Hermione was bundled up in her scarf as she sat high in the bleachers. It seemed the whole school was out to watch Hufflepuff in their last game of the season. So far they had been unbeatable, leaving only Slytherin between them and a perfect score. Hermione looked about the pitch as students settled in, waiting for the game to start. From her high vantage point she could see the bright speck of red that signaled Ron sitting in the Hufflepuff stands. Nearby Ron was the odd assembly of Hufflepuff first years, sporting an odd mix of Hufflepuff yellow and Slytherin green.
Hermione was watching the game next to Ginny, but in the Slytherin stands. In fact, Hermione had watched all the games from the Slytherin stands this year. Draco had not been allowed to play the first game after all, and Hermione had joined him in watching the game. He was very irritable at not being able to play, and even mores so when Slytherin lost to Gryffindor. Even after Gryffindor won Hermione continued watching the games on this side of the pitch.
Ginny had surprised many by joining them to watch the games she wasn't playing. At the Hufflepuff versus Ravenclaw game Blaise had been over the moon that she chose to hang in the Slytherin stands. However his joy at her closeness was short lived. Ginny developed feelings towards Blaise over the time they spent together with their mutual friends. Ironically, by the time she was completely enamored with him Blaise had a change of heart. While he loved many of her features from afar they were too much for him to handle close up. From a distance she was fiery, passionate, clever and loving. Up close she was temperamental, loud, devious, and controlling. Not to mention her want to continue her families tradition of having a very large family. Bolstered by Blaise's initial attempt to pursue her Ginny became very possessive and clingy. Ginny saw his sudden disinterest as a game and continues to aggressively chase after him. Hermione suspected that the sudden loss of Harry might have played a part in this, but chose not to intervene with Ginny's desire for Blaise in case it wasn't.
It was always a bittersweet moment when Hermione reflected upon Harry. In the end she chose to separate the good memories from the bad ones when she thought back on her times as his friend. This was the way she chose to cope with the outcome of the final battle.
The fight came to Hogwarts the day before students were scheduled to climb onto the Hogwarts Express to go home for the winter holidays. Hermione had been with Ginny at the time of the attack, they fought through the main halls to protect those who were too shocked or surprised to fight back. Several times the snake charm on her wrist grew to shield her from incoming hexes and curses. They knew Voldemort was there somewhere when they saw Bellatrix Lestrange. It was obvious the woman was unhinged as she danced about the battle, humming and singing happily as she threw a series of curses about. Hermione was astonished when Ginny took her down with an amazing array of hexes. However impressive they were they only put her out of the fight momentarily. Hermione and Ginny had their backs to her body as they were defending themselves from another death eater and didn't see the mad woman rise and aim at them. A battle cry that stunned the whole hall signaled the Order's arrival as Molly Weasley charged at Bellatrix, taking the dark witch down forever.
By the time the Order arrived the main battle had already taken place in the astronomy tower. Harry was found muttering gibberish while pulling out hair. The only trace of Voldemort was his robes that swaddled a small infant. It wasn't until Harry was a resident of the Janus Thicky Ward in that they were able to put together enough of the evidence to guess what had happened. Harry had performed a very powerful magic to reset Voldemort back to his infancy. This child would have no recollection of his past at all and be given a new chance at life. By doing this he also performed a magical act of forgiveness, breaking all ties of Voldemorts dark magic. Those in the Order were the only one who knew the whole story, thus making it possible to place the child into a loving home to grow up with a boring but normal life.
Hermione had not been pleased with the outcome; she felt her suffering and sacrifice should be enough payment to keep Harry safe. Dumbledore tried to explain that by looking at the wreckage in the tower it is obvious that her magic mixed with his mothers protected him so that he could cast his spell. He told her that it was Harry's own spell that left him in that state. Dumbledore said that by looking through the books and notes that Harry had left behind, Harry knew that the magical backlash of his spell would render him unsound of mind. Maybe if he had a few more months he would have found a safer way to cast the spell, but they would never know. Still unhappy with the answer, Dumbledore told her of the other lives that were saved due to the chain of events that she was part of.
