"You can't leave."
"What's the point?"
"I don't know. I don't remember what we had anymore now."
He sighs, "Neither do I."
He gets up and she does too. "Please, don't."
He nods disagreement.
"Draco!" She yells at his retreating form. His shoes click on the polished wood floors. "DRACO!"
He turns at the door, "Goodbye Hermione."
He spins on the spot and with a pop disappears. She sits in the chair nearest to her, clutches her waist and sobs.
3 years later
She stands on a lonely hill top and in the tall grass is a small flat stone. It reads,
Beloved by Mother and Father
Mors nos non disiungit
In the valley she sees the manor. It is like a grey giant reflecting the cold air of the moors back to her. She says to herself, to anyone who will listen, "Death does not part us."
She begins a slow trek back toward the terrace. She is clad in all black. Her cloak is a fine wool blend and flairs at the waist, her dress is a silk wrap with a mid-calf hem and her black LK Bennett flats are exchanged for similar branded pumps at the door to the terrace. Her hair is long, straight and tucked behind her ears. There is single gray streak favoring the right side of her mane and she has never attempted to dye it. The curls fell out and the gray appeared after Scorpius passed.
The door of the terrace leads into the ballroom and her shoes make a hollow, lonely echo across the floor. At the large entryway that leads from the ballroom into the main dining room she meets with a small creature clad in a black vest and bow tie who says, "Would the missus like white soup this evening?"
"That sounds lovely Rupie." The creature snaps his fingers and disappears. She continues her journey through the dining room to an ornate entry hall done in black and white marble that leads to the grand staircase and a dark hall. She travels the dark hall passing several closed doors and enters an open door. The library is her sanctuary. In a wing-backed chair she reads as the sun slopes below the hill that she can just make out from this vantage point.
Her eyes gloss over and she sees a tall platinum blond man with a little boy on his shoulders. They stride up the hill and play. They wave at her and blow kisses. It gets dark and the shadows begin to fall in the study. She returns to her book. Her soup has been placed next to her on a tray.
The fireplace behind her roars to life and a not unexpected man enters. Hermione turns to him, "Minister."
"Good Evening Hermione. You know I hate it when you call me that."
"Would you rather me call you Pothead as Draco was used to do?"
He looks at her sadly, "I'd rather you call me friend."
She ignores the sentiment, "Why are you here?"
"Lucius needs your help and you know he is too proud to ask."
"I will never understand him."
"Nor I but he is getting released tomorrow and with Narcissa gone someone needs to accept custody."
Something sparks in her eyes, "No luck finding Draco?"
Harry sighs heavily, "You know you would be the first person we would call Hermione. He has just… disappeared."
She nods, "What time shall I be there?"
"Fine. No cameras Harry."
At quarter to nine the following day, Hermione, clad in a wool Navy blue pleated Maxi skirt and ivory silk tie neck blouse approaches the fireplace in the library. She sighs as she picks up a stack of papers- they are release papers for Lucius. Harry sent them yesterday for her signature. Her small stocking feet make a light imprint in the thick library rug as she walks towards the floo and she sees that the house elves have left a pair of nude patent leather pumps out for her along with a deep burgundy cloak.
She wears a light smile as she shuffles the papers and throws on the cloak and steps into the shoes. Draco always did say that once taught, she knew how to look the part of Lady Malfoy. Her expression turns sad. He was no longer there to teach her.
Throwing a handful of floo powder into the fireplace she says firmly, "Ministry of Magic."
She steps gracefully through the large fireplace on the other side of the connection hearing the general din of the atrium surrounding her and beginning her walk to the lifts. Several witches and wizards recognize her and they spread the word in hushed whispers. Who would not? War hero, savior of the progeny of Wizarding England, scorned wife and heir of the House of Malfoy, grieving and broken mother. Hermione felt their eyes on her and boldly continued forward.
At the lifts, the gathered morning work crowd parted for her and only Mr. Weasley was brave enough to step in with her. As the doors began to close he said, "Hermione, we've missed you at the borrow."
She smiles slightly at him, "I miss the burrow too."
"Join us for brunch on Sunday."
"You know I can't do that."
He nods his head sadly. The last time Hermione attempted to come over to the burrow a house elf had to be called to retrieve her. She'd had a debilitating panic attack when young Teddy Lupin had been spotted riding by on a broom outside. Mr. Weasley knew why. They all knew why. What with Teddy and James and George's son, Fred, it was a wonder that she'd ever dared enter the house in the first place.
