A.N. So the 'week' seemed to take forever but here we are finally. Please read my author's note at the end if you have a chance. Without further delay…
Do not own anything even vaguely related to Harry Potter...unfortunately.
Chapter 23 – D End
She could barely hear some muffled sounds pass the unbearable pain in her head. She felt liquid in her mouth and then she could no longer stay awake.
The second time she came around was slightly less painful but she couldn't open her eyes and again lost consciousness within seconds.
She could hear voices around her, distinct voices. Her head felt fuzzy but there was clarity around her that wasn't there before. It took a few tries to open her eyes but eventually she was able to do so. Although her vision was blurred she could thankfully still make out some shapes.
"Hermione! Oh thank Merlin you're awake"
"Stop shouting at her Ron"
"How are you feeling?" a gentle voice asked.
"Do you remember us?"
Her vision was clearing and she was relieved to see the anxious faces of Ginny, Ron, Pansy and Luna.
"I…" she tried to speak but no words came out.
"Ron get the mediwizard" Pansy told her husband.
"I…I'm okay" she finally managed to say, her voice little more than a whisper. She felt somewhat disoriented but slowly things were coming back to her.
"Draco?" was her first real thought.
"He's fine, we all are" Luna assured her taking her hand in hers. Even in her semi-disoriented state the relief she felt from Luna's words was almost tangible.
"Ms. Granger, good to see you awake. My name is Healer Adams and I have been attending to you for the past weeks" an elderly mediwizard told her coming to stand next to Luna.
"Weeks?" she whispered confusedly.
"A little over three in fact, how are you feeling?" he asked her as two younger mediwizards joined him.
"I…I'm not sure" she answered truthfully, her voice still sounding gravely. At that moment her mind was reeling and her head was beginning to throb.
"Not to worry" he told her kindly "we're going to do some checks now but I'm sure you're on the mend" he tried to reassure her.
"We'll be right outside" Luna told her standing up and patting her hand before releasing it. Ginny leaned over to give her a light hug but her smile was broad.
"I'm so happy you're awake" she told her quietly before leaving the room with Pansy, Ron and Luna.
The physical examination did not take a long time. She was only able to piece together bits and pieces from what the mediwizards were saying. Apparently she didn't have memory loss and her broken bones and fractured skull had been healed. They were worried about the swelling of her brain which was the cause of the migrane type headache she had been experiencing. Even as they spoke to her the pain had been rapidly building and she was relieved when they gave her a potion which put her to sleep instantly.
When she awoke the next time she had no trouble focusing her eyesight or her hearing. Harry and Luna sat together looking at her with anxious expressions. Healer Adams was next to her as well writing notes on his chart.
"Good morning" he told her.
"Good morning" she was able to answer him, surprised that her voice sounded slightly closer to normal.
"Ah it seems this new potion is indeed doing the job" he told her with a pleased smile. He continued when she looked at him curiously.
"Mr. Malfoy was able to source a very rare potion which holds healing properties specific to your kind of situation, but we had to wait until you awoke to administer the first dose."
"Hermione" Harry said touching her hand lightly "You're really awake" he said and there was no mistaking the relief in his voice. Luna came to stand next to him and she was so happy to see their smiling faces.
"How are you feeling?" Healer Adams asked.
"Better I think, my head isn't hurting as much" she responded after a moment.
"That's positive. Although the new potion seems to be working, we have to administer it in very small doses so it is going to take some time for the swelling of your brain to go down" Healer Adams explained .
"The important thing is that your memory seems to be intact and we haven't seen any damage to your brain cells even after such prolonged swelling" he told her.
"Are you sure?" Harry asked the mediwizard.
"Yes, we were able to thoroughly check her before we administered the potion yesterday, however" he said turning to Hermione again "once you feel a headache coming on just touch that charm next to you and we will give you something for the pain okay".
"Will it put me to sleep again?" she asked
"Unfortunately the strength of the dose has to be high for the level of pain you're experiencing so it will put you to sleep. But right now the more sleep you get will be better for you as it will help the healing process. You also won't be able to move about for some time though" he informed her.
