"Let's go to Green park today, darling." Hermione stretched luxuriously in the patch of sun that slanted across their bed.
A ruffled platinum head popped up off the pillow next to her. "I was just going to suggest that. It's been almost a year, you know."
"It's been precisely a year." Hermione stroked his face and kissed him.
"Best year of my life," he mumbled against her lips.
Her mouth curved up, "Except for the September to November timeframe, of course."
"Yes." He chuckled and she felt a little swell of happiness that they could laugh about that now. It was so very much behind them.
She deepened the kiss and one of his hands swept up her bare back and into her hair, while the other snuck downward. Hermione melted into him for a moment, but then stopped and stilling his roaming hands. "If we're going to the park, there's no time for that, Draco. It's almost," she looked at the clock, "noon!" She sat up, a bit appalled at herself. Before moving in with him, it would have taken a serious illness to see her in bed after 8:00 am, but it was so easy and lovely to laze with him.
"All right, all right." He laughed softly as she kicked off the duvet. He didn't get up himself, but instead linked his fingers behind his head and watched her, all amused grey eyes and half smile, as she moved around the room.
"We'll need to check the weather, make lunch, chill some wine, bring music, a blanket, utensils, my hat and book…" Hermione passed out of the bedroom and went to find the canvas bag she liked to take on day trips, accio-ing items as she went. When she came back to the bedroom a few moments later, the shower was going. "Good, good," she murmured, stepping into the closet and rummaging through her dresses. It was supposed to be warm, although not as hellishly hot as the last time they'd done this.
"May I make a request," Draco's deep voice came from the bathroom doorway behind her. She looked over her shoulder to see him leaning there, hair wet, a towel wrapped around his hips.
"You may. And when you are sporting that particular look," she lifted her chin at his ensemble, "I am very likely to grant it."
"Excellent. Wear the same thing you wore last year. The blousy top…" He moved toward her and wrapped his arms around her from behind, "and the shorts." He nuzzled into her neck.
"That's right, you liked those shorts, didn't you?"
"Mmm, hmm." He was kissing her now.
She turned and met his lips. "I think that can be arranged," she murmured, wrapping her arms around his neck and getting quite caught up again before remembering they were trying to get ready to go. She pulled back and tapped his chest. "But first a shower for me!" He groaned and tried to grab her, but she spun away and made for the bathroom. "Will you pack the rest of the bag? I found the blanket and my things, but we still need lunch and wine."
"Of course." He looked at her for a moment before ducking into the closet.
A few minutes later Hermione emerged from the bedroom ready: blouse and shorts on, sandals strapped, her hair pinned up becomingly. "Are we all set?" she called as she walked down the hallway to the kitchen.
"Almost." He was at the counter, looking extremely attractive in dark muggle jeans and a checked shirt, sleeves rolled, packing cheese and pots of jam into her bag. He threw in the little music player and then turned around and looked her up and down. A crease appeared between his eyes.
"What?" Hermione looked down at herself.
"They're supposed to be rolled. You rolled them last time."
"Rolled? Oh, my shorts?" She looked down again. "You're right." She had done that last time and it had been cute. She reached down.
"I'll do it." He had moved so silently and quickly across the kitchen, she hadn't even noticed. Just as quickly, he dropped down and gently grasped one of her hems.
"Oh," Hermione was fascinated by his deft fingers as they worked. He looked up at her and his eyes were hot, liquid silver. "Oh," He ceased rolling and began stroking her inner thigh, his long fingers encircling the sensitive flesh. She sighed and then felt his lips feathering soft kisses in the wake of his touch. She gripped the nearest solid thing; the counter. "Ohhh." One of her hands twisted into his hair and she shuddered because now his fingers were under her hem and pushing aside her knickers and then his tongue was there too.
Her eyes fluttered closed and she gave a long moan, carried away on the sensation. A faint voice in the back of her mind tried to say something about being late and her last thought was late for what exactly before she pulled him up and reached for his flies. He moved her back toward the counter, kissing her recklessly, then hoisted her up. She didn't think much more after that. Instead, she pushed the delicious rolled-sleeve muggle shirt off his shoulders and the perfect muggle jeans down his hips and invited him to fuck her fast and breathlessly against their kitchen cabinets. It was so good that she came in about two minutes and he followed quickly after, gasping against her temple.
