Well it seems the final chapter has finally arrived. Gosh, that took way longer than planned. Hope you can forgive me… Ok a few notes about this chapter, it took me ages to get it complete this last week because making it interesting is a lot harder than I thought. So yeah, I hope it's interesting.

Also, I've included at the bottom of this page a section with a few "special features" in case you're interested. Oh well, here it is…

CHAPTER 11:

An owl was rudely awakened from its slumber by a chillingly atmospheric breeze. Focusing its sleepy eyes on the surrounding area from a tall tree, which it called home, the creature was able to see the scene below clearly.

The beast was lying dead on the floor of the North Tower with Hermione sobbing piteously over him. The boys, Harry and Ron, stood nearby still struggling to come to terms with what had just occurred and right down below, on the concrete pavement, was a splattered human body; that of Viktor Krum. Harry and Ron were oblivious to this fact.

Sensing new forces of power arrive, the owl decided it had had enough. The air was dense with emotions, magic and death. With an annoyed toot, the bird flew away into the distance, just in time for the arrival of Albus Dumbledore.

'Professor!' Harry momently felt a temporary surge of hope as the old wizard appeared from the door. Though Draco had always been perceived as a sadistic and arrogant fool, Harry was actually feeling quite struck with grief over his death. Hermione's letter to Harry had only briefly explained her experience with Draco in the castle and her conviction that he was wrongly accused by the wizarding world as well as inform him of Viktor Krum's plan of attack, which had been most shocking. It had taken some effort to convince Ron that Hermione was too smart to be deceived by a Malfoy and he reluctantly became resigned to help because "she is our best friend after all".

Now Harry was experiencing an assortment of emotions; sadness, grief, pity and exhaustion. It had been a long morning. What a terrible shame it was that Draco was killed at a time when he could have been redeemed amongst the magical folk with the clarifications of Harry, Hermione and Ron. In what direction would events turn now with the arrival of the Headmaster? What would be his reaction to this tragic situation?

'My dear friends, I am deeply sorry for my tardiness. I was…indisposed.'

Hermione shot a speculative look at him through a mist of tears. A stab of resentment struck hard at seeing the old man's emotionless features. In all the years she had known him, Dumbledore had appeared to be a mysterious and powerful wizard, always on time to save the day. What could have possibly delayed him now? Why did it seem as though he didn't care? He might have saved Draco's life, but no, that probably didn't fit into his schedule. Through a shaky voice Hermione began to speak. 'The men who attacked this castle are all taken care of. If you look out the window you will see the remains of the late Viktor Krum on the pavement (there was no humour in her voice) and if you look here you will also notice that Draco, innocent as he was, did not escape a similar fate. Now please indulge me, what was so important that kept you from coming to our aid?'

Harry and Ron exchanged nervous glances at Hermione's cold tone. This was unexpected. Surely she realised that Dumbledore would not have been late unless there was a good reason? At the same time, the news of Viktor's death was shocking to them. Ron paled considerably; Viktor had been his Quidditch hero. Krum's actions in coming to the castle were ruthless and unexpected, but the man would be sorely missed in the wizarding world. Harry wondered how Viktor had fallen from this height. Had Draco pushed him in the fight?

Dumbledore sighed inwardly at Hermione's reaction. He knew it would not be easy. 'I apologise again miss Granger, but it was difficult to leave the school. I tried my best, I assure you.'

'Well you're too late." Harry gasped at Hermione's sharp retort.

Dumbledore stared gravely into Hermione's stony eyes. 'Am I?'

The headmaster was greeted with a confused pause and all eyes upon him. 'Professor, I don't know what you're playing at but even you know that magic is incapable of bringing people back from the dead. So unless you intend on defying the laws of magic and science, then please kindly stop wasting my patience.'

Ron gazed in shock horror, never before having witnessed Hermione act with disrespect toward a senior, and never believing he would. He could empathise with her sorrow but surely that didn't excuse this sudden sharpness? It just wasn't Hermione's nature.

Dumbledore remained ever so calm, as per usual. 'The saving of Draco's life is very much a part of my agenda, Miss Granger. That is why I have come now, instead of lingering behind at Hogwarts to berate a group of students who had thought it amusing to set firecrackers on Mrs. Norris's tail, thus distracting Filch so that they could ransack his office to reclaim some unauthorized possessions.'

