Author's Note:

Writing this story has taken a village, so please excuse one last pause for me to thank these wonderful people:

To LightofEvolution: You have believed in me and my writing for longer than anyone. You broke my silent lurking in this fandom and helped me feel a part of it. For that, I could never say thank you enough.

To mcal: One of my favorite things about this story will always be that it made us friends, well beyond the world of Harry Potter. Your genuine excitement shaped it in so many ways. Thank you a million times.

To the Dramionerds: We started collaborating when I was still in these early chapters, and I was in complete awe to be writing with you all. Thank you not only for the crazy laughs, but for being such fabulous writers that it pushed me to reflect on my own craft and consider how I could improve.

To snooki: LOL. You'll never read a word of this fic (at least not in a serious capacity :P), but thank you for being my sanity amongst all this insanity. Now go get that bottle of champagne for us to pop as soon as I hit post!

To E: You know every reason why this story means so much to me. Thank you for being there for me, even when we're currently so far apart.

And lastly, to all of you reading: This story has been quite the journey. So whether you've been following along the past two years or are just reading it now, thank you, thank you, thank you. I have been overwhelmed by all the love you have given this fic. It has been an absolute pleasure sharing these words with you.

And with that, we enter the final chapter.

After Draco bid good riddance to the safe house, he and Hermione returned to her flat where they spent the next several days in a blur of bliss and passion. It didn't take much to convince Hermione to take the weekend off, and she even agreed to "work from home" the Monday of Christmas Eve — though hardly any time was actually dedicated to her job. She'd already worked more than enough hours the past several weeks to compensate for one day off. Most people weren't going into the office that day anyway. Besides, she was a tad too occupied with her reunion with Draco to be able to focus on much else.

Even Christmas passed without them bothering to leave her flat, too enraptured in relishing one another to spend the holiday with their friends or family. While a few presents and greeting cards arrived by post, the only thing Hermione wanted that year was already wrapped in her embrace.

It wasn't until after Boxing Day that Hermione returned to the office, the curriculum deadline now less than a week away. As usual, Hermione arrived before most of the other employees, and it was shortly after nine when Gretchen came in for her morning duties.

"Welcome back, ma'am," Gretchen greeted her, presenting Hermione's schedule for the day. A cautious smile painted her lips. "Is everything from Friday resolved? I didn't expect you not to be here on Monday."

"It was a last minute decision," Hermione off-handedly remarked while reviewing her schedule. Her eyes paused when they reached mid-day. "I'm afraid I'll have to reschedule with Jeffers," she said, returning the parchment to Gretchen. "Noon won't work. Perhaps see if he can do three?"

Gretchen nodded her understanding. "I'll see what can be done. Anything else?"

Hermione opened her desk drawer and pulled out her white peacock feather quill. "Not at the moment."

Leaving her other hand in her lap, Hermione selected a parchment to work on, feigning oblivion at Gretchen's wide-eyed stare.

She waited for Gretchen to comment on the visible return of the unique quill, but it never came. Nor did any mention of Monday's Daily Prophet article announcing the dissolvement of Draco and Aimée's short-lived engagement. Though, that could be because Gretchen hadn't seen it.

Suspiciously tucked away on the bottom of page twelve, there was little doubt that Narcissa had used whatever influence and Galleons she could leverage into preventing the story from being the front page headline. Not that either Hermione or Draco was complaining. There would already be more than enough press once their relationship became public knowledge.

But for now, Hermione kept her secret a little longer.

Only a little.

Hermione hadn't needed to look up at the time to know when it had struck noon. The sound of her assistant's excited shriek from the other side of the office door was confirmation enough.

"You have a visitor, ma'am," Gretchen eagerly shared when she stepped into the space, smile beaming.

As expected, right behind her was Draco, the perfect image of smug assuredness as his tall, lean figure propped against the door frame, the twitching of a smirk revealing the dimple that Hermione adored. Hardly a second had passed before Hermione's quill was returned to its holder and she pulled Draco in by the fabric of his robes, greeting him with a long, unmistakable kiss.

