A/N: New story time! Yay!
There are no prophecies in this story, no wars, no Unforgiveable Curses, and if anyone dies it will be from natural causes. I know, a great change for me, but this one is just meant for fun. As you can see, I already had fun making the cover art. ;o)
It follows all of the books and takes place a little less than seven years after the epilogue. Yes, even that took place. With one minor change …
'His hair was receding somewhat, which emphasized the pointed chin.'
That line does not exist!
And let us begin …
"Ron, are you almost ready?" Hermione called into the washroom. She was presently sitting on the bed, clothes on, hair back, makeup applied. She did not understand how every time, every single time she was finished before him. Her foot tapped impatiently. It never failed.
"Yeah, yeah, stop bloody nagging me," said Ron, rushing out of the washroom and still buttoning up his shirt.
While he was tucking it in, Hermione noticed the small gash on his chin. A shaving blunder. That also never failed.
She sighed and stood up, going over and using her wand to heal the small cut. Ron rubbed his chin, obviously not even realizing that it was there.
"Thanks," he said halfheartedly.
He then tried to tie his tie but his hands kept fumbling. His ears turned red. He was obviously flustered with her being in such close proximity. Hermione sighed again and began to tie it for him.
Really, this was her fault. She was the one who had forgotten to change the reservation. Getting a reservation at the Three Broomsticks during graduation week was near impossible and had to be made far in advance. When she owled them last November she had no idea that she and Ron would be separated by Christmas. But it happened, and she had been so distracted with everything that she forgot to change the reservation from one room to two. So here they were, stuck in a room together for one more night while they attended Rose's graduation from Hogwarts and then the party after.
"Thanks," Ron muttered again before going over and grabbing his blazer off of the chair it hung over.
Hermione sighed once more. She seemed to be doing that a lot lately.
They headed out the door without another word between them. When they got downstairs, Harry, Ginny and James were already waiting by the door.
"About time you two got here," said Ginny. "Ron, were you taking forever primping again?"
Ron shrugged and looked off somewhere, anywhere but in Hermione's direction.
Ginny sighed. It seemed it was catching.
"Shall we go, then?" said Harry, clapping his hands together and urging them all out the door.
They all walked outside and began the trek to Hogwarts. James ended up running ahead to catch up with some friends, but they all really knew it was so he would arrive enough time before them to warn Rose and Hugo that it was one of their parents' bad days.
When they got to the school, they immediately headed into the Great Hall where a crowd of Weasleys were already waiting for them. Bill and Fleur's youngest, Louis, was also graduating, and so was George and Angelina's daughter, Roxanne. Really, it was one giant Weasley affair.
"Hermione, you look lovely," said Molly Weasley, giving her a warm hug and trying hard not to cry. "Doesn't she look lovely, Ron?"
Ron shrugged and looked off into the crowd again, walking away to go and talk to Teddy and a pregnant Victoire, who was just starting to show.
"Thank you, Molly," said Hermione, quickly turning away so her mother-in-law could not see the tears in her eyes.
She began looking around for someone. Anyone. But no one caught her eye. That is, until she came across a man who seemed to be doing to exact same thing as her. His hair was as platinum-blond as she remembered and, even with the wrinkles, his face still had a bit of a boyish quality to it.
Draco Malfoy was standing near his wife, Astoria. Ex-wife, actually. Their divorce had been in all of the papers last year. She was talking with his parents and hers, but seemed to be looking around for someone.
Draco's eyes wandered the crowd and eventually locked on to Hermione's. Meeting her gaze, he slipped a flask out of his inside coat pocket and took a swig. It was back and hidden away again as quickly as it had appeared.
Hermione was torn out of her daze and looked to see her son Hugo standing in front of her. She smiled.
"Hugo, don't even tell me it's possible you've grown another couple of inches since Easter," she said, noticing that her sixteen-year-old now stood slightly taller than her.
"I believe it is," he said, grinning widely.
Hermione threw her arms around his neck and pulled his head down to hers, smothering him with kisses.
"Ah! Mom, stop! Stop! The ladies!"
Hermione looked over to see a trio of young witches pointing and giggling. She released him. "Sorry," she said, giving a little chuckle. "Sometimes I forget how mature you are now. Which one's your girlfriend?"
Hugo looked over at the trio. "Umm … none. I broke up with my girlfriend last week."
