One week later
"Draco, wake up."
Draco stirred as a hand was placed on his shoulder. With a sigh, he dragged his heavy eyelids open to see Ginny sitting opposite him on the couch.
"How did you get in here?" he asked groggily.
"Hermione gave me the password. Just in case, and Harry mentioned you weren't in classes today."
"I couldn't today. It's too difficult, not being able to do anything."
"It's hard for us all." Ginny sighed, picking at a loose thread on her robes.
"I can't carry on normally while she's lying there in recovery, alone." Draco frowned.
"Hermione wouldn't want you to fall behind on school work just because she's not here." Ginny commented, her voice trembling.
"All we can do is wait." Draco sighed, combing his hand through his hair as he leaned back and stared at the ceiling.
"I was pacing the corridors all night."
"Yeah, I understand. I found myself walking around the library looking for her after dinner. It's easy to forget that she's elsewhere." she sighed, crossing her legs.
"Have you heard anything?"
"No, not yet. McGonagall only says she's still at St. Mungo's and Madam Pomfrey won't tell us anything."
"They have to tell us how she is some time."
"And they will. But for now McGonagall says that anyone caught sneaking off will be expelled."
"I bet she's got special traces on us too." he grumbled, and Ginny nodded.
"I felt like this when Harry, Hermione and Ron were off searching for Horcruxes. It's painful, not being able to help or do anything. You can't be normal when all you do is worry and fret and miss them."
"It's unbearable." he sighed.
They sat in silence for a minute, before Draco spoke.
"I'm going to make something to drink, do you want something?" he asked, restless enough to push himself off the couch and towards the kitchenette.
Harry soon came to find Ginny, and joined her and Draco in sitting on the couch quietly, all nursing a cup of tea. A sharp knocking at the door caught their attention, and Draco unfolded his limbs and rose to answer it.
Pansy, Blaise and Theo stood outside.
"More visitors. Did I send out an invite?" he grumbled, letting them in.
"You weren't in classes, we got worried." Pansy said, greeting Harry and Ginny as she and the two boys took a seat.
"Any news?" Blaise asked, and Ginny shook her head.
"None. How's Astoria?"
"Fine physically, but her and Daphne's parents pulled them out of school until after the Christmas Holidays, considering they're only a month away it makes sense."
"My parents tried to get me to come home early, but I declined." Draco said as Pansy rubbed his back from her seat beside him.
"How about we play a game of exploding snap?" Theo suggested, getting up and searching the bookshelves for cards.
"Why not. Something to take our minds off everything." Ginny smiled.
They were three games in when Draco had just begun to laugh at Pansy's shocked yelps when a knock at the door made them all go quiet.
"Malfoy. Can I come in? I brought food from the kitchens. Lots of it."
Draco stepped back after a long pause.
"Mr Potter and Miss Weasley, can this not wait until tomorrow morning?"
"It's important." Harry persisted, and Minerva sighed.
"Professor McGonagall, please." Ginny fixed the Headmistress with a pleading look.
"Come in, then." Minerva replied, opening the door to allow Harry and Ginny into her office.
The two sat in the chairs in front of the desk and she sighed, waving her wand and starting the kettle.
Taking a seat in her chair, she folded her hands on her lap.
"What can I help you with?"
"We want to testify for Lucius Malfoy."
During her constant potion created sleep state, Hermione had been dreaming of all her dead friends, the people who she had seen last fighting in the final battle. It had been comforting to have them there, and she had spent what felt like weeks reconnecting with the witches and wizards she missed so dearly.
"We've missed you all, but we're there in spirit." Tonks told Hermione as she sniffled and wiped away a tear.
"We know. It's not the same, though."
"Pass on my love to Mum, will you?" Fred asked, wrapping his arm around Hermione's shoulders.
"Why, are you going?"
"No, Hermione. You are." Remus smiled before he bent down to give Hermione a hug, and Tonks looked sad.
"It's time for you to depart now. We've loved having you here, and we're glad that we could come to you for the time we did, but you don't belong in the spirit world."
"I'll miss you." Hermione choked out, and Fred squeezed her tight to his side as Tonks clasped her hand and Remus put his hand on her shoulder.