After doing some basic checks on her, Healer Adams left through the large wooden doors. It was then that she realized where they were.
"We're still at the castle?" she asked Harry and Luna just to be sure.
"We couldn't risk moving you" Harry explained while Luna sat next to her on the large bed. She glanced around the room, taking in the heavy wooden furniture and thick rugs. Her attention was drawn to the doorway when Ron, Pansy, Ginny and Blaise walked in, all of them wearing relieved expressions when the saw her. She smiled to see them but there was one person who she really wished was with her.
She responded to their greeting before asking "Is Draco here?"
"He's with Thalia right now" Ron answered before being sharply elbowed by Ginny. She was sure they would have noticed her crestfallen expression.
"There's been a lot going on. Draco and Thalia have to give their witness statements for the final investigations" Harry told her with a sympathetic expression.
Her disappointment couldn't be subdued but the comfort of having her friends around her was helping somewhat. She looked at their faces, noting the strain and tiredness that she had been unable to notice before.
"How have you guys been?" she asked with a small smile, trying to keep her hurt hidden.
Her days became routine after that morning. She would wake up, Luna or Pansy would help to magically clean her, Healer Adams and his team would check her progress and administer the healing potion, she would have meals and visitors and then in the evenings Healer Adams would administer a painkilling potion which would keep her sedated until the next morning.
After four days she was physically a lot better but her longing to see Draco was almost too much to bear. Everyone else had come to visit her, even Christophe but there had been no sign of Draco. She was loathe to ask after him, afraid to be told again that he was with Thalia. Was he that angry with her that he couldn't visit? Was he so busy that he could not spare a few minutes to even send a message? Had he so easily moved on?
She knew that she was jumping to conclusions but faced with his prolonged absence she could not stop the thoughts. More than anything she wanted to see his face, to be held in his arms. Although she was constantly surrounded by people she loved, she still felt bereft without him. Did she have the strength to move on?
By the evening of the fifth day she could no longer stay quiet.
"Also Aunt Margery sends her best wishes, she wanted to see you but…"
"Has he even visited me at all?" she interrupted Luna.
"Pardon?" Luna asked confusedly.
"Draco, has he come to see me? Has he even asked about me?" she could hear the hurt in her voice and knew that there was no way to mask it.
'Hermione…." She began but was this time interrupted by the arrival of one of the other mediwizards.
"Ms. Granger, if you'll just settle in, I will give you the potion now." The mediwizard told her with a smile. She desperately wanted to send the mediwizard out of the room but she knew she could not.
"We're lowering the potion dose from tonight but again if you get any pains during the night just touch the charm and we will be there okay" he reassured while handing her the potion. She downed it quickly knowing that he would not leave until she had done so. She was relieved when he left but she knew she couldn't remain awake much longer.
"We will talk tomorrow" Luna told her gently and she wasn't in any position to say otherwise.
She felt the glass cut her skin as the hurtled through the window. Then she was falling again but this time in slow motion. She knew the pain she would feel when she hit the ground. She knew it but couldn't stop it. She didn't want to go through it again.
"Noooo" she screamed, startling herself awake. She was totally disoriented from the nightmare and then a headache followed with full force. She could only clutch her head in agony and barely registered that she had been given a potion. After a few seconds the pain started to ease and she could feel the lethargy starting again.
"You're safe" she heard his voice whisper and she opened her eyes to find herself secure in his arms.
"Draco?" she breathed his name, not sure if she was imagining him. Even with the candlelight she could not believe her eyes that he was lying with her on the bed.
"I'm right here. Nothing is going to happen to you. Don't be afraid" he reassured her, pulling her even closer to his warm chest.
"You're here?" she asked dazedly fighting to stay awake.
"Where else would I be?" she heard him ask gently before sleep claimed her.
There was no trace of him by the time she awoke in the morning. Hermione knew it hadn't been a dream because the contented feeling had remained with her. She hadn't realized how much his absence had been affecting her until this morning when she felt invigorated to hurry her healing process along. At the advice of Healer Adams she had not been using her magic before but everything seemed to be normal when she picked up her wand and did her own cleansing spell.
