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Chapter 37 – Of Marriage vows and Marriage beds:

The little things mattered to Draco Malfoy. He noticed the little things, like the intricate design in the lace of her veil, the blush of her cheeks when he grasped her hand, and the perfect smile which graced her perfect mouth when the officiate announced them man and wife. Yes, he had lived his life under the impression that bigger meant better, but he was wrong. The small, simple things mattered the most in this life. The most simple of all was the fact that he loved her.

He would never hurt her. He would try to make her happy. He looked forward to debates with her. He even looked forward to her scorn, for he thought she was her most beautiful when she was vexed at something.

He wanted to make love to her. He wanted them to have a houseful of children. He wanted to protect her from harm and he wanted to feel safe within her arms. He loved her.

She had never recalled a time when she felt so incredibly happy. This was a joyous occasion. It had moments of sorrow; missing the people who were no longer with them being the most sorrowful, but somehow she knew that all of those people were with them in spirit. They were in her heart, her mind, and her memory. She took comfort in that. She knew the trials she had faced had brought her to this place. To this point in time. To Draco. To be his wife.

She also knew that he would make her happy all the days of her life. He would strive to keep her happy. He would challenge her mind along with her patience. He would fill her life with joy. He would look after her, protect her, cherish her, and allow her to be who she was, not the person everyone thought she should be.

When he took her hand during the ceremony, she felt a blush tinge her cheeks. It was not due to bashfulness, but embarrassment, for there was nothing she wanted more than to throw herself in his arms at that moment, and never let him go. That was why she blushed. She loved him.

Harry Potter knew there were few things in life that were truly important. One was truthfulness. With the truth, one could always find their way home. With the truth, the path was always straight and narrow. With the truth, one could find ultimate happiness, which was love and freedom.

Truthfulness was the most important thing to any successful marriage, and for any successful life. The other thing that mattered in this life, which was more important than truthfulness, was love. The love of a man to a woman, and a woman to a man. A love where a person placed their lover's wants and happiness before their own. A love which caused strong men to fall down on their knees, women to weep, and in which all great poetry was written. Love which was all consuming, gut wrenching, all powerful, all possessive, raw, unbridled, but without selfishness. Such a thing was hard to find, but Hermione found it with Draco. Perhaps he would find it someday, too. He turned his attention to the woman beside him. Lady Pansy smiled at him and then blushed. Yes, he might find such a thing after all.

As they were announced man and wife, Lord Malfoy lifted her veil from her perfectly coifed hair, which sat under a perfectly pretty bonnet, and he had visions of her hair long and down, with flowers around her hair like a crown. He would like to see that again. He leaned down, and kissed her mouth, a soft, simple kiss. There was time for exploration later. A whole lifetime.

They walked out of the little ruined church on Malfoy's estate, where he first fell in love, to the joyous applause of their friends and most of the village. Hermione looked toward a line of trees, and she swore she saw the doe, the dog, Remus and the mother and father who raised her. She blinked once, and the vision was gone. He looked down at her and asked, "Are you alright?"

She smiled up at him and answered, "I am now."

In an act that was all too familiar, as it was frequently done, he brought her hand to his mouth and kissed it gently. Soon there would be more than simple kisses to the top of her hand.

They walked around to his curricle and he placed his hands around her waist to lift her up. He felt possessive of her as he lifted her in the small, light, carriage. He felt a purpose and a peacefulness, which had often eluded him in the past. She was his, plain and simple.

As his hands circled her waist to lift her in the carriage, she found a comfort in knowing that such a simple touch was now allowed, was favored, and was more than anticipated. She found not only a comfort, but also peacefulness, wish she had rarely felt any other time in her life. She had always lacked purpose before this. She had often felt restless, and overly aware. She knew in that instant when she became his wife that she belonged there by his side. He sat beside her on the seat, as if to emphasis that point. He smiled down at her, and this time she reached for his hand, and brought it to her mouth to kiss. He belonged to her, now and forever.