"Gods, that was a fantasy come true," he breathed after a little while.
"Was it?" She was breathless too.
"Those rolled fucking shorts."
"I didn't know they'd made such an impact," she said, a smile in her voice.
"I spent a good portion of that day last June, and many days after in fact, thinking about doing what I just got to do." He grinned and stepped back, taking out his wand and righting his clothes and hair.
"Well, I'm glad I was able to make a wish come true for you." She smirked then used her wand put herself to rights too, thankful for the magical shortcut since she did want to get to the park sometime in this century.
He laughed and pulled her into a tight embrace. "Have I told you today how much I love you?"
"I don't believe you have." She gazed up at him.
He reached down and kissed her gently, "more than anything."
"It was this tree, Draco. I'm sure of it!"
"If you say so."
"I do!" She practically stamped her foot and it was fucking adorable. He couldn't resist teasing her a little more.
"I don't mind sitting here at all," he said, putting down the bag.
"But you don't think it's the same one."
"No." Draco sat down and grinned up at her. She had crossed her arms now. He was in for it.
"Draco Malfoy, this IS the tree. I remember it. I chose it. I did wandless magic to get rid of the muggles under it because it was the best one."
"Ok." He was trying very hard not to laugh. She made a sound of frustration and kicked him with her pretty, little sandaled foot. "OW!" He rubbed his shoulder exaggeratedly. "There's no need to resort to violence, you know. Just sit down."
"Not until you admit this is the same tree."
"Ok, I admit it." He suppressed a smile.
"But you still don't think it is!" She was practically shouting now. He loved it.
He unfurled the blanket and spread it under the branches of what was undoubtedly the very same tree. He wouldn't have actually let them sit under a different one. Being in this exact spot was very important for today.
He moved onto the blanket and looked up. She was still glaring at him. He laughed and tugged her down next to him, pulling her close and kissing her curls. "It's the exact same tree. I'm just teasing you."
"You absolute GIT!" She smacked him with her free hand.
He grabbed the hand and kissed it. "And of course I remember you performing that wandless spell right here. That was the first moment I realised how ruthless your essential nature is."
She made a sound of dismay and he held up his hand, "No, no, that was also the moment I started falling in love with you." She laughed and he reached into the bag to pull out the champagne bucket. He began setting it out, along with the food.
"Champagne, Draco? How very posh."
He just raised a brow at her and she laughed again, then lay back on the blanket. "I can't believe the wedding is next weekend."
"I can't believe you don't have 71 tasks to complete for Ginny today."
"Most everything is done. Molly is in charge of the food and that's what they're working on today. We finished the seating arrangements yesterday. I hope we got it right." She wrinkled her nose.
"Well with that family there's bound to be a scene or a drunken incident or a fist-fight at some point. You just have to accept it."
"It's true. I'd say the same to Ginny's face and she'd agree."
"You're probably right." She sighed. "I just hope everything goes well for them."
"It will be fine." He handed her a glass of Rosé—he was saving the Champagne. "They're in love and they're happy and you've worked so hard that I'm sure absolutely everything will go off with the precision of a well-coordinated military campaign."
She chuckled and sat up. "Speaking of weddings, I wonder how Charlie and Hamish are doing."
He sipped his wine. It was good— dry and crisp. "I'm sure very well. People on their honeymoons tend to be."
"Those two." She shook her head. "I had no idea our visit was going to end with a surprise wedding!"
"I know." He laughed, "Talk about a well-planned campaign."
"Oh well, that's Hamish for you. He makes me look like an amateur."
Draco leaned back on his elbows and looked out at the lush green grounds of the park. "It was well done, though. They managed to have it when they wanted without taking away from Harry and Ginny's day."
"You're right." She looked at him speculatively.
"You're just so thoughtful. I hadn't even picked up on that being a reason for them doing it that way." She leaned over and kissed him and he smiled into her lips. He was so fucking happy. She leaned back. "Well, it was a wonderful holiday all round."
