Author's Note: Okay, so…here is the final chapter. It's been a long journey, filled with a lot of annoying obstacles, hasn't it? LOL. One of the reviews I received for my last chapter asked if I could please make the plot more exciting. I really wanted to, but seeing as though this was the last chapter, I felt that I should just wrap everything up. And that means: boring chapter. Hopefully my next fic will be action-packed. :D
So anyway…hope this is an okay ending to the story. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.
5 days later…The Three Broomsticks
"What's a mudblood like you doing in place like this?"
Hermione sighed and looked up at the blonde boy who seemed to have suddenly appeared out of nowhere beside her table. "Actually, if you must know, I'm impatiently awaiting the arrival of my date. Who, by the way, slightly resembles a ferret. And who is about ten minutes late."
Draco feigned an expression of shock. "Are you telling me that you have a date? Who's the unlucky guy?"
Hermione shrugged. "Nobody special."
Draco grinned. His hand emerged from behind his back, and in it he was holding a single red rose. He held it out to Hermione, who was now blushing slightly.
"Oh Malfoy, you shouldn't have," she said.
"I know." Draco took a seat next to her. "Do you think your date will mind if I keep you company until he shows up?"
"Who cares about him? You should be asking if I mind."
Draco leaned over and whispered in her ear, "Do you mind?"
The feel of his breath on her earlobe sent shivers down her spine. "I g-guess not," she stammered.
"Lucky me," Draco murmured, nuzzling her neck.
Hermione began to giggle, but abruptly stopped when she heard the sound of somebody clearing their throat nearby. Standing by their table, looking quite awkward, was Harry and Ron.
It had been five days since Hermione and Draco had revealed their newfound (or not so newfound) feelings for one another. They had taken the news better than she'd expected (Harry didn't yell, and Ron didn't turn purple again), but not as well as she'd hoped. In fact, they'd been keeping their distance from her all week – talking to her only when they absolutely had to. Ginny had told her not to worry about it, that they would come around. She was sure Ginny was right, but she couldn't help but feel miserable in the meantime. Harry and Ron were her best friends, and she couldn't stand the thought of losing them. Having Draco as a companion was great, but she never wanted to lose the relationship she had with those two boys. They were like family to her. She loved them.
"Hey," she greeted them hesitantly.
"Hello," Harry said. "May we sit down?"
Hermione smiled and said, "Of course."
They both took a seat across from the two lovebirds. They glanced at each other, as if silently trying to decide who should speak. In the end, they decided on Harry.
"Hermione, Ron and I have been thinking a lot the past few days," he began, "and we have a few things to say about this, if you don't mind."
Draco snorted, and Hermione glared at him. "Go ahead, Harry."
Taking a deep breath, Harry continued: "Well, first of all, Ron and I were not happy to learn about your…relationship…with Malfoy. But we weren't exactly surprised, either." He looked over at Draco. "It's no secret that we don't like you, Malfoy. And it's no secret that you don't like us, either. But…it appears as though you like Hermione. And Hermione…well, Hermione really likes you. We've been trying to deny it for so long; trying to ignore it. But we know now that it was wrong of us. And we're sorry, Hermione."
Hermione opened her mouth to accept Harry's apology, but he went right on talking.
"We hate the thought of you with Malfoy, Hermione," he said. "But we also hate the thought of you being unhappy." He looked over at Ron. "I think we both hate the latter a little more. So we're here to tell you that…well, that if being with Malfoy makes you happy, then we're willing to accept your relationship. And we'll be happy for you."
Happy tears sprung to Hermione's eyes. "Oh, you guys!" She jumped up and held out her arms – the universal language for "group hug". The two boys wasted no time in getting up from their seats to embrace her.
Watching this display of affection, Draco had to fight the strong urge to gag. But as annoying as it was to see the three of them acting so sappy, Draco admitted that he had no right to complain about it. After all, he knew perfectly well what he was getting into when he decided he was in love with Hermione Granger. The Golden Trio was now going to be a constant part of his life, and he was just going to have to accept it. And maybe someday, he could become part of the Trio himself. They could be The Golden Four. But he really hoped that day would never come.
Eventually, the three of them parted.
"That was really touching," Draco said, unable to hide the sarcasm in his voice.
Ron glared at him. "Oh yeah, and we wanted to discuss one other thing." Ron leaned over closer to Draco and put on his best tough-guy expression. "If you do anything to hurt Hermione in any way, we will hunt you down and kill you. And then we will perform a resurrection spell to bring you back to life, and then we'll kill you again. After we torture you for hours, that is. Do you understand?"
