A/N – It's been a long time coming, and I have no excuse for not posting sooner. I thank you all so much for reading this, and hope this ends the romance of Draco and Hermione reasonably well. I think in the future I won't write sequels, not only for my own sake, but for the sake of my poor readers. I seem to lose interest, and then the updating process becomes very stretched out.
But this is it. This is the final chapter. No more waiting. Please read, and for the last time, let me know what you think…
Chapter eight – The Finale
The ex-students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry stood around in the upstairs Hall of the Malfoy Manor. They had been listening to the band Narcissa had organized for about two hours. Many people had danced to start with, then when the food came out they all stopped and ate. Now most girls were too full to dance, and the guys hadn't really been dancing in the first place.
The final song came to a close and everyone clapped politely. Hermione glanced at Terry Boot, who was looking like he wanted to say something. "What's up, Terry?"
He started when she addressed him. "Oh, nothing much. I just wondered if you were expecting us to all go home now, or if there was time for, maybe, a Quidditch match?"
Hermione smiled and glanced at Draco, who had turned to listen when Hermione had started speaking. Draco shrugged, and said "I don't care if you're all here for dinner. So I doubt Quidditch is out of the question."
Terry smiled and looked around. "So, do you reckon everyone would want to play?"
Draco said, "I'm not sure. Here, I'll ask." He raised his voice over the general chatter, "Excuse me! Terry had the idea of a final Quidditch match. A friendly game, to put all competition behind us. Is anyone interested?"
Everyone in the room cheered. Draco looked back at Terry. "We'll take that as a yes."
Draco led the way outdoors and into the Quidditch supply shed. The word 'shed' didn't really describe it accurately. It was more like a barn. Most people looked around in awe at the extensive range of equipment Draco had inherited from his father. "You own all this?" Fred asked incredulously. "Outrageous."
"There aren't three Firebolt Extreme's hanging up over there, are there?" George pointed to the far side of the shed. "And a Seekers Secret?" Everyone's mouths dropped open as they withheld the broom, aside from Hermione who had never heard of it before. "Isn't that meant to -"
"Fly as fast as the snitch itself?" Draco supplied. "Yep."
"Wow." The group said as one. Then Ginny queried, "Does it really fly that fast? I mean, come on…"
"You can fly it, Ginny." Draco proposed. "Then everyone can see if it does or not."
Ginny eagerly agreed, but was stopped in her walk over to the wall by Harry's voice. "Shouldn't that broom be for a Seeker?"
Draco raised his eyebrows at Harry's question. "Do you want the broom for yourself?"
Harry shook his head immediately. "No, no. Well…it would be cool…but no. I meant, why don't we take this opportunity to mix the teams up a bit. No more House teams. Ginny can use that broom, and play as the Seeker for her team, but I'll play Seeker for a different team. No more House rivalry."
"I like it." Lee Jordan agreed immediately. "So long as I get to announce."
"Sure thing." Draco acquiesced. "Everyone who wants to play, grab a broom." There was a bit of a rush to the Firebolt's and Firebolt Extremes, until everyone realised that most of the brooms were high quality anyway. Once everyone held a broom in their hands, Hermione sorted the teams out, ensuring not only that the Houses were well mixed, but also that each team had a variety of brooms to keep it fair. They had enough people and brooms for three teams, and she chose the Seekers of each to be Ginny, Harry, and a Ravenclaw called Steve Curwood. Draco looked slightly upset, until she placed him as a Beater on Harry's team.
When the team selections were finished, and everyone was filing onto the pitch, Hermione whispered to Draco as they walked side-by-side, "Now you will know what it's like to win."
"Hey, I have won before." Draco defended himself.
"Fairly?" Hermione questioned, to which Draco dropped his head slightly. "That's what I thought." When everyone stopped walking, they turned to face Draco, awaiting further instructions.
"Alright. So we've got our teams." He stated. "Should we name ourselves? House names are no longer appropriate."