When it ended, Gretchen was raising an eyebrow at them. "So… still just friends?"

Hermione cupped Draco's cheek and grinned. "Not in the slightest."

She could have spent infinite hours in the cool grey eyes that peered back at her, but Gretchen's now gawking expression caught Hermione's attention. Apparently, the witch had just seemed to notice a certain piece of jewelry located on Hermione's left hand.

"When did— But I thought…"

Hermione and Draco exchanged muted chuckles.

"It's just a ring, Gretchen," Hermione stated, all the while, fighting her growing smile. "Nothing to get too worked up about."

Draco slid his hand into hers and brushed his thumb over the embossed Malfoy crest. "Of course not. Just a ring I gave to her as a thank you. Nothing more than that."

But of course, Hermione and Draco both knew that wasn't true. The sparkle in Draco's eyes hadn't faded since Hermione had shared the significance of him giving her the ring. Despite all of Hermione's efforts, Draco had ultimately been the one to save himself from his father's cruel intentions.

Yet Gretchen didn't need to know that.

With no more explanation, Gretchen was left staring at an empty office as Draco and Hermione left for their first public date at Rosa Lee Teabag.


The last week of the year flew by faster than a speedy Snitch. Hermione's working hours continued to be long, but the peace of mind that she got to go home every night to Draco made the tiring days more bearable. How he spent his time, she did not know, but regardless of whatever outrageous hour she got home, he was always awake and waiting for her. They never broached the subject of him getting his own flat; it didn't seem necessary. After so long apart, she wanted to spend every waking minute with him — and every sleeping moment as well.

Finally, after the weekend's push to finish, at half past three on December 30th, every employee huddled shoulder to shoulder while Tillman stood atop a desk for all to see. With a flourish of his wand, the finalised materials were packaged and duplicated dozens of times. Pride beamed in Hermione's chest as she peered around the office, her colleagues exchanging hugs and congratulations at the completion of months of hard work. In the morning, a delivery crew would come to supervise the execution of the owl post. Soon, the pilot program would be in the hands of every participating young half-blood and pureblood— a new generation to be educated with a solid foundation of fundamental skills and a more open-minded approach to Muggle concepts. The first step towards real change in the mindset of wizards across Britain.

Of course, their work wasn't done. Now that the pilot would be implemented, the firm would continue working to refine it based on feedback — and inevitable pushback — until the program became more and more widespread. The field of education was always changing, and Hermione intended to keep striving to make learning as purposeful and powerful for as many young witches and wizards as she could reach.

This was just the beginning.


The following evening, Hermione glowered at the mirror. She had spent the last twenty minutes trying to relax her curls with copious amounts of Sleekeazy potion, cursing at her reflection several times over. This was precisely why she didn't do this more often!

A knock resonated on her bathroom door, and Draco entered, releasing a soft whistle. "Dear Merlin, is my girlfriend beautiful."

Her cheeks were a radiant glow as Draco pushed back enough hair so he could plant a kiss on the curve of her neck. Hearing him call her his 'girlfriend' still sent a flutter to her chest — even if the exchanging of the ring had technically already deemed her more than that.

"Draco!" she giggled when his knuckles began to brush the curve of her waist. She pulled his hand off of her. "Stop distracting me, or we won't have time to exchange presents before the party!"

"Forget the party," he said, lips now teasing the skin around her ear. "Our friends can wait another day or two before seeing us. Besides" — he nipped at her earlobe — "all I can think about is how much I want to rip this dress off of you."

His hand squeezed her bum beneath the black dress she had selected for the last-minute party they were hosting to celebrate the New Year. Hermione squealed at his touch before spinning around to distract him with a kiss. He easily took the bait, only requiring a matter of seconds for his hands to sink into her hair, which was now undoubtedly more of a mess than it had been two minutes prior.

