Author's Note: One last look at the blog for photos from this chapter! Now to business...
Thank you all SO MUCH for your continued support! I never would have had the motivation to get through this story without you guys. Your constant reviews were always wonderful and I can't believe that at the finish of this story it has over 40,000 hits! You guys are so great. :3 I should be starting on another story soon... though it might be Hermione/Harry. I've written so many Dramiones...
Either way, be on the lookout, and THANK YOU AGAIN! :D
(PS - yes, that does mean this is the last chapter, at that Faith has officially come to a close.)
August 15 dawned warm and humid – Hermione had expected no less from the late summer weather – but she was pleased to see that there were no clouds in the sky and no threat of rain to ruin her outdoor wedding.
Her wedding where she would become Mrs. Hermione Malfoy…
She sighed as she looked over to find herself alone. She and Draco had agreed that they would sleep separately the previous night so that they could go the entire day without ever setting eyes on each other. Dmitry would look after Hermione and help her get ready and Davius would look after Scorpius. Draco, of course, didn't need looking after.
Hermione took a moment while she lay in bed to reflect on the dramatic turns her life had undergone since early April when she had first come to the manor…
"Draco, please understand… I had him in bed at 7:30, truly, but when the storm came he was frightened and came to me for comfort…"
"You should have sent him straight back to bed."
"Draco?" she said tentatively.
"Oh! Well, you see, I was trying to figure out the most delicate way to tell you that you had a bit of chocolate on the corner of your mouth…" As he said it, he leaned over toward her and wiped the tiny bit of mousse off with his thumb. "…but I figured it was best if I just didn't say anything and took care of it myself."
"I think you and I both know that this is more than just a job for you…"
Hermione was silent, not wanting the conversation to come to this.
"In fact, I think we know that you're more than just an employee to me…" he added, taking another step closer to her.
Hermione felt like her heart might beat right out of her chest. Surely he could hear it, feel it, it was practically shaking the room…
"So who were you talking to?" Scorpius asked.
"I was having an argument with two owls that decided to pay me a visit this morning," Hermione explained.
"Owls? Father's owls?" Scorpius asked. She chuckled.
"No, dear. Owls that belong to my friends. They've written me some letters that I have to reply to later today."
"Draco!" the woman cried. Her voice was delicate and smooth. "You did not tell me he spoke français…" Hermione detected a slight French accent and realized that the woman was French. No wonder Draco had wanted her to focus on Scorpius's French lessons…
"I wanted it to be a surprise," he smiled. He looked at Hermione. "Hermione, Scorpius, this is ma petite amie, Michelle."
"Good night, Hermoine," he said. Then he leaned down and kissed her lightly on the cheek before walking out of the room.
She closed her eyes and touched the spot on her cheek where he'd kissed her with two delicate fingers.
"Good night…" she whispered, as she opened her eyes again.
"You are an excellent dancer," Draco said. He stepped closer to her again. Hermione's breath quickened.
"Thank you… as are you…"
"Thank you," he answered. They were silent.
"I look forward to many more dances with you when you join the party," he said. And then did the unthinkable.
He leaned forward and planted a soft, tender kiss on her lips.
"It's very obvious, you know," she said.
"I'm sorry?" Hermione asked, afraid of what Michelle might be referring to.
"He loves you."
"He… who… what?" Hermione asked incredulously.
"Draco. He loves you."
"Michelle… No, I'm sorry, but I'm afraid he simply does not…"
"How do you feel about Malfoy?"
She answered with pensive silence.
"I… Harry, I just don't know…"
"Well. Do you honestly think he does love you?"
"No," she answered quickly.
"You've actually returned just in time for the news, both of you," Draco said, walking back up on the patio steps toward Michelle. He took her hand and helped her to her feet.
"As of this morning, Michelle and I are engaged to be married."
"I was actually planning on a Confundus charm—" but she was cut off by the striking feeling of his lips on hers.
