Following the drama of Ginny's 'accident', her subsequent departure from Hogwarts, and Draco's confession to his friends, things settled down at school. Hermione had been braced for potential come back from some students who might have believed Ginny's claims about her accident, but none arrived. Between the articles in the papers, and the way the Weasleys had behaved recently, their credibility was gone, and very few tears were shed for Ginny and the situation she found herself in.
With Ginny and the Weasleys dealt with, and out of the picture for the foreseeable future, Hermione's attention refocused on exams and planning for the future. In the midst of studying for her exams, Hermione spoke to Luna about taking up a teaching position once she left Hogwarts. With Blaise's future looking set to be tied up in The Three Broomsticks and Hogsmeade, Luna was receptive to the idea and she loved Hermione's suggestion that she focused on Care of Magical Creatures as her specialise subject. By the end of the conversation, Hermione was satisfied that Luna would join the staff at Hogwarts once she'd finished her education the following year.
As well as Luna agreeing to seriously think about joining her staff, Hermione received some good news from Theo and Padma when the couple approached her and informed her that they wanted to take up her offer to join the staff. Theo had settled on Charms as the area he wanted to focus on, while Padma had opted for Transfiguration. Padma had even suggested that Hermione should talk to her sister, Parvati, about joining the staff in the Divination department. Given the fact Hermione had never really gotten along with Parvati, she was wary about approaching Padma's twin, but when she did, she found Parvati was keen on joining the staff and she was more than happy to put the past behind them and start afresh.
"Now we've just got exams to get through," Hermione told Draco as she filled him in on all the progress she was making with the new staffing arrangements.
"There's no problem there, you'll walk through the exams. You always do," Draco replied.
"I have in the past, but things have been pretty hectic this year," Hermione argued. "I haven't studied as much as I would normally have done."
"And you'll still walk the exams," Draco reiterated. "It doesn't matter if you've studied or not, you know this stuff like the back of your hand. Besides, what do your exam results mean anyway? You've got the future sorted."
"It matters because I need to show everyone I'm qualified to run a school," Hermione said. "I can't just start throwing my weight around at Hogwarts and re-organising the education system without having some sort of credentials. I need to ace these exams to prove to people I can handle the task in front of me."
"Do you really think anyone would protest about what you want to do?" Draco questioned. "Firstly, who would dare go up against The Dark Lord's family, especially with everything that's happened to the Weasleys? And secondly, why would anyone protest to what you're planning on doing? All you want to do is make the education system better, and help the younger generation."
"Maybe I need to hire you as my cheerleader," Hermione laughed. "You can sing my praises to the wizarding world."
"You don't need me," Draco said, smiling at his fiancée as he pulled her into his arms. "Anyone with half a brain will see you're just improving our world. And anyone who can't see that, isn't worth bothering with. Besides, you can always get Harry to shut them up once he's Minister of Magic. With the pair of you in charge, no-one would dare stand against the changes that are coming."
"Let's hope so," Hermione replied. "But just in case, let's get back to the studying. The first exam is next week and we need to prepare."
"As you wish," Draco said with a sigh, as he let Hermione leave his embrace and grab her books. Hopefully after a few hours studying she would be up for a bit of relaxation, but he knew that right now he wouldn't be able to get her to leave her books until she'd managed at least a couple of hours studying.
After nearly two weeks of both practical and written exams, the seventh years reached the end of their N.E.W.T.S. However, there was still a couple of weeks before the end of the year, and there was one final set of quidditch matches to be played to decide the winner of the quidditch cup. To no-one's surprise the two teams contesting the cup were Gryffindor and Slytherin, and they were due to play the final match of the season.
On the afternoon of the match, the students and staff gathered in the quidditch stands to watch the match. Even the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs were out in force, hoping that it would be the last year that their teams were out of the running before the end of the season. Hermione had heard more than one of the younger students hoping that things would be different once Harry and Draco left Hogwarts and the two houses had to rebuild the heart of their teams. However, for now the two wizards were both playing as captain and seeker, and the entire school wanted to see who would emerge triumphant one final time.
While everyone flooded into the stands, Hermione had to decide where to sit to watch the match. Most of her friends were sitting in the Slytherin stands, but she was still a Gryffindor and still had friends among the lions. Plus, she wasn't quite sure where her loyalties lay in regards of who she wanted to win. She wanted both Harry and Draco to leave Hogwarts as champions, but she knew that couldn't happen. Either her nephew or her fiancé were going to come away disappointed, and she really didn't know which one she would prefer to be victorious.
"Damn those two," Hermione muttered as she headed into the Gryffindor stands for one final time.
Hermione settled down at the front of the box next to Neville, although when he asked her who she was supporting she had no idea what to say.
"It must be hard," Neville said with a chuckle. "I wouldn't want to be in your shoes. I'm lucky that all my loyalties lie with Gryffindor."
"I could always trying staying neutral," Hermione suggested.
"You could," Neville agreed with a nod. "Or you could wait until the game starts, and see which team you find yourself cheering for."
