Hey, I'm back again. I know it's been a really long time…

A lot of things have happened in my life…I'm a grown up now.

This isn't the greatest of chapters in my opinion, but it's necessary for the plot. We'll get to the good stuff in the next chapter. :]

Chapter 19: Eight months

Hermione picked up one of the black roses. The stem was really smooth and completely thorn-less. As soon as she touched it, it coiled around her wrist and up her arm. It perched on her shoulder and nuzzled its soft petals against her cheek. She smiled and made her way up the stairs to the bedroom. She opened the door to find Draco tying a silky green tie around his neck.

"Hey," he said. "You like the Ever-Loving Roses, I see." He was watching the rose weave itself around Hermione's neck, tickling her.

"Yes, I do," she said, stroking the black petals. "They're really friendly."

"I thought you'd like them," he said. "I also thought you'd like this." He went to the closet and extracted a long black evening gown. It had long flared sleeves and looked like it was silkier than Draco's tie.

"It's beautiful!" Hermione cried, rushing over to feel the fabric. The only thing she'd ever felt that was softer than this dress was Harry's invisibility cloak. It flowed through her fingers like water, only solid. "What's the occasion?" she asked, looking up at her husband. "Two gifts in one night? Even your real wife would be suspicious."

"Well," he began, "it's Halloween. I thought it'd be good for our marriage to go out and have some fun. You know, good publicity."

"Ah, I see," Hermione said, not sure if she believed this. "Well, where are we going?"

"There's this thing going on at Circe's. Nothing crazy, just a low key Halloween party."

"Okay, well, I'm going to go get ready," she said, rushing to the bathroom. She slipped on the dress and was not surprised that it was the most comfortable thing she'd ever worn. It felt as though she weren't wearing anything at all. The Ever-Loving Rose had perched itself on top of her head. Watching it in the mirror, she realized that she had to do something with her hair. It was a little frizzier than usual and she didn't know where to start. As though it had read her mind, her rose slithered down past her ear, scooped her hair up with its stem and twisted it elegantly on top of her head, allowing its flower to set in the middle.

She grinned and said, "Thanks." She didn't worry about make-up, it took too long and she was excited to be going out. When she re-entered the bedroom, Draco was sitting on the bed waiting for her.

Hermione sipped her drink quietly. She swayed to the music and hummed quietly, waiting for Draco to return from the bathroom. A swirl of flaming red hair engulfed her suddenly. She was being embraced by Ginny.

"Hey!" Ginny said happily as she pulled away. "Happy Halloween!"

"You too," Hermione replied. "And you, Harry." She'd just noticed that Harry was standing behind Ginny. "Where'd you come from? I didn't see you at all."

"We were under the invisibility cloak," Ginny said, giggling.


"Because," Harry said, taking a great gulp from his bottle of firewisky, "I didn't know if anyone from work was going to be here and I claimed to be sick today. So we were being cautious. The coast is clear so we can be visibly intoxicated now."

"Pahahh!" Ginny exclaimed, half-choking half-laughing at Harry's joke. "I think I might already be visibly drunk." She looked over at Harry. He just smiled at her.

"You don't say…" Hermione smiled. She saw that Draco was coming back over.

"Hello," he said half-heartedly to Harry and Ginny as he stood next to Hermione.

"Hi," Ginny said, trying to regain her composure. "How are you?"

"I'm well, thanks," Draco said, not returning the question. He turned to Hermione. "Want to dance?"


"Us too!" Ginny yelped, grabbing Harry's hand and pulling him to the dance floor.

"I'm not drunk enough to dance," Harry moaned.

"I'm drunk enough for the both of us," Ginny said.

Hermione enjoyed herself twirling around the dance floor with Draco. It was helpful to have a partner that could dance well. Whenever she danced with Ron he was never serious about it. He would goof around to cover his bad coordination. It was always entertaining though…

She couldn't think of Ron right now. She was with Draco and she was having fun, but she couldn't help but wonder where Ron was. They finished the dance and Harry and Ginny went to find a table. She took the opportunity to find out while Draco was refilling their drinks.

"Hey, Ginny," Hermione said, walking over to the table where Harry and Ginny were sitting. "Where's Ron?"

"He's out on a date," Ginny said. "Some girl named Lassy…or…Doily…or something. Why?"

