July 18th, 2020

"Grandpa!" Nysa stomped her foot. "You promised me that you'd dance."

"Don't stomp," Lucius admonished. "Furthermore, I have no recollection of such a promise."


"No begging either," he added. "It's unbecoming of a Malfoy."

Nysa was ready to roll her eyes, but she knew that would only get another scolding. Instead, she appealed to the Slytherin in him.

"How about a deal?"

Lucius' brows rose high into his hairline. Regardless, his lips morphed into a smirk and he inclined his head. "Your conditions?"

"I'll do an extra hour of etiquette lessons with Grandma Cissa if you dance one song with me."

"While that would please me, that is more of a deal for your grandmother rather than myself."

Nysa frowned. "What do you want then?"

To stop frowning for starters, Lucius thought to himself. However, he sighed and outstretched his hand. "Two hours of lessons."

"For that I need an extra dance," Nysa said without a moment's pause.

As Lucius looked down at his granddaughter he couldn't help himself. He laughed. It had attracted the eyes of a few onlookers, but he had been getting stared at all evening despite the festive affair.

"A clever counter proposal," Lucius replied with a nod. "Very good. Come along then."

Nysa grabbed his hand and all but ran out into the dancefloor with him. The onlookers magnified in number and included her brothers.

"Leave it to our sister to be the one to get Lucius to dance," Caelum shook his head.

"That's a woman for you," Aiden sighed as he sipped his drink. "A mini one or not. They can manipulate a man no matter what."

"Oh, so that's what Anna does to you?" Caelum smirked. "Good to know."

Aiden didn't even deny it. His eyes caught sight of his girlfriend across the room in a deep conversation with Rose and Giana. As he briefly glanced at the latter witch, he maliciously smiled.

"And what Giana does to you, girlfriend or not."

Caelum choked on his drink. After patting his own chest he turned to his brother with wide eyes. "Excuse me?"

Aiden laughed as he finished his glass and placed it on a floating tray. "You can tell her that you like her, you know. She's not going to bite."

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Caelum replied defensively. "She's my friend just as much as she is yours. A friend with a perfect smile, adorable laugh, beautiful face and….a boyfriend."

Aiden regarded his brother as he discreetly tried to look at Giana without making it weird. He let him do this for countless seconds before saying,

"Giana and Zachary broke things off last week."

Caelum whipped his head around fast enough to pull a muscle. "They what?" He asked, massaging his neck in obvious pain.

"You heard what I said," Aiden chuckled. "They didn't want to advertise it so they could break it to their folks gently."

"Oh, right." Caelum paused for a moment before tentatively speaking again. "So, um, h-how long should I wait? A week? Two? Please, don't say a month."

"Calm down before you have a heart attack," Aiden advised, a wide grin stretching his face. "How about you just ask her for a dance? It's a wedding. She's not going to say no."

Caelum took a deep breath before nodding and following him towards the most nerve-racking experience he could possibly think of. Although, the joy in the air did help ease some of the stress. It was Teddy and Victoire's wedding. Teddy had proposed last December with his father's help. What had been orchestrated as an anniversary party for his mum and dad had actually been a surprise engagement party instead. Thank Merlin Victoire had said yes or else that would've been ridiculously embarrassing. Although, as Caelum gave a passing glance at the happy couple, he doubted it would've been a denied proposal. They loved each other like his parents did with one another. Granted, from what he could see of his father right now, he seemed like he wanted to off himself.

"You should come by sanctuary one day," Luna suggested with a beaming expression. "Anna brings Aiden by all the time. He loves it."

He's her boyfriend. He's required to go, Draco thought to himself. He then wondered how bad it would look if he jammed a fork in his eye. He sighed knowing that he would ruin the wedding this way and instead tried to act as interested as possible in whatever a Humming Hovel Bird was while looking discreetly looking for Hermione. She had gone to the restroom ages ago while Luna filled her seat. Eventually he did find her and he nonverbally pleaded with her to come back. Hermione mouthed "five more minutes." He'd die by then.

"What's so funny, dear?" Narcissa asked. Hermione was laughing at Draco's disgruntled expression. She hadn't seen him this childish in years.