"You're going to have to wait until after midnight," she settled with a coy smile once she pulled away, though the temptation to submit to his offer was certainly there. She pressed her palms against his shoulders and started to push him out the door. "Now go get your gift ready and give me five more minutes!"

There were no more interruptions while Hermione finished getting ready, and a few minutes later, her wrapped present for Draco was resting on her lap as he sat next to her on the sofa, his present hidden under a pillow.

"Open it," she said as she stretched the present wrapped in cream and gold striped parchment. It had been her idea to exchange holiday presents today rather than on Christmas so that they both would have time to get something for each other. Presents were hardly necessary, but she wanted an excuse to purchase this for him.

She slipped her legs beneath herself and scooted closer to Draco. He pulled back the thin ribbon on the top and then tore off the paper, revealing the slim rectangular case. She leaned forward, watching his expression as he lifted the lid and revealed the item within.

The confusion on his face was immediate, but that was exactly what she had expected.

"It's a fancy Muggle fountain pen," Hermione explained, taking it into her hands and removing the cap. "The tip is similar to that of a quill so it shouldn't be too unfamiliar, but the ink goes directly into the barrel so you won't have to constantly re-dip when writing."

Draco took the pen into his hand and drew aimless swirls over yesterday's copy of the Daily Prophet. After experimenting with different strokes, he lifted it up to examine more closely. "It's different from the pen you showed me in the park."

"If you like that one better, I can—"

"No." He set down the pen and pressed a kiss to her lips. "Good different."

With the pen returned to its case and now set on the table, Draco reached under the pillow and grabbed Hermione's present. He placed it on the small space of cushion between them. "Your turn."

A flutter filled her stomach at the mystery of what laid within — particularly since the present was smaller than anticipated. When allowing herself a mental break from work the past week, Hermione had brainstormed what she predicted Draco would get for her, but after all his teasing, she was confident he'd gifted her a new set of pyjamas so she'd stop wearing the pink molar bear ones. (Though, admittedly, they hadn't gotten much use recently…) Yet the gift in Hermione's hands was far too slim to contain pyjamas. The weight felt wrong too.

Her eyebrows were scrunched when she glanced up at Draco, expecting to permit him a moment to relish in successfully stumping her, but his eyes were transfixed on the present. One hand was rubbing up and down the length of his leg which was softly bouncing.

Was he… nervous?

Hermione didn't stall any longer. She tore away the wrapping and revealed a bound stack of parchments. It was nothing fancy. Just standard parchment, cut into segments around the size of average Muggle paper. The top parchment appeared to be akin to a cover page with the title Pathways New neatly written across the centre. Below was a name.

Draco Malfoy.

She could feel his eyes tracking her every move as she lifted the manuscript out of the box and opened to the first page.

In so many ways, the story was familiar, and yet, it wasn't. The main character appeared to be a young boy with all the arrogance in the world. The first couple paragraphs were enough to prove that. As the boy perused Diagon Alley with his parents in preparation for his first year at Hogwarts, entitlement dripped off his every word.

And then the boy met a bookish witch perusing titles at Flourish and Blotts.

"It's just a draft," she heard Draco say beyond her concentration. "There are several parts that still need to be reworked, but I wanted you to be the person to see it first. It's about a young pureblood boy who grew up prejudiced but meets a Muggle-born witch who introduces him to the Muggle world, changing everything for him. A bit of a… 'what if,' if you and I — or similar children — had become friends when we were younger." He smirked. "With several creative liberties, of course."

Hermione's head seemed to be in a cloud. She didn't know what to say…

He peeled her fingers off the pages and let her hands cradle into his. "I wanted to write a book that young purebloods could relate to but also open their eyes to the similarities they have with Muggleborns and even Muggles," he explained. "It's the type of book my father would have protested being in the Hogwarts library, but if it were to be added to your firm's future curriculum plans, then perhaps parents like him would have less of a chance of stopping their children from reading it."

Her eyes were wide as she peered at the man she loved, somehow falling even more in love with him. "It's perfect."