They drove to Potter's Hall, for a wedding reception. They could have apparated, or walked, but he wanted the first few moments of wedded bliss to be just the two of them. He said, "Remember the time at the Manor, when I begged you to say my name? I said that one word would give me comfort."

"I recall. You asked me to call you Draco," she reminisced.

"I have a new request," he stated. She looked over at him. He said, "I want you to once more utter one word to me, one name, one command, and then if I should die before the light of day, I should die a happy man."

She said, "Will the dramatics never cease? You will not die before you wake, however, I will oblige your request. What is the one word you wish for me to speak?"

"Husband," he said to her.

He stopped the carriage. She placed a lace-gloved hand against his rough cheek, leaned toward him, and said, "Husband."

"Wife," he said back.

Those were the only words they ever needed. It was right.

After the reception, and the gaiety of the event was over and done, he escorted her to her new home. As they walked up the stairs, he said, "It is customary for husband and wife to have separate bedchambers, so I had your things put in the room next to mine. However, it is my hope that tradition aside; you will share my room, as you share my name, and will soon share my bed. I understand if that is not to your liking." She thought he seemed nervous as to what her response would be.

"I assumed we would share a room. If I ever need peace and solitude, I am sure I could find one place in this massive home where I might seek solace. Pray tell, Lord Malfoy, how many rooms are in the home?" she inquired.

He liked that she called it a home. He said, "By Jove, I do not recall." He was telling the truth. She laughed.

"How can that be? How do you not know how many rooms you have?" she asked.

"I will tell you what, Lady Malfoy, after we have had a proper wedding night, and we return from our honeymoon, we will set out and count them all. We will make an adventure out of it. Of course, with your terrible sense of direction, you will undoubtedly become lost." He stopped walking, as they had come to the double doors of his bedchamber.

"It is a good thing that you taught me Apparition. If I become lost, I shall apparate back to a familiar room," she said. She leaned against his chest. He placed his arms around her.

"You could always send out your patronus. I could follow it back to you," he said. He kissed the top of her head.

"Harry looked sad tonight," she suddenly said.

He stroked her back and said, "I thought he looked at peace. I dare say that he seemed attentive to Lady Pansy."

"I have nothing to say on that matter," Hermione laughed. She did not really like or dislike Lady Pansy, but if her BROTHER liked her, that was all that mattered.

"Shall we?" he asked. He pointed toward the double doors with his head.

She seemed resigned and nervous. He took her hand and she was shaking. He said, "I am not leading you to the gallows."

"More like a firing squad," she said.

That made him laugh, and he was sure she did not know why he laughed so hard at her statement, but deuce it all, she was a funny little thing. He led her in the room, shut the door, and took her hand again. He walked with her to the center of the large room.

He took off her bonnet and shawl. He even peeled her gloves, one at a time, from her arms. She was still shivering. It was summer, so he knew she was not cold. He removed his jacket, and unbuttoned his waistcoat. He took her chin between his thumb and forefinger and said, "You know I shall never hurt you, do you not?"

"I know, Sir," she said.

"It is not, Sir, any longer. Nor shall I call you, Miss. We shall find forms of endearment for each other. You pick one for me first," he said. He placed his hands on his hips.

She seemed really to give it some thought. She even circled him, which he thought was beyond amusing. She said, "I like, Sir." She laughed to show she was joking. She finally stood in front of him, and said, "I want to call you beloved."

"But that is my name for you, so you must pick another," he said.

"You have no reservations on the name. You told me to pick first, and I picked, Beloved."

"No, it will not do for us to pick the same name, Hermione. It would be awkward. Try another name on for size," he said.

She sat on the edge of his bed, crossed her legs, and a look of concentration graced her features, but the only thing he noticed was that SHE SAT ON HIS BED!

"I shall call you Lord Malfoy the Arrogant," she finally revealed.

He approached her slowly, with an absolute leer on his face, and said, "You shall have Beloved for me, and I shall call you Evil One."

She stood up suddenly and said, "Wait! That is a good one for you!"

He pulled her to him, and said, "What shall I do with you?"

"Love me," she said.

