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The Nineteenth of September

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It was a rare occasion for Draco Malfoy to visit his wife at work.

It wasn’t that he didn’t miss Hermione as each day passed, for he very often did. They spoke often, Firecalling each other whenever a random thought occurred that was far too funny, random or irrelevant to possibly wait till the evening. They kept a pair of owls exclusively to send messages to one another, scraps of parchment full of love. And Draco knew the voice of Ethel, Hermione’s secretary, much better than that of many of his staff.

But Draco, however, rarely visited.

He wanted to protect Hermione. The Prophet still loved to criticise Hermione on her choice of husband, and used any excuse for a re-run of their favourite headlines. Opposition politicians loved to grasp any and every reason to belittle Hermione. Draco imagined their malicious gossip, the unjust, muttered accusations of Pure-Blood influence that had dogged their high-profile love affair since its earliest days.

But today was a special day. The nineteenth of September, and Hermione’s fortieth birthday.

More beautiful now than she had been at twenty, Draco still couldn’t help but feel awed at the loveliness of Hermione. Her thick tumble of hair still seemed to defy gravity, and the only lines on Hermione’s face were evidence of a life well lived; a life full of empathy, love and friendship.

Draco told his Estate Manager that he would be absent for two hours, and Disapparated, reappearing in his Manor Gardens.

He collected a bouquet of Midsummer Orchids, Columbine and Cornflowers, thankful that his mother had charmed the blooms to grow well into the Autumn. The Elves had baked a thick, dark chocolate cake for ready Hermione, and he collected it from the kitchens. Since the Elf Freedom Act, Hermione was their collective deity, and the Elves scrapped for the honour of handing the cake over. Flooing directly to the Offices of the Minister of Magic, Ethel was delighted to let Draco in to meet his wife.

“Circe! Draco… How wonderful it is to see you! But you never come to the office?-” Hermione asked, walking round her parchment-littered desk, and leaning over to kiss Draco’s cheek.

“No, that’s true. But I couldn’t not see you today, love. Happy birthday, Hermione.”

Draco wandlessly Engorgio’d the cake and flowers, and brought them out from behind his back. His wife gasped at the simple thoughtfulness of the gesture and a wide smile spread across her face. “You are still the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, Hermione. Everyday with you is a delight and a privilege.”

“Thank you,” Hermione murmured, resting her forehead against her husband, and snaking her arms around his shoulders.

Draco wrapped his arms around his wife’s waist, and pulled her into a long, soft kiss. When they parted, Hermione’s cheeks were red, and she laughed. “This is such a surprise. You need to visit me more often. Minister's orders”

“Then maybe I will, my darling. A reaction like this is always a welcome one.”

Visiting Hermione at work was a rare event for Draco Malfoy but perhaps, he realised, the time had come to change his habits.