A Marriage Most Convenient

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Chapter 53: One Last Chapter, Written for a Father-in-Law:

“Hermione?” Draco called out to his wife of thirty years. He felt for her, his hand reaching over to her side of the bed, where she always was, without fail, for the last thirty years. She wasn’t there tonight. He sat up, finally oriented to time and place. The clock on his bedside stand said it was 3:09 in the morning. Hermione was firmly in their bed when they both went to sleep somewhere around eleven. Where was she now?

He looked over to their bathroom. The door was open, the room dark. He placed his feet on the floor, rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands, and slipped his feet in slippers, arms in a robe, and shuffled out of their room.

He looked up one side of the hallway, and down the other. They lived in a rather large house that they had built after Alice and James moved into Whitehall, on the hillside the overlooked that house. They called it Riverdale. He knew this house like he knew the back of his hand, which was as well as he knew Hermione.

He didn’t need to light any lights to find his way around the dark house at night. He walked down the hallway, his eyes darting into the empty bedrooms, which usually housed one or two grandchildren on weekends and holidays, but were completely empty right now.

He started down the stairs, when he heard a loud thump on the floor above. The attic? Could his wife be in the attic, in the middle of the night, on the night after their son married his long time love?

Draco sighed. Of course she was. That was where his old Pensieve was kept. He placed it there years ago, out of sight of young eyes, and out of their hands, as well. He opened the door, and climbed the attic stairs.

He started over to the table where the heavy stone basin lay, and where his wife stood, clutching the edges of the table. Her shoulders and head were down, as if in prayer, or silent contemplation.

He felt afraid, suddenly, for some reason.

“Hermione?” he asked again. “Are you alright? Why don’t you come back to bed? Why are you bothering with the Pensieve at this hour of night?” He reached up and turned on the light, which was nothing but merely an old light bulb, hanging from a wire, with a pull string. The light moved back and forth after he pulled the string.

She didn’t know which question he wanted answered first. She turned to face him. “Everything has changed. I feel like our lives are almost over. I don’t want things to end without resolving some things.”

He laughed. “Oh, Hermione, our lives aren’t over. Is this about Sam and Lily getting married today? Listen, love, Sam is almost thirty years old. He’s been gone from home for the last five years. What’s this really about, love?” He reached for her arm, but she walked around to the other side of the table. He frowned, reached up and pushed the long, single light bulb out of the way, and reached for her across the large table.

He grabbed her hand, and once she was firmly in his grasp, he walked around to her. “Are you menopausal?” he asked.

She looked so indignant for a moment that he almost laughed. Then he almost ducked in fear as she raised her hand, (he was sure to hit him) to reach up for his face. She pinched his earlobe, hard.

“Ouch! I thought you were going to be all loving.”

“I thought you were going to be normal, but alas, neither of us got our wish,” she returned. “And no, I’m not…okay, actually, I am menopausal, but that’s not why I’m sad right now. This isn’t even really about Sam, though I was up here looking at memories of him from when he was a baby and then a small boy, and then I looked at memories of Alice, and then I was feeling a bit intrusive, and I looked at some of the private memories you put in there.”

“Ah…” he began, only to falter. “Okay. Was there anything good in there? Did I put anything in there that wasn’t to your liking, or that made you angry? Is that why you were crying?”

She sighed. “No, most of your memories were sweet beyond the pale, Draco.”

“Good. You keep thinking that, while I go over to the Pensieve and clear out some old memories that I’d rather you not see.” She glared at him and he said, “Just joking. What’s the problem?” he asked, concerned. He pulled her over to an old loveseat pressed up against the wall. He plopped down, and pulled her down beside him.

She shook her head, even as she explained, “It wasn’t your memories that made me melancholy. Seeing that we all lied to Sam today to get him to come home and the lie was that your father was dying, and I was being intrusive anyway, I decided to look beyond your memories, and look at some memories of your father’s. I remembered that this Pensieve once belonged to him, and I knew he had memories in there, because of the one he put in there of Alice’s fifth birthday.” She looked down.

He was quiet for a while, reached for her hand again, laced his finger with hers, turned her hand, kissed her wrist, and said, “Are you going to share with me what you saw that upset you so much? Was it something terribly unpleasant? I can’t imagine my father would have saved bad memories, but I know he’s done some very bad things, some of them even to you, and I know many of them are bound to have upset you.”

“No…no,” she repeated. “Oh, Draco, I have to admit, I’ve not liked your father very much over the years, even though he’s made up for being a Death Eater by being an exemplarily Grandfather to our children, and their children, but still, I’ve harbored very bad feelings for him, for so long, which I felt were justified.”

“And now what, you know they are, by something you saw in the Pensieve?” Draco asked confused.