"I already do," he said back. She started to breath hard again. The merriment from the moment before already lost, as she again became preoccupied with the wedding night. He started to sway back and forth with her. He said, "Shall we dance first. That might remove your jitters."

"Dance?" she asked.

"Yes, will you dance with your husband, Hermione?" he asked.

"There is no music," she said.

"That is easily fixed," he said. He took his wand out of his pocket and pointed it toward a music box. The lid opened, and music began to float along the air, all around them. He threw his wand on the bed. "I mean to teach you a new dance; you always seem so receptive to learning."

She took two steps backwards from him. He reached for her. He approached her as if she were a scared animal. He decided to keep talking, so he said, "It is called the waltz." He finally reached her and he took her hand. "It is all the rave among the fashionable ton in Muggle London. Have you heard of it?"

"I admit, I have not," she said. She was beginning to relax.

He said, "In this dance, the man and the woman dance together, in each other's arms, throughout the entire dance." He raised one eyebrow and he said, "Is that not disreputable?"

"Admittedly so, but I have never been one to shy away from scandal," she said.

"True," he agreed. "Place your left hand on my shoulder, Hermione," he instructed, taking the last step needed to be close enough to dance. She placed her hand on his bare shirtsleeve, no coat encumbering her, the feel of silk delicious beneath her touch. He placed his right hand on her waist, more intimately than he ever had before, now that he called her wife. She cocked her head to the side to look at said hand, and he said, "My hand is needed at your waist or back to guide you. It is the custom of the dance."

He explained, "Now, take you right hand and place it in my left." She did as instructed, and he held their arms upright. He started to move around the room, gracefully, and she met him step for step. He marveled at how she was a fast learner at everything he taught her.

As he continued to move them around the room, the sun was setting, and the curtains were open to show a pinkish hue to the sky, which wafted through the room, casting them in a soft, glowing light. It was an awakening to their souls. Bathed in the soft light of twilight, it seemed apropos that as this day ended, it would indubitably be followed by a new one tomorrow. It was as if this chapter of their life was ending, to be followed by a new, better one tomorrow.

It was as it should be.

He said, "You are a good student. You have seemed to have picked this up most nicely." He continued his gentle swaying and circling, giving her a sense of security. He pulled her tighter; he could feel her breasts pressed against his chest.

"You are a good teacher," she said, finally finding her voice.

"That goes without saying, you must remember that," he said. He had so many other things to teach her.

He twirled and twirled her around and around. When the song ended, as it must, he kept her in his arms. No longer moving, her head on his chest and her arms around his neck, he said, "May I teach you something else?" He asked it so softly. He felt her head nod. "Look at me, Hermione."

She looked up into his eyes.

"I want to teach you the way a man and a woman show physical love to each other. Remember, I shall never hurt you. You believe that, do you not?"

A single nod of her head.

"Are you frightened?"

Another nod.

"Of me?"

A shake of the head. He took that to mean no.

"Of consummating our union?"

A nod and a glance to the floor.

He lifted her face to his and said, "I shall be a kind and generous lover. I will teach you the way to love much as I taught you everything else, with patience, and kindness. Do you not trust me?"

"It is not a matter of trust, Draco," she started, "My mother explained to me once that the with the act of making love, the woman can sometimes experiences pain the first time."

"I would not wish to cause you pain," he said, "but neither will I lie to you. Sometimes it is painful; nevertheless, the pain will not last, and will seem inconsequential compared to the passion."

He guided her to the bed. He turned her around and proceeded to unbutton her outer dress. When he finished, he left it on her shoulders. She turned back toward him. At least she seemed a willing student, if not a willing participant at yet. He wished she were a bit more eager and earnest to learn this, as she was with other things, but he knew that would come with time.

He started to remove all the hairpins from her perfectly styled hair. He deposited pin after pin into his open hand. When he finished, he placed them on the dresser, and then walked back over and combed his fingers through her luscious, honey brown, tresses. He walked back over to the dresser, removed his cravat, his watch fob and watch, and his waistcoat. He slipped his shirt over his head, and let it fall aimlessly to the floor at their feet. He put both hands on her face, leaned in, kissed her, and then his hands traveled down her face, to her neck and then to her shoulders. He slipped her dress down her body, where it too, fell to the floor.