"It was," he glanced at her. "But it's nice just to be the two of us again. In the park."
"It's lovely." Her warm brown eyes glowed, but then they sharpened. "Draco."
"This revelation about our previous day in the park, my shorts. Did you really want to do that, that early on? I thought you were just starting to consider the idea of kissing me…"
He blinked several times then took on a mock-serious expression. "Let me tell you a little something about men, Hermione— Ouch!" She had smacked him again.
He laughed. "Yes, I wanted to snog you. Yes, I wanted to do more than snog you. It was practically all I could think about. Every move you made, every interesting bit of conversation, when you'd touch my arm or bite your lip. Slip those long, smooth legs together, Gods," he sighed and flopped back on the blanket. "It's a good thing we already—at the flat—or we'd have to cut this visit short." He waggled his eyebrows at her.
She leaned down and kissed him deeply, "There's always a disillusionment charm."
"Don't tempt me." He slid his fingers up her neck, amazed as always by how she could ignite him over and over. They kissed for a while until she pulled away, but sweetly and with a lingering touch.
"It really was a perfect day, wasn't it?" she said softly.
"It was." He smiled into her eyes. It felt like it was almost time. A little dart of nervous anticipation shot through him and he sat up.
She sat up too and reached for her wine. "I was actually thinking about that day last week."
"Oh?" he pulled the canvas bag toward him, not exactly sure how he was going to do the next part.
"Yes, I was listening to that Rilo Kiley song, "With Arms Outstretched."" He nodded, remembering the song. "And one of the lyrics reminded me of it." She tipped her head back and sang, "'some days they last longer than others, but this day by the lake went too fast.'" She stopped singing and looked at him, her face tender. "That day went too fast, even though we were here for hours."
He smiled, "that's exactly right." Suddenly he saw his next move very clearly. "Let's listen to it shall we?"
"Oh, let's!" Hermione smiled at him as he rummaged through her bag. He pulled out several items: a cutting board and knife, the cheese, figs and bread, the pot of jam and a basket of strawberries, her hat and book, a pillow. He raised his eyebrows and she knew without him saying that he was commenting on the number of items in the bag. She rolled her eyes at him and he chuckled, but then frowned.
"It's not in here."
"I saw you put it in!"
"It's definitely not here."
She frowned. She was sure he had put it in the bag, right before the shorts and the…sex.
"Do you want to look?" He held out the bag to her and his expression seemed a bit serious. She wondered why for a fleeting second, before brushing it off and plunging her arm in up to her shoulder.
"There's a funny little corner... where things get, snagged, sometimes," she said as she reached. "Ah!" Her fingers touched a hard edge. "Here it— no, that's too small." She frowned as her fingers closed around an unfamiliar square object. "What..?"
And then she knew.
She looked at him. His eyes were glowing and a smile was tugging at the corners of his mouth.
"Draco?" Tears sprang to her eyes and she froze, the moment slowing to the ticking of seconds.
He leaned forward and took her hand, his eyes deep and warm. "I love you, Hermione. More than anything. The last seven months have been the happiest of my life."
Hermione felt her tears spill over. She pulled out the box and held it tightly in her hand, amazed that he had taken her completely by surprise. Oh, she'd known it was coming at some point, and maybe the security of that knowledge had allowed her to sort of not think about it? There was one night on the beach in Croatia on the way home from Romania when she'd wondered, but other than that she hadn't really… And now it was happening and her heart was so full. She choked out a little sob.
"I can't imagine a future without you." Draco continued, his face growing serious again, tears shining in his eyes as well. "I want you for all time. Will you have me? Will you be my wife?"
The moment seemed to hang in time like a tear before it fell. Hermione took a deep breath and exhaled, wanting to savor it, feel the warm air, hear the rustle of the leaves above, see the love in his face.
And then time sped up again and she was shouting, "yes, yes, YES!" and launching herself at him. He caught her with a laugh and they kissed through her words, "I love you too! Oh, Draco! Yes."
They were both crying and they kept kissing and at some point, Hermione realised they'd forgotten to cast that disillusionment charm, and some amused muggles were looking at them from the next tree over. They broke apart, Hermione feeling heat spread over her cheeks.
