More changes from the original in this final scene.
On another note, I want to apologise most sincerely for the long delay in finishing this tale off for you. I had a tragic loss in my immediate family in early November, and between handling all of the funerary arrangements, the financial mess, and the emotional devastation, writing was the last thing on my mind. I forced myself to finish off this year's Smutty-Claus fic, because the event is a fic exchange, and leaving my partner without a gift didn't sit well with me, however I dropped out of all other fests and turned away from my WIPs, needing time.
Slowly, I feel the energy and want to write returning now, and so I'm starting small, with this last chapter to this fic. I also plan to post the next chapter of "Eros & Psyche" sometime next week, and then maybe if there's time, chapters to close out some stories that have been sitting almost done for a while, too. It's not much, but…I hope it'll be a nice gift for you. Happy Holidays, all!
"Did we drink too much, do you suppose?"
It was now mid-afternoon, and she and Draco had been sexually bonding for hours, and now she was a limp doll in his arms. With legs like jelly, she was certainly in no condition to move at the moment. Draco's soft caresses trailing across her brow and face only aided in lulling her into a state of indolence.
Yet, despite the fact her body was exhausted, her mind was still annoyingly active. To her constant dismay, she'd never properly learned how to set aside a riddle that needed answering, digging at it from all sides until she'd finally found its solution. In many ways, that made her an excellent Auror. In her private life, however, it tended to add up to sleepless nights and a brain that never shut itself off.
"You're going to burn yourself out," Harry was always telling her, and maybe he was right. Maybe it was time to consider meditation techniques. The mystery of why she'd lost her memories of the night before, however, needed answering before that, for it was a serious concern.
What had made her and Draco act so recklessly?
Not that she minded the result, but still…
"I've done my share of imbibing over the years," she admitted, "especially whenever the ex is around, but never enough to suffer a blackout period, much less do something as adventurous as get married and enjoy a honeymoon period on a co-worker's yacht."
Draco gave a sigh, as if he was resigned to her need to talk this subject to death. "I suspect Zabini slipped something into your drink while he was cozying up to you at the bar, distracting you with insults. Probably a potion that, when combined with alcohol, really helped to lower your ambitions, maybe even turn you on a bit, too. Remember I drank the last of your Firewhisky before dragging you off to dance, and my memories of the rest of the night are sporadic, too. I think, if he did spike your drink, the plan was for you to go home with him last night. He just didn't count on me interfering."
She turned her head to meet his eye. "You think he slipped me a Fluni? But…but that's against the law! Even he wouldn't be so foolish!"
Draco snorted. "A man obsessed is dangerous enough, but Zabini's a Slytherin who's not only obsessed, but also in love with you, my Granger. There's nothing he wouldn't dare to have you. Believe me, I know."
She blinked three complete times before what he'd said really sunk in.
When it did, a rush of adrenaline went through her and she sat straight up in bed. "What did you say?"
As casual as a King lounging upon his throne, Draco eased an arm back and pillowed his head on it. "Oh, come on, he's been relentlessly after you since you cut him dead. I think it was a novel thing for him to be the one tossed aside for once, especially as he'd gone into your relationship under the pretence of making you crawl to him. Instead, he's ended up the one doing all the pining."
He picked at a loose thread on the coverlet, pulling it tight.
"It's all these weddings recently that have aggravated the situation, though, and made him into such a bitter prat. He's finally realising what he stupidly threw away by cheating on you, but he doesn't know how to go about getting you back. His pride's not built to stand down. So, he snaps at you, because negative attention is better than no attention at all."
That was the stupidest thing she'd ever heard—not the theory, because that did seem to fit what she knew of Blaise, but that Blaise would go to such extreme lengths to get her back after tossing her so thoughtlessly and unkindly aside. How completely...idiotic.
But then, as Ron would say, the man was a complete wanker, so nothing Zabini did made much sense to her anyway.
"Sounds as if you know a lot about the situation?" she said, looking askance at her lover. "Have you been watching over me from the sidelines at every event to make sure he doesn't overstep his bounds?"
When he didn't answer, just kept pulling on that thread, she knew he had been doing exactly that.
"Why would you–?"
She stopped, realising exactly why he would put himself in that situation: because he'd clearly had some feelings for her beyond teasing and friendship for years. His Veela certainly seemed to have had, anyway.
"Well, the 'why' doesn't much matter, I suppose. I do appreciate the concern, however." She made to get up, her legs wobbly, but holding. "Regardless, we should both go in to St. Mungo's and get a blood panel done to determine if we were drugged or not," she said, knowing that if it was true, Zabini needed to be arrested for attempted rape. "If Blaise is to be brought up on charges, we need to be official about such things."
Draco sat up abruptly. "Let's not be so hasty! I only said I suspected your ex of doing something that low. I have no actual proof. I certainly didn't see him put something in your drink. Hell, it could just as easily have been Pansy's hired fairies dancing around the reception hall, spreading their 'lust dust' everywhere for all we know. She'd wanted an 'authentic' garden wedding reception, and that included fairies being plied with free nectar to get them to spread the love around so the guests could loosen up a bit. That's not a capital offence, but throwing a sex-pollen party could land her before a magistrate to pay some hefty fines if someone had a bone to pick with her, you know?"
