Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all of it's characters belong to the wonderful J.K. Rowling. If I were making any money off of these stories, I wouldn't have so many bills.
A/N: Written for the HP_Triangles exchange at LJ. My pairings were Hermione/Draco and Hermione/Harry.
Warnings: None, really. Brief mentions of lovemaking, but nothing overt. A bit of tearjerking angst.
What's A Girl To Do?
"If anyone has any objections to the marriage of this wizard and this witch, let he or she speak now, or forever hold their peace."
I watched as the audience of Harry Potter and Ginevra Weasley's wedding ceremony tried to surreptitiously glance around all at once, and held in a snicker. Thankfully, I was successful. After a few seconds of awkward silence, the ministry wizard carried on with his spiel, and I shifted my weight from one foot to the other. Even with the cooling and comfort charms placed on my shoes, I still wasn't quite prepared to wear three inch heels for several hours. My legs were rapidly getting tired and cramped.
I suddenly felt the tingle of magic around my feet and felt myself shrink a few inches. I glanced around the crowd as I took Ginny's bouquet from her, dying a bit inside at the look of adoration on Harry's face. I sighed internally at the thought of lost chances while maintaining my smiling composure. I finally caught the shoe-culprit's eye and gave him wink and a smile of gratitude, receiving a smile and wink in return. I know it sounds odd, and I know Ron will probably never forgive me for doing so (judging by the look of pure loathing presently on the best man's face,) but I was glad I'd invited Draco Malfoy to this wedding.
I know what you're thinking, and believe me, if someone had told me this time last year that I would not only be civil to, but good friends with Draco, I would have suggested they check themselves into St. Mungo's Spell Damage Ward. On that same thought, I don't suppose it would have occurred to me that I could fall in love with my best friend, either. I guess I should start at the beginning.
Six Months Ago
"If you want to play for the Cannons, I'm not stopping you, Ronald. You've always wanted to play Quidditch."
"Won't you even consider coming with me? We could get a small house on the coast, where you can have all the books you want."
"And be alone with nothing but books and a cat for company while you're perpetually training? I'd go mental within a month, even I can't read that much."
"I don't want to leave you, yet I don't want to pass up this opportunity. What about a long-distance relationship?"
I snorted in response. We both knew from Charlie's long string of ex-girlfriends that that situation was unlikely to work out. Ron and I had had a wonderful summer after that horrible spring, even with grieving over the losses of friends, family and loved ones. Now that fall had arrived, and job offers along with it, we had to decide our next course of action, and hope that we could keep the arguing to a minimum. We were doing admirably so far, and I was beginning to feel a sense of relief, which was in and of itself rather depressing.
"There's a muggle saying: You can't have your cake and eat it too. I think it applies here."
"I guess you're right, as always, but I wish you were wrong for once."
"That makes two of us." We stood across from each other in the foyer, letting the awkward silence build between us.
"So, I suppose that's it?" I barely registered that I was speaking until the words were out of my mouth. My entire body had gone numb.
"I suppose so. I'd better head back to the Burrow so I can owl the team owner and let him know I'm interested," Ron start to hug me, hesitated, then placed a small, light peck on my cheek before turning and apparating.
I walked into my small living room and stood in the middle of the room for an indeterminate amount of time, completely unaware of the fact I was crying, until I heard a knock on my door.
After the final battle, Ron and I went to Australia to find Wendell and Monica, or as I knew them, Robert and Jean Granger. Restoring their memories was a lot easier than explaining why I had altered them to begin with. After a long night of yelling, crying, hugging, and more crying, my parents decided to retire from their dental practice and remain in Australia. I miss them occasionally, but a visit is only an apparition away.