"He's with our friend Luna," Ginny answered for her, a smile also playing on her lips. "Your son is probably losing his mind right about now."

Narcissa furrowed her perfectly done eyebrows as she looked over at her son. "Why? What's wrong with her?"

"Luna's...eccentric," Hermione said. "Not many people can handle her brand of personality. It's refreshing, honestly."

"Are you sure?" Narcissa questioned. "Draco looks on the brink of murder."

Ginny laughed. "We're sure. Besides, it looks like he's going to be rescued."

By "rescued," Ginny meant that the happy bride had walked up to Draco's table with her hands behind her back and a wide grin on her face.

"Sorry to interrupt, Mrs. Scamander, but if I may?" Victoire said politely as she approached the pair. Luna smiled brightly and nodded before the bride addressed Draco. "I'd like my dance now, please."

Draco grinned from ear to ear, stood, and gave a gentlemanly bow. "I thought you'd never ask."

Victoire gave her his hand and Draco led her away from the tables and to the dancefloor where they began their graceful steps.

"Do you feel better now?" Victoire asked. Draco cocked his head back and laughed.

"Did I look that miserable?"

"Oh no, you looked great. A smile so wide it was bound to fall off your face."

Draco chuckled. "Nice description."

"I thought you might like that," she replied proudly. She sighed then, taking a moment to stare at her surroundings as they slowly danced their way around the room.

A few couples were on the floor as well. Ron and Lavender. Her parents and grandparents. Aiden and Anna. Giana and a very bashful Caelum. Raphael with Lily who was quite smitten with the soon-to-be Fourth Year boy two years older than herself. Nysa had just finished dancing with Lucius and she had turned her sights on Lucas, Lydia and Uriel's son who was the same age as her. She once told Victoire that she thought Lucas was sweet. Victoire grinned at that and took a deep breath.

"What are you thinking about?" Draco asked. His question broke her out of her contemplation and she turned her attention to him.

"The kids," she said, motioning her head. "I used to babysit them and, well...they're not kids anymore."

"Neither are you or Teddy," Draco pointed out. He gazed at her fondly before momentarily breaking his hand-holding to push a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "You both just got married and I still remember chasing you around my house playing Wizards and Dragons."

Victoire's face lit up at the memory and she nodded enthusiastically. "Yes! I remember that. Merlin, we ran you ragged."

"I was sore for days, thanks," Draco jested. "But it was worth it. You'd be amazed at the things you do for kids."

"I'm not totally unfamiliar," she reminded, gesturing to the children she so often had babysat. She stalled briefly, looking down for a moment before adding, "I'll be familiar again soon enough. Sometime during the spring according to my Healer…"

Draco stopped their dance automatically, but Victoire urged them on so as not to draw attention. Although his body was moving, Draco's face was as stiff as a statue before it morphed into one of full on recognition.

"Are you telling me that you and Teddy…?"

"I haven't told Teddy yet. Or anyone actually," Victoire added with an anxious laugh. "I found out not more than a week ago, and with the wedding and everything it was kind of a lot."

"I'll say!" Draco choked. "Victoire… You're going to be a mum."

"I know, and I'm absolutely terrified. Babies are tiny, wriggling, little things that-"

"Cry all day and night and drool all over you-"

"Uncle Draco," Victoire frowned. "You're not selling the idea very well."

"I wasn't finished yet," Draco kindly informed before giving her a gentle twirl. Once she was back in his arms he continued. "You lose every bit of sleep you could possibly get, but, you'll realize that it's worth it when they smile at you. Or when they give their first laugh. Or when they hold onto your fingers with a killer grip. No first-time parent ever knows what they're doing, but you figure it out and the kid turns out fine."

Victoire's face softened at that and she followed Draco's far-off gaze to another part of the dancefloor where Aiden and Caelum were holding onto Nysa's hands and dancing with her. Victoire had to agree that at seventeen, sixteen, and eight, her uncle's children had certainly grown (and were still growing) up well. She knew how proud of them he was. Hermione too. And Narcissa, naturally. Of Lucius, she didn't know, although it was clear that he favored Nysa like she was a princess. He rarely ever let her out of his sight. Even now he watched her from a distance.

