A Marriage Most Convenient

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Chapter 14: Lies and Accusations of Sweetness Abound


"For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors and laugh at them in our turn?" – Jane Austen


It’s always great fun to laugh at others, as long as they aren’t laughing at you in return.” – Draco Malfoy


Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” – Hermione Granger (with help from the Bible)


Didn’t my quote say the exact same thing as Hermione’s quote?” – Revised quote, Draco Malfoy


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Rocking back and forth in a wicker rocker in the corner of the nursery, on the third floor, in the great house, Whitehall, Hermione felt torn. She looked over at her daughter, her child, her precious little girl, and her heart ached. Alice insisted and insisted that no adult transfigured the bear for her, that she did it all on her own, that she wouldn’t lie to her mummy and why wouldn’t her mummy believe her. The little girl even cried.


Hermione felt like a monster. She finally asked her daughter for forgiveness and then rocked her in the rocking chair until Alice stopped crying, reminiscent of how she used to put her to sleep almost every night when she was a baby. When Alice was finally sleeping, Hermione placed her on the large canopy bed in the middle of the room that adjoined Ingrid’s room, closed the door between the two rooms, and then she sat in the rocking chair all alone.


She took her wand, closed the curtains on the canopy bed, placed a silencing charm around the curtains after she closed them, and then she cried.


That was when Draco found her.


Draco had climbed the backstairs to the third floor two at a time after speaking with his father first, and then his mother. His conversation with his father was enlightening, and it shed a lot of light on the bear/bunny/elephant fiasco. His conversation with his mother was a bit more distressing. He told his mother his father’s revelation that he might have a child out there somewhere, and that they were waiting for a picture to come by Owl, and his mother admitted that she already knew about it, since Lucius and she were still married when the blackmail occurred. More distressing still, his mother told him that she had told her sister-in-law Phillipa. What if Phillipa told Hermione? She would probably no longer want to marry him.


Narcissa told Draco not to worry…because everything would work out in the end. If the child were really his, surely he would have heard from the mother by now. Since the supposed blackmailer lacked information such as the child’s gender, date of birth, the mother’s name, etc, Draco’s mother was sure it was a hoax. She told him NOT to tell Hermione, agreeing that it might change her mind about marriage to him.


What if the blackmailer did know the gender, the date of birth, and the mother’s name, and he merely failed to give the pertinent information to Lucius at the time of the blackmail. Curse his father, anyway. He should have told him. Now he really should tell Hermione, but he really didn’t want to do it. Apparently, they both had secrets to tell the other person, but Draco decided to heed his parents’ advice and wait until after the wedding to tell Hermione his secret. He hoped Hermione would wait to tell him hers, too.


He walked as fast as he could down the long passageway on the top floor, arrived outside the door to the nursery, heard crying, and knew immediately that it wasn’t Alice crying. It was Hermione.


He slipped inside.


The afternoon light was fading fast, and the room was fast becoming dark. The curtains around the bed were all down, so Draco could only assume Alice was in the bed. Hermione was in the rocking chair, her head on her knees, her knees hugged upwards toward her chest, her hair fanned out everywhere, masking most of her face. His heart leapt in his chest seeing her like that, for she seemed so damn sad, and the only other word he could think of was ‘familiar’. Why did the sight before him cause him such anguish? He refused to think he was falling in love. He wasn’t falling in love, not yet, maybe not ever. He couldn’t fall in love this quickly, not again. He fell in love even quicker five years ago. One night, after a masked ball, he went into a billiard’s room, met a masked woman, made love, and immediately afterwards he fell in love. What did that get him but five years of loneliness and solitude.


Yet…he might be falling in love with the woman in front of him. He was falling in love with the woman he was going to marry. Would wonders never cease?


He placed his hand on her shoulder at the same time that he lifted the blinds on the windows with his wand. She seemed startled by his presence and by the light coming into the dark room. “Oh, Draco,” she said, while wiping the tears off her cheeks with both hands. “I didn’t hear you come in.”


“Why are you crying? You might wake Alice. I take it she’s asleep in there, somewhere.” He pointed toward the bed and smiled. Then he pulled on her arm, lifted her from the chair, and sat down in her place, with her on his lap.


“I put a silencing charm around the bed so she wouldn’t hear me,” she clarified.


