder time with her testimony as she was the sister of the defendant and best friends with the victim. Ginny talked about how she stayed with Hermione while she was unconscious. Hermione could tell that Molly wasn’t pleased, but knew Ginny had no choice. Her testimony was damaging to Ron too. Ginny was asked some questions by Ron’s lawyer, and then stepped down, crying. It was hard on her to say those things about her brother.

Kingsley was called next and repeated the same story. He was choked up talking about the woman he had come to love as a daughter laying there in a hospital bed. Hermione still had tears running down her face, listening to him talk. Ron’s lawyer didn’t have any questions for him and he stepped down.

Then came the moment that Hermione was dreading the most, Dean called her to the stand. She stood up straight and walked to the stand. She sat down and faced Dean. She was then able to see the people in the gallery, watching. She saw Draco give her a loving smile to try and hide how hard it was listening to everyone talk, Cissy was wiping her eyes, but gave her a smile to remind her to be strong and Blaise looking exhausted but smiling. Kingsley, Harry and Ginny were smiling in solidarity, and she was shocked to see Ron’s brothers and father looking on with grim faces. They obviously understood the severity of the situation now. Molly was still looking at her with a fierce expression. Ron just sat there, not sure what was happening.

She sat on the stand and let Dean ask her questions. He went into their early relationship with him being dismissed from the Auror program, working with George, when his drinking started, how she cared for him when he did drink too much and that first time he hit her. She was amazed that the more she talked, the more confident she became. She ignored the glares from Molly and Ron and just focused on the love of her life. If she wasn’t looking at Dean or Draco, she would lock eyes with Cissy, pulling strength from her. Finally Dean asked about the fateful night and she recounted how she came home and found Ron, drunk and still drinking. She told how she asked how his day was and he just lost it, recounting from the first slap to when she blacked out and woke up in the hospital.  Dean thanked her and sat down, waiting for Ron’s lawyer to ask his questions.

He did try and rattle her by asking hurtful questions. He asked how she contributed to the situation, if she ever cheated on Ron, if she was a good or bad wife and if she was supportive enough to him.

The lawyer asked, “Where have you been the last few weeks? Who have you been with?”

She was prepared for this question by Dean. He said there had been speculation and talking that she having an affair. They had gone over the question the night before. She confidently answered, “Well I have been on vacation. I had already decided before the attack that I was filing for a divorce and would go on vacation. When I was in the hospital, my boss, the Minister, told me that I was being given a minimum of 1 month leave from work to heal from my injuries, mentally and physically, and then figure out my living situation. I accepted that and was released by my doctor to stay at a friend's vacation home. My doctor came to that location and checked on me. He released me from his care when I was healed, which I know you have the report on. I have continued to stay at this vacation home to enjoy myself and think about my future.”

“Who are you staying with Ms. Granger?”

“I am staying with Mr. Draco Malfoy. I am an adult that made a choice on who I can spend my time with. I am legally separated from Ronald and have done nothing wrong.”

Hermione finally had reached her limit when the bastard asked, “What did you expect from your marriage? Perfection? You are a pretty demanding person Ms. Granger.”

“What did I expect?” she spat at him, “What did I expect?! I expected my husband to love me and be in a partnership with me, to build each other up in our careers and push each other to be better. I expected to have a family with the man that I thought that I loved. Perfection?! Oh no, I never expected perfection! I just wanted a life and a happy one at that. I NEVER EXPECTED that my husband would beat me because he was pissed off and drink himself into oblivion every night and that I would have to clean up his messes! I never EXPECTED that he would try and kill me!” She looked at his lawyer breathing hard and daring him to ask another question.

He finished his questions after that and she stepped down. The Weasley men were in shock at her outburst. They knew she was right and the look on Molly’s face showed that she understood that Ron was going to jail for some period of time. She sat back down with Dean as Dean rested their case.

Ron’s lawyer stood and called Ron to the stand. It was so infuriating to listen to him talk about how their marriage was broken from the start and that he regretted it. He started drinking to cope with things that happened during the war. He said he didn’t remember either of the abuse events, but that he didn’t think he had a problem with alcohol.

Dean stood up and let him have it. He showed him the pictures, getting him to admit what she looked like and how it looked. Somehow he got Ron to talk about how much he was drinking and that maybe he did drink too much. He also got him to admit that his temper had a hairline trigger. He was working Ron up and the last question made Ron explode.