Upon returning to England, I found that in the time Harry and I were running around the Forest of Dean, Death Eaters had ransacked my parents house, effectively leaving me homeless. The ministry covered up the fire by claiming there was a short in the wiring, causing the insulation to alight. Thankfully, my parents had decent homeowners' insurance, and I was compensated by the ministry for "pain and suffering". Harry, Ron and I salvaged what we could, and Molly offered me the use of Bill's old bedroom indefinitely. It was while I was staying at the Burrow that I was offered a job with the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. I went to the initial interview with the new Minister of Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt, only to confirm that I really wasn't interested in the job, but rather an opening in the Department of the Regulation of Magical Creatures.
After the thirty-seventh owl (I counted) bearing a howler or cursed item, I decided it was time to find a place to live on my own. Preferably, a place where owls couldn't deliver mail easily. The place I was now standing, my two-bedroom flat in the middle of a building in muggle London, where Harry Potter was threatening to break down the door.
I waved my wand at the door, opening it as I slumped down onto the nearest sofa. I barely registered Harry closing the door and sitting down next to me, and I jumped slightly when he finally spoke.
"Are you going to be alright?"
"Oh, yes. I'll be fine."
"If it's any consolation, Ron is just as upset as you are. Maybe more so."
"Not really, but thanks for trying."
"Come here," Harry muttered as he gathered me up in his arms as I started to sob in earnest.
You know how sometimes situations get beyond your control? One moment you know yourself, then the next you're watching from somewhere outside, wondering what in Hades' name you are thinking? You know you aren't thinking about anything at all, just feeling. I certainly lost all rational thought when my best friend, who was engaged to my best girlfriend, started kissing me. My rationality finally decided to return full force the next morning as crippling guilt, as I watched sunbeams from my charmed window flit across his face.
It was then that I realized I'd been in love with him since we'd gotten stuck in a tent together, but there was nothing I could do about it.
Five Months Ago
I hate shopping. I absolutely detest it, unless I'm looking for a new book, because, lets face it, we all know how I feel about books. I especially loathe clothes shopping, and if I must, then a dress is usually at the bottom of my list.
So there I was, shopping for the perfect bridesmaid's dress with Ginny. It didn't help matters that I was having a hard time looking my friend in the eyes. Ginny held up a violet frilly…thing, one eyebrow raised at me in question.
"That's nice, Gin. Pretty."
I was caught off guard as Ginny burst into laughter. I finally looked up at her from the rack I'd been half-heartedly perusing and caught sight of the gaudy purple beaded monster she'd been holding.
"You're obviously not enjoying this, Hermione. Let's go get some lunch, then some ice cream, and afterwards I'll get mum and she'll help me pick out a dress, alright? I'm sure between the two of us we can manage to find something that looks nice on everyone."
"Lunch sounds nice, and my mum always said green looks nice on me, or blue. Cool colors."
I led Ginny to a side-alley where I was confident we wouldn't be seen and apparated us to Diagon Alley. I had passed a new sidewalk café the past week that I'd been anxious to try, and now was as good a time as any. I also figured that if my mouth was busy with food, I wouldn't blurt the entire truth out to Ginny. After we had been seated, and were perusing our menus, Ginny glanced around the café's dining room, and gestured with her head.
"Look who's finally come out of their secret lair."
I glanced discreetly over my shoulder to where Draco and Narcissa Malfoy were seated in a private booth, sharing what looked like a mouth-watering sundae.
"You've been reading too many comic books." I teased as I rolled my eyes. "And those two Malfoys are hardly villains. A prat and a snob, certainly, but without the influence of the other one, they aren't so bad."
"I can't believe you would be so forgiving, especially after what happened to you at their house, while they watched."
"Malfoy tried to convince them we weren't the right people. It was all he could really do. And Narcissa lied to Voldemort. She obviously cares about her son, if nothing else."
I watched Ginny suppress a small shudder at the dead despot's name before grinning self-consciously and replying, "yes, yes, I know. Fear of a name. I hear it from Harry all the time."
"And he's right. Can we stop dwelling in the past and order some lunch, now? If Malfoy can handle being in the same café as me and not make a big deal of it, then I can do the same."
"Works for me, but you aren't getting out of helping me plan my hen party."
