Chapter 18 – The Biggest Surprise
Hermione went home tired but fulfilled for the day to a very dark house. It was only 7:30PM. And Ron and Harry told me that they would be here. Where are those two, anyway?
When she stepped inside, she fumbled for the light switch for a few seconds and found it malfunctioning. "What the hell?" she said to herself while groping for her wand in her bag. "Lumos," she muttered under her breath when she found her wand, walking towards the kitchen in the dark. There she tried on the kitchen lights but they were also not working. "Ugh! What is it with this house!" she called out to no one in particular. A bit fuming already, she walked back towards the living room once more and sat down on the couch.
Upon sitting, she then only noticed a piece of parchment lying on the coffee table in front of her. Curious, she picked it up and read it in the dark a bit apprehensively.
We're out for a while. But you'll soon be following us anyway, right about…. NOW!
At that instant, she felt the familiar pull at the back of her navel and was instantly transported somewhere.
When the spinning stopped, she found herself at a very nice suite-looking room, obviously at a hotel. When she finally gathered her bearings, she saw a fancy red velvet cocktail dress with matching high-heeled stilettos, complete with a bag and accessories on top of the bed. On the dresser beside the bed, there was some make up, obviously complementing the dress.
She looked around for a little while and saw that the suite looked quite familiar. Then her eyes widened at the realization that she was once again at the very suite at The Riche Magie Hotel where she met with Draco Malfoy.
Draco. She thought and stiffened when she realized that this might be a trap, considering what had happened between them the last time they met and this morning's front page news at The Daily Prophet.
She instantly looked inside her robes and breathed a sigh of relief when she felt her wand inside. She immediately thought of the note that she found at home and the situation she was placed in right now. She became filled with dread at the realization that Harry and Ron might be in danger. Quickly, she started for the door but found it locked. She tried several spells from the easiest to the most complicated ones only to find that none of them worked
She looked around the room once more in obvious frustration and realized that there was a small note on top of the dress on the bed. Gingerly, she picked it up and read the following words:
Wear the ensemble, fix yourself up and you'll be out here in no time.
The note was unsigned and Hermione, having no choice but huffing a little and scowling, wore the dress and fixed herself the way Ginny taught her to.
Once she was done, she walked towards the door once more. When she touched the doorknob, the door opened straight away. Hermione was impressed with the complicated magic performed despite the situation she was in.
Remembering where she was, she immediately went to the hotel lobby to exit the hotel but was blocked by the hotel's concierge, the very same that led her towards Draco's private suites.
"Is the mademoiselle lost?" he asked politely. Hermione smiled while fingering her wand inside her bag, shook her head and asked if she could already step outside since she has no business there that night. The concierge smiled in return and said, "I think that the mademoiselle is mistaken." And with that, the concierge stuffed in her hand an invitation to a party and was once again transported, this time at one of the main ballrooms of the hotel.
At the moment she arrived, a group of people shouted, "Congratulations!" Hermione was shocked and beyond surprised. Then she saw Harry, once again in his formal suit with a red tie to match her red cocktail dress, walking towards her with a big grin on his face.
"Hello, love. I see that the velvet dress I picked was exactly your size. You look stunning," he greeted her before sweeping her up in a heart-stopping, mind-numbing kiss to the appreciation of the audience. When he finally released her, Hermione was beyond words. She blinked, not believing and trying to drink everything in that had happened in like 5 minutes for her since she left the house that night.
"What time is it?" she asked. Harry laughed and placed his hand at the small of her back. He then led her towards the whole ballroom.
"You are here at your engagement party and the first thing you ask me is what time is it?" he chuckled.
Hermione looked up at Harry and asked incredulously, "My engagement party?"
Harry laughed once more and replied, "Yes, 'Mione. Yours and mine. As for your question earlier, it's already close to 8PM."
"Oh," she said, not really finding her voice yet. She kept on following Harry around, smiling at everyone rather robotically at first when it finally dawned on her what Harry just did for her that evening. She turned around to face Harry, yanked him off from his conversation with the Patil twins, mumbled a quick apology and heralded him off towards the balconies at the far end of the ballroom.
