"He didn't come," the newly married Hermione Malfoy said as she and Draco awaited their introduction into the reception tent.
"Love, we knew he wasn't going to," Draco replied, concerned that her father's absence would put a damper on her evening. "It was nice of Ron to walk you down the aisle though. Thought it might be awkward. The ex-boyfriend giving away the girl he loved to another man. I'm amazed at the things you can convince someone to do."
Hermione scowled as she tugged on the train of her dress. "Couldn't convince my father to show up for my wedding," she muttered.
He wound his arms around her waist and held her close. "Hey, happy thoughts only today," he murmured. "Can I just revel in the fact that I get to call you my wife now?"
With a smile on her face, she kissed him. "Only if I can do the same," she replied.
"Deal," he replied as he heard their names called. "Listen to that - Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy. Sounds good, doesn't it?"
With a nod of her head, she allowed him to escort her into the reception tent. Cheers and applause sounded from the assembled audience, all glad to share in their celebration. Her mother sat beside Molly Weasley. Both women had tears in their eyes as the newlyweds entered and took center stage for their first dance.
"That's my dress, you know," Jane told her. "She looks better in it than I did."
Molly smiled good-naturedly. "You have a beautiful daughter," she commented. "And Draco has changed so much. She's been good for him."
"I think he's been good for her too. I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for him," Jane replied. Molly looked at her curiously. "It was his idea that she try again to find us. And when they got engaged, he came back to Australia to try to talk some sense into her father. I had already made up my mind to return, but Bob is stubborn. Hermione gets that from him. I didn't want to regret missing out on this - the planning, the ceremony - because I didn't like the way she handled things. She saved us though. How can I stay mad at my daughter for trying to protect me?"
"That's her greatest fear," Molly confided. "That you and her father would never forgive her."
Jane nodded sadly. The couple's dance ended, and Mr. Weasley rose to dance with the bride for the traditional father/daughter dance. "I know this isn't what she had in mind," she said. "But I appreciate your husband filling in."
"He loves her," Molly told her. "Arthur has always treated Hermione like his own daughter. He was honored that she asked him to do this."
The music slowed, though the song wasn't over. Jane stared at the dance floor and the man making his way to the center. She gasped at the sight of her husband, and prayed that all would go well. Draco approached the table calmly and sat down beside his new mother-in-law. He smiled knowingly and patted her shoulder.
"What did you do?" she asked nervously.
The groom shrugged. "We talked," he said cryptically.
"What did you say?" she inquired, brown eyebrows knitting together.
"It's funny. Hermione makes that same face when she's nervous and losing her patience with me," he remarked. Jane huffed and narrowed her eyes. "Another face Hermione makes. Anyhow, about a week ago, I told Hermione I had to go on a short business trip. She got mad at me because it was a week before the wedding and I still hadn't picked up my tux and she had a list a mile long for me to complete before today. But I was adamant that I had to go, that there was no way of getting out of it. So, against her wishes, I went back to Australia to talk to Mr. Granger. He hates me, did you know that? Let me know it quite a few times. Imagine my surprise when he actually let me in to present my case."
Molly sighed. "Sweetheart, are you getting to the point any time soon?" she asked.
Draco nodded. "So, he lets me in and we talk," he continued. "I told him that we were getting married and how Hermione was driving herself crazy planning every little detail. I vetoed the our faces on the soap idea, by the way. Anyway, then I told him that the one thing she couldn't seem to make work was the father/daughter dance because he had yet to RSVP. He said he had no intentions of coming."
"So you used the Imperius Curse on him?" Molly asked, aghast.
He chuckled. "No, no Unforgivables were involved," he promised. "I went for a slightly more muggle tactic - guilt. Told him she'd been depressed, hadn't been eating or sleeping, and that frankly, her work had begun to suffer since we left Australia. He seemed concerned about her, which appeared to be a complete 180 from the last time I saw him. To make a long story short-"
"Too late," Jane mumbled.
Draco smiled. "I told him that if he cared about her at all, he'd show up today," he concluded. "He could go back to never speaking to her again if he just came today."
With tears in her eyes, Jane embraced her new son. "Thank you, Draco," she murmured. "This will mean the world to her."
"What are you doing here?" Hermione whispered, plastering on a smile so all would think she was thrilled.
The grin her father wore faltered, but he continued to hold her close. "I wanted to apologize," he said. "When your mother left, I knew I had messed up. Stubbornness is not one of my more attractive qualities. I've had a lot of time to think. About you. About what you did. And I kept asking myself - why can't I forgive you?"
Hermione stopped moving and her grip on his hand slackened. "So...you haven't-"
He shook his head. "No, sweetheart, because I realized I shouldn't have to forgive you," he replied. "I spent years knowing my little girl was different, that you could do things that other people couldn't. And you put your gifts to good use. I just...I hope one day you can forgive me for my foolishness."
"I'm glad you're here," she said, tears welling in her eyes.
Leaning forward, he pressed a kiss to her forehead. "I am too," he replied with a smile. "And I'm not going anywhere now that I am here."
The song came to a close and he led his daughter off of the dance floor. "What changed your mind?" she wondered.
"Your husband," he replied. "He came to see me last week, to talk. I'll admit he carried most of the conversation. He told me about his father. Sounds like a real charmer if you ask me."
Hermione snorted. "Oh, yeah. Lucius is the best," she said facetiously. "What did he tell you?"
Her father shrugged. "That they didn't get along," he shared. "That he's been in prison for awhile now, and that it bothers him that he doesn't care that he might never see him again. He told me he wished he loved and missed his own father the way you loved and missed me."
"And that worked?" she wondered. Robert nodded solemnly. "I believe the term silver-tongued devil was coined just for my husband. I'll have to thank him for what he did. Even if he did lie to me."
"Sometimes the ends justify the means," he agreed.
The next song ended, and Draco joined them. He held out a hand to his new father-in-law, and offered him a kind smile. "I'm glad you could come, sir," he said.
"It's all thanks to you," Robert replied, shaking his hand. "If you'll excuse me, I should go find your mother. I'm sure she was quite surprised to see me here."
Draco pulled her into his arms and watched Robert cross the dance floor. "Think they'll be okay?" he asked.
Hermione smiled. "I think so," she replied as her mother greeted her father with a loving hug. "Thank you for doing this. All of this."
He shrugged and kissed her. "Thanks for moving in with me two years ago."