Hello... This story, finally, is finished. It was published over three years ago, but finally complete.
I hope for anyone reading to enjoy. This is a long time in the works. :)
Draco couldn't remember the last time he'd been adequately nourished and rested. For two weeks he'd been wracking his brain, and those of his colleagues, in a furious search for some way to return Hermione's memories of him back to her.
The more he tried, the harder things became, and the worse it felt every time he failed. Finding and using a counter-jinx was elementary magic, and he was beyond qualified at that particular sort of magic, even without being a typical licensed Healer.
But this... without knowing how Celestina's spell had operated, it could take years to determine anything that might be able to undo it.
Once, after a particularly tiresome and unsuccessful day, Draco had been struck with a thought that what he was doing was selfish. Hermione didn't want him in her life anymore, so what would she want with a collection of memories of him? Maybe it was just a part of him that couldn't tolerate her not being able to remember anything.
It was a depressing thought.
Two days later, however, Ginny had owled to say that Hermione was not doing well. She had been feeling particularly morose, and was unable to determine a source. Ginny, with a begrudged Potter and Weasley, had come to the conclusion that she was missing him and simply didn't know that, as she had no knowledge of him.
After hearing this, he had dove even deeper into the project. With what little spare time he had, that was. Everything else at work was keeping him plenty busy without worrying about Hermione's mental well-being. His team of researchers had made a breakthrough in a theory they'd been working on for five years. He had attended the celebration alone, drank far too much, and gone home alone.
Draco was frustrated. It made him sick to think that the one person who was more than just a patient was the one he couldn't help. He felt as if he'd exhausted all of his options.
Almost all of his options.
He frowned, deeply, posing his quill over a sheet of parchment. He scribbled a rough note before sending it off with his owl, hoping it wasn't the stupidest thing he'd ever done.
"Gin, I know I said you could borrow some things, but this is getting ridiculous," Hermione fumed, entering the living room where the redhead was sitting, watching TV.
"What are you talking about, Hermione? I never borrowed anything," she denied, frowning.
"I can't find my blue heels, or my black coat, or a lot of other things!" Hermione shouted, irritation tainting her tone, as she was finding it impossible to prepare for her interview when all of her belongings kept vanishing.
Ginny bit her lip, unsure what to say. Hermione had left a lot of her belongings at Draco's place, and hadn't gone to get them before she had lost recollection of him. Therefore, she was bound to be missing things without an explanation.
The redhead had tried to explain what happened to Hermione shortly after they had returned from St. Mungo's. Hermione, unsurprisingly, had taken offense. She had insisted that she never remembered meeting "that man at the hospital" and felt as if Ginny was patronizing her for being single. It was easier just to not mention the blond she'd been involved with, and who was very much in love with her.
Ginny, therefore, had decided to put her hope in Draco and his research. Which was so far not working out so well. Meanwhile Hermione was unhappier by the day, still unable to determine why she was so upset.
"I don't know where your things have gone, Herms, maybe you misplaced them. You can borrow from me if you need to," Ginny suggested.
"I may have to," the brunette murmured, playing with her hair. "Do I look presentable enough?"
"I'd hire you," Ginny affirmed, smiling. "Which interview is this one again?" She was losing track; after Hermione had abruptly stopped mourning Draco, she had been suddenly anxious to get working again.
"This is one I haven't mentioned," Hermione bit her lip. "It suddenly struck me as something I think I'd like to do. I'd rather not say what it is yet, if that's alright."
"Of course," Ginny replied, though she was confused. "But if you get the job, you won't be able to keep it from us much longer."
Hermione grinned, slightly more relaxed, before she checked her watch and hurried off again, scolding herself for dawdling.
Ginny smiled, though it faded shortly after. If only the brunette knew how much she couldn't remember. Draco needed to hurry his arse up and figure this out.
Draco steeled his nerves and knocked on the door before him. The sound echoed within his soul and he grimaced, fighting every fibre of his being not to turn and run before it opened.
Instead he stood his ground, suddenly feeling as if he'd needed to do this for a long time.
The door swung open and Draco found himself face to face with a set of narrowed green eyes, a voluminous head of blonde hair, and, lately, the subject of his nightmares.
"Draco," she purred, lips curved into a well-practiced smile.
"Celestina," he greeted formally. He ground his teeth, "it's good to see you."
"Likewise, of course!" she admonished, welcoming him into her house. Draco looked around the familiar entrance hall, a bitter taste rising in his mouth. The house was almost as exaggeratedly decorated and fake as was Celestina's personality.
"And what brings you here? Your letter sounded quite... urgent." Her lips twitched.
"Surely you know, Cel," Draco muttered, darkly.
"Indeed," she murmured, walking into the sitting room. "I knew this day would come eventually." She sat down, gesturing Draco be seated next to her. He merely walked into the room, however, standing.
