Draco tugged at his new dress robes. Hermione had picked them out for him after informing him that his black ones made him look like a vicar. He flicked a speck of imaginary dust from the silver-grey sleeve and grinned. She stood across from him and her brown eyes glowed appreciatively. She winked evilly and his pulse sped a bit at the anticipation of dragging her away after this foolish wedding business was over.
Bill Weasley looked nearly as nice as Draco from where he stood next to the minister. His long red hair was pulled back in a silver clasp and he wore rich blue robes trimmed in silver. He looked cool and confident. The rest of the Weasleys looked well-scrubbed and polished, even the red-haired stick girl who batted her lashes at Potter. Draco grinned. He had asked Harry if Ginny had extended him sexual favors and Potter's scarlet reaction had more than answered the blunt question. Draco had been happy to note that tormenting Potter was far more satisfying now than it had ever been when they were enemies.
Fleur Delacour appeared and Draco's brows rose appreciatively. She looked a vision in palest peach and the satin gleamed where the summer sun touched it. They could not have chosen a more perfect August day. Draco's eyes left Bill's bride and touched the school beyond. It was still uncertain whether or not Hogwarts would reopen in a few weeks. The battle over the new Headmaster or Headmistress continued. Slughorn had agreed to return as Potions Master once more. In a surprising twist, Lucius Malfoy had announced his intention to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts and become the new head of Slytherin House. He had been cleared of any charges after the testimony of Potter and Ron Weasley at the trial.
Draco knew his father had decided to teach solely to sway Draco from the "insane path" he had chosen—namely his decision to join Gryffindor House (not that he really planned to go through with it, but he was having a bloody fabulous time getting everyone into a complete froth the idea), but also his open infatuation with Hermione Granger. There had been quite a row at Malfoy Manor once Draco returned home, although most of the shouting had been done by Lucius. Draco had listened with a pleased smile—so glad to be home without the threat of imminent death hanging over them that he barely heard his father's words. Lucius had finally collapsed in his new chair with a frustrated glare. Draco had walked over and planted a kiss on his father's forehead.
"I'll be fine, Father. We all will."
Draco's meeting with Granger's parents had gone much better. They immediately adored him, largely due to his stunningly perfect teeth, apparently. Draco had spent several days there and enjoyed the shower as often as possible, both singly… and with company. He flushed momentarily at the memory and glanced at Hermione in remembrance of her wet body covered in suds… She caught his steamy gaze and blushed profusely. Draco willed the bloody ceremony to end.
The last of the Death Eaters had been rounded up and sent to the Ministry for trail—but for Fenrir Greyback, who had escaped after attacking Lupin in the Chamber. Auntie Bellatrix had not gone quietly, screaming insanely that the Dark Lord would return as before. Potter and the others had exchanged smug looks at that outburst—they were confident all Horcruxes had been destroyed. Her husband, Rodolphus, had been killed in the battle with Susan Bones, Neville, and the others. Susan had stood trial and been released after the Carrows activities had been examined. The Carrows had been instrumental in the murders of Amelia Bones and several others. Susan was being closely watched by the Ministry and had to report in weekly, but at least she was not in Azkaban. The Longbottoms had taken her in and Draco vowed to watch that relationship closely. Psychotic Susan with passive Neville. It was curious.
Potter's birthday had been a riotous celebration. They had held it at Harry's house in London—horrid nasty place though it was, especially jammed with Weasleys. Their house was being rebuilt, but they planned to live with Harry until it was complete. Draco was certain the fringe benefit of having the red-haired stick girl under his roof had not escape Potter. The party had begun innocently enough with singing, eating cake and opening cute gifts. Draco had finally tired of it, kidnapped Potter and taken him to a seedy wizard bar. They had gotten completely shitfaced and Potter had been in the process of drawing lightning bolts on the ample bosoms of several local girls when Hermione and Ginny had tracked them down and ended the festivities.
Draco looked at Granger again through narrowed eyes. He still wasn't sure how she'd managed to find them. Clever little minx. He might have to torture the information out of her. The thought made him pleasantly warm again and he looked at Bill and Fleur. They were finally exchanging vows, thank God.
Finally the kissing, cheering, flower tossing and other wedding-related chores were past. They all adjourned to the Great Hall for the reception. Draco dragged Hermione straight to the Slytherin dungeon. She was vexed with him for almost two minutes until he kissed her senseless.
"We're going to miss the gift opening," she protested.
"Thank God," he said ardently. His fingers worked on the buttons of her gown while his mouth worked on the hollow of her throat.
"Won't it be nice to get back to school?" she asked.
"Nice," he agreed as the fabric pooled at her feet. Bloody hell, she was wearing those delectable lace undergarments again. Burnished copper in color. He picked her up and carried her to the cashmere rug he had installed before the fireplace.
"It will be rather sad, though. Our last year. I never asked what you plan to do after school."
Draco wasn't listening. It didn't matter; he knew how to silence her.
"Hermione?" he asked before kissing his way beneath the lace. She gasped and arched beneath him.
"I love you," he said and proceeded to prove it.
Author's really long note:
What a wild ride this fanfic has been! I never expected to write a novel-length fanfic. It all started one day when I was pondering the motives of Snape, Regulus Black, and the others that lived during the Marauder's era. I didn't think Regulus would go quietly and gave me the amazing idea that he had killed Snape and taken on his identity. It fit nicely with JKR's pattern of people not being who everyone thought they were. I'm also hopelessly addicted to the idea of Draco redeemed, even though I fear JKR won't share that view. I just hope she doesn't kill him because I'm sure I'll want to write another fanfic once the last book is out!
I want to thank everyone who has stuck with this story and especially those keeping me motivated with incredible reviews. It took me five years to write 300 pages of my own novel, yet I cranked this one out in just over three months—go figure! I could have made it longer (no wonder JKR's books are 600+ pages – do you know how many bleeding character plotlines she has to wrap up? I was going crazy just with the Dobby, Percy, Wormtail, and Greyback plotlines!) but the characters in my own book are sharpening their swords from being neglected. And Toryn is rather like Draco—I don't want to irritate him.
I plan to convert this to .pdf once I do a final clean-up edit, so anyone that wants a copy can email me from my fictionalley link and I'll send you one. Eventually, I'll have it online somewhere for direct download. If you find any errors or inconsistencies or things I forgot, please let me know!