A/N: Okay, so I know it's been like a bajillion years, and I sincerely apologize. But I am here to make sure this fanfic ends in the way it deserves! And YES, this IS the final chapter! If you're here, reading this – and most likely having to reread the past 4 parts because it's been so long – I love you, and thank you. Please forgive me?


She didn't allow herself to find out what had happened afterwards. Even her most masochistic tendencies couldn't push her towards that. The truth was that everything – all of it: Harry going over to break up Ginny's engagement, and Malfoy, instead of defending his pending matrimony, had come over here, to her place – had made her finally reach her limit and what had then manifested was the split-second decision to pack up some clothes and head to her parents' old beach house. She was doing it: she was finally running away. After all, no logical, sane woman would have stayed. No logical, sane woman would have stayed to see her entirely world fall apart and then be able to sleep in the same bed and make the same cup of coffee.

So she ended up going someplace she knew the news would never reach her.

It was around 3 in the morning when she had thrown her overnight bag into the back seat and began driving to the beach house. It would be at least a two hour drive, but the roads would be quiet and empty, so she welcomed it. As she drove she tried to think of why she hadn't done this sooner. Maybe it was her constant need to see things through – her dependability and loyalty. Good Old Dependable and Loyal Hermione. Who would have known that her best qualities would have led to the slow yet inevitable unraveling of her life? Who would have known that her loyalty to her friend and her love for him would have caused her to painstakingly stick by him even as he longed for someone else? But who could have known, really? Hadn't she done right by everyone – even at the cost of her own happiness – or at least tried to? Because it was one thing to deserve what was coming to you; it was something else entirely to be blindsided.

She tried not to feel so alone. She couldn't possibly be the only woman in history that this had to have happened to, and she knew legitimately that she wasn't. She thought back to all of those nights she had stayed up, flipping through channels, occasionally catching the end of some Woman Scorned-themed made for TV movie. But even that didn't make her feel any less utterly alone. For one: more or less, they had ended on a good note, full of hope and with a beacon of light shining at the end of the tunnel. But if her life was anything, it was not a movie, and so she accepted that there was a high chance she would not be getting the cinematically satisfying ending she had grown so used to seeing.

She put on a CD that her mom had given her for Christmas. It was a Best of the Beach Boys album. She turned it up loud and rolled down her windows, trying to sing along in that pathetic way someone only does when they need something – anything – to do to keep from crying. Even when no one was watching, she felt the need to keep up the phony pretense that she was happy. Not even happy, per se, but okay. Okay was fine. Okay was bearable. Okay was at least scraping by. Okay was singing "Fun, fun, fun" against the painful lump in her throat and skipping right past "Wouldn't it be nice?" to "California Girls."

This was why she needed to get away – to be alone, and unreachable for awhile. Because she'd realized something: in the midst of all the falling-apart and the chaos of the wedding, she had lost herself. Not in the way that you would absentmindedly drop your keys on the street or lose your pin number, but lost as in a gradual fade. That was the worst of it. So gradual that she hadn't even known it until she had looked Malfoy in the eye.

When she reached the house, the sky had lightened and the sun was on its way up. She dug out the spare key from a loose plank in the patio. Even inside, she could hear the crunch of the sand underneath her shoes.

She went into her old room and slipped back into bed. She tried to think of the last time she'd been here. It must've been summers ago. Judging from an old summer dress she still had hanging up, she had gained at least two dress sizes since then. Her old bunny, Mr. Carrot, is still perched on her nightstand, and so is her shell collection.

Then she closed her eyes. She sleeps for days.

That night she'd gone into the kitchen to make herself a drink. What she had really intended on doing was plunging her face into a sink full of freezing water. See, she'd realized that she was in a fairly delicate position. Malfoy was in her living room, watching infomercials, probably expecting her to come back out of the kitchen some time. The god-awful reality was that she didn't want to. If only there was some hidden trapdoor underneath her kitchen left over from the 1950's that she didn't know about, one that led to a safe place where she could just hide out and take everything in. Preferably in the fetal position, or in a nice aromatherapy bubble bath.

She wanted to wonder how things were going with Harry. If he, like all other heartbroken heroes before him, was saying all of the right things to Ginny, and if she, like all other beautiful girls before her, was crying and believing any of it. But right now, she was also a little preoccupied with the situation in her living room. She wasn't even sure if she could rightly call it a situation. It was just Malfoy, acting so unnervingly calm about his fiancé being stolen away by her (ex) boyfriend. She couldn't even explain it; it just made her feel funny.

