Author's Note: This is the final chapter! Gosh, can't believe I'm ending the first fanfiction I ever wrote! Well, this is the last time I'll say it for this story: read and review! :)
XXII. The Truth
Draco lazily traced patterns on her arm, his long fingers barely touching her. She inhaled deeply, her eyes still closed.
"Are you awake?"
Hermione smiled. "I am now."
His arms wrapped around her tightly from behind, and she shivered. He pulled the covers more snugly over her shoulder.
"Hermione, can I ask you something?"
She started to turn in his arms, but he restrained her. "You can ask me anything," she replied.
"Why do you think it's okay to kill Death Eaters and not other people?"
Hermione opened her eyes and blinked a few times before responding, "Are you joking, or are you honestly asking me that question?" When Draco didn't speak, Hermione shook her head. "My God, I can't believe you just asked me that. Well, Death Eaters are murderers. They delight in watching others suffer, watching people writhe in pain. Isn't that reason enough?"
Draco was quiet for a moment, and Hermione tried again to turn around. His arms tightened around her, and she saw the Dark Mark on his forearm. Her eyes began to sting as she realized what he was talking about. How could she have been thick enough to miss his point?
"Draco, you're not like them. You didn't want this."
"I had a choice."
"Hermione, stop. Don't make excuses for me."
They fell silent.
"I should go," said Draco, pulling his arm out from beneath her.
Draco got out of bed and pulled on his boxers and pants. When he reached over the bed to pick up his shirt, Hermione sat up and reached out, grabbing his hand.
Draco's eyes, now filled with longing, were focused on her breasts, and Hermione realized that she was still naked. Draco tore his eyes away from her, pulled his hand out of her grip, and started putting his shirt on.
"I can't," he said.
Hermione got off the bed and took his shirt out of his hands. He sighed and started putting his belt on instead. Hermione dropped the shirt back on her bed and reached her arms up around his neck. He moaned as her breasts pressed up against his bare chest.
She went up on tiptoe to press her lips to his and then drew back to whisper, "Stay with me."
"Bloody hell, Hermione," he breathed, closing his eyes and leaning his forehead on hers. "You're going to be the death of me."
Hermione looked at him seriously. "You don't mean that."
His eyes opened and took in her serious expression. A smirk played across his perfect lips as he teased, "Do you really think I'd die for someone like you? Filthy little Mudblood."
She laughed. Only Draco could make those three words sound so affectionate. Then his lips were covering hers. She gasped in surprise as his arms tightened around her, pressing her up against him. She could already feel his arousal up against her stomach, and she parted her lips, allowing him entrance.
He turned them around and pressed her down onto the bed, lips never leaving hers. As their tongues battled for dominance, Hermione slipped his belt back off. Draco left a trail of kisses down her neck to her collarbone, and she smiled.
"I guess this means you're staying?"
"Shut up, woman," he grumbled, kissing the top of her breast and moving lower.
Right after she said the words, his mouth latched onto one of her nipples, and she moaned with pleasure, arching up against him. After suckling her left breast, he moved on to the other. No matter how many times he did this to her, she still felt the same rush, the same need building up, still let out the same irrepressible moans of pleasure.
Then his mouth and tongue were on the move again. His tongue swirled once around her bellybutton, and she giggled.
He moved down farther, parted her legs, and bit the inside of her thigh. As she gasped, he said, "I thought I told you to shut up."
Before she could get in a comeback, he had touched the tip of his tongue to her clit, and she moaned in response. She gasped as he covered the small bunch of nerves with his mouth and began to suck on it. She fisted her hands in his hair and pressed his face harder into her.
Then he crawled back up to kiss her mouth, and she couldn't suppress the aching disappointment she felt between her legs.
"You're terrible," she groaned as he trailed his tongue along her jaw and took her earlobe into his mouth. He chuckled in response and traced the outline of her ear with his tongue, making her shiver. She had managed to push his pants down and was now removing his briefs.
Before she knew it, he was inside her, filling her completely. Her mind seemed incapable of coherent thought, and she drew in a deep breath, arching her back to draw him farther inside her.
