{ Epilogue }

September 1st

Draco blinked his eyes open slowly. It was early. Far too early to be awake already. For some reason, though, he couldn't force his eyes closed again. Instead he focused on the beautiful witch lying beside him. Her head was cradled between his arm and his chest. Her hand was on his stomach. Her leg was thrown across his legs, her knee almost on his…well, a little too close for comfort. He shifted slightly so that her leg straightened out and his family jewels were once again a safe and clear distance from danger. He took his fingertips and lightly ran them through her curly brown hair while he thought about their first year together. Had it been a year already? Where had the time gone?

After her book had been released, they had taken an extended holiday. They spent two months traveling the world. They visited Italy, Greece, Egypt and America. They spent the time together getting to really know one another, relaxing and just having fun.

Fun. That was something neither of them really had a lot of experience in. They figured it out together, though. Draco taught Hermione how to fly a broom. She introduced him to movies and pizza. Together they spent days doing absolutely nothing but lounging in a beach chair watching the clouds float by. They explored caverns. They flew on an airplane. They took walks in the evenings and they made love to each other all night. In short, for the first time ever, they were both happy.

When they returned home Draco went back to work at the MLE and Hermione went back to work at the library. Despite their schedules, they made time for each other every day, and they made time for their friends. Harry and Luna had become frequent dinner guests, as well as Blaise and Pansy.

Lucius and Narcissa, however, had not. In fact, he hadn't spoken to either of his parents since he married Hermione one year ago. He had received a message from his dear old father the night before. The lunatic actually thought he was going to file for divorce in the morning.

Yes, since it was their one year anniversary, he technically could file for divorce. But really, anyone that saw them together could tell they were in love. He was the happiest he had ever been in his life. Why would he ruin that by leaving her? That would just be crazy on his part.

Of course, he was prepared for the consequences of his actions. As of today, he would be burned off the family tree. He would be banned from the family vaults. He would be denied access to all family lands, including the Malfoy Manor. As far as his parents were concerned, he was dead and gone.

He looked down at the witch in his arms again. Her big brown eyes were open now, and they were looking at him. Their eyes locked and again, just like every time, he knew that it didn't matter. He would gladly give it all up for her. Besides that, Draco Malfoy was wealthy in his own right. He inherited quite a chunk of change from his grandfather, not to mention his house and a small cabin on the beach. Even without the Malfoy fortune, Draco and Hermione would never want for money.

A shot of lustful energy sprang from his loins and spread throughout his body as a thought formed in his mind. Today was the day. After today the whole world would know that they were together, they were happily married, they were in love. Because when the deadline passed, the whole world would know that he was married to Hermione, not because he had to be as part of the sponsorship, but because he wanted to be.

It was like she could feel his desire building. She didn't resist at all when he flipped her to her back, covering her body with his own, and kissed her hungrily. No, she didn't resist. In fact, she encouraged him by digging her nails into his back, fighting with his tongue for dominance, and moaning deeply when he just barely teased her dripping wet pussy with his rock hard cock.

They merged together, hard and fast, over and over again until they were both grunting and moaning, panting and cursing, screaming each other's names into the darkness.

He could feel himself getting close, so fucking close to cumming. He clasped his hands over hers, intertwining their fingers and stretching both their arms above her head. His forehead came to rest on hers, their eyes locked together as he continued moving inside of her.

"I love you, Hermione." The words came out breathy and nearly whispered, but her eyes widened anyway as she heard them. Love. She knew that he loved her. She even knew that she loved him. Neither one of them had dared say those words, though. Her lips curved up in a smile that she couldn't have stopped if she wanted too. Her hands moved from his shoulders to the base of his neck, her fingers weaving into his platinum blond hair and she pulled his lips closer to hers.

"I love you, Draco." Her lips brushed against his as she said those words. Even though they both had known they were in love, hearing those words, saying those words, it filled both of them with strong emotions of joy, love and happiness.

Their lips met again and Draco picked up the pace, pumping into her almost frantically until they were both screaming out in ecstasy.

Neither of them noticed their wedding bands glowing a deep silver color as they came together, or the soft glow that covered them as they both collapsed into a deep sleep, wrapped around each other once more.

Two Months Later

Draco sat across the table from Hermione as they ate dinner. It was a rather common occurrence in the Malfoy family household. This was the third night, though, where he noticed his wife wasn't eating. She had a bout of the flu the week before, and she still looked pale and weak to him. She had stopped throwing up every time she ate, though, so he figured she was on the mend. Either that or she had simply stopped eating, which he was beginning to suspect from the look of her still-full dinner plate.

"Are you okay, Hermione?" He looked up at her face and noticed her eyes were drooping shut. She was about to fall asleep right into her mashed potatoes. Although it would be quite funny, he probably should try to stop it from happening.

"I think it's just this flu. I'm exhausted and really don't feel like eating anything."

He looked her over one more time. She looked miserable.

"Why don't you go lie down for a little while?"

