Disclaimer: I'm not genious enough to be the owner of Harry Potter. I say that with regret.
A/N: Exams are OVER. My summerjob has started (ew), I'm back home and I finally got to settle down to actually finish the very last chapter of Beneath Your Window. I decided to wait until I had time to do it properly, because I didn't want to just slap something down for the very last chapter of the fic I've been working on for the better part of a year.
It's been a good run, everyone! I hope you like the last part too. :)
Chapter 24 / The Beginning
It was lunchtime and the workroom outside was almost unnervingly quiet. The silence would have caught her off guard if it hadn't been for all the overtime she had worked lately. She was quite used to being on her own in the Department after hours, so a quiet lunchtime wasn't enough to make her uneasy. A stray curl fell onto her parchment as she dotted the i's in Invigoration Draught. She had been slouching further and further down onto her desk as the hours passed, mountains of paperwork only marginally decreasing as she worked.
A soft knock on her door prompted her to straighten up and run her hands over the creases in her work robe. The door slid open and the breath hitched in her throat when her blondest co-worker stepped inside in silence.
"Um..." she croaked, coughing desperately to control her faltering voice. "Aren't you out to lunch with the rest?"
"I could ask you the same thing," he retorted after taking a moment's pause.
"Yeah, well." She shrugged and gestured towards her paperwork, which was torturously slow in its decrease.
He gave a wry smile as he raised his left hand and drew the attention towards a yellow piece of parchment in his hand. At her desperate groan, he let out a small laugh – seemingly involuntarily, judging by the way his lips pursed into a tight line.
"Just put it wherever you want. It'll be in good company," she commented with a roll of her eyes.
Still keeping his lips pursed, perhaps to keep the laughter in this time, he dropped the parchment on top of a medium sized pile. As he was about to turn a way, his eye caught the curse detector in its designed spot on her desk. Her cheeks burned as she noticed his gaze lingering on the birthday gift, and she immediately looked away as he quickly averted his eyes from the offending item.
He took several quick steps towards the door, slipping between the door and the frame before he turned his head.
"You have some ink on your chin," he said quietly before he was gone from her office.
"Thanks," she breathed unnecessarily to the empty office.
It was only his second day on the job and he was already proving to be a valuable workforce – and a royal pain in the arse. Every logical thought had the nasty habit of fleeing her mind as he entered the room, leaving her flustered and desperate to keep herself occupied so he wouldn't speak to her. She tried to ignore him as much as possible, letting the other employees work like a buffer between them. Though maybe not intentionally, she had started retreating to her office more and more, handling the administrative side of things as he spent most of his time in the workroom overseeing the activity.
She missed the practical side of her job. The actual making of the potions had always been her favourite part – perhaps surprisingly, considering her love for books and studying, but during her internship the hours spent over the cauldron with Snape had felt like the reward for hours and hours on end spent behind a book.
So, yes, she wished she could spend more time in the workroom, but she knew there would be more time for that once things with her and Draco settled down a bit. It was uncomfortable now, but she was certain it would improve and she would be able to be in the same room as him without wanting to either a) fall into a cauldron and just die, b) bend him over the desk and have her wicked way with him or c) scream in frustration at his idiocy.
Muffled voices from the work room interrupted her musings and she realised her paperwork had progressed no further since the distraction and the lunch break now seemed to be coming to an end. She pulled out a copy of The Daily Prophet from beneath the parchment she had been writing on and circled an add for another flat. She had been to look at four already, and all of them had fallen through. She knew she was being picky, but she had to live there for a long time, so she wasn't about to just settle for anything. Sighing heavily, she rose from her desk, deciding that she would rather face Draco than to sit coped up behind the desk any longer, and left the copy of the Prophet lying on her desk.
Opening the door quietly, she found Harry giving Draco a rather warmer handshake than she would have imagined some months ago. He was grinning as Draco spoke words she couldn't decipher, and she tried to cover up the light feeling in her chest with a tightly knit frown.
"Hi, Harry," she said dryly, leaning her hip against a nearby workbench.
"You didn't tell me Draco came here to work!" he commented, but his pleased smile told her he didn't need much telling.
"You don't seem too surprised," she noted, quirking an eyebrow challengingly in his direction.
"Well, there were rumours, obviously," he dismissed.
