Author's Note: Well, today is my birthday, and I decided last week that my birthday present to myself would be to finish this story. So here it is, all wrapped up in pretty, shiny paper with a big bow on top. Can you guess what's inside? Fairly long author's note will be tagged on at the end. Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer: For the last time, I do not own Harry Potter.
September 19th, 1998
"Bloody hell," Draco muttered under his breath as he stepped on the brake a little harder than he had intended, causing both himself and Hermione to lurch forward slightly in their seats. "Who the hell invented this stupid sport, anyway?"
Hermione gave a hearty laugh. "How many times do I have to tell you, Malfoy, that driving is not a sport? And you're doing just fine, by the way."
"No, I'm not," he disagreed, shaking his head adamantly. "This has got to be the most ridiculous thing Muggles put themselves through."
"There are a lot worse things than driving, believe me," Hermione said with a grin.
Draco put the car in park, turned it off, unbuckled his seatbelt, and got out of the car as quickly as he could. He was tempted to kick the front tire in frustration as he passed by, but somehow managed to restrain himself.
It was early evening, and they had just arrived back to the Granger's house after a long afternoon out and about in town. Hermione, who had gotten her driver's license over the previous summer, had gotten the crazy idea of letting Draco drive her parents' car down the vacant street to the Granger's house, because she thought it would be "fun" for him. For the first time in her life, she had been terribly wrong about something.
It was Hermione's birthday, and Draco had suggested they catch a movie and go out for lunch – since her parents had planned a special dinner for her that evening. Well, at least, that was what they had told her. But Draco knew otherwise. He had not yet given her a birthday present – he had told her that he had two for her, but they would have to wait for later. Glancing down at his watch, he realized it was already time for the first one.
"Well, I'll let you be the one to drive us everywhere," he said as they started up the walkway.
"Thank God," she said teasingly. "I really have no desire to become road kill at such an early age."
"Hey," he said defensively. "My driving skills are not all that terrible. But if they are, then I'm going to have to blame my driving instructor. She's a real pain in the-"
"Watch it, ferret," Hermione warned. "It's my birthday today, meaning you're not allowed to insult me."
Draco rolled his eyes. "Birthdays do not grant you immunity from my insults, Granger. That's not fair."
"Life isn't fair," she said, sticking out her tongue at him. "Deal with it."
Draco glanced as inconspicuously as he could through the living room window as they approached the front door, hoping everything inside would be in its place.
"Hey," he said, as Hermione stuck the key in the door and turned the knob. He reached out and grabbed her hand, pulling her closer to him. "I'd say that life is pretty fair for me, at least, considering the fact you've let me be your boyfriend."
"Aw," Hermione said, giving him a quick peck on the lips. "Sometimes you say the sweetest things."
Draco groaned. "Don't remind me, please."
Hermione smirked and opened the door. As she stepped inside the house, she said, "Hmm, that's weird. Why is it so dark in here? Mum? Dad?"
Hermione jumped at the sound of multiple voices yelling out in unison, as the living room suddenly lit up, revealing not only her parents, but four other people as well.
She gasped and squealed as she looked around the room. "Harry! Ron! Ginny! Luna!"
"Hermione!" they all yelled out at once, quickly rushing over to her.
"What are you all doing here?" she asked as they all practically smothered her in a group hug.
"It's your birthday, silly!" Ginny replied. "Malfoy called us and invited us to your surprise party, and there was no way we were going to miss it!"
Hermione glanced over at Draco with an arched eyebrow. "This is all your doing?"
"It's wasn't entirely my idea," he said. "Your parents had a lot to do with it as well."
Mrs. Granger smiled over at her daughter. "We just thought that you should have one more get together with your friends before you leave for Paris tomorrow. We didn't think there'd be any harm in inviting them over to see you."
Hermione beamed. "No harm at all," she agreed. She turned back to face her friends. "Oh, you guys! I'm so happy to see you all! What have you been up to all summer?"