"Well there is a decided change about you this morning" Luna said with a bright smile as she entered the room a few moments later. Hermione didn't even try to hide her happiness.
"Draco was with me last night" she told Luna who didn't seem surprised by the information.
"He has been with you every night Hermione" Luna revealed while sitting next to her on the bed "… which is why I was a bit confused by your questions yesterday."
"I didn't know" she said quietly, a bit stunned to learn that Draco had not left her.
"Could you tell me what happened after….after…."she couldn't finish her sentence.
"Of course" Luna responded quickly "after your …fall, they rushed to get to you. Your heartbeat was so faint and you had received so many injuries that the mediwizards didn't think you would make it."
"Did Raminov…?" she began to ask Luna but the other witch was already shaking her head no. Hermione knew his death had come at her hands and it was a bit unsettling. Taking a life was never an easy thing to do no matter how many wrong things the person had done.
"Harry told me that he had never seen a man so broken than when Draco lifted you in his arms to bring you inside" Luna told her and Hermione was taken aback by her words.
"He wouldn't let you go and he wouldn't give up on you. None of us were willing to" Luna said grasping her hand lightly and Hermione gave her a grateful smile in return.
"Apparently the aedesura counter potion Draco had given you earlier that day was what kept you alive." At Hermione's quizzical expression she continued with her explanation "you wouldn't be aware but the aedesura counter potion has amazing healing properties. It's already being heralded in the wizarding world" she told her with a proud smile.
"Is that why Draco healed so quickly?" she asked although she already knew the answer.
"Yes" Luna confirmed "He was sure that you had given him the potion when he realized that his scar was gone." Hermione nodded almost absentmindedly as she listened intently to Luna.
"He and Harry apparently ordered the mediwizards to continue giving you the counter potion and I think Ginny may have been barred from your room for a bit after she threatened one of the mediwizards" Luna said with a small chuckle.
"The aedesura counter potion stabilized your condition but it wasn't working as quickly as it had with everyone else." Luna told her.
"Because I don't have magical blood" Hermione guessed correctly.
"Yes and also it seemed to contribute to the swelling of your brain. We could not stop the counter potion until you were fully healed which only happened last week."
"Healer Adams mentioned something about Draco finding another potion?" she asked Luna
"When we realized that we would have to find some other way to get the swelling down everyone was looking for potions. Draco tried every contact that he knew and finally from Merlin knows where we were able to get the Banrie potion."
"We had to wait until you awoke to give you the Banrie potion though because there wasn't any other way to assess whether any damage to your brain had occurred. Thankfully you're okay Hermione." Luna finished and leaned over to give her a hug. Hermione returned the hug, the reality of all that her body had been through only now setting in.
"Because you weren't conscious, you wouldn't have known Draco was with you Hermione" Luna told her as she straightened up "but he did not leave your side." Luna words brought her such joy.
"For the last few weeks he has been in this room. He kept putting off going in to assist with the Ministry's investigations until the Minister actually threatened to bring the investigating panel to your room if he didn't appear." Luna explained.
"Even with that I don't think he would have gone but after you woke up and you had been given the Banrie potion he told the Minister he would meet them." Hermione could not say a word. After days of thinking that Draco had not cared it was overwhelming to hear all the Luna was saying.
"He was just out of your room for a bit when you woke on the first day and we had to reassure him quite a few times that you had indeed woken up and that you had spoken." Luna remembered with a small smile.
"Thank you" she told Luna gratefully, reaching over to grasp her hand.
"Now how about some breakfast" Luna suddenly suggested. Hermione nodded her head feeling better than she had in a long time as she let Luna's words wash over her "…he did not leave your side".
"So you're together?" she asked Ginny who had come to keep her company for a bit.
"I wouldn't say that exactly" Ginny responded with a mischievous smile.
"Well what would you say exactly?" Hermione asked smiling at the younger witch's antics.
"Hmmm…. I guess you could say that we're not 'not together" Ginny winked at her.
"You're giving me a headache" Hermione responded laughing.