Justin Finch-Fletchley was escorting his houses first years to the Hufflepuff dorms when they were cut off by a small group of Death eaters headed by Marcus Flint. Justin while noble in his endeavors was no match for Flint. Draco had been on his way out of the library and towards the fight when he came across the scared herd of Hufflepuffs and the unconscious Justin. It was really fortunate for the first years that Draco was there to save them as Flint was remembered for his ruthlessness. Single handedly Draco fought off Flint and his cronies until he was joined by none other than Ron. Having won the skirmish it was apparently that Justin needed medical attention. Draco wanted Ron to take the Hufflepuffs to safety and he would take care of Justin, but the young Hufflepuffs became so enamored with him, they did not want their 'protector' to leave them. So as it was Ron took Justin to the hospital wing while Draco gained a pack of loyal Hufflepuff firsties. Other than Draco's alliance with the light saving the entire first year class of Hufflepuff, it was noted that Blaise Zabini who would have been neutral before was actively fighting for the light.
After the holidays it was announced that Dumbledore would be resigning, leaving the headmastership to Snape. The Potions Master had scowled upon the news, stating the old codger would deny him the Defense Against the Dark Arts Professorship as his last act as Headmaster. To be equally spiteful Snape declined the position, saying that he would retire and spend the rest of his days making healing potions for as penance for what he had done during the war. This left Hogwarts without a headmaster, that being it gained a Headmistress instead; Headmistress McGonagal to be precise. She harbored no ill feeling at not being the first pick, instead she simply lifted her head and said the school year would continue and exams would be taken on their original dates. Some said that was harsh, but Hermione say that it was merely the ex-Transfiguration teachers way of trying to make life as normal as possible.
It was a year of change and announcements really; With Harry committed to the position of Gryffindor quidditch captain was given to Demelza Robins; the seeker position being given once again to Ginny.
Ron is now openly dating Justin Finch-Fletchley. Their friendship started after Ron too Justin to the infirmary. It developed quickly into something else as they came out after Valentines, before the Gryffindor-Hufflepuff game. Ron's parents had come to see the game and he saw it as an opportunity to tell them. Arthur said he had known since Christmas thanks to Fred and George, but he knew better than to let the twins have their cake and eat it too. Besides, he said he had wanted to hear it from Ron before he talked about it to anyone else. Molly was stunned at first, but in true Molly style she yelled first. She was upset that Ron thought she could think she was so closed minded to reject him for being gay. She continued by saying how her own brother Fabian leaned that way. She had ended her rant by stating how a mother only wants her children to be happy, and grandchildren; and as long as he was happy she didn't mind because she had enough children that she was more than guaranteed grandchildren.
Throughout all the changes this year Hermione had stayed true to her word and had been consistently tutoring Draco on his Muggle Studies. He convinced her to have that picnic by the lake so that she could introduce him to various muggle foods. By the end of the picnic she found out that he had a very large sweet tooth but didn't care for anything spicy. During their walk back they made plans for the summer after he insisted that she take him to her favorite muggle restaurants. Things like that made her feel she made the right choice in giving him a chance, and that they had a real possibility in furthering their budding relatuionship.
Ginny's cheered loudly in Hermione's ear as Blaise made another goal; the jarring noise brought Hermione's mind back to the game where the Slytherin team was behind by sixteen goals. Across the pitch she saw Draco flitting about in search for the snitch. When he caught her eye he did a turnabout, flying close above her stands. After a quick wink he was off again, looping about the pitch. He was lucky this was the last Slytherin game of the season, Graham was not happy when he pulled stunts like that. In the midst of his gallivanting around he did not see the Hufflepuff beater as he swung a backbeat bludger his way. Gasps were heard around the stands as he plummeted to the ground, punctuated by a collected shout of 'THE PROTECTOR!' from the Hufflepuff stands. Multiple jets of light erupted from the enamored firsties wands as they tried feebly to break his fall. Unfortunately they were only able to soften it as he slammed into the ground.