"Not yet," he said with a chuckle. "Not until it gets the Hermione Granger Seal of Approval like my last book did."

She leaned in and kissed him. "I have no doubt it will."


The party was small — precisely as they had wanted. News had started to spread about Draco and Hermione's romantic involvement with one another, and the last thing either of them wanted was to waste the evening answering (slash avoiding) the onslaught of questions toiling in most of their former classmates' heads. All they needed was the small collection of friends who had assisted them along their journey. After all, there would be far less to celebrate if circumstances had turned out differently.

On the sofa sat Theo, Blaise, and Astoria, while Daphne (the one exception to their invite list's rules, per her sister's insistence), was standing in a corner chatting with a goofy-grinned Weasley who appeared to be attempting to flirt. Draco swallowed his feelings on that matter.

But he didn't let his vision linger on Weasley's decreasing distance from the older Greengrass daughter. He much preferred to focus on the gorgeous witch presently speaking with Ginny (Draco supposed he ought to start calling her that) while she examined the ring on Hermione's left hand with wide-eyed astonishment.

His father had done everything in his power to prevent him from being with Hermione, and yet Draco had been the one to prove triumphant. Soon enough, every breathing witch and wizard in all of Great Britain would know where the affection of the Malfoy heir truly laid.

"I haven't seen her this happy in almost two months."

Draco had been so distracted, he hadn't noticed Potter approaching.

"And I intend to never be the reason she's sad ever again," Draco resolved, features plain as he shifted to face his former adversary.

Potter nodded. "Good. Because from what I've been told, it seems we're stuck with you."

The darker haired wizard glanced towards Hermione, clearly having already been made privy to the details of the ring.

"An unfortunate consequence of our relationship," Draco quipped, but there was no antagonism in his tone. A lighthearted gibe was all that came out. How could he maintain a petty childhood grudge after everything Potter had done to support him and Hermione?

"I read your memoir, by the way."

An incredulous stare now landed on Potter. "And?"

Potter shrugged. "Just thought you ought to know. Figured it was time for me to read it since it seems to be what convinced Hermione that you're not a terrible person." He paused to take a sip from his drink. "It was strange to hear about the war from your side, but it helped put some things in perspective. You're a competent writer."

Draco snorted. "Imagine that."

"Meh, well, consider that the closest thing you'll get to a compliment," Harry dismissed. He shrugged again. "And don't tell Ron I told you, but he also read it once he accepted that you and Hermione were serious about each other."

"I don't know which I should be more surprised about," Draco said with a brief chuckle. "The fact that Weasley read my book, or the fact that he actually knows how to read."

Draco was now grinning while Potter shook his head, all the while, the flicker of amusement lightening his expression as well. Their animosity may have faded, but the occasional taunts would never end.

Potter laid a hand on Draco's shoulder. "Just don't give us a reason to use our Auror training against you," he advised more than warned. "If you hurt Hermione, there won't be a safe house in Britain that could keep you hidden from us."

"Trust me," Draco assured him. "You have nothing to worry about."

The hours and minutes grew closer to midnight until eventually, Hermione left Draco's side to open the bottles of champagne for the New Year's toast. It was then that Draco got his first moment alone with Theo.

"I imagine this wasn't how you originally expected your year to go," Theo commented, a smile tugging at the corner of his lips.

"Not in the slightest," Draco returned. "A year ago, my parents and I were still secluding ourselves in the Manor while I toiled away on a book I wasn't sure would be published. All I wanted was to get out of there and start over."

Theo knocked Draco's side with his elbow. "I think it's safe to say you've accomplished that."

Surrounding music and conversations filled the room while a silence hung between them, both wizards aware of the inevitable next topic.

"So…" Theo cautiously began. "Have you communicated with him?"

Draco drew in a heavy breath. "Not yet. Figured I'd allow Mother to break the news and give him a few days to process before I confronted him myself. The last thing I need right now is an Avada straight to the chest."

