To Have & To Hold (4/4)

Hermione snuck down the hallway, hating herself for her cowardly behaviour but still unable to face him. She hadn't seen Draco in weeks, not since the engagement party and she refused to do so now; she wasn't ready and what would she have said – see you at the wedding Saturday?

She hated that she had been invited and was expected to go. No one was on her side and would understand why she didn't want to see him marry someone else - how could they, when to every one of their friends they were merely great friends and co-workers.

Hermione hadn't even confided in Ginny, fearing what the redhead would say. Most likely she would suggest Hermione did something outlandish, like stop the wedding and declare her love for him publicly.

But he had made his choice, and it hadn't been her.

Hermione didn't know how she would be able to be friendly towards him again, but at least he had not known she loved him deeply. That was her sole comfort; that he may have used her, but he didn't know how much she'd wanted to share her life with him, or how much she now hurt.

Though it was technically just another day at work, with "The Wedding of the Century" the following day, Draco had been given time off - more like he'd demanded and the Minister had simply agreed. As such, Hermione no longer needed to walk softly and cast glances over her shoulder nervously as if she was being followed, but as she neared Draco's door, she still did.

His secretary was not at her desk and Hermione sighed, having hoped she could simply leave the documents with her.

Squaring her shoulders and reminding herself she was a Gryffindor, she approached the door and opened it. The room was dim, only the light coming from the magical window showing her way as she stepped inside. The door closed automatically behind her and Hermione jumped slightly.

"You are being ridiculous," she told herself, resolutely marching up to his desk to place the folder on it. She slammed it down, groaning when the slight wind caused a piece of parchment to flutter to the floor on the other side of his desk.

Hermione walked around and bent down, quickly locating the parchment under his chair. Replacing it on the desk in the approximate place it had been previously, she was about to leave when the sole photograph on his desk caught her eye. Frowning, she studied it.

She refused to believe that even Draco had so big of an ego that he kept a framed photo of himself on his desk, yet the evidence certainly said that was the case. And more than once, she had come into his office to find him with the frame in his hands, staring at it, reliving his glory days perhaps.

The Quidditch-clad Draco winked at her and Hermione swallowed thickly as he smiled and gave her that look. The one he'd been unable to hide, the one that told her he was about to kiss her.

Not even realising she'd done so Hermione leaned forward and picked the frame up. Holding it in both of her hands, she gasped as the image shimmered and changed, revealing a photograph of her.

Hermione dropped the frame and it clattered to the desktop, the image instantly changing back. Hardly believing her eyes, she picked it up again. But not until she placed her fingers just so on the edges of the frame did the image change.

Hermione stared as her eighteen-year-old self waved, smiling wide. She sat down heavily, her heart hurting. She remembered when this photo had been taken; at Harry's eighteenth birthday party. Blaise had found a camera and spent the night flashing away, temporarily blinding more them one person.

This was what Draco had been looking at, all those times she'd come in and he'd been holding the frame, much as she was now. A tear fell down her cheek and as she reached up to brush it away, the image changed back to Draco again.

Another tear fell as she reached out and traced his features through the glass.

Swallowing heavily, Hermione eventually replaced the frame on his desk and rose. Her cheeks wet, she made sure to make herself presentable before stepping out of his office, narrowly missing running into Shelley.

The secretary frowned at her.

"I had to drop off some papers," Hermione offered in explanation as she rushed off, uncaring if Shelley called after her.

Hermione, instead of heading to her office as she should, walked to the Atrium and from there, Flooed home. She collapsed on the rug in front of her fireplace, breaking down into sobs instantly.

Allowing herself only a few minutes of sorrow, Hermione tried to pull herself together.

"He is getting married tomorrow," she said into her empty flat - so much emptier now after having been filled with Draco.

She hated him more in that moment than she ever had - even more than when she found out he'd been using her and was getting married.

Because this, this photograph, it had to mean something.

Why else would he have a photograph of her on his desk, hidden away. And he had had it for a long time - Hermione still remembered the first time she'd walked in on him holding it, merely a week after they started working together. Then, he'd hidden the photo in a drawer and blushed when she'd teased him about it.

He looked at it often, far too often for him to not have some type of feelings for her . Yet, when given the chance, when evidence of her want for him - if not her love - had been presented to him quite openly, he'd chosen instead a girl so unlike her it was almost as if he-

Hermione groaned painfully. It had to come back to that then; her blood and lack of lineage.

It had to be.

She cried and she hated him all night. When morning dawned on Draco's wedding day, Hermione was fresh out of tears but determined and strong. She decided with a firm nod to herself to go to the wedding – and stop it.

– – – – –

"I'm in love with Hermione Granger," Draco repeated.

Blaise stared. "Since when?"

"Since..." Draco shrugged, "I don't even know. Years."

They stood in silence, staring at each other; Blaise in disbelief and shock and Draco scarcely less so, having thought he'd take his true feelings with him to the grave.

"What are you going to do?" Blaise asked after a moment.

"What can I do? Hermione hates me now, I-"

"Wait; did something happen between the two of you?"

Draco bit his lip as his cheeks coloured. "You could say that," he said, not elaborating.

"That would explain why she's not out there," Blaise mumbled. They stood staring at each other in silence for a moment. "You are unhappy," Blaise stated.

"I am," Draco agreed. "I'm getting married to a girl I don't like, I'm in love with a woman who hates me because of said wedding. I'm miserable."

"I'm not sure I've got the whole picture here, Draco, but if you're so miserable, maybe you should just... not get married?"