"Well, don't be a stranger. I would love to do some fishing in your overstocked ponds if you'd ever let me."
She tries to keep her smile firmly planted on her face and says, "Of course. What a wonderful idea."
He says after a ding, "This is me. Good morning Hermione."
"Good Morning." She sags into herself after he exits.
All of those Weasley grandchildren were alive because of her but she could not keep her own son alive. She had failed. Now was not the time to think on it. The bell dinged again signaling her floor. Leaving the elevator she spotted a small group of wizards and witches in purple robes directly down the hall to her left- Aurors. Guessing this was the security detail she headed towards them. They were bolder than the average ministry worker and they greeted her with reverence. One witch even made to touch her free hand and appeared to be elated at the contact. In a whispered tone she said, "Thank you for my daughter."
Hermione gracefully accepted the thanks with a curt nod and proceeded into the door. The Minister, Harry, and head auror were deep in conversation. She interrupted them, "Gentlemen?"
They turned to her and the red head quickly approached and swooped her into a hug, "Hermione!"
She rolled her eyes to Harry over the Auror's shoulder, "Ronald! Put me down this instant."
Sheepishly he let her go and said, "Sorry Hermione. Missed you is all."
She smiled softly, "Me too. Head auror becomes you."
He blushed modestly, "Thanks. Pansy says hello too."
The four of them, long ago, Pansy and Ron and Hermione and Draco had become inseparable friends. Time made fools of them all in the end and they fell in love respectively- Slytherin and Gryffindor. Where Draco's and Ron's egos needed a thrashing the girls could be relied upon to provide it. Hence why Ron stood before her now, more mature, hardworking and more humble than she ever could have imagined him when they were teenagers.
"Tell her hello from me."
"Will do," he said with a soft smile and then with a businesslike tone, "Now, I believe we are ready to receive Lucius. Are you sure you're OK with taking custody of him Hermione?"
"Yes, I am…" She had been about to say that she hoped he would provide company in the lonely manor but stopped herself. Harry winced at her hollow tone.
Touching his wand to his palm, Harry spoke an incantation to release the prisoner that only the sitting minister could and he touched his glowing palm to the fireplace to his left. Immediately flames appeared and were followed soon by the object of their interest, Lucius Malfoy.
Hermione took in the sight of him after 15 years in Azkaban. He was wealthy so he had an easier time of it than others but she could see the grief of the years etched on his face. His fine hair had lost its luster and his figure and features in general were sallow and sunken. His posture was unchanged however and he was tall and commanding. He was dressed in old robes- the ones that he was wearing on the day he was imprisoned no doubt- but they were still of a fine material even if they had faded and hung more loosely on him. On the table in front of him he saw his wand, cane and great coat and several stacks of papers. With a pace that only years of practice could provide, he proudly and leisurely retrieved and donned his personal items. Ron's wand stood at the ready but it appeared that it was unnecessary.
After throwing his cloak on he turned to Harry, "Minister, if that is all?"
Harry responded, "Yes. Your paperwork is complete and you will be a free man after your conditional release into one year of house arrest and good behavior during that year."
Lucius nodded and said, "You have my word." He then turned to Hermione and making eye contact with her for the first time since she was a teenager he held out his right arm to her saying,
"Lady Malfoy, if you would be so kind, I am ready to go home."
She hesitated only an instant and then her training took over. In the blink of eye she straightened her posture to match his and then went to stand by his side and take his proffered arm. She applied a gentle pressure to his forearm signaling that she wished to say her adieus and she did so, "Harry, Ron, please accept our invitation to join us for dinner in two weeks. Your wives are welcome." The unspoken implication being that their children were not but neither of them were willing to pass up the first olive branch that Hermione had offered in more than two years and they both responded in the affirmative and then she was gone.
The pair walked to the lifts followed loosely by the team of Aurors and they made quite a stir as they traveled across the atrium but there were blessedly no cameras. Hermione wondered what kinds of threats Harry had had to make in order for that to be possible. They reached the floo and in one fluid motion they stepped in together. The only family either of them had anymore, they clung a bit tighter as the familiar pull of the network grabbed them both and transported them to Malfoy manor.