Draco chose this moment to tune everything out, since he hardly cared at all to hear their boring summer vacation stories. So while Hermione listened intently to their ramblings, Draco headed for the kitchen to check on the birthday cake Mrs. Granger had baked while he was out with Hermione.
As he opened the refrigerator door, a voice behind him said, "Are you nervous?"
Draco pulled the cake out and set it on the counter. He glanced over at Mr. Granger, who had followed him into the kitchen, and said, "I don't think I've ever been this nervous in my entire life."
Mr. Granger smiled as he handed him a pastry bag filled with colored icing. Then, giving Draco an encouraging pat on the back, said, "I don't think you have anything to worry about, son. I honestly believe she will be able to say that this is the best birthday present she's ever received."
Draco took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I really hope you're right, sir. But thank you for the encouragement either way."
Mr. Granger chuckled slightly. "I like you, Draco. My wife likes you. And Hermione…well, Hermione loves you. I really don't think you need any encouragement at all. But just in case – I wish you luck."
"Thank you," Draco said with a smile.
"I'll stand guard," Mr. Granger said, standing by the kitchen doorway. "Make sure she doesn't try and come in here."
Draco nodded as he began working on the cake's final touches.
He could hear the excited voices of Hermione and her friends all the way in the kitchen, and it made him feel surprisingly happy. He and Hermione had spent all summer alone together, in the sense of not seeing anyone from school. And while they'd had a fine time (she had especially seemed entertained by watching him try and learn how Muggle things worked), he could always sense that she was saddened by the fact she was so distant from her best friends. That was the reason Draco had wanted to invite them over one last time – because the next day, he and Hermione would be boarding a plane to Paris, and their journey would begin. And their journey would take them far, far away from the people she loved dearly.
But hopefully their visit that day would hold her over for a while.
Draco was just finishing up the cake when he heard Hermione say, "Draco, what are you doing in here?"
He spun around quickly, standing in front of the cake, desperately attempting to hide it. He glanced over in exasperation at Mr. Granger, who had done a lousy job in guarding the kitchen.
But Mr. Granger acted fast, apprehending her at the doorway.
"I, uh, I'll be out in a second," he said, failing to think of a good excuse to give her.
But she accepted his promise. "Okay," she said, glancing at him curiously before heading back to the living room.
Quickly, Draco took the cake and placed it back in the refrigerator before heading back out to join the group.
Over the next hour or so, they all sat around and talked, and once more Draco found himself not paying much attention to any of them. Only now, it wasn't so much because he was uninterested in what they had to say, but because he had other things on his mind at the moment.
Eventually, it was time to hand out gifts, which Hermione had opened humbly, saying all the while that they didn't have to get her presents.
Ron gave her a gift certificate to one of the local bookstores. "I originally bought you perfume," he said, "but Ginny informed me that it smelled only a little better than essence of Goyle. So, I thought I would give you the gift of reading instead."
Hermione giggled. "Well thank you, Ron! You know me all too well."
Everyone chuckled as she moved on to the next gift, from Luna. "It's…a compass?"
Luna nodded. "So that you will never lose your way. It's enchanted, too."
"Oh really? How so?"
Luna frowned. "Well…I don't know, really. The woman who sold it to me wouldn't tell me."
Ron snorted. "That's because she couldn't come up with a believable lie quickly enough. I doubt it's enchanted at all. Ouch!"
Ron glared over at his sister, who had just kicked him in the shin. Draco smirked. He was starting to like the Weaslette.
"Well, enchanted or not, I love it," Hermione assured Luna.
"Okay! Mine next!" Ginny exclaimed, handing a neatly wrapped box over to Hermione.
Excitedly, Hermione tore off the wrapping paper and opened the box. "A diary," she said simply. She exchanged an amused glance with Draco.