Madam hooch flew over to inspect him, only to stand up and shout something to one of the players. Swiftly the player conveyed the message to Luna Lovegood in the commentary box. Hermione held her breath; sure that Luna's voice was going to project over the stand with some very bad news. Unable to stay seated she rushed to the stairs to see what happened for herself. She was halfway down the steps when she did hear Luna shout,
"DRACO BLACK HAS THE SNITCH! IN AN ATTEMPT TO PROLOUNGE THE GAME TO EARN HIS HOUSE MORE POINTS BLACK HAS PERFORMED A PLUMTON PASS. FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO DON'T KNOW THAT IS WHERE THE SEEKER SCOOPS UP THE SNITCH IN HIS SLEAVE WITHOUT TOUCHING IT. THE MOMENT HE TOUCHES IT THE SNITCH IS CAUGHT AND THE GAME IS OVER. WELL FOLKS, IT SEEMS THAT BLACK GRABBED THE SNITCH AS HE FELL AND THE GAME IS TO BE CALLED; HUFFLEPUFF WINS 430 TO 420. TOO BAD FOR BLACK, IF HE HAD HELD OUT FOR JUST TWO MORE GOALS THEY WOULD HAVE WON THE MATCH.
"THE NEXT AND FINAL MATCH OF THE SEASON IS GRYFFINDOR VERSUS RAVENCLAW, UNTIL THEN WATCH OUT FOR THE NARGLES AS YOU TRAVERSE THE STEPS."
Hermione was able to breathe normally again, relived that the excitement was purely quidditch. Still she made way to the hospital wing to assess the damages. The Hufflepuffs had beaten her there and she had to pull rank as his girlfriend to get through their crowd. Annoyingly enough it worked and she was in the door. Madam Pomfrey gave her minimal fuss as she entered, too many times did she try to keep Draco away from her during her recovery, for she knew too well that it was futile to try it again. Pomfrey even told her the extent of the damages; a few cracked ribs from the bludger and a slight concussion.
Draco smiled as she neared the bed and tried to sit up, only to wince before settling back down. She knew he had been reading before she entered because he was still wearing his rectangular glasses.
"So on a scale of one to ten how worried were you for me; one being 'not worried at all, he is a big strong man' and ten being 'He can't die yet!'?" He smiled smugly at her concern.
"How about a three, 'I hope he is okay but he deserves it for playing this barbaric and stupid game.'" Her counter was met with a pout.
"That's not fair," he whined, "I know you were scared, I saw your face as I fell!"
"Enough of that, you aren't dying, your fans saw to that. The poor things are still upset that the protector got hurt." Draco scowled at the term the Hufflepuff firsties have been calling him. In the beginning it was fun having a group of loyal followers, but now it was just plain annoying.
"Don't call me that! You know it bothers me." His previous pout grew as he tried to gain her sympathy. Hermione was used to his antics by now and promptly ignored the pout as she helped shift the pillow behind him to allow him to sit up.
"Aww, come off it, I think it's cute," she teased him, "plus I think it's very fitting."
"You're just biased." He sneered halfheartedly at her, a gesture of habit with no real malice.
"I thought you wanted me to be biased?" She returned his sneer with a smile.
"Well, yes, but don't call me that. I only did it because it was the right thing to do, and now they are making me start to regret it! They have no respect for my personal space! Every day another one of them is hugging on me or coming to me with their petty problems! If they had learned to respect me from fear as a first year should I wouldn't be having any of these problems!"
"Seriously it's not that bad!" Hermione huffed, knowing this line of thought would continue until she could find something to redirect it to. After a quick look around her she spotted the paper he had been reading sitting on the nightstand. "Who was the letter from?" Draco looked startled for a moment until he looked at it, suddenly remembering what he was doing before she came in.
"It's from my mum, looks like she has hired her own attorneys and found a loophole in my father's disownment papers." He picked it up to glance over it again.
"Oh," she said with surprise. "Does that mean you get to be a Malfoy again, with all it entitles?"