"So you'll tell me what you've done," he stated, slightly surprised.
"What I've done? Draco, it was you that ended things between us. I'll be entirely honest, I don't know what to say." Draco paused, confused, before understanding dawned. She thought he was here to tie up the frazzled ends of their past relationship.
"That is not why I'm here," he replied, stiffly. "This is about Hermione."
"Who?" Celestina asked with a mere flicker of interest.
"My... well. New Years," he bit out, unable to quantify what Hermione presently was to him.
"Oh, her," the blonde scoffed. "I cannot believe you came here to talk to me about another woman." Her eyes flashed, and she took a step toward Draco. "And to think, I've been missing you quite a lot lately." She dropped her voice, meeting his gaze.
Draco blinked, evaluating his ex-girlfriend.
"You have?" he asked, against his better judgement.
"I miss what we had, Draco," she murmured, lifting a hand to place on his neck. Almost subconsciously, his eyes slipped shut. He was suddenly reminded that he had loved this woman. She leaned in, and her breath on his face triggered Draco awake.
"Cel," he choked, jerking away. "What is this?"
"I thought you wanted to pick up where we left off, Draco," she replied, eyes wide and startled. "I thought that was why you had owled me. I admit, I was quite excited to have you over."
"What about Flint?" Draco asked, his eyes narrowed now.
"Marcus was months ago. He wasn't to my particular taste." Celestina wrinkled her nose and Draco was suddenly reminded of why he had ended things with her. The infidelity, the drinking, the superiority complex.
"Neither was I, if I recall correctly," he said delicately, frowning. He moved away from her proximity, suddenly feeling sick for allowing her touch to get to him. "And now, Cel, I'm in love."
He allowed the words to settle. She jumped, before coming to the slow realization that he did not speak of her.
"With your brunette?" she spat, loathsomely. "You must be joking, Draco. She is nothing compared to you. Compared to me!"
"That is precisely the reason," Draco commented. "She is nothing like you."
Conviction welled in him. He had to do this. For Hermione, for himself... for their future. Because he would not allow this to become his life again. Lies, and cheating, and scandal. That was done with.
"What are you doing here, Draco?" Celestina asked, suddenly cold and sharp. He wondered if he could make her snap.
"Undo what you've done to Hermione. I don't know the curse you used on her, therefore I cannot determine how to undo the damage." He fought to keep his voice steady, admitting to this woman that he had failed, giving power over to her. But it was his last viable option.
Celestina laughed, coldly. She inspected her fingernails, looking disinterested again.
"Really, Draco, if something happened to her, I'm not exactly bothered." She shrugged. "She meant to attack me, it was self defense."
"I don't care who started it, we aren't four anymore, Cel," Draco muttered, glaring at her. "At least tell me the incantation you used on her."
"Why would I do that?" she asked, clearly bothered. "I've just admitted I'd like to start over with you, and here you are pining over some girl whose hair resembles a birds' nest!"
"That's an exaggeration, I'd say. I happen to like her hair." Draco frowned, meeting her haughty gaze, his own vulnerable and honest. "Cel, please. She means so much to me, and it's killing me that I can't help her."
"Fine. Since you obviously won't accept no for an answer. But I'm doing it for you not her." She looked at him darkly, and he nodded, anxiously. Finally, she continued. "It was a spell Marcus created and taught me. Meant to eliminate memories of a certain person from the target. In this case, you." She laughed, rather coldly, as she thought of this. Draco feared she would take back her consent to tell him how to undo the spell.
"Cel," he murmured and she shot him a glare.
"Oh, fine, the countercurse is Oblaxius." Defeated, she looked away from him, head held high nonetheless.
"Good, thanks Cel," Draco said after a moment of silence. He walked himself to the door.
"Draco," she called, walking to the door. Her eyes were narrowed. "She had better not fuck this up. Or I will take her out for you."
Draco wasn't sure what to say. He felt oddly touched, considering only moments ago Celestina had been trying to convince him to get back together with her. He nodded, at a loss for words, before ducking out of the door.
Draco knocked anxiously on the door to Harry and Ron's flat, hoping with all his might that Ginny and Hermione were there. If not, he wasn't sure where else to look.
Ginny opened the door. She stared at him, confused for a moment, before her eyes widened in recognition.
"Did you find something?" she questioned, her voice low, straining to keep the excitement from it. Perhaps there was something in his expression.
"I think so," he murmured, nodding. "Is she here?"
"She's out," Ginny replied, biting her lip. "She's at an interview."
"Oh," Draco suddenly paused, curious, his eagerness momentarily on hold. "Where?"
"She wouldn't say," Ginny shrugged.
