Chapter 30 : Chapter Twenty-Nine: The Cottage.
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“Alright, I’m all ready to go,” Hermione said tersely.
Draco looked up from his book and snapped it shut before getting up from the couch. “You look…tense.”
Hermione let out a laugh that sounded more manic than humorous. “I’m fine. I swear.” She quickly busied herself with her purse, rummaging through it one more time to make sure she had everything she needed.
Draco watched her for a moment and sighed. “Everything will be fine. Going to your parents may be the only normalcy we’ll get for a while. Let’s just enjoy it while we can, yeah?”
Hermione groaned and looked at Draco. “What do you think Pansy will do?”
Draco frowned. “I don’t know,” he lied. “But there’s nothing we can do now. Ready to go?”
Hermione inhaled deeply, closed her eyes, and nodded her affirmation. They flooed to Hermione’s parents’ house together, landing on the hearth rug in a spacious living area in what seemed, to Draco, to be a rather large cottage. The sun was weak but continued to shine through the windows, illuminating everything in a yellow glow. The house smelled like roast and cinnamon. Draco turned to Hermione and saw her grin for the first time in what seemed like forever.
“Cinnamon rolls,” she smiled. “My favorite.” Draco followed her toward a door, hand in hand. “Hello?” she called out. “I’m home! Mum? Dad?”
“Hermione? Is that you?” a man’s voice called out. Footsteps could be heard approaching.
Hermione rolled her eyes. “No, it’s your other daughter.”
Hermione’s father turned the corner, smiling. His eyes, so much like Hermione’s, crinkling at the corners. “I see you’ve gotten cheekier since the last time you’ve been home.”
Hermione let go of Draco’s hand and walked toward her father, arms extended. Draco couldn’t help but smile watching Hermione and her father envelope one another in a hug. Draco nodded politely when Mr. Granger glanced at Draco, finally noticing him. He cleared his throat and Hermione stepped back, remembering.
“Oh, dad, this is Draco Malfoy. Draco, this is my father William Granger.”
“Dr. Granger,” Draco said, extending his hand, “it’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”
Mr. Granger nodded and shook Draco’s hand. “A pleasure, and a bit of a surprise, to be honest…”
“Dad!” Hermione chastised.
Draco laughed. “No, it’s alright. It is a bit sudden, I suppose.”
“You could say that.”
“Where’s mum?” Hermione interrupted quickly. “I’ve brought her favorite wine.” She held up the bottle to show him.
“In the kitchen. Why don’t you go help her out with lunch while I get to know Draco, here, a bit better?”
Hermione chewed on her lip and glanced at Draco. He smiled and nodded. “We’ll be fine, darling.”
Hermione sighed and pointed a finger at her father. “You be nice.”
“I always am,” Mr. Granger winked.
Hermione frowned and left the room, glancing back several times before she disappeared around the corner.
“Have a seat, son,” Mr. Granger said, motioning toward the large cornflower blue couch.
Draco nodded and sat down, wiping his hands on his pants, surprised by how clammy they were. He cleared his throat. “Is this where Hermione grew up?”
Mr. Granger looked around the large cottage. “No. We moved to the countryside when Hermione finished school and moved out. She’s always preferred the hustle and bustle of the city. For someone as quick-minded as she is, I suppose the country is a bit too slow-paced for her liking.”
Draco grinned, completely understanding. “Sounds like Hermione.”
“So, tell me about yourself, son. What do you do for a living?”
Draco cleared his throat. “Me? I’m a healer. At St. Mungo’s.”
“Like a wizarding doctor, then?”
Draco nodded. “I focus on child cases.”
“A pediatrician? That mustn’t be very easy.”
“No, not really. But it is very rewarding.”
Mr. Granger nodded and a long pause ensued. Draco began looking around the room again. The walls were a pale yellow color, which intensified the glow of the sun through the windows.
“Do you know Ron?” Mr. Granger suddenly asked.
