A Dragon and a Phoenix

Chapter 40

As vacations go, it was spectacular. Although Draco was dubious about some of the local cuisine, I managed to talk him into trying a surprising amount of things. Although, after three weeks, he insisted that we'd have to have to have a team of hippogriffs to transport our luggage if I bought anything else. I grudgingly agreed to cease my shopping, and we lazily enjoyed the last week of our vacation.

"So, we're due back home in a few days. What do you want to do for our last couple of nights?" I asked.

"I've made reservations for dinner for tonight. The hotel manager recommended it," he replied.

"Oh, okay. What time is the reservation for?"

"It's in a little over an hour. You've got plenty of time to get ready," Draco said.

The restaurant was beautiful. The soft light emitted from the Moroccan lanterns and candles was perfect. Most of the tables were circled by pillowed couches instead of chairs. Brightly colored silk pillows adorned the couches, and I smiled with delight as we followed the hostess to a table near the small indoor pool.

The sound of the tiny waterfall over the pool blended into the instrumental music playing in the background. I looked around while he ordered a bottle of wine. I hadn't expected to go somewhere so elegant, and I fidgeted with my necklace self-consciously.

"Stop it. You look beautiful," he said, putting down the menu.

"I just feel underdressed," I muttered.

"You're not. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure that I noticed a few jealous looks when we came in," he smugly replied.

Unwillingly, my lips quirked up into a half smile. "Alright. If you say so. It's not like I have to see any of these people after tonight anyway," I relaxed a bit. "And it is too wonderful a place to be worried about what I'm wearing."

"Well, I'm glad you agree with me. You should just do that all the time. It would make everything so easy," he joked.

"Oh, now we both know you like the challenge. But I will concede that you were spot on with your choice of restaurant tonight. It's great here. You should give that hotel manager an excellent tip," I replied.

Before he could say anything else, the waiter returned with our wine. He'd chosen a red, one of my favorites, and I took my time enjoying it.

Just as I finished my glass, I noticed Draco staring at me. He'd gotten very quiet in the last few minutes, and I wondered what was on his mind. As I was about to ask, he took my hand and smiled a mysterious smile, "I've been thinking," he began.

"Oh dear," I laughed.

"This trip has been amazing. I know it won't always be perfect; I think the way things started for us pretty much proved that, but I'm happy it's you. Not many people could have kept their heads and handled things the way you did. If I'm honest with myself, you're more than I ever deserved, but I want to spend the rest of my life fighting with you and loving you. I know it seems like you don't have a choice because of the Unbreakable Vow, but you do. So, I'm asking you," he rose from his chair and dropped gracefully to one knee, slipping an antique, silver ring box, engraved with the Malfoy family crest, from his pocket, "Kimberly Daniels, will you marry me?"

For a moment, frozen in time, I stared at him in surprise. "Oh!" I squeaked out. I leaned forward, pulling him into a kiss, then letting him go long enough to answer, "Yes. Of course, yes."

He smiled and slipped the ring onto my finger. A princess cut emerald was set in a band of white gold and diamonds. It was stunning. "I always thought I'd give this to someone because I had to, not because I wanted to. You changed that."

We returned home a few days later, and I still hadn't gotten used to the unfamiliar weight on my left hand. I'd caught myself just looking at the way it caught the light, and wondering if it made me look as different as it made me feel.

"Having second thoughts," he asked quietly.

I spun to face him, pressing my hand to my chest guiltily, "No, actually I was thinking how strange the weight of it on feels on my hand, and wondering if everyone else sees the difference, or if I just feel it."

He smiled, "Well, as long as you know that there's no mulligan on that answer. You said yes, so I'll be holding you to that."

"I'd no sooner change my answer than cut off my own arm. I love you, and like it or not, you're stuck with me," I smirked.

"Well, I guess if I'm stuck with you, I'd better make the most of it," he growled, pulling me against himself and kissing me possessively.

After a moment I leaned back to look up at him, "So, I was wondering if you wanted to talk about when we're actually going to get married. Everything has been such a whirlwind, and it wasn't exactly a normal relationship until recently; I just want to be sure that we're ready."

"I want to wait for a while, too. We can make our engagement last as long as we want. It's going to take some time for everything to get back to normal as it is. I do think that we should at least move in together, though." he suggested.

"I think so too. The main question there is where we're going to live. I think we can rule out living here. It's too soon for me to be so close to so many memories of my mother. As for living at Malfoy Manor, I know that we probably will eventually because that's the family seat, but with your mother there..." I trailed off.

"...Well," he began, "she's not living there right now. I honestly don't know what her long term plans are, we haven't talked about them, but she's moved into our place in the French countryside. That's why I wanted to talk to you about moving in with me. She left this morning."

"Well, in that case, I suppose I'd better start packing," I replied with a smile.

Dad had been happy for us when we came back and I told him about our official engagement. Before we'd returned to Hogwarts, we'd had a discussion with him about the future and the terms of the Unbreakable Vow. He had insisted that if we were only going through with it to save him that he'd hear of no such thing. He'd said that he knew I'd take care of my brother, and that the family inheritance was more than enough to ensure our comfort. After a lot of time and tears I'd finally convinced him that it wasn't just about saving his life. He'd reluctantly accepted that, but our public engagement seemed to, finally, truly assure him. Now, I was moving in with Draco, and he seemed genuinely pleased at our happiness.

Every day had finally gone from being a stressful struggle filled with questions, to just peaceful happiness. I couldn't remember the last time everything had been so simple and good. I finally felt like everything would be okay.

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