A/n: Final chapter! There was going to be one more but as I wrote this I realized there wasn't a need. The last thing I wanted was to have the story drag on, and if I added anything additional to what is already there I think that would be the case. So here it is! Thanks so much for reading this and please leave a comment at the bottom. And yes, this chapter is shorter!
Thanks to my beta Tessa Cresswell! And thanks to my lovely requisite, ChloeDracoMalfoy!
"You're an arse!"
"But I'm your arse!"
Hermione rolled her eyes from her position in the kitchen. Draco stood at her side, attempting to steal away the bottle of whiskey she had been hiding from him for the past two hours. Although she had thought about opening the bottle and drinking the liquid since she retrieved it from the cabinet before he could, she had enough self-control to keep it shut. Drinking was not the answer here, and the sooner they learned that the better things would be.
Somehow, things had a way of working themselves out. The day after Luna's letter neither Hermione nor Draco heard from the majority of their friends for two weeks. At first the girl believed things had gone horribly wrong with Harry and Luna, but they learned overtime that was not the case. Luna still showed up to her job on a day-to-day basis, and everything got done hours before her shift ended, yet she clocked off. When they did actually discover that the girl worked harder to go and see Harry more, Hermione broke into a grin. Finally something was going right.
And the relationship had maintained itself over the past three months. If that was a surprise to anyone, it was Ginny. The insane girl continued to call on Hermione for the first weeks that the news got out, and every time she only inquired if Harry had dumped her friend yet. At one point, Ron went over and cut off Ginny's floo connection to Hermione's apartment so she could be left in peace. Never had she been so thankful to have him as a friend.
That didn't mean though that things went perfect for everyone. After using each other for so long Ginny and Blaise didn't know much about relationships outside the physical nature, and it was quite comical to watch the two actually try to hold a conversation that didn't consist of whispered foreplay. They looked uncomfortable now, sitting on the new couches Draco had purchased Hermione last month because he believed her own were too worn for even the dead to use. They were too extravagant for the space and the bookworm's conservative nature, but that didn't matter. They still looked nice, and they were comfortable.
"Don't eat that; it's horribly bad for you."
"Ginny, stop badgering me. I am perfectly capable of choosing my own meals!"
"Your meals are going to make you fat."
"Fat? You actually believe I can be fat? I'm not going to start being a bum just because I indulged on my food. Stop worrying so bloody much!"
"I'm just saying that if you were a bit more careful…"
Draco let the conversation trail off in his mind, shoving the bickering duo from his thoughts. They would be like that for Merlin knew how long, and he had better things to do than to sit there and listen. Turning his head, he waggled his eyes at Hermione and grabbed her hand to pull her down the hall towards the bedroom, but she slapped his hand playfully away. These were her guests and she couldn't just leave them to go and play with Draco in another room.
"Come on," he whispered, glancing at the couple. "They won't even notice."
"I'm sure they will," she argued. "Harry noticed earlier when you tried to get me to do the same thing."
He moved to step in behind her, pressing her lightly against the side of the counter as his lips kissed her neck. "Sorry, I can't help it. I haven't gotten to sleep with you since you got promoted."
She chuckled, drawing the other couples attention. "Well, I'll just have to make time for you then."
"As if that's hard for you to do," Ginny muttered beneath her breath. All eyes fell on her, and she just turned up her nose. It was no secret that she still held grudges against Hermione for conspiring for Harry to be with someone else the entire time, and she didn't do a very good job of hiding her new distaste for the brunette. And although she liked to pick on Hermione, she also liked to use her to talk to when she had her usual issues. It was annoying, but the brunette only occasionally brushed her off. The ginger had an ego bigger than even Draco- possibly- and it was a hard thing to work with. How Blaise got around that with his own large ego was beyond anything the newspapers could write. Draco just thought it was a miracle that they survived at all together.
But Hermione just smiled and ignored Ginny's comment, even as Blaise pinched her side and glared her way. He didn't like how his girlfriend rudely treated Hermione, especially after he himself made the mistake of talking bad about her in the presence of Malfoy. It was a mistake he would not make again.