Draco snapped his attention back to Mr. Granger. “Not well…” he replied slowly. “We all went to school together but were in different houses.”
“Oh? And what house were you in?”
Draco immediately regretted bringing this up. Hermione must have mentioned Slytherin’s reputation to her parents on at least one occasion. “Slytherin, sir.”
Mr. Granger’s face morphed itself into a frown. “Slytherin,” he repeated under his breath. It was clear that the wheels were turning in his mind, trying to conjure a memory— any sort of information he may have known about that house. “I don’t remember hearing much about that house. Hermione was in Gryffindor, wasn’t she?”
Draco let out the breath he was holding. “Yes. Yes, she was.”
“Did the houses stay separate then?”
“For the most part.”
Mr. Granger nodded. “Were you friends with Hermione in school?”
Draco couldn’t help but smirk. “No, unfortunately not.”
Mr. Granger nodded slowly. “What is your favorite football team?”
Draco laughed, glad that the direction the conversation was going in was neutral territory. “I’m sorry. I don’t really watch football.”
“Ah, you like that broomstick sport.”
“Yes. I actually have a quidditch pitch behind my house. My friend and I built it.”
“Wow,” Mr. Granger whistled. “How big is this land of yours?”
Draco shrugged, trying to appear modest. “Pretty large, I suppose. Luckily, with magic, it’s rather easy to maintain. You and Dr. Granger are welcome anytime, sir.”
Mr. Granger nodded his thanks. “So, tell me, before Hermione rushes back in here…what are your intentions with my daughter?”
Draco smiled weakly. “They’re honorable, sir. I can assure you. I…care about your daughter very much. In all honesty, I love her. With all my heart.” He shifted on the couch. Unsure whether it was all right to tell his girlfriend’s father that his feelings ran so deep. He shook his head, trying to clear it from the rush of heat. “I’m sorry, sir. I’m not used to this,” he explained, motioning between the two of them.
Mr. Granger frowned. “It’s quite alright. I’m just confused.”
Mr. Granger sighed and glanced toward the hallway Hermione had disappeared through earlier. He cleared his throat. “You see, I’ve spoken to Ron. He came by to see the wife and I last night. He told me some things.”
Draco paled. “What exactly did you hear? Because I assure you, sir, my intentions with your daughter are honorable.”
Mr. Granger’s frown deepened. “He told me you’ve forced her into this relationship and she can’t free herself from you. However, I like to imagine myself a logical man, and I couldn’t understand why Hermione would willingly introduce her…captor, if you will, to her parents.”
Draco cleared his throat, trying to smother his rising panic and anger. “Weasley’s just angry about our relationship. We’ve never got on together. It’s a ridiculous childhood vendetta he has against me. I am not holding Hermione against her will, sir. That is preposterous.”
He nodded, happy with Draco’s answer. “And what about your, uh, muggle hating days, as he put it?”
Draco clenched his teeth. No matter what, he never seemed to be rid of his past. “I was stupid and prejudiced as a child. I’ve changed. Everything has changed. I’ve grown up.”
“Unlike Ronald…” Mr. Granger finished quietly. “Tell me, why exactly did they break up?”
Draco frowned. “I don’t know if it’s my place to say, sir.”
Mr. Granger cleared his throat and moved forward to lean closer to Draco. “You see, Hermione is very important to me. She’s my little girl. Smart though she may be, she’s not invincible to heartbreak.”
Draco looked Mr. Granger in the eyes. “I would never hurt her,” Draco promised, his voice strong.
Mr. Granger sat back and laced his fingers over his stomach. He nodded once, content. “I just don’t know what has gotten into that Ronald.”
“So, we’re having roast and potatoes for dinner. I hope that’s alright?”
“Sounds great,” Draco said, following Hermione’s mother into the dining room. “Can I help with anything?”
“Oh, don’t be silly. You sit and make yourself comfortable. Hermione is just washing up.”
Draco looked back through the door they had just walked through. He turned back. “Dr. Granger?”
