Merlin, Merlin, MERLIN! Close to 70 reviews! That's UNBELIEVABLE! Thank you SO much to the following wonderful reviewers of Chapter 22, many of them who have been with me since day one of this story- and through "Battle of the Hearts" too: debbie, SilentRaven987, MIDNIGHT-PIXIE, Khdude, Zarroc, '.'.'.JessIca'.'.'., Azu Luna, the-insufferable-know-it-all, FairyKisses, skysongscry, ThePhantomIt14, rainydyz07, Darkmoonfang, prettigurl7, ShadowHexx771, CassieLupin, sccrchick1432, NotThePoke, Rozie, Huggles4All, EponineWeasley, skittles-equal-life, aishteru, xPussyWillowKittenx, Rachel, laura truewood, Blackness Angel, EvilKidSonicGurl, Loku, nycegurl, SleepyHead22, Ron Lover 2005, Ronluver13, AshEllie, xox.AnniePotter.xox, unknownspecies, mim, hplovesme, CamelKatie, Aqb Dk, Elise, kitotterkat, keeny, True Slytherin Witch, SafetyXPins, aurora-sakura, suckr4romance, ladyro7, mAlFoYiSaWeSoMe, Lady Smoothie, Sing-my-heart-out, Nina-del-rio, sophisticatedfunk, sailorstarryeyes, TrueBluePotterFan, NicciBubbles, shmoogybear, doublelily, Ronsreallove, Eowyn Organa, dancerrdw, Lumos2000, Lucy, weasleyandmoneylover, and last, but certainly not least, Galadriel Evenstar. Thanks to all who have ever reviewed this story in the past too! I'd love to express my gratitude to each and everyone one of you through words, but I've heard that they're really cracking down on stories that have Author Notes as separate chapters, so...apologies... I won't be able to do what I did for Battle of the Hearts.
Wow. This is the absolute final chapter of Looks Can Be Deceiving. How do I feel about this? Certainly a bit depressed about it ending, worried about leaving the security of this story, and happy...? I LOVED writing this story and receiving SO much positive feedback from ya'll- don't get me wrong- but I think it's time for a change. I'm extremely excited about my next endeavor in the world of fanfiction! Which, at the moment, I'm still not one hundred percent sure about. So, there is a fairly good chance that I will NOT be posting next Saturday. I need to really get my thoughts together and plan my new story out, and then writing a compelling first chapter that will hook the attention of readers. For me, there is no way I'll be able to do that in a week. Also, I think it's time to take a break, take a breather- even if it's just for one weekend. I hope you guys all understand...Saturday, October 29th there WILL be Chapter 1 of my next story, whatever it will be. And I sincerely hope that each and every one of you stick with me and contiue to be such awesome, fabulous, and wonderful reviewers!
Warning: This chapter contains a larger amount of sexual innuendos than usual. There is NOTHING close to explicit- you guys know I never write things like that. However, I just felt you ought to be warned. It's nothing too bad by any means...well, read on and you'll see!
I now present to you Chapter 23, the last chapter of this story. Read, review, and above all else, enjoy. I shall see you all, at the latest, on October 29th with Chapter 1 of my new story!
"Ginny, I can't do this!" I cried eight months later. "I simply can't."
"Hermione, Draco didn't sacrifice his life for yours so you could live to be an old spinster," Ginny said impatiently, scrutinizing my face from every angle. "And I think you need a smidgen more eye shadow on your right eye."
Unexpected tears came to my eyes at the mention of Draco's name. A week after the Final Battle, Ron had broken it gently to me that after I'd fainted, Draco had assumed the role of protector of my body as the Final Duel raged on. He'd died by his father's wand.
"Move, DRACO," Lucius snarled. "Get away from that filthy Mudblood, or else I will be forced to kill both her and YOU!"
"You bas---," Draco hissed. "I refuse to move even an inch. Kill me, if you must. Hermione deserves to live more than I do."
And, for the first time in his life, Lucius Malfoy obeyed his son's wishes.
"Merlin, Ginny, did you really have to mention that on my Wedding Day?" I sniffed. "You really know how to put a damper on a girl's spirits!"
"I was just pointing it out," Ginny shrugged.
"But honestly, Gin, don't you think I'm a little too young to be married?"
"My mum was 18, Hermione. You're nearly 19."
"I mean, really. What was I thinking when I said yes?"
Ginny stopped fussing with my make-up and stared at me straight in the eye.
"Girl, what is your problem?"
"Oh, it's just the typical bride's pre-wedding jitters, I reckon," I said lamely.
