A/N: Oh my gosh. I seriously can't believe that this is finished. It's been nearly 2 years in the making and I just want to thank each and every one of you who have shown me support and encouraged me. This was my first venture into the fanfiction world, and I could not have asked for better readers to nurture me along. You're all wonderful, especially those of you who have gritted your teeth and stuck it out with me till the end. I appreciate you all so much. I know this chapter is a bit shorter than the others, but it's really just here to tie up all the loose ends.
I hope you all have enjoyed reading this story as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Without you all, I probably would have abandoned it, but I owed it to all of you. It's been my baby for 2 years and it's really hard to let it go, but you certainly have not seen the last of me. School keeps me very busy, but feel free to visit my tumblr (melodramaticmumblings) and say hello! I look forward to reading your reviews. Thank you all again so much for your dedication and loyalty.
So this chapter is dedicated to all of you. Please enjoy.
Black. Everything was black. And sticky. And painful. Every breath was painful. Draco heard a muffled voice through the haze of his mind.
Someone was jostling him and he groaned inaudibly in pain.
The voice cut through the fog of his unconsciousness again, but he wasn’t full awake enough to place it.
“You idiot, you’re bleeding. What were you thinking coming alone? You’ve probably got a concussion after that. I need to apparate you to St. Mungo’s… Draco, wake up! I need you to wake up.” Hermione’s voice choked up. “Please be okay. Please wake up.”
To Draco the voice droned on incessantly despite his pounding headache. Whoever it was, shouldn’t they be more sensitive to his needs? Draco distantly heard another mumbled spell and gradually felt his head begin to clear. He groaned aloud this time and forced himself to ground out a few words. “I’m up,” he spoke slowly between gritted teeth. “Barely.”
Hermione broke into open sobs of relief when she finally heard Draco speak. After a few moments she managed to rein herself in. “I know you’re in pain, Draco, but we need to get out of here.”
Draco nodded, his cheek rubbing against the cold stone floor with the action. He slowly opened his eyes and tried to push himself up. Looking at the floor, he finally brought himself to ask. “And my father?” Draco heard Hermione swallow nervously and she looked away from him.
“Dead,” she whispered uneasily. “I checked when I took my wand back to make sure.”
Draco didn’t look at her. He took two slow breaths before fixing his eyes on the body on the floor across the room. “Good.”
“Draco….” Hermione tried to find words, but was unable to.
“Really, Hermione.” Draco finally looked to her, his eyes holding sincerity. “I’m glad he’s gone.” With her help, he struggled to his feet. “We can just leave him. I’m sure Parkinson will find him eventually.” Hermione opened her mouth to protest, but shut it, knowing that nothing she could say would change the situation.
“Alright. We’ll go to St. Mungo’s to get your head checked and let the others know from there.” Hermione took his hand and started to spin to apparate.
“WAIT!” Draco stopped her, his voice hurting his own ears. “There’s a jinx if you try to apparate down here because you’re not a Malfoy. I’ll have to do it.”
Hermione hesitated. “Are you sure you can do it? You’re still recovering from that stunner and then the impact of hitting the wall… We can find our way out of here and then I can do it.”
“Apparating will take less energy than walking out of here,” he replied shortly. His headache was still blinding. Hermione nodded at his response and squeezed his hand. Draco held onto her hand tightly as he closed his eyes and concentrated on where he wanted to go. He chanted it over and over in his head and turned.
After a relatively short trip to St. Mungo’s, Draco was diagnosed with a cut to his head, a mild concussion, and a few bruised ribs. Hermione was diagnosed with malnutrition. The healers had him fixed up in no time and gave Hermione several potions to provide her body with the nutrients it needed, but recommended they get plenty of rest for the next few days regardless, which is what brought Hermione and Draco back to their flat in London.
“We can postpone the wedding.”
“We’re not postponing the wedding.”
“Are you sure? I’d understand because of everything that happened.”
