A Marriage Most Convenient

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Chapter 48: Tender Love, Twofold

But when a young lady is to be a heroine, something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way.” – Jane Austen

I’ll always be there for you and even if you had never told me that you loved me, I think I would have waited for you forever..” – James Potter

I’m not asking for forever, I’m only asking for a chance to know my own heart, to know my own life, with you in it.” – Alice Malfoy


His thoughts:

He had loved her as long as he could remember. He had wanted her almost as long. There wasn’t one day that went by that he didn’t think of her. There was barely one night that passed that he didn’t dream of her, of holding her, kissing her, being with her forever.

She was precious. She was special. She was, and forever would be, his and his alone. She seemed afraid, and he understood. He was afraid, too. He was afraid to show her how much he cared, because it would make him seem vulnerable, perhaps even weak.

He was afraid of hurting her, or scaring her. How could he ever explain to her that he had dreamt of this night all his life, and just as she had waited for him, he had waited for her, because no other girl was special enough to take her place? Would she understand that he was just as scared, but for a whole host of other reasons?

He was scared of disappointing her. He was scared of doing something to turn her away. He was afraid of messing up, and of her leaving him forever. Would she laugh if he told her that he was a virgin, too? Of course he was. He was waiting for her.

Would she understand that this was the beginning of everything? Did she know, or even have an inkling that he wanted to marry her as well as to make love to her?

Her thoughts:

She shivered. She wasn’t cold, she was afraid. She wasn’t afraid of him, for she knew he would never, could never, hurt her. She was afraid that this wasn’t real, and that if she even breathed he might disappear.

She didn’t want to tell him her fears, because there were so many, and most of them irrational, and he would smile at her and merely tell her that everything would be okay, and of course, she would believe him, but in reality, those simple words wouldn’t take away her fears.

She had never even kissed another boy, at least, not like he had kissed her earlier. She had dated other boys, but she had never had a real boyfriend. She had exchanged small kisses with these boys, but nothing soul searching, earth moving, mind shattering, to compare with the kiss they had just shared.

What if she did something wrong? What if she did something to embarrass them both? What if she moved the wrong way, or made a weird noise? What if she wanted him to stop? What if she didn’t want him to ever stop? Her mind was a muddled mess of thoughts…thus, her fear and worry, and the aforementioned shivering.

He knew she was a virgin, but what about him? She didn’t recall that he had really ever had a girlfriend. Whenever he had ever needed a girl to go with him anywhere, or do anything with him, he had always taken her. She wondered…could he be as scared as she?

She placed her arms around her and felt tears at the back of her eyes. What if she disappointed him, and he discovered that he didn’t really love her? What if he loved her forever and ever and never wanted to leave her side? That last thought wasn’t a fear, but a wish full of fervor. What if she wanted to wait until they were married to make love with him? What if she wanted to marry him right now?

The conversation between them:

“Where are we?” She looked around.

“The old boathouse, right outside the grounds here at Whitehall,” he answered. He stepped away from her, made sure the door was secured with magic, and then set about lighting a lantern that was on a crate in the corner of the small shed.

She smiled and revealed, “My mum once told me that the first time she and my dad made love, when we first came to Whitehall, was right here in this boathouse.”

James didn’t know what to say in return to that little revelation, so he said, “Remember that time we came in here to try those Muggle cigarettes?”

She smiled at the memory. “I remember that you vomited after only one, and then Albus tried to warn us that my grandfather was approaching, because Sam told on us, and I also remember that Grandfather made me leave, before he punished you.” She sat down on a turned over rowboat. “You never did tell me what he did to you.”

James sat beside her. “He told me if I ever hurt you, really hurt you, or put you in danger in anyway, he would kill me.” James smiled now, but he remembered being a fifteen year old boy, and having a former Death Eater tell him that he would kill him had made quite an impression on him.

She gasped, placed her hands on her mouth and said, “Oh, JP, I never knew that. I’m so sorry I left him alone with you. I thought perhaps he would make you smoke the whole pack or something, to teach you the evils of smoking.”

“No,” he said, laughing, “he already saw the evidence of my smoking on the floor over there,” he pointed, “so he knew I couldn’t handle smoking. He wanted to teach me the evils of falling in love with his only granddaughter. He asked if you had any cigarettes, and I said no, though he knew I was lying. He glared at me for a full minute, I think he might have even been trying to delve into my mind, and finally I said, ‘Yes, Sir, she had one too, but she didn’t throw up.’ And he actually seemed proud of you.”

