OK people this is it the final chapter. I am hoping with all my heart that you enjoy it, and understand why I chose to finish it in this way. I wont say anything else except offer the usual apologies for any errors etc and I look forward to your comments (hopefully) xx
I would just like to say a HUGE thank you to you all for sticking with the story and for all of your comments, reviews, follows and favourites they have all kept me going and I cannot tell you how much I appreciated it. xx
"Do you think we are taking the coward's way out?" Lucius quietly asked Hermione as she continued packing items into a very small bag with an equally large extension charm.
"Getting married in New York instead of here, I mean." He continued, handing her a hairbrush from his bed where he had been sitting for the last half an hour or so.
She stopped the task at hand and seemed to ponder his question for a few moments. He briefly saw a very familiar twinkle in those beautiful warm brown eyes of hers, they drifted into a more fiery chocolate colour and an equally familiar neatly plucked brow rose, a frown settling on her beautiful face.
"Are you telling me that you lied to me Lucius Malfoy?" Her voice was and octave lower than usual and worryingly hushed.
Her response caught him completely by surprise; There was shock and horror in her tone, but something told him it was a little put on and actually had nothing to do with their present conversation. He wracked his brain quickly, trying to think what she could be alluding to, hoping that something would spring to mind, astonishingly enough it did, although he wasn't entirely sure it was going to allow him to dig himself out of the large hole he had inadvertently dug.
"No….." He said slowly, thinking on his feet, or in this instance his bed.
"I would never lie to you, I promised myself that, and I stand by what I said, cowardly is certainly not a word I would use to describe you, not ever."
He saw her pretty face flush; the hole felt a little smaller.
"I do not think we are taking the cowards way out, we are getting married in New York because we all…" She smiled at her own inference. "Want to".
She popped another item into the ridiculously small bag, her face becoming more serious, she knew full well Lucius was not asking if it was what she thought, but if she thought it was what others might think. She stopped what she was doing entirely and took his hands gently in hers.
"We can have it here if you prefer."
Her offer was sincere, if it was what Lucius wanted of course they could get married here, at the Manor or at least in England. She paused, the little devil deciding, provoking the Dark Wizard she had fallen in love with, was so much fun these days. She continued with the same level of sincerity, but …
"We could have a huge double wedding here at the Manor or at the Aurelia Imperial, invite everyone we know, have Rita Skeeter cover it for the society page of the Daily Prophet. Kingsley organised his party in less than a week."
She smiled sweetly at him, her face remained just as sincere, but totally implacable, as she watched the shockwave reverberate across his suddenly paler than usual face. His mesmerising eyes widened, going a very stormy grey before returning to their normal grey blue.
But along with her joking, it rapidly occurred to the young witch that in her own excitement and enthusiasm perhaps she had been a tad selfish with her suggestion. Maybe Draco would like to have got married in his ancestral home, or that he and Astoria might have wanted to invite all of their friends to a swanky London venue, she had kind of taken over. The notion began to fester and grow, and Hermione felt uneasy and more than a little guilty. The notion finally manifesting itself into some rather embarrassed words.
"Perhaps I was being selfish suggesting it, that we could combine the two things I…."
Lucius squeezed her hands tightly.
"Stop it Hermione. Selfish is another word I would not readily choose to describe you, and neither would Draco or Astoria, come to that."
Her eyes dropped from his, he released one of her hands and used it to tilt her chin back up to face him.
Hermione's brown eyes met his. Every so often she saw flashes of the man she had known all those years ago, the one who wore arrogance with such ease, a man whose superiority knew no bounds and a look, a look which was simply Lucius Malfoy and one with which you did not argue, even now with her future husband, as she found herself on the receiving end of it.
"When you suggested not getting married before we left, but doing it when we got there, was I the only person deafened by the rather childish, excited squealing of my son and future daughter in law? Was I the only person who heard the chorus of enthusiastic responses to the idea? Did I imagine the bear like hugs, the sudden rush of plans, we could do this, we could do that, the…?"
"Okay, okay." She surrendered nodding, a smile curving her lips, realising that she had encouraged this side of Lucius a little too well.
"Rita Skeeter! Really?" He admonished a dark blonde brow rising reprovingly.
A small burble of laughter died on Lucius lips, as he caught another look he had become only too familiar with, dancing on Hermione's face.
"Hermione?" Lucius said very slowly. "I know that look, just what is going on in that razor sharp, cunning mind of yours?"
The sweet smile was back, but this time Hermione's face was completely impossible to read.
"Well I was just wondering, if you think we are taking the cowards way out, going off to America and getting married…" She paused, waiting for him to speak.
HE might have a look, but Lucius knew better than to interrupt or object to her words, plus the fact he had to admit he was more than a little curious where she was going with this.
"Why don't we give the odious Ms Skeeter an exclusive on our upcoming marriage, if nothing else it will stop her printing a pack of lies. We can tell all those we want to know beforehand and leave the rest to her and the Daily Prophet."
"Hmm, a rather cunning plan my dear." Lucius concurred, his eyes narrowing appreciatively.
"I really do think you would have made an excellent Slytherin."
