A/N: Oh, my dears. We've come to the end. I'm so honored that you shared this journey with me. From those of you who have been with me from the beginning, to those who are brand new, thank you.
Also, I'm pleased to announce that I received the following awards in the 2018 Enchanted Awards:
RUNNER UP: Best In-Character Hermione
RUNNER UP: Best Work in Progress
WINNER: Admin Brittani's pick for Favorite of the Season
See the end for more notes.
After leaving St. Mungo's, Hermione headed back to the office to close up and grab the belongings she'd left behind, including her dance bag.
She had her very last lesson with Miss Truesdale tonight. Then on Saturday, her last lesson with Monseiur DuBois, and on Sunday morning her last lesson with Madame Bernard. Tuesday would be her last lesson with Madame Michele, and the last tenth of the inheritance would transfer at 9PM.
She spent some time answering letters and catching up on her desk, reading the evening Prophet detailing as much of Lucius Malfoy's condition as Skeeter knew. She left the office with five minutes to spare before her lesson, Apparating to a point several blocks away from the small dance studio. Hermione was glad to be done with these classes, but even more so after her conversation with Lucius Malfoy that day.
You would have taken those classes sooner or later.
She shook her head to clear it as she sprinted inside, quickly shucking her scarf, coat, and mittens, and hanging them on the coat rack in the tiny lobby area just outside the studio door.
She kicked off her rain boots, strapped on the little ballet slippers, and grabbed the two-inch heels that Miss Truesdale had her practice in. She was so glad Pansy had her in a dress today, or else she would have to change into one of the studio's rehearsal skirts.
She turned to rush into the studio, with seconds to spare, and found Draco. Sitting in the tiny lobby waiting area, watching her.
She gasped in shock, then flushed in embarrassment at her own melodrama.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, hand over her heart. "Is everything – Is your father doing alright?"
He nodded and stood, placing his hands in his pockets. Still watching her.
"Then why are you…" She caught her breath. Was he here to shame her about the classes? To forbid her to help him anymore? "I'm taking these classes, Draco," she tried, firmly. "I only have one more week left, and I intend to finish. The inheritance will transfer and that's that. I made a deal."
He nodded at the floor. She watched him, waiting. He gave her a small smirk and pulled the door open, holding it for her. "After you."
She stared at him, not comprehending. She felt her feet move, and entered the bright studio, feeling him follow her.
Miss Truesdale was at the gramophone, her back to them.
"Miss Granger, you are two minutes late." Her stern voice carried to them across the hardwood floors.
Hermione opened her mouth to apologize, but Draco cut her off.
"I'm afraid that was my fault, Miss Truesdale."
The ex-ballerina spun around in a delicate twirl, and when her eyes landed on Draco, they shone.
"Young Mr. Malfoy! What a lovely surprise." The seventy-year-old woman – who still insisted on being called "miss" – let her eyes wander down Draco's form as he crossed the floor, smiling at her and taking her hand to kiss her knuckles. "You have been so missed."
Draco grinned, and Hermione tried not to roll her eyes, wondering if these teachers who sang his praises actually remembered his talents, or if they were just enamored by him and his mother. Was he really this excellent at everything?
Miss Truesdale asked Draco about Narcissa, gave her condolences on his father's health, and flicked her wand at the gramophone, shooing Hermione like a fly towards the ballet bar. Hermione frowned at the old bat, and began her warm-up. She tried to ignore the chatter from them, focusing on why Draco was here, sitting in a chair at the front of the room.
Miss Truesdale's voice floated to her. "If you are here to check on her progress, Mr. Malfoy, I am sorry to report that she needs much more time and focus to truly compare to girls her age."
Hermione pressed her lips together to keep from barking back as she came down from her final position at the bar. She heard Draco chuckle. Miss Truesdale waved her wand and footprints appeared on the studio floor, laying out the routine she would be learning.
"Miss Granger," she said. "We will learn Viennese Waltz formations today. Change your shoes."
Hermione quickly swapped her ballet flats for the practice heels and joined Miss Truesdale at the center of the room. The older woman one-two-three'd her way across the floor. Hermione watched the woman's feet match perfectly on each footprint, spinning in circles, and confusing Hermione's eyes.
When Hermione stepped up to try it, she avoided Draco's stare. It felt like flying class at Hogwarts all over again, everyone watching as the know-it-all found something she didn't know.