“That didn’t answer the question of why you’re crying,” he complained. He noticed that she had changed clothes. She was in a pair of jeans and a lightweight jumper and he thought she looked lovely. He pulled on an unraveled piece of yarn on the hem of her jumper and said, “Tell me what’s wrong.”


“I’m a horrible mother,” she answered.


“Tell me something that’s true now,” he scolded, “because I’m not buying that statement.”


“I accused my daughter of lying.” She covered her face again and tried to get off his lap, but he placed his arms around her tightly. He kissed her shoulder. She continued, “I called her a liar, but I’m the liar! Not her! She’s never lied to me before, and yet I accused her of lying in front of everyone! I embarrassed her, I embarrassed myself, and you and your father, and I did it all because of my own guilty conscience. I hurt my little girl’s feelings, Draco. How could I do a thing like that? She’s a small child! She might never forget this!” She sobbed harder.


He really had no words of comfort, so instead, he continued to hold her, and he even began to rock the chair back and forth, his long legs firmly in front of him, his feet planted firmly on the floor. Hermione turned in his lap so that her head was angled on his shoulder, her shoulder next to his chest. He could hardly breathe. His heart felt as if it was restricted inside his ribs. He loosened his hold on her slightly, and he finally asked, “What was your lie?”


She cried even harder.


The whole thing broke his heart – a heart he wasn’t even sure he had before this weekend begun. A little girl gave him a pink flower, he held her sticky hand, he became reacquainted with an old foe, and now he felt love, and along with that love, came heartbreak at the thought of either one of these precious females feeling pain. Life was so odd sometimes. He rocked the chair back and forth, steadily, trying hard to reign in his own emotions, the fingers of his right hand skimming lightly up and down her back. Finally, her tears became gentle sniffs and hiccups.


Finally, he said, “She didn’t transfigure the bear, Hermione.”


She kept her head tucked in the crook of his neck and said, “If she said she did, she did. She said she didn’t lie, and I won’t ever doubt her again.”


He lifted her head with one finger under her chin. Once they were staring at each other, he said, “She didn’t lie. She caused the thing to change, but not from transfiguration. My father took the blasted thing into my study to examine it, and he discovered that it had been charmed to change at command. After he told me that, I commanded that it change into a snake, and low and behold, a pink snake with a polka dot tie appeared.”

Hermione stopped crying and she placed a hand on his chest. “I don’t understand. Who would have charmed it? I mean, could Alice have…”


Before she could finish her thought, he smiled and shook his head before interrupting with, “Love, if she didn’t transfigure it, I hardly think she charmed it, either. It came from your ex, right? Would he have done it?”


“Why would he have done it?” Hermione asked, “Unless he wanted to do it merely to upset me somehow. He was constantly doing things to undermine me and my authority with Alice when we were married, just to goad me, and to exert power over her. Oh, I can’t stand that man! An ocean apart and he’s still too close!”


“You know, he’s her father, and he’ll be in her life forever, so perhaps we should all learn to get along,” he suggested.


Hermione looked at him as if he was crazy and said, “Seriously, who the hell are you? Draco Malfoy did not just suggest that I hold hands with my bloody ex-husband and learn to get along with him!”

“It was hard to get those words out, I admit it,” he laughed. “I actually wanted to suggest that we hex his balls off from across the ocean.” His hand began to play with a long strand of her hair. She liked that. It reminded her of when he did the same thing after they made love that time after the ball.


She placed her head on his chest again and said, “We shouldn’t even have to worry about him. He’s supposed to be out of my life. I gave him everything, everything that he asked for, and he’s not upholding his end of the bargain! I knew it was too good to be true. He only sent that present to her as a warning to me, anyway. He sent that note with it, demanding that I sell my house. Charming the bear was just icing on the cake, his last little means to torment me, his warning that if I don’t do what he wants, he’ll never get out of our lives, and he’ll always interfere and meddle. When he finds out I’m marrying you, who knows what he’ll expect from us. We have to figure out a way to keep him away from Alice forever.”


“But you don’t really mean to keep him from his own daughter do you? I mean, even if he is a wanker and a right bastard, that’s not right. A man has a right to his own child,” Draco preached seriously, thinking that if he did have a child out there, perhaps that was the reason its mother kept it from him, because she thought he wasn’t good enough to be a father.


