A Marriage Most Convenient

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Chapter 47: This time the Memory makes Alice Sad, But there’s a Happy Ending

It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy, it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others.” – Jane Austen

It makes no difference how long you’ve known a person. I knew my wife for most of my life, and I didn’t love her, and then I fell in love with her on a single night. Love doesn’t know anything about time.” – Draco Malfoy to Alice Malfoy

James said that he wanted to marry you the moment he saw you walk down the aisle at my wedding. Do you really think someone who has that much conviction would, or could, change his mind after all these years?” – Hermione Granger Malfoy to Alice Malfoy


Recap from previous chapter:

Alice and James landed in the upstairs hallway of the Potter’s house and in his confusion at the change of memories, James let out a short, disgusted sound, resembling a curse word.

Alice turned toward the disembodied voice, and in her impending bewilderment the new memory she had thought of at the last moment faded away. She and James, still under the cloak, were now standing in an utter nothingness, instead of standing in the Potter’s upstairs hallway.

She said aloud, “I’m not going to see the graduation memory after all.” She said it for James’ benefit. She lifted her wand to say the incantation to take them back to the new memory she had selected. James quickly moved to her side, grabbed a hold of the fabric of her ball gown, and they were gone.

When he opened his eyes, they were back in his house, in the upstairs hallway, just as before. He was still confused and on the verge of being baffled. He was about to remove the cloak to confront ‘his’ Alice when another Alice started toward him, holding his little sister’s hand. He looked at one Alice and then the other. James didn’t know what to think. Was this a current memory?

He turned to watch the other Alice, still holding Lily’s hand, and that was when he noticed that his little sister was crying. Why was she crying? Alice steered Lily to her bedroom, and the real Alice and James followed.

Don’t worry about what your cousin Hugo and my stupid brother Sam said to you, Lily,” Alice said, taking a tissue and dabbing the younger girl’s cheeks, to wipe her tears.

He said that the biscuits I baked weren’t even good enough to feed to a rat!” Lily cried. “He’s such a bully! Why is he like that?”

He’s a bit like my dad at that age, I’m afraid,” Alice revealed, “at least according to my mum, but the truth is, Sam teases you so much because he has a slight crush on you. You’re a year older than he is, and he’s such a pest most of the time, so he teases you instead of showing you that he really cares.”

Lily wiped away the last of her tears and said, “But James has never been cruel like that to you, and he’s always liked you.”

Lily smiled and said, “James and I are just friends, Lily.”

Lily shook her head causing her long brown hair to move on her shoulders. She said, “No, he’s always liked you, or really, loved you, and he’s not mean or cruel to you. He doesn’t tease you and make you cry. He likes you too much!”

I’m not sure about that,” Alice said in a self-effacing way, “but it’s true that he’s never intentionally hurt me, though he has unintentionally hurt me.” Lily sat on one of her twin beds and Alice sat on the other.

What has he done to hurt you, unintentionally?” the fifteen year old Lily asked.

Nothing too severe,” Alice revealed. “During school he was constantly telling me what to do, and how to act, and even who I should be friends with, and it was maddening.” Lily laughed and Alice continued, “One time, when I was a bit younger than you, he didn’t like my choice of dates for a dance and he was so angry that he told me to go back to my room and in the folly that ensued, he ripped my pretty dress.”

Lily looked shocked, but then said, “At least he’s never called you names or made you cry. He’s always been bossy, but he’s a wonderful older brother. Both of my brothers are wonderful.”

Alice grinned and threw a pillow at Lily before saying, “I wish I could say the same about my brother.”

Lily blushed suddenly. “I think your brother is pretty wonderful, even if he is a git and did make me cry.”

Alice cocked her head to the side and asked, “You don’t have a crush on Sam, do you?”

Perhaps,” she answered. “Are you certain he likes me in return?”

Alice almost squealed in delight and said, “He’s a spoiled brat, but he has it bad for you, mark my words. He’s a year younger than you, though my father is nine months younger than my mum, but do you care about that?”

Lily shook her head no. Alice concluded, “Just think, if you married Sam someday we would be sisters! I’ve always wanted a sister.”

Lily threw the pillow back at Alice and said, “I’ve always wanted you for an older sister, but I hardly think I’ll marry Scorpius Malfoy someday, besides, I always assumed it would be you and James who would marry someday, making us sisters.”

Lily bit her bottom lip and said, “Maybe. Can you keep a secret?”

