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Love and Forgiveness by HarryGinny4eva
Chapter 9 : Chapters 19 - 20
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 9


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Chapter 19
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Reminder - Story Rated Mature

Disclaimer: Many thanks to JK Rowling for her wonderful works. They are hers and hers alone. I have only borrowed her characters for a while and built my own little fantasy around them. There is no pay involved for me in doing it.



At her parents’ house Hermione pulled back from Draco and ran over to her parent’s waiting arms, “Daddy! Mom!”

“Hey, babygirl,” her father smiled. Then he turned to reach out a hand to Draco as he laughed, “And, I see you’re this Draco fellow we’ve heard so much about.”

Draco shook his offered hand, “That I am, Mr. Granger.”

Not letting go of her daughter, her mother beamed at him, “Well, I’m Julie and this is Rich. Come on you, two, let’s go have tea.”

Hermione’s parents were warm, friendly people, and despite her nervousness at having to introduce them to Draco, he won them over rather quickly. They knew of him from their daughter’s years at school, but trusted Hermione enough to give him a chance. His declaration of love for their daughter had made them forget completely the boy they had heard so much about, and aim to get to know the man Hermione clearly loved.

After tea and conversation, where her father grilled Draco on his future plans, changed beliefs, and general intentions towards Hermione, they sat down to a comfortable dinner.

It was later as they taught Draco how to play the card game Uno, that her mother asked their plans for the next day.

Hermione shrugged, “Well, not much really. I do want to take Draco to see my primary school and show him around the neighborhood, but I hadn’t really planned anything else. Why?’

Her father played a card and laughed, “Your mother wants the family to meet your young man.”

“What? Mom,” Hermione whined, “how many people did you invite?”

Draco laughed, “Ashamed of me are you, love?”

“What?! No,” she answered.

“Honey, it’s just a few people,” her mother answered and played a card. “Just the family.”

Hermione sat back in her chair and asked her father, “My number of few, or hers?”

Rich shook his head and laughed, “You know your mother.” Then he looked at Draco and said, “Julie doesn’t know the meaning of a few. Son, you’re about to get your fill of us muggles.”

Later that night, Hermione sat on her bed dressed in an old night shirt as she listened to Draco moving about in the guest room next door. She heard her parents talking in their bedroom and smiled at the comforting sounds of home. She laughed to herself as she realized they had uncharacteristically kept their bedroom open, she guessed to keep an eye on her and Draco.

She was still a bit miffed with her mother and the “small” party she had planned for them, but she looked forward to seeing Draco interact with her aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. And, she had missed her family. She had already warned him that most of them did not know she was a witch, so magic wasn’t to be performed, and explained the cover story about her being away at boarding school all those years. Before parting for bed, he had even seemed to be partially excited about meeting them after she had tried to kiss some of his trepidation away.

She thought back on their conversation as she flipped to a more comfortable position on her childhood bed.

“Wow, you really are nervous!”

He flushed a little and she saw his gaze flick over to the kitchen, where her parents were cleaning up.

He nodded and swallowed, “Yeah, I am. It’s just going to be so weird.”

She laughed and took his hand, “Are you calling my family weird?”

“No,” he smiled at her. Then he leaned back a little on the sofa and looked at her seriously, “It’s just what your father said earlier keeps playing in my head.”

“What did he say?”

“‘...you’re about to get your fill of us muggles,’ Draco said and shook his head. “I’ve lived twenty two years on this planet and you were the first muggleborn I ever spoke to that I was aware of. I mean, my parents and their friends were the only people I knew until school. Then, well, you remember, I wasn’t so keen on getting to know anyone who wasn’t a purebl...well, like me. And, you were a witch, so it wasn’t like you were really a muggle.”

She looked at him and wondered where all this was headed, “But, you see and talk to muggles every day at home?”

“Yeah, kind of,” he shrugged. “But, it’s more like they exist and I exist and I pass them every day, but until Beth, I hadn’t really ever talked to one. Really talked to one. Then, meeting your parents tonight. I didn’t know what to expect, and I was ready for anything, but they’re ...”

“Yeah?”

He looked at her and grinned, “Normal.”

When she laughed at his incredulous look, he continued, “I don’t know what I thought they would be like, but I guess I never expected them to be so, just, normal. I mean, they have a witch for a daughter, and they can’t do magic, but they love you unconditionally, and are just...parents. I guess I didn’t expect to like them so much.”

He smirked at her, “I guess I thought this would be a really strange weekend filled with all kinds of muggle customs I wasn’t aware of, but...”

“But?” she prompted.

