S U R V I V O R
Based on the book 'I Will Survive' by Samantha Connolly.
A/N:One word... enjoy. :D This is the last chapter. Phew.
This is it, Hermione thought as she glanced at everyone gathered on the beach. The finale, after nearly two weeks of madness.
"Where is she?" Laurie moaned piteously as she paced up and down the same strip of sand. "Julia said she'd be here by morning. It's already midday!"
"We've already come this far, what's another few hours?" Alex said reasonably, looking the calmest out of all three of them. "They're probably just trying to get us worked up. Though I admit it's working, to a degree."
The blonde whirled around and gazed at the two others. "I'm not going to win, am I? I basically flunked all the challenges and I talked about myself way too much... I couldn't even answer those questions at the end about you guys. OK, I didn't expect to remember any of that survival stuff, but I should have at least been able to answer the ones about my fellow contestants!" she babbled, looking more nervous and strung out by the second.
"There's still a huge portion of the decision that rides on the audience," Hermione pointed out. "We can't say who'll win just based on the challenges." Alex nodded in agreement, but Laurie still didn't look convinced.
"But who's going to vote for me?" she wailed. "They're going to vote for you, Alex, because you're a budding family man. Or you, Hermione, because you're so nice."
Hermione tried not to roll her eyes. She had been nice, yes, and look where it had gotten her.
She looked away from her companions for a moment and out to the cerulean ocean. The water seemed especially beautiful today, as if reminding them of what they'd be missing once they were back in society. Hermione found herself feeling infinite regret at not being able to find some sort of ending to her and Draco's little fling, if it could even be called that. She didn't want to part on the terms they were on right now, and although her head kept telling her that he was nothing but a jerk, her heart wasn't buying it.
Well, if he wasn't a jerk, his taste in women seemed to have remained the same since teenagehood. That alone should be enough for her to let it go.
"I cannot wait to get back to being able to have a hot bath whenever I want," Laurie was saying, closing her eyes in bliss. "And having ice cream... and pizza... I can still have those, whether I win or not. Thank God for the small things."
"I'm looking forward to being clean for once," Alex laughed. "I've been grimy every single day these past ten days. And even going back to work would be a whole lot easier than this. Oh, and of course the sports channel. Can't forget that." He turned to Hermione with raised eyebrows. "What about you, Hermione?"
She shook her head, grinning. "There's just far too much I'm looking forward to. Being able to sleep on a mattress, for one thing. Sleeping in whenever I want. Reading a book whenever I want. And I can't wait to see my friends again."
But the truth was she'd had more fun on the island than she had for a long time, and she'd sorely miss the place. And no matter how much she didn't want to admit it, she would sorely miss Draco too.
Alex slapped his forehead. "Sleep! I knew I missed something."
"Won't be long now," Laurie said, grinning cheekily.
By the time Julia finally arrived, Hermione was starting to habitually check whether Laurie had bitten off all her nails yet. The blonde had jumped up immediately and plagued Julia with questions, but the other woman staunchly refused to let out even a peep and went straight into organizing their seating arrangements for the final shots. In the end, they sat on a log in front of the remnants of their cooking fire, with Draco off to the side and Julia sitting opposite them. Each of the contestants had their own cameraman and Hermione found it difficult to not scratch her nose too much with the camera trained intently on her.
Despite herself she was starting to feel a little excited. What if she won? Technically the money wouldn't be of much use to her, but maybe she could send it to her parents or something. And she hadn't gone shopping in Muggle towns in a long time. It would be interesting to bring her friends around to see the strange and magickless civilization that ran parallel to their own.
Finally, Julia set the cameras rolling and sat down, smiling widely. She was wearing a stunning silky blouse with an A-line ruffled skirt, and her hair was immaculately pinned behind her head. Hermione self-consciously brushed a hand through her own tangled mane, then wondered why she was bothering.
"Before we announce the results, let me ask a few questions," Julia said. "What has been the best part of the experience for you, Laurie?"
Laurie gave the cameras her perfect actress smile in reply, and said, "The whole thing has been amazing. I've made such great friends, and everyday was a new and challenging experience for me. I think the three of us contestants really share a bond now, after all that we've been through together."
Hermione bit back laughter and looked down, composing herself, before nodding right along with her.
"Alex, what about you?" Julia asked.
"A lot has happened, and I doubt I can describe it all now," he said with a small smile. "I've really learned to push myself during these few days. I wouldn't have ever dreamed of doing something like this before, but now I know that I can do anything if I put my mind to it. It's been a really enlightening experience."