Friction… friction. She needed friction.
That was enough motivation for him, because he started pulling out and shoving back in, his thrusts picking up the pace as they both moved closer and closer to their climaxes. Finally, Hermione threw her head back and cried out his name, and he followed her over the edge, releasing his seed into her with a few last frenzied thrusts before collapsing on top of her.
They lay quietly for a while, waiting for their breathing to calm down. She stroked his white-blond hair fondly, wishing that he would never have to leave.
"Do you love me?"
Hermione bit her lip. She had asked herself that same question just the night before. Draco had slid out of her and shifted to lie next to her, and now he propped up his head with an arm and gazed at her with an unfamiliar expression. Hermione couldn't explain why no words came to mind. She must have had at least a dozen responses prepared last night, in case he asked this question.
"It's okay. You don't have to answer," he said finally. He smiled and kissed her. "I love you, and that's enough."
Then he was on his feet, getting dressed again, and Hermione realized that she couldn't let him leave without telling him how she felt.
"No," said Hermione.
Draco turned to look at her, questioning her with his eyes rather than his words.
"No, it's not enough. My answer's yes—I love you too."
They had lasted almost exactly two years without mentioning the L-word, but when she finally spoke it aloud, it felt so good, so right, that she knew there would be no one else for her.
Hermione stood up and planted a chaste kiss on his lips. "I love you, Draco Malfoy, with all my heart."
A sincere smile graced his lips as he leaned down to kiss her again. "See you at the Great Hall in say, twenty minutes?"
Hermione smiled. "I love Christmas holidays." She looked around at the empty four-poster beds in her room. "What are we going to do when everyone gets back?"
"What we always do."
"Harry's going to catch me stealing his Invisibility Cloak one of these days."
Draco smirked. "Well, we've gotten around perfectly fine without it in the past."
He had shrugged on his oxford shirt and was now working on the buttons. Hermione waited for him to look up, and when he did, she gave him a teasing smile.
"Oh, I know that look. Don't you distract me again, witch," said Draco as he finished up the buttons.
"Fine, fine. Be careful on your way out."
Draco smirked again. "Don't worry. No one can catch me."
As he reached the door, Hermione ran over, threw her arms around him, and gave him another kiss, this one deep and forceful. Their tongues mashed together, and his hands pulled her up against him. When they broke apart, they were panting again.
"Damn you, Hermione Granger," Draco groaned.
With that, he wrenched open the door to her room and walked out. Hermione smiled to herself as she shut the door and started getting dressed. Only one thought occupied her mind.
He said he loved her.
Hermione knelt facing the marble tombstone.
She'd been there for the remainder of the night, reliving her most precious memories with him. That had been the first time they'd ever exchanged those three words, and she wished that she could go back and make that moment last forever.
As the sun's first rays peeked over the horizon, she placed her jade pendant on the ground in front of his tombstone, beside the rose that she'd left the last time she was there.
Then, with her wand pointed at her temple, she smiled lightly. A tear slipped down her cheek.
"I'm coming, Draco," she whispered.
But before she could utter the spell, her wand shot out of her hand.
She didn't move as disappointment washed over her. Then she heard the voice of the person who had Disarmed her and wondered why in the world she ever would have done that.
"Granger. This is all your fault!" Bellatrix shrieked from behind her.
Hermione didn't say anything, didn't even turn around to face the woman.
"This was your plot from the very beginning, wasn't it? Vile Mudblood! Now the Dark Lord is gone, and you have hell to pay!"
"Why don't you just kill me, then?" said Hermione.
"Because I have information that will hurt you more than death, or even the Cruciatus Curse, ever could," said Bellatrix venomously. "Your Draco has been alive for all this time."
Hermione got to her feet and turned around. "No… he—he can't be alive."
"Oh, but he is. Tragically for you, he never loved you."
No, she wouldn't believe it. There was no way that he could have survived the Killing Curse. And their love was real. She knew that.
"Do you really think so?" asked Bellatrix.