“But, I like them,” he confessed. “And, magical or not, they’re good people.” He laughed to himself, “Man, would Father keel over if he ever heard me say that. I, Draco Malfoy, like a set of muggles.”

She laughed with him, “And, what would your mother say?”

He reached out and ran his hand through her hair. As he watched the myriad of colors shine through it, he answered honestly, “Depends on the day. Maybe nothing more than ‘That’s lovely.’ But on other days, that it was a mark of my good breeding that I was able to accept creatures less than myself. But, not to get carried away and get too friendly with them.”

“Wow. But, that’s so...” she didn’t know what to say that wouldn’t sound mean, so she stopped.

“I know,” he laughed a little. “Bigoted, backwards, stupid. But, that’s who they are and after all this time, I’ve learned to live with it. I don’t agree with them, but they are my parents and I love them. We aren’t as comfortable with each other as we used to be, but they love me, even if they don’t understand me.”

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. Then a thought occurred to her, “Do they, uh, know about me? Us?”

He looked her in the eye when he answered, “Yes. Are they happy about it? Yes and no.”

“Oh?”

“Well, they aren’t happy in the least that I have chosen a muggleborn witch to, as Father put it, ‘spend my spare time with’, and they aren’t looking forward to us visiting any time soon, I don’t think. But, since they know who you are, and they respect you for your intelligence and all you’ve done, although very begrudgingly, they figure it’ll make them look good to say we’re together, so they’ve chosen to accept it.”

She sneered, “Well, gee, thanks! I’m only good enough for you because I make them look good?”

He laughed at her disgruntled look and kissed her softly, “According to them. But, since I am still trying to figure out how I will ever be good enough for you, I think we can ignore their issues for the time being.”

She lost her sneer. “Draco, I love you just the way you are. Now, that is. A few years ago not so much,” she teased and laughed. Then she remembered what had started the conversation, “So, back to the beginning, if you like me, and my parents, and Beth, why are you so nervous about meeting the rest of my family?”

“They’re all muggles,” he answered as if that explained it all.

She looked at him in confusion and asked, “And?”

“What if I screw something up and embarrass you? I mean, I know how to act at a family event at my house; formal manners, ballroom dancing, seven-course meal, conversations about who’s who and such. But, being at Ginny and Po...Harry’s today, I got to see that’s that not how everyone acts at family gatherings. They were loud, the music was a crazy mix, there were all kinds of foods, people just everywhere, children everywhere, unruly really. But, it was, I don’t know...kind of fun to be so carefree for a while.”

When he remained quiet, lost in thought, she prompted, “Well, your birthday party wasn’t all stiff and formal. You know what it’s like to have fun.”

He looked at her and shrugged, “Yeah, but that was different. Just a bunch of friends hanging out. Everyone there knew about magic, Mi. And, I knew everyone. I have no idea what to do with your family. What do I talk about? I don’t know anything about the muggle world. Your other world. What do we eat? What games are played other than Uno? Are there current events I should know about? What do I say if they ask what I do? What if I screw up and disapparate a table or something?”

She giggled at his pout, “Oh Draco, honey, you’ll be fine. Just be yourself. They already want to like you, because I do, so all you have to do is show them why I love you so much. They’re people, just like you and me. Like my parents.”

Her parents called out goodnight to her one last time, breaking into her memories, and she heard their lights click off. Then she heard the bed next door creak and sighed at the thought of Draco in bed so close to her. She didn’t think she was brave enough to sneak over to the room, but she wondered what he looked like when he slept. What he wore. With another sigh she turned off her lights and lay back on the bed. For the next fifteen minutes she tossed and turned as thoughts of him, his lips, and their morning in her kitchen ran through her head.

Every time she closed her eyes an image from the day would come back. Draco kneeling next to the boys looking adorable. Draco kissing her goodnight. The look of desire on his face as he kissed his way down her body that morning. His declaration of love in her parents’ living room. She moaned softly and rolled onto her stomach. Then she heard the bed next door squeak again and whispered, “Night, Draco.”

She closed her eyes once more and tried to get to sleep, but her mind kept racing.

Argh! I wish I could just...duh! I’m a witch!

She eased out of bed and tried to make as little noise as possible. Then, she reached for her wand and flicked it at the wall. She giggled quietly as a door appeared and then tiptoed over to it.

Just as her hand reached the knob, it turned and there he stood with a smirk, “Took you long enough.”

She took in his black silk sleep pants and naked broad chest and with a smile, fell into his arms. As their lips met in a heated kiss, he picked her up and reached out to close the door. Their lips never parted as he walked the two of them to his bed. But, before he could lay her back on it, she stopped him and took out her wand.

