Chapter Eight -- Will You Dance To This Beat?

Multiple flashes of green light filled the room then, the walls bright and tainted by it. All Hermione could hear was the roar of power, bouncing in the room. When the dust settled, she stared up from her place on the ground. Voldemort was dead, Draco's wand pointing at him still. He was shaking, trembling. Blaise was kicking at the man in black he'd killed, looking disgusted.

Draco looked to Blaise, his face pale. "You bastard. You had me convinced."

Blaise laughed softly, looking at Hermione who was now sitting up at least. "I would've done it, to save you." He was talking to her, not even including Draco in the conversation.

Hermione looked at him uncomfortably. Dead bodies, heroes, and the heroine. She sighed. What a world they lived in.

It was sinking in that they'd done it, when a confused looking woman ran into the room. Blaise killed her on sight. "That was for Sirius, you bitch." He kicked the still-grinning corpse as he looked at Draco, who's mouth was hanging open. "What? He was a friend of the family."

Hermione recognized it as Bellatrix and crawled a few feet to puke not so quietly next to the wall. She didn't know why she felt like this -- she knew Voldemort would've done much worse to her, if he'd been given the chance. The man in black, she didn't even know. Bellatrix… well. She was one of Voldemort's lackeys. Swallowing hard, she wiped the back of her hand and sleeve over her mouth, trying to gain some footing with what was going on. "Well, boys. Now what?"

When they both smiled, she groaned. Boys will be boys.

"Draco, you can't suddenly just hand the reigns to the post! They'll murder us. They'll raise mobs to take us down." Blaise was quite exasperated as he sat in Draco's study, watching Draco write out his letter.

"It'll be fine. After all, we're letting Hermione do most of the business. They like Hermione. She was a prisoner, remember?" Draco continued writing, staring intently as he signed his name with a little less flourish than usual.

Hermione had remained living with him, but it was tenser around the house now. Blaise had offered her a room at his house, and Draco had left to go kill something, anything. But when he'd returned, Hermione had still been there, drawing in her sketch pad, asking him gently what he wanted for dinner. He didn't know what he'd done to deserve her trust, but he would never betray it, that was for sure. And if she'd chosen to go with Blaise, he would've let her.

He wanted her happy.

Hermione had stayed with him simply because she wasn't ready for change yet. Well, that's what she told herself, anyhow. She knew there were other reasons, other things that kept her to this place. But she wouldn't admit them.

And so, the press was released from the fist of dictatorship. It was a glorious day, the first article being renumbered, to signify the new beginning. On the front page was a picture of Blaise, Draco, and Hermione. The heading read: 'Unlikely Trio Defeats Voldemort.' It went on to tell of their plotting. It mentioned nothing of what Hermione had sacrificed, to what Draco had swallowed to get through this. It told nothing of the fear of being noticed, of being discovered. It spoke only of victories.

The highlight of the article was a quote from Hermione. 'Hogwarts will be reopening this fall. There will also be a resting place made for each person who was… lost in the war.' The interview cut off there, because she'd stopped talking. She knew only too well what it was like to be one of those people who had no place to mourn for their lost ones.

Hogwarts reopening was a successful celebration. Families from all over came with their children for a feast, a feast that people had never dreamed of before. There was laughing, joy, and eating. The sorting house took place, the family members sitting at the house tables with the newly accepted children, laughing and crying. Their children would have a future, and that was more than they ever could have hoped for.

The new headmaster stood, clearing his throat. He clapped his hands, looking over the groups of students. "For those who don't know me… My name is Blaise Zabini… I'm overwhelmed to be chosen for this position, and I promise to give my all to uphold it… as only Dumbledore would have." He swallowed hard. This school brought back so much. "There are some new additions to the staff that I'd like to welcome to you, this year. Hagrid will be returning to his prior job. You're new potions master will be none other than Draco Malfoy. Transfiguration will be taught by our very own, lovely Hermione Granger. Defense against the Dark Arts…"

His voice went on, but Hermione didn't pay attention. She hadn't eaten with the staff -- she still had unfinished business that wouldn't let her rest just yet. The Weasley twins had managed to pull through, as well as Oliver Wood. When she'd seen him, she had just held him and they both cried, right there in the hallway. Only two people who had so barely survived Voldemort would know what it was like. To be okay again. To be able to sleep at night, between the nightmares. To have the nightmares fade. It was more than they'd ever hoped for. And the twins… Seeing them reunited had made her cry, too.

This was all so much more than they could've hoped for.

