Disclaimer: I am not JKR
It was three whole days before Hermione finally noticed that her kitchen had been cleaned. The mess from her divine date with Draco went awry was gone. She'd had spent the entire time immersed in her work and the only times she came up for air were to refill her coffee cup and grab something light to eat from the hospital's tearoom. After three days of not caring, she wasn't even sure why she was staring at her sparkling kitchen like it was a mystery, except for that she remembered specifically not cleaning it. Did Harry come and do it? She could not remember. Hermione opened the refrigerator to scrounge around for some fruit and saw the bakery bag that Draco had left. She yanked out and peered inside at the pastries frowning.
"I think I made a terrible mistake," she said to the open bag. It was beginning to dawn on her that perhaps Draco didn't intend to leave those three long and miserable days ago, but had only stepped out to bring her breakfast. And she had been avoiding all unnecessary mail and visitors at work. Hermione tossed the bag on her gleaming counter top and raced back to work to see if Draco had attempted to contact her during the three days she had refused visitors. If she had blown her chances with over a simple misunderstanding she was going to never forgive herself.
Hermione had never been so utterly and completely miserable in her life. Even the despair that was associated with her kidnapping was at least tampered with rage and survival instincts. Being without Draco just plain sucked and she missed him terribly.
When Hermione arrived at the hospital it was nearly deserted being the middle of night. Nobody was working her office wing's reception desk so it only took her a moment of rummaging to find her stack of non pressing mail. There were several letters from Draco. Hermione locked herself in her office and choked back her tears as she read each one.
I hope everything is well. I was surprised to see that you had left this morning when I stepped out to get us some breakfast. I could only assume you were called out for an emergency. I will stop by St. Mungo's to check in later today. I hope you don't find that presumptuous, but I was looking forward to seeing you this morning.
P.S. I cleaned up the kitchen, hope it is okay
Your receptionist said you are busy and would not let me see you. I assume whatever work emergency called you away is keeping you busy. Please contact me as soon as you can.
And then finally,
It has been two days now since I have seen you and I miss you already. I wish I knew what happened that made you leave so suddenly. I stopped by your house and haven't seen you there. I can only assume that you want your space and have no desire to see me right now. I regret whatever it is I did and hope in time you will forgive me. I will be waiting patiently.
"Oh, thank goodness!" Hermione cried fat tears of relief that blotted the ink on Draco's letter. "He didn't break up with me. I am such a fool! Damn Harry!"
Hermione pounded her fist on the table. She immediately thought of what Harry had told her and when Draco was gone and didn't even think, she only reacted. She was going to kill Harry. Writing Draco a return letter would be the simplest way to establish contact, but it did not feel appropriate after three solid days of snubbing him. He might have been forgiving yesterday, but that did not mean he was now, or would be tomorrow. Hermione was already beginning to feel convinced the relationship was over. Surely he was too.
Hermione went back home and tried to sleep, her only peace of mind coming from the fact the next day she was off work and would spend the whole thing trying to find Draco. The copy of the book he'd given rested next to her on the spare pillow.
Draco had done absolutely nothing of any importance since he last saw Hermione. The decision he'd made to give her space felt wrong. His intuition was telling him that it was not space she wanted and she was avoiding him specifically because of something he'd done. After not leaving his home for three days Draco finally managed to shower, shave, and get outside. He went to his office space in Diagon Alley and did some more nothing, growing increasingly frustrated when he saw Harry and Eliza strolling down the street below him outside the window. Not even bothering with doors he Apparated right in front of them.
"Potter," Draco said forcefully, and then slightly more politely he added, "Eliza."
"Malfoy," Harry responded bitterly. "What do you want?"
"Don't play games with me, Potter. Where is Hermione?"
Eliza extracted her arm from Harry's and moved away a few steps. "I will meet you in Three Broomsticks, Harry. See you, Draco."
Harry looked at her as if he didn't want her to go, but then thought better of it and waved her off. Draco blinked a few times in confusion before understanding what was going on.
"Are you two a couple now?" He demanded angrily.
"What's it to you, you just threw her aside," Harry snapped back.
Draco had the decency to appear guilty. "I had to. It never would have worked."
"And now you've gone and done the same thing to Hermione. Eliza told me that you couldn't commit, and it's true," Harry said under his breath. People were starting to stare as they faced each other in the middle of the street.