“Squeaky,” she whispered and pointed to the bed. Then she quickly charmed the bed springs to make no noise and turned back to him with a shy smile.

With a wolfish grin he answered in his regular voice, “I put a silencing charm on the room the second that door appeared.”

She laughed and jumped on him, “Good thinking.”

A thrill ran through her as he kissed her neck and nibbled his way down her collarbone on his way to her chest. Her fingers found his head and she slid her fingers through his hair. She sighed at the feeling of it and then pushed him back, so she could roll him onto his back. She then leaned forward and kissed him, then bracing her hands on either side of his head she got up and straddled him.

He was a bit surprised, but didn’t stop her. And, as he felt the heat from her body press down on him, he groaned and reached up to touch her. When she arched into his hands, he slid his thumbs over her and felt her body quiver against his. His body answered with a shiver of his own as her tongue found his ear. He wanted nothing more than to rip off their little bit of clothing and end the torment, but he figured she wouldn’t appreciate that in her parents’ house, so he settled for sliding his fingers along her body and pulling her closer.

She knew this wasn’t the best time for them to finish what she had started, but she couldn’t pull away. His scent, musky, yet clean, called to her and she couldn’t get enough. She kissed him and sent her tongue in to drink in his taste. Sensations pulsed through her and she wanted more. When his long fingers finally slid along her skin she moaned and fell against him. It wasn’t enough.

She opened her eyes and met his blue grey ones in the dim light.

“I love you,” he said softly, as he watched the pleasure play on her face.

She leaned in, kissed him softly and then pulled back.

When she stopped moving and sat up, he looked at her in question, “Mi?”

“Shh,” she answered with a smile. She ran her hands down his chest and sighed at the feeling of his muscles shifting under her hands. He moved a little under her hips and she felt him press against her.

Her decision was made.

She stared into his eyes as she said, “I love you, too.” Then, with a murmured chant, their clothes were gone and she felt his naked length under her.

Draco lost his breath at the feel of her body pressed so intimately against his. He held her stare as he slid a hand down to her hip, but otherwise remained as still as possible, not wanting to jump to any conclusions.

She smiled softly at his unspoken question and leaned down to press her chest against his. Then she nibbled along his jaw until she reached his ear, “Make me scream, Draco.”

That was all the encouragement he needed and he smirked, “I thought you’d never ask.”

Hermione had always thought about this moment as huge, monumental. She had thought about how it would happen; who it would be with; how it would feel. And, she had mentally prepared herself for the inevitable pain. But, in the moment, with this man, there was no planning, no thinking. There was only a feeling of completion that overrode any amount of discomfort.

“Mmmm,” she sighed. “I love you.”

His low groan, intense stare and clenched jaw, let her know of his pleasure.

When finally she could breathe freely once again, she laughed and whispered, “Wow!”

He raised his head from her shoulder and smiled at her, “Yeah.” He moved off to the side and pulled her over his chest, “Are you okay? Did I hurt you?”

She smiled at his concern and traced circles on his chest as she shook her head, “Yes, and no. Was it...I mean, was I...”

She felt his chest shake as he laughed, “Are you kidding me? You were perfect.”

“Oh,” she answered. Then she raised her head and looked up at him with a smirk worthy of him, “I bet I could get even better with more practice.”

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Chapters 20
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The next morning Hermione awoke spooned next to Draco and felt his even breath against her neck. She smiled at the naturalness of it and marveled at what had occurred the previous night. Several times. They had only been asleep for a couple of hours, but she knew she needed to get up and showered soon, as her mother was big on serving a full English breakfast on Sunday mornings.

She started when Draco mumbled in her ear, “Mi, love?” but he didn’t say anything else. He just pulled her closer, inhaled deeply and sighed a little.

Talks in his sleep, huh?

She stopped herself from giggling and slid from his embrace. Then she picked up her clothes and placed his neatly on the chair by the desk. Hermione then moved back to the bed to indulge her fantasy of watching him sleep. Her smile widened when he pulled her pillow to his face, sighed her name once again, and continued to sleep.

He looks like a sexy, fallen angel. And, he’s all mine!

She leaned over, placed a kiss on his forehead, went back to her room and resealed the wall.

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘

Draco woke to an empty bed and the smell of Hermione on the pillow. Then he heard her moving about in her room and closed his eyes once again to relive the night before. A part of him hoped she didn’t regret it, she hadn’t seemed to, and he knew he didn’t, but he wanted to see her to confirm it for himself. As he thought back on the night he decided that of all the nicknames women had tried to give him over the years, Dra was his new favorite and one he wanted to hear again really, really soon.

