A/N Last bit of the final chapter here. It's probably my longest chapter/part of a chapter I've ever written. Here are my belated Holiday wishes, Seasonal Greetings, and Happy Christmas for all who celebrate it! Happy upcoming New Years! And, don't mind the fluffy moments that inevitably planted themselves in certain parts of the chapter; particularly at the very end.
Dedicated to: Everyone who has read this (yes you), reviewed this, criticized this and all relative fanon-ing devices. And to my last remaining beta: Max Cortex; you're the best!
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all related articles belong to J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros./AOL Time Warner Pictures.Chapter 30b: Once Upon a Midsummer's Night's Dream
"Oh he makes me feel so lovely, so sexy
I'm so in love
How I love him for his generosity
My man, my man, my baby
On the 4th day of Christmas my baby gave to me
a candlelit dinner just me & my honey"
"Eight Days of Christmas" – Destiny's Child
"They'll be staying for another two days due to the rain. The tournament directors rescheduled his game until Wednesday." Mr Granger told Hermione Monday morning.
Hermione groaned inwardly. It wasn't as if she didn't like the Columbus'; they were a very nice family. However, it was the activities of the night before that made her upset. Plus, she was getting slightly bored of her normal routine of writing letters upon letters to various people, doing chores and being a hostess to the visiting family. She merely nodded in response. 'I want to leave!' She cried bitterly to herself.
Alex obviously didn't remember the events of the previous night; which was much to Hermione's content. He still felt the need to accompany her whenever she left the house - even if it was to bring in the morning paper. She really wanted to slap him and tell him off for practically stalking her in her own home.
She retreated to the sanctuary of her room. 'Dear Draco.' She wrote, 'Sorry if this sounds rude or demanding, but would it be possible for me to go to your home on Wednesday? The Columbus' will be leaving then, so I'm not obligated to attend Alex's football game. Please reply back whenever you can. Miss you. Love, Hermione.'
She waited for the ink to dry before she placed the folded and enveloped letter in a small pile of letters waiting to be sent out. 'I really need an owl.' Whenever she needed to send out a letter, she would wait for Harry or Ron to send her one and quickly write them back before using Hedwig or Pigwidgeon to send the collective letters. If only Crookshanks could sprout wings.
Draco raised his eyebrows slightly at the Azkaban letter. "I didn't know they allowed convicts to write letters." He muttered. He broke the black wax seal and pulled out a small piece of parchment. On the middle of the parchment were no words; a moving picture of a roaring green dragon stood prominent. The dragon wasn't roaring in pride. It was roaring in pain; for a jet black pitchfork was speared in the dragon's heart. Scarlet blood rolled down both sides of the dragon where the trident had struck and it was pooling at it's clawed feet. Draco raised his eyebrows in surprise. He searched for invisible words with his wand, or a trace of a signature - even though he knew who the artist was. "Bloody, burning hell." He muttered, turning the parchment over, and finding it to be clean. "Didn't know they allowed convicts to write letters, let alone draw horrid art." In reality, the gruesome picture was indeed well drawn, and horribly detailed, down to the last drop of scarlet, brown-flecked blood, and the pain in the dragon's steely eyes.
"Master Draco, you've just received another letter." Carl's echoing, empty voice said in front of Draco, making him jerk his head up from the parchment.
Draco, with forced calmness and filled with an odd darkness, pocketed the Azkaban and Apparation letters, and took the one that Carl had outstretched. He nodded his thanks and entered his vast library. He sat down in the chair in front of Lucius' claw-footed writing desk, stuffed the Azkaban letter in the drawer, and read Hermione's letter. All the while his dark mood lightened, and by the end of the letter, it had gone completely. He began to write his reply on the back of the parchment before he stopped; right as he was going to dot the 'i' in Hermione's name. Instead he twirled his quill and stared at the window, watching the rain pelt at the glass. Smirking, Draco scratched out what he had written of Hermione's name and stuck it in his pocket alongside the Ministry letter.
It wasn't everyday that Draco could play the lovey-dovey boyfriend – not that he wanted to mind you – but, when life gives you galleons, take them.
"Hermione, get outside and do something. It's a wonderful day."
Hermione looked up from her book and out the window and raised her eyebrows, "Mum, it's raining."
Mrs Granger went pink in the face, "It's not healthy to be inside all the time, dear." She sat on the foot of the couch at Hermione's feet.
"You do it all the time." She stated.
"You're young, Hermione. When the weather gets better, I want you outside and doing something."
"Like what?" Hermione turned a page of the Apparation handbook.
Marie paused, "Get Alex to play a few rounds of football with you."
Hermione grimaced inwardly, "I don't like football."
"For goodness sake! Run up and down the stairs if it'll get you active!" Marie threw her hands up in the air in exasperation.
"Mum, I don't want to! I have to read this," Hermione gestured to the book, "for my test! I don't want to be the only wi—person who can't…Apparate." She caught herself before she said witch, and finished her statement quietly. It wouldn't do if the Columbus' happened to overhear their conversation.
Marie got up and arranged the magazines on the small table neatly. "You can say 'witch,' Hermione. They're not home." Several years of coping with the fact that their daughter was not 'normal' had given the Grangers the slight ability to say 'witch,' 'wizard,' and 'Muggle' without stuttering or acting remotely nervous. They still had yet to perfect that ability though.
Hermione said and ran her wand over a passage, immediately highlighting the words there. "What? Where are they?"
"They went to do grocery shopping." Mrs Granger laughed at Hermione's confused face. It clearly read, 'They don't even live here.' "No, no, not their groceries. They went to the mall and wanted to do our shopping for us. They're very nice."
"I know that." 'Even if their son can get as drunk as a goblin.' Hermione said shortly.
Several minutes, and several highlighted pages later there was a furious knocking at the door. Marie swiftly went to unlock it, revealing the Columbus' trying to remain dry with their load of shopping bags. "Oh my!" Marie exclaimed at the state of their wet jackets.
"It's not that bad. I think it's starting to lighten up though." Mr Columbus said, shaking his umbrella out and sticking it in the basket next to the door.