"I couldn't commit to her, Potter. That is not the same as unable to commit. I am in love with Hermione and now she won't even speak to me. You have to help me find her." Draco clenched his fist around his wand, not with the intent of using it, but just to have something to push his anger into. A jet of steam shot out the end, but they both ignored it.
Harry took a step closer to Draco and put a finger menacingly in his chest. "Why? So you can go sleeping with her and then disappearing again the morning like you always do? Hermione was finally happy, Malfoy and now she's more depressed than I've ever seen her. I can't let you hurt her anymore."
Draco knocked Harry's hand out of the way and took a step back as he processed his words. Disappearing like I always do? Icy realisation clawed at his stomach. "What did Eliza tell you?"
Something in Draco's voice and expression compelled Harry to answer immediately and honestly. "She said she knew the end would come eventually because you never even spent the night. That you always found some excuse to leave in the morning so you wouldn't have to face that kind of intimacy."
Eliza did know exactly what was going on just as he'd suspected. "When did you tell Hermione this?"
Harry started to walk away, but Draco grabbed him.
"When did you tell Hermione this?" Draco shouted.
"While you were off in Egypt or whatever on your little treasure hunt, that's when. I love Hermione and I don't want to see her get hurt again. You rescued her so she has you on some sort of pedestal, but at the same time she truly cares for you. I know that I'm not meant to be with her, but that doesn't mean I have to believe she's fated to you like she does." Harry was getting red in the face and his own wand was out and in his hand. He practically growled at a few passersby who were slowing down to stare and they immediately put their heads down and moved on.
"I didn't leave that morning, Potter. I tried to sneak out to get her pastries from my favourite bakery so that I could serve her breakfast in bed. I was gone for less than twenty minutes, it wasn't even light outside yet and when I got back she was gone! How in the bloody hell am I supposed to be with her in the morning, if I can't even slip out of bed long enough to go to the fucking bathroom without convincing her I will never come back?" Draco kicked a rock on the street and sent it clattering down the stairs leading to the Apothecary door. "Damn it, Potter! Did you ever stop to think that maybe Hermione was the best thing that happened to me? That maybe she was saving me a little bit too?"
Draco turned his back on Harry and let a stream of fiery language that made a passing couple blush.
"Draco, I messed up," Harry said pocketing his wand and walking to Draco's side.
"Damn straight you did. And now you're going to help me fix it. I can't just walk up to her with flowers and my explanation after all this time and expect her to be satisfied. You're going to tell her that you were wrong in comparing my feelings for Hermione to my feelings for Eliza. Eliza is a great girl and I would have committed to her if I had to, but we wouldn't have been happy. Hermione is different, Harry. I feel like my heart doesn't even beat without her around," Draco's voice trailed off as he said that last bit to himself. He could cry he was so upset.
Harry scrubbed his hand up face and through his already rumpled hair. Maturity and a successful career did nothing to tame his hair. "What do you need me to do?"
"Meet me in the Three Broomsticks in three hours."
Draco strode off down the street without a backwards glance.
Hermione took extra care in getting ready before she went to find Draco. She didn't want him to see her with three long days of work grime on her skin and her hair a bushy mound on her head. The day was bright and summery and she dressed in a white summer dress and sandals and threw a green cardigan over the dress for luck. She applied generous amounts of hair slickening potion to her hair and a minimal amount of makeup to her face. When she looked in the mirror she almost looked normal. The only traces of her miserable week without her true love were the shadows in her eyes, the ones under them were concealed.
The first place Hermione looked for Draco was at his office. Nobody was there. She went to the Malfoy Manor, and he was not there. She tried his apartment in London, still not there. Hermione spent lunch at Ron and Pansy's house and messed up her makeup explaining to them what was going on, but neither of them had seen Draco in a couple of days either.
"Send him an owl," Ron quipped over a mouthful of mashed potatoes. Hermione and Pansy just scowled at him.
"You're so insensitive, dear," Pansy said handing Ron a napkin. "You can't just send an 'I'm sorry' owl; you have to go rushing in with some romantic gesture. It's much more appropriate to take the time to actually find the person. If he comes here, I will detain him and send you a message."