Hermione noticed several pairs of eyes on them, and she scowled at them all in turn, sending them all hastily back to their tasks.
"I suppose there is," she said non-committally. "Anything in particular you need?"
He shook his head slightly as he put a small, white bag on a nearby table.
"Nothing in particular, really, I just came down to drop off this lunch for you. Ginny made me promise I'd drop it off personally to make sure you eat."
"Thanks," she smiled, knowing how worried Ginny always got that she skipped lunch. "She knows me well, that girl."
"Yeah, I bet you haven't had any breaks yet," he chastised.
"Well, neither has Draco!"
"Yeah, rat me out!" he complained from the cauldron he had turned to after greeting Harry.
Harry laughed, giving Hermione an encouraging look that she pointedly ignored.
"Look, I'll try to keep Ron away. I don't particularly want a repeat performance of the drama from a few nights ago."
"Thanks," she said genuinely, touching his shoulder briefly as he turned to leave with a slight wave.
"What drama?" Draco suddenly inquired as she stepped up to the only available cauldron – which happened to be right across from his.
"It doesn't sound like nothing," he said with a frown. "Potter even brought it up and said he'd keep him away. That's not nothing, that's a definite something."
"Of course it was something, it's just not a something any more and it's not important," she huffed.
"If Potter is keeping him away from the department it's definitely important. Why won't you just tell me what the hell he's on about?"
"Because it's not any of your business, is it?" she replied in annoyance, chopping her ingredient violently.
"Oh, so that's how we're playing it? Just because we're no longer together, you're not going to tell me anything, even if it obviously has something to do with me too?"
She grit her teeth, refusing to look up at him.
"After the Dance Ron came to the flat to make a scene."
"What kind of scene?" he asked icily.
"About me running to you like a 'love-sick puppy'," she explained, raising her arms to make air quotes, "inquiring me if I ran straight the guy he's always hated after he and I broke up; telling me that you and I would never work out; and so on and so forth."
Draco didn't reply at that, he only kept stirring the potion, keeping his head down.
"Of course I told him to get lost and keep his nose out of stuff it doesn't belong in. He lost every say in those areas of my life the day he cheated on me."
Hermione didn't give Draco any time to respond as she let her potion simmer while she moved down the rows to check on other orders.
"The largest Auror order is wrapping up. Adam is bottling the last samples as we speak," Miriam told her when she stopped next to the cauldron that was cleaning itself merrily.
"That's fantastic," Hermione breathed, her shoulders relaxing almost visibly.
"Look," Miriam said in a hushed voice, leaning closer, "he's not giving you a hard time is he?"
Hermione glanced at Draco, who was bending over his cauldron, sprinkling an ingredient carefully into the mix with his tongue sticking out from the corner of his mouth. An involuntary smile tugged at her lips and she shook her head.
"No, he's just being Draco," she said softly.
When she finally managed to get control of her wandering gaze, she found Miriam looking thoughtfully at her.
"Why don't you reach out? Fix it, you know? You obviously want to."
Hermione handed her another order neatly written on a piece of parchment.
"It seems like you're making it more complicated than it needs to be," Miriam noted, inclining her head slightly.
Hermione met her gaze in silence not knowing what to say to something that was so undeniably true, but so hard to admit.
"Get started on that order for the Department of Mysteries, will you?"
Miriam gave a slightly amused 'yes, chief' and Hermione left her with a roll of her eyes, wondering if all Department Heads had to take love advice from their employees.
She returned to her cauldron opposite Draco, stealing glances at him when she was certain he was focused on his ingredients. He looked so different than that first day she'd seen him at the pub. While he had always looked healthy and happy in his little hidden sanctuary, there was a different aura about him now. His eyes didn't have that shadow of fright hidden beneath the mischievous twinkle. His smile wasn't as stiff. He didn't have the tone of apology when he introduced himself as Draco Malfoy – and he certainly didn't hide under a cover name. She knew she had changed – that he had changed her. He had healed her. He had taken her out of her routine life and created an entire new life for her that she quite enjoyed. But what she hadn't realised what that she had done the same to him. She had shaped him too.
She wondered how they would ever be able to let each other go when their new selves were shaped so heavily by the other. And why – if he was as scared of losing her as she was of losing him – was he pushing her away by making up things that never happened? Yes, he had taken the clichéd leap of faith and taken the job in her department, but the first thing he did when he came after her was to accuse her of something she would never even consider. She knew that he realised that deep down.
