HAPPY HALLOWEEN! I hope you all are going trick-or-treating in wizard robes. Speaking of treats, I FINALLY UPDATED!!! Enjoy this chapter! :)
Chapter 29: Rendezvous
Hermione and Draco barely had time to discuss how his visit had gone (although it was clear that it had been highly successful) because as soon as the limousine pulled up to Malfoy Manor, Monsieur Beaumont unceremoniously pulled Hermione out of the limo and had Georgina take her place.
"Sorry," he had said to Draco, not sounding sorry at all, "but we must get these visits done within the week." And then he slammed the car door shut and Draco and Georgina drove away.
To Hermione, he had no apology but a scolding: "The bachelor should have returned after lunch!" It was like he was a library book that she had failed to return on time.
To which Hermione responded, "My mother insisted on us staying for dinner. Perhaps you'd like to take it up with her? I have a cell phone you could use to call her."
At this, Monsieur Beaumont merely glared (possibly because he had no idea what in Merlin's name a "cell phone" was) and then turned on his heel and disappeared back into the manor. After a moment, Hermione headed inside as well, and slipped up the stairs into her room before Caitlin could find her and ask for a detailed account of Draco's overnight stay.
As Hermione unpacked her suitcase and reorganized her wardrobe, she tried not to think about Draco spending the night at Georgina's house (she imagined it to be some sort of large, opulent chateau in France, which didn't make her feel all that better). To get her mind off of him, she burrowed herself in her room and curled up in her bed with a stack of her favorite books, hoping they would sufficiently distract her for an hour or two, until it was time to go to sleep. They didn't.
After rereading the same line over and over again, Hermione sighed and tossed the book to the other end of bed and lay down, staring at the ceiling. Visions of her and Draco danced in her mind's eye. She was reliving a particularly happy moment that had taken place in the kitchen when she buried her face into a nearby pillow with a muffled groan, wondering if she had gone insane or if this was love. She evidently couldn't stop thinking about him.
In the process of looking for a better distraction, she got out of bed, fished around for a bit of Floo powder, and somehow wound up at Harry and Ginny’s place. Ginny was sitting by the fireplace, as if she had known that Hermione was coming.
“Hermione!” said Ginny gleefully.
“I don’t want to talk about the Game of you-know-what,” Hermione announced as she tracked soot all over the rug and gave Ginny a hug.
Ginny ignored her completely. “How’d it go?” she asked eagerly.
Hermione sighed. “Wonderful,” she said quickly, hoping that maybe she could get through this quickly and painlessly. “Couldn’t have gone better. My parents adored him. He charmed my dad and they talked Quidditch. He cooked for my mom, who now thinks that there’s a marriage in the works.” As soon as the words left her mouth Hermione knew she had said too much.
A smug grin spread slowly across Ginny’s face. “I told you there was nothing to worry about. So, anyway, is there?” Ginny asked casually.
“Is there what?” said Hermione, feigning ignorance.
“Are you two getting hitched or what?” Ginny almost shouted.
“Ginny!” Hermione hissed, scandalized. She was blushing madly. How could Ginny just shout something like that?
Ginny’s outburst alerted Harry, who wandered into the room. His eyes lit up when he saw Hermione. “Hermione!” he said.
“Hi Harry,” said Hermione as she hugged him, feeling a bit guilty. It had been quite some time since she had seen him, one of her best friends.
“Who’s getting hitched?” said Harry, positively clueless.
Ginny rolled her eyes. “Hermione and Draco, you daft man. Who else has Hermione been seeing for the past month or so?”
Harry laughed out loud. “That’s a good one Ginny. So, who’s the lucky guy?”
“Harry,” said Hermione at last, “you’re the one—well, you and Ron, I suppose—who set us up in the first place.”
Harry looked confused for a moment, and then everything clicked into place. His eyebrows shot up and disappeared under his messy hair. “You can’t be talking about the Game of Love? You mean you’re still in it?”
“Yes, Harry,” said Hermione, sighing. Her expression suddenly became stern. “And frankly, it’s completely your fault that I’m in it in the first place, so don’t go telling me that I can’t see him.”
Ginny was grinning, but Harry took no notice of her. “You’re seriously still in the Game?” he said to Hermione, who nodded impatiently. “So, how many girls are left?”
“Three,” Ginny answered promptly. “And she’s going to go all the way, if you catch my drift. That much is obvious.”
Harry’s eyes widened, but he didn't catch Ginny's inappropriate insinuation. “You made it to the top three?” he said incredulously. “This is Draco Malfoy we’re talking about, right?”
It took another ten minutes to convince Harry that yes, Hermione was still in the Game of Love and that yes, it was because Draco genuinely liked her. Finally Ginny, at the end of her patience, kicked her husband out of the room so that she could get more of the juicy details (as she so put it) out of Hermione, but Hermione quickly jumped to her feet, saying that she was late for dinner (even though she had eaten hours ago) and left through the fireplace before Ginny could protest.
Once in her room, she collapsed on her bed, suddenly drained. Curling up under the covers, she decided it was high time for bed. Hopefully then her mind would calm down and she would stop thinking about him.