Ginny shook her head. "No, not just any diary. It's a two-way diary! See, they come as a set – I have the other one. It will be a way for us to keep in touch, without having to send letters, you see? All you do is write whatever you want to me, and then tap your quill three times on the page and say, 'send'. The words will disappear and be transferred to the pages of my diary, where I will then read them, and respond to you the same way. Pretty neat, huh?"
"Ginny, it's amazing!" Hermione exclaimed. "Thank you!"
Finally, it was time for Harry's gift.
As Hermione began to unwrap it, he shrugged and said, "It's nothing special."
Hermione opened up the box and pulled out a simple picture frame. The picture in it was the same one Hermione had had on her nightstand, of herself, Ron and Harry. But a few seconds later, the picture changed, this time revealing a picture of herself and Ginny. In fact, the picture continued changing, revealing a whole array of different photos.
Draco could see the tears welling up in her eyes as she stared down at the frame. "Harry, how could you say this isn't special?"
"I don't know," he mumbled. "It's just an enchanted frame. I collected as many photographs as I could from our own collections," he pointed to Ron, Ginny and Luna, "and then went to Colin Creevey for any photos that he might still have that he had taken of all of us over the years. So there will probably be ones you don't even recognize. I just thought perhaps this would prevent you from completely forgetting about us."
Hermione sniffled. "Oh, Harry, I absolutely love this. But I could never forget about any of you!" She stood up and opened her arms wide – the universal language for group hug.
Once the embracing calmed down, Mrs. Granger said, "I think perhaps it's time for the birthday cake." She glanced over at Draco as she spoke the words. "I'll go get it."
Draco nodded. "I'll help you," he said, getting up and following her to the kitchen.
As he exited the room, he could hear Ron say in a disbelieving voice, "Did Malfoy just offer to help someone?"
Draco chose to ignore him as he entered the kitchen.
Mrs. Granger pulled the cake out of the refrigerator and glanced down at it. "It looks wonderful, Draco. I cannot wait to see the look on her face." She began to light the nineteen candles that had been placed on top.
Draco breathed in and out slowly. He was not only nervous – he was terrified.
"Here, you take the cake," Mrs. Granger instructed, "and I'll go start everyone in on singing 'happy birthday' to her. Good luck, Draco." She gave him a brief hug and then left the room.
When he heard everyone begin to sing in the next room, he picked up the cake and carefully began to carry it out to the table in the dining room, where everyone now resided.
Hermione grinned widely as she saw him walk out with the cake. He grinned back, but quickly said, "Close your eyes, Hermione."
She obeyed, just in time for him to set the cake down in front of her. Ginny glanced down at it and gasped – causing Draco to shoot her a warning glare. Harry and Ron stared down at it with looks of discomfort and horror, respectively. And Luna…Luna just smiled dreamily down at it.
"Keep your eyes closed," Draco whispered in Hermione's ear. "Now, make a wish, and then blow the candles out. But don't open your eyes until I say so, all right?"
Hermione nodded. She appeared to be deep in thought for a few moments, and then leaned forward to blow the candles out.
"Now open them," Draco said softly.
Hermione grinned and her eyes flew open. The second her eyes focused on the top of the cake, they opened wide, staring down at it in disbelief.
There atop the cake, written in blue icing, were the words, 'Marry me, Hermione'.
The room was filled suddenly with excruciating silence as Draco held his breath, waiting for any sort of reaction from her.
At first, she appeared stunned. She stared down at the words, as if reading them over and over to make sure she was reading them right. And then she stared up at him, tears welling up in her eyes once again.
"Draco?" she whispered. "Is this…are you…?"
He nodded as her voice trailed off. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, black box. He opened it up, revealing a beautiful diamond ring inside.
Instantly, he got down on one knee (he'd seen a man do this in one of the many god awful romantic comedy movies Hermione had dragged him to over the summer) and held out the opened box. "Hermione Jane Granger," he said, "Will you -"
"Yes," she blurted out before he even had a chance to finish his sentence, causing Ginny to let out a sound that was somewhere between a gasp and a squeal.