Draco nodded slightly. “Jean….Dr. Granger told me Ron came by last night.”
Jean sighed. “Yes. But, no matter. I didn’t believe a word of it anyway. He seemed like a mad man the way he was speaking. Please, held hostage in a relationship? Well, don’t you worry. Any doubts I had were put to rest when I saw Hermione.”
Draco raised an eyebrow in question.
Jean gave him a sly wink. “She’s absolutely smitten, isn’t she?”
“Need help setting the table, mum?” Hermione asked, walking into the dining room. “Where’s dad?”
“No, just make yourself comfortable dear. He’s washing up in our room. Sit, sit.”
Hermione slid into the seat next to Draco and grinned at him. “How’s it going so far?” she whispered.
Draco scoffed. “Just you wait ‘til you hear.”
She gave him a confused look before turning her attention to her mother, who was handing her a glass. “Thanks, mum.”
Mr. Granger walked into the room and sat down at the head of the table. “Ah, Hermione’s favorite!”
Hermione grinned. “Mum makes the best potatoes. They have the perfect crunch to them. I haven’t had this in ages.”
“Would you like some wine, Draco?”
“Please,” he replied, holding out his glass.
They finally all settled in and began to eat. Draco’s stomach was still in a tight knot, but he knew he had to finish all of his dinner to be polite. He took a deep breath and lifted the glass of wine to his lips.
“So, Hermione tells me that she’s thinking of moving in with you,” Jean began.
Draco spluttered, coughing. He was afraid to make eye contact with Mr. Granger. “Is that so?” he gasped.
Hermione smiled and patted Draco on the back. “It’s alright. I’m an adult. I’m allowed to make adult decisions.”
Mr. Granger laughed. “I appreciate the fear, though, son.”
Draco shrugged, clearing his throat. “I don’t want to be disrespectful, sir.”
Mr. Granger nodded and tucked back into his roast.
“I didn’t realize you were seriously considering it,” Draco said lightly.
Hermione smiled. “It’s been on my mind…”
Draco grinned and shook his head.
“I thought we could sit outside by the fire, later,” Jean announced. “The lake is beautiful this time of year, with the leaves having changed colors.”
“Sounds lovely, mum.”
“What do you say, Draco?”
Draco chewed and swallowed quickly. “Sounds great.”
“Draco’s a pediatrician, Jean.”
She glanced at her husband before turning with bright eyes to Hermione and Draco. “Is that so? Hermione didn’t mention that before!”
Draco managed a small smile. “It’s nothing.”
“Oh, don’t be so modest!” she chastised. “That is quite the accomplishment. What house were you in in Hogwarts? I can’t recall Hermione ever mentioning you then.”
Draco and Hermione exchanged looks. “Slytherin,” Draco said after a beat.
Jean frowned. “Slytherin?” She glanced quickly at Hermione. Apparently Mrs. Granger had a better memory than her husband did.
Hermione sighed. “Yes, Slytherin. I tried his father in a recent case for crimes against muggles and muggleborns, but he had a defense.”
Mr. Granger had stopped midway through his dinner and looked up at them with consternation. “Ah! Now I remember what Slytherin is.”
“Wonderful,” Draco muttered underneath his breath.
Hermione rolled her eyes. “People are capable of change,” Hermione reminded firmly. “And Hogwarts houses aren’t a mold that people fill. Slytherins can be quite admirable,” she stated, seemingly trying to convince herself as well as her parents. “They’re resourceful and ambitious. I mean, look at Draco,” she said, putting a hand on his arm. “He worked hard to become a healer instead of taking the easy route and inheriting his family business.”
Draco frowned. “What my father does isn’t easy by any means.”
“No, of course not. That’s not what I’m saying,” Hermione said quickly. “What I meant was that you did something that many purebloods don’t do. You decided to pave a career path for yourself instead of just doing what was expected of you, and that’s really very admirable.”
“And a doctor!” Jean gushed. “That mustn’t have been easy.”
Draco managed a smile. “I suppose.”
