When Draco woke up, he felt something warm pressing against his side. It was a small something, and it was exerting an uncomfortable amount of pressure right where his left kidney resided. When he tried to shift away from the object, another joined it and both pushed painfully into his side. Draco opened his eyes and saw Scorpius lying in his bed, sideways, his head near the far edge and his feet against Draco's middle.
"Score." Draco tried to nudge his son awake, but he was out cold. He sighed and sat up, swinging his legs off the bed. With a yawn, he stretched and patted his hair down, then blinked as he looked around the room until his eyes landed on a note stuck to his mirror.
It read: 26 April.
He grinned as his brain lurched into gear. It was Astoria's birthday, and they had a big day ahead of them.
"Score." Draco shook his son's leg gently at first, then with a little more force. "Wake up."
Scorpius's eyes slowly opened, and when they met Draco's gaze, he smiled sleepily. "Mum's birthday."
"Yes. Exactly. And you've got school, so let's get up and get moving, shall we?"
"Way ahead of you." Scorpius bounded out of bed, pulling the sheet along behind him as he made his way back to his room.
Draco shook his head as he watched his son leave. Things between them had been really good over the last year. Scorpius had been somewhat upset about the divorce at first, but it hadn't lasted long—after all, he'd known his parents weren't all that happy together. Draco had found out that Scorpius had hoped that they'd work things out, but when he and Astoria had sat Scorpius down to talk, they explained why it was a good thing for everyone in the family.
The divorce had been finalized by the first of July, and then Draco had introduced Hermione to Scorpius as his girlfriend. That had come as a shock, but since he loved 'Miss Granger,' he'd gotten used to it pretty quick.
Hermione had come over with the drill and batteries, and together they'd built the tree fort. It had been a very fun but exhausting day, and Hermione ended up staying for dinner. Scorpius had asked her to read to him, which she'd ended up doing for over an hour.
Draco and Scorpius had bonded, being the only two 'men' in the house. They talked over every decision, from what to have for dinner, to when to invite Hermione over again, to where they should all go for a vacation that summer.
Draco was truly happier than he'd ever been, happier than he'd ever thought possible.
Five minutes after Draco got out of the shower, Scorpius came into his room ready for school. "Time for breakfast, Daddy. We don't want to be late. You know the Headmistress gets cross when we're late."
Draco chuckled. "She does, doesn't she?"
"Is that because she wants time to kiss you?" Scorpius screwed up his face as though the idea revolted him.
"I think that might have something to do with it." Draco ruffled Scorpius's hair. "Come on. Let's not keep her waiting."
Hermione's office was located off the Welcoming Room of the school, where the main fireplace stood. There was also a teacher's lounge and a reception area, all centered around the fireplace. It was truly a welcoming room. Since all the parents had to escort their children to school, it was a main hub of activity, especially at the beginning and end of each day.
As soon as they were through the fireplace, Scorpius said, "Goodbye, Daddy!" and ran off to his classroom.
Draco saw Hermione standing in the room, speaking to one of the other parents. She briefly glanced at him upon his arrival, and he saw her posture relax very slightly. He made his way to her slowly, standing to the side until she finished her conversation.
When Hermione was alone, he went to her and kissed her. "Morning, Granger."
She rolled her eyes but smiled at him warmly. "Good morning. I was wondering if you'd get here on time."
"Scorpius and I had a few last minute things to get ready for tonight. Lost track of time." He tucked a stray curl behind her ear. "You'll be there, right? At seven?"
"Of course. I wouldn't miss such an important occasion." She waved to another arriving student and her mother.
"Great." He slid his hand down her bare arm, twining his fingers with hers as he leaned down to kiss her more soundly. She let him for a few seconds, then pressed her hand to his chest and pushed him away.
"Don't you have somewhere you need to be?" She arched an eyebrow, smiling at a father dropping off his twins.
"I do, naturally." Draco sighed. "But you know it doesn't really matter if I'm on time; it's not like they can fire me. Well," he chuckled, "not again."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Yes, yes. You're very important. Now go on, I need to speak to Mr. Johnston. I'll see you tonight!" She gave him a bright smile, then started after the father she'd mentioned.