"Really?" Ginny's expression immediately turned to concern.
"I'm joking" she reassured Ginny.
"Sorry to interrupt" a voice called from the doorway. Hermione looked at the newcomer, startled to see Thalia entering the room.
"I wanted to see how you were doing" she told Hermione with a pleasant smile.
"I'm doing much better" Hermione told her keeping her smile in place.
"I'm happy to hear that" Thalia responded sincerely. An awkward silence followed before Thalia spoke again.
"I….I wanted to say thank you" she told Hermione quietly.
"I think I will just go see what's for dinner" Ginny told them, squeezing her hand reassuringly before excusing herself from the room.
"There's no need to thank me" Hermione responded with a small smile.
"Draco told me how instrumental you were to finding the counter potion and I know how much you have given to the war, even nearly your own life" Thalia said, her beautiful features clear and direct. "I just wanted you to know how grateful I am."
Looking at her in that moment, Hermione could well understand why she had earned Draco's love and loyalty. She certainly resembled her father with her startlingly blue eyes, dark hair and well-defined features but personality wise she was nothing like Raminov. There was a sincerity and humility about her which you couldn't help but admire.
"I'm sorry I couldn't visit you earlier but we've been at the Ministry trying to sort out everything. Draco's still there in fact, I think he will be back late tonight" Thalia continued speaking when Hermione didn't respond.
"I am sorry" Hermione told her gently, preparing herself for the words she knew she had to say. "If there had been any other way I would have done it differently. I am sorry for your father's death." Hermione saw the look of shock that crossed Thalia's features before she lowered her eyes to hide her tears.
"He chose his fate" Thalia told her even while the tears streamed down her face.
"He was still your father though." Hermione told her comfortingly.
"I prayed so hard for him to change, to give up on his plans" Thalia told her on a sob. Hermione sat up and reached for Thalia's hand. She knew that words couldn't console her at the moment.
It was quite late when she heard the door open. She waited with bated breath to have her first real look at him in what felt like forever. The candlelight cast a warm glow on his features but still showed the strains of tiredness around his beautiful pewter coloured eyes. She saw the surprised look for an instant when he realized that she was awake before concern settled.
"I'm fine" she told him before he could ask anything. She looked at him not knowing what to say next. The air was suddenly very tense for whatever reason and she could tell by the way he held himself in check that he felt it as well.
"Why didn't the mediwizards give you the potion to sleep?" he asked her coming further into the room but going to the chairs in front of the fireplace rather than to her.
"I asked them not to. I should be okay tonight" she responded evenly although her heart was beating out of her chest. He was not at all like the man who had held her tenderly in his arms last night, or like the man that Luna had said had stayed by her side. This Draco reminded her of their meeting in his office on the first day, a cold, distant man.
"Are you angry with me?" she asked directly, unwilling to let the tenseness continue. If she had been able she would have crossed the room to him but she was in no position to do so.
"I think you should rest now" he told her instead of answering her question.
"I don't want to rest" she replied resolutely but hating that she didn't know how to handle this situation. Why was he so withdrawn?
"What do you want then?" he asked on a sigh running his hand through his platinum hair.
"I want…" she took a moment before continuing and to her absolute horror felt tears gather in her eyes. She wiped at them hoping he wouldn't notice but his keen eyes missed nothing. He was beside her in an instant, his long fingers raising her head to face him.
"Don't cry" he whispered placing his forehead against hers. She didn't have any strength to resist putting her arms around him and holding him close.
"I'm not angry with you. I've been worried and scared that I would lose you, but I was never angry with you." He told her quietly.
"I am fine" she tried to reassure him. He moved her hands from around him and pulled back to watch her face intently.
"You were at death's door" he reminded her seriously "even now you're not fully recovered."
"I will be though, thanks to the potion you sourced" she responded with a small smile "I am sorry to have worried you"
"I would ask you to promise me that you won't do something like that again but you've broken every promise you've made to me" he told her again seriously.