“Well, it’s definitely something to be proud of,” Mr. Granger said.
“Thank you,” Draco nodded.
“You know,” Jean began, “we recently found out that there are witches and wizards around town. Isn’t it such a small world?”
“Really?” Hermione asked. “I mean that does make sense. Wizarding families tend to gravitate toward the countryside.”
“I think it’s a small percentage,” Mr. Granger added.
“So how are Harry and Ginny, dear?” Jean asked.
“Great,” Hermione said quickly. “Oh! Harry proposed. They’re engaged!”
Mrs. Granger clapped her hands together. “Oh, that’s lovely. Truly.”
Hermione beamed. “It really is. I’m the maid of honor, so that should be fun.”
“And stressful,” Mrs. Granger added.
Hermione shrugged. “Ginny’s pretty laidback, actually.”
“Yes, it’s probably you who will be a ball of nerves on your wedding day,” Mrs. Granger teased. “Can you imagine Hermione dealing with that much detail for one day?”
Hermione blushed when Draco began to laugh. “She’ll probably explode.”
“Oh, ha ha,” Hermione glared. “Very funny. You know, it’s much better to be on top of things than fall behind.”
Mr. Granger patted Hermione’s hand. “There, there, darling. We’re only teasing.”
Mrs. Granger had a glint in her eye that no one seemed to notice. “Do you see marriage in your future, Draco?” she asked suddenly.
Draco wiped his mouth with his napkin before answering. “Yes, definitely.”
“Mum!” Hermione snapped, embarrassed.
Draco smirked and glanced at Hermione’s profile, her eyes narrowed at her mother. He looked back at Mrs. Granger. “Depending on how things go, I suppose.”
She grinned at him and winked slyly. “So, when’s the wedding?”
“Ginny is sending out invitations soon. I believe she’s planning it for the next few months, actually. With magic, it’s quite simple to get a wedding together rather quickly.” She sprinkled some salt on her potatoes. “Things have slowly been coming together. It’ll be at The Burrow. Cake has been ordered. We went bridesmaid shopping last weekend but didn’t find anything we liked. So we’re going again when she goes to look for her wedding dress.”
Mrs. Granger clapped her hands together. “How exciting! I can’t believe it. Can you, William? Our Harry and Ginny getting married?”
Mr. Granger shook his head. “It was bound to happen with those two. They’re the only people fit in the world to handle one another.”
Draco scoffed. “That’s very true.”
“How do you get on with Harry?” Mr. Granger asked.
“Alright,” Draco nodded. “He’s a better bloke then I remember him to be,” he joked. “I still must say that Ginny can do better than him though.”
“Oh, stop it,” Mrs. Granger gasped, laughing. “I can imagine you’d get on better with Ginny. She’s an absolute dear.”
“Harry’s a dear!” Hermione defended.
Mr. Granger rolled his eyes. “You can never slight Harry in the least in front of Hermione without her getting protective.”
“He’s my best friend,” she shrugged. “Of course I’ll defend him.”
Draco smiled. He was surprised by how okay he was with Hermione’s fierce love of Harry. And although he never had any siblings, he imagined they would be much like the way Harry and Hermione were together. He found himself admiring Harry more and more, grateful that Hermione had someone like him in her life. Grateful that someone was there for her when Ron had left her alone.
“How about you go start the fire, and Draco and I will clean up?” Hermione said suddenly, when they had all finished their dinner.
Draco cleared his throat and pushed his chair back. “I think that’s a great idea,” he said quickly when he noticed Mrs. Granger about to object. He stood up. “Thank you for the wonderful dinner.”
Mrs. Granger frowned. “Honestly,” she whined. “This isn’t necessary. I can clean this all up in no time.”
“It’ll be fine, mum,” Hermione insisted.
“Leave them, darling. They want to get away from us for a bit.”
“Dad!” Hermione complained, hands on her hips.
