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Chapter 33 : Life
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Without further ado and to absolutely no one's surprise, Draco became a source of outrageous gossip and scandal. Naturally, Hermione wasn't exempt from such stories, either. It was unbelievable enough the previous year when the wizarding world found out he was alive. Now, not only was he "back from the dead," but he was a werewolf, too?
According to The Daily Prophet, he was:
A rebellious werewolf leader?
Married to Hermione Granger?
A closet Death-eater?
Repentant of his ways?
Eager to start another war?
Someone to be pitied?
Someone to be feared?
The list was endless. "The Quibbler" wrote up an entire piece on his decision making abilities... or lack thereof. Apparently, the fact that he'd worked for a magazine while he was incognito showed good sense in the minds of Quibbler readers. Declining their request to host a special broadcast on his “lesser well-known cousins, the Fang-Wallopers," did not, however. Ginny had been quite of a mind that he should host the program, tossing in her two cents by suggesting he "embrace his family tree."
“Transfiguration Today” polled it's readers to determine how they felt about werewolves versus those who chose the Animagus form of a wolf or other predator. The results were inconsequential, as the staff were overrun with fan-mail from witches and wizards alike, wanting to know if Draco himself had contributed to the poll, and how to contact him.
Meetings. Interviews. Photographs. Articles. Hermione's old boss at the Ministry actually suggested the idea of a book before she’d had the chance to pitch it to him. The idea of publishing it anonymously immediately went out the window. The wizarding media was agog. They wanted to know more. Were other werewolves like him? Like them? Throngs of people started coming out, announcing that they had a werewolf brother... sister... uncle... cousin... or neighbor down the road from their childhood home, thirty years past.
When they took in his manner, his laid-back and careless demeanor, everyone clamored to know more about this "new" and "different" Draco Malfoy. Men respected that he was coolly detached and in complete control, a real man's man. Women admired his total adoration of and loyalty to his wife.
That year, “Witch Weekly” honored him with their prestigious “Most Charming Smile” award.
“I still can’t get over that one,” Hermione snorted, pulling a pair of slim, silver hoop earrings from her jewelry box. “When was the last time you smiled in public, anyway?”
“Never, if I can help it,” Draco replied dryly. “If you're not around to give me something to smile about, there’s pretty much no chance of that happening, then, is there?"
"Not unless you’re about to pummel someone,” she quipped, smirking.
“Ah yes, the truth hurts,” the blonde joked, “quite literally, for some people. What time are you meeting the girls?”
She smiled to hear him referring to Ginny and Susan in such a way. "In just a few minutes. Sue's having a bugger of a time getting Ron to voice an opinion on anything," she chuckled. "Unless he completely hates it, anyway. He just keeps saying 'whatever you like.'"
"That doesn't sound like him," Draco laughed.
"I know! Merlin, it's funny to watch, though."
Draco approached the lovely brunette where she stood in front of her vanity table, running a comb lightly through her tangled locks. "Hilarious though it may be to you," he said, "I know how the poor bloke feels."
"When have you ever had to pick out flower arrangements?" She joked. Her question fell on deaf ears, however; something on the vanity had caught Draco's eye.
"Is this what I think it is?" he asked, reaching around her shoulder to take something from her jewelry box. Hermione had just enough time to comprehend a flash of deepest crimson as the token whizzed past her, jingling meaningfully as it did so.
"It is," Draco said, his eyes narrowing with glee. "You kept it."
"Well... well, how could I not?" Hermione stammered bashfully, plucking the length of velvet from his fingers as he continued to stare at her with what had to be an illegal amount of twisted merriment. "You seemed so pleased by the ruddy thing-"
"Oh, I was," he declared. "I am."
Hermione efficiently coiled the ribbon, tucked it into the trinket box, and snapped shut the lid. Her lips twitched into a smile as she thought of the vibrant man just behind her. "Oh, Draco-"
Her response never made it past her throat, however, due to the sudden sensation of his fingers there. Without another word or thought, Draco swept her hair back and over her left shoulder, exposing the tender flesh of her neck. The scent of apples swirled around him. "You smell amazing," he murmured, "like life itself." Her body tingled with awareness as he brought his lips down to meet her skin.
