Chapter 24 : The Other Reality
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Welcome backkk :') Ive missed you guys so very much. This is your christmas and new years gift so do do do enjoy as I've worked hard on it ;) Hope it lives up to your expectations xx
- PS: I have changed Luna's baby's gender to a girl!
(31st December, Sunday.)
"Ritch Mcenzee, you are under arrest for the illegal brewing and use of potions and for the attempted murders of Mr. Draco Malfoy, Mrs. Hermione Malfoy and their unborn child." Harry said, twisting Ritch's arms behind her back and binding them together with a spell, not bothering to be gentle.
"Wha-what?!" The tall blonde spluttered at the center of her living room. "You have no evidence!"
"We do." Harry said, shoving her forward towards the fire place.
"I want a lawyer!" Ritch exclaimed.
"Yeah? Well you don't get one. We have the permission to take you in without complaints. We have solid evidence against you."
"And where from?"
"Lucius Malfoy." Harry said, pushing her into the fireplace. He dropped floo powder into the grate and called out "Ministry of Magic." He felt relief course through his blood as soon as he reached his office and filled in particulars before sending her away. Justice had been served.
* * *
As soon as Draco stepped through the front door, Hermione stood from the couch and went straight to him. A few minutes prior to his arrival, she had felt something and was going to call Draco instantly when she realized that he hadn't taken his phone. He had a dazed expression on his face and his blonde hair was windswept. His expression made her pause and make the decision to tell him what she needed to later. Magic bounded up to Draco and bumped the blonde's ankles with his head.
"Magic, not now- give us a few minutes." Hermione said, bending over and ushering Magic the other way. He whimpered but headed upstairs to Aaron, who was reading. She turned to him.
"What? What is it? What happened?" She asked, placing her hand on his arm. He extracted his hands from his pockets and placed his right hand gently on her left cheek and placed his other hand on the crook of her neck. He moved his thumb over her cheek, his hand moved down her face to her shoulder and his eyes followed the movement. Her heart was beating faster than ever as she stared at his face and felt his soft, cold fingers across her skin. One of his hands remained on her shoulder while the other slid down her right arm. With the hand still on her shoulder, he lifted it and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear, leaving his fingers lingering there. His left hand laced it's fingers with her's and he stepped closer to her.
"Draco? What happened?" She asked, finding it hard to breathe. He didn't answer her. He titled her head upwards and leaned forward and before she could register what was happening, he pressed his lips against her's.
And then, with his lips still ghosting over her's, he said, "She got a twenty year sentence in Azkaban." Tears of joy rose to Hermione's eyes and she raised the hand intertwined with his to his face and when he let go, she placed her hand on his cheek and traced his face like he had done her's. Her other hand found itself on his shoulder and then she pulled him back towards her, closing the distance between their lips. And she kissed him. And he kissed her back. And it was unlike anything they had experienced before.
Their lips moved together in perfect sync. Her hands in his hair and around his neck and his arms around her waist, pulling her closer still.
After a few seconds of pure bliss and happiness, they pulled apart, their hands remaining where they were, their faces still just inches apart.
And then they both were smiling, tears running down her cheeks and their eyes sparkling with joy.
"She kicked." The words were out of Hermione's mouth before she knew it. Draco's smile disappeared for a few seconds as he processed the information before he felt tears in his own eyes and tried to blink them back.
He cupped her face in his hands and brought their foreheads together.
"It's all working out isn't it?" He whispered, smiling. She nodded.
* * *
Draco stared at the tombstone, his hands buried deep in the pockets of this black coat.
"Mcenzee got a twenty year sentence in Azkaban." He said, feeling a little ridiculous. But he felt that he need to do this. "It's the first of January tomorrow. A new year. And I didn't want anything to be left undone, left unsaid. So here I am. Feeling absolutely stupid but hoping you can... hear me. Even if you can't, I still want to say what's on my mind."
He paused, his eyes tracing every turn and bend in the inscribed "Lucius Malfoy" on the tombstone.
