A/N: To my readers if I have any left. I hope you enjoy this chapter. I'm going to go hide behind a rock as you all throw tomatoes at me for my extended absence. I love you all and I'm so sorry!
Hermione awoke the next morning feeling more refreshed than she had in a long time. She hadn’t drank herself into oblivion the previous night but out of habit she grasped the vial and tipped the red liquid down her throat. She looked to the other side of the bed; it was messy but unfortunately empty. She had much to say to Draco but she needed to gather her senses before she meet with him again. Even though she had tried to push it to the back of her mind one than once, her conscious was nagging her for the way she had been regarding Draco lately. She had been playing on his emotions to get what she thought she needed from him. She had been leading him on and she couldn’t continue to abuse him that way.
Hermione felt more like the girl had once been, back before she had given up. Hermione thought of all the things she had been struggling with lately and she was sick of feeling like everything was out of control. Hermione wasn’t sure why she started to feel this way but she had been thinking about Fred and the way he had loved her. Hermione hated to admit the truth but Fred wouldn’t love the girl she had been lately. She was weak, emotionally absent, and a drunk. Fred would disapprove of her emotional neglect of herself, her friends, and she even knew that no matter how much Fred may have hated Draco Malfoy, he would have deeply disapproved of her emotionally detached relationship with Draco. She had been using Fred as a crutch to neglect her life and change everything about her that he had loved. He had wanted her to be happy.
Hermione’s mind wander over all the things she wanted to tell Draco as she had gotten dressed. She was walking down to breakfast when she remembered it was the Eve of Christmas. Draco and she had planned a small gathering this evening.
Hermione hadn’t had a moment to talk to Draco all day. He had left first thing this morning; she had barely gotten in a goodbye before he rushed out the door. There had been an emergency meeting at the Ministry and Draco received the owl as she had arrived for breakfast. Shortly after breakfast she had pushed her services on the house elves to keep her mind too busy to over think things. She had helped roll out pie crust and sugar dough by hand. She had chopped and whipped just about everything to help prep the food. Sprinkles had given her odd looks all day but she was actively ignoring her. Sprinkles finally pushed her out of the kitchen around five.
“Master will be displeased if you don’t go get ready. You have one hour, your outfit is hanging in the bathroom.” Sprinkles scolded. Hermione was going to protest that she could get ready in half an hour but Sprinkles literally shut the door in her face.
Hermione didn’t take long to change into the simple red cocktail dress with golden accents that Sprinkles had picked out for her. With a few quick glamour spells, her makeup and hair were up in decent form. Hermione wasn’t as good as Ginny at Glamour spells but she thought she looked presentable. She was slipping into her heels when Draco finally made his appearance. Hermione caught a quick glance at Draco before he realized she was in the room. He face held a hint of worry and Hermione wondered what would be bothering him.
“Hey.” She said lamely as his eyes slide back into focus. She gave him a small smile, feeling a bit dorky at her charming hello. Draco returned the smile as she watched the worry look slide from his face.
“You look lovely.” He told her as he approached her. He planted a caring kiss on her forehead.
“Sprinkles picked out the dress.” She told him just so she would have something to say. She watched as he removed his cuff links and loosened his tie.
“Hermione, you make the dress look lovely, not the other way around.” He was being sweet but she could tell he was using words to cover up what he was really thinking about. “How was your day?”
She let him deflect for the moment.
“It was fine. I baked.” She blurted out. Draco looked at her with a confused look.
“You baked?” Draco teased with a lopsided grin. Hermione blushed. Draco quickly changed his demeanor to the one she had known in school. “Malfoy’s do not bake.” He tried to sneer but it wasn’t as menacing as it used to be.
“Well, this Malfoy does.” She told him. He smiled at her. There was a moment of pause in the playful banter. Hermione straighten her dress to have something to do with her hands. Draco had changed his shirt; he was replacing his cuff links when Hermione started in.
“Draco I…” Hermione started.
“There is something I…” Draco spoke at the same moment. They both stopped.
“You go first” they said in unison.
“No, you.” Hermione said a half second quicker than Draco.
“Well, I wanted to tell you that we’ll have an extra guest this evening.” Draco’s worried look returned once more.
“Okay, who is it?” She was trying to keep herself from running over the candidates in her mind.
“Pearson.” He said with disgust. Hermione took a moment to think about all the reasons he might be here tonight.
“Fabulous.” Hermione huffed. “He will make a fabulous addition to tonight’s company” Hermione sat down on the bed and placed her forehead in the palm of her hand. She tried to gather the courage she had felt that morning when she had gotten out of bed. Hermione felt the bed adjust to Draco’s weight beside her. His hand smoothed over her back, calming her slightly.
“Draco, I’m not good at this anymore.” She told him and she leaned into his side. He continued to rub her back in slow and soothing circle.
“What, Hermione? What aren’t you good at anymore?” Draco asked her.
“This. Us. As well as standing up in the face of adversity.” Hermione scowled. “ I lived my life when I was young as if I didn’t care if I would die the next day. Then,” She paused and took a deep breath. “I realized I didn’t want to die. I choose the safety of my home, alone.” She sighed. By this point Draco’s hand had ceased its movement.