She stumbled over the footprints several times, and heard a "tsk tsk" from the general direction of the gramophone.
"You see, Mr. Malfoy? She is unfocused and uncoordinated."
"Hm," Draco chuckled, and she ignored his eyes on her. "Perhaps she's been working too long without a partner."
She looked at him, feet fumbling as he approached her. She stared at him in horror as he reached for her hand and her waist.
"Er, I don't quite know the steps yet –"
"Come on, Granger. Let me take you for a spin."
She watched as he slipped one hand across her ribs as the other grasped her hand. She heard the music start up, and looked down at her feet as Miss Truesdale counted them in.
"Look at me," he whispered, and she looked into his eyes just as he stepped forward. She countered back. She held his stare as he turned them to face the corner of the room, and as his palm on her ribs guided her to step a certain way. She didn't blink away from him when Miss Truesdale called out, something about staying on her toes.
They returned to center, and his eyes were smirking at her. Miss Truesdale was giving notes, leathery fingers tilting her head, and prodding at her spine. She tried to concentrate on the feeling of being in his arms.
Working too long without a partner.
When they tried again, adding a bit more complexity, she focused on the feeling of Draco's thighs brushing hers as he led them around the room. She felt very light and free, and when he lifted their hands, and pushed her ribs to spin her underneath, her feet obeyed and she floated back into his arms. Her jaw opened and she burst out a laugh when he lifted a brow at her.
Miss Truesdale was quite pleased with her performance, but reminded her that ballroom dancing was no laughing matter. The ex-ballerina had Draco lead her through several other dance forms Hermione had been working on over the weeks. And Draco was right. It was infinitely easier with a partner.
The music played for the French Waltz. Her eyes snapped to him, and the corner of his mouth tilted upward. He bowed to her, and she responded with a curtsey. He reached for her, and she moved into his arms, beginning the dance she knew so well. For the first time, as his partner.
After twisting about the room with Draco, she couldn't help but think of how light his hand was on her ribs compared to Viktor's firm grip. How Viktor would need to stare at his feet for the third formation, but Draco keep his eyes on her.
She separated from him, moving to dance with the imaginary man two couples away. The place Draco had always been.
She faced the mirror on the side wall of the dance studio, and saw her hair was falling out of its ponytail, her face was flushed, and she had a silly grin on her face. Over her reflection's shoulder, she watched as Draco bowed. He rose, spine straight like always, and the mirror in front of him showed her his face as he caught her eyes. She felt the silly grin spreading as she dipped into a curtsey.
He brought his right hand up, palm facing his reflection and his imaginary partner. She brought hers up, like she had twice before when it was him in front of her. His eyes sparkled at her reflection in the mirror, and as he stepped forward to spin around, she watched a thousand different Dracos and Hermiones dance around each other in the bouncing reflections.
She thought of how terrified she felt when she had spun to him at the Yule Ball. How she waited for him to spit venom at her, and he had only bowed, watching her closely. She had felt out of breath as she brought her hand to his, keeping their skin from connecting, afraid he would snap at her, reel back and wipe his hand on his pant leg.
She turned around herself and caught his eyes across the room, and laughed.
"Miss Granger. Keep focused on your new partner."
This made her laugh harder. Draco smiled at her, biting his cheek.
"You must give your full attention to the new partner you meet," Miss Truesdale called. Hermione finished the circle and faced the mirror again, watching Draco's reflection. "The new partner in the French Waltz signifies the end of our youthful escapades." Hermione bit her tongue to keep from commenting on the significance of ballroom dancing. She turned and moved back to Draco, meeting again in the center of the room. Miss Truesdale continued, narrating their movements.
"And in returning to your original partner" – she faced Draco again – "it signifies that you have forsaken all others," – Hermione watched as Draco lifted his hand chest-level again, waiting – "and you have chosen your partner for life."
She blinked up at him. He swallowed. She lifted her hand, bringing it palm-to-palm with him, and just before they started the final spin around each other, she pressed her skin to his.
They stepped around each other. His hand was warm, and pressed against hers. She bit her lip, watching his face as they finished.
He bowed. She curtseyed. His eyes were deep and almost blue.
"Adequate, Miss Granger."
Miss Truesdale's voice broke her out of her trance. She shook her head, taking a deep breath, and listened while the woman gave her notes.