"Good idea." Angelina Johnson said, as everyone else murmured in agreement. The players seemed to glance at everyone else on their team, as if trying to think of a name appropriate to all of them. "I propose our name to be Proficient Players, because personally I think-"
"Boring." George interrupted loudly, who was another of the three Gryffindor on that team. "We should be called DD's…Dangerous as Dragons…" He left it hanging in hopes of hearing an audible gasp of wonder at his creative team name.
"That's the stupidest name I've ever heard of." Angelina snapped. "It something a ten year old boy might be inclined to suggest. DD's…honestly. That could stand for anything. Dumb Dunderheads or something equally as inaccurate."
"Yeah, like yours is so much better." He retorted with a raised eyebrow. "If Lee shortens your name when he shouts the winning team, it'll sound like we're the team who wet ourselves while playing. PP's…PeePee's…" he looked at her as if it was the most obvious thing to piece together. When she stared at him with narrowed eyelids, George turned to face the rest of their team. "What do you guys think? Let's take a vote. All those in favour of Proficient Players, raise your hands."
Angelina raised her hand, along with a Ravenclaw named Lisa Turpin, and after a long hard glare from Angelina, Steve Curwood raised his hand also. "Hey, hey!" George intervened, "No death glares to get your own way!"
Angelina rolled her eyes, and said in a disgusted tone, "All those in favour of being called the ridiculous Dangerous as Dragons?" Both of George's hands shot into the air, and he looked around expectantly to see Ron, Theodore Nott, and Crabbe all raise their hands, with Steve raising his a second time, nervously avoiding eye contact with Angelina.
"Ha!" George exclaimed triumphantly. "Dangerous as Dragons we are!"
"Ok." Draco said, cutting off Angelina as she made to protest, although her proposed name had lost fair and square. "How about your team, Gin?"
Ginny turned to look at Draco from the discussion she had been having with her team. "Well, we've decided to call ourselves The Best Blend. We reckon we've got the best players of all Quidditch teams. Aside from Harry, that is."
Draco could immediately tell the name was false, but just nodded in acceptance. Ginny's team consisted of Pansy, Terry Boot, Fred, Millicent Bulstrode, Alicia and Hannah Abbot, who had agreed to play just to get the numbers up for three teams.
"What about you Draco?" Pansy asked with a grin. "What name have you guys chosen for Harry Potter's team? Potter's Party? Harry and the Others?"
"Shut up Pansy." Draco said, knowing she was kidding. "I'll hex you for that later on. And no, we're not naming ourselves in reference to Harry. Padma came up with the idea we call ourselves the Crushing Crusaders. So just wait, we'll crush you like dung beetles going into an Empowerment Potion."
"I'd like to see you try." Pansy said with a teasing smile, glancing over his team, which was made up by Draco, Harry, Justin, Padma, Ernie MacMillan, Katie Bell and surprisingly enough, Neville. Pansy turned to Hermione, and asked, "Who plays who first?"
"Um…how about Crushing Crusaders play the Best Blend first, and then the loser plays Dangerous as Dragons, or DD's…which, come to think of it sounds like a bra size," Angelina glared at George, and he smirked as if this was an achievement. "If the same team loses each time, the winners of each match play each other in the final. If the losing team of the first match win the second…we can figure out what to do after that." Hermione finished, slightly confused over what she'd just said.
"Sounds good." Alicia said, "But who's going to be the umpire?"
"I will." Goyle said, raising a hand in the air. Draco glanced at him and nodded. "Let's have the first two teams facing each other. DD's and anyone else not playing, please go seat yourselves in the stands."
Hermione led the way up to the stands and everyone sat down then quickly turned their attention to the players, who had just taken off into the air, zooming in every direction. Harry and Ginny flew high into the air to scour the pitch for the snitch, while the Keepers made their ways to their particular ends of the pitch.