"Must they swing her like that?" Lucius berated more to himself than for anyone else's benefit.

Hermione had been passing by and she slowed her movements to try to catch what her father-in-law was kicking up a fuss for. She scanned the crowd for a moment and then felt her lips curl up when she spotted the scene. Nysa was with her brothers and they were lifting her by the hands and gently swinging her back and forth like a swingset.

"They're not going to drop her, you know," Hermione commented. "They've been doing that with her since she was three."

"Never say never," Lucius promptly replied. "Nearly eighteen years in the Malfoy family and you would think you had learned a thing or two about preparedness."

Hermione stood in disbelief. She could have very well kept walking along, but she simply couldn't resist. "I'm surprised you actually know how long Draco and I have been married."

Lucius side-glanced at her before diverting his gaze to its original occupation."Unfortunately, it's something that I cannot forget."

"Oh, of course," Hermione snorted and crossed her arms over her chest. "It was such a travesty after all. The date must be engraved in your memory."

"While that is also the case, it's not the reason," Lucius admitted. He took a glass of floating champagne and drank half before, seemingly reluctantly, adding, "You will lose your mind in Azkaban unless you do something constructive. As such, I have developed an unhealthy obsession with dates and details."

"Have you?" Hermione said with a tilted head. Now her curiosity was piqued. She fully turned to him, deciding to let her arms fall to the sides, and then challenged him. "Humor me. What dates and details do you remember offhand?"

Lucius' side-glance was back. Nothing could ever properly describe how her request irked him. It was less that she was testing him, but more for the fact that it called for him to rise to the occasion (whether he wanted to or not). He sighed, finished off his champagne, and fixed his attention on his grandchildren before he began rattling off dates and details.

"You and Draco were married on Christmas day, 2002. Draco was the highlight of speculation when you were cursed circa early January, 2003. My wife handed over the Manor to you in March of that same year. Aiden was adopted five months later in early August shortly after my wife switched homes. Caelum was born on Christmas Eve shortly before 1:00 am. He performed his first bit of accidental magic when he was seven, the 11th of October 2011, the same day Draco was visiting me. Nysa was born the following month, on the 8th, early in the morning. Aiden was sorted into Slytherin in 2014, to Draco's delight, and Caelum to Gryffindor the following year, the bet for which he lost."

Hermione stood rooted to the spot unsure of what to say or do. When she had encouraged Lucius to tell her of what he remembered, she had expected a detail or two, not an entire library worth of information. It amazed her really. It astounded her so much that she found herself saying in a near whisper,

"You've been keeping track of us."

Her words weren't whispered low enough. Lucius had heard her and he seemed determined now more than ever not to look in her direction. He swallowed, attempting to drink more champagne, but embarrassingly realizing that it was gone.

"I've been keeping track of Draco," Lucius clarified. "Nothing more."


Lucius could sense that his daughter-in-law wanted to say more, but he was glad that she refrained and eventually walked away. It didn't stop her from staring at him for the remainder of the night with an expression that led him to believe she was in deep thought about something regarding him. He did his best to ignore her. By the time the wedding was over it was just after midnight and Narcissa had tired herself out enough to fall asleep almost instantly when she hit the bed. While Lucius was tired also, there was something that he had to do before he succumbed to sleep.

As he sat on the edge of the bed next to one of the night tables, Lucius opened the bottom drawer and took out his journal. He let his hand glide over the expensive leather and he suddenly wondered just how many of these he had stashed away within the house. He had spent years writing in journals. It was one of the few ways he had to keep himself sane and, in a way, a method of having someone to talk to when there was no one present.

And so, Lucius retrieved a self-inking quill and turned the pages of his journal, slowing down on some and briefly reading its contents. He perused dates and details that he hadn't mentioned to Hermione. Like the day Nysa asked to call him "Grandpa Lu." The date of every letter sent to Draco while he was in Azkaban that he never got a response to. The dismal day that Draco had yelled at him, Lucius' full understanding of just how much his son hated him.

With a sigh, Lucius drew his quill towards a blank page and wrote down today's date. Underneath it he wrote one thing,

Conversation with son's wife did not end badly.

April 18th, 2021

"Are you going to go?" Uriel asked. Draco set down the invitation on the coffee table and leaned back onto the couch.