"Last week?" said Ron, coming over. "But at Easter you were so in love," he mocked. He and Hermione both laughed.
"Yeah, well, things change," said Hugo. He glanced sideways at the trio and blushed. So did the girl in the middle as her two friends whispered to her.
"I'm not even going to ask," said Hermione.
She looked up again and noticed that Draco Malfoy was still staring at her. He had his flask out again and saluted her with it before taking another swig.
"I forgot that prick was going to be here."
Hermione turned to see Ron sneering in Draco's general direction.
"How could you forget?" she said. "His son was Head Boy with Rose all year."
Ron grunted. "Oh, right. She never said anything about him to me. Did she say anything to you?"
Before Hermione could answer, Ron continued.
"I'll bet it was hell. Like father like son."
"You're talking about Malfoy?" said Hugo.
"That's right," said Ron. "How did Rose survive boarding with him? Do you know?"
Hugo chuckled awkwardly. "She survived all right. They actually got on fine. Worked well together. He's not a bad -"
"Did you read about his divorce last year?"
Hugo gulped back his words and shook his head. Clearly, they were not on the younger Malfoy anymore.
"His wife claimed infidelity. Tried to take the entire Malfoy fortune, and probably would've if it wasn't for the control Lucius still has in the bloody Ministry. It's a real shame. Woulda been nice to see their family left with nothing."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Really, Ron? Are you still holding on that strongly to your hatred for a bully you haven't spoken to since you were eighteen? It's time to let go and move on."
Ron blinked. "Is that some sort of cryptic message to me or something?"
"What?" said Hermione, pursing her eyebrows. "Of course not. I was talking about Malfoy. Not you and me."
"Were you? Were you really?"
"I don't believe you," said Ron, slowly shaking his head. "You never bloody say what you mean. Weren't you the one who said we should separate? That we should see other people? But Merlin forbid I do it before you. Now, all of a sudden I'm a bloody pariah to the whole wizarding community, not to mention my own family!"
"Not here, Ron!" snapped Hermione.
"Then where? Where should we bloody do this, Hermione? Because I have barely seen you in the past six months!"
Hermione grabbed his arm harshly and dragged him out of the Great Hall without so much as a word to anyone else.
Hugo looked around, blushing profusely before hurrying off. He went behind the curtain the graduates would be emerging from shortly, only to find Rose already standing there and peeking out.
"Hugo, there you are!" she said, smiling brightly at him. "Did you see them? Is it …" She gulped. "Is it as bad as James said?"
Hugo grunted. "Worse, I think. Seems like they're just arguing for the sake of arguing."
Rose sighed. She crossed her arms and tried hard to suck the tears back into her eyes.
Footsteps shuffled down the hall. They both turned to see Head Boy, Scorpius Malfoy, walking towards them.
"The Headmaster sent me to get you. We're all lining up," he said, looking at Rose. "Everything all right?"
"Yes, fine," said Rose, using her thumb to wipe the last few tears away.
Scorpius approached her and cupped her face in his hands. Hugo looked away, knowing very well what was coming next. Scorpius leaned in and gave Rose a tender kiss. He looked in to her wet eyes before plunking their foreheads together. "Your cousin was right. They're fighting."
"I'm sure they just need to get it out of their system before -"
"Rose, we've talked about this," said Scorpius. "Don't delude yourself the way I did. They might never get back -"
"But your parents got divorced right away," said Rose. "Mine are just separated. And they still love each other. I know they do."
Scorpius gave her a shallow nod. He knew this was not the time to push her.
"I should probably get back out there," said Hugo. "Lily's saving me a seat up front so we can take pictures and I saw her wrestling a few people away from my empty chair earlier. Good luck on your speech, sis." He leaned in and gave her a hug. "You too, Malfoy."
Hugo and Scorpius nodded at each other before he disappeared to the other side of the curtain.
Scorpius and Rose linked hands and began walking back to where the other graduates were waiting.
"Nervous about your speech?" he asked.
"This one?" said Rose. "No. But the one we have to make after graduation … that one I'm terrified about."
Scorpius laughed as he began playing with the diamond ring on her finger. She was definitely right. The speech they were making later … It definitely be interesting.
Hermione was not surprised when she became a sniveling idiot the moment Rose stepped out with the other graduates. Being Head Girl, she sat on stage and smiled brightly at her parents after locating them in the audience. Lily was up front, snapping a million photos of her, but Ron was still trying to get a few of his own, especially when Rose stepped up to the podium to give her speech.
