Harry, Ron and Ginny watched Hermione's question and answer session along with Molly. However, once it was over and the book signing got underway, Molly announced she was leaving. She wasn't at all impressed, and had no desire to encourage Hermione and her naughty literature. When Molly left, Harry suggested they all went, but Ginny refused to leave without getting her book signed. Of course, Harry and Ron knew getting her book signed was just an excuse to speak with Hermione, so they let her get on with it.
Shortly after Ginny returned to them, with her freshly signed book, they were surprised to be approached by someone from Hermione's publishers. However, when they realised the young girl had no idea of their past, and assumed they were friends, Ron and Ginny couldn't help but grasp onto the opportunity to go and cause a bit more trouble for Hermione. Even after eight years, the pair were still mad at Hermione for what was said at their last encounter, not to mention the fact she didn't listen to their advice and ended up being used by the Malfoys.
"You know, I'm really not so sure of this," Harry said as the trio left Flourish and Blotts. "Whatever this drinks party is, it's clearly for Hermione. I don't think we should turn up uninvited and cause trouble."
"We're not uninvited, this proves otherwise," Ron retorted, flashing the card with the details of the drinks party in front of Harry's face. "And who says we're going to cause trouble?"
"You mean, you're not?" Harry asked.
"No, we're not going to cause trouble," Ginny reassured her husband. "But you have to admit, it would be nice to confront Hermione. All we tried to do all those years ago was stop her from making a mistake getting involved with the Malfoys, and she turned on us. I think it's only right that we should be a bit superior that we've been proven right. If she'd listened to us, she would have saved herself the humiliation of being dropped by Narcissa Malfoy's fancy charity the moment it was on its feet."
"Even so, I don't want to ruin anything for her," Harry insisted. "True, she should have listened to us all those years ago, but she looks to have a pretty good life now."
"What, writing trashy books about a subject she knows nothing about?" Ginny scoffed. "Please, she's writing about a dream world, with hot men and sizzling sex, because her own life sucks."
"Come on, Harry, don't be such a stick in the mud," Ron urged. "We'll just pop along, have a drink, and let Hermione know she messed up by walking out on us. We'll then leave, and never have to see her again."
Harry opened his mouth to argue that Hermione didn't walk out, she was thrown out, but decided against it. He'd learnt eight years ago that too much had passed between Hermione and the Weasleys for anything to change. Ron and Ginny would never forgive her for choosing the Malfoys over them, and even though Harry would love to reconnect with Hermione, he couldn't do so without upsetting the pair, and that was something he wasn't prepared to do. Ginny was his wife and Ron was his best friend, and at the end of the day, they were the two most important people in his life. He wasn't going to risk that for someone he hadn't spoken to in eight years.
Ron and Ginny took Harry's silence as acceptance of their plan. Checking the time of the gathering, they found they had just enough time to go home and get changed into something a bit fancier. From there they then headed to the hotel where the drinks reception was being held, and using the information on the card, they found the ballroom where the party was just getting underway.
The room was a vast room, with a bar at one end alongside a table of canapés. Tables and chairs were dotted around the room, and soft music played as people stood about in small clusters. The trio didn't recognise most of the people in the room, and took them to be people involved in the literary world. However, they did surprisingly recognise a few faces. Sitting at a table not too far away was Narcissa Malfoy, chatting happily with an elegant witch who looked to be about her age. Narcissa's husband, Lucius, was standing not far away with a group of wizards.
The Malfoys weren't the only Slytherins in the room, as Harry, Ron and Ginny quickly spotted, Blaise Zabini, Theo Nott, Daphne Greengrass and Pansy Parkinson over the other side of the room.
"What's with the Slytherins?" Ginny asked with a frown as Gregory Goyle passed by them without noticing them.
"Maybe we're in the wrong room," Ron suggested.
"And what room where you trying to find?" Asked a very familiar voice behind them.
Shocked at the voice, the trio turned round and found themselves standing in front of an unimpressed looking George. Angelina was at her husband's side, and she looked just as perturbed by the trio's presence.