She opened up a beer and she sat at her kitchen table, drinking. Ten minutes later Malfoy was back within her line of view. He was standing in her kitchen doorway, with his hands in his pockets. She watched him carefully without even knowing it. Why were his hands always in his damn pockets? And why did it suddenly bother her so much?

She thought about how great it must be to be him. Even now – especially now. To be here and not give a single shit that his wedding would probably be called off. To be here and have absolutely nothing to lose – because he didn't love her. It was this position was infinitely superior to that of hers. He had all the power and she had none.

"Aren't you going to offer me one?" he asked her, a little smugly. "I am your guest, after all."

Then something interesting happened. She looked at him, and she suddenly saw the reason why everything in her life had fallen to fantastically gruesome shreds. He came in, and suddenly it was as clear to her as if he had walked into the Burrow, all those months ago, with Ginny in one hand and a bomb detonator in the other. Like the way tragic events in history worked, people could always trace the beginning of destruction to the entrance of one person. Just one measly person at first – easily lost in a crowd, barely anything to whisper about. But at the end they would be the face you'd remember, because they would be the one standing above all the rubble, laughing at the world.

"No, you're an intruder," she said. "Not only that, but you're a life-ruiner. The minute you showed up, Malfoy, you ruined everything. Just – everything. Everybody's lives have been ruined because of you."

The entire time, he had played a victim, just like her – a cooler, more unfazed victim, but a victim just the same. But he had lied. He held a position of power, just like Harry, and just like Ginny. That was what lack of love gave people – power. She held none of it because she loved Harry. He had all of it because he didn't love her. And Malfoy could stand in her kitchen doorway with his hands in his pockets in exactly this way because he was on the verge of losing absolutely nothing.

She heard him quietly scoff. He didn't move his hands from his pockets. "Look, it's not my fault that Potter's in love with Ginny, all right? He would've figured it out sooner or later. He's stupid, but he's not that stupid."

"You don't know that."

"And what about you? Just standing around, waiting for him to leave you? Are you going to say that's my fault, too? From the very first day it happened," he said to her, squinting his eyes, "you knew. And yet you stayed. Why, Granger? Is it because you're an optimist? You think just because you're a good person, good things happen to you? Or is it because you're afraid? Potter was easy until he wasn't, am I right?"

"Fuck you," she spat at him. "I am a great person. I am a fucking great person. And I am not afraid."

He scoffed at her. Louder this time. "Bullshit."

"And what about you, Malfoy, huh?" she said, getting up to her feet. Beside her, her hands shook. "What are you afraid of? Why are you here? Why aren't you with Ginny, instead, burying your fist into Harry's face? That's it, isn't it?" she said, a sudden realization coming over her, her voice getting louder with triumph. "You're scared shitless to be there when she picks him over you. And that's why you're hiding out here." She took two quick strides over to him. "Well, guess what? Fuck you. I don't want you here. Get out." And then she shoved him.

His hands came out of his pockets. At first she'd thought it was so he could try to regain his balance, but his balance was just fine. Instead he had grabbed her shoulders.

"Typical of you," he said. She had gotten him now. His eyes were flashing. "Sticking up for Potter when he's just left you for your best friend's sister." His voice was hurried but hoarse. "Don't you get it, Granger? We were with the wrong people."

She heard him but she didn't want to think about it. In her mind, she had already made him up as the ultimate enemy of her happiness, which made it an incredible time for deflecting and/or denying anything significant or true that he might have said. And so that was what she did. Mentally, she deflected him. Physically, she pushed him again.

"Stop it!" she said to him, shoving his hands off of her. "Stop acting like we're on the same side! We're not! You don't even love her!"

Which was true. So true that she started to cry. The thing with crying is that it always happens at the most inopportune moment – at a time that starting to cry would possibly rob you of whatever integrity you had just happened to crawl away with. You always cry with every bit of yourself refusing to. What's interesting is that your willpower has nothing to do with vulnerability and how your body inevitably chooses to show it. She had a great amount of willpower, but that didn't stop her from unwillingly crying in front of Malfoy. And God, she hated herself for it now and forever; for as long as she would have the misfortune of retaining the ability to remember this very moment.

He looked at her with his face pulled so tightly that if she hadn't known better, she would have thought he was in pain, too. He told her that she was right – he didn't love her. And then he had opened his mouth to say something else, but he closed it up again without saying another word.