“Do you want to give up? If I knew what you really wanted, I’d give it to you. Do you want to leave?” Draco asked tensely.
“No! I’m sorry. That wasn’t what I was trying to say at all.” She sat up a little straighter. “I wanted to tell you that I think the best way to handle Seth is face to face. I want us to be together.”
“That is what I hoped you were going to say, but I thought we already were together.” Draco stated. Hermione saw the confusion written all over his face. She blushed but she knew she needed to get the whole confession out before she lost her nerve.
“Well, we have been together and with have been doing stuff together but I’m not perfect.” Hermione tried to explain but Draco confusion hadn’t seemed to fade yet. She looked away from him. She buried her face in her hands.
“Mi, just say what is on your mind.” Draco coaxed her. She found herself, once more, looking in Draco’s eyes.
“What I mean, I guess, am I distraction for you until you can be single once again?” Hermione asked.
“I hadn’t thought about it that way.” Draco said nervously as if he was afraid to say the wrong thing.
“How do you think about me?” Hermione feared the answer.
“I think of you as Hermione. My wife. My lover.” Draco tried to make light of the situation. “I don’t think of you as the same girl I met in school. I’m not sure how you what me to think of you but I guess if this whole marriage thing hadn’t happened, I would think of you as my girlfriend.”
Hermione was blushed twenty different shades of red from his statement. Her heart soared at his words and she realized he had said exactly what she wanted to hear. She had decided she wanted commitment from him because she wanted to commit to him.
“Girlfriend, I believe a few short months ago you didn’t want anything to do with me?” She teased, hoping to cover her embarrassment.
“Expectation and reality are two totally different beasts.” Draco’s face grew a little more serious. “Is this what you want Hermione?”
“Yes, surprisingly, it is.” She smiled up at him. Draco leaned in, resting his forehead on Hermione’s forehead.
“So much has changed. I know the old me would be displeased at my willingness to show weakness.” Draco sighed and then kissed the tip of her nose. Hermione gave a weak smile. Draco’s eyes were staring into her own. He tilled his head a little bit and kissed her lightly on the lips. Hermione leaned into the kiss to deepen it. The arm across her back tightened as he pulled her across his lap. Hermione arms snaked up his chest on their own accord until her fingers combed through his silky blond hair. She felt Draco’s other hand rub the top of her leg.
“ ‘cuse me, Masters but er…” Sprinkles saw what she had apparated in on. “Sprinkles is sorry Master.” Sprinkles turned away from the two. She was smacking herself in the head.
“Sprinkles, stop.” Hermione pleaded but Sprinkles didn’t hear her. “Sprinkles, I order you to stop hitting yourself!” Hermione nearly screamed. The tiny elf straightened at the order and turned to look at her Masters.
“I is sorry Master. Guests are arriving.” Sprinkles directed the statement to Draco.
“Sprinkles it was an accident. Please show the guest to the front sitting area and Hermione and I will be down shortly.” Draco sighed as he leaned forward and rubbed his eyes with his thumb and pointer finger.
POP! And Sprinkles was gone as fast as she had come.
“Draco, I don’t want to see her do that again. Please talk to her.” Hermione asked as she reached out for Draco’s hand. Draco nodded as he joined her and they headed downstairs.
Apparently everyone had arrived at once making Hermione feel like they were late to their own dinner party even though the clock only showed one minute past 6 o’clock. Hermione went to Ginny first who was starting to look really pregnant in her green cocktail dress. Hermione looked at Harry but Harry was staring at his wife lovingly.
“Ginny, how are you feeling?” Hermione asked as she pulled Ginny into a big hug.
“As big as a house, I can’t believe I still have three and a half months left.” Ginny smiled nonetheless. Hermione hugged Harry as well and Draco hugged Ginny.
“You look glowing Ginny.” Draco told her being as political as ever. “Harry.” Draco shook Harry’s hand firmly. Hermione moved on to Astoria and Blaise who were standing by the Christmas tree. Astoria swooped in and gave Hermione air kisses on each cheek. Astoria looked like million and one bucks in her simple black, one-shoulder cocktail dress that fit her like a glove.
“Hermione, we need to get together again soon for girl talk. I haven’t seen you much since the island.” Astoria commented.
“We will soon.” Hermione reassured her. Hermione and Astoria had gotten quite a lot of time to chat on the island and Hermione found out that Astoria wasn’t as vapid and shallow as she seemed. Hermione was thrown off as Blaise scooped Hermione up for a huge bear hug and spun her around. Hermione laughed out loud.
“It’s good to see you too, Blaise.” Hermione smiled and Draco had hugged Astoria politely but their past refused them anything more than that. Draco and Blaise on the other hand greeted generously like old school buddies would.
“Draco!” Hermione walked away at that point to greet their last and final guest who was standing beside the unwanted visitor.
“Cissy, You really need to come around more often.” Hermione exclaimed as she leaned in to Narcissa for the French greeting as well.
“I will, I just want to give the newly-weds some space.” Narcissa chided.