The first few days of his release Hermione never saw Lucius. She sent the elves to tend to him and they returned to her to say that Master Lucius had requested to be alone. Several nights she thought she heard sobs coming from his bedroom. On the fifth day, rising early as she always did, Hermione encountered him in the ballroom. She was making for the door and her familiar flats for a walk on the lonely moor. He had his cloak on and was waiting near the makeshift mud rug.
It appeared that he wished to join her and she changed her shoes and without a word he held out his arm to her. They walked in the long dewy grass up the hill and she stopped as always to speak to her son. He did not interrupt. She did not alter her behavior for him. She suspected that he had been watching her routine for the last four days so why change it now?
"Hi Scorp. Today is already a beautiful day. The sun is just rising over the manor and it will be warmer than it has been. Summer is coming. Do you remember that summer when you were four and you and Daddy slid down this grassy hill on your plastic sled? You fell into the water and giggled about escaping with Gilliweed and turning into a fish. That was a good day."
She was startled when Lucius picked up her thread, "I wish I had been there for that Scorpius. This is your grandfather. I miss you very much. I miss your daddy and your grandmother too…" He choked up and couldn't continue. Hermione turned to him to see that his eyes were glossy.
She pulled her arm through his tighter and then tugged herself closer to him saying, "We all miss them." Hermione parted from him to pull some wildflowers from the grassy knoll and left them on the small stone saying goodbye.
They walked back to the manor. Upon entering the ballroom Lucius said, "You know, there is modest mud room just underneath us?
She smiled, "I know but, well, this room has sentimental value for me. Draco and I danced our first dance as a married couple here."
He nodded understanding, "I see."
She did not see him for the remainder of the day but a house elf was successful in tending to him in the evening. Honestly Hermione was astonished that he had not spoken a word about her blood status, her friends or her management of his ancestral home. It was very surprising indeed she had assumed he never communicated with her while he was in Azkaban because he did not appreciate Draco sullying the family line. Perhaps she had assumed wrong.
Nine days later, Hermione stood in the dining room. A leaf had been added to the table to accommodate the extra guests and everything was laid out just so. Lucius entered the room from a side door and taking in the table he said, "Ah, yes, dinner with your friends."
She nodded and said nervously, "It is the first time I have dined with them in two years."
"I guess it just hurts too much. Thank you for giving me a reason to reach out again. Now that there are two of us, it's harder to be recluse."
He nodded and then walked to the sideboard to pour himself a glass of wine. They heard the fireplace in the drawing room sound and they held their glasses and waited in the foyer for their guests. Harry and Ron were first followed by Ginny and Pansy. They greeted one another and Hermione offered refreshments as they made their way to the dining room. A house elf had turned on soft classical music in the surround sound speakers in the dining room. The memory of Draco's skepticism made her smile softly. After a couple months he had learnt to love the muggle invention and had ventured to ask Hermione what other wonderful technologies they could install in the manor. She saw Lucius raise an eyebrow at her as he spotted the source of the music. She surprised herself and winked a playful response to him and he further surprised her when he shrugged and rolled his eyes.
Was this camaraderie? With Lucius? When they had finished with their heavy grazing, the sat down at the table and beautifully appointed china appeared with a wonderfully presented stuffed pheasant atop julienne potatoes and asparagus. To the amazement of all present, the six of them had a lovely evening. Lucius, Harry and Ron were conversant and friendly on the latest politics and Lucius had some interesting insight for Ron on a case that his department had yet to crack. Hermione, Pansy and Ginny seemed to pick right up where they left off except that Pansy and Ginny were careful not to mention anything having to do with their children. They discussed the latest developments in Ginny's club quidditch conference and the new season's fashion that Pansy had a large hand in designing. Pansy offered fittings and freebies on some of the pieces in the summer collection and the other girls were properly induced to come to her boutique and let Pansy use them as a pin doll. They decided to meet a week later for it.
As they said goodbye, Harry let slip that they had gone over a bit on their babysitter and gave Hermione a nervous look but she gracefully pretended not to notice and was all affability in helping Ginny find her scarf. Lucius and Hermione waved goodbye as the two pairs floo'd away and with an almost collective sigh they returned to the dining room to fetch their glasses of wine.
He broke the silence first, "That went well I think. Your friends have grown quite a bit since I saw them last."
She responded, "I agree. We've all been through a lot. Some, like Ron, have matured more than I ever expected. They're sorry, you know… about your… your time in prison."