"I could not make such a promise anyway." She told him with equal seriousness. "I don't regret what I did." She expected anger to meet her words but instead received silence. He rose from beside her and went over to stand at the large window. The moonlight showed his chiselled features in stark relief but she could not tell his expression.
"This is who I am and I do not think I can change" she continued truthfully, knowing that this was the time to finally set things straight between them. The lines between them had been blurred for too long. She wasn't capable of continuing in this ambiguity.
"I have never been so unsure of anything in my life than I am about what is going on between us." She saw his head move slightly toward her direction but his features were still unclear.
"All of this started on the worst possible footing…but I haven't ever regretted what happened between us. I dreaded the day our month together would come to an end but even before that could happen, Thalia appeared." She felt so vulnerable revealing her innermost feelings but she wanted so desperately to let it out and deal with the consequences after.
"I admit it was awful seeing her with you, knowing that you shared a past. Thalia is such a wonderful person though and you had such a tragic relationship" she took a deep breath before continuing "I would understand if you wanted to give your relationship another chance now that the situation has changed" she finished, waiting for his response.
"You aren't the only one who is unsure of what is between us" he spoke after a moment. He didn't move from his position but he was looking out of the window again.
"I had a lot of time to think while you laid on that bed fighting for your life. I regretted more than ever involving you in the war. I regretted that I had not been able to protect you. I told myself that when you woke up I would leave you alone so that you could be safe because everything that I have cared about has always been destroyed." He dropped his head a bit but his stance remained firm.
"Then I realized that staying away from you wasn't about protecting you but rather protecting myself. I know what type of person you are Hermione" he finally turned to face her "you will always protect those around you no matter the cost. I will never be okay with you putting yourself in danger but that isn't enough for me to stay away from you." Her heart was thumping wildly in her chest as she listened to his words.
"Thalia and I have been over for a long time. There is no doubt in my mind about that and I think she knows that as well. I met her when I was came in tonight, she said to tell you thank you for today and that you are an amazing witch." He finished walking over to stand at the foot of the bed.
"I did not want to have this conversation now because you're still recovering but …." He shrugged slightly.
"Is that why you were so distant when you came in?" she asked and got a slight nod in response.
"I know how I feel but I do not know how you would feel now that everything has finished" he told her and she could hear the vulnerability in his voice though his face remained impassive.
"I love you" she told him simply and was again rewarded with his fleeting look of surprise.
"I have for a long time and those feelings have not changed now that everything has finished." She put his words back to him. "I know that it is not going to be easy but if you want, I would like to be with you". He walked slowly to her and then leaned down to kiss her so gently that it almost brought tears to her eyes.
"Merlin Hermione…" he said with raw heartfelt emotion "how would I have ever survived without you." She didn't answer with words but instead leaned up to kiss him with the love and passion she held for him.
She stood by the window looking at her beloved husband coming back from his evening walk with their many pets. She smiled at how relaxed he looked with his playful grin as the dogs jostled for his attention.
So much had happened since the war in Dhiaran six years ago. Hermione had resigned from the Ministry and instead had founded an association to help those whose lives had been affected by war. They also assisted women who had endured rape and other heinous acts to have access to counselling and employment opportunities. Hermione was happy that Raisa, one of the survivors of the cabin ordeal in Dhiaran was heading the association's work in Russia.
Ron and Pansy now owned a Quidditch shop which was doing quite well. Their beautiful daughter Lucinda was already six years old and loved the Puddlemere team much to her father's chagrin but her aunt's delight.
Harry and Luna had welcomed their healthy, green-eyed, blonde haired baby boy into the world some months after they returned from Dhiaran. James Potter the second was almost five and with a penchant for mischief. With his sweet smile though, it was almost impossible to be angry with him for any length of time.
Yesterday they had attended Ginny and Blaise's boisterous wedding. The couple had begun seriously dating after they returned from Dhiaran. Their relationship was the kind that you could avidly watch with a bowl of popcorn in hand. She continued to play for Puddlemere while he retained ownership of the Chuddley Cannons. Their verbal sparring continued but no one could deny the love between the couple.
