1 more chapter to go.

C/W there is a fairly significant M rated section at the end of this chapter. Skip if that's not your thing.

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

Draco sat peacefully in the Great Hall. He was leaning with his back against the wall, Hermione sitting with her back flush to his chest in between his legs. They were breathing in tandem, slowly, taking it all in.

They had won. It felt too surreal to be reality yet. Draco watched as celebrations erupted around them, with people crying, kissing, dancing under the starry sky, reveling in the fact that at least for the moment, it was over.

Potter had disappeared after besting the Dark Lord to go to McGonagall's office. Weasel was with his family, treading the line between joy and agony. Theo and Daphne were standing in a fierce embrace, as if no power of heaven or earth could separate them.

That left Draco with Hermione in his arms, disbelieving of the fact that they had made it. That he could have her.

He could have her forever if she allowed it.

His lips traced her temple, kissing her with all the softness he could conjure, trying to convey all the feelings erupting in his soul.

"Draco," she whispered, leaning back into his chest. "How… how did you know?"

"Know what, love?"

"Harry," she answered, tilting her head slightly to look at him. "You knew he was alive."

Draco nodded.


He kissed her curls, breathing in her scent. He was drunk on the Amortentia. "While you were gone to get the sapphire, Daphne and I cracked that little book that Dumbledore left you."

"The Tales of Beedle the Bard?" Hermione asked, confused. "You looked at that?"

"I did," he whispered, running his fingers up her arms. "Potter told me about what Dumbledore left you all when we were trying to figure out the Horcrux Hunt. Daphne looked at the book as well. We figured he was trying to tell you about the Hallows."

"The Deathly Hallows?" Hermione said quietly. "I thought that… I thought that was a myth."

"I was wondering if you had ever heard of them," he murmured.

"Years ago, but I… I thought it was legend."

"Some people consider you legend, witch," he whispered into the crook of her neck.

She shivered.

"We figured that's what Dumbledore wanted Potter to know," Draco continued, beginning to trail kisses across her skin. "The Hallows. He already had the Invisibility Cloak…"

"I KNEW that wasn't a normal cloak!"

"And we knew Dumbledore had had the Elder Wand," he continued, chuckling slightly. "All he needed was the stone. And Dumbledore had given him a snitch, right? Snitches have flesh memory. When Potter kissed the snitch…"

"Kissed the snitch?"

"He almost swallowed it, remember? First Quidditch game of his career," Draco reminded her. "The snitch said 'I open at the close'. Potter knew he was going to die tonight. So, it opened."

"But he didn't die."

"But he was ready to. For everyone. Good enough in Dumbledore's world."

Hermione was quiet for a moment.

"And the wand?" she whispered. "What about that?"

Draco shrugged. "Did I know that when I disarmed Dumbledore three years ago that I had become master of the Deathstick? Absolutely not. Did I know that when Weasley tried to duel me over you and Potter ripped my wand out of my hand that allegiance passed to him? Also, no. Not until tonight."

He sighed. "Victory is complicated. Wands are even more so. Potter came to tell me goodbye, he… I think he knew you wouldn't let him go."

"But you did," she accused.

"Absolutely," he replied. "I would let a thousand Harry Potters die to save you once."

Hermione sat in her thoughts for another few seconds.

"And you realized that he had all three items."

"The Master of Death," Draco mused. "I know Dumbledore was a crackpot, but I also didn't think he would send Potter forward as a sacrificial lamb. It's always more complicated, you know?"

She nodded, as Draco felt her fingers graze over his cut up Dark Mark.

He glanced down at their left forearms, lying perfectly next to one another.

"I was marked when I was sixteen," he whispered, staring at the now disfigured snake on his skin.

She nodded, eyes on her willow tree. "And I was marked when I was twenty."

"Yours is an obligation," he murmured. "You're the Le Fay Protector now."

She touched the sapphire on her chest.

"Yours was a choice, Draco," she said. "A complex one. But a choice nonetheless."

He nodded.

"I didn't understand what the snake meant," he admitted.

"I still don't understand everything about my tree," Hermione answered.

"But it changed everything," Draco mused, kissing her temple once again.

"So, did yours, Draco. We changed everything. Together."

She turned her head to look back at him, green eyes blazing into his soul.

"I love you, Draco Malfoy."

"I fucking love you, Hermione Le Fay," he whispered, before capturing her lips in a searing kiss.

"Ahem," a voice interrupted. Draco pulled back in shock, glancing up at the figure standing above them.

"Would you spare me a moment with my son?"

Narcissa Malfoy asked the question of Hermione.

Hermione's mouth had fallen open, but after a quick glance at Draco, she nodded, standing up.

"I'll.. I'll be over here, if you need me."

Draco pulled himself to his feel as Narcissa watched Hermione depart.

"Quite a woman that witch has turned into."

Draco stared at his mother tensely for a moment.

"Is there something you would like?"

Narcissa pursed her lips, turning back to Draco.

"I thought it would be a good moment for us to talk."

He raised an eyebrow. "Talk about what?"