Ron climbed over everyone's legs, mumbling apology after apology to get to the aisle. When he was there, he hurried forward and snapped some photos, stepping in several other parents' line of sight when they were trying to take photos of their own children.
"Sorry," he said when one man snapped at him. "My daughter." He pointed at Rose proudly before returning to his seat.
Hermione laughed through her tears as he climbed back over everyone ungracefully. When she continued to sob through Rose's speech, Ron reached into his pocket and pulled out a handkerchief for her. She thanked him and wiped at her eyes. When Ron put his hand on her knee, Hermione took it on instinct and held on tight. It was moments like these, as scarce as they were, that she really missed him and the way things used to be. When they were still enough in love to work through the fights instead of let them build up and consume them.
Rose finished her speech and blew them a kiss before stepping off of the podium. Scorpius was up next, and Hermione was not surprised when no one hurried forward to take his photo. Of course, it was a little odd that Lily was still taking a few. Or several. Or … a lot, actually.
Hermione glanced sideways at where Draco was sitting and noticed that he did have a camera in hand. He took a photo from where he was but he must not have been satisfied since he made a face. When he tried to stand, Astoria grabbed his arm and pulled him back down. A pretty bold move for an ex-wife.
Draco sneered at her before whispering. A second later, a small house-elf appeared. Hermione's eyes flamed. She knew the Malfoys were one of the few wizarding families left who still kept house-elves as slaves.
Draco handed the creature the camera, and it gladly ran forward to take some photos of Scorpius. The young Malfoy gave several poses for the house-elf without missing a beat in his speech. It was then that Hermione noticed the way Rose was looking at him. She was leaning forward in her chair with a big, dopey smile on her face and stars in her eyes.
Hermione went white. Well, this might be a problem.
While Hermione knew nothing of Scorpius, his presence on stage definitely exuded a certain familiar arrogance. He was a Malfoy, there was no denying that. And he was a Slytherin, as indicated by the green and silver tassel and stole.
Soon, the speeches ended and all of the students were brought on stage one by one to receive their diplomas. This time, Ron hurried to the front early so that he would be able to get a good photo. He went near Lily and she elbowed their way to the perfect spot to get a shot of Rose receiving her diploma from Headmaster Longbottom.
Lily tried to be discrete when Scorpius received his diploma and she snapped a few photos. She was ready with the excuse that Albus was only a few people behind him but, luckily, Ron was too distracted looking for Rose to even notice.
When that was finished, all of the students returned to their seats and waited for the instruction to move their tassels over. Once they had it, all caps flew into the air and the entire Great Hall was engulfed in roaring chaos. Hermione and Ron tried to find Rose through it all but the crowd was too thick. They had absolutely no idea that she was in the midst of it all, lips entangled with those of a young Slytherin with platinum-blond hair, just like his father's.
When things died down a bit, the Weasleys all stood in a large cluster and waited for their graduates to arrive. Rose, Albus, Louis and Roxanne pushed their way through the crowd, quickly bombarded with dozens of hugs and kisses from their incredibly large family. Ginny was squeezing Albus so tight that he started to turn blue.
"Only one more!" she shouted to Lily, who was more than ready to be the oldest Potter at Hogwarts.
After receiving hugs from her parents, and then her grandparents, Rose started looking around.
"Rosie, honey, who are you looking for?" said Hermione, brushing her daughter's hair so it was behind her ears.
Rose returned her hair to where it had been. "No one," she answered quickly.
Then her face lit up. Hermione turned to see Scorpius walking towards them with his parents trailing behind him, both looking unsure of where they were going.
Rose looked back at her parents. "Mom, Dad, don't freak out, okay?"
Someone squealed beside them. Hermione and Ron looked to see Lily standing there with Hugo. Albus, Louis and Roxanne were watching closely from behind them.
"I don't like the sound of that," said Ron with a gulp.
Suddenly, Scorpius reached them, coming to a halt and followed shortly by his confused parents. Rose smiled and took his hand.
"Mom, Dad, this is Scorpius. My, uh … my fiancé."
Lily squealed again, but everyone else was completely silent. Hermione looked at Draco, who looked at her, both trying to find if the other had any indication that not only were their children dating, but they were engaged.