She looked like she was going to protest, but reluctantly she agreed. He stood from the table as she did, he did have manners after all. As she stood, he saw her eyes flutter then roll back in her head. She started swaying on her feet. He barely made it around the table to catch her before her knees collapsed and she fell into his arms.

Fuck. He knew he should have made her go see a Healer. She had insisted that she was fine. Well, obviously she wasn't fine.

He scooped her into his arms and went straight to St. Mungo's. She opened her eyes once when he placed her on the hospital bed. She seemed to recognize where she was, then her eyes closed again and she fell into a deep sleep.

Draco sat beside her as the Healers ran test after test. An hour later Hermione woke up and demanded to know what had happened and why she was in the hospital. Draco had just finished explaining to her that she had simply collapsed when Healer Nadine walked in.

"Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy." She smiled brightly and sat down in the chair at the end of her bed. "I have some good news for you. We know why you collapsed."

Draco squeezed Hermione's hand tightly. Deep seeded anxiety had converged on his chest. Somehow in the hour since they had gotten there, he had managed to convince himself that whatever it was, it was something horrible that was going to take her away from him.

"Congratulations. You're going to have a baby."

His breath left his lungs in a whoosh of air. Those were words that he thought he would never hear, words that he had convinced himself he never needed to hear. A baby. Hermione was going to be a mother. He was going to be a father. Oh Merlin.

He slowly became aware of Hermione's hand in his, squeezing as tightly as she possible could. He glanced up at her and saw that her face had drained of all color. She was still staring at the Healer, but she wasn't seeing her at all.

Healer Nadine was staring between the two of them, obviously not sure of their reactions. Usually when a young couple is told they are having a baby they are happy about it. But these two just seemed…shocked.

"That's not possible." Her voice was barely a whisper. She looked terrified, although the Healer could not imagine why.

"It is entirely possible, Mrs. Malfoy. You are approximately eight weeks pregnant." She paused to pull out a few pamphlets and a prescription pad. "You'll need to eat better than you have been and I'm prescribing you some prenatal vitamins. I'm also going to suggest you make an appointment with a Healer that specializes in obstetrics within the next few days. You're free to go as soon as you're ready." She handed them the paperwork and left the hospital room, sparing only one more confused glance at the young couple.

"A baby, Hermione." A grin spread slowly across his face. They were going to have a baby.

"Don't get your hopes up, Draco. We need to talk to a Healer that knows what the hell they're talking about." She swung her legs over the side of the bed and stood up slowly. He put his arm around her shoulders and together they left the small room.

He didn't lead her to the floo, though. Instead he led her up two floors to the obstetrics department. After another two hour long wait, they finally got to see a Healer.

Healer Williams looked through her medical history carefully. He ran tests on her to see what the status of her scar tissue was. And he confirmed that she was, in fact, two months pregnant.

"We'll consider it a high-risk pregnancy, but from what I can see right now everything looks fine. The baby is doing well, the mother is doing well, even though she does need to eat a little better. We don't have anything to worry about at this point. We'll need to see you in the office once a week so we can keep an eye on everything. No apparating from this point forward, and I would only use the floo network in emergency situations. Muggle transportation is the way to go for the next seven months."

He gave them some more information, some more instructions, and sent them on their merry way.

They didn't tell anyone about the baby for another two months, and at that point they only told their closest friends. Harry, Blaise, Luna and Pansy.

At six months along they were told most of the danger had passed. Hermione's baby bump was spotted in Daigon Alley and was on the front cover of the Daily Prophet the next day.

At seven months she finally relented and let Draco turn their spare bedroom into a nursery. She absolutely refused to let him paint it green. They settled on (read: Hermione decided on) lilac colored walls and white trim. Draco was painting the walls while she painted the trim. The muggle way. It annoyed him that she wanted to do everything the muggle way at first, but he found the end results so much more satisfying. He actually preferred using the muggle way in most things anymore. Unless he was in a hurry, then magic worked just as well.

Draco turned to put more paint on his roller just as she stood up behind him. A lovely lilac streak of paint covered her hair and her back before he realized he was painting her. They both froze in place and then started laughing. That was when she felt the first twinge in her abdomen. It didn't hurt so much; it was just a little uncomfortable. Just enough so that she stopped laughing and her hand flew to her stomach.

Draco didn't notice. He was still chuckling even as he reached for his wand to clean the paint off of her. He vanished the wet paint from her hair and her clothes in an instant.

The second twinge was sharper. She gasped and bent over at her waist in an attempt to stop the pain.

"What's wrong?" Draco watched her for a minute before she straightened up and took a deep breath.

She cried out as the third pain hit her.

"It's the baby, Draco. Get the car. We need to go to the hospital. Now."

"It's not time yet." He had his arm around her and was heading for the door despite his lame protest.

"It's time. Trust me. It's time." She was gasping for air through the sudden onslaught of pain.

Within twenty minutes they were at the hospital. Healer Williams met them there and whisked Hermione away, leaving Draco in the waiting room to wait, and wonder. He notified their friends, who all came down to the hospital to sit with him.