He frowned saying, "It was less than I deserve." And Hermione saw the real result of the events of his life. He was punishing himself. His wife, his son, his grandson- they were all gone and he felt he had had a hand in it. She saw in a flash that he thought he deserved all of the pain and more.
She put her glass down and said, "I disagree but I can't speak from a position of authority. I still blame myself… For Scorpious."
He put his glass down too and he closed the distance between them, "Don't." She broke into a sob and he pulled her into a stiff hug. It was unexpected and it felt too formal to be borne out of love but she would take whatever contact he was willing to give.
Releasing her he held his arm out to her and slowly escorted her to her room. She gladly took the opportunity to avoid continuing this conversation and this way of thinking. She went to bed that night thinking of Lucius and how different he was and how perhaps they could help each other heal.
The truth was that Lucius hated Hermione Granger as a teenager. He hated her still at his trial immediately following the war and attempted to burn holes into her head as she testified for Narcissa and Draco and grudgingly included him in her testimony in defense of their family. He did not want the help of a mudblood and friend of blood traitors. However, he received it and his prison sentence for war crimes and for housing Voldemort had been shortened from life to 15 years with one year of probation thereafter with good behavior.
The first three years he was in prison he spent in anger. He was angry with himself for his stupid decisions, angry with his father Abraxas for suggesting and prodding him into supporting Riddle and angrier with getting caught and paying the price for his stupidity. In that third year, his faithful bride fell ill. She came to visit him weekly and he loved her more for her dedication to him in his fallen state than ever before. Unlike his stint in Azkaban when the Dark Lord was rising again, she now had the freedom to ignore him and she did not. She let him vent his anger and she helped him work through it. Always forgiving, always strong, always persevering. Occasionally, she brought Draco and through her, he began repairing his relationship with his son. He would be eternally grateful to her for that especially.
Narcissa battled cancer for 6 months before she passed over to the other side. Azkaban had allowed him escorted visits to St. Mungos at the end and he would never forget her last words imploring him to love Draco and forgive himself. That next year he was no longer angry. He was empty. Draco was too and his son, to honor his mother, began to visit him weekly on the same day she used to and they grieved her as they remembered her. As time passed Draco eventually began to be cheerful again and Lucius hoped that his son would find happiness where he could not. His hope for Draco pulled him out of depression.
When Draco came to visit one week in that fifth year looking rather befuddled Lucius questioned him, "Draco, you look like a young pup in love. Why so doe eyed?" The boy started and understanding seemed to dawn.
Draco said, "I never would have confessed it to myself but I see it now. Father, I need to go." He swept from the room quickly and week later he returned with a familiar ring. It was an old Malfoy family heirloom. It was made of delicate gold filigree surrounding small diamond petals forming a flower.
"May I have this to give to her, Father?"
He nodded, "Of course. Why ask? You own the estate now. I am at your mercy."
Draco hesitated, "Its just that…"
Lucius narrowed his eyes, "Out with it son."
"Don't you think it is funny I haven't told you about her?"
"Its OK. I know. I have seen her too."
Draco looked dumbfounded, "Really?"
Lucius smirked, "Of course. And, as I am a well off prisoner, I do get The Daily Prophet. And you are, after all, a followed celebrity."
The boy flushed, "I didn't think you would approve."
"Even if I did not, I could never deprive you of the person who has helped you work through Narcissa's passing and I would not try to prevent that which I have seen. As it is, I do not dislike the girl anymore. Your mother taught me the error of that."
Draco teared up, "She won't be here for the wedding. She always wanted to have a wedding in the garden with a big reception in the ball room."
Lucius in a rare display of affection touched his son's hand, "Perhaps Hermione would like that. Why don't you ask?"
Months later Draco's visits tapered a bit to every other week. He received a short note from the girl expressing her love of his son and her desire to reconcile with him and though he was no longer angry with her he felt he could never deserve to be included in the love of one so pure as his son's new bride. He chose not to respond to her.
Their lives fell into a routine then. Draco would visit, they would talk of Hermione but he never pressed his father on the issue and they would play chess. It went on like that for 2 years without interruption and then came the fateful day that Draco came with the news that he would be a father. Lucius could see the elation in his son's face. They were going to have a son and they were going to name him Scorpius. Lucius had already seen this but for some reason the future of his grandchild was dark to him. He would find out why later.