"I am sorry, dear, what did you just say?" asked Astoria, leaning forward.
"She said that I am her fiancé, Mother," answered Scorpius. "I proposed to her last night and she said yes. We're moving in together as soon as we find a place, and we're getting married sometime next year."
Astoria pursed her eyebrows. "Are you now?"
"Y-yes," he said, looking far more confident than he sounded.
His mother stood up straight and pursed her lips. "Scorpius, honey, you might understand why your father and I are a little confused," she said, grabbing Draco's arm. "Considering you never even told us you had a girlfriend."
"He told me he was seeing someone," said Draco, "but names were never mentioned." His face tensed as he looked at Ron this time.
"Whatever," said Astoria, waving him off. "How long have you even been together?"
Scorpius and Rose looked at each other.
"We've been seeing each other since October," he said, "but things only got serious just after Christmas."
Astoria's eyes widened. "Oh. So what you're saying is you've been shagging this girl since October, but only in December, January-ish decided to actually go through with the whole commitment thing."
Ron grumbled and Hermione looked over to find him white as a sheet. He looked just about ready to pounce at Scorpius, so she grabbed his arm and held on tight.
"Ronald, calm down," she whispered harshly. "Our daughter has just told us some …" she cleared her throat, "wonderful news. She is engaged. To … to Scorpius Malfoy." She plastered on a fake smile and motioned to him. "And I am just so, so happy for her." It was getting harder to keep the smile genuine. "Congratulations, darling."
Hermione stepped forward and hugged her daughter. Then she looked at Scorpius, took a deep breath and hugged him too.
"Welcome to the family."
"Yes, because you need more people in your bloody family," said Astoria, reaching in to Draco's coat pocket and pulling out his flask. She took a swig. "Congratu-fucking-lations! Let me just go around and spread the word."
Astoria wandered off with such a stagger that Hermione started to wonder if she was already drunk. Draco stared after her.
"Dad," said Scorpius, his face tensing in a way that greatly reminded Hermione of his father.
Draco turned back and looked at him. They locked eyes and he grunted before nodding. A few moments later, Draco had Astoria's arm and was dragging her from the Great Hall.
"Dad … aren't you going to say something?" asked Rose, looking hopefully at Ron.
Ron looked back at her and gazed in to her amber eyes, just like her mother's. He sighed. "Rosie … you're only eighteen. Don't you think you're moving a little fast?"
Rose's eyes began to tear as she stared disappointedly at her father. When she could not control it any longer, she turned on her heel and ran. Scorpius hurried after her.
"Not cool, Uncle Ron."
Ron looked over to see Lily shaking her head at him.
Hugo was scowling beside her. "Malfoy's not a bad guy," he said. "And Rose is happier than she's been in a while. It wouldn't hurt you to bloody try."
Hermione and Ron looked at each other. They both frowned. Well, this was something they certainly were not expecting. As if they did not already have enough problems, and now they would be becoming in-laws with Draco Malfoy. At least there was one bright side. Being this far down, the only direction they could go was up. Or so Hermione hoped.
Hermione leaned against the wall near the refreshment table, watching as Rose danced with her fiancé. It was such a strange word to even think. Her little girl was getting married. To a Malfoy. She shuddered at the thought.
Of course, Hermione could not deny that as Scorpius twirled Rose around the dance floor she looked incredibly happy. They both did. Perhaps the shock would not have been so great if she at least knew her daughter was dating someone. Rose used to always tell her about the boys she liked. She had dated a few but never anything serious. It was just strange that she did not even think to mention him.
Then Hermione remembered. Scorpius had said they became serious just after Christmas, which was when she and Ron had sat down with their children and told them about their trial separation. Needless to say, they were both terribly upset and had no interest in talking to either of their parents. But things had improved by Easter. Was Hermione really so self-involved that she missed the signs that her daughter was in love? The current situation would certainly indicate yes.
Hermione frowned as she looked down at her goblet of wine, twirling her finger along the rim. It was only when she looked up and saw some twenty-something sister of one of the graduates flirting heavily with Ron that she even thought about taking a sip. And then, before she knew it, the entire glass was empty.
Hermione put her empty goblet on a floating tray and was just about to track down another when a new goblet was handed to her. She looked over to see Draco was now leaning against the wall beside her.
"Trouble in paradise?" he asked without so much as a glance in her direction.