Alice laughed. “When he came back up to the house, he told me that I was never to smoke again, especially those horrible Muggle creations, and if I did, I would answer to his belt, although, he would never touch me, I still had no desire to smoke again.”

“You know what else he told me that day?” James asked.

She shook her head slightly, to answer ‘no’.

James took her hand in both of his, and studied it as he answered. “He told me that he knew I loved you very much, and that I was always to treat you as something special, and precious, and to put your feelings before my own. He said that he would give his life for his wife and that if I wasn’t prepared to give my life for you in the same way, that only meant I didn’t deserve you. He asked me if I intended to marry you someday, and so help me, even though I was a teenage kid, and afraid of him, I was honest and told him the truth. I told him yes, I had been planning to marrying you since I was five years old.”

She stared down at his hands, holding hers, playing with her fingers. She said, “That’s a lot to put on the plate of a fifteen year old boy.”

“Yes, but I remember it to this day. So it made the impression he meant for it to make,” he regaled. He took a deep, cleansing breath. He said, “Shall we wait, my sweet Alice? Shall we wait until we marry?”

“You mean to make love?” she asked.

He glared at her, grinned, and said, “No, to have another cigarette. Yes, to make love.”

“Do you want to marry me, James?” she asked.

“Are you asking?” he quizzed back, with a grin.

“Yes, I am,” she said bravely. “You and I won’t have a marriage made for convenience sake only. You and I will have a marriage that’s made from love, and that was destined to always be.”

“Does that mean I’m to say yes?” he joked.

“Yes,” she replied.

“Yes,” he said back. He leaned over and kissed her cheek. “No making love in the boathouse, then. I’m not sure I can anyway, with the memory of our smoking mishap, piled onto the fact that you just told me about your mum and dad in here.”

“You really mean we should wait?” she asked.

“At least until tonight,” he responded. He stood up, and pulled her to her feet. “You’re already in a white dress, and I’m in dress robes, and my Uncle Percy is undersecretary to the Minister of Magic, my father is the hero of our world, and your father is one of the richest men in the universe, so I wager that between the three of them, and with your brains and my beauty, we can come up with a quick special license, and turn this little birthday soiree into a wedding.”

She couldn’t contain her glee. “When I dressed this evening, I imagined that I was dressing for my wedding to you someday, and at the time it seemed pathetic, but now, it seems poetic somehow. That means we’ll finally have to face my grandmother.”

“She’s scarier than Lucius,” James said, with a shudder. He snuffed out the light, unbarred the door, and took her hand in his.

He started out of the small shed when she said, “But we are still going to make love tonight, right?”

He bit his bottom lip to keep from laughing. He looked at her pretty face, awash in moonlight, and said, “Nothing could stop me, sweetheart. I’ve waited all my life for you.” He leaned down and kissed her mouth. “Now, let’s find my uncle first, and see if obtaining that special license is even something that can be done on such a short notice.”

They found Percy easily enough, because he was outside, along with the other family members, looking for them. They explained to him their hopes and plans, but he told them he was sorry, for there was no way to get a special license so quickly. For one thing, it was the weekend and another thing, it was nighttime, so no one would be at the Ministry, in either case. He said the best he could possibly do is get it for them on Monday morning.

Percy walked back into the ballroom, and James turned to her and said, “Sorry, sweetheart. We’ll have to wait to get married, and for making love. Only a few days, though, okay?”

“No, I have a better idea!” Alice finally gasped. “Come on, we have to find my grandmother!”

“Didn’t you hear me say I was afraid of her earlier?” James asked, while she pulled on his hand and ran toward the house.

“Oh, you big baby,” she chastised. They ran toward the back of the grand house, looked into the large windows of the ballroom, where everyone was dancing gaily, and drinking and eating. She cupped her hand, and looked inside one window and said, “It doesn’t seem anyone else misses the fact that the birthday girl is missing.”

James stood behind her, leaned forward, and pointed. “There she is. Oh, Merlin, she’s talking to my father. It looks like she’s ready to spit nails. Are you sure you need to talk with her? How is talking to her going to help us get married any sooner than Monday?”

“Talking to her is pertinent to our getting married tonight,” she urged.

He knew his Alice was smart, so he would trust her.

They quietly walked around to a set of doors that faced the north side of the massive ballroom. Hermione was standing not far from these doors, her hand over her eyes, as if she was in the throes of a headache. “Mummy?” Alice said, sneaking up behind her as James closed the door.