Draco watched her go, admiring the sway of her hips and the fit of her trousers. He liked seeing her first thing in the morning, before she put on her school robes. It gave him something to think about throughout the day when he got bored reading reports or listening to presentations. When she was out of sight, he Disapparated.
Malfoy Industries had undergone a total facelift over the last year. The building was the same, but almost everything inside had been redone. Matilda was still there, and she smiled broadly as he walked past her desk, grabbing the daily paper and his mail on the way to his office.
Long gone was the infamous desk; so, too, was every other piece of furniture that had been in the room. Draco simply hadn't been able to abide the suspicion that Theo and Astoria had availed themselves of his office more than the one time, so he'd had every single inch renovated.
Lucius had returned to England, under disguise and in the dead of night, but it hadn't been as soon as Draco had anticipated. Lucius had waited until he had an iron-clad case against Theo, who, as it turned out, had been siphoning funds from the company for years. He was currently in Azkaban serving the first of a ten-year sentence. Lucius had personally ousted all members of the board who had actively sided with Theo and allowed Draco to replace them with whomever he wished. Draco's first choice had been Percy Weasley, whom Draco knew to be both meticulous and loyal to a fault. Plus, he was Pansy's husband, and she was practically family.
When Astoria found out that Theo had only been using her to get information on Draco and the company, she'd been devastated. But she'd held her head high and walked away with what dignity she had left. Draco had even felt a little sorry for her because she found herself without a home, without any source of income—other than the amount agreed upon in their divorce papers—and without any hope for either. She'd quickly gone through some changes that, Draco thought, were for the best.
Draco still didn't love his work, but he had done a lot of introspective searching to find what he wanted to do, and then he used Malfoy Industries to allow him to branch out into those areas: Potions, Quidditch, and Astronomy. He'd also invested in George Weasley's shop, much to his father's chagrin, and that had become a source of great amusement.
He still felt a quickening of his pulse whenever he walked down the hallway to his office at the beginning of his day, a residual memory that would probably be with him for a long time. But his office was now so different that all it took was one peek inside to relieve the anxiety he felt.
As it was Astoria's birthday, he hadn't scheduled anything big. For lunch, he'd be grabbing food from the café he and Hermione called 'theirs,' taking it to her, and eating with her in the lunchroom at the school. There was no other place he'd rather be. The date would always be special to them, as they'd gone through a lot together on the 26th of April, but it was still Astoria's birthday. He and Hermione had agreed that, for Scorpius's sake, they needed to focus on that rather than themselves. They'd officially started unofficially dating on the twenty-seventh, anyway.
Draco sat at his desk and took out his journal, the one in which he'd written about his experience. He was almost finished with it after spending little pockets of free time over the last year adding things he remembered or analyses of his thoughts. He went to the very last page, which was empty, and rubbed his hand over it. It was completely blank, but he knew what needed to go there.
Draco chose his ink color carefully. It felt like a silly thing to do, but he wanted everything to be perfect. In the end, he went with a deep, shimmery blue. Dipping his quill in the inkwell, he took a deep breath and wrote the final sentence of his memoir.
He had just finished cleaning his quill when there was a knock at the door. "Mr. Malfoy?"
"Come in, Matilda." He blew lightly on the ink, made sure it was dry, then closed the journal and shrank it, placing it carefully in his shirt pocket.
Matilda, who had yet to recover after failing to keep Draco from entering his office the year before, was now rather nervous around him. "Your afternoon appointment is here, Sir. Mr. Weasley."
"Thank you, Matilda." He smiled warmly at her and stood to welcome Percy. He'd need to make more of an effort to set his assistant at ease.
"Daddy, how do I look?"
Draco, who was in the middle of putting on his favorite cufflinks, turned around to see Scorpius standing just inside his door. He was wearing his favorite dress clothes: sharp black trousers, a light blue Oxford, and a very smart sport jacket. He also wore black socks and carried his nicest shoes in his hand.
Draco walked over to his son, pretending to inspect him carefully. He lifted Scorpius's arms and checked under them, tapped the back of his knees, then tugged on the lapels of the jacket.