Mrs Granger helped Mr and Mrs Columbus sort out the groceries in the kitchen, and Alex sat in the armchair near Hermione's head. "What are you reading?" he said, trying to look at the pages.
Hermione immediately shut the book and stuffed it between herself and the side of the couch. She sat up and looked at him, "A book."
"Really? Never would have thought." He said, pushing back his damp blond hair.
Hermione gave a small smile. "What kind of book?" he pressed.
Alex's eyes widened, "A textbook? Aren't you finished school?" She nodded. "Then why the hell would you be reading a textbook?" he exclaimed.
"Really, you say textbook like it was a curse word." She said and leaned back on the couch, propping her ankles on the table.
"When you're out of school and free to do no work it is." He grinned. "Why are you reading a textbook?"
Hermione sighed, "You know nothing about me. I read for fun, not because I have to. At school, I would spend countless hours in the library, even skipping meals, just to read, or do my work." She smiled at the memory of the old Hogwarts books, with their old smell and the comforting silence surrounding her.
Alex raised his eyebrows, "Really now? Did you have absolutely nothing to do at that school?" he joked.
Hermione didn't have a chance to reply because there was a quick rapping at the door. "Mum, get that!" Hermione called behind her.
"Can't, dear. My hands are full." Her mother called back.
Hermione sighed and told Alex to wait a minute before getting up, bringing the book with her, in case Alex got nosey. She put it on the hallway table and muttered, "Who in Merlin's name would be out in this weather?" She opened the door and gasped.
"Won't your mother be wanting to know where you're going?" Carl asked as he drove the Bentley out of the Manor courtyard.
"Not if she's staring at herself in her mirror." Draco said casually.
"She's not that vain."
"You really need to pick up a dictionary one day." Draco stretched his long legs in the magically expanded passenger area and crossed his ankles. "I inherited many things from her; vanity is one of those things."
"Yes, Master Draco." Carl said. If skeletons could grin, Carl would be doing so.
Draco leaned forward and looked at the tinted part of the glass partition in the car. "I hate the rain. It makes my hair flat." He complained, running a hand through his damp blond hair.
"Yes, Master Draco."
They continued to drive for a while longer; the advantage to having a magical car was that you could travel across half the country in a short period of time. An advantage to being a wizard was that you could find nearly anyone in the country in two seconds flat. The rain was starting to cease, but there was a light drizzle coming down from the heavens.
"Are we almost there yet?" Draco whined and stared outside the window, watching several Muggle cars pass by them in a blur of colours.
"Yes, Master Draco." Carl said monotonously.
Through the slight rain Draco could make out several small, well-lit homes - most of which looked identical. 'Muggles have no sense of individualism. Either that or they liked the house their neighbour had and wanted one exactly like it.' He thought.
They pulled into a neighbourhood of the aforementioned identical homes and Draco found himself smiling as house after house zipped past, their destination getting nearer. "Oops, wrong turn." Carl said quickly and the car stopped.
Draco's eyes widened as he said angrily at Carl, "Wrong turn?! If you weren't already dead I could kill you right now." He threatened.
Carl laughed a hollow, yet amused laugh. "Just because I'm a skeleton doesn't mean I've lost my funny bone."
Draco looked mildly disgusted but the corners of his mouth were raised slightly, "That was the worst attempt of a pun I have ever heard." The car continued to trundle along the pavement, but slowed down as one house appeared.
"Katie! What are you doing out in the rain?" Hermione exclaimed and pulled the blonde girl inside her house.
"Your mum just called and wanted me to entertain you a bit. She said you were reading another blasted book." Katie shoved a pile of magazines and makeup bags into Hermione's hands.
Hermione frowned at all the stuff she had just acquired. "You really didn't need to do that. You could have caught a cold or something in the rain." Hermione gave the pile of stuff back to her neighbour.
Katie shoved the magazines and makeup back at Hermione. "It's not raining hard – just drizzling. Besides, it's not as if I lived at the other end of the street."
The two girls walked into the living room and saw Alex flicking the television channels back and forth. Hermione introduced the two of them and dumped the lot of crap on the coffee table. Alex took interest in the magazines and turned off the television set and reached for the topmost Vogue before Hermione slapped his hand lightly. "Have some hidden fantasies you'd like to share?"
There was a steady knock at the door and Hermione went to get it, but Katie got to the door first, saying loudly, "I'll get it!" Hermione turned to stop Alex from playing with the makeup, "Hello there…" she heard Katie say slowly and in the way Lavender and Parvati would say when the Quidditch boys trekked out to play. A smooth voice on the other side of the door said something and Katie ran out of the doorway towards Hermione. "Hermione! It's for you!" she covered her mouth to stifle her incessant giggles; the method didn't work.
"It amazes me sometimes that you're seventeen." Hermione said as Katie pushed her in front of the door before bolting back into the living room. Hermione sucked in breath and her hands flew to her mouth.
Draco stood in the doorway. Without an umbrella handy, his hair was plastered to his head and the sides of his face and his leather jacket had raindrops glistening on it. "Aren't you going to invite me in, Granger?" he said smugly.
Hermione's face broke out into a wide smile and she pulled Draco into the house and quickly shut the door before flinging her arms around his neck and kissing him briefly. Draco smiled into her mouth and pulled her arms off him. "Missed you too."
"Why—why are you here?" she asked, stunned.
He pushed his wet hair back in an alarmingly sexy fashion. "Don't want me here then?"
"No!" She exclaimed and searched for the right words.
He laughed at her, "I got your letter. Wanted to surprise you." He looked to left and saw Katie swooning and Alex frowning, and to the right he saw the Grangers and Columbus' gawking before both sets of parents hurriedly started to do something. "Did I come at a bad time?" he said without the slightest trace of remorse.
Hermione shook her head and took Draco's hand, leading him into the living room, "Definitely not. I told you I was having some company over." She motioned towards Alex, "Draco, this is Alex. He's an old friend." All thoughts of the night before were cast out of Hermione's mind. The two boys shook each other's hands and nodded in recognition. "And, I suppose you've met Katie; she's my neighbour."
