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Love and Forgiveness by HarryGinny4eva
Chapter 26 : Chapter 38
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 5


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Disclaimer: Many thanks to JK Rowling for her wonderful works. They are hers and hers alone. I have only borrowed her characters for a while and built my own little fantasy around them. There is no pay involved for me in doing it.

Chapter 38


(beep beep beeeeeeeeeep)

Over an hour later Hermione ran to her cell phone and flipped it open, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” he sighed. “Just really tired, you know?”

“Yeah,” she answered. Then at a loss for what to say, she remained quiet.

He listened to her breathing on the other end for a moment and then asked, “You spoke to your mother?”

“Uh huh, she called to let me know where you were.”

Draco sighed into the phone, “Did she tell you everything?”

“Well, um…”

“It’s okay, Mi. I knew she would. It’ll save me time catching you up later, I guess.”

She heard the exhaustion and sadness in his voice and venture, “Draco, do you want…”

“Not now, okay? I still need to go back there and straighten some things out.”

“Alright. But, you know I’m here for you right? And, I love you.”

“Yes, I do. And, I love you.”

“Okay,” she sighed feeling useless.

“I will be coming home tonight,” he told her.

“I’ll be waiting,” she answered. “Do you want me to call Blaise and have him be here?”

“No. I just want you,” he shook his head. “I’ll call him when I…I just want to come home and be…”

At his frustrated sigh, she cut him off, “It’s okay, Draco. Breathe.”

When she heard him take a sharp breath and then another, she imagined him running his hand through his hair and smiled a little. “Now, go fix the hair you just messed up, take care of business, and come home to me.”

He chuckled as he took his hand down from his head, “I love you. See you in a few hours, okay?”

“Okay,” she answered softly. “Bye.”

“Bye.”

‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’

“I just don’t know how to thank you,” Draco said again as he adjusted his robe.

Rich shook his head and reached out to give his hand, “I told you, son, none of that. You’re now family. That’s what we do.”

Draco shook his head in amazement once more before leaning down to accept Julie’s kiss.

“Let us know you got back safely, okay?” she said as she adjusted his robe around his shoulders in a motherly way he found endearing.

“I will, Julie. But, it may be a couple of hours. I need to return to the Manor,” he sighed.

Julie just leaned forward and hugged him before stepping back, “I’m glad you came to us, Draco.”

“I am, too, Julie, very much so.”

They watched as he straightened his robes once more, then his back, and finally his face, and stepped into the fireplace. When he disappeared Rich turned and looked down at his wife.

“He’s come a long way from that git that used to torment our baby girl, huh?”

“Yes, he has,” she answered with a thoughtful smile. Then it faltered, “I just hope he…”

Rich interrupted as he took her hand and walked away from the fireplace, “He’s strong, Jule. He’ll be fine. Plus, he has Hermione.”

‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’

Draco stepped out of the fireplace and brushed his hand over his hair. No sooner had he lowered his hand than he heard footsteps and straightened to face his parents.

“You’ve returned,” his father said in lieu of a greeting.

He met his father’s gaze for a moment before he lowered his eyes to meet his mother’s. While his father’s face was impassive, allowing no emotion to come through, his mother’s was the complete opposite. On her face he saw love, compassion, sorrow, regret and bravery. She also stood braced, one foot slightly in front of the other, as if ready to take on whatever he might throw at her.

With a sigh he stepped forward to breach the gap, “Yes. I wanted to finish what was started.”

At the word finish, Narcissa seemed to wilt a little next to Lucius who, regardless of the look on his face, straightened a bit more defensively.

“I am not staying long, but I didn’t want to leave things as they were. If I’ve learned nothing else, it’s that things left alone tend to fester.”

Narcissa nodded slightly for him to continue, but Lucius only shifted a little and placed his hand on her lower back.

Draco tried to smile a little to reassure them. “Look, I don’t pretend to understand all that happened back then. I don’t know how you made the choices you’ve made. I won’t even try to guess anymore. I know there are no easy answers, no matter how the question is posed. But, I also know you both did what you felt was right at the time. That you did it for us, for me. I don’t know if I will ever…”

His voice trailed off and he looked at his mother for a moment before he continued, “A mother’s love saved Harry Potter. Molly killed Aunt Bellatrix for her child. Julie’s love kept Hermione going despite all that was thrown at her. They all did what they thought was best for their children, no matter the consequences. Today, Julie helped me realize that I should expect no less from my own mother. I love you, Mother. And, I am not sorry you took those images from me. I don’t know where I would be now if you hadn’t.”