Hermione gasped, the heat of his sudden kisses flooding her senses from head to toe. Trying to steady herself, she braced a hand against the table, knocking over a sealed bottle of rose water as she did so. "I..." she breathed. "I have to leave soon-"
Draco silenced her by tilting her face toward his own and capturing her mouth in a fierce kiss. Her defenses completely disabled, Hermione turned and leaned fully into her unbelievably sublime husband. Without wasting another second, Draco took her by the hips and pushed her up onto the small table now at her back, scattering more than just rose water as he did so.
"I know you have to leave," he whispered, dragging his palms from her knees up along her thighs, eventually gripping her again by the hips. "But you're just so bloody adorable..." he pulled the neck of her blouse aside, the better to touch his lips against her sensitive collar bone.
"And... but..." she could hardly think let alone speak; her grip on reality fading fast under his enthralling onslaught. "Aren't you meeting with Harry soon?"
Draco growled at the thought of anything distracting him from the oh-so-tempting girl before him. "Don't take long, will you?" his voice was low, his lips grazing her own with each word he spoke. "You'd better come home soon-" he deepened the kiss, smiling to feel her sigh with longing against him, "-because this is not over..."
On the sidewalk, just outside Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions in Diagon Alley, Ginny impatiently huffed. At the sound of apparition nearby, she turned to scowl at Hermione.
"You're late!" she declared, hands on hips.
"Not by too much," Susan said mildly as she glanced at her watch. When she looked up into Hermione's face, she raised her brows, intrigued. "Oh ho, what's this?"
"Well, well, well! Look at her!" the redhead smirked. "We had an official girl's date set up and she shows up late due to snogging-"
Hermione's already flushed face darkened a shade or two. "I wasn't-"
"Yes you were!" Susan chuckled.
"You totally were!" Ginny agreed. "Like we can’t tell! And he even made you bloody late-"
"Fine!" Hermione yelled over her two girlfriends, who were fully roaring with laughter at this point. "I was! I was being snogged senseless, all right?" Right then, two middle-aged witches exited the shop directly behind the trio, catching Hermione’s outburst and gasping at her scandalously. It seemed she didn't have any more blood to send to her scarlet-stained cheeks, however, so she settled for pointedly ignoring them. Head held high, she led her two laughing friends into the robe shop.
A rush of flames sounded. Turning, Draco saw Harry step out of the green flames that were now receding from the massive library fireplace. "Potter," he nodded in greeting.
"Malfoy," Harry dusted himself off briskly before moving into the room.
"Glad to see the floo connection works," Draco muttered.
"No kidding," the dark-haired wizard chuckled. "Don't want to be held captive in your own home ever again?"
"No," Draco sneered at the memory. "All those years I thought I was keeping everyone from getting in, only to find that when I needed to, I couldn't get out. Anyway, you're the first to have used it, so feel privileged."
While Harry rolled his eyes, Fennel appeared suddenly with a tray bearing a tea set and jam-filled biscuits. At the sight of the wizard who had helped his masters defeat the werewolf invaders, the little house elf's eyes lit with happiness.
"Oh! Mr. Harry is Sir's guest! Oh how wonderful! Did Fennel bring enough biscuits? Fennel will bring more biscuits-"
"I'm sure we have enough, thank you," Draco replied, laughing quietly but not unkindly. "If we need more, I'll call you."
"Yes! Yes!" Fennel bowed quickly, took one last shining glance at Harry, and disappeared.
"All right," Draco sat on the edge of the leather sofa, still chuckling, "now, down to business-"
Before he could say another word, a tapping sound came from across the room. "What?" he declared, his expression one of disbelief as he looked toward the large, arching windows. "Another one?"
"What're you on about?" Harry asked, taking a biscuit and sitting in a squashy armchair.
"Well," Draco muttered while letting the owl who'd been at the windowsill into the library, "if this is from Lyulf, it'll be the third-" he paused, concentrating on the letter while absentmindedly feeding the bird a treat from a jar on the sill. The tawny owl stretched it's wings and flew off into the bright blue sky, after which Draco shut the window and exhaled. "It is from Lyulf..."
"He's sent you three owls today?"
