Oh, my gosh. Can you believe it, chapter 20? Though I'm doubtful I still have any old reviewers, (minus my one, Krystal, you are fab)I figured it was about time to post the final chapter to this piece, and you can't imagine how excited I am about it right now.
After a solid ten or eleven months since the last update, this story is complete!
This chapter is possibly the longest I've ever written, and I may have gone overboard on the D/Hr in it, but I can't bring myself to care. Wishing your enjoyment,
Ah, and of course, I own nothing. Literally. I'm sure this plot has been overdone immensely.
Read, let me know what you think. Fantastic.
"Hermione Granger." She froze at the sound of her father's stern voice, eyes widening with fright. Whatever line of reasoning she'd been following when she assumed that sneaking in would be quieter than apparating was currently alluding her. "Do you have any idea what time it is?"
"Ahm... midnight?" she asked, hopeful. Of course she had forgotten how light of a sleeper he was.
"Try four-thirty in the morning." His tone of voice suggested intense disappointment. She sensed a punishment coming on.
Ah, right. It had been Blaise to inform her than apparating was too loud in the middle of the night. Damn him.
"Where have you been?" he asked, standing from his position on the sofa, and walking towards her.
"I was at a friend's place." Like she was about to say she had been introduced to the concept of broom- roof diving by Blaise and Draco, on the roof of the latter's flat. Blaise had fixed Draco's broken arm in no time, anyway. No harm done.
"Friends from school. You don't know them." There was a tone of defiance in her voice.
"Hermione, haven't your mother and I told you? We want you living a normal life, no more magic. It would be best for you to cut ties with your friends from your... school."
"Best for who? The two of you, or for me? You have told me, yes, but I've also told you that I won't sit back idly and become a dentist like the two of you. I spent seven years studying something I love, and I won't let it go to waste."
Her father sighed. "Hermione, don't do this right now. Your mother and I know what's best for you, and you'd do well to learn that."
"No, I won't," she shook her head. Despite the early hour Hermione was becoming more alert, the traces of alcohol that might have been clouding her judgement earlier seeming to vanish.
"You will." His tone of finality angered her.
"I refuse to have this argument with you anymore, especially now; I don't think I can stay here tonight. I'll give you time to realize what you're attempting to do to me, and I'll be back sometime tomorrow."
Before her father could object once more, Hermione apparated out, not caring about the loud crack the action made. She re-appeared moments later in Draco's flat, noticing that it was much more of a mess than she recalled. At least they had managed to remove the bodies of those who had passed out earlier.
Hermione found Draco and Blaise splayed out at the kitchen table where she'd left them, both semi-conscious, cackling their heads off over something. She pulled up a seat next to Draco, resting her head on the table.
"Hey babe," Draco muttered, kissing her half on the mouth, and she could taste the alcohol on his breath, before his head loudly hit the table once more.
"Haven't you two had enough yet?" she asked, feeling tired again. Blaise lifted the bottle, swirling around the remaining two inches at the bottom before he set it down again, groaning.
"Not yet," he said, attempting to upright his head. Hermione sighed, took the bottle from him and downed the last of the whiskey, her eyes burning. Blaise gave out a muffled thank you, and Draco gave her a high five.
"I'm staying here tonight," Hermione informed them. "I can't take being at home."
"Score," Draco murmured. "Hermiiiiioneeee, look how drunk I am. You gonna take advantage of me?" He grinned widely.
"I'm considering it," she stated. "First, have you got any more of that stuff?" Draco waved vaguely towards the cupboards. Hermione discovered another unfinished bottle, took several long swigs before walking back over. When she found herself appropriately light-headed she grabbed Draco's hand, pulling him up.
"You two have a good time, don't mind me or anything," Blaise scoffed. "At least you have that permanent silence charm, man, or I'd be out right now and probably splinch myself."
"That's a good thing," Hermione said, grinning, before kissing Draco hard on the lips, slamming the door to his bedroom behind them.
Hermione woke up the next morning to a loud moaning sound in her ears. She snapped one eye open, seeing Draco next to her, his eyes scrunched tightly shut.