“You…you will forgive me?” she asked as she took a tentative step toward him.

“It is done,” he answered with a small smile. It widened considerably as she moved across the final space and took him in her arms.

“I love you so much, my son,” she whispered, her voice choked as she held back her tears.

He moved back a bit to look down at her, “And, I love you, Mother. That has never wavered.”

She nodded and a tear slipped down her face. But, the smile on her face gave him hope that one day they would be okay again. With that thought, he turned to his father.

Lucius stepped forward, his chin high, his face stoic. Only his eyes betrayed his torment, “I don’t expect your forgivene…”

“But, you have it,” Draco said, cutting him off as he moved to stand in front of his father. “You said yourself, nothing can be undone. There is no going back, only forward. Maybe now, we can all work together to make our pretences our reality.”

Lucius inclined his head and closed his eyes for a moment. When he opened them Draco held out his hand, “To use Hermione’s words, love and forgiveness.”

Lucius accepted his hand and shook it once before uncharacteristically pulled his son into an awkward one-armed hug.

Draco stood stiffly at first, but he finally relaxed and returned the embrace briefly before stepping back from Lucius.

Narcissa stepped between them and said to Draco, “It’s time for supper. Will you join us?”

“Yes,” he answered with a nod. Though he wanted to go home to Hermione, he knew his family, as dysfunctional as it was, needed his time and presence if it was to ever heal. “I just have to make a call.”

“Please tell Hermione hello for us,” Narcissa smiled in understanding. Draco returned the smile and nodded as he left the room to make his call.

Dinner was a subdued affair, but their many years of practicing ignorance of the obvious got them through. By the end they were speaking less formally with one another, and Narcissa had relaxed enough to suggest it was time to meet Hermione’s parents. He initially tried to dissuade her, but when she told him quietly that she wanted to meet the woman to thank her, he relented. Lucius’ exaggerated sigh of, “Oh lovely, more muggles,” had them all smirking at one another.

‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’

When Draco finally stepped out of the fireplace and into their apartment, he found it dark, the only light coming from their bedroom. He shrugged off his robes and followed the soft music he heard to where he knew Hermione waited for him.

When he stepped into the doorway, he saw her laying against the pillows, a book in her hand, tissues at her side, dressed in a long deep green silk nightgown. He also noticed the soft smile on her face and the way her eyes glowed in the semi-darkened room. Without a word she held her hand out to him and he moved across the room to her.

Hermione saw the relief and happiness battling with the stress and sadness in his eyes, and did as her mother told her to do. She followed her heart. He didn’t need more conversation. He needed love, time, and support. She would give him all three.

He fell across the bed and grabbed her close, resting his head against her heart. She felt him breathe deeply against her and stroked his soft hair with one hand, while hugging him close with the other. When he raised his head to look at her, she smiled at him and leaned down to press her lips to his.

It was a kiss of love, of healing, and he relaxed in her embrace. “I love you.” he said softly as he let her strength and love purge the confusion of the day away.

‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’

The next morning found them both struggling to get up and ready for work. Neither was really ready to face the world, but they knew they couldn’t stay tucked away forever. Draco had just stepped out of the shower when the tapping was heard at the window in the living room. He heard Hermione open the window and poked his head out to see who had sent a letter at that time of morning.

Hermione turned her head to Draco and looked to be in shock.

“What is it?” he asked coming more into the room, a towel wrapped around his waist.

“A howler!” she breathed. “Who on earth…”

Draco sighed heavily, placed a silencing charm on the apartment and said, “Well, open it, love. It’ll only get worse the longer you wait.”

“Me?!” she exclaimed stepping back from the now smoking letter, “Who said it’s for me?”

Draco shrugged and almost whined, “Does it matter, Hermione? We’re both going to hear it anyway and I’m dripping wet over here.”

With a sneer she stepped forward and opened the letter, dropping it quickly as a loud scream almost shattered their ear drums.

“YYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSS! OH MERLIN! OH MERLIN. HERMIONE REALLY? REALLY?! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I’LL BE THE BEST ATTENDANT EVER, I SWEAR! I CAN’T WAIT! HA HA HA HA Sorry, about the howler, but I couldn’t think of any other way for you to know how happy I am! Thank you! I’m going to write you right now! Give D a kiss and hug for me. Bye.”