"I hate you. At least, I did. Until yesterday. Until I found out about the evidence. I don't hate you. Strongly dislike, perhaps, but not hate. I most definitely don't like you, let alone love. I will never be able to completely forgive you either. But if you had tried harder, I may have been able to. If you had started trying earlier. But you didn't. You didn't want to. You were proud, arrogant, prejudiced, dominating and in general a horrible person. Malfoy, right? It's what a Malfoy is, isn't it?"
He shook his head. "Wrong. That's not what a Malfoy is. It was. You were the last of the Malfoys to be like that. Im not like that." Another shake of his head. "Not at all. I've tried to not be like you and Im finally convinced. Im not you. I will never be. I would never hurt my son or my wife. I would never hurt my family. Not like you did. Most definitely not. You never changed your ways. I did. You were a coward and Ive finally begun to realize that I wasn't. Im not. I have people who love me. Not for my money or my name- but for me. They love me for being me.
"You didn't love me either, did you? But I realized it doesn't matter any more. Because the love that you didn't give me- I received three fold the amount from Hermione alone. And another triple the amount from my son. From my mother. From my... friends. People I didn't even imagine loving me- Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Ginny Potter- even they care about me. So much that sometimes it get's irritating." He smirked. "But I wouldn't trade a thing for them. Nothing.
"Imagine how things would have been had you just accepted my decision. Accepted Hermione. Accepted Aaron. If you had begun trying since then- I can guarantee you that that would have made a difference. But you didn't. And that- that made you die alone. Look at me, Lucius. And look at you. You lived life according to how you were supposed to. I don't blame you for that. But look at me. I married a muggle-born, moved out of Malfoy Manor, became a goddamn model, got a half-blood child, became best friends with Weasleys and Potters. But you know what the main difference between you and me are? Not these things. No, these are just a part of it. The main difference is that Im happy. I am happy, Lucius. You weren't. Im loved and cared for. You weren't. And I don't blame the people around you for that. I blame you. Yes, you were brought up in a pureblooded family. But so was I, remember that. It's the decisions we make in life. And because of my decisions, today I am a bigger man that you ever were.
"Hermione Granger. What doesn't she have? She's more brilliant than any of those air-headed purebloods you would have chosen for me. She has more brains than that entire community put together. A bigger heart than all of their's put together. If you had just looked past your prejudices, you would've seen that too. Just like I did. She accepted me, Lucius. I wasn't wondering if she was good enough for me. I was wondering if I was good enough for her. Does that shock you?" He scoffed. "I stopped giving a damn a long time ago about what reaction things got from you. If anything, I tried to piss you off even more. She still gave you a chance. Despite everything you did. She extended her help and her kindness to you despite it all. And you threw it right back at her face. But she didn't give up. And I know for a fact that it got to you. You would have never helped us other wise. You would have never tried coming back to us. She's the reason you didn't die being despised by your... family. She's the reason you didn't die hated. Alone, yes. Disliked, yes. Hated, not quite. And you have her to thank for that."
He stopped for a second to take a breath. He closed his eyes, the cold air around him beating against his face. He opened he eyes again and stared at the stone. "I really like her. Ive never known what love is but... I don't know why Im even bothering to tell you this. I don't want to. If anything, Ill go tell her. What I came to tell you was that I don't forgive you. But perhaps, someday, I might. Not in the near future- but someday maybe. I came to tell you that I don't hate you anymore. Im not going to say thank you for getting Mcenzee locked up- you did it for your own selfish reasons- to get your family back. But you couldn't quite achieve that either. And even if you didn't do it for yourself, which isn't very likely, it's the least you could've done for us.
"Perhaps if you had tried harder and started earlier, I would've allowed you to call me your son. I don't need a father, Lucius. Because when i needed one, I didn't get one." He swallowed hard. "I got used to it. But I don't need you. I never did. A need is not necessarily a want, though. Of course I don't need you but at some point of my life- I wanted you to be there for me. But you weren't. And that's just it. You weren't. Maybe if the Dark Lord was not around, maybe if things were different- we could have been a... family. But we can't always get what we want. Im here to tell you that Im happy. Despite what you did. Im happy and I wouldn't want my life to have turned out any other way."
