A Marriage Most Convenient

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Chapter 23: No, Please


"One does not love a place the less for having suffered in it, unless it has been all suffering, nothing but suffering." – Jane Austen


I thought I knew what fear was, but I was wrong. Fear used to be the unknown. Fear used to be the thought that I would be alone for the rest of my life. Now I know that fear is having something given to you, the greatest gift of all, and then having it taken away. That is fear.” – Draco Malfoy.


Would things have been different if we had never come to this place? If we had never taken a chance at happiness, would we now not know suffering? I would happily go back to the way things were before, give up all present happiness, for peace of mind.” – Hermione Granger


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“ALICE!” Hermione screamed. She picked up Alice’s dragon and began to run around the top of the hillside, frantically calling her daughter’s name. “ALICE! Where are you? ALICE! Come to Mummy right now!”


Draco was gripped with a fear he had never known. Jaw clenched, wand in hand, he sent up a four-point spell to locate the little girl. Nothing happened.


Hermione ran back to Draco, grabbed his shirt, and said, “We have to find her!”

“Stay here!” he commanded. He apparated back to Whitehall.


He ran through the house, feeling every bit a child himself, instead of a twenty-nine year old man. The reason for the feeling was that he needed his mother and father. He needed them as much as Alice probably needed Hermione and him. He called out to them, yelling as loudly for them as Hermione had yelled earlier for Alice. “MOTHER! FATHER! Come here! Please! Where are you?”


Lucius came out of the library and said, “Goodness boy, stop yelling like a banshee! What’s wrong?” Narcissa began to walk down the stairs.


“Alice is gone! She’s missing! One moment she was sleeping on the blanket by a tree, and the next moment she called for Hermione and then she was gone!”


Narcissa gasped and ran the rest of the way down the stairs. Lucius rushed to his son and said, “Where were you and Hermione when she went missing?”


“We were talking, just a short distance from her!” Draco explained.


“Was she out of your sight?” Narcissa asked.


“Yes, but we weren’t far from her,” Draco confessed. Suddenly, everything became clear. It was his fault. He was meant to protect Hermione and Alice, and he had failed. Failure was something he was familiar with, as was fear. He sat on the bottom step, hung his head and said, “What do we do?”


“You go find her!” Narcissa snapped.


Lucius pulled on his son’s arm and said, “You’re a man now, Son, so act like one. Take me to the place where she was when she became missing! Cissy, you stay here, round up the servants, send most of them up to the hillside, send some to the village. Everyone is to search for her! Everyone!”


Draco took his father’s hand to apparate with him to the hill. Before they left, he felt his father give his hand a squeeze. He wasn’t sure what that meant, but it scared him even more.


Back up on the hillside, Hermione was in tears. She had said every locating spell she knew and nothing helped. She ran through the nearby woods, across the little pasture to the left of the woods, and even started back down the path, but she couldn’t find her daughter anywhere. Crippling fear took a hold of her heart, and squeezed, and squeezed, and squeezed, until she almost couldn’t breath. There was no other emotion present but dread! Time stopped. She was only in that moment and she knew nothing but terror, fear and horror. She began to think of all kinds of things…a wild animal took her daughter, she fell off a cliff, or someone bad took her and at this moment was doing unthinkable things to her.


Was Alice scared? Was she crying for her mother? Did she wonder why her mother didn’t come for her? Hermione couldn’t contain her sorrow any longer and she fell to the ground and cried out once more: “ALICE!”


Draco rushed up to Hermione, and picked her up, literally, as if she was a child. Lucius barked orders to the other witches and wizards who began to arrive. Draco walked over to the blanket, placed Hermione on the ground, and sat beside her.


“We’ll find her,” he promised.


“What if we don’t?” she asked, in tears. “Draco,” she began, “I’ve never felt helpless a day in my life. I’ve always been someone who’s taken charge in the face of danger and fear. But this is different. This is my baby. My baby. And for the first time in my life, I don’t know what to do. Help me.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and cried.


And he cried with her.


In the village, at a candy store, a man held the hand of a little girl. He bent down and pointed into the glass display case and said, “Those look good, Alice. Would you like some of them? You’ve always liked those.”


The little girl placed her hand on the glass of the display case, where hundreds of little children over the years had place their hands and fingers, and she turned to the man and said, “I don’t want any candy, Daddy. I want my Mummy. I want to go home. Will you take me back to Mummy?”


The man smiled at her, stood, and took her hand. He said to the woman behind the counter, “Thanks, but I guess we aren’t getting anything today.” He walked with the little girl outside. He looked up the street and then down the street. He didn’t know what to do.


The little girl said, “Daddy?” He looked down at her. “Please, will you take me back to Mummy and Daddy Draco?”


Hearing her call Draco Malfoy ‘Daddy’ caused a lump to form in his throat. Nothing was working out as he had planned. He knew his mother was probably manipulating things in the background, as usual. She probably even planned the initial meeting between Malfoy and Hermione at that hotel last weekend. That seemed like something she would do. She was the one that convinced Hermione to come back to England. His mother was the one that told Hermione to take a holiday by the sea before moving back to London. He wouldn’t be surprised if his mother hadn’t known that Malfoy was going to be at the motel that weekend. If Malfoy’s aunt hadn’t contacted him, he would never have known a thing about it or the upcoming marriage of Hermione and Draco.


He started walking, Alice in tow. She was walking slowly, so he picked her up and carried her on his hip. She placed her head on his shoulder and said, “I’m tired.”


“You can take a nap when we get back,” he said.


“Back to Whitehall?” she asked.


Again, his jaw clenched. He walked a bit farther and sat down on a bench, Alice on his lap. “Alice, did you get any of the Owls I’ve been sending you?”


