"Mother, can I talk to you about something in the library, please?" Draco called out to his mother.
It had been nearly three weeks since the defeat of the Dark Lord. Draco's father was tossed in jail, and he wasn't nearly as mad as he was the last time that his father had been thrown in Azkaban. He supposed he had done a lot of changing since then.
Narcissa walked into the room to see her son slumped over in a chair next to the fireplace.
"What is it son?" she asked, joining him.
"Love. Do you think it can… change a person? Change their ways?" he asked her, not meeting her in the eyes.
"I think it can. Love is a strange thing. When you meet the right person, it can affect you in different ways. I believe love can change you, although it shouldn't have to, or force you to," she told him.
"But let's say you wanted to change, and you did change, and it was for the better? Do you believe that love can really change you? Or is it just tricking you to believe that you've changed, when in reality you're still the same evil person you've always been?"
"Is this hypothetical, Draco?" she asked with a raise of her eyebrow.
"Of course, Mother," he said flatly.
"It has to do with the person, and what they believe, and what they want to be. If they want to change for the better, than they will. But if deep down they want to stay the same, then they will never really change. Do you understand?"
He nodded in response, staring back into the flames.
"It's time to get ready, Draco. We were invited to the ball at Hogwarts. Is that all you needed?" Narcissa asked, standing up from her chair.
"Yes. No, wait, mother!" he called as she turned away from him.
"I think I'm in love. And it's changed me," he whispered.
"Well, I never thought I'd see the day," Narcissa exclaimed as she sat back down.
"Do you… do you feel the way that father does… about good and evil, and blood status?" he asked cautiously, not at all sure at his mother's true feelings in all of this.
Narcissa sighed before saying, "No. I never believed that. But I loved your father, and I followed in whatever choice he made. I believe that everyone's blood is the same, that there should be no discrimination between anyone. I never felt the same way that your father did on any of his views, but I had no choice but to respect him," she told him, and Draco breathed a sigh of relief.
"Mother, I used to agree with everything that dad said, I thought I felt the same way. But I don't, not anymore. I don't like it, I feel different from how I used to. I don't want to be like him," he cried.
"My son, you won't. You are nothing like your father, and you will not turn into him," she soothed him.
"I would like to meet this girl, this one who has changed your life," Narcissa said as she stood up.
"Hopefully you can, tonight. I've made some big mistakes with her. I just hope she forgives me for them," he replied.
"She will, Draco. Just keep your chin up. Good things will come to you," she told him.
At her leave, Draco rushed upstairs to get ready for the celebratory ball at Hogwarts that was being held tonight.
As he was putting on his black dress robes, there was a knock on his door, and his mother walked in.
"I brought you something, for when the time is right," she said when he walked over to her.
She handed him a tiny, velvet box. With shaky hands, Draco opened it, and looked inside.
"It pairs with the necklace I gave you a while back," she told him.
Inside the box was a silver ring, with a decent sized blue topaz stone in the middle.
"You can engrave it to make it personal."
Without saying anything, Draco wrapped his arms around Narcissa's waist in a hug.
She patted his head lightly.
"I'm very proud of you, Draco. You've made all the right choices in life, no matter how bad you thought you were doing. I love you, Draco," she whispered into his ear.
"I love you too, mother," he whispered back, hugging her tighter.
He had never been able to have this kind of moment with his mother before. She had always been standing by Lucius, unable to think for herself. And Draco had never really known what it felt like to have parents who cared about him. This was the first time that Narcissa ever told Draco she loved him. He felt like weeping, but knew that he could not.
Malfoys never cried in front of other Malfoys.
Later that night, Draco and Narcissa were sitting in the Great Hall of Hogwarts, watching the happy faces of those who danced around them. Draco's eyes never left Hermione, who danced with Harry and Ron, as well as the other Weasley boys, and all of her old friends from Hogwarts.
She looked beautiful, as she always did. And he needed to be with her, right now.
"Mother, please excuse me, I have something that I need to do, and I can't wait any longer to do it," he told her, giving her a kiss on the cheek and clutching onto the velvet box holding the ring before getting up from the table and walking over to Hermione, who was once again in Harry's arms.
"May I cut in?" Draco asked Harry, feeling embarrassed, but Harry smiled at him and looked to Hermione, who looked like a fish out of water.
"She's all yours Draco," Harry said, before slipping away from them, allowing Draco to take Hermione into his arms.
He slipped one of his arms around her back, pulling her close, and the other held her hand tightly in his. He looked into her eyes, and they were both unable to look away.
The inability of being able to look into each other's eyes all these months was too much for them, and they were trying to catch up for months of lost time now.