Hermione jumped. “Where have you been? No, we don’t have time to answer. Your grandmother wanted Harry to call all the Aurors, because apparently that prat standing behind you kidnapped you.”

“More like he tagged along with me on my jaunt down memory lane. Didn’t Daddy or Grandfather tell you what I was going to do, with the book I mean?”

“Yes, they told me, and I guess it was successful?” Her mother smiled at her, and then at James.

“He loves me, Mummy.” Alice gave James’ hand a squeeze.

“Finally,” Hermione exclaimed. “Come on, let’s go appease your grandmother, and show her that you’re okay.”

“Um, not yet,” Alice said. “I do need to talk to her, in private, and then I need you and Daddy and everyone else to promise that you’ll stay here and wait for us, okay?”

“What are you planning, young lady?” Hermione asked her daughter.

“My life,” she said with a smile.

Draco rushed up to the trio in the corner and said, “My stars, Alice, your grandmother is about ready to call in the Muggle police!”

“Go get her for me, Daddy. James and I want to ask her a favour,” Alice persisted. “We’ll wait outside for her.”

Draco looked at James. James shrugged and said, “I’ve never made any claims that I know what’s going on inside Alice’s massive mind. I still don’t, although I think I need to ask your permission to marry her.”

“Fine, fine, who cares about that, you have it, just don’t send me over to my mother,” the older man said.

“Goodness, you idiot!” Hermione huffed. She pushed her husband, hard, and he stumbled into the wall as she rushed over to go get her mother-in-law.

Draco winked at James and said, “Always play the incompetent buffoon, my boy. It makes them do all the unpleasant tasks. That’s how I used to get out of doing the things I didn’t want to do with the kiddies, you know.”

Alice frowned as the two men laughed, and said, “I’m standing right here, so don’t try to give my future husband advice like that. Besides, Mummy knows you’re not really a buffoon, just a spoiled brat.”

“It takes one to know one,” Draco leveled. “Wait, did you say you were asking permission to marry?” He looked back at James.

James cocked his head toward Draco while looking at Alice and said, “I don’t think his buffoon act was an act after all.”

Now Draco pushed James. Narcissa walked toward the three, followed by Lucius, and then Harry and Ron came toward the corner that housed Draco, Alice and James. Hermione was in the rear. Narcissa was shaking her finger at Alice before she reached her, but before she could give her granddaughter the dressing down that she felt the young woman deserved, Alice grabbed her grandmother’s wrist with one hand, her intended’s hand with the other, and she pulled them both outside.

“Grandmother, do you still have your copy of ‘Alice in Wonderland’?” Alice asked.

“What does that have to do with anything?” she barked.

“Please answer,” Alice pleaded.

“Yes, of course I do. I have one of the five rare copies, reportedly made by Lewis Carroll himself, just like your copy left to you by Ingrid,” she responded. “Why?”

“Wait, I have one more question,” Alice posed. “You never used it, did you, I mean, as a time turner. I know you once said you were going to use it, to undo your divorce from Grandfather, but instead, you two merely got married again, didn’t you, without the book, and unbeknownst to most of the family. Is that right?”

“You’re too smart,” Narcissa complained with a frown. “But that’s correct, I was going to use it, I told some people that we used it, but the fact remains that we merely snuck off and quietly got remarried. I didn’t want to waste the magic of the book when I knew I could just marry him again. I wanted to save it, in case something important came up.” She looked at James and said, “How are you ever going to keep up with her?”

“I’m not exactly a nincompoop,” James laughed.

“A what?” Alice asked.

“Oh, do I finally know a big word that eludes Alice Malfoy’s vocabulary?” James said with glee.

“I’ve heard of the word, numbskull, I merely can’t believe a person in this day and age would use such an antediluvian word.”

“A what-de-dilvian, what?” he asked.

Alice sighed. “It means antiquated. You are a nincompoop, but you’re mine.”

“You said, ‘numbskull’ and that word’s not exactly the epitome of a modern word,” he said under his breath.

She ignored him and turned back to her grandmother, who could see the smile on James’ face, even if Alice couldn’t. She knew that James knew what he was doing. He was playing the buffoon, just like her dear Draco always did. They were perfect for each other.

Alice continued, “We need to use that book to go back, oh, just say to yesterday morning, because we need to buy a little time. You see, we want to get married tonight, but we need time to get a special license. Uncle Percy said we can’t possible get one this late at night, and on a weekend. He said he could arrange it for Monday morning, but I refuse to wait. I’m already all dressed up, and everyone’s here, and it’s perfect, and we can’t go back further than that, because we just found out that we loved each other tonight, when we used my book to go back and look at three memories, but perhaps Uncle Harry could go back to yesterday morning, a Friday morning, and he and Percy could arrange everything!”