'I don't see how you can be humorous at a time like this. Don't you believe in Draco's innocence? Can't you see that he was never a threat in the first place?' Hermione's voice faltered with sadness and disbelief. The events that were taking place were bewildering, like a bad dream. The man she was in love with had just died, and the person she had summoned for help, the person she had always looked up to with admiration and trust, was behaving as though the entire matter was unimportant, or even a joke.

Harry spoke up. 'Wait, sir did you say that saving Malfoy- err-Draco's life is your agenda? I might have heard wrong but I doubt I am mistaken. Surely at this point there is nothing you can do.'

Hermione's interest rose, as though sensing an unheard answer in Harry's question, but her rage and disbelief still plagued her mind. Obviously there was nothing to be done about Draco's death. She would be foolish to let her hopes rise at Harry's comment.

Dumbledore's voice became quite firm. 'Miss Granger, this is no joke. I understand how you are feeling but if you would please remain silent for some moments, I think it is time I explained everything to you from the beginning.'

Taking some control over the crashing wave of fury and grief ignited within her, Hermione gave a curt nod to indicate her acquiescence. However, her hand lingered on the long golden mane of her beloved as she tried to absorb the information that began pouring from the wise man's lips.

'A few years ago in this very Manor, Draco lived a quiet, secluded life dedicated to the practise of the dark arts…'

All jaws dropped as Dumbledore related the incidents of the night of his visit to the castle in which he scrutinised Draco's behaviour and placed a horrible curse on him resulting in the transformation of his appearance.

'YOU put him under this curse?' Hermione gaped in utter incredulity.

'You must understand Miss Granger, rumours about Draco's mischief were flying about quicker than a snitch. If they were true, then we were all going to be in a lot of danger. Nobody knew where he was hiding out or if he was planning any acts of terrorism. After a lot of research I stumbled upon some information within the Ministry of Magic concerning Lucius Malfoy's estates. With the help of a certain prisoner from Azkaban (and some Veritaserum potion) I was able to track down this location. I pride myself at being an excellent judge of character, so naturally, after Draco verbally abused and then threatened to kill me, I was quite sure he needed to be constrained. Instead of handing him over to Azkaban, I decided to give him a less damning punishment. My decision provided a chance for the man to redeem himself.'

Hermione laughed harshly. 'You mean to tell me that turning him into a beast and locking him in this dark and chilling place for years is not damning?'

'NO.' Dumbledore said with assertion. 'It was a much better alternative than to rot like all the others in Azkaban.'

'How can you say that?' Hermione's eyes now brimmed with fresh tears. 'He is dead! Was that your plan too?'

'Please Miss Granger, let me finish. This curse was an opportunity for redemption, in which I believe he has finally achieved. If you would kindly cease this constant interruption, maybe I will be able to inform you of some very important facts.'

Hermione felt slightly ashamed of herself but did not allow the emotion to show. After all, what could he possibly say to rectify the situation?

Again, the headmaster sighed. He knew this was going to be difficult to explain, as was expected, and after all everything had gone according to plan. He had foreseen a similar circumstance all those years ago. It was time to put the final touches of his plan into motion. It would soon be over.

'As a parting gift, I gave Draco a single red rose with the promise that once all the petals had naturally fallen off, he would die. However, there was one way in which he could remedy the curse, and that was to change his heart. As a means of monitoring his change someone with a true heart would have to declare his goodness, and the perfect solution was to have someone fall in love with him.' Dumbledore's eyes twinkled as Hermione gasped in shock. He smiled. 'The magic of the rose was designed to draw one with a pure spirit to the castle. It seems it chose you Miss Granger.'

'But-how? Why? I mean, I don't understand! You're saying that I was intentionally brought here and made to fall in love with Draco? I was almost killed. Twice! And what if it hadn't worked? Or has this all been against my will?'

'Hermione, calm down!' Ron exclaimed.

'Calm down? Calm down?' Hermione was nearing hysterics. How could everyone else be so relaxed at a time like this?

Seeing where the situation was heading, Dumbledore did the only thing he thought necessary. 'lenteme-laxoficus' Hermione felt as if a warm hand was running down her spine as the spell hit causing her to immediately sooth. She took a deep breath and muttered a soft "Thankyou." Then her expression turned to puzzlement. 'Headmaster, you just used magic! How? All this time, my wand has not worked within the perimeters of the castle.'