Draco flew past with a beaters bat in his hand and winked at Hermione in the stands. She smiled back, but her smile was quickly replaced by a look of panic, as Neville, the other Beater for the Crushing Crusaders, whacked a bludger towards Draco's head. "Draco!" Hermione yelled, pointing behind him. Draco instinctively followed her pointed finger, and raised his bat to hit the oncoming bludger. He hit it hard and sent it spinning off towards Fred, where it hit him in the shoulder, and caused Fred shout in surprise and nearly fall off his broom.
Draco turned to look at Neville, his severe expression betraying his need for an explanation. "I know your memory has never been the greatest, Neville, but I'm just curious as to how you forgot I was on your team so quickly?" Draco said, unintentionally causing some people in the stands to laugh at Neville.
"I'm sorry Draco. I really am." Neville quickly apologized, his face flushing a nasty shade of scarlet. "I just accidentally…hit it the wrong way."
"Right." Draco said. "Just try to, I don't know…hit it towards the opponent next time, ok?"
"Ok, Draco. Sorry again." Neville flew off, looking embarrassed. Draco sighed, knowing that Neville really hadn't meant it. He had been present in enough of Neville's classes to know that he made mistakes all the time, and never meant them. He also knew that this was Neville's first time playing in a Quidditch match, so for that he needed to cut him some slack. Besides, it was just a game.
"Ha." He muttered to himself, continuing to fly around the pitch. "Just a game. Yeah right."
"Talking to your self Draco?" Pansy asked, flying past him holding a beaters bat in her hand. "That's not normal. But hey, when have you ever been normal?"
"Never, but I suppose that's why we're such good friends." He said in reply, continuing to fly out of hearing range. Draco suddenly realised that Lee Jordan had been giving a running commentary of the game, and between the encounter with Neville and Pansy, he hadn't been paying attention.
"And that's another ten points to the Crushing Crusaders, so that makes it forty to ten, with the CC's in the lead." Lee said, allowing Draco to catch up on the events of the game. However, as Draco took the time to watch Pansy hit a badly aimed bludger at Padma, which ended up knocking Harry's shoe off, Draco saw the snitch. It was hovering lazily over Hannah Abbot's shoulder, who was a Chaser for the Best Blend.
Draco glanced at Ginny, who was flying with an intense expression as she looked for the snitch, but unfortunately was heading in the opposite direction. Quickly heading off a bludger with one strong hit towards Pansy, Draco sped off towards Harry, who was looking concernedly at the ground where his shoe had landed. As he neared Harry, Draco glanced over his shoulder to see that although Hannah had moved, the snitch hadn't.
"Harry, you idiot." Draco said quietly. "Take a look about five meters to Hannah's left."
"Huh?" Harry said intelligently, looking where Draco had suggested. "Wha…oh!" And without further ado, he aimed his broom and sped towards the snitch. Draco watched with a pang of jealousy, wishing he could be the one speeding towards the snitch, but also a slight feeling of pride, that his friend was one of the best Seekers the wizarding world would ever know.
From behind him, Draco heard Ginny's cry of outrage, as she obviously spotted Harry closing his fingers around the snitch. Lee Jordan's voice rang out, "Crushing Crusaders win! Harry gets the snitch!" A small cheer sounded from the stands, and the two teams flew down to the ground.
As the team congratulated Harry, Draco brushed past him and shot him a knowing look. Harry wasn't about to let Draco get the credit, otherwise he'd be extremely embarrassed that he hadn't noticed the golden ball himself. Harry muttered a quiet, "Thanks for that, mate."
The next game was between the losers, the Best Blend and Dangerous as Dragons. The game ended almost as soon as it had begun. Draco had just settled down next to Hermione, when the game began, and after only a few minutes of cringing whenever Pansy would try to miss hitting Ron with a Bludger but actually get him, Steve Curwood caught the snitch.
"Man, Ginny's having an off day, isn't she?" Draco muttered to Hermione under his breath, in regards to her missing the snitch twice in a row.
