By September, the plans for Harry and Ginny's backyard wedding were in full swing. As the maid of honour, I was expected to participate in these plans as much as possible. Of course, I was more than happy to assist my friends in their stressful times however, I longed for those moments where it was just Draco and me.
We were inseperable. We had taken to spending multiple nights in a row at the others apartment and therefore had begun leaving some necessary items behind. At Draco's I had a hair dryer, a toothbrush and even some space in his overly large wardrobe for any clothes I wished to leave behind.
Letters from Ron became very scarse and if I ever did recieve one; I didn't bother replying. This was because there was some part of me that felt guilty in speaking to my former lover through secretive letters. Of course, Draco had never shown any signs of irritance or jealousy, but I just thought it was fair. Ron still wrote to his family and Harry. Ginny told me occasionally of the things he wrote in his few letters. Most recently, Ron had been seeing a girl, who from the way he described her, seemed to be some kind of Quiddich groupie. Ginny and I spent many happy times bitching about what we visioned her to look like.
On my twentieth birthday, Draco took me to an extremtly expensive, suave restaurant that created us to have to dress up. As I didn't have any evening wear at his apartment, Draco said that he would pick me up at eight to take me to dinner.
Perfectly timed, Draco knocked on my door at eight. I swung open the door as I was putting in my second earring. Draco was wearing an impressive tuxedo with shining shoes. In his hand he had a bunch of the most beautiful flowers.
"For you my darling," said Draco, presenting me the boquet. "Happy birthday Hermione."
I took the flowers as Draco kissed my forehead and then ushered him into the sitting room to wait for me. I was still in my dressing gown.
"I'm sorry, I'll just be a moment," I told him apologetically.
Draco grabbed my hand as I made to return to my room. "Well, I quite like what you're wearing now actually," he smiled suggestively and ran his hand down my waist and then my leg. The dressing gown I was wearing did not leave much to the imagination.
"Later Draco," I tutted. "We'll miss our reservations." I kissed him tenderly and skipped back to my room.
My beautiful dress was already hung on the back of my door, and all I had to do was step into it. It was mid-calf length and black with a chiffon skirt. The bodice was sparkly and strapless. With it, I wore my three inch black heels. Unfortunately, the dress had a zip up the back and I was unable to pull it all the way up myself, so I went back out into the living room to ask for assistance.
"Draco, could you help me with my dress please?" I asked sweetly.
Draco turned from looking at the pictures on the mantle and didn't speak. He looked me up and down appreciativley. "Wow," he said.
I smiled and turned around for him. He came over and began pulling up the zip very slowly; his fingers tracing the exposed skin on my back as he did so.Once it was all the way up, he pulled my hair around to one side and kissed my neck. With a sigh, I leant into him and breathed in his familiar scent.
"Shall we go?" he finally said. I nodded against him and then he took my arm to apparate us to dinner.
The restaurant was in a part of Muggle London I had never visited before. It was dimly lit and very subdued. The only obvious sounds were those of the classical piano being played softly in the corner and the clinking of wine glasses against eachother. Draco held out my chair for me as we were seated and then ordered a bottle of wine for us to drink over dinner.
"This is lovely Draco," I said, leaning into my clasped hands over the table. "Thank you for bringing me."
Draco leant in and kissed my lips. "Of course Hermione, it's quite a favourite of mine."
Dinner went on in a wonderful fashion. The food was amazing and I had to try hard not to seem to eager when my dessert arrived. Draco chuckled fondly at me.
"Hermione?" he asked softly.
I looked up from my cake and smiled. "Yes Draco?"
"You haven't said anything about the absence of presents," he said, frowning slightly.
I blushed. "Draco I wouldn't expect...you needn't get me anything. This dinner out is wonderful, and you bought me flowers."
Draco was shaking his head as he reached inside his jacket pocket. From that he pulled two packages wrapped in a shiny, silver paper. One was long and quite thin and the other was a box.
"These are for you," he said, pushing them towards me gently. "Open the long one first."
I did as instructed and opened the rectangular package first. I was careful not to destroy the pretty paper as I did so. Inside was a velvet box tied with a ribbon. I carefully untied the ribbon and opened the box. It was a diamond necklace, and it was beautiful. I sighed happily as I touched my fingertip to the large pendant.
Draco rose from the table and dutifully took the necklace from my hands. He then moved my hair round again to fasten it round my neck. And then he placed another kiss on the side of my neck.
"Beautiful, of course," he whispered. "I thought your neck looked rather bare."
I bowed my head to study my new accessory. "Draco, it's beautiful. Thank you ever so much."
Draco smiled and shook his head once more as he took his seat again. "There's another package yet Hermione."
I grinned and took the present in my hands. Repeating the process from before I unwrapped the paper and was faced with another velvet box. It was a cube and looked an awful lot like...
"It isn't what you may think Hermione," Draco said quickly, extinguishing the panic that had suddenly risen inside me.
Draco was laughing at my face. I couldn't help but smile to because the thought of Draco Malfoy smiling, let alone laughing, was one that still made me wonderous.
"No need to look quite so relieved Hermione," he was saying. I felt myself blush deeply. "Open it then," he continued excitedly.
