Disclaimer; I own nothing!
A/N Well here it is kiddies, the last chapter of this story. Right now I don't have a sequel planned, but I may change my mind. I am concentrating on my other two stories. Reunion and one that does not have a title yet. I really like this story, I think it was my favorite one because it was so powerful and emotional. Well I am off to write some more stories. Happy reading and please, please. please review!
A new life and love
"He's dead" Harry said quietly.
The other Aurors stood around his limp body, staring at it.
"Damn" Harry swore. "I wanted him to face trial." his head hung low.
"We thought he was about to kill you sir." one of the younger ones said.
"I don't blame any of you. I would have done the same in your situation, but…well let's get him out of here." Some of the others hoisted his body and carried it towards the nurse's wing. She would not be able to revive him of course, but they had no where else to stow a dead body at the moment.
"I guess I will have to inform Hermione. But I think she has been through enough today, I will owl her in the morning." he remarked as he sat back at his desk and laid his head on a stack of papers.
At the moment of Steven's death Hermione was snuggled on Draco's chest after a very nice meal. He was bare chested wearing only pajama pants, and she was wearing just her long nightgown, which was very comfortable. Her bare feet hung off the edge of the couch. She inhaled his clean fresh scent, and kissed his chest lightly. He sighed heavily at this. She felt so right in his arms. He had never experienced this feeling, this strange sensation in his stomach, in his heart. He had no idea where to go from here. This was all new territory to him. He had never uttered those words to anyone. 'I love you' Not even to get a girl into bed. Not ever. And now, this girl had crept into his soul and poked the words right out of him. He smiled. He could feel her hot breath and tiny kisses across his bare chest. A familiar stirring in his pajamas became all too evident to him. He did not want to ask her to do anything tonight. She had been violated and humiliated, and it just didn't seem like the right time for this. But she was steadily kissing his chest and stomach. What did it all mean?
"Hermione?" he asked nervously.
'Mmmm…" she said back between kisses.
"Whatcha doing?" he asked playfully.
"Kissing you." she replied.
"Are you sure that is what you want to be doing right now?"
"Come here…" he said playfully.
She kissed her way up to his upper chest and then his collarbone and neck.
"Yes? What can I do for you?" she said teasingly.
"I don't want you to do anything you don't want to. You went through a lot tonight, if you just want to lay here and rest its okay."
She smiled at him.
"I know. I just felt like kissing your gorgeous chest, and your delicious neck, oh and your cute little belly button." she kissed her way down and pecked at his flat stomach and his naval.
"Oh and let's not forget this." she said as she reached her hand into his pajama bottoms. He inhaled sharply and felt himself harden immediately.
"Ohh… Hermione." he closed his eyes and relaxed into her gentle touch. Her lovely brown eyes looked into his as she felt her way around his body. She quickly tugged off his bottoms and left him lying on the couch, eyeing up his naked body. She smiled at him before kissing down from his naval. His hands were entangled in her long hair. He grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her up to his face. She pulled her nightgown off over the top of her head and kneeled in between his legs in only her panties. She looked like a completely different person than she had when he first brought her to his house. She looked happy and alive, even after all she had been through that very night. She kissed him softly, before laying her head on the nape of his neck. He kissed the top of her head and ran his hands down her smooth pale back. She erupted in goosebumps which amused him.
"What are you laughing at?" she asked suspiciously.
"You." he said "I just love the way you love to be touched." he mused.
"I love the way you touch me." she replied, kissing his neck again.
He continued to touch and love her the rest of the night, falling asleep in each other's arms, not knowing what to expect the next day.
Morning came way too soon again for them. She was comfortably wrapped in his arms, and listening to his deep and steady breathing. He opened his cloudy eyes and looked into hers.
"Morning." he said sleepily.
"Morning to you too." she smiled.
She looked out of the open window and grinned. The sky was a clear blue, not a cloud to be seen. A fresh breeze blew through into the room and across the satin sheets. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. A fresh morning and a fresh start for her. Just when she had closed her eyes again and snuggled back into his waiting arms an owl swooped into the room. It sat looking at them, blinking its eyes. Draco leaned over to reach the letter that was clutched to its leg. He looked it over, and set it next to the bed.
"Well?" she asked.
"Oh, well let's just wait to discuss that until after breakfast." he said kissing her forehead.
"How about now?" she said raising her eyebrow.
"I don't want to ruin our day, it's not good news." he said dryly. He didn't know how to fell about the letter.
"Give it to me." she replied, and with hesitation he handed the letter over to her. Her eyes scanned the words before the letter fell from her hand. She had a blank look on her face like she didn't know what to feel either.
I don't know how to tell you this, but last night Steven escaped from the Auror office. He took a hostage and tried to leave the ministry. We caught up to him and he said he was coming after you. The other Aurors caught up to him and stunned him, or they thought they did. Too many hexes. He died a short time later. I'm sorry. As he was still your husband at the time of death his business and home are left to you. Also, Pansy turned herself in soon after Steven's death. She claimed to be under his control. We have yet to verify this. Talk to you soon.
