A/N: This was a long time coming. As my first dramione, APE forever has a close place in my heart. Everyone has been super encouraging with the feedback and inspired me to write more dramione-centric stories, so thanks for that! As requested, I've written an epilogue. Happy early b-day RaeRae! This is a completely fluffy and nonsensical chapter, so different from what I usually write, but I feel like our heroes needed it after the tumultuous trials they had. Also, there's a certain pairing that emerges in this story that I'm just dying to write. I never sympathize with the character, usually, but now I could totally get down with some _ and explain how that relationship transpired. I hope you enjoy.
I'm working on several WIPs at the moment, two of which are dramiones-An Unconventional Escape and Shipwrecked. AUE is a dark Voldy wins story, but is decadent fun. Shipwrecked is probably my favorite work of anything I've done, so even if it sounds au af, I hope you would consider giving it a chance because I think it has some likable elements!
Some friends and I made a facebook group—Beyond the Book FanFiction Nook 18+—where we have readalongs, writealongs, share and rec stories, and have quite a lively chat from time to time. All ships are welcome, but dramione is kind of a favorite for some reason (No idea why? hehe) Come join us if you like!
Beta Love to the amazing RoOjoy who has been so encouraging throughout this whole story and helped me grow as a writer. You are a wonderful friend!
I hope this epilogue ties things up rather nicely for everyone. Happy Yule! XX
December 24, 2000
Hermione stepped out of the Floo and into her flat, quickly shrugging out of her Healer-in-training robes. She hung them on the wall before rounding the corner.
"Teddy," she called. "Where's my little man?"
Lucius entered the dining room, carrying a cooing Teddy in his arms.
Hermione smiled widely at the sight of the happy toddler. "There he is." She reached for him and Lucius handed him over carefully.
There had been a time when she was hesitant to leave Lucius alone with the child, and it had been a point of tension with Harry and Ginny, but she, as well as they, had since shoved aside her reservations regarding the older wizard. Her obliviation seemed to have stripped away his Pureblood prejudices, and reawakened his fatherly tendencies. The man was quite pleasant to be around, and the four caretakers had built a fledgling trust with Lucius, the man showed no signs of breaking. For the better part of a year, Daphne and Ginny took turns sitting with Lucius, in between their respective jobs, but Teddy and Lucius had grown inseparable, and the two could always be found clinging to one another.
"Has Uncle Luke been feeding you more Peppermint Toads?" Hermione took a linen from the table and swiped at Teddy's mouth. She narrowed her eyes at the blond wizard. "Lucius, you know we're going to have Christmas dinner soon."
"Yes, and we're very excited about it, aren't we, young man?"
"More," the two year old whinged in response.
"We were making Cauldron Cakes to bring to the Burrow," Lucius explained, gesturing to a tray of cakes sitting on the kitchen counter.
"It looks like Teddy had more fun eating the ingredients than actually making anything," she smirked fondly at the cooing infant.
"He is quite taken with all things chocolate."
"Is Draco home yet?"
Lucius shook his head. "You were the first to arrive."
"Pity." Hermione pressed her lips together, hoping her husband would make it home sooner rather than later.
"Want me to watch Teddy while you ready yourself for the evening?"
"That would be lovely, Lucius. I feel like I reek of St. Mungo's Magical Bugs and Diseases ward." She set Teddy on his feet, and watched as he waddled to his playroom, holding Lucius' hand.
Once in her room, Hermione selected a thick red jumper and a pair of black leggings to wear with her heels, and laid them out on the bed.
The past year had been a whirlwind. Rebuilding after the war was everyone's top priority, but there had still been trials to deal with, of which she or Draco often were called upon to testify. Draco, unlike his father, was not made to sit for a trial, due to the leniency he was granted for his service to the Order. Lucius had spent a month at St. Mungo's before being declared fit enough to sit for his trial. It had been swift, and the newly rebuilt Wizengamot had unanimously agreed an Obliviated wizard could not be held accountable for actions they did not remember committing. Still, he was designated a Auror to watch him should any of his memories show signs of returning, but Hermione, more than anyone, knew how unlikely that was to happen. Unless by means of torture which also risked madness, there was no way to unlock an Obliviation. She researched it thoroughly for her own parents.