"Pleasure to meet you, Katie." Draco flashed a charming smile and swept Katie's hand to his mouth, which he gave a chaste kiss, causing the girl to giggle madly.
"Excuse us." Katie said quickly and dragged Hermione outside into the hallway.
"Calm down. You're hyperventilating." Hermione put her hands on Katie's shoulders to make her breath properly.
However, she was still hyper, "Hermione! He's a babe! He's so charming and gorgeous and did you see how sexy he looks with his hair that way?" she said in a forced whisper.
Hermione couldn't help but smile, "Yeah, I know."
Katie was all bubbly, "I already told you how luck you were, but you are beyond lucky. How could you not have a picture of that guy?" she pointed in the direction of the living room.
"Relax – it's only Draco; he's a prat when he wants to be." Hermione walked back into the living room.
Alex was glaring at Draco, who was sitting on the couch. Draco was glaring back. "See?" Hermione gestured to Katie at the two of them.
Draco stood as Hermione sat down and pulled her back up, "We should get going; I have my chauffeur waiting in the car for us." He emphasized 'chauffeur' to rub it into Alex's face, and Katie sighed delightedly in the other armchair.
Draco sat on Hermione's bed when she left to tell her mother she would be leaving with Draco. He got up and started looking around the yellow room; he grimaced at the bright colour of the walls. On her desk and dresser he saw several moving as well as Muggle photos. The moving ones were mostly of Hermione, Harry, Ron and Draco, and the Muggle ones of Hermione's parents. He smirked when he saw innumerable letters scattered on the desk, alongside letters of reference from Hogwarts, Ministry apprenticeship forms and pamphlets.
The door opened and Hermione came in. "It's all right that you can come, right?" he asked.
"Of course it is. Mum and dad just thought it was too early, but I told them that it would've been a waste of your time to come down here and then have to go back home." She pulled out the trunk she used for Hogwarts out from her closet and started putting robes and Muggle clothing (all neatly folded, of course) into the trunk.
Draco helped Hermione pack and grinned when she started to throw her undergarments into the trunk. "Mother can lend you some robes too." He said when he saw the mass of black robes. "And we can go shopping. And you can always come back here for things."
"I couldn't borrow clothes from your mother. It would be rude." She neatly put her Ministry Employment forms on top of the clothes.
"No it wouldn't. She acted like I was getting married when I told her you were coming." He shut the trunk.
Hermione came out of her closet holding the work rucksack she used at Hogwarts. "If you're sure." Hermione said slowly, dropping her moneybag in the sack.
Draco nodded and pulled her towards him, pressing his lips to hers. She dropped the bag and pushed his still wet jacket off his shoulders and he flung it on top of the trunk. His hand crawled up to the nape of her neck and to her waist, and hers to the side of his damp face and into his hair. "Draco…" she murmured as his lips descended to the side of her neck and trailed kisses up under her ear.
She ran her hands through his damp silvery-blond hair, wanting to drown herself in this man. She caressed his neck and his shoulders through the light grey shirt he was wearing. Her senses were enhanced as she drowned in his touch, his taste, his smell; his minty, spicy, damp earthy smell that mingled with his pure masculinity and the sense of darkness and danger that only he had. The skin on her neck and waist and stomach burned with icy fire as his fingers, cold from outside, touched her, making her gasp at the heat of his body, and the feel of his hot breath on her neck was like a dragon's smoky breath. She pulled his face back to hers and revelled at the taste of his mouth, the feel of his tongue upon hers and in her own mouth. Her hands entangled themselves in his now dry, fine hair.
One of his hands was left splayed across Hermione's back, while the other moved down from her waist to under her knee, pulling it up to wrap around his own leg. Draco continued to lean forward, detaching his mouth from hers and kissing along her neck and jaw and anywhere his lips could touch on her burning skin. His continued leaning caused Hermione's one standing leg to give out from under their weight and she tumbled backwards, her lower back colliding with the edge of the trunk and landing on the floor. She cried out in surprise and pain as she felt a bruise starting to form where she hit the trunk. Draco caught himself and threw his hands out to land on the trunk with a loud 'oof.'
Hermione crawled up from beneath Draco and smoothed out her clothes and tried to tame her mussed hair. "I think we should…get going now." She said, trying to regulate her breathing.
"Yeah." Draco said back and ran a hand through his fine and awry hair.
They took a moment to fix their appearances and for Hermione to heal the bruise on her back with her wand. She picked up the fallen rucksack and put her wand in it. He put his jacket on, picked up the trunk and held the door open for Hermione to walk out.
In the living room, Alex and Katie were engaged in flipping through the magazines and making funny comments to each other on occasion, and Alex's parents were watching TV. "Mum! We're going to be leaving now!" Hermione called as she put on her jacket and stuffed the Apparation handbook into her bag.
Katie started to hug Hermione, "I'm going to miss you! When you come back – if you ever leave his house, since you spent so much time upstairs," she added, whispering slyly, "When you come back you have to call me and we can talk. Okay?"
"Yeah, sure, Katie." Hermione said and extracted herself from the other girl's hug. "Nice to see you again, Alex." She said to the other blond boy who was leaning on the stair banister.
"Same here, Hermione." He said shortly and hugged her quickly. He chanced a glace towards Draco who was looking coldly at him, before sitting with his parents in front of the TV.
Hermione's parents came downstairs and they each hugged their daughter and shook hands with Draco. Mr Granger said something in Draco's ear and Draco nodded, saying something back quietly. Hermione made a mental note to ask him about it later. "I'll send you letters and call you." Hermione said and kissed her parents on the cheek.
"Bye, Hermione. Tell us when you're coming back." Marie said sadly.
"Bye mum. Bye dad. Love you." Hermione smiled and left the house with Draco following behind her.
Hermione propped her legs on Draco's lap and she leaned on the side of the car. "What did my father say to you before we left?" she asked as they drove down the country road towards the Manor.
"Nothing really. Just, man-to-man things." He said shortly.
Hermione's brow furrowed, "Like?"
"Not to throw you on the ground of my bedroom and shag you mercilessly. Why use the ground when the bed is right there?"