Mr. Granger chuckled as he pushed his chair back and stood up. “Let’s go set the fire, dear,” he said, motioning to his wife. “Let them be.”
Hermione rolled her eyes. “We’ll be right out. Bring blankets!” she called after them as they left the dining room. She turned to Draco with a roll of her eyes. “My dad can be such an instigator sometimes,” she smiled.
Draco grinned back. “Your parents are amazing Hermione.”
“They are, aren’t they? So…” she began, picking up some plates. Draco followed suit. “Are you enjoying yourself?”
He nodded. “I am. You?”
“It’s going better than I imagined, for which I’m thankful,” she added. “I didn’t realize how much I wanted my parents to like you.”
“Yeah…same here. I’m really glad it’s going well.”
They continued stacking plates in their arms before Hermione led the way to the kitchen. “I’ll wash, you dry?”
Draco smirked. “Deal.” He leaned over and kissed her before grabbing the towel on the counter next to her.
Hermione turned on the water, testing the temperature until it was hot enough. “I bet my dad’s going to tell some awful jokes by the fire.”
“I’ll try my best to make my laugh sound legitimate.”
Mrs. Granger suddenly peeked her head around the door. “Hermione… Can I have a word, please?”
Hermione and Draco exchanged looks before she turned off the water and grabbed the towel from Draco to dry her hands. “Of course, mum. I’ll be right there.”
Mrs. Granger disappeared again. Hermione shrugged and left the kitchen. She found Mrs. Granger down the hall. “Come quickly, dear.”
“What is it?”
“Ronald is here. He says he needs to speak with you.”
Hermione’s stomach dropped. She glanced back toward the kitchen, worried that Draco would overhear. She grabbed her mom’s arm and pulled her toward the sitting room. “Where is he?”
“Outside. He didn’t want to come in.”
Hermione furrowed her brow. “Alright, I’ll only be a minute. Please, don’t tell Draco. I don’t want this to be a problem.”
“My lips are sealed,” Mrs. Granger winked.
Hermione took a deep breath and tiptoed outside. She softly shut the door behind her and turned to find Ron sitting on the steps leading up to the small veranda. “Ronald, what on earth are you doing here?”
Ron quickly turned his head and stood up. He wiped his hands on his jeans. “Listen, Hermione, I’ll be quick, I promise.”
She shook her head, waiting.
“I’m sorry about yesterday. I shouldn’t have gotten so angry at you.”
“It’s fine, Ron,” she rushed. “But couldn’t this wait?”
“No…no, because it’s been bothering me. I’ve obviously been jealous of Malfoy. I’ve been a prat, especially after what I did to you. I regret treating you that way. You deserve better.”
Hermione blanched. “Thank you.”
“And although I think it was beyond pathetic that you faked a relationship to make me jealous…”
“Oh, shut up, Ron!”
He snickered before quieting down. He looked uneasy. “I came to talk to your parents yesterday, before I spoke with you…I told them you were being blackmailed by Malfoy…” He winced, waiting for Hermione’s wrath.
“You…what!” she yelped. “Oh my god, Ron! That is so embarrassing!” She paced back and forth. “Goodness knows what my parents are thinking right now!”
Ron scrunched up his face with regret. “I know. I’m sorry. But I talked to them already. I cleared things up. I wanted to tell you that I’m…happy you’re happy. I’m happy you were able to find someone who treats you right. And I really do hope we can be friends.”
She huffed, frustrated. “Just friends?” Hermione asked skeptically.
Ron scoffed. “Yes, just friends. I hate to admit it, but I fell out of love with you quite some time ago. But I care about you. I want what’s best for you.”
Hermione gave a small smile. “Thank you, Ronald. That really means a lot to me. But I can’t say I understand…”
Ron gave her a big shrug in response. “Your happiness means a lot to me…although it may not seem like it all the time. You deserve the best…and after being strongly persuaded by Ginny…” he laughed, “I can see that Malfoy has changed and that he makes you happy. And after everything, that’s what you deserve. I’m sorry I couldn’t be that guy for you.”