Hermione thanked her. She stood stoically while Miss Truesdale suggested a few beginner classes that she taught over the summer to the students while they were out of school. She offered for Hermione to join the twelve-year-old pure-bloods, as that was the level she was currently at. Hermione raised a brow and responded, "I'll consider it."
Hermione waved goodbye to the crocodile-woman. Draco held the door open for her to the lobby, biting back a smile.
As the door swung closed, he said, "For what it's worth, I think you're on level with fourteen-year-olds. At least."
She sent him a withering glare as she changed her shoes and bundled up again.
"Do you and Monsieur DuBois always meet at that café?"
She looked up at him. "Er… yes, mainly. Why?"
"And you and Madame Bernard have tea at that French restaurant?"
She narrowed her eyes. "Why?"
"Like I said." He reached up and tucked her scarf in. "You've been working too long without a partner."
He lifted a brow and exited into the brisk evening air.
The next day at the office, Hermione was swamped preparing for the first day of the werewolf trial on Monday. She barely saw Draco once, but there was a cup of coffee waiting for her on her desk when she got in.
On Saturday, she arrived at the café to find Draco already sitting and chatting with Monsieur DuBois, laughing at something the instructor said. She pulled a chair and Monsieur DuBois promptly ignored her for the first ten minutes, then finally began quizzing her on modern architecture.
Sunday morning Draco was there with Madame Bernard, and the older woman thought it was the perfect opportunity for Hermione to test her skills and try to plan an imaginary party at the Manor with Draco. Draco insisted on everything being green and silver, just to piss her off.
On both occasions, he said goodbye immediately after the lesson. He didn't offer to walk her back to Cornerstone, and he didn't show any affection towards her. Not that he could. They were never alone. By Monday morning, she was seriously confused on their relationship status.
He greeted her with coffee at the reception desk that morning. She thanked him, and he walked her the twenty feet to her door, discussing the day ahead. Draco would head to the Ministry early to handle Skeeter so that Hermione and Waterstone could focus on the case.
She took twenty minutes to gather her notes and practice her opening arguments before she started packing up. She should have known to close her door.
"So, your coffee delivery is back on schedule, I see."
She looked up to see Blaise in her doorway, holding a teacup.
"Hello, Blaise. I'm just on my way out."
He watched her quietly as she fumbled around with paperwork. When he didn't leave, she flipped her eyes to him.
"The two of you made up?" he asked, brow lifting. He took a sip of his tea.
She looked over his shoulder for eavesdroppers. "Er, yes, in a way."
"Nothing a little life-or-death, can't cure, eh?"
She looked at him again. There was an edge to his voice and a tightness in his lips.
"Is there something you need, Blaise?"
He sipped from his cup again, emptying it. Then vanished it with a wave and shut the door behind him. She watched as he placed his hands in his pockets and leaned back.
"I need to ask you a question, Granger. One that I posed to him a long time ago." Blaise watched her carefully, and Hermione felt her brows pulling together. "Is this a game?"
She blinked at him. "A game?"
"A bit of cat-and-mouse? Something to break the rules a bit?" He shrugged at her, and she felt very cold. "Or…are you in it for the long haul?"
She opened her mouth to reply and it was like she'd been Confunded.
"Because if you're not going to see this all the way through," he said, leveling his eyes on her, "then I beg you…. Back the fuck off."
She felt like she'd been slapped. She hadn't seen Blaise's eyes like this since Hogwarts. Since bullying in the corridors. Even then, there was teasing joy. But now, she was being chastised. And it was completely unnecessary.
She felt the anger rise in her, about to tell him to mind his business and get the hell out of her office when he spoke again, quieter.
"Please," he said. His eyes softened. "He won't survive this."
Hermione felt her anger slip away. She locked eyes with Blaise, and nodded.
"I appreciate your concern for him," she said. She cleared her throat and looked at her carpets. "But I do love him." She felt her heart thundering. "I have for a long time."
She waited. Waited for Blaise to laugh at her, or cheer in his victory at getting her to open up to him.
"But have you changed your mind about a future with him?"
She looked up at him. "Changed my mind?" There was no smugness on his face. Just curiosity.
"Still no dinner dates," Blaise said. "No going public with him."
Hermione started to sputter. "I… That's been his decision as much as mine—"
"Oh, come off it Granger." He rolled his eyes and she widened hers. "Like you haven't been setting the rules for this since the beginning."