Five minutes later, Neville's prediction about how to sort out who she was supporting came true as she rose to her feet in amongst the sea of red and gold to cheer for a Slytherin goal. It would seem she'd chosen her side subconsciously and her fiancé had trumped her nephew.
"I think I might get lynched," Hermione whispered to Neville as she cheered for another Slytherin goal while the rest of the Gryffindors groaned.
"Maybe you should have switched seats with Daphne Greengrass," Neville said. "I passed her earlier and she was wearing a Gryffindor scarf. Although I have to say, she's brave wearing our colours among the snakes."
"Now I don't feel so bad cheering for Draco," Hermione replied. "At least Harry has some support."
"Yeah, he does," Neville agreed, rising to his feet as Gryffindor scored. "Go Gryffindor!"
For the next hour, Hermione and Neville chatted happily as they watched the match and cheered for the two teams. During that time, Draco and Harry played very little part in the match and there was very little excitement from the two seekers. For the time being, the match was all about the goals the chasers could score, and Harry and Draco were mere spectators as they searched for the elusive snitch.
"Are you sure they released the snitch?" Neville asked as another half hour passed.
"Maybe it flew off," Hermione suggested with a laugh. "I haven't seen it at all since this match started."
"Neither have Harry or Malfoy," Neville said.
Fortunately the snitch did eventually put in an appearance, and both Draco and Harry spotted it at the same time. Once they had the snitch in their sights neither wizard was letting it go and they set off chasing it around the stadium. Once the crowds realised the two seekers were on the tail of the snitch, all the attention was on them as they raced around the stadium, flying neck and neck.
"This is going to be close," Neville cried over the roar of the cheering crowd.
"Very," Hermione agreed. She'd always known Draco and Harry had roughly the same ability on a broom, and this match was just proving how closely matched they were.
Neville's prediction was once again accurate as Draco and Harry jostled for prime position to catch the snitch. As the pair flew towards the ground they both lunged for the snitch, and subsequently tumbled off their brooms. Fortunately they were close to the ground and neither sustained any major injuries as they tumbled to the lush green grass.
"Have they got it?" Neville asked as he and Hermione peered over the edge of the stand.
"I don't know," Hermione replied, more concerned with any potential injuries her fiancé and nephew might have sustained.
Hermione breathed a sigh of relief as both Draco and Harry began to disentangle themselves from the pile they were lying in. While Hermione was checking out the pair for injuries, everyone else wanted to see if either of them had caught the snitch. From the looks of confusion on the two seekers faces, they weren't sure if they'd caught it either. Hermione watched as they exchanged glances, before they both reached out hands that were held tightly around something, or at least one of them had their hand around something, the other one was merely holding fresh air. Simultaneously they opened their hands and the snitch was revealed nestled on one of their palms.
"Draco Malfoy has caught the snitch," the match announcer called. "Slytherin win."
Hermione clapped and cheered at the win, although her heart went out to Harry. It really had been the closest of games, and it was just unfortunate that someone had to lose. It could easily have been Draco who lost, and Hermione was pleased to see her fiancé consoling Harry rather than rubbing the win in his face. Hermione watched the pair, as Harry clapped Draco on the shoulder and urged him to celebrate with his team.
Draco remounted his broom, and flew off to join the rest of the team as they celebrated in the air. He remained with the team for a few minutes before he turned in the direction of the Gryffindor stand and skidded to a halt in front of where Hermione was standing with Neville.
"Fancy a quick ride?" he asked with a wide grin, extending his hand for Hermione.
"I don't fly," Hermione countered.
"Come on, Hermione," Draco urged. "Just one quick lap of victory, and I'll have you safely on the ground again."
Hermione was unable to resist Draco when he was in such an exuberant mood, so she pushed down her nerves and carefully allowed him to help her onto his broom. Once she was seated behind him, clinging on for dear life, he took off around the pitch. They quickly joined by the other Slytherins and the team soared around the stadium, basking in the cheers of their housemates, before returning to earth.
"Don't forget, there's a party in the dungeons tonight," Blaise called as he headed towards the changing rooms with the rest of the team. "No private partying, Draco. We expect out captain to be there."
"What do you think?" Draco asked, helping Hermione off the broom. "Do you fancy attending a Slytherin party?"
"It sounds good to me," Hermione replied. "Will Harry be there with Daphne?"
"I'm guessing so," Draco said. "Unless he can't stomach a winner's party."
"I'll see if I can find out while you're getting changed," Hermione said, looking around to see if she could see her nephew or his girlfriend.
"And here was me thinking you liked me in my quidditch gear," Draco said, drawing Hermione's attention back towards him. "I was hoping you would help me get out of it."
"In the changing rooms with the rest of the team?" Hermione questioned with an arched eyebrow.
"I was thinking more like our dorms," Draco replied. "The party won't get going for an hour or so."
"Come on then, let's go," Hermione said, grinning at her fiancé and grabbing hold of his hand.
On the way they spotted Daphne, and after confirming that Harry would be at the party, they promised to see them both down in the dungeons. However, before they partied they had their own private celebration to get to – one which involved a lot less clothes and a lot more heated action.