Sultry summer and autumn days gave way to dank and dismal December. Frost hung in the air, clinging on the few remaining leaves. Heavy fog curled around the Malfoy Manor, wrapping the grand house in thick white blanket, obliterating it from view. Only mournful cry of crows disturbed the silent grounds. Within the house, however, it was all light and warmth. The dining room resounded in affection laughter that greeted time-honored family jokes and teasing. Hermione watched fondly as Lucius regaled the company with the story of his recent professional triumph, then surveyed her guests. Seating around the table over the remains of excellent meal were Robert and Diane Granger, Draco and Kelsey, and Odette Swancombe.
A family holiday, Hermione thought. My family.
"My sides hurt from laughter, Lucius. That was quite a story! Do tell us more," Diane insisted, wiping at her watering eyes.
"Don't encourage his exaggerations! He is a far better wizard than he is a comedian!" Draco boisterously cut in.
"Did you here that, my dear?" Lucius was pretending to be insulted. "My son's abusing his elders and betters. Again."
"Don't worry about him. That's what I'm here for: keeping this one in line," said Kelsey, rubbing Draco's hand protectively with hers.
Hermione chuckled. "He certainly needs it."
"They all do," Odette said dryly. "Look at Lucius. No sooner was he out of St. Mungo's than he was back on top of Malfoy Apothecaries, giving the Ministry sops hell. Thank goodness Hermione kept him from overdoing it."
"Overdoing it?" Lucius growled. "I was in more danger of undergoing it. I did nothing for an entire month after they released me."
"I wouldn't say nothing," Hermione slyly said under her breath.
Lucius gave her a loving smile and whispered in her ear, "I don't think our guests will be interested if we humored them with specifics."
She playfully swatted his knee under the table.
"Month or not, Father hasn't lost his touch. The gold trade has been fantastic these past few months," Draco said with obvious satisfaction.
"Behave yourself," Kelsey scolded him. "No talking shop at the table! Tell him, Hermione."
"Tell him?" She grinned. "Nobody tells Malfoy wizards what to do. Besides, you're going to have to put up with the business talk if you persist on marrying this ferret." She gestured to Draco, who pompously announced his intention of taking the description as a compliment.
Hermione sat in the middle of this banter with heartfelt gratitude for all her blessings. Odette was restored to full health and vigor; Lucius's company was thriving with increased credit; her parents put aside their initial disapproval and disappointment about her marriage and made meaningful overtures to repair the rift between them; Draco and Kelsey were happily engaged; and above all Lucius, her husband, lover, rock and support.
Lucius ... she was most grateful for his strength, wisdom, and love. She could not ask for a better partner, or a better father to her unborn child. She touched her belly; she knew it would be some time before she would show, but they have agreed that the Christmas dinner was the perfect occasion to announce their happy news to their family.
She was a bit worried when she discovered her condition about a month after her birthday. They hadn't discussed family, nor precautions against pregnancy; she and Lucius were also so busy with the company that the topic never came up. All in all, she felt it was too much too soon, especially as they only started living as husband and wife that summer. After her visit with the Healer, Hermione had struggled with the news for little while. She knew she would have to reveal the truth, but didn't know how. She planned on waiting for a while, perhaps hinting slowly to gauge his reaction. In the end, she decided against that in favor of a more direct approach. One night, as they lay in bed, she took his hand in hers and told him. His joyous reaction took her by surprise. She could still vividly picture the play of emotions on his face, the way his eyes shone with love and delight. Who would have imagined a former Death Eater could light up like a boy on Christmas?
Looking around her guests, Hermione also thought about the people who couldn't be here. It was no longer possible for her to spend the holidays with the Weasleys. Her relationship with Ginny was nonexistent. Even if she were willing to forgive and forget, Ginny's wand was confiscated, and she had a ten year ban on performing magic and attending magical events. Harry was having a tough time with the separation, but they were supposedly trying to work things out. Hermione honestly wished them luck in this endeavor. Despite everything, she wanted Harry and Ginny to be happy and have the kind of love that endures the toughest tests life throws their way. The trials in her own marriage this year have lent her and Lucius strength beyond her imagination. Perhaps it would be the same for the Potters.
Bittersweet sadness tugged at Hermione's heart at the thought of her greatest friendships evolving so much. Ron, Harry, and Ginny would always have a special place in her heart, and she would never forget them. By the same token, they all were bound to take separate paths in life.
Lucius caught her eye. Love surged between them.
She was beyond excited to discover just where journey would lead.
A wild outbreak of laughter broke out between Kelsey and Draco, jerking Hermione out of her reverie. There would be enough time for deep thoughts and reflections when she would be on her own.
Lucius stood up to make their announcement. "I don't mean to interrupt the festivities, but we do have an announcement to make."
"So do we," Draco spoke up. "We decided on a date."
"Yes, Draco and I decided we want a June wedding," Kelsey added.
"Splendid! We can do it in Swancombe Mellow," Odette enthused. "Perhaps in rose gardens or the lake. It's most divine at sunset! I can just picture a cloudless day, food, flowing champagne-"
"Grandmaman," Lucius gently interrupted, "before you move to plan the honeymoon, we have an announcement of our own that mind get in the way of early summer weddings."
There was a general ripple of interest from their guests as they looked on Hermione and Lucius with curiouity.
Hermione stood up to join him. "In fact, if Kelsey and Draco do decide on June, there will be an extra family member in attendance."
The eyes of Diane Granger lit up. "Are you saying what I think you are?"
"Yes, mum! We're expecting our first in mid June," her daughter confirmed, beaming.
A round of dazed and joyful congratulations followed with Odette's being loudest of all. She was beyond ecstatic at the prospect of becoming a great-great-grandmother. After the usual questions about the pregnancy were asked and answered, the entire family gathered around the tree to unwrap the presents. Amidst all the commotion, Lucius and Hermione managed to find a brief moment to themselves under the mistletoe in the parlor.
"It's almost a year to the day," she reminded her husband after he released her from their kiss.
"Hard to believe it's only been a year," he said. "What would you like for an anniversary present?"
Hermione sighed in contentment. "I already have everything I want right here."
"Still we should do something to celebrate," Lucius insisted.
"Of course, we will!" she agreed. "In fact, we should begin later tonight."
"Oh, you wicked, wicked wench!" He pulled her in and kissed her again. "Look at us, a baby on the way, and all we can think about is fucking each other's brains out."
"And it's only year one of this wretched marriage!" Hermione joked with a wink, as she sauntered off to rejoin their family.
Never had the future looked more golden for the Malfoys.
This is the end, at least for the time being! I may revisit for a sequel in the future, but for now this is where I leave them.
Tremendous thanks to all of you fabulous readers and reviewers. Your feedback has been invaluable and I hope you'll check out my other Lumione stories :-)
Lots of love,