“You little Slytherin,” Draco said amazed as Hermione smiled with pride. “You… you mean to tell me my mother helped you plan our wedding?”
“She did and your parents paid for more than most of it, down to your cloak, darling… She doesn’t know that yet though,” she nodded towards the table of gifts. “Something look out of the ordinary?”
He looked over, scanning the table. He wasn’t exactly sure what she was trying to get him to notice, but he found it quickly. It was an elegant box that he hadn’t noticed before. Upon seeing it made his heart clench in his chest. Had they not come back he would have only seen it when they opened their gifts much later and probably cried his eyes out. He knew about the tradition that involved the passing of a box from parents to the newly wedded son. He had no idea what his parents put in the box, but it warmed his heart to see it and know that they’d been there the entire time as well as so inherently involved even if they hadn’t known it.
“Fuck,” he cursed blinking furiously and pulling her close, “You… bloody amazing woman.”
“You might be a family of Slytherins, but you’re all just Hufflepuffs on the inside.”
His jaw dropped, “You did not call me a Hufflepuff!”
She shrieked a laugh as he dug his fingers into her sides. Slipping out of his grip, she escaped him and he gave chase around the tables like they were children. He cornered her across a table and grinned at her.
“I am impressed you can move so quickly in those heels, my love, but I will catch you and you will pay for your infractions.”
“On your honor?” she laughed, “Hufflepuff.”
She squealed and ran around Harry and behind a wall of Aurors.
“I thought Gryffindors were supposed to be honorable!” Draco laughed as they blocked his path.
“Well, I’m an honorary Slytherin now. Professor Snape said so.”
He growled at her and looked at the row of Aurors, “If you would part the sea, gentlemen, my wife is behind you and I plan to have words with her.”
“Head Researcher Granger is under our protection at the moment,” one of them said. “Before we can release her to you, we’ll need something from you.”
Draco quirked an eyebrow at them as Hermione hissed at them, “Boys.”
Harry held her back.
“Let it be,” Harry laughed. “You’re family!”
“It is alright, love,” Draco soothed with a grin. “Though their timing leaves something to be desired, I expected your aurors to do this before we were married.”
If they hadn’t, all the times they tried to thwart his courting efforts would have felt spiteful rather than out of any care for Hermione. They passed him a glass of firewhiskey and told him in no uncertain terms that they expected her to be on maternity leave in no less than a year. They wanted beautiful nieces to spoil, troublesome nephews to teach how to fly, and the happiest lead researcher that ever walked into the ministry. If their demands were not met, they would end his life and take unbreakable vows not to reveal the location of his body.
Draco was impressed. He cheered them, drank the alcohol, and grinned, “Though a year might be pushing it, you know how she is.”
They laughed good-naturedly and dispersed as she griped at them, “I am not a damsel or a vessel for your wishes just because none of you can snag a date!”
They laughed, walking off as Harry snickered and left Draco and Hermione alone. He secured her to him with an arm around her waist and a grin.
“Caught you,” he said, “No mountain high enough.“
She chuckled at that and leaned into him, “Good to hear.”
“How do you feel about kids?” He asked, quirking an eyebrow at her, “A year? Three years from now?”
“Well, when we’re reasonably established enough… I say I’ve always wanted kids.”
“We’ll try whatever we need to.”
She smiled at him, but it didn’t reach her eyes. Words that had felt like a cruciatus curse from a night a long time ago went unsaid along with her bitter gasping and his furious wish to kill his already dead aunt and a werewolf that probably would have killed her if not for a twist of fate. He squeezed her close to him, kissing her temple gently, trying to blot out the memory. It had been so close that Hermione had died there in Malfoy Manor. He didn’t know how long it had taken her to recover from the more serious injuries even with his secret help.
“And… if nothing happens?”
“We’ll adopt,” Draco said easily.
She smiled at him and hugged him, “I love you.”
They rocked together quietly, taking solace in each other’s presence. Soon, someone was tapping him on the arm. He turned his head to see Narcissa and Lucius. He froze as she looked up at him.
“We’re sorry to interrupt, but could you, Mrs. Malfoy, spare a dance for me?”
Draco’s eyes widened as Narcissa and Hermione seemed to communicate silently between them.