She sighed. "Everything."

Draco was silent for a moment.

"Then talk."

"I told the Dark Lord he was dead," Narcissa said, staring out across the Great Hall. "In the forest."

"Sorry, you did what?"

"When Potter apparently died," she continued, rolling her eyes slightly. "The Dark Lord had me go check to see if he was breathing. He was – anyone could have noticed. But I said that he was dead. Do you want to know why?"

Draco stood shell-shocked, staring at the woman who had raised him, unsure who he was speaking to.

Narcissa sighed. "I lied because when I checked to see if Potter was breathing, I asked if he knew if you were alive. If you were in the castle. My son. My only child. Because my child will always be more important to me than any Lord, than any darkness. I never… I never wanted this life for you, Draco. I wanted you to feel like you had a choice. I wanted you to wait until you were an adult and decide what was best for yourself."

Narcissa's eyes followed Hermione again, where she was standing across the Hall speaking to the Weasleys.

"And somehow I believe I know what you would have chosen."

Draco looked after Hermione.

"You knew, didn't you? About Hermione? About everything?"

Narcissa's guarded expression from the day he had learned of Hermione's heritage flashed through his mind.

She nodded. "I did. I… I was friends with Celia, with Hermione's mother. I remembered Hermione as a baby. She was so small, but with eyes just like Tiberius, eyes I knew one day would reflect her mother's."

"You knew why Voldemort was sending me, didn't you?" Draco asked, the question riddled with accusation.

"I suspected," Narcissa replied.

"And you didn't want this for me."

"That's not it," she said stoutly. "I… Le Fay magic is complex, and more powerful than I think you understand right now. I knew that the Dark Lord wanted you to be this generation's Other and I… I watched what happened to Tiberius and Celia. Two good people. Fine people. And I didn't want that to be your fate. I wanted you to be able to choose differently."

Draco felt his heart soften.

"Mother, I would have always chosen Hermione. Even… even if the magic decided someone else should be her Other. I would not have cared. I would not have stepped back. She's mine to choose."

Narcissa nodded. "I suspected. You remind me of Tiberius. Ferociously protective of what he considers to be his own. Unbearably selfless when he wants to be. That man gave up everything for Celia and Hermione."

"He sounds like a good man," Draco whispered, thinking about Hermione's biological father.

"He was. Just as I believe you are. As I believe you have become. I'm… I'm proud of you, Draco. You made the right choice."

Severus Snape flashed before his eyes once again.

"Thank you, mother," he whispered. "I… I love you."

"And I love you, Draco," she replied, giving him a rare smile. "But I must be going. I have your father to attend to."

"My father?" Draco asked, raising an eyebrow. "He… he made it?"

"Badly stunned, but alive," she answered. "I suspect we will be taken away by what remains of the Aurors soon, so I want to make sure he gets some water in his system before we go."

Draco felt conflict arise in his chest, as the scars across his Dark Mark tingled. His father – Lucius Malfoy, being taken away to Azkaban, for the second time in his life.

His father – his biggest nightmare.

His father – his greatest hero.

The man who had given him everything growing up. The man who had taken away everything from him.

How should he react to this? What should he want?

"Tell him," Draco murmured, eyes downcast. "Tell him I wish him the best."

Narcissa gave a small nod. "I will do that."

He stared at his mother for another moment.

"Good luck, mother."

"Good luck, Draco," she responded, glancing at Hermione. "Enjoy… your love. Merlin knows you deserve it."

"Hermione," he whispered in her ear, pulling her away from an in-depth discussion with Kingsley Shacklebolt.

"Draco?" she asked, spinning around to face him. "Where's your mother?"

"Gone," he answered. "But that's… would you like to come with me?"

She took his hand before he had finished the question.

"Where are we going?" she asked, as he pulled her from the hall and out into the courtyard.

"It's nearly sunrise," he answered, leading her onto the grounds. "I thought… we could watch the daybreak."

She tightened her hold on his hand.

"I would love to."

They made their way down to Black Lake together. Above them, the sky was beginning to lighten, to cast away the horrors of the night and move forward.

"Look at the stars," Hermione whispered, pointing up.

Draco followed the direction of her sight.

The sky had erupted into a galaxy, with the stars pouring across them. His breath hitched – when was the last time he had seen those beautiful fireballs?

"If the stars so declare," Hermione whispered, his words from so long ago echoing in his ear. "Look, there you are."

Draco glanced up. Sure enough, his constellation was written across the sky, the dragon flying through the cosmos.

"Look at you," Hermione whispered, as they reached the lake. "Etched into galaxies for me."

He opened his mouth to offer a retort, but before he could get any words out, her fingers were wrapped in his hair and her mouth was on his.

She kissed him softly, slowly, memorizing the way that he tasted, as he burned the feel of her to memory. Wrapping his arms around her waist, he sat down in the grass, pulling her on top of him as his back hit the earth.

He was rooted in her; entangled in willow tree leaves.

Gods, could he ever move past this feeling? Hermione on top of him, her lips moving with desperation, increasing need, every moan and gasp and murmur an example of how language could never capture this.