"Oh, sweet mother of fuck that hurts!" He shoved his head under the pillow, and Hermione, stifling a laugh, made herself comfortable once more on his chest. She reached under the pillow to lift it slightly, and he met her gaze momentarily, before shutting his eyes again.
Hermione rummaged on the floor for her wand, conjuring a tall glass of hangover cure, before handing it to him. He took the glass gratefully, downing it almost instantly. Within thirty seconds he was able to remove the pillow off of his face.
"Thank you," he murmured, kissing her softly. "And good morning. You never told me why you came back last night."
She sighed, shifting slightly. "I'll tell you later. Do you and Blaise have plans for today already, or can I stay here for a while?"
"Of course you're welcome here, you know that," he said quietly. "Sure you don't want to talk?"
"Later," she nodded. "Think Blaise is suffering too?"
"I doubt it, Blaise doesn't typically get hung over. Very badly, at least," Draco explained. "Lucky bastard. He probably left already anyway."
"Good, we don't have to get up right away," she said, eyes slipping shut once more.
"You plan on staying in bed all summer, do you?" he teased, adding suggestively, "not that I'm against that."
"Draco, I might as well just tell you. I got in another argument with my father last night, about magic again." He frowned darkly, his arms instinctively going around her waist.
"I know you don't want it to come to that, but you have a home here if you ever want it. I wish there was some way to change their minds." He looked pensive, his grey eyes clouded with thought. "Would you want Blaise and I to talk to them?"
"I suppose it couldn't hurt," Hermione admitted.
"Hang on, he might not have left yet." He sat up and Hermione ducked her head down further, sensing what was coming. "Oi, Blaise!"
"Yes, oh great master?" Blaise asked moments later as he opened the door.
"Get yourself ready, Blaise. We've got some persuading to do," Draco said, his smirk laced with mischief. Blaise raised an eyebrow.
"Then I suggest you get dressed Malfoy. Kindly wait until I've left the room." He closed the door again, and Draco began searching out his clothes, tossing Hermione's at her.
It wasn't until the three were ready to apparate to Hermione's house that she began to feel worried. She was about to bring two complete strangers to her parents to argue her case. And if she couldn't convince them, what chance would these two have?
Summer break had only been going for just under a week, and her parents had officially told her of their decision the day she got home; she had since been trying unsuccessfully to change their minds.
When the three arrived in Hermione's living room, she crept around the corner to the kitchen and her mouth fell open. Sitting at the table with her parents was her older brother, Nicholas, who she hadn't seen since he left for university. Her brother who hated the fact that she was magic.
His eyes rose to her in shock, and her parents turned to see who it was. Her father looked angry, her mother worried, and Nick merely indifferent. He averted his eyes and took a sip of coffee, before attempting to continue his conversation with their parents, who were now distracted.
"Hermione, where have you been?" Her father asked, ignoring Nick. "You scared your mother by taking off for the entire night."
"Were you with your magic friends?" Her mother's voice showed a trace of anger now. Nick snorted softly.
"Excuse me," Draco's voice broke in, as he entered the room with Blaise, and Hermione's mother jumped visibly in fear. "My name is Draco Malfoy and this is Blaise Zabini, and we are Miss Granger's advisors in the area of magical legalities." Blaise kept his expression perfectly serious, giving the slightest of nods.
Hermione shot Draco a bewildered look; he raised his eyebrows at her, and she understood his meaning. They don't know it doesn't exist.
"We'd like a word with you," Draco finished. Blaise folded his arms menacingly, making sure his toned muscles were clearly visible. Hermione shook her head at their ridiculous intentions.
"They're lying," she muttered. "They're my friends from school." Her eyes shone with defiance. Her father's hands twitched where they were lying on the table.
"But we would like to discuss Hermione's situation with the two of you nonetheless," Blaise continued. He shot a dark glance at Nick, not having been blind to the attitude he was possessing towards his own sister.
"I'm going to go look for those boxes I mentioned earlier," Nick said, taking the hint and leaving the room.
Blaise and Draco immediately pulled up seats on the opposite side of the table as Hermione's parents, and Blaise conjured another chair with his wand as if it were nothing, and Hermione's mother gasped in horror. Hermione took a seat, nervously biting her lip.