She stood in a light corset over a chemise, and her stockings and small shoes, and he thought she looked more desirable than if she had on nothing at all. He removed his own shoes, and walked over to her. Her corset was laced in the front, so he proceeded to untie it at the bottom, and he pulled the laced though the hole, as if he was unwrapping a present. When it was loose, he slid it down her body, and she stepped out of it accordingly. That left only her light chemise, which was more of a shift. He could almost make out her naked body under the light cotton undergarment.

He got down on his knees, and lifted one leg. He placed her foot on his leg, removed the small silk shoe, and reached under her shift to touch the top of her white stocking. He rolled it down slowly, her skin like silk under his fingertips. He never took his eyes off hers.

He repeated the gesture to the other foot and leg, removing its shoe and stocking. He bent his head to kiss her knee. He stood back up, drawing her intimately into his arms. He placed his mouth upon hers, opening it, entering his tongue, and circling her tongue with his. He kissed the long column of neck leading to the hallow of her throat. He kissed the exposed skin at the top of the chemise and he gently brought his hand up to mold it to her breasts, where through the thin material under his hand he felt her returned desire.

He burned with want for his wife. He continued to kiss her, as her arms went tightly around his neck. When she started to rain kisses against his jaw and neck, he became unbridled with his own passion. He had to have her now, yet he had to show caution. If he lost her respect, he would lose her forever. He promised not to hurt her or cause her pain, and he promised that she would enjoy this, and damnation, he was a man of his word.

He removed her shift and in that moment, she was naked before him, though the room was now mostly dark. He thought she was the loveliest thing he had ever seen, long legs and arms, beautiful round breasts, a slight swell of abdomen, slight hips, and he was in awe. He drew is a slow, steady breath.

He removed the rest of his clothing, and said, "Sit on the bed." She sat on the bed, and he placed his hands on her shoulders, dipped his head, and kissed her mouth once more. She closed her eyes, and her cheeks pinked, at the fact that he was unclothed, and she was unclothed, and what was about to happen next. She was breathing so hard that he was slightly alarm. He sat beside her and took her hand. "Are you ready?"

This time, instead of a nod, she said, "Oh, yes, Draco."

He pulled down the covers and walked back to the end of the bed. To her surprise, he picked her up and walked with her to the side of the large bed. He placed her on the turned down bed, and came to lie beside her. He leaned over, kissed her lips again, and placed his hand on her bare stomach. She tried to reach for the coverings, but he would not let her cover them. It would serve no purpose and such modesty need not exist between them.

While he continued to kiss her, his hands started to move all over her body, touching her, fondling her, arousing her. Then, true to his brave, earnest wife's reputation of fearlessness in the face of learning something new, she reached down and touched him, lightly and hesitantly. He was enraptured.

They made love, in a blinding, epic, battle of her will against his will, with the winner of the battle never determined, as it was a draw. He probed, she scratched, he rolled to his back, and she rolled to hers. She spread her legs without further ado, and they came together, hard muscle over soft flesh, hips and legs entwined and pressed together.

If he caused her pain, she did not show it. He felt an urgency, as his heartbeat so loudly, like a drum in his ears, yet he had to slow himself. He knew it would not do if she did not enjoy it. It would jade her to their future prospects. He wanted nothing to ruin the first time, or any future lovemaking.

He moved with slow, deliberate, long strokes for as long as he could. She began to make small noises, so he knew it was time to quicken his pace and deepen his strokes. When she began to raise her hips and meet him thrust to thrust, his control finally slipped, and he felt a passion that closely resembled pain.

Her arms tightened around him and she threw her head back on the pillow. All he could think was, 'Please, please, Hermione, find your release so I may find mine', and she did, and so did he, and so they did together.

When she was finally silent underneath him, he rolled to the side. His hand went possessively to her breast, and he pulled her yielding, willing body to him. He kissed her mouth and said, "Well, my dear wife, what did you think of our first lesson?"