She turned on the faucets in the shower and stepped into the quickly steaming tub. She moved under the scalding water and let it soak into her aching skin. Life had been chaotic lately, what with her rigorous training at St. Mungo's and Draco's demanding job as an Unspeakable, but she wouldn't trade it for the world. She enjoyed her work as a Healer as well as helping her patients become well again. She'd endured far too much fighting for her liking, and it would be just fine with her if she never had to hurt another human being again.
Noticing that her skin was turning pruney, she stepped out of shower, reaching for a fluffy towel to wrap around her. Having just dried her hair and wrapped it with another towel, she straightened, and let out a gasp of surprise when someone came up behind her, holding her securely by the waist.
She tensed, before her nostrils caught the scent of familiar aftershave. She let out a sigh. "Draco," she breathed. "Must you really scare your pregnant wife like that?" She turned around to face him, as the towel haphazardly placed on her head, fell to the ground.
He was wearing his black Unspeakable robes with the Ministry sigil emblazoned over his chest. A fringe of blond hair hung over his forehead, and she fought the urge to run her fingers through his wild softness. He appraised her with a hot silver gaze that always had the effect of making her heart race.
"Draco," she said again. "You're running late. There's no time for what your eyes are suggesting."
He dipped his head down quickly, capturing her lips with his own in a searing kiss. Hermione was helpless but to let the other towel drop, catching at her waist, as he walked her backwards to the sink, and she quickly found her skin pressed flush up against his robes. His tongue scraped against her lips, begging entry and she opened her mouth to him. He tasted like cinnamon tea and apples, and she was quickly forgetting the agenda for the day, in favor of more promising pursuits.
He broke away, breathing heavily. "My apologies. I meant to leave sooner, but I got to see the Space Room for the first time. You can imagine, it was quite distracting."
With as much dignity as she could muster, she reached for her robe hanging on the door and put it on. "I thought it was the Time Room that caught your attention." She picked up a triangular shaped perfume bottle and sprayed it into the air, before walking into it.
Before she could grasp the door, he opened it for her, and she walked towards their bed and her outfit.
"If I didn't know any better, Mrs. Malfoy, I would say you're fishing for information."
She shrugged, snapping her bra in place. "Rubbish. I don't care at all. I'm perfectly content with my position at St. Mungo's."
"All those Runes." He picked up her black leggings and she quickly snatched them from her. "All those Arithmancy problems. I'll just bet you're itching to get your hands on them."
"Draco," she crooned, "Are you really trying to tempt me to work with you, again?" She pulled on her leggings. "You may think you're the only one making groundbreaking discoveries, but I'll have you know St. Mungo's Potions and Plant Poisoning Ward is cutting edge—we are inventors—finding new means to heal our patients every day."
"I've no doubt. Pardon me and my doomed wish to have my wife closely by my side." He grinned at her, looking every bit as mischievous as a Third Year.
"And be like Daphne and Theo, both working in the same department at the Ministry? I'm not sure about that, Draco."
"Daphne and Theo get along swimmingly," he argued. "He works in Magical Law Enforcement and she works directly under Kingsley."
"I know that." She pulled her jumper over her head. "The both of us had a double wedding, for Merlin's sake."
"To dear Ginevra's chagrin. Is she still sore about that?"
She chuckled. "Ginny and Harry will be married soon. No need to rush things. Harry and Ron have been as busy as you in their Auror program."
"I think the Weaslette won't be happy until she has a ring on her finger."
Hermione narrowed her eyes at him, whilst placing a golden bangle on her wrist. "Don't be mean. Ginny has been a great friend, despite our differences. And she lets us sit after Teddy. "
"She's not the most agreeable."
"No, but we love her just the same. We all have our quirks, you and I the most."