When he heard her bedroom door open and listened to her pad down the hallway to the bathroom, he was sorely tempted to go join her. But, he assumed neither she nor her parents would appreciate it. He heard her parents go down the stairs to the kitchen and heard Hermione humming in the shower and decided this definitely ranked in the top ten of the best mornings of his life to date.

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘

The morning past quickly, and although neither was really awake enough to go out sightseeing, there was no way to explain the reason why to her parents, so they went. As they walked the neighborhood holding hands, they spoke of the night before and expressed their desire to get back to The States. She showed him her childhood haunts and they shared stories from their lives before they met. And then, as they neared the house, she told him about things she had seen on the news that morning, in case anyone brought something up at the party and once again tried to calm his trepidation about messing up in front of her family. By the time they returned to her parents’ house, her family had already started arriving and she felt him grip her hand more tightly.

Over the next hour, Draco was pulled into one exuberant hug after another as he met her family. It amazed him that she had so many people in her life that he had never considered. It was like she had a completely other life that he wasn’t a part of, though he found he wanted to be. He floundered a little when left alone with anyone, but was soon able to repeat her story about him just starting his career as a ‘police officer’ with ease. Due to their earlier conversation he was able to laugh with her cousins about the state of the London Wasps rugby team, and comment on how strange the Prime Minister’s recent actions had been when he talked to one of her aunts. He only slipped once, when he referred to her father as a muggle, but his comment was quickly lost when one of her younger cousins broke a glass in the other room and everyone went to check on him. He didn’t remember most of their names and didn’t understand much of what they talked about, but he soon realized he enjoyed their company and felt very comfortable with them. He was surprised by his ease with them and theirs with him, but very pleased.

A few hours later Draco pulled her aside to kiss her softly, “I like your family. And, your Grandmother is one funny woman.”

Hermione laughed, “I’m glad. They like you, too. And, Grams said I should hold on to you because you have a sexy walk.”

“Oh really,” he smirked and leaned down to kiss her neck and up to her ear.

She felt her body warm to his, but laughed, “But, Granpa Granger said I shouldn’t trust your walk and that you looked to pretty to do any real police work.”

“So, your Granpa thinks I’m pretty, huh?” he asked with an eyebrow wiggle.

“Oh, stop,” she laughed with him.

They stood together and looked out over the party. Hermione’s family was more conservative and laid back than he would have thought. The adults lounged in groups and talked, while the children played kickball in the lower part of the yard. Soft music played in the background as her father and uncle manned the grill and kidded each other about who was the better cook. Julie flitted from group to group checking to make sure everyone enjoyed themselves. Initially, he had been shocked by how her family had accepted him without question. But, Hermione’s pride in him and her family made him feel more comfortable than he ever had before with a group of strangers. They accepted him without reservation and treated him like family.

Her family was comfortable and happy just being together and their love flowed easily to one another. It was like nothing he had ever experienced. His history had proven that love and acceptance went hand-in-hand with how much one had accomplished or how much power one held. Being with her family was so very different, but he realized it was how he hoped to live and be with her someday.

With Hermione Granger. Huh? Did I mean that? Wow, yeah I did. I do. I know it’s too soon, but wow. I want this with her. Gods, our kids will be gorgeous and brilliant. Hogwarts won’t have seen anything like them since...well, us. Ha ha ha

He smiled against her head as he smelled her apple scent, “It’s funny how different this is, though. I mean, it’s like there’s four different worlds.”

She looked up at him, “What do you mean?”

He smiled and shrugged, “Your family, The Potter-Weasleys, my, we’ll call it more reserved, reclusive and slightly uh, stuffy family, and then our life in The States. All so different. Each nice in their own way, well, maybe not mine so much, but so completely different, you know?”

“Is that good or bad?” she asked, as she wondered which he preferred.

He knew that sound to her voice and pulled her closer to peck her on the lips, “It’s all good. But, I think I like us best.”

She smiled up at him and nodded, “Me, too.”

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘

Draco and Hermione got back later than they had planned to her apartment. But, with the time difference it was barely six at night. With one last long kiss he went home to get ready for the week. Hermione went about putting her things away and was surprised to hear her cell phone ring in the other room. She ran out to get it and saw his number.

“Miss me already?” she laughed.

“Of course,” he answered. “But, uh, are you still dressed?”

“Yeah, why?” she asked and heard laughter in the background.

He laughed and said, “We’re coming over.”

Before she could ask who “we” was, he had hung up and she heard the pop of apparition behind her. She turned around to see Draco, Blaise and Beth, who was swaying against Blaise dizzily, smiling at her.