“No, the opposite,” she explained. She turned, her back to him, and hung her head again. “I might have been wrong in my assumptions about your father. I think he might be a good man after all. I feel badly that we all lied about him dying, and that we even joked about it earlier. You even said it would be cause for celebrating, instead of mourning.”

“That was just a joke, and even my father laughed,” Draco justified.

“But it wasn’t really funny, and later, when your mother told you at the reception to stop joking about it, because he was becoming upset, you made another joke and you said that he was too mean to ever die anyway,” she recalled. “You even told her that someday you might mourn him at his real funeral, if and when you ever forgave him for being who he was. I mean, Draco, do you really feel that way?”

He shrugged, but looked pained, and said, “Hell, I don’t know, Hermione. Come on, you don’t exactly love the man. He’s not a saint you know. He wasn’t exactly a good father, and yeah, I guess I stand by my statement that I haven’t really found it in my heart to forgive the old man for his transgressions yet.”

“But who are you to decide if he’s repentant? Who are you to forgive, or not forgive? You sound as bad as Sam sounded. You both were making jokes about it, but you two aren’t the embodiments of men without sins. Cast the first stone, and all that, Draco,” she preached.

“Well, Holy Hermione strikes again,” Draco taunted, rubbing his eyes in frustration. Draco reached for her, pulling her arm so that she was sprawled across the loveseat and his lap, her head on his thigh. She threw her legs over the arm of the loveseat. He began to comb his fingers through her hair. “Tell me, holy angel, mother of Sam, what you saw in that Pensieve that changed your mind. I’d really like to know, because frankly, love, I would have to say that for the most part, I’ve often agreed with you about my father. He wasn’t really that good of a father to me, and he wasn’t a very good man.”

She looked up into his grey eyes. The eyes of her lover, husband, the father and grandfather of her children. The eyes of the man she loved. The eyes of the boy she grew up with, who grew up with a father who had warped beliefs about blood purity. The boy whose father taught him to hate, instead of love. Then she thought of the things she had witnessed in the Pensieve, and she tried to explain.

“Did you know that when you were only three years old, and your grandfather was still alive, your father and his father had a massive fight about Voldemort?” she asked.

“Let me guess,” Draco replied, his fingers of his right hand still in her hair, his left hand on her stomach. “Abraxas was saying how wonderful Voldy was, and Daddy dearest was saying, no, no, no, he’s not wonderful, he’s bloody fabulous.”

“No, Draco, don’t make light of this,” she countered. She pushed his hands away, sat up, and turned her body slightly to face his. “Your father had, had enough, apparently. He said that now that he had a child of his own, and a family, he wanted to protect you from Voldemort, and that he wasn’t so sure being a Death Eater was the best way he could protect his family. His father called him weak. He told him that he was ashamed of him. He also said that he would take you away from him and your mother if he ever tried to leave the service of the Dark Lord.”

Draco frowned. He had never known that. “I don’t remember my grandfather very well, since he died when I was so young, but I never liked the man. What else did you see?”

“The year he switched the Horcrux with Ginny Weasley’s book, your mother and he had a colossal row. She wanted to take you away to the continent…France or Switzerland. Your father wouldn’t allow it. He even said that he was doing the Dark Lord’s bidding for your future.”

“And that gave you the warm fuzzies about him?” Draco paused.

“No, you ninny,” she argued, slapping his arm hard. “Shut up and listen.”

“Sorry, but sometimes you talk so much that it’s hard to listen to you,” he admitted.

She stared at him, with a look of utter contempt, for a good ten seconds. Finally he said, “I’m sorry. Continue, just don’t hit me again.”

“Anyway,” she continued, (and she didn’t hit him again) “they fought terribly, and your mother cried because your father used the same threat on her that his father used years before. He said that he would take you away from her. She finally relented and left him alone. That’s when the memory became interesting. Draco, when he was left all alone, he cried. Your father, the big bad Death Eater, Lord Voldemort’s right hand man, the man who tried to kill Harry and even me when we were only children, cried, out of…I don’t know, regret? Remorse? Fear? Humiliation?

“He wrote your mother a letter and asked her to forgive him, and he said that he had no choice. He did what he had to do to keep his family safe, because the alternative was immediate death.”

Draco didn’t know how to respond.

Hermione took a deep breath. “I did things, when I was first married to what’s his name, which I regret to this day, but I did what I felt I had to do at the time, and everyone has forgiven me. I think it’s time I grant Lucius the same forgiveness. Just as I felt I had no other options, and I felt I was doing what I had to do to keep Alice safe from harm and relatively happy, he did the same with his family. Did I have other choices? Probably. Did he? Maybe.”

