A/N: Make sure to read Chapter 25: "I Remember" before this. I posted them together :)
2 Years Later
"Draco Lucius Malfoy, hurry up!" Narcissa Malfoy tapped one of her silver heels. "Honestly, do you want to be late to your own wedding?"
"Coming, Mother." Draco joined her in the hall of the Manor, looping his tie. "Don't worry, we have plenty of time."
Narcissa sniffed, walking up to her son and fixing his tie herself. "Well, I've been waiting a long time for this day . . ."
Draco grinned as he rolled his eyes.
"You look so handsome, Draco." Her stern exterior softened as she evaluated him. "And happy . . . she makes you so happy."
"Yes, she does." For once, he agreed with his mother.
"Just admit it, Draco." Narcissa smiled smugly.
"That I was right."
He laughed. "You were right, Mother."
"Hold still." A very pregnant Ginny waddled up to Hermione and misted her curls with a vanilla-scented spray.
"Perfect," she said, stepping back to evaluate her handiwork.
Hermione looked at her reflection in the mirror, pleased at what she saw. Her full curls were partially pulled back from her face, the rest flowing freely around her shoulders. Ginny had artistically done her makeup to make her cheeks appear naturally flushed and her eyes even more bright.
But the main thing Hermione noticed when she stared at her reflection was the way she couldn't stop smiling. The look wasn't new to her. In fact, she'd been that way ever since Draco had come to her flat that evening to return her books.
Ginny sighed. "You have no idea how long I've waited for this day." She grinned wickedly. "Harry finally has to pay up on the bet we made."
"I bet him that you and Malfoy would be married within five years the day you told us about your scandalous antics in Azkaban."
"Steven and I made a bet about it too," Luna said, adding a white gardenia to Hermione's curls. "On our first date. Although, we both bet the same thing."
"Luna, that's not how a bet works," Ginny reproved her.
"Doesn't matter . . . we both won."
"You guys are terrible." Hermione crossed her arms. "I should uninvite you from the wedding."
"Hey!" Ginny put her hands on her hips. "Don't you remember how supportive we were when you and Draco started dating?"
"That's true," Hermione admitted with a smile.
When Draco and Hermione had gone on their very first date, the evening after they'd both confessed their feelings, personal and public opinion had been mixed.
Ginny had been overjoyed, while Harry had been hesitantly accepting. On Ginny and Hermione's insistence that he give Draco a chance, Harry had formed a real friendship with Draco over time.
Ron had been angry, but he'd calmed down eventually, even warming up to Draco enough to allow him to play during the weekly Weasley Quidditch games.
Ron and Draco's bond was solidified when they'd been out with Harry one evening and had a run-in with Cormac McLaggen. McLaggen had tried antagonizing Draco into hexing him, no doubt so Draco's parole would be revoked. Ron and Harry had landed the hexes instead, while Draco managed a swift punch, giving McLaggen a black eye. Ron had great fun recounting the story the rest of the week to anyone who would listen.
Newspapers and magazines had, indeed, gone crazy for the first few months, snapping pictures of the couple whenever they were together in public. Each reporter seemed to have a different slant on the story.
Rita Skeeter had painted Draco as the victim in their relationship, claiming Hermione was only using him to gain knowledge of the Dark Arts and rise to power as the next Dark Lady. Draco had found that one quite amusing.
Others had, of course, said Draco was using Hermione to improve his reputation, predicting the relationship would last less than a year.
Surprisingly, some had become quite enamored with the couple, many citing Draco's words about her at his trial as the feelings of true love. Those articles had been a relief, although Hermione was sure that when she and Draco did have kids, her pregnancy nightmares would be plagued by the many awful mash-up renderings of her and Draco's supposed children.
As all news stories do, eventually the hype died down, and Draco and Hermione were now seen as a new power-couple in wizarding society. Hermione quickly moved her way up to Department Head of Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Rumors were currently flying that she was on the fast-track for the next Minister of Magic when Shacklebolt retired.
Draco had officially graduated from Hogwarts the year after his trial and was now in the process of training to become a Healer.