"Congratulations!" called an elderly woman, giving them a warm smile. Hermione waved her thanks and Draco leaned over and pulled the Champagne bottle out of the ice.
"The Champagne! Oh, you clever man!" Hermine wiped at her tears.
He shot her a raised brow. "Don't you, ah, want to look at the ring?"
Hermione started, "Oh my god yes, the ring!" How could she have forgotten! She unpried her fingers and stared at the small black box, anticipation and another sob building in her chest. Her engagement ring. She glanced at Draco and he smiled at her.
Pulling the lid up slowly, Hermione gasped when she saw the deep green emerald set in dark yellow gold. It was simple, and stunning.
"I absolutely love it." She breathed, staring at it with some reverence.
He took it gently from the box, "May I?"
She looked up, "Yes. Oh, yes."
He took her hand, his face so tender and serious as he slid the band down her finger. She looked at it there and it was perfect. She glanced back at him and the moment was perfect.
She gave a little laugh and held it this way and that, falling more in love with it from every angle. She noticed there were tiny designs cut into the band.
"Is it an heirloom?" she asked, wondering if it had come from one of his vaults.
"No, no." He shook his head and smiled. "Tessa designed it."
"Oh my god, of course! It looks like her work!"
"You remember that day she and Blaise came over a few months ago when we had brunch and the bloody marys?" Hermione nodded and laughed. That had been a fun day. "And you talked about how much you loved her stuff? I asked her then."
Hermione shook her head and looked at her ring again, enjoying the depth of the color and the way it lay so perfectly on her finger. "You two did an amazing job. It's absolutely gorgeous. I couldn't have designed it any better myself."
"Well," he said, taking a sip of champagne and smiling at her, "It should be. I smuggled a box of your jewelry over to her studio one day and told her about all the pieces you had been drooling over in her shop."
She laughed. "I believe I had been hoping to get one for Valentine's Day."
"I know. But I didn't want to steal this ring's thunder." He winked at her. "There's always your birthday." She laughed. "Oh," he said, "and the emerald is ethically sourced."
Hermione felt her tears start again, "A muggle jeweler and a humane stone? I didn't think I could love you any more." She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him so enthusiastically that they fell over.
He kissed her back with interest and then raised a brow before muttering a disillusionment charm. She chuckled and plunged her hands into his hair. After that things became heated and she lost track of time for a bit. She was just wondering if apparition would be a good idea when he stopped, breathing heavily.
"As much as I'd like to see this through to its natural conclusion, I do believe we have lunch and that you wanted to listen to a song."
"Mmm, or I could go on kissing you."
"You certainly could."
"But lunch and champagne in the park is probably a better end to our engagement story."
"Definitely more able to be shared in company."
Hermione smiled and ran her thumbs over his temples, "all right. I guess I'll let you go then."
"Never," he smiled, easing up and pulling her with him. "Now where did I actually put that music player?" He lifted her hat off the blanket, "Oh that's right."
He started fiddling with the device and Hermione made them each a piece of bread with fig and the good cheese, managing to admire her ring as she did so. He saw her doing it and laughed, then caught her hand and laid it against his face as first notes of the song floated out into the soft air.
"It's not quite as warm as the first time we did this." Draco tucked Hermione closer to him as they walked out of the park in the twilight. She gave a little shiver and murmured her agreement, reaching down to take his hand. He could feel the ring on her finger and he smiled, a little pulse of joy passing through him.
"So we've decided we're getting married," she was saying, "but what about the when and the where and the how?"
"Sooner and smaller are my only requests."
"I agree, and I'd love it to be in the autumn— maybe September? Sort of reclaim those bad months."
He squeezed her hand. "Good idea."
"But can we pull it together in three months?" She looked up at him with a crease in her brow and he knew she was thinking about the sometimes frantic preparation for Harry and Ginny's wedding.
An idea struck him. "If Lucretia is involved we could probably do it in three weeks."
She stopped excitedly and faced him. "Yes! Let's do it in France! But not at the chateau. At the house. Our house. Just small, with our closest people."
