I honestly enjoyed writing the prequel to this fic, this one wasn't AS fun, but that's only because I had that feeling of impending doom looming over my head thanks to the hell adults insist on calling 'school'. But hey all of you wanted a happy ending. I try doing something non-cliché, and I'm told to make it happy. Meh. Whatever floats your boats I guess.

On a side note,

I'm aware that "deplorations" isn't a real word. HOWEVER. I wanted something with the same meaning as "lamentations" without actually reusing the word. So, to lament is the same as to deplore, so I made it my own. Problem? Deal with it.


I'd better get an onslaught of reviews ;)

Oh. And word of caution: Hermione is a little out of character in this. My bad.

Deplorations of Hermione Granger

If someone had told me in third year that Draco Malfoy would become someone I would trust my life with, I would have hexed him or her in a heartbeat. That's right, the pureblooded prat of Hogwarts is one of my best friends. Anybody who has a problem with that, I will now hex.

I hated that jerk. He was rich and flaunted that in everyone's face, he thought he was above everyone else in the school just because his family was severely inbred, and he was the only one who could match me in wit. The fact that he was unbelievably gorgeous and he knew it was just the icing on the cake. Scratch that, I didn't hate him. Back then he wasn't nearly special enough—I used to nothing him.

If he was a nice guy, all that crap about him could have been ignored, but he just had to be a jerk and insult me any way possible. I always admired his intellect, poise, and grace—it was unnatural for a male to possess such elegance! I'll have to admit by the middle of sixth year I had a bit of a crush on him. When I found out the summer before 7th year that we were appointed Heads, I can't say I was as disappointed as I pretended to be.

I was pleased to find he had matured and was first to offer the truce between the two of us to get by the year. It started as a truce grudgingly extended, and slowly changed to indifferent tolerance, to acquaintances, and from acquaintances rapidly transformed into a special kind of friendship. As much as I hate to admit it (and if I am ever confronted about this bit of information, mark my words—I will deny everything), he was my counterpart; every one of my weaknesses was one of his strengths, and vice versa. We used this and our shared dorm to our advantage—late nights where I would do my homework alone were replaced by emotional and intellectual bonding sessions as we worked together and tutored each other.

By graduation, my little infatuation had grown to something else, but he never seemed interested, so we simply parted ways as simply friends. I ended up giving up on becoming more than friends with him, and started dating Ron. Even so, the romantic part of me kept wishing Draco would realize what a fool he's been, confess his undying love for me, sweep me off my feet, and we'd go riding off to the sunset together.

I had no such luck. We kept in touch though, even as he 'joined' Death Eater ranks. He ended up passing information to me to pass on to the Order, until Harry finally defeated Voldemort. On the day that marked the official end of the war, I threatened that incompetent minister to award Draco or I'd go Hermione on his ass. He was awarded with an Order of Merlin, First Class. However, I wouldn't call it pulling strings, per se. It got the job done and nobody got hurt, so no harm done (unless you count Professor Snape, who was a spy for much longer, but much less valuable…)

Draco and I kept in touch, sending owls back and forth, the occasional phone call, and frequent visits, and I'm afraid to say I wasn't exactly the best girlfriend to Ron. He occasionally got jealous of all the times I'd bring Draco into our conversations, or of the times I blew Ron off to be with Draco. One day, he simply stopped caring Draco and I were that close. I'd like to think he matured and finally accepted we were friends and there was nothing he could do to change that, but…this is Ron Weasley we're talking about here.

My attraction for Draco never stopped growing, and he became the star of so many of my fantasies—it was starting to become rather ridiculous. I'm surprised he never really noticed my infatuation with him. On the other hand, maybe he did.

There was this time when he ignored me. He didn't respond to my owls or phone calls, and I hardly saw him anymore. I'll admit I got a little paranoid that something happened to him, but can you blame me? He was a spy, and there was bound to be Voldemort loyals who were looking for him.