"Now," Draco stated, as if he were making a business proposition. "I don't think either of you understand exactly how unfair and cruel your decision is to your daughter."
"I think we understand just fine," Mr. Granger stated coldly, "we raised Hermione to live her life like us, and we've tried to teach her the value of hard work."
"Trust us, Hermione works hard," Blaise broke in. "Did you know she was officially titled the brightest witch Hogwarts has seen in half a millennium?"
"We didn't, no." There was silence as Mrs. Granger glanced at her husband. "That only proves that she will succeed anywhere in life."
"You don't see," Draco shook his head. "She has all the skills and knowledge she could ever need for a fantastic career in the wizarding world. She could be highly successful here, whereas there could be doubt if she turned to a Muggle future. She has no Muggle schooling past the age of eleven, and I don't think you want to subject Hermione to that."
There was another pause as everyone present knew Draco had hit a nerve.
"We don't want magic in this house," Hermione's father declared.
"If it's an issue of that, Hermione is more than welcome to live in my flat. There's enough space for four people to live comfortably, and you'd never need to worry about her living in substandard conditions." Hermione sent Draco a small grin.
"Hermione," her mother said softly, as if trying to keep secretive. "Which one are you dating?" Her father jumped as if the thought had never passed his mind.
Hermione took a tentative look between the males on either side of her, before pointing at Blaise, who laughed. Draco raised an eyebrow.
"That hurts, deep," he said in mock sadness. Hermione moved her finger to the other side to point at Draco instead.
"This one," she muttered.
"Then she definitely will not be moving into your flat," Mr. Granger said loudly, shooting Draco a warning glance.
"I'm not four," Hermione said angrily, speaking up for the first time.
Just then Nick walked back into the room, stopping as he saw the three visitors still sitting there. Draco stood abruptly, as Hermione and Blaise followed suit.
"We'll give you some time to change your minds," Blaise said formally, before they started out of the kitchen. As they were preparing to disapparate from the living room once more, Nick came into the room.
"Hang on," he said, turning to Draco, his eyes flashing. "Are you shagging my sister?" His tone was low enough so only Draco could hear him.
"That is absolutely none of your business," Draco replied stiffly.
"Sure it is. She's my sister," Nick said. Draco sneered at him, eyes cold.
"Listen to you," he muttered, dark hatred in his tone. "You've been rejecting her for years, because she isn't quite like you. You haven't seen her in how long, and you haven't even spoken a single word to her today. If you cared enough to know the answer to a question like that, you'd have at least said hello. Come on, Hermione." He took her by the hand, reassuringly.
"Do you love her?" Draco spun around once more, his eyes connecting with Nick's determined ones. His question that time was loud enough for the other two to hear as well. The beat that followed was so suspended that Hermione forgot to breathe. The two stared at each other, unblinking, for far too long. Draco turned to look at Hermione, meeting her gaze for a moment, before looking back at Nick.
Yes, I do love her," he said, giving Hermione's hand a tight squeeze. Her breath caught in her throat, and even Blaise's eyes widened slightly in surprise. Draco avoided her eyes. "It was... interesting to meet you."
Nick nodded, lost for words, as Draco apparated himself and Hermione back to his flat, Blaise following shortly after. Draco dropped her hand, before walking into his room for something. Hermione stood where he'd left her, still numb with surprise and Blaise collapsed on the sofa.
A minute later Draco hadn't emerged from his room, so Hermione walked slowly to the door. He looked up, sensing her, watching her inquisitively.
"What is it?" he asked, looking curious.
"You said you love me," she said slowly and he merely blinked at her. "You didn't mean it." The realization hit her as a blow to the heart, that he had probably said it only to prove Nick wrong. She turned away before he could see the tears in her eyes. Draco Malfoy doesn't fall in love.
"Hermione," he sighed. He ran over to grab her wrist before she left the room, but she pulled it from his grip. Once more he reached for her, turning her around to face him. He wiped away her tears with his thumb, his other hand sliding from her wrist to lock with her fingers. Hermione bit her lip.