“What’s all this?” she asked as she put down her phone.

Beth launched herself at Hermione, “We eloped!”

“What? Who!? When? How?!” Hermione sputtered.

Blaise laughed and picked up the tiny blonde to twirl her in a circle, “Married. Us. Yesterday. Vegas.”

Hermione stared openmouthed from one to the other, “Huh?”

Draco laughed and went over to her, “That was my reaction, too.” Then he turned to the beaming couple, “So, now that we’re all together...”

“Snoop!” Beth interrupted. “I have to tell her, too!” She ran to the phone and dialed the number.

“Hey! Get over here to Mione’s now! I have news! ...No, nothings wrong, just...Snoop, just come over here...well get dressed...okay, hurry!”

She hung up and turned back to smile at the rest of the room. It was only a few seconds before both Snoop and Ron popped into the room.

Ron immediately demanded, “What happened, Mione?!”

Snoop turned to see Hermione and Draco standing together smiling and gripped his hand hard. “Beth said SHE had news, honey.” Then she turned to her friend with a smile and said, “Well, I’m here. What’s the big news?”

Beth’s face was radiant as she held her left hand up to show off her shiny, new ring. As Snoop squealed and sputtered in much the same way as Hermione had done, Blaise held up his matching ring and said, “We eloped yesterday!”

All but Ron were dying to hear all the details and everyone took a seat as they told their tale. Ron stayed away from the group and tried to pretend Draco wasn’t in the room. He ground his teeth together at their easy familiarity with each other. And, when he saw Draco playing with Hermione’s fingers, he got up and went to get a drink in the kitchen, so that he didn’t leap across the room and strangle him.

Everyone else did their best to ignore Ron’s actions as they listened to Beth and Blaise’s story, laughing as they overlapped each other in the telling of it.

“So, with all of you gone, we were left to our own devices. And, he told me Friday night that he’d never been to Vegas and I said we should go...”
“And, she called and got us a room for the night and I apparated us there...”
“And, we had the best time. He was so funny learning Blackjack! He kept counting on his fingers...”
“Thanks, Bethy,” Blaise laughed. “So anyway, we were having a blast...”
“And, he let me play with his money ‘cause you know I sure couldn’t afford to gamble all night in Las Vegas...”
“And, then we went for a walk...”
“It was getting hot in there, and kind of stuffy...”
“So, we were walking down the street looking at all the lights and stuff...”
“And, this couple came running out of this little chapel, looking so happy...”
“They were trashed, hon,” he laughed.
“But, they were happy,” she retorted. “So, as we’re walking by, I said how sweet it looked and he agreed.”

Draco looked at his friend and asked shocked, “So, you guys just went in and got married?!”

Beth and Blaise laughed and Blaise shook his head, “Nah, man. We passed by the place, but it got us talking.”

Beth looked up at him and smiled, “Yeah. We talked all night. About everything.”
“What we wanted in life. Who we want to be...”
“How much we had in common. How we want the same things...”
“And, I told her how much I liked her and how sexy she is...”
“And, I told him I didn’t think I could ever find someone who understands and accepts me like he does...”
“And, the sex is amazing...”
“Blaise!”
“Well, it is...”
“So, anyway, we hung out all day today and just kept talking...”
“I know I have never talked to one person that much in my life...”
“He told me about stuff from when you guys grew up, stuff I didn’t know from Mione...”
“I confessed, she means...”
“And, I told him I thought I could really grow to love him...”
“And, I said we should go ahead and get married then and deal with all the bullshit later...”
“And, I laughed and said, yeah right...”
“But, I told her we had as good a shot at making it work as anybody, and knowing each other for another year or two wasn’t going to make any difference...”
“He said we were friends who truly liked each other and that since we wanted the same things and wanted each other...”
“She said she wouldn’t let me touch her unless we knew each other better, or were married...”
“I was joking about the married part...”
“So, I figured, if it worked for Mel Gibson, it would work for us.”

Hermione was flabbergasted, “So you just went ahead and got married?!”

Beth blushed and nodded, “Well, we talked about it a bit more first.”

Snoop finally closed her mouth, which had been hanging open as her head swung from one to the other in shock. Then she started questioning them, “What about kids?”

They both answered with matching smiles, “Two.”

“Religion?”

“Christian, but varied a bit,” Beth answered with a smile.

“What about your parents?”

“We called them earlier tonight and told them the news. My folks kind of flipped, but Blaise’s were okay about it. We’re taking some time off this week to go see all of them.”

“Did you tell them he’s a wizard?” Hermione asked.