My days seemed so empty, and I couldn't think straight. Everyday I couldn't stop wondering why he wasn't calling or writing, and I became so worried something happened or I did something to upset him. One day on a whim, I decided to check up on him.

Once I arrived at his flat, I knew he was in, because his car keys (yes he drives) were hanging from the key rack I got him a few years ago (between his flat key—which meant he was definitely home—and my key—yes he has a key to my flat).

I called out his name, with no response. I have to admit I got a little frantic and checked every room, cursing the size of his flat, which he had personally enlarged to be about half the size of Malfoy Manor—home away from home, if you will.

At long last I reached the bathroom, and found him jolting out of his slumber.

I happily did what I did best—gave him an earful for being a selfish prick. That was before I noticed he was in the bathtub. Then I realized he was naked in said bathtub.

Prick had the AUDACITY to LAUGH at me about it too!

When I got home that night I came to a realization of just how much I loved the blond bastard. Just holding hands with him, seeing him smile made me so uncontrollably giddy it was kind of sad. Snogging with Ron never got me that happy—and he was a good kisser, I'll tell you that.

But I couldn't be thinking about another guy when I was semi-happy with a guy who loved me so much; no use chasing after the true man of my dreams who wouldn't reciprocate my feelings. So I figured getting him to date someone else would be easier.

Oh boy was I wrong.

I first thought of setting him up with a couple acquaintances of mine from work, but I didn't think any of them were good enough. I mean. This is Draco Malfoy. I don't belong in the caliber of women he should be choosing his lucky bride from.

Then I came to the realization that my other best friend was single.

…No, not Harry.

I meant Ginny.

Though Harry was still single too.

So I set them up. Draco and Ginny, I mean. I knew that Harry wasn't over Ginny yet, and Ginny wasn't over Harry yet either, so this was perfect. Ginny wouldn't be interested in Draco so she wouldn't try as hard, and Draco wouldn't be interested in her either. Harry would get jealous of Draco, sweep Ginny off her feet, and all would be well.

Wait. Draco would be left alone.

I probably should have thought of that before I had set them up.

But it's way too late now.

Ginny and Harry are mind-numbingly happy with each other. Thanks to Draco.

I wondered if I could ever be that happy. Nothing was wrong with Ron, it's just…we weren't right for each other. He was perfect. He was smart, but in a way that didn't make him seem pretentious. He made good money with his Quidditch team (but for the life of me I could never remember what the name of his team was). He was sweet, occasionally surprising me at work with a bouquet of roses (though my favorites were lilies) and a vast assortment of chocolates (though I really preferred just dark). He made me laugh, but in a laugh-till-your-sides-split kind of way that is hardly appropriate for some romantic date setting.

Ron was perfect. Just not for me.

Both of us knew this. Once we talked to each other about it. For some reason he said I was perfect. But we came to the same conclusion, and that was although we were each other's definition of perfect, we weren't right for each other.

Why did we stick together? I don't want to sound desperate or anything, but I guess we both figured we'd rather be with someone we didn't really like in a romantic sense than be alone.

That's why I couldn't care less when I found out he was interested in Pansy. He told me after the first few times Draco brought her (I'm not jealous). I shrugged it off and we talked about it often, figuring out how we would break it off and let him pursue her without making her think that she was the rebound. Ron poked and teased that perhaps this way I could get Draco as well. He knew of my crush on the prat before I did. Before we managed to come up with something phenomenal, disaster struck.

The biggest shock to me came when I went back to Ron's house to retrieve my book. What was my book doing at Ron's house? I tried getting him to read it. Needless to say, my attempts were unsuccessful. I digress.

I called out for him to let him know I was back, in case he was upstairs, but to my surprise he was rolling around on the kitchen floor throwing punches with Draco.

"Draco! Ron! What the hell are you two doing?"

The blond object of my affections pushed the redhead off of him, gave one last punch, mumbled something, and disapparated. Originally I thought to follow him but I figured I'd get my best friend settled first.

"What the hell happened in here?" I demanded, whipping out my wand to heal the cuts and bruises.