Anger wasn't a feeling she managed to conjure in this situation. There had to be something behind his quick, flawed judgement. Was he really that insecure about them and himself? Or was he simply scared? There had to be someth...
"Is your potion supposed to be the highly suspicious colour of neon orange?"
She yelped as she looked down into her cauldron and found a thick, bright orange goo bubbling dangerously. Groaning in irritation, she realised she hadn't paid attention at all to what she'd thrown in. She was about to lift it off the flame when she noticed the potion swelling rapidly. Her eyes growing wide, she lowered it down on the heat-proof surface of the workbench, and stepped away.
"Everyone get out. Now!" she bellowed, sending the work room into a frenzy.
Draco, who was in no way used to handling a situation like the present, stood frozen in place.
"Draco, get away!" she cried, watching the seemingly petrified man on the other side of the table from the swelling potion.
He wasn't going to move. She realised that quickly, and started to panic. Giving the potion a weary look, she noticed the cauldron starting to rattle. An image of how bad it could be ran through her head. The potion could have disastrous effects – she had no idea what she'd put in it. How could she have been so careless? The image her mind conjured made her dive underneath the workbench and slide across the floor towards the other end. She grabbed a hold of his legs and pulled him down, dragging him in under the bench with a murderous look on her face.
"What are you thinking?! Why didn't you move?!"
He just blinked, his mouth moving without releasing sound. She grabbed his chin and forced him to look at her.
"When I say move... youMOVE! Preferably very far away!" she screeched, making him flinch. "That's the only emergency rule there is, it really is that simple. Honestly, who knows..."
She was interrupted by a deafening sound and the table rattling around them. Instinctively, she bent over, trying to shield herself. She felt something hovering over her and when the crashes subsided she straightened up only find herself leaning against Draco.
"I'm sorry," he said in a shaky voice.
"No, I'm sorry. I completely forgot to go through the safety instructions with you, so there was no way you could have been prepared for a situation like this."
She released herself from his protective grip and climbed out from underneath the table, being careful not to touch any spilled potion.
"It seems like the others made it to the emergency apparition point," she noted, finding the workroom empty and slightly chaotic.
"Either that or your potion makes people disappear," he commented, ducking as she tried to swat him over the head.
"Don't joke about that!"
"Where are you going?" he asked as she made her way through the maze of orange goo.
"We need to do a head count before we can clean this mess up. To make sure no one has ... disappeared," she said with a dark look his way. "It's part of the safety procedure I've neglected to inform you about.
"Merlin, this means more paperwork. Don't touch any potion!"
She stopped before the emergency apparition point, hesitating slightly.
"What's wrong?" he inquired quietly, watching her bite her lip.
"I don't know, really. I'm just dreading the reactions, I suppose."
"You can't say this never happens. It's a potions lab."
"No, it happens all the time," she answered with a nod. "I've just never been the cause of it."
She swallowed and stepped onto the point, turning around, knowing it would bring her to the room where the others were waiting. Seconds later the room materialized in front of her, her co-workers talking loudly amongst themselves. It was a common occurrence, but it shook them all every time. It reminded them that the job they were doing was by no means safe, even if they took every precaution.
The room grew quiet when they noticed her, and she was about to move out of the circle when she was pushed forward, landing flat on her face.
"Draco, you useless tosser!" she cried, stumbling to her feet. "Give me a second to get out of the way!"
He laughed in delight and reached out his hand to pull her up to her full height.
"Thank Merlin you two are alright," Miriam breathed. "We thought something had happened since you didn't follow."
"We were too far away from the apparition point, so we took refuge in the room," Hermione explained quickly, taking in the appearance of her rattled workers. "Everyone, take the rest of the day off. I need to call security and assess the damage, and then finish up the order I messed up."
"We'll stay behind ..."
"No, too many people down there will just be chaos. It's a mess," she sighed. "And it's my fault, so I'd like to just fix this and get on with it."
They all nodded and resigned.
"Everyone is alright?" she asked, looking over the crowd. "No one missing any limbs? No one missing in general?"
"We're all here, Chief. And no one was hit by the potion."
