'I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.'
~Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul~
"I really hate flying," Draco said, not for the first time. Hermione smiled and took his hand as they waited on the tarmac. She glanced over at him and then out of their tiny window as the plane began to back out of the spot. "Allow me to rephrase. I hate flying in planes."
"Because they're muggle?" She teased, smiling brightly at him.
His face relaxed as he looked at her, some of the tension ebbing away. He smiled softly, "Maybe if it was a year ago."
Hermione kissed his cheek and then squirmed in her seat. She couldn't believe the day had finally come. It was nearly Christmas, which meant more than just presents, even though her suitcase was full of presents. But the show they had worked so hard on over the summer was finally going to be airing. Hermione wondered what it would be like, seeing herself on tv, and what the effects of the show would be.
She also hadn't seen her family or Harry and Ron and Ginny since the middle of September. One of the schools Hermione had applied to was a small little place in Scotland that was known widely for their law program- they had been able to offer her admission in the fall instead of waiting until the spring. And so when Draco left to work with dragons, she went with him. They had finally been alone, away from the Ministry and all their cameras. Ginny couldn't stalk them, although she did write frequently, even though she had a heavy seventh year course load back at Hogwarts. Harry wrote, too, but he was pretty busy with auror duties. Ron never wrote- but after all these years she had learned to expect that.
Draco counted to one hundred under his breath and then they were in the air and he was chewing his gum like it was a lifeline. Hermione rubbed his hand, waiting for him to calm down. The seatbelt sign clicked off, but Draco didn't make any movements. They probably should have taken the train to spare him his newfound phobia, but they had waited too long to book their tickets. Draco had fought valiantly for Apparating, but Hermione wanted to travel the muggle way. So they compromised: they'd be Apparating back.
Draco opened his eyes and let out a deep breath. He glanced at her smiling face and scowled. "I'm fine."
"Sure you are, Tough Guy." She grinned, looking back out the window. Scotland looked so tiny beneath them, all the mountains hidden below the clouds. Flying always entranced her- flying in planes, that was. Brooms were not her preferred method of travel. Draco had forced her on one- but if you asked him, he would have said he "gently lifted her" onto one- during one of their many evenings in Scotland. She had screamed bloody murder and slapped him numerous times once they were safely on the ground.
Draco's head dropped onto her shoulder and she turned to look at him. She didn't realise she was smiling as she studied him. He had fallen asleep.
He woke up just before they landed. He blinked, looking around like he wasn't sure where they were. "Did you read the whole flight?" His voice was scratchy. She didn't say anything, shutting her book, as she watched him crinkle his nose. He pulled the gum he had been chewing out of his mouth. He looked horrified and she smiled.
"Yes," Hermione answered, passing him a napkin. He took it and then grimaced as the plane began to descent. His ears were probably filling with air. He reached for her hand and looked like he wished he was still asleep.
"We'll be on the ground in no time," She promised, "You did well."
"Of course I did well," He scoffed, "I'm a Malfoy."
She rolled her eyes.
Heathrow was crowded with holiday travellers. They made their way hand in hand through the crowds to find the luggage carousel. Hermione fiddled with Draco's scarf she was wearing. She knew if Harry or Ginny saw her wearing her boyfriend's Slytherin scarf from Hogwarts they would kill her, but she couldn't wear her own Gryffindor scarf since Draco had taken it as his own.
"Accio," Draco said under his breath, and suddenly their bags appeared in front of them. She glared at him and he smiled innocently, taking her bag in addition to his. "Lets go," He grinned, nodding towards the door.
She followed him, smiling to herself. Draco had changed in many ways, but he still wasn't immune to using magic for simple tasks. And she didn't mind, because there were more important ways in which he'd changed.
"We're Apparating, aren't we?" She asked, once they were outside.
Draco glanced at the taxi line and then back at her. "I'd like to."
She smiled and took his hand. They were standing in front of her home, the warmth practically oozing out. The lights shown through the window and she could see the Christmas tree sitting in the parlour. There was a snowman in their tiny front yard. The pavement was covered in a light dusting of snow. Hermione squeezed his hand and Draco whispered in her ear, "Welcome home."
She was about to lean up and kiss him, but the door opened and Ginny was jumping on them.
"Oh my gosh! 'Mione, hi! Merlin, I've missed you!"
Hermione laughed and hugged her red headed friend back. "I missed you too, Gin."
"You cut your hair!" Ginny shouted ecstatically when they had pulled away. "You look amazing!" And then she saw the scarf and her eyes narrowed, "What is that?"