"He knows that I fancy Pansy," he mumbled in pain.

I paused in my healing to put my hands on my hips. "Ronald Bilius Weasley! Has my pseudo-boyfriend been eyeing someone else?" but I went back to healing his face. "So he came to beat you up for eyeing his woman?"

He wheezed a little before chuckling. "He came to beat me up for looking at another woman while I was with you,"

Frowning, my wand moved from one injury to the next. "Now why would he do that? Honestly his moods are less predictable than yours…"

Through one good eye, (the other was swollen shut) Ron stared at me incredulously. "You can't be serious. You're the smartest witch in this generation and you can't see when a male that exuberant with his extreme emotions fancies you??"

I jabbed at one particularly nasty bruise on his cheek with my wand to tell him off. "He doesn't fancy me," I muttered sadly.

With that, Ron halted my wand and looked at me eye-to-eye. "He's crazy about you."

I know I had a wistful smile on my face. "How do you know?"

He smirked and kissed my forehead. "He told me."

That's when he told me of his encounter with Malfoy a few months ago. He had suspected the ferret's intentions with me and cornered him, pretending to be the angry boyfriend about to pummel the man eyeing his woman, and questioned his intentions.

"She's with you, and she's happy. I can tell. As long as she's happy…it doesn't matter if she's with me or not."

Tears began to sting my eyes. I was torn. On one hand, there was absolutely no way that he could care for me as much as I cared about him, like Ron was telling me. One the other hand…Ron wouldn't lie to me about something like this. For once, I was at a loss of what to do.

Ron took my hand and kissed the palm. "Go on, I'll see you tomorrow. We'll talk more then."

I hesitated, but then I heard the Floo come on, and Pansy's voice echoing in the living room.

"Weasley? What the hell happened to your face?" Her voice was filled with contempt, but her eyes were flooded with concern.

I smiled at his panicked expression. "I should go," and disappeared with a pop, Ron's one-eyed glare the last thing I saw.

To be honest, I was happy for Ron. I was happy for myself. We both knew that whatever was between us back in our Hogwarts days was over. I was happy we both found who we were happy with—two obnoxious Slytherins—even though we hadn't found them in each other. I swear, I was happy.

So, I went to talk to Draco, and tell him how sweet he was for defending me, and confront him about the thing with Ron. Not the fight, but the conversation they had months ago. Was he serious? As I walked to his flat, it started to rain. I had forgotten my wand and umbrella, and was already halfway there, so I decided I'd simply deal with a little dampness. But you know how you get depressed when it rains? By the time I was almost there, I had tears running down my face. I wasn't crying over Ron, I'm glad the 'breakup' went much smoother than I had anticipated. I was crying over the fact I had lost my crutch. He had always been my backup guy. You know, the guy that you could agree to marry if you two were both single at the age it was time to start settling down. And I lost him. I began feeling lost and confused, and then the floodgates opened.

Before I knew it, I was standing in front of Draco's door, soaked to the bone, tears still running down my cheeks. I waited after the doorbell for what seemed like hours, and considered leaving, until the door was yanked open, and my if-only-beau. His hair was mussed up, his lip was cut and slightly puffy, had one nasty shiner around his eye, and had nothing on but a pair of jeans. As always, he looked gorgeous.

Just seeing him like this—stunning without even trying—reminded me of just why I had no chance with him. He liked girls like Pansy; black-haired, long-legged, busty, and flaunted all she had. Unlike me; brown-and-bushy-haired, and simply average. Ron was mistaken. Though it was clear he didn't like Pansy, he belonged with someone like her. He would never settle for anything that wasn't the best; he'd never settle with average. And that just made me even more depressed.

"Can I come in?" I found myself asking, hating just how helpless I sounded. Really, I just felt numb.

He wordlessly let me in and motioned me to sit down in the den, where he lit a fire crackling merrily. I sat cross-legged on the floor in front of the fireplace, not realizing how much I was shivering until Draco placed a towel over my shoulders.