Four Months Ago
I sat behind my desk in the newly renamed Department of Magical Creatures, and scanned potential job applicants. After appealing to Minister Shacklebolt to have the entire department overhauled, he had named me head, much to the relief of the former head, Robert Agnew, who had been trying to retire for several years. He hadn't ever managed to do so, as no one wanted the job until I came along. At the time, I was working on legislation to provide all registered werewolves with free Wolfsbane Potion at the full moon, but I desperately needed more potions brewers that were capable of that particular recipe.
I scanned the name at the top of the pile yet again, and tapped my quill against a blank sheet of parchment in indecision. Draco Malfoy. I was having an internal debate. Could I handle working with him? What if we were perpetually at each others' throats, as we were in school? I wasn't overly fond of the idea of hiring him, but he was one of the best potions brewers in Great Britain, and I knew he could brew the potion I was in need of, having been taught by Severus Snape himself.
I finally put quill to paper and wrote a short note requesting an interview with him, and attached it to one of the Ministry owls, holding my breath as I watched it sail off out of my office window, then bear north toward Malfoy Manor. Now that the deed was done, I decided there was no sense worrying over it, and I went back to editing my legislation suggestions for the Wizengamot. I was thoroughly involved in fixing some tricky wording when there was a soft knock on my office door.
Thinking it was Draco showing up for an interview as opposed to sending an owl in return, I quickly straightened my desk before replying with what I considered a professional "come in." I was rather surprised, although I'm not sure how pleasantly, when Harry stepped through the door in his Auror robes.
"Erm, hey, Hermione. Nice office."
"Thank you, Harry. Have a seat. Would you like a biscuit?" I asked as I gestured toward a tin that was laying on the corner of my desk that Molly had owled to me that morning.
"Heh, no thank you. You sounded just like McGonagall for a moment there," Harry grinned as he settled into the seat across from me. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes in response.
"Funny, Harry. What are you doing here? I have a lot of work to do." As if on cue, a ministry owl dropped a letter on my desk, which I promptly ran a diagnostic test over with my wand to check for any curses, hexes or jinxes. After an initial perusal, I was glad to read that Draco was willing to come in for an interview that afternoon, within the next few hours. I needed to get Harry out of my office, not only because of the tense relationship between the two men, but I was no longer sure how to act around him. I was aware that my newfound feelings for my best friend weren't reciprocated, that the night we had slept together had been about comfort and the heat of the moment. That knowledge didn't help me at all, as love is one of the most irrational feelings a person can have.
"Actually, I wanted to talk to you about the night you and Ron broke up."
I knew there was no way Harry could have been reading my thoughts, as he as always been horrible at both Occlumency and Legilimency, and I thought I had successfully kept my emotions in check. After all, the man can be pretty thick.
"What about it?"
"Erm, well, are we ok? I mean, are we still friends? I would hate to think that our friendship is ruined, or weird, because of something that just, well, happened."
I sighed in response as I attempted to rub away the oncoming headache as I replied quietly, "Yes, we're ok, and yes, we're still friends. And before you ask, no, I haven't said anything to Ginny and I didn't plan to. Now could you please get out of here before my potential potions brewer shows up?"
"Sure, Hermione," Harry replied with what he assumed was conspiratorial grin, "Who are you interviewing, anyway? Anyone I know?"
"Oh, yes, you know him. It's Draco Malfoy."
"Malfoy? I wasn't aware he was suffering for money?" Harry replied as he stood and began to brush off his robes.
"Maybe he's bored. I guess I'll find out in a bit. I assumed you were going to fly off the handle and declare that you'd protect me from the evil git." I said as I began cleaning off my desk in preparation.
"Naw, I'm not Ron, after all," Harry grinned as he ducked a wadded paper ball that I sent flying at his head with my wand. It went over his shoulder and bounced off of Draco's chest. He bent to retrieve the paper from the floor, his pale blond hair loosely hanging in his face, hiding his expression. When he stood, I could see he was hiding a bemused grin as he tossed the ball into my wastebasket from across the room.
"Nice throw, Malfoy. Good luck."
