All characters belong to JKR
A/N: This was just sitting in the document manager upload file, waiting to be uploaded, so I thought...why wait. It's over, done, so I might as well post it. Thanks to my beta, DHLane. Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed it, and made it my fourth most reviewed story, and my ninth most read. I hope you all continue to read my new things. There's another note at the bottom. Thanks again!
Chapter 37: No Lie:
Hermione sat on the couch in her new townhouse and began to search the employment ads in the Daily Prophet, for what felt like the one-hundredth time. It was becoming a morning ritual. Since she had quit her job two weeks ago at DM Enterprises, or whatever the place was called now, she found herself looking at the employment ads every morning for her old job, as well as a new one. She still hadn't seen a listing for her former job of Director of Marketing and Development in the paper yet. Perhaps they hired someone from within.
She had borrowed some money from her parents, to help her get by until she found another job. She thought she might start her own business, a consulting firm or something. Maybe she would give lectures and seminars to companies about honesty and the perils of lying. She wasn't sure yet. Maybe she would become a lazy oaf, and never get another job. One could dream, couldn't they?
She went to a lawyer and with his help, she was able to transfer the title of the resort back to Draco's name. The lawyer was going to make sure Draco signed the papers. That was a heavy weight off her shoulders.
She found herself thinking of him constantly. She regretted that she'd acted so hastily, and that she hadn't forgiven him. It wasn't because she was now unemployed that she regretted her childish behavior. It was because she missed him. She also regretted giving him that last note back. Before his big confession, she had changed it to a marriage proposal TO HIM. She felt so foolish. Perhaps he threw it away without reading it, since he wouldn't have had any clue that she had changed it. She hoped so.
She missed him. She really did. She was just too stubborn to do anything about it. She found herself outside his office building twice. She didn't even know where he lived, which struck her as funny, or she might have visited there, too. He had never been to her home, either. Yet, she loved him. How strange was that? One weekend with the man, and she was in love. That sort of thing usually only happened in books and stories.
Speaking of writing, she almost wrote to him three different times, but decided against it.
She continued to look at the want ads, and she realized that she could always go back to the Ministry, crawl in there, repentant, and ask for her old job back. Harry had told her that they hadn't filled it yet. That was probably because it wasn't an essential job, and they didn't need to fill it.
Had Draco Malfoy really put in for that job when she had, all those years ago? Well, he wouldn't have liked it any better than she did, so in a way, she did him a favour by getting the job over him. He should have rewarded her, instead of seeking revenge.
She hated to admit it, but she wanted a new job where 'Innovation' could be her middle name, as corny as that sounded. Her job with Malfoy did allow her to be innovative, and resourceful. It had allowed her to be creative, and to think. She often stayed awake at night, wondering if she had allowed herself to stay there, what she might have been able to accomplish. It staggered her mind.
At least that little want ad about 'Innovation and middle names' caught her eye in the beginning. It led her to her new job, which led her to Malfoy, which led her to the best weekend and the best birthday she had ever had. Which led her to unhappiness, and to being unemployed again. It was a vicious cycle.
Her phone rang and she was tempted not to answer. Every time her phone rang over the last two weeks she expected it to be Malfoy, but it never was. Now, she found that she wanted it to be him each time it rang, but she knew it wouldn't be. She gave up that fear, (or was it hope?) that she would receive a phone call from him, days ago. He had apparently moved on. Good for him.
By the eighth ring, it was apparent the person wasn't going to hang up, so she answered with a quick, "What?"
"Hermione?" the woman asked.
"Yes, this is Hermione Innovation Granger, who is this?" she said flippantly.
"I thought your middle name was Jean?" Ginny asked with a laugh.
"I might change it," Hermione joked. Ginny knew everything that had happened between her and Malfoy. All of her friends did. The day she left his office, she called them all to come to her house, where she told them everything.
Harry was supportive, if not somewhat relieved that she would no longer be involved with Malfoy.
Ginny was slightly upset, told her that she was partially to blame, and censured her for a moment.
Ron was apologetic, knowing that he was the one that had caused her to no longer trust men who lied, because he had once lied to her, and it scarred her apparently, so much so that she no longer trusted anyone, and for that, he felt slightly guilty.
Still, they were all supportive, but she hadn't heard from any of them in two weeks. Until now. "Ginny, what do you want this morning?"
"Wow, you don't seem happy to hear from me," Ginny said.
"It's been almost two weeks since I've spoken to you, that's all," Hermione answered. "I'm happy to hear from you, however." As soon as she said it, she recognized that it was a slight lie. She wasn't that happy to hear from her. She lied a lot these days. She probably always lied a lot, but only little white lies such as that one. It was just that now she tended to point them out to herself. She wondered why. She knew the main reason was that she no longer opposed lies that would keep other from being hurt or upset. That was one of her new rules. She learned that one from Draco Malfoy. Bless his little lying heart.
