A Marriage Most Convenient

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Chapter 19: A Short Chapter before the Holidays


"Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery." – Jane Austen


I know I can’t avoid unpleasant things by running away, but I can pretend, can’t I?” – Draco Malfoy


The truth will set you free from guilt and misery.” – Hermione Granger


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Draco ran all the way to his room, locked the door with magic, then went one-step farther and barred it with a heavy dresser in front, just in case Hermione followed him up here. Let her try to tell him her secret now!


He sighed and walked over to his bed. On the pillow was the envelope with the picture of his child, along with a note from his father. He stooped over, picked it up and read the note.


Draco – Inside this envelope is the picture of your child. I regret that I never told you about this four years ago. I regret that I never pursued the man who tried to blackmail me. However, one thing I will never regret is trying to protect you. You are my son and I love you, and someday, you’ll understand this. I would like to offer my protection a bit longer with one piece of advice. Do not open this until after your marriage to Miss Granger. Do not seek out this child or her mother until after your marriage, and lastly, do not ask Miss Granger to tell you her secret until after your marriage. It will serve no purpose. Believe me on this. I love you son, and I always will. Your Father.”


Draco balled the note with his fist, started to throw it on the floor, thought differently, pressed it against his thigh to press out the wrinkles, and placed it inside his bedside table’s drawer. He sat on the bed, opened the envelope, and pulled out the picture. It was a picture of very bald, very beautiful, newborn baby. His baby. Alice.


Tears stung the backs of his eyes. He swallowed the large knot that had formed in his throat, made a sort of strangled moaning sound, then placed the picture back in the envelope, and placed both in the drawer with the note from his father.


Alice was his daughter, his little girl and he didn’t know what to think about that.


He walked over to his bathroom, peeling off his clothing as he went. The whole time he thought of nothing but Alice. That beautiful, bright, beguiling little girl was really his. She looked like him. He noticed that the moment he set eyes on her, with her blonde hair, grey eyes, and sticky hands.


The warm water of the shower cascaded over his tired muscles, his face lifted toward the spray, and he closed his eyes. Hermione Granger really was his mystery woman. He often wondered if that was the case. He had long suspected that it was. After all, he went to school with the woman for six years. He had known her most his life – eighteen, almost nineteen years, to be exact. Even with her face hidden behind a mask, and her voice a mere whisper that night, deep down in the recesses of his soul he always knew that she was the one.


At least he had always hoped it was true.


Draco Malfoy had spent his entire life avoiding unpleasant things. He dried his body with a towel and as he stood in front of the fogged up mirror he lifted his hand and spelled out the word on the mirror. A – V – O – I – D. What a funny little word. He hated to confront unpleasant things, always had and always would.


The proof was in the pudding, as the saying goes. He had known since he was a young lad that he had to marry by the time he was thirty to inherit his birthright, yet he waited until two months before his thirtieth birthday to act upon that edict, and it was simply because he was avoiding it as long as he could.


Avoid. He erased most of the word from the mirror with his hand, leaving only the letter ‘A’. Then vertically he wrote his daughter’s name. A – L – I – C – E. He towel dried his hair, combed it, went to his room, put on a pair of lounge pants and a tight black t-shirt, a pair of slippers, and after removing the locking spells and the dresser, he walked out of his bedroom door. It was time to stop avoiding things. Heaven help him, it was time to be a man now that he was a father.


He crept past Hermione’s room. He told himself that he wasn’t avoiding her. He merely didn’t want to disturb her. She was probably sleeping. Even if she wasn’t sleeping, he didn’t want to risk seeing her. If that was avoidance, then so be it.


He walked up to the third floor, down the long hallway, to the door of the nursery. He opened the door quietly and peered inside. Little Alice was upon that massive bed, sound asleep, her stuffed dragon and her stuffed turtle beside her. There was a book pushed partially under her pillow. He walked closer. She looked like a little angel. She looked younger when she was sleeping. She looked different when her mouth wasn’t moving, which wasn’t very often. He smiled with that thought, because he had often thought of her mother in the same way.


He thought about the baby picture hidden in his bedside drawer, and he became a bit angry and remorseful when he began to wonder what Alice had been like as a baby. What was her first word? When did she learn to walk? When did she get hair, because apparently, like most Malfoys, she was bald when she was a baby? He leaned over and touched her long hair. He suddenly felt as if he wanted to cry.


He had missed so much. Kevin McKenzie had the memories of her childhood, the stupid bastard, not Draco and that wasn’t fair, and whose fault was it? He wanted to blame Hermione, but somehow, he just couldn’t. He knew she probably had her reasons. She probably had very good reasons for pretending that another man was her daughter’s father.


Except, that man wasn’t her father, Draco was, even though this little girl said she didn’t want another daddy. Too bad. Draco was her father, her real father, and he wanted nothing more than to be a ‘Daddy’ to her. He sank to the floor, to his knees, beside the bed, took her little hand in his and he wept silently.


Hermione Granger sat in the corner of the room, in the dark, unseen by Draco, and she too began to cry.


Because then she knew that he knew.


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