Draco stared wide-eyed at Ron. He in no way felt threatened by the Weasel, but he at least felt a little respect for him. He obviously cared deeply for Hermione, and…well…Draco could relate to that. "I understand perfectly well, Weasley. I will not do anything to hurt Hermione. And if by some rare chance that I do, I will not resist the torture or the killing. Okay?"
Ron seemed satisfied by that answer. He kind of had to be, because it was the best assurance Draco could give.
"Well," said Harry, turning to Hermione. "Ron and I have some stuff we need to do here in Hogsmeade, so we'll leave you two alone. Meet up with you later?"
Hermione nodded. "Yes, definitely."
Harry smiled. He and Ron began to walk away, but he stopped suddenly and turned back around. Looking at Draco, he said, "Oh yeah, and one more thing, Malfoy: we are not friends. We never will be. Just because you're with Hermione now does not mean we have to suddenly get along."
Draco chuckled. "That's actually the best news I've heard all day, Potter."
Harry smirked, and the two boys walked off.
Hermione sat back down next to Draco with a big grin on her face.
"You feeling better now?" Draco asked her.
"Maybe," Hermione replied. She breathed a sigh of relief. There was no "maybe" about it. She was definitely thrilled to know that her friends were going to accept her relationship with Draco and still be her friend. Really, Harry and Ron were the best friends in the world.
"Just maybe?" Draco said. He knew her better than that. "I think you couldn't be happier. Your friends still like you, and you now have the greatest boyfriend in the entire world. You should be happy."
Hermione rolled her eyes at his "greatest boyfriend" comment. She was about to playfully disagree with him, but a barmaid interrupted her.
"Can I get you two anything?" the woman asked.
Hermione glanced up. Her eyes widened as soon as she recognized the young woman. She was the one who had spiked her and Draco's drinks!
Geniva seemed to recognize them as quickly as they'd recognized her, and a look of guilt crossed her face.
"Yeah, sure," Draco replied. "We'll take two butterbeers. Hold the love potion."
"Oh no," Geniva groaned. "You two must hate me. I can get you another server if you'd like -"
"Nonsense," Hermione said, waving her hand in dismissal.
"I am so, so sorry, you two," Geniva said, taking a seat down at their table. "I had no right to do what I did, and I've regretted it every day since. I'm so sorry for any trouble I may have caused you. I'll do anything to make this up to you. Starting with two butterbeers, on the house. Would you like anything else?"
"Don't worry about it," Hermione said, chuckling. "Really, we forgive you."
"Speak for yourself," said Draco. "She did cause a lot of turmoil…"
"But everything worked out in the end," Hermione pointed out.
Geniva gasped. "You mean, you two…you two are a couple?"
Hermione smiled and nodded. Geniva squealed with delight. Draco grimaced.
"Well," Geniva said, standing back up. "This is cause for celebration. Free drinks for both of you!" She scurried off towards the bar.
"We were already getting free drinks as an apology." Draco frowned.
"Oh well. Free drinks either way. Does it really matter?" Hermione reached out and placed her hand over his.
Draco smiled. "I guess not. Oh, I almost forgot." He reached into his back pocket and pulled something out – a little black box.
Hermione eyed it suspiciously. "What's this?"
"It's a gift," Draco replied. "From me to you."
"Oh, Malfoy, you shouldn't have."
"Is that what you say every time somebody gives you a gift?" Draco teased.
"Sorry," Hermione mumbled. She took the box in her hands and examined it for a moment. It looked familiar. Although, why wouldn't it? It was a small, black box. She'd seen dozens of them in her lifetime. But this one…she'd seen this one before.
Slowly, she opened it up. She gasped when she saw what was inside: it was the ring he had given her when they were under the influence of the potion.
"I'll understand if you don't want it," Draco said quickly. "I mean, after the whole Pansy incident and everything, but…" His voice trailed off as he searched for the right words to say. "I wanted you to have it then, and I still want you to have it now. There is no other girl I would rather see wearing it."
Hermione wasted no time sliding the ring onto her finger. "Oh, I want it," she said. "It's the most beautiful gift I've ever received."
"And you're the most beautiful gift I've ever received," Draco said. His face turned a light shade of pink.
Hermione blinked the happy tears away. "You're so sweet, Draco Malfoy."
Draco groaned. "Don't get used it. The sweet Draco Malfoy only comes out of hiding once a week or so."
"I think I can deal with that," Hermione said. She rested her head on Draco's shoulder and stared down at the ring on her finger.
For the first time in a very long time, Hermione was happy - perfectly content.