He stared at Lucius' name for another long second before turning around and walking out of the graveyard. He no longer felt stupid about the situation. No longer felt ridiculous. All he felt was free.
* * *
"We've decided to name her Matilda Aubree Longbottom." Luna smiled dreamily while leaning into Neville. It was fifteen minutes till New Years and the entire group- Draco, Hermione, Ron, Hayley, Harry, Ginny, Pansy, Blaise, Neville, Luna and the other Weasleys and Narcissa, along with the kids were gathered together at the Burrow. They had just finished dinner and the main group of ten were sitting together outside on the grass.
"That's a beautiful name, Luna." Ginny smiled. She turned to Hermione and Draco. "What about you both? Have you decided on any names?"
Hermione looked up at Draco and he looked down at her. He shook his head. "I havent thought of anything in particular." Hermione blushed slightly. "Have you?" She nodded, an embarrassed smile on her face. "Let's hear it then."
"I wanted Cassiopeia for the middle name- it's a constellation just like Draco." Hermione said, looking down at her lap. "I wanted to select a first name with you, though." He stared at her, a rush of emotion coursing through him. He knew. He knew just then that this was it. He had been wondering whether it was the right thing to do but now, now he was sure. He needed, no wanted to do it. He glanced at Ginny, who smiled and nodded at him knowingly.
He jumped to his feet and Hermione looked up, puzzled at his action. He held his hand out to her. "Can I have a moment alone with you?" Hermione looked at him curiously but put her hand in his and allowed him to help her stand. He turned to the group and said, "Just give us a few minutes." They grinned at him and nodded and he headed away with her.
Their hands brushed against each other a few times before Draco held her hand and laced their fingers together. She felt her cheeks heat up due to the intimate action and felt like a giddy school girl. They stopped walking a little distance away from the group and he turned to her.
"What's going on, Draco?" She asked, looking down at their intertwined fingers.
"These past three months have been crazy. A complete whirlwind of emotions. It started with immense dislike towards each other and progressed into a slow and difficult friendship and then we grew comfortable with each other. I grew comfortable with you in a way I havent been with any one else. It scared me at first, to be honest. But then I realized that it wasnt anything to be afraid of. Suddenly I found myself unable to imagine myself without you. I found myself unable to think of life without you. I didnt know what to make of it, you know. It was so new." He raised his free hand and cupped her cheek gently. The wind was cold but not harsh. It was silent, caressing. They were wrapped tightly in thick trench coats, their hands in gloves and their hair ruffled.
"Im glad I came to this other reality, Hermione. More so than you can ever imagine." He stared into her eyes, feeling lost in their deep brown depths. "I went to Lucius' grave." She looked surprised, opening her mouth to say something but he shook his head, cutting her off. "I wasnt angry today. I simply accepted things. I received my closure." She smiled at that, tightening her fingers around his. "I couldnt have done any of this without you. I seriously couldnt have. Whatever I went through these past months- I'd rather it have been you than anybody else.
"If anyone ever told me three months ago that I would end up married to THE Hermione Granger or would end up having kids with her- I- I sure as hell wouldnt have believed them."
"Yes, well it goes both ways!" Hermione interrupted, glaring at him playfully. He smirked.
" 'Course it does. What Im trying to say is that I never thought that any of this would ever happen. And despite everything we went through, Im really glad that I made that wish." Draco looked down at the connected hands and then back into her eyes.
He was going to say something but then an idea struck him. "How do you like the name Adriana?" He asked her. Her eyebrows furrowed together for a second before she smiled at him.
"I love it."
"Adriana Cassiopeia Malfoy." Draco murmured, almost in awe. "What do you think?"
"It's beautiful." He tucked her fringe behind her ear and stepped closer to her.
"What happens if we dont get back?" He asked. She stared into his eyes and felt her breath get caught in her throat.
"Then we live life as we're living it."
"And if we never get back?"
"Same answer, Draco."
He stepped closer to her. "When did I become Draco?"