"I don't know what you're talking about," answered Hermione before taking a very generous sip of her wine.
Draco smirked. "Really? And I suppose that floozy he was with on the cover of Witch Weekly was just a friend, right?"
Hermione took another sip, this one even more generous. "You read Witch Weekly? I must admit, I'm a bit surprised. I never pegged you as a fan of gossip magazines."
"My secretary subscribes and, for some reason, it always ends up with my bloody mail. I can't help it that my eyes paused when I saw Weasley snogging some witch who looked half his age." He took a sip of his own wine.
Hermione stared down at her goblet and sighed. "She's thirty. So just over two-thirds of his age."
"Is that what he told you to justify it?" said Draco with a faint chuckle. "Unfortunately, I did not engage myself any deeper in to the article than the cover. So tell me, was it an affair? Because I would really like to be informed of any dirty laundry the family my son wants to become part of might have before finding out the hard way."
"Are you saying you actually approve of this marriage?" asked Hermione, glancing sideways at him.
Draco shrugged. "Scorpius has his own mind. He's going to do what he wants despite the consequences."
"Disownment," said Draco. "By quite a few family members."
Hermione's eyes popped.
"My ex's parents have already left. They said they want nothing to do with him."
"Because he's planning to marry my daughter?" Her brows furrowed.
"Because he's planning to marry a Mudblood's daughter, yes," said Draco. He glanced sideways at her. "No offense."
Hermione huffed and finished off the last of her wine before discarding the empty goblet on a passing tray. Draco handed her the rest of his wine before taking out his flask. He took a swig.
"It's not a big deal. Scorpius never liked them, anyway. My parents give the better gifts." He smirked.
"And your parents are all right with this?"
Draco shrugged again. "Not really. But they won't disown him for it."
"But his fiancées mother is a Mudblood," she spat.
"The war is over, sweetheart," he said while his eyes followed their children around the dance floor. "Your side won and the Malfoys have long since conceded."
Hermione looked over at the happy couple. Rose caught her eye and smiled. She smiled back. When her daughter looked away again, she sighed deeply.
"And what about you? Do you approve of my daughter?" she asked.
"I don't even know your daughter," Draco answered. "I'll make that call later." He took another swig from his flask. "You still haven't answered my question."
Hermione looked down at her goblet again. "No, Malfoy," she said. "There was no affair. We've been separated since December."
"Separated for six months?" he said, cocking an eyebrow. "And no divorce or reconciliation?"
"No," she said. "Just separated."
"Is that why you're wearing that dress then? For reconciliation?" he mocked.
"My dress?" Hermione looked down at it. Simple. Black. Maybe a little tighter than she was normally used to but Ginny had talked her in to it. "What's wrong with it?"
Draco chuckled and said, "Well, there is certainly nothing wrong with it. It makes your arse look absolutely divine."
Hermione blushed. She could not believe he had just said that. "What?"
Draco chuckled louder. "Are you telling me it wasn't strategically planned? You are getting rusty, Granger."
"My name's not Granger anymore," she spat. "It's Weasley."
"Not if he continues to take that arse for granted. It's a rare find, a woman your age with a body still completely shaggable."
It was unclear if Hermione should be flattered or offended, but she was pretty sure it was the latter. "I admit I'm no thirty-year-old but …"
Draco started to take another swig from his flask but Hermione yanked it away from him.
"Don't you think you've had enough of this?" she said. "Merlin, you're just as insufferable as ever! Twenty-six years and absolutely nothing has changed, has it?"
For the first time, Draco turned his head completely towards her and grinned. "Were you expecting something different?"
Hermione huffed. "No, I suppose not." She tried to hand him back the flask, but Draco refused it.
"You keep it. As I am sure you've heard, I'm a raging alcoholic. That's what all the tabloids say."
Draco stared off somewhere and Hermione followed his gaze. He was looking at his ex-wife, who was currently chatting it up with a group of young men, most likely Scorpius' friends.
"I'm going outside for a smoke," he said, checking a few of his pockets before pulling out his pipe. "I don't suppose you'll join me?"
Hermione chuckled and shook her head. "I don't think so."
"I figured as much. Enjoy the flask, Granger. I don't fill it with the cheap shit."
"My name is not -"
"I suppose I will be seeing you around," he said. "Wedding plans, you know? Their day, our Galleons."