Blaise glanced solemnly over at Hermione and Draco getting all cuddly over at the table in the corner. Part of him was thrilled that those two crazy kids had finally come to their senses. However, another part of him was downright depressed.
"They make a cute couple, don't they?" a female voice said.
Looking up, Blaise saw that Ginny Weasley had taken a seat next to him at the bar. "Oh. Hey, Janie."
"It's Ginny," she muttered.
"Hmm?" Blaise said, not paying any attention to her.
Ginny decided not to repeat herself. She stared at the Slytherin next to her, who seemed distracted by the young couple over in the corner. "You really like her, don't you?"
This got his attention. "What? Granger? No. I mean, yeah…sure, she's cool. But I don't like her. You know."
Ginny smiled. "I know. Hey, don't feel so bad. There are plenty of other fish in the sea."
Blaise looked at her funny. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
Ginny giggled. "It's a Muggle saying. Hermione said it to me when Harry began dating Cho. She meant that there were other boys out there in the world, and that Harry is not the only boy I could ever love." She blushed, realizing she had just admitted to a Slytherin that she was once in love with Harry Potter.
"So you're saying...?"
"I'm saying…Hermione is not the only fish out there for you."
Blaise contemplated this for a few moments, then arched an eyebrow at Ginny. "You think so?"
Ginny nodded. "Of course."
"Really? Say…how are you at swimming?"
Ginny stared blankly at Blaise, then, wide-eyed, said, "Oh…when I said there are other fish, I didn't…I mean, I wasn't referring to me -"
Blaise chuckled. "Calm down, Junie. I was just joking."
Ginny breathed a sigh of relief.
"So…" he said, now turning his attention completely to Ginny. "Did you ever find another fish?"
"Harry Potter. Is he still the only fish in the sea?"
Ginny avoided his gaze. Shrugging, she said, "I don't know. Sometimes, I think he is. Other times, I think maybe it's time to see if perhaps there's another fish swimming around somewhere. The sea is pretty big, you know."
"It certainly is," Blaise agreed. He stood up, turned to Markus who was behind the counter, and said to him, "Get this girl a butterbeer. On me." He placed some money down on the counter and turned back to Ginny. "Thanks for the pep talk, Ginny. You've been a big help."
Ginny was stunned. He'd actually gotten her name right that time! "No problem, Zabini. Hey, are you leaving now?"
"Yeah," Blaise said. "I need some fresh air. Or ocean water, perhaps."
Ginny giggled. "Okay, well…I'll see you around."
"Yeah. I'll see you around." Blaise began to walk off, but at the last minute said, "Oh, and, if you ever decide Potter's not the fish for you, you know where my coral reef is." Smirking, he walked away before a very stunned Ginny even had a chance to respond.
She wasn't positive, but she could have sworn that Blaise Zabini had just come on to her.
And she didn't mind.
Sadie was mad. Watching Draco and Hermione acting all lovey-dovey made her ill. She was supposed to be the one so lovingly resting her head on Draco's shoulder – not Hermione! Ugh!
"Maddening, isn't it?"
Sadie took her glare off of Draco and Hermione long enough to glare up at the person who had just spoken to her.
Not even bothering to inquire whether or not she could join Sadie at her table, Pansy Parkinson took a seat across from her. "You must be seeing red," she said, smirking.
"I didn't say you could sit here," Sadie snapped.
Pansy ignored her comment. "Trust me, I know how it feels. You know…to be in love with Draco Malfoy and to not have him return the feelings. It's not the best feeling in the world, is it?"
Sadie softened a bit. "No," she said softly. "It's lousy."
"Well, you'll get over it," Pansy said. "You may not have him as a boyfriend, but at least he's still alive. That's all that matters." She snickered. "Next time you want to try to make somebody fall in love with you, you might want to make sure whatever method you use won't kill him."
Sadie scoffed. "If you're referring to the whole love potion thing, it really wasn't as bad as everyone thought."
"Wasn't as bad?" Pansy burst out laughing. "You practically burned the flesh off of Granger's hands. And had Draco ingested it, we'd be attending his funeral right now. Not the smartest thing for you to do." She chuckled. "I can't believe you didn't get expelled. A month's worth of detention with Snape is bad, but not nearly as bad as you deserve."
"What was I supposed to do?" Sadie cried. "I was losing him to a mudblood!"
Pansy shook her head. "Oh, honey, you weren't losing him. You never had him to begin with. He was just using you to get what he wanted." Her gaze flickered over to Draco and Hermione's table. "And it worked like a charm."