Although things were good for the couple, there were always some who would never accept their relationship, including Lucius Malfoy.
Draco visited his father in Azkaban on a monthly basis, usually returning drained and moody. He always held Hermione extra closely afterward. Hermione knew Lucius spent most of his time berating Draco for his life choices—mainly concerning her, but also for renouncing the Malfoys' longstanding pureblood beliefs.
Once, Hermione asked Draco why he didn't end his visits since they made him so unhappy. He had taken her in his arms and explained that seeing his father reminded him of two things:
One, just how lucky he was to have escaped that fate and now live a life with her—the woman he loved.
And two, how Hermione had believed in him even when he didn't believe in himself. Draco hoped that by doing that for his father, perhaps one day Lucius would find remorse for his actions and a better way of thinking.
Hermione had nodded, kissing her fiancé soundly. From then on, she'd supported Draco's decision, offering him an ear to vent to when he returned angry, and a shoulder to cry on when he returned sad. More recently, he had returned needing neither, and Hermione hoped it was a sign Lucius was building a more positive relationship with his son.
"Time for the dress!" Ginny carefully helped Hermione into her lace wedding gown.
Minutes later, the door opened and Narcissa Malfoy strode in wearing a lavender gown, looking more regal than usual.
"You look lovely, dear." She smiled, taking Hermione's hands in hers. "I told you, you'd see."
Hermione laughed, hugging the stoic woman fiercely. "I never should have doubted you."
Narcissa stepped back, looking flustered from Hermione's open display of affection. She sniffed. "Well, I do hope you'll be giving me grandchildren soon."
Hermione just smiled, taking her bouquet from Ginny, whose eyes had gone wide.
"Oh, yes," Luna said, nodding her head. "Steven and I have another bet."
Hermione's own mother entered the room and swept her in an emotional hug, tears flowing freely, causing Narcissa to clear her throat.
"It's time," she said.
Draco stood at the altar of Hermione's childhood church, anxiously waiting. He hadn't been this nervous since his trial. Then again, he wasn't even sure he'd been that nervous then.
His nerves weren't from cold feet, as he had never been more certain about anything in his life, but from fear. Fear that somehow this was all a dream, and he would wake up in his cell in Azkaban. He'd been having nightmares like that ever since he'd become a free man.
Draco's heart leaped in his throat as music began playing. Then his best man nudged him in the ribs—proof that this was indeed real—and his nerves settled. The stately church doors opened, and his and Hermione's mother were both escorted down the aisle by Ron Weasley.
Draco's best man stood on his left side—Harry Potter, of all people. If Draco's pompous, arrogant younger self could have looked into the future and seen that, he would have been horrified. Then he'd probably pass out in shock when he learned that Hermione Granger was to be his bride. Especially when she willingly walked down the aisle with no one holding a wand to her head.
Steven Carmichael stood next to Harry, grinning stupidly as the music began to play and his own wife walked down the aisle.
"No Wrackspurts today, I see." Luna smiled at Draco as she passed by him to take her spot at the altar.
Next came a very pregnant, but still stunning, Ginny Potter, smirking at Harry. She mouthed the words, "Pay up," as she passed by.
Then the music changed and everyone in the church stood. The doors opened and Hermione floated in on her father's arm, looking more beautiful than Draco could ever remember. And that was saying something, since his breath was constantly being taken away by her.
As their eyes locked, they each wore a smile mirroring the other's. When she reached him, Draco shook her father's hand and then took her arm. When the priest gave them the signal, Draco began his vows.
"Hermione Granger, as you well know, I spent most of my youth being a complete and utter idiot."
Laughter rang out through the church, including Ron's very clear voice shouting, "Hear! Hear!"
"Now," Draco said, "if I could go back to the day I met you, I would follow you around like a lost puppy until you grew quite sick of me and hexed me."
More laughter, then Draco's expression turned serious. "You were there for the darkest years of my life, and even though you weren't by my side, somehow you were etched into my soul. Even though I didn't realize it until much later, you were the one thing that kept me from keeping on the destructive path I'd been destined for.
