A Marriage Most Convenient

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Chapter 2: Four years and nine months later:


"A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of." – Jane Austen


A large income is the only thing a woman wants from a man.” – Draco Malfoy


A large income isn’t important in a relationship, but it doesn’t hurt.” – Hermione Granger.


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“I tell you, you’re screwed, Malfoy,” Marcus Flint said. “You knew this time would come. You waited and waited and waited, and now you have exactly three months until you turn thirty, and here you are, still single, and your stupid cousin is absolutely frothing at the mouth, waiting to inherit everything that is rightfully yours!”


“I still have time!” Draco complained. Yes, he still had three months to get married. Hell, he knew he was up a creek without a paddle. He didn’t need Marcus Flint to tell him that. He said, “Just do me a favour, Flint, and go back to work, or go back to the hotel and get ready for the bloody banquet, tonight. Do something besides standing there and bothering me. One of us should be doing something constructive, don’t you think.”


“I think that you should seriously consider announcing your engagement tonight, at the banquet, to anyone, just anyone, even if it’s a marriage purely of convenience, even if you have to hire someone to marry you. You have to protect yourself, Malfoy,” Marcus waned.


“You mean I have to protect my money, and my assets, right?” Draco asked. “Anyway, as insane as it sounds, I want to marry for love.”


“I never thought I’d hear Draco Malfoy spout off bloody, foolish, romantic rubbish like that!” Marcus barked.


“Why do you think I’ve waited so long? I’m not a fool, or a bloody romantic, but I’m the best man I know, and I deserve the best, and the best is to marry for love.”

Marcus laughed. “You’d better be content to marry someone who’ll be happy with your money, because you don’t have time to fall in love. What do you plan to do this afternoon?” Marcus asked.


“Isn’t it apparent?” Draco asked, holding his arms up in the air. “I’m sitting on a park bench, in the middle of a park, near a hotel, at a resort, while on holiday, so I guess I plan on doing that. And people think I’m the dumb one.”


“Whatever, Malfoy.” Flint shook his head in abhorrence and said, “And when your cousin Talbert is the new president of Malfoy Global, and he’s the new owner of Malfoy Manor, and he’s got all your bloody money, at least you’ll have park bench sitting down pat, right?” He walked away, in disgust. He turned around and said, “Good luck finding someone to fall in love with, and marry, while sitting on a park bench, Malfoy, and by tonight!”


“Thanks,” Draco said back, sarcastically. He closed his eyes. He knew time was up. He knew his goose was cooked. He knew he could never marry for love now. He had been waiting for that, for so long. There was only one woman he had ever felt a special connection with, whom he ever thought he might like to marry, and hell, he had only spent one night with her, five years ago, and he didn’t even know what she looked like, or her name. Flint was right, he was a romantic fool and he was also quite royally screwed.


He felt someone pat his knee. He opened his eyes, as a little girl, no more than four years old, with blond curly hair and grayish/blue eyes, held up a hand holding two flowers. She said, “Sir, you look sad. Do you want a flower?”


“How much are you selling them for?” Draco asked, forever the pessimist.


“You’re silly. They’re free. Do you want the blue one or the pink one?”


“I’m a boy, so I hardly think I want the blue one, give me the pink,” Draco joked. “Where did you get these flowers?”


“I picked them over there,” she said. She pointed toward a little patch of wildflowers near a little grove of trees.


Draco frowned and said, “Didn’t anyone ever tell you not to pick flowers in a public park? If everyone picked the flowers, there wouldn’t be any left for anyone to enjoy.”


Now the little girl frowned and she said, “But, I only picked two. One for me and one for you. Do you want the pink one, or not?”


“What’s your name?” he asked. “And didn’t anyone ever tell you not to talk to strangers? Where’s your mummy?”


“If I don’t talk to you I can’t tell you my name,” she reasoned. She tried to haul herself up on the bench beside him, but she had trouble hoisting herself up. Draco sighed in antipathy, looked around for an adult or a parent, and then he helped the little girl up on the bench. “Thank you,” she said.


“At least you’re a polite one, and you don’t have snot coming out of your nose. I hate kids with snot,” Draco said.


“I hate grapes,” she said. “My name is Alice.”


“My name is Draco,” Draco said, just as formally. She held the pink flower up to him and he took it.


She smiled and said, “Draco is Latin for dragon, did you know?”


Draco looked bemused, and said, “How the hell would you know that? How old are you?”


“Hell is a bad word,” she replied. “And I just turned four years old yesterday. I had a party and everything. My daddy didn’t come though, but that’s okay. He doesn’t come see me very often anymore. Mummy says it’s just her and me now that she and Daddy are divorced.”


“Hell isn’t really a bad word. It’s a place, just south of here, which I will probably one day visit, and I’m sorry he didn’t come, and happy belated birthday. How did you know that Draco was Latin for dragon?” he asked.


“My mummy is teaching me Latin,” she said.


“Why?” Draco said, totally serious.


“You’re funny,” she said as her answer.


“Your mum is teaching you Latin, at four, and yet you call me funny. Where is your Latin teaching mother? I think I need to teach her a few things, like how to keep her child from being kidnapped, for goodness sakes. You shouldn’t be alone.”


“I’m not alone, I’m with you,” she reasoned. She hopped off the bench and said, “And I’m with my nanny. She fell asleep again. She does that a lot. She’s over there.” The little girl pointed to an elderly woman, who was sound asleep, on another bench across the park.


“Well, come on, let’s go wake her up,” Draco decided. He got up and started across the park. The little girl reached up and took his hand. Draco frowned, pulled his hand from hers and said, “What are you doing?”


“Holding your hand,” she articulated.

“Well stop it. Your hand is sticky,” Draco said snidely. The little girl looked suddenly sad, which made Draco feel perplexed and perhaps ‘bad’ for some insane reason. He said, “Which makes you very lucky, because I like sticky hands. Here, hold my hand.” He huffed, held out his hand, and she happily took it.


Before he reached the older, sleeping woman, he heard a woman shouting the little girl’s name, long before he saw her. He turned his head toward the sound of her voice. The little girl said, “There’s my mummy!” Draco looked at the woman who was calling the little girl’s name, and running toward them, and his breathing almost stopped. It was Hermione Granger.


Hermione snatched the little girl up in her arms, turned in a circle, and then she said, “What do you think you’re doing, young lady?” Finally, she noticed Draco Malfoy, and she felt as if she could barely breathe. “Draco? Oh my. Thank you, Malfoy. I started up the sidewalk from the hotel and I saw my nanny, but not my daughter, and I was so worried! My nanny must have fallen asleep again. I’m so grateful you were the one to find her. Thank you so much for giving me my daughter.” She was almost out of breath by the time she finished her sentence, and she meant every single word she said, and almost literally, because he truly had ‘given’ her daughter to her.


He smiled at her and said, “You’re welcome, Hermione.” He smiled down at Alice and said, “And you’re welcome too, Miss Alice.”

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