"I don't need luck, Potter. I'm more than skilled enough for this job."
Harry chuckled to himself and waved goodbye to me as I heard him mutter something that sounded like "that's what you think," as he took off toward the lift.
"Draco, please sit down and make yourself comfortable," I said as graciously as I could as I gestured to the chair that Harry had just vacated. "First, I should let you know that this will be a partnership as opposed to an employment. You will be free to brew potions wherever you choose, so long as they are finished by the deadline. So, if you have a private lab you would prefer to work in, that's fine, but if you would prefer to work here with me at the ministry lab that's also well and good. I just need you to fill out a bit of paperwork, and I'll have your first list of potions due by the end of the day, should you decide to take the job. Are you still interested?"
"If I weren't interested, I wouldn't be here, Granger." Draco replied as he settled back into the chair and propped one foot on the other knee. "I like the idea of not having a boss, although I'm curious as to what I'm going to be paid for my work."
"The ministry will pay you seven galleons per vial of caustic potions such as Wolfsbane or Drought of Living Peace, and five galleons per vial of standard potions."
"I'm perfectly aware of what's considered a caustic potion." Draco replied, a hint of his old sneer on his handsome face.
Handsome? I have to admit, that thought came out of left field at the time. I suppose it was because through most of the interview, he had maintained a pleasant smile and attitude, and the sneer ruined it for me. Of course, I had to retaliate.
"And I'm perfectly aware you know what you're doing. Now, are you going to take the job or not? If not, tell me so you can get out of my office. I have more important things to do."
"Touché, Granger. I'll do it, for the moment anyway. I'm sure you're more than aware that I don't need the money, I was just curious. Mother is away more and more and it gets lonely in the manor. When I saw your ad I thought brewing potions would be something to keep me occupied for awhile."
"I'm glad to have your help. The load was getting to large to handle on my own. I just need you to fill out and sign this questionnaire for personnel." I replied with not a little bit of relief in my voice. The only other two candidates were an older lady whose name I didn't recognize, and Lavender Brown, and we can all guess how well my working with her would have turned out. Draco quickly filled out the form, which rolled itself and disappeared with a pop. He stood, brushed himself off and extended his hand, which I took and shook firmly.
As he was walking out the door, Draco turned back and said over his shoulder, "You can tell Potter he can come back and finish his liaison now. I apologize for interrupting your, ahem, meeting."
I shut my office door as quickly as I could, so that he couldn't see the tears making their way down my cheeks.
Three Months Ago
"Is everything alright, dear?"
Molly Weasley is a wonderful woman, and a second mother to me. Unfortunately, she's been a mother long enough to know when something is not quite right with one of her young.
"Oh, no, Mum Weasley, just thinking."
"Alright, dear. If you need to talk, I'm hear to listen."
I glanced around at the large dining table at the Burrow, where I had landed for the weekly Sunday dinner. This particular weekend, Bill and his small family, Charlie and his newest girlfriend, George, Harry, Ginny and I made up the group. As always, there were places set for Ron, Percy, and of course, Fred. My heart broke a little bit as I watched George quietly set a pea on Fred's fork, waiting patiently to be launched at an unsuspecting victim.
Weasley family dinners are a noisy affair, even with a group as small as this one. There are always several conversations going on at once, sometimes all the way across the table, therefore creating the necessity to shout. Being an only child, it took a long time to get used to the organized chaos of the Burrow, and some days I was still overwhelmed. At the moment, I wished I had stayed in my quiet little flat. Draco Malfoy was annoying the hell out of me.
Of course, sitting across the table from Harry and Ginny, watching them feed each other bits of food from their forks wasn't exactly a picnic. With every passing day, they got a little bit more nauseatingly lovey-dovery, and it was wearing on my nerves. Any conversation I tried to have with Harry was always full of Ginny, despite the fact that I saw her myself on a daily basis, and any time Harry's name came up in a conversation with Ginny her eyes took on a faraway look and she was lost in dreamland. It was sickening.