This was no quick kiss like down on the patio and not a tender kiss like the night by the bookshelf. This was hot, passionate, and needy. Every careful barrier Hermione had been constructing since that afternoon toppled before her. She let him in easily, kissing him back with everything she had, hoping in vain that this was perhaps his way of telling her that Michelle was nothing to him, that he was going to send her packing… She clutched at his shirt while his hands ran through her hair and he pressed himself against her…
And then, quite suddenly, he pulled away, leaving them both out of breath.
"This was my grandmother's," he began, "but it will have to do until I can buy you your own…" he said. He then opened the box to reveal a stunning one carat marquis cut diamond surrounded by what seemed like dozens of smaller diamonds. It had to be at least half a century old.
"Hermione Granger, you are everything I could ever want in a wife and so much more, and I can't believe I was too blind to see it before. Will you do me the great honor of making me your husband?"
"Draco…" she said softly. "Look…"
He looked down at her stomach and his eyebrows went sky high.
"Draco… I'm pregnant…"
"Nope, she's never coming back." Hermione smiled.
"But… I thought she was to marry father?" he asked. Hermione beamed.
"She was, Scorpius, but then she and your father decided that it was better if he married someone else…" she began. She paused and he was shaking from the suspense.
"Who?" he demanded.
"Well…" she paused again. "Me."
She smiled to herself and slowly rose out of bed, trying to keep her stomach from getting upset. She dearly hoped that the morning sickness wouldn't take over her today…
It was unbelievable to her that she and Draco had gone through so much in so short a time… and yet it seemed like it had been ages. She almost couldn't remember what life had been like before she'd come to Malfoy Manor. All she knew now was her love for Scorpius, her love for Draco, and her love for their unborn baby girl.
She had hardly made it two steps from her bed when Dmitry appeared by her side. She jumped a little but managed to maintain her composure.
"Good morning, Dmitry," she said, smiling at him. He smiled back.
"Is the mademoiselle all ready to become a madame?" he asked slyly.
"Quite ready," Hermione replied, and Dmitry set to work on helping her get ready in any possible way he was needed.
It took the better part of the day to get Hermione entirely ready, but by 4:30 she was holding her breath as Dmitry zipped up her dress for her. It was a stunning light ivory and strapless with a beaded bodice embedded with crystal. The skirt was bustled and also bedecked with beads and crystals. The train, which Dmitry had bustled for her for the moment, was long and full. Hermione's heart was all a flutter as she stepped into her dainty ivory shoes.
"Mademoiselle," said Dmitry, giving her a once over and smiling brightly, "You look simply stunning."
"Thank you, Dmitry," she said. "The ceremony starts at five… I suppose we should start heading down to the back doors…"
"Oui, oui, mademoiselle," Dmitry agreed, and he helped her out of her room and down the grand staircase. The French doors were covered in green fabric so no one could see in or out, and Hermione stood by these nervously.
"Your bouquet, mademoiselle," Dmitry said gently, and handed her a stunning bunch of white roses painted with silver glitter. Hermione smiled and looked up at him.
"You will be just fine," Dmitry said. "Ah! Here is the young master!"
Hermione looked over to see Davius and Scorpius making their way towards them. Scorpius looked absolutely adorable in a black tuxedo and bow tie. In his hands he carried a small pillow, on top of which resided the wedding rings.
"Scorpius!" cried Hermione. "You look so handsome!"
Suddenly, Hermione heard music coming from the gardens. She looked at Dmitry.
"Tis time, mademoiselle!" he said, and smiled as he opened the door for Scorpius. Scorpius smiled wide as he stepped out and plodded slowly down the aisle, holding up his pillow as if it were the greatest task ever given him in his life. Dmitry closed the door behind him.
Hermione and Draco had opted for a small wedding with no bridal party, so she was to follow Scorpius as soon as the music changed…
Speaking of which, she thought as she heard the tone of the music slow. Her stomach lurched and she couldn't decide if it was morning sickness or nerves as Dmitry and Davius each took hold of one of the French doors and pulled them open slowly, finally revealing the back gardens to Hermione…
…and Hermione to Draco.