'Ah, yes. Part of the curse was that magic could not be exercised within the grounds by any living creature be that human, beast or house elf. It would have been imprudent to allow a dangerous man/beast in possession of all the magic he wanted. However, now that the curse is broken, so are the wards to magic.' Harry quickly tested his wand with the "lumos" spell and proved the headmaster correct.

'In reply to your previous questions, it is necessary to explain,' Dumbledore continued, 'that the magic of the rose is an old an ancient one, quite mysterious even to me. I cannot say why it chose you Miss Granger; fate works its web entirely independently to mere humans or wizards. Do not be mistaken however, your feelings and intentions have belonged to you alone. Viktor Krum also had full control over the decision to come here though it is no coincidence that his actions aligned with the fall of the final petal. It was Draco's time and Viktor's too, so it seems.'

Hermione's head spun with all this information. Still confused, and rather shocked, she allowed her defiant expression to drop and focussed all her attention on the conversation. She gazed back at Draco's lying form with a mixture of expectation that he would surely wake from a slumber and regret that they had spent so little time together. 'Sir, if the rose drew myself and Viktor to this place, how can everything have been of our own free will?'

'It is the greatest unanswerable mystery, I am truly sorry but even I cannot explain the ways of fate. I would say that the magic of the rose recognised your qualities and merely showed you the way. Similarly, it allowed Viktor to discover the castle both because he was to be the instrument of Draco's death and because, as it seems, it was also his time to pass away.'

'Sir, I don't fully understand,' Harry's brow was slightly wrinkled with consternation and thought. 'From what I gather, this curse was placed in order for Draco to turn good, and you say that you think he has achieved this because Hermione has fallen in love with him? (That thought was still taking some getting used to) Because you seem to have opposed Hermione's statement of being able to bring one back to life, am I to understand that you actually plan on bringing Draco back?'

'That's impossible,' Hermione stated flat. She wasn't going to let Harry bring fresh hope into her heart. The prospect was simply ridiculous. Every book she'd ever read defied the possibility.

'Miss Granger is quite right,' said Dumbledore with a surprisingly bright voice that further shocked the group. 'But the fact of the matter isthat Draco is not dead.'

Hermione emitted a short incredulous laugh. 'You can't be serious. Isn't it obvious that things didn't all go according to plan? Maybe he could have been saved but…it's too late.'

Ron, who had been quite silent during the entire time felt overwhelmed with sympathy. By the strained look on Hermione's face, it was evident that she had been through a lot. He hoped Dumbledore truly could help the situation.

Dumbledore remained silent for some moments, contemplating the situation and deciding to be straightforward lifted his wand toward Draco's still body, he warned the others to move. With uncertainty, Hermione, Harry and Ron scurried behind the tall wizard. 'Please inform me, Miss Granger, did you profess your love to Draco before he died?'

Hermione frowned. 'He did exhale once after I said…but what does that matter?'

'It matters very much. It means that Draco cannot be dead if the spell worked, which I am certain it did.'

'But what-'

'He is in a magically induced coma.'

Hermione tried to speak but no words came out. She was dumbfounded. Everything was happening too quickly, it was all so surreal. If she heard right, Draco was not really dead? She dared not think. But what if it was true? Dumbledore wouldn't lie…

'How can he come out of the coma sir?' Ron asked and scrunched up his nose. 'She doesn't have to kiss him does she?' Suddenly this whole thing had a certain fairytale atmosphere to it. (Except of course for Viktor Krum who's ending was rather morbid).

Dumbledore chuckled. 'No, I simply have to end the spell with a few easy flicks of the wand.'

Hermione tensed with anticipation. 'Could it be?'

'Whatever happens, do not panic. I know what I'm doing.' The three youths nodded at the order.

With eyes closed, Dumbledore concentrated on the task at hand. With the proper movements and incantation this was sure to work. 'Indubitatus defixus-anguis' His wrist made a swishing movement, then pointed right at Draco's chest. 'Ciris-ab-migratu'.

The others watched in astonishment as a globe of white effulgent light shot into Draco's body, illuminating it momentarily before the entire body lifted inches off the ground and sagged down in a final heap. Dumbledore muttered, 'Incendio' causing the body to explode into flames. In the blink of an eye all that was left was a pile of ash.

