35. Why We Fought
"I admire people who choose to shine like stars even after all the storms they've been through." -Unknown
May 3, 1999
The sun was shining overhead as Hermione put finishing touches on the bouquet at the main table outside on the terrace. The sky was rarely this bright in England, but she felt it portended good tidings to the couple who would be joined in holy matrimony that day. Harry and Luna's bonding on the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts was fitting, she thought.
Hermione grunted as she reached over for the scissors. The table pushed back on her expanded stomach. She had indeed blossomed, just like the forest had foreshadowed at her wedding. She and Narcissa were now seven months pregnant. Hermione had only gained weight in her middle; from the back, she looked the same as she had before. But when she turned to the side, she looked like she'd swallowed a quaffle, as Ron was gleefully fond of saying. In contrast, Narcissa had filled out everywhere. It was so funny to see the normally thin witch rounded. She actually waddled when she walked, not that anyone was foolish enough to say it to her face. It wasn't her fault, really. Narcissa had been shocked when she discovered she was carrying twin girls. But that was nothing to Lucius' reaction. He had fainted dead away, only to be revived by Draco and Harry smirking while patting him on the back and congratulating him on proving his still virile manhood.
Lucius had brushed his sons off of him and huffed at their impudence. "Oh, let a man have some room, will you? I was just taken aback is all."
Once the surprise wore off, he'd embraced the idea of baby girls living in the manor, for possibly the first time ever. He went all out in constructing a nursery that would be fit for royalty, for that was how he viewed his precious Elara and Alula, his very own moon and star. Harry suggested Lar-a-lu as a handy combination nickname for the both of them, but Lucius wasn't about to allow such absurdity to be used on his angels. Draco was amused by his father's enthusiasm and helped him with his project whenever he could. But he had his own future to see to. It had taken him a bit of time, but the parenting bug had finally bitten Draco. Hard. Wanting to be the best father possible for little Scorpius Auberon kept Draco from skipping out on his counseling sessions. He'd made alot of progress in confronting his demons, though he'd learned he would never be completely free of the struggle.
"It's a part of your history," the counselor had said. "Good, bad, the things we live through make up our own unique story."
Draco hadn't liked that answer until the therapist smiled and said, "You know….in every story I've read, it's the hero who always has the worst time of it."
Hero. Draco still didn't think of himself that way, but it did help him to think that others did. Hermione certainly did. So did Harry. Even Ron and the twins alluded to it, albeit with humor. He wondered if the twins could actually do anything without that characteristic twinkle in their eye. Fred and George were working together at their store again. Fred's memory loss and blackouts had become worrisome until they discovered they were caused by an inflammation of his brain, brought on by an infection caused by the curse that had blinded him. After a stint at St. Mungo's, he came out raring to go. He told George he wanted to live his life and enjoy every moment he had, and he didn't want something as insignificant as blindness to stop that.
Draco thought Fred was the real hero to have that type of attitude. And Fred did what he said. He was living large. He waited on customers who came into the store, allowed himself to be a test subject for new ideas…..much to the amusement of their younger clientele who frequented their shop. He also started dating. He and Hannah Abbott hit it off one afternoon when she'd come into the shop looking for a birthday present for a cousin. Fred couldn't see it, but George told him later that Hannah had been injured at the last battle. A nasty scar ran from her left hip down to her ankle. But she hadn't let it stop her. Like Fred, she was determined to live her life. She wasn't going to let a disfigurement or a subsequent limp keep her from doing the things she loved.
Impressed with her positive attitude, Fred asked her out. He told her he could be her legs and she could be his eyes. Together, they made quite a pair. Hannah had never laughed so much before. Fred had never had such a feeling of completeness, even with George.
Speaking of, George wasn't about to be left out of the romance that seemed to be taking the wizarding world by storm. Surprising everyone, he began courting Daphne Greengrass, who had been introduced to him by his brother-in-law Theo.
Molly's tender mother heart was in heaven seeing her children so happy. She knew weddings and babies were in their future. One wedding was already in the works. Unlike Ginny and Theo's quiet elopement, this one promised to be a show-stopper. Ron was going to marry Lillion, and every witch and wizard in Austria were expected to attend the union of their most honored house's daughter to the handsome British wizard. Their romance happened suddenly; they'd quickly developed a rapport and began to correspond after Draco and Hermione's wedding. At Christmas, Ron went to Austria to ask for permission to court Lillion. It was tricky, but he managed to visit her whenever he could. Beauxbatons allowed visitors on weekends; that's where Ron was on most of them. On Valentine's Day, he surprised her with a locket that had been his Aunt Muriel's favorite. It was a lovely thing, a solid emerald hanging from a chain of onyx beads. Wizarding customs in Austria were no different than in England; Lillian knew what the giving and receiving of jewelry meant. Soon after, Arthur, with the help of Lucius paving the way with the introductions, began official negotiations with the House of Blumenthal. Ron hoped to be able to marry Lillian sometime after she graduated. They were looking at a September bonding, though the exact date hadn't been confirmed yet.