Draco felt his breath catch and his heart stop. Every other time he had thought her beautiful paled in comparison to this moment.
Her dress was stunningly gorgeous – so elegant, so formal… her hair was curled elaborately and set perfectly… the jewelry she wore sparkled in the sunlight… and her features were more perfect than he had ever seen them…
She was so beautiful, and she was soon to be his…
Hermione saw the expression on his face as soon as the doors opened and felt her stomach lurch a little more. There was no mistaking that expression. It was clearly the most complimentary look of admiration he had ever given her… She couldn't help giving him one in return. He looked dashingly handsome in a black and white tuxedo… he wore black pants with a white shirt, jacket, and vest. A black tie completed the outfit, along with those same forty galleon shoes. A white rose was pinned to his lapel and his cufflinks, Hermione was sure, were made of platinum and diamond.
It took a gentle nudge from Dmitry to get her to actually start walking down the aisle, taking her last steps as Hermione Granger.
Long and loud.
"Just a little more, Hermione, you can do it…"
She wanted her wand. Desperately. For the sole purpose of cursing the blasted Healer that was standing between her legs.
How might he feel if he were in an extreme amount of pain, and she told him to push a little harder?
"Hermione…" murmured Draco beside her. "We're almost there, just a few more…"
Draco voice was only slightly more comforting and she gripped his hand tightly as another wave of pain came over her. It had been six hours – six long, God-awful hours – that she'd been in labor, and she'd spent five and a half of them wondering why wizards had not yet come up with ways to evade birthing pains.
"Push, Hermione, push!" cried the Healer desperately. Hermione took a deep breath in and did as she was told, yelling again. Her body was coated in sweat and she was so tired, so achy…
"One more, just one more, come on, Hermione…" said the Healer again. Hermione put every last ounce of remaining energy she had into that last push and, quite suddenly, felt relief.
She gasped for air as the Healer rushed out of the room. In the few moments he was gone, Draco kissed her cheeks, neck, and lips as he stroked her hair.
"You were wonderful, Hermione, you were so strong…"
She panted in reply.
"I love you, Hermione," he whispered, and she finally found the energy to half-heartedly kiss him back.
"I love you, too, Draco…" she said. Her voice was hoarse from all the screaming. Draco looked up suddenly when the door opened and he walked over to meet the Healer, who was holding a pink bundle in his arms.
"A baby girl, Mr. Malfoy," he said to him. "You must be so happy."
Draco carefully took the pink wrapped blanket from the Healer's arms and stared down into the face of his little girl.
She had inherited his blonde hair… it was thin and fine and almost barely noticeable on top of her head…
She then squirmed in his arms a little and blearily opened her eyes just a smidgen… and Draco saw Hermione's eyes staring back at him.
A blonde haired, brown eyed, beautiful baby girl…
"Draco," came Hermione's voice, and he turned around and walked over to her.
"She's beautiful," he murmured, and slowly lowered the bundle into Hermione's waiting arms. She looked down at her and immediately forgot all the pain, all the aches, all the work… all she knew was that the tiny little baby she held in her arms was hers… hers and Draco's… their own precious little girl.
"Born at 10:08 pm on the evening of March the fifteeth, two thousand and six," the Healer was saying. "What shall I write for her name, Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy?"
Hermione didn't look away from her daughter's eyes as she answered.
"Cassiopeia Aurora Malfoy."
"Well?" asked Draco impatiently when Hermione looked up to him from the parchment she held in her hands.
She smiled brilliantly.
Draco stared a moment before reacting.
"Ravenclaw!" he cried. Cassiopeia, who was sitting on his lap, squirmed at the noise. "So loud, Daddy…" she complained.