"Excellent. Now go home," she ordered, pushing them out the door one by one. "You too, Draco."
"Damn, I thought I'd hidden perfectly."
"I'm afraid you're a bit taller than that chair," she answered dryly.
"I'm staying behind."
"No, you're not. It will be more effective if I get to work in peace."
"I don't care what you say, we both know you wouldn't have made such a careless mistake if I hadn't been there," he told her, holding her gaze. "So it's just as much my fault as it is yours."
"You think too highly of yourself," she said darkly, crossing her hands over her chest.
"Maybe, but you know I'm right," he retorted, pushing her towards the apparition point again. "Besides, I may not know much about the safety procedures, but I do know that I have a responsibility to be there as Potions Master."
Damn it. She had counted on him not to know that.
"We'll have to work overtime," she told him, hoping to change his mind.
"Do I look like I have much waiting for me after work? Heck, I sleep in my office!"
She looked at him in surprise, but he pushed her into the apparition point and the image of him dissolved, being replaced by the chaotic workroom. Remembering what happened last time, she moved away from the point just in time to avoid being sent spiralling to the floor.
A crew from security was already in place, hunched to the floor to test the potion and its effects.
"Quite a mess this time," one of them commented. "And it seems to be an unknown potion."
"I'm very sorry. I don't know where my head was," she apologized quietly, avoiding Draco's gaze.
"No need to apologize. This happens with potions, and this is our job," he told her. "We're testing its effects, but so far it doesn't seem dangerous. We don't know how it reacts to magic yet, but if nothing happens we can remove it magically and all should be fine."
She nodded and thanked them gratefully, still feeling guilty despite his demand to not worry.
"You two should retreat to an office while we test it. Since it's not a standard potion we have no idea what it will do in fusion with magic."
Hermione nodded again and let herself be lead off by Draco, guilt weighing her down. She stepped inside his office without protest, letting him guide her with a hand to the small of her back. He opened the blinds on the windows into the workroom, and Hermione remained standing by it, her arms folded protectively over her chest.
"I can't believe I was so careless," she whispered, watching the crew work as she bit her lip in frustration. "It's my job to be in charge and to keep these things from happening, not to make them happen."
"What were you thinking about while you were working on it?" he asked from his spot beside her.
She looked at him out of the corner for her eyes.
"I wasn't thinking about anything in particular."
"Hermione, we both know that's a lie. You don't even remember what you put in it, your mind had to have been somewhere else entirely."
She looked down, studying the points of her shoes.
"I was thinking about how you and I have shaped each other so much and how any of us can ever live our lives normally without the other any more," she told him honestly, not looking his way at all. "And I thought about you and why you're doing this. I know you know me. I know you know I could never in a million years go back to Ron after all that happened and I know you realise I love you more than I've ever been able to tell you. So no, the potion wasn't the most important thing on my mind at the moment, and I shouldn't have worked on it when I knew I was much too unfocused."
He didn't give an answer and she didn't look for one. They watched the crew work outside as they remained silent and almost unaware of the other. Finally, a member of the crew waved them out again, and she left him standing in the office, watching her talk to the security workers.
"It reacted just fine in fusion with magic, it was removed successfully and the room is cleared," one of them told her as she came up to them, and she beamed in response.
"That's fantastic, thank you so much."
"Be careful when you remake it," he remarked with a small smile, as they began packing up to leave.
Hermione surveyed the scene, hoping most things could be salvaged. Not much seemed to have been ruined, considering the explosion hadn't been that forceful. Luckily, she found the order they had finished and bottled pretty much intact. Only three vials had broken, and that would be quick to remake before she went home.
She began tidying up the room, picking up things that had fallen out of place, and found the cauldron unlucky enough to have been home to her potion of disaster. As she cleaned the cauldron, she heard Draco shuffling around behind her, picking up stray items.
They worked in complete silence, dusting and cleaning with a bit help from magic, and it was in order quicker than she had anticipated. Much thanks to Draco, she realised.
"Thanks for your help," she said quietly, as she dusted her hands on her workrobe. "You can go, I'll just remake the potion and I'll be done."
"I live here, remember?" he reminded her with a crooked smile. "I'll replace the vials that were broken from the completed order."
She gave in, and let him take the cauldron opposite her yet again.
"This doesn't bode well," she said with a raised eyebrow, and he chuckled in response.