Hermione remembered belatedly that Bellatrix was a Legilimens, but she didn't even bother to use Occlumency to try to shield her mind.
"I assure you, he's alive. The Blaise Zabini who's been following you around all year? That was my dear nephew's clever disguise."
Hermione shook her head furiously, unwilling to believe it. "If he were alive, he would have come to me. He would have said something to spare me—"
"Except that he doesn't love you and doesn't care how much you suffer. Why do you think he never revealed himself to you in all this time? He's been toying with your emotions, making you wallow in guilt for your feelings toward Blaise when in fact, you were just falling for him a second time. Oh, my nephew has such a wonderfully artistic flair for torture."
Every kiss, every touch, every adoring look in his eyes… how could they all have been lies? All of those promises… they couldn't have meant nothing to him. He couldn't—no one could lie like that. No! She refused to believe it.
"Draco's dead!" she said firmly.
Cowardly as it was, she realized that she couldn't accept even the mere possibility that he could have been faking his emotions for her.
"You can choose whether or not to believe me, but I'm telling you the truth," said Bellatrix, smiling sinisterly.
"Please, just kill me," said Hermione.
"No, I don't think I will. It's much more satisfying to see you suffer this way. You gave up so much of yourself, and through it all, he didn't have an ounce of true feelings for you."
Hermione shook her head. "Stop!"
Bellatrix plucked Hermione's wand up off the ground and made to snap it, but a Stunning Spell hit her in the back, and she crumpled. Both wands zoomed out of her unconscious hands.
Hermione looked to the source of the red light and saw Blaise—fake-Blaise.
She choked back a sob and slowly backed away from him. She couldn't take her eyes off him as he pointed his wand at himself. No… no… Bellatrix couldn't possibly have been telling the truth…
Blond hair sprouted from his head as his dark skin slowly transitioned into pale white. He grew about an inch and got slightly slimmer. The bones in his face shifted to become more angular, aristocratic. He blinked once, and liquid silver eyes replaced the dark brown ones of his best mate.
Hermione couldn't breathe, unable to believe her eyes. This had to be a trick. Bellatrix couldn't have been telling the truth. He couldn't have faked all of his emotions for her.
"I thought I'd find you here," he said softly.
Hermione trembled. His voice was so much more beautiful than she'd remembered or imagined. He took a step toward her, and she backed up a step.
They must have been trying to trick her—she was standing right in front of Draco's grave, for goodness' sake! It was impossible that he had risen from the dead.
"Hermione, I'm so sorry. I promise, I'll never lie to you again," he said, continuing to move toward her.
She felt as though her feet had been nailed into the ground. Trick or not, her wretched self longed to feel his arms around her again. As soon as she was within reach, he pulled her into an embrace. She inhaled, and his familiar scent filled her nose.
Maybe she'd already died and gone to heaven.
Then she heard her own voice asking him a question, "Was Bellatrix telling the truth?"
"Up until the part where she said I didn't love you, she was," he said after a moment's hesitation.
Hermione forced herself to push him away, and he didn't resist, letting his arms fall away and backing up a step.
"Do you still have the necklace I gave you?" she asked.
"What was special about it?"
"Testing me, are you?" he said. "Whenever you came close to it, it turned from a snake into a lion."
"Where is it now?"
"If no one's touched it, it should be lying on my nightstand."
Hermione sighed. This really had to be him. They hadn't told anyone about the necklace.
"Did I pass the test?" he asked.
"But if… if you're really still here, why didn't you tell me?"
"I couldn't. Voldemort—"
"My Occlumency was solid. He couldn't have found out."
"I couldn't risk it. Not again."
"What do you mean, not again?"
His jaw clenched. "It's a long story."
"You said you wouldn't ever lie again."
"I know. I just… can you hear me out, all the way, before attacking me?"
Hermione blinked. "This is going to make me want to attack you?" she asked.
"I'm just asking for some patience."
"I'm a little short on patience at the moment. I just found out that I've been worrying myself sick over getting revenge for someone who's not even dead, and couldn't be bothered to tell me so."