"When did I become Hermione?" She whispered, her heartbeat growing frantic. And then his lips had captured her's. Their kisses had never been demanding. It was always soft and gentle. This one was no different.
He ended it far too soon for her liking and rested his forehead against her's, as they had been earlier in the day. "Hermione," He murmured. Her hands were against his chest, feeling his heart beat despite the layers of clothing. She didnt trust herself enough to open her mouth and say anything so she simply made a "mm-hmm?" sound.
"Do you feel anything?" He asked her. She knew what he meant. But she couldnt seem to be able to answer. She felt like he could read all the answers in her eyes.
"I do." She managed to choke out. "And if Im going to be spending the rest of my life with you- if this other reality is going to become out actual reality then I dont mind one bit, Draco..."
"I- Hermione, I dont know what love is." Draco said, shaking his head against her's. "I never have. I mean, what is love? Is it a feeling? Is it a person? I- I dont know. I've felt strong emotional attachment to my mother, Pansy and Blaise. That's it. Strong emotional attachment. I dont even know if that's love. But lately Ive- Merlin, this is harder than I thought it would be. Actually, it's not. It's exactly as I thought it would be. Lately I've felt... different. About you. I- I dont know how to describe it." He split apart from her and ran his fingers through his hair.
"It's frustrating yet bloody brilliant. It's scary yet amazing. It's- Merlin, I dont even know!"
"I know what you mean..." She said, smiling slightly. He glanced at her and she felt herself blushing.
"It's five minutes to midnight!" A voice squealed and they split apart to see a little figure running towards them, a tinier figure beside him. And soon their son was in full view, a large grin on his face and their dog running beside him.
"Hey, buddy!" Draco smiled, lifting the boy into his arms. He cleared his throat when his voice turned out to be hoarse.
"Aren't you both coming with the others for New Years?" Aaron asked, a frown on his face.
"We were just-" He glanced at Hermione, who averted her eyes from his. "Yeah, we were just going to join you." He gestured to the way back with his head to Hermione, who swallowed and nodded. A heavy weight of not being able to say and do what he wanted settled in his heart as he turned away from her and headed back towards the others with Aaron.
Hermione closed her eyes for a second, took a deep breath and opened them again. And she opened her mouth to say it. She needed to. Her throat was constricting and she felt like her heart was stuck in it.
And then she was trailing behind him, not being able to say a word. He turned around and using his free hand, intertwined it with her's. And suddenly, all she could see was him. All she could feel was him. Everything about him just stood out suddenly. His hair. His face. His smile. His fingers wrapped around her's. Everything else was fading into the background. She didn't even register that they had returned to the group. She didn't see the questioning look Ginny shot him. She didn't see Harry when he began speaking to Draco before he could respond.
Her eyes fixated on his face, she saw his lips move as he spoke to the others. She didn't hear the words he spoke to them. But she did hear the words she spoke, loud and clear.
"I love you."
His head snapped towards her, his mouth open in shock and his eyes slightly wider with surprise. Everything else remained faded away. She didn't see Ginny standing up and ushering everybody away from them. She didn't see the redhead come and take Aaron from Draco. All she saw was him.
He stared at her face for a few seconds before his hand went into his coat pocket and he retrieved a light purple velvet box. She still hadn't looked down at it.
"Hermione..." His voice brought her out of her trance and she blinked, releasing the breath she didn't know she was holding. Her eyes drifted down to the box and her eyebrows furrowed together as she looked back up at him. "Marry me." Her breath got caught in her throat and she felt tears rise to her eyes.
"I don't know what love is. I don't know if Im in love with you because I don't know what love is. The words don't escape my mouth as easily as they do other's. I don't find meaning in those three words like other's do. But if this-" He gestured between them with the hand holding the box. "-if this is love- this strong, confident, brilliant feeling that makes me feel more free than ever- if this is it then..." He shook his head, "I don't easily say what's on my mind or in my heart. I find it difficult. But these past months- I've changed in ways that I didn't find possible before. I don't know if we'll be here for the rest of our lives. In this Other Reality. I don't. Maybe we will, maybe we won't. But if we will be- then I want to fix what I ruined for you those few months ago."