And then he quickly left.

For that, a little part of her was grateful to him.

When she woke up, it was around noon. She had slept so long that the only difference between being asleep and being awake was that she had a headache and that her skull felt somewhere around a hundred pounds. Everywhere on her body she could feel evidence of an overwhelming desire to no longer participate in life's emotional Olympics, so she laid there for another hour with her eyes to the ceiling, wondering how things had since changed since she had left home. The good part was that she didn't even attempt to imagine the Happily Ever After of her now-former boyfriend and her possibly now-former friend. For once, she didn't know how to.

After showering and eating, she took a walk on the beach. Being far away from the grotesque birth place of your problems always makes it a little easier to cope: the actual, physical distance made her breathe easier. She walked along the shoreline and inhaled the fresh ocean air. And then she called Elena.

"Where the hell have you been?" was how she'd greeted her, after her secretary had passed on the call. "Dave went nuts. Everybody thought you were dead or joined a cult."

"Tell Dave I had an emergency. I need a week."

"As relieved as I am that you are finally using up your vacation days," Elena said, "what the hell happened to you? Where are you?"

She sighed. "I'm at my parents' beach house. I just needed a break, that's all."

Elena was silent for a second. "Shit. It fell apart, didn't it? Are you okay? No, don't answer that. Of course you're not, that's why you need a fucking vacation on a nice peaceful beach. Anyway, call me if you need anything else. Also, some people have stopped by here looking for you." She paused uncertainly, and Hermione knew exactly who she meant had stopped by. "If I had known, Hermione, I would have punched him square in the jaw when he came in here, I swear."

A picture of Elena, in her navy blazer and tortoiseshell glasses, punching Harry flashed in her mind and for the first time in what felt like a very long time, she felt herself smile. "Listen, don't tell anyone where I am, okay?"

"Hey, if you want to disappear for awhile," she said, "you disappear. I'll be here when you get back."

She drove into town to buy groceries for the week that she'd decided she was staying. She picked up some fruits and fresh vegetables and even stopped by a few of the places she had loved while she had been growing up. Namely, the old-timey ice cream shoppe with her favorite kind of cotton candy ice cream. Even years later, in her adult life, she spontaneously craved this one specific thing from her childhood. Every time she thought of it, the memory of the first time she'd ever had it was never far behind, as if eternally attached, like tiny balls of lint to her favorite sweater. She'd been eight and had just skinned her knee running after her balloon. Her parents, like all good parents, took her to the ice cream shoppe to make her feel better. In the most simplistic of ways, it comforted her. It took her back to a time and place where just the first lick of a cotton candy ice cream could make all the bad and hurt disappear.

In a kind of foolish, childish way, she sat there and hoped it would do the trick, just like it always used to. That the cloud of sadness would lift and she would be lost in its sweet, pastel swirl – it didn't work, of course, because she knew better. Adulthood stole those things from you. It made you calculated and cold and doubtful of things that seemed too easy. Now everything good that didn't eventually take something from you all seemed so imaginary.

She didn't give much credit to dreams – or deciphering them. To her, dream interpretation was about as cracked up as Divination. There was no clear logic to it, let alone clear standards that could make it even the least bit credible. But that night she dreamt about Draco Malfoy. Real vivid, too – at first she wasn't even aware that it was a dream. It had been so clear that she could see every indigo fleck in his unnervingly pale eyes and every blond strand of hair. The only reason she'd known it was a dream because of how she felt around him: safe, and comforted. She was too guarded to feel any of that around him in reality. This was because every time she saw Malfoy, she had a flashback of her childhood – and him in it – which never failed in conjuring up some old feelings of anger and annoyance.

In her dream, she felt none of that. In fact, in her dream, she had been standing in a crowd of people, waiting for something. Then she saw the white flowers and the church doors open and she realized, quite bitterly, that she was there for a wedding. Ironic thing was that she knew exactly whose wedding it was. She also knew that she – even in delusional Dream World – couldn't stay. So she started to squeeze through the people as fast as she possibly could, with her heart beating loudly as the organ began to play and fill up the church.

She made it out in time. She found herself in a nice little garden, and then she looked up, and Malfoy was there. As usual, he had his hands in his pockets.

"What are you doing here?" she asked him.

"I knew you'd come running out here, eventually," he said, ignoring her question. So she asked it again.