“Well, when spring rolls in you won’t be able to get her to leave. Her Garden is her passion.” Draco said as he joined them. He leaned in and gave his mother a kiss on the cheek.
“Draco, you know me too well.” She smiled. Hermione’s eyes met with Mr. Pearson’s and Hermione gave him the briefest of nods before turning her back on him. The drinks were beginning to be served as two serving trays floated smoothly into the room to serve the champagne.
“Ginny, I made sure there was a glass of Ginger Ale floating around here.” Hermione let Ginny know. Sprinkles entered and brought a glass straight to Ginny.
“Never mind, Sprinkles is going to take care of you.” Hermione smiled at Sprinkles, she was still upset over Sprinkles’ reaction earlier in the bedroom.
“Thank you.” Ginny said. “I’m sure after this pregnancy is over I will never want another glass of Ginger Ale but right now it tastes so good. “ She smiled at Harry.
“Actually Hermione, I will need a glass of Ginger Ale as well.” Astoria smiled. Blaise was nearly jumping out of his shoes with excitement. Hermione was floored and extremely happy for Astoria. Hermione ran over and gave her a hug before returning to Draco.
“That is so exciting! Congrats!’ Hermione exclaimed. She grabbed her glass off of the tray as it slide past her and watched the trays continue to glide out of the room. Draco and Harry had congratulated Blaise and Blaise was smiling like a goof. Hermione sipped her champagne as she took in the room. The tall tree and gold and silver accents around the room made for subtle Christmas decorations.
“I can’t believe I’m going to be a Daddy.” Blaise told them.
“I know what you mean.” Harry laughed.
“I guess you are next Draco!” Blaise joked. Draco had just taken a drink and had started to choke and Hermione tilted the entire glass and empty the contents. Hermione reached out to pat Draco on the back. Everyone was gawking at them.
“I don’t think that will be anytime soon.” Hermione told the group as Draco recovered from his coughing fit.
“You’re a funny man Blaise.” Draco half joked off the situation. So far, Draco had completely removed Mr. Pearson from the celebration. Hermione caught a glimpse of him over his shoulder and he was smiling as if he had gotten some little nugget of information to take back to his boss. Hermione steeled her nerves.
“Draco, you never know. Maybe.” Hermione glanced up, sweetly smiling at Draco. Draco looked at her so fast she was sure he had given himself whiplash. Hermione made the tiniest of motions in Mr. Pearson’s direction and Draco smiled.
“Maybe.” He leaned down and kissed her. Hermione heard a collective awe from her friends and a couple gags from a few. Mr. Pearson had the same look on his face as if you had taken a piece of candy from a baby. Hermione felt a tiny bit of guilt though because Narcissa looked like they had just given her the world. Narcissa’s eyes glistened with unshed tears.
Hermione heard the tinkling of the dinner bell in the other room and everyone made their way in to the dining room. Dinner went smoothly and to Hermione’s surprise, Mr. Pearson just kept quiet throughout dinner. He just observed the situation and Hermione still felt great unease at his presence. The dinner was served; it was beautifully plated and impeccably delicious. The conversation flowed and Draco had made plans with Blaise and Harry to go see a Quidditch game after the New Year’s. Hermione was happy to be around friends once more. She had also made plans with Astoria, Cissy, and Ginny for a girl’s day on the same day that the boys were going to be out. Hermione was sad when dinner ended because she was enjoying her time.
Hermione bid goodnight and goodbye to all her friends and family until just Mr. Pearson remained. Draco was better at small talk than herself.
“I hope you enjoyed your evening.” Draco told him.
“It was fine. I will see you soon.” Mr. Pearson stated and turned left. Hermione sighed in relief once he was gone from house. Hermione kicked off heels right in the middle of the parlor and made her way to the wet bar in the sitting room right off the front parlor. Hermione was familiar with the house and found the stash of whiskey under the bar in moments and poured a glass. She watched Draco over the rim. He stood in the doorway leaning to one side as he watched her.
“Everything okay?” Hermione asked. Draco nodded and walked into the room while loosening his tie.
“I feel kinda bad.” Hermione told him.
“Why?” Draco asked as he settled into the chaise. Hermione picked up her glass and bottle and walked around the bar to sit beside him.
“I should not have made that remark about you becoming a Daddy. I think your Mom took it to heart. She is probably out buying baby clothes right now.” Hermione explained as she snuggled into Draco, tucking her feet up beside her.
“Oh God, I didn’t even think about that.” Draco groaned as he flopped his head back.
“I think you would make a good Dad someday.” Hermione commented after a few moments of silence.
“You think? I’m not so sure, I didn’t have the best of role models.” Draco told her.
“You are ten times the man your father could have ever hoped to be. Don’t compare yourself to him.” Hermione let him know what she thought. After he didn’t response Hermione let the conversation drop. Draco lean his head on top of hers and they watched the fire in silence for a long time and Hermione wonder if this is what her life would be like if she stayed after May. Draco hadn’t asked her to but would her life be full of dinner parties and quiet moments. Would that make her happy she wondered as Draco kissed the top of her head.
A/N: Let me know what you think. Do you think she could be happy?
Thank you for reading!