She kicked him sideways in the stomach, making him cough and chuckle, "Well, sort of like that, not those exact words, but same context; that I should treat you like a princess and respect you and that sort of thing. Again, different words, same context."
"You said something back. What was it?" she pressed.
"I said I already did." He said quietly, but added, "Not the shagging bit."
Hermione laughed and leaned further onto him.
"Mother, this is Hermione Granger." Draco said politely as he introduced Hermione to Narcissa.
"Hermione, Draco's told me all about you." Narcissa threw back her long blonde hair and smiled her perfect smile. "You're quite the brilliant witch, aren't you?"
Hermione blushed and thanked her, "Thank you for letting me stay here—"
"No need to thank me!" Narcissa waved her hand, "It was the least I could do to shut Draco up about you." Draco had his hands stuffed in the pockets of his jacket and glared at his mother. "It's lovely that you've come earlier than expected, darling. Draco, show Miss Granger to her room."
Grumbling under his breath, Draco left the trunk in the hallway, obviously leaving it for a house elf to take upstairs. They climbed the grand onyx staircase up to the second floor landing. "Here's a bathroom," Draco pointed to his right as they walked down an abnormally long hallway, "There's another one closer to your room. However, if you plan on going to the loo at night, make sure you're relatively awake; some of the rooms – like closets and such - like to switch around and if you're not careful you'll end up with knives being jettisoned towards you when you open the door." He said, completely serious.
Hermione knew the house was somewhat dangerous, but at least she had an idea of how dangerous it really was. "My room's on the other end of the hallway, second last door before the hallway turns, on your left." He said as they passed several doors, and turned left, still following the hallway.
The occupants of the several pictures loomed down upon the two, occasionally muttering darkly under their breaths as Hermione passed. They passed a few windows, seeing and hearing the rainwater against the glass. "And here," Draco said finally, "is your room." He gave a sweeping wave towards a door to his right, and threw the pine door open.
It swung cleanly on its hinges and they walked into a large, finely furnished parlour. The walls were navy blue, and cream around the fireplace and windows. On the left was a fire burning in the large hearth, surrounded by a carved pine mantel. A cream coloured, leather couch lay in front of the fireplace, and two similarly designed armchairs flanked the sofa on each side. Long windows were on the opposite side of the fireplace and chairs, and a large, white desk stood next to them. Hermione loved it, in all its classic simplicity, "It's gorgeous," she commented. She looked straight up, seeing a large, domed skylight, and the rain pattering down upon it.
"Upstairs is the bedroom." Draco said, and took Hermione's hand, bringing her towards the marble, blue-carpeted staircase to the far right of the room. They climbed the stairs and reached the bedroom landing. There was merely a bedside table, a large four-poster bed against a wooden railing, armoire and walk-in closet. It was small, but cozy. Next to the lit fireplace was a silver-handled door. "Where does that go?" Hermione pointed to the door.
Draco started down the stairs, "The hallway on the third floor," he said simply.
Draco led Hermione to another silver-handled door at the wall opposite of the staircase. He put his hand on the handle, "And now, for only your immense pleasure, I'm sure, I give you," he swung the door outwards, "The Malfoy Cumulative Library."
Hermione rushed through the door and stared at her surroundings. It was most certainly bigger than the Hogwarts one, but only slightly so. Several torches were burning on the wall brackets, illuminating the area. There were shelves, upon shelves of tomes and scrolls across every expanse of wall – omitting the windows – and went upwards another level. A narrow, stone spiral staircase was at the side of the library, leading up to the second level. Although there were other writing desks, Hermione's attention was drawn to Lucius' desk; the large, heavy, black pine and gold gilded writing desk. It's clawed feet planted near the burning fire and long, looming windows. The natural darkness enveloping the desk pulled Hermione's gaze to it, making her cringe. "This is lovely, Draco." She said in awe, pulling her eyes away from the beautifully crafted, hunk of black wood, and to the expressionless Draco.
"I thought you'd like it – being Hermione Granger and all," he drawled, taking her hand, "Going to show you my room now." They walked out a set of large double doors, out onto another part of the second floor.
"I'm going to get lost in this house." Hermione commented, trying to recognize a portrait, or window, or flower arrangement, but failing to do so.
He smirked, "Don't worry; everyone gets lost at least once. 'Course after that one time they don't want to get lost again," Continuing to walk down the long corridor.
Hermione noticed a couple doors that had a silver star marked on it. She pointed one out to Draco, who said, "Oh, those are Transportals. Tap the star with your wand and say the room where you want to go, and it'll take you to the Transportal nearest the room. Only works with rooms in the house; rooms, not dungeons. They're a better alternative to walking around the house trying to find the loo." Draco simply kept on walking in the direction of his room, not bothering to use the Transportal.
Hermione recognized the landing they were on now: the main landing, with the staircase in front of them. Soon after, they reached Draco's room, which was bedecked in varying shades of green, black, silver, and the occasional streak of white. A king sized, four-poster with grey hangings lay against the wall, in the center of the room. The room was simply decorated, but it was in the same upper class, posh style as the rest of the house; a gilded fireplace, leather and velvet upholstery, the same iron torch brackets, crystal chandeliers, and the like decorated the room. "It's not as pretty as your room," Draco said smugly, sitting on the bed, "but it's still nice."
Hermione sat next to him, "Everything is lovely."
Three weeks had gone by since Hermione had come to stay with Draco. In those two weeks, she had done quite a few things; she had gotten lost once – and only once – explored the Manor, had already read several of the libraries books, and gotten on good terms with Narcissa. "Hermione, darling," Narcissa drawled in the customary Malfoy fashion one evening, "Are you enjoying your stay here?"
As with every dinner at the Malfoy home, all persons at the dinner table wore suitable wizarding dining attire; a custom Hermione immediately got used to. "Of course, Mrs—"
"Narcissa." The Malfoy woman said firmly.
Hermione gave a small smile, "Of course, Narcissa," she glanced at Draco, seeing him drink his champagne quietly, "Thank you for…welcoming me into your home." Hermione noticed that Narcissa enjoyed 'formal' conversations. In other words, conversations in which the people talking sounded like stiff businessmen discussing stocks. She sipped her butterbeer.