"I have a proposition for you," Ginny said finally.
"Don't you even want to hear it?"
"Please," Ginny begged.
"What is it?" Hermione relented.
"Don't be angry, but I set you up on another blind date, tonight, at Serpent's Cove again, but I swear, I know this man, and he has no known aversion to the prettiest member of the golden trio, and I think you'll like him a lot. It's time to get off your arse, and get to living your new life again, old girl."
Hermione's knee-jerk reaction was to scream into the phone, "Are you mad?" but instead, she was polite and said, "I'm not ready."
"Oh," Ginny began, "I see. You like wallowing in doom and gloom and self-pity. You like being miserable. All that talk a month ago about exploring new possibilities, and living a new life was just that, talk, right?" Before Hermione could interject, Ginny said, "You were the 'New Hermione Granger', but only in theory. I have to tell you, I liked that Hermione Granger. You need to forget about Malfoy, forget about that stupid job, get off your bum, and go have a fab time with a fab man, Harry's treat!"
"Harry's paying for this date?" Hermione asked, confused. "What, is he a pimp now?"
Ginny laughed and said, "What I meant was, he's going to pay for your stay at the resort. You'll have dinner, dancing, and then you'll have a room to stay at later, alone or with the fellow, after the date is done. You can come home the next day. It's not like you'll be missing work, or anything." Ginny laughed.
Hermione sighed into the receiver, and then there was an extended silence.
"Hermione, are you still alive over there?" Ginny asked.
"Fine, what's his name?"
"Really? You're agreeing to go?" Ginny asked, excited.
"I'm not agreeing to anything. I want to know the man's name," Hermione said.
"Well, I might have lied," Ginny answered.
Why didn't that surprise Hermione? It appeared that everyone lied, all the time. "What was your lie?"
"I don't really know him," she confessed.
"NO!" Hermione shouted.
"Listen," Ginny said, "Harry knows him. You trust Harry don't you? He wouldn't set you up with a loser!"
She knew one thing. Harry Potter was the most honest person she knew, and he certainly wouldn't set her up with a loser, but then again, Ginny could be lying. Perhaps Harry had nothing to do with this. "What's his name? I need to know, so I can find out a few things about him."
"Harry only told me his first name. I think he said it was David. I know it started with a 'D'."
Hermione quickly became angry and said, "It better not be DEREK MALONE!"
"Who's that? Anyway, I'm sure it wasn't Derek," Ginny pressed on. "No, I'm pretty sure it was David."
"It's not Draco Malfoy, is it?" Hermione asked with ire.
"Would Harry Potter set you up on a date with Draco Malfoy?" Ginny asked.
Hermione knew that didn't answer her question. She doubted that Harry had anything to do with this. She asked outright, "Would you set me up on a date with Draco Malfoy?"
Ginny was quiet for a moment. "Hermione, why don't you trust me? That hurts, you know."
"Answer the question and perhaps your pain will be eliminated," Hermione retorted.
Ginny was quiet again and said, "Seriously, you wound me. His name is David, and he'll meet you tonight at Serpent's Cove. Wear a white rose in your hair again. I told him that was how he would know you, and you'll know him because he'll have one in his lapel button."
"Ginny Weasley, if this is Draco Malfoy you're setting me up with, I'll never forgive you, you realize that don't you? I'm giving you one last chance to tell me the truth. Is my blind date with Draco Malfoy?" Hermione pleaded.
Ginny was quick to answer this time. "I swear, I'm not lying," she lied. She could live with Hermione's threats of not forgiving her, if the result was that she was happy. "Now, are you going or not?"
Hermione wanted to believe her, but she also wanted it to be Draco, so she felt she was in a quandary. She asked, "What time?"
Draco was so nervous. He never remembered being this nervous in his life. He wanted everything to be perfect. He had just received a call from Ginny telling him that Hermione had agreed to everything. She was coming! He knew she was smart, and had probably already figured everything out…well, not everything, but she probably knew the date was with him. She probably was coming armed and dangerous. She was probably going to hex him as soon as she saw him. He wasn't sure he cared. He deserved it.
He rushed around the completely empty dining room and called the headwaiter over, and asked, "Is everything ready, Martin?"
"Yes, Mr. Malfoy. I really don't know how we got everything done in two weeks, though. It's a wonder," the man answered.
"Are all of her friends and family in place?" Draco asked.
"I assure you, everything is ready," he answered.
The entire resort was empty; since Draco had the staff members rebooks all the other guests to a different week, all on him. The whole place was theirs for the weekend. The other hotels along the beach weren't as busy, since it was the beginning of fall, and Serpent's Cove was the biggest resort on the boardwalk. That meant they would practically have the whole boardwalk to themselves as well.