“Of course, Lady Malfoy,” she looked up at Draco who was more than hesitant to leave Hermione with his father.
“I assure you, Draco, that your father will behave.”
He pressed a kiss to Hermione’s temple protectively, hesitantly, and kept her pressed to his side as he met his father’s impenetrable gaze.
“It’ll be fine, Draco,” Hermione said, holding out her hand to her father-in-law, “I don’t believe Lord Malfoy would embarrass himself by being thrown out after their rather noticeable re-entrance.”
Draco smirked and let her go. Lucius’ jaw stiffened as he took her hand. Draco took his mother’s hand and led her into a standard, wizarding waltz.
“A fearsome woman you’ve chosen, Draco.”
“Well, she is Hermione Granger.”
“She… isn’t taking your name?”
“Would it matter if she didn’t?”
Narcissa shut her mouth, maybe realizing she was edging towards a land mine. It was a marked improvement from the last conversation they had.
“It is a lovely celebration… Has been a lovely celebration. I can’t imagine having planned it better. I was… impressed that Blaise managed to say so many nice things about you.”
Draco chuckled, “I’m sure he fears my wife’s wrath like the rest of the auror corp.”
She chuckled softly, and they fell into silence for a moment that seemed too heavy to be peaceful. He didn’t want to break first, but Narcissa was his mother and there was little that he would not do for her.
“Thank you… for bringing it.”
Narcissa’s lips twitched, her eyes glazed over, “… I am sorry that we made you think that we wouldn’t.”
Draco took a deep breath and smiled down at her lightly, “I… I missed you, mother.”
Her jaw trembled, and she wrapped her arms around him. They stopped dancing as she held him and cried softly into his chest. It was all that was necessary to break the tension between them. It felt like a deep breath after holding it for ages.
“I’ve missed you, my little dragon,” she whispered, “I’m so sorry. Oh, Draco, forgive me one day for being so foolish. Wasting such time on such foolish pride and missing so much… you have every right to be ashamed of me. I who claims to love you and have been so protected in your love for me… to put such distance between us for foolish pride…”
Draco closed his eyes and wrapped his arms around her, rubbing her back and fighting back his tears. For all of the angry words that had passed between them, Narcissa had always been the light in his life, his peace, and serenity, his understanding, when Lucius was simply too harsh to do much more than bear. He would always love her. One day, their argument and her absence during the planning wouldn’t hurt because it would be a long-forgotten ache, like a scar that faded through the years and only served as a reminder that they had survived even that which should have been impossible.
“You are not allowed to cry at the reception. What will people say, Lady Malfoy?” he said and she laughed thickly into his chest, “I will forgive you, just this once and grant you shelter to collect yourself.”
“Thank you for your graciousness,” she said, “Do you think you could forgive me one day?”
He hesitated and nodded, “I think so, mother.”
He pulled back and wiped her tears. Pressing a kiss to her cheek and meeting her gaze, “So long as you’re willing to try and understand us.”
Narcissa’s lips twitched, “If it means I’ll get to have you in my life, I’ll do anything.”
He grinned at her, “Let’s say we save father from my wife for a start?”
She grimaced, “You think it will be that bad?”
“She is a fearsome woman, is she not?”
He turned his head and went searching for them, but couldn’t find them on the dance floor. His eyes scanned the area until he found Harry and two other aurors standing outside. Quickly, he led his mother across the tent and outside into the cool night air. Harry and the auror turned around before nodding towards the lake. He saw his father’s head of hair catching the light of the moon and led his mother forward.
For all his fear, they seemed to simply be standing at the water’s edge at a respectable and almost tense distance apart. Hermione had Draco’s cloak around her shoulders, and it billowed along with her gown in the moonlit air.
“What do you think they’re talking about?” Draco asked.
“Dunno,” Harry said, “But I’m only keeping an eye out in case Hermione feels the need to hex him.”
Draco snorted, “Wouldn’t want you to have to try and take her in for assault.”
Harry shuddered, “Neither would I. That woman could have my job on any day.”
Hermione turned to Lucius, looking up at him even though he would not look at her. A moment passed between them. Then, her laugh rang out in the night.
“It’s the end of the world,” Draco said, “She’s laughing with my father.”
“I think it’s more at your father,” Harry said.