Draco raked a hand back through his hair and made his way to the sofa again. "Yes, and this, among other things, is precisely what I wanted to talk to you about." He poured himself a cup of tea and leaned back into his seat. "I've made Lyulf my primary contact," he began. "If anyone, wizard, werewolf, or otherwise wants to meet or speak with me, they have to go through him. I'm not receiving anonymous or unknown owls to my house."
"So, he's basically your secretary?" Harry snorted into his tea at the thought. "Poor man."
"Try calling him that, if you dare," Draco chuckled. "He filters everything that comes our way, unless it's from friends. Mostly it's rubbish from reporters and such, but today, well," he held up the most recent letter from his older friend, "this makes the third letter from another clan."
Harry nearly dropped his teacup. "Another clan? Of werewolves? What're they reaching out to you for?"
"They want to come together," his calm tone didn't betray the turmoil he felt within. "Join together... under my and Hermione's leadership."
"What!?" This time Harry had the sense of mind to set his cup on the table before responding. "Does she know about this?"
"Not yet; I got the first owl after she'd left to meet with Ginny and Susan this morning."
Harry nodded in understanding.
"It's got to be the publicity," Draco said, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. "All the media frenzy aside, we've had a remarkably positive reception, considering how everything could've gone. I can only assume the other clans want to attach themselves to it... to us... Mi and me."
"You don't sound convinced, Potter," Draco glanced at him. "Got any better ideas?"
"Well," Harry rubbed at his chin, "what you say fits and all, but... you can't rule out the possibility that other clans might want to align themselves with true Alpha leaders. Maybe they don't currently have any in their respective clans."
Draco crumbled a biscuit onto a plate, his agitation finding it's way to the surface. "You could be right..." realizing what he was doing, he shook his head and pushed the plate across the coffee table, out of reach of his nervous energy. "Well, I can't do anything about that until Mi gets back, anyway. I also wanted to go over some ideas of hers, as well as some contracts the Ministry has been waving in my face. You're the only person who works there I'll talk to."
"I'm honored," Harry chuckled sarcastically.
Draco unaffectedly flapped a hand, “obviously.”
“Well, despite the fact that I’m the only Ministry employee worthy of your conversation,” Harry smirked, “we should probably call Ron over.”
“How will Weasley’s input benefit this discussion?”
“Remember how he’d been tailing those vampires in Spain earlier this year?” Harry reached for his tea while Draco chuckled in remembrance. “As an Auror, he’s been tapped by the Magical Beast and Being offices. The Ministry’s trying to strengthen relations between all magical life-forms. Nobody wants a repeat of what happened with Voldemort... where relations were so strained that creatures happily turned on each other.”
“So you’re telling me he’s in the know concerning the newest laws being passed and such? Laws that may directly effect people like myself, and Hermione, for being my wife?”
Harry nodded. “I think he’s even been writing a few of them, lately.”
“Is that so?” the blonde looked impressed despite himself. “All right then, Potter; call the bloke over.”
"Black and grey, hm? Draco will be pleased." Hermione chuckled while rifling through a stand of ladies dress robes.
Susan smiled, shaking her head. "And pearl," she added, "winter white, you could say. We'd like it to be simple and classic, and with all the redheads involved, we have to make sure no one's in danger of extreme color-clashing."
"So... no maroon, then?" Ginny joked.
"No, for the love of Merlin!" Susan laughed. "Ron would kill me."
They continued in this manner for quite a while, planning and chatting and getting ideas from the dress robes before them. When it seemed they'd looked at every article of clothing in the store, they strolled next door to Flourish & Blotts. Susan was curious about wedding planning notebooks.
“You should‘ve heard Ron the other night, after we got home from the Charity ball,” she chuckled as they wandered into the bookshop. She furrowed her brow, imitating him: “How bent do you suppose all the celebrities are who were there?” she said in a low voice while Ginny and Hermione laughed. Trying to keep from laughing, herself, Susan continued: “I mean, here they all dressed to their finest nines, expecting to land on the front page of the Prophet, and Draco goes and steals it from them by outing himself.”
Hermione crowed. “Outing himself?! Oh, Merlin... it’s a good thing Draco didn’t overhear that one!”