I realize now I was jealous. It was that jealousy being sparked within me that caused me to stand up, bang my fist on the table, and state in a quiet voice, "Could you two control yourselves? People are trying to eat." And take off toward the living room, where I plopped down onto the faded, squashy maroon sofa that I'd always loved and burst into sobs. I didn't feel the weight next to me, and barely registered the soothing hand rubbing my back. After I'd calmed down a bit, and finally caught my breath, Molly asked softly, "How long?"
"I don't know what you're talking about?" I tried to lie as I sniffed and rubbed my eyes. Molly handed me a white hankie with a G on the corner. One of George's, apparently.
"Yes you do. How long have you been in love with him?" I began to twist a corner of the handkerchief as I sniffled and let my tears run out silently.
"Not nearly long enough, and certainly not as long as Ginny. I can't keep lying to her, Molly, but I don't know what to say." I laid my head on her shoulder and shrugged a bit before continuing. Molly has a presence about her that says, "tell me about it."
"I'm sure what Ginny doesn't know won't hurt her, but if you feel like you need to to tell her, the tell her. I won't promise she won't be angry, at both you and Harry, but she'll be better off with the knowledge. That's not all, though, is it?"
"No, not really. You know I've been working with Draco Malfoy, on the Wolfsbane potions? I think I might be attracted to him, although it makes no sense. After all, he's been horrible to me almost since the first day I met him, but he's different now. Like not having his father around to intimidate him has given him a new lease on life. But it makes no sense that I can be in love with Harry and possibly Draco at the same time."
"Silly girl, you're trying to mix logic and love, and the two simply do not mesh well together. You're going to have to jump in feet first and hope you don't drown, that's just the way of the world. You can't analyze feelings, or you'll never experience true emotion. Go upstairs to your old room, get some sleep, and things will look clearer in the morning."
Not entirely sure I agreed with her, I padded upstairs to Bill's room and slowly undressed. I found an old pair of bill's shorts and a tee-shirt to sleep in, and lay down, thinking that Molly had never steered me wrong before. I closed my eyes, pulling a mental picture of Draco forward, of him standing over a steaming cauldron, his fair hair darkened with steam and plastered to his forehead. The white oxford he'd been wearing at the time was wet with sweat and sticking to his skin, showing a toned physique underneath from perpetual flying and quidditch games with his friends. He had turned his head towards where I was working on my own batch of potion, also sweating ferociously, hair pulled back in a messy bun, and smiled. Not a smirk, not a grin, but a genuine smile. It was the first time I'd ever seen him do so, and for the first time in months, I fell asleep with that image in my mind's eye instead of sunbeams flitting over Harry's face.
Two Months Ago
I pressed the button to the lift and yawned as the creepy disembodied voice announced the floors as I passed them. At the Magical Law Enforcement floor, Harry stepped onto the lift with me. I was steadily becoming more and more comfortable with him, and slowly feeling less awkward around Ginny. When I had awoken the next morning after my chat with Molly, I'd decided to keep our impromptu night to myself. There was no reason for me to cause a rift in their relationship, and they had apparently either had a discussion with the Weasley parents or each other and decided to tone down their actions a bit, to the relief of everyone around them. Apparently I wasn't the only one nauseated.
"Good morning, Miss Granger."
"Good morning, Auror Potter. Rumor has it that you are leading one of the teams on a recon mission today."
"How do these things get around? That's supposed to be classified information." Harry blurted, and I chuckled.
"Apparently I'm a good guesser." I laughed outright as Harry spluttered in embarrassment.
"That was mean. I guess you're buying your own lunch today."
"Oh, Harry, I'm sorry, I forgot to tell you. Draco is taking me to lunch today. He said something about a new restaurant in Hogsmeade he thought we should try."
Harry raised a brow at me and shook his head slightly, then dug in his ear. "I'm sorry, but I thought you said you were going to lunch with Draco? As in Draco Malfoy?"