Draco winked and walked off. Hermione gazed after him for a moment before looking at the flask she was still holding. She shrunk it down and slipped it in to her small purse. Then she searched the room for Ron. When she found him, he was standing alone by a table full of sweets. His eyes were already on her. She walked over.
"What did he want?" he asked with contempt as she approached.
"I don't know. Nothing really," she answered.
"Is he planning to put a stop to this wedding?"
"No. He actually seems just fine with it."
"Really?" said Ron with a grunt.
"Were you hoping he wouldn't be?"
"Yes!" he spat. "That way, I wouldn't have to be the bad guy."
Hermione sighed. "She's eighteen, Ron. If she wants to marry him she can, and we need to be supportive."
She narrowed her eyes. "Because she's our daughter." Taking a deep breath, Hermione put her hand on her head. "Look, I have a bit of a headache. I'm going to head back to the inn now."
Ron frowned. "All right. Did you need me to walk you?"
"Not if you don't want to," she said.
Ron paused. He took a moment to look over at the table the majority of his family was huddled around. Then he glanced to the side where the girl who was flirting with him earlier stood watching him. She winked.
Ron blushed before going white. He turned back to Hermione, who was trying very hard to keep it together.
"That's not what you think -"
"It doesn't matter," said Hermione. "I'll just walk myself. Goodnight, Ron."
She stormed off without looking back, trying to mask her anger as she began to approach Rose.
"Darling, I think I'm going to head out," she said, brushing her daughter's hair behind her ears.
"You're leaving?" said Rose, looking visibly disappointed as she fixed her hair. "But the party's barely started."
"You know I've never been one for parties," said Hermione. She leaned in and gave her a hug. "Congratulations, Rosie. I really am so proud of you."
"Thanks, Mom," said Rose, hugging her back.
Hermione pulled away and looked at her daughter's dance partner. She gave him a curt nod. "Scorpius, I look forward to getting to know you better."
"Same here," he said. "I hope my father wasn't rude to you."
"No, he was perfectly charming."
Scorpius let out a loud, "Ha!" Then, when Rose gave him a stern look, he chuckled softly and said, "Sorry, but I really just … He's not charming, Rose. She's being nice."
Hermione smiled. "You're right. I am." She began looking around. "Do you know where your brother is?"
Rose giggled before pointing somewhere. Hermione followed her finger only to find Hugo snogging that girl from earlier in a corner. She cringed.
"Right," she said. "Well, I won't be the one to interrupt him. Tell him goodnight for me."
"If I ever get the opportunity," said Rose with a laugh.
Hermione gave her one more hug and a kiss before heading out of the Great Hall. She passed several snogging teenagers and a few snogging adults on her way out. Not too long ago, she and Ron had been one of those couples. Now, she only ever had flashes of those memories when he was not around. Whenever he was in proximity, all she ever remembered anymore was the bad times. The resentment.
She exited the large doors and walked through the courtyard. Once she was out the gate, she had only taken a few steps when she heard someone say, "Wow. That arse looks even better walking away."
Hermione whipped around and instinctually covered her backside. Draco was leaning against the wall, smoking his pipe with a huge grin on his face.
"Malfoy, what are you doing out here?"
"I told you I was going outside for a smoke."
"Yes, but why aren't you in the designated smoking area?"
Draco shrugged. "Too many people. I prefer the quiet." His gaze had been lingering at her breasts for a moment, but now he looked up at her eyes. "Where are you going?"
"Back to my room. I'm tired," she lied.
He raised his eyebrows. "By yourself?"
"Clearly," she said, raising both arms and motioning to the empty space around her.
"That's not safe," said Draco, standing up straight. "I'll walk you."
"No," said Hermione. "I'm fine."
She turned around and started walking across the grounds. She tried hard to ignore it, but there was no mistaking the footsteps behind her. She glanced over her shoulder and, sure enough, Draco was following close behind.
"Go back, Malfoy!"
"You know, I'm rather tired too," he said. "I think I am also going to turn in."
Hermione turned back around and picked up her pace. Of course, she knew there was no way she could out walk him in heels, but, dammit, she was going to try.
About halfway back to Hogsmeade, the breeze picked up and Hermione hugged her arms around herself to keep warm. Not even a second later, something landed on her shoulders. She looked to see that it was a blazer. Glancing over her shoulder again, she could see that Draco was no longer wearing his. He winked and she blushed, quickly turning her head back to face the front. What was with him?
