A/N- A little shorter, but very informative chapter. Just a little girls' day out. And Scorpius builds a tower.
"So are you going to do it?" Pansy asked Hermione as they waited for their coffee orders.
Hermione bit her lip, "I think I will," she answered after a pause. "It is something I've wanted to do for years."
Pansy grinned as the barista handed over their cups, "Maybe I'll go with you. I've wanted to get a tattoo for a while now."
"I find them interesting and I've certainly seen my share of people with ink. Plus it would horrify my parents so it's a win-win in that regard," Pansy winked as they walked outside the muggle shop. Hermione laughed. Many of the muggle things Draco had done early on had been done for the same reason. They sat down at an outdoor table, "So is he still freaked out by us hanging out?"
"Much to my amusement, yes," Hermione smirked as she took a sip of her latte, "he's acknowledged you've changed but he still doesn't see how we could be friends. Sometimes I wonder if he looks at me and still sees the goody-goody Gryffindor he for so long saw me as."
"That could explain it," Pansy chuckled. "Now, let's get planning this second, proper wedding."
Hermione smiled as Pansy pulled out some sketches from her bag. Since the fashion show Pansy had been over to dinner at the Manor twice and they got coffee every so often. Upon learning that Draco wanted them to renew their vows in a proper wedding ceremony since they'd not had that in Australia, Pansy had declared herself wedding planner and insisted on making Hermione a wedding dress. "I have a few rough sketches that vary in style. I wanted your opinion before going into more detail on them in case there are styles you would prefer."
"This wedding is going to be so over the top and ridiculous," Hermione sighed. "My mother and Narcissa are already foaming at the mouth about it."
"You should savor it," Pansy told her. "Didn't you have a dream wedding in mind when you were a little girl?"
"Not particularly," Hermione answered. "And once I fell in love with Draco a happy ending seemed dreadfully unlikely," she added. "Once the war was over I just wanted us to be together freely and without having to hide. Everything after that, getting married and having our son…that was a bonus. We both thought our relationship was doomed because one of us wouldn't survive the war, even if I assured Draco otherwise."
Pansy gazed at her in awe, "How did you do it?"
Hermione gave her a serious look, "I told myself that everything I did was to end the war so that Draco and I could be together again."
"And when Bellatrix tortured you?"
"I focused on trying to communicate with Draco to let her do it. To do nothing. That was probably the hardest thing I had to do in all honesty," Hermione shook her head to clear it of those bad memories. "But I needed him to survive at that point. And fortunately he understood that." Like Hermione, Pansy was under no illusion about what Bellatrix would have done if Draco had tried to intervene. The witch held Voldemort over everyone and Draco would have died if Bellatrix knew he cared for the muggleborn witch. "When it comes to people he loves, Draco is very selfless. I know that was the hardest thing he had to do."
"But he managed it and you got your happily ever after," Pansy smiled.
"We did," Hermione nodded. "I never thought I'd end up with Draco Malfoy of all people but I wouldn't change a thing about my life these past nearly seven years."
"Better you than me," Pansy winked. "I'd have killed him by now."
"I'm not saying I haven't come close to that," Hermione laughed, "I broke his hand when I gave birth to Scorp."
"You did?!" Pansy's eyes widened and the two women laughed as Hermione told the story of delivering her son.
A few tables away, unseen by the two women, Harry Potter sat with a newspaper, frowning. The love and affection Hermione clearly had for her husband was so frustrating to the auror. Harry had never been one to understand emotions, but he'd always felt something for Hermione. It unfortunately wasn't something he'd been able to put words to until it was too late. He'd finally realized what he'd felt for Hermione during the Final Battle but that was only moments before Hermione had told him and Ron that she was dating Malfoy.
Predictably, Ron hadn't been happy about it. But Harry had reasoned that this was his chance. With Malfoy in jail and awaiting trial, Harry could prove to be the better option for Hermione. He could be the friend that was there for her through it all, see her through her heartbreak when the bastard was inevitably locked up in Azkaban for life.
But Malfoy walked away free. Harry had seen all the evidence. He knew Malfoy wasn't guilty. No, Harry's issues with her choice in partner were not of a criminal nature. Harry was jealous. And overhearing Hermione talk about her husband, he felt that jealousy flare up again. Seeing her with Draco after the Slytherin was found not guilty, Harry had known he couldn't be friends with her. It hurt too much, watching the woman he loved be with someone else.