"What the hell are you doing here?" Ginny hissed at her brother.
"We were invited, but I doubt you three were," George replied. "So that begs the question, what are you doing here?"
"We were invited," Ginny sniffed haughtily. "Some girl from a publishing firm, asked us to come along to Hermione's party."
"Not that this looks like Hermione's party," Ron muttered, taking another look around and seeing no sign of his former friend.
"It is," George reassured his siblings. "But no-one wants any trouble. Why don't you leave before Hermione arrives?"
"And why would we do that?" Ron asked with a snort.
"Because Hermione was once your friend, and as such you should show her some decency," George retorted. "Don't be stupid and wreck her big day."
"George's right, we should leave," Harry said quietly.
"We were invited and we're not going anywhere," Ginny insisted, giving her husband an unimpressed glare, before refocusing on her older brother. "And just why were you invited, George?"
"We're here as Hermione's friends," Angelina answered.
"Friends? But we haven't spoken in eight years," Ron argued.
"You might not have spoken to Hermione, but we have," George replied. "Not all of shut her out of our lives. We've never stopped being friends."
"Even after what she did?" Ginny asked in disbelief.
"She didn't do anything," Angelina said with a rueful shake of her head. "All she did was take a job you three didn't approve of."
"And we were proved right," Ron sneered. "The second the charity was up and running, Hermione was cast aside."
"You really know nothing, do you?" George retorted with an unimpressed snort. "Hermione is still a director of the charity. Once the charity was up and running, she just took a step backwards to forge a career of her own. Even now, she's still heavily involved in the charity and attends most of their fundraisers."
"Oh," Ginny muttered, some of her bluster having disappeared now they'd discovered that Hermione hadn't been cast aside as they thought.
"I guess that explains the Slytherins," Harry remarked. "If Hermione is still involved with the charity, she must interact with the Malfoys and their friends on a regular basis."
"I guess that's one way of describing her relationship with the family," George said with an amused smirk.
"Don't tell me she's actually friends with this lot," Ron groaned. "I didn't think even Hermione was that stupid."
George didn't get a chance to answer, before Ginny let out a loud gasp and pointed to the doorway. Entering the room was Hermione, wearing a stunning silver gown with an emerald green design down the right hand side. On her arm was Draco, and the couple were whispering together as they entered the party.
"I don't believe it," Ron muttered, unable to take his eyes off Hermione.
"Malfoy," Ginny spluttered. "She's with Malfoy."
"Did you not know?" George asked with an amused laugh. "Well now you do. And if you want my advice, I'd leave now before they spot you. Draco's not your biggest fan, and I'd hate to think what he'd do if you dared to have a go at his wife. He's rather protective of Hermione."
"Wife?" Harry squeaked, almost choking on the words.
"Yes, Hermione's a Malfoy now," George confirmed with a large grin. "Not bad for a girl you all thought was throwing her life away joining forces with Narcissa. It turns out, it was the best thing she ever did."
Taking hold of Angelina's hand, George swept past the trio and left them pondering what they'd learnt. However, the trio were still standing in the middle of the room in shock when Hermione got her eye on them. Excusing herself from Draco's side, she left her husband talking to her old boss at the publishers, while she approached her former friends.
"What are you three doing here?" She asked, moving over to the side of the room where they hopefully wouldn't be noticed.
"That young girl asked us," Ginny answered, pointing across the room to where Holly was sipping nervously on a drink.
"Holly asked you? Why?" Hermione frowned.
"She thought we were still friends," Harry explained.
"And it never crossed any of your minds to put her straight?" Hermione questioned. "No, of course it didn't," She muttered. "Let's guess, you came here to have another go."
"Another?" Harry queried, glancing at his wife and wondering what she'd said to Hermione at the book signing.
"Look, we are not doing this here," Hermione insisted. "We'll step outside and you can say what you want, and then you can leave."
"And what if we don't want to leave?" Ron demanded, crossing his arms over his chest and staring defiantly at Hermione.
"I'll be forced to get you removed," Hermione replied with a shrug. "Even if we don't count hotel security, I have several people who would willingly help remove you."