"You heard right, you silly goose." I swatted my friend playfully on the arm. "Yes, and you and Ginny are more than welcome to come with us, if you can drag her away from the Witch Weekly offices long enough."
"That's quite alright. Enjoy your date with Draco." Harry replied as the lift doors opened on his floor.
"It's not a date, it's lunch!" I shouted at him as he headed down the hall. I could hear him laughing as he turned the corner. That was one of the days when I wasn't sure how I'd fallen in love with Harry Potter, and I was glad that I was getting over him.
One Month Ago
As we did every other Tuesday, Draco and I took inventory of what potions we had in stock so we'd know what we needed to brew more of. For some reason, Draco insisted on using the lab at the ministry, although he spent a considerable amount of time complaining about the lack of resources and comparing it to his potions lab at home. As we set up our cauldrons to make some more blister relieving paste for the Dragon Reserve, (They went through it thirty vials at a time, thankfully it was a quick recipe,) I turned to Draco and asked, "If you're lab at home is so much better, why don't you do you're brewing there."
Draco shrugged and mumbled something as he lit the burner under his cauldron with his wand.
"I'm sorry, I didn't catch that." I responded, genuinely curious as to his reasoning.
"I said it's because you aren't there." He replied, looking up at me with his dark grey eyes. I'd noticed that if he was a in a jovial mood, they would turn almost blue, but the more serious he became, the darker grey they turned. At the moment, his eyes were an interesting shade of grey, the color of molten silver. I wasn't quite sure what mood that portrayed, but from the atmosphere in the room, I could make an educated guess.
"Oh. Well, erm…yes, that's true. I do all my brewing here."
"You wanted an answer, Hermione, and I gave it to you." It was the first time he had ever called me by my given name, and the sound of it crossing his lips made me giddy with warmth.
Before I knew it, I was backed against the stone bricks of the lab's wall, and his lips were on mine. It was not a graceful kiss, but there was a raw hunger behind it, a bruising intensity that I'd never experienced before. When Draco finally pulled back, we were both out of breath, more from an overwhelming of emotion that physical exertion. He rested his forehead against mine as my thoughts raced.
"Say it again." I looked up at him. I realized then that I rarely called him by his given name, either, and that somehow seemed wrong.
"Draco." He kissed me again, this time gentler, fitting our lips together and slowly exploring my mouth with his tongue. We jumped apart when we heard the slight clearing of a throat.
"Miss Granger, Mr. Malfoy, I would appreciate it if you conduct your personal lives on your own time, and please don't burn down the potions lab." Kingley stated in his deep voice as he gestured to the smoking cauldron of burn paste. With a muffled oath Draco doused the fire with his wand and banished the ruined potion, all the while grinning like a fool. Kingsley gave me a slight nod and a subtle wink before heading back to his original course.
"I haven't asked you to brew potions with me at the Manor because I know you don't want to go there. I'm sure the place has horrifying memories attached to it, for you, and I'd never want you to relive that." Draco said quietly as he set about to cleaning up his mess and starting the paste over again. I banished my own ruined batch and did the same.
"Yes, there are bad memories I associate with your home, but my Gryffindor nature tells me I should face my fears head on. If you and I are going to have something, anything, then that will be something I have to do. For now, let's finish our work, then we'll discuss our future over dinner?"
"It's a date, Hermione."
Three Weeks Ago
I was in the lift again, and Draco had just stepped in behind me. We were on our way down when the power and lighting charms went out, and the creepy disembodied voice stated someone would be on their way.
"Merlin damn it, I have an entire desk of paperwork this morning. I do not need this." I ranted as I stomped my foot in an effort to make the lift move, to no avail. Draco snickered and I scowled at him.
"It's not that bad, Love," he began, then stopped himself. We had agreed over our dinner that would try our best to remain as professional as possible while at the ministry, and maintain our distance. We still brewed together, and still did inventory together every other week, but made it a point to be on opposite ends of the lab. Those days were hell, and by the end of it, I was ready to jump into Draco's arms. This was the first time he had called me anything other than my name, and it was a surprise to both of us.
