Chapter 21 : Dénouement
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There had been so much chaos as a result of the explosion that poor Professor Slughorn, completely overwrought, barely managed to choke out the word, “Headmistress,” and wildly gestured in the general direction of McGonagall’s office. This resulted in them sitting together in silence and awaiting the inevitable.
The wheels in Hermione’s head were spinning as she tried to evaluate the situation. Why did I just do that? Am I going to get expelled? Is Draco ever going to speak to me again? Should I even want him to? Her fit of paranoia was interrupted by Malfoy as he began to chuckle beside her.
She frowned at him. “What’s so funny?”
“Hermione Granger, Miss Big Shot Head Girl Extraordinaire just blew up the entire Potions dungeon! Look at us, for Merlin’s sake,” he snickered as he gestured to her newly acquired afro.
Hermione self-consciously brought a hand up to her hair. “Well, I had to get your attention somehow,” she grumbled.
“Yeah, right. I always knew there was a firecracker lurking behind that goody two-shoes demeanor of yours, Granger.” He leaned back and folded his hands behind his head, a smug grin playing at the corners of his mouth. He was obviously enjoying the fact that she had risked her good standing at Hogwarts and her position as Head Girl, things that mattered a great deal to her, just to get his attention.
Hermione felt compelled to defend her position. “You said I wanted to stay in my safe little world and I wanted to show you that it wasn’t true.”
He smirked. “I guess not.” They sat together in silence for another minute.
Malfoy leaned forward, forearms resting on his thighs. He was staring straight ahead, rubbing his hands together in a restless fashion and looking slightly uncomfortable. “I’m sorry about calling you a…a…” he blurted out, but was unable to finish the sentence. “I didn’t mean it.”
Hermione gave a tiny smile. “I know.” She heard him let out a slow breath. She looked over at him. “But don’t ever do it again,” she added in a serious tone. “I almost lost faith in you.”
He looked back at her and held her gaze. “Almost?”
“Almost. Not quite.” There was a slight pause and Hermione gave him a tart little smile. “But you are a right foul git.”
Malfoy smirked back. “I aim to please.”
“Your aim is quite good. Especially where Zabini’s concerned.”
Malfoy snorted and together they sat in silence for another minute.
“Draco,” Hermione broke into the silence, “you told me to never to lie to you, and I haven’t. I know it must be hard for you to trust after what you’ve been through—” At this, Malfoy dropped his gaze. Life with the Death Eaters must have been a living nightmare. “—but I intend to keep every promise I ever make to you. Ron and I have been through hell together; we risked our lives for each other many times and I’ll always have strong feelings for him, but the bottom line is that I’m not interested in Ron, not in that way. I’m only interested in you in that way.”
He looked over at her and quirked an eyebrow, a devilish grin once again playing at the corners of his mouth. “Oh? And what way would that be?”
She blushed furiously. “You know what I mean. Ron’s just my friend,” In her self-consciousness, she began nervously babbling. “I wouldn’t want to…you know…I just don’t feel that way about…”
“Really?” Malfoy drawled, leaning back and slipping an arm around the back of the bench, behind Hermione’s shoulders.
He had leaned in close and that was making her heart pound even more rapidly, but there was one last point she needed to address. “But seriously, Draco, in order for this to work, you’re going to have to learn to trust me.”
His silver-blue eyes held her dark brown ones as he nodded slowly. “All right, Granger, I get it.” His other hand came up to twine a finger in one of her impossibly frizzy curls. “Here’s the deal: I’ll agree to trust you if you’ll agree to shut up already so that I can kiss you.”
Hermione fought to keep a huge grin from breaking out on her face. “Shut up? I go through all that so I can get the chance to explain myself, and now you want me to shut up?” Now that they were back on good terms she deliberately baited him, knowing how much he enjoyed the banter. “Well, isn’t that a fine cauldron of—” He cut her off mid-sentence with a passionate kiss.
She kissed him back thoroughly, delighting in the feel, the taste, the very essence of him. He was arrogant, he was infuriating, and he was hotheaded, but he was all hers. She felt more alive than she ever had in her entire life, even though she had wanted to strangle him mere moments ago. But that was the way it always was with Malfoy. He brought her to life and made her experience every emotion with blinding intensity, and that was why she belonged with him. As he ran his hand through her hair, she knew that there was nowhere else in the world that she would rather be.
“Miss Granger! Mr. Malfoy!!” McGonagall’s voice screeched in a shocked tone from behind them.
She pulled back from him slightly and smiled impishly. “So is this what life with you is going to be like?”
He smirked back at her. “Welcome to my world, Granger. Never a dull moment.” And together, they turned to face Professor McGonagall.
Author's Note: I had to wait until the end of the chapter to leave my thanks for all of you so I wouldn't give any of the story away! I really, truly appreciate all of the reviews that everyone took the time to leave for me and I am so glad that you enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. I'm a bit sad to see it finally come to an end, but like I've said in other author's notes, there is a sequel--look for Hogwarts Redux. It has a fun little twist to it, and I hope you like it as much as you liked this one...and hopefully it'll keep us all from having to go through Malfoy withdrawal!