Silently, quiet as snow falling, Hermione made her way out back. A large plot not far from Hogwarts had been made into a place for those who had fought to defend it and all it stood for. The bundle of flowers she held was spread over so many graves, the tears falling silently. Her hand brushed gravestones softly, a sweet caress to those who had died trying. She smiled bitterly, passing by them slowly, reading them. Severus Snape: a master of potions, whose help we never could've survived without, Albus Dumbledore: who believed in everyone, no matter who they were, Neville Longbottom: who could tell you anything about plants, Padma & Parvati, McGonagall, Dean Thomas… So many happy faces torn from her life. Well, except Snape. She choked back a sob.

When she reached Harry's and Ron's markers, she broke. She fell to her knees, looking at the graves of her two best friends, the boys who had taken her in, who had put up with her. "I did it, boyos, I did it." She choked out the words, placing the last flowers beside their graves. Then she cried, and finally mourned for the men who had been so prominent in her life. She'd done a lot to get here, to be okay. Without their help earlier, all those adventures… she never could've done it, and she knew it.

The school year wound on as it always did. Teaching was exactly what Hermione wanted to do. Life was awkward, for a while. There had been a big debate about teaching history. Did children need to know about this horror? The years of people's lives that'd been taken and put into enslavement? Finally, it won out that they would. These children had seen it first hand; they deserved to know. Hermione and a few of the other teachers worked together to write a history of the happenings as best as they could. Hermione left out a few minor details, but for the most part… it was all there.

People called her a hero, Draco a saint, and Blaise a gift. Blaise… good old Blaise. He was just as bad as he was before, making bets with students about teachers, handing out treats, flirting with the girls, and giving advice to the boys. Everyone loved him.

He still looked at her with those eyes, those eyes that stripped her where she stood, taking off the robes slowly. He'd lick his lips and smile at her, the lust in his eyes making her shiver.

As the Head of Gryffindor, she was forced to face Draco now and again. He was, after all, Head of Slytherin. Things were different between them now. It was standard that he avoided her, and she avoided him. When they were forced to meet, they'd be around each other only as long as they were forced to, and utter politeness was all that was given to each other. Blaise would sometimes amuse himself by calling just the two of them to a meeting in his quarters. He knew it made them uncomfortable.

After an unsettling encounter with Draco one night in the hallway, Hermione had wandered down to Blaise's quarters. He'd welcomed her in, his eyes dancing as she told him. "Make me yours tonight, please." She didn't know what to do anymore. Between Blaise's eyes and her own panicky feelings anytime she thought about Draco…

Blaise watched her for a moment, scrutinizing her for a second, before laughing and shaking his head. "After all this time, Hermione, you don't get it, do you?"

She stared at him blankly.

He explained, slowly and clearly, just to be an ass about it all. "We who are Michez's owners, we long for pain just as much as the ability to give it. Denying myself you is one of my larger pains. It's delectable, in it's own way. I know I could have you; you even confirmed that tonight." He reached over, cupping her cheek in his hand as he kissed her faintly, "But you forgot that above all, I want you happy. I want to spare you pain. I'm the only one allowed to give you pain… you shouldn't hurt yourself more than I do."

Hermione whimpered at the kiss, wanting more, and irritated for being denied.

"He's waiting for you, Hermione. I promise you, he is." Blaise relaxed back into his chair, waving his hand at her in a dismissive matter. "Go on now, go to your own bed and think about it. You'll get it, eventually."

And so she left his room. What else could she do?

Blaise slammed back another shot of his drink. He didn't want to be aware, not tonight. Not after what he'd turned down. That bastard better not fuck it up. Not if he was giving this up for them. He stared at his glass, toying with the bottle. Hopefully they'd figure it out. And if not, more meetings would have to be called between Slytherin and Gryffindor. He grinned, a stupid grin as he took a drink directly from the bottle. Oh yes, that would be fun.

Hermione didn't go to sleep that night. Instead, she monitored the halls with an almost perverse sense of duty as she struggled with herself. Of course he was talking about Draco, of course he was. He wouldn't mention anyone else to her like that.

When someone relieved her of her duties, she finally went to her bed, mentally, and physically exhausted. She had been with Draco before because she had to be. She hadn't had a choice in it. Some little voice in her mind quietly reminded her of what he'd done for her. She decided that would be a good time to fall asleep.

A couple evenings later, she was walking again, wandering around aimlessly. She'd made it a habit. She felt vulnerable if she stayed still for too long. She eventually ended up where Draco's rooms were located, just like every other night before this. She knew, because Blaise had mentioned it to her, casually, one evening. He'd also mentioned the password.