"Hermione, I-" he began, but Hermione interrupted him.
"This better be good, Draco."
"You know how hard these past few months have been, for the both of us. It was just too much to be away from you," he started.
"I felt that too, Draco, but you don't see me accusing you of never loving me, and running away the first chance I got, now do you?" she threw out, and Draco shook his head.
"I know, and I deserve that. I've treated you horribly, and you don't deserve to be treated horribly. I just… I always knew that it was impossible and completely out of character for you to love me, so it was just so easy for me to believe that you would want someone else. And it makes much more sense for you to be with Harry Potter, or Weaslebee for that matter. They're good… and I'm evil," he told her.
They had stopped dancing now, frozen in time while everyone else moved around.
"Draco… I love you. YOU, you prat! I don't know why that's so hard to believe. And you're not evil," she said while resting her hand against his cheek, "If you were evil, you would not have felt remorse for your actions last year. If you were evil, you wouldn't have shouted at Bellatrix while she was torturing me. Draco if you were evil, you wouldn't be here now, trying to apologize."
"I really am truly sorry, Hermione. I never meant to hurt you the way I did," he told her.
"I forgive you, just like I will always forgive you," she told him truthfully.
And Draco couldn't hold it in any longer. He didn't care who was watching. It didn't matter what people thought anymore. He had chosen his life, he had changed his ways, it was time he started showing it, not just to Hermione, but to everyone.
He brought his lips down to hers forcefully, in a kiss that nearly stopped the world. And it most certainly stopped the movement in the room.
Everyone was staring at them in awe. The Slytherin Prince was kissing the Gryffindor Muggleborn. No one could believe what was happening.
They resurfaced, coming back up for air, and Draco rested his forehead against Hermione's.
"I love you, Draco, so very much," she whispered to him.
"And I love you, Hermione, more than you could ever possibly begin to imagine. You're the light at the end of the tunnel, my sun that bursts through the everyday rain of my life. While we were away from each other this year, I realized that you are my sanity, my hope, my mind, my soul, you are everything to me. I don't know what I would do without you," he whispered back to her.
"And you never have to be. But you have to ask me, Draco. Please, Draco, ask me to stay. Ask me to stay with you forever. To be yours and only yours for the rest of our lives. I need to hear the words, to know that you truly mean them this time," she told him forcefully.
Draco looked over to his mother, who surprisingly was smiling at him and nodding in encouragement. He then looked through the faces of the crowd, his eyes searching for Harry's.
And silver connected with emerald, and the emerald eyes were telling him that he knew exactly what to do now.
With a deep breath, Draco pulled the velvet box out of his dress robe pockets and opened it up.
"Hermione, please stay with me. I love you, and I will for the rest of my life, never will a day go by that I don't love you. I know we're young, and this doesn't have to be an engagement ring, it can just be a promise ring. I promise to love you, and only you, with no more doubts, until the day I die. Will you be with me, Hermione? Will you stay with me?" he asked while taking the ring out of its case and holding it out to her.
Tears were threatening to pour out of her brown eyes. And looking back on this day, Hermione could truthfully say that she had never been happier. Not when she got her Hogwarts letter, nor when Harry and Ron saved her from the troll their first year and they became best friends, nor when Harry defeated Voldemort, giving the wizarding world its freedom again. No, none of those days would ever match up to the happiness she felt on this day.
"Yes. Of course, I'll stay with you. Forever. I love you, Draco, and that is never, ever going to change. I can promise you that," she told him before taking her own course of action and pressing her lips to his.
And when Draco looked back on this day, he would also agree with Hermione; this was the absolute happiest day of his entire life. Well, actually, he could disagree. This was probably the second happiest day of his life.
The first happiest day would have to be when Hermione said, "I do," standing in front of him at the altar, with all of their friends and family surrounding them, wearing a beautiful white wedding dress, issuing their vows of the love of a lifetime to each other.
Yes, looking back on his life, Draco would say that their wedding day was the happiest day for him. But he would also go on to say that any day that he spent with Hermione, after she had sat with him while he cried in the boys lavatory, was a happy day for him.
She was the love of his life, the person who made him see that there were other paths to take than the one that his father had chosen for him.
Without her, Draco would be living in a dark, dark world. But she was his light, she helped him through the darkness, and she always would be that, even after death.
Author's Note: I really do absolutely apologize for the fact that this story was just so spread out with its postings. But I finally got it finished, and here is the end result. I hope everyone enjoyed it, please let me know what you think. And thank you for sticking with me throughout the whole time I've been writing this.
As always, thanks for reading, and thanks to everyone who reviewed, and favorited and added me to their author alerts, and added this story to their story alerts. Just a big thank you to everyone!