Ron had taken the blame for Harry abandoning Hermione, which actually relieved Harry. Of course, Harry had started dating Ginny again. And he'd tried to make it work with the redhead, but it simply didn't work. The longer he was with Ginny the more he was certain it was Hermione he should have been with. Harry had given up on his relationship with the redhead; he was fairly certain Ginny would break up with him soon. She wanted their relationship to progress and Harry wasn't in agreement. However, to preserve his relationship with the family, he needed Ginny to dump him. He didn't think Ron and the others would forgive Harry breaking up with Ginny after five years together. But if Ginny broke up with him, he should be okay.
Part of Harry was happy that his former best friend was so happy with her life. That she was so successful. And if she was with Ron, he could probably swallow his feelings for her because it would have made Ron happy and their friendship was so important to him. But given her choice in partner was Draco Malfoy, Harry struggled to be anything but jealous. Rationally, he knew he'd never told Hermione about his feelings and so it was unfair to hold such anger toward her and Malfoy. But he couldn't help it. He still felt like he was cheated of the chance and he really despised Malfoy for taking what Harry saw as his.
Pansy showed off the sketches, "I know you'll look stunning. You could pull all these styles off."
Hermione looked through them, "They all look incredible Pansy."
"You don't have to choose right away, of course. We have plenty of time. But I thought you should start thinking about what you want to wear. I'll keep the sketches so Draco can't hunt them down. He never did like surprises."
"Him and I both," Hermione admitted. "We're very similar on that front."
"You're very similar in many ways," Pansy mused. "Which is probably why you fit so well together."
Hermione's mind shifted down a different path at that. She and Draco did fit well together. "We have had amazing chemistry from the start," Hermione admitted. "Which is what our relationship started with."
When no elaboration came Pansy leaned closer to Hermione. "Well continue that thought," Pansy insisted. "You can't leave me hanging."
"I seduced him our sixth year to stop him committing suicide," Hermione quietly told Pansy.
"No!" Pansy gasped.
"Yes," Hermione nodded. "He didn't see a way out of the war without going against his own morals and thought he'd end up getting his parents killed if he fled England or didn't carry out Voldemort's orders. He wouldn't come down off the ledge and I couldn't think of anything that would get him down but I figured if he saw my breasts I could maybe get him inside where it was safe."
"But you ended up shagging him?"
"Our first kiss was very, very intense," Hermione bit her lip. "It was like a match to kindling," she elaborated. "Once we started we simply couldn't stop and neither of us wanted to."
"Oh I want all the details," Pansy leaned close. "You can tell me more after we get to the lingerie store."
The two women left the café and Harry sat there, stunned at what he'd just overheard courtesy of an eavesdropping spell. Malfoy had been suicidal. Hermione had seduced him to save his life. And their relationship had grown from that. Bloody hell, no wonder the two were so attached. That Hermione had been so confident in Draco's innocence. Harry'd never given much thought to how they'd ended up a couple but what she'd just described…well, wasn't that what everyone wanted? Intense chemistry from the start? Harry headed home. He had some thinking to do.
"You know about my love life," Hermione said to Pansy as they looked through a rack, "what's going on with yours?"
"Nothing exciting," Pansy answered. "It's hard to find a wizard who likes a witch like me. Authoritative, loud, successful on my own," Pansy shrugged, "most men don't want a witch who doesn't want to be a housewife or who has her own opinions."
Hermione tilted her head, "And you need lingerie despite it not being exciting?"
"Well occasionally I go into a muggle nightclub when I feel an urge to have fun," Pansy conceded.
Hermione chuckled as she looked through the rack. She didn't need anything in particular but Draco's birthday was creeping closer and closer. Something new to show off his present wouldn't be a bad idea. "Do you think Draco would care what color I choose?"
Figuring Hermione meant the tattoo Pansy shrugged, "I doubt it. He'll just be happy to see you have it."
"I won't be able to hide it from him," she mused. "But that won't matter."
Draco arrived home from work feeling very tired. He enjoyed running the company, but some days were much more stressful than others and on those days all he wanted was to be at home with his wife and son. He walked down to the family room to see Pansy Parkinson, of all people, sitting in the floor playing with Scorpius and building a tower. He looked around but Hermione wasn't in the room. "Look Scorpius, Daddy's home."
Scorpius turned his head toward where Pansy had pointed and he lit up, "Dada!"
"Hey buddy," Draco tossed his cloak into a chair and leaned down as his son stood and quickly walked over to him. He lifted him up, "Are you having fun?"
"Pans pway," he pointed at his blocks.