“Do you want to postpone the wedding?”
“No, of course not”
“Then that settles it then, doesn’t it?” Draco asked, a bit exasperated. Hermione had been fussing over him, despite the fact that she had been through a much harder ordeal than he had. After the events of that morning, all he really wanted was a fair bit of silence. The couple was lying in bed together, staring blankly at the ceiling. He decided to change the subject. “It was considerate of everyone to give us the day to recover before hounding us with questions and demanding our memories.”
“Yes, it was,” Hermione concurred.
Draco turned his head to look at her and she met his gaze, both of them thankful for the life of the other. “The Weasel can come to the wedding.” Hermione’s face broke into a grin. Draco rolled his gray eyes. “Don’t look at me like that. We’re not friends or anything,” he grumbled, “But he’s important to you, and you’re important to me, and he isn’t completely worthless.”
Hermione snickered. “Just mostly worthless, yeah?” she asked, teasing him.
“Yeah,” Draco echoed. “Just mostly.”
Hermione was a nervous wreck. It was finally the day of the wedding, and though everything had gone smoothly so far, she was convinced something was bound to go wrong. After all, something always went wrong. She, Ginny, Luna, and Mrs. Granger were all upstairs in the master suite getting ready. The bridesmaids looked beautiful in their floor length crimson gowns, and Mrs. Granger wore a lovely cream colored dress. Luna was airily taming Hermione’s frizzy locks into smooth curls while Ginny was putting the final touches on her makeup, which Hermione had insisted stay as natural looking as possible. Ginny had huffed a bit at that, tending to lean toward the dramatic, but had acquiesced to the bride.
Guests were starting to arrive downstairs. Most witches and wizards in attendance were arriving via portkey while directions had been given to muggles who were driving. In lieu of gifts, the couple had requested donations be sent in their name to St. Mungo’s Psychiatric Ward from wizarding familes. Muggles’ donations had been sent to St. Jude’s children’s hospital. The most amazing part was that the muggles really had no idea they were in the presence of wizards. Draco’s idea of a themed wedding had been a fantastic success. Everyone was dressed up and none suspected that anything was amiss. Muggles were even given fake wands as wedding favors as they walked in.
If there was anyone more nervous than Hermione, it was Draco. He, Blaise, and Harry were locked up in Blaise’s quarters. “It’s not going to work,” he mumbled in a distressed tone, pacing the floor. “The muggles are going to find out and our cover will be blown and the wedding will be called off and-“
“Drink,” Blaise cut Draco off, rolling his eyes, and pushed a shot of firewhiskey at Draco across a table. Harry gave Blaise a sharp look. Blaise shrugged innocently, “I’m not getting him drunk. It’ll just take the edge off.” Draco slowly sat in the chair across the table from Blaise.
“Hermione will kill you if he shows up drunk, even if it means she gets blood on her dress and Draco has to stand without a best man.”
“Especially since you’re the best man,” Draco smirked and traced his finger around the rim of the shot glass. “I’m not going to drink it.”
“Good man.” Harry nodded approvingly. “No one is going to find out, Draco. You know Hermione’s thought of everything.”
Draco nodded slowly, “yeah, I suppose you’re right.”
Blaise cut in shortly after, “Alright, Harry. What say we get this doomed chap down to willingly walk into slavery?” It was Harry’s turn to roll his eyes.
“Your time is coming, Blaise. Just you wait,” Draco warned. Blaise ignored him and offered Draco a hand to help him up. Draco took a deep, slightly shaky breath.
“Here goes nothing.”
Draco fidgeted at the front of the ballroom. Blaise flanked his side, and Harry stood behind Blaise. Luna and Ginny were standing on side across from him, also in the front. Kingsley separated the men from the women, officiating the ceremony. The blond tore his eyes from the ground and looked across the large room full of people to the large doors when he heard the music play. It was music he had heard the night before during the rehearsal dinner (Some kind of muggle tradition. Felt they had to practice weddings). It was funny, really, to see wizards and muggles alike sitting in Zabini Manor, all looking exactly the same for the “theme” wedding. If he was honest with himself, he couldn’t at all tell them apart.