Hermione did manage to fall asleep, and to her surprise her dreams were for the most part blissfully blank. (She did, however, recall a bizarre and seemingly unconnected dream about flying rice, something blue, and a little boy with a pillow, but it couldn’t possibly mean anything.)
She woke up feeling refreshed and ready—for what, she didn’t really know—but little did she know that for the next three days, she would suffer from insomnia. It was a strange experience, as she had always been someone who slept very well . . . until now, that is.
On the third night, Hermione lay in her bed, wide awake despite not having slept for more than an hour over the past two days. Moonlight streamed through her open windows. A late summer breeze flowed into the room, bringing with it the sweet scent of flowers from the garden below. She thought she heard a noise coming from outside her window, but after listening closely for a moment, she decided she had imagined it. She had been imagining a lot of things lately.
Sighing, Hermione turned over in her bed and wondered why she couldn’t sleep. The answer came immediately. It was obvious. She missed him, and it was driving her crazy.
It had been three days since she had last seen him—three long days. She recalled how she had spent the next two days, after her customary talk with Ginny. It wasn’t difficult at all to remember the restlessness, the agitation, the attempt to find a distraction. She went down to the grand library, but even books failed to take her mind off of him. She wondered if that had ever happened before. Definitely not with Viktor . . . and not with Ron either. This was something new.
She heard the noise again. It was louder this time. In fact, it sounded like someone had knocked on her windowpane. She sat up in bed, alert.
“Hermione,” she heard a familiar voice call out softly.
Quickly shoving the duvet aside, Hermione left the bed and walked over to the window, not quite believing her eyes. Hovering on a broomstick outside her bedroom window was none other than the bachelor himself, his face illuminated by the light of the moon. He was wearing a black silk shirt and black pants, and if it weren’t for his pale hair and the moonlight, he would have disappeared into the darkness perfectly.
“Draco,” she said. Her mind was suddenly clear. All her worries had vanished the moment she caught sight of him. Standing there in her camisole and pajama bottoms, with her hair in disarray, she felt no anxiety at all. Never before had she felt so comfortable in her own skin, with his calmly penetrating gaze directed straight at her.
“I missed you,” she said simply. This admission broke the spell, and it was like Draco had suddenly remembered why he was there.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about you,” he said, his voice ragged.
It was like something straight out of a cheesy romance novel, Hermione would later recall with fondness. But for now she could only drink in his words and take a step closer to the window.
“Come on,” said Draco, holding out a hand.
Hermione eyed the broom warily, but she took his hand. And just like that, her fears disappeared. She climbed out her window and onto the broom, holding onto him tightly as he took off into the night.
The night air rushed around them. The stars shone above. It was a picture-perfect moment, and she would remember it forever. They flew higher into the sky, and for once, Hermione felt exhilaration instead of fear.
They circled the manor grounds, once, twice, three times. Hermione tried to observe the English countryside, but it was too dark to see anything that wasn’t right in front of her, despite the fact that the moon seemed particularly bright that night. So she took to looking straight ahead, and at the starry sky all around them, letting the beauty of the night wash over her. She rested her chin on Draco’s shoulder, unconsciously admiring the way the moonlight brushed against his face. She realized she could spend hours like this, flying with him, and maybe even the rest of her life.
Later, she would recall that based on what he did next, it was as if Draco had read her mind. He turned his head slightly to the side so he could see her face, opened his mouth, and said something, but she couldn’t hear a word because of the wind rushing around her ears.
“What?” she said.
He repeated what he had said, but she still couldn’t discern what he was saying. Her heart though, was suddenly beating very fast as though it had a mind of its own.
“What?” she shouted.
“Will you marry me?” he shouted back. The broomstick took a sudden dangerous dip in the air and Hermione screamed, clutching onto Draco, who quickly turned around to face the front again and steadied the broom.
At that point, Hermione started laughing, and then she started crying, and so she was laughing and crying without really knowing why she was laughing and crying or whether she was laughing because she was crying or the other way around.
“Well?” she heard Draco say, a bit nervously.
“YES!” she shouted, and then leaned forward to kiss him on the cheek. Feeling her lips brush against his cheek, he twisted around once more and he kissed her, deeply. Her tears dripped down her face and onto his.
“Why are you crying?” he asked when they finally broke apart. He removed one hand from the broom to gently brush away her teardrops with his thumb.
At that moment, she realized why she was simultaneously laughing and crying. “Because I’ve never been so happy in my entire life,” she answered, giving him a watery smile.
He too was smiling, smiling like he had never smiled before. “I love you,” he said.
“I love you too.”
Hope that wasn't too cheesy! Okay, maybe it was cheesy, but hopefully you liked it anyhow. I apologize profusely for the super long wait. Senior year is not as easy as I thought it'd be. I have just as much homework as ever, plus college apps. Also, I had trouble with this chapter because I wasn't sure which direction to take it in. I felt like this story was getting really repetitive...so I decided to, uh, cut to the chase, as you can see. This means that the next chapter will be the last...it's the epilogue! I can't believe I'm this close to finishing!
As always, please review!
Yours till the Snorkack's horn crumples,
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