Roses are red
Violets are blue
I don't own Harry Potter
This is sad, but true
Well, here we are gang. One last time I'd like to thank ravenclaw-sass and littlered1992, my two main betas for this piece. They have pulled me back from the ledge more times than I can count. Thank you to my many betas in the first couple of chapters. We may have only worked together for a short time but I am appreciative of the work you did.
And most importantly, thank you to my readers. You guys have made me smile from ear to ear after an update and I feel so blessed to have taken this journey with you. I hope that the ending is satisfactory. Much love xx
Hermione woke slowly the next morning, enveloped in warmth with a sense of peace surrounding her. The first thing she was really aware of was Draco's presence. She let her eyelids stay closed as she smirked at the way he was pressed against her, one of his legs tangled between her own. His right arm was wound protectively over her middle and he pulled her flush against him as he woke.
"Good morning," Draco whispered, his voice hoarse with sleep. He began to trail kisses from behind her ear down towards her neck.
Hermione hummed appreciatively. "Morning," she said thickly, wetting her lips with her tongue before stretching them into a lazy smile.
I could get used to waking up like this, she thought to herself as Draco continued to pepper kisses over her shoulder. His hand was splayed across her belly and he was tracing soft patterns against her skin. Hermione couldn't decide if she wanted to fall back to sleep, lulled into slumber by Draco's ministrations, or if she wanted to roll over and mount him in a re-enactment of last night.
"How did you sleep?" he asked before she could decide.
His hand stopped at her hip, kneading the flesh there and Hermione pouted. He smirked against her shoulder as if he understood the reason for her delayed response. Collecting herself—as much as possible with someone like Draco doing all sorts of wonderful things to your body—Hermione opened her mouth to answer but before she could, the door to her bedroom flew inwards and smacked against the wall.
Both she and Draco had their wands pointing towards the entryway within seconds, the sheet falling to their waists and baring their naked bodies to the cool air.
"Of course she slept well," came a familiar drawl. "I'm sure you shagged her into the mattress, Draco, you sly—"
"Zabini!" Draco growled, a feral sound tearing from his throat as he wrestled himself from Hermione and made to get out of the bed. As his right foot hit the floor he seemed to remember that he was completely nude and froze. A frustrated sound rumbled in his chest but he stopped trying to move and simply glared at the entryway.
If Hermione hadn't been so busy snatching at the covers, she would have found the entire ordeal rather comical—after Blaise had revealed himself as the intruder, of course. She tugged at the sheet as soon as Draco stopped thrashing about and held it to her chest.
Blaise sidled into the room, holding his hands up in a sign of surrender. He was wearing a broad smirk and he glanced at each of them as he came to a stop at the end of the bed. With a snarl of pleasure, Draco hit him with a stinging hex.
"Ow!" Blaise squealed. Hermione gasped, turning from Draco who looked far too pleased with himself, back to Blaise who was now bent double, clutching at his chest. "Okay—" he gasped "—I deserved that!"
Hermione didn't know whether to chastise Draco or laugh at Blaise's discomfort. She settled for smirking, figuring it was a middle-of-the-road gesture.
"What do you want?" Draco asked through gritted teeth. His wand was still trained on Blaise and Hermione sighed as the Italian eyed it warily. She moved her hand so that it was hovering over the instrument and pushed down, forcing Draco to lower it into his lap. "Spoil sport," he muttered, but obediently let it fall between his thighs.
Blaise straightened, still wincing as he began to rub the spot the hex had hit him. "I came to find you this morning… at the manor." He raised his eyebrows pointedly. "You weren't in your room or your study, so I figured that after all the excitement what with being free from your father's crazy whim and all, you'd run to Hermione's. And here I am." He spread his arms wide and Hermione rolled her eyes.
"How did you get in here?" Hermione asked, fear gripping her as she tried to recall the last time she had tested her wards.
"I walked down the corridor and through the doorway," Blaise said, mock pride lacing his tone.
Hermione sneered at him and gestured for Draco to raise his wand again. "I meant how did you get into my flat?"
Blaise eyed Draco warily and then sighed. "You're no fun," he muttered. "I came in through the Floo; I was at Draco's, remember?" He pressed his index finger to his temple and tapped it twice.
"Damn," Hermione swore.
She looked to Draco who shrugged. "He doesn't usually turn up in my bedroom when I'm naked," he said as he lowered his wand, albeit reluctantly.
