Well, this is it…the final chapter of The Game of Love. Take your time, read, and enjoy!
Hermione Granger walked into her office holding a large stack of files and collapsed into her desk chair. Her feet ached from walking around in heels all day and her eyes were burning from staying up the previous night looking up background information for the case she was currently working on. She had been working nonstop for the past few months, trying to make up for her lengthy hiatus. She spent most days running on a large supply of coffee. She barely had time to relax and read. And yet, she couldn’t have been happier.
Leaning back in her chair and rubbing her eyes, she heard brisk footsteps coming towards her office and quickly tried to appear as though she had been alert and diligently working the whole time. It was only her secretary though, a chipper young woman named Elise. Elise was humming and holding a large bouquet of red roses.
Hermione slumped in her seat again, since it was no use putting up a façade for her secretary, and raised an eyebrow. “Secret admirer?” she asked nonchalantly.
Elise rolled her eyes and set the flowers in an already-overflowing vase on Hermione’s desk. “Of course not, Hermione. The only one who gets flowers around here is you.” Elise arranged the flowers artfully and then sighed wistfully. “You’re so lucky. I wish I had a fiancé who’d buy me flowers.”
Hermione tried suppressing her smile, but she just couldn’t help it. She noticed a tag tied to one of the roses and quickly read the words. It was a simple message—simple, but very sweet.
I can’t wait for tomorrow, nor can I stop thinking about you. Love, Draco.
Smiling, Hermione untied the tag and added it to the growing collection in her desk drawer. Elise was watching her, a huge grin on her face.
“So tomorrow’s the big day, huh?” said Elise. “Getting married and all?”
Hermione glanced over at a framed photograph sitting on her desk. It was a picture of her and Draco on a beach in France, which was where they had gone on a recent weekend trip, one of the few weekends where she hadn’t been bogged down by work. He was standing on the shore, carrying her bridal style and pretending to throw her into the waves. Both of them were laughing, expressions of pure joy on their faces.
“Yes,” she said finally. “It’s all happening tomorrow.”
Hermione walked home from work that night, deciding that Apparition was making her lazy and that she could use the exercise. Upon reaching her flat, she fished around in her purse for her keys, and just as she was about to unlock the door, she realized that she heard music coming from the inside. She smiled and let herself in.
“Don’t polite people normally refrain from sneaking into another person’s flat without said person’s knowledge or approval?” she called out as she set her purse and jacket down.
“If you didn’t want me to sneak into your apartment, you wouldn’t have told me where you kept the spare key,” said Draco, smirking slightly as he emerged from the kitchen wearing an apron and a tall chef’s hat.
Damn it, thought Hermione, as she realized that this wasn’t the first time he had beaten her in a game of logic. “Good point,” she said, relenting a little.
“If I told you I cooked dinner for you, would you forgive me?” he asked, turning on the charm.
“Perhaps,” said Hermione, trying to remain serious but failing as she was overcome with giggles at the sight of him.
“Come on,” he said, gesturing towards the small dining table. “I made pasta.”
Hermione’s mouth began watering immediately. “You are forgiven,” she told him as she sat down at the table.
Draco responded with his signature smirk and then poured two glasses of wine. He raised his into the air, and she followed suit. “To us,” he said.
“To us,” agreed Hermione, bringing the glass to her lips for a sip.
After dinner, they settled down on the couch together to watch a romantic comedy that Hermione had rented. Draco was still fascinated by the technology, even though this wasn’t the first time he had seen a movie with Hermione.
As the couple onscreen continued their witty banter, Hermione’s thoughts drifted away to reflect on the happenings of the past few months . . . .
After proposing to her on an impromptu moonlit broomstick ride, Draco had wanted to fly straightaway to the Ministry of Magic to get their marriage license, but Hermione would have none of that. Since she was only getting married once, she reasoned, she wanted to do it the right way.
And so they touched back down in her room and spent the night together, only to be discovered lying in each other’s arms the following morning by an apoplectic Monsieur Beaumont, who had somehow found out about last night’s shenanigans. After disentangling himself, Draco had explained, as calmly as possible, that the Game of Love was over, at least for him and Hermione. Monsieur Beaumont was shocked speechless for a moment, only to start sputtering about how they had to finish the Game so that they could air it on WizardVision for the whole world to see. At that point Draco cut in smoothly that there was no way that was going to happen, and that he’d be willing to pay a large sum of money for those tapes to simply disappear. Monsieur Beaumont, in turn, shouted that he would not resort to bribery, but quickly shut up when Draco pulled a checkbook out of nowhere and handed him a carte blanche.
