A Marriage Most Convenient

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Chapter 10: Business and Love Means Nothing to a Four Year Old:

"Business, you know, may bring you money, but friendship hardly ever does." – Jane Austen

Business brings you money, and money buys you friends, and sometimes friends can become lovers.” – Draco Malfoy

Business and love shouldn’t mix.” – Hermione Granger


The rest of the night went by in a blur. Draco’s parents continued to act cordial to Hermione, which secretly disturbed her on so many levels. His aunt continued to act aloof and snooty, which secretly pleased her to no end. His cousin continued to act as if he hadn’t two brain cells to spare, which Hermione gave no particular thought. By midnight, Hermione’s emotions were all over the place, and she was happy that the ball was almost over and the lies could soon stop.

Although they couldn’t stop, because she committed to going to Draco’s estate in Wales. What a woefully, terrible mess she was in, and it was all of her own making. Draco was standing by the lifts, telling most of the guests goodnight or farewell, depending on whether they were staying at the hotel or going home. Hermione tried to slip past him, but he noticed her. He reached out, grabbed the back of her skirt before she could pass him, and pulled her back to him. As he talked to a man and his wife, telling them he appreciated the fact that they had come, he let his arm go around her waist, and then his hand came to rest flat on her stomach. To her benign interest, she relaxed into his embrace, comforted by this strength and support…and all of this was to her extreme annoyance. She didn’t want to fall in love with Draco Malfoy. She might want to marry him, but love? No way.

Nonetheless, that simple touch anchored her, and gave her strength to think that she could continue with her plan, and perhaps he would even appreciate entering into a marriage with her, as a business deal, or whatever. She would have to see how things played out. She looked over at him, but the only way he acknowledged her was by tightening his hold on her waist.

That was enough.

Hermione watched as Harry and Ginny walked out of the ballroom. She gave Ginny a weak, sad smile. Ginny walked up to her, looked at Draco’s hand around her waist, and said, “Fake, huh?”

Before Hermione could chastise Ginny, the younger woman leaned forward, kissed her friend’s cheek and said, “You two don’t fool anyone. This is real. I know it, even if you don’t.” She gave Hermione’s hand a squeeze.

Draco turned his attention to Marcus, but he continued to try to listen to the two women as well. “Are you staying here?” Hermione asked.

“No, we’re apparating home tonight, the kids, you know,” Ginny explained.

“Alice was so looking forward to seeing more of Uncle Harry and Aunt Gin,” Hermione stated.

Harry walked up and took his wife’s hand. “Ready to go?” He wouldn’t look at Hermione. Draco paused from his conversation with Marcus when he felt Hermione stiffen in his arm.

Hermione pushed Draco’s hand away and said, “No kiss goodbye for your oldest friend, Harry, or aren’t I your friend any longer?”

“I don’t know, answer this question? Are you sure this is just a ploy to fool his parents and kin?” Harry asked. He looked at Draco as he said it.

“Does my answer influence your answer, Harry?” she asked sadly. At that, Hermione glanced at Draco and then back at Harry. “I’m not completely sure of anything, Harry. If you had asked me if I was certain of one thing, just this morning, I would have said that I was certain that Harry Potter was my oldest, dearest, best of all friends, and that he would love me forever. Now, I’m not sure of anything.”

Draco looked at her face, etched with pain, and for the very first time in his life, he felt empathy for another human being. Hell, he had never felt that little emotion before. He wasn’t even aware he knew how to spell it, let alone how to recognize it, but he saw her pain, and what was more, he felt her pain, and then he felt growing anger toward Harry Potter for causing that pain.

He watched Potter to see what he would say. He said nothing. He hated Harry Potter. Always had, always would, and probably nothing would change that, but Hermione Granger loved him, and she was in pain right now because of that prat. He stepped in front of Hermione and said, “Goodnight, Potter. Glad you could make it. Say hello to Weaselbee when you see him. If Hermione, Alice and I never see you again, it will be too soon.” He took Hermione’s hand and started down the corridor.

“Malfoy!” Harry shouted.

Not only Draco turned, but also Hermione, and several others. Harry stepped closer. “Don’t you ever hurt her. I can’t pretend to know what all of this is about, but I swear, if she comes out with the short end of the stick, and her and little Alice are harmed, or made fools of, you really will have to answer to me. Say what you will about not fearing me, but if you don’t heed my advice, you will be the one that is so very sorry.”

Harry never raised his voice after the initial calling of ‘Malfoy!’ He took Hermione’s hand and said, “I apologize, Hermione. If I ever hurt you this badly again, then that complete wanker over there, yes, I’m referring to you, Malfoy,” he looked at Draco, then back to Hermione, “has my permission to do the same to me as I just threatened to do to him.”

Draco rubbed his hands together and said, “Oh, so many possibilities.”

Hermione pushed Draco’s chest slightly with her elbow, and hugged Harry tightly. She whispered in his ear, “I think this is right. You told me a long time ago that he had a right to know everything regarding Alice, and I think this might help me tell him the truth, finally. It might get me out from under Kevin’s thumb, and it’s the right thing to do, for Alice.” She kissed his cheek and watched as the Potters left.

“What was all that whispering about, love?” Draco asked her.

“I told Harry that you secretly love him, that’s all,” she joked, and then she yawned.

She rubbed her eyes and when Draco said, “Ready to go to my room?” she stopped rubbing her eyes and looked at him sharply. He laughed and said, “I merely wanted to see if you were paying attention. I meant to ask if you were ready to go to your room. I don’t mind staying there tonight, love.”

She laughed, too. “Right, about that, the answer would be no.” She pushed the button for the elevator and said, “Don’t be angry, but you’re going to your room, I’m going to mine, and I don’t even want you to walk me to my room, okay?”