She felt strange, like an intruder. But she continued to whisper the password anyhow. "Hermione Granger." The portrait swung open, giving her access to his living quarters. They were nicer than the house that they'd lived in had been. She walked around, feeling out of her own body almost as she brushed her fingertips lightly against the tables, the photo frames that held newspaper clippings of them.

"Who in the hell -- Blaise -- I thought I told you to stop coming in without knock --" His words cut off as he stepped out from behind the door, staring at Hermione. He looked so scared, standing with a towel around his waist, his hair wet from the shower he'd apparently just had.

"Granger..?" He squinted at her. "Is something wrong?" He had already assumed how she'd gotten into his rooms. He was going to have to have a word with Blaise about that eventually.

"I… I didn't want to sleep alone tonight, Malfoy." She was slightly defensive. Hermione couldn't help but feel like she'd been caught doing something wrong, something bad. She bit her bottom lip gently, looking up at him. "Please, Draco." Her words were quiet, but Draco still heard them.

He didn't answer her, but instead nodded slowly, holding out his hand. "The bed's this way," he muttered, pulling her towards it.

And that was when the Potions teacher and the Transfiguration teacher started sleeping in the same quarters.

What had started out as cuddling, turned into other things during the months that passed. The students still stared at them in disbelief when they walked by, shoulder to shoulder, but never holding hands. Blaise watched, and was happy. That lust was still in his eyes, Hermione could see it. But it no longer was as evident.

On a particular night, after some fun, Draco had rolled over onto her, tracing a finger down her chin, as he asked her, like he had once upon a time, "Granger, do you love me?"

And she replied with a flashy smile, much like Blaise's: "No, but you'll do." But her eyes, and the kiss that she gave him, told him something else entirely.

The students noticed something different about them then, how they were around others. Relaxed. When Blaise took an opportunity one evening at dinner to announce their relationship, Draco didn't even get flustered. Instead, his hand snuck under the table to grab Hermione's, and gently squeeze it. He'd known for months that he was hers; that she was all he could ever want.

How when they'd finally had sex again, he'd whispered to her, his eyes full of emotion, "Tell me everything you want me to be."

And she had lifted her hips, kissing him, and whispering on his lips: "Mine."

Near the end of the school year, they both went to visit the gravesite. Hermione went out there on a semi-regular basis, to think, to clear her mind, to say hello and good bye to old friends. Draco seemed more nervous on this occasion. She couldn't figure out why. She knew it was almost grading period, but Draco had always pushed it off until Blaise started prodding at him.

They brought flowers, spreading them around. Hermione stared wistfully at the chisled names on each stone, committing them to memory. No matter where she went, she would always remember these people.

She turned, moving to stand back by Draco, when he did something totally unexpected. He got down on one knee, and pulled a box from his coat pocket. "Granger… I only do this, so that you can't call me Malfoy with such distaste. Because you'll be one too."

And that summer, they got married. Hogwarts, in it's entirety, was in attendance. Blaise oversaw everything, publicly asking in his speech if he could borrow Hermione for a night (Draco responded by throwing a glass at him, while Hermione blushed), and made a general happy get together of it. Oliver Wood stood as Best Man, and Cho Chang stood as Maid of Honor. It was a good wedding, one that Hermione had dreamed of. Draco had the money to make it happen, but they didn't pay for anything.

They were heroes, and this was their wedding day.

As they walked along, holding hands in a shy sort of way, they stopped along the top of a small hill. Beyond the wedding area, grass rolled for miles. Hermione squeezed Draco's hand. "We're lucky, you know." She was still thinking about the wedding kiss. It'd been lovely.

"Yeah. We are."

So the two figures stood, in the dappled sunlight, watching the wind play chase in the grass. Two figures who'd somehow managed to defeat crippling odds, and had somehow managed to love each other.

"Where to now, Malfoy?" Hermione asked quietly.

He grinned at her, sweeping her into his arms and kissing her. "Where ever you want, Malfoy."

The End? 7/31/06 A/N: Well, I hope you all enjoyed the story... sorry it took me so utterly long to update the last chapter. My wifi wasn't being all that nice. I hope you all decide to tag along for the next story I'm working on... I don't think there'll be a sequel. Maybe I'll do a spin off of Lips of an Angel? I've got another story I'm writing between Hermione and Draco at the moment, though I've got to see where it goes. There's also a Harry / Draco one that I've been working on. So, we'll see. Oh, also posted another song fic... it's not a main-char based one though. It's Draco / Original Character. But, hopefully it's decent. Enjoy, all, and thanks for the reviews and support! (Oh, any requests?)