"I guess," he said, looking right at her. "Waiting for you."

Except she knew that he wasn't guessing. She didn't know how, but it was Dream World, and anything and everything usually goes in Dream World. When she woke up back in reality, she would try to shake off the weird feeling her dream gave her, but the remnants would stay. That was what made it even more impossible not to think of him.

She refused to analyze her dream because she lacked the imagination to. Instead she focused on the last few days with him. How he had shown up at her apartment and had given her that look and grabbed her by the shoulders – their first real act of physical contact. "Don't you get it?" he'd said to her. "We were with the wrong people." She hadn't wanted to let that sink in at that moment because she knew that it meant something – something so much bigger than what she was ready for. It was, in every sense of the word, a game-changer.

Taking it simply at face-value, he was right. They were with the wrong people. That's why things ended up the way they had, and why she was now hiding away in her parents' beach house, two hours away. But she knew better than to think that face-value was all it had going for it, because of that look in his eyes that she had never really seen before, and the way the air refused to settle between them afterwards. She hadn't even realized she'd been holding her breath until he had let go of her.

It'd scared her because it was different. In that sole moment in time, he had been different. He had stepped out of the shoes of the role she'd molded him into and had completely broken character, and that had scared her.

Now the only problem was whether she could allow herself to believe any of it.

Eventually, she went back to her life. She packed up her meager belongings, locked up the sandy house, and drove the two hours back. She was a grown-up, after all. That was what grown-ups did. They ran away for a little while, but they were always supposed to come back and pick up where they left off.

There was a process for grieving and loss and acceptance, and she knew this. There was also a process for walking up the steps to the apartment that you and your boyfriend had formerly lived in to promptly pack up your things and find another place to live. Due to short notice, she had decided that she was just going to show up at her parents' house with all of her things. If that was an inconvenience, then she would go back to the beach house. After a while, she knew she wouldn't mind the sand. Ambitious that she was, she would find some way to make it work.

When she walked in, the apartment seemed empty. As she walked around, she noticed that everything looked the same but that nothing felt the same. She took her wand from her coat pocket and watched as all of her belongings began to pack themselves up. But the problem seemed to lie with the things that she and Harry had bought jointly, and thus belonged to the both of them – equally. Even magic couldn't discern this so she watched as she and Harry's vinyl collection began to spark and push back and forth, as if caught in an invisible game of Tug of War.


And then there he was, standing behind her. It's interesting how seeing a person, face to face, makes everything even realer. As if the past week had all been but a dream, just phantom feelings and forged emptiness – and then she saw him, and it swooped all over her again, a fresh dusting of pain and betrayal.

"I'm just packing my things," she said. "I'll be done in ten minutes."

Her throat felt painfully congested with the things she wanted to say, but the logical part of her won out by reminding her that nothing she could say would change things. It had already happened. It was done. Words, however well-intended, were useless to their relationship now.

"Listen." His face was crumpled with guilt, and she looked away. But she let him apologize, and let him call himself a dick and a terrible human being. The truth was that she should have been happy listening to his self-deprecating monologue, but she'd already known his flaws. She saw them way before he ever did. She hated them now but she had also once loved them, not too long ago.

In the end he told her that he hoped she would forgive him someday. "I did a bad thing, Hermione, and I don't expect to be forgiven any time soon," he'd said to her. "But you're still my best friend, and I still love you. Always."

Her things had finished packing and had shrunk themselves to fit very neatly into the enchanted suitcase she had brought. She looked at him, and there was no doubt she still loved him, but he was wrong. She shook her head.

"Harry," she said. "I don't think that you should say that to me."

With his eyes still steady on her, he quietly asked why not.

"Because if that were true, Ginny would be married to Malfoy by now. And you and I – maybe we would be having brunch somewhere, or still be in bed, telling funny stories. But we're not. We're not. Do you get that?"

He did. He solemnly nodded his head.

She grabbed her suitcase and left.

It wasn't that Hermione didn't believe that Harry loved her. Deep down, she knew that he genuinely, honestly did. She also knew that he could never un-love her, either. It was just that Elena had once told her that you couldn't love two people equally at once. "What I mean is," she'd said, moving her cigarette away from her mouth, "there are no halfsies. Not equally, anyway. If you love two people, you will always love one person more. A little bit more, a lot more – it doesn't make a difference, the point is: you will always love one more. And that will be the person you ultimately choose. At the end of the day, that will be the person that will ultimately make you happy. I mean, there are some things you share, you know? Like gum and sweaters and phone numbers. Your heart," she said, pouring her a drink, "is not one of them. It's just not."

