A Marriage Most Convenient

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Chapter 28: Nighttime Happenings and Thoughts of Home


"There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort." – Jane Austen


As poetic as it sounds, a house does not make a home. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt as if I’ve had a home. I want a home more than I want anything. I would give up everything for a real home, with a real family.” – Draco Malfoy


Home is where the heart is…Hogwarts was my home for many years, my parents’ house was my home before that, but since then I haven’t had a home, not a real home. My home is where Alice is. Alice and Draco. They are my heart.” – Hermione Granger


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“Draco, are you asleep?” Hermione crept into Draco’s room that night, closed the door, and walked up to his bed.


It was well after midnight, and he had yet to sleep a wink. The windows were open, though the night air was cool. The curtains were pulled back so that not only moonlight danced into the room, but the wind also made the sheers dance and sway. Draco reclined on his side to watch the moonlight and the curtains dance. That was the way Hermione found him, on his side, staring at the windows and curtains. She didn’t wait for him to answer her question. She hopped into his bed, pulled back the covers, turned to her side, and stared right at him.


“I just got back from seeing Percy. Do you want to know what I found out?” she asked.


He shook his head no. He was afraid to ask her what she found out from Percy. He was afraid that it wouldn’t matter anyway. If his inheritance could not be saved by their marriage, (their marriage of convenience) then he was afraid that she would no longer want to marry him, and he wasn’t sure he could blame her. She already had one bad marriage, so why would she want another? It had worried him all night. What would he do if she decided that there was no longer a reason for their marriage of convenience? He would be shattered.


He felt a strange, strong surge of love for her, but it was fragile, and he felt that a mere thread held it, and the thread was unraveling. He dared not fall in love before now, because he always knew it wouldn’t last. There was no hope. He felt close to weeping, and he felt weak, and horribly inadequate. He hated all of these feelings. He always had. His was of coping with these feelings of inadequacy was to lash out, though he didn’t want to lash out at her.


Therefore, he turned to his back so that his arm covered his eyes and asked, “What did Percy Weasley have to say when you went to go see him?” He left his arm over his face.


Hermione rolled onto her back and stared up at the ceiling as she spoke. “Apparently, Phillipa moves quickly. She had already petitioned the Wizengamot to hear her case regarding the Malfoy heirs will on behalf of her son and grandchildren, stating that it cheated them out of their inheritance. She only needed three members to petition on her behalf, and she apparently got the support of five, more than enough. They’ve agreed to hear her case during their next session, which doesn’t start until July 1st.”


“After my birthday,” Draco stated.


“Yes.” Hermione sighed. “After your birthday.” She turned back to her side, but he had turned to his. His back was facing her. She placed a hand on his arm. He shrugged it off. She placed it back. He left it there.


Hermione said, “Percy said that you or your father could go to the Wizengamot and try to petition an executive stay for her hearing, but you’d have to act quickly, because this session is over in two days. He said it probably wouldn’t matter, because they would consider your objections a moot point, since they would be heard during the hearing anyway. He said that you and I couldn’t even get married quickly enough to challenge her petition unless we marry by special license, because we haven’t yet filed for a normal license, and even if we would file for an execute license, or a special license, they take twenty-four hours, so we would be cutting it close.”


He didn’t respond to her statement one way or another.


“Do you want to do that?” she asked, sitting up in his bed. “He said he would file the paperwork for us and push it through as quick as he could. We could get married the day after tomorrow. That doesn’t mean that Phillipa still wouldn’t have her hearing in July, and if she manages to sway the Wizengamot to overturn Aldophus’ will, then you might still have to give up the Manor and Whitehall after your father dies, or at least share them with Talbert, but at least we would be married. Nothing would change that.”


Draco finally decided to speak. He sat up in the bed, the covers pooling at his waist to reveal that he was nude. Hermione was a bit shocked, but not put off. He said, “Do you want to marry tomorrow, by special license? Do you want to rush everything even more quickly than we already are? I mean, what would be the point?”


She shrugged and said, “You mother is planning a surprise engagement party for us in two days time. That’s enough time for us to get the special license and then marry. Everyone would already be here. I don’t care when we marry. Do you?”


He pounded on the top of the covers with his fist and shouted, “That’s not the point, Hermione! I don’t want to rush into this because of that fucking woman!”


