A Marriage Most Convenient

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Chapter 11: Alice is her Grandfather’s granddaughter

"There certainly are not so many men of large fortune in the world as there are of pretty woman to deserve them." – Jane Austen

I’m so pretty and rich, that surely no one deserves love and good fortune more than me, right?” - Draco Malfoy

Draco said what? That’s funny.” – Hermione Granger.

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Walking away from her daughter’s train car, Hermione was in her own little world. Alice had been misbehaving, running around the train, refusing to sit still, refusing to eat her lunch, in short being an average four-year-old child. So, Hermione had spent the last hour in her car with her, instead of spending any time at all with Draco. She hadn’t been able to spend five seconds with him since they left the station, let alone broach the subject of the ‘marriage of convenience’ business with him. Finally, Hermione got Alice, as well as Ingrid, to both take naps, so she decided it was time to find Draco. Perhaps he was misbehaving as well, although the thought of that made her smile. She looked down in her purse as she walked along the narrow corridor of the train, the familiar jostling and jolting movements reminding her of happier (and sometimes sadder) times of when they were in school.

She was still looking in her purse, trying to find her date book, and she finally had it, when she ran into someone. She looked up, didn’t make eye contract, dropped her date book, apologized profusely, “Excuse me, Sir,” and then nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard the familiar drawl of Lucius Malfoy say, “No problem, Miss Granger.”

Dare she look up? She picked up her belongings, remained on her knees, her head coming up slowly. Oh..my..stars…Lucius Malfoy was on the train, right in front of her! She stood up and said, “Mr. Malfoy, what a surprise. I knew you were coming to Whitehall, but I had no clue you were taking the train.”

“Where my son goes, I often follow,” he said.

Hermione didn’t even want to know what that meant. “Yes, well, I could say the same about my daughter; of course, she’s only four, not on the eve of thirty.” Hermione said it somewhat sarcastically, but Lucius smiled.

“May I have a word with you?” He gestured toward an empty car behind her. All the blinds were pulled, the door closed. Should she really go into an empty train car with a former Death Eater, especially as no one knew where she was? She squared her shoulders and decided, ‘why not?’ She wasn’t scared of the man any longer.

She opened the door and stepped inside. “Is this your car?” she asked.

“Heavens, no, my car is in first class. This is the car of the Muggle who was persuaded to trade cars with me, in first class,” he joked with a smile.

“Let’s make this quick, Lucius. I imagine you want to ask me my intentions, or warn me off Draco, or tell me I’m a lowly Mudblood, not good enough to lick the dirt off your son’s shoes, let alone marry him. Well, have at it. It’s almost time for lunch.” She looked down at her watch, then back up at him.

He laughed again and remarked, “I’m sure you’re good enough to lick the dirt off his shoes.” While she glared at him, he sat down. “Oh, now, laugh. That was funny, even you have to admit it, and you started it,” he began.

Hermione sat opposite him. “Well?”

“What are your intentions?” he asked.

She sighed. “I’ll be truthful,” she decided. “I plan to offer your son a marriage proposal for real today. His announcement last night was all for show, because that blasted ball was being held in his honour. He didn’t yet have a fiancée, so he asked me to go along with the ruse. I consented. Now that I’ve had time to consider things, I want to offer him a business arrangement. I know he needs to marry, and quickly, and I think I’ll make him a good wife.”

“And with this so called business arrangement, you would have the advantage of having his money,” Lucius said, looking at her squarely.

Again,…honesty, she decided. “In a sense, although money has never been that important to me. As I said, it is a business arrangement that I’m going to offer him, so we can sign a prenuptial agreement. I plan to open my appraisal business in England, so I’ll have my own money to spend. I expect nothing from him except the safety marriage can offer.”

“Safety?” he asked.

Hermione realized she couldn’t take that one word back and that it was a bit too truthful. She decided to gloss over it and said, “I was truthful with you, now please offer me the same. Tell me why you think this will never work. Warn me away from your only son. Tell me that he must marry a pureblood. Go on, I’m waiting.”

He crossed his legs and said, “You always were an infuriating little chit, even when you were a little girl. You know, it’s dawned on me, your daughter looks nothing like you did as a child.”

“You didn’t know me as a four year old,” Hermione replied, “and when did you see my daughter?”

Lucius nodded, and although Hermione didn’t know what that nod meant, she didn’t like the conversation to center around Alice. However, it seemed she had no choice as the older man said, “I saw her when you and Draco checked in at the station. She sat up on Draco’s shoulders. Your daughter is a beautiful little blonde, with amazing grey eyes. Almost the same colour as mine. Exactly the same as Draco’s.”

Instantly, Hermione knew that he knew. She lowered her head on her hand and shook it. What was she going to do? She looked back up at him and said, “You know, don’t you? Is that why you’re agreeable to this marriage?”