"She knows Harry will win anyway, so she thinks she may as well keep him feeling unthreatened." Hermione explained with a patient smile. Draco's brow furrowed but he didn't make a comment. "I would do the same for you, but there's nothing you would beat me at, so there's no need."
"Harsh." Draco commented, shaking his head in dismay. As his name was called from the field for him to get his arse down there for the next match, he noticed Hermione was wearing gloves. "Hermione," he frowned, "Why are you wearing gloves?"
Hermione looked strangely at him for asking such a meaningless question. "Because my hands were cold." She explained slowly. "Usually that's the reason people wear gloves."
"But it's a warm day." He argued. "Take them off."
Now it was Hermione's turn to frown. "It may be a warm day, but it's a bit chilly sitting here in the shade of the stands with the wind blowing. And why on earth do you want me to take them off?"
Draco hesitated before replying quickly, "Just take them off Hermione."
Hermione clasped her hands stubbornly and shook her head. "No."
"You will take them off before I go down to the pitch." He told her, and when she shook her head for a second time, he reached over and began prizing her hands apart. "Yes you will." As much as Hermione struggled, Draco was too strong and determined. Soon, he held the gloves in his hand while Hermione gave him a very confused look.
"Draco, you're acting idiotic." She said matter-of-factly. "Can you explain why you've just stolen my gloves?"
"Not right now." He said, pocketing the gloves. "But you shouldn't have to wait very long." And with that, he flew back down to the pitch where he landed smoothly next to Harry. Harry shot Draco a strange expression, and whispered something to him while looking up in the stands towards Hermione. Before Hermione had time to consider this, the players flew in to the air and the game began.
Harry flew quickly around the field, now on the Seekers Secret broom, as Ginny no longer required it. After a lap of the pitch, he started watching the game. No team had scored yet, because the Keeper's for both teams played in Hogwarts matches, and were well trained. Angelina was trying her hardest to score a goal past Justin, but he wouldn't let it pass.
Lee Jordan didn't have much to say, but tried to keep the commentary rolling anyway. "The Quaffle goes from Katie to Padma, who drops it…and is caught by Lisa of Ravenclaw. She flies with it to the goals…aims…shoots! …doesn't score. Sorry Dangerous as Dragons, it seems you're only as dangerous as a tiny, un-charmed plastic dragon. And even that's pushing it…"
Draco scoffed at this, having noted Angelina's offended expression. He noticed a bludger to his right, flew towards it and hit it towards Crabbe. Unfortunately for Crabbe, he hadn't seen it coming like Draco thought he would, and it hit him squarely in the left shoulder. Draco winced as he fell off his broom and landed heavily on the ground. Flying over him, Draco guiltily called down, "Sorry Crabbe, didn't think you'd get hit."
From the stands, Hermione noticed Crabbe stay on the ground as he was obviously too winded to fly properly. She turned her attention back to the game, and saw Katie quickly throw the Quaffle at the goals, but Ron blocked it with a sharp turn.
Hermione realised the only way for the game to go anywhere would be to have it end. Any excitement would have to come from a team winning, as it seemed no team would ever score a goal. Her attention turned to Harry, who was flying so fast he was just a blur. Although she couldn't see the snitch, it was obvious that was what he was going for. Every one in the stands straightened in their seats for a better look.
Harry was headed towards the opposite end of the pitch, where Steve, the Seeker for the DD's, was. Steve's hand was stretching out in front of him, and Hermione scanned he pitch with narrowed eyes and finally saw the snitch. It seemed to her that although Harry's broom was faster than Steve's, he wouldn't make it in time.
All the players stopped their game, and turned to see who the winner would be. Steve was quickly approaching the snitch as it flew in lazy circles near the ground. Harry was speeding towards the golden ball, and the only other player moving aside those two was Draco, who was hovering above the snitch helplessly wishing he was the Seeker.