Pain was evident in his expression, but Hermione refused to let it get to her. She didn't want to believe it, but for all she knew, Bellatrix could have been telling the truth. After all, he had spent almost an entire year by her side without saying a word about his identity.
"I'm really, really sorry," he said.
"Just get on with it."
"Can we go somewhere else?"
"Where do you want to go?"
She felt like the word had stabbed her. They'd been alone together at their shared home so many times, and he'd never bothered to tell her anything.
"No. We're not going anywhere until I know what happened. There's no way you survived the Killing Curse—that's another thing you have to explain. Now get started with your story."
"What did you want to hear first?"
"I don't care," she said. "As long as it's the truth, I don't care what order I hear it in."
"I'll just start from the beginning, then."
Hermione looked at him and suddenly felt like she couldn't breathe. She spun around to face away from him and realized that she was still standing right in front of his grave. She took a deep breath and waited for him to start talking.
"A few nights after the end of fourth year, Voldemort came to my home."
Oh, Merlin. Hermione already didn't like where this was going. It started this early on?
"He asked my father to let him speak to me. Commanded it, rather. I didn't have a clue what Occlumency was at the time. He sorted through all of my thoughts and… and he found you. After seeing what had happened between the two of us, he gave me a job to do. I was supposed to get you to turn against Potter and join us."
"You said that this… this happened during fourth year?"
"After fourth year, but yes."
"Then everything that happened after that… it was all…"
"Hermione please, just listen to me."
She clamped her mouth shut, still not facing him. Her eyes filled with years yet again, and she furiously tried to blink them away. He'd been using her. She was a job to him.
"I fell in love," he said quietly. "It happened sometime between the end of fifth year and the beginning of sixth year. I'd already been working on Occlumency by then, so I was able to hide it from him."
The first time they'd admitted their love for each other was during Christmas holidays of their sixth year, Hermione recalled.
"I hid it all through the year after we left school, too. I hid the flat that we got together, everything. But towards the end of that year, Voldemort got really impatient. He said that it wasn't likely that you would ever join the Dark side, and I couldn't lie to him. I said it would never happen. I think I was tired that day, but he managed to breach some barriers in my mind. He saw that I'd fallen in love, and… he didn't appreciate that very much."
Hermione wondered how long and how severely he had been tortured.
"Then he came up with a plan to fake my death."
"And why would he do that?" Hermione asked.
He sighed deeply. "So that you would want revenge on the Order."
Hermione stiffened. She had played right into their hands. She'd done exactly as she was supposed to, just like the little pawn she was, hadn't she? Merlin, how could she have been so stupid?
"How did you survive the Killing Curse?" she asked in a deceptively calm voice.
"I clearly saw you in the Forbidden Forest that night."
"That was some poor scapegoat that they'd forced to drink the Polyjuice Potion. They put him under the Imperius Curse and sent him out into the Forest."
"Then… the person who rescued me from Rookwood—"
"That was the real me. I didn't leave the castle during the fight. After killing Rookwood, I hid in the Room of Requirement until the fight was mostly over. Then I went out into the woods and took the Draught of Living Death."
Of course. The Draught of Living Death sent the drinker into a deep trance that would mimic the state of death. That explained why she had thought him to be dead when they brought his body into the Manor that night.
"How and why did you turn into Blaise?"
"Hermione, can we please not do this here? Even though it's not real, I'm not particularly fond of standing in front of my own grave."
She turned back around to look at him and immediately regretted it. Merely seeing his face again made her heart soften. Maybe she shouldn't be so hard on him—after all, it was as if he'd come back from the dead. Maybe she should just be glad to have him back.
"No," she replied. "You let me suffer for almost an entire year. You can stand in front of your grave for a few extra minutes while you explain this to me."
"Fair enough," he said, glancing at the headstone and grimacing. "After faking my death, I thought they'd be done with me, but Voldemort said that he needed someone to keep you going in the right direction. Since they figured I knew you best, they told me to choose a disguise. I picked Blaise because… because he's most like me. It'd be easy to turn into him."