"I like that. And I think it will work. The road will be done in a couple of weeks."
"Which puts us right on schedule for my moving-in plan for the middle of June." They resumed walking and she leaned against him, "Oh Draco, I can't wait to spend summer there. See the herd again. Go to the swimming place with Astor. Have Mignon's Citron Pressé."
She sighed and the contented sound went straight to his heart. "Me too," he said, thinking about being there with her in their own house, showing her everything that he didn't get to last summer.
"Ginny's going to be really pregnant by September," she said with a laugh.
"Serves them right for getting her knocked up before the wedding."
"What? It's true!" He grinned and she shook her head at him.
"We'll have to make sure Theo knows to be back from Morocco."
"Oh, he owled yesterday. He's planning to be in Paris by the end of July."
"Oh, excellent!" She clapped her hands, "We'll have him and Rafik to the guest house as soon as it's ready. And I'll owl Hamish and make sure he and Charlie are free then. I think they're in the Douro by now. Hamish sent me their itinerary. Although of course, we'll see them next week."
He nodded and twined his fingers with hers, his thoughts turning from the future to the past. "Do you remember this walk last year? Slightly different direction, of course, we'd be turning right instead of left up there to go back to your old flat."
"Do I remember? Of course. I was so giddy. I wasn't admitting it to myself, but I had already started to fall for you. I wanted you to kiss me so badly!"
"Same. As I said, I had been thinking about it all day and by this point, I was actively trying. I remember being on this street and actually looking for a spot to pull you aside, but it seemed too dodgy in the dark. So I decided to be traditional and wait until your doorstep. Maybe if I was lucky you'd even invite me in." He shot her a grin.
"And then Harry and Ginny showed up and you just left." She swatted at him and he laughed. "I thought you weren't interested! I doubted the whole day after that."
"What was I supposed to do? Just throw you down in full view of Potter's smirking face?"
"He was smirking, wasn't he? He already knew. Git."
They reached their own doorstep and walked up the steps. Draco stopped her before she unlocked the door and wrapped his arms around her waist. "But I came back."
"You did come back." She reached up and stroked the side of his face. "Did you always plan to?"
"Mmm," he leaned into her hand and closed his eyes. "I was on the fence. It could have gotten very awkward if Potter or the Ginger had answered the door. But I'd had a good bit of wine, you'll recall. And every step I took further away, I was more reluctant." He opened his eyes and smiled wickedly, "Also, I kept picturing you getting ready for bed, brushing your hair, taking off your clothes…" She raised her brows and he leaned down to kiss her neck.
"Ooh," she sighed, breathless. "I was so surprised to see you there. I had been standing in the hall feeling as if I had gotten the wrong read on the whole day."
"But you hadn't," he moved from her neck to her lips. "And I've always wanted to ask you," he paused and looked at her. "What would have happened had Ginny not shown up?"
"I think you would have gotten invited in." She touched her lips to his, then teased against him with her tongue in a very distracting way.
"Oh, would I? And then what?"
"I think you would have gotten laid, Malfoy."
He growled. "Remind me to send the Ginger a bouquet of rotten flowers tomorrow."
She laughed and kissed him again, this time with even more urgency. He backed her against the door and her hands ran up his back. He forgot himself for a bit until she broke away, breathing heavily, a gleam in her eye. "Would you like to come in now?"
"Will I get laid?" He said into her neck, distracted by the silken skin just below her earlobe.
"Well, I would like to express my excitement over our engagement and my appreciation for this gorgeous ring," He could sense her looking over his shoulder and admiring her left hand.
He stopped suddenly and got out his wand, then blasted the door open and swung her up into his arms. She whooped with surprise and clutched at his neck. He laughed and started over the threshold.
"Draco! Isn't this supposed to be for the wedding night!?"
"Mmm, well I think the other is supposed to be too."
"Well, I'm not waiting for that."
"Nor I," he kissed her as he walked down the hall to their bedroom.
She paused their heated exchange and tilted her head to look at him. "Our wedding night. Oh Draco, I'm so happy." She reached up and touched his face.
"Me too. I'm the happiest man in the world."