Hermione left her friends' house and stopped once more at Draco's home and office. There was still no sign of him. She walked around Diagon Alley for over an hour, even picking up a few supplies so as not appear purposeless, but she still never saw him. He was usually out and about on a daily basis. Hermione could recall seeing him plenty of times over the years going about his business in the busy wizarding district. Why of all days, did he have to pick this one to be nowhere? In the mid afternoon she gave up. She Apparated to a small park near her house and sat on the swing set for another hour and watched the sun as it slowly started to lower itself into the horizon. She didn't want to just owl him, but if that is what it was going to take to at least let him know she was looking for him, that's what she would do. He was probably furious with her.
Hermione walked the last quarter of a mile to her cottage fighting tears and thinking she was going to curl up on her couch with a good book and a bottle of wine and try to forget the day, but Harry was sitting on her stoop alone. He jumped up when he found her and put his arms around her.
"I've been trying to find you all day. We really need to talk."
"Harry, I don't really feel like talking. I just won't to go home." The threatening tears finally spilled over and she swiped at them angrily, not wanting to weep anymore.
Harry grabbed her arm and steered her away from the house. "It is a nice night, Hermione. Just give me fifteen minutes and then I will let you go home. I have to talk to you about Draco."
"I blew it with Draco, Harry," Hermione said as she gave in and let him lead her away. "I found breakfast in my refrigerator yesterday and he'd written letters that I ignored at work. He wasn't trying to leave me that morning he was making me breakfast in bed and I panicked. I panicked because of you!"
She punched Harry in the arm hard.
"That's what I needed to talk to you about, Hermione. I was wrong to tell you that. Even if I was worried about it happening I should have kept it to myself. Malfoy's feelings for you aren't necessarily what they were for Eliza and it was mean and unfair of me to make it that way." Harry rubbed at his arm where it was going to bruise not noticing that Hermione had stopped walking until he was three steps ahead of her.
"Where did you see Draco?"
"What?" he asked turning around feigning innocence.
Hermione drew her wand and advanced on Harry. "Tell me where and when you saw him. There is no way you would have had such a sudden change of heart unless you spoke to him. I have been looking for him all day, Harry so that I could apologise. Where is he?"
"I don't know where he is now. And how do you know it wasn't Eliza who made me realise what a fool I've been?" Harry bit his tongue knowing that the first bit of what he said gave him away.
"When did you see him?" Hermione demanded again jabbing her wand in his chest.
"In Diagon Alley, this morning around lunch time. I was there with Eliza going to eat with her during my break and he found me." Harry raised his hands up and backed away from her.
"Did he tell you he was going to find me?" Hermione asked hopefully.
Harry looked at his watch quickly and stepped around Hermione's arm so he could gently push her wand hand down. "He was really angry with me after I admitted I talked to you about his past with Eliza. I don't think he wanted to tell me much else. I should probably get back to work. I am doing a double shift today, and I have been waiting here for you for awhile. Maybe you should just owl him and tell him you want to talk, he really wants to see you, he'll respond."
"I don't want to owl him," Hermione said stamping her foot. She turned away from Harry without another word and started stalking back to her house.
"Hermione!" Harry called after her jogging to catch up. "I really am sorry, and well I'm happy for you."
He backed away and Disapparated before Hermione could say anything else.
Hermione looked at the spot where he was standing for a few seconds dazed by his odd behaviour. She shook it off and turned to open her door and when she did the first thing she noticed was the smell. Hundreds of flowers were scattered all over the lower level of her cottage. There were daisies, tulips, tiger lilies, and rare orchids spread all over the living room and kitchen filling the cottage with the scent of a botanical garden in the summer time.
She walked around touching them and bringing individual flowers to her nose. Looking around she couldn't see a note anywhere to tell her who they were from, but she knew in her gut they were from Draco. Her heart swelled as she followed the trail of flowers into the kitchen and saw even more. She was forgiven. Her kitchen door leading to her small back garden was standing open and Hermione could see more flowers and flickering candlelight from hundreds of candles scattered about. The light from the candles mingled with the few stars that were peaking out of the clear dark blue sky. Hermione gasped at how beautiful the effect was and she stepped outside her heart hammering loudly in her chest.