Narcissa daintily patted the corner of her mouth with her napkin. "Wonderful to hear that."
A comfortable July breeze blew across the dining room. "I would love it," Narcissa said, "if you would move into the Manor with Draco and I."
Draco's head shot up, staring wide-eyed at his mother, before blinking and becoming impassive, "Mother, she's only been here for—"
"She's a wonderful young lady, Draco. There's nothing wrong with her staying here." Narcissa cut Draco off, silencing him. "What do you think, Hermione, dear?"
"Well," Hermione cleared her throat, "thank you for offering the opportunity to me, Narcissa, but Draco's right; I've only been here for a few weeks. I wouldn't want to—"
Narcissa laughed, interrupting Hermione, "Wouldn't want to intrude? You wouldn't be intruding at all! You're a lovely girl, Hermione," Hermione blushed and looked down at her pudding, "Like I said, I would love it if you did."
"Thank you." Hermione paused, "Would you mind if I thought over it?"
Mrs Malfoy shook her platinum blonde head, "Of course not! Take as long as you want." Of course, that really meant, 'Tell me soon or I'll kick you out of the house.'
"She's so melodramatic!" Draco complained.
"Well, she does like to exclaim things a lot." Hermione said slowly, watching Draco pace in front of the fire in Hermione's parlour. "Why must you pace? It's my decision, not yours."
He continued to pace, "So?"
She sighed, "You act as if you don't want me to stay." She joked.
"Of course I want you to stay, but I don't want to make you stay because of me. Especially if you have that git Alek - or whatever his name is - at your house."
"Alex left days after I came here," she waved aside the thought of the other blond boy, "However, wouldn't it be a bit soon if I moved in here?"
"Of course it would be!" he stated as if everyone in the world knew that, and she was just beginning to realize it. "You can if you want; I'm not making you." He collapsed on the sofa next to her.
"And of course you actually mean, 'I am making you stay but still giving you a say in the matter.'" She joked. "I do want to stay," his grey eyes lit up, "but what would my parents say? They'd think it was a bit soon, and I wasn't at home very long before I came here. And what about Harry and Ron!"
"What about me and Harry?"
Hermione gasped and turned her gaze from Draco, who was rolling his eyes, to the red headed face in the fire, "Ron! Oh, it's good to see you again!" Hermione gushed, grinning.
"Same to you too. Hello there, Malfoy." Ron greeted in his Ron-like fashion.
"Weasley." Draco nodded.
Hermione smiled, "What're you doing…um…here, Ron?"
He shrugged his non-visible shoulders, "Just thought I'd surprise you. And what about me and Harry."
"Harry and I," she corrected, making him roll his eyes, "About Harry, where is he?"
"Dashed if I know—"
"I'm right here," Harry's head came into view, "'Lo Hermione, Malfoy."
"Potter. Gods, it's a bleeding Gryffindor reunion in my house."
Hermione whacked Draco, "Where's Ginny?"
"Oh, Fred and George have a new trick hair-dye. They gave it to Ginny, and now her head is green, and she says her scalp burns. So, she's getting mum to fix it." Ron grinned.
"We thought you'd be home by now, Hermione. No offense to you, Draco," Harry said quickly, "I'm sure you have a very…fine house."
"At least I have—" Draco started.
Hermione interrupted, "No, I'm still here. I might be moving in actually."
Ron raised his eyebrows, "Moving in? Why can't you move in here?"
"Are you serious? Bugger, I'll have to write 'Malfoy Manor' instead of the 'Granger Home' on my letters now." Harry huffed mockingly.
Hermione laughed, "You never had to write any of that on your letters anyway, Harry. Hedwig never needed an address."
Ron looked at Draco, "Why are you keeping her there anyway? Want to keep her away from us?" he joked.
Draco told Harry and Ron about his mother's offer. "Sure, it was your mothers offer. You probably want to keep her and sha—"
Ron never got to finish, because Hermione lunged for the conveniently pointy fire stoker and was waving it in front of the fire. "Oy! I was joking!" Ron yelled out.
"Hi there Hermione." Ginny greeted and her head joined the group, wedged on top of Ron's and Harry's.
"It is a reunion." Draco drawled, "Somebody floo Longbottom over."
Hermione ignored him, "Hello Ginny. Head not burning now?"
Ginny scowled at Ron, "You told her about that?" she hit her brother's head. She turned back to Hermione and Draco, "Well, it was lovely to see you again Hermione. My, it's only been what, a month since we saw you last, and I'm starting to miss you." Ginny smiled. "We have to go now. Mum wants Ron to do the dishes."
"She what? It was Fred who threw the peas at Percy!" Ron said loudly, "I'll see you later, Hermione. Don't get too friendly there, Malfoy." He winked and dodged out of sight before Hermione could aim another poke at him with the stoker.
"Good shot, Hermione. I'll see you later then, Ron'll be wanting help." Harry waved and left.
"Bye, Hermione! See you, Draco." Ginny beamed and left as well.
"That sure was entertaining." Draco drawled sarcastically, "You staying then?"
She nodded, "Yes, I will," she bit her lip in thought, "Don't know what mum and dad will think though."
He got up from the couch, pulling her up too, "Sleep on it tonight, and ask them tomorrow."
"Okay, 'night." She kissed him lightly on the cheek, before ascending to her bed.
Hermione put the Crysticall to the side and stretched. Draco was swimming lengths in the pool, and she lay on her stomach on one of the warm deck chairs. "I talked to them." She called.
He swam over and put his arms on the side of the pool. "They said they don't know and want to meet your mother."
"Good gods; they do?" he scoffed, "Why would anyone want to do that?"
"I told them that Narcissa was a very nice lady," Draco snorted, "and they want to meet her."
He hauled himself out of the water and dried off with his black towel; his wet feet left funny footprints on the white concrete. "Set up a floo connection tonight then."
"Your parents are very interesting, Hermione." Narcissa came out of the dining room, where she talked to the Grangers, and into the main lounge that evening.