"How did you do it?"
"Human Transfiguration. It was hard, but I managed it."
"Did Blaise—the real Blaise, I mean—did he know that you were using his identity?"
He shook his head. "No. Voldemort didn't want anyone to know that I was alive."
"But last night, Blaise had a chance to kill me, and he didn't. Why—"
"Do you remember what I said when I was Blaise? All that talk about Draco asking me to take care of you? It was true. I told him that I might not survive the Battle at Hogwarts, and if he ever escaped, he was to take care of you for me."
"But you knew that you weren't going to die."
"Yes, but I didn't know that I'd still get to see you," he said. "I thought that once I'd died, they'd want me to stay dead."
"I suppose that makes sense," said Hermione. "Out of curiosity… was the memory you showed me, the one where your father tortured Blaise's mother… was that real?"
"But Blaise didn't really join Voldemort to save his sister. What happened to her?"
"Blaise doesn't have a sister. He's an only child."
Hermione gaped at him. She'd never thought to check whether or not Blaise really had a sister—it had never even occurred to her that he might have been lying about that.
"My father destroyed his only living relative. He swore never to join Voldemort."
"Then why didn't the Death Eaters kill him?"
"My Aunt Bellatrix loves torture. But you knew that already."
Hermione sighed and switched her attention back to getting answers. "And then the binding rituals… I suppose they were to get me to lower my guard against you. They made you my… my slave so that I would feel guilty. Was that it?"
"Yes," he said, looking extremely apologetic.
"Was the binding magic real?"
"Yes. But I'm a Malfoy, and the potion recognizes our blood. So if I really didn't want to follow an order, I didn't have to. That's why sometimes your commands didn't work."
"Were you telling the truth when you said that… that every time you close your eyes, you see my face?"
He nodded. "Anything else?"
She thought for a moment before asking, "What did you tell Voldemort to convince him to go with our plan for the World Cup? And why was he so angry with you?"
He sighed. "It was because he saw me kissing you. He'd decided in the beginning that it was safe to send me out to supervise you because he thought he'd tortured all the love right out of me. But he didn't understand that love can't just be tortured away. When he saw the kiss, he thought…"
"Thought that you'd fallen for me again?" Hermione supplied.
Hermione recalled that glimpse of fear she'd caught right before their kiss. "You knew, even before you kissed me that time, that he would think that. Didn't you?"
"Then why did you still…?"
"I couldn't resist it. I saw you right in front of me, eyes shut, and I wanted to pretend that we were still together."
His eyes were filled with sorrow as he finished speaking. She couldn't look away. Staring into those silvery-grey pools, her worries slowly slipped out of her mind.
When he looked away and broke the silence between them, she felt like something had been shattered.
"I'm really sorry for lying so much. There were so many lies, from the beginning. I promise, I haven't kept anything from you this time around," he said. "But if you can't forgive me—"
"You did try to give me a hint, didn't you?" said Hermione, interrupting him. "You warned me not to get revenge on Harry, because you thought I would regret it."
"I knew I was going to have to come clean if Voldemort died because I'd go to the Manor and free all the students there. As soon as you saw Blaise, you'd know that I wasn't the real one. And with Voldemort gone, there'd be no reason to lie anymore. I didn't want you to finally make up your mind to kill Potter, only to find that I was still alive."
"I came so close to killing him tonight."
"Last night, technically. It's morning now," he said, looking up at the sky.
Hermione frowned, remembering how she'd left him Stunned and Bound under the stands. "Did Harry and Ron go get you?" she asked.
"How did you get away from them?"
"I told them everything. It took practically all night to convince them that I wasn't lying. And I had to transfigure myself back and forth a few times too. Potter's all right, I guess. The Weasel's staying a weasel."
"I still want to pummel him for touching you."
"That was months ago."
"Doesn't mean it never happened. He wasn't punished for it."
"I'd almost forgotten how jealous you could get," said Hermione with a small smile.