They watched in silence as it shredded itself and became nothing but ashes on the window sill. Then Hermione turned to look blankly at Draco for a moment before they both burst out laughing, now fully awake.

“I told you we would hear her from here,” he laughed.

“Man, I love that child,” Hermione gasped, as she clutched her sides.

Soon after, they finished getting ready, gave each other a quick kiss and left to start their days.

At lunch he called, as usual and they chatted about their days so far. He remembered to tell her about his mother’s request to meet her parents. And, then to distract her from the conversation he asked her out on a date.

“Huh? A date?” she sputtered. “Why?”

He laughed, “Do I need an excuse to take you out?”

“Well, no,” she laughed back, “but it’s not an anniversary or anything.”

“No, but with all that happened this weekend, gods, can you believe it’s only been one weekend? Anyway, with all that’s happened since Friday, we haven’t had time to celebrate.”

She smiled in memory and purred softly, “Oh yes we did. Three times, if I remember correctly.”

He smirked as he answered, “Be that as it may, I still want to do something.”

She pictured his smirk and smiled, “Okay, what did you have in mind?”

“Well, there’s this Indian place one of the guys here told me about, Shaan’s. It’s in midtown. And, then I was thinking about finally doing that bowling you mentioned a while back. We never did go.”

“Wow, you remember that?” Hermione asked in pleased surprise.

‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’

Later that night, they entered the apartment together still arguing playfully.

“It was only one point, Mr. Smug.”

“Well, I still won, so you have to pay up.”

Hermione put her things down on the countertop, “I still say you cheated on that one roll. We said no magic.”

“I don’t cheat,” he said as he pulled his shirt off.

She raised a brow at him from across the room, and he mumbled with a small smirk, “Well, I didn’t cheat tonight.”

“Yeah, right,” she laughed as she headed into the bedroom.

He followed and admired the view as she undressed, “You just don’t want to pay up.”

“Why can’t we call it a tie?” she pleaded.

He stepped over to her and pulled her half naked body flush against his, “It has to be done either way, love.”

“I know,” she sighed and kissed his naked chest. “I just hoped for that extra month, if I won.”

“No such luck, Granger,” he teased. Then he leaned down to kiss her slowly and thoroughly. When he pulled back she was flushed and smiling. “Think of it this way. The sooner it’s done, the sooner it’s over.”

Her smile fell as she sighed, “I know, I know.”

‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’

The next morning he sat at the kitchen table and reminded her it was time to fulfill her end of the bet.

She looked at him pleadingly one more time, but he just shook his head. Then she shot him a huffy look, but nodded.

With a heavy sigh she dialed the number and waited.

“Hi, Wendy. Are either one of them free?”

He laughed when she crossed her fingers and scrunched her face in hope. He knew the receptionist at her parent’s dental office had answered in the affirmative when her face fell.

“Hi, Daddy…yes, everything’s fine…yes, he’s okay…well, I kind of need a favor…the Malfoys want to meet you two and…I wouldn’t be too sure of that…no way, absolutely not, they can come to the house…whenever you want I guess…well, you can’t exactly call them on the phone, Dad…floo, I guess…like I showed you…Friday’s fine for us, but I don’t know what plans they may have. They might have another engagement or…Yes, I’m sure she will, but…Dad? Dad?…Oh, hi, Mom…yes, to get to know you and Dad, I guess…I’m sure it was Narcissa’s idea…no, they wouldn’t do anything like that, Mom…I know what Molly said, but they…they did okay in our apartment…I don’t know…I don’t know…just food, Mom, they’re not the King and Queen for goodness sake…I don’t know, clothes?...I’m not being smart, Mom…okay, sorry, but seriously, you can wear whatever you want, it’s your house…fine, probably a top and skirt…No, Draco will not be in a tie…no, you don’t need to go shopping for this…but, you haven’t even confirmed that they can come Friday…yes, but…yes, but…fine…yes, use the floomail envelopes I put in the desk…okay…okay…he sends his love, too…okay, talk to you later…love you too…okay…bye Dad, love you too.”

She hung up and glared at Draco as he chuckled into his cereal.

 

“I’m glad you found that amusing.”