"I know it's not, I really do, but it's already been a long morning and I haven't had coffee yet."
"I know one way to cheer you up." Draco replied in a low register as he backed me into the corner of the lift and covered my lips with his own. I could feel his rigid body through his oxford and khakis, and I realized just how desperately I wanted to feel every inch of him. Making love while standing up is no easy feat, especially in a small space like a lift. We managed it, though, and if the maintenance wizard took any notice of our flushed faces, sweaty clothes or plastered hair, he didn't remark on it, and for that I was glad. When we reached my office, Draco held my hand up to his lips and placed a chaste kiss on the back, a remnant of the training his father had given him as a small boy on how to be a gentleman. I shut my office door, and sat down to work on house elf legislation, when a noise made me look up, and I came face to face with a livid Ron Weasley.
Two Weeks Ago
"Weasley is still mad at you, isn't he?" Draco asked as he held a spoon of butter pecan ice cream out for me. I shook my head slightly. After the fuss I'd made at the dinner table over Harry and Ginny, I refused to let Draco feed me anything. I took a bit of his ice cream with my own spoon, and smiled a bit in appreciation.
"Yes, he is. How can you tell?" I asked as I set my spoon back down on the café table.
"I can always tell when my lady is down, and this time is especially bad, worse than when you were getting over Potter." My head shot up at this statement from where I'd been staring at the table.
"How did you figure that out?!" I asked incredulously. I'd been sure I'd kept my feeling for Harry locked tightly away. Did I do something; say something, to give myself away? Nothing crossed my mind, and before I could begin to rack my brain, Draco interrupted me.
"I'm a very observant person, Hermione, it comes with Slytherin territory, and I know you. It took me a few weeks to figure out what it was that had you so distracted, until the fifth time I heard you come up with a lame excuse to avoid going to lunch alone with Potter. I put two and two together."
"You're right, more or less. I may never completely get over Harry, but I don't have much choice in the matter. He and Ginny are getting married in two weeks and I'm supposed to be her maid of honor."
"Ouch. Anything I can do to soften the blow?" Draco asked as he took my hand in his own and rubbed his thumb across my knuckles. It was a small gesture, but a comforting one all the same.
"You can come with me to the wedding. Harry won't care, he's been after your friendship since your mother saved his life, and I'm sure he'd want me to invite Narcissa also, if she'll be home."
"And what about Weasley?"
"Oh, he'll get over it. And if he doesn't, he can take his happy arse back to training camp."
Draco let out a hearty laugh and held up another spoon full of ice cream. This time, I let him feed it to me, then I let him lick off what ran down my chin and neck.
"I now pronounce you Mr. and Mrs. Harry James Potter. You may kiss your bride."
Among a chorus of cheers and whoops, Harry dipped Ginny back in an elaborate kiss, showing off for the crowd. I rolled my eyes and attempted to applaud them while holding two bouquets. I smiled at Ginny and handed her her flowers before she and Harry took off down the aisle, then grimaced when I saw Ron hold his arm out for me.
"You don't have to look so disgusted, you know." Ron muttered as we began our trek back up the aisle.
"I'm wondering if you're going to snap at me again."
Ron sighed in resignation. "Are you happy with him?"
"A lot more than I expected to be."
"I suppose I'll just have to deal with it, then. Just give me time to get used to it, eh? We'll never be best mates."
"I don't expect you to, but I still want you for my best mate."
"I think I can handle that." Ron replied with a grin, then gave me a brotherly peck on the cheek before we split and he took off to find Fleur's sister, Gabrielle.
Draco walked up and wrapped his arm around my waist. We were one of the first people through the receiving line, where I hugged Ginny's neck, and Draco finally took Harry's hand in friendship.
After the cake was cut, the toasts made, and the dances over, my legs were cramping horribly. I leaned over and whispered in Draco's ear, "How about you show me this lab you keep bragging about?"
With that, he wrapped his arm around my waist and apparated us to Malfoy Manor.