'Is that a compliment?' Hermione thought. "How so?" Draco asked, eyes not leaving the Evening Prophet.
"Are all Muggles as nice as them?" Narcissa said, unknowingly ignorant.
Hermione coughed, "Yes, well, most are."
"Really? And they're, what was it, dentists, is that it?" Hermione nodded, "What do they do as…dentists?"
Hermione smiled, Mrs Malfoy was bearing stunning resemblance to Mr Weasley. She explained her parents' field of work, making Narcissa gasp and then laugh, "And people pay to have pointy things in their mouths! How absurd!" Her laugh caused her brilliant white teeth to show, 'So that's how the subject of teeth came up.' Hermione realized, inwardly rolling her eyes; her parents probably fainted on the spot at the sight of Narcissa's flawless dental hygiene. "Well, since they don't know dental charms, I suppose they have to endure the embarrassment. Imagine having people stick their fingers in your mouth, Draco."
"Yes mother; absolutely embarrassing." He said monotonously, turning a page of the Prophet.
"Narcissa, did they say I could stay?"
Narcissa turned her crystalline blue gaze from Draco to Hermione, "Yes, darling, they did. A bit begrudgingly however." She shrugged elegantly; only Narcissa Malfoy could make shrugging look like a perfected art.
Hermione beamed. "What about my—"
"Your things? I'm having Carl and some other servants pick them up for you during the week." Narcissa got up from her violet armchair, "See you in the morning, dears."
When she had gone, Hermione squealed, "Isn't this wonderful?" she grinned at Draco.
He folded the paper, "It is." He threw the paper on the table in front of him.
Hermione sat on his lap, looking rather comfortable there. She was still smiling from giddiness, making him inevitably start to smile back.
Ministry of Magic -- Great Britain
Form #: AR22
Date: December 21, 2002
Subject: Auror's Investigatio--
A sharp crackling sound came from the desktop BlueBell Ph-Lame that lay perched on the neat yet cluttered desk of Hermione Granger. The woman's quill paused, hovering over the top of the report parchment. She pushed the star-shaped crystal button on the platform of the Ph-Lame, clicking loudly. Another woman, whose features were all in varying shades and tones of blue – due to the Blue Ph-Lame - said in a stuffy voice, "Miss Granger, Mr Malfoy is here to see you."
Hermione smiled, "Thank you Miranda, let him in. And do try and cure that cold, I have a book I can lend you if you'd like."
At once the closed door in front of her desk swung open and in strode Draco Malfoy. He had under his arm a rolled up copy of the Prophet and his cloak. He threw both items onto one of the chairs in front of Hermione's desk. "I expect you home by seven o'clock sharp tonight, Granger." he said firmly, but also with some of his old playfulness and the nearly-always-evident sarcasm.
Hermione put her quill back into the inkpot. "Sorry, I can't; I have so much paperwork to do; plus I have a meeting with Harry at six thirty tonight about the potions warehouse raid. I'll be home late tonight."
"About that meeting, Potter should be talking to you about that—" He was interrupted by a loud crackling sound emitting from the Ph-Lame.
Hermione motioned for Draco to be quiet and pushed the button. "Yes?"
"Mister Potter is on flame two." Miranda said.
Hermione smiled and pressed a smaller round button, which clicked loudly. Harry's face popped into view, his hair not black but a deep navy blue. "Sorry Hermione, I have to reschedule that meeting tonight," he pushed his glasses further up the bridge of his nose, "The Weasley's are inviting me to an early Christmas party. Ginny said you and Malfoy were invited, but you couldn't go. Sorry about that," he broke off because he was visibly pushed aside.
Ginny Weasley's face came into view. "Sorry Hermione, we're busy at the moment. Happy upcoming Christmas, talk to you later, cheers!" and Ginny's face vanished in a puff of blue smoke.
Hermione turned to Draco, who had seated himself in one of the plush chairs in front of the desk. "We were not invited to a Christmas party," she stated.
"Yes we were. But I told them we had other plans."
"But we don't." she said slowly.
"Yes, we do." he grinned mischievously.
Hermione was losing her patience. "Could you please hurry up with it, it's already...two seventeen, I could have had at least half of this report done." she waved the paper in front of him.
"Since you asked so nicely I'll tell; only because that looks like a really sharp quill. You've heard of that posh new restaurant in Diagon Alley, Plaisirs Aristocratique, right?" Draco asked, leaning back into the chair, folding his hands across his chest.
"I've heard of it, why?" Hermione shifted in her leather chair.
He smirked haughtily, "Mother knows the interior designer and she, the designer that is, created some new kind of dining booth. It's really cool from what I've heard; charms that project images of other cities on the walls. Anyway, the booths are available for customer seating now so..." he trailed off, enjoying the look of awaiting suspense on Hermione's face.
"So..." she urged him on. She had heard of the new dining area and was quite surprised that they hadn't thought of that idea in the first place.
He was being very smug; about as smug as he usually got when talking about 'Malfoy fame and immense fortune'. "As I have lovely contacts I got us reservations for tonight; a pre-Christmas dinner. Hence the reason why I want you home early."
"Why didn't you get reservations for Christmas?"
"I was torn between festive holiday spirit and being the first one to view the booth." he grinned.
"Ah, so of course you took the latter." she shook her head.
"Of course. Plus, I think Potter is going on Christmas Eve or something, and I definitely do not want to ruin my Christmas by eating the same food as him."
Hermione was about object when she caught on to his antics, "You're so mean."
Hermione pursed her lips, "All right, I'll be home." He grinned, "But if I get in trouble with Moody about missing paperwork it's on your department's back." She leaned forward for a kiss.
He obliged, kissing her on the cheek, after getting up. "Oh, don't worry, us Dark Arts and Activity Specialists never have enough to do. I'll send Moody a nice holiday hex, or a Christmas curse." He summoned his cloak and paper, "'Ta, Granger." He shut the door silently behind him.
"Bye Malfoy." Hermione relaxed in her chair and smiled.
