This is it, the final chapter of With you in my Arms. It hasn't been always easy to write this fanfic, but I always enjoyed reading all your comments.
It took me a year and four months to write this story and it's the longest story I've written so far.
But without further ado...
Enjoy and please review the Epilogue to With you in my Arms.
"Why do I have to wear a bow tie? Nobody nowadays wears..."
"You, young man, are not just anybody. You are a Malfoy and Malfoys are not known for just not bothering to put a bit of extra effort in."
Scorpius looked at the stern face of his mother. He had learnt early on that it was futile to try and argue with her once she had made up her mind. Holding up tradition was very important for her. He had never fully understood why both his parents were rather protective of what they called the good that survived. He reckoned that it must have to do with the war both of them had experienced while growing up. He had of course heard all the stories about uncle Harry and what he had been destined to do.
Giving his parent his best puppy face with a sad smile he made one last desperate attempt at not having to wear the bow tie with his dress robes. He could have saved himself the effort. She just looked at him. She gave him the look. He sighed.
"Fine, I'll wear it."
His reward was a warm smile from his mother.
"Lea, have you seen my..."
Both mother and son turned as Draco Malfoy entered the room. He was wearing black dress robes, his white-blond hair was still sporting a tousled look and the glance he directed at his wife could have melted stone.
Scorpius groaned. He knew how much his parents loved each other, but having the empathic abilities and connection to his parents that he had made it sometimes a bit hard for him to ignore what was going on in their heads. Like just now.
"Dad! Please! I'm still in the room."
Draco smirked at his son.
"Having been slacking of with your Occlumency training again, hm?" was all he said as he walked over to his wife and kissed her tenderly on the cheek.
"Where are my green cufflinks?"
"In the bathroom." she answered with a smile.
Scorpius was always surprised how gentle his parents would interact with each other when they were alone. He also was more often than not caught out and didn't get his mental shields up fast enough.
He blushed and knew that he needed to practise more. It was okay here at home, but at school it could be quite overpowering having to try to drown out all those thoughts and minds around him. His mother had charmed a ring for him when he was about three years old which he had been using to shield himself ever since, but lately he had stopped wearing it all the time. There had been a discussion between him and his parents about this. They had been concerned, but Scorpius had said he needed to be able to control his ability without any help.
Of course he hadn't told them the true reason for his decision, Lilly.
Lilly was a year younger than him and he had known her all his life as she was the daughter of his godmother, but over the past year he had started to develop a renewed interest in her. The long black hair and deep brown eyes were doing things to him lately he wasn't quite sure how to handle. Listening in on her thoughts had told him that he wasn't just like any other guy for her either.
"Reality to Scorpius, do you read me?" his mother's voice interrupted his musings.
She gave him a strange look, straightened his father's tie and then headed for the door.
"I expect you both to be ready and downstairs in ten."
As she closed the door behind herself Draco took a step closer to his son.
Looking up he could see something in his father's eyes he had never seen there before and for some strange reason he couldn't read him either. He frowned.
"There has been a time when my life depended on my skills in Occlumency. I can shield my mind from you, if I have to. It was never necessary in the past and will probably never be necessary in the future either, but..., "he lay his hands on Scorpius shoulders, "I can do it, if I have to."
The sombre mood engulfing them told the younger Malfoy that he better pay attention.
"I have grown up in this house. I have been living here when the ultimate evil in form of Voldemort was residing here. I saw your mother being tortured in the sealed dining room. The horrors in my life are plenty and varied, but in the end I was rewarded for all the struggles. It took me only one night to win your mother. Though I had to do the most difficult thing I've ever done, I had to surrender to her. I gave up everything I had the moment before I spoke to her."
What was he trying to say?
"It hasn't been easy to forge a relationship with her. She didn't want to speak to me for two months after our Graduation Party. She was afraid of what I might do or say. For all she knew it could have been one big prank."
"Some prank." Scorpius muttered.
"You have no idea what our day to day encounters had been like in the past. I have been horrible to her. I called her names, I played tricks on her and sought to get her, Harry and Ron into trouble."
"It's save to say you weren't friends then."
"We were anything but. Though that changed when we re-did our last year at Hogwarts. I changed and so did she."
For a moment the younger of the two wizards was wondering, if he was going to get the talk form his dad. He had heard from some of his classmates about it. Shuddering he turned his attention back to his father.
"...I was at one point stupid enough to try and go back to my old ways, I abandoned the path of being honest to her and it nearly cost me everything. Don't make the same mistake, son."
"Why would I..."