"Who is it, Gin?" Harry asked from beyond sight, before he appeared at the door, frowning when he saw Draco there.
"Get over it," the blond murmured to Harry, "I came to see if Hermione was in."
"I see that, Potter."
"Honestly, you two," Ginny scoffed. "Move on with your lives. You're both still going to be here in the future, so you might as well just get used to one another." The two men exchanged unpleasant looks but neither continued the argument.
"Now, Draco," the redhead continued, fired up, "Hermione should be back soon, would you like to wait here?"
"I should get to the hospital," he murmured. "I'm due to start soon, nighttime research session."
Ginny nodded, turning to Harry.
"We'll bring Hermione to your office when she gets back," she informed the two men at once, giving Harry a quite convincing look.
"Great, thanks," Draco gave her a nervous grin before apparating to work.
Some time later he looked up from his desk at a knock. Suddenly terrified that something would go wrong and his hopes would crash to the floor, he hesitated. Gathering his nerves, Draco opened the door to see Ginny holding Hermione's arm, Harry leaning awkwardly against the other side of the hallway.
Hermione gave Draco a strange look, maintaining her distance.
"Gin, what are we doing–"
"You'll see, Hermione," Ginny cut her off, shoving her into Draco's office. She followed closely after, and Harry, reluctantly, after her.
"Look, Malfoy," he blurted, eyeing the ground. "I do hope this works. For the both of you. I've been immature, but I know Hermione really was happy with you for a while there." He looked up, meeting Draco's gaze. The blond grinned.
"Though that sounded rather forced, I'll take it, Potter," he laughed, before sobering. "Thanks." Harry gave a stilted nod, taking a seat. Hermione was still eyeing Draco warily, even more so when he drew his wand. Ginny held her in place to stop her from running.
Draco inhaled deeply, exhaled, and cast the countercurse.
Nothing happened. Hermione still gazed at him with her mistrusting eyes, struggled loose from Ginny's grip, and made for the door.
Draco's heart sunk to his stomach, and he felt as though he may be sick. Ginny frowned, looking close to tears, and even Harry looked put off.
Then Hermione froze, her hand on the door handle, and she spun around so fast Draco blinked, shocked.
Her mouth fell open, her brow furrowed, and she suddenly looked at him as if she had no idea what he was doing there. She clutched at her heart, and with a slight whimper, she walked back to him. She appeared to be deep in thought, her brain processing the flood of memories that had suddenly taken over her.
"Draco," she whispered, her eyes tearing up. Draco let out a breath he hadn't known he was holding, meeting her gaze. He lifted a hand to wipe the tears that threatened to escape.
That was all it took; with a sharp breath in, Hermione tossed herself at him, wrapping her arms around him tightly. Draco pulled her to him, closer, burying his face into her hair. The weeks of stress and anxiety suddenly melted away in this one embrace. Out of the corner of his eye, Draco saw Ginny and Harry quietly exit the room, but he couldn't release the brunette in his arms quite yet.
When she finally pulled back with a sniffle, Draco realized his clothes were wet. Hermione looked embarrassed, and reached for her wand to clean him up.
"Leave it," he murmured, grabbing her hand in his instead. Nothing had ever felt like it fit better.
"I've been so cold to you," she suddenly whispered, hand over her mouth. "So awful." She looked terrified at her own actions as she realized what had all happened.
"Forget that," he muttered. "All that matters is that you're back."
"Going from indifferent to this, all at once," she murmured, still reeling from the return of her memories.
"Give it a moment," Draco suggested, smirking. She smiled back, curiously.
"Draco," she breathed, closing her eyes. When she opened them again, Hermione frowned. "I feel like I came so close to losing you. I don't want that to happen again."
Draco's breathing started to quicken. He expected her to remember at any moment that she had broken up with him.
But then she was kissing him, clutching his face, her lips soft and amazing and he stopped thinking and kissed her back, remembering, tasting, not quite believing the moment. His heart was pounding out of his chest when she finally pulled away, giving him a sheepish smile. He stroked her face, wanting to believe that this was real but knowing better.
"I want to try..." Hermione murmured, trailing off. She took a deep breath. "I want to try to love you."
And Draco's heart stopped, and then it skipped a beat, and then it was threatening to overpower his soul. And if he had been kissing her a moment ago, it was nothing in comparison to what he did as he grabbed her again, held her as if he'd never let go, and kissed her like it was his dying breath.
"Hermione, you've got a letter," Draco called, removing the parchment from the unfamiliar owl that had just flown in. Inspecting the seal, he paused, confused. "Why have you got mail from–"
"Thanks, Draco," Hermione murmured, breathless, tearing the letter from him. Excitedly, she ran back to her room to read it. Draco shrugged and flipped open the Prophet, skimming it with mild interest, when Hermione re-appeared into the kitchen, standing anxiously next to him.