Hermione turned around and said something before walking back towards them. She smiled warmly as she approached them.
“Lady Malfoy,” she greeted, “If I might have a word with you?”
“O-Of course, Mrs… Granger?”
Salazar’s beard, Draco thought shocked at his mother.
“Hermione,” she said, “If that is alright.”
“Narcissa, then,” she said with a hopeful tone in her voice, “You are my daughter-in-law, after all.”
Draco smiled, proud of his mother as Hermione took her arm, kissed his cheek, and told him to play nice. Something in her eyes said that they would talk later before she walked back inside with Narcissa.
“Don’t hex him too badly,” Harry said turning back into the party.
“You’re not going to stand guard?”
He scoffed, “You’re family. It’ll be written off as a disagreement, and I highly doubt your mother is going to let him press charges no matter what you do.”
With that, Harry went back into the party, and Draco took a deep breath and walked down to the lake’s edge to stand beside his father. For a while, Draco thought he would break the way he had with Narcissa, but none of that softness he felt with her consumed him now.
Perhaps they would stand by the water in silence until he decided to return.
“It is,” Lucius began. “…more tasteful than I had hoped.”
Draco refused to acknowledge the backhanded compliment, “Mother instilled the importance of good taste in me early on… and my wife is a woman of quality.”
Lucius remained quiet for a moment, “Do not blame your mother.”
Draco looked at him.
“She brought your wedding invitation to me demanding that we come… She said she refused to miss your wedding day though she could barely bear the shame of not being involved in the planning.”
“She could have come alone.”
“She swore to divorce me if she had to come alone.”
Draco’s eyes widened and he turned his gaze on his father, “What?”
“Though I am her husband, you are the love of her life, Draco,” he swallowed thickly, “There is nothing that I could deny your mother in the face of losing her.”
Draco nodded, “I know. She is the love of your life.”
“I can see that you are truly in love with… Ms. Granger.”
“What was your first clue?”
“You argued with your mother.”
Draco remembered it had been the hardest thing he had ever done and how much it had physically pained him to do so, but she and Lucius had given him no choice.
It was his past or his future, his parents, or Hermione. As far as he’d been concerned, the choice had been made long before he’d set his silverware down and the argument began.
“I thought, perhaps, that Narcissa being against it would have kept you from pursuing her, knowing how much you love her… I had never imagined the day you would find a woman more important to you than your mother. I don’t believe she ever did either.”
Draco remembered the look of horror on her face, of fear and disbelief as he left the dinner table, packed his trunk, and left the manor without a glance back. He could imagine her waiting for him to come back. He remembered wanting to but refusing to. He remembered throwing himself into his work and rationing his life as he lived with Harry at Grimmauld and visited Hermione at her flat. He’d learned a lot about himself and the truth about his wants living outside of the manor and, as far as he was concerned, he was better off for it.
He’d learned the meaning of true comfort and was sure that he could never go back to that brittle, cold world he’d lived in where Lucius was the patron of guidance for all his faults and he was the son scrambling for his father’s approval, leaning on his family’s name for any and everything.
It had been humbling, but he didn’t regret it. His distinction in the ministry was because he was good at his job. There might even be a future in which his last name would mean a great deal less to his co-workers.
“Your mother was beside herself with melancholy waiting for you to come home. She would leave the manor for hours at a time, just wandering Diagon Alley hoping to run into you, to have a chance to speak with you. I told her that you would tire and eventually come home. I am sure now that she didn’t believe me. She met a young, charming woman in Diagon Alley and has been helping her with her wedding plans, and for a time, she seemed happier at the thought of helping a young witch deal with her soon-to-be in-laws in a much better fashion than she had been able to deal with her own. There was a fire in her eyes that I had not seen in years, and I can not be more grateful for Mia’s appearance in her life. I thought perhaps she would be distracted long enough for you to come home.”
Draco refused to smirk at the statement as Lucius let out a rattling breath as if he was reliving the worst moment of his life.
“Then, your invitation arrived on parchment she would have chosen herself for your wedding announcements if given the chance,” his father’s voice cracked. “She refused to even look at me.”