"I see you getting all tongue-tied and flustered when Lilly is close, I've also noticed that you don't wear your ring any longer when she's around and what about the letters you've been hiding in the secret compartment in your desk. Scorpius, you're no longer a little boy."
"I know that, dad."
"Then I hope you also know that, if you don't fight for the girl you love..."
"Dad! I don't..." he didn't get to say anything more as his father just held his hand over his mouth.
"Scorpius, if you like Lilly, tell her."
The pale skin of the younger wizard became even paler.
"I could never do that!" he was horrified. His father might have been brave enough to abandon reason and talk to his mother, but that didn't mean he had the same courage.
With trepidation in his voice he finally asked, "What, if she doesn't like me? What, if she laughs at me? She and the other girls at school will be making fun of me."
"What have you seen in her mind? Does she indeed not care for you?"
His face went from pale to pink.
"Listen to me, son, there is only one way to win and also keep a girl, honesty."
"You think I should tell her?"
To show the deep love he felt for his first born Draco leant down and kissed his forehead.
"Yes, son, I think you should talk to her."
The ball was in full swing when Ginny met Hermione at the buffet. She could see that her friend had a very good time and she could understand it only too well as she was here with her own husband and three children. A smile played around her lips as she thought of the wizard in her life. There time together hadn't been easy, but he had been determined to not give up on her.
"I don't know, if we'll be having something as grant as this when we have our wedding anniversary." she said lightly.
Hermione turned towards her with a smile.
"Believe me, Ginny, if you're having just a nice meal and no fuzz it'll be absolutely fine. You have no idea what I had to go through in order to keep the house elves happy, to keep my mother-in-law happy and to keep society happy. If I don't have to have another ball this century I'd be quite happy.
Ginny laughed. She knew that her friend would have loved to just go for a meal in a nice restaurant with the family and close friends, but that wasn't supposed to be adequate for a fifteenth wedding anniversary in the Malfoy family.
"So, where are Olli and Vince hiding? I haven't seen them since we arrived and to have the mini versions of Fred and George on the loose in the Manor isn't a scenario I'm totally comfortable with."
Hermione grinned at her friend.
"One of the house elves found them outside in the broom shed a while ago."
"Don't worry. Jana has everything under control."
"I swear, sometimes I feel like strangling that husband of mine for lumbering me with his brood."
This was answered with loud laughter.
"Mum! Mum! Scop has been sneaking out off his bedroom and in now in Lilly's."
It was Ginny's turn to grin as a wizard of about eleven years old was hopping up and down excitedly in front of Hermione.
"Jonathan Malfoy! What did I tell you about making up wild stories about your brothers to get them into trouble?"
Embarrassed feet shuffling ensued.
"It's true this time, mum." the boy muttered.
"One of these times you'll end up in the Forbidden Forest, if you're trying to rat on your friends."
"Your dad did."
Jonathan looked at his mother. She was joking, right? She had to be. He could never imagine his dad being punished for anything. He looked at her closely. No, she wasn't joking. His dad really had been punished for ratting on his friends.
With a small -pop- a house elf appeared.
"Please take Master Jon to his room. It's way past bedtime for him."
With another -pop- she was gone, together with the second Malfoy son.
"He really is Draco's son." Ginny observed.
Her friend just nodded.
They were watching the dancers and waved as Neville and Luna swept past.
"Have you seen my husband anywhere?" a female voice suddenly asked behind them.
As they turned Cho came into view, holding a sleeping child. Ginny looked out onto the dancefloor and pointed to a couple at the far end.
"He's over there, dancing with Alicia."
"Shall I hold James?" Hermione offered.
"That would be great."
The sleeping boy was handed over and Cho vanished into the crowd of dancers. Ginny gazed rather thoughtful at the boy the older witch was holding.
"I'm glad he found somebody that makes him happy, you know." she said.
"Me, too. It wasn't easy to have him around at the beginning. He even had a go at Draco several times."
"I can imagine what he called me."
"No, he only ever spoke highly of you. It was your husband he was ranting on about. I never knew that Harry was privy to the kind of vocabulary he was using during those days."
Ginny sighed. It had been hard for her as well. Though in the end it had all turned out for the best.
Scorpius seemed calm and collected as he sneaked along the corridor, but he was shaking like a leaf inside. He was really going to do it. He was going to tell a girl that he liked her. No, not just any girl. He was going to tell Lilly. The smartest and most beautiful witch he knew.
Reaching the door to her room he stopped. His heart was racing, his palms were sweaty and asking himself yet again, if he had gone insane, didn't help either.
"You can do it!" he whispered.
He extended his hand slowly towards the door knob, turned it carefully and then slipped inside.