The rest of Hermione's afternoon flashed by quickly. She quickly completed her report on last week's investigation (some smuggling of boomslang and demiguise hair - which was clearly for the Department of the Regulation and Control of Wizarding Trade - but the lazy arses in that department shunted it sideways because there was some 'dark magic' abroad), filed the odd inquiry and had to redirect mail that had somehow landed in her inbox when it was for the Department of Magical Anomalies.
By the time she got home it was five past seven. The frigid winter wind had mussed up her hair, making it stick out in odd angles. As she climbed the grand staircase to her room she tried to tame the mess; however, the effort was in vain. The skylight in the ceiling of her room indicated a flurry of snowflakes in the black sky and the howling wind could be heard through the windows.
'I've gone to so many formal events and I still haven't a clue what to wear.' She thought bitterly, chewing on her bottom lip while she scoured through rack after rack of formal attire in the large wardrobe.
"Excuse me miss," said a timid, high-pitched voice from Hermione's right.
Hermione smiled at the house elf, "Yes?"
"Trisky has a robe that yous could wear miss. Lady Narcissa is letting yous keep it. It would look very prettyful on yous Miss." The house elf smiled weakly and thrust a garment bag into Hermione's arms before pop-ping away.
Hermione had always liked house elves. They were so nice and courteous and polite. She unzipped the garment bag and pulled out a maroon velvet robe with a cream fur-lined cloak. When she had changed into it she realized that while the ensemble was nothing really extravagant but it was elegant. Simple yet elegant. The robe was slim-fitting and clung to her, and the cloak was charmed to keep her warm.
By the time she was done with light makeup and untangling the mess that would have been her hair it was quarter to eight. "Excuse me miss," came Trisky's voice behind Hermione. "Master Draco told Trisky to tell yous that he is waiting for yous in the front foyer." Trisky curtsied and vanished again.
Hermione grabbed her purse and was about to take the Transportal downstairs but stopped as her hand touched the doorknob. 'Formal outings call on formal appearances.' And she calmly made her way to the onyx staircase. Draco was waiting at the base of the stairs, his hands stuffed in his black cloak pockets. "Is that my mothers?" he asked, taking her arm and they walked to the fireplace in the lounge.
"When isn't it your mothers?" she responded.
He smirked and threw the Floo Powder into the grate, calling "La Plaisirs Aristocratique."
A moment later they stood in an extremely large fireplace, in the foyer of a very grand restaurant. It had an arched ceiling, with different European art painted on it; amazingly, it was all Muggle art. Alternating jade and marble columns lined the walls, ten feet apart from each other, and in the gaps, there was more art; both magical and Muggle art, with the occasional plant or window. "Monsieur Malfoy!" a purely French accent called out amongst the throngs of finely dressed witches and wizards.
Draco led Hermione through the sea of silk, satin, and other fine material-ed robes, to before a crystal pedestal. A slightly stout man with a black toothbrush moustache and black-rimmed spectacles stood at the pedestal, beaming at Draco. "Welcome to La Plaisirs, Monsieur Malfoy! And who is zis delightful young lady?" the man asked.
"Hello Monsieur D'Astolfe, this is Hermione Granger." Draco introduced.
"Delighted to meet you Mademoiselle Granger," D'Astolfe swept Hermione's hand to his lips and kissed it lightly.
"As to you," Hermione smiled.
Draco spoke up, "I believe I have a reservation tonight." It was more of a statement than a request.
D'Astolfe's blue eyes twinkled, "Yes, you do! I shall get Louisa to escort you to your booth." He said in his rich accent, giving Draco a small wink.
Draco nodded his thanks. A petite red-haired girl in a sequined gold robe led Hermione and Draco past several other diners, and waiters levitating platters of seafood and pasta, until they came to a closed off booth. The girl who was obviously Louisa tapped the door and it slid to the side, noiselessly. The two sat at the silk table clothed, iron cast table, lit by a gold candelabra. "Monsieur Malfoy, you 'ave requested a view de Paris?" Louisa said, richly accentuating every syllable for Draco.
"Yes, thank you."
Seconds later, the French waitress had left, sliding the door shut, and the booth was transformed into a night time scene of Paris upon a rooftop. Hermione gasped and stared around her. The velvet sky was clear, making the stars stand out like diamonds. Beneath them the river Sienne flowed, and the Eiffel Tower stood like a beacon, the lights around it sparkling. The scene was charmed as to not be the same weather as in London; instead of a cold winter, here, it was a midsummer's night, and the breeze blew past them. They could hear Muggle traffic going on beneath them.
Menus appeared before them, the magic shimmering gold. Their cloaks drifted off their shoulders and hung themselves on an iron cloak rack. From the air around them, soft chamber music played. As Fleur Delacour said three years ago, '…choirs of wood-nymphs, 'oo serenade us as we eat.' "Draco, this is beautiful. We're not really in Paris are we?" Hermione whispered, not wanting to ruin the surroundings.
"No, we aren't. It's very realistic, isn't it?" he said, picking up a menu.
Their plates melted into the silk tablecloth, again, leaving shimmering gold dust before vanishing as well. They had hardly spoken during the dinner, and didn't start until they were wrapped up in each other, dancing together to the music. "You can almost grab the stars with all the magic." Hermione said, reaching out behind Draco to grasp at open air.
"Why not try something, closer to home," he released the hand he was holding and reached out towards the Eiffel Tower and the shining lights around it.
Hermione wanted to ask what he was doing, but just watched instead. His hand grasped at the air, and he brought it in front of her. Curiosity overwhelmed the urge to question what Draco was doing, so Hermione remained silent. "If one cold, cruel man was able, to give one beautiful, intelligent woman, a gift to end all gifts; and to make her cry, and be so very ecstatic at the same time…" he said slowly, looking down at her figure, which was looking down at his closed hand, "…what is the gift?"
The breath caught in Hermione's throat. She looked up at Draco, his grey eyes boring down into hers. And back down at the hand he was now unfurling, "It…" ever so slowly opening, in time with her ever so slow speech, "…is…" fingers one by detracting, time slowing down to match her words, "…an…" a gasp of breath, an outstretched palm, "…engagement ring." The final words were uttered quietly, mingling in the air before blowing off with the faux-summer breeze.