"You don't think he'd actually—"

Draco shook his head. "Everything my father did was out of delusion and desperation, but he's not entirely deranged."

His remark was met with a raised eyebrow. "You sure about that?"

"No," Draco amended earnestly. "But I trust my mother to keep him in check — at least enough to not permit him to kill me."

Theo snorted into his drink. "The bar really is that low."

"Considering what he's done the past couple of months, it absolutely is," Draco responded before releasing a sigh. "While my mother seems to believe that he'll eventually change perspectives, I don't hold out hope."

"Can't blame you," Theo settled with a sigh of his own. "While not entirely the same, I understand where you're coming from. I have no plans to reconcile with my own father either, but it's a tad strange, isn't it? Cutting off contact with the person you once wanted to be like when you grew up?"

It was like a knife twisted inside Draco's chest. "A relationship isn't worth salvaging if the other person shows no sign of remorse or willingness to rectify things."

Theo huffed and lifted his glass. "I'll drink to that."

They had just finished taking long pulls from their respective whiskeys when Theo let out a groan.

"Is Weasley really talking with Daphne again?"

Draco followed Theo's gaze to where Weasley was, in fact, chatting with Daphne, her finger grazing over his upper arm as she laughed at something Weasley had said. He couldn't help but roll his eyes before returning focus to Theo. "So I take it I'm not the only one perturbed by this pairing?"

"Of course not," Theo quickly retorted. "I know it's New Year's and he's just about the only single bloke here, but Weasley?"

Draco let out a chuckle. "At least he's a pureblood?"

Theo shot him a glare, evidently unamused by Draco's sarcastic quip. "Jokes won't help," he grumbled. "If it's all the same to you, I'd rather not end up with Weasley as my brother-in-law."

"Oh?" Draco asked, quirking an eyebrow. "Already considering marriage with Astoria?"

"Says the man who is now locked into a magically binding engagement!"

Draco snorted, remembering the paragraphs long letter filled with caps and underlines he had received after he and Hermione had shared the good news with Theo and Astoria.

"Yes, well, our circumstances were slightly different," he dismissed, eyes now falling on Hermione coming their way with three flutes of champagne hovering in front of her. He smiled. "Besides, sometimes you just know."

Hermione reached Draco's side and placed a short kiss on his cheek. Both wizards vanished their current glasses before they each took one of the champagnes and Hermione twined her and Draco's free fingers together.

"Sometimes you just know what?" she asked.

Draco beamed at her. "That I'm the luckiest man in wizarding Britain."

A brilliant glow illuminated behind her gaze, and Draco could get lost in her eyes for a hundred years — which was good considering he and Hermione now had the rest of their lives to be together.

The clock ticked ever closer to midnight, soon to be the start of a brand new year, one in which Draco would no longer burden himself with what his father expected of him. He knew what he wanted. He had fought for what he wanted. And he was never letting go.


Bacon sizzled in the frying pan as Draco charmed a teapot of water to boil. It was a full hour after he'd woken up before Hermione sauntered into the kitchen.

"I thought we agreed to never leave bed without the other," her groggy voice greeted him.

Draco grinned. "Am I not allowed to surprise my girlfriend with breakfast on New Year's Day?"

He tugged her by the hand and pulled her into his embrace, relishing the sound of her unsuspecting squeal. The warmth of her bare stomach pressed against his skin, neither one of them wearing much more than their underthings. He hadn't bothered telling her, but her flannel pyjamas were hidden at the bottom of his luggage that he still hadn't unpacked. After all, he'd been rather busy finishing his novel.

"So what are you making?" she asked after he had spun her around so her back was against his chest.

"Nothing fancy," he said, checking the fried egg to see if it was ready for Draco to flip over. "I had to teach myself the basics while at the safe house."

She tilted her head to smile at him. "You could pour a bowl of cereal and I'd be happy."

He gave a short squeeze around her waist. "I love you," he said before leaving a kiss atop her curls.

"I love you too."

