A/N: I'm officially the worst human being ever. But I pushed myself to give you guys a closure even though my brain had trouble wrapping this all up. I'm so sorry that you waited for so long and I hope this chapter is good enough and that the wait was worth it. This is my first finished fanfic and I would love to write more when inspiration strikes, but I won't make any promises. I want to thank my friend Amanda for proof reading this, Bex-chan who constantly bothered me to finish the fic and all of my followers on tumblr who kept messaging me and telling me how much they loved my fic. You guys all rock! I also want to thank my readers and people who take time to review the story. Your reviews mean a lot to me and I couldn't just leave you hanging. THANK YOU for reading my story and love you all. :3
His touch and kiss had completely overwhelmed her. As Hermione lay in bed after Draco had left, all she could do was think about what his confession meant. For his family and hers, for their friends and business associates. For their future. She knew there was no point in overanalyzing anything yet. Ron was still in the dark and Harry had been avoiding her calls. She decided that giving him time to accept what he had seen was the best course of action. She felt an incredible amount of guilt for lying, but she also didn't want to apologize for her choices. Yes, her life was chaos; nothing but one awful decision after another, but it had been that long before Draco had come into the picture. Draco, she noted with a smile, was an entirely different kind of chaos that she enjoyed quite a lot. He was the only unruffled chaos she needed.
Heavy footsteps echoed down the hallway, reminding Hermione of the unfinished business she had to draw to a close. It was strange, but living with someone for so long made you recognize even the smallest noise they would make. She knew Ron's walk when he was tired or angry, even a little tipsy. She knew how to read his body language and recognize when he needed to be alone, and when he needed her to be there for him despite claiming otherwise. But those little perks were not enough anymore. Somewhere along the way, she and Ron had managed to disconnect from one another, yet still pretend the spark was there to keep them united. It was all a lie.
Those two words were enough to make Hermione's stomach twist uncomfortably. They were enough to make her swallow past the hard lump in her throat and blink away the oncoming tears filled with regret and apologies. This was what she was preparing herself for. This confrontation was inevitable.
She didn't want to deny it. After everything that had happened, she owed him that much.
His voice was gruff and broken and she bit her lip to stop herself from crying.
"Ron… I'm so sorry."
The footsteps along with his heavy breathing suddenly broke the silence of the room and Hermione got up and slowly pushed the covers off her, turning around to look at him. His body looked rigid and robotic, almost as if he had trouble moving his limbs. He walked towards the bed and sat at the foot of it, not uttering a word for what seemed like hours.
Hermione crossed her arms and looked down at them, the ring on her finger staring accusingly at her. The shine it once had was completely lost, and all that was left was a piece of metal, a dead symbol of what they used to be. He understood it well. She could see it.
"I didn't choose it. I didn't plan on it. It just… happened."
"It just happened?" Ron repeated quietly, and she knew he was furrowing his eyebrows in confusion despite not being able to look into his face.
She walked towards him and stopped the moment she could see his face, fighting off the urge to touch him. It was obvious that he was crying. How Harry told him and where they were was unknown to her, but she didn't expect it to happen any other way. Harry was his best friend and he couldn't lie to him. She was his wife and, for Draco, she easily could.
"I don't expect you to understand. I don't either. It happened when I was least expecting it. When I was at my most vulnerable. I thought it would be a one-time thing, but it's much more than that and—"
"You love him."
Her heart sank at the fact that it wasn't a question.
"Ron… please…" she could hear her voice cracking even if she didn't feel it, the sudden onset of tears making the space around them blur and darken. She wanted to reach out and hug him, apologize for lying and cheating, but she knew nothing could console him now. She made a mistake and she had to own up to it.
"I didn't mean to hurt you. I loved you, I still do. I always will… just… not the way I used to."
For the first time that night, Ron lifted his eyes to look at her. There was a struggle in his features, as if he wasn't sure whether to break down or break something. It seemed as if the anger he felt over this was long gone, leaving nothing but a broken man with memories and a speck of disbelief.
"We both made mistakes, Mione. I won't pretend I was perfect. I won't pretend this is all on you. It's not."
Hermione wiped her tears off and sniffed loudly, her throat burning as she fought off the urge to break down and sob. She hated herself for what she did to him, but she also hated that he was right. It wasn't only her fault. She felt this marriage break apart the same moment he did. Her fault was that she decided to act on it with none other than Malfoy himself.
"I shouldn't have done this. You'll never forgive me, Harry will—"
"Harry is mad, yes, but he'll forgive you. He loves you. And so do I."
A small sob left her lips, her cheeks wet with tears she wasn't even aware of. She fell to her knees in front of him and buried her face in her hands, her small form shaking and shuddering as she sobbed. She had to get it out of her system, every guilt, regret, lie, every "I love you" she faked, everything that was a burden and that had been crushing her under its weight. She had to.