"What?!" If that wasn't the exact opposite from how she felt about this whole thing…
"If you've changed your mind, you need to tell him," he said. "He's been taking what he can get."
"Changed my mind about what?!" Hermione's voice was rising, but Blaise stayed very neutral as he spoke next.
"You said you wouldn't marry him."
She felt her skin prick, and her blood chill, and her eyes drilled into him.
She had. She'd said it to Narcissa when she'd left Azkaban. She had needed her to stop pushing. She'd needed to end Narcissa's delusions at the time.
And Narcissa had told Draco?
And he still believed it?
She stared at Blaise Zabini, the only person close to Draco who'd been allowed inside his mind.
A knock at her door.
"Granger?" Draco's voice "Ready?"
She jumped. "Yes, yes. Come in."
Draco opened the door, eyeing Blaise, and Hermione quickly grabbed her paperwork, sliding past both Slytherins as she headed for the lifts, her head a mess.
Draco, Cornelia Waterstone, and Hermione stood in the lifts in the Ministry, taking them down, down, to the Wizengamot.
Waterstone was chattering the entire time. She had done her research on each member of the Wizengamot, noting where they stood on issues in the past. She was very confident going into this trial.
They stood in the long stone hallways for twenty minutes or so, Waterstone mentioning Wizengamot members who might appreciate more eye-contact than others, and Hermione stood still, taking it all in.
"Cornelia," Draco said. "You know what would be most helpful right now?" She heard his voice take on that soothing coo that he used when he was about to manipulate someone into thinking they had a bright idea. "I think it would put everyone at ease to know when they'll be beginning."
"Oh, absolutely," Waterstone said. "I'll head up, and see if I can't watch the Wizengamot as they arrive, shall I?"
"Thank you. What a splendid idea."
Waterstone nodded and walked down the hall back to the lift. Once she'd disappeared, Hermione tried to focus her mind.
"Anxious?" Draco said.
She chuckled. Of all the things in her life, the Wizengamot was giving her the least anxiety.
She looked up at him. He leaned against the wall across from her, just as he had all those months ago, at Dolohov's trial. The day this mess began. Before Love Contracts and lists and Walls.
She stared down at the stones between them, like a battle line not to cross.
Draco thought she didn't want to marry him.
He's been taking what he can get.
Wasn't that precisely what she had told Ginny last week?
And what had Ginny said.
You'll never know until you ask for it.
She looked up at him. He stared at the wall next to her feet. Waiting for something.
"I want to be with you." The words tumbled past her lips and landed on the stones between them. She watched him blink at the wall. She swallowed, pushing her heart back down from where it had caught in her throat. "I want to date you. In public. Not just lunch in your office." She checked in with him and he was still fixed on the point where the ground met the wall, eyes glazing. "I want to come out as a couple to M.C.G., and figure out what to do about the Love Contract and dating policies…"
She shook her head, trying to clear her rambling thoughts.
"I want to go to dinner with you, and be photographed in the Prophet. And hold hands on the way to the Apparition point." Her heart was pounding and she could feel the rhythm in her fingertips. "I want to spend the night again – every night. I want to have weekly meals with your mother, and let Mippy make me pumpkin soup, and spend hours in that library –"
Her voice cracked, and the corner of his shoulder that she'd locked her eyes on started to blur. She thought of how badly she wanted that library and him in it. And how easy it could be to have it…
"I want to be your wife." She heaved a breath, words spinning off her tongue. "And see you in the mornings, and marry you in the gazebo and – and rule the fucking world with you."
She couldn't look at him. He hadn't moved a muscle.
"And I don't know where the wires got crossed along the way, I don't know how things got so twisted. But that's all I've ever wanted." She slapped a tear away from her cheek and sniffed.
"When you ask me why I've done the things I have, I want to be able to say it's because I love you." She gasped as it came out of her. "That everything has been for you. It's never been about the 'right thing to do.'" She laughed, a manic sound that couldn't be pulled back in. "It's because I love you.
"And I want to know you. I want to know everything about you. And I understand that I have to ask, but I want to be able to ask. I want you to tell me things when I ask," she said, stomping her foot. She felt like she'd continue this nonsense until he stopped her. "But if there's something you can't tell me, not right now, then maybe there's a – a hand signal or something. Like you pull your ear—"
Finally, Draco stepped off the wall. She sucked in air, waiting for him. He turned to face her, and his cheeks were pink, his eyes were gliding over her face. He stepped toward her, crossing the invisible line between them.