Hermione sighed and stepped up to Ron, opening her arms. He enveloped her in one of his big hugs and held her for several seconds before stepping back. “If you’re happy, I’m happy, Hermione. And I promise I won’t be a prat anymore. I love you a lot.”
“I love you, too, Ronald. Thank you. I swear, this means so much to me. It’s such a big weight off my shoulders.” She sighed deeply. “Are you going to apologize to Draco?”
Ron snorted. “Not a bloody chance in hell. But you should tell him to watch out for that Parkinson. Bloody lunatic, that one. I think she’s up to something.”
Hermione frowned. “Yeah, me too…”
Ron raised an eyebrow. “You okay?”
Hermione brushed off his concern. “Of course. And what about Adriana?”
“What about her?”
“Are you still together?”
“Oh, Ron. She’s awful!”
Ron laughed. “You think I’m with her for her personality?”
Hermione smacked him on the arm. “That’s horrible, Ronald!”
He grinned and shrugged. “I was in a serious relationship for five years. I think it’s about time I go act a fool.”
“You’re doing a mighty fine job,” Hermione said scathingly.
Ron laughed, the comment bouncing right off of him. “I should go…” he said, beginning to turn away from her. “I hope to see you at the next family dinner, Hermione.”
“I’ll bring Draco,” she called after his retreating form.
Ron rolled his eyes and waved. “By all means!”
Hermione smiled to herself as she watched Ron disappear with a loud crack. She turned to open the door and jumped when she saw Draco standing on the other side of the screen door.
“So…Sunday at the Burrow?” he asked, eyebrow raised.
Hermione swallowed her fear. “Yes. Is that alright with you?”
Draco nodded slowly and pushed open the door to let Hermione in. “Sounds great.”
Hermione stepped inside and shut the door behind her. “How much of that conversation did you hear?”
Draco pursed his lips. “Enough.”
Hermione opened her mouth to say something but, unsure of what to say, she closed it again.
“I’m glad he was able to put it all behind him. I know how much he means to you.”
Hermione let out a breath of relief and wrapped her arms around his torso. Draco placed his hands on her lower back and kissed her forehead. “This is all I wanted,” she mumbled. “I wonder what made him finally see sense?”
Draco smirked. “I think the strong persuasion by Ginny must have involved some physical harm.”
Hermione laughed. “Yeah, probably.” She stepped back. “Ready to get back to my parents?”
Draco nodded. Hermione turned to head back but Draco gently pulled on her arm to get her to turn around again. She looked at him expectantly.
“Do I make you happy?” he asked quietly.
“Of course, Draco.”
He nodded once. “Let’s go.”
Hermione stared, bewildered, but led the way back without saying anything else. Her parents were waiting around the fire pit on their stone patio, blankets and all. Hermione grabbed a blanket, wrapped it around herself and sat down on the stone bench, waiting for Draco to do the same.
“Are you alright, dear?” Mrs. Granger finally asked.
Hermione sighed. “Better than I’ve been in a very long time, actually.”
Draco quickly lowered his head.
“The sun looks beautiful setting against the lake, doesn’t it, dear?” Jean commented to her husband. He nodded in response. “I just think it’s the most beautiful thing. We don’t come out here enough.”
Hermione glanced over to the lake’s horizon. It was beautiful. The orange blaze scattered across the water’s surface like a mess of broken gems. Draco, still with his elbows on his knees, looked to see Hermione’s silhouette bathed in the glow of the sunset, her dark hair lighter because of it. Even her eyes looked golden as she turned to address her mother again.
“We should have your anniversary party here!” she exclaimed. “That would be beautiful.”
Mr. and Mrs. Granger exchanged looks. “Actually, darling…we’re going on holiday this year for our anniversary.”
Hermione looked slightly stunned. “But we always spend your anniversary together.”
“We know, dear,” Mr. Granger explained, “but we figured a change would be nice.”
Hermione blinked. “That sounds lovely. I’m excited for you both. Where are you going?”