She suddenly stood from his lap. He reached for her. She walked over to the window and spat, “I know that, Draco. I don’t need you to remind me of that, okay?” If he thought that about Kevin, she wondered what his reaction would be when he found out that she had kept him from his daughter for four years! She sighed and said, “Can we please not talk about it right now? Where is the stupid animal anyway?”

“I left my father in the study,” Draco joked, to lighten the mood, since he had upset her, even though he knew she mean the stuffed animal.


She grinned and said, “And did you leave the stuffed animal with him?”


“My father destroyed it, I believe,” he answered seriously. “He’ll make it up to Alice. On a darker note, my aunt, cousin and my cousin’s whiney, little wifey are coming to dinner tonight, to make sure this engagement is legit, according to my mother. Isn’t that pleasant?”


Hermione sighed a second time, turned to the wall and banged her head on it. Draco laughed. He rushed to her and placed his hand on her forehead before she could bang it a second time. With his hand on her forehead, his front flush against her back, he whispered in her ear, “I’m coming to like that pretty head of yours, so don’t hurt it, love.”


She turned. His hands went to either side of her, flat against the wall. She reached up and touched his face with her index finger, temple to jaw. “I’m starting to like your head, too.”


“We sound like a couple of lovesick fools,” he joked, “liking each other’s heads and all.” He pressed closer, placed a kiss on the center of her forehead, pulled back to look at her and said, “But it is a lovely head, love.”


With her hands on his shoulders, she said, “Why do you call me ‘love’?” Had she already asked him that? Had he answered? “Is it something you call all your lovers, or all women, or what?”


“Welllll,” he said slowly, his lips moving again, against her cheek, “we aren’t lovers, yet.” She could beg to differ, but she wouldn’t. She pushed him away and gave him a scolding look, so he tried to answer. What could he say? No, it wasn’t a form of endearment he usually used with women. In fact, he hated pet names and the usual forms of endearment such as sweetheart, love, and darling, but calling her love, from the first time it left his mouth when he sat on that park bench two days ago, sounded right.


He told her so, “It feels right to call you that and I want to call you it, so I do. I don’t usually call the women I like anything but Mudblood.” He looked serious. She hit his chest and laughed. “Oh, that was just you. Seriously, I don’t know. You look like a ‘love’. My love. I don’t know. Don’t embarrass me.” He pushed away from her.


“But do you call everyone that?” she pondered.


“I don’t think I’ve ever called anyone else that,” he said.


Once again, she wanted to beg to differ, because he had called her that on the night that they conceived Alice, but perhaps he couldn’t remember that. If he didn’t recall it, perhaps it didn’t signify, and perhaps he really didn’t overuse the term, or better yet, maybe he did recall, but he couldn’t hardly tell her that he only used it one other time or a one-night stand five years ago, and that was only because he didn’t know her name.


She decided not to press the matter. Besides, she liked it. He started back to the rocker, but she pulled on his sleeve. “Draco, I’m sorry. I like it. It’s sweet. You’re sweet.”

“I am not sweet, Hermione Granger,” he rebuked.


“Whatever, but I still like it. No one has ever called me anything like that before. The only man I’ve ever loved has only called me Mudblood.” Draco gave her an odd look before he smiled. She grinned and gushed, “Oh, that’s right, you’re the only one that ever called me that.”


Well, that was a lie, wasn’t it? That reminded her… “Listen, after dinner tonight, I absolutely have to talk with you. I have to tell you something important that I’m keeping from you, you know, the thing I referred to on the train and it can’t wait. Do we have a date?”


“Since we’re getting married and we’ve only gone out once, yes, it’s a date. Speaking of dinner, do you want to go get ready? I’ll wait up here until Alice wakes. I don’t trust the sleeping nanny with her. It’s a big house, and Alice might wake up and go to look for you and get lost.”


“See, sweet. No matter how you roll it, you’re sweet.” She started out of the room.


“Take that back, Granger!” he barked.


“Sh, you’re wake the child, you sweet man.” She walked out the door without a backwards glance.