"Let's guess, Malfoy," Ron spat.
"He's one," Hermione confirmed with a nod. "Not to mention three of his friends, his father and one of your brothers. It would have been three, but Charlie couldn't make it over from Romania and Bill and Fleur had to get back as they had plans for this evening."
Hermione couldn't help but chuckle at the trio's dazed expressions as they learnt she still had friends amongst their family. Not giving any of them a chance to respond, she turned on her heel and walked out of the ballroom. As expected, the trio followed her out within seconds. Not that they were the only ones, as just behind her former friends was her husband.
"Is everything okay here?" Draco asked, eying the former Gryffindors with disdain.
"This is none of your business, Malfoy," Ron snarled. "So, piss off."
"I think I'll stay." Pushing past Ron, Draco walked over to Hermione and slid his arm around her waist.
"I can't believe you married that waste of space," Ron spat. "Do you not have any standards, Hermione?"
"My personal life is my own affair," Hermione answered, taking hold of Draco's hand to keep him calm. "And I couldn't care less what you think of my husband."
"I think he's an evil bastard," Ron seethed. "In case you've forgotten, he was a Death Eater."
"You know as well as I do that he was forced to take the mark," Hermione argued. "And before you say anything else, I don't want to hear it. Until you know what it's like to have a dark wizard threatening your mother and torturing you, you have no right to judge Draco's actions. Now, I'm assuming there was another reason you came here. Or did you just come to insult my husband?"
"We didn't even know he was your husband," Ginny muttered. "No-one bothered to tell us."
"Why would I?" Hermione asked with a shrug. "You cut me off just for setting up a charity with Narcissa. How would you have reacted to the fact I was involved with Draco?"
"That's enough," Harry snapped, jumping in just as Ron and Ginny both opened their mouths to retaliate. "We didn't come here to cause trouble. We just wanted to say a proper hello. We also wanted to congratulate you on your books."
Hermione raised a disbelieving eyebrow at Ron and Ginny, but neither redhead contradicted Harry, even though it looked as though they desperately wanted to. "Thank you," She finally said. "Although you could have said all this at the book signing."
"Of course they couldn't," Draco snorted. "That's not why they're here. My guess is they came to cause trouble. Well, more trouble than they've already caused."
"We did not," Ginny snapped.
"You certainly weren't congratulating Hermione earlier, so what's changed?" Draco asked. He knew all about what Ginny had said to Hermione in the bookstore, and he could tell the younger witch wasn't at all happy with Hermione's success as an author.
"Fine, we didn't come to say hello," Ginny replied with a shrug. "We came to see how it felt like to be proven wrong."
"How was I proved wrong?" Hermione asked in confusion.
"We thought everything had gone wrong with the charity," Harry admitted sheepishly. "We didn't think you were still associated with it."
"So you came to gloat," Hermione said as understanding dawned on her. "You thought everything you said was right. You thought Narcissa had used me for the publicity and then dumped me."
"Something like that," Ginny muttered.
"You're pathetic," Hermione hissed at the trio. "Even if that was what had happened, it's pathetic that eight years later you've still got nothing better to do than hold ridiculous grudges. What does it matter to any of you what my life is like? You made it clear you wanted nothing more to do with me, and guess what, you don't. You're not a part of my life anymore, and I have no desire to change that fact. Just stay away from me and my family. Go back to your own lives, and stay the hell away from mine."
Leaving the trio in a state of shock, Hermione headed back into the ballroom with Draco at her side. For a long time the trio remained outside of the ballroom, unsure of what to do. Ron and Ginny both suggested heading back inside and letting Hermione know what they really thought of her, but Harry wasn't having any of it. They'd embarrassed themselves enough already in his eyes. It was time to cut their losses and go home, all the while accepting that Hermione was no longer part of their life. They'd thrown her away all those years ago, and instead of pining after them or come crawling back to them, she'd picked herself up and moved on with her life. In fact, she created an even better life for herself without Harry, Ron or Ginny being a part of it.
A/N – Thanks for reading and reviewing. I hope you all enjoyed the end.