The pretty Lily moved to sit on the bed beside Alice and said, “Yes, yes, what is it?”

Alice slipped off the bed, sat on the floor, her back against the mattress. Lily followed. Alice had the pillow on her lap and she pulled at the fringe around the sides and said, “Well, the day after tomorrow is my birthday, right?”

Yes, you’re an old lady of nineteen,” Lily laughed.

And James comes home tonight, and then tomorrow’s my birthday, and I’ve decided that on my birthday I’m going to finally tell James that I love him,” Alice announced, her hands now clasped tightly in her lap. “I should have told him that when he told me that he loved me that time at his graduation, but I didn’t, even though I did, love him, I mean.” Lily’s eyes grew wide and her mouth flew open, though no words escaped.

Did you hear me, Lily?” Alice asked. The younger girl continued to stare at her without emotion. “Lily?” Alice was concerned. She got up on her knees and grabbed the girl by her shoulders and said, “Well, what do you think? Is it a good idea?”

YYYYEEESSSS!!!!” Lily screamed in delight. She stood up and began to jump up and down. Alice could barely contain her delight. She stood as well, and the girls embraced. “Finally!” Lily at last exclaimed.

At that moment Harry stuck his head in the room, his wand firmly in his hand. “What’s wrong? What happened? Someone screamed!” he proclaimed.

It was Lily,” Alice explained.

Why did you scream?” Harry asked, walking into his daughter’s room.

I saw a spider,” his daughter lied.

So, you’re not Uncle Ron. You’re not afraid of spiders, and what would explain the reason why you both have a big grin on your faces?” Harry asked, pocketing his wand. The girls both merely continued to smile at him. He added, “Must have been a hell of a spider.”

It was,” Lily agreed.

He cupped his daughter’s cheek, and then turned and winked at Alice before he asked, “This is a bit off the spider subject, but what do you want for your birthday, Miss Alice? You know tradition, whatever you ask from me, I try to give it to you.”

She looked at Lily, who started jumping up and down again. Harry smiled, confused, and to cover for her young friend’s exuberance, Alice answered, “I just for everyone to be together and to be happy.”

You truly are a sweet, loving girl, and as ever, your wish is my command,” he said, bowing, “because James just arrived home. He’s downstairs now, and I know that makes his mother and me very happy, and I would assume it would make you happy, too. That was an easy present.”

Lily pulled on Alice’s arm and said, “Did you hear my Dad? James is home, James is home!”

Alice blushed, looked toward Harry, and then said, “I heard him. Calm down.”

Harry turned to leave the room and he said, “Yes, and he brought along a friend.”

Really?” Alice asked. She started out of the room behind Harry, pulling James’ sister along with her. Once in the hall, she asked, “Who did he bring?”

Harry turned to face Alice and said, “His new girlfriend. Her name is Cassandra.”

Alice’s smile literally evaporated from her face and she felt as if all the air was sucked out of her body. Lily looked at Alice, immediately stopped, looked from her father, back to Alice again and then said, “No!”

Well, yes, he did, and they’re both downstairs. Come say hello. You haven’t seen your brother in months, since the Holidays. You come as well, Alice. I know you haven’t seen him in a while either, and I think you’ll like Cassie. That’s her name.” Harry turned and walked down the hall, and then down the stairs and out of sight.

Lily looked at her older friend and said, “What an awful name…Cassie!”

Alice looked at the floor and she felt tears burn the back of her eyes. Albus, Lily’s other brother, and Sam ran up the stairs at that moment and Albus said, “Come down stairs, girls! James is home and he brought a new broom with him!”

And a girl, yuck!” Sam added with a smile. He looked at Lily first, then to his sister. He noticed right away that both girls were frowning, and that Alice looked pale and wan and close to tears. He frowned and walked up to his sister. “Alice, what’s wrong?”

I need to go home, Sammie. Tell Mummy and Daddy that I’m Apparating home,” she said quietly, with a hitch in her voice. She looked at her little brother and began to cry. Lily started to cry, too.

Albus shook his head and said something along the lines of, “Crazy girls.” He ran back down the stairs.

However, Scorpius Malfoy, also known as Sam, only son of Draco and Hermione, little brother of Alice, was not the spoiled monster that he often portrayed. He was mostly sensitive and compassionate to those around him, and no matter what, he was loyal to his family. It was inbred, part of being a Malfoy. He was also a classic Slytherin, cunning and intelligent. He knew something was wrong with his sister, even if no one told him so.