“It could‘ve turned out a lot worse,” Ginny said, hiccupping a bit in her hilarity. “Your ‘escort’ whisked you both away fast enough.”
“Thank goodness! And Lyulf certainly wasn’t too excited about Draco’s choice of words,” Hermione rolled her eyes helplessly at the memory. “He didn’t even have to signal Blake or Ryuu, they just grabbed us and disapparated."
"Yeah," Ginny nodded, "I turned to stare disbelievingly at you, but you were both already gone. Speaking of Lyulf, what did he tell you about the attacks? I'm assuming you talked to him afterwards..."
"Yes," Hermione confirmed, "he wasn't involved; we doubted that he had been, it's really not his style," she smiled. "Lyulf wrote up a list of names of the werewolves who'd taken part; all of them were already, well, in Draco’s words ‘disposed of’ in the fights before Agilolf was shot down, all except for one."
"Who?" Ginny asked.
"Who do you think?" the corner of Hermione’s mouth turned down wryly, "the only one left alive: Faolan. She won‘t be bothering anyone for quite a while, though."
"How's that?" Susan questioned, getting lost in it all.
"I stunned her pretty fiercely,” Hermione admitted, flipping through a giant, navy blue book. “Draco said I fried her brain." she closed the tome, scowling slightly in remembrance.
Ginny skirted a towering pile of quidditch manuals. "I thought Draco questioned her after that? To find out Agilolf's hiding place?"
"Yes, he told me about that,” the brunette agreed, “but to do that, he apparently had to fry her brain a bit more just to get her to spit out some words," she sighed. "I'm fairly certain Faolan won't step out of line. Two days ago, Draco needed four other werewolves with him during her interview, just to keep her from running out of the room to get away from him. I could hear everything from the library. Every time he told her to face him, she just screamed bloody murder. Eventually, he just sent her away."
“That’s intense,” Susan’s eyebrows were raised.
“Most things are, with Draco,” Hermione joked. “Oh stop making that face, Gin! Anyway, did you know he tried to teach me martial arts, once?” Amidst snorts of disbelief, Hermione expounded. “It’s true! Something called ‘capoeria.’ It’s hard, but actually pretty fun; I could teach you sometime! It’d be a brilliant way for us all to stay in shape-”
"I don't know how our afternoon of shopping turned into you offering to teach us some of Draco's crazy yoga-martial arts,” Ginny cut in, “but it sure is entertaining," she and Susan were laughing together.
"I like that idea," Susan said happily, "I love staying active, I don't care how. It's so good to just be doing something."
"You're just like Draco," Hermione smiled, "he can't sit still for too long, either."
Ginny noticed a faint blush creep into her friend's features and she promptly elbowed her in the side. "He can't sit still, hm?" she asked impishly. "Why do I feel like you're okay with that?"
"Oh, Gin!" Hermione flapped a hand at her while Susan laughed at them.
"Well, I don't know about you, Hermione, but I-"
"Hold up a moment now, Sue," Ginny pursed her lips, "whatever you're going to say, just think first! That's my brother you're about to discuss!"
Susan, clutching her sides in laughter, said, "actually, I was going to bring up that dance the two of them did at the Charity ball. Talk about not sitting still, you two were practically glued together!"
Hermione ran a hand through her hair, flushing at the memory. "Yes, well... although that wasn't exactly what Ginny was referring to-"
“Oh, please, it was as good as!” the redhead snickered.
"Ron's not overly fond of dancing,” Susan said, tactfully taking the heat off her brunette friend for a moment. “He’s surprisingly good at it, though."
"Trust me; it's only because of you," Ginny remarked to her future sister-in-law while moving aside to let a large group of young boys storm by. "He'd never make such an effort to learn for just himself, you know."
Susan, blushing, merely smiled and studied her hands. Hermione felt so much kinship with her; she too had found herself bowled over by someone's love in many different ways. The three women continued to browse, content in their friendship to let the silence stretch.
A strange, creaking noise sounded suddenly, and Hermione glanced up. The huge stack of quidditch manuals they’d just passed was swaying dangerously. She looked around, noticing the young boys as they glanced at each other nervously before bolting for the door. The pile of books gave an almighty lurch-
“Ginny, watch out!”