Hermione tilted her face to the ceiling. It wasn't exactly the wake up call she had been hoping for, but at least they hadn't been attacked. Besides, she was glad to have Blaise back, even if that meant she would have to have a serious conversation about personal boundaries with the impossible wizard.
"Well, if you let us get dressed, I'll make us all breakfast and you can regale us with whatever tale necessitated you bursting into my bedroom uninvited." Hermione gestured towards the door with one hand while keeping a tight grip on the sheets currently preserving her modesty.
Blaise dropped his arms and grinned wolfishly. He opened his mouth, intent on unleashing what was sure to be another inappropriate witticism, but Draco pointed his wand at his friend before he had the chance. "Don't," he growled between gritted teeth, "even think about it."
The dark-haired wizard huffed indignantly but nodded his head, conceding defeat. "Fine," he said, sticking his nose in the air. "I'll save my genius for someone who appreciates it!" With that, he flounced from the room and slammed the door behind him.
Draco groaned and fell back against the pillows. Hermione giggled and leaned over him, planting chaste kisses over his chest. "Come on," she said, the memory of what had just transpired playing over in her mind. "If we don't move soon, Blaise will probably start going through my laundry looking for dirty knickers or something."
When they reached the kitchen, Blaise had donned a frilly apron he had clearly conjured himself. A tea towel sat effortlessly over one shoulder and the smell of bacon and eggs cooking filled the air.
Hermione inhaled deeply. "I said I was going to cook," she said as she took a seat next to Draco at the breakfast bar.
Blaise shrugged and turned back to the pan. "I figured it was only fair seeing as I did burst in on you... Naked." Hermione was sure he added the last part with a wicked grin.
"I still have my wand," Draco warned.
Blaise laughed but he wisely kept his mouth shut.
It was nice, Hermione decided as Draco and Blaise began to bicker playfully. Draco got up to make her a coffee and she watched him as he moved around her kitchen. It was hard not to enjoy the view of the blond wizard as he placed the grounds in the cup, poured water from the kettle, and added a dash of milk—exactly as she liked it.
She murmured a thank you, trying not to grin like an idiot as she brought the mug to her lips and blew on the steaming liquid. If Draco noticed anything odd about her expression, he didn't react to it, continuing his attempt to outwit Blaise, for Hermione's benefit she was sure.
"So," Blaise said as he set two plates in front of them, "I have something I have to say."
Draco stopped, his knife and fork poised over his food. "Is there poison in this?" he asked, all traces of previous humour gone.
"No." Blaise shook his head. "Not this time." Hermione stared incredulously at the Italian, sure she would never understand him or his decidedly Slytherin way of life. "I wanted to tell you that I'm…" he trailed off, his expression twisting into a grimace. "I'm dating Astoria," he blurted out and then shoved a huge forkful of breakfast into his mouth.
"You're… since when did you… what?" Draco cocked his head to the side and let his cutlery drop into his plate. The sound reverberated in Hermione's brain and she winced. "You've only just arrived back in England!"
"We kept in contact," Blaise replied evasively.
"While you were in Italy?" Draco asked. Blaise nodded. "While I was still technically engaged to her?"
Blaise lifted his head, meeting Draco's gaze. "It wasn't like you wanted to be engaged to her."
There was a pause in which Hermione braced herself for a possible outburst, but then Draco shrugged and returned to his food. "I don't have a problem with it," he said around a mouthful of bacon. "Good luck to Astoria, I guess." He hid his grin behind his hand, chewing furiously and Hermione had to suppress a giggle.
"And you're not blackmailing her?" Hermione asked after another moment of silence.
Draco let out a harsh laugh, his head falling back in an over-the-top display of mirth, but Hermione's question had been a serious one. She had not forgotten the way Blaise had blackmailed Vivienne with her uncle's debt. Why would Astoria agree to date the man who had her father by the proverbials?
Blaise glared at his friend before turning pointedly to Hermione. "No," he said. "That… matter… has been put to bed."
"Oh?" Hermione arched an eyebrow and cut into a piece of bacon.
Blaise cleared his throat and sighed; anyone would think that he had been sent to tell someone their grandmother had died the way he behaved. Hermione hadn't seen such a dramatic display since sharing a dormitory with Lavender Brown. "I spoke with both Daphne and Astoria. In an odd turn of events, me telling Daphne that I had the hots for her sister somehow made me repulsive to her." He shrugged, a frown marring his handsome features.
Draco snorted. "Go figure."
Hermione shushed him and Blaise continued. "Anyway," he said with a pointed glare at Draco, "we chatted about the money I loaned their father, and I agreed to waive it."