“Sweet? Me? She’s a loon.” He said it aloud, but he smiled. He walked over to the canopy bed, lifted the silencing charm, and pulled back one of the drapes. He looked down at the small, sleeping child, so restful, so beautiful (as beautiful as her mother was) and said, “Now she’s sweet.” She was clutching a stuffed green dragon in her arms. It had a green serpent pin on it that looked surprisingly like one that belonged to his father.


He sat on the side of the bed and said, “The old man’s gone soft. I might call him sweet, but he would probably hex me to next week.” He stroked blond hair from her face. Was it strange that he thought he was beginning to love this little girl as much as he was beginning to love her mother?

Alice opened her eyes slowly. She sat up in the bed and said, “Where’s Mummy?”


“She went to get ready for dinner. We have a few hours until you need to get ready. Would you like to go downstairs and meet my mother?”


“Is she nice?” Alice scrambled out from under the covers, placing the stuffed dragon to the side.


She was on her knees beside him in a second. Her hand came to rest on his thigh. She looked up at him. He answered. “Yes, she’s wonderful, one might even call her sweet, but not to her face. She’s a wonderful mother, almost as nice as your Mummy.” He reached for the hand on her thigh and held it in his hand. “Alice, you know, you didn’t really change that bear today. Do you know what a charm is?” He expected her to say no, and he wasn’t sure he was up to educating a four-year-old.


She sat beside him and said, “Yes, I do.”


“Your bear was charmed to change into whatever you asked it to change into. That’s how it changed, so you did change it, as you thought, so you were right, but Mummy was right, too, because you didn’t really do it with magic. It was done for you. Does that make sense?” Draco reached over and smoothed down her hair.


“Yes.” She reached up and touched his hair, too. “I have to go potty.”


Oh no. Draco wasn’t sure what that meant. “You can do that on your own, right? You don’t require adult supervision, do you?”


“What?” she asked. She started to get off the high bed.


Draco lifted her as he stood, and held her on his hip. He walked to the bathroom off the bedroom. He pointed to the commode and said, “That’s the commode. You can handle the rest, right?”

“Yes, but can you help me with my buttons?” Even as she asked, he noticed that she had on a pair of corded jeans in dark blue, with a light blue jumper. He set her on the floor and knelt down in front of her.


“Is that all I will have to do?” He was slightly afraid. He didn’t know anything about bathroom rituals and little girls, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to know.


“That’s all.” She pulled up her jumper and blouse and showed him the top button of her pants. Draco reached over and undid the button. He pushed her toward the toilet and hurried from the room.


When she walked out of the bathroom she said, “Can you help me button it up?”


“Are you helpless?” he joked. He went down to his knees and buttoned it. “Did you wash your hands?”


“I couldn’t reach the sink,” she explained.


“That’s disgusting,” he remarked, “no wonder your hands were sticky that first day I met you.” He lifted her by the waist, with both hands, holding her out from him as if she had a disease, or dust all over her, and then he went to the sink. He sat her on top, turned on the water, handed her the soap and said, “Go at it.”


She lathered the soap, washed and rinsed her hands and then ended by asking, “Where’s the towel?”


“How would I know?” he answered. She ended up drying them on his shirt.


He was flummoxed, as well as highly amused, so he laughed hard. He helped her down and took her now clean hand. He said, “I’m glad your hand is clean, and not sticky today.”


“I don’t have snot today either. I remember that you said you don’t like snot.”


He thought she was almost as charming as her mother was. He also thought that he was going to protect her from every evil there was out there and on that, everyone could count. “Shall we meet my mother now?”

“She’s not married to Grandfather, is she?” Alice asked when they were walking down the hall, toward the steps.


“No, not any longer, but I wager she won’t mind if you call her Grandmother. I’m certain she’ll insist,” Draco explained.


When they reached the bottom of the stairs, and stood in the hallway on the second floor, Alice said, “If I call your father Grandfather, and your mother Grandmother, I think I should now call you father, if you and Mummy are having nut jewels, which means you’re getting married. What do you think?”


He thought that even if he wasn’t willing to admit that he loved Hermione yet, (even though he knew that he did) he WAS sure that he loved this little girl. “Miss Alice, nothing would make me happier.” He walked with her toward his mother’s room, hand-in-hand, and a smile on his face and he thought, ‘Goodness, Granger’s right, I am sweet. What’s gotten into me?’

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