Hermione shook her head, closing her eyes tight and feeling tears slip out beneath her lids and onto her cheeks. "You didn't ruin anything, Draco. God, you made everything better."
"If we're stuck here for the rest of our lives then I want to be able to give you the most I can- everything I took away from you. I ruined our marriage three months ago and before than too. I want to take that back. I want to fix it. I want to- I just want everything to be perfect."
She placed a hand on his cheek and stepped closer to him. "It is perfect."
"If we're going to remain here forever then I want to do this- I want you to feel what you missed out on because we arrived late into this other reality." Draco then took a step behind and dropped down to one knee. Hermione's hand flew to her mouth and tears ran down her cheeks. "I don't know what love is. I don't know if what I feel for you is love. But I've never felt so strongly towards anybody like this before."
The countdown to midnight began to their left, voices calling out the seconds remaining. 58...
"If this is love- this confident feeling that I want to spend the rest of my life with you by my side- if this is love then.... then yes, I love you. I love you and I always will. Im not one to make empty promises and this isn't one. I don't know when it happened and how it happened, but I find myself unable to separate myself from you- unable to tear you out of my thoughts, out of my heart. I've never been one for romantic stories and sappy confessions and sentences but... Im willing to forgo that for you." He smiled and she did too, wiping at her tears with her hand. He opened the purple box and a simple silver ring with two thin bands running parallel with each other except at the center where they laced together sat at the center. "So Hermione Granger, will you spend the rest of our lives with me? Will you marry me?"
She stared at the ring and then at his face. Their eyes locked together and she found herself lost in his, not for the first time.
"Hermione?" He asked and she gave her head a slight shake. She looked at him again. "My knee is kind of hurting..." She couldn't help but laugh and he grinned at her. "So will you?"
Hermione slowly sank down and knelt in front of him, their bodies almost touching. She removed the glove covering her left hand and held it out to him. "Without a doubt."
It was almost midnight- twelve seconds remaining.
He slipped the ring on to her fourth finger and his eyes travelled to the ring on her middle finger that looked a lot like a wedding band.
"I think that was your old one." Draco said. She took the thin band that held three diamonds side by side off the middle finger and slipped it on to her ring finger, above the new one.
"I was fortunate enough to be proposed to twice. Fortunate enough to have gotten married to the same man twice." She said, smiling through her tears. The group to their left broke out into cheers and choruses of wishes. "Fortunate to have had the chance to fall in love to the same man twice over in the same lifetime. Happy New year, Draco."
"Right back at'cha." He grinned before capturing her lips with his.
Her arms went around his neck and his around her back before everything blacked out...
* * *
PIOFMSTDPIGMERPIUTGNERIPUTNHERUIYHN OHMYGOD OHMYGOD OHMYGODDDDDD. I know this was an EXTREMELY sappy chapter with all the missed out romance and all the pent up tension etc etc finally being released and wowwww. So... i don't know what to say! As you can see, we have only about 3-4 remaining chapters left. I can just FEEL it coming to an end and though it makes me so unbelievably sad that it's getting over, it's also very relieving :P My exams are coming up in May and June and I really needed to finish this story by then as I will barely have time. I took ages to write this chapter so I really hope it was worth it (: I hope you enjoyed it and I HOPE it was perfect for you guys.
You're the best, most brilliant readers and reviewers a writer could ask for and you make me so happy with every read and review i receive :')
PS: For Emma Jolie who had said "Just to throw in there that Christa Aubree Malfoy is a beautiful name." I couldn't quite make it the baby girl's name but I found Aubree truly so beautiful that I made it Luna's baby girl's name (: And the rest of you who put it suggestions, Im going to go back and read all of them and try and input them in the last epilogue chapter :D
Im sure you EHFAR readers might have noticed the Adriana Malfoy bit ;) I couldn't help myself PLUS I made it Adriana because I have an original story where I have siblings who are amazing called Adriana and Aaron :P And the Cassiopeia bit is a constellation just like Draco, as it says.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year ;)
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