“But Draco, wasn’t that the whole purpose of this marriage of convenience, anyway?” Hermione was shouting, too. “Wasn’t it to save your inheritance? Wasn’t it to make sure that woman didn’t get her filthy hands on what’s yours? So what if we do it in two days or two months?” Hermione got out of the bed and stood by the open window. The breeze blew her hair and gown and Draco’s first thought was that she looked like a wood nymph, or a goddess, and that she was beautiful. “I thought you wanted to get married before your birthday!” she snapped.


“It doesn’t matter what I want. I never particularly wanted to get married in the first place, I was only doing it to save my inheritance, and you were only doing it to help me, and it seems it no longer matters!” Draco stood up as well, forgetting that he was very naked.


Hermione looked as if he had physically hit her. She held her arms around her middle and said, “Of course it matters what you want, and if you don’t want to get married then we don’t have to get married! I didn’t want this in the beginning either! You talked me into it! I already had one bad marriage. I don’t need another. If you were only marrying me for your money, then you’re right, we shouldn’t do this anymore.” She held back a sob.


He shouted, “It’s not that I don’t want to marry you, but I want to do this the right way! You and Alice deserve that much! I want to give you what I should have given you from the start, Hermione! I regret that I didn’t give you a home and my name from the very start, from the moment Alice was born! Giving Alice a name is a better reason to marry than to save my fucking inheritance, but I didn’t do that then, so why should I marry you now?”


Hermione walked over to him and pleaded, “Draco, you didn’t do that then because I was married to someone else and you didn’t even know about Alice! That doesn’t matter, and how could you have given that to me from the start? You didn’t know about us from the start, did you?” She seemed uncertain.


He sat down on the bed and hung his head, his hands clasped on his lap. “Damn it all to bloody hell, Granger, but in a way I did. I did. Your wanker ex-husband didn’t only try to blackmail my father, you know. He came to me first. I could have found you. I could have discovered who you both were, but back then I couldn’t be bothered. I acted as if I didn’t believe him, although deep down I really did. I sent him away with a few thousand English pounds and a threat that if he bothered me again, I’d ruin him.”


Hermione stood near the door to the bedroom. She was in shock. Finally, she asked, “What? You did what?”


He looked up at her. “I didn’t know it was you or anything, not, not really. I didn’t even know it was him! I didn’t even believe him. People are always trying to extort money from me! He contacted me by Owl, told me that I had fathered a child, that he had married the mother and was going to raise the child as his own, but he wanted money to keep quiet. I gave it to him. Merlin help me, Hermione, I gave it to him without a second thought, or one question asked.”


Hermione began to cry. “You bastard. That’s why I stayed with him all those years! You asked me why I stayed, and you even accused me of being stupid for staying with him, but it was because of your refusal! He showed me the letter you wrote back to him! You wrote that you didn’t care, that both the mother and the child could rot in hell for all you cared, and that you never wanted to hear from either him or me ever again! He showed me that letter, convinced me that he went to you, told you it was me, and that was your response! I didn’t even really believe him at first, but what other choice did I have? I stayed with him and made the best life I could, for MY daughter, Draco Malfoy. My daughter!”


“I didn’t know it was you!” he said desperately. He sat back on the bed and hung his head again. He felt so ashamed and sad.


“Does is matter who it was? If it was another woman, and she claimed it was your child, it would have still been your child! You should have at least asked him for a name, or a picture, or proof or something concrete! It doesn’t matter. I don’t care if you want to marry me now or not, because I don’t even know if I want to marry you any longer.” Hermione opened the door and walked out of the room.


Draco stood from the bed and in a fit of rage, picked up the mattress and toppled it over to the ground.


X~X~X~X~X~X~X~X~X~X~X~X


There was a knock on Lucius Malfoy’s bedroom door. He didn’t get up to answer it, though he was not yet in bed, and it was well past midnight. He was still sitting in the chair by the fireplace, where he sat hours before with his only granddaughter. The fire had long since burned out, and though he was tired, almost dead to the world, he remained in that chair, contemplating what he should do for his family.


Malfoy Manor was just a pile of stones, but it was his home, and he wanted it to go to his son someday. He wanted his son to give it to his children someday. He looked around this room. This house was just a house as well. A place Draco used to come to on summer vacations, when life was simpler and more carefree, yet it was a home to him, and it was fast becoming a home to little Alice. If they lost it all, would it matter in the end, as long as they still had each other? What sentimental rubbish. Of course, it mattered.


