A/N: Happy Valentine’s Day! This was inspired by ‘Love Story’ by Taylor Swift.
Betawork done by samhuster.
The air was warm, and her bare arms were thankful.
It was early June, and she was at the Malfoy family’s annual garden party. The sun was just barely starting to go down, and Hermione dreaded the way it chased the moment it would inevitably kiss the horizon.
Because it meant she wouldn’t be able to easily watch him weave effortlessly through the crowd. One of her favorite things to do was watch him in his element, wooing the people dressed in sharp suits and ball gowns. And she especially loved the way his eyes would search for her through them all.
Hermione had been in love with Draco for years. There had been shared glances, forbidden kisses, and an endless amount of love notes and poems that she’d had to memorize before burning.
You see, her father hated him. He hated what his family stood for, how they lived, the way they thought they were so above everyone else. So once he had discovered their secret love affair - although with how innocent it was, it could hardly be called that - he had strictly forbidden her from seeing him outside of social obligation.
Of course, she’d found little ways around that. For instance, she’d recently picked up a ‘penpal’ from France. It wasn’t technically a lie - the Malfoy family had property there, and he spoke fluent French. The way he murmured the silken words to her as he brushed her hair behind her ear made her want to melt into him.
Hermione’s heart ached. She wanted nothing else in the world but to be with him, to be his forever. She didn’t need anything else. She would do anything, say anything, be anything if it meant she could belong to him.
But it had been years. They’d been tiptoeing around each other since they were fourteen, and there were whispers that he’d be married off. She had asked him many times to run, to leave with her and see the world.
Deep down, she was praying that he would say yes.
Draco had always had a reason to stay - too many obligations, having to uphold the oh-so-prestigious family name, needing to procure a proper heir that would be suitable for the family. It was an endless stream of excuses.
Sick and tired of being so lonely, she told him tearfully that she needed to know the truth no matter how painful it may be. The last thing she wanted was to let him go, but if she had no other choice, she wanted to be able to prepare herself.
He found her on the balcony later, and his eyes bored into hers. Her heart fluttered as he just barely inclined his head toward the hedge maze in the garden. Her eyes flicked up at the sky, then down to his feet.
He turned and left.
They’d established this tiny form of communication ages ago. It had held steadfast against anyone finding out they were still seeing each other in secret.
Hermione waited ten minutes before leaving to find him.
As he pulled her into his arms, she nuzzled into his embrace and sighed. This always felt like coming home. Keeping hold of his forearms, she looked up at him. “Have you given any thought to what I said last time?”
“Yes,” he nodded. His eyes were hard, and she couldn’t place what category the expression on his face fell under. It wasn’t quite sadness or anguish... maybe anticipation or nerves? No, that didn’t quite fit...
“And?” she asked, desperate for him to choose her.
“I don’t know, Hermione. I don’t know what I can do. There’s so much riding on me, I don’t know if I have much of a choice. In anything.” His stormy grey eyes were staring down at her, begging her to understand.
The pieces fell into place. “You... you’re going to get engaged?” Her voice was a broken whisper and she could barely get the words out.
He nodded solemnly. Her arms dropped from his. “But... no, why? I love you. I thought we wanted a future together. I thought you wanted me. Am I not worth fighting for? Are we not worth fighting for?! I don’t want– I can’t...I won’t love someone as much as I love you.” Tears were pricking at her eyes, and she couldn’t look at him. “It’s not possible. You’ve ruined me for everyone else.”
Draco looked torn. “I know. I’m so sorry. None of this is up to me. If it were, you would have been mine years ago.” He tucked a curl behind her ear and brought her gaze to his. She shut her eyes and leaned into his hand, fighting back sobs.
“I was yours years ago, Draco. I didn’t need a title or a ring to know that. But apparently, you do. Our love story was epic, but I suppose all epics end in tragedy.”
Hermione walked away from him--from what the rest of her life would be like with him--in agonizing pain each step of the way.
Later that night, she was crying in her bed as she heard a tiny tapping sound against her window. Quieting herself and listening closer, she realized that she was right. Rising and heading for the window cautiously, she looked out and recognized the way the moonlight bounced off his pale blonde hair.
“Draco?” she whispered after she threw open the window. “What are you doing here?”
“Come down here,” he said softly. “I have something to tell you.”
So she climbed down the trellis outside her window, and found herself in front of him, staring up at him. “Why are you here?”
He could tell she’d been crying, and his face grew pained as his thumb stroked her cheek. “I spoke to your father,” he murmured.
Hermione couldn’t hide her surprise - her eyes blew wide. “You did what?” she hissed. “What were you thinking? He could have killed you, and I mean that literally. He hates you, Draco - he would have a field day with you if he ever got the chance.”
A private smile took over his face as he showered her with his adoring gaze. “Turns out he wants something I have,” he said. “I was able to... bargain with him, if you will.”
Hermione completely froze, color draining from her face. “What does that mean? What does that mean, Draco,” she whispered urgently, trying to find her voice. It wasn’t coming to her.
“It means,” he started, the smile on his face becoming heart-stoppingly genuine, “that I’m going to need you,” he tweaked her nose gently, “to pick out a white dress.”
Hermione fell to the ground, sinking to her knees. Covering her mouth with her hands, she sobbed into them. “Do– do you mean it? Do you really mean it?” It would be a miracle if he understood a word she was saying, but he knew her better than anyone. He followed her to the ground, gathering both of her hands into one of his.
“I mean it, baby. I do.” Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a small box. “”I’ve been saving this for you since I met you. That’s how sure I was that you were it for me. You said you were mine years ago...I’ve been yours since the beginning of our story. Please--please, marry me, Hermione. I want to see you smile at me every morning. I want the rest of my life with you. I want to see the world with you. I want kids with your eyes and my hair. I know this love is difficult but it’s the most real thing, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever had. I don’t want you to feel alone in this world anymore, because it breaks my heart to see that pain in your eyes. Baby, please just say yes.”
She had started nodding at the beginning of his speech. “Yes, yes, yes,” she babbled. “Yes, a thousand times yes, I’ll marry you,” she was sobbing, grinning up at him, and brought him down to kiss her as he slid the ring onto her finger.
It may have been a messy and turbulent love story, but it was theirs. And she wouldn’t have traded it for the world.
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