They were beyond words. They predated them.

Only skin and touch mattered now.

He didn't hesitate, it had been too long. Weeks but also a millennium, separating them until now, as they crashed down on top of each other, not wasting another second.

He ripped her shirt over her head, not caring as the fabric tore. It was replaceable; everything on this bloody planet was replaceable besides her. She returned the favour in turn, pulling his robes off as if even a millimetre of separation would be unbearable.

"Gods, Draco," she moaned as he moved his lips down her throat, sucking at her skin. He would mark her more permanently than any goddamn willow tree could ever imagine.

Legends would tremble in the face of how much he loved this woman.

He moved his fingers across her bare skin, slowly inching towards her waistband. As he slipped underneath, she bit down on his shoulder, begging, wordless, incomprehensible need taking over.

"Do you want me, pet?" He whispered, moving closer to her sopping heat. "Seems like you do."

"Draco," she growled, until he finally pushed inside and she gasped.

"Yes, please, oh my god, right there, yes…"

It was magic between them, it would always be as such. He began rubbing at her knub with his thumb, pushing her closer to the edge, teetering over the abyss that only he could send her tumbling down.

The abyss that only he could save her from.

"Please," she begged, as he increased the pace, the pressure, the fucking pleasure of it, until he felt her flutter around his fingers and she was sobbing, screaming, demanding it, pulling it from him.

"Yes, love, come on, that's it, take it, fucking take it…"

She peaked over mountaintops, crashing back to the earth with the force of a hurricane. He took his fingers out to wrap his arm around her back, spinning them over as she rode out the wave, crying out as he pinned her to the ground.

He ripped her trousers off, followed by her underwear. He discarded his own clothing quickly, so it was only them and skin in the earth, the lake their only company.

Her lips parted as she stared up at him, eyes full of wonder and adoration.

Of love and eternity.

And he stared down at her, utter fucking perfection, hair wild around her head, green eyes hazy in pleasure, lips the softest pink he had ever seen. Her body was heaven sent, no curve out of place, her skin begging for his touch.

The only barrier between them was the large sapphire lying between her breasts.

She reached down to take it off, but he grabbed her hand before she could, pinning it above her head.

"Leave it on," he whispered, capturing her lips once again.

He pulled back to smirk.

"You're ethereal."

He pushed forward, spreading her legs with ease until he was poised at her entrance. Positioning himself, her warmth mere particles away, he looked at her again.

"Draco," she whispered. "Please… please make love to me."

That's all he needed.

He leaned forward, sheathing himself to the hilt in her tightness.

Almost blacking out from the pleasure, he began to move.

The first time had had been with Hermione, it had felt like magic had been created, the planets and the stars aligning for one perfect moment where the two of them could experience the occult.

He knew better now.

It was not the creation of magic he was feeling in his veins as he pounded into Hermione again and again. It was the creation of himself. Because he could not have lived before, could not have existed on this plane of reality before he knew how it felt to have her. It did not matter, it could not count, not in the grand scheme of things.

Not when he held her in his arms.

Not when he could have her forever.

He increased his speed, driving her towards the peak again. He knew he was close – but Merlin, Morganna, the lot of them be damned if he didn't feel her explode around him once more.

"Draco," she mewed, as she crashed from the heavens, displacing the elements as she imbedded herself in the earth.

And so, he let go.

Moaning her name into her neck, his promises into his skin, the very concept of forever entrenched in his soul, he allowed himself to spin through millennium, spilling himself inside her until he could only see the stars.

The stars, and a pair of beautiful green eyes, looking at him like he was the world.

They laid in each other's arms, sweaty and fucking perfect, on the edge of the Black Lake.

He kissed the crown of her hair, his embrace tight around her petite form. He would not let her go.

This was permanent.

"Draco," she whispered, pulling herself up onto her forearms to look at him. "I need you to know… I… I don't care about the Other bond."

He raised an eyebrow. "Interesting approach."

She shook her head, frazzled curls moving softly against his skin. "No, I mean. It's not that. Of course, I care about it. But it's not… it doesn't matter. You do. It's you. It will always be you. I want you. As long as you'll have me, I'm yours."

He reached out and brushed a finger down her cheek. She shuddered under his touch.

"Hermione," he whispered, his voice soft and low and deadly serious. "I am… I am rooted in you. I am… fucking entangled in your goddamn willow tree. I will choose you today, I will choose you tomorrow, I will choose you for bloody ever. Magic be damned. Legends be damned. None of this was predestined. This was… this was a miracle. A miracle that I will choose every day of my life, if you'll so let me. Until magic flees from the earth and the stars disappear. Until then, I'm yours. Eternally yours."

She kissed him. She kissed him promises and vows and the concept of eternity.

As the sun rose over the lake, the distant star seeing the earth for the first time in the after, seeing the world that was beyond war, they were illuminated.

His witch fell asleep in his arms.

He held her close.

She was his to choose.

She was his in the after.

He had earned his forever.

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