Hermione rolled her eyes, already have anticipated the reaction. Before she could say anything, Ginny had turned on Draco and shoved her finger in his face as she said, "YOU-"
"'Mione!" Harry's voice broke through, and suddenly she was wrapped up in her friend's arms. She had just barely gotten a look at him, but she saw he was still wearing his glasses. Draco, she saw over Harry's shoulders, didn't look the least bit nonplussed at having Ginny's finger in his face.
"I thought you got contacts!" She said, pulling away to look at him. She squeezed his cheeks and laughed.
"Oh, he won't wear them," Ginny answered, "Says he's allergic to them."
"I AM!" Harry shouted defensively. "Ginny thinks I lie about everything."
"We have more important matters to deal with," Ginny put in, "Have you seen Hermione's scarf?"
"What-?" Harry trailed off, and then his eyes went downwards. "Oh."
"Yeah, oh." Hermione rolled her eyes.
She was saved from an explanation when she heard a shout from the doorway that sounded distinctly like her mother. "Would you two let me see my daughter already?"
The four them made their way inside and Hermione was instantly warmed. Her parents were waiting, looking just as she remembered them. They hugged her tightly, and for a moment it felt like they hadn't been separated for three months.
Leaving had been hard, especially after what they had gone through being apart during the war. But Hermione knew there was a day she'd have to move forward with her life and learn to stand on her own and trust her family would still be there. And they were.
"Oh, sweetheart, you look gorgeous! You have to tell us everything! And Draco, oh!" Her mum launched herself at the boy in question and hugged him, "Look at you! There must be something in the air in Scotland! And Happy Christmas!"
Hermione rolled her eyes, but smiled at the scene in front of her. Draco laughed and hugged her mum back. When they pulled away, she watched as he looked around the room and found his own parents waiting their turn. He smiled and stepped towards them, hugging his mum.
She gave them some privacy and went to greet the rest of the Weasley clan. There was a Muggle-Pureblood Relations Program premiere party going on at her house tonight. Mrs. Weasley hugged her tightly and George lifted her off the ground. He and Angelina were getting married in a few weeks and if his letters were anything to go by, he was eager to get the whole thing over with and get to the honeymoon already.
Percy waved to her from the dining room, where he had his paperwork spread out around him. Bill and Fleur were sitting on the floor with baby Victoire, who was playing with some blocks. Charlie hadn't been able to make it home because of a hurricane in Romania- all the dragon handlers needed to be on call. Ron came out of the kitchen, wiping frosting off his lips. He smiled at Hermione and she met him halfway.
"Hey, Weasley," She smiled, hugging him.
"'Mione," He was strong- auror training finally kicking in. "How've you been?"
"I'm great," She laughed, meaning every word of it. It hadn't been easy, getting back to a good place with Ron. In fact, it wasn't until she had left for Scotland with Draco that they began writing to each other. She knew he and Jenna were still together, and she didn't mind. She was happy they were happy. Ron was one of her best friends. He always would be.
Jenna smiled and it seemed less annoying than she remembered. Hermione smiled and hugged her, "Hi, Jenna,"
Once everyone finished their greetings, they pilled onto the couch, the chairs, and the floor, as they geared up to watch the show. Draco and Hermione told stories, among everyone else's. Draco showed Harry his scar where he got bitten his first day, while Harry showed off his bruise where he got hit in the head during a wild chase through Diagon Alley. Hermione rolled her eyes at them and told George about all she was learning in her Theories of Government class.
And then soon enough it was time for the episode to start. Harry made the telly louder and Ginny leaned back against him. "Time to watch Lucius be an arse." Narcissa joked, pinching her husband's knee.
He scowled and leaned back against the sofa, like he wanted to disappear. Lucius had gradually begun to warm up to their big clan, but he still had a lot of work to do. Either way, his foul mood didn't ruin the atmosphere and Hermione smiled into Draco's shoulder.
"What did we even do that first day?" She asked.
"The museum..." He trailed off, kissing her head. They were sitting on the floor, next to the couch. He touched her knee.
"You really liked the horses," She remembered, as Wilson Betemit came on the screen, giving this dramatic speech about the making of this program.
He smiled fondly, like he was recalling the memory, "I had just read about Seabiscuit, that famous race horse. I was interested."
"SHHH!" George said obnoxiously, throwing a pillow at them. Draco caught it easily and threw it back. Angelina caught it and hit George with it, making the room erupt with laughter.
It couldn't have been a better moment, Hermione thought, as the show started. It was weird seeing herself and everyone else on the tv. Lucius regarded her with contempt and Narcissa looked like there was a foul smell in the room. Hermione remembered that day so clearly now that she was seeing it played back.