"No, it's certainly not." Her big brown eyes narrowed and she suddenly smirked. "Oh, I know what it is..."
"Well, what is it?" I asked nonchalantly, adjusting my veil in a nearby mirror.
"You're worried about your wedding night," Ginny whispered, smiling most wickedly.
"I most certainly am NOT," I retorted hotly, a deep blush rising on my face despite myself. For, obviously, she had spoken the truth.
"Oh, yes you are. Fleur was the same way before her wedding," Ginny remarked casually.
I literally choked on the mint I'd popped in my mouth to calm my nerves.
"Are we talking about the same Fleur? Fleur Delacour?"
"Yes, Fleur Delacour," Ginny snickered. "You should've heard the way she was going on and on..."
"B-but she always sounded so confident about things like that!" I stuttered.
"The French can be rather good at acting."
"Seriously, Gin, how I am going to know what to DO?" I wailed in anguish.
"You, the cleverest witch at Hogwarts, should very easily be able to figure that one out. Would you like me to draw you a diagram?"
I gave her the dirtiest glare I could muster, under the circumstances. Then my panic returned full-fledged.
"Merlin, Ginny, he's going to see me NAKED!" I said in a tortured voice, burying my face in my hands.
"Who's going to see you naked, Hermione?" Professor McGonagall asked from the doorway with a chuckle. My eyes lit up.
"Minerva! It's so good to see you." I gave the older woman a large hug. For the remaining half a year after the Final Battle, our friendship had blossomed quite rapidly at Hogwarts, and it was one I certainly treasured deeply.
"My dear brother is, of course," Ginny said in a bored sort of tone, filing a raggedy nail. "And she..." she pointed her nail file accusingly in my direction "is way too worked up about it. It's just Ron, for Godric's sake!"
"How would you feel if Harry was going to...?"
"Enough, you two," Minerva interrupted, a twinkle in her pale blue eyes. "Ginny, it is perfectly normal for a witch to be panicking about what happens the night after her wedding. Trust me. No matter how well she knows the bloke- which, in Hermione's case, is seven years."
"B-but..." Merlin, this was embarrassing. "W-what if he doesn't like what he sees?"
"Hermione, your husband will not be able to take his eyes off of you," the older witch smiled. "I promise you that."
"No ifs, ands, or buts. Now, Hermione, I am quickly going to give you one piece of sound advice that, if followed, will give you a blissful and worry-free honeymoon."
"What?" I waited with bated breath.
"Just follow your instincts. Now, please be honest with me- have you and Ron ever had difficulty restraining yourselves from engaging in activities of an inappropriate nature?"
"Hell yes." I snorted, covering my mouth with a hand a few seconds later. Bloody. I'd just sworn! In front of Minerva McGonagall!
Far from glaring at me disapprovingly or opening her mouth to give a reprimand, my old Transfiguration professor merely smirked.
"Then, tonight, just allow your heated passion to take over," she winked. "It may be awkward at first, but trust me, once you get into the groove of things, there is little in the way of problems. Except for..." And the least likely woman I EVER expected to give me advice about shagging proceeded to share some quite enlightening things with me that my own mother and soon to be mother-in-law had neglected to tell me...
"I can't do this, mate." Ron groaned, throwing his royal blue tie to the ground.
"That tie giving you trouble again?" Harry raised an eyebrow. "Here, I'll help you. But you really do need to learn how to do this for yourself, mate. Do you want to have to ask Hermione to tie your tie every time you attend a formal function?"
"Don't mention her name," Ron said weakly, turning green around the gills as he stared miserably at his reflection in the mirror.
"Well, seeing as she's going to be your wife in two hours and thirty five minutes, I honestly thought it would be alright if I spoke her name," Harry furrowed his brow. "Which you will be doing quite often tonight, if I'm not mistaken. Although 'moaning' or 'groaning' might be a better verb to use..."
"Sod off, Harry," the youngest Weasley grumbled, attempting to flatten down his vivid hair with no avail, as usual.
"Ah, I see I've hit a quite sensitive spot." Harry wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. "Is there something you'd like to talk about?"
Ron turned a shade of red that his soon-to-be wife would have certainly found most adorable.
"Tonight, Harry," he whispered. "I-I-I'm n-nervous about it."
"Never fear! Fred, George, Charlie, Bill, and Percy are here!" Forge trilled, kicking the door to Ron's bedroom open and waltzing in.
"Pre-Honeymoon Counseling Service, at your service." Gred bowed.
"Now, I seem to get the feeling for some odd reason that you're concerned about some particular aspects of your wedding night," Charlie grinned widely.