"Ask," he whispered. "Ask me now."
She watched him get closer as she pulled air into her lungs. A million questions flying through her mind, but there was still the first question. The one she still hadn't heard him answer.
"Why didn't you identify me that night. At Malfoy Manor."
He took the final step into her, and she tilted her head back to see his face. He looked into her eyes, and small smirk tugged at the corner of his lips.
"It was the right thing to do."
She blinked, drinking in his smirk, the heat in his eyes, and felt another tear fall. A small laugh bubbled up from her chest, breaking her into a thousand pieces. She gasped in air, and she felt her face crumple. She couldn't decide if she was laughing or crying, but with this man, it was safe to assume both.
She closed her eyes, pressure pinching behind her lids, and her lips pressing together, and leaned her head back against the wall.
"God, I hate you." She laughed again, feeling the hot air hit his face.
"I love you, too, Granger."
And he pressed his lips on hers. She squeezed her eyes tight and felt the tears running away. She threw her arms around his shoulders and he slipped his hands to the curve of her spine.
She pulled back, the past five minutes hitting her in the face. "I'm sorry. That was probably a lot." She opened her eyes and he was still there in front of her. "The… marriage thing and staying every night –"
"Oh, I don't know." He shrugged, and she felt it in his arms. "I think the gazebo is available this weekend." He raised a brow at her and she laughed, slapping at his chest.
The sound of the lifts arriving. Waterstone was back. Draco pressed his lips against her one last time, and slipped out of her arms as the gates opened.
She smiled at him as Waterstone announced that it was time.
The oak doors opened, and the small, toady man appeared. The same one from all those months ago. She gave him her wand and looked back at Draco. He smiled softly at her.
She knew her face was mess, her eyes were still leaking, and her hands were shaking from the emotional whiplash, but Draco smiled at her.
And it was time to save the fucking werewolves.
The Wizengamot was even less excited to see her than normal. The redheaded woman that she loathed took lead on the examination of their case, and seemed to be purposefully prodding at Hermione throughout. The blonde woman who reminded her of Molly Weasley tried to smile encouragingly, but it was clear from the faces in the courtroom that they steeled themselves in preparation for this day.
The day Hermione Granger took on the Wizengamot.
After her opening statements were delivered and the Wizengamot had the opportunity to ask questions, court was dismissed after only two hours to allow the members the rest of the afternoon to review the paperwork and statistics Hermione provided.
Which was wonderful, because that meant Draco could take her out to lunch.
They ended up in a Muggle restaurant, and after forty-five minutes of Hermione yammering about how amazing she did in the courtroom, and forty-five minutes of Draco watching her with a small grin, she finally stopped and said, "And how's your sandwich?"
Draco smiled. "You know Granger, I'm not sure I like this concept of dating. Why take you out and pay for your meal here when I can listen to you ramble about yourself for hours at the office."
She narrowed her eyes at him. "Maybe I'm paying."
"You can try," he warned.
The trial continued for the rest of the week. Harry came in on Tuesday to testify on behalf of Remus Lupin and his legacy. Every evening Draco took Hermione to dinner. They had yet to figure out what to do about the Love Contract and office dynamic, so they stuck with Muggle restaurants where they would be less likely to be recognized.
He walked her to the nearest Apparition point at the end of the every night, and he held her hand and kissed her goodbye. They didn't pick up the lunch time trysts, and Hermione didn't know if that was due to her being in trial for the Wizengamot, or if he was actually taking it slow.
On Tuesday evening, he came with her to Madame Michele's lesson and sat through tea with them. On Wednesday night, she asked him if he wanted to come home with her.
His eyes flashed, and he bit his lip. "As much as I want to," he said, "I can't. There's something I need to get back to at the office tonight." He looked quite put out.
"Is it anything you need help with?" she asked.
He blinked at her, and paused before saying, "Not yet. But possibly soon."
On Friday, the Wizengamot voted. Forty-seven out of fifty members voted to implement the new werewolf laws, allowing equal rights for werewolves and adjusting the existing legislation.