“Yes, I know. I haven’t always known. I was made aware that he might have a child out there, somewhere, when a man tried to blackmail me almost four years ago. I only made the connection when I saw her with him this morning. It’s a wonder that he hasn’t made the same connection. You know, my son should have been told that he had a daughter a long time ago, don’t you think?” was his answer.

Hermione thought, ‘Oh, Kevin, what did you do?’ She took her time answering. She finally came back with, “Yes, yes I do think I should have told him a long time ago, but I was married, although in a loveless, terrible marriage, to a liar, a cheater, and someone who eventually took all my money. Kevin could never have children, but he neglected to tell me that, even though he knew that was the only reason I wanted to marry. What happened that night with Draco, at a ball, almost five years ago, was a deliberate act on my part. Draco may never be able to forgive me, but I’ll never regret a day of it, because it gave me Alice. I will protect my daughter with everything that I am, and Lucius, marriage to Draco will help me to do that.”

He leaned forward at that. “There’s a threat against her.”

Hermione was saying all the wrong things to this man. She stood up, unwilling to comment on his question again, and she asked, “Did you never try to find out for sure, when my ex-husband tried to blackmail you?”

“I wish I had, but I thought it was surely a lie, so I paid the man off, and told him to never grace my doorstep again, and I warned him never to contact my son, or I would find him and kill him. I have to warn you, Draco knows about this blackmail attempt. He is bound to suspect something eventually. I should have suspected a long time ago.” The older man took a deep breath. “My heart nearly stopped when I saw her this morning. Then I knew.” He stood up as well.

“Are you going to tell Draco?” she asked.

“That’s for you to do. First, you have to make his fake engagement into a real marriage proposal. I don't care if it's a business arrangement, it has to be real, for the sake of the child. I assume he’s so besotted with you, that you won’t have any trouble with that,” he said amusedly.

Hermione’s mind was whirling, but the only thing she seemed to notice was the word ‘besotted’ and the connection to when Draco used the word. She said, “Can you spell besotted?” He looked at her confused. It was reminiscent of the conversation with Draco, and she knew he wouldn’t understand her humour, but at that moment, she felt giddy and light. She raised her brows in wonder. Was it going to be that easy? Was Lucius Malfoy going to stand behind this and support the marriage?

“I assure you I can spell many words. Do you want me to start with Grandfather?” He smiled. “The question is, can you keep my son in that state long enough to make this marriage real?”

“I hope so,” she answered. “I’ve never failed at anything in my life thus far.”

“No, I don’t suppose you have.” He opened the door for her and she started out. She turned back. He said, “Yes?”

“I’m sorry I kept your granddaughter from you. There really were extenuating circumstances. My ex-husband was informed in the beginning who the baby’s father was, and I wanted to leave him several times, and I even planned on telling Draco many times that he had a child, but Kevin always came up with something dastardly to stop me. That’s all in the past, but I know in many ways, I’ve failed my child, and everyone else, but I’m trying to set it all right.”

She left the car. He was behind her. He turned her around with his hand on her arm. “First, you haven’t failed anyone. I’ve done more things in my life that I’ve regretted than ten men. Of that, you are aware. We can only try to fix our mistakes, and go on from there. At least I will know my grandchild from this time forward. Yes, Draco may be angry when he first finds out about Alice. Don’t tell him right away. I know my son, and I know that’s for the best. Marry him first. As for your ex-husband, well, things have a way of coming back to people. He’ll get his comeuppance in the end. Can you spell comeuppance?”

Hermione expelled a small, nervous laugh that she didn’t even know she was holding. She spelled out, “R –E- T- R –I –B – U- T – I – O – N.” Lucius smiled a knowing smile and nodded.

Hermione returned a curt nod to the older man and practically ran down to the car she was sharing with Draco. Lucius went back to his car, and sat down to think. To think, he had her ex-husband practically in the palm of his hand all those years ago, and he let the bastard go with a few thousand galleons and a warning. Yes, that man would get his comeuppance, or in the words of Hermione Granger, his ‘retribution’, if Lucius had anything to do with it.

Lucius was still staring out the open door of his train car when he saw a small child with blonde hair walk past. “Excuse me, child, where are you going?” he asked.

The little girl turned to Lucius. She had been crying. The sight caused the older man’s heart to flutter slightly. “Why are you crying?”

“I can’t find my Mummy. Are you Mr. Draco’s father?” she asked. “He told me his father had long blond hair, just like mine.”

“You must be Alice,” Lucius answered. To see her up close, in person, made his heart beat in his throat. “Now, I asked you, where are you going and why are you crying, again? It’s not safe for a little girl to walk around a big train by herself. You need to go back to your car.”