Dean asked, “Mr. Weasley, have you ever cheated on Ms. Granger?”

“She was a damn prude! She wouldn’t sleep with me, hell I can’t remember the last time I saw her naked!! My own wife wouldn’t give it to me, so I paid for it! It wasn’t hard to find a woman who would give me what my wife wouldn’t! And I used her money to pay for it too!”

“Thank you Mr. Weasley. That was all the information that the court needed.”

The people in the room were murmuring among themselves. Hermione was shocked; she never knew that he cheated on her. They hadn’t slept together in over a year before the attack.  She was so glad that she was almost rid of him and she could start a new and better life with Draco.

The head judge called for a short recess so the 11 could confer and make their final decision.

Hermione’s support team all came up to her and gave her hugs and whispered words of comfort and support. Draco wanted so badly to kiss her, but knew he had to wait until the final decision was put forth. He grabbed her hand instead. She looked at him knowingly, feeling the desire run through him when they touched. She squeezed it to show she understood and agreed. She heard her name called and saw Ginny and Harry come over. They apologized but, that they would need to go with the Weasley family when the verdict came down. They both knew that Hermione would be fine, but Mrs. Weasley was going to be a wreck when it came down and that they totally were on her side. Hermione told them she totally understood and would see them later. They hugged and walked over to be by Bill and George.

Before anything else could be said, court was called back to order and the judges came back in. Everyone quickly took their seats. The head judge asked both parties and their lawyers to stand.

He spoke, “For the first matter at hand, we have the divorce petition. We unanimously agree to grant Ms. Granger’s request and from this day forward, the marriage between Ms. Hermione Jean Granger and Mr. Ronald Bilius Weasley has been severed and no more. The financial settlement that Mr. Thomas submitted is hereby acknowledged and ruled to be acceptable.” Hermione felt her heart jump. The judge continued, “As for the second matter, the assault charges against Mr. Weasley, we unanimously rule that he is indeed guilty of the charges. Mr. Weasley will spend no less than 4 years in Azkaban. During this time he will attend Anger Management classes as well as receive therapy for PTSD and Alcoholism. You will begin your sentence today. Mr. Weasley, we were shocked and appalled by your behavior and hope that you can recover during this time and make a new start to your life. Ms. Granger, good luck to you in wherever your life takes you. This court is adjourned.”

The courtroom erupted with various sounds. Hermione jumped up and hugged Dean. She saw over his shoulder, Molly throw herself on Ron as she cried. The family all went over to him and started talking quietly. She didn’t care anymore. She let go of Dean and immediately felt Narcissa’s arms around her in a big hug. As soon as she let go she was in Draco’s arms. It felt like being home. She didn’t realize how nervous she was about not being able to be with him until that moment. She looked at him and he smirked. He leaned in and whispered how they would celebrate in private later. She blushed as Kingsley and Blaise hugged her and congratulated her.

She just wanted to get out of there, so they started moving out of the courtroom to leave. They heard the crying from Molly the other side, while Arthur tried to comfort her. She turned and looked as Ron was led away by two aurors in magical handcuffs. She turned and they left. She didn’t want to think about him there, but knew he deserved what he got after what he did to her. They got outside and were standing there talking, Blaise and Kingsley had to get back to work and were saying good-bye. They would be in contact soon, as always. She waved as she watched the two men walk down the hall.

“Hermione,” she heard her name called. She turned and saw George and Bill walking up to her. Draco wrapped his arm around her protectively. George spoke first.

“Hermione, we just wanted to apologize. We had no idea things were as bad as they were for you. Mum down played everything and said it was blown out of proportion by you. We don’t blame you in the slightest; we know that this is all Ron’s fault. Can you ever forgive us for not noticing what was going on? And for not helping you?”

Hermione replied, “You couldn’t have known what was happening. I hid it as much as Ron. You both are sweet for saying this. Thank you, I do accept your apologies,” as she hugged them both.

“If this bloke here makes you happy, then we are happy for you too,” Bill added. They both shook Draco’s hand. She knew that everything was going to be alright. They hugged their former sister-in-law again and went back to help their father with their mother.

Hermione turned back to Draco and pulled him in for a deep kiss, right there in the hallway for anyone to see. She was a single woman and she loved the man standing in front of her. Let them talk, she didn’t care anymore.

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