Hermione dove for her friend, who was standing almost directly under the wavering tower of books. Susan reached the redhead first, pulling her back by the shoulders just as the heavy, hardcover manuals came crashing to the ground. Hermione breathed a sigh of relief, which turned quickly to a sharp gasp. Curiously, Ginny’s pale hands were tightly clasped across her belly. Hermione’s eyes widened to the size of saucers, and her intuition flared.
“Ginny,” she breathed. “Are you...?”
"-and I said, 'how am I supposed to find those kinds of flowers? I don't even know what those are,' and she just laughed and told me to work on something else. Something else? I mean... what else? It's our bloody wedding! Do you think she actually wants me to be thinking about something else?"
The three men had been conversing in the library for at least a half hour, and somehow, all talk of laws and news articles had been pushed to the wayside, along with the tea set. Draco and Harry now lounged by the fireplace, cracking open butterbeers and trying to help Ron survive the notion of his fast-approaching wedding.
"Weasley, for Merlin's sake put a cork in it about the wedding would you?" Draco sighed. Ron promptly flung the cap of his butterbeer in his direction, and with a flick of his hand Draco caught it. "We all know you're getting hitched. Be glad that you found the right woman; all the rest will just fall into place, believe me."
Harry snorted, "yes, I suppose you'd know all about that, Malfoy. Your wedding happened in the blink of an eye!"
"When I think about it, though... about what it means to really be married," Ron was still in a mild funk. "I mean, am I going to suddenly be like my mum and dad?"
"Yes," Draco replied instantly, before snorting into his butterbeer and avoiding a kick from Harry.
"Of course not, mate," Harry replied, "you end up where your decisions take you. Now, if you decide to be like your folks, that's another story."
"Do you know, at that ball," Ron mused, "so many of our classmates from Hogwarts weren't even engaged to anyone! Sue and I aren’t moving too fast, do you reckon?"
"Ron," Harry said, leaning forward to get his friend's full attention, "you're asking this of two guys your same age who are already married." Looking over at Draco, he asked, "tell me, do you feel like you and Hermione got married too soon?"
"Not soon enough," he smirked. "I'd have married her back in school, if I could’ve found a way to do it without her jinxing me six ways to Sunday.”
"Somewhere, Parkinson's heart is breaking right now," Ron joked, finally getting his head out of the clouds with the true-to-life testimonies of the two other guys.
"On the contrary, Ron, I think it broke the other night at the Charity ball," Harry nodded with mock solemnity.
"Cry me a river," Draco commented dryly.
"She looked like her world came crashing down around her," Harry continued, shaking his head and maintaining a morose expression.
"Her date wasn't too thrilled either," Ron laughed. "Anybody catch who the bloke was? Her husband? I'm willing to bet he wished you'd never come back around, in any case."
"Whatever," Draco rolled his eyes. "I don't think her reaction was so much to me being there as it was to Hermione, though."
"Well, obviously!" Ron agreed. "She'd probably been hoping to see you around at some point. I seriously doubt she expected it to be on such a high-profile night, and with your arm around another woman-"
"And that woman being Hermione-" Harry added.
"Whom you introduced as your wife-" Ron smirked.
"And right as soon as you got there! With a roving entourage of werewolves!" Harry couldn't stop himself. He jumped up out of his chair and adopted a falsely serious expression and tone. "Draco Malfoy," Harry raised an eyebrow and sneered, causing Ron to choke on his drink. "This is my wife, Hermione. Stay away from her, don't even look at her; she's mine." More choked laughter ensued from Ron's direction, while Draco sighed, a smile playing around his mouth. "Oh, and don't mind them," Harry went on, gesturing at a non-existent band of werewolf bodyguards, "can't you lot go do something? Stop surrounding us like a bunch of thugs; we're not here to start a bloody war."
Ron had fully rolled out of his chair and lay on the floor, laughing uproariously. Draco couldn't resist chuckling at the memory of that night, as well. "That's terrible, Potter," he remarked arrogantly, "you're not convincing at all. You could never be truly pompous."