It would be months later when she sees him. At least, when she thinks she sees him – in reality, it wasn't actually him, but a man that had slightly similar hair color. She's aware enough to know that this was what wishful thinking did to a person. She mistook every single platinum blond man in a dark coat as him, only to approach them with a thudding heart to realize that, besides sharing a similar shade of hair color, they looked nothing like him at all.

"Why don't you just call him?" Elena said, one day over coffee, after she'd caught her eyes trailing after a blond man across the street. "It's been months. And you might get a reputation as some kind of desperate blond-chaser."

"It's not that simple."

She tried to imagine that conversation, especially since Draco Malfoy did not own a phone, so she would have to communicate by owl. That made things even more difficult to initiate, even disregarding the fact that she had almost literally beat him out of her apartment. When she had told Elena about this, she barely budged, saying, "See? Like I said. Repressed feelings of frustration. I told you to take that kick-boxing class with me. I told you but you didn't listen. So you beat the one guy that might actually love you. Naturally."

She rolled her eyes. "Oh, right. Childhood rivalry stuff. He made fun of your teeth, or something."

"Okay, it was a lot more serious than that." More like years and years of torment.

"Of course it was," she said. "But is any of that even relevant? To now, I mean. To you now. You're an adult, Hermione. Your ex-boyfriend left you for your other best friend's sister. Didn't that painful, screwed up little event motivate you to just get up and do whatever the hell you feel like doing?"

She thought about that for a second. The weird thing about life was that everywhere you went, people were telling you to take chances, to take risks, and to do whatever the hell you wanted – Carpe diem! and all of that fortune cookie crap. They rarely mentioned the consequences. They tell you to go sky diving but they never tell you that thirty people die sky-diving every year. They'd just tell you that wasn't the point. The point was grabbing life by the horns and being open to the infinite possibilities.

She was familiar with concept but she had never really considered it, to do whatever the hell she wanted. She was too considerate that way. She recognized that sudden change made people uncomfortable and she was too polite to do that to them. But Elena had a point. She was at that rare summit in her life where she really didn't care about inconveniencing people, because hadn't they already inconvenienced her?

She stared at Elena, who was dumping another packet of sugar into her coffee. Behind her she watched a couple laughing over a funny story one of them had told.

"But," Hermione said quietly, "how do I know if it's real?"

She didn't even look up. "You don't."

"Then why even try? Why go, if there's even a possibility that it's not real?"

"Because," she said, leaning in towards her. Hermione noticed the cream on her bottom lip. "Because what's the alternative? Sitting here and having coffee and wondering, asking the same questions over and over. Maybe it's not real. But maybe it is. You're sure as hell not going to find out just sitting here."

She sat there for a second, taking it in. The same couple behind her erupted into another fit of laughter, blissful in their sparkling relationship abyss. And then she grabbed her coat.

The first time she'd decided to go after him, in the café, she was almost halfway there when she turned back around. To be fair, it really was nothing like how they showed it in the movies. Emotionally, it was both staggering and traumatizing. There was no hip yet poignant soundtrack playing in the background, no nosy yet inspiring cab driver. Five minutes after, the adrenaline had worn off and all she was left with was self-doubt. Even more, she realized that she was not ready, and she wanted to be – completely. She wanted to be able to stand in front of him and not be a wreck. As ridiculous as it was, she wanted to be worth it – not for him, but for herself. That way, if things didn't turn out the way she hoped, she would still be okay. Alone, but still always okay.

The second time was purely accidental. She'd just spent the day with Luna and Ron when, in coming back, she had passed by the shop she'd remembered entering with Malfoy. She paused, watching its bright window from across the street, with the delicate glassworks elegantly poised and its gold leaf inconspicuously winking at her. Inside she could see all of the perfectly fragile statues and displays, like a mini-porcelain palace. The next thing she knew, she was crossing the street and going through its heavy glass doors.

She was semi-aware that she did not belong there. For one: she was not looking for over-priced, vintage wedding china. Secondly: her feelings on china were still approximately the same from the last time she'd been in here. Regardless of all of that, she found herself wandering around, examining the collections inside of the glass cases. She closed her eyes and tried to remember the conversation they'd had in here, about his parents' wedding china. It seemed like years ago now. She could hardly remember what he'd said, but she kept walking around, looking closely, waiting to get it. Maybe it would hit her. Maybe she would see the right kind of china and she would understand what he'd been trying to tell her. That is – if he'd been trying to tell her anything at all.