He checked his rose. It was slightly crooked. He moved it a little to the left. One of the bellhops ran into the dining room and said, "She's here everyone! She just walked in. She looks so pretty."
Draco felt slightly jealous, and he almost told the young man off, but hell, he was sure that she did look pretty. He said, "Places everyone."
He stood by the door of the restaurant, to await his cue.
Hermione walked into the resort, and was struck by the fact that she hadn't seen another living soul, (or guest) since she arrived. She walked up to the desk and said, "Hello, my name is Hermione Granger and I believe I have a room booked."
"Yes, Miss Granger," the clerk said. "It's so nice to see you again. We have you booked in the penthouse suite."
"Oh," she said. "Um, isn't that Draco Malfoy's private suite?"
"Yes, but when he's not using it, we often rent it out, and Mr. Potter asked for the nicest room for you, and one doesn't say no to Mr. Potter, now does one?" The man smiled.
Hermione found herself smiling back. She had already dressed for her date. She had on a royal blue dress, which she had bought quickly after she talked to Ginny this morning. She did everything quickly. She showered, changed, shopped, packed, did her hair and make-up, and then she apparated to the resort, all in that order.
"Could you perhaps get me a white rose?" Hermione asked. It was the last thing she needed.
The man sent a bellhop to get her a white rose.
She sat down on one of the sofas near the fireplace, in the lobby, to wait. She smoothed out the skirt of her dress, and smoothed down her long hair. She bit her bottom lip nervously. If her blind date wasn't with Draco, she would be terribly disappointed. She felt a hand on her shoulder, and then she felt a rose petal brush against her cheek. She closed her eyes.
The rose traveled back up her cheek. She only opened her eyes when the slight pressure lifted. The person moved from the back of the couch to the front, to face her. In front of her was Draco Malfoy, holding a white rose.
He handed her the rose.
She accepted, placed the short stem behind her ear, and secured it with a bobby pin she had in her hand.
"Are you my date?" she asked.
"Yes," was all he could say.
"Your name isn't David."
"No, it's not. Who told you that? Whoever it was is a big, fat liar," he said with a smile.
"I'm sorry," she said. She reached for him, but drew her hand back.
"For what?" he asked.
"For not trusting you and for overreacting. I'm sorry that I didn't listen fully to your explanation. I've thought about everything that's happened over the last two weeks, and I've come to one conclusion."
"Which is?" he asked, hopeful of a positive response.
"You were truthful, and I was reproachful, and you love me, and you forgave me when I lied, and I didn't grant you the same courtesy, and so that's why I'm sorry."
"I thought perhaps you were sorry that I had left a thorn on your rose," he joked.
"Did you, now? I hadn't noticed," she said, smiling.
"Dinner awaits us, but first, would you like to take a walk along the boardwalk?" he asked. He took her hand before she could answer.
They went out the front doors. She shivered, partly from the cold, but more from the anticipation of what was to come. She had a wrap across her arm, which he removed to place across her shoulders.
The sun was already setting, since it was now autumn, and the days were shorter. He held her hand, and he brought it to his mouth, to kiss her knuckles.
"We haven't filled your job, you know, because I still refuse to accept your resignation," he explained. "Although I must reprimand you for taking two weeks off work without consent."
"Reprimand away and it's a good thing that you haven't filled my job, because I have so many great ideas. I can't wait to come back to work," she said hurriedly, "and I can't wait to go out on a proper date with you."
"You mean the weekend of your birthday was improper?" he asked with a crooked smile. "My oh my, I wasn't even aware."
"I just mean that I'm excited for tonight," she said. "And for a blind date which I already know will turn out well."
"Ah," he said, pulling her to stop by 'their' bench. "You had me all figured out, did you?"
"Well, it was pretty easy. Ginny isn't as good a liar as you are," she began. "Besides, if you hadn't arranged this soon, I was going to do the exact same thing."
"I'm glad to hear that," he started, "Conversely, I would have you know that I no longer lie for any reason. Truthfulness is now my middle name."
"Really?" she asked. "I decided 'Innovation' was mine now," she joked.
He shook his head and said, "Silly thing." He leaned forward and kissed her. He said, "I have a bit of a surprise. Close your eyes." She did as requested. He still put his hand over her eyes, as he guided her out toward the beach.
"Are you going to drown me?" she asked.
"Not unless you peek," he promised.
He continued to hold his hand over her eyes, but she could tell that something was definitely happening. She could hear people whispering, and she could hear footsteps on the boardwalk, when a moment ago there was none but theirs. She heard people walking in the sand, and she could tell that people were surrounding them.
He removed his hand, and said, "Open your eyes."