"Oh," Hermione said quickly, "I'm terribly sorry, I didn't even let you finish the question!"
Draco smirked as he stood up. "Will you marry me?" he whispered.
She was already nodding emphatically by the time all of his words were out. "Yes," she repeated. "Yes, I'll marry you!"
Those were officially the greatest words anyone had ever spoken to him.
He had to stop himself from saying, "Really?" for fear that she might have already changed her mind. So instead, he stood up, placed the ring gently on her finger, and gave her a quick kiss on the lips.
Ginny broke out in an "Aww!" and reached for Hermione as soon as Draco had released her, throwing her arms around her tightly. "Hermione! You're getting married! This is marvelous! Isn't this marvelous, Harry? Ron?"
Harry cleared his throat. "It's uh…it's…"
"It's bloody wrong, that's what it is!" Ron exclaimed. He glanced over at Ginny, who had already started for him, and warned, "Ginny, don't you dare touch me."
"Then be nice," she said through clenched teeth.
Ron scowled. He glanced from his sister, over to Hermione, who was glancing at both him and Harry, as if desperately awaiting their stamp of approval.
"Hermione," Harry said. He hesitated, as if trying to decide what he should or should not say. Finally, he settled on, "We're happy for you. Congratulations."
"Thank you," Hermione whispered, hugging him. When she pulled away and glanced expectedly at Ron.
Ron sighed in defeat. "Yes, we're both happy for you, Hermione."
Hermione broke into a grin and threw her arms around Ron. "I know you're lying, but thank you for at least pretending."
"Anytime," he grumbled. When the hug ended, he quickly looked away, his face flushed.
Draco reached out and took Hermione's hand. "I already promised you I would take good care of her," he said to both of the boys. "This only ensures that I will be able to do it for the rest of our lives."
Both Harry and Ron seemed to accept that – as much as they could, anyway. They both just kind of nodded uncomfortably and stared down at the floor.
Mrs. Granger, who – along with Mr. Granger – was grinning from ear to ear, piped up, saying, "Who wants some cake?"
As everyone around them began to chatter and Mrs. Granger began distributing slices of birthday cake, Draco and Hermione exchanged a smile.
"Well what do you know," she said quietly, staring down at the ring on her finger. "Wishes really do come true."
Draco chuckled. He leaned in closely to her and whispered in her ear, "Happy birthday, Granger."
Harry, Ron, Ginny and Luna left late that night by floo, after another round of teary goodbyes. Ginny and Luna had congratulated the couple multiple times on their engagement, while Harry and Ron were considerably quiet about the whole thing. Draco was certain that neither of them approved of the engagement, but neither of them were about to rain on her parade. So they both put on fake smiles, wished her good luck and hugged her goodbye.
It was nearing midnight as Draco and Hermione sat outside, cuddling on the porch swing. Hermione rested her head on Draco's shoulder and held her hand out in front of her, once again admiring her ring.
"We should be sleeping right now," she said. "We have an early flight tomorrow."
"I'm not very tired," Draco said, placing an arm over her shoulders. "I'd much rather just sit here with you."
Hermione nodded. "I was just thinking the same thing." Suddenly, her head shot up. "What is that?" she asked, pointing straight ahead.
Draco glanced in the direction she was pointing and saw a bright, glowing purple blob flying toward them. He squinted at it, trying to make out what it could be. It wasn't until it was only a few feet away that he realized, "It's…an owl."
Sure enough, the purple bird flew straight over to them and dropped an envelope into Hermione's lap. It then circled over their heads a couple of times before finally perching on the armrest next to Draco.
They glanced at the bird curiously. "What the hell kind of owl is that?" Draco asked. He reached out slowly to touch it, but it lurched its head forward and nipped his finger before he could.
"Son of a – it bit me!" Draco hissed, quickly pulling his finger away and examining it.