"This is so surreal," She whispered, shutting her eyes.
Draco chuckled in her ear, "I quite like it."
She rolled her eyes, "No, you don't."
"You're right. I hate it." Just as the words left his lips, a series of criticisms erupted in the room.
"I DO NOT SOUND LIKE THAT!"
"Oh, gosh, why did I wear that?"
"Stop complaining! I'm not even in this show! I was at Hogwarts all summer!"
"I can't believe I wore that! Why did you tell me it looked nice?"
"I don't look like that. The camera adds way more than ten pounds."
"I can't believe they didn't edit that out!"
"I'M NOT IN LOVE WITH HERMIONE!"
"YOU? What makes you think I love you, George!"
"When I get my hands on that Betemit arsehole-"
"George, have some manners. He's the- I'M GOING TO KILL THAT PLONKER! I SPENT ALL DAY MAKING THAT DINNER AND HE JUST-"
"Dad! I can't believe you said that!"
"Lucius, would it have killed you to smile a little?"
"I have a zit!"
"Astoria looks like a toad!"
"I did not say that! They totally edited that! I swear, I did not do that."
"Merlin, this is awful! How is THIS supposed to solve anything?"
"Thank Merlin I'm not in this show."
"Oh, shut up, Potter."
The show finally ended and Hermione couldn't have been happier. Everyone had much to say, but Hermione kept herself busy with the cake her mother had baked earlier that day. She and Draco sat at the table while everyone went on about the show. Draco was smiling at her and then he took another forkful of chocolate cake.
Hermione laughed and ran her finger over his lips. "Chocolate."
"I know, I'm such a child." He laughed.
"Only when it comes to cake," She added, taking another piece. "This is so good. Oh my gosh."
"Oh, you two, being all adorable in the corner." Ginny laughed, coming over to them. "Thinking we won't see you feeding each other cake."
"We weren't-" Draco started, but Ginny cut him off.
"Don't think I missed that little moment, Malfoy. I see everything."
"You're a little creepy, Gin," Ron said, coming over to join them. Harry was on his right side and went, "A little?"
Ginny stuck her tongue out at them and Hermione smiled. She offered Ginny her fork with a piece of cake on it. Ginny happily took it and sighed, "Your mum is a goddess."
"This should be illegal," Hermione added.
Harry rolled his eyes. "It's just cake." He picked up a fork and took a piece. "Merlin."
Ginny looked triumphant and Draco shook his head at them.
There was one thing Hermione knew for sure. The Muggle-Pureblood Relations Program may not change anyone's minds. It may not bring anyone together. But it had brought her and Draco and their families together. Because Harry and Ginny and Ron were her family, among her parents and the rest of the Weasleys. The Muggle-Pureblood Relations Program had brought all these people together that probably would never have found each other without it. Never would she have pictured Draco and Harry and Ron all getting along. And yet, they were.
She smiled, taking another bite of cake. It was Christmas Eve, but that didn't stop Draco from reaching across the table and taking her hand. "Happy Christmas," he said.
She smiled, knowing it would be the first of many. Together.
"How can you be talking when there's cake to be eaten?"
"Minister, sir, we're editing the final episode now... if you want to watch the final confessionals-" Jake Ransom started, staring nervously at Wilson Betemit.
Wilson Betemit looked up from his empty desk. It was this time of the year when he remembered how alone he was. Everyone was excited over holiday bonuses and family dinners, while he had to deal with everyone's problems. He rolled his eyes, "I already watched the Greengrasses go on about how blessed they are to have gone through this experience. And the Weasley boy go on an on about how happy he is to have found the Boyle girl-"
"Minister," Jake cut in, fidgeting, "We've just finished the Malfoys' and Granger's piece."
"What makes you think I want to listen to that little girl go on about how she's gonna get a degree and go moon shoes over Draco Malfoy?" Wilson said, acidly. All his resentment over the holiday season was coming forth and Jake was, unfortunately, taking the brunt of it.
Marty Biggs came in then, with a smile on his face and a donut in hand. He was also carrying a muggle laptop and said brightly, "Done. Whole series, completed."
Wilson studied Marty for a moment, hardly believing it was the same kid that had come up with the idea months ago. Besides the fact that all of Marty's acne was gone, he carried himself differently. Maybe keeping Lucius Malfoy in line for months had something to do with it. "This better be good."