"I think it was a very fine lesson indeed, although I am sure I still have much to learn," she said.

He laughed. She was a funny thing, after all.

He finally slept, after long hours of talking, and then making love twice more, each time, taking it a step further. She did have a lot to learn, but he did seem a good teacher, after all. She felt warm and safe in his embrace, but she longed to do something. She had wanted to do it at the beginning of the day, but she was so busy getting ready for the wedding, she had not had time. She slipped from his embrace, removing his arm from her body, and tiptoed from the bed. She found her shift, placed it back over her body, and went to the room next door, where she knew she would find her belongings. She found her wand in her trunk, and lit the sconces on the walls, and the candles by the bed. She went back to her trunks, found Lily's letter, sat on the made bed and began to read.

Draco awoke, and panic immediately hit him, like a blow to his stomach. Where was his wife? He still felt their happiness and togetherness was precarious at best, perhaps it was still too close to him having almost lost her, and perhaps that was what caused his panic. He climbed from their marriage bed, placed his pants over his body, they hung lightly on his hips, and he walked to the other room, where he found her on her side, huddled in a ball, on the bed, crying.

His heart broke for her, and he did not know why. Just seeing her in so much distressed caused him pain. He ran to her side, sat next to her on the made bed, and stroked her arm. Was this pain borne of their lovemaking? What was causing this reaction?

"What is wrong, beloved?" he asked. He leaned down and kissed her shoulder. He pulled her up to sit across his lap, and stroked her arms and hair, as a parent does to a frightened child. He saw the piece of parchment in her hand. He understood. She had read her mother Lily's letter. He had already read it, the night she was rescued, shortly after Lord Potter read it. It was a heartbreaking account of a mother's love and a mother's loss, and a mother regret for her only daughter.

"I am so sorry this letter has upset you," he cooed softly in her ear.

"She loved me, she really did. It was easier thinking that she did not. It was easier assuming that it meant nothing to her to give me away. It was easier to believe her thoughts never went to me. Now, I know she paid the ultimate price. It was easier to hate her, and blame her, for being weak and choosing her husband over her child, but I cannot hate her, no matter how much I want to. She was a human being, with human frailties and human emotions, and she was not perfect, she made mistakes, but she never once believed me to be one of them." She continued to cry. He rocked her back and forth.

"Is it not better not to hate her any longer?" he asked. "You started with hate for me, and now you love me, is that not better?"

She looked up at him and oddly enough, she smiled. "You silly, silly, man. I do not think I ever hated you. From that moment you walked into the mercantile talking with Nott about dueling with a man who insulted your elf made Hessian boots, I think I loved you."

"And when you lost your hat, and then your book, or was it the book first and then the hat? Well, no matter, but that was when I knew I could not live without you. I wanted to forget about you. I wanted to say, 'good riddance', but damn it all to hell, I wanted to love you more," he declared. He scooted from the bed, and lifted her in his arms. "Let us go back to our room. I want to fall asleep with you in my arms." He carried her back to 'their' room and placed her on the bed. He climbed in beside her.

She said, "Do you think we could commission someone to paint portraits of Lily and Sirius, just as you had the portraits painted of my other parents?"

"We shall have new, large portraits, done of all four, and they will hang wherever you want them to hang. I only want to make you happy," he said, kissing her cheek.

She placed her hand on his cheek and said, "Then you have done a job well done, for I am blissfully happy."

"And you have returned the favour, for I, too, am blissfully happy, and it is all due to a little Muggle born country girl named Hermione Granger Potter Black Malfoy."

She laughed. "Just Malfoy, which is the only name I need."

"It is the only name I want you to have," he said. "Well, except for one more. Shall I say it again?"

"If you do, I shall," she said.

"Wife," he said.

"Husband," she returned.

Their titles were no longer just Arrogant and Ignorant, they were now so much more, and always would be. Therefore, that makes this …The End.

(Coming up: Nothing more, it pains me to say!)

Thanks to my Beta in this story, justlooney. Thanks to all your wonderful reviews and PM's. Just Thank You to everyone!! Enough said!