Hermione looked as though she was trying not to laugh. She gave him a sympathetic look that didn't look all that genuine. "You'll live," she assured him, patting him on the back. She glanced down at the envelope in her hand.
"What is that?" Draco asked, ignoring the throbbing pain in his finger.
Hermione shrugged. "I don't know. But it's addressed to both you and me. And the return address is…hmm." She paused. "That's funny. The return address is this address."
Draco glanced at it in confusion. "Did your parents send us a letter from inside the house?" he joked.
Hermione ripped open the envelope and pulled out the parchment that had been tucked inside. She unfolded it carefully and gaped at it with wide eyes. "It's a letter. And it's in my handwriting."
She exchanged a shocked glance with Draco, before proceeding to read the letter aloud:
"Dearest Hermione and Draco – assuming that you are together right now,
You are probably wondering how it is possible that you have received this letter from me. Well, there is a simple explanation, really. Meet Phineas, Draco's birthday present to me. Phineas is what is called an "inter-dimensional messenger owl". They are very rare birds, so as you can imagine he cost a pretty knut. Draco assured me that I am worth it, but I think he mainly bought him for me so that I would stop all of the whining I've been doing since I left your world six months ago. Call me crazy, but I miss you both terribly, and I'm just dying to know how you both are doing.
Phineas is a truly remarkable bird – he can travel to any dimension to deliver mail, just so long as he possesses something that connects to the one he needs to get to. In this case, that something would be your shirt that you gave me, Hermione. As you can most likely see, a piece of the fabric is attached to his collar. I didn't want to ruin your shirt, so I just detached the tag from the inside of it, and used that instead. I really like that shirt, by the way! Pink is most definitely our color, isn't it?
Anyway, I'm writing to you today because as it is my birthday, I am assuming it is yours as well, Hermione. So I wanted to wish you a happy one, and I just wanted to say that I hope that you have been given everything you wanted – I know that I have. I am thrilled with being given the opportunity to still keep in contact with you both. And with that said, I am hoping you will write me back as soon as possible. Phineas will remain with you until you've responded. Just tie the letter to his leg and send him on his way. He does not need any instructions – he knows exactly where to find me. And since it's a piece of your shirt he has around his collar, he will always be able to find you as well, no matter where you may be.
I must be going now – Draco is waiting for me to come to bed. I hope you are both doing well, and I hope to hear back from you soon.
Oh yes, and P.S. - be careful of Phineas. He likes to bite."
Draco scoffed. "No kidding," he mumbled.
Hermione set the letter down in her lap. "I can't believe it! She has found a way to still communicate with us!"
"Actually," Draco said, "it was the other me who figured out a way to still communicate with us. I'm not surprised – he's a smart guy."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Wow, you're even egotistical when it comes to the other you."
Draco smirked. "Admit it – you love my egotism."
"No," she said, kissing him lightly on the cheek. "I just love you." She stood up from the porch swing and walked over to Phineas, who hopped right onto her arm as she approached him. And he didn't bite her.
Draco glared at the bird as it stared up at Hermione with what almost looked like affection. Stupid bird.
"I'm going to go write her back," Hermione said. "And then I'm going to bed. You should go get some sleep as well."
"I suppose," Draco said with a sigh. He stood up, leaned over and gave Hermione a tender kiss. "Tell the other Granger I said hi."
"I will," she said. "Goodnight, Draco."
"Goodnight, Hermione," he said. As soon as she was gone, he looked down at his watch. It was now after midnight, meaning the new day had just begun.
In many ways, it would be the first day of the rest of his life.
The next day…
Draco stared out the airplane window at the ground below. Everything seemed so small and far away, almost as if it was all part of a different world completely.
So far, he didn't mind the flying too much – although it was a lot more annoying than flying on a broom, because he was stuck in a small, enclosed space with a lot of annoying people. He did appreciate the view from above, though, as he could never fly that high up on his Quidditch broom.