"That was very noble of you," Hermione offered with a smile.
"Yeah," Blaise agreed. "You wouldn't believe what Astoria let me to do to her when I told—"
"Okay!" Draco cut him off. "That's disgusting, first of all, and second…" He gestured with his fork for Blaise to continue with his story, sans the sexual content.
"Fine." Blaise rolled his eyes, apparently annoyed that they were not finding entertainment in his depravity. "I offered Astoria's father a job with my company; it'll keep them afloat, at least."
"Wow." Draco was suddenly serious. "Wow," he repeated.
"Shut up," Blaise muttered, picking up his knife and fork and focusing solely on his breakfast.
"This is amazing!" Draco crowed. Blaise scowled and refused to look up from his plate. "The Blaise Zabini—fuck boy extraordinaire—has feelings for another human being!"
"I've felt things for people before!"
Hermione choked on her mouthful, laughter erupting from her chest. She had not known the Italian as long as Draco, but she knew that he was lying… unless he was talking about feeling things in a sexual sense—then he was correct.
Draco laughed, a loud booming sound which ricocheted around Hermione's kitchen. For a few minutes neither of them could speak as they clutched their stomachs and tears rolled down their faces.
"I can't wait to see how this plays out," Draco finally said, wiping at his eyes with the back of his hand. Hermione didn't think she had ever seen a bigger smile on the blond's face.
They made small talk as they finished the rest of their meal and Hermione reflected that she felt at home with Draco and Blaise. She remembered the first time she had visited the blond prat after his release and marveled at how far they had come. He was completely free now, ready to start his Healers course in the Spring; Narcissa was much better and only required a medical check up once a week. And Hermione was happy in her role at the Ministry now that she was no longer under the rule of a tyrannical psycho.
I'm happy, she thought with a wide smile. Who'd have thought?
Draco had never understood the draw of the outdoors unless it involved a broomstick and a set of goal posts. The fact that his mother chose to spend her time tending to the manor gardens was something that still boggled his mind, but he had to admit that the way she smiled as she bent to smell the roses was endearing.
"It's so beautiful out here!" Hermione was at his elbow, her hair rebelling against the horrible orange hat she had forced on top of it. She twisted her face up to grin at him as she threaded her arm through his.
He grinned back at her, unable to help himself at her obvious enthusiasm. "It is," he agreed.
The ice of winter had mostly disappeared, leaving the grounds lush and green. His mother was now feeling well enough for short bursts of weeding and she had begun replanting some of the garden beds around the front of the house.
Around the back of the property, however, it was slightly overgrown and unruly. The plants here had not seen a lot of love since the Malfoy family's joint incarceration and Draco could tell that his mother was just itching to get her hands dirty—literally.
However, it seemed that his brunette witch was drawn to the less than perfect gardens and happily walked beside him, pointing out different species of flora as they moved along the path. Surprisingly, Hermione had not come across a lot of the plants that grew in the Malfoy grounds and she paused often to ask him the name of a flower or shrub.
Draco had never been one for herbology and so he could not answer her. He did marvel at the fact that there was something that she didn't know, which he felt great pleasure in pointing out until she reminded him that he didn't know it either.
"Hermione!" His mother had stopped by a particularly large rose bush full of red blooms. He would never understand how they stood open and proud in such biting cold weather. "Come and look at these!"
"Coming!" Hermione turned to him and reached up on tip toe to place a quick kiss on his cheek. He turned at the last second, claiming her lips with his and relishing in her squeal of surprise. She laughed, slapping her open palm on his chest as he smirked down at her before turning and skipping over to his mother.
Draco hung back, taking shelter from the wind underneath an old alder tree. He leaned against the trunk, watching as Hermione and his mother gushed over the rose bush. From here he could make out their smiling faces and couldn't help the grin spreading over his own face as Hermione threw her head back, laughing at something his mother had said.
His mother reached for Hermione's wrist as they shared in their joke and Draco thought his heart might burst. He knew that he and Hermione had not had the most conventional start to a relationship, but he also knew that he would do anything for the brunette witch. If someone had told him a year ago that he would one day be in a relationship with the Golden Girl of Gryffindor he would have laughed in their face. He smirked at that thought, though he quickly sobered as Hermione turned and met his gaze.
He pushed off from the trunk and made his way back to the path, his hands deep within his trouser pockets to protect them from the wind. By the time he reached the rose bush, Hermione had wandered on ahead. His mother was waiting for him though, a knowing smile on her face.
