Hello :) As you can see...I've taken a break from packing. But in my defense, I'm about 95% to the point where I can't pack anything else until the end of the week as I move on May 1.
In reading a BAL comment the other day (I tried searching for it but couldn't find it so I could give proper credit), someone said something along the lines of BAL being like an epilogue to IAU...and the more I thought about it the more I liked that idea. I feel like I've written everything I can write with IAU and BAL and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't itching to get back to Show Me What I'm Looking For.
Speaking of Show Me - I'm going to be tweaking it a bit. I guess I was a bit over-enthusiastic in writing it at the same time as BAL - chalk it up to a beginner's fanfic mistake, or just complete insanity. Either will do. The plot will be the same, and I plan on updating all of the chapters at once so people can reread it and get ready to launch from where I left off. That probably won't happen until June...but that's the update.
With all of that said - I thank you all for reading BAL...I adore all of you, and I hope you enjoy this final chapter and stay patient with me as I tweak SMWILF along with continuing on with The Request.
XOXO - Redhead414
The downstairs of Draco and Hermione's home was overflowing with unwrapped gifts in honor of their daughter's first birthday. Not even bothered by the chaos, Hermione sat down at the end of the sofa holding a cup of coffee, laughing to herself as she watched Blaise, James, and Teddy do their best to build a castle out of the pink blocks she received from the Potters. They never got very far, as Albus seemed to recognize the most inopportune moment to 'help,' sending the blocks crashing down in a heap.
She tried to keep Harry and Ginny from cleaning, but her pleas fell on deaf ears. Ginny scuttled around picking up the dishes with Molly and Narcissa while Harry and Arthur collected the crumpled wrapping paper to toss away. Hermione found it funny to watch them do these things the muggle way, but it was a pleasant reminder, as her two worlds seemed to come together just as she always hoped they would.
Her husband was passed out on the adjacent sofa, his long legs hanging over the arm as an equally tired birthday princess slept on top of him in her frilly magenta and orange tutu skirt and matching shirt with a colorful 1 embroidered on the front. She smiled at how Harper snuggled her little face into the crook of Draco's neck and how his hand, splayed out against her back, moved softly to adjust his hold on her. Hermione wasn't surprised that her daughter was exhausted from her jammed pack day of birthday festivities. She also wasn't surprised that her husband was equally exhausted, considering she found him awake at three in the morning with a helium tank and at least 100 multi-colored balloons in the study.
"What?" he asked as he pressed against the nozzle, blowing up another balloon.
"Do you realize what time it is?" she asked as she stifled a yawn.
"Harper loves balloons, Hermione. I want them to be ready for her party. I can't wait to see her face - she's going to love it!"
Hermione looked around the office, her husband's face visible through the streamers tied to the ends of the balloons. "Sweetheart - there are plenty of balloons."
"Maybe just a few more…"
"Honestly, sweetheart, while I admire the dedication -"
"Just a few more," Draco all but pleaded. "Then I'll be back in bed."
Hermione laughed. "Alright. But just a few more."
Sipping her coffee, she looked up and smiled as Lucius sat down next to her on the couch, placing his walking stick on the ground at his feet. He caught Hermione off guard as he gave her knee a caring pat. Narcissa and Harper were the only two he was openly affectionate with, and she couldn't help but return his gesture with a bright smile.
"Today was a wonderful day," Lucius said with his usual lack of inflection.
Hermione nodded in agreement. "She certainly was spoiled a bit."
"As she should be. She's a Malfoy, after all."
"This is true," Hermione replied with a grin, nodding in the direction of her sleeping husband and daughter. She reached over and brushed her fingers through Draco's hair as he sighed. "They're quite the pair, aren't they?"
"Narcissa…she used to take naps with Draco in his nursery when he was that size," Lucius commented. "I think she did it to avoid being in my presence…which I don't blame her entirely for. I wasn't a very good husband or father during that time. I do treasure my granddaughter, though. I hope you know that."
Hermione clapped one of her slender hands over one his rough hands and squeezed it tight. "Of course I do - and she adores you, Lucius."
"I hope so," he honestly replied. "Who knows…how she'll be when she's older, when she understands more things."
"She's always going to love you," Hermione reassured him. "Just like she will always love Draco. Who you are right now isn't who you were. You've both earned the forgiveness you've received and if anyone says otherwise…well, they'll have to deal with me and I promise they won't like that one bit."
A small laugh escaped the lips of the elder Malfoy as he gave his daughter-in-law's hand a small squeeze. "You're a force to be reckoned with, Hermione Granger."
"Malfoy," Draco mumbled.
Lucius smirked as Hermione stood up, walking the two steps necessary so that she was standing over her husband. Gently, she picked up her birthday princess and held her close to her chest as she leaned down and kissed Draco. "I love you," she whispered before kissing him again.
"Are you taking her upstairs?" he asked, his eyes fluttering momentarily.
She shook her head no. "I just wanted to snuggle with her. You've had the birthday girl wrapped around your finger all day."
An exhausted chuckle slipped past his lips. "It's not my fault she likes me best."
"Hardly," Hermione said with a playful scoff. Pressing her lips to her Harper's forehead, she carefully sat back down on the couch and looked down at her daughter, her pretty pink lips slightly ajar as she sighed. "Mummy loves you, birthday girl," she murmured in Harper's ear as she leaned back against the plush couch. Leaning her head against the cushioned headrest of the couch, she looked over at Lucius. "I could thank you, you know."
He arched an eyebrow. "What in Merlin's name could you possibly thank me for?"
"For accepting me. For taking care of me when I wanted no one around. For loving my daughter. No one made you change, Lucius, but I for one am certainly glad you did," Hermione said, her voice just above a whisper. "You, your wife, Draco…you've managed to overcome so much and build a life that you can treasure and that speaks volumes to your character, regardless of your past."
Lucius exhaled slowly, her words swirling around his head. He stayed silent for a moment, looking down at his hands, then his legs, noticing how close he was sitting to Hermione as a fleeting memory passed of days where he wouldn't stand to be within a foot of her. Before he could speak again, he watched as Hermione hesitated for a brief moment, before resting her head on his shoulder as she held her daughter close. Not sure if he could speak, he swallowed a ball of emotion rising through his throat and for a moment, felt himself relax.
"Hermione?" Lucius finally heard himself speak moments later.