“We’re thinking of going to South Africa.”
Hermione frowned slightly. “That’s…different. Why there?”
“Oh, darling, it’s beautiful!” Mrs. Granger exclaimed. “You would love it.”
Hermione smiled. “Well, I hope you enjoy it.”
“That does sound great,” Draco finally chimed in.
“Oh, Draco, my father had studied in Russia for a few months when he was younger. Dad, Draco has always wanted to go to St. Petersburg.”
Draco smirked. “You remember that?”
She smiled back at him. “Of course.”
“I spent most of my time in Moscow. I did spend a weekend trip in St. Petersburg. The architecture there was phenomenal. It’s definitely worth the trip…in the summertime. The winter is rather brutal,” he laughed.
Draco nodded. I’m thinking of doing a holiday around Europe soon.”
“Are you?” Hermione asked. “I didn’t know that.”
He shrugged. “It’s just something I’ve been thinking about. Nothing set in stone yet.”
Hermione frowned. “Solo…or…?”
Draco smirked. “I’m not sure. Blaise and I always wanted to do a bachelor’s trip before he settles down. It’s inevitable for him.”
“I hope not with Pansy!”
Draco shrugged before turning back to Mr. Granger. “Anywhere else you’d recommend?”
Mr. Granger smiled indulgently at his daughter who seemed to be brooding next to Draco. “Amsterdam,” he winked.
“Ugh!” Hermione groaned, rolling her eyes.
Mrs. Granger laughed and stood up. “Sweetheart, why don’t you help me with a fruit and cheese platter. It’d be rather nice with that wine you brought with you.”
Hermione sighed and stood up, following her mother inside the house. Draco waited until the patio door slid shut before he stood up and walked around the fire pit, seating himself closer to Mr. Granger. He cleared his throat.
“Sir…I’d like to ask you something.”
Mr. Granger nodded his head, smiling. “I had a feeling you would.”
Draco laughed quietly and took a deep breath. “I would very much like to marry your daughter. I will love her and provide for her every day of my life, I can promise you that.”
Mr. Granger sighed heavily and sat back, looking intently at Draco. “It’s strange. I don’t doubt that for a minute, and I’ve only just met you.” He shook Draco’s hand and patted him on the arm. “You have my blessing.”
Draco let out the breath he was holding, laughing shakily. “That was more nerve-wracking than I imagined,” he admitted.
Mr. Granger laughed. “Just wait until the proposal.”
Draco laughed and stood up, walking back around to his seat. The patio door slid open once more.
“I hope you two had something to talk about,” Hermione said as she slid the door shut once more, carrying the bottle of wine beneath her arm and two glasses in each of her hands.
“We managed,” Mr. Granger winked.
Draco smiled weakly and reached up to take the glasses from Hermione’s hands. Mrs. Granger set the fruit and cheese platter on a table. Hermione sat down next to Draco and crossed her ankles, leaning forward for a grape. She popped it into her mouth and grinned at Draco. He smirked back at her.
“So besides the wedding, what plans do you have coming up, darling?” Mrs. Granger asked.
Draco felt his face begin to heat at the word wedding. Mr. Granger looked intently at his piece of Gouda.
Hermione picked apart the cheese she was holding as she chewed and swallowed what was in her mouth. “Well…I suppose if things go as planned, probably moving,” she said with a shrug, glancing at Draco. “There’s still a lot to sort through.”
“Such as?” Draco asked lightly.
“The pros and cons, obviously.”
“Ah,” he nodded, understanding. “Of course.”
“I mean, it’s such a huge life decision. It’s not something to do on a whim.”
“I didn’t think it was a whim. You’ve obviously been thinking about it on your own.”
Hermione popped another piece of cheese into her mouth and nodded, chewing. “You’re right. We should discuss this together. We should make lists.”
“You’re adorably frustrating,” he admitted in a low voice.