Twenty minutes later, Ronald Weasley was absolutely positive that if given a test on a certain topic, he'd pass it with flying colors. His dear older brothers had used everything from diagrams to stories of personal experiences to enrich his mind with tons of information he hoped would prove to be EXTREMELY useful after sunset...
"I now pronounce you husband and wife. Ronald, you may kiss the bride."
"I love you more than life itself," my husband breathed huskily into my ear, before meeting my lips with his in a sizzling kiss.
"Even Quidditch?" I inquired as we shared the first dance of the reception.
"Even Quidditch," he confirmed, brushing a light kiss against my forehead.
"Congratulations, you two!" Luna said shyly, walking over with Neville in tow.
"Thanks, Luna!" I said happily. It was then that I noticed a beautiful diamond ring...
"Oh my WORD! You're getting married!" I squealed, unable to contain my girly excitement.
"Well, not right away," Neville blushed. "We're obviously going to wait until Luna finishes her schooling. We're planning on having the wedding around August 15th of next year."
"Oh, that's perfect!" I sighed dreamily. "I can't wait for the wedding. We're invited, right?"
Luna rolled her eyes.
"Obviously, Hermione," she giggled. "You and Ronald are first on our guest list!"
I gave her a warm hug.
"We're really going to have to get together one of these days and catch up over a cup of tea," I pointed out.
"Definitely..." Our conversation was interrupted by Ron's frantic tugging on my arm.
"Yes, Ronald?" I asked sweetly, a smidgen irritated at my conversation with Luna being ended so rudely. But any anger towards Ron dissolved when I saw just why he was trying to get my attention...
"Ginny, you know I love you. I've always loved you, even though I wasn't always aware of it. Marry me, Ginny. Wake up every morning, next to me in bed. I want your beautiful faceto be thelast thing I see before I fall asleep at night. Marry me, Ginny. We can spend the rest of our lives in bliss, loving and being with each other. Marry me. I love you more than you could comprehend."
Ginny just stared at her boyfriend, her mouth opening and closing soundlessly.
"Harry, I'm not even seventeen yet!"
"Gin, this is a yes or no question." Harry laughed nervously. "I know this seems rather sudden..."
"But, you didn't let me finish my sentence," Ginny smiled angelically, breaking off his thought. "If you promise that we won't get married until I finish myschooling at Hogwarts, then I would definitely say yes. I love you, Harry."
"You definitely have yourself a deal, the soon-to-be Mrs. Potter," Harry beamed, before sweeping his fiancé off her feet and into a passionate embrace.
"Well, Molly, it looks like you'll be planning another wedding in the near future," Tonks said cheerfully. "Going through the stress and anxiety again in less than a year!"
My mother-in-law wiped the tears that were streaming down her cheeks with a crisp handkerchief her husband handed her.
"I'm bloody happy about that, to be honest," she said in a choked voice.
"Well, well, well. Alone at last," Ron said huskily.
"Alone at last," I echoed meekly.
"What's wrong, Hermione?" Ron asked, running a strong, calloused hand over my cheek. I melted into his electrifying, yet soothing touch.
"Oh, er, it's nothing," I stammered.
"No, it's NOT nothing," he said firmly. "C'mon, Hermione, you know I hate it when you keep secrets from me..."
"Fine!" I took a deep breath. This was going to be EXTREMELY mortifying. "I'm worried about consummating our marriage, okay?"
"Oh, you certainly have a reason to be worried, love," my handsome husband said seductively, licking his lips. Those wicked lips that were about to wreak havoc on my senses...
I took a frightened step backwards. And then another. And another. However, I realized, with horror, that Ron was taking even larger steps. Only in a forward direction. Towards me. I swallowed hard as I felt the hardness of the wall of the luxurious hotel room we were staying in connect with my back.
"Scared, love?" Ron whispered as he pressed his body up against mine, pinning my hands above my head. I absolutely shivered. "You should be, because I'm about to ravish your body until you can scarcely move..."
"Eeeep.." I managed to croak before his lips slammed into mine, with the most aggressive, passionate, and pleasurable kiss I'd ever received in my life. Kiss, after kiss, after kiss...I began drowning in the unbelievingably wonderful sensations- and the not wholly unfamiliar, but stronger than usual feelings in certain parts of my body. My last coherent thought was, 'perhaps Minerva was right with her advice,' before...well, there's no need to go into explicit details. Use your imagination.
Many, many, many MANY hours later, as I was drifting off to sleep after the extremely tiring activities of the evening, I snuggled up as close to Ron as I could possibly get and said, quite, sleepily...
"You're a damn good kisser."