Hermione was beautiful in her pregnancy. There wasn't enough time to plan all the ways they would love and care for the child. Even Lucius couldn't help but smile with his son's contagious delight. The boy came. He received a birth announcement from Hermione and it contained a picture of the three of them. He cherished it- running his fingers over the delicate card stock faces of his family and wishing that one day he could earn their love back. Draco's visits were once a month now and over the course of the next four years he even got to see his grandson a few times. Those were the happiest days of his time in Azkaban. He knew Narcissa would have loved this new little family and spent his days pouring over pictures and "art" that Hermione sent him from Scorpius. He never responded to them but opened them and enjoyed them with alacrity.
Then the dark days began. The prophet began to tell of an epidemic. Three magical children had already perished when the first article was published and soon the world death count started to rise exponentially. The disease targeted children who had not come of age yet and worked quickly. From exposure to death took about 4 weeks. Hogwarts and all schools in the magical world were closed. Countries quarantined themselves. No witch or wizard could move across country lines and apparition and flooing was forbidden from homes with children under 17.
Draco came to visit that month that the news broke. He said that Hermione had her suspicions about its origin and that she was working tirelessly to concoct a cure. His son looked tired and scared. He tried to reassure him that Scorpius was safe so long as he was kept at home and it wasn't like the young lad could fly away. Lucius had no idea that his words would prove so prophetically correct. He cursed his denial of his sight when he made that statement. He should have noticed the prophecy within it.
Hermione discovered within weeks that the contagion was a virus created magically. Rather than concern herself with who created it, she set about studying the muggle science behind vaccines and began to pick apart the magical virus looking for a way to weaken it or kill it to create a vaccine. She worked herself to the ground, sleeping rarely and eating only when forced.
Scorpius usually spent his time with his father while Hermione was in the lab. Today, however, Draco had asked Hermione to look after him for a bit while he stepped out for a business meeting, and Hermione, absorbed in thought did not hear his request. She later made a similar request for that same period and Draco, equally distracted agreed to the same. So it happened, that each parent thought that the other was taking care of their five year old son and neither was. They could have asked a house elf if they had known, but life gets in the way sometimes, and they did not.
Events transpired quickly then, Scorpius, unattended took his toy broom from his nursery and went to the back terrace and flew to his favorite hilltop. Espying the township in the distance and having some sickles he'd earned for chores on his person he decided to go get candy. When Draco returned home for lunch and Hermione emerged from her lab they both found Scorpius gorging on candy in the small sitting room and they laughed. He told his story and the worry became evident on his parent's faces. He was confused when they began to ask him if he met any other children while he was out. Of course he had, there was a young girl that asked for a chocolate frog from him and they had traded cards and talked about the best wizards and witches to collect. His parents looked alarmed and the young boy began to cry his remorse and then they all hugged. Hermione told him to go change and that it was OK, he wasn't in trouble but needed to ask permission in the future to go out on his broom. The adults talked while he was gone and the talk was in a terribly worried hush with hope that nothing would go amiss. The unspoken plea in both their voices was that he had not been exposed.
But fate was a bitch and she had a mean streak- a week later Scorpius tested positive for the virus. Two weeks later he was gone. His body had less fight in it than an older child. A week after that, Hermione finally cracked the vaccine. It was too late. Draco would come to his father, crying in huge body shaking sobs. His son was gone. It was his fault, it was Hermione's fault, it was God's fault and it was no ones fault. The two men cried together. The elder, holding his son and understanding his survivors guilt too well.
The last time Draco visited Lucius he was a hallow shell of the man that he'd become. He looked like he'd been drinking and spoke with lonely edge to his voice when he said, "I don't think we'll come out of this father. We blame each other and we can't fix it. We miss our boy. Everything is pointless without him." Draco's visits ceased.
That is when Azkaban truly became a horrid place. There were no more pictures from Hermione. There was no more hope. The world had stripped him of his youth in devotion to a madman, his freedom, his wife and now his son and his grandson. It was only what he deserved, afterall.
He got through those years somehow though and he kept up with The Prophet and knew that Hermione's vaccine had been distributed to every magical child and was part of the vaccine schedule for magical infants. A year later the disease's culprit, a depressing Lord Voldemort copy cat named Wolfgang Whilloughby who claimed to have sought to rid the world of muggle born witches and wizards, was caught by the head auror, Harry Potter. Potter had used evidence that Hermione had tirelessly sought through science to trace the source back to him. It was the clincher in Potter's campaign to become Minister of Magic.