“Well, no, not yet, but they will find out eventually,” Beth answered.

Draco leaned forward, “And, your parents know she’s a muggle? Not just muggleborn, but a muggle?”

Hermione’s eyes flew to Ron’s face across the room and watched his jaw work furiously. She knew he wanted to jump on Draco’s statement, but he didn’t. His face reddened dangerously, but after a few tense seconds, he swallowed back whatever he had wanted to say and threw back his drink. She almost thanked him out loud she was so relieved.

Draco continued, “And, I don’t mean that in a bad way, Beth. Not against you anyway. But, his parents are...well, um, a lot like mine, you know. Not very tolerant.”

Blaise leaned back and pulled Beth closer, “Yeah, D. They know. People change. Mom was a bit upset about her potential squib grandchildren, but believe it or not, Dad was fine with it. He only asked if she was pretty.”

When they rubbed noses and pecked each other on the lips, even Hermione had to roll her eyes, “Okay, you two. Don’t you realize how important marriage is? I mean, this is big! It’s not like you can just take it back.”

Snoop nodded, “Yeah, guys, no offense, but you’ve barely known each other for a month. This is crazy.”

Draco added, “B, I’m happy for you man, if you’re happy, but it’s just a surprise. Are you sure you thought this through? This is a serious step.”

Blaise nodded, but Beth answered for them, “We know it’s crazy, and fast, and ridiculous, but I love him and he loves me. It’s going to work.”

“Yeah,” he smiled and kissed her again.

Hermione shook her head as if to clear her mind, “Okay, wait. You love each other? Since when? Just last week, you weren’t even dating?”

Beth giggled, “Come on Mione, haven’t you ever heard of love at first sight? Well, ours was more like third sight, but whatever.”

“But, B, you do realize you are married, right? To one woman. Forever.”

Blaise laughed, “Yeah, we talked about that, too. Bethy’s promised to make me happy enough for that to be enough for me.”

Snoop shook her head, “But, if you didn’t have sex before this wedding of yours, how can you say it’s great?”

“Well, it has been a few hours since the wedding,” Beth laughed and blushed.

Ron had come back in and heard most of the explanation. Ignoring Draco and Blaise he asked Beth, “Do you know what you’re getting yourself into, Beth? Really? Have you really thought this through?”

Blaise stiffened, but Beth put her hand on his knee to calm him. She knew Ron asked because he cared about her. They had known each other almost as long as he and Snoop, and she wanted to make him understand. “Yes, Ron, I do. We do. I know what you think of him, but you don’t know Blaise, not really. You never did. I know you’re worried about me, but as my friend I’m asking you, actually all of you, just be happy for us, okay?”

Hermione was the first to respond. She jumped up and reached for Beth, “I am happy for you, I really am. Congratulations.”

Snoop joined their hug, “Yeah, honey. Congrats!” Then she turned to Blaise and leaned down to hug him, too, “You, too, Studly. Make her ecstatically happy, okay?”

Blaise nodded and winked, “I plan to.” But then he looked to Draco, “D?”

Draco smiled at him and reached across to shake his hand, “I can’t say I’m not surprised as hell, but you know me. If you’re happy, I’m happy. Congrats, B.”

Blaise felt the tension drain from him. He hadn’t realized how much he’d wanted Draco’s approval until then. They had been through so much together in their lives, that they were closer than brothers. And, if Draco hadn’t approved, he didn’t know what he would have done.

“Thanks, man.”

Hermione sat back down and snuggled next to Draco, “So, tell us about the wedding, since we didn’t get to see it.”

“Well, it was actually kind of fast and simple,” Beth answered. “But, we are planning to do it again, so everyone can be there.”

“Cool, when?” Snoop asked.

Hermione sat forward, “Yeah, when?”

Blaise chuckled at their excitement, “Told you they’d like that part.”

Beth laughed and answered, “Well, we haven’t gotten all that set yet. I was hoping you guys would help.”

The girls squealed and went into wedding planning mode, as the guys leaned back and listened to them plan.

Draco looked at his watch and realized it was after seven. He was hungry and knew the evening was going to be a long one.

“Pizza anyone?” he called out as he stood up to go order.

Blaise got up to join him and the women called out what they wanted on theirs and went back to planning. Ron still sat off by himself and didn’t speak. He was torn. He wanted to be there for Beth, and as her friend, he was happy for her. Her joy was contagious. But, the other part of him wanted to leave and get away from Draco and Blaise. He didn’t have any real feelings either way about Blaise, but talking about love, marriage, and kids with Draco in the room, made him want to puke.

He jumped and almost reached for his wand defensively when Draco called out, “Weasley?”