"We'll miss you too. Stay safe, Hermione. And remember, we're always there when you need us. Tell Harry and Ron too." she whispered, and then suddenly Hermione was alone.
"Miss Granger, squeeze my hand if you can hear me."
She blinked slowly and focused on squeezing the hand that was wrapped around hers.
"Good. Can you speak?" the medi-witch peered at her, and Hermione wet her lips with her tongue.
"Yes." she rasped, and the medi-witch smiled.
"Get this girl some water, please!"
The room burst into a flurry of activity.
Two days later
"Harry James Potter, what do you wish to tell the Wizengamot?"
He took a deep breath, and the images of that night flashed across the back of his eyelids when he closed them.
Turning his gaze to the members of the Wizengamot, he spoke.
His mother's grip tightened on his arm, and Draco glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. She was a shade paler than usual, and her eyes were rimmed by faint dark circles, but you wouldn't be able to tell unless you actually looked at her. And even then, her practiced smile covered up the stress.
Placing his own hand over hers, he waited as the Wizengamot rose.
"We gather today to review the case of Lucius Malfoy, charged with breaking house-arrest, traveling to an un-authorised location and conversing with known wanted Death Eater Rodolphus Lestrange." there was a pause in the room, and Narcissa squeezed Draco's arm as he looked down at his father.
"Based upon the evidence, and the testimonies and memories given by a Mr Draco Malfoy, Miss Ginevra Weasley, Mr Harry Potter and Miss Astoria Greengrass, we have agreed that Mr Lucius Malfoy is.."
Narcissa stopped breathing for a second, and Draco waited, tense as the room seemed to still.
"Thank you, all of you for being so kind and selfless." Narcissa said quietly, tightening her hold on Draco's hand.
"It's odd to say that he helped us, but we couldn't let that go unnoticed." Harry said, and Narcissa smiled.
"You're a good man, Harry Potter. And you've found a very exceptional companion. Now excuse me." she let go of Draco's hand and followed the Ministry worker who motioned her over.
"Are you coming, Draco?" she asked, pausing.
"In a minute." he replied, watching as Lucius was guided out of the court and into a room.
Draco sighed heavily, feeling a little lighter, a little less scared now that one thing was sorted out.
"Thanks, Ginny, and thanks to you Harry." he turned to look at them.
"You're welcome." Ginny smiled.
"We'll see you back at Hogwarts."
After a meeting where Lucius' house-arrest was discussed - four years - Narcissa and Lucius requested that it be split between the Malfoy Manor and their holiday home in Germany. The request was granted, pending approval and the appropriate teams were assigned to prep both houses and secure the transport points within.
Exhausted from the day's events and glad that it was a Saturday so he could go back to his room and sleep, Draco arrived back on Hogwarts grounds to find McGonagall waiting for him.
"Miss Granger is awake."
"I want to see her."
"She's being transferred back to the school, and she's not here yet."
"She should arrive today. I'll notify you when she's back. Until then, try and be patient."
Draco bit his tongue to keep from arguing; how could he be patient when he hadn't seen Hermione since almost four weeks ago when the Aurors had wrenched her from his grasp and apparated to St Mungo's? So he nodded and headed for his Slytherin dormitory, wanting to be as close to the hospital as possible. He got inside, managing to shower before he sat down on his bed and waited. Before he knew it he had dozed off, his eyes unable to stay open as the fireplace crackled.
He was woken four hours later by knocking on his portrait, and was surprised to see Professor Slughorn standing there.
"Ah, hello Mr Malfoy."
"Good evening, Professor. Can I help you?"
"No, no. Professor McGonagall has asked you to come up to the Hospital. Miss Granger has arrived back."
"Thank you, Professor." Draco grabbed his robe, hurriedly putting it on as he dashed past Slughorn and started up the stairs to the Hospital tower.
McGonagall was waiting for him outside, and let him in without a word as he tilted his head in thanks towards her. He stepped between the curtains around the only occupied bed in the room and finally saw her, her hair floating out across the pillow as it framed her face.
"Hermione." he breathed, his gaze falling onto her pale, still form in the bed.
He took a seat, clasping her hand and leaning forward, his breath catching in his throat as he took her in.