"I don't have a choice," Draco chuckled. "While I have no desire to see any of the faces of people who treated me like a ghost, Hermione will want to go."

"Of course she would," Uriel nodded. He reached over for the invitation and read it out loud. "'Dear Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy, You are hereby invited to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry on Saturday, December 18th, 2021 at 8:00 pm to a masquerade ball commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the school's reopening. As cohorts of the first students and graduating class of Hogwarts after the Second Wizarding War, it would be an honor if you could attend. Sincerely, Headmistress McGonagall.'"

Uriel shook his head in disbelief. "Holy hell, McGonagall's still Headmistress? Is she ever planning to retire?"

Draco laughed and shrugged as he called for Frizzle and politely asked him to bring them some tea and something to eat. "Hermione and I think she's holding out for Nysa. You know, to see her get sorted and to play at least one year of Quidditch for her House."

"Talk about dedication," Uriel mused. "So, one year minimum then?"

"Two," Draco corrected. "She was born too late to go to Hogwarts next year with Lucas."

"Right, right. The ole age cutoff thing. At least she'll still have a few friends when she goes."

It was true. Hugo was finishing up his First Year, a proud Gryffindor like his mother and father, while Lily was ending her Second. Lucas, Uriel's son, would be going this September. And while Raphael and Albus would be in their final year by the time Nysa went, at least they could look out for her (and the others).

"Tea and pastries, as you requested," Frizzle announced happily. Draco thanked him and took a moment to analyze him before he was gone.

After nearly twenty years with them, Frizzle had barely aged a day unless one counted the few wrinkles at the corners of his eyes. With Nysa being the only child who needed looking after now, Frizzle had less things to do around the house (not that he'd ever had much). Hermione had taken to keeping his company with discussing books. She even allowed him to go to the orphanage from time to time and help her there.

"Oh, these look wonderful," Narcissa said from out of the blue. She had strolled into the living room and picked up one of the pastries between her fingers. "Frizzle has always been a wonderful chef."

"Mother," Draco breathed uneasily. "What are you doing here?"

"Oh, darling, there's only so much Malfoy family history a woman can endure," his mother lazily waved before greeting Uriel. Draco choked.

"That's not the point," he berated. "You weren't supposed to leave her there with him. Not while discussing our very questionable heritage."

"Draco," Narcissa tutted sadly. "Nysa has been indulging in your father's presence for years now. I think that it's okay."

No, no, it wasn't okay. Yes, Nysa and his father had been close from the time that she was six, going on seven, but even now it still unnerved Draco and made him anxious when they were together.

"If you're not going to be there, I will." Draco rose from his seat. "Uriel, I-"

"No worries, mate," Uriel smiled. "I've got food and a lovely woman's presence to keep me company," he added cordially to Narcissa. "Besides, Lydia, Lucas, and Hermione should be back soon."

"Alright. I'll bring Nysa back with me and then we can all get going."

Draco left without another word and decided to Floo to his parents' home rather than walk. Malfoys had a tradition of going through the family tree with their children. Draco, with a genuine dislike and shame for his family's history (and present) avoided such a lesson with Aiden and Caelum, although his mother thought otherwise. Narcissa had been the one to go through the massive tapestry containing every Malfoy to date. When Nysa's turn came she promptly asked for her grandfather to be the one to go through their family's history with her. Draco, needless to say, was in an uproar about it. It took a solid three weeks, his wife, mother, friends, and his daughter's begging to get him to come around with the sole condition that his mother be present. Today was day four of family history lessons and with how many Malfoys involved it would take another three days at least.

When Draco stepped out of the upstairs Floo the first thing he heard was Nysa's laugh. Huh. I don't remember these history lessons being that entertaining… He drew closer to the room he heard voices come out of and stopped dead in the middle of rounding the corner and walking straight in.

"Tell me another story about daddy," Nysa asked her grandfather.

"Alright," Lucius replied, an unusual joy in his voice. He was sitting in an armchair while Nysa was sitting cross-legged on the floor. "Have I told you about when your father first showed signs of magic?"

"Not yet!"