"I'm sorry." was all Draco could mutter. He wasn't sorry that Steven was dead, but he knew that she would probably feel bad, or sorry, or responsible.
"It's fine." she said. She felt empty, dry of any more tears. She had loved him for years, deep down. But that love had long since gone. But still he was her husband. Shouldn't she feel something? She stood up and walked to the bathroom. She felt like she would be sick, and when she got there, she was sure of it. She pulled back her hair as she threw up into the toilet.
"Oh gods…" she muttered.
He walked into the bathroom at just the wrong time. She held her head up looked at him and vomited again.
"Wasn't expecting that." he said, walking over to her and holding back her hair for her as she threw up yet again. "I think you got sick from that cold cellar. I should call my mum's healer."
"No, I'm fine. I think it was just the shock of the news, I feel much better. What's for breakfast?"
"I'll go see." he said walking out of the bathroom with an odd look on his face. Was she really this upset by the news? He supposed he would be upset too if someone who had beaten him for years died. NOT. He hadn't shed a tear for his 'father' and he used that term loosely. But maybe women were different. His mum had cried for weeks he remembered. Ok, everything was perfectly normal. Dribby came up with their breakfast. Lots of fresh fruit, oatmeal, scones, tea coffee and juice. She came out of the bathroom smiling weakly.
"Everything looks great. I am starved." she said sitting in front of the coffee table and helping herself. She ate as much as she could before lying back on the sofa, her head in his lap. He stroked her hair with his hand.
"So I guess some decisions should be made." she said softly.
"Yeah, I guess." he replied. He had dreaded this conversation, the one where she would now tell him she was leaving, and she had fun, but she needed to move on…blah, blah, blah. Crap.
"I don't know what to do." she said, "I don't want the house or the business. I can't go back there. What should I do?"
He breathed a sigh, it was only about property. He smiled at his prior insecurity.
"So sell them." he told her.
"I do want to get my things from my house though. Maybe I can have someone else run the apothecary. That way I have an income while I go to school to become a healer."
"Do you want to go to my house with me? Oh, wait. Where am I going to live? Maybe I should stay there for now." There it was, she was leaving, and he couldn't do anything about it. Or could he?
"Live here." he said just as if it were normal conversation. She picked her head up off of his lap and looked at his grey eyes.
"But, what does that mean? Here as in the manor? Or here as in your room?" she was nervous about his response.
"Here as in here." he said, not wanting to cross that bridge just yet. But wait, he had always put off any kind of commitment, he had postponed his wedding so often that his mum stopped planning it.
"No, I mean here as in my room, with me. Stay here Hermione. I can't have you leave me again." he was holding her trembling hand.
"I don't know what to say." she said. She wanted to stay so badly. But was she jumping into something too soon? She loved him, and he loved her. But living here? Why was everything so hard for her?
"Say yes." he said quietly looking deep into her eyes. "You are a part of my life now. I can't bear to have you move away and only see you once and a while. Please. Don't make me beg." he shot her one of his million galleon smiles. Her heart melted. She would choose that over her head today.
"Alright. You wore me down." she smiled back. "But there is some things I need to do today. I need to pick up what's left of my things, look in on the store and buy a new wand. Will you come with me?" she asked, batting her eyelashes mockingly. He smirked in her direction. Same old Granger.
"Ok, let me get dressed and we will go." he stood up and threw on some clothes. She did as well.
"Shall we drive or apparate?" he asked.
"Let's apparate, I am sick of not being a part the magical world"
With a pop, they both disappeared and landed directly in front of the Leaky Cauldron.
They entered the dingy, dimly lit pub. It was empty since it was still early in the morning. They proceeded to the back alley and went through the newly formed entry way after tapping the bricks. It had been so long since she had been there. Over a year. She had stopped in to visit Steven after the car had broken down. She had longed to return, but it was not in her agenda. The familiar sights and smells overcame her. She looked around in near wonder, at all of the changes. She saw that 'Weasley's wizard wheezes' had expanded. Maybe after she got her wand she could pop in and say hi. They made their way down the crowded streets towards her late husband's store. News of his death had still not been released, and it was business as usual at the apothecary. She entered the store with her head held high. Several customers who thought Steven was just the nicest young man stopped their shopping and stared at her. She walked right up to the counter to the young man who was tending it. He was still at Hogwarts, only about 16 years old.
"Mrs. Shanly…what are you doing here? Where is Mr. Shanly?"
She stared at him. Had news of his arrest not been released either?
"Mr. Shanly is dead. He was killed during his arrest. I now own this store."
Draco stared at her, he had not seen her this confident since her school days.
"And by the way, my last name is Granger. Miss Hermione Granger." she said coolly as she walked around the counter. The young man looked shocked and said;
"Ok Miss Granger." before continuing to help customers.