"I honestly can't remember meaning anything more," Draco admitted, meeting her eyes. "I love you, a lot, Hermione."
"Why did you walk away just now?"
"This caring thing is quite new to me, I'm sure you know. I'm embarrassed it took me so long to realize what I felt for you, even though Blaise told me what it was a long time ago."
"I see," Hermione stated, assessing him closely. "So guess what?"
"What?" he asked, confused.
"I knew I loved you a while ago," she muttered, grinning slyly at him. She wrapped her arms securely around his neck.
"Yeah? You did?" his voice was low, his eyes smouldering into hers. He slid his hands to her waist, pulling her in closer. Hermione leaned up to connect their lips, the familiar shock of electricity coursing through her at the touch of his mouth on hers.
"You two seriously need to learn how to close the door," Blaise interrupted some minutes later, and Draco tore his lips from Hermione's, sending Blaise a warning glance. The dark haired ex-Slytherin held up his hands in defense. "Just wanted to let you know I was leaving."
"See you Blaise," Hermione muttered, flushing lightly. Once he had disapparated out, Hermione turned back to Draco, the corners of her mouth turned up.
"Why can't I get enough of you?" she whispered, starting intently into his eyes. She dug a hand into his hair, messing it slightly.
Draco leaned down to press his lips to hers once more, softly this time. The hand she had in his hair slid down to the back of his neck, pulling him closer. He reached up and took her hand in his, entwining their fingers. Withdrawing slowly, he rested his forehead against hers.
"I could ask you the same thing." He tugged lightly on her hand and walked out of the room. Upon investigating the nearly empty kitchen, he turned to her. "So we're going out for dinner." Hermione laughed and nodded, allowing him to take them both to Diagon Alley.
"You pick," he muttered as they walked slowly down the cobbled street.
"These are all the expensive restaurants," she replied, frowning. "I've never been to any of them."
"Alright, I pick this one," he said, steering her towards the door of a posh looking café.
"Hey, Hermione?" a voice asked as she was about to enter. She turned around, surprised.
"Hey Ron," she said quietly, offering a smile. "What are you doing here so late?"
"I just remembered tomorrow's Charlie's birthday," he said apologetically, returning the grin. Hermione noticed his gaze flicker to her and Draco's connected hands. "Malfoy." He gave the briefest of nods, and Draco hesitantly returned the acknowledgment.
"I'll talk to you later though, alright?" the redhead continued. Hermione nodded before he walked off and she went into the restaurant with Draco.
"You know," she began as they sat down at a table, placing their orders, the food arriving almost instantly. "I don't think I ever told you, but there was once or twice where I actually regretted not leaving Hogwarts with you last winter. You were right; it was something I was looking for. I just didn't have the guts then."
"Would you have come if I left now?" He watched her after a pause, curious.
"I'm not sure. I'd give it plenty more consideration now at least."
"So," he breathed, leaning in. "Hermione, what if I took off tomorrow? New York is really quite fabulous."
"You can't be serious, Draco," she replied, eyes shocked.
"Yeah." He pursed his lips, moving back in his seat. "But what if I was? Hermione, I've got to know. If I left, would you want to come with me? Everything you've got here would be one apparation trip away, except for home."
"And you," she added, lips curving into a smile. "Draco, I don't know. Why am I getting the feeling this isn't as hypothetical as you'd like me to believe?"
He met her eyes, his grey ones conveying a warm honesty.
"I've been thinking about the future lately. A lot. And I still don't know what I want to do. The closest I came to thinking I could actually do something with my life was when I was over there. It's so different, and I've become so anxious with London, you know? Especially since the war and all." She nodded, feeling slightly nervous. What was he saying? He sighed. "I was offered work by a man in New York. Nothing serious, just something to sustain me until I'm able to find a job I'd really like to do. I never got back to him, but he left the offer open."
Hermione was stunned. He was leaving again? She hadn't seen this coming by any means. She swallowed heavily.
"You're going, then?" she asked. He looked away.
"I'm still just considering it. I only wanted your opinion. I wouldn't go without you, of course; I made that mistake last time, but I would never force you into anything."
She met his eyes once more and all doubt she might have had was shattered. She'd readily trust this man with her life.