Hermione smiled as she thought of all the happiness that had come to her and her loved ones. Well, at least most of her loved ones. Hermione's parents had decided to move back to Australia. It had devastated her when she'd learned of their plans. Lucius, along with Harry and Draco had gone to see them. But it had done no good. When the men had come back from seeing the Grangers, all it had taken was one look at Draco's furious face, Harry's sad one and Lucius' apologetic countenance to know the outcome. She'd finally had to realize her family was now the one whose last name she shared.
Finally satisfied with how the flowers looked, she made her way back inside to meet with the women who would give Luna the same pampering Hermione had received before her bonding ceremony. Padding down the main hallway, she opened the door to the room where the bridal party was housed.
Narcissa looked up when she heard the door click. Motioning with her hand, she said, "Come on in, darling. We saved a seat for you."
Due to the two of them being unable to lie on their stomachs, Narcissa had the elves giving everyone a manicure and pedicure in lieu of a back massage.
Luna and Ginny sipped on their cold champagne while Narcissa and Hermione had an Orange Julius.
"Umm…..," sighed Narcissa in blissful satisfaction. "I've always loved these."
"Binks is a wonder," agreed Hermione. "The muggle kind never tasted this good."
"He must have done something with the champagne, too," observed Luna. "It tastes extra-light and bubbly."
"That's just your love effervescing," teased Ginny. It was amazing to Hermione to see the close relationship that had grown between the two loves of Harry's life. She would have thought it would be awkward between them. But somehow, they worked. Neither resented the other.
"So tell me…..will you and Harry remain in Italy after your honeymoon? Or did you decide to make your home in England?"
Luna took another sip of her drink before she answered the redhead. "Actually, we've chosen to do both."
Ginny wasn't expecting that answer. "Both?"
"Uncle Lucius helped us purchase a small villa near Positano." Luna paused for a moment to squeeze Narcissa's hand. "Thank you so much, Aunt. It was the loveliest wedding present."
Narcissa waved away her gratitude. "Tosh, darling. You're our niece; Harry's our son. It's the least we could do."
Luna smiled tenderly at Narcissa. Then she turned back to Ginny. "We plan to live in Italy during the colder months, but will come back to live at the manor during the summer. And we'll also visit whenever Harry needs to see Draco." Luna had understood and accepted the unique bond the two wizards had with each other.
"We hope to visit you as well," said Hermione. "I know that Draco plans on us coming after Ron and Lillian's bonding. He's already told me he wants you two to be babysitter for Scorpius so he can take me to that restaurant you recommended." After realizing he had never really courted Hermione, Draco had established one night a week to be reserved for 'date night' for the two of them. Sometimes they'd go to dinner. Sometimes it would be nothing more than strolling down Diagon Alley window shopping. A couple of times they ventured out into muggle London.
"Of course, Hermione. We'll love looking after Scorpius. Harry already told me he wants at least three children, so it will good practice for us."
Ginny quietly drank her champagne during this exchange. She was now a far cry from the insecure, thoughtless girl she'd been when she married Theo. But that didn't mean she didn't have any worries. A new trouble had come to take the place of the old. So far, she had not been able to become pregnant. At first, she thought the problem was with Theo, but a test at St. Mungo's disproved that notion. Ginny had been shocked. It was unheard of for a Weasley to be infertile. The healer had told her that technically she could have children….but that it might not be as easy as she'd first thought. Ginny had known her periods were irregular, but had never given it much thought until the healer asked her about it. She hadn't ever told anyone before; even Molly hadn't known. After the healer found that out, he started Ginny on a regiment of potions that would aid in correcting the hormonal imbalances in her body. Ginny hadn't noticed any change, other than Theo commenting on the increased lushness of her curves, but she attributed that to the slight weight gain she'd picked up since being married. As it stood now, she and Theo were cautiously optimistic.
Noticing Her friend's silence, Hermione asked, " How is your project coming along, Gin? Draco said Theo was really excited about it."