“SO THAT’S WHERE YOU’VE BEEN! You’ve been using your book to traipse around old memories!” Narcissa raised her arms and said, “Why didn’t anyone fill me in on the particulars? Why was I left out of the loop?” She grasped Alice by the shoulders and said, “And listen, Miss Alice, I can’t possibly plan a wedding in a few hours, or even a few days. What’s the rush? We can announce your engagement tonight and you can marry later.”

“We don’t want to wait,” James and Alice said together. They turned and smiled at each other. Alice added, “Please, Grandmother, we’re marrying tonight, even if we have to leave here and do it elsewhere. Help us.”

Narcissa smiled. She nodded and said, “Fine, but I’ll be the one that goes back and does this for you. I see no reason why I can’t go back earlier than yesterday morning, get your little license, and then make a few plans and alterations to this party, so that you’ll have the most perfect wedding in the world. After all, your father and mother rushed everything, but in the end, it was still perfect, because of my planning. Let me do this for you.”

Alice nodded in delight. Narcissa turned to rush back into the house and ran into the arms of her husband, who had heard the whole thing. He said, “We’ll go back and do it, together.”

James and Alice waited outside, on the veranda, for her grandparents to return. He placed his robe over her shoulders, and held her in his arms. They shared a chaise lounge, and likewise, shared their hopes and dreams for their future, a future of which they had always been afraid to share before.

“I want three children, definitely, like your family had,” Alice said. “Since I couldn’t be an only child, it was a shame I only had Sam.”

James laughed and kissed her cheek, his arms going tighter around her. “Fine, three it is. Perhaps we can start on the first one tonight.”

Alice blushed, and looked back at James. “Are you virgin?” she asked.

“Yes,” he answered, unabashed.

“Good,” she replied, turning her head back to him. “Now, I know you’re going to go into Magical law, so that means a lot of schooling for you. I don’t want to give up my dream of archaeology, so I’ll have a lot of schooling, too. I think we should live here after the wedding, so we don’t have to worry about maintaining our own home.”

He was onto her. He tightened his grasp, if possible, and said, “Did you think I would ever take you away from Whitehall, sweetheart? It’s your home. I know that, and someday, it will be ours, when your father inherits the Manor. I don’t care where we live, as long as we’re together.”

“Our first daughter’s name will be Ingrid,” Alice said.

He laughed. “Already naming the kiddies? Okay. Then our first son’s name will be Firebolt, after my favourite broom.”

She laughed, turned toward him, and hit his arm. His father walked out to the pair and said, “Hey, do you two want to join us inside? Your grandparents just returned, and it’s almost time.” They both stood. Harry said, “I need to talk to James for a moment alone, and your folks are waiting up in your bedroom for you, Alice. Apparate up there, okay?”

She nodded, and started to leave, when Harry reached over for her arm. He said, “I’m sorry if I caused you any distress last night with my lie about Cassie.”

She leaned forward and kissed his cheek. “I think your little lie was the flame that started this fire, so no harm done.” She handed James his robe and popped inside.

Harry smiled. “See, I knew I was right to lie to her.” James rolled his eyes. “However, son, you never shall, right?”

“I love her, Dad.”

“I know.”

“Is this our little father/son moment? Do you need to tell me to treat her right, not ever hurt her, not ever cheat on her, to never lie to her, because, Dad, you and Mum already raised me the right way. I already know all these things. Besides, I couldn’t hurt my sweet Alice. It can’t be done.”

“Then we have nothing to discuss,” Harry said, clapping his son on the back. He helped his son put on his robe and he hugged him tightly. “I love you, son.”

“And I you,” James responded.

Alice appeared outside her bedroom, and pushed the already opened door in slightly. She saw her mum and dad locked in an embrace.

“I never thought this day would come,” Hermione said. Alice could see that her mother was crying. “If it wasn’t for Ingrid, and her machinations, none of this would ever have happened.”

“I know,” Draco said, holding his wife, but looking over at his daughter in the doorway. “And to think it all started with a little girl, with sticky hands, handing me a pink flower.” He held his hand out for his little girl, beckoning her toward him, as he recalled the memory aloud…

Draco sat on the bench outside the resort and 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 empathy, 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. 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. He heard her voice long before he saw her. He turned his head toward the sound. 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. 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.”