The ginger leaned over and whispered something to him, before he rolled his eyes and stood. "I suppose we'll be going then," he snapped, shaking his head at Ginny. Three months did nothing to improve her attitude, and everyone was more than a bit surprised when Hermione actually invited Ginny and Blaise to dinner. The girl could try to be appreciative.
"So soon?" Draco mocked, and Hermione glanced over her shoulder to glare at him. Just because Ginny enjoyed being hostile did not mean they should be as well. "I mean, hope you come again."
Blaise rolled his eyes at the blonde's pathetic attempt at a charming goodbye, but didn't expect anything less. Their friendship was still a bit strained since he hadn't been the best around Hermione in the past, and since he now knew that the couple were serious together he knew better than to try anything on her again. After a few choppy goodbyes, the couple left.
"They took a lot longer to leave then Lovegood and Potter," Draco noted when the pair were finally alone. Only then did Hermione let herself be dragged down the hall, leaving the bottle behind now that Draco didn't feel the urge to drink to cope with the useless banter. He pulled her into the bedroom and slammed the door shut, moving to kiss her immediately but she gently held her back.
"Do you think things are going alright?" she asked, looking up at him. He groaned at her comment and sat on the bed beside her slowly, dropping his hands. This was not what he wanted to be doing.
"With the others."
"Hermione," he said, leaning in a bit towards her, "Stop worrying. We did our part; there is finally a bit of peace amongst the couples. Ginny has stopped whoring herself out, and Potter has stopped being neglectful. What else do you want? Everything can't be perfect, and it never will be. Just be satisfied that some of the issues were able to be resolved."
"But there are still so many issues," she argued.
He reached forward and cupped her cheek, letting her rest against the palm of his hand. "And those aren't for us to help with. Relationships always have ups and downs, and although we probably interfered more than we should've, we have done what we can. You have to let the natural balance of things work itself out amongst everyone, and not worry over it all. It's up to everyone else now to keep their own relationships going."
She laughed softly. "You were the one who was trying to get in the middle of relationships more than I in the beginning."
"You just hadn't fully warmed up to the idea to start," he replied, shrugging. She rolled her eyes, and lightly hit his shoulder again, like back in the kitchen. Arching an eyebrow, he decided to use that as a sign that the talking was over, and jumped on her, pushing her back against the bed where he could hungrily attack her with his lips. She kissed back just as fiercely.
"Now stop talking about other people's problems," he demanded as his kisses moved away from her lips to trail down her body. "It's not worth your worries, understood?"
Maybe if he hadn't been slowly undressing her, she could've come up with a decent response. But instead she only moaned, closing her eyes. He took that as a sign that the conversation was over, and smirked.
"I knew you would see it my way."
"This place is overly crowded," she muttered, squeezing into a booth beside Draco. It was the following day, and they had agreed to go to lunch with Harry and Luna- something that took a lot of persuasion on Hermione's part to even get the blonde to come. He wasn't overjoyed about having to spend two days in a row eating his meals with Potter, but he wouldn't be rude throughout the meal since Hermione had been so lovely and persuasive earlier. She was happy to be a girl in that moment.
"Why couldn't we have gone someplace less crowded?" he asked, looping an arm across her shoulders as people began glancing their way. They drew plenty of attention wherever they went now that they were known as a couple, and it wasn't just awestruck glances that met them as they walked down the streets. Eyes full of jealousy also watched them walk, continuously checking the expressions on their faces to see if perhaps this relationship was nothing but a lie. After all, they did seem extremely unlikely, what with their history. Some people thought it was fascinating that they got together, some horrifying.
"This was Luna's idea," Hermione replied, glancing around the place. A man winked in her direction and she rolled her eyes. He was just being a flirt, nothing more. She rarely got approached whenever Draco was nearby. Perhaps that was why he went everywhere with her nowadays.
"That explains things," he muttered. "This place is always crowded, and the food is bizarre."
She looked back at him and grinned. "That's because some of the food they serve is Muggle." He shivered, and she laughed.