"And the beautiful, intelligent woman is always right." He murmured, bringing his hand up.
Hovering from Draco's open hand, in front of Hermione's twinkling eyes, in a shroud of pale, gold light, was a stunningly silver, single diamond ring. It floated between their two bodies, emitting its gold light, slowly rotating, as if on a gold pedestal. The silence followed. As did the silent tears. As did the one, single, unspoken question, hovering alongside the small ring that held so much.
The silence broken, the joyous tears flowing, and the everlasting love between two souls shown by one word, on one Parisian-London rooftop, on one midsummer-winter night, and by one, single, kiss. And the always-lingering trace of gold magic sparkled around, and between the two lovers, as the magic around them began to fade and they were transported back to their world, where their everlasting love would have to shine brighter and longer.
~ Fin ~
A/N: Je suis finis! I really hope you've all enjoyed reading as much as I have writing. Like I said before, I am doing a sequel. I don't know what it's called yet, but there will be one! Not going to guarantee that I'll have it out soon, because I probably won't. I'll probably write a few ficlets; nothing in the FL-verse though. Maybe a few half-notch songfics.
If you care to know, I'm usually around Fiction Alley Park, at the S.S. Leather and Libraries (D/Hr) SHIP. And I can be found at the T.A.D.A.A. (Tom and Draco Adorers Anonymous) thread at FAP also. I will be moving FL over to Fiction Alley (or rather, Schnoogle), but I'll also post the sequel here, and at FA.
Thanks and review replies for chapters 29 and 30a.
Thanks to: Colibi, DMRox, musicnut507, hyper_shark, Ami, Emma Watson, Ginn (twice!), EvenstarPrincess, Holly Radcliffe, Calypso in Love (!!!!), queen of the clarinets, #1 Legolas Fan (even if it wasn't really a positive review, thanks anyway), Jessica Johnson, Hermy-own-ninny (twice!), Vanillastar, shazie, CrazyCat, blueberry girl, kai shikaido (or Gwen Lupin), pCt, jazzyjellybean, Ali, Arime Setta, Malfoy, Dragons Kitten, yi ling, kim, Tempest Child, Lulu81, LOOK AT THE EMAIL, CLARICEKARN1234, Satine Shadows, DracosSugar, slytheringerl, Roswell4ever, kitty, Haleigh.
Polarbearmilk: Yes, I adore Cassie Claire's "Draco Trilogy," and yes, the love potion in Draco Sinister is sorta in mine too. But, (as an "excuse") I wrote the potion stuff waaay before I came across the Trilogy. I actually started reading the Trilogy, probably after I wrote Chapter 29. But for D/G fics…it isn't my favourite ship, to say it nicely. I've read about one, and I didn't like it much. But I don't mind the D/G-ness in the Trilogy. Thanks for your review!!
Kaora Himura: Glad you liked the speech! I'm not really a good speech writer, and I thought what I wrote was mostly rambling, but thanks so much!
YSM: Wow, they aren't OOC, I thought they were pretty OOC on certain occasions, but thanks! Fanfiction.net Guinness of Records? Hehe, that'd be cool! Thanks!
Anonymous (sorry, your name didn't show up!): To tell you the truth, I really don't know why I stuck in the mood thing. I think it was because it was cool for the Yule Ball scene. LOL! Thanks!
Anonymous #2 (sorry, your name didn't show up either, and if you're the same reviewer as the one above this, sorry!): You printed everything out? Wow. My beta wanted to do that, but he got frustrated because it was so long. Hehe. Good D/Hr fics…check out my favourites list, because those ones are good. Thanks for the reiew!
"Tom Felton" (who is really Cortex): Hahaha, verrry funny. Not. *sticks out tongue* That eyebrow bit was funny!
Delila Malfoy: *swoon* I was imaging what Draco looks like in swimming trunks too. LOL. Couldn't resist sticking it in. Thanks for reviewing!
Song*breeze: *gasp* All my reviews matter to me! I love my reviews so much; they're my motivation to keep writing. Tom Felton is absolutely gorgeous, glad you agree! Thanks for the review which totally matters to me!
Sabriel of Lothlorien: Yay, I get to convert someone to be a D/Hr shipper! Go me! LOL, just kidding. Aww, Harry'll be just fine. I've been trying to be good at "sticking to it" but you know, normal life (*shudder*) gets in the way. But I have reviewers like you who keep me going. Thanks!
Padme789: Best written? Ha, no, that's not me. Thanks a ton anyway! Draco/Hermione splurges are the best kind!
Lucy Malfoy: Hehe, I checked that over, when you said that fang was dead, and I realized, yeah, he is! Oops…love your reviews though! And I definitely still read my reviews…why wouldn't I? Just kidding. Thanks!
Silver Ice: Oh my, that has got to be one of my favourite reviews, the one you left me. I'm so flattered you think I should share this with JK Rowling. Wow. Three hours straight?! Double wow. Glad you and your friends like it so much! Thanks a million!
Hp1fan: Everyone seems to like the Willy Wonka part; I didn't know it was that funny, honestly. Hehe. I've never liked Pansy. Must be her clinginess or something. And you're right: Tom Felton is absolutely gorgeous! Thanks for reviewing twice!
SilverBunnie: Hehe, well the Never Ending Story ended eventually. Just like this. Thanks for your congratulations; I honestly never excepted these many reviews, or this much readership at all! Thanks for the review!
Lady Ktulu: I "turned on the emotions" even more, just for you! Hope you enjoyed it. Thanks a lot!
Thank you so, so, so much for sticking with this fic. This really was the first story I have ever written (except a Santa one, but I won't talk about that) and I'm amazed at the feedback I've gotten throughout this whole thing.
As always, reviews are welcomed, as with constructive criticism, flames are used to be laughed at to heat my very cold winter; God knows I need the heat.
P.S. Did you know that minus review replies and stuff this part of the chapter was about 23 or so pages long? I'm shocked.
P.P.S. Feel free to check out my blog (URL at the end of 30a) for updates, or if you want to read into my life.