"I'm sorry, but where did my little boy go? You're practically a young man. Soon I'll be fending off owls from families wishing to introduce you to their daughters."
Scorpio made a face. "Ew, Daddy. No. I'm still right here. I'm only eight."
Draco got down on his knees and pulled a tie from his pocket that matched his own, only smaller: black silk with small golden snitches sewn onto it.
Scorpius's eyes lit up. "Are we going to match?"
"Our ties, at least." It was a real one, not a clip on, so Draco tied it on for Scorpius. He felt an uncomfortable lump in his throat as he thought about his son and how much they had gone through together over the last year. "All set, Score. How are you feeling?"
Scorpius shrugged. "Fine. I've got Mum's present ready."
Draco stood and went back to the mirror to put his tie on. "Good."
Scorpios followed him, hands in his pockets, looking far too big for Draco; his eyes kept threatening to mist over, and he had to blink rapidly to prevent it from happening.
"Are you ready, Daddy?" In the mirror, their eyes met.
Draco paused in his with the tie. "I am. How about you?"
Scorpio nodded importantly. "Ready. Let's do this. We're Malfoys, after all."
"Too right." Draco grinned widely.
There was a knock behind them, and Draco and Scorpius both turned to see who it was. Draco's nerves immediately fired and his heart started racing at the sight of Hermione framed in the doorway. Her dress was a floor-length, fluttering, rose gold fitted gown with delicate straps over her shoulders. She'd spent time with her hair and it flowed around her face in large, soft curls. A necklace he'd given her at the half-year mark of their relationship hung round her neck, a single diamond on a gold chain.
"Am I interrupting?" She took a tentative step inside his room, her eyes landing on Scorpius.
"No, Daddy and I were just talking, but we're done now." Scorpius turned to Draco. "I'm going to put my shoes on. I'll see you at dinner.'
Draco nodded solemnly, his throat suddenly dry upon being alone with Hermione.
She waited until Scorpius was well on his way, then shut the door and glided across the room to Draco. "Hello, there."
Draco swallowed hard as Hermione put her hands around his neck, smiling up at him as though he were her entire world. He slid his hands onto her back, startled to feel her skin and not the dress. "Hi."
Then he kissed her—carefully, so that he didn't rumple her dress or mess up her hair. It was the kind of torturous kiss that promised much more to come, torturous because there were hours before the promise could be fulfilled.
He nipped at her bottom lip with his teeth and she squeaked, pulling back with a dangerous glint in her eyes. "Careful, Draco. I'm not going to spend another thirty minutes getting back into this dress, if you catch my meaning. Besides, we'd be late for dinner, and that would be a huge embarrassment, wouldn't it?"
He let out a low groan, resting his forehead against hers.
"Are you ready to go down? I think people will be showing up soon."
Draco sighed and closed his eyes. Dinner tonight was in celebration of Astoria's birthday, and it would be the first time this particular group of people gathered. He hoped it wouldn't be the last, even though it spun on its head every notion about family he'd grown up with.
Hermione rested her hand on his cheek and he smiled, rotating slightly to kiss her palm.
"I love you, Draco Malfoy, and tonight is going to be incredible. You've worked hard for this, and you deserve every happiness."
He placed his hand over hers for a moment, then drew both of their hands down and squeezed hers briefly before releasing it. "I'm ready. Just let me put on my jacket."
Hermione retrieved it from where it hung, removed it from the hanger, and helped him into the garment. He turned toward her and she effortlessly adjusted his collar while he made sure his sleeves and cufflinks were in order.
"How do I look?"
She bit her lip. "Hmm, well, to be honest, looking at you makes me want to just… take it all off, piece by piece. But alas, there isn't time."
He smirked and kissed her briefly. "You don't want to know my thoughts about you in that dress. I'm not sure you'd be rid of the blush before the last guest leaves."
"Is that so?" She stepped toward him, then stopped and sighed. "Do you think… tonight…"
Draco knew what she meant and he grinned. "Yes. Tonight. I've put Kippy in charge of Scorpius once he's in bed."