Soon they were joined by Luna and Harry, both of who looked extremely happy. Malfoy still didn't understand exactly how they worked as a couple after all the issues they had together, but he seemed to be the only one with these thoughts. The newspapers thought they were perfect for each other, and printed just as many articles about them as they did Hermione and Draco themselves. Apparently the readers of the magazines like Witch Weekly just didn't have any love lives of their own, because all the issues that had anything to do with either couple sold like mad. But then, so did any of the copies that sold pieces dedicated to Ginny and Blaise, all of which were always about how long the couple could last, and how eligible Ginny and Blaise were for people seeking to date them when the couple did finally end things again. Those articles were sometimes more popular, just because everyone was always seeking a rich spouse, and both parties in that relationship were well off these days.
Lunch progressed as usual. Hermione and Luna talked and laughed, the boys eyed each other occasionally, and would join into the girl's conversation whenever possible to avoid having to converse with each other. It was still a strained affair between Draco and Harry to get along, but at least they weren't trying to duel each other in the restaurant. That had only happened once.
When the meal ended, Luna dragged Hermione off for a moment. "I wanted to say thank you," she began, looking around awkwardly. They were standing in the loo, the only place she could think of where people wouldn't be trying to pick up on their conversation to print into the papers later. "You know, for helping me realize that I really did want Harry in the end."
"You didn't need me for that," Hermione replied, tilting her head. "You always knew it, you just got hurt. If Draco treated me the way Harry treated you, I would've lost the desire to be with him too. But he's changing for the better, and I think you'll be very happy with the changes. He really does care about you."
"Yes," she said quietly, "It just took me running away from England for him to see it."
"I never said he picked up on things quickly," the brunette replied with a chuckle. But why are you thanking me now?"
She shrugged, then glanced down with a smile. "We're planning to move in together. We think it would be an excellent idea, although I think those bloody papers will print about a hundred articles on it before we even decide to do it."
"Probably. I'm happy for you!" She reached forward, hugging her friend tightly. "Don't let him be mean to you though, or neglectful. Keep Harry in line; he hasn't been in an actual relationship in ages."
"Neither have I," Luna reminded. "I just thought you would like to know."
She smiled. "Should we go back out then? Draco's probably wondering about you."
"Yes, probably. He always wonders though."
Everyone expected things to travel downhill for the couples, but they didn't. Months continued to fly by, and before anyone knew what to say Hermione was living in Malfoy Manor.
Now that alarmed a couple thousand people. No one knew what to say to that, and the couple spent far too much time laughing at the articles printed about them, some of them going to ridiculous stretches such as supposing that she was enslaved. Draco went to those buildings the day after those articles were printed, and none appeared again.
They were sitting in their bedroom one night when she asked him. "Where do you see us going?"
He looked up at her from his side of the bed, where he had been reading over some papers. "Tomorrow?"
"No, in life. Where do you see us going in life?"
The blonde smiled at her, shutting the collection of papers. "I'm not sure. You're probably going to become the Minister of Magic before we hit thirty, and I'm going to probably build my business up even more to add to my surplus of wealth." He smirked when she laughed.
"And what about us?" she asked slowly, scooting closer. "Where do you see our relationship going?"
"Why are you asking? You act like you're worried about my response."
She shrugged. "I'm not worried, I'm just curious. It's unexpected that we would ever be together, yet this stands as the best relationship I've ever been in. But where do you see it going?"
The blonde leaned forward, kissing her softly. "I suppose I haven't given it too much thought. We're together, and that's what counts. I suppose I expected you to be mine forever."
Hermione looked surprised at that. "Forever is a long time."
"Yes, it is. But is it really that bad? I rather thought we were going strong."
"We are," she agreed. "I'm just not sure what you see for us in our future."
This time he grabbed her, pulling her towards him to kiss her hungrily. "I see you as my future love. You're in my life for a very long time in my mind."
She smiled, brushing his hair back. "And I see you as mine."
He leaned back down, kissing her again. As his collection of papers hit the floor and clothes fell away, he grinned to himself. He just so happened to have a very expensive ring hidden away for her, one that he intended to slide onto a specific finger very soon. And if she saw him as her future just as he saw her as his, then he was sure she wouldn't shoot his proposal down. He did intend to keep her in his life forever now, after all.
He wasn't about to let the best thing in his life disappear. Pulling back from a deep kiss, he whispered softly against her lips. "I love you."