Once in the privacy of the balconies, Hermione pulled Harry in her arms and kissed him long and hard, to the surprise and delight of Harry. When they finally pulled apart, Harry asked a little breathless, "And pray tell me, milady. What is that kiss for?"
"For loving me in every single way imaginable," replied Hermione, smiling up at Harry. "Thank you for last night, tonight and the next days and nights that we'll have together. Thank you for an eternity I'll spend with you," she finished, wrapping her arms around Harry.
Words weren't needed between the two of them as they basked in the love of each other. They finally pulled apart when Ron came ambling towards the balconies and told them that everyone was looking for them and were already wondering where they took off to.
"We thought you were already upstairs in one of the suites doing…" Ron didn't finish his sentence but wriggled his eyebrows up and down suggestively which earned him a playful up-smack in the head from Hermione while Harry just laughed.
Together, the Trio walked out of the balconies, towards the main ballroom and suddenly came face to face with none other than Draco Malfoy and his fiancée.
Draco stopped upon seeing the Trio and smirked. Ron stiffened at the sight of Draco, mumbled "Malfoy" with a nod of the head and whispered towards Harry and Hermione that he was off to find Luna in the crowd.
"Potter," drawled Draco, his eyes following Ron for a while then going over Harry, finally stopping on Hermione. "Where is Weasley suddenly off to?"
"Malfoy," replied Harry, while wrapping his arms around Hermione protectively. "Ron is off to find Luna Lovegood, his soon-to-be fiancée. By the way, thank you for your offer to have my party here at your hotel."
Hermione stood and looked haughtily at Draco although questioning the sudden "friendliness" between the two men. And Draco Malfoy? Offering to host our engagement at his hotel? What has the world gotten into?
"It was no problem, Potter. When I read this morning of your engagement," he paused and looked meaningfully at Hermione. "I was pretty sure that you will have to celebrate that. You being The-Wizard-Who-Save-The-World, and where else can you celebrate it but at the best Wizarding hotel in Britain? So I immediately owled you to offer my services." He bowed a bit to show some sort of respect which Harry returned. "I hope you find everything to your satisfaction," continued Draco.
"Yes, everything is just right. Thank you again," said Harry, extending his hand for Draco to shake.
Draco shook his hand briefly and nodded. "Congratulations, by the way," he added, extending his hand towards Hermione's. Hermione reluctantly held out her hand which Draco took in his then gently pulled it to his lips murmuring, "To both of you."
Hermione tensed at the sudden sensation of Draco's lips on her hands. She resisted the urge to pull away abruptly but nonetheless politely said, "Malfoy. Thank you for everything."
Draco looked at her straight and while releasing her hand said, "It's Draco." Harry visibly tensed beside Hermione but said nothing. "Oh, by the way," he said when Harry and Hermione almost turned to go. "I'd like you to meet my fiancée. Nicolette, this is Harry Potter and his fiancée, Hermione Granger. Nicolette Lestrange."
Harry smiled at her and kissed her hand when she extended it and said, "My pleasure to meet you." Hermione shook Nicolette's hand and simply smiled.
"Charmed," replied Nicolette. "I hope everything is satisfactory," she added referring to the ballroom and the party.
"Oh, it is. Thank you," said Hermione.
"Well, we're off then. We need to greet a few more guests who just arrived," said Harry, holding Hermione's back, steering her away from the future Malfoys.
"Potter," said Draco and Harry and Hermione turned around to look at him. "Take good care of her." And with that, he sauntered off with his fiancée taking a couple of champagne flutes for him and Nicolette from a passing waiter.
Hermione shivered and Harry wrapped his arms protectively around her. "I was right, you know," he murmured near Hermione's ear. Hermione almost jumped at the contact and with slightly knitted brows, turned to face Harry. "He fancied you. Still fancies you, actually if the looks he was giving you a while ago were any indication," he chuckled when Hermione frowned and pouted.
"He's set to get married now, you know."