Hermione considered his well-delivered argument…as well as what he wasn't saying about wanting to keep his Veela heritage a secret. It was clear he was panicked about the hospital discovering the genetic anomalies in his blood, and that word might spread that the 'purest of pure-blood families' wasn't quite so genuine about their magical status after all. How she knew this she couldn't say for certain, although she suspected the psychic link between them was to blame. She wasn't reading Draco's mind, per se, but she was picking up on some strong emotional vibes coming from him that had her intuition ringing loud and clear in her head.
Basically, he was afraid, nearer to panic, really. It was obvious he did not want her going to St. Mungo's and getting any blood work done.
His fear reached out and pleaded with her, and Hermione found her heart could not deny him.
"Alright, no trip to the hospital," she agreed, and he sagged with relief. "But that means no recovery of the memory of our first time together and no way of discovering the real reason why that is."
Her disappointment must have been psychically palpable, because Draco reacted to it. He gathered her into his arms and held her close once more. Draped across him in an inelegant, but comfortable sprawl, she let him soothe her, taking some comfort from the fact that a decision had been made, and although it wasn't real closure with an actual answer, it was enough of a compromise for her mind to finally make a grudging peace with it.
Shutting her eyes, she leaned against him, surrounded by his love, and let herself be lulled by his steady heartbeat thumping away under her ear. The boat continued to rock in its mooring under them, and to her surprise, she was finding the gentle swaying to be comforting, too.
"There's always a Pensieve," he offered sometime later, after they'd both nodded off again for a bit.
With a lazy stretch, Hermione sat up and glanced around. The light coming in through the window nearby indicated it was now mid-afternoon, and her stomach growled, reminding her that she hadn't eaten since the night before.
"I don't own one," she told him. Pensieves were notoriously expensive, and far beyond her simple Auror's salary. "We'd have to rent one, or ask Minerva to borrow the one in the Headmaster's office at Hogwarts."
Draco watched her get up and look around for her knickers. He was smiling when she squatted down by the side of the bed to look under it, and the expression made his face look years younger. "I've got one back at the Manor," he admitted, and she noted how he openly admired her backside from his position on the bed above her. She could even feel through the psychic link between them how his erection was making a valiant effort to rise once more. "Perhaps between the two of us, we can piece together last night that way, in private?"
As she found her knickers—giving a triumphant, 'A-ha!' as she extracted them from the other side of the bedand slipped them up her legs—she wondered aloud, "Speaking of 'private', that reminds me: why didn't you take me back to your Manor for our 'wedding night'? Why bring me here instead?"
Had he been too embarrassed to face his parents, whom she knew still lived within his family's ancestral home, too?
"The yacht is mine," he explained, clearly having heard her internal monologue and wanting to set the record straight for her. "It gives me the freedom to go wherever I want, whenever I want. It's my private space, my solace. I come here sometimes after a particularly hard case to unwind and detox…and I've never shared it with anyone else until you." He stood and drew her into his embrace once more, placing a gentle kiss to her forehead. "There were no bad memories here, either, to ruin our time together."
"You sound like you'd planned out eventually bringing me here."
The idea made her chest go tight with love for him.
Had he been thinking about it for ten, long years? If so, what was with all the other witches he'd dated? Why hadn't he indicated interest sooner? When, exactly, had he decided that he'd had feelings for her? Why had it taken being drugged either by Zabini or fairies (or anyone, for that matter) to get him to admit he'd liked her?
Draco rubbed at his temple. "You're never going to stop that, are you? Rotting my brain with your constant questions."
"Probably not," she admitted with sham solemnity and a tiny shrug. Truthfully, she figured that if she had to suffer wondering mad things about their relationship, then so did he. After all, if he'd just made a move sooner, she wouldn't be have been in such a state of confusion and frustration to begin with, right? "I think you're in for a miserable hundred or so years with me. Are you absolutely sure that's what you want?"
Rather than reply, Draco growled and bent his head to capture her mouth in a series of tender, teasing kisses. That weird purring started up in his chest again, making her body react with renewed wanting.
Seriously, could a person shag themselves to death?
"We'll have years in which to make new memories, my Granger," he told her around kisses, "so I'm not so concerned about last night's missing marathon."
Strangely, that response actually made her feel better. "So, you're saying, it's not how you start the journey that matters?"
"Right. Being with you to the end is all I care about, love."
Perhaps she'd been wrong when she'd first woken up in bed today and panicked, she thought as she shoved Draco back onto the bed and straddled his lap, ignoring her growling stomach and instead hungrily attacking his mouth. Maybe a drunken one-off wasn't the worst way to begin something new…even if it had been owed to being forced to wear the worst bridesmaid's dress this side of Hell, and of having been tricked by an obssessed ex, or a bunch of fairies, or even a wily Veela mating imperative, and of coping with the rhythmic rolling of a yacht under her (which was beginning to make her feel horny again as it forced her into intimate contact with a certain lovely, long erection).
Maybe, being uninhibited was the perfect way to turn the page on 'what if…?' and to celebrate a new chapter in one's life.
Author's Final Notes:
I hope you enjoyed this silly journey between Veela!Draco and Hermione. Leave me a note and let me know, yeah?