Before her mother came to get Alice for bed that evening, Lucius had asked her if she liked it here at Whitehall. Alice told him yes, that she liked it very much.


“Why do you like it here, Alice?” Lucius asked her.


“Because it feels like a home. Sometimes, Grandfather, I pretend I’m Alice in Wonderland, and I’m trying so very hard to get home, and finally, I think I’ve found my home here at Whitehall.”


What a profound thing for a small child to say. She was almost too smart, too insightful. He supposed she got that from her mother. He asked her, “What was your house like in Canada?”


“It was red,” she answered.


Lucius laughed and shifted the small child on his lap and said, “No, I mean, tell me what it looked like, not the colour of the outside.”


“Oh,” Alice answered. “It had rooms in it. A kitchen, a dining room, a living room, a back porch. It had two bathrooms. I had my own bedroom. Mummy had her own bedroom, and Daddy had his own bedroom up in the attic. Can I still call him Daddy? I get confused.”


“I would prefer that you not call him ‘Daddy’, but I don’t want you to do anything that you don’t want to do. Do you want to call that man ‘Daddy’?” Lucius asked, though he grimaced when he said it.


Alice placed her head on her grandfather’s chest and said, “I’ll call him Daddy Kevin, okay? Anyway, he had his own room, and Nanny had a bedroom on the first floor near the kitchen. Mummy made me my very own playroom in the basement, next to her office. It was nice. I liked it a lot. It was painted green, with Dragons and castles, and I had all my books and toys there. All my things are in storage at Granny Granger’s garage. Can I bring them here?”


Lucius didn’t answer right away, because he was imagining his only granddaughter, playing in a basement of all things, and yet, she missed it, she liked it. He stroked her hair and said, “We will bring your things here, if you’d like.”


“I want my dollhouse to be brought first. I tried to make one out of cardboard, but it didn’t turn out right, and I smashed it, but Draco, I mean, my real Daddy fixed it up.” Alice yawned and rested her head on Lucius’ chest once again. Soon, he found that the little girl was sleeping.


After Hermione took her to the nursery, Lucius remained in that chair, and thought about everything. If only he had pursued finding her and her mother when Kevin McKenzie tried to blackmail him years ago, she would have already had a home, perhaps at Malfoy Manor. Hermione and Draco would already be married, and Phillipa wouldn’t even have thought about challenging the will.


What was he going to do? He wasn’t a man who usually didn’t know what to do. He was a man of action. He usually confronted things head on, took care of things as they happened, and the rest of it could all go to hell. Now, he had a little girl to consider, and he wasn’t sure what he should do.


He heard another knock on his door. He finally said, “Come in.”


Ingrid opened the door. “Mr. Malfoy, I was hoping you would still be awake. May I speak with you?”


“Yes, come in and have a seat.” He pointed to the chair on the other side of the fireplace.


Ingrid sat down and said, “Mr. Malfoy, we have to do something to protect Alice’s inheritance. I worked hard to get her and Hermione back to England. It wasn’t easy. Hermione thought everyone here had turned their backs on her long ago. You see, it was I who convinced my son to come to you and your son, and to tell you both about Alice, all those years ago. I didn’t do it so that you would pay him blackmail money, quite the opposite, really. I did it, convinced that either you or Draco would search for them, and take them away from Kevin. You never did. You paid him off instead, and Draco rejected him, and Hermione stayed with my son, and stayed in a pitiful relationship.”


“Your son contacted my son, too?” Lucius was surprised to find that out, especially as his son seemed shocked when Lucius told him at the resort about the blackmail. Perhaps his son was only shocked that Lucius had been blackmailed as well.


“Yes,” Ingrid said, leaning back in the chair. She closed her eyes. “Your son sent back a letter saying that he didn’t believe it, but if it was true he didn’t want anything to do with a bastard child and a money-seeking woman and her husband. Kevin showed that letter to Hermione. That was when she decided to move to Canada.”


She took a deep breath. She said, “When I finally convinced her to divorce him, I worked hard to get her to come back to England. I found out from a letter that Harry Potter wrote to her that your son was hosting a banquet and ball at that resort, and so I convinced her to go there, hoping against hope that she would see him, he would see her, and that they would reconnect.


“Then, I wrote to your son and told him it would be beneficial for him to go to that park, on that day, and sit on that bench, and wait for a surprise. I was shocked that he did.