"Well, it's a relief to know that, should I ever really need to become well-versed in the art of conceit, I know where to go," Harry sat back down with a grin.
"As well it should be, Potter," Draco replied casually. "In all truthfulness, how could I not be conceited? I'm married to an incredible woman, I've got a great home, I'm independently wealthy, and we're not fighting for our lives. What could be better? Oh, and I'm also bloody awesome and good-looking. My life is fantastic."
"You know what, Malfoy?" Ron began, sitting up suddenly and looking earnest, "I never thought I'd live to say this but, you're right, and I can say the same things about myself. Course I'm not quite married to Susan yet, but still..."
Harry, chuckling in a bit of surprise, added, "believe it or not, I agree. You put an interesting spin on the concept of personal reflection, there, Malfoy."
Draco just smiled knowingly, thinking of his good fortune. "You see?" he replied. "A little arrogance never hurt anyone, when it's warranted. And besides, I-" He stopped abruptly, a frown creasing his forehead. A thought had shot into his brain, unbeknownst, by Hermione.
Ginny is pregnant...
Draco stared off into the distance, not really seeing. Harry and Ron looked at each other uncertainly, but the blonde man took no notice. Ginny's pregnant? He thought to himself. Really? He could feel the truth of the statement in Hermione's thoughts. She was bowled over with shock, not to mention completely ecstatic for her friend. There were just no two ways about it; it was true.
Draco dragged a hand back through his hair and shook his head. "Whoa," he began, finally looking up at the other two men. "Ginny... Potter, I can't believe you didn't say anything. You either, Weasley, for that matter." When they only continued to stare at him blankly, Draco said, "well, come on! You can't have been able to think straight about any of the job-talk I've been going on about, right? I certainly wouldn't, if I were in your shoes. So, how far along is she?"
"How... who?" was all Harry could say.
"Your wife, you idiot! Ginny! How long has she been pregnant? Do you know when the ba-" Draco didn't finish. The wide-eyed expressions of Harry and Ron caused him to snap his mouth shut.
"Gin... Ginny... my sister..." Ron's eyes were moving back and forth, as though he were looking for her somewhere among them in the library.
Harry's mouth was moving, and it was the only part of his face Draco could see. He'd covered his eyes with his hands. "Pregnant," he gasped. "She.... she's... I'm... we're having...."
Draco reached nervously for his butterbeer, not taking an eye off either of the flummoxed wizards before him. He gulped. Oh... shite...
"You're pregnant," Hermione whispered, her eyes on her friend's stomach, as though expecting to see a baby already smiling from within.
Ginny's cheeks were flushed bright pink, her eyes shining. "Mmhm," she said with a nod.
"Why didn't you say anything?" Susan asked.
"Oh, I only just found out, myself... I'm less than a month along," the redhead shrugged apologetically. "Besides, today's supposed to be about you, Sue-"
"Rubbish!" the other girl cried, leading the way around the massive clutter of quidditch manuals. "Wonderful news is wonderful news, regardless when it crops up!"
"I agree!" Hermione's face was glowing with excitement. "And now we have a wedding and a baby on the way! Oh... I'm so happy for my two best friends!" she was practically gasping with joy, so much so that Ginny actually laughed. "But now I wish I had something wonderful to plan-"
"Don't get too ahead of yourself, sweetheart," Ginny said slyly. "It's not exactly like you don't have anything going on in your own life, you know."
Susan nodded fervently. "Plus, we're counting on you to help us plan and organize and support us all along the way! Right, Ginny?"
"Yes, I'll definitely be needing some girlfriend support," the girl in question agreed. "Between Harry and Mum, I'm going to need someone who won't fawn all over me... who'll still let me do things myself, you know?" When her dark-haired friend only smiled joyously in response, Ginny chuckled. "Well," she declared, "now that the cat's out of the bag, what do you say about hitting the Leaky Cauldron? I'm famished."
When Hermione arrived home later that afternoon, she was positively glowing from the inside out. Hanging up her coat and strolling across the foyer toward the library, she happily called out, "I'm hooome!"
Draco met her in the hallway, just outside the library's doors.
"Draco," she gushed, "you won't believe what- oh! Harry, I didn't know you were still here! And Ron, you too?"