A small table had been set up and there were to champagne flutes and a bottle of Tete du Cuvée sitting in front of a silver tray with a matching dome covering its contents. Hermione's well trained eye for liquors recognised the expensive bottle of Champagne Henriot Brut made by the Cuvée des Enchanteleurs. It was very expensive champagne meant to be drunk with expensive aphrodisiac like foods such as oysters on the half shell and scallops. Hermione lifted the dome and nodded her appreciation. Just as she expected there was fresh seafood on the tray. It looked mouth watering and Hermione then only realised how little she'd eaten in the last few days. Hermione muttered something aloud about the quality of the set up.
"One of my favourite things about you is that you have exquisite taste."
Hermione turned towards the sweet voice that caused her breath to hitch in her throat. Draco was standing beside her, the moon his back drop causing him to appear like a silhouette in his dark suit. His blond hair the only thing lighter than the lunar orb behind him.
"Draco, I'm so sorry,"
"Hush," he said stepping up to her and placing a finger on her lips. "Don't say anything. We had an awful misunderstanding thanks to Potter, and I want to leave it at that. Tonight I want to show you that I will never leave you, no matter what."
Draco took Hermione's hand in his and raised it to his lips. "You look beautiful."
Hermione self-consciously pushed at her hair and wiped at the makeup smudges under her eyes.
"I mean it, Hermione. You're perfect." Draco leaned in close and lightly pressed his lips to hers.
Hermione didn't say anything. Her breath was hitching in her throat and she was positive her voice box would fail her if she attempted to make a sound.
"I want to show you something," Draco said and he pulled a small box out of his pocket. Hermione's heart skipped a beat as he opened, but inside it was the mangled remains of the jewelled hair comb she was wearing when she'd been kidnapped.
"Where did you find that?" Hermione asked taking it from him to examine. "What happened to it?"
"I picked it up off the floor at the castle where you were being held captive. I slipped it into my pocket thinking I would give it back to you someday. This was before I sent you away with the Portkey," Draco said stroking the back of her hand with his thumb. "After you left Harry and I were trying to clean up the mess and Goyle hit me with a Killing Curse. I think you saw that bit just before you disappeared and nobody really told you how I survived. This is how. The curse hit your hair comb destroying it, but protecting me. It actually melted through my pants and stuck into my hip, but the healers were able to take care of that without any scarring. That's why you wouldn't have seen it that night."
Hermione was truly moved by the story, but she couldn't help but wonder why he was telling her.
"You saved my life that day, as surely as I may have saved yours. I kept the hair comb to remember because it felt symbolic. You know how I feel about symbolism."
Hermione nodded choking up.
"I looked at that comb every day. I carried it around with me in my pocket, and I would see it even when I was with Eliza and I knew I couldn't be with her because it was you, always you. I made a mistake leaving that morning, but it was only to get breakfast, and then you were gone, and my heart broke."
"I'm sorry I jumped to conclusions, Draco," Hermione said feeling tears fill her eyes for the millionth time that week.
"Shh, it isn't your fault." Draco kissed away her tear. "I had a history; I am just sorry you didn't hear it from my own lips so that I might explain myself."
Draco bent down on one knee in front of Hermione and pulled another small box out of his pocket. This time Hermione literally stopped breathing as she realised what he was about to do. She placed her hands on her chest and felt her heart slamming against her sternum.
"I know this is soon, but nothing I have done with you has felt wrong yet. I need you, I want you, you have liberated me from every fear I have ever had. I want to love you and make love to you every day for the rest of my life. I want to know that if I sneak out to get you a chocolate croissant you won't be able to run away because your bed will be my bed. Hermione, will you marry me?"
Draco opened the box to show a stunning square cut diamond sitting on a plain platinum band. It was absolutely exquisite in its simplicity.
"Oh, Draco." Hermione was crying freely now, unable to stop the tears of joy. "Yes, of course, yes!"
Draco slipped the ring on her finger and pulled her up so that he could kiss her, their tears of joy mingling on each other's faces.
The couple sipped champagne, ate rich food, and made love late into the night, both of their pasts slipping away to make room for the future.
There it is the final chapter. I am so sorry this story took so long to finish, but the death of my mother and working on another story kind of made it difficult for me to write. It was supposed to be a much shorter story, but I got a little carried away. Thanks to all who have read and reviewed! There are parts of this chapter showing up in bold on and I don't know why. Just ignore it, it doesn't mean anything.