She was positive the redhead was one of the three votes against, and she made sure to get her name and title so she could send her a rotten fruit basket next week.
She and Draco returned to the office, and he held her hand as they stepped into the lifts to take them back up to Malfoy Consulting.
"I have a surprise for you."
She looked up at him, and he was staring at his feet.
"A good surprise?" she laughed.
"Mmhmm." He nodded. The lift doors closed. "I was shocked to hear it was ready today." He looked at her. "So, I wanted you to have it now, in honor of your triumph in the Wizengamot today." He grinned at her. Nervously.
She blinked at him. A gift? Not a book or a sweater or parchment and quills. Something that needed to be made? Or worked on? She couldn't think of anything she wanted that needed to be made. Perhaps he'd gotten her parchment and quills with her initials engraved.
"I – thank you. I'm… quite speechless really." Her curiosity began working immediately. "It's something you had made?"
"No," he said, looking at the lift doors. "Fixed, really."
She frowned. "Fixed? Have I broken something?" She laughed, and he grinned.
"You'll know what it is in just thirty seconds, woman. Can't you wait?"
She stared at the lift doors. A surprise for her. From him.
The lift slowed, and he squeezed her hand before releasing it, his fingers drifting away from her.
"I have senior staff and associates in the conference room this afternoon for the March staff meeting. I'll let them know of your success today." The doors opened. "You're excused for the rest of the afternoon, Granger."
He started to exit. She jumped.
"What? Why? What?" She stepped out of the lifts. "Is that my surprise? You must not know me at all, Malfoy, if you think I enjoy days off—"
"Go!" He whipped around, exasperated. "Go to your office, enjoy your surprise, and I'll see you sometime tomorrow."
He stalked away from her. Tense. He was nervous. She looked around the floor, finding several people heading into the conference room. She wasn't invited to the meeting?
Hermione shook her head and walked to her office. She opened the door slowly, expecting balloons to drop or fireworks or something dangerous.
A man sat behind her desk, and a woman in her guest chair. The man stood.
"Miss Granger." He smiled. He was the man she'd seen Draco with at the Valentine's Day gala. The one he'd met with at the office a few weeks ago.
Hermione blinked, about to ask who they were when the woman turned toward her, and Hermione was staring at the face of her mother.
She felt her lungs tighten, pulling in on themselves. She felt her skin buzz. She stared at her mother's face –
No. Monica Wilkins. This woman didn't know her. Hermione could see it on her face as she frowned at her.
Hermione's mouth was open, so she closed it. "Hello, how can I help you?" she croaked.
"Hermione?" A voice from her bookshelves. Her father was standing there. She hadn't noticed him. And he'd called her Hermione…
"Yes, that's me." She could feel her heart drumming. She couldn't be sure. She couldn't hope –
Her mother stood, and her eyes were drawn back to her. She missed the way she moved.
"Your hair is different."
Hermione reached up and touched her hair, sleeked into large curls for court today. She remembered.
Monica Wilkins remembered a before.
"Mom?" Hermione's vision blurred. She felt her lips tremble and she pressed them together.
Her father moved toward her as her mother nodded. She crossed her arms, holding herself together. A tear tumbled down her face as her father touched her shoulder.
There was still a strange look on her mother's face, but her father hugged her, and she felt her chest break into fragments. When he released her, she turned to the man behind her desk.
"Who are you? What's happened? Are they cured?"
He smiled gently at her. "My name is Dr. Flanders. I'm a memory charm expert. Also, in the Muggle world I'm a psychologist. Your parents are on the road to recovery. The next step in the process involves you. Meeting you. Spending time with you."
"Step in the process?" She frowned at him. "How long have you been working with them?" She couldn't ignore her mother's eyes on her.
"About two weeks now," he said. "You three should talk. Ask each other questions. I'll remain a quiet observer in case things become too mentally taxing for them."
Hermione stared at him. Then her mother moved toward her.
"I'm… slower to the process, unfortunately," her mother said, and Hermione felt another tear fall. "But I do recognize you. Hermione." She touched her face. "And I know you are mine."
Hermione nodded, an empty feeling tearing through her at the idea that her mother needed convincing. She would need to move slowly.
"Tell me how this is working. What do you know already?" she asked.
"Well," her father started. "Dr. Flanders started with our earliest memories. I mean to say, that I remember you quite vividly as a child."
Her mother nodded.