"Draco?" Hermione's hoarse whisper startled him, and he looked up to find her gaze on him.
"Good morning, Sleeping Beauty." he smiled, and she wheezed a tiny laugh.
"I'm so glad you're okay."
"I'm glad you're okay." he replied, cupping her cheek with his hand.
"I am now." she breathed, her eyelids fluttering closed as she relaxed into his touch. He leaned forward, pressing his lips to her nose.
"And you will be. I'll never let anything like that happen to you again."
Draco visited Hermione as much as he could over the next week, laughing towards the end as she grumbled about being fine and wanting to get out of the Hospital. But Madame Pomfrey insisted, and Hermione's screaming nightmares that Slughorn was working on potions to remove was the thing that kept her there. Ginny, Harry and Ron visited, and Draco let them have their time with her.
Ron had apologised profusely to Hermione, sitting with her for two hours while they had discussed everything that had happened between them in the last year. And when Draco came back from his Quidditch match, tired and achy he was surprised to find the two of them talking and laughing together.
"So, things are okay with Weasley?" Draco asked after Ron had left as he bit into a chocolate frog, breaking off half and giving it to Hermione.
"Yeah. They finally are. Apparently he asked Hannah out today, and she said yes."
"That's good. I caught the snitch today." he smiled, and she grinned.
"Well done, Draco. I always knew that money helped you win."
"Watch it." he warned, trying not to laugh as she giggled at him.
"Maybe next time I can come and watch."
"That would be great, just make sure there aren't any rogue bludgers after you. I can't have broken ribs before Christmas, how will I eat until I'm stuffed?"
Hermione just laughed.
A week later
When she got out of hospital she found Draco, Ron, Harry and Ginny all waiting for her, although Draco was standing off to the side as her three best friends talked. As they took their turns embracing her, she smiled.
"Let's go and get lunch. I'm starving."
"Brilliant idea, breakfast was four hours ago and I'm wasting away." Ron said, and they all laughed.
"We're so glad you're back." Ginny reached out to touch Hermione's shoulder.
"Me too, there's so much homework and studying to catch up on." Hermione frowned, and Harry laughed.
"Calm down, Hermione. It's only Saturday. You have to settle back in first."
"Harry, I've missed so much!"
"I'm so hungry." Ron complained, patting his stomach as Hermione fretted.
"Come on then, let's go." Ginny said to Harry and Ron.
"Potter and I have been taking notes, you'll be able to catch up." Draco told her as Ginny started pulling Ron and Harry down the corridor.
"We'll meet you in the great hall!" she called back, and Draco and Hermione watched as the trio disappeared down the stairs.
"How are you feeling?" Draco asked, stepping closer to her and pausing as his hand came up to twirl one of her curls.
"You can touch me, you know. I won't break." she sighed.
"Then why won't you? After the day I arrived back from St Mungo's you haven't touched anything except my shoulder or my hand, and I'm beginning to wonder if the memories I have of the day I got back were a dream."
"I have reasons." Draco turned away, and Hermione frowned.
"Please don't shut yourself away from me." she pleaded, wrapping her arms around him from behind as she pressed herself against his back.
"You being kidnapped was all my fault." he whispered, and she shook her head.
"No. No way. He wanted revenge on Harry, Ron and I for what happened with Bellatrix, and he would have done that with or without you around."
"I disagree. He's my Uncle, it was my fault."
"Draco Malfoy, stop being a self-pitying git." she snapped, and he turned around to look at her in surprise.
"I still maintain that it's my fault."
"Draco," she reached up to touch his cheek, smoothing her thumb across it, "You can't blame yourself for the actions of an insane man. Now can you please stop, and just let me enjoy being out of hospital?"
"What about your arms? You must have got scars."
"There are none. See?" Hermione rolled up her sleeves, displaying her arms.
"Not even a mark." Draco mused, sliding his hands over the smooth skin which had been gruesomely carved up and covered in blood when he'd found her.
"Not one. Now please, can you be normal Draco again?" she asked.
"I suppose, but I'll need some convincing." he smiled, picking her up and spinning her around before he pulled her close and kissed her.
"Better already." Hermione smiled.
One week later
Draco and Hermione stood on Platform 9 and 3/4, having just pulled their trunks from the train.