What happened after that seemed like a blur to Hermione. There were explanations and apologies to be said to Georgina and Caitlin (Georgina remained silent, and then admitted that she had seen this coming all along before leaving quietly, while Caitlin burst into tears before flouncing out of the room shouting something about how American boys were much better than the British ones). There was a meeting with Narcissa, who became teary-eyed at seeing her son so in love with Hermione, who had been her favorite all along. And then there was another visit to Mr. and Mrs. Granger, where more tears and congratulations abounded.
Later Hermione decided that it was high time Narcissa met her parents, so she hosted a small party where Narcissa and her mum got along beautifully and began planning her wedding despite her protests.
Eventually, though, they had to tell their friends, and so Hermione invited Harry, Ginny, and Ron to dinner at their favorite restaurant without telling them that Draco would also be there, with a couple of his friends. Draco did the same, bringing with him Blaise Zabini and Pansy, who was happily engaged to another man and turned out to be quite agreeable when she wasn’t busy sabotaging other people’s relationships. But needless to say, it was an awkward meeting and an unpleasant surprise for most to see their former enemies walk into the same restaurant and then sit down at the same table. Hermione would be forever grateful to Ginny for keeping Harry and Ron in check and breaking some of the tension.
At the end of dessert, Draco put his arm around Hermione’s shoulders and they announced their engagement. Harry, though he had been warned by his wife, was still shocked speechless. Ron spit out the wine he had been in the process of swallowing and sprayed everyone in the vicinity. Ginny let out a shriek that sounded a lot like “YOUOWEMETWENTYGALLEONS!” and threw her arms around Hermione’s neck, which was rather difficult as Draco wasn’t planning on letting her go. Blaise kept his cool demeanor, while Pansy, to everyone’s surprise, offered very genuine congratulations. At the end of the night, Hermione was immensely relieved to know that there weren’t any objections—not that that would have changed anything about the way she felt about Draco.
So for the next few months, Hermione went back to her job in the International Magical Office of Law at the Ministry. Draco, to everyone’s surprise, took a desk job in the Auror Department, working under none other than Harry Potter. (Draco told Hermione he could use some extra money, because Monsieur Beaumont had taken complete advantage of the blank check, but she had the sneaking suspicion that he just wanted to get closer to her—a tactic that worked.) Harry, possibly due to Ginny’s influence, made it a point to be civil to Draco, and after a few office parties and lunch breaks together, the two of them had become good friends. Draco never thought he’d say it, but he told Hermione that the Boy-Who-Lived wasn’t so bad after all. And Harry never thought he’d say it, but he told Hermione that he heartily approved of her fiancé. Ron, on the other hand, was still wary of Draco, but at least the two of them managed to be civil.
Draco ended up renting a flat in London out of convenience, but he did express to Hermione a wish to sell Malfoy Manor and dispose of all the bad memories once and for all. Hermione was secretly glad of this, because although she had enjoyed the weeks she had spent there during the Game, its dark past and hidden chambers still gave her the chills. For now, she lived in her own neglected flat, splitting her time between her flat and Draco’s. They lived like that for several months, almost like a normal couple. They weren’t sure what they would do after they got married. Hermione assumed they would buy a house together somewhere near London. Draco had other plans, but he didn’t tell her—it was his secret project, a wedding gift of sorts.
Speaking of weddings, there were many that year. Ron finally settled down with Lavender. Pansy wed her beloved fiancé, a man she had met while abroad in southern Europe (which was where she had gone to forget about the Polyjuice Potion Fiasco, as they now referred to it). Isabelle married her childhood sweetheart, Guillaume, in Paris. And now . . . it was their turn.
“What are you smiling about?” said Draco, interrupting her thoughts.
“We’re getting married tomorrow,” she answered, lacing her fingers with his.
He squeezed her hand in return. “We’re getting married tomorrow.”
“Hermione, let’s go!” said Ginny impatiently, waiting by the door. She was wearing a pretty periwinkle blue dress and she was holding Hermione’s bouquet of flowers. Ginny, to no one’s surprise, had been named the Maid of Honor.
“I’m coming!” said Hermione, finally emerging from the bathroom, where her mum had been fussing over her hair and makeup.
“You, my dear Hermione, look absolutely stunningly beautiful,” Ginny announced upon seeing her friend in her simple but elegant white gown and swept up hair.
“I agree,” sighed Mrs. Granger, dabbing at the corner of her eye with a handkerchief. “Now, do we have everything?”
“Yes, Mrs. Granger,” said Ginny as patiently and politely as possible. “I just got off the phone with the groom. He’s waiting at the church. Everything’s set and everyone’s there, except for the bride.”