Hermione smiled and they left the store. She would sort out business matters later. For now everyone knew that was her store. Hers. They continued up the street towards Olivander's wands. He had long since hidden and /or snapped her wand, and she needed a new one before she started school. She would also have to practice her magic; she was so out of shape she wouldn't be surprised if she couldn't cast the simplest of charms. They walked in the door and a tiny bell tinkled above them. Mr. Ollivander hobbled out of the back.
"Ah, Miss Granger, with what do I owe the pleasure?" he rasped.
"I need a new wand. My old one…well it was destroyed." she admitted.
"I see." he said hastily. "Well let's get to it." he walked behind the counter and handed her several boxes. She tried them all one by one. None fit her.
"I need one that is good for healing. I am going back to school."
He brought down several more boxes before she thought she had the one meant for her. A light shone above her head and when she flicked it, it responded immediately.
"Ah, 8 inches, unicorn hair from a particularly feisty male unicorn. Rosewood, nice and flexible. Shall I wrap it up?" she nodded excitedly.
She had her wand. She checked on the store.
"Do you mind if we stop in on the Weasley twin's store?" she asked. "I haven't seen them in ages." he shook his head letting her know he didn't mind. He was nervous about the Weasley's treatment of him however. He had not been kind to any of them in school. They walked back towards the shop and went inside.
"Fred, George?" she yelled when she walked in. Two tall redheaded young men came strolling out of the back room along with one very pregnant blonde, who Fred…well at least she thought it was Fred, was helping her out by holding her hand.
"Fred, you spoil me." the girl said.
"Hermione? Is that you?" Fred said as he ran over and hugged her. "Malfoy? What do you want?" he said eyeing him up.
"He's with me Fred, I'll explain later." she smiled.
"I haven't seen you in ages." George said. "I read all about what happened in the paper. I hope they throw the book at that bastard." he swore angrily.
"He's dead, they killed him in custody. Guess it's not in the Prophet yet." she told him.
"Oh, sorry." the twins said in unison.
"So, Fred, who's the girl?" she asked.
"My wife, and my new little girl." he said patting her belly. "This is Cynthia, Cynthia, this is Hermione Granger, we went to school with her. She was best friends with Harry and Ron." she smiled politely.
"Nice to meet you, but I think I need to go sit." and she wobbled out of the room.
"Ron will be so happy to see you. He has been keeping up with the papers. Oi, Ron come out here." George yelled. Draco grabbed a hold of Hermione's hand protectively. This surprised her, but she did not let go. A tall, gangly redhead came bounding out of the cellar storage.
"Hermione?" he shouted, "It that really you? Are you ok? What is going on? Harry told me a little, but I had no idea. Where have you been?" Hermione filled him in on some details, before he turned his attention to Malfoy.
"What is he doing here?" he motioned towards him.
"He is here with me. He saved my life; I have been hiding out at his place. And well…"
"Well, we're in love." he grinned at Hermione who had planned to be a little more tactful about this with Ron. Ron looked back to Hermione who had blushed a deep red. Ron looked at her hand that was intertwined with Draco's. Little did Hermione know that Draco took deep satisfaction in this. The look on the weasels face was priceless. He looked back at her face.
"True Hermione?" she nodded.
"Oh, I thought, well never mind." he said as the tips of his ears went red. She smiled at him. True they had dated, but it was never meant to be.
"Well, we just popped in to say hi. I hope we can all get together soon; I would love to see your mum and dad. And I miss Ginny terribly. And it was nice to see you too Ron." she let go of Draco's hand and hugged him. Draco felt a twinge of jealousy, but kept it to himself. He would not be like Steven.
"They all have missed you too Hermione. Owl Harry to set it up okay? Don't be a stranger now." he smiled sadly as she walked out of the shop.
The only thing left to do was go pick up her belongings at her old house. She planned on listing it with a realtor as soon as possible. She didn't even want to go back there, but she had some photos of her, Ron and Harry from school that she had hidden in the attic, and her family photos. She had no clothes she wanted to keep, virtually nothing else that belonged to her.
They apperated there from Diagon Alley and before she knew it she was staring at her house, a new wave of nausea came over her as they got closer. She bent over and threw up on the lawn. Draco felt sick as well, and when they got to the door her hands were trembling. Draco magically unlocked the door and they stepped inside. The smell that had been bad days ago was now almost unbearable. Rotting food and garbage overwhelmed the tiny house. Hermione wrinkled her nose at it as she stepped into the living room and collected the few books she had kept. She hurriedly ran up the steps and came back down just as quickly with her arms full of photos and albums. She piled them by the door, next to where Draco was standing. He stood motionless, not wanting to wander. His visions of himself being sick in the kitchen after visiting that awful basement were fresh in his mind. She looked around at the house that was in a state of disarray and shook her head.
"You okay?" he asked her. She shrugged her shoulders in a non-committal way. She had lived there for three years. She came back here after her wedding, happy and looking forward to a long life with her new husband. Then the abuse started, and her happy life had fallen into a slow downward spiral. Tears came slowly as she looked around at her former life. Draco pulled her into a hug before pulling her out the door. They apperated back to the manor, and Hermione never looked back again.