"And finally, when that life caught up with me, you fought for me, even though you had no reason to. You believed in me and gave me hope. You showed me kindness when I didn't deserve it, and for that, I will forever be grateful."
Draco paused to catch his breath, his emotion building with every word. "When I realized the depth of my feelings for you, I thought nothing could be more impossible. But I loved you so much, I didn't even care. I was happy to have your friendship, and I would have held onto it for as long as you let me.
"Every day I wake up amazed, knowing you've not only given me that, but your whole heart as well. It's more than I could possibly ask for, but—being the selfish prat that I am—I will take it, no questions asked."
Hermione laughed, taking a moment to wipe the tears that were glistening in her eyes, while Draco went on. "In return, I promise to give you my entire being—all my love, fears, and hopes. I promise I will always stay true to you. I promise I will protect you, even though you don't need me to. And, finally, I promise I will cherish you, even beyond my dying day. I love you, Hermione Granger, more than I ever thought I could possibly love someone."
After composing herself, Hermione reached for Draco's hand again and spoke.
"Draco Malfoy, the day I was chosen to be your Defending Inquisitor, I thought life had taken a most unexpected turn. Then, the day I realized I had developed feelings for you, I thought things couldn't possibly get any crazier. Of course, you proved me wrong on the night you told me you loved me."
She laughed. "At that point, I knew not to question fate anymore and just accept the fact that I loved you too."
She took a shaky breath. "Now the only thing that surprises me is how I thought I couldn't possibly love you more than I did then, but every day, my love for you only grows. You constantly amaze me with your strength, your kindness, and your fortitude. I promise to spend the rest of my life loving you, Draco Malfoy. I promise to be true to you, to defend you, and to stand by your side no matter what other surprises we face."
At her words, Draco squeezed her hand, then hastily brushed back the tears forming in his own eyes. Harry handed Draco the rings and they placed them on each other's fingers, sealing their vows.
After receiving the marriage blessing, Draco pulled Hermione in for a long kiss. Their first kiss of many as husband and wife.
As they stepped out of the church, into the bright summer sunshine, Draco's heart knew a peace it never had before.
They had defied the odds. Somehow, despite insurmountable challenges—their history, their differences, their struggles—they'd come through it all stronger, and most importantly, together.
He smiled at his new wife, grasping her hand in his, as they walked boldly towards their future.
They still had a lot of life to live.
A/N: Well, that's all, my lovelies! Please do let me know what you thought of the conclusion of this story. I may have mentioned this a time or two, but I really do love reading all your comments ;) Thank you to everyone who has shown this story love and support. You guys keep me writing!
If you would like to read more by me you, check out the following:
- If Only in My Dreams: Another Dramione story available under my profile. To get to Harry, a desperate Draco Malfoy abducts Hermione Granger. As the two spend time together, they are forced to reevaluate their opinions of each other. A spirited Christmas love story.
- Desperate Forest: eBook available for $0.99 on Amazon or FREE in KindleUnlimited. Book 1 in the Forest Tales Series: Enter a forest full of danger, deceit, and romance . . .
Princess Roselynn has never longed for adventure. For nineteen years, her life has been safe and comfortable. Until her father is murdered, and she discovers a plot to end her life. Hoping to find protection in the arms of her fiancé, she flees to the perilous Eternity Forest.
When Roselynn meets the brash Jay, she begrudgingly joins forces with a group of outlaws. Unsure of her new companions, she's especially puzzled by Jay's tough exterior and conflicting actions. Soon, she discovers everyone has their own purpose—and secrets.
Can Roselynn save her kingdom and be reunited with the man she loves, or will she lose everything to the dark forest?
What's next from me? I do have another Dramione story in the works (I'm about half-way done writing the first draft). However, I won't start posting until I finish writing it, have it beta'd, and edit it. Follow me if you want to be notified when I start posting!
I also have a few more books planned for my Forest Tales Series. Book 2, The Jabberwocky Princess, should be released in 2020.
Until next time!
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