We sat in comfortable silence, simply watching the fires dance. I couldn't help but notice he was watching me from the corner of his eye; probably concerned about me. He's that sweet. I watched him until he glanced my way again and found me staring at him.

His normally pale skin shined gold in the firelight, and his hair fell into his eyes, shielding much of his bruise. The cut on his lip really just made him more attractive—it gave him a thug-ish appeal. Only Draco Malfoy could make evil look that good.

"Was that from Ron?" I found myself asking. I stood up and walked towards him.

He tried to smirk, but winced a little when he found the normal action slightly painful.


I frowned and picked up the forgotten ice pack and placed it back on his eye. I held it there and sat myself down on the coffee table across from him.

Draco got hurt because of me. He got injured to protect me. He got into a fight with Ron because of me.

I couldn't help but think these thoughts as tears began rolling down my face again. "I'm sorry."

I felt a hand under my chin, as he lifted my face up to his. God I hate people seeing me cry…especially the one I fancy more than anything.

"For what?"

How could he still be so sweet after all this? "For being the reason you got hurt by Ron! For coming here and intruding on your property! For being a blubbering fool! I-I don't know why I came here…I should go."

I tried to leave, I really did, but he grabbed my hand and pulled me back down before I could get far.


Why do I want to go? Why should I go? There was silence around us, other than the soft pitter-pattering of the rain and the crackling of the fire.

"…Because I'm being a burden to you…" I finally answered, turning away again.

I waited for him to let me go. I waited listening to the rain, the fire, and his deep, steady breathing. After what seemed like an eternity, he pulled me closer to him. Call me a silly fan girl, I don't care. But I really thought he was going to kiss me.

Instead, he placed his forehead against mine, and bumped noses with me. I gazed into his stormy eyes and found myself falling in love with my blond best friend all over again.

"You can always feel free to burden me with your troubles…I'm here,"

That boy has a gift with words, I tell you. His words were…just so beautiful and felt so right that I threw my arms around him and buried my face into his shoulder.

He pulled me up and wrapped his arms around my waist. The whole time I held him, I thought 'this feels right. This is how things are supposed to be.' I just held him for all I was worth. The rational side of me kicked in, and reminded myself that there was no way he could settle for average. I began to cry—not for Ron and myself, not for the loss of my crutch. I cried for us. Draco and me. Because I knew that he would never look my way, and…it was time to let him go. He would never love me the way I wanted him to, no matter what Ron said.

"Thank you, Draco…" I whispered, once my sobs died down, and we were just holding each other. He nodded and kissed my forehead. I smiled, and knew what I had to do to get over him and be happy—to slowly let go. "You're the best friend I could ever ask for."

He held me tighter and turned his head away from my face and rested on my shoulder. "No problem…" he mumbled hoarsely and continued to hold me.

Not that I was complaining…

He offered for me to spend the night, and I accepted. I watched as he moved around the guest bedroom I always used whenever I stayed at his place, once again awestruck by his beauty.

He glanced up at me when he felt my stare, and our eyes met. The only thing I noticed that moment was the way his eyes darkened, glistening in the moonlight. I hadn't realized when we moved, but the next thing I knew we had met each other halfway across the room in a frenzy of kisses. My hands traveled across every inch of his sculpted body, my own figure trembled under his touch. This was what I had been missing on for all these years. This was passion.

I gave myself to him that night. His eyes flew to mine in shock when he broke through that bit of flesh that deemed me untouched. My gaze did not waver as I arched my hips against his, giving him the okay to move. He was gentle, he was passionate. That night was beautiful; perfection. That night, I thought we would be okay. We could make us work. I thought we'd talk about it, but I was so knackered from the emotions that ran rampant that day, and from the delightful things he did to me all night, I fell asleep immediately. I figured I'd be able to talk to him in the morning.

That morning, I woke to an empty bed, the smell of breakfast cooking in the kitchen. Unable to fight the stupid grin across my face, I threw on the shirt he wore last night—charcoal gray button-up—and dashed out to find him.

