As Draco was being cured, Harry and Hermione were having a heart to heart.
“You’re really going for it then?” Harry asked, looking furtively at her. They’d gone for a walk in the woods. The atmosphere was calming although Hermione feared the conversation might become heated.
Hermione grinned. “Absolutely… I realize it’s a bit sudden, but I guess… I wanted to seize the moment. Life is so fragile…” she sighed heavily, “so why wait?”
“You’ve got a point there,” Harry grumbled, but then his face lit up. “Congratulations then, Hermione,” he said and he meant it. He gave her a tight hug. “Keep those Malfoys in check, will you…”
Hermione laughed. “I will…. I still haven’t told Draco of my house-elf plans yet.”
“I want to hear all about them!” Harry said, laughing too. “But first tell me, what about Rose and you living there…? With Lucius’ portrait and all…”
“I think… we’ll do some decorating… Draco has his own wing. Rose will get a few rooms as well, I presume…”
“A few rooms?” Harry raised his eyebrows. “A Weasley? How does Narcissa feel about it?”
“She likes her…. She’s lonely…” Hermione replied. “It will be fine, Harry. I can look after myself, so can Rose. Draco has changed, Narcissa is trying to, and Lucius… well, he’s just paint, isn’t he? Nothing but pretense there…” She giggled nervously. “I’m a little worried, of course, so we’ve decided to keep my place on, at least for a while, just in case…”
“Smart,” Harry said. “Wise choice…”
“Let’s hope it won’t be needed ‘though…” Hermione replied. With their arms hooked together, they enjoyed the rest of their walk.
It was the night before the wedding and Hermione was sick with nerves. She kept throwing up, feeling horrible. Was she really having last minute cold feet? She couldn’t give up now… at the brink of saying yes…
“Mum?” Rose asked, worried, looking at her mother’s pale face. “We don’t have to cancel, do we? You’ll be fine tomorrow, right?”
Hermione held her close. “Of course, sweetie, I’ll be fine. Just nerves… like the first day of school..”
“It will be so different…” Rose said, looking around their living room. “Can I stay here with Gran whenever I feel homesick?”
“Sure, we’ll keep the house on for now, anyway… Draco hasn’t even got a TV, yet…” Hermione laughed.
When Rose had finally fallen asleep, Hermione sat on her sofa, looking at her house. The house she’d been so happy in with Ron. It was one of the reasons she did want to move into the Manor. Ron’s spirit was clearly still here; it was hard being with Draco sometimes under this roof.
She hadn’t told anyone…. She couldn’t talk to the Weasleys about it… but Hermione felt that she wanted to have Ron’s blessing. Clearly his family wouldn’t… Hermione began to cry. Why did they have to make it so hard for her? Why couldn’t they be happy too? Exhausted with grief, she finally fell asleep. She’d need a few beauty spells to remove the tearstains the next morning…
Hermione dreamt she was visiting Ron’s grave. She explained what had happened: how she loved Draco, even though that sounded completely absurd. How he tried to be a father to Rose. How they got along splendidly ….
Nothing happened. The grave was cold and unwilling to cooperate. Hermione felt like she often felt visiting him. Drained and hopeless… Fighting back despair.
As she left the cemetery, a man came walking beside her. It was hard to see him at first, but upon closer examination, it turned out to be Ron!
Hermione startled. She clasped her hand over her mouth.
“Hello ‘Mione…” he said, smiling goofily.
Hermione took him in his arms, hugging him so tightly that he could hardly breathe…
“Steady on…” he said. “It’s not as if I’m going anywhere…”
“But you did…” she replied. “You were gone…. You are gone… and I’m… I’m…” Hermione choked in her tears.
“All alone?” Ron wondered. “But that isn’t right…!” He gritted his teeth and balled his fists.
Hermione swallowed hard. “I’m not alone anymore…. I’ve found someone… unexpected.”
“Well, that’s all right then, isn’t it?” Ron grinned. “I don’t want you to be alone…”
Hermione remained silent and Ron’s eyes became suspicious. “It isn’t Neville?” he asked. “Not sure I could bear it…”
Hermione finally said, whispering, with her eyes downcast: “Imagine the worst possible person and you’re probably right…”
Ron’s face contorted. “That’s easy,” he said, “Malfoy, of course…”
She nodded solemnly in return.
“It’s a joke right? You are kidding?” Ron said, snorting. “Mione, you can’t be serious?!”
“He is not at all like you remember him,” she defended her choice. “He’s changed so much…”
“Malfoy?!” Ron would not believe it…. “I’ll get him!” he said and ran away from her…
Hermione woke with a start. It was only 3 a.m. She had fallen asleep on the sofa.
A few minutes later, she lay in her bed, worrying. She hoped the dream wasn’t a warning. Hermione usually didn’t believe in omens, but, at the moment, they were making her insecure…