"I've been offered a job," she murmured, nervously meeting his gaze.
"From who?" He asked, then remembered the familiar crest on the letter she had received. "Oh, I see."
"Yes, from Professor McGonagall." Hermione swallowed. "I had an interview while I was... well. You remember."
"All too well," he murmured, trying to force a smile. "That's great. What position?"
"Arithmancy." She paused, assessing his expression.
"So you'll start in the fall I presume?" Hermione frowned; he was being careful not to let on to anything.
"I just owled back that I am no longer certain I will be able to accept the position." She bit her lip. "I don't want to be away from you."
"Hermione, this is a great opportunity," Draco encouraged, suddenly acting more positive. "Don't turn it down on my behalf.
"Draco..." she cracked, letting her emotions get the better of her. "I do want this, more than anything I can remember. When I think of this, it's the job I have been holding out for. But I don't think I can manage being away from you that much. I don't know what to do."
"Hermione, it's up to you. I want to see you happy." He took her hand. "I love you, and whether or not you accept this job cannot change that. Even if I only see you during the summer, and maybe an occasional weekend."
"Well," she began then faltered. "In my return owl I suggested that I may be more willing to teach if the weekends were free more often than not. That way I can still see you regularly."
Draco stood to meet her, wrapping his arms tightly around her waist.
"That would be more than I could ask for," he murmured, kissing her neck.
"And," she continued, breath hitching in her throat as he worked at the sensitive skin. "I may have mentioned a fireplace in my room connected to the Floo network..."
"Even better," Draco growled, finally kissing her on the lips. She kissed back with fervour, but then he pulled back, groaning. "You realize that if you take this job and become Professor Granger, you are essentially bringing a vast majority of my fantasies to life."
Hermione laughed, kissing him again. "Professor Granger; it does have a ring to it, doesn't it?"
"Yes it does," he agreed, thoughtful. "Not quite as much as if you were to be named Professor Malfoy." He laughed at her frozen expression, a murmured 'just kidding'.
"Were you kidding?" she asked, suddenly eyeing him with a look of confusion.
"I'm not sure," he admitted, swallowing heavily. "I've thought about it. Have you?"
"Yes," she replied in a small voice. "But Draco, it would be so sudden and irrational, and we haven't been together all that long, and I only just realized that I do love you, and--"
"Shh," Draco cut her off, an amused grin on his face. "Hermione, what about the two of us has ever been rational?"
She stared at him, eyes wide, aware that he was more excited than she was. And she was able to admit that she was excited, though she was wary at the same time.
"Absolutely nothing," she whispered.
He noticed the barely concealed terror in her expression and frowned.
"I didn't intend to scare you off," he muttered, stroking her cheek. "I know how you don't like to talk about commitment."
"Draco, realizing I nearly lost you because I was being so stubborn sort of changed my perspective on these things," she replied, a wry smile gracing her lips. "And if I'm honest, Professor Malfoy does sound better."
"Are you saying you want to get married?" he asked quietly, not ready to believe it.
"You'll have to ask," Hermione said, her voice nearly below a whisper, eyes tearing up.
Draco looked into her eyes, searching for some hesitation. He found none. He reached into a pocket, drawing out a small box. Hermione raised her eyebrows in shock but he just shrugged, grinning. He dropped to one knee and Hermione inhaled sharply.
"Hermione, will you make me the happiest man alive and marry me?" he asked, and Hermione wasn't certain her heart wasn't about to explode.
"Yes," she murmured, smiling. He smiled back so brilliantly, Hermione thought he was more beautiful than she had ever seen him. She pulled him to her, kissing him deeply, intensely. He pulled back after a moment, eyes sparkling.
"Professor, I have been up to no good," he stated solemnly, meeting her eyes. "You'll have to make me write lines. Or... something." He grinned wickedly, and Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Come, you naughty troublemaker," she muttered, dragging him toward the bedroom by his shirt collar. "I'm sure I can think of something."
"No physical abuse," Draco warned.
"I'm sorry, I cannot guarantee that." She pushed him down onto the bed, climbing over top of him. "In fact, I should probably guarantee that there will be physical abuse." She made quick work of the buttons on his shirt, tossing it to the floor.
"Even better," he muttered. "So long as you don't treat all of your students this way."
"Shut up, Malfoy, or I'll have to tie you up and gag you." She crushed her lips into his, setting to work on his jeans.
"Why would that give me any incentive to shut up?" He grinned, and Hermione sighed, pulling away. She gave him a stern glare. "Fine, shutting up."
"Thank you," she replied, setting back to work.
Draco was reeling. He'd had no idea proposing would go that smoothly. That she would pull him into the bedroom immediately after.
Now, he decided, things were perfect.