He rolled his eyes as he came to a stop in front of her. "What is it, Mother?"
"Nothing," she answered quickly.
Draco scoffed. His mother had always been easy to read. "Come on, out with it. I know that look; you've got something you want to say."
His mother didn't answer straight away. Her gaze shifted from his face to her left, where it locked on the figure of Hermione. His witch was now admiring a large, yellow flower he didn't know that name of. For a moment his mother continued to watch Hermione, a soft smile curving her lips.
"You know, Draco," she finally said, "I think Hermione is just perfect for you."
"Thank you…?" Draco frowned, confused.
His mother laughed and placed a hand on his forearm, tugging him closer to her. "I really do." She patted his arm and began to move, indicating with a crook of her finger that he should follow. He humoured her, sighing as they slowly wandered in the direction of the nameless yellow flowers.
She stopped suddenly, just out of earshot of Hermione. His mother turned to him, her expression serious though her eyes danced with… excitement? Draco frowned, wary of such a combination of emotion on his mother's face.
"I have something for you," she said.
"Oh?" He blinked as his brain tried to process all possible outcomes and came up blank.
His mother stepped back slightly, sliding her fingers daintily into the pocket of her robes. When she straightened she fixed him with a triumphant look before pressing a small object into his palm.
Draco held her gaze for a second before letting it drop to his hand. He choked as he registered what it was; a ring. It glittered in the weak sunlight, a simple blue sapphire wrapped in a halo of smaller diamonds. The band was thin and plain; he had to admit it was an elegant piece of jewellery, but did it mean what he thought it meant?
"Really, Mother?" he hissed, extending his arm, intending to hand it back. "Don't you think it's a bit soon to be imagining wedding bells?"
His mother laughed. She placed her hand over his, curling his fingers around the ring. "Perhaps." She shrugged. "Though I don't think I've ever known anyone to be so in sync as you two." She nodded towards Hermione and Draco followed her gaze, fear building in his chest.
Had she seen…? He breathed a sigh of relief as his gaze landed on Hermione who was still mesmerised by the flowers. He licked his lips and turned back to his mother. "I love her, Mother," he said softly, "but I don't think we're ready for this." He pinched the ring between thumb and forefinger and thrust it back towards her.
His mother glanced down at it, a smile slowly spreading across her face. She shook her head and stepped backwards. "I understand that it might not be today." Draco scoffed incredulously but his mother paid him no mind. "Not today, then," she repeated, "but when you do decide it's time to take the next step, I want you to use that." She nodded towards his hand which was now in a fist, clutched against the bottom of his ribcage. "It was given to me by a good friend at Hogwarts, and it would mean a lot to me if…" she trailed off, her voice decidedly thick.
Draco exhaled softly, holding out his arm to stop her. Her eyes were glassy and she sniffed, offering him a watery smile. "I will," he said, squeezing her arm in an attempt to comfort her. "When the time is right."
His mother nodded and pulled him into a fierce hug. He returned it with equal fervor, unable to recall a memory in which he had ever been embraced like this by his mum.
"What took you two so long?" Hermione's voice coming from Draco's shoulder forced him to release his mother and stumble backwards.
"Nothing," Draco answered quickly, pocketing the ring in what he hoped was an inconspicuous movement.
"Nothing at all," his mother repeated with a knowing smirk.
Hermione glanced between the two of them and Draco held his breath. Her gaze was piercing and he knew that she did not believe them. After a tense moment, Hermione seemed to decide that whatever they had been discussing was not of her concern and her smile widened. Draco exhaled in relief, intent on putting the ring out of his mind—for now. When he was back in his room, alone, he would find the perfect hiding spot for it… he would most certainly not begin planning a proposal. Definitely not.
He shook his head as Hermione's voice forced him back into the present.
"Narcissa," she said, taking his mother's arm and dragging her over to the plant. "What is this one called?"
Draco suppressed a laugh. No, it was not time to propose to Hermione just yet. They had so much still to learn about each other, and that was exciting enough. He would enjoy the time with his witch, and he would look forward to the day he could call her his wife.
As he watched her, intently listening to his mother's lecture on whatever plant they were now discussing, Draco reflected on what had brought them to this moment. He regretted the way things had started between them in terms of their school years; he feared he may always feel guilty about the way he behaved. He also rued the fact that she had had to deal with his father… but if that was what it took—going through a whole heap of shit and coming out the other side stronger for it—then that was a necessary evil he was willing to accept.