Oh gods, oh gods, oh gods, Hermione's mind repeated relentlessly as she walked swiftly through the halls of the Ministry of Magic. Many people gave her questioning glances as she sped by them nearly at a jog. Her only response was a tight smile and the occasional nod. She had no time to waste. Merlin, she'd never made such a mistake in her life. The secret she swore she'd never reveal had somehow slipped free. Draco needed to be warned and immediately, for she knew that Ginny, the whirlwind she was, would seek him out.
"Thought I'd never figure it out?! Thought you'd get away with it, did you?!" Ginny's voice echoed through the halls.
Good Godric, Hermione was too late.
"I don't know what the hell you're on about Weasley, but you put me down this second or I'll..."
"Don't know what I'm talking about?!" Ginny interrupted Draco in a rage.
Almost there, Hermione thought, turning the final corner.
"Think back, Malfoy. Two years ago. I swore I'd find out who it was!"
"Oh, fuck... Hermione?!" he bellowed, knowing she must be near.
Hermione gasped and paused when she arrived on the scene. Her way was blocked by a large crowd of onlookers. It seemed the entire staff of the International Magical Cooperation department was there and watching with rapt attention. There at the center, pinned against the wall with his feet a good twelve inches off the ground, was Draco. Ginny stood to the side with her wand trained directly at his chest.
"I'm here!" Hermione called out, trying to shove through the crowd.
"Look, Weasley, I'm sorry, but is this really the place to-?"
"Oh, this is the perfect place to," Ginny affirmed against his hopes.
"Ginny, stop. Please," Hermione begged, nearly at the front of the crowd.
"Thought it was so funny, did you? Vanishing girls' knickers, you pervert?!"
"I was a kid," Draco reminded her in his defense. "It was just for kicks. I was a stupid-"
"I don't care how old you were; you humiliated me and dozens of other girls! It was sick!"
"It was ages ago, now don't you think we could-?"
"Utterly humiliating! And what you did to me personally? Let's see how you like it!" With a swish of her wand, Ginny unfastened the front of Draco's robes to reveal his white silk boxers and cotton undershirt.
"WEASLEY!" Draco shrieked. He wished he could retaliate, or at least cover himself, but his arms were still pinned to his sides.
"Ginny, please. I agree you have every right to be angry, but-"
Before Hermione could finish her plea, Ginny flicked her wand again, vanishing his boxers and exposing him to the many spectators, all of whom burst out in laughter. Hermione answered the spell with a quick one of her own, moving a potted plant in front of him to block his privates from view. She'd later think it a smarter move to refasten his robes, but in her frenzied state, blocking the view was the only thing that came to mind.
"Weasley!" Draco threatened.
"Ginny, he's had enough!" Hermione insisted as she tugged on her friend's arm. "Return his pants. We're not children anymore. You can't-"
"Snape!" Ginny reminded them both. "He made me fall in love with that slimy, disgusting, vile-"
Each insult was punctuated with the disappearance of another article of clothing - his tie, then his white undershirt, and followed finally by his long black robe. As the robe vanished, a tiny box fell to the ground. Ginny's jaw dropped, but it seemed to go unnoticed by Hermione who moved to stand in front of him, blocking him more from view. Ginny dove forward and scooped up the black velvet clamshell box.
"What was that?" Hermione raged. "Whatever it is, you return it with his things this instant, Ginny Weasley, or I swear retribution on you as well! You've had your revenge and it was far worse than he deserved. We're adults now and he works here. What you've-"
Ginny stopped listening to the scolding and simply stared at Hermione's open hand, which beckoned for the item Ginny held behind her back and the many articles of clothing that only Ginny could conjure back into existence.
"Well?!" Hermione demanded. Ginny nodded dumbly and returned the clothing with a swish of her wand and a quietly muttered spell.
"And what's behind your back," Hermione ordered.
Behind Hermione's back, Draco violently shook his head and Ginny copied the movement.
"Ginevra Weasley," Hermione insisted. Ginny released the spell that held Draco to the wall and he rushed forth to grab the clothing from Hermione. Without hesitation, he slipped his arms into his robe and fastened it, forgetting the rest for the moment.
Draco's eyes met Ginny's and Ginny passed him the box. Quick as a flash, the box and its contents were safely in his pocket. Unfortunately, the pass was impossible for Hermione to miss.
"W-What was that?"
Draco glared at a guilty looking Ginny and sighed deeply. There was no avoiding it if she already suspected.
"It was meant for this evening," he admitted quietly. Scanning the crowd with a scowl, he silently dared any person there to interrupt him and gently took Hermione's hand.
"Draco... I..." Hermione swallowed hard.
"Don't talk, Granger, just listen," he said in a low voice. "It's not always been easy for us, but it's been nice... better than nice. You know how I feel about you; that... that I love you." He muttered the admission so that it was more difficult for the crowd to hear. As easy as it was to love her, it wasn't easy to speak about it, and he never before dared to do so in front of others.
"It's taken time for people to accept us and still there are some who do not..." Draco's mind brought forth an image of his father. His relationship with Hermione was still one that his father despised, but a truth that he was being forced to accept. Draco hoped that eventually his father might come to accept Hermione as graciously as his mother had, but he knew that it would take years to achieve. It was an achievement that the two men spoke without hostility and that Draco was once again allowed to visit his family's home. He considered it a small victory.
Hermione's friends were much easier to convince, which surprised Draco greatly. In the years since Hogwarts, Draco, Ron, and Harry had managed to form a sort of acceptance of each other. It was not a situation that any of them would call friendship, but they were able to make it through dinners and holidays without aggression. It meant more to Hermione than they could ever understand.
"No one's ever meant more to me than you, and you know I'll gladly give you anything your heart desires. I hope then, that you accept this offer from me..." Draco dropped to one knee and opened the black velvet box to reveal a large white diamond, arranged in a platinum band. "I want us to spend the rest of our days together... I want you to marry me."
Tears gathered in Hermione's eyes and she pinched her lips together, unable to find the words to match the excitement that pounded in her heart. She nodded vigorously and one word slipped free. "Yes."
"Yes?" he asked with a mixture of anxiety and hope.
"Yes." Hermione beamed, pulling him off the floor to kiss him passionately. Draco enclosed her in his arms and fervently returned the kiss to a collective "aww" from the crowd.
Draco turned to glare at them, but Hermione cupped his face to return his gaze to her.
"Mind no one, Draco. It's just you and me."
"Always, Hermione. You and me." With that, he slipped the ring onto her finger. It was official: she'd be his forever.
Sort of a light and silly end after the seriousness of the last chapter, but we felt Ginny needed her revenge. The story wasn't complete until she had it. So tell me, lovely readers, what did you think?