Hermione's mouth dropped open. Don't panic, she told herself. There is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this. Surely. 'Ah, sir, what did you do?' Her voice was a little high pitched.

'Did it work Professor?' Harry questioned with an equal element of alarm in his voice.

'There is only one way to find out,' the headmaster announced. 'In his room, on his bed. Hurry but don't wake him!'

Hermione rushed off down the stairs toward the master bedroom while Harry and Ron lingered behind with Dumbledore. 'Should we follow?' Ron asked.

'Better to leave her for a few moments.' Harry said in a quiet voice.

The door to Draco's room swung open with desperate force. Hermione stood panting at the entrance, gathering her remaining strength. As her eyes focussed on the pale form of Draco (who was no longer a beast) lying on his bed, she began to weep. Moving with heavy steps toward the figure, Hermione forced herself to stay calm at the sight of the wounds. They were still very fresh but the blood was clotted enough to stop its flow.

'Scourgify.' The quick spell cleaned up the red stains on Draco's stomach and chest, which to Hermione's utter relief, was moving up and down slowly. A smile dared to creep onto her face even as she checked his wrist for pulse- just in case. Dumbledore had been right all along and saved the day after all. She would have to apologise and thank him afterward.

Looking into the face that she had not seen for so long, Hermione realised it had not changed a bit. It was still as beautiful as she remembered; only for once there was no smirk to ruin it. Lying there, Hermione could not imagine this man having a single thread of evil within him.

'I thought I had lost you.' She whispered into his ears. She realised she hadn't expected a response, but continued anyway. 'Don't ever scare me like that again.'

Some few minutes later, Dumbledore approached to cast some healing spells over Draco's body and reassured Hermione that he was not offended by her former statements. 'It was understandable.' He smiled knowingly.

'Professor Dumbledore, how long until he wakes up?' Hermione asked with a pleading tone.

'Perhaps a day or two. I want to give enough time for his body to fully recover. The spell I used to seal the cut is not quite as speedy as some others, but it will leave his flesh unscarred and completely recuperated.'

'Sir…'Hermione hesitated. 'What about Viktor Krum?'

Dumbledore gave her a knowing glance. 'You pushed him for your own protection.' Hermione's eyes widened. How did he know? He continued, 'I will explain to the ministry that his fall was the result of an act of self-defence. You needn't worry.'

Two days sounded like a short time, but it felt like an eternity to Hermione who waited impatiently in the castle with the house elves. The tiny servants had fought bravely against the siege of men. Many had also been wounded, but none fatally. They now accommodated their guest with alike anxiety, and hopes that their master would be well soon. Harry and Ron had stayed for one day but had their own lives to get on with and were sure Hermione could manage on her own. If she needed them, they were only an owl away. Dumbledore departed to Hogwarts that night, returning to his principal duties and preparing for a big day with the media.

All the while Draco lay oblivious to the passing time.

-

Hermione found him sitting on a bench in the garden staring out at the field of flowers.

'How are you feeling?' She asked softly. He was still for a moment before looking up. The sun was strong and he placed a hand above his eyes to shade them. 'I feel like I've never had a bruise in my whole life. But my energy level is still quite low.'

'That's because you haven't done any exercise in years.' She laughed. 'Your going to have to get in shape if you want me to stick around.'

'You're delirious if you think you can resist a Malfoy, especially this Malfoy.' He grinned widely and Hermione knew he was right.

After thirty-eight hours Draco had finally woken from a deep sleep to find Hermione's slumbering form on a chair next to his bed. At first he was completely bewildered and couldn't remember where he was or what had happened. The biggest shock had come when by chance he noticed his body lacked a lot of hair. A quick dash to his full body mirror confirmed his suspicions and then a warm glow of ecstasy alighted his features at the realisation of what must have happened.

Hermione.

The only explanation was Hermione. But that must mean she loved him and had therefore saved him. For two minutes he had struggled with himself over waking her but eventually he managed to knock over a stool in his impatience and she startled awake anyway. Seeing Draco standing across the room had seemed like the perfect wake up call. With the speed of light she was in his arms. Explaining what had happened seemed practically unimportant so she kept it brief. 'It's over. You're back.'

The morning after had conveniently shone bright with mirth and there was a festive atmosphere within the castle grounds. The house elves were preparing a special welcome back breakfast.