This was new. Draco was now giddy with excitement, like he couldn't wait for me to open this new gift. I assumed it was a piece of jewellry to go with the necklace however, when I opened the box I was taken off guard.
It was a key.
A million and one thoughts ran through my head at once. All I could see was this key in this box and nothing else in the restaurant; not even Draco. I couldn't say anything and just picked up the key and placed it in the palm of my hand and looked down at it.
"Hermione?" asked Draco nervously.
I looked up at him with a watery smile. "This is for me?" I squeaked.
Draco nodded deeply. "I love you Hermione and I really think I will for the rest of my life. I think we're mature enough and ready enough. Will you move in with me?"
I couldn't help but giggle out loud. I found the presentation of the key quite humourous. Of course, Draco lived in a wizard apartment building and there was no use for keys. I assumed he saw it as a romantic, symbolic gesture and was using it to honour my muggle background. I humoured him and pulled out the set of keys from my clutch bag. All it had was a key to my parents house and an emergency key for my own apartment for if I was to ever misplace my wand, which I used for everyday access. I looped the new key around the keyring and then placed it neatly back into my bag. Then, I rose from my chair and went to wrap my arms around Draco's neck.
"Of course I'll live with you Draco," I said into his ear, and kissed him just below his earlobe. "You know how much I love your apartment."
"Well actually," he said as I was returning to my own seat. "I thought that we should look for somewhere new for us to live; as a new start."
I looked at him questioningly. "Really? Are you sure about that?"
Draco nodded. "I've lived there since the end of a war. It was the start of a new era, a new me. However, us living together is yet another era and a complete transition in my life and personality. I think we should choose a home together to start our life in."
I smiled and took a deep breath. "Do you think that we could maybe have a house, instead of an apartment?"
Draco reached over the table and took my hands in his and smiled. "We can live wherever makes you happy Hermione."
Draco escorted me home. Of course, I invited him inside and as soon as the door closed; we were kissing. It was passion upon mounds of more passion.
I put many things into that night in bed. I was saying thank you to multiple things over and over. And I got multiple things in return. Over and over.
The Sunday after my birthday, Draco and I went to The Burrow to have dinner as we did often. At first, it had been awkward and uncomfortable for both the Weasley's and Draco to be in the same room however, with some helpful words from both Harry and Ginny privately; he was accepted into the tight knit group sincerly.
Now, Draco willingly helped Mrs Weasley in the kitched to prepare dinner as the rest of us caught up with eachother or did other helpful jobs. I was laying the table when Ginny came over to speak to me.
"Did you have a nice birthday Hermione?" she asked suggestively.
I blushed and grinned. "Really Ginny, you are terrible. But yes, I did thank you."
We hadn't told anyone we were planning on moving in together yet and decided that we should do it that afternoon at dinner. We had visited with Narcissa the previous day and she had clapped with glee and excitement over the prospect of our future. Also, the same evening we saw Narcissa we went into London to see my own parents. Draco told my mother and father of his offer to me and held out his hand. Both my parents gripped it merrily in acceptance.
When Mrs Weasley finally served the delcious smelling dinner to all of us, we were starving. As people dug in hungrily to their meals, seperate conversations began to branch out along the table; creating a mutual hubub of sound. However, it didn't take long for someone to ask about my birthday, and that someone was Ginny.
"Tell us about your birthday Hermione," she had said, giving me a look that told me she knew something was going on.
Everyone had turned or looked up waiting for me to commence the story of my birthday. I cleared my throat nervously and smiled.
"Well," I began. "Draco took me to a lovely restaurant in London and we had to dress up all fancy. He bought me this necklace," I told them happily, touching the place on my collarbone where my necklace lay. "And then..."
I paused and looked towards Draco and then looked at everyone around the table. Taking a sip of wine I sighed to myself. This was harder than telling my parents!
"And then?..." Ginny pressed eagerly.
Luckily Draco cut in neatly for me. He took my hand where it was resting on the table and smiled genially. "And then I asked Hermione to move in with me."
There was a pregnant pause in which everyone stared towards me.
"Why didn't you tell me!" hissed Ginny, grinning as she scolded.
I began to apologise but then settled for laughing. Everyone else joined in and then the congratulations began.
"Well dear, as long as you both understand the commitment involved," Mrs Weasley had said, reaching over to pat Draco's hand, which was closest to her.
"A year ago," George had said. "I would have told Hermione 'good luck' for moving in with Malfoy of all people. However, now I say good luck to Draco," he patted his shoulder. "Hermione sure is a handful. I hope she shows her gratitude efficiently."
Mr Weasley had swatted his son over the head for that one. "Not at the table George."
I was relieved that my second family had taken to the news so well. Harry and Ginny especially were ecstatic.
"I still can't believe it," Ginny had huffed, later on in the evening.
I grinned at her. "I am sorry Ginny, but itsn't it exciting?" I asked her, trying not to sound to gushy.
"Well of course," she had agreed.
I was on cloud 9. I was moving in with the potential love of my life, my career was taking off at an admiarable rate and my friends and family liked my boyfriend. I finally felt like my life was going the way I always hoped it would. Without sounding arrogant, I believed that I deserved everything that was being presented to me.
What's more, Draco had spent the whole afternoon and evening reassuringly at my side; his arm tenderly around my waist.