Mr. and Mrs. Granger both laughed. “Oh, it was like this with everything, Draco,” Mrs. Granger said. “Which primary school she wanted to attend, where we should go on holiday, whether we should have turkey or roast for Christmas…”
“Sounds like something to look forward to,” Draco smirked.
Hermione huffed in annoyance. “All I’m saying is this isn’t a decision to make lightly!”
“Yes, it’s definitely on the same level as what meat to serve at dinner,” Draco replied dryly.
“I could make the decision simple, if you’d like,” she challenged.
“Oh, now,” Mr. Granger cut in. “No need to get petulant, Hermione.”
“Petulant?” she repeated, affronted. She put down the glass of wine she had picked up just moments before. “I am not being petulant!”
Draco sighed and sat back and Mr. and Mrs. Granger exchanged knowing looks.
Hermione threw her hands up. “Fine. I’m being petulant.”
Draco laughed and rubbed her back soothingly. “Sweetheart, we’re just teasing. You can make your lists and we can discuss it after.”
Hermione pursed her lips. “Fine.”
“You know,” Draco began suddenly, leaning forward. “I’ve been trying to figure out where Hermione gets her temper from and you both seem very levelheaded.”
Mrs. Granger trilled a laugh, her wine sloshing in her glass. “Oh, dear. I’m afraid my mother was rather ill tempered. I suppose Hermione inherited it from her.”
“Ah,” Draco said. “It all makes sense now.”
Hermione slapped his thigh. “Don’t be cheeky.”
He grinned and kissed her cheek. “Sorry darling.”
“Are you staying the night? Do you want me to get a room ready?” Mrs. Granger asked.
“Oh, no, mum. We’re going to be heading out in a bit, actually. It’s getting late.”
“Sorry, mum. I’ll visit soon,” Hermione promised.
“I hope it’s sooner than the last time,” Mr. Granger said sternly.
Hermione smiled sheepishly. “Sorry,” she mumbled.
“And Draco, my boy, I hope to see you soon, as well.”
“Of course, sir.”
Hermione began to stand up. “Ready to go, darling?”
Draco stood up as well. “Yes.” He extended a hand to Mr. Granger. “Thank you for everything, sir.” He turned to lean forward in order to kiss Mrs. Granger on the cheek. “And thank you for everything, as well. The dinner was wonderful.”
“Oh, I’m glad you enjoyed it, dear,” she beamed.
Hermione embraced both of her parents. Mrs. Granger began to move toward them. “We’ll show ourselves out. Stay, please.”
“Of course. Goodnight!”
Draco and Hermione walked around the large cottage until they were in front of the front porch. “Do you want to walk through the town before it gets really dark until we get somewhere far enough to apparate?” Hermione asked, squeezing Draco’s hand.
He squeezed hers back. “Sure, darling. Anything you want.”
“That was a nice day, wasn’t it?” Hermione asked lightly. They continued walking together.
“It was. Your parents are wonderful people.”
“Thank you,” she smiled. “You were rather quiet,” she noted. “Was everything okay?”
Draco nodded. “Yeah. Just taking in my new surroundings,” he shrugged.
“Ron being there didn’t upset you did it? I didn’t know he’d show up.” She looked up at them as they made their way into the town.
“Hermione, I never thought I’d be happy to see Weasley. But I’m glad everything is settled between the two of you. It was good of him to show up and finally be the bigger person.”
Hermione yawned. “I knew it was only a matter of time.”
Draco smirked. “Is that why you didn’t give up on him?”
Hermione grinned at him. “Exactly.”
They continued on through the small town. Shops were closing but there was a main pub open that continued to pulse with life. They could hear laughter coming from the glowing windows. The night was becoming bitterly cold so Hermione brought her coat closer to her face. She kept walking; only stopping when she realized Draco was no longer next to her.
“What is it?” she asked, watching him as he read the front of a newspaper that lay discarded on the floor. She stepped up next to him and groaned.
Her and Draco’s faces stared up at her with the caption: IS THEIR LOVE A HOAX?
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