Lily,” the teenaged boy urged, “let me talk to Alice alone.” He grabbed his older sister’s arm and pulled her back into Lily’s room. He slammed the door closed and begged, “What’s wrong with you? You’re acting strange. Tell me right now what’s wrong!”

Alice pulled her little brother into her arms. He wasn’t so little any longer. He was fourteen, and he was taller than she. She collapsed against him and cried and cried. He immediately took his wand and put up a silencing spell on the door.

His sister lifted her head from his shoulder and admonished, “You aren’t allowed to do magic outside of school.”

For cripes sakes,” he exhaled. “You’re such a goody-two shoes, priss. You should have been in Gryffindor, instead of Ravenclaw! Either tell me what’s wrong or I’ll go get Father.”

Just let me go home,” she asked. She sunk to the bed, hung her head and said, more to herself than to him, “It’s too late. I should have known it would be too late.”

Sam had no clue what she was rattling on about, but if his sister was this distressed and she needed to go home, he would help her. “Go on home,” he said. “I’ll make a lie up to tell Father and Mum. They believe everything I tell them, no matter what. I’ll say you have cramps. That’s something they would never believe I would lie about.”

Alice actually laughed through her tears. She stood up again, hugged him and said, “You’re a good brother, even when I can’t stand you, I still love you.” She took her wand and Apparated away.

Sam opened the door and went down the stairs to lie to his parents. It was something he was getting quite good at doing.

Lily sat in the middle of the stairs and watched as Sam ran past her, looking back at her once. He winked at her, and she didn’t know what the wink meant. He ran into the front room and whispered something in his father’s ear, to which Draco frowned, said, “Tell your mother. I don’t wish to know these types of things.” He turned and whispered something to his mother even as James was still hugging everyone, from his parents, to his grandparents, and his Uncles and cousins, in greeting.

James walked back into the foyer and looked up the stairs. He smiled at his little sister, held open his arms and said, “My goodness, Lily, you’re prettier every time I see you. Come give me a hug.”

Lily shook her head no. James gave her a slight smile and walked closer, leaning on the banister. He looked up at her and said, “Why ever not? I haven’t seen you since Christmas break. Haven’t you missed me?”

Who did you bring with you?” Lily quizzed. Before James could answer, she stood up and said, “You’ve ruined everything! Now I’ll never have her for a sister!” She ran upstairs, leaving her brother alone, and bemused.

Harry walked into the foyer and said, “Where’s Alice and Lily?”

Lily just ran upstairs, saying something about a sister, and I haven’t seen Alice yet. I can’t wait to see her,” James announced. “By the way, Dad, thanks for letting Cassie come this weekend. I was afraid you and Mum would be a bit odd about her visiting, being a girl and all, but she’s been my best friend since I’ve been in Uni, and she’s having a rough time of things. She just broke up with her boyfriend.”

Harry nodded, but didn’t comment. He suddenly felt embarrassed for telling Alice that Cassie was James’ girlfriend. He looked up the stairs, contemplating going up and telling her otherwise, when James continued, “I think I’ll go see what’s wrong with my sister, and then I absolutely have to see my sweet Alice. I’ve missed her so much.”

James started to run up the stairs, when his father pulled him back by the back of his jumper. “Son, I might have just made a terrible mistake. I told Alice and Lily that Cassie was your girlfriend.”

James instantly looked livid. He practically jumped down the stairs and hissed, “Why the bloody hell did you do that?”

Because someone needed to light a fire under that girl. Anyone can see that Alice loves you as much as you love her. I know how hurt you were when she said that she didn’t love you at your graduation, but son, that was a ruse, because she does, and probably always has. So, I thought some good old fashioned jealousy might make her whistle a different tune.”

NO!” James cried out. If he thought he could get away with hexing his father, the most powerful wizard who ever lived, he would. He ran up the stairs two at a time. He pushed open door after door, starting with Lily’s room. He couldn’t find Alice, or even Lily, anywhere. He finally went to his old bedroom, on the third floor. He pushed open the door, and he saw Lily sitting on the bed. Her back was to the door, with Sam sitting next to her, holding her hand, as she cried. He stayed by the doorway and listened.

Lily said, “Oh, Sam, everything is so messed up!”

Sam shrugged. He didn’t do it because he was insensitive. He merely didn’t know what to say. He was often tongue tied around Lily. If he wasn’t teasing her mercilessly, he was usually quiet around her. It was probably because she was so pretty, and smart, and she smelled really, really nice. He liked her so very much, and at this moment, he also felt sad that she was sad.