"I won't distract you," he promised with a crooked smile.
"I'm sorry, you do that just by showing up."
She began chopping up her ingredients to put them up in measured piles in order of usage in the potion, to make sure she at least put in the right ingredients, in the right measures and in the right order this time around. If she was lucky maybe she'd manage to stir it right too, and the potion would come out okay.
"So we're going to have an accident like this every week?"
"Yeah, you might as well just start wearing a protective bubble on a daily basis."
She smiled quickly at him over the cauldron, before she turned to inspect her neat piles of ingredients.
"I don't know why I'm doing ...this," he suddenly said, not looking up as he added the first ingredient to his potion.
Looking at him for a second, she gave a slight nod in acknowledgement, knowing he wasn't referring to the potion.
"I guess I ... I think I blame you for leaving. And for just giving up on me."
Her eyebrows knit tightly into a frown.
"Is that what you think I did?" she asked, her voice betraying some of the hurt she felt. "Draco, I would never give up on you."
"You were going to leave without saying goodbye. You weren't even going to ask me to come. You had already decided that I wouldn't go."
"I was going to leave before you came home because I couldn't bare the thought of having to say goodbye. If I just left, I could've pretended that it wasn't goodbye. I didn't ask you because I didn't want to put you on the spot," she explained stirring slowly clockwise. "We'd already discussed it several times and you explicitly said you couldn't deal with going back to London. I didn't want to pressure you into doing something that I know is so hard for you."
He just looked at her, his face set in a grave expression with his lips pursed together in thought.
"I just... I thought it was best, you know?" She shrugged. "To try to get out before you came back, so we didn't have to say goodbye and didn't have to argue about who is more of a coward than the other."
"I said a lot of horrible things to you," he admitted.
"We both did."
She dusted the dirt from some of the ingredients off of her hands, and started to bottle the potion which was now shimmering green – the colour it was supposed to be as opposed to bright orange.
"I thought you'd just given up on me and when I came back you were dancing with him... I just didn't know how to keep the thoughts back. And everything went to the hippogriffs."
He tilted his head back in exasperation, bowing his head back down again, refusing to meet her gaze.
She cleaned the empty cauldron and set the bottled potion aside. Soundlessly, she left him standing by the workbench as she retreated to her office to grab her cloak and the Prophet with the circled ad for the flat. When she returned, he was bending over his cauldron, peering into it as if it was a pensive that could tell him where they went wrong.
"I'm sorry I ruined everything," he croaked as she came closer.
He watched her wrap her cloak around her shoulders and put the edition of the Prophet in the pocket on the inside of it with eyes glistening from tears he hadn't shed since the day she left his house.
She couldn't take it. He stood there, fighting back tears, his hair dishevelled and the light in his eyes gone. He was her ex-boyfriend. Her ex-love. She closed the distance between them and cradled his face in her hands. Everything about him was so indescribably close. He was every bit as present as she'd longed for ever since they parted. His mild eyes looked down on her and he leaned towards the touch of her right hand, making her heart ache. Slowly, she pressed her lips to his, instantly feeling the familiar rush of emotions, the overwhelming impressions from her senses.
Before he really knew what had happened she pulled away, taking a few steps backwards.
"I'm sorry I ruined everything too," she said, her heart thudding uncomfortably in her chest.
She turned on her heel and walked down the hallway, trying to forget the hurt in his eyes.
"Hermione Granger, " she said to the significantly taller lady, offering her hand. "I called about the flat earlier."
A smile broke out on the stranger's face, softening her features immediately.
"Nice to meet you! Would you like to come on in and have a look?"
Hermione nodded with a forced smile, all cheerfulness she should have felt had left when she walked away from the work room some hours ago. She followed the other inside, taking in the light and roomy flat that revealed itself as she proceeded.
"We have had some interest, but it's not very conveniently placed for most people. So they have found it a bit pricey, but it's a very roomy and elegant home, and it would have been worth even more than this if it was a bit more strategically placed."
She listened to the lady talk about the flat as she looked around, imagining where to put her rare potions ingredients, her books and her telly. It was almost frighteningly close to what she had imagined. The building itself had been marvellous as she stood out on the street, leaning her head back. Several stories tall in white stone, towering above the ground, looking older and far more distinguished than the rest of the neighbourhood. The inside was better than she could have hoped. Light, roomy, not much in need of fixing. The kitchen was big enough for her, and if she ever had someone to share it with, it was still comfortable. It had one bedroom for her and a spare one she could use for visitors.