Draco was just about to hit an oncoming bludger away without thinking so he could keep watching the end of the game, but suddenly had a better idea. He dropped slightly to give him a better angle, waited impatiently for the bludger to reach him, then moments before Steve was to catch the snitch, he whacked the bludger towards the golden ball.
Steve was already smiling in anticipation of beating Harry Potter, when the snitch suddenly disappeared from in front of him due to being knocked by a bludger. He frowned and looked in the direction it had been hit. Harry was zooming towards it with his hand outstretched, and within moments, had it captured in his palm.
The crowd erupted in cheers, as Harry Potter did what he always did. Won Quidditch. The players all landed and shook hands, as those from the stands filed onto the pitch.
"Well done Harry." Ron said, resting a hand on his best friends shoulder. "You won. I'm surprised."
Harry smiled, but looked at Draco with difficulty. "That's the first time in a few years I actually thought I was going to lose. That was clever thinking Draco. I'm really glad you're playing for the Speeding Snitches this year. You can keep my reputation up."
Draco laughed, pleased to have contributed to winning the match. Then he saw Hermione, and his face lost all humor. He swallowed and considered backing out of his plan. Harry saw where he was looking, and nudged him in the ribs. "As if she'd ever say no, you idiot." He whispered. "Do it now."
Draco shot Harry a worried glance, then approached Hermione. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him on the cheek. "You won." She grinned. "How does this moment feel, after all the years of anticipation?"
"It could be better." He stated, prizing her off him. In answer to her questioning frown, and despite the rush of butterflies in his stomach, he knelt down in front of her on one knee. Hermione's eyes widened and she froze where she stood, easily putting together what could make the moment better. Draco closed his eyes and tried his hardest not back down, as thoughts of rejection floated through his head. Suddenly everyone became quiet, and he opened his eyes to find everyone staring at him in shock. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a magnificent ring, and held it in front of her.
Draco slowly looked back at Hermione, who wore an expression he couldn't read. After a few moments of watching her, he realised she was having difficulty keeping a smile off her face. He cleared his throat and began, "Hermione…" then stopped, because he suddenly forgot what he was going to say. A look of panic crossed his face, causing everyone to bite their lips to keep from smiling. Everyone except Hermione, of course. She smiled and looked at him with eyes full of tears.
He reached out and took her hands. "I love you. I know I haven't loved you for nearly long enough to ask this, but I know I'll never stop loving you. If you feel the same love in your heart, please consider this…Hermione, will you be the first person to make me cry in front of so many people, and do me the honor of marrying me?"
Hermione laughed, but found her laughter quickly turned into tears when she whispered, "Yes Draco." He quickly slipped the ring onto her finger, stood and pulled her to him, hugging her tightly. Draco moved his head back and found her lips with his, and kissed her passionately. The people around them cheered and whooped and cried. When Draco pulled away from Hermione, a few tears fell down his face.
"I hate crying in crowds." He muttered with a grin. A few seconds later he was enveloped in a massive hug by Ginny, who didn't let go of him until she knew Hermione was free for a hug. Then Harry smiled at him from a few feet away, glanced around to make sure no one was watching, then hugged him as well.
"Congratulations." He said quietly, followed by, "And I promise I'll never hug you again."
It took a long while, but soon the group moved back inside. No one went home however, as the gathering quickly turned into a celebration. Hermione and Draco played host and hostess, but never left each others sides, with their fingers entwined.
At one point that night, Hermione rested her head on Draco's shoulder. "I love you."
"I know." He replied, kissing her temple. After a few moments of silence, he continued, "It's because of my sexy body though, isn't it?"
"I was going to say your charisma, intelligence and bravery," Hermione said with a smile, "but now that you mention it, if it weren't for your sexy body, it never would have worked out."
A/N – THE END.
Please keep an eye out for my next fic; to be called 'Scales and a Tail.' It's another romance between Hermione and Draco. I mean, who can seriously keep these two apart? I hope you enjoyed this fic, and that I've ended it well enough to satisfy. But finally,