Can you tell me what you’re talking about, so I won’t feel so stupid?” he asked. “Why did my sister leave in tears, and why are you crying right now?”

James winced. Alice left in tears! He backed out of the room, unnoticed, and stood by the door, half in the room, half out. Lily answered, “I think I hate my own brother. How could he have a girlfriend?”

Sam shrugged a second time and said, “I don’t know what I should say. He has a girlfriend because my sister isn’t interested in him, I guess.”

James backed completely out of the room and went back down the stairs, Sam’s words echoing in his brain…Alice wasn’t interested in him! Therefore, he missed his sister’s response to Sam’s assessment.

Lily turned on the bed, looked at Sam and said, “She told me earlier that she loved him, you prat! She was going to tell him tomorrow, at her birthday, and now he’s ruined everything and I may never forgive him! I may never forgive you, either!” She pushed Sam hard and he fell off the bed.

She ran out of the room. Sam stayed on the floor and shouted, “What the hell did I do? And by the way, Potter, there’s no need to get so violent!”

James was shocked. He didn’t know that she loved him! How could he have known? If she hadn’t shown him this memory from last night, he might still never have known. He turned toward Alice. She looked equally shocked. She didn’t know that he still loved her, either. She didn’t know that his father had lied, and that Cassie was just his friend, and that it was her that he had loved all along.

He didn’t know that she was going to tell him that she loved him. No wonder she was so sad today, up on the hill, during her birthday picnic. No wonder she needed so many reassurances of his feelings toward her, hence the reason for this memory spell.

While he continued to ponder things, he failed to notice that she had reached out for his arm, and that they were back in the old nursery at Whitehall. He was equally unaware when she reached out toward nothingness, only to pull the invisibility cloak off his body, letting it drop to the floor.

They stood in front of each other, staring, neither speaking, neither knowing what to say.

Finally, she asked, “Why didn’t you tell me that Cassie wasn’t your girlfriend? You let me go all night long last night, and all day today, thinking that she was and that it was too late for us.”

“Why didn’t you tell me that you loved me? You loved me since at least my graduation, which was over a year and a half ago, when I told you that I loved you, but you didn’t tell me. Why didn’t you tell me?” he beseeched, not aware that she had just asked him a question before his, and that she was about to ask him another question in return.

She shook her head slightly. “How did I know that you still felt the same for me? You never told me that your feelings hadn’t changed! If I hadn’t seen you tell me that you loved me in a memory from a moment ago, I still wouldn’t have known, and even then, the only way you could tell me that you loved me was when I was comatose, after that broom accident!”

He looked indignant and countered, “No…graduation, remember? I put it all out on the line for you back at my graduation, and you crushed my love like you would crush a bug with your shoe and you didn’t look back!”

“I looked back tonight, didn’t I? And by the way, did that give you the right to tag along with me to visit my memories?” she accused.

“Oh, come on, Alice, you must have known I was there all along! You picked these memories specifically for me, you know it, and you even brought me back from this last memory, and you took the cloak off me!” he barked.

“That doesn’t excuse your not telling me you were under the damned invisibility cloak to begin with!” she harped.

“That doesn’t excuse you for making me suffer, having to see you fall from that broom again!” he shouted. “That was the worst day of my life!”

“It wasn’t exactly the best day of mine!” she laboured. “And so what if I wanted to make you suffer a bit! You’ve made me suffer this entire day! It’s been the worst birthday of my life!”

“Oh, boo hoo, Alice has had a bad day! Stop being so dramatic! Everything’s not always about you! Not everything everyone does concerns you!” he argued.

“I think the fact that you and your father lied to me concerns me a little bit, don’t you? I think the fact that you’ve lied about still loving me concerns me!” she leveled.

“Don’t concern yourself with it any longer!” he responded. “Oh, and sweetheart, before you call me a liar, look in the mirror, because it appears you’ve been hiding a few things yourself, or shall I say, pure little Alice Malfoy has lied as well, because apparently, my sweetness, you’ve loved me for a long time too!”

“Well, I hate you, now!” she yelled. She pushed him.

“Right back at you, you spoiled, brat!” he shouted. He pushed her back.

They stared at each other, in shock and distress. She kept her mouth in a tight line, to fight off tears, her arms tightly around her body. He clenched both his fists at the sides of his body, to keep from strangling her.