"Oh, it's quite the embarrassing tale. Your father was very young. Barely over a year, if I recall correctly. Your grandmother saw fit to leave me with the task of feeding him. A terrible mistake on her part. Your father was, and still is, very temperamental. He only liked when his mother or a house elf fed him. Regardless, I tried my hand. That day I learned that he detested mashed pumpkin. The spoon was an inch or so away from his mouth, his little hands went up, and so did the bowl on the highchair's tray and the spoon in my hand. Both items went flying across the kitchen."

"Wow! Daddy was really good with magic. Did I ever make something fly across a room?"

That question wasn't directed at Lucius. It was for Draco who had slowly made his way to the doorway and leaned against it's frame. He had never heard that story before and couldn't help but be intrigued.

"No, but you did you did make all of your toys fly around your head while you were in your crib once," Draco smiled fondly. "Grab your things, Nysa. We're heading out with Lucas and his parents in a bit."

"Oh! Okay!" Nysa excitedly replied. She picked up her belongings in record speed, said goodbye to her grandfather and ran through the door. Lucius sat rooted where he was and grimaced.

"She likes that boy."

"I'm aware."

"She's too young."

"You can't help at what age you like someone. Or who, for that matter," Draco added. "How much longer will these lessons continue?"

"Another week I imagine. Nysa and I tend to become sidetracked," Lucius explained, his son's expression demanding an excuse. "She likes when I tell stories about you."

"Obviously," Draco chuckled. "To this day I have no idea why she's so taken with you."

"Neither do I. Considering she's the only member of your family unit who is, I'll take what I can get."

Draco felt an immediate sneer coming on with a jab such as that. He did well to hold it in, choosing to reply with, "It's you who burned those bridges. You're aware of that, aren't you?"

Lucius nodded. "I am. Although, it certainly helps to have someone relaying all the terrible things you've done."

Draco nearly choked. "Excuse me? Are you implying that I'm the reason my children want nothing to do with you?"

"I'm implying that children should be able to make up their own minds. Something that we both have managed to fail in."

"No," Draco shook his head, leaning off the doorframe in the process. "You are not going to lecture me about how I raise my children after you failed miserably. Besides, children aren't nearly the clueless drones as you think. If so, Nysa wouldn't be so fond of you."

"Maybe you should remember that when you think of the life you have lived."

Draco parted his lips to reply, but promptly realized that he couldn't. Lucius, ever stoic, waited for his answer and it tore at the younger Malfoy that he couldn't come up with a response. What destroyed him most was that his father was fully aware of his dilemma.

"If there's nothing else," Draco cleared his throat, "I'm going."

He turned on his heel without waiting for an answer, but paused just before the doorway when Lucius spoke.

"Aiden's face was sewn into the tapestry."

"It wouldn't update itself because he's not blood," Draco said without turning around. "Mother had a house elf sew him in."

"Ah, of course."

"Is that all?"

"No," Lucius responded curtly. "I have something that needs your signature."

Draco finally faced the room again. His father had gotten up and rummaged through the drawer of a desk behind him, speaking as he did so.

"Do you remember what was said of Lord Jasper Isaac Malfoy?"

Draco's eyes immediately gravitated to the tapestry and locked with the menacing man who was his great-insert-obscene-number grandfather. "He was obsessed with wealth and sought to keep the Malfoys richer than any pureblood family."

"Correct," Lucius nodded. He had a set of parchment in his hands now and urged his son to come to the desk. "Through complicated magic that supersedes any written law, wills included, his wealth can only be passed onto and inherited by the current holder's grandsons."

Draco was looking at the tapestry again. Lord Jasper was so high up on the tree that he gulped. "How much money is it?"

"Let's just say that your children would never have to work a day in their lives. I can pass on the amount to Caelum as he has recently turned seventeen, however, for Aiden, Lord Jasper's spells won't let me. Or for Nysa, for that matter, as she is not a male."

"What will my signature do then?"

"A loophole," Lucius smiled. "This small set of parchment," he pushed over to Draco, "will give Nysa access when she's seventeen. Technically speaking, I'm not giving her the money. Just vault access."

Draco picked up the sheets of parchment. He recognized them now as Gringotts documentation for user access. Yes, as Nysa's father he could sign for her as she was still a few years off from being legal age. But for Aiden it was different.