The shadows of candlelight greeted him, and the soft breathing of his target. Casting a quick silencing charm on the door was delaying him only a few seconds from what he had come for. He sighed. Why was it so difficult to just talk to her all of a sudden? They had been talking and laughing together earlier.
Approaching the bed he could make out the figure lying underneath the covers. Her head was bedded on several pillows, her long. black hair braided. There was a book next to her hand. She seemed to have fallen asleep while reading. She read a lot. Just like him. The candle in a large glass bowl on her bedside table provided a soft and gentle light that only enhanced the beauty of the sleeping witch.
"Are you just going to stand there gawking or is there anything else you came for?"
Scorpius nearly jumped out off his skin. She was awake!
Lilly sat up and looked at the wizard in pyjama and bathrobe standing before her bed. She had wondered, if he would be making a move at the party, but except for chatting and dancing he hadn't done anything. Well, that last dance had been slow and rather intimate, for her at least.
Her using his nickname had him break out in goosebumps all over, with a shudder he cleared his throat and wondered, if a hasty retreat might be the best line of defence.
"I shouldn't be here." he muttered and was about to turn when he found himself glued to the spot.
"Scop?" she asked again with a smile.
"What are you doing?" he whispered.
"Making sure you won't chicken out off whatever it is you came here for."
"Maybe I wanted to charm your hair green or..."
The rest of the sentence got stuck in his throat as he saw Lilly slowly push the covers back. She was wearing a pyjama with a rather short cropped top. Not that he was complaining about seeing that much of her tan coloured skin, but... The effect her slow movements towards him had could become really embarrassing.
Reaching the edge of the bed, she climbed off and stood next to him. She wasn't saying anything, she wasn't touching him, she just stood there. Her dark eyes could have pinned him against the wall should she have decided to do so, but she seemed to have other plans.
"Scop." was all she said.
He sighed. What had his dad said? He had surrendered to this mum and abandoned everything in order to talk to her.
'Right, let's see, if that really works.' he thought before slowly stretching his hand out towards hers.
Lilly looked at the blushing boy before her. She had always had a soft spot for him, not that she would ever confess that to anybody. He had always been special in her life. Him being only seven months older meant they had always been very close. Though, lately she had felt his mental touch a lot more often than in the past. She had also noticed him not wearing his ring when he was around her most times. At first she had been a bit confused as to why he would do that, but then she had felt the warmth and caring behind his mental connection. He didn't want to prank her with what he saw in her mind, he just wanted to be close.
It had taken her a few weeks before she had come to terms with the fact that Scorpius Malfoy wasn't just a boy she had grown up with, but also somebody she could imagine dating one day. The word alone had caused her chills. She was thinking about dating a guy. Her dad would hit the roof, if he found out. Her mum was probably a bit more open about the idea, but she would also threaten to tell her dad, should anything untoward happen.
Lilly had told her mother in her last letter that there was a guy in the year above her she found cute. She hadn't been mentioning that it was Scorpius of course. He would probably get into just as much trouble as she, should there parents find out.
"Lilly." his voice interrupted her thoughts.
"I came here to tell you something, but I'm not sure..." he wrung his hands and tried to avoid her gaze, "Lilly, I'm a coward."
She stared at him. That wasn't exactly what she had hoped he'd say.
"If I wasn't a coward, I would tell you that I... I like you. I really do and it's okay, if you don't..."
Her warm fingers silenced him.
"Touch my mind." she whispered, her dark as the night eyes boring into his.
After a moment of hesitation he slipped his ring off and extended his mind to touch hers. He was welcome and then he felt... Gasping he pressed his hand onto his heart. Something razor sharp seemed to be piercing right through it. Lilly flung her arms around the for air struggling wizard in order to support him.
"Scop? Scop, are you okay?" urgency laced through her words.
After a moment he nodded. He could breath again and the pain was subsiding. There was a tingling feeling on the skin of his chest, but... He watched in horror as the witch holding him suddenly gasped and yelped in pain. A wave of slicing, white hot pain engulfed his mind a moment later. It was so intense that he felt his consciousness slipping. With all his willpower he clung onto the girl holding him. He couldn't black out. He simply couldn't!
It might have lasted only moments, but it felt like an eternity.
"Are you okay, Lilly?" he asked in a hushed tone, but he knew that answer before she even spoke. He could feel what she was feeling, he shared all her thoughts, fears and her... He blinked. Looking down at her he reckoned she would be blushing, if her skin wasn't the colour it was.
She tried to avoid his eyes, but he held her chin between his thumb and index finger and made her look at him.