Draco leaned forward, his hands covering his mouth, his elbows on his knees. He felt slightly dazed. He closed his eyes for a moment to think. “As much as you say that these two things make it so that you now forgive him, believe me Hermione, he wasn’t a good man when I was growing up. Yes, he’s a good man now. Can people change? I hope so, because otherwise, what have I been up to all these years? He’s changes, just as I have. He’s a good man now, but he wasn’t when I was young, and a few little ‘rosy-coloured glasses’ memories aren’t going to convince me of it, but if they’ve convinced you then I’m happy for you, sweetheart. Now, let’s go to bed.”

“Draco, don’t you see?” she asked desperately. “Your father is a very old man, and we lied to our son today and told him that Lucius was dying, to get him to come home. Thank goodness that was a lie, but someday it won’t be a lie. It’ll be true. He might die tomorrow, quickly, or he might have an illness, and linger, but he probably doesn’t have that long. I need to forgive him, and I need to tell him that, because I know he knows that I have never really loved him like a daughter-in-law should love her father-in-law.

“But even more importantly, Draco, my dear, dense husband, you need to make your peace with the man, and with the things he’s done, before it’s too late, because after he’s gone, all of your regrets will fester and grow and place a strangle-hold on your heart. If not for him, than do it for you.”

Draco shook his head and said, “Hermione, don’t preach to me. I love my father, is forgiveness really necessary, too?”

She cuddled to his side. “I saw a memory of when you were born, Draco. Lucius held you so carefully. He told you how much he loved you, and how he had so much he wanted to give to you. He promised you that he would move heaven and hell for you, if needed. He said that he loved you from the moment your mother first told him that she was having a baby, but he knew that those were just empty words, compared to how he really felt when he finally held you in his arms.”

She looked up at her husband, and touched his face. “This of how you felt when you first held your son in your arms. Think of how you cried the night you realized that Alice was your little girl. Those feelings you felt, is what he felt…for you. If you can’t find it in your heart to forgive the sins of a man who has that much capacity for love, then there’s something lacking in your, dear.”

Draco cocked his head to the side, took a deep breath in and exhaled it slowly. “Let me look at these memories myself,” he proclaimed. He stood up, walked over to the Pensieve, and looked inside.

He visited the three memories she told him about, and then, on a whim, he visited another.

Draco held his newborn son in his arms. His father knocked on the door to the private hospital room at St. Mungo’s where Hermione was fast asleep, and then opened the door before being told to come inside.

Draco?” he said in hushed tones. “Is your wife sleeping?”

She’s out like a light,” Draco replied. “Come meet my son, Father.”

That’s what I was planning on doing,” Lucius explained. “I wanted to be the first to hold him, after you of course.” He walked over to the chair and stroked the baby’s bald little head. “You can tell he’s a Malfoy, because he’s bald.”

That will change,” Draco said, cocking his eyebrows up and down at his father, and then nodding toward his father’s ‘crowning glory’.

Lord help him if he has brown hair or curls,” Lucius mumbled.

Sh, father, don’t let Hermione hear you say such things. I wouldn’t care if he never gets hair. At least he doesn’t have a lightening bolt scar on his forehead.”

Both men laughed quietly and Lucius added, “If I were a praying man, I would say, ‘Amen’ to that. Give him to me.”

He’s mine, go get your own,” Draco joked.

I had my own, and he’s a spoiled brat, and I’m thinking of turning him in for another, younger model,” Lucius joked back. He took the small baby right out of his son’s arms, and then motioned with his head that his son should leave the chair.

Draco stood so Lucius could sit. “What should we name him?” Draco wondered aloud.

I thought it was already decided,” Lucius confirmed. “I said it in the lobby early. Scorpius Abraxas Malfoy.”

Draco winced and said, “I’m not sure you have the final say in the matter. I think Hermione has her heart set on the name Alexander for a boy.”

Lucius frowned and said, “My heir shall have a name befitting a Malfoy.”

I’m your heir, Father,” Draco reminded him. He sat on the arm of the chair, beside his father and new son.

Well, that will change if you don’t name him Scorpius Abraxas Malfoy,” he affirmed.

Fine, but you have to tell my wife,” Draco conceded.

I will. Unlike you, I’m not afraid of her,” Lucius said, rocking the small baby back and forth in his arms.

Yes you are, just a bit, admit it. There’s only us Malfoy men listening,” Draco accused with a smirk.

Fine, she scares me sometimes. She’s got a shrill that could rival a banshee, and she’s amazing at spells and charms and transfiguration. Even when she was a child, I was in awe of her. I still doubt that she’s a Muggle-born. I think she’s probably adopted. I’ve been thinking about investigating that for a while.”