"And…" Hermione refused to be distracted by his disturbingly accurate words. The small part of her that wasn't so sure about the wisdom of her idea, coming around rather too quickly for the Gryffindor.
"And…" She continued determinedly.
"If the hateful woman asks the inevitable question, which we know she will, because that is how her nasty bug like mind works, are you getting married in the United States because you are frightened of what people will say here in England?"
Hermione lifted her nose in the air wrinkling it and narrowing her eyes, with her best Rita Skeeter impression.
"We can truthfully say, no we are not. We simply wanted to get married sooner rather than later and getting married in America, fitted in perfectly with our current work commitments."
"Our work commitments, I like the sound of that." Lucius said, his very Slytherin brain catching on with ease.
"And of course so will Rita Skeeter, at which point she will predictably ask; what work commitments are those?"
The Dark Wizard refrained from any attempt at a Rita Skeeter voice, although Hermione did notice his nose wrinkle ever so slightly.
If Hermione's thinking had been decidedly Slytherin, then the gleeful, smirk on her face could only be described as decidedly Malfoy.
"Exactly, at which point I will tell her why we are going to America, that we are speaking to MACUSA at the direct behest of Seraphina Picquery and that we have the blessing of the Kingsley Shacklebolt and the Ministry of Magic."
Hermione looked lovingly at the man seated comfortably on his bed before her.
"Which my darling Lucius will be a win win for you, plastered all over the Daily Prophet, in glowing terms, by none other than Rita Skeeter. She might hate having to write something nice again, about both of us, but she certainly won't say no to the exclusive or the kudos it will give her."
Lucius shook his head, his long lustrous blonde hair tumbling over his shoulders at the action, he rose from the bed, taking Hermione's face in his hands and bent his head to kiss her deeply. His eyes sparkled with love and emotion as he finally drew back, looking long and hard at the young woman before him.
"Dearest Hermione, there are so so many things I want to say to you right at this moment, many I have said before, and probably will again, and many I know you will in your own way argue with."
His lips brushed hers once more, as if to silence anything she might have to say.
"But words seem somehow inadequate for everything you have done for me, even if we do still disagree as to whether or not I deserve them, you."
For once Hermione didn't argue with Lucius, just as he said, this was not the first time he'd said such things, and she knew it would certainly not be the last. In fact they would probably in their dotages and still arguing over this particular point.
"I have so many things to be grateful for now, and that is thanks to the two people I love most in the world my son and you Hermione, always you."
His mouth once again covered hers, so many emotions in his simple, deep and loving kiss.
"I think back but a few short months and I find it almost impossible to believe the man I was then, let alone the man I was long before that. Everything that has happened in that short time, it is almost unbelievable. But more than that, I find myself looking forward, something I never did, until you walked back into my life. Each day, I look forward to spending it with you, I look forward to my life, our life, and what it will bring."
Tears brimmed in Hermione's big brown eyes at his words, words she could honestly never have imagined hearing from the man she had become reacquainted with just those few short months he mentioned, ago, let alone the man she had known before then. She was so blissfully happy and felt exactly as Lucius did, looking forward to so much. She loved Lucius with every fibre of her being as a man. He also gave her renewed joy in the work she was so passionate about. He was the living, breathing proof of just what could be achieved, what she could do, how much she could help and how the impossible was sometimes possible.
People could say what they wanted about the Malfoy's, Hermione would soon be one of them, but as long as she and those she loved and cared about knew the truth then that was all that mattered.
Harry was her best friend, that would never change, Ronald and Ginny well that might take a bit more time. But the vow that Lucius had made to Molly Weasley, that might go a long way to help them come around eventually.
Hermione Malfoy standing before MACUSA with her husband at her side, Harry Potter and the Minister of Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt as specially invited guests listening to them speak, and a front page exclusive from Rita Skeeter would also go a long way to help other people come around….
Six Months Later…
Lucius Malfoy straightened his spine. His pale grey eyes narrowing, his nostrils flaring as he lifted his aristocratic head with unbridled pride and unequivocal happiness. His mellifluous platinum blonde hair cascaded about his broad shoulders with the imperceptible movement. His long slim fingers tightened around the cold silver of his serpent headed cane. The chips of emerald green, which filled the eye sockets, glinted as brightly as its masters.
Large icy flakes of snow continued to fall, drifting past the panelled pane of glass which looked from the master bedroom of Malfoy Manor, and out over the spacious well-kept gardens. He watched, filled with emotion as his wife Hermione's petite frame slowly reappeared from the distance, from the point she insisted on apparating to every time she returned home to the Manor. To the husband who, however he had spent his own now equally busy days, was always waiting for her in that same spot. She looked up at the window, and waved, a huge smile on her cold rosy face, the snow settling in that not quite so wild mane of hair, Kauno and Isa now happily trotting at her heels, welcoming their mistress home, with the same love and affection that he did.
The walk from the gates of Malfoy Manor to the large imposing front door, had once filled Hermione Granger with fear and dread, Hermione Malfoy savoured the short distance, it filled her with happiness, contentment and above all else love.