The Kid killer, as he became known worldwide, was executed by draining him of his magical essence that year. It was a slow and painful way to die and was not broadcast but there was rejoicing over his death and vindication for the families who were suffering. Hermione was rewarded with another Order of Merlin First Class which she declined to receive and a monument in her honor was erected in the new atrium of a larger and relocated St. Mungos in Diagon Alley. It was a sculpture of her holding a tiny infant. It was inspired from a photo that an anonymous source donated of her and Scorpius. Lucius never confessed to the submission.
As the years passed he began to hear from Hermione again. Her letters were always short and they usually contained an attached report on the Malfoy holdings. She had invested heavily in Muggle technology and the estate was pulling in large enough dividends that their family fortune had doubled. At the time of the vaccines completion, more than five thousand children had already perished and another ten thousand were identified as infected. The Potter's three children and one of Ron's were included in the ten thousand. They all made a full recovery. No further deaths had been reported even in developing countries. Hermione had ensured that her vaccine was given for free. She used the now larger Malfoy family fortune for that and barely made a dent in it.
In these years, Draco had never returned and when Lucius thought hard on his son he felt a sense of loss. It was his belief that Draco had passed on to the other side though none could confirm it. He saw it... among other disturbing images. There was a reason he had gotten an O in divination.
6 months later
Hermione sat in the cold bedroom looking through their photos. The room had fallen into disuse over the intervening years. She couldn't come into it without feeling an overwhelming sense of sadness. In this room she and Draco had made passionate love and had created their child. Now, she would and could grieve. She placed a small unopened box in the corner. Neither she nor Lucius had the heart to go through it.
Since Lucius had been home the search for Draco had become more comprehensive. He had good travel sense in foreign cities of was more familiar with Draco as a child and his memories. With the Ministries permission and in cooperation with his parole stipulations, he began looking in every city their family had visited and traversed every haunt that he thought would hold some significance to Draco. Finally, in Vienna, he had success with an old photo that Hermione kept of his son when he was in his mid twenties. The woman he spoke to said that the young man had visited her shop frequently several years ago and she thought he lived a block away but he must have moved since.
He began asking around the flats on the next block and was greeted by a man who gave him a sad look upon seeing the photo. The man led him into his house and handed him a smallish box that was sealed shut saying, "Sirius was a quiet man and unfortunately we could find no next of kin to claim his things. We searched for an English Mr. Sirius Black but the only man we found was one with the same name who died years before. When we called a relative, Andromeda I believe was the name, she spoke to us as if we were out of our minds and we assumed that we had the wrong family. Another search availed nothing. I'm sorry for your loss. You and him look a great deal alike."
Lucius said thank you and took the box from him. In a side street he pulled a small locket out of his pocket and felt the familiar pull as the portkey activated. Arriving at Malfoy manor he dropped to the floor and bowed his head over the box and wept. Hermione, happening to be upstairs taking tea, heard the noise of the portkey and came to find him. She knew immediately and she joined him. They sat there staring at the box and not staring at it. Crying tears that came unbidden.
Draco's body had been transported to the manor and he was interred on the hill next to Scorpius several months before. Hermione, always joined by Lucius now, had ceased talking to Scorpius but never failed to place something on both of the markers. Today was like every other day except that the warmth of summer was returning once again. As the descended from the hill Hermione said, "Do you remember last year when we first walked down this hill together? I think it was a similar time but after my birthday."
"I was thinking how surprising it was that you seemed to accept me."
"Why do you?"
"You're a Malfoy. I suspect that you always have been and that my eye was just blocked from seeing you by my prejudice."
She turns a smiles a bit at him, "You and Draco and your 'eyes.'"
He frowns at her, "It is a Malfoy trait. You would do well to respect it. Whenever I have not I have regretted it. And really, you are lucky that I did not see you in our future because our family would have relentlessly pursued you. We get what is ours."
She nods and smiles wider, "Oh I know. Draco said the moment that he 'saw' me in his future he dropped everything he was doing and came home to work out his proposal."
Lucius chuckles, it is rich and still seems out of place in the despair of their lives but she likes it just same, "I remember that. He was with me and he abandoned me and then came back a week later with a ring. Did he ever tell you it took a week to plan it?"