"Oh, I know that. And so are we. Though I don't think that's reason enough for him to stop fancying you," he kissed her briefly and smiled lovingly. "But you're mine now and that's all that matters. I vowed that no one would ever take you away from me. Not even that annoying ferret," he finished though the nickname earned him a glare.
"Before I forget, how did you and that annoying ferret, as you put it, finally put your differences aside? Last time I remember, your last encounter almost brought you hexing each other into the next millennia," asked Hermione.
Harry shrugged. "He saw our engagement announcement this morning and owled me at work. We met during lunch time and he made arrangements after that for this party. He was even kind enough to deliver invitations to all of our friends and family. I only thought of inviting a few people over at our house to surprise you but this turned out to be grander than what I thought of."
Hermione smiled and kissed him chastely on the lips. "Thank you," she murmured.
"It was nothing. Beside, I told you – Malfoy really does fancies you and so all of these are just a piece of cake to him." Harry laughed when he saw Hermione scowl once more at his comment.
"Harry James Potter, if you don't stop those silly comments of yours –"
"Well, come on," he said, cutting off Hermione. He then pulled her towards the front where a stage was set up and a small orchestra was playing soft classical music.
"What are you doing, Harry?" asked Hermione but Harry just grinned at her in reply.
When they finally reached the stage, Harry muttered a quiet Sonorus, his hand on his throat. He grinned at the obvious amusement in Hermione's eyes while distinctly hearing a muttered, "Wandless magic. Wish I could do that." Then he spoke and said loud and clear, "Everyone! May I have your attention please?" Every single guest on the dance floor, the cocktail tables all around and the buffet table turned to face them, smiles evident on their faces.
"Thank you all for coming to this party," he started. "I hope all of you are enjoying your stay so far. I know this is quite short notice but I appreciate everyone being here tonight."
He then gestured for Hermione to step forward. "Everyone, I'd like you to meet my fiancée, my wife-to-be and the love of my life, Hermione Jane Granger."
"As if we don't know who she is Harry!" someone hollered from the back who turned out to be one of the Weasley twins. Most of the guests laughed. Even Harry chuckled.
"Yes, yes. Who wouldn't know her when she was with me during the final battle, the battle at the Department of Mysteries, my quest in finding Voldemort? Not to mention, she was my homework planner back during Hogwarts days, my constant disciplinarian, my constant nagger although she stuck with me – and Ron also – when we were outside during curfew hours during Merlin knows what – Ow!"
"Cut it out, Harry," whispered Hermione as she elbowed him in the ribs. Everyone laughed once more at that gesture with a "Hear! Hear!" from Ron, in which Hermione threw him a glare.
Harry coughed, cleared his throat and continued. "Seriously though folks, without Hermione – I am not going to stand here before you confessing my undying love for her. Without her, I wouldn't be able to cast that final spell that defeated Tom Riddle. We would all be living in hell right now, had it not been for our little bookworm here – ("Hey!" reacted Hermione, making several people chuckle.) – who researched night and day for that single spell that would be the end of him. And of course, my other best friend Ron, helped too. Thanks mate!" he said, waving at the back towards Ron. Ron simply raised his flute of champagne in acknowledgement, knowing that this was his best friends' night.
"I love this woman standing beside me now," continued Harry, bringing his left arm around Hermione. "Though it took some time for me to realize what it was I was feeling for her. Took years even! But I'm really glad we still ended up together."
"And about time, too!" one of the Weasley twins, Fred or George, Harry couldn't be so sure hollered once more. More laughter from the audience followed.
"Yeah, yeah – I know that now, finally. I love everything there is about her. She is my best friend, my lover, my everything. And because of that – I am really so thrilled to be with her throughout the rest of my life." Then he faced Hermione and ended his speech with a big kiss for her, to much appreciation of the audience
Then everyone started to chant, "Hermione! Hermione! Hermione!" Harry placed his hand over his throat and muttered, "Quietus" then whispered, "I think they want you to speak, love."