Looking at his father’s face, he realized that Lucius, while maintaining his regal air, looked a great deal older than he had in the days after the war, or even after getting released from Azkaban. Perhaps, he would never accept Hermione, but he would hold his tongue and bend to Narcissa for as long as she wanted to be in Draco’s life. At least until he learned that Mia was Hermione.
“I should have never put you in the position to take on the Dark Mark,” he said, “Even more so, I should not have tried to hold you back from the love you found when I, too, left home for mine.”
“You?” Draco asked, gawking at him.
“Do not sound so surprised, Draco,” he scoffed, “While not as drastic as your defiance, my father and I, my grandfather and I, did not agree with what my future held. Your mother is a Black, yes, but my father and my grandfather were more interested in tying themselves into the Delacour family and expanding the power of the Malfoy name in France.”
He remembered wondering about that since it didn’t seem that Narcissa and Lucius had been betrothed. He wondered what Lucius had said to the late Lord Black to give his blessing when Lucius had all but walked away from the Malfoy legacy and wealth.
“Unfortunately, the stubborn old tyrants did not acknowledge that I was his only son and their only legacy until my grandfather was on his deathbed. My mother and father were a business arrangement and their parents before that. It was considered a matter, of course, that marriage was a thing to be arranged between parents rather than those marrying. They expected our relationship to end quickly with little damage to their chances of securing a better foothold in France. They called it a flame doomed to die, and they died not understanding why I had chosen your mother year after year. They died trying to drive us apart,” he blew out a breath. “There were many rights of passage that did not come about until you were born because of it, a wound that still haunts your mother to this day although our parents are long gone from this world. I suspect it was a large part of why she took such a shine to Mia who has been faced with the same trials and without a mother to comfort her.”
Draco could only guess if Lucius was telling the truth. He knew that Narcissa’s mother, Druella, had died long before his parents had married. He had no idea how Hermione was going to tell Narcissa and Lucius that she was Mia and that Narcissa had gotten the chance she thought she missed for her pride. Draco wondered how long it took Lucius to cave, how quickly Narcissa packed the box to give him, and ordered her and Lucius’ robes. He wondered what she said that allowed her to all but drag his father there with all the rites of passage she could muster to bestow upon them so that Hermione would never have to feel the way she had.
Draco would never have to resent his father the way Lucius no doubt resented Abraxas and Draco’s great grandfather for denying Narcissa their blessing. He could imagine Narcissa glaring up at his father.
Lucius Abraxas Malfoy, I have tolerated a lot but you will not stand in my way after everything we have been through together or you will be no better than your father and his father before him. So help me, I will leave you here with their memory and your pride!
“I am grateful that it only took my wife rather than my dying breath to realize that there are, perhaps, more important things than power and getting what you want.”
“Perhaps?” Draco quirked an eyebrow at him.
“Power is nothing without something to protect,” he said, “I sacrificed you because that is all my power afforded me. In doing that, I made the one person I wanted to protect above all else suffer. Having your way in such a small thing is foolish when you could lose something much greater for your stubborn selfishness.”
Was that… an admission of wrong?
It isn’t an admission until they say it is, Hermione told him once as they sat together on the couch, You cannot give them consideration that they could not give you, or nothing will change.
He scoffed, “Why is it that mother loves you so?”
“She knows me, as I am sure you will find that your Ms. Granger knows you,” Lucius looked at him, those steely silver eyes that were so much like the eyes he saw in the mirror every morning bore into his. “If not, I imagine that your relationship will not last beyond a year. You have too many enemies to build your marriage on sand.”
He scoffed, “Have you met my wife? I’m sure that the Romans would kill to have her sense of structural integrity. She knew you two would come when I didn’t believe you would and had planned it down to not revealing you if you didn’t wish to be revealed.”
His eyes widened just a bit before his expression fell back into its cool expression.
He turned to look back at the lake, “I never saw anything of myself in you when you were growing up, Draco.”
“At once a shame and a reason to rejoice, yet seeing you here, seeing you with your Mrs. Malfoy, I am hard-pressed to see anything else.”
Draco swallowed the weak little sound at those words. He couldn’t remember wanting anything more in his life than his father’s approval. It was a shame that it took leaving home to get it, but at least, maybe, with it now, with Lucius seeing Draco as a man after all these years, they’d have a real relationship.
Mrs. Malfoy, he thought with a small smile.