It would be her turn next. Hermione glanced away from Alex for a moment and wondered what she would say. She'd gained and lost a fiance, had been in love, but not with the person everyone else might have thought. And now she was going to part on bad terms with him, for the second time in her life.
"So, that leaves you, Hermione," Julia said rather loudly, and Hermione quickly looked at her, smiling brightly. "What did you gain from this?"
"Well, it's been great living on an island and having all these adventures. I got to meet some great people and it's been an unforgettable experience. I'm glad I got chosen," she said, struggling to think of more cliché things she could say to pad out her response.
Evidently she hadn't thought of enough, because Julia continued to look at her expectantly for a while after she'd trailed off. "Okay then," the host said, turning back to the other contestants. "I know you're probably all waiting for the final result, but let me announce the winner of the challenges first."
Laurie must be going mad, Hermione thought wryly.
"First off, Laurie. You won the scavenger hunt, which gives you one point. Good work."
The blonde grimaced a little and then smiled bravely into the cameras, waving.
Julia checked her clipboard. "Now for Alex. You won the fishing challenge, the obstacle course and you made the fastest and best rescue yesterday. Three points."
Alex nodded wordlessly, grinning.
"Hermione, you got the point for the pit challenge, tracking Draco, and you answered the most questions right yesterday for the pop quiz. Three points also." Julia smiled at them. "So, we've got ourselves a tie, boys and girls. But we've decided not to let you fight it out for the prize, so Alex and Hermione, you're both getting brand-new, fully loaded Land Rovers!"
It took Hermione a moment to remember what a Land Rover was, but she gladly accepted Alex's hug, albeit cutting it short in case Teresa gave him trouble once he got home. Laurie reached past him and gave Hermione a squeeze on the arm. Technically the prize was useless to her, as she rarely went anywhere without Apparating, but she was sure Arthur Weasley would appreciate having a new toy to tinker with.
"And now for the real result," Julia announced imperiously. Hermione's pulse sped up a notch, and she stared fixedly at the woman sitting opposite them. "It was a close call, but the audience has spoken. The winner of this season's Survive This! is... Laurie!"
There was silence for a moment as everyone's head turned towards the blonde, and then Laurie jumped up with an ear-splitting shriek.
Hermione only felt a mild stab of disappointment, but it was followed by a huge wave of relief. People had already suspected her of meddling and cheating, and winning would only fuel the rumors. In any case, it was likely the winner would be in the spotlight for a while, and there was no way she was going to have cameras following her around, no matter for how long. It had already been a whim for her to have applied for a Muggle show in the first place. She didn't want to end up mind-wiping dozens of poor innocent Muggles simply because they might have seen things they shouldn't have.
She stood up and joined Alex as they both gave Laurie hugs, and then hugged each other in commiseration. She was glad to see he didn't look too disappointed either, and they laughed together as Laurie went around gushing thanks at everyone. Hermione took the chance to glance at Draco, who immediately looked away as if he had been watching her reaction. Unfortunately Laurie then proceeded to plaster herself all over him, so she turned back to patting Alex on the back.
"Thank you so much for voting for me, everyone," Laurie gushed, turning back to the cameras. "To my amazing fans out there - I couldn't have done it without you. It was only knowing that you were there watching over me that I was able to get through all of this. You guys gave me the courage and support that I needed to go on. I love you all!"
Hermione, along with everyone else, couldn't help applauding her speech.
After the initial celebrations had died down, the contestants were allowed to have some time to themselves before they left the island. Hermione found herself trying to fit everything she'd made in the past few days into her handbag, along with pretty shells and other momentos of the time she'd spent here. It was a shame she couldn't fit the shelter in as well, but she made do with what she could take.
A glance told her that Alex was doing the same thing. Laurie, on the other hand, was barehanded and was making it clear that she couldn't wait to leave the whole experience behind her.
Hermione was just thinking about how she would get the Land Rover away from the studio, seeing as she couldn't drive, when Julia approached her with a mike and cameraman. "Just want to get some last words in," she said. "What are you going to do now after you get home?" She mouthed 'Krum' and nodded at the camera encouragingly.
The brunette laughed in response. "I'm going to get in my new Land Rover and drive and drive and drive." She glanced at Draco and spotted him looking at her again, but turned away so he wouldn't ruin her mild feeling of victory.
Julia rolled her eyes and ushered the cameraman to Alex. "What about you?"
"It's been amazing, but it's back to ordinary life now," he said with a shrug.
"You people are so profound," muttered Julia as she went after Laurie, who was surrounded by fawning cameramen.
Hermione finished packing and watched as Alex went to have some parting words with Draco. Even though she didn't want to face him, she would have to thank him later for her experience on the island. And it was really her last chance to straighten things out and find out what exactly went on there.