They had all been taken aback when Ginny had proposed to Blaise at Hallow's Eve dinner at the manor. Everyone had thought that she had been drunk but Ginny Weasel had never been more serious. Blaise had taken no time in sweeping her off the floor and kissing her in front of all the family members. She said he had been taking too long to propose, he said that he had been waiting until he thought she was ready.
Draco had looked so handsome in his robes the morning of the wedding that her breathing had actually hitched when she had seen him. It really should have been no surprise that after almost five and a half years of marriage he could still make her heart skip a beat. She had not been the only one affected by his looks though, if the stares he had received all day were any indication to go by. She hadn't been in the least bit worried because she knew that Draco's love for her was as strong as hers for him. When, during the ceremony he had taken her hand in his and entwined their fingers pulling her closer, she also knew that he had eyes only for her.
Their own wedding had taken place six months after returning from Dhiaran. Hermione had wanted to wait but Draco had asked 'wait for what exactly?' and she didn't have any answer to give him.
"You're already practically living at the manor" he had told her. She couldn't deny that, it wasn't her fault that she could not sleep comfortably without him.
"Don't you think it's too soon?" she had asked and been given his trademark smirk as an answer.
"Come here" he had extended his hand and pulled her to him.
"Think of it as formalizing our arrangement" he told her with a wicked smile and she had to laugh.
"That is the most unromantic proposal I have ever heard" she told him still laughing but agreed nonetheless.
Their wedding had been very intimate and had taken place on the secluded terrace at the manor. The sunlight had illuminated the dragon and maiden statue beautifully. Surrounded by her family and friends she had never been as happy as the moment she had become his wife.
She was startled out of her musings when their four cats left her side suddenly. She was sure they were going to her husband who seemed to be higher in their affections than she was. She had been surprised at how easily Draco had accepted the animals into his home and he had even adopted another loving dog called Trix and three sweet cats that they had named Minx, Toco and Tommy. Looking at the way he interacted with their animals only served to remind her of how much love Draco had to give.
There was only one thing missing from their lives, a child of their own. She had not been able to conceive in the years that they had been together. They had been to mediwizards and even to muggle doctors but without any success. Draco had never made it an issue but she knew he wanted to be a father.
"An owl has come from Thalia" Draco told her as he walked into the library. Two glasses of wine in one hand and a letter in the other. He handed her the letter before taking her arm and leading her to their rug in front of the fireplace. She read the contents while settling back into his arms.
"She says that Oliver Wood has asked her to dinner but she does not know if she should say yes" she told Draco with a smile. "I think they would be a lovely together"
"Indeed" he agreed easily "and Aunt Margery will be so happy as well" he said with a chuckle. Hermione rolled her eyes at his comment but she knew it was the truth. She put the letter on the side table along with her glass of wine before turning back to Draco.
She reached up to him and kissed him slowly holding nothing back. She loved that their physical attraction had remained as strong in the years they had been together. She tilted her head back as Draco placed small kisses along her neck.
"Hmmm" he answered as his lips moved lower.
"You're going to be a daddy" she revealed with a smile.
He went absolutely still and then very slowly raised his head as though uncertain about what he had heard. Her smile must have reassured him though because his expression turned to awe. Then very gently he rested his hand on her still flat stomach before reaching up to claim her lips.
She had never felt so content and she thanked whichever powers that be for letting her have her own happy ending.
To all the precious readers of Devil's Deal,
We have come to the end.
Thank you for your support of and love for Devil's Deal. Honestly, if it had not been for you guys Devil's Deal may have not been completed. So many times I was too busy, too lazy, too everything to write but then I would read your reviews and was motivated to continue. I am so honoured and humbled by the response to Devil's Deal. Never could I have imagined that DD would be added to so many favourites lists, so many recommendations list and even for it to inspire the creation of manips…. just amazing.
I sincerely hoped you enjoyed Draco and Hermione's journey in the story. For all the grammatical errors I apologise profusely as well as for the very late updates. I will be reviewing the story in terms of grammar and sentence construction etc. but the plot will remain unchanged.
Thank you again for travelling this very long road with me and hope you never run out of great stories to read.
Thank you for your review.