There was no way she could pass this opportunity up. She couldn't live at Harry and Ginny's for ever, even if Ginny didn't miss a chance to tell her how much she'd miss her when she left. You'd think she was moving to Greenland, not to another part of town.
"The bedroom is down the hall."
Hermione followed the instructions, peeking into the bathroom on her way, finding a modern and tiled room, rather more spacious than she had expected. She continued down the hallway to the bedroom and smiled to herself as she entered. The daylight coming in through the large windows made the room look large and inviting. She stepped further inside, turning around as she looked around in wonder. It was everything she had looked for and more.
"I absolutely love it," she said when the owner came after her into the room. "I can't pass this up."
"If you want it, it's yours. Like I said earlier, the others I've had over couldn't live with the location, and decided to go for other alternatives. All I need is some references and to draw up a contract," the owner told her, watching as Hermione kept glancing around the room. "I can go get a list of what I need from you, and we'll discuss it further in a minute."
Hermione was left to herself and she sat down on the king size bed, bouncing on the mattress a little. She smiled, feeling so entirely relieved that she had finally sorted out her living situation. Things were getting sorted out nicely. Work was settling in and they were finally catching up. What had looked impossible only mere days ago, was now almost accomplished. She were about to find herself a new place to stay and she was no longer bound to the hospitality of her best friends. Her friendship with Ron was back in a fragile, bumpy sort of way.
The only thing that was truly bothering her was Draco. It had reached a conclusion, but not quite the one she wanted. In both apologies lay an undertone of finality. None of them knew how to get to where the other was standing. It was like fumbling around in a dark forest, knowing that the other was out there, but having no idea where. She knew that this was the point where it floated or it sunk, and she felt like they had said goodbye earlier – both of them finding the search for the other much too difficult.
Maybe this had been his role in her life, and now he had played his part. She had gotten to know him – really know him - in a time of her life when she was broken to the inch of her being. It was like he had rebuilt her. She fixed her gaze out the window without really looking at anything in particular. It was hard to accept that he might be gone from her life as something more than a friend.
She jumped in fright as five long fingers tapped on the window, the sharp sound reverberating through the room. A high-pitched squeal came from her lips as she jumped up and backed away from the window as she watched the palm of the hand push flat against the glass. She was on the 5th floor, what the heck was that?
Her fingers tightened around her wand as she crept towards the window, the hand once again tapping against the glass, sending her heart into a frenzy of anxious thudding. She flung the window open and pulled her wand out immediately as a loud yelp sounded from down below. Her eyes momentarily fixed on the street far down, and she shook her head to clear the feeling of dizziness from her mind.
She jumped in surprise yet again, her eyes leaving the pavement below and registered the odd sight of someone clinging to the white stone wall of the building. Her mouth fell open and her wand lowered slowly.
"So, are you taking the place?"
"Draco, what the hell are you doing?!" she finally yelled, making him grin sheepishly up at her. "You could fall to your very disgusting and splattered death!"
"Oh, I will have you know I cast a very competent sticking charm to my shoes," he replied lightly, his eyes twinkling merrily.
Her eyes narrowed, of course realising this was a mirror of her own words.
"I repeat: what the hell are you doing?"
"I saw the ad circled in your paper earlier. And after you left I realised some things, and I couldn't just sit around that empty office any more."
"There's a door," she remarked in exasperation, watching him sprawled up against the wall looking oddly casual.
Only Draco Malfoy could look suave sprawled against a wall on the 5th floor of a stone building.
"Where's the fun in that?" he asked. "If I remember correctly, this is exactly the way our relationship began – just with the roles reversed. Some girls would even call this gesture romantic."
"Oh yes, horribly romantic watching you fall to your death."
Despite her reply laced in sarcasm, her inner teenager was jumping up and down and dancing around in circles.
"I'm not going to die tonight, I have much bigger plans," he grinned, quite enjoying how much he had managed to rattle her.
"I assume you're here to share them with me."
She put her wand down and hoisted herself up into the window sill, looking at him with a fake uninterested expression. Of course, she was anything but uninterested.
