Chapter 24 : Epilogue
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Draco sat back, his body sinking gratefully into the lounge, relaxed and feeling incredibly at peace with both the world and himself. As he was want to do these days, he lifted the sleeve of his shirt, his fingers running over the spot where the Dark Mark had burnt not all that long ago. After Zabini’s death, it had faded swiftly, vanishing as if it had never been there in the first place. He had managed to convince Harry and the Order to release Pansy. They put her through a long and ardurous trial, before agreeing that she was not a threat. With a smile of thanks to Draco, Pansy had left, and Draco knew she had gone to find her daughter. Blaise’s death had freed her.
The six months since Hermione’s kidnapping had flown past with tremendous speed. She had recovered from her physical ailments quickly, but suffered a serious bout of depression over Blaise. Nights would find her curled against Draco’s chest, sobbing, her body racked with guilt, or simply sitting staring at the wall, her face pale and her eyes blank. No matter how much he reassured her she only did what she needed to do, Hermione was still traumatized by her actions. Draco had gone to Harry, desperate and willing to do almost anything to help her, and Harry had told him all he could do was let her grieve, let her come to terms with it in her own time. Draco suspected part of Hermione’s grief arose from Ron. Weasley had run off to France, or somewhere, with Lavender after the battle. She had been transferred for work, and he decided to go with her. Draco supposed Hermione missed the big git.
They had still not managed to find a house they both agreed on; Draco, despite what he had told Harry and Ron, wanted something large and grand, and Hermione wanted small and cosy. She had called him a snob when he turned his nose up at the sixth house she liked, and he’d shrugged, saying that, after all, he was a Malfoy, a comment that earned him a rather disdainful sigh and a shake of her chestnut hair. They ended up compromising, meeting somewhere in the middle after weeks of arguing with themselves and real estate agents. It seemed everyone wanted to sell Draco a house, no matter where it was or how shabby it was. Draco and Hermione spent most mornings pouring over advertisements in The Daily Prophet, Hermione graffiting the paper in bright red ink, her coffee and breakfast lying forgotten at her elbow.
Hermione sold her flat and moved into the Manor in the meantime, quickly changing the house to suit herself, and her cat, something Draco did not object to. The Manor was now filled with life and color, the walls adorned with pictures and portraits, the kitchen cupboards filled with food. If the Manor did not still remind Draco so much of his past, he would insist they simply stay there. It had everything they needed, plus many things they did not, but Hermione was set on finding something they could call their own; somewhere without a history.
Hermione had removed the television from the bedroom with a roll of her eyes at his protest, setting it up in the living room where, as she claimed, “normal people put them.” Draco disagreed, saying that if that is what normal people did, many of them must sleep on the lounge – most of his favourite programs seemed to be on in the middle of the night. Hermione had given him a look that suggested he would be sleeping on the lounge if he argued with her, so he had said a sad goodbye to the television. She had introduced more of her Muggle things to Draco’s house; something called a kettle, which she used to boil water, a feat Draco saw as time consuming and pointless when you could do it instantly with a wand, and another thing she called a hairdryer. Draco roared with laughter when he discovered Hermione in the bathroom with her head upside down, drying her hair with it. She had shrieked at him and slammed the bathroom door in his face.
The thing he liked the most, however, was the CD player. It was almost as good as the television, and he was secretly in love with it, although he’d never tell Potter. Harry would torment him for weeks on end. Hermione had agreed not to tell him either once Draco threatened to stop dancing with her in the evening after dinner. He smiled, sinking into a pleasant reminiscence of Hermione laughing, her head tipped back, as he spun her around in his arms. Dancing was something the CD player had brought into their lives, and he could not imagine how he had lived without it before. Every night after their meal, they would dance together in the large dining room, spinning gracefully around the mahogany table to the smooth sounds of some Muggle music Hermione called ‘jazz’. Draco found he quite liked jazz, letting the melancholy rhythm and the seductive, sorrowful sound take over his body.
Harry and Ginny had their baby, a boy they named James, after Harry’s father. Draco and Hermione had been woken in the middle of the night by an anxious, stressed and pale-faced Ron, and rushed to the hospital, only to be told the birth would likely take another couple of hours. James was born in the early hours of the morning, and although Draco thought the newborn was rather odd looking, all wrinkled and red, his parents seemed to like him. Hermione delighted in the child almost as much as Harry and Ginny did, spending ridiculous amounts of money on the boy and spoiling him rotten. James had his father’s eyes and his mother’s brilliant auburn hair, with warm skin, already splattered in the typical Weasely freckles.