"And risk losing everything?" Draco retorted, turning back to the mirror to once again move his tie a centimetre in a frustrated manner.

Blaise frowned behind him. "Haven't you already lost everything?" he asked.

There was a knock on the door just then, and Blaise turned to the sound.

"I'll head out there and deal with whatever that is. Draco, just... I can't tell you what to do; I know you feel you have to obligate your family, but, Draco, for the love of Merlin, follow your heart for once in your life!"

With that, Blaise left Draco in front of the mirror, contemplating his life.

Draco stared at himself, long and hard. "Follow your heart," he told himself; the words sparking a recollection of one of the far too few nights he'd spent curled around Hermione in her bed. She'd said much the same; that following your heart, taking a chance, regardless of the risks to oneself, was both brave and worth it. He'd laughed at the time, called her a silly and sentimental Gryffindor before kissing her. She'd smiled at him in return. She'd been happy with him.

He had been happy too.

Draco squared his shoulders, corrected his tie one last time and with a smile, stepped out of the door. He glanced down the hallway and towards the open doors leading to the altar, where Blaise stood waiting for him. Their eyes locked, before Draco turned his head and looked the other way, towards the open doors; leading to freedom, leading to Hermione, leading to love and happiness.

He glanced back at Blaise, who nodded at him with a smile of understanding and support.

Draco turned and walked towards the outside, following his heart. The sun was glaring outside after the dimness of the rooms inside so he stopped to squint in the bright light. In doing so, he spied a figure seated on the front steps, her light shimmering dress draped across the stone, and her face turned up to soak in the sun. His heart skipped a beat, and smiling, he stepped down to sit beside her.

Hermione turned to him, her eyes widening as their eyes met for the first time since their fight, three weeks previous.

"Hello," he said gently. He doubted she would accept his touch, so he tightened his hands into fists which he rested in his lap to prevent himself from reaching out for her.

"Hi," she replied quietly. "Shouldn't you be inside?" she asked after a moment, just as the bells overhead started to ring slowly, signalling that the ceremony was about to commence.

Draco sighed. "Shouldn't you?" he nodded towards the dress she wore, and her hair twisted up in an elegant knot at the back of her head. It was obvious she'd dressed up for the wedding.

Hermione looked away. "I was going to," she gave a hollow laugh.

"What?" he prodded gently.

"I was going to stop you from going through with it," Hermione admitted.

"Why didn't you?" he asked.

"I couldn't- I just-"

Draco, unable to help himself, reached out a hand and placed it on her bare shoulder. She turned to him, a sliver of hope colouring her dark eyes. He swallowed hard. "I couldn't either," he said. He took a leap. "You see, I'm in love with this girl..."

Hermione let out a breath she'd been unaware she'd been holding at his words; the way he looked at her. "You really mean it?"

Draco smiled, his hand sliding down her shoulder to clasp her hand. "I really mean it," he agreed.

"You hurt me," she told him.

"I know," Draco squeezed her hand. "You have no idea how sorry I am for that. If you'll let me, I will spend every day of my life making it up to you."

"What about your family?" Hermione asked carefully.

"If they can't accept it..." He shrugged. "Besides, I'd much rather create a new family, with you."

Hermione leaned forward and kissed him gently, her lips barely touching his before he pushed forward and into her. Their kiss deepened quickly. The bells above them finished their ringing, far too early; Blaise must've stopped them, and remembering where he was made Draco break away from her lips.

"Me too," Hermione whispered against him. She caressed his face gently, smiling as they gazed at each other.

"We should probably get going," Draco said, standing. He held out his hand to her, and when she took it, he helped her to her feet.

Together, they left the church behind.

– – – – –

Draco stood in front of the mirror, resisting the urge to fix his tie one last time. He smiled at his reflection, touching the sides of his hair and moving a few strands in the process. The door opened behind him and Blaise stepped in.

"You ready?" he asked, smiling.

Draco nodded and turned. "I'm ready."

"You're not going to run away again?" Blaise teased.

Draco hit him with a closed fist on his shoulder, unable to stop smiling. "Why would I run away, when the person I most want to run to is waiting for me?" he asked.

"True," Blaise agreed. "You sap."

Draco shot him a look as they stepped out of the doom and made their way to the front of the small church. Draco took his position beside Blaise in front of the altar, turning towards the doors to wait for his bride.

His eyes caught sight of his parents, seated together; his mother dabbing at her eyes with a white handkerchief and his father smiling back at him. It hadn't taken as long as Draco had believed it would for his parents to accept Hermione; they both realised how serious he was when he announced, merely a month after his not-wedding to Astoria, that he and Hermione were getting married. His mother had even offered to plan the wedding, but as theirs was a small and intimate affair, as opposed to the public circus his mother had wanted to plan, they'd declined her involvement. She had been disappointed and had even tried to push, but when Draco revealed that all he needed was Hermione, the required number of witnesses and someone to officiate; she'd accepted her lack of involvement in exchange for a proper wedding for her only son.

It was not the splendour Narcissa had once envisioned, but the small village church in Wiltshire was just perfect for the two of them.

The bridal march started, and as the doors opened, Draco took a deep breath.

Hermione stepped in on Arthur's arm, and as their eyes met, they both smiled. Draco didn't see the small number of guests as she glided past them; only her, and her progress towards him.

Once Hermione stood in front of him, her hand in his, Draco whispered, "I love you."

The End.

Prompt: In the lead up to his wedding to [character of your choice], Draco fears he wont be up to much a visits a "sex teacher" to prepare him for the big day.
: Any
Additional comments
: And additional twist could be that his teacher turns out to be his future bride in disguise.