"No, unless the old man changes his mind I will remain a Black." After his father's legal disownment Draco was without a last name. His mother had taken pity on her only son and gifted him her maiden name, as was within her rights. It seemed now she was taking a more proactive stance against her imprisoned husband.
"I'm sorry Draco; I know you were hoping for some good news." She leaned forward to pat his shoulder, understanding that his name was as big a part of his identity as his blond hair.
"No,no," he said with a small smile, looking at her over his glasses, "It's not all bad. See here?" He pointed to a paragraph towards the middle of the letter. "This is what I was talking about, the loophole. It seems that the disownment is solely of me, and not of any heirs I produce? You know what this means? Our children will be Malfoys!" he finished triumphantly with a full blown grin, only to be met with her questioning frown.
"Yes, I assumed you wanted kids?" Hermione was thrown off as he asked her this earnestly while looking directly into her eyes.
"I do want children, but who said anything about having them with you?"
"Come on," he flashed her a smug smile, "You know you want to be the mother of my very adorable babies?" it was her turn to look cross while he teased her.
"There you go, planning a future together again, and I haven't even really agreed to marry you yet!"
"We all know that's a small technicality in the long run. We could fix that right now," he wagged his eyebrows up and down suggestively, receiving a light smack on the arm. "Have you no pity? I'm injured here! Besides you know I was only joking about that last part," he waited for her to calm down before adding, "after all, with me being all laid up in the hospital wing, people would say you took advantage of me!"
"You really have no sense of self preservation!" Hermione yanked on the pillow she had previously used to prop him up, pulling it out to hit him with it. Even in his wounded state he was faster than her, grabbing her wrist to stop the attack and pull her closer.
"I learned to give that up when I decided to hang out with a Gryffindor," his voice lowered to a whisper as he pulled her in for a kiss. He knew it was really only a matter of time, because while she hadn't said an outright yes, she didn't remove the bracelet which symbolized to the wizards around her that she was as good as married. He had agreed to wait until she was ready and he meant it, and in the mean time he was selling off old possessions to save up money for a house once they graduated. He even planned to propose to her properly when the time came, with permission from her parents of course,, purebloods were a little old fashioned like that.
Pulling away from the kiss she smiled at him and said,
"Well, I suppose someone will have to look out for you then."
And that's all folks! I am so excited to finish my first multi-chapter fiction! Parts of this was written a long time ago and had to be reworked to fit the changes I made. Like that last line really was written ages ago! Is this story perfect? No, that's why I am working with betas to fine tune it. Am I happy with it? Yes, most definitely. After this all updates will be to replace current chapters with edited ones.
I must say, normally when I read a story with a side pairing I get annoyed that they take the spotlight away from the main pair, but Blaise and Ginny decided they wanted to run about in the background and show that time still moves for the other characters when the main pair isn't around. The part about Ron with Justin almost got cut in my final drafts, but I felt it was very important to the end as well. One of the other things I tried to do was incorporate many of the original characters in a way that seemed natural to the story. The only characters that I created were the young Slytherin girl with the feather earrings and the herd of Hufflepuff firsties.
For those of you that are disappointed that this story doesn't have a sex scene I apologies, it just didn't feel like it would belong. I wanted to focus on building their relationship and letting Hermione heal emotionally. Maybe I will build up the courage to break the censors/ratings and write a real sex scene for another fic, but this one wasn't it.
When I originally started this story I didn't mean to get into controversial waters about sexual abuse survivors and the gay community. Once there I found it was a sink or swim situation. I want to repeat that I do not believe that homosexual=sex offender. I also want to reach out to abuse survivors and say that this story was not about glorifying abuse, and that each person's experience with it is different and that Hermione's decision to forgive Harry does not mean that's what I expect you to personally do. I have no expectations', and only wish you a recovery of the body and soul.
The long ago imagined sequel is still floating around in my brain, but another story fought it for life and has captured my imagination. It focuses on my OTP (Dramione) as well, but will be post Hogwarts.
As always, until the last chapter is replaced feel free to comment on things that you feel I rushed over or forgot to add. (And while I love hearing you loved it; tell me why you loved it so I can continue to produce quality work!)