"I'll write." he promised, tucking her hair behind her ear as she smiled at him and took his hand.
"Make sure that Weasley and Potter don't tire you out with their games and excitement at lack of homework."
"I've already started studying for after the break." she admitted, and he laughed.
"Try to enjoy the holidays."
"Studying is enjoyable!" she argued, and then he leaned down to kiss her and the argument was forgotten.
When they pulled apart, Draco kissed her nose before picking up his trunk.
"See you in two weeks, Hermione." he let go of her hand, turning to see Pansy and Blaise waiting for him.
"Have a good time at home." Hermione smiled, watching Draco walk away as Molly came up beside her.
"Hermione! My dear, how have you been?" Molly enveloped her in a hug, and soon Hermione was swept away with the Weasley's, laughing about stories of the Burrow.
"Mum?" Draco called hesitantly, stepping out of the fireplace and cringing as his steps echoed around the entry room.
When he got no response he put his bag down and started off in the direction of the lounge room, peering in to find his parents curled together on one of the couches.
"Draco!" Narcissa cried, her face lighting up.
"It's so good to see you." he responded, leaning down to hug Narcissa.
"Son. I've missed you."
"Are you alright?" Narcissa stroked his cheek softly with a frown.
"I'm fine. Tired, but fine."
"Please, sit. Tell us everything about school. How is Miss Granger?" Narcissa asked, and Draco smiled.
"She got out of hospital two weeks ago, and today she went home with the Weasley's to spend some time there."
"Weasley's." Lucius crinkled his nose, and Narcissa gave him a look.
"None of that, Lucius. They're Draco's friends now too."
"That doesn't mean I have to get along with the whole Weasley clan, I would hope." Lucius argued, and Draco laughed.
"No, but I've invited them all around for dinner."
"Stop it Draco! He's teasing, Lucius. No Weasley's will be dinner guests." Narcissa laughed as Lucius looked horrified.
Two weeks later
Astoria walked into the Great Hall, Daphne and Anthony at her sides. When people started to whisper, Daphne shot them a glare.
"She was under Imperio." she snapped, and the students fell silent.
Anthony reached down to take her hand, and she smiled.
"You don't have to walk me to the Slytherin table." she told him.
"I know. I want to." he steered them towards two empty seats and sat down next to her, a smile playing at his lips as she looked at him confused.
"What are you doing?"
"Sitting with you." he grinned.
She was stunned into temporary silence, and he laughed, picking up a bread roll.
Draco stepped into the heads common room - finally - after spending the whole afternoon on the train being surrounded by affection couples. Pansy and Blaise had been inseparable after their mini- New Years holiday together, Daphne and Theo had finally started dating after a huge Christmas Party at Pansy's, and even Millicent and Goyle were holding hands. He hadn't managed to catch Hermione, although he had seen glimpses of her on the platform among the crowd as they had boarded, but his friends had been so busy talking about their holidays that he hadn't had a chance to go and seek her out.
He immediately spotted her curled up in one of the big chairs by the fireplace, a book lying over her stomach as she dozed quietly. A smile spread over his lips as he made his way to her, his hand coming up to touch her lips as she stirred.
"Draco!" she leaped off the chair, throwing herself at him as he caught her and pulled her against him.
"Thanks for all your letters." he kissed her, and she melted into the kiss, her arms sliding around his neck.
"Thanks for all yours. And for the present." she grinned when they pulled apart and he put her down. She pulled back her sleeve so that the gold bracelet slid into view, the small ruby lion charm dangling off it.
"And I loved yours." he pointed to the cloak clasp that he had attached to his robes, the green emeralds glinting in the firelight.
"I missed you." she admitted, running her fingers through the hair at the back of his neck.
"I missed you too. How was your Christmas?" he asked, sitting down on the chair and pulling her down to settle over his lap, her head leaning against his shoulder.
"It was incredible. Charlie - Ron's brother came back from Australia, and he'd found my parents. It was the best Christmas gift in the whole world, and we all spent the next week back at home settling in while I explained why I'd sent them away."
"You didn't tell me this in your letters after Christmas. I had wondered why they were so short."
"I wanted to share the news in person. I'm sorry my letters were brief, there was so much to catch up on with them."