Draco laughed, but when he saw that his father was serious he stopped laughing and he said, “Hermione will kill you for sure if you tell her that. She’s not adopted, she’s a Muggle-born, and she’s probably the smartest witch we know, and she’s better at magic than any of us.”

Except maybe for Alice,” Lucius said with a smile.

Yes, except for little Alice.” Draco looked over at the bed and said, “Father, I think I’ll go get Alice and have her come in here to say goodnight to her mummy, and then Potter or Gingerbread Man Weasley can take her home. Will you be alright in here with the baby?”

Lucius raised one eyebrow as a response.

Is that a ‘yes’ eyebrow raise, or a ‘no’?” Draco mocked.

I didn’t drop you when you were a baby, although I’d like to drop you from a cliff right now,” Lucius threatened.

Draco walked out of the room and left his father holding the baby, and his wife fast asleep in the bed, still recovering from her surgery.

Lucius stood, walked over to the bed, still holding his newborn grandson, and said, “Thank you, Hermione. You’ve given me more than I could ever hope for, with Alice and now with this little one. You’ve also given me my son back. As odd as it seems, before you came back into his life, he never really had much to do with me. He visited his mother frequently, and on every holiday, but with me, well, I usually had to threaten him to make him come see me.”

What I’m trying to say, while you’re sleeping and can’t hear me, is thank you, Hermione, for being a wonderful mother to my grandchild, a loving wife to my son, and the best daughter-in-law a man could ever have, pureblood, half blood, or Muggle-born. Did you notice I didn’t say ‘Mudblood’? I don’t use that word anymore. To do so would be to degrade a very important person in my life…you.”

He leaned down and kissed Hermione’s forehead. “I love you, Hermione.”

He walked back over to the chair, holding the newborn ‘Scorpius’ and he smiled at him as he sat down. “I love you, too, Scorpius. Don’t get used to me saying that aloud, however. I have a reputation to uphold.”

Draco shook his head as he lifted it out of the Pensieve. He looked over at Hermione. She looked concerned, at his concerned look. She hopped up from the couch and said, “What? What else did you see?”

“My father…” he began, only to falter. “He said, he, I mean, when you had Sam, he said…he said that he loved you.”

“Oh, yes, I forgot to tell you that I saw that memory, too,” she commented. “I think your father put all these memories in here as a lasting legacy of sorts, so we would know what kind of man he really was.”

“He said he loved you,” Draco repeated, not listening to her.

“I know,” she repeated as well.

“He’s never even said that to me, at least, not while I was conscious of it. Maybe he said it to me while I was sleeping a few times. I’ll have to visit some more memories and find that out later, but the thing is - any man who could love you can’t be all bad.”

He winked and then smiled at Hermione and embraced her tightly.

“That’s what I’ve always thought, too,” she said, referring to her husband.

Draco kissed the top of her head, then her forehead, and pledged, “I promise I’ll tell him what he means to me. I won’t wait another day. I won’t wait to tell him when it’s too late, or when he can’t hear me. I’ll tell him that I love him and that he’s a good father, and a wonderful grandfather, and that for everything he might have ever done that caused me pain, I forgive him.”

“Life’s too short and too precious to let bad feelings exist between you and the ones you love. Everything he’s done was done for a reason, right or wrong, but out of love for his family.”

“Exactly.” Hermione placed her cheek on his chest, over his heart, her arms around his waist. She said, “The decisions each person makes, along with the joys and sorrows they feel in their lifetime, be them poignant, or bittersweet, make each person who they are.”

“Do you know who you are?” Draco asked with a crooked smile.

“I’d like to think so,” she said. She looked up at her husband. “I’m a kaleidoscope of many things: wife, mother, daughter, friend, lover, woman, and yes, even daughter-in-law. Most of all, I’m the person that I am because of the people around me, and because of the people whom I love, and who love me in return.”

“I was going to say that you were my love, but that works, too.”

She smiled. “We’ll go see Lucius tomorrow?”

“No, right now.” He started to pull on her arm.

“It’s too late,” she complained.

“No, we’ll go right now,” Draco demanded. “I don’t want to waste one millisecond not telling him how I feel about him.”

“But, Draco, it’s very early. If we contact him at this hour, he might die of a heart-attack, from fear and worry,” she joked.

“First you said it’s too late, now you say it’s too early. You’re not a kaleidoscope, but a confused mess. Listen, if he’s liable to die right now, we don’t have a moment to waste,” Draco insisted. “Take my hand. My wand is in my robe pocket. I’ll pop us over there and then we’ll come back and perhaps we can make love.”

“You’re too old to be thinking about sex all the time,” she complained.

He smirked, took her hand, and ‘popped’ them away, thinking that she was crazy. He wasn’t too old to think about sex. He might be too old to do it sometimes, but he wasn’t too old to think about it.

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