The project was one that she was doing with her mother. Ginny, with the help of Theo had created a brand new garden devoted to medicinal plants. Together, she and her mother were producing potions; the kind that Narcissa had spoken so highly of. They'd already made a deal with St. Mungo's and with several independent healers. Molly's Medicinal Elixir would hit the market next month. Mass producing her mother's cures had kept Ginny from feeling melancholy and had given her purpose. The Nott elves had been beside themselves with joy at having regular tasks now. And It had given her mother and father an additional source of income. In fact, the Weasley's were well on their way, if projections held true, to being independently wealthy. Perhaps not to the grandeur of the other purebloods, but quite easy and comfortable, which is what Ginny had always wanted for her parents, especially now as they were getting older and her father was getting closer to retiring.
"We're both excited. Mum's elixir will be out soon."
"Splendid! I always thought Molly should market her potions. Well done, my dear."
Ginny blushed at Narcissa's praise. "I've found I love gardening. There's something so peaceful about getting one's hands in the soil. I can see now why Theo's mother loved it so."
She'd also discovered the herbs and plants grew better near the little pool and bush by the woods. Ginny knew that place had special magic and protections on it; why, she didn't know. But she intuitively felt Theo's mother had placed them there.
A tap on the door interrupted the ladies' conversation. Cracking the door open, Neecie peeked in the room. "Young Missus, young Master is wishing for you. He's be saying to Neecie that he needs your help in dressing for the ceremony."
The other witches in the room smirked at Hermione.
"Poor Draco. I can't imagine what that must be like, needing help to get dressed," Ginny teased before she took a swallow of her champagne.
"I think Neecie meant to say he wanted help getting undressed; at least, that would make more sense why he would want Hermione's help."
Ginny choked on her drink at Luna's artless remark. Narcissa chuckled while Hermione awkwardly rose from her chair. "Let me go attend to him."
"Yes, by all means, take care of his needs," gasped out Ginny, still wheezy from the wine going down her windpipe.
"I'm sure you know that had nothing to do with Draco," murmured Narcissa after Hermione had left the room. "I have no doubt Hermione planned that out with Neecie. Ah me, pregnancy hormones can be so demanding."
"Well, that makes sense. I thought Uncle looked happier than usual," Luna stated.
A short time later in an upstairs suite…
"Feel better now, Pet?" Draco asked with a satisfied and smug grin.
"Oh, shut it," Hermione play-slapped him on his bare chest before she moved her hands to pull the zipper up on his pants. "I didn't hear you complaining."
Draco pulled his wife's body as close as her swollen belly would allow. "I certainly wasn't."
Hermione nuzzled Draco's neck with her nose. Holding him tightly, she whispered, "I love you. So much."
Draco moved one of his hands from her back to cradle the back of her head. Pulling back to look at her, he gave her a tender kiss on her forehead. "I know you do. And I love you." Then her bent his body down to place a kiss on Hermione's stomach. "And Daddy loves you, too, Scorpius. I didn't mean to makes such waves earlier, but your mother was so demanding and bossy…."
Hermione laughed and popped Draco again, this time a little harder. "Draco! You did not just say that to our son!"
Downstairs, the other ladies heard Hermione squealing her husband's name. For a moment, there was silence as they all sat and stared at the other. Then together, they broke out in uncontrollable laughter.
Harry and Luna's bonding was beautiful. Brilliant butterflies were released at the proclamation of them being man and wife. Before they kissed for the first time as a married couple, the bride and groom paused to take in the sight of each other. Harry, his brilliant green eyes shining with peace and contentment; Luna, a blissful smile of absolute certainty playing across her features. When their lips finally met, applause broke out around them.
Ron and Lillion stood beside Hermione and Draco. The two oldest friends of Harry's had found each other's hand as they'd watched their childhood friend take eternal vows. They'd both thought back through the years...of Harry's pain and torment….his long struggle against Voldemort….his aching need for love.
"He made it," Hermione whispered as she watched Harry place a gold band on Luna's finger. "We all did."
She turned her face to look at Ron. He reached over to gently wipe a tear from her cheek. "All's well that ends well, huh?"
Hermione chuckled in spite of her tears. Feeling his wife move, Draco looked over and saw her and Ron's joined hands. Smiling, he placed his hand on the small of Hermione's back. He felt at that moment extraordinarily blessed and grateful. His friends and family were thriving. He had the best wife in the world. Life was good.
The pain had been worth it.
AN: That's all, folks. I know we could go on and on with regular life for our characters, but we know their futures are happy ones. After all, Neecie heard it! LOL
Thanks for reading!
Special thanks to Queendom of No Smiles for the idea of 'date night' for Draco and Hermione.