“I need to call Robert and make sure he’s there,” said Mrs. Granger, and began fishing around for a phone.
“I doubt he’d forget that his daughter’s getting married today,” Ginny muttered under her breath. “Hermione, are you ready?”
Hermione gave herself one last inspection in the mirror. The delicate necklace she was wearing had been given to her by her mother a long time ago, her dress was new and Ginny-approved, she had borrowed a pair of shoes from Ginny, and there was a pale blue flower in her hair. “Yes,” she said, and a shiver of excitement ran up her spine. This was it. It was finally happening.
Once Mrs. Granger confirmed that Mr. Granger was indeed waiting for them in front of the church, Ginny herded everyone into the waiting limousine and then they were whisked away. It was a small, old church near the house she had grown up in, and she had always dreamed of getting married there. She had wanted a small ceremony, simple but elegant, and Draco of course wanted whatever she wanted. In the car, she fidgeted in her seat, full of nervous excitement.
Her dad was waiting for them as promised, looking just as if not more nervous than his daughter. “You look beautiful, dear,” he said when Hermione emerged from the limousine, and enfolded her in a hug.
“Careful, Robert!” Mrs. Granger scolded. “You’ll wrinkle her dress.”
Mr. Granger ignored his wife and held onto his daughter for a moment longer before stepping back. Blinking rapidly, he offered his arm to Hermione. “Shall we?”
Hermione beamed at him and took his arm. Mrs. Granger hurried into the church to her seat, and a moment later the music began playing. The flower girl and the ring boy went down the aisle, two distant cousins of Hermione’s that Mrs. Granger had been able to snag from somewhere, and then Ginny followed, gracefully and confidently. Then, quite suddenly, it was her turn.
Hermione was grateful for the guiding arm of her father, because she had eyes for Draco and Draco only. He was wearing a black tuxedo and he looked as handsome as ever. Harry and Blaise stood behind him as his best men. She felt like she was dreaming as she walked down the aisle, the music playing in her ears, his gaze fixed on her.
They reached the end of the aisle in what seemed like no time at all. Hermione’s dad kissed her on the cheek and handed her to Draco, who wasted no time in sliding her hand into his and whispering, “You look beautiful.”
She smiled at him, her heart full to bursting. The priest began the ceremony, but Hermione could barely hear him. When the little introduction was over with, though, his words came through loud and clear.
“Do you, Draco Malfoy, take Hermione Granger to be your lawfully wedded wife? Do you promise to honor and to treasure her, to be at her side in sorrow and in joy, in the good times and in the bad, and to love and cherish her for all the days of your life?”
“I do,” said Draco solemnly. He slipped the ring onto her finger, where it fit perfectly.
“Do you, Hermione Granger, take Draco Malfoy to be your lawfully wedded husband? Do you promise to honor and to treasure him, to be at his side in sorrow and in joy, in the good times and in the bad, and to love and cherish him for all the days of your life?”
“I do,” she said, and slipped the ring onto his finger, where it shone in the light coming through a nearby stained glass window. He took her hand in his once more.
“I now pronounce you husband and wife,” said the priest, smiling benevolently. He turned to Draco and added, “You may kiss the bride.”
At that, Hermione threw her arms around Draco; he wrapped his arms around her waist, and they kissed, oblivious to the cheers coming from the small crowd.
And then there was the reception, with much congratulating, picture-taking, present-opening, drinking, talking, and laughing. As they danced their first dance as husband and wife together, Draco whispered in her ear, “I can’t wait until we can get away.”
“Well,” said Hermione with a mischievous smile. “This is our wedding reception. We can leave right now if we want to.”
Draco smirked. “You’re right. Why didn’t I think of that?” And with that, he picked up Hermione (she let out a little shriek), bridal style, and announced to everyone, “Well, this has been loads of fun, but Hermione and I will be going now. We thank you all for coming, and for the presents too of course. Goodbye now!”
Hermione laughed out loud as Draco carried her out amid thunderous clapping and cheering. “So where are we going?” she asked, as she realized she still didn’t know.
“You’ll see,” he said mysteriously. Once outside, he set her down and took her hand. “Close your eyes,” he said.
“You’re not Apparating, are you? We’re in the middle of a Muggle neighborhood!” said Hermione half-sternly, half-jokingly.
“Oh, they’ll excuse us. It is our wedding day after all,” he responded nonchalantly. “Now, close your eyes, darling.”
Hermione snorted. “Darling? Is that your new name for me?”
“Well, we are married now, aren’t we?”
“Yes, sweetheart,” said Hermione, choking back a laugh as she said the word sweetheart. “Yes, we are.”