Draco looked at his little girl, seeing her as he saw her that day, and as she appeared now, and remembering it as if it were yesterday. He smiled at her as she held out her hand for him. He finished regaling that precious memory as they clasped hands, and Hermione turned and noticed for the first time that Alice had joined them.

Still remembering their first meeting, he grasped her hand tighter, looked down at their joined hands, and repeated the phrase that he had said to her back then, “What do you think you’re doing?” He held up her hand in his.

“Holding your hand, and look, my hand isn’t even sticky this time,” Alice said, close to tears.

“And you don’t have snot coming out of your nose, either, that’s also a good thing to point out,” Draco jested.

“And I still hate grapes,” Alice joked.

“And hell is still south of here, but I don’t intend to visit there now,” Draco said back. He hugged his two girls. He wanted to cry, but he couldn’t, he was a Malfoy, after all. “Every year, on your birthday, your mum always says the same thing to me; did you know that, Alice?”

Alice shook her head no and said, “No, I didn’t, what do you tell him, Mummy?”

“I tell him thank you for giving me my daughter,” Hermione answered plainly, “the same thing I apparently told him that first day he met you, and the same thing I already told him just tonight. It’s our little tradition.”

“And do you know what I say back to her?” Draco asked.

“No, what?” Alice asked.

He kissed his daughter’s forehead, then let go of his wife so he could embrace his daughter fully and said, “I always say in return, ‘and thank you for giving her to me, too’.”

“And we mustn’t forget to always thank Ingrid,” Alice reminded them.

“Of course,” Draco smiled. He looked up at the ceiling and said, “Thank you, Ingrid.” He looked down at the floor and said, “Hell, I’ll even thank that bastard Kevin, because if he hadn’t lied about his ability to have children with your Mum, she wouldn’t have sought me out at that ball all those years ago.”

Hermione laughed and said, “I hate to break it to you, Draco, but I don’t think Kevin’s dead, so you don’t need to look down when you thank him.”

“Oh, I know,” he revealed. “But when he dies, I’m sure he will go to hell, because I’ve wished him there enough times.”

The three Malfoys remained in Alice’s bedroom for another half an hour. Hermione found her old veil, from her wedding, and she helped Alice put her hair up, and she placed the veil on her head.

Draco told her how they would fix the third floor into a flat just for the newlyweds. He had grand designs already figured out.

Hermione asked Alice if she had any questions, regarding the wedding night. Draco sneered and told Hermione that any questions Alice had, she could just go on guessing, because as far as he was concerned, nothing untold was happening between her and James tonight.

The women laughed.

Finally, Sam came and knocked on the door. “Geesh, Alice, you do look pretty,” Sam said sincerely. “Grandmother said it’s time, so you had all better come down, because she wouldn’t be able to stand the pressure if we made her search all over for you again. She might keel over from a heart attack, or something and that would ruin the wedding, right?”

“Thanks for that one, too, I guess,” Draco laughed, referring to his son, while looking at his wife.

“You’re welcome, I guess,” she repeated. They all walked down the stairs, to face the crowd.

Lucius met them on the landing of the main stairs, by the foyer. “Your grandmother’s outdone herself, Alice. She went back, got your license, hired a wedding planner, and somehow, there’s now a tent outside, set up with chairs and an altar, and flowers and candlelight. It will be a perfect, nighttime wedding, and when we come back inside, you’ll have the perfect reception. I tell you, that woman is a marvel, she is. I think I’ll keep her.”

“You do that, Lucius Malfoy,” Narcissa said from the bottom step. She smiled at her granddaughter and said, “It’s all for you, Alice. I feel like everything has always been for you from the moment I met you, and I wouldn’t change a single moment.”

“Thank you, so very much, everyone,” Alice rejoined. She looked at the faces of her family, the ones she loved and adored, and she felt overwhelmed. Holding back tears, she said, “When I was a really little girl, and we first came to England, I don’t remember much, but I do remember one thing. The moment I step over the threshold of those doors, right there, and entered this house, I knew in my heart of hearts that I finally was home. I finally had the big family, the real family, the complete family, that loved each other, that I had always wanted, so thank you to each and everyone of you. I’m home.”

Hermione took Sam’s hand and walked with him outside, followed by his grandparents. Draco placed his daughter’s hand on his arm and said, “I never thought I would ever get married, and yet, I did, and now, here I am, giving you away to get married. What a bizarre concept.”

“Indeed,” was Alice’s only reply.

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