“I sent Alice over to him that day, in that park. I pretended to be asleep. I told her that the nice blond man was sad, and for her to talk to him, give him a flower, and to try to make him happy.”


“Why?” Lucius asked. “What’s in this for you?”


“Hermione was always so kind to me, you see. Even though Alice wasn’t my granddaughter, she let me be a grandmother to her. My son rejected me long ago, because I was born a squib. He was ashamed of me. He never knew his own father, though he was a pureblood. He married Hermione for financial gain, and for the notoriety. He wanted some of her fame and fortune to rub off on him. Little did he know that she had rejected most of the trappings of that way of life.”


The older woman stood and said, “We must think of a way to make sure Alice and Hermione are finally happy, and that they have a real home. I’m very ill, Mr. Malfoy, and I want to make sure they are taken care of before I’m gone. Please, help me. I can’t think of what to do about this new development with Draco’s aunt. Hermione explained it to me, and I don’t know what to do.”


“Don’t worry, Ingrid,” Lucius said to the older woman as he stood. He took her hand and ushered her to the door. “I know exactly what needs to be done.” He shook her hand and opened the door. She left and he closed the door behind her.


X~X~X~X~X~X~X~X~X~X~X~X



Alice woke up and she was scared. She couldn’t find her dragon. She felt all around the bed, found her turtle, her frog, her lizard, but not her dragon. She called out, “Nanny?” Usually, Nanny came right when Alice called for her. When she didn’t come, she called out, “Mummy?” Alice waited, and when her mother didn’t come either she threw back the covers and slipped down to the floor.


She got down on her hands and knees and felt around the underside of the bed, felt something soft, pulled on it, and cuddled it to her chest. It was her dragon. He still had on Draco’s tie, and her grandfather’s serpent tiepin. She took the dragon, walked to the door, opened it, and started down the hall.


She went down the long staircase from the third floor to the second. She went right to her mother’s room, pushed open the door, and looked inside. No one was there. She felt scared. Where was Nanny? Where was her Mummy?


She walked across the hall to Draco’s room. She opened the door. She saw his bed, covers messed up, but no Draco. Now Alice began to cry. She didn’t like being alone at night. Nighttime scared her. It was dark, there were strange noises, and she didn’t know this big house very well.


She started to her grandfather’s room, when she saw her grandmother walking out of her bedroom.


“Grandmother?”


Narcissa turned around quickly. She gasped and asked, “Alice, what are you doing out of bed so late?” She rushed to the small girl and picked her up. She took her to her bedroom, closed the door, sat on the bed, with Alice on her lap, and asked again, “Why are you roaming the halls so late at night?”


“I woke up, and I couldn’t find my dragon. I need my dragon at night. Mummy says he keeps away the bad dreams,” Alice explained. “Where’s Nanny? Where’s Mummy and Draco? No one is in their bedrooms.”


“I don’t know, darling,” Narcissa answered. “I thought I heard your Mummy and Draco, so I went to go find them, too.” In reality, Narcissa heard them arguing, so she went to see why.


“May I stay here with you?” Alice asked. She didn’t wait for an answer. She climbed under the covers, hugged her dragon, and closed her eyes, the decision apparently made.


Narcissa began to rub the little girl’s head. She remembered that Hermione had said that Alice liked that. She rubbed her head until she was asleep. When she was certain she was sleeping, Narcissa got up from the bed and went back out in the hall. She passed by Draco’s open door, and knocked on Lucius’ door instead.


Lucius opened the door right away, as if he was expecting her. He smiled at her. “Narcissa, to what do I owe this honour? It’s almost one in the morning. Can’t you sleep?”


“It appears no one can sleep tonight. I heard Hermione and Draco arguing, and Alice is, at this moment, in my bed,” she explained. He opened the door wider and his ex-wife slipped inside.


“I heard Draco and Hermione, too,” Lucius admitted. “They were arguing about something I told Draco earlier.” He motioned for Narcissa to sit.


She shook her head no and said, “Oh, Lucius, when will you learn? I already know about Phillipa’s plot to undermine the will, and Hermione and Draco’s wedding. My question to you is what are we going to do about it?”


He walked up to her and reached for her face. He cupped her cheek in his hand. She was still so beautiful. He realized that he still loved her very much. He knew what he wanted to do about it, but he wasn’t sure she would consent.


