Success, at last.
I look around my new office— mahogany desk, mahogany bookcases to match, black leather executive's chair, and plenty of space for meetings with foreign diplomatic wizards. The enchanted window adjacent to the desk displays a spectacular view of a private, white-sand Caribbean beach.
I sit down behind my new desk and let out a huge breath. After years of working longer and harder hours than any of my colleagues, proving myself worthy of and committed to the job, I made it. As of today, I am the Head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation. Finally!
I glance at the photos on my desk— both magical, of course. The first is of my mother, fair yet fierce; her smile is relaxed, her expression is soft yet confident. The second is of me with my fiancée. She smiles, then looks to the ground shyly. Her typically bushy brown hair is slicked back into an elegant swirl with tamed ringlets cascading around her face. I'm in a gray suit that matches my eyes exactly. This photo was taken on the best day of my life— the day she said yes.
I smile as I run a finger along the frame of the photograph, the memory as clear as if no time had passed.
"So... what do you think?"
Her voice comes from behind me. I turn around and lose the wind from my lungs— she is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.
"Breathtaking," I manage to get out.
She blushes and offers her hand. I take it, and instantly feel the sensation of being at home. Her hand feels right; she feels right.
"The gala starts soon," I add, "We should get going."
My stomach flips as we disapparate. A moment later, air rushes into my lungs, and I nearly gasp. I take a moment to catch my breath, and then lead her along. Silver carpet leads up to a magnificent entrance, soft twinkling lights give the ambiance of a winter wonderland. Instead of entering, I lead her aside and into the gardens.
"Draco— wh— what about the gala?"
"Come on, Granger, you'll want to see this." I tease.
Using her surname, I wondered if she'd keep it after she says yes— if she says yes, I falter.
She laughs at the use of her surname and rolls her eyes. I force a smile and squeeze her hand gently. Can she tell how anxious I am?
I lead her into the gardens, and the scene is better than I imagined it would be. She gasps at the soft lights, soft enough that you can still see the stars above. I feel her begin to slow her pace and turn to me.
"Mom? Dad? Harry? Draco, what's—"
I dropped to one knee. "Hermione, I love you. You're brilliant, beautiful, and you've believed in me when I couldn't believe in my own self. The past two years of being yours have been the greatest of my life. You've shown me a different way of life, and I don't ever want to be without you,"
I pull a small velvet box from my pocket and fumbling miserably with shaking hands. Her hand comes up to her gaping jaw, gasping as I snapped the box open.
"Will you marry me?"
She throws herself into my arms, crying out, "YES!"
I hold her tightly, unable to contain my happiness. I spin her around once and before setting her down gently. I take her left hand, my hand still shaking, and slip the ring onto her fourth finger. She kisses me firmly, then pulls back just an inch and whispers ever so softly.
"I love you, Draco."
A knock at the door snaps me back to reality.
"Just a minute!" I called.
The knocker ignores me and enters anyways. It's my new assistant— I haven't even learned his name yet.
"Sorry to interrupt, sir, but your fiancée is in St. Mungo's…"
I blink at him a few times. "What?"
"I–I just received the word that," my assistant stammers, "Hermione Granger was taken to St. Mungo's from her press conference this afternoon. I–I thought you ought to know, sir…"
I fly out of my chair, calling back over my shoulder. "Put any memos I receive on my desk!"
I run down the hall and skid into the lift. I tap my foot impatiently as I wait for the disembodied voice of the Ministry lifts to speak.
"Level 8, Atrium."
I rush out, gaining pointed looks from several passersby. As I sprint to the fireplaces, my stomach feels like it's relocated to my throat. I jump inside and shout,
I'm whisked through the floo, spinning rapidly through magical chimney shoots for a few moments before I'm spit out at St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. Harry is pacing in the waiting room, and I know it's me he's waiting for. He sees me, beckons, and I follow.
"What's happened?" I hiss urgently as we walk, "You're supposed to make sure she doesn't end up here!"
He stops, his expression darkening, "You know there's no one better suited to guard her but me."
I'm angry. I don't understand what's happened to my future wife, and I want someone to blame. I sigh; I know Harry isn't the one to blame for this, though.
"Yes, alright," I say impatiently, but with less acidity. "but what's happened?"
We continue walking, albeit slower than I would've liked. Harry shoved his hands into his pockets, sighing heavily.
"I tried to protect her..."
He stops speaking— there's something he doesn't want to say.
"Yes, and...?" My eyes bug out of my head as I motion with my hand for him to continue. "Get to the point, Potter."
"I - I -" He looks down at his feet, pausing for a moment before speaking again, his voice small and soft. "Draco, I fucked up."
I stare at him as he stares at the floor, both of us silent for a moment. I see the turmoil in his expression as he gains his composure to speak again. This time, his words tumbling out clumsily.
"He came out of nowhere, and when I pulled her down, I— I just—" Harry swears under his breath as he looks up to the flickering fluorescent lights above, shaking his head. "Her head hit the marble and her skull is— was— cracked. There was a bit of swelling in her brain."
He ruffles the mess of what he calls hair as he looks down at his feet, his expression riddled with guilt. I feel what scarce color I have left drain out my face— her skull had been cracked. My fiancée's head had been broken.
"Here," Harry stops and looks in a room. "She's not awake."
I sit down in a chair in the hall, just outside her room. I hang my head into my hands, not expecting Harry to continue speaking.
"They fixed her sku—"
He stops as I pick my head up to glare at him. How could he let this happen? Logically, I know that no one could have done better. No one is more protective of her... except me, I thought bitterly.
A Healer walks up, his lime-green robes reminding me of sick. "And you would be the -erm, fiancé, yes? Name?"
My name, per usual, grants me a double-take.
"Yes, well, she cracked her skull, yes, that was mended. She had some minor swelling, and a minor brain bleed. We've taken care of everything, and are just waiting for her to wake. Once she does, we'll be able to check that all is in order. She could have some speech problems or temporary amnesia," The Healer looks up from his clipboard. "Any questions?"
"Temporary amnesia?" My face blanches. "How temporary, exactly?"
"That is... well— hard to tell. Each person, injury, and healing process is different. Some people take only a few weeks to regain full cognitive function, while others take years, or even... never fully regain functionality."
The word rings inside my mind over and over as I feel my stomach hit the floor.