“And then how would I get my obligatory kiss goodnight?” he asked.

Hermione walked on the elevator, followed by Malfoy, pushed her floor button and as the doors closed she said, “I don’t recall anywhere in our verbal contract the mention of a kiss goodnight. You did mention a possible kiss, and we kissed, twice actually. That’s enough.”

He frowned, folded his arms in front of him and said, “Enough for whom?”

The doors opened on her floor. Without answering his question, she pushed on his chest as he tried to push away from the wall. “Don’t follow me. This is too perfect as it is. Anyway, I have some things to think about, and I don’t need a kiss from you to cloud my mind and judgment. However,” she stopped to use her hip to stop the door from closing, “I’m probably going to ask you a question tomorrow, regarding a little business arrangement, and I want you to really, really consider it before you give me your answer, alright?”

“Ask now, why wait?” he commanded. He pulled her back on the elevator, and pushed the stop button. “In fact, just command me to say ‘yes’ as I did to you. I would do it, blindly, without qualms.”

“Really?” she smiled.

“But of course,” he answered.

She had already taken advantage of him once, without his knowledge, so she couldn’t do it again. Nevertheless, come morning, she was going to ask him if he wanted to enter into a real marriage of convenience with her, and she would leave the option of whether it was a business arrangement, meaning he could plan a divorce whenever he wanted, or if he wanted it to be real, up to him.

“Would you do that?” she asked, still not believing him.

“Yes,” he stated, “Because, for some odd reason, I think I know what you want to ask, and I think it’s what I want, too, and who knows why? You said earlier that I was delusional. Perhaps it’s catching.” He pulled on her arm, brought her to his chest, and kissed her briefly on the lips. He kept her in his arms, her brown eyes staring up at him, beseeching, staring. “I’ve been known to be wrong before. Perhaps you wanted to ask me to give you a kidney or something.”

“Nope, I have two, and they’re doing just fine,” she said. She placed her head on his chest. “What am I to tell Alice? Poor Alice.”

Draco hadn’t thought about how hard that would be. The little girl didn’t want another Daddy, yet he wanted nothing more than to marry her mummy, and make it real, make them both his. He rubbed her back and said, “If I had words of wisdom for you, I’d quote them, but I’m at a loss. I know nothing about children. My emotional maturity level is about the same as a five year old, so again, can’t really help.”

“It’s fine, I’ll think of something, you only need to keep an open mind for my question tomorrow, okay?” She turned back around, pushed the ‘open’ button and left the lifts.

As the door closed, Draco said, “Yes. The answer’s yes.”

The next morning, Hermione found Draco sitting on the loveseat, on the same veranda, where they had met the night before. He looked up at her, expectantly. He patted the space beside her. Instead, Alice, who was hiding behind her mother’s skirt, came to sit beside him. Hermione remained standing.

“Hello Miss Alice. Hello, Hermione. How are you both this morning?” he asked. He picked up the little girl’s hand and shook it.

“I’m fine, Mr. Draco. We just had breakfast.” The little girl had a battered looking book in her hand. Draco smiled. Seeing the child with a worn-out book made her seem even more like her mother. She began to leaf through the pages. Hermione looked at Draco and gave him a small nod. He didn’t know what that meant, but he decided to keep talking to her.

“Did your mummy tell you about the ball last night?” he asked.

The little girl nodded without looking at him. Instead, she continued to turn the pages of her book.

“Did she tell you that your holiday is going to be extended?” he asked.

Again, a small nod.

“Do you like train rides, Alice?” he asked.

“Do you like Peter Rabbit?” Alice asked back, instead of answering. She held up her book.

“I fail to see the connection, but yes, I suppose I do,” Draco laughed. Hermione grinned as well. The little girl handed her book to him. “Do you want me to read this to you or something?”

“Only if you want to,” Alice consented.

“I could read it to you on the train today. You and Mummy, and Draco and that sleeping nanny of yours, are all taking a train to a little country called Wales. It’s not too awfully far, and I got a train car just for you and Ingrid, and another one for Mummy and I. Does that sound amendable?”

“Doesn’t that sound what?” she asked back, confused.

Hermione knelt before her daughter and said, “Sweetie, I told you, we’re going to a big house by the sea, on a giant cliff, called Whitehall. Mr. Draco owns it, and he asked us to go on holiday with him there, remember?” She looked at Draco and asked, “Did you truly book two train cars? I thought you and I were apparating?”

“I knew you would rather go with Alice, and I would rather go with you,” he answered truthfully.

Alice slipped off the bench, took her book from Draco and said, “No thank you. I don’t want to go. I want to go to my Granny and Bob’s house. Bob is her husband, not my Gramps. My Gramps name is Gramps.”

Draco tried to hold back a laugh at that little comment. He said, “You really don’t want to go to the seaside, and see the giant cliffs, and the big house? It’ll be a lot of fun. I really want you to go, and I’ll miss you terribly if you don’t come.”

Alice took her mother’s hand and looked up at her. “Do you really want to go, Mummy?”

“I do, Alice.”

The little girl looked down at the ground for a moment, then back to Draco. “Did you kiss my mummy last night?”

He wasn’t sure, how that was pertinent information to the conversation at hand, but again, the mind of a child was foreign to him. “I told you to ask your mummy that question, remember?” He winked at Hermione.

“I asked her this morning and she said to ask you,” Alice answered.

Draco smiled and said, “Well, can you keep a secret?” The little girl nodded. Draco pulled her closer, pushed back her hair and whispered, “Yes, Miss Alice, I kissed your Mummy last night and I hope I get to kiss her again today.”

She smiled at Draco, walked up to her mother, took her hand, and asked, “What time does our train leave?”

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