Draco had to admit, after a while, that the kid wasn’t that bad – Potter was busy and that made Draco’s life easier. Harry had been harassing him for months to take a position with the Ministry. Percy had offered Draco an auror position, once he went through the training, which Draco had flatly refused. Harry needed a new partner, but Draco had had enough of fighting and scheming and hunting. It was time to relax and enjoy the second chance at life he had been granted. Hermione, surprisingly, agreed with his decision, taking liberal times off work herself. Draco grinned. He’d brought out the worst in her. Gone was the overachieving, pedantic witch he’d known at school, and in her place was a calm, smiling and blissfully happy woman who didn’t seem to care what the world thought of her.
They’d been married two months after Hermione was discharged from St Mungo’s, in a small ceremony in the garden at the Manor. All the members of the Order were present, plus some of Hermione’s friends from work, all quietly shocked to discover she was getting married, let alone to the infamous Draco Malfoy. Meeting Hermione’s parents had been a terrifying experience, but somehow he managed to come out of it unscathed. The day had gone off without a single hitch, although the whole time Draco had secretly kept his fingers close to his wand, not quiet trusting the magnetic pull Potter and Weasley seemed to have when it came to attracting danger. He was half expecting a bunch of Death Eaters to show up and ruin the festivities.
Draco stood from the lounge, walking across the room to pick up a photograph of him and Hermione on their wedding day. He smiled, remembering how incredible it felt when they were officially declared husband and wife. They had no attendants, preferring to keep the ceremony simple and without stress. Draco was just setting the photograph back in its place when the door opened. Hermione wandered in, looking peaceful and more beautiful than he had ever seen her in a flowing skirt that brushed her calves, and simple cotton shirt. She smiled at him lovingly, crossing the room to plant a kiss on his lips, and he breathed deeply, filling his lungs with the intoxicating smell of her perfume. Harry, looking harassed, followed her in, James in his arms, screaming his little lungs out, Ginny on his heels, barking suggestions to Harry about what could be wrong with the baby. Harry flashed Draco a tired grin, collapsing on the lounge, James promptly throwing up all over his shoulder. Draco grimaced, and Hermione laughed, dropping her hands to caress her own growing stomach. Draco slipped an arm around her and pulled her close, kissing her neck, marveling at his luck. Sometimes he woke in the night just to pinch himself, checking repeatedly that the life he was leading was a reality. In a few short months he’d be a father, and on the night Hermione told him she was pregnant, he vowed to never let his child want for anything in life, especially love.
“Did you have to bring them here? I felt like having you all to myself this afternoon,” Draco murmured in her ear, and she giggled softly, pulling out of his arms to smile up at him, her eyes glowing.
“They’re just stopping for a bit. I wanted to show Ginny the ad I found in The Prophet,” Hermione whispered. Draco frowned, and she sighed. “The house, Draco. Remember, I showed you the ad last night?”
“No, you didn’t. I’d remember,” he insisted.
A scowl settled over Hermione’s features, the happy glow in her eyes quickly replaced with a smoldering fire. “After dinner, when we were sitting in here, on that lounge,” she pointed across the room, her voice rising so Harry and Ginny turned to look at them, James continuing to scream loudly, “watching television! Or were you so engrossed in the TV you didn’t hear me?”
Draco sighed, running his fingers through his hair as her expression became stonier. “I’m sorry, but Hermione, you didn’t show me any …”
“Get your coat, it’s starting to rain, I’ve already called the agent, we’re going to this showing, and that’s final,” she hissed, poking him in the chest with her finger, before turning and stomping from the room. Draco let out a breath, sneaking a look at Harry. Ginny laughed softly, scooped the baby into her arms and followed Hermione, giving Draco a sympathetic smile. Harry raised his eyebrows, a smug smirk tugging at his mouth. He stretched luxuriously, smothering a yawn. Draco thought he looked too pleased with himself for a man covered in baby sick.
“Never upset a pregnant woman, Malfoy,” Harry chuckled, and Draco sighed deeply, tugging at his hair.
“No, Potter,” he agreed, striding across the room and grabbing his coat from the wall peg. “Especially if that woman happens to be my wife.”