Dirty dishes laid spread across the cooker to be dealt with later while Draco and Hermione sat at the table eating breakfast. Their conversation was nothing special — just general recountings of stories from the night before, mingled with curiosities about how the delivery of the education program went and how they might spend the rest of their day — yet all that got derailed when an owl appeared outside the window.

"Oh, I hope it's not work," Hermione said, shoulders slightly dropping.

But Draco stood from the table first. "It's not."

Even from afar, he recognised the massive bird. It was the same one that had interrupted him and Hermione the first morning they had spent together at the Manor.

"Bonjour, Achille," he greeted the owl, though his attention was on the roll of parchment tied to his leg. Scripted on the outside of the note was Draco's given name. He swallowed. At least it wasn't a Howler.

Achille let out a soft hoot and Draco freed the string around his leg, dropping the parchment into Draco's palm. Note delivered, Achille wasted no time before expanding his wings and beginning the flight back to France.

"That wasn't your mother's owl," Hermione commented when Draco returned to the table.

"No, it wasn't," he replied. "It was the Beaufort's."

Draco knew a letter from the family was inevitable. Surely they had something to say to the wizard who they thought was going to be wed into their family in a few day's time. But the fact that it said only his first name on the scroll…

He slipped his finger underneath the wax seal and started to read the contents.

Dear Draco,

Though it's been quite a few years since we've spoken, I hope you know I have always thought fondly of our families' summers together. You were such a handsome boy, and I must admit there were times I wondered if our parents would eventually try arranging something between us. Back then, I wouldn't have protested. Today, I am relieved.

As much as I respect you as a wizard, you and I were not the right match for each other, though I know that I need not explain that to you. Your mother told us what happened. My father is furious, but I'm happy for you. I wish you and Miss Granger a wonderful life together.

My father has temporarily paused pursuing another marriage contract in hopes that the humiliation of this failed contract will quickly fade. I, however, am hoping that he will now consider partners beyond the limited pureblood pool. It has unsurprisingly been quite a shock to the pureblood community to learn that the once stringent Malfoy line will soon deviate from their traditions. But if a Malfoy can do it, why not a Beaufort? Our family name and legacy is already protected through my older brother and his marriage. If you have any advice on how to broach this subject with my father, I would be most obliged.



After he finished, Draco passed the letter to Hermione while the printed words bounced inside his head.

"I had wondered if she really wanted to marry you or if she was another pureblood forced into a marriage contract," Hermione remarked once she had reached the end. "What are you going to write back?"

"That it's better to be honest with them from the start," Draco answered after several moments of reflection. "And to not keep waiting for the 'right' time to tell them. We got lucky, but if it hadn't been for me giving you this ring, there may not have been a way out."

Hermione's hand was now cradled in his while the pad of his thumb brushed over the Malfoy family crest, the coat of arms that had meant so much to him for so many years.

"You are an important young boy," the echo of his father's voice swam through his memory. "Firstly as a wizard, secondly as a pureblood, and thirdly as a Malfoy. Never forget that. No matter what happens, those three things cannot be taken away from you."

"Yes, Father."

His childhood had been filled with lessons about the Malfoy family and how proud Draco should be that he was the next in a long line of accomplished witches and wizards. In a certain sense, he was still proud of that fact. Not because he wanted to be associated with their blood purity past, but because he had been the one to break the prejudiced pattern. It didn't matter if his father disowned him. Draco was, and forever would be, a Malfoy. As his father had taught him, that could never be taken away from him. Regardless of whether Lucius approved, this was the new path of the Malfoy family line.

And it was time Draco said that to his face.

Pushing back his chair, he left the rest of his breakfast on the table and headed to the bedroom.

"I have to make a quick errand," Draco shortly explained once he was dressed in his robes. "I should be back within the hour."

"Do you want me to come with?" she asked, eyes tracking him as he fastened the final button.

He shook his head. "This is something I want to do on my own."

She sighed, gaze softer as she said to him, "Draco, I don't know how many times I need to tell you this, but you don't always need to do things alone."