"Hermione had to go into the bakery for something," Pansy explained. "I'm babysitting."
"I hope it's nothing serious," Draco frowned.
"She should be back soon," Pansy assured him. "We've just been playing until she comes back, haven't we Scorp?"
Scorpius nodded his head and Draco sat his son back down. Scorpius toddled over to Pansy, "Bigger!"
"It needs to be bigger?" Pansy looked at the tower that was already taller than Scorpius, "Do you think we can?"
Scorpius nodded his head and Draco watched as Pansy picked him up and they made the tower bigger. Before he could say anything he felt someone's arms around him and turned to see his wife, "Hey there handsome," she smiled. "Did you have a good day at work?"
"Exhausting day," Draco answered before ducking to kiss her. "But it's nice to come home to you. Everything okay at the bakery?"
"Yes, fortunately. We had an issue with a vendor bringing the wrong flour which we need for tomorrow but I sorted it all out."
Draco nodded and wrapped his arms around her waist, "I was quite confused, seeing Pansy here with Scorp."
"I can imagine," she smiled, gazing into his eyes. "She generously offered to keep him company here while I sorted things."
Draco pressed his forehead to hers, "I really missed you today," he said quietly.
Hermione looked up at him, "Well let's see if we can make your day better then. Pansy and I went shopping," she stepped away from him, "There's a new lingerie store in Diagon Alley."
Draco's head whipped to look at his wife, "Yeah? Did you find anything you liked?"
"A few things," Hermione answered before bending at the waist to see Scorpius. She winked at Pansy, who was barely stopping herself from laughing at the obvious change in Draco's attitude which included his eyes glued to his wife's rear.
Having known Draco for nearly her entire life, Pansy could see that he was struggling to hide his arousal at Hermione's words and it was hilarious to see the normally so composed and walled off Draco nearly completely undone by his wife. "Do I get to see later?" Draco asked after a long pause.
Hermione kissed her son's forehead and Scorpius held his hands out toward her, "Up!"
"We need to teach you the word please," Hermione said, taking him from Pansy. She looked at her husband, "If you're good, you do," she answered him. "I asked Mipsy to prepare dinner. You're welcome to stay, Pansy," she looked back at her friend. "Mipsy is making paella and she's very excited about it."
Pansy hesitated before nodding, "If you don't mind, sure."
"So what did you two get up to today then?" Draco asked as Scorpius reached out and collapsed his tower.
"Some wedding planning, some shopping, some girl talk," Hermione shrugged.
"It was fun," Pansy said. "Especially the confused looks when people saw us together."
Hermione smirked and put Scorpius on the ground, "I will never understand the box people seek to put me into," she said, settling on the floor to play with her son.
"Gryffindors do not typically marry Slytherins," Draco pointed out, taking his tie off and tossing it onto his cloak. "And my family is rather well-known for being associated with Death Eaters at this point."
"Even so," Hermione shook her head, "you and I were well-known as a couple before we left for Australia. Why be surprised we're still together when we return?"
"Because most people would have expected you to dump him and end up with Weasley or Potter," Pansy pointed out. "That hasn't changed. It's no secret they've both been displeased with your choice in partner and neither one has a particularly strong relationship."
"Harry's dating Ginny," Hermione frowned.
"Only in name," Pansy shrugged. "The gossip columnists have long thought that relationship is just for show. They certainly don't look happy when they're in public together."
"Reading the gossip columns, Pans?" Draco teased.
"They're in the same section as fashion and it's good to get an idea of what the public is paying attention to," Pansy defended herself. "But I don't have to read the columns to see that Potter and Weasley don't look like the 'totally in love' couple they claim to be. They don't even look like friends and I go to loads of events they attend."
"Including the war memorial?" Hermione asked.
"Not that one," Pansy said. "Slytherins aren't welcome at that one. Although its popularity is declining. Fewer people attend each year. Slowly wizarding society is beginning to leave the war behind. The so-called 'memorial ball' is seen to reopen wounds rather than heal them. So more and more people have stopped going. Only about half of those at the first one were at the last one. This year should be even smaller."
Hermione sat, feeling thoughtful. Perhaps some unity was called for. She could do that. "Love?" Draco looked at his wife, curious why she was so silent.
"Just thinking about a new product for the bakery. In tribute to the war and what we were fighting for," she explained.
"Oooh sounds exciting," Pansy said.
"I don't know about that," Hermione smiled as Scorpius put a block on the growing tower carefully so as not to knock it over. "But it should promote unity."