He had to bite back his immediate retort when he saw everyone’s eyes on him. Without looking at Draco he swallowed and asked, “What Malfoy?”

“Pizza.” Draco spat. He had seen Ron reach toward his wand and watched his hand flex by his pocket. His immediate urge had been to hex the man into the next week. But, he knew he had to at least be civil to Ron for Hermione’s sake. He didn’t like the hothead, but he didn’t want to be the cause of more upset for her. And, he had to admit, as much as Weasley hated him for the actions of the past, he had acted the same. He didn’t know Ron as an adult. He didn’t much want to get to know the man, but he hadn’t wanted to get to know Harry either and look how that had turned out.

Ron nodded, but refused to look at him, “Yeah, whatever’s fine.” When Snoop raised her brow at him, he sighed heavily and mumbled, “Thanks.”

Draco nodded stiffly and turned to leave the room with Blaise, but Hermione caught his eye and mouthed, “Thank you.”

Her smile was his reward.

The rest of the evening went quickly as Beth, Snoop and Hermione started planning the wedding, Draco and Blaise shared more about their respective weekends quietly at the bar counter and Ron flipped channels on the television until he found an American football game and tuned everything else out. By ten everyone was ready to call it a night. Beth and Blaise were rather quick to leave as he planned to spend the night at her place. Draco realized then that they hadn’t talked about living arrangements. Would he now have the loft to himself? Or was he going to have to find some place else to live?

Hermione and Snoop continued to chat after the couple had left and Ron and Draco sat in silence as the women pretended they weren’t there. Soon enough both women decided to let the guys off the hook. Ron hadn’t contributed to the evening, but he hadn’t stepped out of line either. They didn’t want to push him too far. Hermione was still hurt and angry with him, but he had partially redeemed himself by simply keeping his mouth shut for most of the evening. When the couple stood to leave Hermione gave Snoop a hug and whispered to her that she would call her the next day with more details about her time at her parents’. Snoop laughed and whispered back that she would tell Hermione all about what had happened after they’d left the birthday party.

Both men stood when the women did, but neither acknowledged the other. Ron seemed to want to hug Hermione goodbye, but since she stood next to Draco, he only mumbled a quick goodbye to her before he apparated home.

Snoop sighed and looked apologetically at the couple, “Give him time guys. He’ll come around eventually.”

Draco nodded and looked away. He really didn’t care about Ron’s feelings, but he didn’t like that Hermione kept getting upset over it.

“Don’t worry about it, Snoop. I’m fine,” Hermione answered. “It’s not your fight to fix.”

Snoop nodded, but looked at Draco, “I know, HG. Can I be honest with you, Draco?”

He met her eyes in surprise, braced himself for the onslaught of insults, and nodded, “Sure. Go ahead.”

“I like you,” she smiled softly. “I know you and Ron have this whole history and stuff, but you make HG happy, so you’ve got my vote.”

When he just looked at her in shock, she continued, “We all make mistakes in life Draco; some big, some small. And, from what I’ve heard, you made some real whoppers. But, if HG, Harry and all the rest of the Weasleys can get over it, then I have no issues with you. I just thought you should know that. Just treat my friend like the queen she is, and you and I are good to go.”

Hermione felt a tear slide down her cheek and hugged her friend again, “Thank you.”

Draco nodded and let out a deep breath, “Yes, thank you. And, not that you asked, but I like you, too, Georgina.”

“You can call me Snoop,” she smiled as she shook his hand.

He opened his mouth to repeat it, but years of upbringing rebelled at using the pedestrian nickname and he finally laughed as he shook his head, “No, I don’t think I can.”

Both she and Hermione laughed with him and then they said their goodbyes as she too apparated home.

When they finally stood alone they looked at each other in silence for a moment.

Then Draco blinked and said, “Well.”

“I know,” Hermione nodded. Then a laugh bubbled up, “I still can’t quite believe it.”

“Me neither. B married. And, happy about it.” He laughed, “We always joked about marriage like it was some disease.”

She tried to keep her voice light as she looked up at him and then away and asked, “Is that so?”

He noticed the way her hands fisted together as she turned away. He didn’t want to start planning his own nuptials yet, even though he saw it in their future. It was still too soon for them to start talking about it. But, he also knew she would start over-thinking things if he didn’t act fast.

He reached out to stop her from moving away, “Yes, that’s so, Mi. But, neither of us had met the right woman yet, I guess.”

“So, it doesn’t sound so horrible now?” she asked, only half joking and not looking at him.

He put his hand under her chin to force her to look up at him as he answered, “No. Not any more.”