"Oh," Hermione replied, slightly taken aback. She hadn't expected that. "Just-wondering. You know…"

"Ah," said Harry. "Wonderment…I do know it well…"

"Hah! I love you…you're hilarious," Ginny laughed.

"Wait," Hermione said, "what happened to Nita?"

"Oh, Hermione" Ginny said, not answering the question, "I almost forgot to tell you: Mum wants you and Draco to come to dinner on Sunday. She says you never come to see her anymore and if you don't show up she's going to come to your house and make dinner there."

Hermione stared at her. "Hey, it's her words, not mine," Ginny said, throwing her hands up defensively. "Oh, hey, there's Ron. Ron! Hey! Ron! Over here!"

Ginny was flailing her arms so wildly, she hit Harry in the face and knocked his glasses askew. Hermione whipped around and saw Ron holding hands with a brunette. He made his way over, the girl trailing behind him.

"Hey," he said, a little breathlessly. "This is Dandeee."

"I told you!" Ginny said in a drunkenly triumphant way.

"You said Doily," Harry whispered.

"Shh…" said Ginny, holding a finger to her lips.

"Dandeee," Ron continued, "this is my sister, Ginny…and that's Harry, I told you about him…" He paused and glanced at Hermione. He didn't seem to know how to introduce her. He still didn't speak. Hermione was slightly offended. Well, you could say, "This is Hermione, our friend," she thought. Or you know…"This is the girl I once told was the love of my life." Either would do, really.

He said neither. All he said was, "And this is Hermione." Or the girl I fucked for two years…Hermione thought bitterly.

"Nice to meet you all," Dandeee said, smiling. She had a round face and bright eyes. She would have been really cute if Hermione didn't want to punch her in the face so badly. Hermione realized she must have been scowling because Dandee was looking confused and embarrassed. She was looking from Ron to Hermione and back again. Maybe she felt some tension?

"Dandee's an unusual name," Ginny said. It looked like she was giving the poor girl the evil eye, but she was actually just trying to look sober.

"Yeah, it's actually Dandelion," she replied, sitting down with Ron. She had such a disgustingly sweet high-pitched girly voice…in Hermione's opinion. "But I've been called Dandee since I can remember."

Dandee. Dan-deee, Hermione thought to herself. What a stupid name.

Why was she so jealous? She thought she'd gotten past this whole thing with Ron. They were just friends now. She was married…sort of…and he was dating other people. That's the way it was supposed to be…right?

They sat at the table for a bit. Hermione wondered where Draco had gotten to. He'd been gone a really long time. There were a few polite questions for Dandee from Harry and Ginny. Hermione said nothing. Ron seemed determined not to look at Hermione at all. After a few minutes everyone fell quiet and there was a palpable uncomfortable silence. The only sounds were the clinking of ice against glass, the music, and the other non-embarrassing conversations going on at the other tables.

"I'm going to the bathroom," Dandee said, looking slightly uneasy.

"Oh, I'll come with you," Ginny said, hopping up. "And you too, Harry," she added, pulling at Harry's arm.

"I don't need to powder my nose, thanks," he said, wrenching his arm loose from her grip.

"Yes, but if you don't go to the bathroom, Ron and Hermione won't get a chance to talk in private," she mumbled through gritted teeth. Harry got up and reluctantly followed Ginny to the restrooms.

"So," Hermione said, looking at her empty glass. "What happened to Nita?"

"Well," Ron said, finally looking at her properly. He was slouched down in his chair and had his arms crossed against his chest. "After she caught me kissing you, she really didn't feel the need for our relationship to continue."

"Yeah, that would do it," Hermione said, looking at her hands. She was spinning her wedding ring again. "But you said earlier today that you were still seeing her."

"So, where's Malfoy?" Ron asked, eyeing the ring, ignoring the comment. "Did you two finally call it quits?" He had a small amount of hope in his voice.

"No," she said. "He went to get us more drinks, but I don't know what happened to him." She looked over her shoulder again.

"He's probably shagging the bartender behind the counter," Ron said, looking at the floor.

"Excuse me?" Hermione snapped.

"Look, Hermione," Ron said. "Why are we doing this?"

"Doing what?"

"This…" he said. "There's no reason for me to even be on this date. We should be here together. You and me. We're supposed to be together."