She looks down, "No. But it was so lovely." Tears start to form in her eyes,
"Why couldn't he have stayed? We could have put the pieces together. I regret so much. I blamed him and I shouldn't have." she chokes.
Lucius halts their progress and pulls her into his arms, "Sometimes there is no rational explanation. Let us love him as he was before all of that and leave the past where it belongs."
She cries silently for a bit and he feels her steel her resolve, "I can do that. It just hurts so much still. I thought after all these years it would fade."
He doesn't answer and they walk in silence. Minutes later he asks, "Do you think we'll have rain? It feels like rain is coming. I'll have to make sure that the house elves know to cover the roses. They've been over watered the last couple days."
She rubs the lingering tears from her eyes and gives a weak smile, "I know. I don't have a green thumb. Really sad. I've asked Neville thousands of questions and I still can't get it right."
They continue on that same "safe" topic throughout the morning. Discussing the beauty of the garden in the late spring. They part for work. Hermione to her lab where she is studying diligently to find a magical remedy to slow the spread of cancer or eradicate it. At times it feels pointless but she is confident her work will benefit the lives of people like Narcissa in the future even if it only gives them a little more time.
Lucius is writing a complete history of the dark wizard known as Lord Voldemort. There have been others but no one alive was entrusted with so many of his secrets as Lucius and with the help of the minister and many other eye witness accounts, the work will be the most comprehensive of any. His secondary work at the moment is book denouncing blood supremacy. He expects they'll be lots of waves made when he publishes the latter and the former.
At dinner that evening Hermione is surprised to find a small flour-less chocolate cake at her spot and a gift. Inside a delicate box is a notebook. She starts to cry as she flips through it. Attached to each page is photo of her, Narcissa, Draco or Scorpius or some combination of them. Underneath each image is a single word. Hope. The book is chronological and she sees more of herself and Scorpius appear and sadly, Narcissa, Scorpius and eventually Draco disappear. She sees wear on some of the photos, like they've been touched many times. The last page is an image of her taken on her birthday last year. It was a clipping of her entering the patent offices in Magical London and she had a wistful smile on her face as she opened the door, glanced behind her and then walked through it. When she saw it she was furious for their intrusion on her privacy after she had denied the Prophet an interview. She had been smiling at a young boy who was chattering away about his first wand. Her face in the photo was worn. Beneath this photo hope was not written, instead she saw
Coming from a self proclaimed seer Hermione was skeptical but she could not help the tears that slid down her face. Lucius was giving her his hope and he was giving her a glimpse into how he saw her future. He walked into the room and stood near her. She put the book down and stood to give him a full hug and thank him. If there was a little less familial propriety in this hug, Hermione did not notice.
Some time later, of course when it was still entirely scandalous and when our two lonely Malfoys were finished fighting for the worlds good opinion, Lucius and Hermione wed in a small ceremony. Lucius was denounced publicly for seducing Hermione, the savior of the children, but those closest to them knew that it was not a seduction for either. It was the kind of slow love that evolves after years of pain over the scar tissue of ones previous woes. It was awkward one day and the next it was right. They were unattached, not family and had no children bonding them to their previous relationship status. The wizarding world would never come to truly accept their relationship in spite of Hermione's fame and magical contributions and the family's generous donations to various societies. Many came to the conclusion that Hermione was trying to replace Draco with Lucius and thought it incestuous and utterly revolting. There was also a camp that decried Hermiones physical changes as being made at Lucius' prompting and his way of replacing his own dead wife. Needless to say, it was a good thing that the Malfoy's refused to read the rubbish in the tabloids and that they had true friends.
Harry and Ron, though initially baffled, came to accept Lucius. He made Hermione happy again when they could not. Their spouses followed. Among Lucius acquaintances, the Zambinis and Notts were the only that he maintained after the war and they threw in their hearty approval. No one who knew Lucius closely would not. He still commanded utter respect and they gave it, but even privately they approved. Purebloods had done more odd things in their own family trees.
In the years to come Hermione and Lucius would have three children. All girls. It was this, at the time disturbing and odd image, that Lucius had seen when he wrote in his prison log, "The Future." It was Hermione with a baby girl that looked so much like Draco as an infant that he questioned his own "sight" and two others in close trail. And just behind them, he saw himself. Hermione was smiling, he was smiling. Hope in spite of the pain. Love where there was none and a future undimmed by sadness.