"It's fine, my parents were particularly keen to spend time together as a proper family, after everything."
"How are your parents about us?" Hermione asked, turning her head up to look at him.
"Mum is delighted that I seem to have changed so much since the end of the war, and my father didn't at all react how I had imagined. He was wearily supportive but said that he trusts the decisions I make now."
"Quite. I'm so happy that you have your parents back, Hermione." he kissed her forehead, and when she tilted her head towards his, leaned forward and kissed her.
The next morning, the headline on the front of the Daily Prophet took up half the page.
"LeStrange sentenced to life in Prison, struggle erupts outside Courtroom.
"Rodolphus LeStrange was arrested the other day by a dozen Aurors for kidnapping and torturing two minors in a plot to avenge his wife's death. LeStrange was one of the few remaining Death Eaters on the run from the authorities. Yesterday, he was sentenced to life in prison, and upon leaving the courtroom attempted to take down his guards. There was a struggle and he was killed in wand fire."
"Thank Merlin." Daphne sighed as Astoria stared at the front page, glancing over to Draco and Hermione who were sitting further up the table talking.
"Should we tell them?" she asked Daphne, and the older girl shook her head.
"Not now. Let them have their peace, I'm sure they'll find out later. Anyway, your boyfriend is coming." Daphne told her, and Astoria turned to see Anthony walking towards their table.
Draco slid into the seat next to Hermione, acknowledging Harry and Ginny with a wave and Ron with a brusque nod. It had taken a few months, but Hermione was back to complete normal; no more nightmares, and therapy had helped greatly with her emotional trauma from the past year's events, including the recent ones.
He admired Hermione's hair as it escaped the bun she had it twirled up in, loose curls tickling the nape of her neck as she studied a book on the table.
"Not sitting with your friends tonight?" she asked, finishing the chapter and lifting her eyes to meet his as she smiled and kissed him on the cheek.
"No, they're all making out. It's impossible to talk to them. See?" he motioned towards the Slytherin table where Blaise had his chin on Pansy's shoulder as they shared food, and Theo and Daphne were wrapped around each other.
"You know, some people might say you're like that sometimes too." Ginny smiled cheekily.
"I strongly dispute your claims, and argue that we are in no way as mushy as you and Potter." Draco laughed, and Ginny shrugged before turning to interrupt Harry and Ron's conversation to give Harry a kiss.
"What was that for?" he asked, righting his spectacles as Ron covered his eyes and Hermione giggled.
"Just to prove Malfoy right."
"Our team is still better at Quidditch." Draco teased, and Ginny bristled.
"Take that back! You don't have half the team we do."
Hermione laughed, picking up her book and reading it one handed as she finished her food while Draco and Ginny argued.
"Bed time," Draco yawned, putting down his book as Hermione scribbled away furiously. "Are you coming?"
"In a minute, I just have to finish making notes on this chapter."
"Come on, Hermione. You've been at it for hours."
"Just a minute. Go get ready for bed and I'll be there soon." Hermione continued scribbling, and Draco shrugged. But fifteen minutes later when he looked back into the common-room, she was still writing. He glanced at her book as he approached her and frowned.
"Hermione, you've moved onto the next chapter!"
"I know, but I can't stop when I'm working. You know that."
"Just go to bed without me, I'll come in later."
"I am not being woken at four in the morning again by you collapsing into bed. You're exhausted and you need some rest."
"Fine, I'll sleep in my own bed."
"You don't enjoy sharing a bed with me?" he asked, coming to stand behind her and resting his chin on the top of her head.
"I didn't say that. But I'm in the middle of this..."
"You should rest."
"I have after NEWT's to rest."
Draco sighed, picking up the book from the couch next to Hermione and wedging a blank piece of parchment into the pages before he closed it.
"Hey!" she protested, but he cut off any further arguments when he leaned down, tilted her head to the side and kissed her.
"Stop it, you're distracting me." she mumbled as he broke away, her body tingling.
"Only if you come to bed."
"I have to finish this." she stood, reaching for the book on the shelf that Draco had put it on. But before she could pass Draco, he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close to him.
"Later." he said, kissing her again. She closed her eyes and kissed back, her heart pounding as their bodies pressed together.