"I'd go anywhere with you, Draco," she said, smiling. Her tone was light but her words went deeper and he saw that. He smiled back, his nerves vanishing as he gave her hand a tight squeeze. "I think I could certainly use a change of scenery in any case."
He leaned over the table to capture her lips with his. When he pulled back she bit her lip, letting out a groan.
"We've had enough trouble trying to convince my parents to let me move to inner London, let alone America. They didn't even give me an answer yet."
"I'm positive we've got them on moving to my place. We can give them some time on this if we need to," he teased, still leaned in.
"What about Blaise?" she asked, her mind suddenly racing. "I don't want to leave him here alone."
Draco shrugged. "Blaise is spending most of the summer in Italy with his girlfriend; he's leaving next week sometime. "He's got some elaborate plans for next year, I'm sure time will allow him to visit."
"Right," Hermione replied, eyes sparkling with mischief. "Blaise's girlfriend. Would that be the one who has him under her control because he's wretchedly in love with her?"
"It's not that awful, I suppose... it's quite an interesting emotion at least," he attempted to backtrack over his words from so long ago.
"Come on," she mocked, knowing she had him. "Tell me what you really think, Draco."
"It's bloody fantastic, alright?" he muttered, on edge. He shot her a glare. She grinned back, victorious.
"I know what you mean," she said softly, falling serious.
"Are you sure about America? It's quite a big change from here."
"Draco, you could dress me in a bikini, blindfold me and take me to Antarctica in the winter and I'd be fine with you," she assured him. He raised an eyebrow.
"That's not actually a bad idea." He appeared to consider it for a moment. "We could do that tomorrow instead, if you're free, and move halfway across the world the next day."
"We could," she agreed, pausing. "But we won't. Tomorrow we've got some serious convincing to do."
"No worries," he said, his tone sounding bored. "You forget; Slytherin. Cunning, Manipulative, Dangerous..." He sent her a glance.
"Conceited, egotistical, eager..." she continued, glancing at him. "Ridiculously good in bed when drunk half out of his mind..."
"See, I don't remember that. We should do it again sometime," he stated matter-of-factly.
"If you remembered it, you wouldn't have been drunk enough," she reminded him. "So that negates the purpose. Just take it as a compliment."
He had picked up the menu again and was casually scanning the alcohol section.
"Isn't it your birthday tomorrow? I'd rather have you remember what I've got planned for tonight," she said, reaching to take the menu from him. He had already tossed it to the other side of the table.
As they had both finished eating already, Draco stacked some money down on the table and stood up, snaking an arm around Hermione's waist. He hesitated, before leaning in to her ear.
"I'm wondering. Have you ever shagged in a washroom stall before?" He nibbled on her earlobe before she pulled back, regarding him with amusement.
"Have I ever shagged you in a washroom stall before Draco?" She asked.
"No?" he replied, confused.
"Then no." Realization hit him as he understood. "Did you forget you were my first? As far as I know I've never cheated on you." She froze, biting her lip. "Well, there was that one time with Blaise while you were away..."
Seeing him frown, about to question her, she laughed.
"I was kidding. Why, have you?" He looked thoughtful for a moment.
"No washroom stalls, no. But since you were just so kind as to point out that it is in fact my birthday tomorrow..." he trailed off, looking at her pointedly.
"You really want to?" she asked, her lips twitching. He nodded, his eyes narrowing and his grip on her increasing somewhat. She laughed and allowed herself to be led to the washroom, mentally wondering why he had this sort of effect on her. A year ago she never would have considered something like this.
He had her trapped, her back to the wall, his hands as support on either side of her head. His lips crushed hers roughly, as she reached up to bury her hands in his blond hair, bringing him closer. He pressed his body into hers, one hand going to her back while the other began to slide up her thigh.
His fingers trailed along her skin into her skirt, playing with the elastic of her underwear, moving downwards. Her hands went to his belt buckle, attempting to undo it, but she froze at his ministrations. She buried her face in his shoulder, her breathing heavy as she moaned into him.
He stopped as the door of the washroom swung open noisily. She lifted her head and met his eyes, dark with need.