“My nanny is asleep, and I woke up and my mummy wasn’t there, and I was scared,” Alice said. Her tears were almost gone as she walked into Lucius’ car and climbed up on the seat beside him.

“You’re a forward little thing, aren’t you?” Lucius said. “Did I invite you in? Did I say you could sit?”

Alice looked dismayed. She got back down off the seat and turned toward the door to leave. “Alice?” Lucius said.

She turned to look at him. “You may come in my car, and you may have a seat, but you and I need to have a talk about the dangers of talking with strangers.”

Alice’s eyes brightened and she skipped back inside the car. Lucius lifted her onto the seat beside him. “Oh, Mummy’s already had that talk with me.”

“But did you listen?” Lucius asked.

“Yes. I used my ears,” Alice said. She didn’t say it to be smart or sassy. She answered him honestly, which made Lucius laugh.

This was his grandchild. His only son’s only child. The little girl he had never had, but always wanted, and someone needed to help Hermione Granger protect her from her ex-husband. He decided right then and there it would be him.

“How old are you?” he asked her

“Four. I had a birthday three days ago,” Alice said.

Lucius asked, “What did you get for your birthday?”

All tears completely gone, Alice injected, “I got a terrible pink bunny from my father Kevin and my stepmother Lauren. I got a music box with little glass animals inside it, from my mummy, and my Granny and Bob sent me a jumper and a new book. Gramps sent me a fishing pole, but I don’t know how to fish. Nanny got me a stuffed squirrel. Draco said when we get to Wales he’s going to give me a playhouse, because I had to leave my cardboard box one at the hotel.”

“That was a lot of presents,” Lucius said with some humor. He actually thought it sounded like a pitiful amount of presents. He remembered when Draco was her age, and how they used to lavish presents on him, and this little girl got a couple of stuffed animals, a music box, a jumper, a book and a fishing pole, yet she seemed pleased. He would have to give her something special when they got to Whitehall.

As he was thinking, he noticed the little girl’s hand move up to touch a silver, serpent pin he had stuck to the lapel of his Muggle suit. “I like snakes,” she commented.

“Of course you do,” Lucius said, a grin coming to his face. It was only right that she would…since she was a Malfoy. “What’s your last name?” he suddenly asked. If she had that man’s last name, he would scream bloody foul.

“The same as my mummy’s. My daddy has a different last name. His is McKenzie.”

Lucius liked that. Hermione Granger was smart; making sure the little girl had her last name, instead of her wanker ex-husband. He continued to stare down at the little girl, who was reaching up with her hand to touch Lucius’ hair.

“Your hair is pretty and long,” Alice said. “Can I brush it?”

“No,” Lucius replied, harsher than he meant to do. “But thank you for the compliment. Your hair is pretty and long, too. It’s the same colour as mine, did you notice.”

“Yes. It’s the same as Mr. Draco’s, too,” Alice said. Without warning, she climbed up on Lucius’ lap. She pulled the serpent pin from the lapel, then she accidentally stuck her finger with it, and she began to cry again.

Lucius took the pin from her immediately. He wanted to tell her that was what she got for being so forward as to climb up on his lap. That was her reward for taking something that wasn’t hers, for he may be her grandfather, but she didn’t know that. As far as she knew, he was a stranger to her, and she shouldn’t just take things, even if she wants them, although that was very Malfoy of her.

Nonetheless, seeing the little girl holding her finger to her chest, with a drop of blood on the end, and seeing her tears, caused the older man to pause. He took out his wand, healed the very small wound, and then hugged her tightly. He said, “Now, now, little Alice. It will be all right. Don’t you ever worry about anything. I’ll take care of you.”

Moreover, he would.

He placed the pin on her little cardigan jumper as her tears began to dry. He said, “Happy belated birthday, Little Alice. You may keep this pin. Let’s get you back to your train car.” He lifted her into his arms and walked down to her car. Once outside it, he pounded on the window to wake up the nanny. The older woman looked beyond shocked to see the former Death Eater, with her charge in his arms. “Do you ever stay awake? My son told me that all you do is sleep!”

Ingrid tried to take Alice from Lucius, but he set her down on one of the seats. He leaned down and said, “Now, Alice, I insist you stay in this car, unless you are with Draco, Mummy, this woman here, or me. Do you understand? No one else.”

“Okay,” she simply responded. She seemed more interested in her new pin.

Lucius looked at the serpent pin and said, “Keep this safe for me, won’t you?”

“Thank you, Draco’s father,” Alice said.

The older man turned in the doorway and said, “Please, call me Grandfather.”

She was silent for a moment while she considered his request, but then she amended, “Thank you, Grandfather.”

Lucius looked at Ingrid, who looked as if she might faint, and then back toward Alice, who wasn’t paying him any attention. She was sticking the serpent pin in a tie that was around the neck of a green, stuffed dragon. He smiled as he walked away.


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