"And then having that boy tell us about you as teenager," her father said. "That was helpful."
"Yes, there were gaps, but Dr. Flanders explained that you were at a boarding school."
"Magic school. Remember, dear? We heard about the magic?"
"Yes, that's right. The magic is newer to me," her mother said, closing her eyes. "But then just two days ago, the boy let us… what is it? Watch a memory?"
"Yes," her father said. "That's it. We swam into a… thing and watched a few of his memories of you from school. Harold didn't like that boy much, did he?"
"Harry, dear. Her friend's name is Harry."
Hermione blinked, feeling her heart crying out. "What boy?"
The floor was dead as she excused herself from her office for a moment. Just a few of the interns and secretaries gossiping in a corner, jumping apart in surprise when they saw her.
Her heels clicked on the way to the conference room. The door swung open for her, and all eyes turned to her as she marched in. Cuthbert Mockridge was standing, giving his report on his department. The senior staff sat in their places around the table and the associates lining the walls, except for Walter who sat in her place at the table.
"Miss Granger," Mockridge said in greeting. "As I was saying…"
Hermione locked eyes on the man at the end of the table. "The boy" as her parents called him. His eyes wary and tense as he watched her walk around the table, heading straight for him.
Mockridge continued his speech. Blaise moved out of her way. And Draco looked like he was prepared to be hit. Her hand shot out and grabbed his collar, bringing her lips onto his.
She heard whistling, sputtering, gasping, but she kissed him. His fingers wound up into her hair, and she smiled against his lips.
She pulled back and looked up. Mockridge was squinting at them, and a few of the male associates looked taken aback. But the women were giggling, including Mockridge's associate who knew Draco's coffee routine. Blaise was grinning like a loon, and even Dorothea had a small smirk on her face.
"Hello, yes. Hi." She sputtered. She gestured between herself and Draco. "Draco Malfoy and I are dating. We, uh… Yes. We're dating. Boyfriend and girlfriend." She nodded at the table. "So we'll need to take a look at that… er, Love Contract business. And just… abolish that, I say."
She shrugged. Blaise gave a "Here! Here!"
"Because… because I love him." She looked at Draco. He was blushing, and trying to fight the smile creeping onto his face. "And he loves me – I think –"
"I do, yes." He grinned at the conference table.
"So. That's that! I'll, uh, let you all get back to it." She waved her hand at Mockridge. "Continue on. I'll be heading to dinner with my parents now."
She nodded at them all, ignoring Blaise's giggling, and left the room.
She heard applause following her. And smiled.
At dinner with her parents, they kept with very easy questions and stories. She asked them about Australia and their life there. They asked her about her current life, instead of the past they couldn't remember. Her mother didn't take her eyes off of her the entire evening.
They were set up at a hotel nearby, so Hermione walked them back and hugged them goodbye in the lobby. They would have lunch tomorrow on her break from Cornerstone.
She Apparated home, climbed the stairs to her and Ginny's apartment, and opened the door to find Draco, Harry, and Ginny visiting around the small dining room table. Before she could process Draco in her living space, Ginny had launched herself at her.
"You won! You WON!" She tightened her arms around Hermione's ribs. She pulled back. "And your parents! Your PARENTS!"
"Er, yes. Both." She looked past the ginger curls to Draco. "Draco told you?"
"Yes, Harry and I will have a session with them tomorrow."
Draco stepped forward. "Dr. Flanders thinks it may help if your parents saw memories of them interacting with you. From an outside observer."
"Like in Diagon Alley, buying books with Mr. Weasley," Harry said.
Hermione nodded, still quite overwhelmed by it all. She was desperate to pick Dr. Flanders brain about how this all worked.
Ginny looked back and forth between Hermione and Draco in the silence.
"Er, Harry and I are just going to… go somewhere… for a while. Days maybe."
She grabbed Harry's arm and dragged him past Hermione. She grinned at Ginny, and just before the door closed on them, she heard Harry say, "But I made dinner."
She looked at Draco, standing with his hands in his pockets in the middle of her living room.
"Don't I pay you, Granger?" He looked around the small flat. "Surely with Weasley's Quidditch salary and your measly income, you can afford an upgrade."
She glared at him. "I like this apartment. Besides, I'm barely in it."
He smirked at her and stepped closer. "You outed us to the entire office today."