She busied herself for another few minutes until Alex had left, then took off her microphone and took a deep breath. Well, it was now or never. She marched up to him and, with some trouble, looked him in the eye.
"Thanks for everything," she started. "I'm really glad I got this chance, and I know things got a bit complicated but-"
He snorted and she winced, but continued. "These past two weeks have really been amazing. It couldn't have deviated further from... you know, normal life. But I really enjoyed myself. The challenges, especially. They were great, and I learned a lot."
"I'm sorry you didn't win the money," he said after a slight pause.
"It's not the money I want," she snapped.
Draco looked her in the eye. "Well I know what I wanted. I wanted you. But I guess I was only a plaything to you, wasn't I?"
She was taken aback by his sudden declaration, but his outright hypocrisy was just ridiculous. "I used you? I can't believe you can just stand here and accuse me of that. Don't tell me you already forgot about that time with Laurie."
"That time?" He looked slightly confused. "How does that prove anything?"
"Oh, don't play innocent," she said, getting worked up. "You toyed around with me and then went off with another woman on the same night. Don't try to deny it. Kenny showed me the Island Eye tape."
"I did what?"
"I said you toyed with me!" Hermione shouted a bit too loudly, attracting bemused stares from nearby people.
"I didn't do anything with Laurie," he said firmly.
Her anger wavered and she peered at him warily. There was no sign of falsity in his face, no matter how hard she searched. "You didn't? Then what was the whole 'let's get you to bed' thing?"
"She was very drunk. I was just helping her to her shelter, that's all. I swear."
Hermione gave herself a moment to process this information. So she had been jealous over absolutely nothing. "But why were you avoiding me the next day if you weren't feeling guilty?"
"It was what you did that night," he answered. "Remember? You and Laurie at the 'ladies' room'."
Now it was her turn to be confused. "I was just warning her away from Alex."
"Alex? What does Alex have to do with this?"
"She was going to seduce him for the heck of it, remember? I was telling her not to do it. Maybe I got a little carried away..."
Draco felt like a weight that he had never realized was there had been lifted from his chest. "So you weren't telling her to stay away from me?"
"Are you crazy? You're still as egotistical as ever, aren't you?"
"Hey,she told me that. I didn't make it up myself, you know," he said, finally cracking a real smile. "OK, so I guess it was a big mistake on both our parts. I'm sorry I thought the worst of you."
For the first time, Hermione realized how tense he had been the past few days. It was thrilling to see him actually grin properly again, instead of the polite smiles he had been giving her up until now. And finally, the nagging voice that had been plaguing her all morning stopped its constant whining, and she felt the imminent buildup of a migraine fade away.
But she still felt like she owed him just a bit more of an apology. "And I'm sorry... about Krum. We weren't really engaged, you know. He just announced himself as my fiancé, and well-"
She was cut off as Draco grabbed her arm and pulled her closer to him, his old smirk back on his face. "Who cares about that bloody idiot. You've got me, haven't you?"
Hermione flushed and was distinctly aware of heads turning towards them, but tried to ignore the attention as Draco cupped her face in his hands. "I suppose you're right... but you do realize that we're still on national television, don't you?"
"Forget the cameras," he said as he tilted his face towards hers, eyes gleaming. "From now on, whenever I want to kiss you, I'm going to."
Draco gently picked off the snowflakes on his eyelashes and blinked. "What?"
"I said, when are we getting picked up? I'm starving my ass off here," Kenny yelled over the howl of the wind.
"Take this," the blonde said, digging into his puffy jacket and handing him a half-frozen chocolate bar.
Kenny went back to the camera and chewed as he filmed, momentarily satisfied.
"It's very important to leave an air hole in the top of your igloo," Draco explained as he walked. "Otherwise the heat inside the igloo melts the inner surface, which will freeze over again to form an airtight wall. Without air spaces, you'll get a buildup of carbon monoxide, which is deadly." He moved towards the entrance of the igloo and smiled as a brunette head emerged, coughing slightly. "The last step is to build the entrance, which stops snow from blowing in. My wife would be happy to do that for us."
Hermione pulled herself up with his help and glared. "Your wife has built practically the whole igloo. You can do it yourself."
Draco laughed and pulled her in for a kiss. She grinned at him and put her arms around his neck, smoothing his hair down, and their kiss deepened.
Kenny discreetly panned the camera away, focusing on the pale blue and green glaciers in the distance and studiously ignoring Julia, who was squawking at him through the headphones to "Get the shot!"
Finally done... I promised a Christmas update, but a Valentines update will have to do. XD Happy Valentines Day, everyone! -Sends roses-