Mirth danced in his eyes. He took his robes off, pulling a green dress shirt out of the chiffarobe. His tone turned serious. "Will you tell them?"
"They already have a lot to say about our situation. With me working at St. Mungo's, and you at the Ministry, they hardly think we are fit to care for Teddy so often, to say nothing of what they think of Lucius."
"You work three tens." His eyes drew together in confusion. "And once my training finishes next March, I'll be working regular hours, four days a week. It's been a rough year, is all."
"I know that." She ran the brush through her newly cropped hair. "And it's not like I won't be able to take time off after the baby is born, but some still have the notion mothers should not actively pursue careers, stay-at-home, and all of that."
"Don't worry about what they think. Either way I support you. I can already see with Teddy that you're going to be an outstanding mother."
She grinned at him as she pinned her bangs back. "What about your mother—is she coming for Yule?"
"I actually thought we could visit her. She did ask if we could come over for breakfast."
Hermione's eyes widened in surprise. "Really, Draco—to Saint-Tropez in the morning?"
"It's only an International portkey away. Besides, she's invited Father this time."
"Are you still trying to play matchmaker with those two?"
He sighed. "They were married twenty-one years. Surely there is something still there between them."
"Narcissa seems to be having a grand time in France. Besides, Lucius isn't the same person any longer."
"No," he agreed. "He's improved. Mother just needs to see that."
Hermione reached for her black walker coat. "I think you're a hopeless romantic." She closed the gap between them, and gave him a chaste kiss on the lips. "And I love you for it."
He smiled down at her, unabashed devotion swimming in his eyes. "As I love you." His hands fell to her waist and he pulled her closer for a proper kiss.
"Draco," she said, breaking away. "You're distracting again. If we're to go to Floo to Ottery St. Catchpole tonight and portkey to Saint-Tropez in the morning, whilst still making it back to London in time for Christmas, we need to make a move on it."
"That's an ambitious schedule."
She gave an indelicate snort. "It's positively barmy." They made their way to the door. "Draco, there won't be reporters at your mother's?"
He averted his eyes, suddenly finding the paneling rather interesting. "Just a small soirée, Hermione."
"I thought you said it was just breakfast?"
"You do realize I haven't even wrapped Teddy's presents? I only went to Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes this past week with Ginny. George gave us the family discount."
"Thank Salazar for Poppy," he interjected when she was courteous enough to stop talking.
She shot him a withering look. "Yes, Poppy has been a godsend, hasn't she? We were fortunate she decided to stay on with us, as a free elf."
He merely smirked in response.
They entered the great room of the flat and Hermione's eyes immediately sought out Teddy, finding the boy already wearing his Yule suit. She narrowed her eyes when she saw the color of his bow tie. "Green?" Her lips lifted in a smirk. "Harry and Ginny are sure to love that. Though I must say I'm a bit left out, being the only one to don red and all."
"Green is a prominent Yule color," Lucius pointed out. It seemed the memory-charmed wizard still favored the color of his former house.
"You should be wearing it too," Draco informed her sternly, but the rebuttal was absent of any real heat. "You are an honorary Slytherin, after all."
Grabbing ahold her vine wand, she pointed it at her jumper and cast a nonverbal charm on herself. "I suppose there will be enough red at the Weasleys," she said shrugging.
Draco smiled widely, and reached past her for the shopping bag full of packages and Cauldron Cakes.
"Hurry now," Draco said. "Time is galleons."
She grinned at the use of his go-to phrase. Lucius stepped into the Floo with Teddy in tow, and Hermione walked in after him, Floo powder in hand, invading the cramped space. Draco waited patiently outside of the Floo for his family to travel before him.
"The Burrow," she enunciated clearly, throwing down the powder. The three disappeared in a plume of green smoke.
Only half of the guests had arrived, and already the Burrow was crowded with people. Delicious smells wafted through Molly's kitchen.
"Is there anything I can do to help?" Hermione asked Molly, who was busy bustling about the kitchen like a cornish pixie.