"What about Aiden?" Draco asked. "I can't sign for him."

"Eighteen in five days, yes," Lucius nodded, surprising Draco more than he would care to admit. "That's why you have to get him to sign it when he returns from Hogwarts. He won't do it if he knows it's from me."

"By that logic, Caelum won't accept the money, period, if he knows it's from you." Draco sighed and stared at the set of parchment that his father had given him. After what felt like a millennia he said, "I'll sign for Nysa."

"And the boys? What will you tell them?"

"I'm not going to lie, but they'll accept it if I ask them to."

"That's all?" Lucius said incredulously. "Just because you ask? Even with my hideous past clouding their judgement?" He added in a scoff.

Draco didn't take offense to his words that time. Instead, he set the parchment down on the desk and reached over for something to write with.

"You'd be surprised what a child will do and believe when their parents ask them to."

It was Lucius' turn to be quiet and he was. He stood as he watched his son sign for Nysa's grant of access and roll the parchment to a neat size.

"I'll ask Aiden to sign it and Caelum to accept the inheritance when they return." Draco went to put back the writing utensil he had picked up, but paused when he realized that it was missing a feathered end.

"What are you doing with a muggle pen?"

Lucius cleared his throat and self-consciously pulled at his collar. "Nysa left it here once. It's...useful."

Draco glanced from his father's face and back to the pen before slipping back to a container where quills sat. He muttered his agreement about the pen before finally leaving the room.

December 18th, 2021

Draco had been right when he had told Uriel that Hermione would be excited to go to Hogwarts' twentieth anniversary. He had also been honest in saying that he could care less about seeing his peers. It hadn't been a good time for him there. It hadn't been a good time for him anywhere. However, even then he had managed to find a bit of light in that dark world and she was getting dressed in a different room because he wasn't allowed to see what she was wearing.


She changed everything. His view on life. His view of himself. His life. Everything Draco had now could be traced back to that one moment in the Great Hall where he saw her from across the room. He sometimes wondered how things would've turned out had he not gone to the masquerade ball that night. Horribly, he concluded.

There was a knock on the bedroom door and with a smile Draco pushed himself off the bed's edge and headed over to it. Without opening he called, "Who is it, may I ask?"

He heard Hermione's laughter on the other side and he could just imagine the "I really married this idiot?" expression on her face.

"The woman who's heading to Hogwarts and meeting Harry and Ginny alone if you don't open this door."

An idle threat at best, but Draco acquiesced. When he opened it he forgot to breathe. His wife was a vision in white. A white feathered mask to cover the eyes, white dress held by thin straps, clinging to her body until it hit the floor. There were even small wings attached…

"You still have the dress."

Hermione glanced down at herself briefly and smiled. She had to make an alteration or two (for she could deny no longer that she wasn't the same body size fifteen to twenty years ago), but the dress worked, and she loved Draco's reaction to it.

"Of course I still have it. I would've been mad to throw away something that was part of leading me to you."

Draco was beet red at this point, and a warm fluttery feeling was in his stomach. "In that case, so would I," he told her and let her see what was on the bed. The top hat that he had worn all those years ago and his mask.

"Damn," Hermione shook her head as Draco went to retrieve his hat. "I thought I was going to be the romantic one tonight."

Draco laughed. He took a moment to slip on his mask and neatly donned his hat before turning back to her. "If it makes you feel any better, you knocked me off my feet first."

"Now or the first time?"


Draco presented his arm to Hermione and she stepped over the bedroom door's threshold to link hers with his.

"Do you have the letter?" Hermione asked. He went into the inside pocket of his robes and pulled out a letter that had come for them some two weeks prior. It was a portkey to Hogwarts. All that was needed to activate it was the recitation of a spell and they would end up just outside the school's boundaries.

Hermione cast a quick summoning charm and she caught a set of black robes in her hand. Expensive one at that. Draco could do nothing but admire the woman for donning everything that reminded him of the weekend that he fell for her. His old set of Roman Olivier robes certainly were a delicious cherry on top.