The ballroom was, of course, decorated beautifully. A white silk runner cut the room in half, sprinkled with crimson rose petals. Cream and crimson rose arrangements were spaced strategically throughout the room, and the large crystal chandelier glinted above the room. It was simple, yet extremely elegant. An archway had been set up at the front of the room, covered in green ivy with white roses arranged in it. Next to the archway stood a candelabra with two small, lit candles and one large, unlit candle. A muggle tradition that Hermione wished to perform.
The doors swung open and Draco saw her walk in… if you could call it walking. Draco would look back and recall her gliding, her feet hardly touching the ground, she moved with such grace. In that moment, in his mind, she was neither muggle nor wizard. She was something entirely different. She was absolutely angelic. The gasps of the guests were lost on his ears as Hermione walked down the aisle, a vision of white silk and glistening beads. The blood red flowers of her bouquet brought out the blush on her cheeks, and her simple gold earrings mirrored the gold flecks in her warm brown eyes. Draco shut his eyes tight for a moment, gritting his teeth as his vision swam before him. He would not let himself tear up. Not that it mattered, Ginny and Mrs. Granger were crying enough already for the whole room.
At last, Hermione made her way forward until she stood right next to Draco. He saw that her eyes were also filled with tears. For a moment, Draco panicked. She was regretting everything. She didn’t want to marry him. He had forced her into this. She wasn’t ready. Draco’s inner monologue must have shown on his face, because right when he needed it, Hermione sent him a reassuring smile.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today,” Kingsley’s deep voice boomed over the audience as Draco reached forward and pulled Hermione’s hand into his own.
“You look exquisite,” he whispered to her in a tone only she could hear. Draco watched her cheeks flush with humility. She squeezed his hand.
“And you look so handsome,” replied Hermione. And she meant it. She could not take her eyes off of him, as he could not take his eyes off of her. Neither of them noticed that Kingsley had addressed them until a chorus of small chuckles pulled them out of their reverie.
Hermione flushed further as Kinglsey grinned at the pair before him. “I’m sorry, Minister, you were saying?”
“I asked if I could have the rings.” The teasing in Kinglsey’s voice could not be mistaken. Ginny and Blaise both stepped forward and handed the rings to the couple, and Ginny took Hermione’s bouquet. And then Kingsley started in on the vows. The couple had chosen not to write their own, for they knew that no words they put down could adequately describe how they felt about each other. Hermione softly repeated the words that Kingsley told her to, said her “I do,” and at last slid the ring onto Draco’s finger.
“With this ring, I thee wed.”
Kingsley’s voice boomed again, asking Draco if he would take Hermione as his wife, to love and cherish, for richer or poorer (Draco smirked at this part), in sickness and in health, till death do they part. Draco took a deep breath before his voice broke the silence. “On Salazar’s soul, I do.”
Draco slid Hermione’s wedding band onto her finger, a circle of white diamonds, but in his opinion, all the diamonds in the world would never be an adequate match for her beauty in that moment when she smiled at him. Draco smiled back and finished sliding the ring onto her finger saying, “With this ring, I thee wed.”
Ginny was crying. Kingsley’s voice rang out clear again, “Draco and Hermione have chosen to do something that not many couples choose to do on their wedding day. They have opted to make an Unbreakable Vow to signify their devotion to each other. I shall serve as their bonder, and you as their witnesses.” At this point, Kingsley took out his wand. The muggles in attendance seemed very excited about this new, magical twist to the wedding. The wizards in attendance looked warily at each other, but said nothing. Not even Ron, though his ears burned red. “Draco, Hermione, please hold hands.” Both stretched out their right hands and Kingsley pointed his wand at the union. A thick band of fire wrapped itself around their wrists. The muggles gasped in amazement and wonder. “State your terms.”