She gave in first. She sighed, and sat on the bed. She looked down and said, “I’ve been a fool, haven’t I?”

He lifted one shoulder, made a strange sound, and sat beside her. He knocked his shoulder into hers and said, “And I’ve been a bigger one. You’re right, I do still love you, Alice. Help me, because I do. I’m sorry for everything. I should never have played along with my father’s lie concerning Cassie, especially since I suspected it was the cause of your unhappiness, but damn it all, I was feeling as insecure as you. I was afraid to show you that I love you still, because I was sure you would tell me that you still didn’t love me.”

“I do, though,” she offered.

“You do what?” he asked, with another sigh.

“Love you,” she said softly.

He stared at her, eyes narrowed, and he stood suddenly. “You do? Even after everything?”

“Criminy, JP, stop being so imperceptive.”

He laughed and jokingly said, “There you go with those big words again. You know I don’t understand the big words, sweetheart.”

She didn’t feel like playing along. She said, “It means you’re being dim-witted, you stupid git, because you just heard me tell Lily that I loved you only yesterday, in that memory, so don’t act so surprised!” she complained.

James began to laugh. “We are two of the most stupid fools around!”

“Speak for yourself!” she spat. “I’m neither a fool nor am I in any way stupid.” He continued to grin at her. He shook his head and stood. She stood as well and said, “What? Why are you grinning like an idiot?”

“Because I’m about to kiss you, Alice Malfoy.” He reached for her arm. He let his fingertips travel lightly down her arm, toward her hand, making her shiver. He grasped her hand, and pulled her closer. She pushed on his chest with her other hand. He could barely hide his delight, and he said, “Do I make you nervous, my sweet, sweet, Alice?”

“No,” she said, but then added,” Well, yes. You’re going to kiss me.”

“I’ve kissed you before,” he reminded. “Three times to be exact.”

“Small, chaste kisses don’t count, especially ones that happened when we were children,” she corrected. She continued to try to pull away, but he pulled her to him so quickly that she stumbled against him. He put his other arm around her waist, to hold her in place. He placed his lips almost on hers, but instead of kissing her, he said, in a murmur, so that each word felt like a single, tingling kiss, “This is our fourth kiss, Alice. Fourth kisses are the best kisses there are, didn’t you know?”

She shook her head no, her lips almost touching his. He nodded. The hand that was previously grasping hers came up to cup her cheek. His thumb rubbed her face, and he said, “Yes, fourth kisses are definitely,” his lips touched hers slightly, “the best,” his lips moved across hers to the side of her mouth, “kisses,” his lips moved with ease across her cheek to her ear, where he finished the sentence by whispering in her ear, “in the entire world.” He kissed her pulse point, below her ear, and she felt so intoxicated by his nearness and the fact that he was finally holding her in his arms, that she almost fainted.

He was being so tender and unbearably sweet. His lips came back to hers, softly and languorously he caressed his lips across hers, back and forth, finally deepening the kiss with intimacy and meaning. His hand went from her cheek to her back, up to her neck, under her hair, to rest on bare skin, and then back down again. Trailing his fingers to each knot of her spine, his hand moved down first her bare back, then to her dress covered waist, to rest on her hip.

His lips weren’t idle, either. They moved across her face, even as his hands explored her body. He was tentative, and hesitant, not wanting to scare her. He opened her mouth under his, touched her tongue with his, and he thought he was going to come undone. His hands moved under her ribs, his thumbs touching the undersides of both breasts.

He wanted to make love to her, but they had just proclaimed their mutual love, and he wondered if it was too soon. It wasn’t soon enough, for him.

He lifted his head, keeping her tightly in his arms, even as her arms went up to his neck, and he placed his forehead against her own. “Hell, Alice, I love you so much and I want to make love to you, to show you how much, but you’re a virgin, and you have a house full of guests, and your grandmother is calling your name as we speak, so we should stop.”

It was true, all of it. She was a virgin, there was a birthday ball in her honour going on at that very moment, and the sound of her grandmother’s voice was getting louder as she almost reached the nursery.

Alice clung to James’ robes and said, “Take me somewhere, James. Please. I want to make love to you, too.”

It was all the encouragement that he needed. He Disapparated her away just as Narcissa opened the door. She saw them leave and in Malfoy tradition, she stomped her foot in frustration and yelled, “James Potter, how dare you kidnap my granddaughter when I’ve finally found her!”

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