Soon she was aware of arms around her and the familiar hug made her sob even more, her hands desperately clutching at his shirt, his scent inviting and familiar. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," she kept repeating into his neck, the words inaudible and indistinguishable. He held her like that for what seemed like years, never saying a word. She knew what that meant. He couldn't say it was okay, because it wasn't. And once this was done and she had time to think it through, he would break down on his own and say "I'm sorry" back, though for now she was his priority. And she knew she always would be.
In the following days, Hermione was on her own. Both she and Ron reached an agreement and decided to divorce. It wasn't as easy as she thought it would be, but it had to be done. Though their conversation went differently than she expected it, there was still a lot she had to do. She packed her things and left their home, deciding to stay at her parents' apartment in London. She wanted nothing more but to call Draco and see him again, but the move itself drained her of all the energy she had and what Hermione needed desperately was time.
Time to think things through and be on her own. To get used to sleeping alone at night and making her own coffee. It was as if she was learning to walk again. She felt all alone and yet somehow proud at the steps she was taking, her days filled with unpacking and organizing, her mind desperate for something to do that didn't include thinking of Draco and what he was going through.
The Floo Network alarm went off and Hermione walked down the hallway and into the living room, stopping dead in her tracks as she confronted Harry. Of course it was him. Only he and Ron knew of this place, yet she secretly hoped it was someone else, too afraid to face the one person she needed support from.
"Ron told me you were here. I, uh—"
Hermione nodded and hugged the folded clothes she was holding, wondering if this would turn as ugly as she thought.
"Harry, you don't have to explain yourself. I understand why you did it. And I don't blame you."
Harry nodded and looked down, the blush on his cheeks telling Hermione he too felt ashamed of how things ended between them. She sighed and walked towards him, closing the distance until they were only a couple of feet apart. She wanted to reach out and hug him desperately, but she could see he was still struggling to say something. So, she waited.
"I was so angry at you. I felt betrayed and disgusted because I expected more from you. But once everything calmed down, I had time to think. And I realized something, Hermione… I realized I don't have any right to judge you. I don't know what you two were going through and—"
"No, please. Let me finish."
Hermione bit her lip and nodded, observing him carefully as he struggled to voice his thoughts.
"I thought you two had a perfect marriage. You never talked about having problems until recently and when I saw you and Malfoy, I thought it was just a whim on your part. As if you do anything on a whim," he smiled, making her chuckle once.
He walked forward and sat on the couch next to the fireplace, motioning for her to come and join him. She walked over to him carefully and sat down, noticing how the tension between them seemed to disappear with each word uttered.
"I won't pretend to understand why him, but I also know it's none of my business. We all have a history with him which is why I took this so personally, but even I know he's a different person. No matter how hard he tries to act like a git."
Hermione smiled and nodded, fighting back another wave of tears. Though they were happy in this case, she was tired of crying and bringing herself down. She wanted a brand new life and a new opportunity and this was what she was getting. There was no need for pity and tears. That time had passed.
"I love both you and Ron and… and I'll support you both through this. He was so angry when I told him which made me regret it. I barely managed to calm him down but I feel like he knew deep down. He didn't know who it was, but he knew. What I'm trying to say is… I still love you and you'll always be my best friend. I'll support you no matter what, Hermione. Always."
Without missing a beat, Hermione threw herself at him and hugged him tightly, burying her face in his neck. She squeezed him firmly and whispered her thanks, a large weight lifted off her shoulders. With Harry's support and Ron's understanding, she knew she could face whatever was thrown her way. After all, as capable as she was to be on her own, she knew she wouldn't be here without the two of them. They were her rock, her sanctuary. And, deep down, she knew she was still theirs too.
"Mate, calm down."
"She hasn't been to work in days, Blaise. I can't find her anywhere. That bloody secretary of hers won't tell me a thing. I even threatened to Crucio her to which she calmly replied she had no time for a curse. Bitch."
Blaise chuckled as he leaned back further, getting more comfortable in Draco's chair. They were both in Draco's office, the blond furiously walking up and down the large space while the dark wizard observed him carefully, his eyes narrowed and analytical.
"You've got it bad, Malfoy. Unbelievable… Granger out of all people."
"Shut up, Blaise."
"You're about to pull your own hair, mate, I don't remember ever seeing you like this."
Draco stopped walking and moved towards the door, leaning against it as he listened carefully.
"I told my assistant to let me know the moment she comes to work. I hear nothing, do you hear something?"
Blaise raised an eyebrow and shook his head slowly, wondering if Malfoy had finally lost it. Ironically enough, it was a Muggleborn that made him finally snap. Not the Dark Lord with an impossible task to fulfill. He wanted to laugh but kept it all in, wondering where his ring was and what happened to Astoria.