Orchestrating times for he and Hermione to be alone had proven to be something of a challenge. Since Scorpius primarily lived with Draco and his room was just down the hall, they'd had to be considerate of his feelings. Draco wanted to be available to his son at all times, especially in the beginning when the divorce was brand new and then immediately followed by introducing Hermione to him as his girlfriend. Draco couldn't very well spend the night away from the Manor easily, though they'd managed it a few times. Usually, when Hermione spent an extended evening with him, she always left before Scorpius woke up.
Though, it had happened a few times that Scorpius had stumbled in, half-asleep, and not even really noticed Hermione in his father's bed. She'd had to sneak away in the middle of the night, Draco waving apologetically.
She'd never once complained, though.
"Good." She gave him one of his favorite smiles. "Because I'm fairly certain I'm going to need help getting this dress off later." With that, she spun on her heel and headed toward the door.
Draco zeroed in on her arse, breathtaking in the tight sleeve of her dress. Then he followed her, swallowing hard and trying to think of something uninteresting like ingredients in a wart-removal potion.
They walked hand-in-hand to Scorpius's room and collected him, then together the three of them headed for the parlor, where at least some of their guests were sure to be waiting.
Forty minutes later, everyone was seated at the table in the dining room, nearing the end of the meal. Draco, who'd finished before anyone, sat back to enjoy the sounds of his guests swirling around him. Astoria sat across from him at the long table, in the place where she'd always sat as his wife. But it wasn't strange; she was still the mother of his only child.
She was pregnant, though, almost six months, and beside her sat her boyfriend, Crawford Rosier. After her relationship with Theo fell apart, Astoria had done some intense soul-searching. She'd gone away to spend time with her sister, and something had happened while she was away that caused her to change quite a bit. She'd come back, apologized to Draco for everything, then started dating Crawford two months later.
It had been quite a scandal of its own when she'd announced her pregnancy—pure-blood witches didn't get pregnant unless they were married—but she hadn't cared. Crawford had two other children already, but he'd divorced his wife shortly after their second child was born. After meeting Astoria, he'd fallen hard and fast, though they had no plans to marry any time soon. Draco smiled at the memory of Astoria telling him that when she married again, it would be on her terms, her way, and nobody was going to have a single say in it—except the person she married, of course.
Draco had felt a slight twinge of anger when she'd revealed the pregnancy because of how vehemently she'd refused to even consider another child with him, but it had passed quickly. He was thankful they hadn't had more, and he was desperate to begin that sort of life with Hermione.
Crawford's two children were there as well. Marcy was five and Maxwell was seven, and Scorpius loved having other children to play with. He'd taken quite a liking to Maxwell, who was brash and defensive but could be really fun once he lowered the walls he'd built after his parents' divorce. It was good for him to spend time with another magical child whose family had split, and Draco could see his walls slowly crumbling over time. Marcy had taken a liking to Hermione, and she always wanted to sit beside her.
Crawford's wife, Tinnette, who had gone through a rough patch but had turned her life around within the last two years, now wanted to be a part of her childrens' lives, and so she was also at the table with her brand-new husband, Tim.
The nine of them didn't comprise a traditional family by any means, but as Draco looked at every person in turn, he knew he wouldn't change a single thing. They'd formed a tight-knit group, and everyone cared about everyone else. They were all invested in the wellbeing of one another, and it made for some very interesting conversations.
Most importantly, Hermione was by his side, and if he had his way, she'd never leave. They'd have children of their own—he couldn't wait for Scorpius to be a big brother—and they'd fill the house with laughter and games and fun for as long as possible.
Hermione caught his eye and winked before turning back to something Marcy had said.
When Astoria set her fork down, Scorpius sat up straight in his chair. "Daddy! It's time!"
Draco hopped up and went to the side room where Astoria's cake was, ready for the candles to be lit. He waved his hand and the candles sprung to life. He carried the cake back into the dining room, and everyone oohed and ahhed.
"I made it myself!" Scorpius exclaimed, hopping in his seat.
Draco gave him a look, and Scorpius grinned sheepishly.
"Well, Miss Granger helped me."
Astoria blew out her candles and when Tinnette asked her what she'd wished for, she smiled and met Draco's gaze. "I have everything I could want." Then Astoria kissed Crawford, who began slicing the cake.