"I... what?" Harry said, looking distracted.
"Hey 'Mione," Ron said, not appearing any better off than his dark-haired friend, though at least able to form a sentence.
"Been talking. About eh... owls. Malfoy got a few of them today. Ron came by... we had butterbeer," Harry rambled. "Gotta go, though. Now that you're connected to the Noo Fletwork... I mean Floo Network. Home. Gotta get to Gin... I mean my wi- I mean..." He trailed off, looked at each of them as though he were seeing right through them, and disapparated.
Ron shuffled his feet for a moment before inexplicably adding, "same. Home, I mean. And... the thing. I've got a thing... should probably go..." and he was gone, having disapparated as well with a small pop.
"What on earth-"
"I didn't know," Draco groaned. "I told them... I didn't know that they didn't know-"
"You're sounding just like them!" Hermione declared, moving toward the library and it's comfortable sofas. "What is going on around here?"
"I told them," he repeated while following her back into the library. "I heard your thoughts; I told them Ginny's pregnant-"
"What?!" Hermione screeched, her hair fanning out as she whirled around to face him.
"I didn't know," Draco practically wailed, feeling totally out of his element. "I figured that, of all people, they would've already known! How was I to know she hadn't told them?"
Groaning, Hermione flopped down onto the sofa. "I didn't even realize you heard me..." she mused. "Well, there's nothing we can do about it, now. Besides, it's not like she wasn't going to tell them, anyway."
Draco nodded, remaining quiet for a moment. He gazed at her. "You're really excited for them, aren't you?"
"Yes," she breathed. "Aren't you?"
"Sure, of course... it's just..." he shrugged, sitting beside her. "I didn't realize you'd be so thrilled about a baby, is all."
She quirked an eyebrow at him. "I'm thrilled for them, but don't be getting any ideas, there," she poked him playfully in the chest. "We've got enough on our plates right now as it is!"
"That is definitely true," Draco agreed, chuckling. "Not to mention," he leaned over and took her chin delicately between his thumb and forefinger, "I'm much too selfish to think of having children any time soon." He kissed her gently, his lips brushing with sweet heat against her own.
"I want you all-"
He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close and deepening the kiss all in one smooth motion. Hermione's breathing was turning to gasps; her heart beat wildly in her ears.
"I told you before, my love," Draco whispered in her ear, "it's time we pick up where we left off this morning..."
Some time later, Draco and Hermione lay tangled together on the same fat sofa they'd so innocently sat upon, earlier. A chenille throw was draped casually across them, their clothes had long ago been discarded to various parts of the floor, and the only sound to be heard was the crackling of flames in the fireplace.
Hermione's head was upon her husband's chest, his left arm tucked behind her head. "Three other clans, hm?" she murmured, sighing lightly as he stroked her hair.
"So far, yes," Draco replied. "And both Harry and Ron liked your idea about the 'Safe-Citizen' bills, naturally."
"Oh, naturally," she repeated, chuckling. After a minute, she said, "I think we could handle three more clans, Draco."
It was his turn to chuckle. "Oh, you do, do you? Yes, of course you do. Well, I think that as long as we're together, we can handle anything."
Running a hand languidly along his chest, Hermione smiled.
"You know what else?" Draco asked, his voice barely above a whisper.
"Hm?" she replied.
"Sometimes I wonder..." he went on, "is this really real? I mean... is this really my life? Really and truly my life? It doesn't seem possible."
Hermione's smile only grew. "Yes," she murmured. "It is your life... and mine. Our life."
A/N So, there you have it... The Clan of the Dragon is growing, with Draco and Hermione striving to change the wizarding world's opinion of werewolves one person at a time. Ron and Susan will be married soon, and Harry and Ginny are expecting their first child... there's so much going on! I felt that it was important to show how life can, and will, go on after heartache and turmoil... I wanted to leave the characters happy and flourishing, with the future bright before them!
Thank you so much to everyone who stuck with me through "The Covenant!" I truly loved writing it, and I appreciate every Reader and Reviewer more than I could ever say. If you ever have questions or just want to chat, please send me an email!
From the bottom of my heart... thank you... ^_^
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