Sadie pouted. "This isn't fair." She sat back in her chair and crossed her arms across her chest. Suddenly, a brilliant idea popped into her head. "Hey! I have a brilliant idea! What if you and I team up together? Between the two of us, I'm sure we could come up with a surefire way to break them up!"
"And then what?" Pansy asked. "Let's say we come up with some brilliant scheme, and it works, and Draco and Granger break up and decide they never want to see each other again. Then what happens? You and I will still both be in love with him, only then, we'd have to work against each other to try and win his heart. And, well, you'd probably end up inadvertently killing him, and then we'd both be left with nothing. No," she shook her head profusely. "We're not going to team up for anything. Besides…as much as I hate to admit it, the mudblood makes Draco happy. And a happy Draco is a good Draco to be around. He's so much better than the grumpy Draco. I actually prefer to see him like this."
"How could you?" Sadie practically screamed. Noticing she'd attracted a bit of attention from her outburst, she lowered her voice and said, "You're just going to give up?"
Pansy sighed. "Yes, actually, I am. And you should, too. I'm pretty sure you've ruined any chances of ever being with him. So get over it."
Sadie scowled. "Well I don't want to get over it."
"Well too bad, because you're going to have to," Pansy said, standing up. She glanced over at Draco and Hermione one more time. "The best girl won," she muttered sadly. Without even saying goodbye, she walked off, leaving Sadie to mope all by herself.
Maybe Pansy was right. It would be pointless to try to win Draco over now. As much as she hated to admit it, she'd been defeated.
Oh well, she thought. It's not like it will be hard for me to find somebody else. I am beautiful and popular and rich, and any guy would be damn lucky to have me.
Automatically feeling better, Sadie smiled to herself. She was already starting to get over Draco Malfoy.
Later that evening...
They stood in front of the Gryffindor common room's entrance, engaged in a very tender goodnight kiss that neither seemed to want to break.
Hermione, however, pulled away slightly when she realized what time it must be. "I think maybe it's time we parted ways."
"I think you should just stop thinking," Draco murmured, leaning in to capture her mouth once more.
"No, seriously," Hermione said, giggling. She blocked his oncoming kiss with the palm of her hand. "It's getting really late."
"The young woman is right, you know," the Fat Lady chimed in from her portrait. "You don't want to get caught out here snogging by a professor, do you?"
Draco groaned. He had forgotten that the Fat Lady was even there. "Fine," he said in defeat. "I suppose I should let you get to bed. After all, you need all the beauty sleep you can get." He grinned.
Hermione scoffed. "And I suppose you should be getting to bed, too. Or are ferrets nocturnal animals?"
This widened Draco's grin. He leaned in and gave her a peck on the cheek. "We are quite the pair, aren't we?"
Hermione smiled. "Indeed we are. Goodnight, Malfoy."
"Goodnight," he said softly.
Hermione turned to whisper the password to the Fat Lady, but before she could, Draco said, "Wait, Granger."
She turned back around to see Draco standing there…his usual cocky expression replaced by something she couldn't quite place. He almost looked…shy. "Yes?"
He paused for a brief moment, as if contemplating whether or not he should say anything. Finally, he said, "I lo-"
Hermione's eyes widened. Was he about to say what she thought he was going to say?
A look of panic filled his eyes at once, and he quickly cleared his throat. "What I mean to say is…I…don't completely hate you."
Hermione had to try really hard not to burst out laughing. She rolled her eyes instead. "Goodnight Draco," she reiterated with a grin.
When he grinned back at her, Hermione could have sworn he was blushing.
"Goodnight." With that, he turned around and walked away, heading back to the Slytherin common room, whistling the whole way.
He had been about to say what she had thought he was going to say. Hermione's grin remained plastered to her face. So…he just wasn't ready yet. That was okay. Hermione wasn't even sure she was ready. This was still all so new to both of them, after all. There would be plenty of time in the future to speak those three special words to each other.
She ignored the funny look she was receiving from the Fat Lady as she muttered the password. The minute the door opened and she'd slipped through the portrait hole, she stopped. Before heading into the common room to catch up with her friends, she smiled down at the beautiful ring on her finger and whispered, in a voice so soft that even she could barely hear it, "I love you too, Malfoy."
Author's Note: So there it is – the end of my story. I can't believe I actually finished it!
I would just like to take a moment and thank EVERY SINGLE PERSON who reviewed this story – whether you were signed in or anonymous; whether your review was positive or negative; whether your review was 2 words or 2 paragraphs. You have no idea how much it meant to me to know that people actually took the time to read this story. You have all made my first fanfic writing experience a real joy! So thank you all so very much!