"What is happening, Scop?" she asked with a trembling voice.
"I don't know, but I can feel you as I've never felt you before. It's really weird and really nice all at the same time."
She just gazed at him for a moment before saying, "I can feel you, too."
They looked at each other for long moments, before Scorpius started to wriggle and scratched the left hand side of his chest.
"No, it's just... something's tickling..."
Without thinking he pulled his bathrobe open and his pyjama top up a bit scratching the light skin underneath. It was taking him a while to realise that Lilly was staring at him. Or at his bare skin to be precise. He blushed and was about to cover his body when her hand got hold of his, stopping him.
Pulling the garment up further she glanced at him with a rather curious look in her eyes.
"I didn't know you had a tattoo. I'm surprised your mum allowed that."
"I don't have a..."
His eyes followed her gaze and there really was a tattoo on his chest, right on his heart was the image of a white lily. He frowned. He was absolutely sure that hadn't been there earlier when he had got undressed. Then it hit him.
"Lilly, I need to check something. Please, trust me! I'm not going to try anything or..."
He slowly moved her hands so that they were either side of her body and then he slowly pushed the fabric of her top up. She shrieked and got hold oh his hand.
"Please, Lilly! It's really important. Because, if I'm right then we'll have to do a lot of thinking and talking to do about what we're going to do."
"What are you talking about?"
He tried to pour all his emotions for her into her thoughts. The frown lessened a bit.
"Please, trust me." the young wizard whispered.
She glared at him for a moment but then nodded and let go of his hand. Scorpius proceeded to expose her light brown skin and after only a moment he bit his lip as he found what he had wondering about. She followed his gaze and gasped.
"What is that? That wasn't there... Dad's going to kill me! He'd never allow me to..."
She was stopped by the soft touch of the lips of her lifelong friend on her cheek.
"I'm sorry this happened." he muttered.
"What are you talking about?" she demanded.
Lilly didn't know what was happening any longer. Having Scop confess to her that he liked her was one thing, but this strange tattoo thing and the pain and…
"... both have the Mark as well and now we..."
"What?" she hadn't paying attention being too confused and also a bit frightened.
"My parents both got the Mark. It's a Malfoy thing. If a Malfoy heir truly loves a girl and she loves him back then both of them can develop the Mark. It's a representation of the person they have feelings for."
"So, that flower on your chest means you... love me?"
He hesitantly nodded, calling it love sounded way to strong for his liking, but... Realisation set in as he looked at the witch before him. Deep brown eyes, long black hair and tanned skin was making her rather beautiful on the outside, but he also knew her mind and it was equally attractive. He must have been falling for her for some time.
"Then the... scorpion on my skin is because..." Lilly asked in a whisper.
"You like me."
"Does that mean, I'll not be able to have anybody else as a boyfriend but you?"
The hurt her words caused were hard to keep from her, so he just shook his head.
"You can be the girlfriend of whoever you choose. This is just telling us something, nothing more. It doesn't compel us to do anything." Or so he hoped anyway. The last thing he wanted was for Lilly to feel caged and shackled to him.
He stepped back and with a last look at her, he was about to walk away. This hadn't gone the way he had envisioned it. He felt her hand grasp his wrist.
"I'm only fourteen and you're just fifteen. We're way too young for any permanent commitment."
"I don't expect you to commit yourself to anything."
"We are still friends?"
"Sure." It didn't matter that he had been wondering about being more than friends with her.
"And should I decide to... date you, would you still want to?"
Looking at her face he wondered what his own parents would say, once they found out. At least they would know that he didn't do anything.
That was obviously not the answer she had been hoping for as she glared at him with fire in her eyes.
"That doesn't sound very... Not like you really want to."
"Lilly, your dad is probably going to want to duel with me when he finds out about that," his long finger pointed at her ribcage, "and I don't want to think about what mine is going to do."
She stepped up to him and her hands found their way onto his heaving chest.
"I've always liked you and lately it has been a lot more than liking you, but..." he started.
"Have you ever kissed a girl?" she suddenly asked.
""Not even Jennifer Atkins? She's always all over you."
"No, not even her." he shuddered, "I would never kiss her. That's gross."
Lilly smiled, then she stood on tiptoes and quickly pecked Scorpius' lips.
"Good, I'll deal with my parents, you deal with yours." she grinned.
It wasn't far from midnight as Blaise found Draco sitting on a comfy couch, hidden by a folding screen from prying eyes. He flopped down next to his friend and leant back.
"Fifteen years and three kids, quite an achievement."