"Do you believe me, then?" he asked, looking at her hopefully.
She nodded. "I think so, yes."
"That's a relief," he said. "But… if you can't forgive me, then what I said when I was pretending to be Blaise… it all counts. I won't make you stay."
She looked at him as though she was seriously considering it, but how could he honestly think that she would ever give him up, knowing that he was alive? Hadn't he seen all the pain that she'd gone through in the past months because of his supposed death?
"I might have to think about it," she said, keeping a straight face.
He nodded as though he had expected that to be her reply.
She reached both her hands up and ran them slowly through his soft, silver-blond hair. The real thing was better than any memory that she'd had.
Then she pulled his head toward hers and lifted herself up on tiptoe to plant a light kiss on his lips. She drew back, a little shaken. It had been the lightest touch, but she felt as though sparks were flying all through her body. This was her Draco, there was no doubt about it.
She gave him a small smile.
"Did you really believe I'd have to think about it, even after all that time I spent moping about your death and plotting how to avenge you?"
He looked surprised. "But I—"
"Didn't you notice that I fell for you a second time when you were pretending to be Blaise, even though you had a different face, and I tried my hardest to stop it from happening? How could I ever possibly let you leave me, now that I know you're alive?"
He seemed to have a hard time registering her words, so she pulled him into another kiss. He remained unresponsive, so she nipped at his lower lip, taking a step forward to press herself up against him as she forced her tongue into his mouth.
Oh, she'd forgotten how much like heaven he tasted.
His hands circled her waist, pulling her closer, and desire flared to life inside her. It had been too long since they'd last had each other.
When he pulled his head back, she all but whined in disappointment.
"I'd feel a lot better if we weren't doing this in front of my grave," said Draco, smirking.
She'd missed that smirk so much.
"Your place, then?" she said.
Draco grinned, and they started toward the Manor.
He handed her wand back to her, and she stowed it in her robes. After placing a Full Body-Bind Curse on his aunt, he levitated her body and brought it along with them.
"Oh, right," said Hermione, remembering Narcissa Malfoy's state. "Your mother—"
He sighed. "Yes, I know. My aunt told me about what happened to her."
"She kept asking me to save you—she thought that you were still alive."
"Yes, I know. I spoke to her briefly. She's not really mad—she just wanted me to stop following Voldemort's orders, kept saying that it would get me killed, just like my father."
"She's very skilled at acting mad, then," Hermione said.
"She told me about her encounters with you. She wanted you to find out my identity, but my aunt put some spell on her that prevented her from telling you directly."
They entered the house, and Toory appeared instantly.
"Young Master!" she squeaked, a look of adoration of her face. "Young Master is back!"
"Yes, I'm back," said Draco.
Hermione stared at the two of them. Then she asked Toory, "You knew that he was still alive?"
Toory blinked and looked at Draco, who nodded. She nodded vigorously. "Toory knew, but Toory was told never, ever, ever to tell. Unless Young Master or Mistress Bellatrix said so."
"Take my aunt down to one of the dungeons and lock her up inside. If she tries to summon you, don't go. And if you do go, you are not, under any circumstances, no matter what she tells you, allowed to free her," said Draco.
"Yes, sir! Toory lives to serve Young Master!"
The house elf snapped her fingers and marched out of the room with Bellatrix's body floating behind her.
Draco grabbed Hermione's hand and started walking down the hall.
"Where are we going?" Hermione asked.
"To finish what we started."
"Don't you want to talk to your mother first, let her know that you're all right?"
"That can wait. Everything can wait," he replied. Then he stopped suddenly and spun around. "Unless there's anything you want to do instead, of course," he said.
Instead of replying, she gave him a quick peck on the lips, tugged her hand out of his grasp, and sprinted down the hall toward the stairs that led to the second floor. She heard him laughing behind her as he chased her up the stairs and toward his bedroom.
He caught up to her as they reached their destination, and once inside the room, he tackled her onto the bed.
Their lips met in a searing kiss, and Hermione lost herself, sinking into blissful paradise.
