Arabella Beaumont appeared in an alley way near the Leaky Cauldron after a successful apparation. She smoothed down her wrinkled deep purple evening dress and opened her black umbrella. The rain was still pelting the earth and the thunderstorm was roaring above. London weather was living up to her expectations. She stepped out of the alley way and started her short journey to the pub. There weren't many people on the streets which was understandable considering the weather. Taxis and other assorted cars passed her by, splashing some water on her black tights in the process. She groaned, annoyed, and continued walking briskly to the pub. She reached the Leaky Cauldron's door and swung it open, closing her umbrella. Arabella surveyed the room, looking for her cousin. She was seated at the bar sipping a butter beer and observing the other patrons. Arabella smiled, suddenly becoming nervous and excited at the prospect of telling her the good news. She hurriedly walked over to Pansy who looked up when she arrived.
"Bella!" Pansy exclaimed, hugging her cousin and giving her friendly pecks on the cheek.
"Oh Pansy, it's been a while." Arabella exclaimed, hugging her back tightly.
"It's only been a couple of months." Pansy said with a chuckle.
"Well, that's much too long in my book." Arabella said as she sat down in the stool next to Pansy's.
"So, tell me, what's the big news?" Pansy asked, already having lots of theories in her head about it.
Arabella answered by holding up her left hand, the beautiful custom made ring glistening in the adequate lighting of the pub. Pansy's eyes widened and her jaw dropped in surprise. This was one of her theories, but she still didn't see it coming. She grabbed Arabella's hand to examine the ring much closer. Of course Draco would go above and beyond, she thought with a knowing grin.
"Wow, Bella, I'm so happy for you! Draco should be so lucky. The ring is gorgeous as well." Pansy cried.
"Thank you, Pansy. And I know." Arabella said as she pulled her hand back and looked at the ring again herself. She started fidgeting with the ring and felt tears start to form in her eyes. Pansy noticed this little emotional moment.
"Aww Bella! These are tears of joy, right?"
"Yeah, yeah of course, I'm just… so happy." She said hesitantly, as if happiness was something frowned upon.
"Listen, you two deserve each other. Don't think otherwise." Pansy grabbed Arabella's hand and squeezed it reassuringly.
"I know." Pansy replied with a smile, "Besides, you wouldn't have a custom Draco Malfoy ring on that finger if it wasn't the case."
Arabella laughed, her negative thoughts beginning to fade and positive thoughts came to the surface. She immediately remembered where she was.
"Oh yeah, we need to celebrate! But wait, I want you do something for me."
"Will you be my matron of honor?"
Pansy's face lit up. "Absolutely, Bella. I'm so excited!"
"Me too." Arabella said sincerely.
"Right, so, barkeep, two firewhiskey shots right here!" Pansy ordered then turned to Arabella with a wink, "Get ready to really celebrate, babe."
Blaise sat down in the seat where Hermione had just occupied and looked at Draco with a very confused look. Draco still had an angry face on and Blaise was a bit apprehensive to approach the topic.
"Was that just…"
"Huh…" Blaise remarked, still very confused.
Draco sighed heavily and rubbed his face. All angriness was washing away and guilt was brimming. He looked out the window and saw Hermione making her way down the street and not looking back. He knew he went too far, Hermione was already emotionally compromised and he knew the amount of damage he caused. Her angry remarks were justifiable but his were not. Acquaintances or not, his words were not appropriate.
"So, what the hell was that about?" Blaise asked after observing Draco's actions.
Draco sighed again, "Just…" He began then noticed that she had left her book on the table. He picked it up and examined it. The bookmark was tucked into a page and the inside of the front cover had the words "Granger Library" written in script. Draco closed the book and pocketed it, knowing what he should do to begin the process of ridding is guilt and apologizing. "…nothing, Blaise, just nothing."
"Uh, huh…. so, why am I here again?" Blaise asked.
"Oh, right, I proposed Bel." Draco said happily, snapping back to his reality.
"I knew it! Great, man. I'm glad to hear it." Blaise said with a wide smile giving him a friendly punch on the shoulder.
"Thanks. Bella makes me very happy and I really can't wait to marry her." Draco confided with Blaise.
"Aww, you sap. You're going to love the married life, everything gets better. Including sex." Blaise said but whispered the last comment.
"Really? I didn't think that was possible with us but I'll take your word for it." Draco smiled arrogantly.
"Jealousy is not a good look on you, my dear Blaise."
"Please, I'm not jealous, you should know." Blaise cocked his eyebrow.
"Oh, shut up or I'll ask someone else to be my best man."
"Aww, Draco, of course I'll be your best man. No need to ask twice." Blaise said sweetly.
"Thanks Blaise, really."
"No problem, Draco. I won't let you down."
"I know you won't."
They continued their conversation, talking about all the cliché things men talk about. The thunderstorm finally began to subside into the night as the café crowd thinned.
Hermione tucked 5 year old Rose into bed, reading her a story from "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" that Ron would always read to her when she was scared. Little rumbles of thunders were still heard but the storm had reached its dénouement. When Hermione realized that Rose had fallen asleep, she put the book away and began to walk out of the room.
A small voice stopped Hermione in her step, "I miss daddy."
Hermione turned around with a sad smile, trying the stay strong for her daughter and while blinking the tears away. "Me too, honey, me too. But he's always with us. Now, goodnight."
"Goodnight, mommy, I love you."
"I love you, too." Hermione whispered.
The words that Draco spat at her were still playing in her head like a film reel. The anger in his face and voice penetrated her mind. She knew he was wrong, of course he was wrong, but the little voice at the back of her head was still skeptical. She tried to push it away but it continued to stain her thoughts. Hermione sighed and headed to the kitchen. She grabbed a bottle of her favorite white wine and a wine glass, pouring herself a generous amount. She needed it. She then plopped onto the couch in the living room and stared out the window in front of her.
Hermione never got the full story of Harry and Ron's death. She felt that the way their deaths were investigated was inadequate. Ginny felt the same. The tip they followed could not be traced back to anyone and who killed them with the two killing curses and cover up explosion at the shack was never determined. The whole situation was extremely mystifying. Hermione had gone through Ron's notes, clippings, and plans many times before she had to give it up to the Ministry. But, mostly none of it made sense. Ginny went through Harry's and they constantly collaborated, trying to make sense of their plans.
She wasn't an auror like many people, including her, thought she would end up. Instead, she ended up back in Hogwarts as the Muggle Studies professor and Gryffindor head of house. She only taught two classes a week and worked out a schedule that worked so that she would have more time for Rose. She was perfectly content with her position there and she made enough money to keep herself and Rose content as well.
But she never stopped thinking about the whole mission they were on trying to capture Caius Linstrum. She considered becoming an auror just to capture that son of a bitch that ruined her life. She knew that people she trusted were now on the case and that they would capture him. They promised her that.
Her thoughts were interrupted when she saw a figure walking up her walkway. Hermione checked the time; it was almost 11 o' clock. Wow, how long have I been sitting here? And who the hell is here at 11 o' clock? Hermione thought. She placed her wine down on a side table and quickly pulled out her wand from the side table's drawer. She walked up to her front door and stood next to it, putting her hand on the door knob. She yanked the door open and turned to face the intruder with her wand to his chest.