Seven hours later, they were all still sitting there, still waiting to hear any kind of news from beyond those swinging white doors. Finally…finally! Healer Williams entered the waiting room. He looked tired and weary. There were splotches of blood on his green scrubs that caught Draco's attention. So focused on the blood was he, that he almost missed hearing the words that would change his life forever.

"Mr. Malfoy. We almost lost both of them, but you know Hermione, she's a fighter. I'm pretty sure your daughter is going to be just like her."

It took a long moment for the Healer's words to sink in. When they did, his eyes widened and his lips lifted into a smile.

"They're alive?" He had to ask for clarification. As soon as the healer nodded, the smile on his face became a full-blown grin.

"Are you ready to meet your daughter?"

Draco took a deep breath before following the healer passed the swinging white doors, down the hallway and into a small hospital room. Hermione was lying on the bed, exhausted but awake. Her eyes lit up when she saw him and he released a sigh of relief when their eyes met.

The door behind the healer opened and a nurse walked in pushing a small cart. Inside the cart was a tiny baby wrapped in a pink blanket. Her face was scrunched up and her little hands were curled into fists. She was screaming loudly to anyone that would listen. Draco carefully lifted the tiny little girl out of the cart and held her in his arms. Her screams quieted down and she fell asleep as he bounced gently back and forth.

He glanced up at Hermione and smiled when he saw the small smile on her lips. When she had his attention, she nodded behind him, towards the door. He turned to see what she was looking at. He was startled to discover an extra person standing just inside the doorway, and another standing right behind her, not quite in the room.

"Mother. Father." He nodded to them. It was odd to see them both standing there. He hadn't spoken to either of them in well over a year and a half. Somehow, it seemed right though. This was their granddaughter, after all.

His mother had tears leaking from her eyes and a wide smile on her face as she looked at the small child in his arms. His father was looking back and forth between Draco, Hermione and the baby. Up until this moment he had assumed that Draco was merely rebelling against his wishes. He hadn't bothered actually cutting his son off because he was sure the boy would end this charade at any time.

Looking at the small family in front of him made him realize that wasn't going to happen. The fool boy was actually in love with this muggle-born girl. The pureblood Malfoy line was ruined and there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it. He thought back to the words that Narcissa had said to him earlier when she was trying to convince him to go to St. Mungo's with her. She said "Pureblood or half-blood, it doesn't matter at all. Because that baby it still our blood."

Lucius looked up from the baby to meet his son's eyes. There was a question in there. Are you hear to cause trouble? He shook his head slightly and wrapped his hand around Narcissa's waist to show Draco that he meant no harm. When the message was received the boy noticeably relaxed and smiled at them. Smiled. He didn't even know that Draco knew how to smile. A warm feeling spread through him and he found himself stepping forward along with his wife, stepping closer to his son, his daughter-in-law and his granddaughter.

Draco held his daughter cradled against his body with his left arm. His right hand found Hermione's hand and squeezed it gently before he returned his focus to his parents.

"I would like to introduce you to Cassiopeia Marie Malfoy."

Hermione lay in bed as she watched the exchange between her husband and her in-laws. She was absolutely exhausted from the labor and the emergency surgery, but she couldn't let herself go to sleep. Not yet. She wanted to be awake to see Draco reunite with his parents, to see them welcome their granddaughter into the world.

This was her family. This was their family. Even though she fought it, her eyes drifted closed. Somewhere between being awake and falling asleep, she heard the words she knew would mean the world to Draco, and someday to little Cassie too.

"We don't agree on certain things, Draco. We probably never will, but that's okay. You followed your heart son, and I can't fault you for that." There was a long pause where she could hear the older man taking in a deep breath before he continued. "Keep an eye on her. Before you know it she'll be all grown up, making her own decisions and moving on with her life without any regard to how you feel about those choices. It happens faster than you think it will."

Draco smirked at his father. It was the closest thing to an apology that he would ever get.

Two weeks later Cassie was released from St. Mungo's. They took her home and put her in her freshly painted lilac and white nursery. She opened her little silver eyes when they laid her down in her crib, her curly brown hair sticking out in small clumps. Then she opened her mouth and screamed. And screamed. And screamed some more, until her daddy picked her up and bounced her again. She closed her eyes and fell back into a contented sleep, knowing that all was right in the world, fairy tales really do come true, and everyone, including her Mommy and Daddy, deserved a 'Happily Ever After'.

The End

AN: Thank you all so much for reading, following and reviewing this story. I know my posting schedule got messed up a little bit, but I managed to get back on track in the end. Today is the two year anniversary of the day my mom passed away.

She was more than just my mom, she was my best friend. She would have loved this story, although she would have made me give her the epilogue first so she knew how the story ended before she started reading it at all. LOL

Again, thank you all for helping me honor her memory this way. I hope you enjoyed the story. Please leave a note on your way out and let me know what you think.