“Will you come home, Draco?”
“I am home,” he said, “Maybe for truly the first time in my life.”
He lowered his head a bit, and Draco wondered how deep his love went for Narcissa that the proud and noble Lord of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Malfoy, Lucius Abraxas Malfoy, seemed almost contrite and ashamed of his actions. He smiled thinking that his love for Hermione had made him let go of a lot of his arrogance and was glad that his parents had a relationship that strong. His mother deserved it even if his father didn’t.
“Will you allow us to be a part of your life again? If not us, your mother?”
He was pretty sure he may never get a true apology, maybe he would, but it wouldn’t be tonight. They were both too raw, too exposed, or something stubbornly unable to let go of years of pain between them. Two snakes wounded, leaking blood and watching each other retreat to their burrows until they could either come to blows or come to terms on another day.
“You will have to ask my lady of the house,” he said and turned back towards the party, “Stay out here with your ruminations if you like, but I have a wife to dance the night away with and my impending embarrassment to avoid.”
“You think my wife is asking innocuous questions about my childhood right now?” Draco headed back up the slope, “She is more Slytherin than I am most days.”
He walked away from Lucius and back into the party to see Hermione and Narcissa laughing at the family table. He sat down on the other side and looked at the two of them.
“And what are my two favorite women giggling about?”
“Your love for peach jam,” Hermione said, “She said you attempted to bathe in it.”
Draco’s face heated at the memory, “As I thought. You are not to be trusted alone together.”
“That would explain where all my peach jam always disappeared to whenever you came to my office…” Hermione chuckled, “I will have to show you where I get it and stock your office.”
“And what else have you told my cunning wife, mother?” Draco asked.
“Nothing too embarrassing, my darling,” her eyes twinkled and Draco glowered at her.
“As if I would believe you.”
Lucius re-entered the tent, his face a bit flushed from the cold, and he approached the table.
“Pardon my interruption,” Lucius said before focusing on Narcissa. He offered her his arm with a slight bow, “If I might have a dance with you, Lady Malfoy?”
She worried her lip and glanced at Draco who schooled his expression into something he hoped seemed impressed, “Is that what you fell for mother?”
She flushed and took Lucius’ hand allowing him to pull her from the chair and escort her to the dancefloor. Hermione leaned over in her chair as he leaned back. She wrapped her arms around him, pressing a kiss to his cheek.
“Your father and mother are nothing like what I expected.”
“You laughed at my father.”
“He doesn’t know you,” she said, “But I hope you’ll give him a chance to. Both of them that is.”
He took her hand and watched them dance, “Only if they give themselves the chance to know you. You’re my wife, Mrs. Malfoy.”
She laughed and squealed as he turned and pulled her into his lap. He kissed her soundly and wrapped his arms around her.
“Thank you, Hermione.”
“You can thank me by not eating all of my peach jam.”
“I make no promises.”
She grinned, “Drakie.”
He groaned, and she laughed, “You win. You win.”
“I always do,” she kissed his head and hummed.
As the party died down, leaving them sitting quietly and near exhausted as the sun began to rise the next morning, Lucius and Narcissa came to them.
“I hope you will come for dinner,” Narcissa said, “After your honeymoon.”
Draco hesitated, but with a squeeze to his hand, Hermione replied, “We’d be delighted. We’ll look for your owl.”
Narcissa beamed at her, and before they left she embraced them both. Lucius looked at Narcissa with a curiously tender expression before offering his hand to Draco.
“Until then, son.”
Draco wanted to tell him to shove off, but he remembered Narcissa’s pleading and Hermione’s request. He met his father’s eyes and shook his hand.
“Until then, father.”
Lucius took Hermione’s hand and kissed it, “Until then, Mrs. Malfoy.”
“Until then, Dad.”
All the cool posturing vanished as father and son looked at Hermione as if she’d slapped them both before Narcissa giggled. It was a sound Draco had never heard before.
“Oh, Lucius, your face.”
He cleared his throat, took Narcissa by the arm, and walked out with all the dignity he could manage.
“Dad?” Draco asked.
She grinned, “He thinks he wants things the way it was because it’s familiar, but you inherited more than your looks from him, Hufflepuff.“
“You are going to pay for that.”