Draco wrapped an arm around her waist and said the spell that would activate the portkey. They were both quickly whisked away from their bedroom and landed, surprisingly easy, just outside of Hogwarts grounds. Although they had gone back to the school several times to see their sons and friends' children play Quidditch, there was something about tonight that made it different. It also helped that the castle and it's grounds were bathed in snow.

"Do we have to go in right away?" Draco asked. They had made it to the main entrance of the school, the music and frivolity of the ball hitting their ears. "If I recall correctly," he added with a mischievous grin, "the most fun we had was outside."

"Uh oh, I know that look," Hermione chuckled. "If you're looking for a repeat of what happened that night you're more than welcome to make it snow in our bedroom."

"I heard 'backyard,' so I'll run with that. Come on."

Hermione's hand was grasped by her husband's and she was being pulled along Hogwarts corridors away from the ball and away from all the guests. Some of them saw, tilting their heads and wondering where they were going. Neither Mr. nor Mrs. Malfoy cared. They ran like teenagers out onto the grounds by the lake, basking in the fact that there was no one out there but them and the fact that it had begun to snow. Hermione let her robes fall, shivered, but then thanked Draco with the upturn of her lips when he cast a Warming Spell around the area.

It wasn't often that Draco got to see his wife just let go. Something in their lives was always happening. Whether verbal derision, lethal curses, and struggles overall, they had endured a lot while together. But the point was that they were together.

Draco stood at a distance, watching Hermione with her arms outstretched, her head thrown back, and enjoying the snowfall. He did this for several minutes before strolling up to her and clearing his throat.

"Would you like to dance?"

Hermione corrected her posture, and she regarded the man who now looked so much like he did two decades prior.

She shook her head, coyly replying, "I don't dance."

"May I ask why? There's certainly no crowd here," Draco said, turning this way and that, feigning to look for onlookers.

"What if I said that I just don't dance?"

"Then I'd say 'liar' because I've danced with you several times with you over the course of twenty years."

"Well, you've caught me there," Hermione laughed and slipped her hand into her husband's outstretched one.

Draco's free hand gravitated to her waist, pulling her into him, and took the customary dancer's pose. Hermione's fingers had intertwined with his and the little space between them dissolved into nothing as they swayed across the snowy ground to music that wasn't there.

It had all started with a look. It had continued with a dance. It had spilled onto the grounds and they had been falling ever since.

"Who knew that the best moments of my life would have started in disguise?" Draco mused aloud. They had stopped dancing by now, and we're standing in the midst of a snowy backdrop. Hermione had all but disappeared into the scenery, only distinguishable by the pair of arms drenched in black around her body. "All I knew about you was the color of your lips and eyes. And that you looked damn good in that dress."

"Very poetic, Draco, but..." Hermione let her hands slide down his neck and smooth down his collar. "I suppose that you did look quite dapper in your dress robes. And your smile… You had such a beautiful smile."

Draco closed his eyes. Hermione's fingertips had grazed his lips as she spoke and he could've melted if it was possible. When he reopened his eyes he saw the same twenty-two-year-old who had turned his world around.

"Thank you."

Hermione tilted her head slightly as she asked, "For what?"

"For saving me."

At that Hermione smiled gently. She held his face and kissed him, barely pulling back before replying,

"My pleasure."

Hermione and Draco stayed out by the lake for hours. The masquerade ball may have even ended, but it didn't matter. All they needed, and all they had ever wanted, was each other.

Author's note: Well... We made it to the end. This chapter's title is more than ten just for the story, but also for all of you who have been following this story! I've had the BEST time writing this and I hope that you enjoyed the journey.

To fill in random ends that are in my head: Teddy and Victoire had a girl named Andy :). Yes, Caelum and Giana end up in a relationship. I also imagine that Draco and Lucius relationship remains strained, but tolerable at times.

On the writing side of things, if you liked this story, you may also enjoy a new one I'll be posting soon called "The Calm to Her Storm." Ron is dead and Hermione is hurting terribly while trying to keep it together for her kids. Draco basically picks up the pieces :)

Other works still going on are Need, Sacrifice (a Theo/Fleur spinoff of Need), and Always and Forever.

Feel free to PM me whenever or hit me up on my Tumblr (same penname). I have a Facebook author page as well.

THANK YOU! *hugs and smiles*