"Daddy apologizes, dear," Hermione said, for Draco was still fuming. Cassiopeia smiled at Hermione. She was four now and Hermione could hardly believe it. She was growing like a weed and her hair was now long and curling itself into ringlets. It was still that famous light blonde, but it was thickening.
"I can't believe my son was sorted into Ravenclaw," Draco muttered.
"Draco, you can't say you weren't expecting it," Hermione reminded him. "He has always shown a high aptitude in learning."
Draco was silent.
"Perhaps this is the beginning of a new tradition for the Malfoy family," Hermione said gently.
"Every Malfoy has always been sorted into Slytherin regardless of skill or intelligence," Draco said. "I don't understand how the Sorting Hat could have read Scorpius differently."
"He's Isabella's son too, remember," said Hermione quietly.
Draco thought for a moment.
"Isabella always was very smart," he conceded. "She was an extremely sharp witch."
"Well then. I suppose the sorting hat saw a little of Isabella in Scorpius and sorted him differently. There's nothing wrong with Ravenclaw, it's a highly respectable house."
Draco nodded, accepting defeat.
"I can't blame Scorpius for breaking family tradition. It's not his fault."
"I miss Scorpius," said Cassiopeia suddenly, snuggling into her father's chest.
"We miss him, too," said Draco. "But he'll be back at Christmas."
Cassiopeia looked up and smiled at him, then at Hermione.
"Christmas needs to come soon," she stated, and Draco and Hermione just smiled.
Draco walked into the foyer where his son stood, holding a letter.
"Is that what I think it is?" Draco demanded.
"I dunno, sure looks a lot like Cassy's handwriting…" Scorpius teased. He had just turned 18 and graduated from Hogwarts three months previously in June and had arranged an apprenticeship with a renowned potions master. Draco took a step towards him and Scorpius dashed out of the way.
"Mother! Cassy wrote us a letter!" Scorpius called, running up the stairs. Draco ran after him until he caught up to him in his and Hermione's bedroom.
"Let me see it!" Draco said, huffing. He wasn't as fit as he used to be.
"Draco, calm down, it's just a letter," Hermione said, and went to take it from Scorpius. He jerked it away.
"Nope!" he sang. "I'm going to read it."
Draco and Hermione just stared at him – Hermione with amusement, Draco with frustration – as Scorpius slit open the envelope, unfolded the parchment, and began reading:
"Dear Mum, Dad, and Scorpius,
I love Hogwarts! It's the most wonderful place I've ever been! The teachers are all wonderful and the food is just fantastic!
I was so scared on my first day! Being sorted was so nerve wracking! The hat was so big it fell over my eyes! It talked to me a very long time but eventually it decided to sort me into Gryffindor…"
Scorpius was forced to stop reading as Draco lunged forward and snatched the letter out of his hands. He skimmed over the letter until he found the treacherous line.
"Gryffindor! A Malfoy child is in Gryffindor!" he shouted, exasperated. He stared at Hermione. "This is all your fault," he accused, but Hermione could see a hint of a smile trying to sneak in at the corner of his mouth.
Scorpius, meanwhile, was grinning like an idiot and enjoying his father's misfortune.
"I take full responsibility," Hermione answered, grinning at Draco. He huffed.
"Thank God we didn't have another child or it might have been sorted into Hufflepuff…" he grumbled. Scorpius laughed and Hermione giggled as she walked over to Draco and kissed him.
"Ugh, Merlin, get a room…" Scorpius groaned.
"I believe we're in our room," Hermione said, smirking. "You're the one intruding."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever," said Scorpius and hurriedly left the room, closing the door behind him.
Draco stared at Hermione.
"She will be fine, Draco," Hermione assured him. "Gryffindor is a wonderful house full of warm and loyal people. She will be well taken care of."
"I suppose so…"
"I know so," she said. "Stop worrying."
And with that, she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him, just as content right then to be Hermione Malfoy as she had been over twelve years previously when she walked through the back gardens to meet him that August day.