“Yes, I did, thank you,” he answered with a smirk. “I find it hysterical that your mom can out talk even you.”

She made a face and took at bite of her breakfast sandwich, “Let’s see how funny you think this all is when your mother inadvertently insults my mother or something, then Dad gets all angry and your father ends up trying to hex him.”

“Ever the optimist,” he laughed. “Relax, love. At worse or best, depending on how you look at it, they hate each other completely and my parents apparate home. Then we never have to do this again.”

Hermione nodded hopefully, and then a look of horror crossed her features, “What if…nevermind.”

“What if?” he prodded.

He laughed when she shuddered, “What if they actually get along and want to do it again?”

‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’

The week passed quickly for both of them, and much to Hermione’s chagrin the Malfoys had been free to have dinner at her parent’s house that Friday.

“Come on, already,” Draco called from the living room. “We’re going to be late.”

She called out, “I’m coming,” as she contemplated changing for the fourth time.

Draco sighed and put his fingers to the bridge of his nose. He hadn’t wanted to play into her worries all week, but he was rather tense, too. All of the horrors Hermione had predicted were nothing compared to his. He knew what his Father could do when angered, and he knew how cutting his mother could be when she wanted to be.

When he heard clothes rustling in the bedroom, he put his hands on his hips and called out, “Keep this up and my parents will get there before we do.”

Hermione came out of the bedroom at a dead run.

‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’

Draco stepped out first and reached back to catch Hermione as she stumbled out. They reached out to wipe each other off, but froze when they heard voices in the other room.

“Oh shit,” Draco muttered as he quickly charmed them clean and grabbed her hand.

He only grunted and continued walking when he heard her mumble, “Now, who’s worried?”

They entered the room and stopped at the sight before them.

Lucius and Narcissa sat on the sofa, both dressed in muggle clothing, but looking elegant nonetheless. And, Hermione’s parents sat across from them in the matching chairs, dressed for a dinner party. Each had a glass of something and Julie and Narcissa were laughing. Lucius looked mildly amused and Rich smiled at the room.

Julie noticed them first and rose from her seat. Lucius, out of habit, shot to his feet, and her father quickly followed.

“Oh, good, you’re here,” Julie said as she crossed the room to them. Hermione forced a smile and hugged her mother. Then Draco leaned into the hug she gave him and greeted the room with a smile.

Hermione, who felt she’d stepped into an alternate universe, couldn’t tear her eyes off his parents. She didn’t miss the look on either face when her mother hugged Draco, and moved forward a little to instinctively protect her mother.

Her father came forward and gave her a quick hug and kiss, before slinging his arm around Draco’s shoulders and bringing him further into the room.

“What can I get you to drink, son?” Rich asked.

 

Hermione didn’t miss the matched raised eyebrows on his parents’ faces at her father calling Draco son.

“A brandy would be nice, Rich, thank you,” Draco answered as he leaned down to kiss his mother’s cheek. “Mother, you look well.”

“Hello, my darling. Thank you. Hermione, how are you, dear?” Narcissa smiled at them both.

“Fi…fine, Narcissa. Thank you,” she nodded.

Lucius reached out to shake Draco’s hand, “Draco.”

“Father.”

“And, Hermione. You look lovely,” Lucius continued as he turned to her and bowed slightly.

There was an awkward moment when she just stared at him before she came to her senses and inclined her head at him. “Thank you.”

“Well, we were just telling the Malfoys about when you used your magic for the first time,” her father said as he came back over with drinks for the two of them.

“Oh, Daddy,” she sighed.

Everyone took their seats and Lucius actually chuckled a bit, “Quite a temper you had, blowing up a…what was it again Grang…Richard?”

“Our oven,” her father laughed.

Narcissa giggled, “You must have really wanted those cookies.”

Hermione blushed a deep shade of red, and her mother admonished with a light laugh, “Oh, stop being embarrassed, honey. You were three years old. And, it’s not as if we can tell that particular story often, now is it? It’s not exactly your normal temper tantrum story.”

Narcissa leaned forward and said to Julie, “It was in our home.”

Hermione grinned that the heat was off of her, just as Draco groaned. His mother happily shushed him and launched into a story about him scaring a horse to death by making it fly, after his father had said he was too young to ride a broom on his own.