"Yeah, see," he began, stopping for an artistic pause making her roll her eyes down at him. "I'm getting married."
Her heart plummeted to floor of what was to become her new flat. How could he? Her rather murderous thoughts involving the untimely death of Draco's fiancé were interrupted by his hearty laugh.
"Do you think I'd climb a large stone building to tell you I'm marrying someone else?" he chuckled as he watched her gutted expression. It warmed his heart that she handled the thought of him with someone else so badly.
"I wouldn't put it past you," she muttered, glaring in his direction.
"I'm disappointed that you think so lowly of your husband to be," he smirked, feeling endlessly amused as he watched her expression change.
Holy fuck, she was so stupid! She looked down on him and his infuriating (delectable) smirk and she shook her head in disbelief.
"But... just hours ago you thought I was back with Ron," she remarked, her mind reeling.
"I know, I'm a bloody git," he groaned. "I've just been sitting in my office for about 3 hours straight wondering what good reason I can possibly have to give you up for something so trivial as you dancing with your ex and trying to leave without saying goodbye. I realised that those things don't have to matter in the grand scheme of things."
She beamed at him, her mind finally beginning to realise what was actually happening.
"Plus Blaise showed up to hit me upside the head," he admitted, moving his hand up to rub the back of his head.
"Don't let go of the wall!" Hermione screeched, bending down to grab his other arm to keep him steady. "Will you come inside before I become a widow in record time?"
She jumped down from the sill and watched in silence as he lifted himself up into the window and pushed himself forwards by gripping the sill. Her face felt stiff and she realised she was still grinning madly, and her heart began leaping in her chest as he landed on the floor with a thump.
"I can't believe you changed your mind," she said in a hushed voice, blinking back tears that were forming in her eyes.
"I can't believe I didn't change my mind sooner," he remarked. "In all honesty, I was bound to regain my mind at some point. I was pretty much screwed from the moment you kissed me again."
"I swear I never meant to give up on you."
Her voice was thick with unshed tears and he stepped up to her with a sad smile.
"I know. I was just hurt and paranoid and freaked out about having to leave my safe haven and return to the world I never thought I'd go back to. I think I tried to punish you for making me return, and I know that's unforgivable. If you don't want me back, I completely understand."
She looked up at him with a raised eyebrow and hit him across the chest with her palm.
"Ow!" he cried indignantly. "Stop it!"
"You are such an idiot," she told him. "You know that there's nothing I want more than to have you back."
His lips pulled into a large smile and he wrapped his hands around her, pulling her close.
"I can't believe we've been such nitwits," she muttered against his shoulder.
He laughed, and she felt the sound vibrate from his body.
"We really are too stubborn for our own good."
He pulled her back a bit and cradled her face with his hands.
"But from now on we'll listen to each other and compromise. We'll live in this flat most of the year and we'll keep my house up north so we can go there when we get time off from work."
She beamed at that, circling her arms around his waist.
"That's the best idea you've ever had."
"I think I've had many brilliant ideas," he retorted, capturing her lips for a fleeting second.
Her lips tingled from the touch, and she could hardly believe it was actually happening.
"Upside-down sex not being one of them," she smirked, laughing when he glared down at her.
"It was a brilliant idea!"
"Oh come on, it was completely impractical!"
"Impractical? Where's your sense of adventure, of excitement? Have you no fun-streak? Where's the originali--"
"Draco, shut up."
"Is that the way you're going to talk to our children? My, I'm appalled."
"The children will understand my need to shut your mouth for a second or two."
"My very delectable, skilled mouth is not made to be shut."
Dear Freckles and Sorbet,
You are cordially invited to attend the wedding of
Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy on Saturday, May 19th
at the Lakeside Inn.
Ps: There will be ice cream.
A/N: It's over! I can hardly believe it's actually over. :(
Thanks to all of you who have been such faithful and patient readers for almost a year now. I've had great fun writing this piece of fiction and getting your input along the way.
I don't have time right now to name everyone who've been awesome throughout this, but I need everyone to know that I really appreciate it.
There will be more Dramione from me, I promise. There'll be no sequel to this, cause I feel like I've told their story and I've kind of gotten it out of my system, so I'm moving onto a new piece of Dramione that I've titled Learning to Breathe. So watch out for that in the not so distant future.