She smiled shyly and nodded, “Oh. Okay.”

He smirked down at her and then kissed her softly.

She pulled back and asked, “So, have you thought about the fact that you just lost your roomie?”

He nodded and laughed in relief that the crisis seemed to have passed, “Yeah, that thought did cross my mind. I have no idea what he wants to do. But, I guess we’ll figure it out tomorrow night after work.”

Just then she stifled a yawn and grinned, “Sorry. Long weekend, and I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep last night.”

“I remember,” he smiled wolfishly. “I remember quite well. You know, we could call in sick tomorrow and...”

“No way, buddy!” she laughed and stepped back from him to clear her head before his nearness made her lose her resolve. “You haven’t even been on the job two weeks. No calling in sick yet. “

“Yes, mother,” he teased. “One more kiss and then I will be good and leave so you get some rest. You’ll need it, as I hope for a repeat of last night really soon. Like tomorrow night.”

She grinned wickedly at his answer and stepped back into his arms, “Well, if you insist, then I think I can manage.”

He laughed, “Mmm, the lioness is really a sex kitten.”

He saw her blush and open her mouth to retort, but before she could he leaned down to kiss her goodnight. Then, he whispered, “I love you, Mi.”

“I love you, too,” she smiled up at him, her thoughts completely scattered.

With one last peck, he popped away.

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘

Over the next few days Blaise and Draco talked more about their living arrangements. It was decided that for the time being Beth would move in with them in the loft and give up her apartment. Draco wasn’t really happy about the arrangement, as he felt he was infringing on the new couple’s privacy, but both convinced him to stay. It helped that Hermione mentioned he could always come to her apartment if he needed time away from the new lovers. She even told him to bring a few things over to her place to make it easier to stay overnight, if need be. They had shared a laugh at his desire to test out the theory immediately, and had made the most of their first night together in her apartment. By the end of the week, without ever agreeing to it, or even mentioning it, Draco had already begun to live with her. Neither minded; it fit like it was meant to be.

Friday morning as they were getting ready for work, Draco looked over at her as she put on her makeup and sighed, “If I asked you for a huge favor, would you say yes?”

“Depends on the favor, Draco,” she answered cheekily. “But, since I haven’t said no to you yet...”

He grinned at her and came up behind her. Bending low he put his arms around her and leaned in to inhale her scent before he kissed the nape of her neck.

“Well, this is a big one,” he sighed and met her eyes in the mirror.

The look of seriousness on his face made her stomach clench, but she turned and faced him, “Okay, what is it?”

“Well, um, I got an owl last night from Father...”

She tensed, but nodded for him to continue.

“Well, you see, um, Mother’s birthday is Sunday and she really wants me to come visit.”

“Oh,” she breathed a sigh of relief that it wasn’t about them or their relationship. “Then you should go.”

“Well, here’s the thing, she’s having a kind of party and, um, well, she...I...”

Hermione arched a brow at him and finished for him, “And, you told her WE would be there.”

He nodded and looked at her pleadingly, “Kind of, since we’re both off Monday anyway. It won’t be that bad, I promise. And, if it gets bad or you’re too uncomfortable, we leave, no questions. Please. I want them to get to know you. I want them to see us together.”

“And, they want to show me off to their friends,” she said as she stepped back from him. “like some damned prized pony. How could you ask me to do this?!”

“Mi, listen. I know I’m asking a lot, but please do this. For me.”

She harrumphed and crossed her arms over her chest.

He continued with a little more anger than before, “Look, I have done everything you’ve asked where Harry and Weasley are concerned. I have played nice and tried my damndest to make things work with them, for you. They’re my parents, Mi. I love them and I want them to get to know you and you them. It’s your turn to give a little here.”

“We know each other already,” she grumbled. Her resolve had crumbled a bit when faced with his argument. He had put himself out there for her and she should do the same. But, these were The Malfoys, the people who had tried to eradicate her and her kind from the planet. How could she be civil to them? And, in that house?

“No,” he answered and turned her to face him once again, “you know of each other, but you don’t know each other. And, regardless of their motives, they love me, Mi. In their own way they’re happy for me. After I told them how I feel about you they figure they should get to know you at least a little. I want to be there for my mother’s birthday and I want you with me. Besides, they want this to work, too. One day, a few hours, is that too much to ask?”

She instantly thought of hundreds of reasons why it was too much to ask of her, but her tongue stalled at the look on his face. With a heavy sigh, she instead said, “No. No, it’s not. But, you have to promise we can leave if things start to go downhill.”

He smiled and leaned down to kiss her softly, “Promise.”

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘


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