I found him flipping pancakes in just a pair of boxers in the kitchen. I ran against him, wrapping my arms around his torso, giggling at how he jumped in surprise and almost dropped the pan. Kissing him on the shoulder, I wished him a good morning. He turned around, and I knew something was wrong.

He smiled at me—the smile I grew to love, the one I dreamed about—but his eyes were emotionless—almost guarded. He hugged me, kissed my forehead, and told me to go take a shower.

I blinked in confusion, but agreed. By the time I left his flat, I was more confused than ever. He remained distant all through breakfast, keeping our conversation topics neutral—superficial, even.

This went on for about a month, except worse. I'd owl him for tea, he'd come up with some excuse. I'd see him at the Ministry, he'd pretend not to see me, unless it was unavoidable, then he'd stalk off on the pretense he was late for an appointment with some official. I was confused and quite hurt.

Meanwhile, Ron and Pansy had gotten together and were great. She was initially reluctant, considering how Ron and I had been, but he told her about our relationship and how it had diminished, with my permission. So she agreed and they were happy. One day she invited me for a day of shopping. I was iffy about it, but Ron insisted, so I went, and in the end I was happy I did. Pansy was amazing, and we bought so many things we had to shrink them all and still ran out of room in our pockets.

We went to my flat to rest up as I fixed us both some tea as we talked and laughed about random things, until the topic I had been dreading all afternoon came up. Draco.

"I don't know why you don't give him a chance," she remarked while flipping through a magazine. I remained silent. "He's beautiful, intelligent, an amazing conversationalist, he's funny, though he can be a downright prick when he wants to be—"

"Which is pretty often…" I murmur quietly, glancing at my book, but not really reading it.

"That's true, but I think you two would be good together," she glanced at me through her lashes at my scoff, "I'm being perfectly serious."

"So am I," I met her gaze with mine, remaining strong, ignoring the stinging of my eyes at developing tears. "Draco and I…" I trailed off for a moment, thinking of how good that sounded before snapping out of it. "We would never work." At this point I wasn't sure who I was trying to convince, her or me.

She leveled her gaze so we were staring at each other eye-to-eye calling my bluff, "I don't see why not,"

"Because he's perfect!" I had finally snapped, and I could no longer hold back the tears as they streamed down my face, to the astonishment of the woman before me.

She gave me a downright confused look. "I'm not seeing what the problem is!"

I felt exasperated.

"You're right. He's beautiful. Heart-breakingly beautiful. He deserves someone to be equally, if not more beautiful. He belongs with some gorgeous, busty, long-legged model to attend all those high-society events that he's required to go to. He's the most intelligent man I know, and he can follow up with me on debates and various discussions, and even beat me in some. He belongs with someone who does not become flustered when he talks, someone who will dote upon him. I can't give him any of that!"

I would have, and could have, gone further, but I was interrupted when she yelled out something that completely shook me to the core.

"He does not want some plastic Barbie doll to take care of him. The only thing he needs is someone who will love him unconditionally. You can give him that."

I was completely broken.

"No one could possibly love him more than I do…"

"I know."

"But he will never see me that way."

"He's in love with you, you silly bint!"

I hesitated only for a moment, before whispering a broken "No, he isn't. He's been avoiding me and being distant for the past month…"

"Because he thinks you see that night as rebound sex!"

I shouldn't have been surprised that Draco told Pansy about that night, but I was. I didn't even know what to say to that. She was wrong. She misunderstood what he said. I was about to tell her so, but I was stunned to silence.

"Pansy, that's enough."

I almost didn't recognize that voice. Almost. I could recognize his voice anywhere. He was drawling, which was a sign that he was not happy, and that displeasure was directed at the woman before me. What made me hesitate was the slight crack in his voice, which meant he was nervous.

Her eyes flitted away from mine, to behind me, a smirk making its way across her face.

