It was said that Bellatrix, the last free Death Eater, had been backed into a corner by no less than eight Aurors before giving up. She went to trial and was sentenced to the Dementor's Kiss. Her soul was sucked out on a rainy Saturday morning. I walked out of the safe house the day after on a sunny Sunday afternoon. It had been seven months, one week, and four days since Harry Potter defeated Voldemort.

Kingsley came late that Sunday morning with the good news. As the new Minister of Magic, he also came bearing full pardons for the three of us so we could enter polite society with clean slates. My manor and all my possessions were fortunately not going to be caught up in some legal battle over my past alliances.

I scrambled to collect my possessions from all over the house and was waiting impatiently for Severus and Draco to join me outside so we could Portkey to my manor together. I was disappointed that the Portkey would bring us to my manor and not to Grimmauld Place where Hermione was. Our safe house must have been quite far from England if we couldn't just easily Apparate there.

We landed on my front lawn, which was surprisingly well-kept. I expected my manor to be in disrepair after being gone for so long.

Severus Apparated directly to Hogwarts from my front lawn. He hoped to find that he still had a job, even if it was just as a Potions professor again.

Draco and I entered the front hall. Again, I was surprised that everything was clean and in order. Even the things that I had placed into my Gringotts vault when Hermione and I were planning on fleeing were back in their original spots. It was like I had never left.

"The wards are still down," Draco commented absently.

"I guess we should put them up," I answered with a sigh.

As much as I wanted to rush to Grimmauld Place to see Hermione, putting the wards up was important. It would take five minutes and would ensure that the manor was safe. I found myself feeling a little paranoid being out in the open after so many months of living in a heavily warded safe house.

Draco and I stood back to back and reconstructed the wards that had been up before. As we finished the incantations, the wards alerted me to the fact that we weren't alone in the house. The hair at the back of my neck prickled in fear. Had one of the lesser Death Eaters that the Order deemed not a threat found his way into my house?

Draco, aware of our predicament, nodded over to the closed library door with the light of a fire flickering through the cracks around the door. We sidled over, put our backs against the wall, and blasted the door open. Simultaneously, we whipped around to face the room with our wands at the ready. The room was empty, but our clamor caused movement upstairs.

Silently, we made our way back into the foyer and pointed our wands to the top of the stairs. After a few moments, a head popped out from around the corner of the upstairs hallway. At its appearance, Draco snorted, put his wand away, and disappeared into the house.

I stood transfixed at the bottom of the stairs as Hermione gave a little squeal of happiness and flew down the stairs. She stopped on the last stair, suddenly unsure. Still, I could only just stand there and stare at her.

"I hope you don't mind," she said nervously, "I've been living here for weeks now. The House-elves helped me get the manor back together for you. You don't mind, do you? Lucius? Say something…"

I slowly pocketed my wand and reached out to touch her face. Her eyes fluttered closed as I traced my thumb down the curve of her cheek. "I've missed you so," I whispered. "I'm having trouble believing this is real."

Her hand covered mine. "It's real. I'm here. You're here." She opened her eyes and stared into mine.

I pulled her off the last stair and held her against me. Her lips sought mine and we kissed. It was slow, languid, exploratory. After so long, it was like we had to rediscover each other. Heat blossomed through my chest as I realized we never had to part again if we didn't want to.

I broke off the kiss to reassure myself that it really was her and I wasn't just imagining it. Her eyes were moist with emotion as I ran my hands over her face and through her hair again and again. I couldn't get enough of her. It was like I hadn't breathed in forever and my body couldn't get enough of the refreshing oxygen that was Hermione.

"I love you, Lucius Malfoy," she murmured into my chest as I crushed her to me again.

I kissed the top of her head. "I love you, too. I could never find the words to tell you how much I love you."

"Just hearing it from your lips is enough for me." She pulled back to give me a dazzling smile.

One Year Later

A piercing wail woke me up. Hermione shifted next to me and I felt the bed dip as she got out of bed to pick up the infant that was crying in the bassinette across the room. Our son instantly quieted as he was picked up by his mother and brought into our bed. Hermione settled him between us. He gave one more little, pathetic whimper before drifting off to sleep again.

"Shh, Thomas," Hermione cooed as she curled around him.

"Have you finally settled on Thomas as the name or are you just trying it out?" I asked, my voice thick with sleep.

"I like Thomas. What do you think?"

"It's ok. I just don't like your reasoning behind naming him Thomas."

"Well, if it weren't for a certain Tom, then we wouldn't have gotten together to have our son," Hermione retorted, leaning over to place a soft kiss on my temple.

"Yes, that's true, but there's no need to name him after that certain Tom."

"I think it's a nice way to bring our story full-circle," Hermione said as she laid her head on my shoulder so our bodies made a cocoon around the baby. "We get a chance to raise this Tom in a loving, happy household and see that he becomes a good person."

I sighed. "It's morbid and Voldemort was a part of our lives that I'd rather forget, but you know I can't deny you anything."

"Did you hear that, Thomas? Daddy let me get my way again." Thomas yawned and stretched in his sleep.

I stroked Hermione's hair and then laid my hand at the top of my son's tiny head. "You should get some sleep before his next feeding," I suggested.

"I can't sleep."

"All new mothers have some anxiety the first night they bring the baby home…" I started.

"No, it's not that. I mean, it's part that, but I don't want to close my eyes and wake up to find this is all a dream. I want to lie here with my husband and my baby and just bask in my happiness." She leaned up on her elbow to look me in the eye. "I am ever so happy, Lucius."

"Me too." I settled her back down against my shoulder and kissed the top of her head.

And I was. I still am. I don't think I could be happier. My darkest moments brought the most amazing person into my life. My mistakes brought me to the light. Hermione rebuilt my soul and gave me the greatest gifts of all: love and the ability to love back. She also gave me Thomas. And later she gave me Bella (who Hermione insists is not named after Bellatrix, but after the reason behind Thomas's name, I am not so sure…).

Would I change anything in the past? I wish I could change some things, but I don't know if I'd actually go through with it if I had the chance. Because who knows where I'd be without the bad choices I have made? No, I wouldn't trade my downfall for anything in the world. It got me to this moment. It got me here.