In front of her were all her friends, and her family, as well as their coworkers, and his friends and family. She looked over at Draco in shock. His previous dark suit was changed to an off-white one, similar to the one he wore that day to the cathedral. She looked down, and her royal blue dress was now off-white and prettier than she could ever imagine.
Her mouth was still opened in shock. He put his hands on her shoulders, and turned her around, to face a man holding a book.
The man said, "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here, today, on this very special day, to witness the joining of this man and this woman in holy matrimony."
She looked back over at Draco, and smiled. He handed her a large bouquet of white roses. She turned back toward the Minister, and didn't say another word until she was asked to say, "I do."
Later, as they danced at their reception, with all their friends and family members around them she said, "I thought my last blind date was nice, but this one was so much better."
He smiled, and with his right hand still on her back, he reached down into his coat pocket and removed the now tattered, last little, triangle. He said, "I took your note seriously, you know. You asked me to marry you, and this was just my way of saying yes."
"I was mortified that I gave that to you, after I left the way I did," she admitted, burying her head in his chest.
"Oh, I don't know," he said, tilting her chin up with his hand, "I think it was rather calculated of you. I think you handed that to me, fully aware that this would be the end result."
"Well, I might have lied a little bit when I said I was mortified," she waned.
"Hermione Granger lied?" he asked with eyes wide. He pinched her bum. "I'm ashamed."
"What can I say? I like to lie now. I find it fun and refreshing. You'll never know whether you can trust anything that comes out of my mouth. I might say one thing, and mean another," she concluded.
"Oh, I doubt that," he said. He kissed her cheek. "I think you might be lying at the moment, but I think that's probably the last lie you're ever utter to me."
"Not the very last, I'm sure," she said. "I will tell you one truth. I don't want this ever to end, okay?"
"Fine, we'll dance forever," he promised. "My Granger. Hey, I just realized, I can't call you that anymore. That's no longer your last name." He lifted one hand to her face, leaned forward, and kissed her sweetly on the lips. Her whole body stiffened beside his. She leaned into him as well, and their bodies melded into each other. She felt this kiss all the way down to her toes. Her body ached for him.
His other hand lifted from her waist, to slide to her back. He held her tightly against his chest and whispered, "Do you think our guests would mind if we went on to our honeymoon?"
"Who cares what they think?" she asked back. "It's only what we think that matters from now on, agreed?"
He brought his eyebrows up and said, "I like this selfish side of you. Is this a new trait in which I have to look forward?"
"There are all sorts of things about me for you to look forward to, and that's the truth," she said. She kissed him, took his hand, and led him out of the restaurant, not glancing back at their guests even once.
Adrian reached them once they were in the lobby and held out a piece of parchment. "I have a pre-nuptial agreement I need you to sign."
Hermione laughed and said, "And once again, you're too late, Pucey. You should have had me sign it BEFORE I married him. Now, I'll never sign it."
Draco smiled, and gave Adrian a conceited look, until Adrian said, "Oh, this is for Draco to sign. It just says that he can never divorce you, under any circumstances, however, you may divorce him for any reason, and you get everything if you do."
"WHAT?" Draco all but shouted. "I won't sign it!"
Adrian hit Draco over the head with the piece of paper, reminiscent of that first day in the lifts when Draco hit Adrian over the head with a folder, and he said, "Granger is insulted. Tell him you're insulted, Granger."
"Sign the contract, Draco, and let's get to our honeymoon," she said, acting bored.
"I shall not sign any piece of crap contract, which says I get nothing. That's un-Dracoish!" Draco complained.
"So, I decided to start doing things that were un-Hermionish, so you should start doing things that are un-Dracoish. Sign it," she ordered.
Adrian held out a pen and unfolded the paper. Draco glared, but then he signed it. Adrian handed it to Hermione, and she signed it as well. Adrian folded the parchment, placed it back in his pocket, and laughed the whole way back to the restaurant.
They entered the lifts, her on one side, and him on another. He said, "Was that your intention all along, to get me to fall in love with you, so that you could get everything in the end."
"That does sound like the new me," she said coyly.
He took a side step toward her, and then stepped on her foot.
"Ouch!" she said.
"Sorry, but Adrian made me feel sentimental. I wanted to relive the feelings I felt the first time I saw you again," he said. Then he turned to her, and said, "By the way, I love you, and that's no lie."
"You better, and that's not a lie, either," she responded.
The lift doors shut, and the truth was that it was the end of the story, no lie.
~ THE END ~
A/N Do you know how evil I wanted to be...I wanted to post this last chapter on April 1st, and have everyone die, or lie, or something bad happen to them, at the end, and then the next day, send out a retraction that said, "April fools day...here's the real last chapter", but I thought everyone would get all mean and irritated with me. So the truth is that they really didn't die, or lie, but once again, it was a truly happy ending, because heaven knows I can't write them any other way.