They looked at one another and sighed heavily. It seemed their parents were getting along just fine. Narcissa and Julie kept up a steady flow of conversation as they had their drinks. And, Lucius and Richard eventually struck up a conversation about the failures of the Ministry compared to the failures of the current English administration.

When Julie led the way into the dining room, Narcissa commenting on her beautiful pieces of art, Hermione finally felt some of the tension leave her shoulders.

Draco trailed behind his father and Rich and felt her grip on his hand lighten, “Guess we were worried for nothing, huh?”

“Yeah,” she answered, “they’ve barely spoken to either of us.”

He laughed, “Well, your mom did ask your permission before she pulled out your baby pictures.”

Hermione grimaced, “True, but she could’ve waited for my answer.”

Dinner was much the same as their parents shared stories of Draco and Hermione’s lives as children. They both noticed that both sets of parents tacitly avoided talk of their years at school or the year after, and seemed content to let it rest.

Hermione watched as Lucius took part in the conversation as needed, and didn’t appear rude in any way. He also spent a good deal of his time simply taking in his surroundings. The only break in the casual flow of the conversation came when their parents started arguing over whether the wedding should be held at the Manor or at her family’s church. Neither Draco nor Hermione could get a word in as Lucius and Rich extolled the virtues of each venue and explained again and again their reasons for wanting it at their place of choice. Finally, Narcissa ended the discussion by announcing they would simply have to have two weddings. The first would be held at the church followed by a modest reception for her family and some of their friends. The second would be held at The Manor for all of the witches and wizards of the Malfoys acquaintance and any friends and family Hermione wanted to attend. Her imperious tone settled things and no one thought to argue with her. Draco and Hermione simply gaped at their parents as they launched into more discussion on the specifics of the now two weddings.

No one looked at the two of them or consulted them in the least. And, Hermione was sure she saw a look of triumph on Narcissa’s face, as well as the infamous Malfoy smirk on Lucius’. She was pretty sure the reason he had stayed as calm as he had through the talks was that this had been pre-planned on their part. When she tried to interrupt to voice her opinion and concerns, he had turned his head to look at her, read her thoughts and winked. Actually winked. Her shock clogged her throat.

By the time her mother finally served dessert, Hermione had a tension headache. A week of worry, followed by the shock and relief of seeing the four parents getting along, topped by Lucius’ calm and (eerily for her) pleasant manner, made her feel a bit sick.

Draco wasn’t faring much better. He wasn’t the least bit shocked to see the Grangers acting as they did, but his parents threw him for a loop. He had seen his parents at their best and at their worse. While he was pleased to see them seeming to enjoy themselves, he had stayed on alert for the slightest sign that his father was ready to blow. He’d actually had his wand in his hand under the table when their fathers had begun to argue venues. He hadn’t even realized how stressed he was until his mother had ended the argument and he’d released a breath he hadn’t known he was holding. The rush of oxygen back into his body had left him so lightheaded that he’d barely registered the decision to have two weddings.

The end of the evening couldn’t come too soon for either. So, when his parents stood to leave, they did their best to help usher them out, as politely as possible.

When they apparated out of the room Julie smiled and laughed, “I just don’t think I will ever get fully used to that.”

“I know what you mean,” Rich laughed. “So, did you two have a good time?”

Hermione voiced what they were both thinking, “Oh, now you want our opinion on something?”

“Oh you,” Julie laughed as she went back in to clean up. “I don’t know what we were worried about, they were perfectly agreeable people. And, that Narcissa is a riot.”

Hermione tried again, “Mom, Dad, about the two weddings thing…”

Rich patted her on the shoulder as he headed to the kitchen and laughed, “At least I won’t have to pay for them both.”

“But, maybe we should rethink…” Draco tried to add.

Only to be cut off by Julie, “The colors? Absolutely. I am sure Lucius was joking about black and silver.”

Hermione and Draco stared at her in silence as she followed her husband into the kitchen to finish cleaning up.

“Tell me this is all a bad dream,” Hermione finally said with her eyes closed.

Draco laughed softly and answered, “Well, no one will be able to say we weren’t properly married.”

He laughed louder when her eyes popped open and she stared at him as if she’d never seen him before. Before she could formulate a thought he had followed her parents.

‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’  ‘ ’

 

Author’s Notes –  I thank each and every one of you! You have all made this experience worthwhile. I love you all for it. Thank you!


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