"You're not doing so bad yourself. Your anniversary is in three months and the last time I looked there were two wizards and a witch with the Zabini tan running riot at the buffet."
"Touché. Though sometimes I'm worried about Lilly."
His friend turned his head to be able to look at him.
"She's growing up so quickly. I mean, do you remember what we were getting up to in fourth and fifth year? I most certainly do."
There was a frown on Draco's face. He could remember only too clearly what he had been doing in fifth year... and with whom!
"You don't need to worry about her." he finally replied.
"Why? What do you know that I don't?"
"Scop has a soft spot for her."
Blaise sat up and faced his light skinned friend.
"Yep. He isn't wearing his ring when he knows that she's about and have you seen him acting around her lately? He quite seriously likes her."
"Merlin! I just hope her mother doesn't find out about that. Otherwise she's going to have a word with Lilly, about not being stupid and all that."
"The talk...Yeah, I could see Scop wondering, if that was what I was going to talk to him about earlier."
"No. He'll have picked up the basics by now in any case. I just told him to tell her that he likes her."
They looked into their glasses for a while.
"Was our love life ever so easy?" Blaise wondered aloud.
"Mine wasn't. I mean, do you remember Pansy?"
"There is also your own little wife..." there was a smirk in Draco's voice.
"Don't let her hear you calling her that."
"I won't! Believe me. Why are the lionesses all so...?"
"Don't know, but I tell you one thing, once a Slytherin has tasted Gryffindor there's no going back."
"I know what you mean. Hermione got me hooked faster than I knew what was happening."
The screen they were hiding behind was folded back a bit and the auburn hair of Blaise' wife appeared.
"Why am I not surprised that you two are hiding here?"
Her husband got up and wound his arms around her.
"Tell me you missed you, Rufina."
She rolled her eyes and Draco laughed.
"You," Ginny poked Blaise quite forcefully in the chest, "are going to dance with, dearest husband."
With a big grin on his face his best mate watched him being dragged onto the dance floor. Blaise would never admit it, but taking the advise of his best friend and talking to Harry had been the best thing he'd ever done. It had been painful, quite literally as his rather enraged opponent had punched him with a force he wouldn't have thought was in him, and not only once. They had been talking eventually though. Harry had been anything but happy, but he understood what had happened. It had cost him a lot to let Ginny go.
Though the witch destined for Harry had appeared a few months later in form of his first crush Cho Chang.
Draco woke some time during the night and found the space next to him in the bed empty. He frowned. Perching himself on one arm he looked around. There was a figure standing at the window. The pose she was displaying made him wonder, if she was doing press-ups against the window sill. In the middle of the night?
She turned and came slowly back towards the bed. It was too dark for Draco to see the face of his witch, but he knew that was something wrong. Before she reached him she suddenly flung her hand in front of her face and made a run for the bathroom, followed by the bewildered gaze of her husband.
Wondering if she might have eaten or drunk something at the ball that had upset her stomach, he slowly pulled the covers back and then walked, yawning, to the door she had vanished behind.
"Is everything okay?"
The sounds he heard made his own stomach churn. She was definitely sick.
'How is this woman managing to throw up so often in her life?' he wondered with a sleep wrecked brain.
As Hermione re-appeared she gave him a look look that was strangely familiar. He had seen it before... Without a word a gathered her into his arms.
"Talk to me." he whispered.
"It's not possible." was her reply.
He pulled back a bit.
"Why can't you talk to me all of a sudden?"
"It's not that. It's just... impossible."
"Lea," he groaned, "I'm still half asleep and you're not making any sense."
"How many cubs are on your back?" she asked.
"What...? Three. There are three lion cubs on my back."
"Are you sure?"
Of course he was sure. He had felt Hermione stroke and play with them for more than fifteen years. They were the representations of their three sons.
It was a bit daft, but he asked anyway, "Do you want to check?"
Draco was wondering, if he might still be dreaming. This was all rather bizarre. Though he decided to play along, Summoning his wand he held it up and then muttered, "Lumos." He could feel warm fingers caress his bare skin. The cubs paws were moving on the small of his back, tickling him.
Hermione glanced at his pale skin and the Mark on it. There were the cubs. All four of them.
She blinked. The nausea she had felt earlier suddenly didn't matter any longer.
"Well?" Draco asked a tad impatient.
"The cubs are there..." she started.
What did that mean? Were they going to have another child? A fourth one? Maybe a daughter this time? But how could that be?
He realised that his wife was facing him again, with an expression on her face that told even his non too awake mind that something was up. He wasn't entirely sure what, but something was up.
"There are four cubs." she said.
"You're pregnant." he replied.