"Draco!" she glanced back at my horrified expression, and grinned back behind me. "I hope you can talk some sense into this girl, I'm heading over to Ron's." She uncurled herself from her seat on my couch, air-kissed me on both cheeks, and disapparated.

My face burned with humiliation, and I closed my eyes, knowing tears were still running down my face. I didn't know what I could possibly say, and he remained silent behind me. I wondered what he could possibly be nervous about. Unless…unless it was true. Ron. Pansy. They told me the truth. But. I had to know.

"How long have you been standing there?"

My question was met with a heavy sigh. "Long enough."

I let the answer hang, my head hanging, unable to come up with a suitable response, any hope of him not hearing how crazy I was about him gone.

"So. What do you have to say about all this?"

I heard him kicking off his shoes by the door and walking towards me. The couch sunk down on my left, signifying his presence next to me. He said nothing for the longest time, so I glanced at him through my lashes.

He looked good. He had donned a crisp, sky blue button-down shirt and gray slacks. I knew I'd melt into a puddle of goo if I saw the effect the color had on his eyes. His head hung low, gaze directed at the floor. I had been gazing at him so intently I almost didn't realize when he responded.

"I think you think too much."

I scoffed, staring at my feet. "You like that about me."

"I don't like anything about you."


I cleared my throat. "Well. You've made your point. I'll just show you out now so I can drown myself in the bathtub, shall I?" I stood up, intending to walk around him, but he shot up and stood in my way, his eyes intense, directed at mine.

No matter how much his last comment stung, how much I wanted to hate him for making my life so complicated, how much I wanted to hate him for being him…I couldn't. I felt myself falling in love with the man who broke my heart and ignored me this past month, all over again.

"Let me finish?"

I tore my gaze from his, dropping to the fifth button of his shirt, nodding for him to go on.

"I think…that you have to stop choosing what's appropriate for me and who I belong with. Last time I checked, you weren't my mother."

No matter how much I willed for a hole to open and swallow me whole, it didn't happen. Someone up there just hates me today. I flinched at his words. "…I know that I've overstepped my boundaries as your friend, dictating who you should be with and whatnot…but it's all true."

He tilted my chin up so I could look him eye-to-eye, but I couldn't. A fresh wave of tears made its way to my eyes, and I closed them, not bothering to wipe the tears away as they rolled down my face for who-knows-how-many-times today.

"Look at me," he commanded, his grip firm on my chin.

Choking on a sob lodged in my throat, I shook my head violently, whimpering from all the emotions bottled up within me. Hurt from his words. Humiliation from knowing that he knows how much I care about him. Frustration at my own lack of control. Anger at myself for being such a silly bint, for allowing myself to dream so much about how happy we could possibly be.

He sighed in frustration and pulled me to him. I struggled weakly, not wanting his grudging pity. He forcefully pulled my body to his, and I could do nothing to stop it. Feeling his arms around me, smelling his expensive cologne mildly accenting the smell that was uniquely him…simply reminded me all over again, like it had a month ago, that no matter how right it felt…we could never be.

He didn't love me.

Knowing that, I burst into tears all over again. I gave up fighting his touch. I gave up trying to deny to him how much I loved him. I cried at my own hopelessness in getting over him. I cried in forgiveness for his inability to return my feelings.

He made soothing motions on my back with his hands, whispering nonsense words into my ear, telling me not to cry, how everything would be ok.

When my tears refused to stop, no matter how much I tried to stop them, he sighed in exasperation, and I felt that familiar buildup starting again, along with frustration at his lack of consideration.

"Sorry if my onslaught of emotions frustrates you. If it annoys you that much, you can leave!"

I fought back against his hold again, and succeeded only because he had not been expecting it. I stomped to my front door, wrenched it open, turning to face his face of genuine surprise. Pointing to it, I demanded that he leave.

He didn't move. I made a sound of frustration at the back of my throat and slammed the door, meaning to head to my room, but he grasped my shoulder, stopping me. I shrugged it off, but he gripped my arm, refusing to release his vice-like grip on my arm.

"Let me go!"