She stopped mid spin to draw Hermione into hug. "Of course not, dear. I'm so glad you could all make it." She stepped back, and reached for a tray, before thrusting it to Hermione. "Actually, you could give Teddy some sweeties before we eat; he looks hungry."
She suppressed an eyeroll.
Draco set down the bag and began setting the packages underneath the leaning tree that looked like it was only magic keeping it upright. Lucius took the charmed tray of Cauldron Cakes and placed it on a space on the counter.
"Courtesy of Teddy," he informed Molly proudly. "The lad does enjoy making a mess in the kitchen. Good Yule."
"Oh," she stuttered, looking mildly strained, but then smiled broadly. "Thank you Lucius—good Yule." She pat the wizard on the back. "And thank you, Teddy." She knelt down to the toddler's level who was busy licking a peppermint pop.
The side door opened and Ginny burst in carrying a basket of herbs from the Weasley garden which she promptly shoved into Molly's arms. "Here's the best wippets we have, and the rosemary and thyme."
"How do you grow wippets during this time of the year?" Lucius asked curiously. "Hermione and I have yet to discover the method."
"It's all to do with carefully placed warming charms."
"Hello Mr. Malfoy." Ginny's eyes widened in delight as she realized Teddy was near and quickly found him. "And Teddy!" The little boy launched himself in Ginny's arms, and she spinned him in a half circle. "I'm so glad you guys are finally here." She cast a glance over her shoulder at Hermione and Draco. "All Fleur ever wants to talk about anymore is her morning sickness. I feel like I'm getting sick just hearing about it."
"Well be a good sister-inlaw and brew her a Pick-Me-Up-Potion," Draco suggested, as they sat down on large Chesterfield sofa.
She shot him a withering stare. "I think she's grown rather immune to those."
Hermione gulped, wondering if that was what she would have to look forward to. It was times like these that she longed for her mother. It would be nice to have her here to discuss things like this with her. Hermione's heart clenched at the impossible desire.
"You're lucky to have Christmas Eve off," Hermione said, wondering how she would navigate through the holidays with children. "How is work, anyway?"
"Dreadfully dull and predictable," Ginny wrinkled her nose as if there were an unpleasant scent in the air, "but at least there's Daphne to keep me company."
"That's just fine," Draco said, resting back on the sofa. "I'll gladly take dull and predictable at the Ministry. We don't need any more excitement for a long time."
"If ever," Hermione added.
She glanced over to see Lucius standing next to Arthur, deep in conversation with Bill about curse-breaking.
The Floo lit up green, and three pairs of eyes watched as first Daphne, then Theo stepped out.
"There they are now," Ginny said, getting up to greet the newcomers. "Were your ears burning?"
A new round of greetings took place until finally they settled back down on the couch. Hermione smiled to herself at the way Daphne and Ginny had become fast friends. The two had first bonded over Teddy, then over their respective jobs. She counted herself lucky to have two people she could be so close with who were also close with each other.
"Did you tell her?" Daphne was asking Ginny.
"There wasn't time," Ginny said defensively. "It's just been go, go, go, since the moment I woke up this morning. Harry was lucky enough to get to work today."
"Lucky," Hermione scoffed. "Your day sounds like mine, Ginny. And where are the others, anyway?"
"Apparently Hogwarts cannot relinquish their Ancient Runes professor for the evening," Theo said, throwing back his spiked Christmas Wassail. "Blaise is staying at the school over Yule along with Headmistress McGonagall."
"And," Draco probed, curiosity spiked. "What drama is brewing at the Ministry now?"
"Yes, and where are Harry and Ron?" Hermione said, looking around, befuddled.
"Well…" Daphne trailed off uncertainly. "See, that's the thing. There's been a little talk among the Aurors—"
"'Mione!" Fleur's serene voice wafted through the great room. "I 'ust eard za newz and I'm so excited. Ravi de vous voir!"
"Yez!" The girl waddled up to her, taking both hands in hers and pulled her up to her level. "Now our belliez 'ill be big at za same time!"