"'Ey," came the rough voice of the custodian. "What's goin' on in 'ere?" She saw Draco smirk as he wrapped an arm securely around her back, and by the time the man pulled out a wand and opened the stall door, the two were gone.
"What are we doing here?" she asked, looking around the still crowded streets of Diagon Alley. He shrugged.
"The goal was to not get caught. You got us caught. Too damn noisy," he muttered, smirking.
"I'm sorry, was it my fault you wouldn't just do it?" she asked loudly, and a man passing by gave her a strange look. She sighed. "You're just going to leave me like this?"
He took a good look at her, smirk planted firmly on his lips. Her face was still flushed, her hair disheveled; she looked thoroughly turned on.
"Yes," he stated, beginning to walk down the street.
"You are such a tease," she hissed, catching up to him. "I know you want to finish this too."
"Not really," he said casually.
"Sure," she said in disbelief, glancing suspiciously down at his pants. "Yeah, not at all. Your belt is still loose by the way." He slid the leather back through the buckle and she sighed angrily, vanishing from his sight.
"Shit," he muttered. He quickly apparated back to the flat. She wasn't there. He ran a hand through his hair; he'd thought she knew he was only joking. He left once more, hoping he would manage to apparate into her bedroom.
Success was twofold. He appeared in a room where he didn't have to speak to her parents, but instead found her, facing away from him. She spun around as she heard him enter and smiled.
"I was kidding," he said, relieved to have found her.
"Yeah, me too," she wrapped her arms around his neck, kissing him. When he started to respond to the pressure, she pulled away. "Not here. They don't know I'm back." Her voice was almost at a whisper. He nodded, taking them both back to his flat.
"I believe I owe you something," he muttered, steering her towards his room.
"Bet your sweet little arse you do," she replied mischievously, cutting him off with her lips. Taking a glance at the clock she pulled back, "oh, and happy birthday."
By dinner time the next day the pair had emerged from Hermione's house, excited and nervous, leaving behind two thoroughly defeated and exasperated Muggles.
As Draco explained the situation to his landlord, Hermione was left alone with her thoughts. Most of them were struggling to tell her how sudden this decision was, on both their parts.
The old Hermione would have never considered this!
She bit her lip, watching as Draco laughed at something the older man said. A light smile traced her features. It wasn't as if she were the new Hermione; she had merely changed.
Draco had once told her that he intended to find redemption. She wondered if this was it. Or if perhaps he had already discovered it. Maybe with the act of murder, his soul had been cleansed, she mused, like his life had become free of Lucius.
She reviewed her last year at Hogwarts, deep in thought. She never would have imagined losing her best friend. When it came to it, she could still hardly accept that Harry was gone. It had been so sudden. She wasn't too sure her and Ron would ever have the friendship they'd had before either. Though she was willing to give it a shot.
She had made good friends with another Slytherin, Blaise. He had become so much more in her life than she ever would have expected. And he was, essentially, her comic relief.
She had grown to know Draco Malfoy. The dark prince of Slytherin, the Hogwarts womanizer, son of a notorious Death Eater... and she had fallen in love with him. She snorted aloud at the thought.
Would he have changed half as much as he did without sharing living space with her all year? How different would things be? He had saved her life from Lucius in the last battle... maybe she wouldn't even be around to contemplate.
She suddenly wanted to seek him out, to reassure herself. Draco and his landlord had walked into the next room. She leaned against the wall and sunk down. He was fine.
More than fine, actually. She had never seen him quite so happy.
He had never told her much of his trip away from Hogwarts, only what he had mentioned to her in those carefully scripted weekly letters. She hoped he had no idea she still kept them all pressed inside her original edition of Hogwarts: A History he had given her.
She knew, however, he had enjoyed himself. Which meant it had to be a decent place at least. And if they grew tired of it, they could always move on. Hermione considered the stack of job offers at the bottom of her Hogwarts trunk. She figured she would be able to find something she could love in New York.
And if not... well.
At least she'd be taking something she loved with her. And if he was happy, she was happy.
She met his gaze through the doorframe. It sparkled brightly. Yes, she was happy.