His eyes shot to mine in a heartbeat, and my heart lodged itself in my throat. "Never."

It was that moment of weakness that he managed to pull me back into his arms, and his lips planted themselves against mine.

As cliché as it sounds, time seemed to stop at that moment. My living room melted away. All that remained was us. I instantly responded, putting every emotion I felt into that kiss. The hurt from his words fueled the intensity that I used against his touch. I bit his lip to show my frustration at him and myself. I caressed and licked that lip in apology, in love. He returned everything I gave by tenfold. It almost made me believe that he could love me as much as I loved him.

It was this realization of how ridiculous my thoughts were that snapped me back to reality. I began to push away, turning my face away from his. He felt my sudden coldness, his grip on my body strengthening, not allowing me to leave. When I turned my head, I hadn't realized I left my neck exposed, and he took full advantage of it. He nuzzled and breathed heavily, and I cursed him with every fiber of my being that he remembered how much I loved that—how that tended to make me lose control. And I almost did. I felt my control of the situation swiftly ebb away, before I grasped it once again and shoved him off.

I pushed so hard that he fell back onto the couch, and I landed roughly on the floor. I whipped my head towards him, taking in his appearance. The first couple of buttons on his now-rumpled shirt had somehow come undone. His gray eyes were darkened under his lashes, face slightly flushed, lips dark from the pressure of mine when I pushed against him just moments ago. His lower lip was slightly puffy, and I realized with embarrassment it was from when I had bitten him. His hair was unkempt, from when I had unconsciously run my fingers through. He looked beautiful. And I couldn't have him.

He turned his gaze away from me and buried his face in his hands, muttering under his breath as he rubbed his eyes and threaded his fingers through his hair. I watched him mutely; unable to break away, especially when he glanced back at me and held my gaze, as if searching for something. Knowing that he always told me he could read me like a book, I felt exposed.

He sighed, with an expression I couldn't identify. Longing? Affection? I'm thinking crazy talk.

"I'm doing this all wrong."


He stood up again and extended his hand to me. Confused, I took it and let him pull me back up. He gently tugged me back towards the couch, motioning for me to take a seat next to him. I follow as if in a trance, for once ignoring the rational side of me, who was screaming I shove him out the door before I get hurt all over again.

His eyes that had been searching mine darted to the side when a lock of my hair fell into my eyes. I cursed softly and moved to tuck it behind my ear, but he beat me to it.

It felt like something out of a cheesy romance novel. Snow falling outside the window, a fire crackling merrily in the fireplace nearby, the light from the fires dancing across his face and his eyes as he took that lock of hair between his fingers and tucked it safely behind my ear, hand lingering against my face, and I unconsciously leaned towards it, as he smiled softly and cupped my face with that hand.

He cleared his throat as he snapped out of his trance and swallowed visibly, his Adam's apple bobbing up and down. I glanced away from him, trying to ignore the sinking feeling in my gut from his silent rejection, tensing myself for when he'd make it verbal.

"Mia…look at me?" I braced myself before returning my gaze to his. He cupped my face with both hands so gently, as if I would break and disappear if he wasn't careful. As if I was something beautiful, valuable, and precious to his heart. I smirked sadly at that. Yeah, right.

He blinked a few times, and cleared his throat again. "Mia…" he started again, and I braced myself. "…I'm crazy about you. I have been for the longest time."

Wait, what?

His nerves took over at my lack of response. He stared down at the couch and let his mouth say whatever-the-hell it wanted. "I don't even know how it happened. All I know is…I started seeking you out in the Great Hall during meal times…picking fights with you just to see you get riled up because you're beautiful when you're angry, but…" he trailed off for a moment and took another deep breath. "…you started seeing Weasley, and I knew I lost my chance with you. That's why I worked so hard to become your friend—so you could remain in my life, though not the way I wanted you to be…"

He looked so crestfallen I just wanted to hug him, but I refrained, watching as his form became more and more blurry and he still avoided looking at me.