“You know…if she overturns the will, the original will, will take precedence, the one stating that any heir of divorced parents is unable to inherit. That means that with our divorce, our son will be deemed unable rightfully to inherit. Her son will inherit it all when I die. The only course of action that I see is that we must marry again, so that Draco may inherit, no matter what decision is made about the will and the sooner the better, or better yet, petition to have our original divorce null and void.”


“We could turn the engagement party I have planned for the day after next into a wedding for Hermione and Draco. I heard them arguing. That was Hermione’s proposal to Draco,” Narcissa countered.


“What good would that do?” Lucius asked, with a wave of his hand. “She could still turn around and have the will nullified. Draco would still be bastardized. He would just be a bastard with a wife and a bastard of his own.”


“That’s not a word I want associated with our son or our granddaughter, Lucius Malfoy!” Narcissa said with a frown.


Lucius smiled and said, “I’m not sure I can do anything about that, my love.”


“I heard you and Draco earlier this evening,” Narcissa admitted. “You could petition the Wizengamot, too, on Hermione’s behalf, have her first marriage annulled, show that Draco always had the intention to marry her from the beginning, but that he couldn’t find her and his child, to do so. That might buy us some time. That way, if Phillipa doesn’t get the will overturned, we won’t have to worry about missing the deadline of his thirtieth birthday coming and going. We will have time.”


“But that would be a lie,” Lucius said. “And I’m afraid it’s a lie that could be proven. Apparently, that bastard Kevin McKenzie contacted our son with the information that he had a child, the same time he contacted me. Draco more or less told him to go to hell, so you see we can’t prove that Draco had planned to marry the mother of his child from the time he found out about it, when he certainly didn’t plan that.”


“Draco knew the whole time?” Narcissa asked, shocked.


“Oh, he didn’t know it was Hermione, and I believe he probably thought it was a hoax or scam to get money from him, but Kevin’s mother confirmed it to me tonight. I don’t think that’s a viable option any longer, my dear,” Lucius confirmed. He walked over to the window and looked outside, to the front grounds.


He was shocked when he felt her behind him, and even more so, when he felt her hands go around his waist. She placed her hands on stomach and her cheek on his back. “I swore I would never marry you again. I divorced you because I felt you put the Dark Lord before our family. I hated you for endangering us, and our son, for so very long, Lucius, or at least, I thought I hated you.”

“Do you hate me now?” he dared to ask.


“I dare think I never did,” she said softly. “If we must enter into a marriage of convenience, much like our son and Hermione, to save our family, then I would do it. Would you do it, to save our family?”


Lucius placed his hand on top of hers, turned around, and placed her at arm’s length, his hands on her upper arms and he said, “I would do anything for our family, Cissy, and you know that. However, I wouldn’t want you to marry me again merely for convenience sake, Narcissa. There are other options. I could kill Phillipa.”


He said it with a straight face. Still, Narcissa smiled. She hugged him tightly around his waist. “What if I said I want to marry you again because I still love you, AND I want to help our son and our only granddaughter? Oh, Lucius, doesn’t that little girl, and her mother, deserve happiness?”


He kissed the top of her head, his arms tightly around her. He said, “Yes, I think we all do. I promise to be a better husband this time, Cissy. Will you marry me again?”


“Of course, Lucius. I will marry you again.” She turned her head up to his, and he bent his head, and kissed her lips gently. It was right.


X~X~X~X~X~X~X~X~X~X


Draco dressed quickly, as soon as Hermione had left his room, and he ran to her room. She wasn’t there. He started to run up to Alice’s room, figuring she was there, when he passed Ingrid in the hall. “If you’re looking for Hermione, she went downstairs. I think she’s in the library. I saw her when I left your father’s room.”


“What are you doing leaving my father’s room?” Draco asked, confused.


“We were just having a talk, so never you mind,” Ingrid said back, as if she was scolding a child. “Now go find Hermione, and make things right with her. You have to make everything right.”


Draco didn’t like being told what to do by Hermione’s ex-husband’s mother, in his own home, but he didn’t argue. Instead, he ran down the stairs, through the foyer, down another corridor, and he burst into the library. He found her staring out a tall window. She looked much as she looked that night in the billiard’s room, when he spied her staring out a window, the night of the ball, when they conceived Alice.


He knew exactly what he wanted to do that night, and he knew exactly what he was going to do tonight. He was going to make everything right. He would do it for her.

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