Marty walked into the office and put the laptop down on the desk. He pushed a button and in moments Draco and Hermione were on the screen, sitting on a couch in the Manor. "And what have you learned from this experience?" A voice was asking from somewhere off camera.
Draco rolled his eyes and Hermione nudged him. "Draco still hasn't really grasped the idea of social skills."
"I have plenty social skills!" Draco interjected, "I went on that fishing trip with Potter and Weasley last weekend."
"Oh, yes," Hermione rolled her eyes, "Harry and Ron pushed you off the boat because you were such good company."
Draco rolled his eyes again and waved this off, like it was irrelevant, "That was a guy thing. You wouldn't understand."
"Riiight," She giggled and then the scene changed to Narcissa and Lucius sitting on the same couch.
Narcissa patted her husband's knee and said, "I think we've both learned to be more tolerant of others. Really, Hermione is a doll and Draco is just... well, he really cares for her. You know, the other day, she was teaching him how to drive. He nearly drove into the lake, of course, but he's still trying."
"And you Lucius?" The voice prompted.
Narcissa nudged her husband, "Come on. You promised Draco you'd make an effort."
"I already made an effort accepting the Granger gir-"
The older man sighed and said, "Accepting Hermione into our lives. It's not my doing the boy wants to go jumping into muggle vehicles and drown in a lake."
"Draco was very unhappy. He really wanted to impress her. He was blushing when Hermione told us the story." Narcissa added.
Lucius rolled her eyes, "There are broomsticks and the Floo Network. No one needs an automobile. And don't get me started on that motorcycle the Potter boy likes to drive around."
The scene changed again and it was Draco and Hermione. "What message do you have to witches and wizards that still see muggle-born witches or muggles as inferior beings?"
"This one is for you," Hermione turned to Draco. He rolled his eyes and she poked his side, "Come on! Time to get cheesy."
"I do not do cheesy." Draco said, seriously, before turning to the camera and saying, "I have learned that I was wrong and Hermione was right."
"That's it?" Hermione asked, "That was your big declaration about equal rights and-"
"Yes, Hermione, that's all."
"Well that sucked."
"'Mione, I just want this bloody show to end so we can go and live our lives together-"
The scene cut back to Lucius and Narcissa. "I'm happy my son is happy and that we're all together." Lucius said, genuinely. Narcissa beamed at him and kissed his cheek.
"I second that. Draco has never been happier and our home is our own again. Everything is just as it should be. And Hermione is taking us to this muggle amusement park next weekend, before it gets too cold. She and Draco will be leaving soon, you know, and we're all just spending a lot of time together."
"Love, I think that's enough now," Lucius said, taking his wife's hand.
"Yes, I guess you're right. It's time to say goodbye. It'll be weird, not doing this sit down confessional thing once a week. I quite enjoyed it. Hermione taught me so many things. And all we could take her to was dinners and Ministry hearings. Quite boring our life, but the way muggles live- fascinating!"
"Love, it's over-"
"I'm not finished, Lucius!" As Narcissa went on and on about Hermione had enriched their lives, the credits began to roll and Jake turned to Wilson.
"What did you think, sir?"
"Good. We made a damn good show."
"Yes, we did, Minister." Jake smiled.
Marty grinned and then looked at his boss, who had once terrified him. "Mr. Betemit, would you like to join my family for Christmas dinner?"
Wilson's neck nearly snapped from the sudden turn he made. He smiled fondly at Marty, who he had once said reminded him of himself. He shook his head, "Thank you, Marty. But, no. I have some more suff to do here."
Marty nodded and picked up the laptop. "You know where I am if you change your mind. Come on, Jake, lets hand in the final copy and head home."
They left Wilson Betemit. Wilson leaned back in his chair and looked at his empty desk. He played back the footage he had just seen in his mind and thought about how far the Malfoys had come. He looked up and then stood, gathering his coat.
"Oi! Marty! Get back here, you lazy dog!"
A/N Not gonne lie, guys. I was bummed with the reviews for last chapter. And I put that chapter up in like 3 days, so I took my frustration out on you by not putting this up as fast. Petty, I know. Seriously, though, I'm so grateful to everyone that has reviewed. You won't understand what it means unless you're a writer, desperately wanting feedback on your work and how disheartening it is to not get any, or very little.
Special, awesome, thanks to everyone that has reviewed ever :D And thanks to the 8 of you reviewed the last chapter: vickifay, Zenfish, Loveable Leo, RoguesMum, Blah Blah Blah Monster, FuryPossessed, Ch1yom1, and edwardsoneandonlylove.
I hope you enjoyed the story :) Cheers and thanks, everyone.