When Hermione arrived at the Three Broomsticks, she stopped outside the door and waited for Draco to catch up to her. When he did, she took off his blazer and handed it back to him.
"Thanks," she said, probably sounding more ungrateful than she intended.
"Anytime." He put his blazer back on.
Hermione waited but he made no attempt to move. "You can go back now. I'm here safely."
"I told you I'm tired. I'm going to turn in."
Hermione raised her eyebrows. "You were serious?"
"Yes," he said.
"And I suppose you're staying here, as well."
He smirked. "You always were smart."
Hermione rolled her eyes and opened the door to the inn. She walked through the pub and over to the stairs. When she was only a few steps up, she could already feel the pair of eyes on her arse. She turned around and, of course, caught Draco in the act.
"Just admiring the view," he said with a wink.
Hermione continued walking up the stairs backwards, stumbling a few times but somehow managing to get to the top with minimal damage. She headed down the hallway her room was on, only to turn and see Draco behind her again.
She stopped at her door. He stopped at the one just across from it.
"Is that really your room?" she asked.
Draco continued to smirk as he took a key out of his pocket, put it in the door and unlocked it. "It seems that it is."
Hermione stumbled with her purse as she hurried to pull out her own key. It took her a minute, but she finally found it. The next trick was getting it in the door. After a few tries, that was done. But then it would not turn. The damn thing was jammed. She pressed her shoulder into the door, trying to get it positioned just right but the key barely wiggled. After a few more pathetic and, quite possibly, dramatic attempts, a soft hand landed on hers.
Hermione looked up to find Draco's silver eyes. He kept them on her as he pushed her aside, lifted the handle a bit and gave the key one smooth twist. The door creaked open.
Her heart started racing as Draco stepped closer. She could feel his hand brush against hers, making her palms sweat. He slipped something into her fingers. She gulped. The key. Then he was leaning in, stopping by her ear and letting his hot breath tickle her neck.
Standing incredibly close, Draco suddenly whispered, "Goodnight, Granger."
And then he was gone. Across the hall in a flash with his door shutting behind him.
Hermione was left standing alone, breathing heavily for a second before muttering, "My name is not Granger."
She went in to her own room and shut the door, leaning against it for a second to catch her breath. Well, that was … odd. Clearly, Draco was drunk. There was no other explanation as to why he might act like that. Hopefully, he would be a bit more sober the next time they crossed paths.
Leaving the door, Hermione walked over to the mirror on the dresser and looked into it. She frowned. Draco had not been wrong when he had said she strategically planned to wear this dress. She definitely had. That was the entire reason she had let Ginny take her shopping for it. A lot of good that did. Ron barely noticed her. And, what more, she was not even sure if she cared.
Hermione kicked off her heels and went over to her suitcase. She dug through it until she found the two sets of pajamas she had packed. A sexy black negligee and a blue cotton set with penguins. Without a second thought, she grabbed the penguins, slipping off the wasted dress and getting comfortable. It was not like she had anyone to impress.
After she was finished with her usual nighttime routine, Hermione climbed in to bed, but she could not fall asleep. She really was not even tired. She just wanted to get out of there, away from the destruction of her family that she had created by telling Ron she needed some time away from him. Because she just could not take the arguments any longer.
It was a good two hours before Ron finally came staggering in to the room. He was obviously drunk, and Hermione faked sleep when he came over and stood beside her. She heard him kneel down and felt his hand stroke her hair. He leaned in and kissed her forehead, lingering there for a moment before releasing a heavy sigh.
Ron stood back up and went in to the washroom. When he came back out, Hermione knew he had changed and was ready for bed, but he stopped, obviously looking around the room and trying to figure out where he was supposed to sleep.
"You can sleep in the bed if you want," she said quietly.
Ron said nothing, but a few moments later she felt his weight sink in to the other side of the bed. Before long, he was pressed against her back, one arm draped over her as he held her close.
"I miss you," he breathed in to her ear as he continued to hold her.
Hermione did not respond, just put her hand on his and held on tight. She wished she could say she missed him too. It would not have been a lie, but the Ron she missed was the one she had married twenty-two years ago. Sometimes, she could swear she did not even know who the one holding her was anymore. But she would try. For the sake of her family, she would have to try.