"Here you are. I've been looking all over for you."
Draco looked over his shoulder to find Hermione leaning against the door of his balcony. He'd just put Scorpius to bed and given Kippy strict instructions that he and Hermione were not to be disturbed unless it was an absolute emergency. And as much as he wanted to get to the spicier elements of his evening, there was something more pressing on his mind.
Hermione smiled and walked over to him, first resting her hands on his shoulders, then sliding them down his chest as she leaned over to kiss him. He kissed her back but didn't let things progress, instead stopping the kiss. "Would you sit with me?"
"Of course." Her discerning eyes noticed that he had something on his mind.
She sat beside him on a settee Charmed to be impervious to any and all weather despite not being an outdoor piece of furniture. "Everything all right? I thought tonight was a tremendous success. Astoria seemed very happy."
Draco smiled. "Yes, I'm glad. I know a year ago, she'd never have imagined this being her life today, but I agree that she's happy."
Hermione took his hand in hers, resting them in the space between them. "And you?"
"Me?" His smile faded into something deeper, more intense, as he looked into her eyes. "I never imagined I could be this happy. I didn't know it existed, and if I had, I'd never have bothered dreaming for it, thinking it couldn't possibly be for me. You couldn't possibly be for me."
She didn't speak, only brushed her thumb over the back of his hand.
After a moment, Draco retracted his hand, slipping it into his jacket, which he'd removed when he'd first gone out into the balcony. Inside one of the interior pockets was his journal. "I'm nearly done with this."
He held it up so she could see and her eyes went wide. She'd seen the thin, black book numerous times over the past year but had never looked inside, though he knew she was curious.
"That's wonderful, Draco! What do you want to do with it?"
He thumbed through it, pausing near the end pages. "I'm not sure. I've thought a lot about the tale you found, wondering if I should turn it into something like that. But it seems awfully long for a fairy tale, and I didn't experience some great, moral awakening. In fact, for a long time, I've considered my tale to be a love story."
"A love story?"
He nodded, bracing himself for what would come next. "And part of why I haven't done anything with it yet is because I don't know how it ends. I realized that the only person who can finish this is you. I want you to read the end of it. And help me with the last line." At her wide-eyed, somewhat awed nod, he opened to the page before the last, held it to her, and pointed to the last paragraph. "Here."
Hermione took the book, glanced at the entire page, then settled herself to read.
"'For the last year, I've wondered what the purpose in my journey was, wondered what I was meant to find. My son had wished me to be happy, and I am, but how did my trip into my past connect to my happiness?
"'The answer may seem obvious, but I might just as easily have taken a different path that first day, when I landed in my thirteen-year-old body. Why did I seek her out? Why didn't I go to someone—anyone—else? She made the least sense, yet in my heart, I knew beyond a doubt that she would be the one to help me.
"'And she did. She didn't rescue me from time traveling, she didn't set me on a path to enlightenment or self-actualization. All she did was become my friend when I needed one.
"'So this is a love story that is finally coming to an end—a love story that's only just beginning. The hero has traveled through time, faced his own past, learned from his son, and fallen in love with a witch he doesn't deserve. Only one thing remains.'" She stopped reading, having come to the end of the page.
"Go on. Turn it."
With trembling fingers, Hermione complied, her eyes landing on the dark blue shimmery text he'd added earlier that day.
"'The hero, who'd never thought himself anything like one, who turned out to be the hero in his own story, asked her to marry him. And so, one year to the day after his life-changing journey began, she said—"
He'd written two words beneath the final line, two options that held his heart in the balance, and he watched Hermione lightly trace the first one, the one that would complete his journey and truly let him begin his life. His heart pounded as he waited for her response, hopeful but refusing to let that hope run wild.
"Draco, you've been my hero for the last year as I've watched you grow and struggle and fight for your family. You are an incredible father, a good and noble man, and it would be my honor to be your wife. Yes, absolutely, I will marry you!" She threw herself into his arms, unconcerned for the dress that had been the focus of so much of his attention all evening.
He held her in his arms, knowing deep down in his heart that he was finally, truly, home.
- THE END -