Every eye in the room turned to face Hermione, and she suddenly wished she could transform into a butterfly and fly out the kitchen window. She felt Draco place a protective hand around her waist. She knew immediately who the mole had been. Narcissa was a lovely woman and had found her second purpose in life, but she was still a suspicious woman. She likely warded her home and had discovered Hermione's disposition before even her and Draco had at their weekly dinner dates. Her brain did a quick series of calculations, and it didn't take her long to surmise that Narcissa must have blabbed to Gabrielle, Fleur's sister, and the proud owner of a villa very near to Narcissa's own home. She could hardly hold it against Gabrielle for talking. Draco's mother was another story.
"That's right," Hermione said, throwing caution to the wind. "Draco and I were going to share the news with everyone tonight."
"But it appears word travels fast," he said silkily, seemingly coming to the same conclusion.
"I should have been the first to know," Ginny said, staring heatedly at her friend. "Before Fleur, at least."
Fleur let out an indelicate gasp.
Daphne yanked Ginny harshly by the wrist. "Hush, Ginny."
"I'll explain later," Hermione whispered.
"You'd better," Ginny said, retribution smoldering in her eyes.
"This is wonderful news," Molly said, eyes brimming with tears. "It appears we have a celebration upon a celebration to revel in this evening!"
Hermione smiled kindly at the older woman, and spent the next hour being doted on by her friends and family.
Draco watched it all with a thinly suppressed smirk, for his part, taking his affection well and quite possibly, with more grace than her.
"If you could wipe that smile off of your face, that would be quite lovely," she informed him,
barely able to conceal her own smirk.
"Trust my mother to always make an entrance; even when she isn't present."
"She's a vindictive woman," Hermione seethed, sipping her butterbeer.
Draco rubbed a hand over her legging-clad thigh. "She's just excited, Hermione; she's always wanted a grandchild." She shot him a frigid glance. "But you're absolutely right. And you can trust I'll reprimand her thoroughly at breakfast tomorrow."
"If we even go," Hermione threatened.
"If we even go," he agreed.
The noise died down as the front door opened and in walked Harry, and Ron, followed closely by…Pansy Parkinson?
Hermione drew her brows together in confusion before shooting her friends a searching look.
"Oh," started Ginny in a hushed whisper. "That's what I was trying to tell you about—before you dropped the pregnancy bombshell."
They're together? she mouthed.
Daphne nodded, mirth dancing in her eyes.
It wasn't as if Hermione cared who Ron dated; she really did wish well for her friend, it was just the circumstance. For Ron dating Pansy was rife with scandal. Not only was Pansy a confirmed Death Eater, who was only sentenced six months in Azkaban thanks to being an underaged witch at the time she committed her crimes, but she was sentenced an Auror to watch over her upon her release, an Auror by the name of one Ronald Weasley. Hermione had the sudden inclination to grab the popcorn, so to speak, and watch the show.
"Galloping gargoyles," Draco said under his breath.
The trio entered the room, closing the door behind them, and Hermione could not help but notice the way Pansy looked timid and scared. A memory tickled at the back of her mind, and she remembered days past, spent at the Grotto, when Daphne had shared that she was worried for her sister, Astoria, who had tried to impress Pansy and her minions. Clearly, Pansy was not the same girl anymore.
She had went through an ordeal just the same as they all had, but an entirely different one, and one that had landed her on the entirely wrong side. She'd made all the wrong choices and she'd paid the price for it. Azkaban had broken Pansy. Gone was the Ice-Queen-of-Slytherin, to be replaced by this meek and insecure girl. Something fluttered in Hermione's heart, and suddenly, she wanted badly for the unlikely pair to succeed. It seemed to Hermione, Pansy had found something only Ron could give her and that was something Hermione herself could relate to. She was suddenly and wholly on their team.
Ron looked defensive; his jaw was clenched and his brows were drawn together, as if he were preparing for an onslaught. He held Pansy securely by the waist. Her face, though still pretty, was gaunt, and there were dark circles under her eyes, as if she were having trouble sleeping.