"I thought you didn't care about plates."

She didn't have to turn around to know it was him. From the way the tiny hairs stood up on her neck to the way she felt her heart plummet to her stomach and then back again, it was hard to think of who else it could possibly have been.

"I don't," she said, swallowing hard. "But it doesn't hurt to double-check."

He stepped up beside her, and she silently took a deep breath. He was here. Out of nowhere, but what did that matter? He was here, like magic.

She slowly turned to him. "Let's go outside."

Outside, the streets were empty and damp. It had been raining on and off, and all the wetness around them reflected gold from the light of the window display. It was late enough that most of the shops had closed, with the remaining few just open for the hour. In the back of her mind, she panicked about whether she had waited too long – if he had moved on since then, or worse: if she'd just imagined everything. That was the problematic thing with whether something was "real" or not. People forgot that realness was subjective. What was real to her could very possibly mean nothing to him at all.

"From what I heard, you disappeared," he said. "So I assume you want all the sordid details about how Ginny and Potter reconciled, and how the world seems to have avoided internally combusting, yet again."

She scoffed. "No. I've moved on."

His eyes were steady on her and he was silent for a minute, as if scrutinizing her. "Is it working?"

"I'd say so. Slowly but surely." She paused. "What about you?"

He smirked a little, and some part of that relieved her. Everything was changing but at least that was familiar. She thought about it and she actually wanted to laugh. Who would have thought that, some day, she would find his stupid little smirk comforting? When had it changed from being an annoying reminder of his privileged lot in life to something that she suddenly wanted to cling onto – to something that meant that even though everything now seemed unrecognizable, that would always be the same?

When had that turned into such a good thing?

"Easy enough. Like you said, I didn't love her."

"I think," she said, watching his face carefully, "you loved her a little."

She knew better now, angst aside, that it was impossible to have emerged from that situation unscathed, for anyone. Even if he had, like he'd said, never loved her. Because she refused to believe that. Instead she believed that, once upon a time, he had loved her. Even if it had been for the briefest of moments. Even if, in the end, he had lost it. Because the thing with losing something was that it had to have belonged to you first. And that always – always – hurt.

He smiled her a microscopic smile. "Maybe."

She let him know that it didn't make any sense. His logic was too flawed to stand on its own. If he hadn't loved Ginny, even at least a little, then why did he stay for so long? He could've easily just cut himself out of the picture and promptly moved on, away, mess-free.

"Maybe," he said, "I thought there was something worth sticking around for. Maybe all I needed was a little patience."

This. It was this moment that could have teetered between good and devastating. But as she looked up at him, with the golden light of the window faintly reflecting off of his hair, she just knew, somehow, that maybe she had worried about realness for nothing. If it hadn't been real, he would have walked right past the shop. But he hadn't. He had gone in, and now he was out here, with her. Some things you just couldn't dispute. Some things just felt like fate.

"And how," she asked, carefully choosing her words, "is that going for you?"

"You know," he said, staying very still and close to her, "really good, suddenly. Really good."

She had watched enough movies and read enough books to know that that sounded like an opportune moment for a kiss.

So she, like all other heroines before her, went for it.

Best friends always notice when things have changed for you. At least – the best kind of best friends. The really attentive kind.

That was why the following morning Elena immediately paused her conversation with Tod and followed her into the coffee room. Hermione poured some coffee into her mug.

"Either everything worked out or you just had the best sex of your life."

She tried not to smile at her. She was basking in the afterglow, and she didn't want to be smug about it. "Both."

Elena shook her head. "You lucky bitch."

Later on, she would relay this conversation to Malfoy, when they met up at his flat for the night. He listened on, amused. "And what did you say?"

"I didn't," she said. "I didn't say anything. Because it's kind of true, isn't it?"

"Maybe the bitch part," he said, and she rolled her eyes. "But you were never lucky, Granger. From what I've seen, you actually repel luck. You are the unluckiest person I know. But you are incredibly hard-working. And that matters more than luck."

She stared at him for a second. And then she laughed, shaking her head.


"This," she said. "Just this. You and me. It better work. I mean, it just seems too crazy to."

"That," he said, "is exactly why it will."