Hermione, however, seemed to hate flying. He should have guessed that, seeing as though she had never been a fan of riding on brooms. But even though she couldn't see out the window (she had gladly offered him the window seat), it was very apparent that she could still sense how high off the ground they were. And she didn't like it.
For fun, he nudged her and said, "Hey, Granger, we're really high off the ground. Could you imagine what would happen if the plane just…fell out of the sky? Ouch."
She inhaled sharply, closing the book she'd been reading, and glared over at him. "Will you stop that? You're not scaring me."
Draco smirked. "Oh, come on, Granger. Try developing a little sense of humor. Honestly, teasing you is very entertaining for me, and right now I need all the entertainment I can get."
Hermione frowned slightly. "Are you regretting this?"
"If you mean being stuck in this claustrophobic box made out of heavy metal that just somehow magically floats through the air without using actual magic, then…yes. But being here with you…not so much."
Hermione smiled as the pilot came over the intercom to announce that they would be landing shortly. She absentmindedly reached up and fingered the other Hermione's medallion, which she always wore around her neck now. Draco noted that she was also wearing the other Hermione's shirt - it seemed to have become her favorite.
He smiled, thinking about the other Hermione and the other Draco, together in their own world. He wondered how many other worlds were identical to his, and if he and Hermione were together in all of them. He wouldn't be surprised if they were. Something was telling him that they were meant to be together in any world.
If someone had told him exactly one year ago that he would be here now, living in the Muggle world with Hermione Granger – his fiancée – whom he planned on spending the rest of his life with, he would have told that person that they were absolutely mad. But here he was, sitting next to the love of his life, holding her hand; about to start a whole new life – and he couldn't have felt more content. It all seemed so surreal to him, as though it were all just some elaborate dream – one he would wake up from, only to find that Hermione was still gone, and he was still very much alone.
But the world worked in mysterious ways, and this was no dream at all.
Beside him, Hermione chuckled. "It's funny," she said.
"What's funny?" he asked, turning to her and squeezing her hand gently.
She shrugged. "Life is funny. I mean, take our lives, for instance. You and I come from completely different worlds. Who would have ever thought that we would be here right now, together...very much in love with one another?"
Draco smirked as he turned his head to glance back out the window as the plane gently touched down on the runway.
Yes, he thought to himself in satisfaction, life is funny like that.
Author's Note #2: Ahh...so there it is. It's over - FINALLY! I was going to write some huge, long author's note, but I'm kind of pressed for time. I just wanted to address some things really quickly:
1. Originally, this story was meant to be a tragedy. In other words, Hermione was not only dead, but I was going to have her STAY dead. The point of the other Hermione would have been for her to help him get over his grief, by him helping her. However, all of you really seemed to want the old Hermione back, and...well...to be honest, I didn't really want to keep her dead myself. I am a sucker for happy endings! And in the end, I'm glad I brought her back. I think both she AND Draco deserved it.
2. I apologize if Draco was most of the time out-of-character. I realize that I ended up making him pretty soft, which isn't always a cool thing to do. I tried real hard throughout the story to write him as a grieving character, without making the whole thing too mushy. Because Draco should never be a mushy character, in my opinion. But I do have this need to redeem the poor boy and make him grow up and mature, that's why I wrote him the way I did. I'm no sure if it worked or not, but anyway...
3. Some of you have suggested I write a sequel to this. It's possible that I might, but only if I can come up with a decent enough plot for it. I would love to start writing another D/Hr fic, but I can't seem to come up with an idea that I didn't already use in this story. But then, I also want to start writing original fiction. I have an account over at FictionPress, but have yet to upload anything. Hopefully I will be doing so in the near future.
4. And last but certainly not least, I positively adore each and every person who read and reviewed (or even read but didn't review) this story. I had no idea it would have any sort of following at all, so you could say that I was pleasantly surprised, and I love you all for sticking with it until the end. So for one last time, I thank you all!