"What about your marr—"
"Mr. Malfoy, she's in," a disembodied voice inside Draco's office suddenly proclaimed, making both Blaise and Draco jump.
"Bloody hell, why is this so loud, did you honestly think you'd miss it?" He said, watching as Draco moved frantically around his office, his breathing ragged and his moves frantic. He looked like a lost animal, unsure of what to do next.
"Mate," he started, smirking when Draco paused and looked at him quizzically, "go see her."
He was out of the office in two seconds, his stance completely different now as he walked down the hallway. Though his head was as chaotic as his behavior earlier, he looked entirely calm and collected, his suit impeccably arranged and every strand of hair in its place, as if he hadn't been pulling on it out of sheer desperation only moments ago.
He walked into her office without knocking and closed the door behind him, not moving an inch.
Hermione turned around and dropped the files she was holding, knowing fully well it was him. She could recognize the heavy thud of his boots at any point and it reminded her of the fact that she knew him more than she actually thought, her stomach twisting in both excitement and fear at the scene unfolding.
"You were gone."
They were such simple words yet the emotions were undeniably there. Though he seemed to be completely calm, Hermione noticed an air of confusion and desperation around him. It was as if he was counting the time before she came and they met at last. Or so she hoped.
"Yes. I was."
She grabbed the edge of the desk she was leaning against, her knuckles turning white. It took every ounce of strength she had not to jump on him and kiss him. She hoped he felt the same.
"Fuck, Granger, is that the only thing you have to say?"
Hermione opened her mouth to speak but found it impossible to do so as he walked over to her in two long strides, his hands grabbing her face and his lips attacking hers. She closed her eyes immediately as he kissed her, pressing her against him, trying to mould them together with the force of his grip. He was relentless as he took control of her mouth, one of his hands grabbing her hair for support while the other held her waist, his fingers leaving bruises due to the force of his grip. Hermione moaned into his mouth and grabbed his hair before he decided he had enough, smiling into their kiss at its familiar texture. It seemed as if he was completely mad, his lips and tongue overwhelming her as he bit her and sucked on her lower lip, demanding more, tasting her until they were both gasping for air. When the kiss broke, she knew it wasn't enough. She could never get tired of his desire for her, never fully quench the thirst she felt for his touch and lips. He was the sweetest drug and she refused to give it up even at the expense of losing herself.
"I missed you so much," he breathed against her lips, their foreheads touching as his hands cupped her face.
She closed her eyes and nodded at him, knowing exactly how he felt. The days she had spent without him were torturous but necessary. This right there was the long awaited prize, one Hermione didn't plan on giving up. Not after everything they'd been through. Not after knowing she loved him with her entire being.
"Draco, he knows. They all do."
"I don't care. I'm done with Astoria. I need you. I've been thinking about you day and night. I couldn't sleep, I looked everywhere for you. I even burst into Potter's office and he almost cursed my cock off. Hermione—"
She opened her eyes to look at him, noticing the storm of grey in his irises. He was shaking as if every word he had uttered and would utter pained him. She knew this was difficult for him. After all, emotions didn't come as easily for someone who grew up the way he did. And expressing them was a problem on its own. She covered his hands with hers and squeezed once, brushing her lips against his for support.
"Promise you won't do this again. Promise you won't leave."
He clenched his jaw and nodded once, his body visibly relaxing. She wanted him badly, wanted nothing more than to get lost in his touch and body, but she had to control herself. There was a time and place for everything and, despite knowing he would disagree, having sex with him now was not the best decision.
"Where's your ring?" Hermione asked as her fingers absently touched his hands, trying to remember every bump and crease. She wanted to know all of him.
"No marriage, no ring."
Hermione moved away a bit so she could look at his expression clearly, noticing the small smirk. Her heart sped up but she tried not to show it, breath leaving her chest in small puffs of disbelief and excitement. He did it for her. He left Astoria for her because he loved her. And despite the fact that he had told her he would do it, a part of her was always doubtful. But there he was, a living breathing proof of what he had promised her not so long ago, his hands still holding her face as if he never wanted to let go.
"Did you leave him?"
"I—yes. Ron and I are over."
Draco smiled and kissed her once more, his arms sliding down to her waist until he intertwined them completely once more, his touch as passionate and loving as ever. And she smiled into his lips, smiled because she knew this was where she was supposed to be, because everything they had done led to this perfect moment. He continued to kiss her and hold her close, and their naked fingers tangled themselves, the proof of their infidelity that once mocked them now completely gone. It was just the two of them and then the rest of the world somewhere far away, and Hermione gasped as the kiss broke, their breaths mingling until they became one.
"Good," Draco replied, his hand reaching the pocket of his jacket and wrapping itself around a small blue box. "Because you and I are just starting."