Steeling herself, she straightened from her seat and made her way over to the newcomers. Ron tensed when he saw her coming, and Pansy seemed to cower slightly. The poor witch was obviously defeated and Hermione inexplicably wanted nothing more but to take her under her wing.
Harry narrowed his eyes in suspicion as she drew closer. "Hermione," he hissed in warning.
She ignored him, smiling broadly as she reached the couple. "Ron," she greeted, "and Pansy, so lovely to see you both!"
"Is it?" Pansy ventured doubtfully.
"Most definitely." Hermione nodded, putting a hand around Pansy's shoulders and steering them to where they were seated, past a pouting Molly. Ron exchanged a worried look with Harry as he hurried to keep up. "I'm glad you're out of that wretched place," she whispered in the former Slytherin's ear.
Pansy looked surprised by Hermione's declaration and watched as Hermione motioned for Daphne and Ginny to make room for them on the couch. She pulled Pansy beside her and Ron squeezed in protectively by her side, next to Ginny.
"I'm glad the Aurors could make it home for Yule," Molly said, hands perched on her hips.
Hermione shot her a reproachful look and a flash of guilt passed through her eyes.
"And Pansy, dear, welcome to our home."
"Thank you for having me, Mrs. Weasley," Pansy said timidly.
"Please call me, Molly."
It was as if the Burrow itself let out a sigh of relief, and slowly the friends began to relax with each other. Theo and Daphne both looked at Hermione, quirking their lips. If they were surprised by her reaction, they were better at concealing it than Ginny was, who was sitting with her arms crossed over her chest and wearing her feelings on her sleeve in typical Gryffindor fashion. Hermione had to chuckle at that, perhaps, she had learned a few things from living among the snakes.
"Cheer up, Gin," Harry said, sitting across from the redhead witch. "We are officially Aurors now, you know what that means?"
"We start building vacation time." He waggled his eyebrows suggestively. "Plenty of time to plan for weddings."
As if a switch had been flipped, Ginny dropped her defensive posture and her eyes opened wide at the prospect.
"It's about damn time," Draco said reaching for his drink. "The Weaslette will be in much finer spirits once she has a wedding to busy herself with."
Ginny huffed, turning daggers in Draco's direction. Pansy watched the exchange rigidly. "I'm sorry if I'm just a little excited to finally tie the knot with the love of my life."
"Apology accepted." Draco smiled smugly.
"You know," Hermione said, placing a hand gently on Pansy's. "Draco and I owe you and Ron somewhat of a thank you."
Ron turned his head to face them curiously.
"Oh?" Pansy asked.
"Yes," Draco agreed. "Thanks to the two of you, Hermione and I are no longer the controversial couple."
Ron's face was frozen for a second in that odd way that was so un-Ron-like, but it splintered and cracked, and the wizard laughed freely for the first time that evening. When Pansy saw, she joined in, and Hermione and Draco laughed along with the couple.
All side conversations were interrupted when Teddy came wandering in front of them. "My new trick, my new trick," he exclaimed excitedly.
"Show us, then, little man," Harry said indulgently.
Teddy screwed his eyes shut looking utterly focused for a toddler. Lucius stood proudly in the background. The dark blond tresses of the child slowly turned a deep shade of green. His eyes popped open and he looked around the room expectantly.
"Wonderful, Teddy." Harry smiled at the boy and when he walked over to Lucius, Harry turned to face Ginny. "Gin, I think the Slytherins are corrupting Teddy."
Hermione couldn't help joining in on the snickers this time, as she stared with adoration at her family and friends.
She felt heat cradle her hand, and glanced down first at her lap, then at Draco's pale face.
"Are you happy, Princess?" he asked, devotion swimming in his eyes.
"I couldn't be happier," she admitted quietly. "Are you?"
"It's heaven on earth with you."
She felt something constrict in her chest as his words wheedled their way into her heart, making her feel more full and more complete than she ever thought possible. She finally had her happily ever after, and it was just beginning.