Hermione smiled shyly and did the same as Harry to her voice. She then gestured a hand and everyone quieted down. "Wow, that was quite some kiss, don't you think so?" she started and once again, everyone laughed.
"Well, what is there to say? Except to say that, I'm extremely happy tonight. And I can't wait to spend eternity as Mrs. Hermione Potter. I love this man right beside me more than words can express. And I think we all know that it took quite some time for me to realize that. But at least – here we are – set to be together forever."
"Hear! Hear!" everyone raised their glasses to her and Harry and applauded.
Harry and Hermione went down the stage and the party continued on. They were greeted by Hermione's parents to the astonishment of Hermione.
"Mom! Dad! You're here!" said Hermione unbelievingly.
"Of course, we are sweetheart," Mrs. Granger said, greeting Hermione with a tight hug.
"Wouldn't want to miss the engagement of our only daughter, you know," added Mr. Granger, kissing his daughter's cheek and shaking Harry's hand.
"But how – I mean – I didn't tell you – and well…" Hermione stammered.
"Your fiancé here wrote to us before the night that he proposed to you. Your mom here invited him over for an afternoon tea and he told us all of his plans."
"And he was downright charming too, wasn't he, Richard?" added Mrs. Granger, which made Harry blushing furiously. Hermione giggled upon seeing the look on Harry's face.
"I'm glad he's the one who will take care of you for the rest of your life, honey," Mr. Granger told Hermione. "He's all I ever wished for a son-in-law."
"Really now, Mr. and Mrs. Granger, you know how much I love your daughter," said Harry, with a hesitant grin to his soon-to-be parents-in-law.
"Told you he was charming. And don't call us Mr. and Mrs. Granger. You make us sound like we are so old already. It's Emma and Richard, dear," smiled Mrs. Granger.
Harry grinned all the more then walked over towards Mrs. Granger and hugged her to the surprise of Hermione's mother. "Thank you, Emma," he said softly. He pulled away and shook Mr. Granger's hand, excused himself and Hermione and was thankful to Mr. Weasley who engaged the Grangers in a conversation after they left.
"You didn't tell me you already told my parents about our engagement," said Hermione quietly when they were out of earshot of her parents. "I was only planning to tell them tomorrow and you already beat me to it!"
Harry chuckled. "Of course, I want to make a good expression to my soon-to-be parents-in-law. So I took the liberty of informing them and proposing to them first and asking for their blessing."
"And what if I didn't say 'yes' when you proposed?" asked Hermione mischievously.
"You wouldn't. You love me too much to say 'no' to me," replied Harry while kissing her chastely.
Harry laughed silently while hearing Hermione mutter under her breath phrases that sounded like "so full of himself."
The couple joked around happily for a few more moments before they came face-to-face with Angela, Harry's co-Auror at the Ministry.
Hermione tensed when she saw Angela approaching them. Harry noticing the sudden change in Hermione quickly looked where she was looking and it dawned on him why. To assure her, Harry placed his hand at the small of Hermione's back.
"Hey, Angela," greeted Harry, smiling politely.
"Hey," replied Angela, looking at the happy couple. She then extended her hand towards Harry and Harry shook it. "Congratulations." Then she did something that left Hermione speechless. She leaned in and kissed Hermione on the cheek. "Be happy, all right? I could see that you are perfectly made for each other."
Harry, stunned as well at what Angela did, simply nodded. Hermione, on the other hand, stared at Angela then slowly smiled and said, "Thank you. And yes, I'll be happy. I already am."
Angela smiled at the couple then said "Good," before turning and walking away.
"Well, that was quite unexpected," commented Hermione, blinking for a few moments.
"Yes, quite," agreed Harry, watching Angela mingling with their other guests and started to laugh at one of Neville's jokes as she approached him.
"You know, they could make a lovely couple," observed Hermione as she watched Angela and Neville interact.
Harry nodded his head in agreement. "Now that you mentioned it, yes – they look pretty good together. You've given me an idea, love." Hermione grinned at Harry in response.