“No, and I like getting Owls. I like letters and packages,” she said. “Daddy, did you know that Draco is my daddy, too? He’s my real Daddy and you’re my pretend Daddy. That’s what Nanny told me. I don’t know what that means. What does it mean?”

“It doesn’t mean a thing, and yes, I knew all about it,” he answered. He hugged the little girl tightly. He had missed her, he truly had. No one knew what it was like to walk in his shoes. True, he married Hermione under false pretenses, and the last year or so of their marriage was terrible, but one thing was constant: he loved this little girl as if she was his own. He never wanted children in the beginning, but that didn’t mean he didn’t care for Alice.


He looked down at her and noticed she was asleep. He stood up and began walking again. He was unsure as to what he was going to do now. He came to Whitehall to try to stop Hermione’s marriage to Malfoy. Malfoy’s aunt offered him a lot of money to do that very thing. Taking Alice as he did was a last minute decision. If he was honest with himself, it was an act of vengeance. Not toward Hermione. He held her no grudge. She had suffered enough under his hand. No, his vengeance was against Draco Malfoy.


Draco Malfoy had everything that Kevin McKenzie had always wanted. He was a respected pureblood, even though his father was a former Death Eater. He had money, fame, and everyone always gave him everything that he ever wanted, whether he deserved it or not. More than that, he was marrying Hermione Granger because she loved him and he loved her, and he was Alice’s ‘real’ father.


When Kevin met Hermione, he wanted to marry her right away. He didn’t love her, though he played the artful lover. He was attentive, sweet, caring, loving, but he never loved her, not as a lover should. He wanted to marry her because of WHO she was. He knew that he didn’t have the money, the name, or the pureblood background to get the things he wanted in life, so he thought he could obtain these things through marriage with someone famous like her.


Little did he know that Hermione didn’t want any of that? She downplayed her part in the war; she wouldn’t even introduce Kevin to Harry Potter while they were first dating, even though he asked her to do so all the time in the beginning. She was awarded all sorts of money and titles and privileges by the Ministry of Magic for her part in the downfall of Voldemort, yet she rejected them all.


She just wanted to be normal, she said. How stupid. He pretended that was what he wanted as well. He manipulated her into marrying him, told her he would give her a houseful of children, promised her he would take her to his native Canada to get away from the notoriety, and that they could live a nice, quiet life there.


Then he had a vasectomy before their wedding to ensure that they would never have children. Having children was the last thing he wanted. What if they were squibs, like his stupid cow of a mother? He expected that they would have a big wedding, with tons of press, important people in attendance, so that alone was worth marrying her. She disappointed him again when she said that she wanted to get married in the registrar’s office of the Ministry, with only their parents in attendance.


Things moved along for a while. He kept her in London, using all kinds of excuses as to why they couldn’t move on to Canada. Then, (imagine his surprise) she became pregnant. Imagine his bigger surprise when she told him that she knew about his vasectomy, and that the father was none other than Draco Malfoy!


He should have demanded a divorce right there, but by that time, he really did care for her, to some degree, and she was the only one working. He liked not having to work. He liked having his freedom, and her money. When she insisted that they move to Canada finally, lest Malfoy find out about her and their baby, he agreed.


Two months after the baby was born he went to Malfoy senior, intending to blackmail the man for years and years to come, but the former Death Eater scared the shite out of Kevin, and when he offered Kevin five thousand galleons and told him to never grace his doorstep again, he took it.


The years went by, Hermione continued to be the breadwinner, his mother came to help take care of Alice, and Kevin became complacent. He liked having freedom to travel, money to gamble with, and he had many girlfriends on the side. He and Hermione even had a decent relationship…they were on friendly enough terms.


Moreover, he became close to this little girl in his arms. He came to love her as his own. He might be a lazy bastard, a sodding son-of-a-bitch, but his one redeeming quality was his love for Alice. Who wouldn’t love Alice?


Fine, he gave away his rights to her for money…that much was true. Hermione wouldn’t even put his name on the birth certificate when she was born, wouldn’t even give her his name, but that didn’t matter. During the divorce, his lawyer told him that under magical law, the fact that they were married when the child was conceived meant that he had a legal claim to her.


And he used that legal claim to squeeze every last knut and sickle from Hermione when she finally divorced him. He had to! He wasn’t working, and he had a fiancée who wanted the finer things in life. His only leverage was Alice, so he used her to get all of Hermione’s money. He didn’t count on Hermione making him sign papers saying that he would give up all legal rights to her.


Nevertheless, that wasn’t enough. He needed more money. At first, he thought if he began to contact Alice, with presents and letters, Hermione would become worried that he was trying to come back into Alice’s life. He thought she would give him the money from the sale of her house here in England to stop him. If he had known that Hermione’s fortunes was about to change with her upcoming marriage to Malfoy, he would have hatched a better scheme. That was a different kettle of fish. Why should Kevin be satisfied with a few thousand galleons from the sale of a house, when Malfoy had millions?


Millions of galleons that Malfoy was on the verge of losing if he didn’t marry by June. If Kevin could stir things up enough to keep things unsettled for a few months, he could get money from Malfoy’s aunt (for she would think he was working with her) AND he could get money from Malfoy, to make Kevin go away so that Draco could marry Hermione and finally have Alice as his daughter.


Yes, taking Alice today never figured into his plans, and now he didn’t know what to do. Maybe he should contact Malfoy and ask for money for her return. He touched her little cheek and cringed at the thought of doing that. When she woke up, she would ask for Hermione again. She might even start to cry. She had already asked for her several times. Kevin couldn’t keep Alice away from her mother for long, because he didn’t want the little girl to be afraid. He didn’t want her to hate him. He didn’t want her to forget that for the first four years of her life, he was her father.


He turned around and started walking back up the lane that led to Whitehall. He would figure out what he was going to do on the way there.

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