She winced. "I did. I really did, didn't I?" She pressed her lips together as he stepped closer again, sliding his arms around her waist. "Was there a discussion of what to do with the Love Contract, or will you need to resign."
He smiled as he kissed her. She brought her hands up to his arms, holding him to her. She pulled back.
"Did you really show my parents your memories?"
He looked away. "A few. Just about everyone has seen into my mind now, so I thought, what's the difference?"
She smiled as he lowered his lips to her neck, sucking on his favorite spot. Her pulse sped, and her body began to sing.
"Which memories?" she breathed.
"Wouldn't you like to know." His breath ghosted across her neck.
"Thank you, Draco." She ran her hands up his shoulders and into his hair. "Thank you for bringing them back to me."
"Of course." He pulled her closer to him and whispered, "It was the right thing to do."
She slapped his shoulder, and he laughed. A sound that made itself quite at home.
"HERMIONE GRANGER AND DRACO MALFOY IN LOVE!"
by Rita Skeeter
A love story for the ages. A romance against all odds.
Yes, that's right, fair readers. Hermione Granger has hooked herself a Malfoy. And Draco Malfoy must be doing something right, himself.
The couple was seen just last week at dinner with a couple that could only be Miss Granger's parents. After saying goodnight, Granger and Malfoy were seen holding hands and canoodling on the way home.
The two have been spotted several other times throughout the week, even on a double-date with Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley. Will there be a race to the altar?
When asked for comment on their new relationship, Draco Malfoy responded, "She's a very important person to me. We're very serious about each other."
Hermione Granger declined to comment. Quite rudely.
Of course, you know me, readers. I have such a voracity for knowledge! I reached out to Narcissa Malfoy for comment.
"Hermione has long felt like a daughter to me. I couldn't be more supportive."
Well, from one friend to another, I must tell you. I think it is safe to say that Draco Malfoy is finally off the market.
We at the Daily Prophet wish him the best of luck with his Golden Girl.
Two Years Later
She stepped through the fireplace right on schedule. The guard took her wand, read her the rules, and searched for weapons on her.
She followed a younger guard through the maze until she was brought before a familiar stone door. The guard stood to the side, and Hermione pushed open the door.
He sat at the metal table. Hair pulled back, hands folded. He looked the exact same as he had in the hospital, only two years older.
"Miss Granger." He grinned. "To what do I owe the honor?"
"Lucius." She nodded. "It's Mrs. Malfoy, now."
She walked to the metal chair in front of him and sat. She crossed her legs and leaned back.
"Yes," he grinned. "I was quite taken with the photographs from the Prophet. Miss Parkinson's first wedding gown design, was it not?"
"It was. She has several more offers now." Hermione lifted a brow. "It was a beautiful day. Perfect. And you were right about the gardens. The gazebo was the perfect location for the ceremony. Reception in the ballroom."
She clasped her hands together on the table, matching his pose, and managed to flash the Malfoy family diamond at him.
His eyes flickered down to it. He smirked and looked back up at her.
"What is it you are really here for, Mrs. Malfoy."
She grinned tightly. "I hear that you are headed to trial next year to negotiate your sentence down. What with your good behavior and the unfortunate incident of your stabbing two years ago, I have it on good authority that you might stand a chance of getting out of here in five years."
He watched her carefully. "Well, that's good to hear."
She sat very still, just like Draco taught her. "I may be enticed to testify on your behalf. Perhaps even get your ex-wife and son to do the same."
His eyes glittered at her before returning to dead grey orbs. "What is it you want in return."
Hermione pulled a slip of paper from her pocket, and slid it across the table to him. She watched him frown at it.
"And what's this?"
"A list," she said. His eyes flipped up to her. "Of qualities in my child's grandfather."
She rested her hand on her belly, and sent him the Malfoy smirk.
A/N: Thank you all for joining me. :)
I will be posting the Draco POV of this story soon. It won't be chapter-for-chapter, so hopefully nothing feels repetitive. Then once the Draco POV is finished, I will start posting the Auction AU story.
I know most have left reviews on chapters already, but if you find yourself re-reading this story, and feel like dropping a "I'd love to see this scene from Draco's POV," that would help me a lot with forming the companion piece. Your favorite scene may not make it into the POV, but it could help me keep in mind how much of an enigma our dear Draco is. :P
Thanks again for a wild ride.