"At least one more time," he said before settling a kiss in her curls. "But if it makes you feel better, I have plenty of ideas of things you and I can do together when I get back."

He peered at her with a suggestive grin, admiring the way his witch bit down on her bottom lip.

"In that case, I won't delay you."

After one final kiss, he closed his eyes, concentrated on the Manor, and hoped that the wards still permitted him entry.


It had only been two months since he'd stepped foot inside the home, and yet he already felt like a foreigner. The things it stood for, the atrocities that had occurred there during the war… Draco didn't want to be associated with any of it. There was one stop, though, he wanted to make before confronting his father.

He travelled through the corridors and paused in front of the desired door. Twisting the doorknob, he entered the space, the large Malfoy family tapestry spanning the entire plane of the wall straight ahead.

The steady sound of footsteps resonated through the room dedicated to the proud and pure ancestry of the House of Malfoy. Since the seventeenth century, generations upon generations had prioritised blood status over potential love found elsewhere. But not any longer.

As he grew closer, Draco's vision fell on the newer gold embroidered tree branches of the family tree, following the path from his Grandfather Abraxas, his father and mother, and then upon himself. When he was a child, he had spent hundreds of hours staring at this very tapestry, committing to memory every placement in preparation for his father's quizzes. Except, something about it was different now.

Instead of the branch ending when it reached Draco, there was now a thin twig connecting his image to someone else, her name printed beneath.

Hermione Jean Granger.

Draco's fingers stretched out to graze over the addition, already recognised as a part of the Malfoy family — proof of their magical bond.

"I discovered the same change the morning after I arrived back at the Manor."

His eyes didn't leave the tapestry as his mother joined him.

"How'd you know I was here?" he asked once she had settled by his side.

"The clock in the library," she said. "I had a feeling you'd be returning today."

He softly snorted. For as wrong as her motherly intuition had been about his reason for sneaking around all those weeks ago, it had certainly returned in full force.

They stared at the tapestry for several silent seconds before Narcissa broke the stillness, voice a wonder as she stated, "Hundreds of years of pureblood ancestry, about to end."

A tug pulled at Draco's lips as he recalled the last time he had stood in that spot. "As a wise witch once told me, somewhere down the Malfoy family line, all that needed to change." He glanced over at his mother. "Some of us just needed to be reminded of what actually matters most."

Narcissa dipped her head with a single nod. "And I won't let myself forget it again."

He watched as his mother's attention landed back on Hermione's fabric portrait.

"She cares for you very much," she said, a graceful air to her as she turned to face Draco. "I expect she'll make a good name for the Malfoy family."

He could feel his gaze shining when he locked eyes with his mother. "She'll be the best of us yet."

There was immense satisfaction in the knowledge that his mother accepted his decision to be with Hermione. And the fact that she was back at the Manor suggested that she had also accepted whatever Lucius had said in the aftermath of the falling out of the contract. But Draco would be his own judge.

"I presume you know why I'm here," he stated to his mother.

"Yes, and he's been expecting your eventual visit," Narcissa evenly returned. "He's in his study."

"Thank you," Draco said. He started to make his way out of the room when he paused and turned back to his mother. "Thank you for everything."

She surveyed her son and grinned. "Whatever it takes to make you happy."


Nerves bundled inside Draco's stomach. He wished he could say he had no hesitations about entering his father's study, but that would be a lie. All his life, Draco had been intimidated by the man. But fear didn't dictate his life — and neither did his father.

His breath caught inside his chest as he lifted his fist towards the door. He knocked.

A clicking noise indicated that Lucius had unlocked the door, and Draco stepped inside, eyesight landing on the man who had done everything within his power to control Draco. The skin beneath his eyes was darker than usual, and gone was the prim shine to his hair. In some regards, it reminded Draco of when his father had returned from Azkaban with some of the life sucked from his body. But Draco felt no sympathy. Lucius had made his own bed.

