Draco Disapparated back to his appartment which was terribly empty now that Scorpius had gone to stay with his mother. The furniture had either been sold or moved out; his personal belongings were packed in boxes that were to go to storage. A year in Greece... He had no idea what he would do there, but forgetting Hermione and the life they could have had together seemed a good prospect.
He dropped his keys on the floor and flung his jacket indifferently away from him.
'I'm sorry, Mr Malfoy, d'you want me to hang this up for you?'
And there she was, exactly as she had been when she had stood up in court and spoken on his behalf; there she was, her brown eyes bright, her hair all over her face, her mouth smiling a little nervously.
'What are you doing here?' he whispered, something stuck in his throat.
Hermione did not stop smiling as she dropped the jacket to the floor and walked up to him.
'You promised me we'd share a piece of apple crumble the day you got custody of Scorpius.' Seeing that he still looked confused, she breached the short distance that separated the two. 'Take me to Greece with you,' she said, and then she had jumped on to him and was kissing him wildly, happily, with more freedom than she had ever done.
When their lips parted, her legs wrapped around his waist and his arms around hers, he could not think what to say. It was such a strange reality to be faced with; he had been convincing himself for the past week that it would never happen between him and Hermione, but here she was.
'D'you have nothing to say to me?' she whispered, the breath of her words washing over his pale face. She ran her hands against his cheekbones.
'What about Ron? Rose? Hugo? Your family, Hermione... It's your life.'
'It's my life. My sacrifices.'
'I don't want your children to be the sacrifice,' he mumbled. He could not believe what he was saying: how could he be so selfless? It was entirely unlike him. But then, Hermione had always made him be entirely unlike himself.
'I don't want you
to be the sacrifice. I don't want my happiness to be the sacrifice,' she said, her brown eyes a little narrowed. She slid off him, her grip on his shoulders suddenly turning from firm to hard. 'It's been there for so long. It's so stupid
. I don't want to waste it. Any of it. All that time we could've...'
Draco sighed, and ran a hand through her hair. She stood still, contemplating the hidden thoughts and feelings in his eyes. They did not say anything; the things that needed saying were far too intimate to be expressed through words.
And then they were in Greece, or in Italy, or in Britain, it was hard to tell where, for what did it matter which country, which continent, they were in, as long as they were together? What did anything matter as long as they had eachother?
It was a new beginning, not a momentary way of forgetting the past and troubles of difficult marriages, but a way of establishing a new sort of happiness and dealing with the troubles that followed it.
It was a new beginning. It was a new life.
A/N: Incredibly short, I know. I decided NOT to post the chapters I cut out. I hope those of you (quite a lot, actually!) who were disappointed with 'my' ending may feel satisfied with this one: personally, I think the other is more realistic, but I understand the need to have a happy ending after all the tension I built up! So it's up to you whether you'd rather consider this as an epilogue or an alternate ending!
If I do post the sequel, it will follow the last chapter, in short: Draco and Hermione have been separated for 6 years when Draco gets engaged to Asteria Greengrass. Hermione reads about it in the paper and feelings suddenly reappear as she (finally!) comes to terms with the fact that she and Ron are over. In a parallel story, we witness the growing affections between Scorpius and Rose, who have despised each other since their parents fell in love, but who can suddenly no longer deny a growing attraction...
Interesting? I hope so, because I'm very fond of the idea... We'll see!
Thank you all so much for embarking on this journey with me and I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. Thank you ESPECIALLY to the reviewers, particularly the ones who review regularly, as well as those who leave thoughtful, lengthy ones.
I said farewell in my last author's note: so I won't really say it here.
EDIT: 27th FEB 2008: For all readers, the sequel is up now. Thank you for your continued support!