“Now do you want to get there or not?”
“Where is there, anyway?”
“You’d find out if you close your eyes!”
“Okay, okay. My eyes are closed.” Hermione squeezed her eyes shut and waited for the familiar sensation of being squeezed into a rubber tube. It seemed to last a lot longer than usual and when she could finally breathe again, she was gasping for air.
“Sorry about that, but it was the quickest route,” said Draco apologetically. “You can open your eyes now.”
Hermione opened her eyes and her mouth dropped open. “Are we in France?” she said joyfully.
They were standing on a familiar sandy beach. The rolling ocean waves were to her right and when she turned to her left, she saw a beautiful chateau, a small cottage that looked like a model of a fairytale castle. She gasped. “Is that . . . ?”
Draco nodded. “Remember the chateau by the sea I told you about? Well, I asked my mother about it and she said it was all mine. She was planning on relocating to a flat in Paris anyhow. Malfoy Manor is on the market as of now and if you like it, this could be our new home. What do you say, Hermione?”
“I . . .” Hermione gaped at the chateau, not believing her eyes. “I love it!” she said. “Is it really ours?”
Draco nodded again. “Shall we go inside and take a look?” Hermione nodded in return, still staring at the chateau with wide eyes, and he led her inside. She took in the charming décor, the huge windows, and the quiet rush of the sea just outside and knew that this was home.
“But what about work?” she said, turning to him. “We’re in France, and work’s in London . . . .” Her voice trailed off as she started thinking about the logistics.
“Hermione, are you a witch or not?” said Draco with a wry smile. He gestured towards the fireplace in the parlor. “I have that hooked up to the International Floo Network. You can get from here to London and back like that.” He snapped his fingers to indicate the speediness.
Hermione rolled her eyes. “Oh, how could I forget?”
“You are continually dazed by my presence, darling. It’s quite understandable.” He smirked at her.
“Why oh why did I marry such an smarmy, arrogant man?” said Hermione dramatically.
“Oh, I think I know why,” said Draco in a low voice.
“Really?” said Hermione innocently. “Pray tell.”
“I think I can show you better than I can tell you,” said Draco, lifting her into his arms once again, as if she were as light as a feather. He looked at her with smoldering gray eyes and began leading her up the stairwell.
“I suddenly remember why I love you,” said Hermione, a little breathless from the way he was looking at her.
“Good,” said Draco as they arrived at the threshold of the master bedroom. “And if I haven’t said this before, I love you too.”
“I don’t think I’ve heard it enough times,” Hermione commented as he gently placed her on the bed.
“I love you, I love you, I love you, I love—”
“Okay,” Hermione laughed. “I love you too. But we do have the rest of our lives to spend together. We ought to pace ourselves.”
“Very true,” Draco agreed. He leaned down and kissed her on the lips, softly and sweetly. “But Hermione, I’m going to love you like this forever.”
Smiling, Hermione closed her eyes and kissed him back, loving the way his skin felt against hers. She thought back a few months, back when she was single and lonely and about to enter the Game of Love, back when she still despised the man before her, back when she hadn’t discovered all there was to love about him. They had come a long way, she realized, down a path that she was grateful her friends had put her on. And now here she was, with the love of her life, in a chateau by the sea. She knew she had won this game of love, and that she had gotten her fairytale ending, and that she would have it no other way, with no man other than the one who with her right here, right now.
Oh my goodness! We have reached the end! Part of me is happy that I finally finished this story, another part is sad that it's over, and yet another part of me can't believe this is the end. This is the longest story I have ever completed, with over 70,000 words. I started it in January of 2008, so it’s been one year and eleven months…that’s a long time!
I want to thank EVERYONE for all the amazing reviews I’ve received. I never thought I’d get so many for this story, and I’m just happy that there were people out there who wanted to read my work. Your reviews were what got me through writer’s block, every time, and encouraged me to keep posting. So thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!
So, what’s next? I have no more WIPs…this is something new. I don’t have any stories planned, either. Well, I have a few vague plot ideas involving more Dramione (of course), but nothing’s for sure at this point. I do plan on going back and editing some of the chapters…maybe putting in some chapter images too. I may do some one-shots or song fics in the future, but for now I want to work on my original fiction. Oh, and in case you were going to ask, there will not be a sequel to this story…there’s nothing more to say about Draco and Hermione other than they lived happily ever after. :)
Well, I hope you enjoyed the epilogue. Please review, one more time, and let me know what you thought of this chapter and the story as a whole. I know I got behind on responding to reviews for some of the previous chapters, but I promise to respond to every single one that I get for this last chapter. :)
Yours till the Snorkack’s horn crumples,