There was a tightness in Lucius's expression as Draco moved forward, no sense of warmth behind the older man's gaze upon seeing his son for the first time in two months. Not that Draco had expected any different. He wasn't thrilled to see his father either.

"You returned," Lucius's stern voice pierced through the room.

"It won't be for long."

Unspoken tension suffocated the space at the memory of how they had last left matters. Only this time, Draco was the one in charge.

He inhaled deeply before straightening himself upright. "I have several things to say to you, Father, so it's time you listened to me for a change."

A firm rigidness stiffened Lucius's shoulders as Draco took a step closer, staring his father dead in the eyes.

"You lost," Draco declared, a fire igniting in his chest. "You did everything in your power to stop me, and yet nothing you did could prevent me and Hermione ending up together. Because I am the one in control of my choices, not you, or anyone else. Me. And you may not approve of the choices I make, and frankly, I no longer give a damn. Not once did you take my desires into consideration, even when I explicitly told you otherwise. I am your son, not your pawn."

Lucius opened his lips and Draco promptly cut him off.

"No, this is my time to speak," he clearly articulated so there would be no mistaking his resolve. If he had really wanted, Draco could have placed a Silencing Charm on the man, but he wasn't his father, and he never would be.

"You condemned my relationship and belittled my career. But you don't control me. No one does. I already had to follow the orders of one maniac, and I needn't remind you how that ended. I won't lay passive to someone else's intentions for me ever again." The prick of tears threatened his eyes, but Draco didn't break. "I love Hermione and I love my career. And if you love me, then you're going to have to accept that the pureblood line will end here. But the Malfoy family will not. So you need to decide which is more important to you: blood or family."

Draco's jaw was firmly set as he surveyed his father for several seconds, awaiting a response. His chest rose and fell in time with his short, steady breaths, but Lucius's expression hadn't shifted. Apparently, this was all he was going to get.

He huffed, shaking his head in disappointment. "I knew you couldn't change," Draco said through a snarl. "Have a nice life, Father."

Draco turned on his heels and walked away, determined that this would now be the last he ever saw of the man. If Lucius still had to think about it, then he hadn't learned his lesson.


Draco halted. His eyes narrowed as he looked back over his shoulder. "What do you want?"

Lucius opened one of his desk drawers and revealed a small box Draco recognised from the last time he'd been in his father's study. With the flick of Lucius's thumb, the lid flipped open, revealing the engagement ring Aimée must have returned.

The diamonds sparkled as Lucius rotated the ring box in his grasp. A hard, obvious swallow travelled down his throat. "After you left, your mother reminded me how my prioritisation of pureblood ideals already risked us losing you once." He snapped the lid closed. "And how I had forgotten what is most important."

He placed the box on the other side of his desk.

"A future Malfoy wife should have this."

Both men stared at the box, but Draco never touched it.

"I already gave Hermione a Malfoy family ring," he resolved, standing taller as pride burst in his chest. "And one day, when I propose to her properly, I'll be doing so with a ring I purchase myself."

His father's critical gaze scanned him over. Draco didn't flinch. His father's assessment didn't matter.

"You've become your own man, Draco."

There was a level of respect hidden in his father's words that, for so long, had been precisely what Draco had craved to hear. And while Draco no longer needed that validation, it was still satisfying.

Nothing would ever make Draco forgive or forget what his father had done. But if Lucius was willing to make an honest attempt at accepting Hermione like Narcissa had, then Draco was willing to see where it would lead.

Lucius motioned to the chair across from him and Draco took a cautious seat.

"So," Lucius began, leaning to rest his elbows on the desk. "Tell me about Miss Granger."

"Where should I begin?" Draco grinned. "I could write a whole book about her."

End note:

Thank you one last time for reading this story. I would love to know your thoughts and can't wait to have another full-length Dramione story for you in the future. Can you say… Dragon Tamer Draco?

Find me on Tumblr (niffizzle) or in the various Facebook groups if you want to reach out between now and my next story.

Until next time xx