Her fingers deftly worked their way down his chest, undoing the buttons of his shirt. He broke their kiss to tug her shirt up over her head. She pushed his shirt off his shoulders, and he struggled to free his arms from it while she ran her hands all over his torso, relearning every muscle and scar and reveling in the feeling of his smooth, hot skin against hers.
His lips captured hers again, and her hands wandered lower, toward his belt buckle. He caught her hands, stopping her.
"Slow down," he murmured huskily.
"I can't wait," she said, cutting off his reply with another kiss.
She pulled her hands free of his and unbuckled his belt, and he kissed his way down her neck as he unclasped her bra. She undid the button of his pants, and pushed the zipper down.
Then she was distracted by a trail of openmouthed kisses across her right breast. His teeth nipped lightly at her nipple, and she gasped as pleasure surged through her. His talented tongue worked her nipple up to a perky nub. Her hands caressed his back as she let him know through her moans just how much she wanted him. As he kissed his way to her other breast, she realized that he had grabbed his wand. With a flick, the rest of their clothes Vanished.
"Hey," she managed to say between gasps, "I really—ohh, god—liked that pair of—oh my god, Draco!—of pants."
She fisted her hands in his hair and tugged his head back up to reclaim his lips. She ground her hips against his and felt his hard member against the inside of her thigh. Her own arousal was already dripping out of her opening.
She pushed him to the side, rolling them over so that she was straddling his hips. With one swift motion, she impaled herself on him.
"Ohhh, yes!" she cried.
"Fuck, Hermione!" he groaned in response.
She lifted her hips and sat back down again, and they both moaned.
Then he pulled her upper body down against his and rolled them back over so that he was on top. Before she could protest, he pulled out and thrust deep inside her, and she moaned in pleasure. He started pumping in and out of her, and she ground her hips in rhythm with his, drawing him in deeper.
Her nails scraped down his back as she begged for him to move faster. He groaned in a mixture of pleasure and pain and bit down at the base of her neck before soothing it with his tongue. Their pace increased frantically, the pleasure mounting until it was almost unbearable.
She'd never experienced these feelings so acutely before—it was almost as though the pleasurable sensations redoubled each time he plunged into her.
He slightly shifted the angle of his hips so that with each thrust, he hit that perfect spot. In seconds, she was screaming his name, clinging to him in an attempt to stay anchored to earth as her mind and soul shot off into the abyss.
When she regained her senses, she realized that he had collapsed on top of her, still breathing heavily. She rubbed his back soothingly and kissed his shoulder, and he propped himself up on his elbows to look at her. She stared up into his grey eyes and smiled.
She'd never felt so complete before.
I told you so, he said in her head.
She blinked, surprised. She'd forgotten about the mental connection between them.
What did you tell me?
He lowered his head so that his lips hovered by her ear.
"I told you that sex would be amazing," he whispered.
It took Hermione a moment to remember just when he had said that, and he lifted his head so that he could see her expression.
"You're a terrible person," she said, but she couldn't stop herself from smiling. "How could you try to seduce me while you were pretending to be your best friend?"
"You were right," he said, grinning. "That time, I really was testing you."
"But you love me for it."
She smiled and pulled his head down for a kiss.
His voice sounded again in her head, softer this time as he projected the three words that she wanted most to hear.
I love you.
No, there was no way that she would ever let him go. No matter what the future held for them, she knew that everything would be all right, as long as they had each other.
I love you, too.
Author's Note: I know the ending was somewhat sappy, but what can I say? I'm a sucker for happy endings. I feel like I addressed everything that really needed addressing, but if you still have questions or think I missed something, definitely let me know in a review. I hope I didn't leave out anything big… I can go back and edit, but I'd really prefer to leave it like this.
Hopefully this wasn't too disappointing of an ending, and I hope you guys had fun reading this. Thank you to everyone who stuck around from the beginning (despite the long chapters) and left reviews—they really meant a lot to me, and although I didn't really need encouragement to keep writing, it definitely didn't hurt to have some :) You guys are amazing!