"Ron!" Hermione exclaimed. "How many times do I have to tell you? We keep having this discussion," she realized she was almost shouting and lowered her voice, "and I'm sick of it. I'm married." She held up her left hand and shoved her wedding band in his face. "Married! I have a husband. I live with him. I sleep with him. I will someday have his children! Married!" She jerked the ring off her finger and practically shoved it up his nose. The ring vibrated a little and whizzed back onto Hermione's hand. She wanted to scream. Instead she glared at him and breathed heavily.

Ron eyed her for a moment . She wasn't sure if he was thinking or if her shrieking had merely gotten to the point where he could no longer understand her. She knew the last two comments were not entirely truthful. She did sleep with Draco, but not in a sexual sense, and she was definitely under no circumstances, going to have his children. But Ron didn't know that.

"You haven't had sex yet, have you?" Or did he know?

"What?" Hermione said. "Of course I have! You of all people know-"

"I know you have," Ron said, rolling his eyes. "As many times as we…anyway…I meant, you and Malfoy haven't had sex yet, have you?"

How could he possibly know that? "Of course we have," she lied. "What kind of married couple doesn't have sex?"

"I don't know, Hermione," said Ron, sounding like a detective during an interrogation. "That's what I'm trying to figure out. Why you, of all people, would marry someone you're not in love with?"

"What makes you think I'm not in love with him?" Hermione asked. She was getting a little angry now. It wasn't because his accusations were wrong; it was because they were right. It made her uncomfortable. No one was supposed to know this wasn't a real marriage.

"Come on, Hermione," Ron said. "The way you look at me…it's just like…you know, before. You still love me and I still love you. I think we should get back together."

He sounded so sincere…so matter-of-fact. It wasn't like Ron to be so forward. It was true, she did still love him. And, yes, if she were free to do it, she would be with him again. After that declaration, she'd probably be jumping his bones on top of the table…but she made a promise to Draco. She was going to finish out the deal. If Ron really loved her, he'd wait for her.

She felt slightly selfish. Ron was staring at her, waiting for an answer. Tears filled the corners of Hermione's eyes. She felt one slip over her bottom lashes and slide down the side of her nose. She wiped it away quickly with the back of her hand.

"You broke my heart, Ron," she said, staring into his face. He wasn't slumped over anymore; he was sitting straight up with his face close to hers. "I loved you so much and you ended it. And so…I've done something I never would have done had things been different. I do still love you…but I need you to forget about me for a while."

Ron's brow crinkled. "What?"

"I just need some time," Hermione said.

"Time for what?" He sounded hurt and a little angry.

"I can't explain it right now," she said. "I probably never will. This is just how it has to be for now. I have a husband and this is my life…right now." She stood up. "I'm sorry."

She turned and walked away. She found Draco by the crowded bar and told him she wanted to leave. They were almost to the door when someone tapped Draco on the shoulder. They both turned around. It was Ron.

"I just want you to know," Ron said very seriously to Draco, "that you don't deserve her."

Draco opened his mouth to retort, but Hermione pulled at his arm. "Wait for me outside," she whispered. Draco looked like he was about to argue, but sighed and went outside, glaring at Ron before doing so.

Hermione noticed that Dandee was standing a few feet behind Ron looking even more confused than before. Ron was breathing slowly and his ears were pink. He stared at Hermione hard. "I meant that," he said.

"I know," she replied.

"How long?" he asked.

"What do you mean?" she said.

"Do I have to wait?" he said.

"Eight months," she answered.

Ron paused. "I can do that," he said.

Hermione smiled. "Really?"


Hermione ran to him and hugged him. "Okay. Just friends until then, though," she said. She kissed him on the cheek and ran out the door. On her way out she heard Dandee saying, "Who is that girl? What were you talking about?"

Draco pushed Hermione onto the bed. She fell back and bounced a little. He pushed the hem of her dress up to the top of her thighs, rubbing her legs while doing so. She lifted her hips and then her arms as he pulled the dress off entirely. He kissed down her collar bone, between her breasts, rubbing his hands roughly over her black bra. His trail of kisses continued all the way down to her underwear.

Using two fingers, he slid her underwear off and kissed every inch that they'd been covering. Hermione moaned and gripped the sheets as Draco gently pulled her legs apart. He retraced his trail, going up this time, with his tongue.

Okay, review and tell me what you think. I have the internet at my house now, so I'll be able to update more often. I'm thinking of doing a poll for the ending of this story. So…Ron or Draco? You help decide.

PS: The Peter Pan/Robin Hood thing in the last chapter was meant to be a joke. I guess I should have made that more clear. Sorry!