Draco held Hermione's hand gently. 'I haven't thanked you properly for what you've done.'

'You don't have-'

'Ssh, I must.' He interrupted. 'When you left the other night I was deeply regretful. I thought you would never return. My goodness, I realised how foolish I've been all these years. I've wasted so much of my life. If it weren't for you, I may never have had a proper life at all. Now I hope to start one from scratch. And I want you to be a part of it.'

Hermione smiled. She certainly wanted to be a part of it. But now she wasn't in the mood for soppy talk. She wanted to brighten up the mood with some fun.

'Draco, you don't happen to own a lake on this property do you?'

He glanced at her curiously. 'No but there is a dam about ten minutes away from here. I used to visit it all the time in the summer. Why? Do you want to have a picnic there?'

A playful smile lit up her face. 'Well actually, it's quite a warm day so I was wondering if you wanted to go for a swim?'

'I suppose. What's that smile for? What have you got planned, ha? Don't you worry, this cat isn't afraid of water.' Draco straightened his back and lifted his chin to the sky.

Hermione laughed and stood up. 'That's not what I'm worried about. Just make sure you wear a shirt when we get there, a floppy belly can be very unattractive.'

Draco's eyes widened. 'What! Oh, I'm going to get you for that Hermione Granger, you just wait!'

Hermione shrieked in delight as she ran for it all the way up the Manor followed closely by a grinning Draco.

The riddle is broken

Fate has spoken

The zither's nets tear

Allowing the heart's walls to repair

The human is free of magic

This tale is not at all tragic!

(Except for Krum, of course!)

Special features

First of all I would like to thank everyone who had read and reviewed this story. I can't believe I got over one hundred reviews! The feedback has been fantastic and really helped me to keep writing (even if some chapters took a little while to get posted).

I was inspired to write Beauty and Her Beast while I was listening to Celtic music; yeah I know it sounds strange. What happened was I decided to write a poem, the one that I've posted with every second chapter. I don't know why or how I decided to base it on the Disney cartoon Beauty and the Beast, it just kind of happened. So I wrote the poem one night and did some thinking and realised that it could end up being a perfect idea for a fanfiction. And vuala! I basically wrote the story around the poem, as well as keeping to most of the story line from the cartoon.

This is the poem all together…I hope it made sense:

BEAUTY AND HER BEAST

POEM

The tale begins at the peak of night,

T'was dark, no lamp, no sight

Magic grew with thick deception

Giving a chance for human redemption.

The trees whisper of a dangerous threat,

The zither strings create a net

To succumb that which enters it's walls

Fate encloses as darkness falls.

Mystery, oh history, pray speak your name,

Unlock your riddle and end the game

Things are happening, it's so befuddled

Mind is swimming, just so muddled.

Time comes when the weak must be strong,

Let go, just follow the heart song

Hope remains when there is no fear

Find the calling and keep it near.

What was feared is suddenly transformed,

The spell is broken, appearance reformed

No more darkness, only light

No need for lamp, courage is sight.

The riddle is broken

Fate has spoken

The zither's nets tear

Allowing the heart's walls to repair

The human is free of magic

This tale is not at all tragic!

DELETED SCENES

Ok so this basically from the last chapter. My father thought it would be funny to add some macabre humour about Viktor Krum's death (boys will be boys) but I didn't include them in the chapter. Here they are:

1)

'How can he come out of the coma sir?' Ron asked and scrunched up his nose. 'She doesn't have to kiss him does she?' Suddenly this whole thing had a certain fairytale atmosphere to it. (Except of course for Viktor Krum, he was smashed and dead and it seemed he was going to stay that way. If this story is going to have a fairy tale ending it is not so for Krum. He drew the short straw; he got the pointy end of the stick.).

2)

'Professor Dumbledore, how long until he wakes up?' Hermione asked with a pleading tone.

'Perhaps a day or two. I want to give enough time for his body to fully recover. The spell I used to seal the cut is not quite as speedy as some others, but it will leave his flesh unscarred and completely recuperated.'

'What about Krum?' Hermione asked, 'is there something you can do about him?' 'Yes,' replied Dumbledore. 'We are having someone scrape him up now. If it's any consolation, the pavement will be repaired within a week. I think you better focus on Draco, at least he will recover in two days.'

Thanks again everyone!

Shena