The couple turned and saw Ginny walking up to meet them, Dean close at her heels. When she reached them, she hugged Hermione while squealing, "Oh my god! Oh my god! We did it! You're finally engaged!" while the men laughed and Hermione blushed scarlet.
"How are you doing, mate?" asked Dean, extending his hand for Harry to shake.
Harry took his hand and clapped him in the back amicably. "Great. Simply perfect."
"Yeah, I could see that," he replied then grinned.
"So, how about you and Gin? When are we going to hear wedding bells? Is it any sooner?"
Dean grinned all the more and replied, "Well, you'll here from us soon, when I send you our invitation." Then he wriggled his eyebrows up and down.
Harry laughed along with Dean. "Wouldn't miss it for anything, mate!"
"Oh, Hermione! I am really really soooooo happy for you!" gushed Ginny, after releasing Hermione from her traditional Weasley hug which she inherited from Mrs. Weasley.
"Thanks, Gin. But you don't have to strangle me like that without any preamble," said Hermione, touching her neck where Ginny clutched at her.
Ginny grinned sheepishly. "Sorry," she mumbled. "But still, you guys are together now and that's all that matters."
Hermione grinned as well. "Yeah, and some of my thanks go to you, of course. Well, not some. The first thanks since you were the one who helped me so that I'll get noticed by Mr. Dense here," she said, inclining her head towards Harry.
"Hey! I heard that! And I'm not dense! Well – not really…" said Harry, to the guffaws of those around him.
"Yeah right, Harry. And you wouldn't even notice it if Ron danced around naked in front of you yelling 'I am not a great prat! I am not a great prat!'" said Ginny, grinning.
"Eww, Gin. Mental picture, you know," joked Harry, covering his eyes and shaking his head.
Everyone around them was laughing when Ron and Luna approached the group.
"Hey, what's so funny?" asked Ron.
And the laughter continued on when they all realized who spoke. "I'm so sorry, mate," choked Harry in between laughs. "We just realized that your sister here has a knack for making us all crack up!"
"And that's saying something!" said Fred, approaching the group as well with George.
"Which is why she is a bonafide Weasley!" chimed in George.
"To our sister!" both the twins raised their glasses of champagne inclining their heads towards Ginny.
"Cheers!" everyone echoed.
"Oh, stop it you two," Ginny reprimanded, turning pink but grinning nonetheless.
Everyone was having a great time chatting and mingling around. No one noticed when the celebrated couple disappeared towards one of the more private balconies of the main ballroom.
Once secluded, Harry immediately wrapped his arms around Hermione. Hermione rested her head on Harry's chest, savoring the moment.
"I am so happy," whispered Hermione. Harry kissed the top of her head in response. Hermione looked up and kissed Harry briefly on the lips. "Thank you. For forever."
Harry smiled and held her tightly against him. "Thank you, too. For everything and for forever as well."
Hermione smiled back and turned so that Harry was at her back while they both looked over the balcony. Harry resumed holding Hermione against him.
"You know what, Harry?"
"I just noticed, for the last weeks we've spent together, you seem to know how to kiss all my troubles away," said Hermione, remembering the times when Harry just kissed her to her heart's content when she is either stressed or in trouble, especially that particular day with Draco.
Harry chuckled softly. "I'm just so good at that, am I?"
"Uh-huh," agreed Hermione. "But then you still have this saving-people-thing which is also one of the things I noticed."
"And because of this saving-people-thing I have, I get to kiss you all the time, am I right?" asked Harry, tightening his hold on Hermione.
Hermione giggled lightly and leaning back towards Harry, said, "True, which is why I'm not really complaining."
"I love you, Harry."
"I love you too, 'Mione."
"We'll always be together, right?"
"Yeah and that'll be forever."
"'Mione, I just proposed to you! What do you think that means?"
(A/N: Before anything else, MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR! So sorry this took so long. I know it's no excuse but the Christmas season really got to me. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this last chapter. Yep, this is the last. Till next story then! Thanks for sticking it up with this story. Cheers to everyone who read and reviewed! And my love and kisses to my wonderful beta – Lady Starlight. Mwah!)