Hermione looked up into Draco’s eyes, worried that he would back out. An unbreakable vow was serious business, ending in death if, in fact, broken. But his eyes were trusting and earnest and set her nerves at ease. He would not let her down. “I vow to be faithful to my husband Draco until death separates us.”
“And I vow to be faithful to my wife Hermione until death separates us.” Draco’s voice followed Hermione’s, and as her mouth formed the silent words of “I love you,” he knew that he would never regret his choice. The ring of fire around their skin vanished and Kingsley smiled. Very few people in attendance still retained their dry eyes. Mrs. Granger and Mrs. Weasley were by now long gone into tears.
“I now pronounce you husband and wife.” Kingsley motioned to Draco. “You may kiss the b-“ Draco didn’t wait for Kingsley to finish. He had already closed the distance between he and his wife and had pressed his lips to hers, to much cheering and cat calls from the guests (started by Blaise, of course).
The reception that followed the wedding was beautiful and entertaining. Only a few muggles needed to have their memories erased due to a few shenanigans of the Weasley Twins’ doing, and Ron even shook hands with Draco and cracked a smile or two. Hermione shoved cake in Draco’s face, her father made it through the father/daughter dance without crying, and sparklers and wands were lit when the couple left the reception. All in all, the event was a roaring success. Tired and content, the happy couple returned via limousine to their flat to pack for their honeymoon and engage in a few carnal endeavors. They would spend Christmas morning the following day with her family, and in the afternoon fly somewhere tropical to escape the dismal weather of a wintery London for their honeymoon.
After reaching their apartment and exchanging a passionate kiss, Hermione excused herself to go slip out of her wedding dress and into something more suited for their first night as a man and wife. While she took her time in the bathroom, Draco took off his jacket and threw it over a chair. He walked to his dresser and opened the bottom drawer where he withdrew a square package, simply wrapped in silver paper. The couple had agreed upon no presents this year, what with the wedding and everything keeping them busy, but Draco had always been one for breaking the rules. He heard the door open behind him and turned to see Hermione exiting the bathroom, a vision in white silk and lace. He swallowed hard and Hermione smiled innocently at him, blushing furiously. She’d never admit it, but she was mildly afraid things would change between them now that they were officially committed. Draco moved to her and all of her fears were relieved. He looked absolutely hungry for her, but he stopped himself just short of her lips.
“I have something for you,” he whispered, his voice mildly husky. Hermione pulled away, scowling at him.
“You know we agreed upon-“
“Yes, I know exactly what we agreed upon. I bought you something anyway.” He offered her the package in his hands. Though mildly annoyed that this was now the second Christmas in a row that he had gotten her something and she had gotten him nothing, she could practically smell the pages of an old book through the wrapping paper and took the present from him.
“Just so you know,” she began to huff as she unwrapped the gift, “I am not pleased with you for this.” She glared at him as she removed the last of the paper. Draco merely grinned boyishly as her eyes dropped to the book in her hands and she gasped. It was a first edition print of the entire works of Jane Austen. “Draco, you didn’t. These are impossible to find!”
He shrugged. “Not impossible, just difficult. It is, however, impossible to convince their owners to give them up. Luckily, the previous owner of this book will never know that they now own a replicated copy and you the original.”
Hermione felt mildly scandalized at this revelation, but one look at the book and a deep breath of the old pages caused a flash of selfishness to rise within her. “It better be a bloody good replica.”
“The best,” Draco assured her, chuckling. Perhaps a little bit of his Slytherin qualities had rubbed off on her just a bit. Hermione furrowed her brows and huffed again.
“We had an agreement. I didn’t get you anything.”
Draco smiled and merely shrugged, taking the book from her hands and setting it on the nightstand next to their bed. He wrapped his arms around her a pulled her close, pressing his lips to hers in a tender kiss. “It doesn’t matter. All I wanted this Christmas was you.”
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