"I imagine that was just an infatuation…I grew to love you when we became friends. I found that…no matter how bad my day was going, it would suddenly become the best day whenever you just…dropped by just to say hi, or you cooked one of those god-awful meals and made me eat it…" we both took a moment to smile at that. "Do you remember that time I avoided you? That was when I realized I was in love. I fell in love with my only friend."

I sobbed out loud, in disbelief that this was actually happening to me…that the man I loved for so long was actually telling me he felt the same way. I though for a moment that this might be a dream, but his hands—his real hands—were still caressing my face, and began to gently wipe away my tears with the pads of his thumbs as he gazed at me with admiration, adoration…with love.

"Do you remember…that night…when you broke up with Weasley and came over?" I nodded when I remembered that night, "I-I thought that…that was the only moment I'd ever have with you. Because…you told me I was the best friend you could ever ask for…" I gasped in realization, and he gave a crooked smile. "That moment, I resigned myself to being your friend forever. When you were still with Weasley, I had that silly dream of one day…you'd dump him for me…and when you did, I was selfishly happy…then, you told me I was your best friend, and I couldn't risk what we had…"

I reached up and grasped his face with my hands, breathing harshly against his face and I smoothed away the solitary tear that had leaked out of his eye with one hand, and caressing his lips with the other. He released my face to grab my hands, pressing a kiss to each palm, before holding them against his chest.

"I…don't know if you knew this, but…I made love to you that night. I…that night…I let myself lose control and showed you how good we could be together…I also said goodbye to ever losing that control ever again…"

With one hand still holding my hands against the rapid thumping of his heart, the other moved back to my face, holding it in place as he touched foreheads with me, our tears silently mingling with each other.

"Earlier…with Pansy…you said that I belonged with someone who was beautiful. You're beautiful, Mia…and I'm sorry that I'd never outwardly told you that I think you're beautiful when you're sick and staying home in sweats…a-and…if you'd let me…I'd like to make it up to you and be there to tell you you're beautiful everyday for the rest of my life…"

I sniffed and turned my head slightly to press a kiss gently on the corner of his lips.

"You said that I belonged with someone who would not get flustered when talking to me, and I don't remember when was the last time I got you flustered…other than today, of course…" he returned the favor and pressed his lips gently against mine, but moved away with a groan before I could kiss him back.

"You said…I belonged with someone who will dote upon me. I don't need another mother or bimbo to follow my every whim, Granger. I need someone who will love me for me, who will outwardly tell me if I'm being stupid…I need someone who will love me unconditionally…can you be that one?"

I nodded shakily, pressing my lips against his once more, and he allowed it only for a second before breaking away.

"I told you that I don't like anything about you…I love everything about you…I love the way you drag me out early in the morning for some craving of yours that day. I love the way your cheeks flush and your eyes brighten when you're happy or excited. I love the way you pout when something doesn't go your way…I love you, Hermione Granger."

I kissed him again. And again. He returned the favor tenfold, and it was just him and me. Fireworks began to burst. Literally.

We broke away to see bursts of light outside my window, in the classic shapes, and forming words like "FINALLY!" and "FERRET & HERMIONE 4EVER" and so on, courtesy of Fred and George Weasley, both of whom were standing outside my window, along with the rest of the Weasley clan, Harry, Pansy, my parents, Draco's mother, and everyone from the Order.

We laughed out loud and waved at them as they called for us to join them for a party at the Burrow. I waved for them to go on ahead and we'd catch up later. I had to do something.

Draco had broken away and went in my room to get my coat. When he came back he had a goofy grin on his face that only widened when he saw me, which made me laugh and run into his arms. He dropped my coat and lifted me into his arms, spinning me around a few times before setting me down and kissing me once again, except I wouldn't let him move his face away. I grasped onto him and looked deep into his eyes.

"It's you and me from here on out, okay?" I asked him, grasping onto him fiercely, refusing to let him go, and demanding for an answer.

He smiled softly at me, and leaned in to kiss me again. "Forever."