When she broke the kiss for a gasp of air and to fan herself slightly, he gave her a look that made her toes curl as he reached for her robe and slid it off her shoulders.
"What if I fall behind?"
"Hermione, you're three weeks ahead of everyone else." he said, massaging her shoulders and watching as she groaned, leaning into him for support.
"I think you can spare one night and get to sleep before one."
"It's only just midnight, so on that logic you should let me study for another hour."
He shook his head and slid his hands down her back, massaging as he went.
"I had other things in mind."
"You're going to study with me?" she asked, her eyelids fluttering as his fingers kneaded a sore muscle. When his hands slid down to cup her butt and lift her up towards his body, she looked up just before he pressed their bodies together and kissed her slowly, taking his time to enjoy the kiss before he ended it. When he did, she was flustered and a little out of breath, and he slid his hands under her shirt as he picked her up, turned and started to one of their rooms.
Draco lay awake, looking down at Hermione lying with her head curled into his chest, her arm draped over his hips as she slept. Their clothes lay in a pile by the bed, and he stroked down her back as the moonlight came through the window and illuminated her skin.
Before falling asleep, she had propped herself up on one arm and looked at him, a sleepy smile dancing across her lips.
"You were right, I needed a break."
"You did. You can study tomorrow." he smiled, running his hand down her arm that lay at her side.
"I'll study you tomorrow." she said, giving him a seductive look from under her eyelashes.
"I think that's a wonderful idea."
"Thank you, Draco."
"For what?" he asked, putting his arms around her as she yawned.
"Being a wonderful boyfriend." she had replied sleepily, promptly falling asleep.
Easter Sunday (April)
Deciding to stay at Hogwarts for Easter was an easy decision; Draco's parents were away and Hermione's parents were busy getting back into work after their absence. The castle was half-empty, Ron and Harry having gone back to the Burrow to be spoiled and fed by Molly, and much to their and Ginny's dismay, Hermione had politely declined the offer.
She and Draco had finished their assignments three days into the break and had since been spending nights on walks around the lake as the weather got warmer.
That morning, Draco woke up alone, looking over at the crumpled side of the bed where Hermione had been lying. Frowning, he leaned up on one elbow to look at the objects surrounding her pillow.
There were a handful of small colourful, foil wrapped eggs.
"What on earth?" he mused aloud, scooping the eggs into his hand when he noticed the bit of parchment tucked underneath.
"Find all the eggs." he read it out, seeing a basket at the end of the bed. Curious, he got out of bed and grabbed the basket, putting the eggs into them as he made his way out of his room. There was a huge egg sitting in the hall just outside his door with parchment under it, and Draco picked it up and took off the foil before biting into the shell. It had been years since he'd had an easter egg, the house-elves organising easter egg hunts until he had turned 7. Since then, he had just been given a box of chocolate frogs on the day, as he had been obsessed with collecting the cards within them.
Following the trail of shiny foil, he had collected a full-basket from the common-room by the time Hermione climbed through the portrait.
"You're awake. I got food; pastries, scones, cakes, muffins, tarts, croissants and more. We don't have to leave the room until dinner." she grinned, putting down the large plate she was holding.
"You're ridiculously brilliant." he laughed, putting down the egg basket and pulling her into a hug.
"You are. I haven't had an easter egg hunt for years. You are perfect, and I love you, Hermione Granger."
"You love me?"
"More than anything else."
"I love you too." she beamed up at him, a beautiful blush covering her cheeks.
"Now, let's enjoy this feast."
"After Easter finishes, I'm afraid that our schedules will just consist of study, homework, Head duties and meals."
"And sleep. I will make you get enough sleep, so don't even try to fight me on that." Draco laughed, and she rolled her eyes.
Hermione had been right, and soon their schedules were flat-out, the two only managing to find time alone on shared patrols or in their free evenings when they would curl up on the couch together and do assignments, before Hermione fell asleep and Draco would carry her to bed and tuck her in.
But Draco didn't care one bit; any time spent with Hermione was wonderful time, and it was when she was lost in a book or snoring softly on his chest that he paused his own studies to look down at her and thank Merlin for the wonderful witch that had grown to love him.
The only thing they had left to tackle were NEWTs.